Event Zero: Prologue

Names are significant. They begin a chain of attachments, leading to a cascade of sadness. It's tragic how we name what is destined to die – become attached to what is fated to pass. Families, friends, pets, and even objects have names. When these things die, corrode, or break, the reason for their names hold a new significance…sheer, utter sadness.

Jacob Martin is the name I was given. At the age of nine, I befriended a twelve-year-old boy named Cypress Kaye. The events in this novel are shown as vividly as I remember. Some scenarios are more dramatic than they happened, and others are grim to the detail. Whether I end up a villain of my tale or hero of a legend, the story will begin twenty-seven years ago, the day my childhood was tainted. Cypress Kaye, what significance will his name hold?

Sunday July 7, 2028, the one o' clock sun poured of exuberance. The earth spun swiftly, yet the clouds strolled along the horizon. The contradiction was a visual beauty, delicately gliding beyond my periphery. Cloud gazing as we did often, Cypress and I lay outside in the silk blades of grass. Were it not for my mother smothering me in a suit of pesticide, the tiny residents would surely have sunk their teeth into my citrus-tinted skin.

"And that one?" I asked Cypress, guiding my finger along a passing cloud.

Fatigue and disinterest seemed always evident in his expression, though I'd try my damndest not to notice.

"It's just a cloud, Jake." He responded.

A placid breeze swept in as the leaves of a nearby treetop began dancing aloft its trunk. The five inch curls of Cypress' black hair moved in a similar, yet calmer rhythm.

"The wind is picking up." said Cypress "We should go in before it gets worse."

Shifting my attention, I acknowledged his suggestion.

"Yeah, I think so, too."

We stepped into the entrance of my house where the waxed tile projected the footsteps that began echoes throughout the foyer. We removed our shoes and walked toward the living room.

"Neatly, boys." Savina, my mother said.

Passing her on the couch with a Sudoku puzzle book, we straightened our shoes on the side of the front door.

Tucking her swooped bangs of blond behind her double-pierced ear, Savina tilted her head in Cypress' and my direction.

"Now, was that hard?" She asked.

Ignoring her sarcasm, Cypress and I fled upstairs where we'd play games.

Up past the game and guest room, we paced toward mine. The upper part of my house was the most beautiful. It was the epitome of elegance, lavishly decorated with hanging chandeliers and equal attention to detail. Everything outside my room, at least, could be explained in that way.

"That's cheating," I scolded, "using supers and ultras after another like that!"

"Hey, not my fault you can't play, button-masher."

Having gotten quickly tired of losing at our favorite fighting game, I jumped from sitting in my bed in order to change to one of the five discs in the game system. My fingers ached with the weighted pain of spam-tapping. I cracked them one after another.

"What game are we playing now, man?" Cypress asked, unstrapping the wrist censors from himself.

"I'm amped to play more games, but my fingers are killing me."

"Well, what do you wanna do?"

"…guess we can go to your house. We'll walk."

Fine with that result, we descended the stairs toward the door. Before we could leave, Savina stopped us.

"Are you asking me, or are you telling me?" She asked.

It annoyed me how clever she thought she was by beginning conversations that way.

"Ma," I whined, "I was just gonna walk with Cye to his house. It's the weekend and I'm bored."

"Weekend or not, you still have to tell me where you're going. I'm tired of telling you the same thing. Now, take your bike if you're going anywhere and be home before your father. Next time it happens, you won't be going anywhere…clear?"

Feeling as if he too did wrong, Cypress and I replied in unison.

"Crystal"

Out to the garage, we grabbed our bikes, preparing to head out. Cypress rode his bike to my house on Saturday – the day before.

"Alright, let's go, Cye."

We rushed through the little to no traffic, peddling to reach our 13-block destination. The deafening sounds of the wind grew louder the further we traveled.

"This wind doesn't seem to be dying down anytime soon. Wouldn't you say?"

"Yeah" replied the apathetic Cypress.

Cypress was never much for words. Sometimes, I'd almost hold entire conversations with myself, thinking that he would be a part of them. I never really paid awareness to his lack of attention.

The wind became stronger and my eyes could no longer retain their necessary aridity. My moistened eyes began to blur the nearby surroundings into overlapping mass, making it nearly impossible to keep aligned on the curb.

"You okay, Jake?"

It's my eyes, but I think I'm good.

Sometimes, the wind would puff the appending droplets alongside my face, but to no avail. The same wind would shortly drown my lower lids again.

"Finally here." I sighed after reaching his house.

Disembarking from our bikes, we rested them on the side of the small, chattel house. Only a mother and no father dwelled there. Cypress' mother wasn't quite as gifted as my family had been. They were well within the true level of low class, bringing in about $15,000 per year. My figures are based solely from memory of listening in on sparse conversations, nonetheless.

We walked up the two-step porch and Cypress started shuffling around in his back pocket. It was presumably to find his house key, but I realized it was taking him seconds longer than it should have. That's when the few of many times happened. He lost consciousness. I tried to catch him by the shirt, but his falling weight managed to pull it from my grasp.

"Cye!" I called harshly.

The times after were always the same. The preemptive apprehension would shift my heartbeat from a drum's steady pace, to the rapid galloping of a horse.

Though his unconsciousness, he still held tightly to his key. It wasn't as if I needed to pry it from his hand, though. Those moments had happened again and time another. I had no clue for what reason the series of blackouts began. I did know, however, that the times they happened were getting closer on every occasion. Being the child I was, I presumed him to be dead the first it happened. Though every time afterward, I'd simply panic as if he was.

Into the house, I went and I stepped on the tattered floorboards. The repetitive footfalls began them creaking in agony.

"Jess!" I called, anticipating a response from Cypress' mother.

The airless atmosphere beckoned the hydration from my pores. I feared that at any given instant, I would become seethed by my own sweat.

I toured further into the house. It seemed that the deeper I went, the more irritating the environment. I shouted again.

"Jess!" perhaps louder than before, but no voice returned.

I had come to her room where the acrid odor of tobacco smoke wrapped a firm grip around my windpipe. The loud coughing began her tossing and moaning in exasperation. That was my chance.

"Jessica!" I hollered, shaking her like mild convulsions.

Though I mentioned she had no boyfriend or husband, one whiff of her room could easily convey the essence of yester night's sloppy passion - a revolver, that door of hers.

Jessica Kaye looked over at me with meagerly crusted peepers and exhaled a loud, booze-laced yawn.

"What is it, Jake?" She spoke through her yawn. "Stop shaking me."

"Cye passed out again!"

It happened so many times that after a while, Jessica became very listless about it. Whether it was the lassitude of ceaseless weight gain, or anything elsewise, there was no excuse for her not to feel as concerned and hurried as I felt.

Toddling behind me to the front of the house, Jessica helped me to ladle Cypress from the porch. We lay him evenly along the couch and thought in what way to advance his upturn.

"Jake," Jessica called, "get the bowl and towel from the kitchen sink. The boy'll be fine. Fill it with water."

Compelled to oblige, I, without delay, brought the requested items and used them to make him well. I dipped the cloth of filament into the steaming ripples until fully submerged. Content with its dampness, I lay the towel gradually across his forehead.

"So, how'd it happen this time?" Jessica pestered.

She'd often attempt to get details about how those blackouts would happen so that she could later use them to restrict Cypress from doing things he wanted. By that time, she had almost taken away everything that would make one call it a life – life for a child at the least.

"I don't know. We just got off our bikes and he fell at the door. He was trying to get in. You know, he should really go to the hosp—"

"Ah, ah, ah, stop right there you little sneak! No further discussion. I already told you. I do what he wants when it's about him."

We had tackled that conversation multiple times in the past. I'd want him in the hospital, but she wouldn't bring him because he didn't want to. Trypanophobia, I believe it's called. He was deathly afraid of needles. That's how he'd make it seem.

"But that's a stupid idea. You can't be okay with a kid making hospital choices can you?!"

"You keep your mouth shut, Jacob. You don't tell me how to be a parent. The only way to let a child learn is to let 'em make mistakes. He will learn."

I hopped from the couch's arm and the tone of my voice gained a louder pitch. She, to me, was unfit to be a parent. At times like those, I suppose I was really mad at the fact that I could do nothing about it.

"That's stupid too!" I yelled. "Mama says not to let kids make mistakes, but when mistakes happen out of anybody's control, you teach them better, but you got control over this!"

We shouted at one another like enemies. The sense of emotion in Jessica's eyes began to grow sharper. It was a look of scorn. Silence bit our tongues and held a grip for nearly 20 minutes. Cypress woke.

"…too cold. The towel is too cold." He murmured.

I grabbed and immediately embraced him tightly. It always felt like we had accomplished something huge if we got him to wake, so it was always the biggest surprise. I was only afraid that one of those times, I'd not get such a shock.

"You were under for much longer this time. I'm glad you're good." I said."

Amidst the cheerfulness, for some reason, Jessica believed that I would speak no opposition toward her statement.

"I was this close to bringing you to the hospital." She said as she peeked through her slightly parted thumb and index finger. "I know how you hate doctors."She continued.

We had already finished the conversation, yet it seemed as if she made that statement only to antagonize me. It wasn't a very mature move.

"So!" I shouted. "He needs to see one. It doesn't matter what he wants!"

I stormed outside, slamming the door behind me. I wanted it to be known just how upset I was.

I grinded my teeth when I was upset. It seemed somehow calming. Ironically though, I would later get pissed because of their sensitivity.

Outside, the wind blew again. It seemed to mock at the fact that I could not share its freedom. How would I, if obtained, have used this freedom – the freedom to howl without being shushed…to travel swiftly, invisibly, and invincibly?

Nonsensical thoughts such as those only served for regret. It was best that I put them to rest before they began.

The burden of friendship seemed all that proved my adolescence, but soon…soon.

I went outside to lie in the grass in order to clear my head of pessimistic thoughts, or rather, take them with a grain of salt. I lay silently, nearly falling asleep until Cypress joined me a while later.

"You know," he started, "sleeping is just blacking out while already lying."

He lay next to me, though I ignored his presence. He tried goading me into speaking.

"So, back to the grass again, eh? We could have stayed at your house, right?"

From ear to ear, a grin stretched across his acquiescent face. He must have known that his conversational attempts were ineffective, but he knew what to say.

"My mom's gonna take me to the hospital tonight."

That's all I wanted and he knew it! It sat me up and removed the 'funk' I had been in.

"You are serious right? You're not just saying this so I can talk to you?"

Nope, she laid on heavy blame. The woman's a siren to the rock of guilt. Or maybe you finally got to her.

We're going tonight at around ten. It's usually slow at night during the weekend, so we can be in and out, ya know? You can go if Savina comes with you. My mom said."

I lay back down and calmed my excitement. It was high time something good was said. Moments later, as we conversed amongst, Jessica bayed from the porch on the way to the car.

"Ten dollars to whoever helps me at the grocery store."

It never took long for our trinity to regain its unity. When I was with Cypress and Jessica, any problems awhile seemed to melt into a lake of forgetfulness. Jessica was like an aunt to me, and I often called her as such when I wasn't upset.

"Me!"

I shouted before Cypress' mocking me. We ran up to the garage-parked car and sat in the back. At the moment we got in, she fixed her rearview mirror and buckled her seatbelt.

"Strapped in?"

We nodded and that was sign enough for her to crank the car and drive. As we drove, she changed the radio to the XM news station, which she often listened to. Neither of us liked to sit in the middle, so we both sat in the back on opposite sides near the windows. Five minutes into the drive, things were silent. I remember it being eerie to me, so I spoke.

"Auntie," I called as her eyes gestured to me through the rearview mirror. "I'm sorry for spouting off at you like that. I didn't really mean it."

"Yeah, yeah. That's why I'm takin' him to the hospital tonight."

"I know, Cye told me."

"Yeah? You two make up?"

"C'mon, ma." Cypress interrupted. "Us?"

'Right, right." She responded.

After the small conversation, Jessica turned the radio to the XM J-pop station at medium volume. Before the two of us had fallen asleep, Cypress made a laughing noise.

"What was that about?" I asked.

"Spouting off...you're so white."

"Uh-huh, you too." I retorted, leaning against the car door and closing my eyes.

Possibly five minutes later, I awoke from my doze. Cypress appeared to be still asleep. I didn't speak; I just peered through my lids, looking around the car. Jessica drove a 4 door sedan with a worn red interior. She tried to get it cleaned once a week.

Minutes later, we arrived at the cheapest grocery store in town. My family didn't really shop there, but their family seemed to enjoy off-brands.

"Jake," Jessica called, "wake him up, we're here."

I didn't feel like reaching over to wake him, so I had planned to go around and wake him, but the door didn't open when I pulled the handle.

"My door…"

She had the proof lock on, so she came to let me out and woke Cypress up as well. He made a few noises, but finally got out, stretching and yawning. Jessica never noticed that I would sometimes switch off the child like and she'd always forget by the time I opened my own door.

Due to lack of parking space, we had to park at a convenience store across the street from the grocery store. It was limited due its small size. We strolled away from the cars as Jessica sounded the horn. The car was locked. We stepped to the rutted curb and awaited the traffic light to turn red.

Jessica's eyes centered on me as I grabbed her hand. She quickly jerked away.

"You're too old." She said.

My head fell in shame. Cypress, as her child, was getting too old for such things, but I didn't think I was. I liked holding hands with people as a child. I really did.

"So," she began, "You can each get ten dollars' worth of personal stuff, the rest is mandatory."

Still, we were halted by the unrelenting gridlock. The traffic light's wire had been bullied into swing by the wind.

"Come on."

Finally, the light turned yellow and we were ready to cross, but before that could happen, everything froze. Cars stopped moving; people stopped walking, and even the wind seemed to have stopped blowing. Everything was still - all accept for Cypress and me.

Menacing, that feeling was. Looking back, I realize how painful it was to have been so ignorant. The overt things that materialized before me were shrouded by a sham of normalcy

"Cye," I called in dragging trepidation, "what just happened?"

The countenance of his face yielded upon the stillness and silence. The look in those eyes told stories from years of obscurity. They revealed a prologue of contempt and an epilogue of dismay. What lied in between were Jacob and Cypress.

"I thought not. He muttered. "You haven't figured anything about this, have you?"

A man garbed in a Khaki suit, wearing a trench coat casually walked from the convenience store behind us.

"It's because the boy is uneducated - uneducated about everything."

The man spoke in a sort of British accent, munching on a bag of potato chips. His black, wavy hair complemented his tan skin. His jaw and chin had been wrought as if it were clay-made from a teen magazine. He was what a woman would call, "easy on the eyes".

"I am…uneducated? Do you know me?"

"Yubél," Cypress called, "what are you doing here?!" He exclaimed.

Still, Yubél stood in silence, persistent in his mastication of chips while appearing to be checking his nails for residue.

"Are you gonna answer me?"

He started to snicker a bit and said, "Come now, boy. Mother taught me to never speak with a full mouth."

"Don't be ironic with me, Yubél! Why are you here so early?"

Yubél began to shake his head.

"Careful not to get too angry. You don't want Jake here seeing your factual self - the monstrous person that you really are."

I stood intimidated, looking between them both, trying to decide what to say. Yubél put doubt of the world inside of my head in one instant.

"Who...are...you?" I asked.

Yubél walked closer to me. I stepped slightly back each time he advanced. His presence was that of a serpent to me. He wasn't the type of guy to cross.

"I'm not early, contrarily, I'm very behind schedule." he said. "This boy should have gained your ruthlessness by now, Cypress. Why have you not misused him? You are far too occupied, living this comfortable life."

Again, he placed doubt in my thoughts - doubt about Cypress, who he was, and how he fit into our relationship.

"You see, Jake." Yubél began, turning to me. "You are who we sought after from the beginning. You are meant to be a little more...crude by now. That was his job, but since he failed, I'm forced into drastic measures."

I repetitively tugged the brim of my long sleeved, plaid shirt. I could sense the permeation of sweat heat my face to the scarlet color of foreboding. My emotions were battling to reveal themselves. I couldn't find how to react.

"But he's not like us!" Cypress shrieked. "His spirit is unbreakable. It's not easy to do what you asked, not easy at all!"

"Cut the excuses, boy. I see no personal growth in this child's psycouvanetic structure. Look at him. He clearly doesn't even know about himself. I felt you could at least manage that."

I remained quiet, looking at whoever spoke words.

"What will he do?" I thought. "Does he want to kidnap or hurt us?"

It's not as if I thought to yell for anyone. I assumed the entire world was frozen, beside the three of us. My emotions had a winner. Not knowing what to do, I cried...didn't know any other way to respond. It wasn't your typical loud cry, but the tears were there and I don't think either of them cared.

"So," Cypress started, "it's my mother and I, isn't it - the final resort?"

Yubél's maniacal smile showed proudly.

"Precisely, so I suppose you've come to terms with the conditions that apply, or do you even remember?

Cypress clenched his right fist and I noticed a small tear stream down his face, but he seemed to try hiding it.

"Of course I do." He said through an unsteady voice. "My mother and I have to die."

He wiped the tear from his face. "No, I can handle it. Jake is too kind to be like me - to be what you wanted without this, so I can do it."

l could no longer bear the unreal surmise. I couldn't be responsible for my silence anymore. I felt that I had to speak or explode from the resounding thoughts in my head.

"That's not true!" I shouted.

I couldn't make proper sense of anything, but dying?

"You're standing over there talkin' like you get to decide everything. What if I don't want you dead?"

During my outcry, Yubél sighed and smoked a cigarette, leaning against a wall. He acted so confident as if he knew that by the end, he'd get what he wanted.

The irking within me pleaded with a hush, but I dared to defy its admonition. Whenever I had words to say, nothing could impede them from escaping.

"What if your mother doesn't want to die? You, man," I said, looking in Yubél's direction "unfreeze her. Let's see what she has to say about all this! Unfreeze her n-"

My words were interrupted by a sudden punch to the face from which I dropped back into the ground.

"Shut up, Jake! Cypress shouted. "Look at you! I just punched you brutally and look, not even one bruise or scratch! Have you seriously been this blind? Many people say that they'd die for who they care for, but how many get the chance to prove it?"

The atmosphere was far too thick with dissension. The hatred-birthing conflict was nearly tangible.

"But what about Jessica?" I interjected "Don't you even care about your own mother?"

His face crooked to further anger - both by his expression, and his words.

"I don't give a damn about that woman, and she couldn't give two about me! Stop trying to change my mind!"

Yubél flicked his cigarette past both our faces to grab our attention. His cynical laughter and applause became easily annoying."

"That… was… astounding, simply amazing! The rage and emotion that increased with each combative statement, it was beautiful - sublime even."

With a sigh, his laughter ended as he walked toward Cypress.

"If you don't mind, though, I would like to take care of other affairs momentarily."

Cypress stared at me and nonchalantly walked away with Yubél as if to intentionally upset me. I realized that at that point, the five feet that once described Cypress had shed its skin into the atrocious silhouette that stood before me.

"So how's it gonna happen?" He asked.

"The traffic…" Yubél replied, "…it looks a bit heavy today. Would you not agree?"

"You couldn't make it any less messy, could you?" Cypress said, clenching his teeth and fist.

"I enjoy the theatrics, Cypress. Now, get to it."

Cypress unclenched his fist and his hand began bleeding, pierced on account of his jagged fingernails. Onto a knife he concealed, he wiped some of the blood and extended his undefined arm to me.

"I'm just curious to see what you do next." Cypress said.

I held a grip on the serrated edged object, trying to understand "why a blood covered knife?" He leisurely walked 'en route for his mother. His bloodstained hand laid a grotesque print upon his mother's shoulder.

"Cye!" I called. As I attempted to jog toward him, Yubél's hand grabbed my shoulder tightly and held me still.

"Watch" He softly dragged with a devious expression on his face.

Knife in my back pocket, I sniveled and formed my face for another session of bawling. I held in the tears. It would have been far too embarrassing to begin crying again.

"You're serious about this?!" I shouted as I escaped from Yubél's clutch.

The sediment beneath my feet was against me. It was far too hard to break free in that terrain.

"It's for you." Cypress said in a saddened monotone.

"After this day, Jacob, become a ruthless monster. Slice the throats of people who take important things from you. Never let a day like this happen again."

I attempted to run, but Yubél promptly grabbed and kicked me into a window behind us.

"I said watch."

I peered from the window as Cypress held the most lifeless expression on his face, as if he accepted the outcome of death.

"I'm ready."

Without confirmation, Yubél slipped a vial of what appeared to be blood from the inside of his tan trench coat and crushed it.

Much blood was shed that day. I knew there had to be some kind of significance. At that instant, cars and people began to move again. They began honking and shouting, "look out!" or "Hey, move!" It was sad, but under all that I could hear, one faint voice screamed, 'Cypress, let me-"

That was it. Nothing more than a cacophony of clashing metal and glass to end her cries.

"Jessica, Cypress!" I shouted as I got up, running to them both.

Yubél stood laughing, lighting yet another cigarette. Everyone in the area stood, gawking, whispering, and snapping pictures of the scene.

"Move, Get away!" I screamed through a weeping voice, shoving people.

I came to the cars, and there they were. They both lay still between two vehicles and red-painted glass, but the drivers were scarcely injured.

Overwhelmed with grief, I sat as tear after another dropped from my eyelashes. For a moment, I looked up because of all the commotion. One woman silently walked past the entire scene. I shifted my attention from her because I could see slight movement from my periphery.

"Cypress!" I happily exclaimed.

Clothed of his mother's blood, he inched his body from cramped between the vehicles.

"I'm...alive?" He said, looking down his blood-covered body in confusion. "I'm alive!" He angrily repeated.

He jumped up quickly and pulled me up as well. He walked toward Yubél as sirens began to sound behind us. He placed his hand on Yubél's shoulder and in an instant, transported us to what looked like an alley. The things he could do were beyond unbelievable.

"Why am still alive and not her?" Cypress angrily demanded of Yubél.

The sirens sounded like they were still coming closer, so he must not have taken us too far.

The surrounding cats felt it necessary to run as a newspaper blew against the wind like tumbleweeds.

"I don't give a damn about that woman. That is what you said, no?"

"Stop screwing with me!"

Cypress looked back at me with shameful eyes.

"Jake, get up. You're going home."

I attempted to refuse his words, but he didn't listen at all.

You shouldn't see anymore. I'm sending you home.

Cypress pushed my chest mildly and my head instantly felt odd, as if I was going up an elevator. I closed my eyes to get a grip and when I opened them, I found myself sitting in the grass outside my house. There was no blood on my shirt and my face was clean of tears. Upset with no intention of hiding it, I quickly ran inside.

"Stop the running." Savina said as she turned to look at me. "Wait," she insisted, "what's wrong? Where's Cypress?"

I stopped mid-way up the stairs and stood in thought, thinking if I should tell her. My following instinct told me that if she were to know, perhaps she'd die, too.

That house was still so familiar, but it felt like I hadn't been there for ages. If those walls could talk, would they have dared to tattle on me?

"I'll be in my room."

I went to my room and plopped on my bed to try dissecting what I had witnessed. There was that man, my possible invincibility, connections with blood, and the knife Cypress gave me. It was high time I piece together the proverbial puzzle.

Piece by piece, I tried to jam scenarios together, only to realize that the picture they created made no sense. Effective thinking led to me dropping down to the floor, foraging through the mess under my bed.

"Here it is." I thought as I pulled my small fishing knife from under.

I tentatively placed the knife on my arm and quickly jerked back in a slicing motion, but nothing happened. Again and time another, I tried cutting myself in various places with many objects and nothing happened. After that day, those things didn't surprise me. It was then that it hit me.

"The knife!"

still covered in drying blood, I pulled the knife from my back pocket. I didn't care what I had to do at that time. The adrenaline was going. I couldn't even feel much pain after using that knife to cut myself.

"I get it now." I thought "Can I get him like this?"

I thought of Cypress' voice saying, "Slice the throats of people who try taking important things from you."

Something in me thought that I could hurt, or even kill Yubél. I guess I was slowly becoming what he wanted. Everything felt irrational.

"You got it, Cye."

I slipped the knife in my back pocket and after maybe half an hour I emerged from the room cleaned of the blood I spilled.

I went downstairs and walked toward the door. Before I could leave, my mother stopped me.

"Asking or telling?"
"I'm going to get my bike from Cye's house."
"How, then, did you get here?"
"I walked."
"You wal- okay, I called Jessica's phone and it goes straight to voicemail. Tell me what's up. Now!

I continued walking out of the door.

"I promise, ma."

I shut the door behind me and shortly noticed my father, Jace, pulling up the driveway.

"Crap!"

I stopped and stared at his car as my heart began to pound heavily. As people commonly say, if it wasn't one thing, it was another.

I was feeling so defeated. My mother opened the door behind me and I ran from her. She signaled my father to drive after me. I ran from him along the sidewalk before I realized how foolish it was to try outrunning a car. I hid on the side of a house to execute the only idea I thought best. "Hail Mary" as its called.

"I really hope this does it."

I took my bloodstained knife and sat on the ground. I took my shoes off and minimally cut the bottoms of my feet , allowing the blood to dampen my heels.

Damn it! I drastically cried as I sliced. It was the first use of a swear word that I had ever exercised.

The pain barely mattered when my adrenaline took way. I began running and I found that I knew even more about the extent to what I was.

"Yes, yes, yes!" I shouted as I began to run faster.

There was no way my father could have seen or caught up to me. Once I got about three blocks away from Cypress' house, I noted there to be orange coloring against the skyline and a cloud of smoke above it.

"Is that his?"

Faster, I ran to reach Cypress' house and sure enough, it was fully ablaze. There were people standing around and fire fighters were on the way. I was afraid to go in, but shortly recalled that when I was thrown into a window I was fine.

"Can I go in there, then?"

I didn't want anyone having the chance to try grabbing after me, so I beat off the fear and ran inside.

"Cye?" I called as I entered the flaming building.

It felt like I was in a major game since meeting Yubél. I felt like my boss fight was at hand. The question was how I'd fair against my opponent. I walked into the living area and there he was. He stood there as if he had already anticipated my arrival.

"What did you do!?" I shouted.

"It's not as bad as it looks or this place would've hit the ground by now. It's on fire, yes, but most of it's an illusion to keep people from coming in."

As expected, my opponent was Cypress. That's always who it had been. I battled for his attention, battle against him in competition. It was only natural that it be the two of us in the end of it all.

"But why?" I asked, standing face to face with him.

"…to have no reason to come back here. I'm leaving. Not for good, but for a while."

He had the nerve to wear a smile, but even so, I hated him. No smirk of any kind could ruse his already exposed facade. The intent that my gaze held could have punctured his heart in twain. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had.

"Where are you going?"

"That's for me to know and for you…for you never to find out."

"But what about me? Can't I be the reason you come back?"

It was pitiful the way I begged him. Though I hated him at that moment, I wanted so badly to care as I usually would. I thought that to convince him to stay would mean that I could rekindle the ignorance that I was content with. How foolish I had been… a pitiful child.

"Jake, you are so small, but you speak well. You are going to be smart when you grow up. I see it. I'll be back, just not here. You'll see me again. Bet on it."

"But when? How long do I wait!?"

He placed his hand on my shoulder and smiled again.

"...for me to know."

We both looked around after hearing a voice say, "This is the fire department. If anyone's in here, make as much noise as you can."

"They're here." Cypress said. "You might wanna get going."

"Wait! That guy, where is he? Did you-"

"Don't worry about it; he's gone. In the meantime, come here."

He examined my body and his curious eyes scaled to my dry-blooded feet.

"You've been learning, I see."

"I did because of you."

"You assumed wrong. I'm not happy about it. I gave you the knife to see what choice you'd make. You are obviously still a child to have chosen so rashly. It's high time you forget."

He lifted his hand toward me. I backed up a step and slapped it away.

"No! I'm just now learning about all this. You can't just take it."

"You're wrong. You've now learned what they want you to be. I was wrong to give you that choice. You're a kid. Hold on to that for as long as possible because you don't want your life to end up the way mine has to."

To this day, I hate him for it, but back then, I lied to myself. I didn't hate him. I loved him as much as a friend could. After he revealed himself to me, I only wanted to hate him.

I was too weak to hate. It's ironic how I was blinded by the same person who allowed me to see the true him. I should have known that something was amiss – the fact that I never met a 13-year-old boy with his intellect.

"Did you bring the knife I gave you?"

I slipped my hand into my back pocket and gave him the knife. He cut himself with a barely intrusive scar, enough.

"Thick blood, we psycouvanytes have. …never runs out."

"Sah-cau-van-ite?" I asked.

"That's what I am, Jake... what you are. We don't have time to talk. They've come in. I'm blocking the memory. It's the best and really, the only thing I know how to do for you."

The first thing he did was wipe blood on parts my body that began to burn a little.

"Ouch! What did you do?"

"You were just in a fire. You need to look like it."

He then placed his hand over my chest and pushed some sort of light through it.

"I'm done. The next time you sleep and wake, you will forget. I'm sorry. I have to go now. Until then, I love you, buddy."

With that, he was gone. There was no smoke, no poof, just…gone.

"I'm here!" I shouted as a fighter rushed to my aid.

He picked me up and we exited the building, where it seemed that the fire died down exponentially. Outside, my father waited for me and a crowd of people stood behind him in awe. Holding back tears, I lay in the man's arms and tilted my head toward the house, realizing that it was my last time seeing it, or even possibly remembering it.

Names…they lead to a cascade of sadness when that which is named disappears. Cypress Kaye…what significance did his name hold? It held none whatsoever, but his friendship meant everything to me.