Characters: Amon Raptis, Lilith Raptis, Mic Bon Braxton
Tags: House Fire, Child Abuse, Implied/Referenced Child Abuse, Near Death Experience, Mentions of Death/Suicide, Paperwork, Intersex Character, Angst with a Happy Ending
Children normally have imaginary friends it's a natural part of growing up. As their creativity grows and becomes stronger they create creatures and beings that could never be. Most would agree that it is vital to a child's development to nurture their creativity and allow them to have and to play with imaginary friends.
Amon like most children had an imaginary friend, however, unlike most children his imaginary friend wasn't a creature made from the far reaches of his imagination something that could never be and probably never will. Young Amon's imaginary friend was a caring woman so alike his mother who he missed but not quite.
His mother from his fading memories was a loving and beautiful woman with long straight pale blonde hair and kind bright blue eyes. She had flawless skin that would flush when she laughed and a loving smile she had just for her son and daughter. The woman Amon imagined was similar but not exact.
This woman had long wavy fiery red hair like his own, and dark warm red eyes which were hard to see in the low light. Amon tried asking who the woman was but he was never given a clear answer, she would just sadly smile her freckled face the brightest thing in the dark basement.
"Why won't you tell me who you are?" Amon asked one night laying on the floor curled up for warmth under old moldy blankets that haven't seen sunlight in decades. "Why can't I know your name?"
The woman looked down at him and sighed softly before taking a seat near him, her fingers gently stroked his dirty matted hair as she looked at him with sadness, "I wish I could tell you little one, I really do but I can't that is a rule I must follow to be here with you."
"Why do you want to be here?" Amon asked looking up at her, "It's dark, it's cold, and papa only hurts me. Lilith can't even come down anymore since school started." He sniffled wiping his dirty face, "I'm happy she gets to go to school but I miss her. I don't want to forget what she looks like too."
The woman bit her lip looking away as if contemplating before taking a deep breath, "You will know my name in due time little one." She said looking at him once more, "However, when you learn my name I can no longer be with you, so please wait when you learn my name I can promise you, you will leave this basement and be with your sister once more and your papa will never harm you again." She promised leaning down and gently kissing his forehead, "Now please try to get some rest."
Amon sighed frowning but nodded and rolled over curling up under his dirty blanket to try and get some sleep the woman humming softly old song his mother once sang when she was alive. It eased him into a dreamless sleep awaiting another day.
Amon had learned early in his life that his father wasn't a good man that's why he did what he did to protect his sister as best he could. That was why his sister was off at school, living a normal life while he was in the basement barely surviving and being beaten and hurt daily. Most would have grown to resent their sibling for being treated so well. Amon was happy to be the one stuck in the cold basement starving because he knew his sister was warm in her bed and being fed three meals a day.
The woman looks down at Amon sadly she knew what was going through his head as he lay on the floor stifling his cries as his back bled from the latest round of abuse from his father. Once the abusive man was gone and the basement was locked once more the woman went and knelt by Amon shushing him softly as she tried to wipe tears from his face only to have them pass through her fingers as she wasn't actually capable of touching the hurting boy.
"It gets better," she whispered trying to soothe the boy, "I promise you little one that this will all end and you will not be hurt like this again." she cried wiping her own face clear of tears as she looked down at the crying and physically beaten down young boy before her. "You just have to wait a while longer and soon everything will be better. However, you must believe we when I say it will seem hopeless and like nothing can get better but you will find salvation when you are at your lowest."
Weeks passed much the same; the woman was always there to comfort Amon sing for him and tell him stories he's never heard of. She would always hide her tears when she looked at his injuries and would instead try to keep Amon happy in the bleak basement. It was incredibly late one evening when the cellar doors to the basement were opened and down ran a small girl her pale blonde hair and blue eyes practically glowing in the low light as she ran to Amon holding a small dish towel filled with water and scraps of food she managed to sneak away.
She knelt by Amon giving him the food and whispered so quietly the woman had to strain her ears to hear from her spot in the shadows as she watched the two children. "I have a plan," the young girl whispered, "Today in class we learned about fire from some men in the fire department. They said you can start a big fire by throwing water on a grease fire." she whispered constantly looking over her shoulder. "If we start one then Papa will leave I can get the keys and get you out."
"What if you get hurt?" Amon asked gulping down his water, "what if Papa takes the keys when he runs?" he asked his fear for his sister getting hurt outweighing the possibility of escaping.
"I'll take the key when he goes to sleep." She whispered her mind already set on the matter, "they have to help us if the house is on fire. No one else on the street seems to care I know we can do this Amon."
"I don't know Lilith." He said handing back the dishtowel "I rather you be safe and up there than you getting hurt trying to help me."
"Amon I don't want to keep hurting you." She said her eyes growing glassy with unshed tears, "Let me help you as you did me." she begged.
Amon looked conflicted he wanted his sister safe, but his hurting was hurting her. He didn't want her in pain but he didn't want her getting seriously hurt when starting the fire. He didn't know what to do and looked over towards the woman only he could see his dark eyes looking lost as if begging for an answer to his problems.
"Let her do it." the woman said lowly even though she knew Lilith couldn't hear her, "She will be safe I promise you, help will come to rescue you both, but you have to trust her." she said her eyes growing misty as she spoke, "It will be hard on you both but I promise you that this will be the best decision you make so let her start the fire."
Amon took a slow deep breath before nodding and looked at Lilith his eyes hard as he made his decision. He could trust the woman, she had done nothing to make him believe she would harm him or his sister, "Ok Lilith," he nodded, "Do it I believe in you please be careful and don't get caught" he said hugging her before she nodded and gathered the dish towel and trash before leaving and closed the cellar doors behind her they locked automatically the loud clunk making her flinch as she ran back inside.
The woman watched Lilith leave and walked over to Amon kneeling by him cupping his face without actually touching him, "Soon you'll know my name little one and soon you will begin life anew." She whispered kissing his forehead, "Now rest you'll need your strength."
Amon nodded grabbing his moldy blanket and curled up underneath it to try and block out the cold of the basement as the woman sat by him to watch over and keep him company. "Just a few more days." she mumbled as Amon fell asleep, "I'm so sorry for what is going to happen but it has to happen," she said wiping away more tears.
The next few days passed much the same, Lilith didn't return but Amon didn't pay any mind he knew she was safe. He cried and begged when he was hurt, playing up the pain even if he didn't feel it much anymore anything to not draw attention to the hope he was feeling. The woman always hid away not wanting to see the abuse hiding her tears and muffling her cries.
On the night everything was to happen the only warning Amon received was a soft knock on the cellar doors early in the morning when his sister was leaving for school. The woman looked up at the doors when the knock sounded and looked down at Amon still asleep and unaware of what would happen later that night. "I hope you do not hate me for what is to happen." she whispered to his sleeping form, "I wish I could stop this."
Amon was awoken hours later by his father screaming about missing matches, this time he didn't cower for show he was truly terrified when he saw the rope in his father's hands. He tried to run to fight but he wasn't fast nor strong enough as he was tied by his wrists to the support beam of the basement his toes just barely grazing the floor. The woman looked away and bit her lip when he was whipped screams filling the basement.
Time seemed to crawl on for an eternity before it was all over and Amon was allowed to kneel but wasn't released from the beam. Trapped and with no way to get help he laid there as the woman came over kneeling by him. "I'm sorry little one," she whispered hugging him knowing he couldn't feel her and therefore couldn't be in more pain. "I want nothing more than to save you but I can only offer you this."
"What happens to me?" Amon whispered his voice raw from screaming and his face hot with tears, "You know what happens to me." he mumbled looking up at the woman.
The woman paused and bit her lip letting out a sign, "I do." she nodded, "I know everything down to the last second of what will happen to you today and in the future." she whispered looking down at him, "I beg of you not to ask the question I know you are thinking. I can not tell you yet and I can not tell you of your fate just know this. After today, everything changes for the better, you might not believe me but I swear to you on the grave of my mother that after today you will be free of this basement and you will live a happy life."
Amon stared at the woman for a long time before slowly nodding choosing to believe the woman and instead leaned against the support beam and closed his eyes, hoping to rest. The woman closed her eyes and leaned against the beam as well looking up at the ceiling and softly mumbling to herself for the safety of both children even though she knew what was to happen.
Hours passed, the bright and sunny day had passed into a moonless night, the woman was pacing back and forth waiting for what was to happen, hating she couldn't interfere and was stuck as nothing but a bystander. When she heard the scream above she knew it was time and looked to the ceiling holding her breath as Amon jolted from his sleep.
"That was Lilith," he said his voice groggy but his eyes wide awake as he tried to pull free of the ropes. "Why was Lilith screaming?" he shouted, pulling harder on his restraints.
"It's time." the woman said staring at the ceiling, unmoving lost in her own horror as she saw flames begin to engulf the wooden structure, "she set the flame, it was larger than she anticipated. She failed to get the keys." she mumbled slowly turning to look at Amon as his own horror began to settle on his face as what the woman said began to sink in. "You must fight." she said walking to him, "I am unable to help you I am nothing more than an illusion so you must fight and do what it takes to get out of this basement I know you can I know what happens in this basement."
"Tell me please!" he begged pulling hard on the ropes as the fire began to slowly creep down the wooden beams, "If you know what happens! If you know how to escape then tell me!" he screamed struggling against the ropes.
"I can't, little one I want nothing more than to tell you everything but I can't once I begin I will be taken away you have to figure this out for yourself. I know you do because I know how this ends trust in yourself to get free and you will escape." she said holding his face tears running down her own, "Believe that you will live, fight for your chance to live."
"What if I can't fight anymore?" he mumbled tears blurring his eyes as the flames grew closer, "I'm tired, I just want it all to end." he cried, "I don't want to be in pain anymore!"
"If not for yourself then fight for your sister!" the woman shouted startling Amon, "If you want to die then so be it but you will not be ending just your life you will be stealing away someone important to her. Will you sit there and be burned while your sister is outside crying believing she killed her brother? Will you be nothing but a spectator in the destruction of your sister's heart?"
Amon stared at the woman his mouth hanging open and tears running down his ashen face before shaking his head and turned back to the ropes pulling hard, "I can't hurt her." he said his voice sounding more confident than ever before, "I did this to protect her from father, I stayed down here taking beatings so she wouldn't have to, I will not be the one to hurt her!" he shouted biting into the ropes and started pulling and ripping at them rubbing his wrists raw as the flames crept ever closer.
The woman nodded and took a few steps back watching him struggle and bite through the rope. The ropes were strong and tightly knotted nothing was going he did was going to free him and she knew but she watched because she knew he'd find the solution.
Amon kept pulling and whimpered as his wrists began to bleed the rope cutting in deeper the longer he pulled and tried to free himself. He looked around praying to find anything sharp to cut the ropes but found nothing in reach. He frantically looked around feeling the heat of the flames growing stronger the closer they crept, looking up he watched the bright flames as they inched nearer illuminating his dark eyes.
"The flames would burn you to a crisp if you were caught in them." the woman said seeing the flames were only a foot away from reaching Amon the house groaning from its own weight, "If the house doesn't crush you first." she mumbled.
Amon looked down at the rope and then up at the flames before twisting and pulling biting the inside of his cheek at the pain at he managed to grab hold of the rope and push it up and into the fire trying to keep his skin as far away as possible as the rope was burned through. He watched and pulled waiting for the rope to give and once it did he fell back his wrists bloodied as he turned and tried to run.
Only a few steps away and his legs gave out dropping hard to the floor as a crash behind him altered him that the house was on its last legs and was about to cave in. "Get to the door." the woman said watching the burning debris falling from the hole in the ceiling. "That's your only hope firefighters and first responders are here they need to know you are too."
Amon looked from where he managed to run and to the stairs leading to the cellar doors. It seemed impossible seeing how he was too weak to even stand but he pressed on and started crawling and dragging his way up the stairs. While on the floor it was easy to breathe it found it increasingly more difficult the further he climbed coughing and wheezing as he tried to reach the door. He could hear voices outside so screamed as loud as his voice could.
The woman lowered her head listening to Amon scream his lungs out until his throat was sore and his voice barely a whisper. She watched as the fire died down from the work of the firefighters but knew they wouldn't hear Amon. She covered her mouth wanting to scream as well but knew they'd never hear her. When the fire was out and Amon could barely let out a whisper she turned and walked up the stairs and sat beside Amon looking down at him.
"Why?" he croaked, "They can't hear me, you said I would be saved." he cried, "You lied to me just like everyone else. You lied." he tried to shout but his voice gave out.
"I did not lie." she said looking down at him resting her hand against his face, "I will tell you what you want to know now." she mumbled, "But when I do you have to scream as loud and as long as you can until I'm no longer sitting here with you. Can you do that for me little one?"
He sniffled but nodded hearing some commotion outside and turned to look at the doors.
"My name," the woman began hearing the same commotion and knowing what it was, "Is Amon Raptis, I am you when you grow up and meet some incredible people. You grow into the person you want to be and you come back to watch over your younger self to ensure they don't lose hope." she said softly her form glowing as she began to vanish and leaned down gently kissing Amon's cheek, "Now scream."
Amon didn't hesitate he screamed so loud and so long he feared his throat would tear apart with how much it hurt. He didn't know if the woman really was him when he got older but he did know that he heard voices outside the door. Soon they were ripped open and light flooded the basement and onto Amon covered in ash and incredibly tired. Standing next to the man who ripped open the door was his sister blood on her lips and a police officer with a bleeding hand trying to hold her back. Both men were staring down at the young boy a look of horror on their face when they realized what just occurred.
"I told you he was in the basement!" Lilith shouted fighting against the officer trying to get to Amon.
Amon let a smile spread across his face as he collapsed the firefighter pulling him free and taking him to the ambulance. While he didn't know if he could believe what the older him had said, he did hope it was all true as he fell into a dreamless sleep while the put a mask over his face.
"So," the tall skeletal man hummed looking over to the adult Amon as he jolted awake, "What did you learn?" he hummed
"Mic, you know I learned nothing new." Amon said rubbing his head, "but thank you for allowing me to do that." he said looking over at him.
"I chose not to harvest your soul for a reason young one." he chuckled nudging him, "but I'm glad you were able to give the past you a reason to live even if you didn't possess one in the end."
"He needed something to latch onto and I know I'd do anything for my sister even if it meant to the detriment of myself." Amon sighed laying back, "I can't thank you enough for this Mic."
"You can thank me by doing the paperwork that comes with what you just did." Mic said dropping the pile onto his lap, "and that's not a joke." he deadpanned.
"Right," he nodded taking the paper, "I'll get started on that." he sighed looking through the papers. A small smile finding its way onto his face as he looked down at the old scars on his wrists. "Why didn't you take my soul that day Mic?"
"I was still new to the job at the time, I hadn't taken many souls yet but I knew you're wasn't ready." Mic said going through his own paperwork, "Child souls are easy to persuade in passing on especially if there's a loved one already passed on as you had. However, you're a special brand of stubborn I didn't know at the time what you said to yourself but you made it clear you did not want to die."
"I told my younger self if they weren't going to live for themselves then live for their sister." Amon said setting one of the papers down, "I knew the aftermath and I knew how I felt seeing my sister cry her eyes out when she said she thought she killed me. My younger self to want to live needed to hear what their death would do to the people who truly loved him."
"So you used your sister?" Mic hummed looking over at him, "Your only living relative at the time who actually cared if you were well. Gotta say young one that was brutal what if your younger self had argued and truly wanted to die?"
"Then they'd die," Amon said simply, "No one can change a mind no matter what others believe if someone is set in their ways and don't wish to change then they can not be persuaded. Suicide and death are the same if they want to die then they will no amount of reasoning will change that. I didn't change my younger self mind I to this day still think I should have died down there, however, I live for those who love and need me, not for myself, but for my family. They have a need for me so I will continue to live on to support them and love them and give them everything the younger me needed but didn't get."
Mic sighed nodding and looked back down to his paperwork, "Then I hope they always need you, Amon, I can't imagine you dying just yet."
"If I'm to die I'll have to be killed," he hummed, "I don't possess the will to kill myself I'll have to be by someone else's hands. Even then they'll have a hard time taking me out I have too many people to live for now."