The first thing that struck him was the desertion of the streets. It was still, quiet, but in a pervasive way that seemed evil and unearthly. The air he was breathing seemed to grow even heavier in the cruel, mocking silence, broken occasionally by the sound of something collapsing, until it was almost as if the pressure in his chest was going to make him burst. The garnet eyes shut themselves tightly against the desolateness of the scene before them, and, without realizing it, his dark glasses slipped from the already loosened grasp of his nerveless fingers.
Everything before him lay in ruins.
It had only been a small section of town, true, but it had been a residential area, and the sight of all of the barren and evacuated homes, the paneless windows staring at him like great boring eyes, was more than enough to make him inhale sharply despite how heavy the air seemed. That was why the red eyes were shut now; he couldn't stand it anymore, not after he had seen the remains of a child's toys scattered scross one of the desolate and dead front lawns, the formerly emerald grass seared brown- if it even remained at all- seemed to keep silent sentry over the deserted houses, which themselves turned empty, pleading eyes upon him.
He forced himself to open his now flashing eyes whenever he heard something in front of him.
The garnet-eyed boy looked up, to see someone picking their precarious way through the rubble littering the otherwise empty streets; it was their footsteps that had caught his attention, because every time they put one of their feet down, it crunched on ruins laying in the street. They were walking slowly, solemnly, but with an air of casual determination that confused him; and the other thing that presented itself a mystery was the fact that they never lost their footing, even when climbing over one of the great mounds of rubble.
And so it wasn't long before the stranger stood face-to-face with the boy.
"So I see that you have noticed the results of your insolence," was the first thing spoken, said with a strange calm by this new being. "If you had deemed to follow us, this would not have happened."
The boy's garnet eyes flashed with barely constrained rage, and he clenched his fists as he look up at the stranger and made his reply.
"No. I will never follow you. This destruction was of your own cause, and you know it but try to persuade me otherwise. I know who you are, and I will never take after your ways."
And the boy spit at the man.
Calmly wiping himself off, the man in turn said, "Oh, but Griffin, how foolish you are. You think we are the evil ones, when it is in truth someone else . . . and you know that someone else very closely."
There was a brief, horrible instant when a picture of the smiling Adrienne McCullough flashed into his mind, and he only looked up at the stranger and calmly said, "No."
"You are correct in that," the man replied, "for it is not your beloved Adrienne who poses a threat to her home. It is you."
Though inwardly reeling backward from the shock, the boy tried not to show it. He hardened his garnet eyes, clenched and unclenched his fists, and finally turned away as a tide of emotion swept over him. Once again, his gaze landed on the remains of those toys lying in what still stood of a home's front lawn.
He was silent for a moment.
Suddenly, the seething rage inside of him bursting free, he looked at the man and snapped, "You are trying to scare me, aren't you? To fool me into letting down my defenses? You know as well as I that you are lying, minion of darkness, and I refuse to believe falsehoods. Why don't you just let me alone?"
The man stood undaunted as the figure of the boy in front of him suddenly vanished with a flash of those garnet eyes. He only stood there, cool and calm, before announcing to the empty air before him, "You cannot play your childish tricks on me, Griffin. I know that you are still there."
He calmly took a step to one side, and remained unfazed as a gust of air shot violently by him, as though someone had tried to punch him and missed. He took a step forward and didn't even notice the heavy, bodiless breathing, that of someone who is trying their best to control their violent anger.
"I can see right through you, Griffin," he said, an amused smile forming on his face, "literally as well as figuratively. You think you are special, because you can make yourself vanish- you can hide yourself from human perception- and yet, you are still there. I know your tricks, Griffin, and I also know where you are, try though you might to hide yourself from me."
And he kicked at the empty air before him.
He was met by a groan of pain, before the invisible figure retaliated by punching the stranger soundly in the nose.
This caused him to step back, head reeling from the explosion of pain, before he regained his composure and calmly wiped the blood away from his nose.
"Now, now, Griffin," he said, chastising the unseen figure mockingly, "you know that violence isn't the answer, is it? And that's what we say. But you refuse to believe, Griffin, because you are very violent by nature, and we all know that you can't control it- it's just the way you are Griffin, and you can't change that, can you?"
Once again, he sidestepped, dodging an invisible blow.
"Griffin, why don't you stop this child's play and make yourself visible again? Or is it just that you feel safer when you are unseen?"
He was met briefly by silence, before the figure of the tall, slender and sinewy boy came back into view. His garnet eyes betrayed his violent inner rage, which was itself was being barely concealed- just as the stranger had said.
"There, now that's better, isn't it? We can see each other now, talk man to man. Makes you feel important, doesn't it?"
Griffin just stared coldly at him.
"And now, I will proceed to tell you just why you are such a danger to your 'home.'"
"I will listen, but I cannot assure you that I will believe you," the boy stated coldly, crossing his slender arms across his chest.
"Very well then. Then I will begin . . .
"You think you are protecting your race, Griffin, but you are not. You can only bring it harm, and all of those senseless bullies at school realized it without really knowing- which is why you were what is called a . . . bully magnet, I do believe? Yes, that's it . . . but you see, only Adrienne McCullough didn't realize what you were, Griffin, and so she's your only friend . . . yes, that's right, not even your own 'parents' fully accept you, though they try their hardest."
He paused and, went met only by the boy's silence and stony gaze, began anew.
"That's because you're not what everyone thinks you are, Griffin. And you know it, don't you? But you refuse to accept, which is why you fight us- although our goal is to end any trouble that might be brought on by you. That's why we were always watching you, Griffin, because we knew that you were very violent and would explode if provoked. So we let them provoke you, until we thought that you could not possibly have any more energy left. But we were wrong.
"It proved our downfall, Griffin, when you and that cursed Adrienne realized what we were trying to do- though all the others blindly followed, you refused, because you knew but didn't quite understand that it would bring your destruction if you took up our ways- because, Griffin, that is what we are here for- to destroy you."
For a brief moment, a look of shock stamped itself on his features, before the boy hardened them again and said, "You're lying."
"Let me explain it to you, Griffin," the man began once again, very calmly. "You are not what you think you are- not anywhere near- not what you've convinced yourself you are, at least. Did you really think you were human? Foolish, insolent boy, can humans make themselves invisible?"
He was met by silence again.
"You're right. They can't, and that's one way you're different. Admit it, Griffin . . . you know who you are."
There was silence, and he watched with a sort of amused expression as the boy's hands clenched and unclenched themselves again and again, spasmadically, before he fell to the ground and clutched at his head with a cry of pain. The man just watched on without a sound, not saying anything when the boy looked up at him with a combination of pleading, pain and hatred.
"How did you know . . . not even I knew . . . why can't I remember?! I know . . . I'm not human . . . no . . . nowhere near . . . WHY DOES IT HURT SO MUCH?!"
His head fell again, and he gave another cry of pain.
The man arched his eyebrows slightly, saying, "Oh, but you did know, Griffin, just refused to accept it. For you see, Griffin, you are not human, you are not alien, you are something unto itself. You were never a child, you may perhaps one day be a young man, but you are unaging . . . because that's how you were created to be."
The boy's head shot up with such a cry of vehemence and rage that it was almost as though he had slapped the man.
"You're lying again, aren't you? I was not created by another race, I was a child once, and I admit that I will grow old some day! What do you want with me?!"
"Oh, but you're wrong, Griffin," the man replied gently, mockingly. "You were created by another race, who grew too sure of themselves and began to play god. And so, Griffin, you weren't really born, you just Iwere/I one day. And we had to destroy that race, because they had become too powerful and too much of a threat to the rest of the universe . . . but we missed you, even though you didn't understand your own power and became invisible by accident- our technologies were unreliable, useless, against you, for they were not adequate for tracking you down- so we lost you. And you resurfaced here."
The boy looked up at him and opened his mouth as if he were going to speak, but was cut off by the man.
"Then why do I look human, you ask? Then why do I feel human? It is because, Griffin," the man told him with a disturbing calm, "that's how you were made to be. You somehow managed to travel, unnoticed, from your place of 'birth', and came to this planet. And that was how you became what you are . . . For you see, Griffin, you were not really anything before you came here. You were a strange, almost disjointed mass of molecules that had been created to imprint off of the first being you came into contact with, or to model yourself after something you read- and somehow, you managed to remain that group of molecules until you came to Earth, where the first thing you came into contact with was a book . . . and you know as well as I what book that was."
Griffin barely managed to nod his head, because it had begun to hang once again.
"In your disjointed mind, you had already begun to associate yourself with the main character, and so you patterened yourself after him. That is why you are what you are, Griffin- a tall albino whose violence was increased even more after you imprinted yourself after the main character of that book. That's why you consistently seem under the greatest irritation, and why everything puts a strain on you because you are trying to contain the violent rage that you were 'born' with. It is quite a burden, isn't it? That's why you can't control yourself sometimes, and end up hurting all those around you- though, through some strange twist of fate, you've managed to spare Adrienne McCullough. Could it be that you have . . . feelings for her?"
Griffin stood himself up and stared stonily at the man.
"You need not do anymore, Griffin, you've already answered. And does she know what you are? Probably not- because, it is as you admitted- even you refused to accept, and caused yourself to forget, and therefore, no one else knows. They just think you are the violently angry Griffin Jones, when we both know that is not your real name."
The boy's garnet eyes flashed.
"If anything, you should be known as no more than 'Griffin,' because the character by that name was who you patterned yourself after; but beyond that, you don't even have a real name. You were simply Project 09 to the race that made you, and they only did that to see if they could. So, in truth, 'Griffin,' you should not even exist."
"I don't care what you say!"
The boy's cry rang out over the stillness of the surrounding land, and it echoed numerous times. The man heard such ferocity in that one shout that he didn't dare reply, even though his outward appearance of calm did not flinch.
Breathing heavily, Griffin told the man, "So I am what I am. You can't change that, and you know it- so the only reason that you constantly follow me and attempt to destroy me is because you fear me and what I can do. For you know as well a I that I was created to do more than make myself invisible!"
And the boy vanished once more.
"We both understand that I was a sleeping giant, and would have remained harmless compared to this, had you not deemed it necessary to rid the universe of my existence!"
A ring of something gold shot out quite suddenly from a seemingly empty space, causing the man to go reeling backwards with its force. He stepped forward again, however, his outward expression changing from one of calm to one of determination and anger.
"I am not human, I was but not am Project 09, I am simply Griffin. And Griffin would be harmless if you left him in peace!"
It wasn't the bodiless voice that was disturbing the man, it was the rage present inside of it. So Project 09 had finally snapped.
"If only you would leave me BE!"
Another colored ring shot out from the same empty space, except it was dull crimson this time; it knocked the man backwards with even more violence, causing him to lose his footing, and it was all he could do to keep from falling over.
"If only you would leave me be, I could be happy, I could have been so close to human that I would've completely forgotten that I wasn't one! But you had to come and meddle in my happiness, to put yourself into my affairs, when all would have been well if only I could've been left to myself!"
Three more colored rings came spiraling out from the empty air, a dark blue one, a vibrant green one, an unearthly purple one. Three colored rings of what the man recognized to be sheer, raw energy hit him in succession, each one throwing him farther back until the final one finally knocked him over.
He watched from his position on the ground as footprints imprinted themselves in the rubble before him, each accompanied by a crunching noise telling their maker's pace- it was rather leisurely, it seemed, and so the man watched in silence as the trail of marks imprinted themselves before him. They stopped about two feet away from where he sat.
He could sense, but not see, someone bending over to within about four inches of his face, could feel the flashing garnet eyes boring into him- and he did not flinch.
"You could have brought peace, but you now have only brought this fate upon your own head."
The owner of the voice began to walk away, only his footprints showing as they marked themselves into the earth; once again, though, they stopped- this time where they had first begun.
"Oh, but for your foolish insolence," came the bodiless voice again, and this time the rage was not at all concealed- it flowed freely throughout the voice.
"But for your foolish insolence, you could have escaped unharmed. But now, what was Project 09 and now is Griffin is going to give to you what you deserved long, long ago."
Suddenly, a brilliant, blinding white light in the shape of a bonfire appeared, and in the center of it was vaguely outlined the form of a tall, slender boy; the intensity of what the man recognized as pure, unbridled energy grew and grew, until he had to look away and shield his eyes from it. The previously blue sky paled in comparison to this unearthly light, which was beginning to blind the man even though his eyes were now tightly shut; realizing what was about to happen, he hurriedly picked himself up onto his feet and ran for shelter.
The garnet eyes shot open.
In less time than it took for the man to realize what happened, the white bonfire had exploded, sending rings of energy out that layed flat all around it, including what he had been hiding behind. They came again, and again, in every shade of the rainbow from the blinding white to the darkest black. Each one successively drove him further down to the ground, until he was soon laying flat and face-down upon it, his hands protecting his head in a way that seemed almost foolish in comparison to the "boy's" onslaught.
It was over before he knew what had happened. He stood up, looked around, and saw the pale form of the boy, breathing heavily, his clothes covered in dirt, lying in the rubble of the street. The man inhaled sharply as he saw that everything surrounding the boy had been laid flat; indeed, the destruction went on for as far as the previous damage had, and no further- it was now as if nothing had ever been there at all.
His gaze turned towards the boy, whose garnet eyes were closed with fatigue, and then towards the destruction caused by the boy; before he knew what he was doing, he had turned and run up the street, run until he was out of sight of the horrible desolation brought on by him.
He had been lost over the horizon for quite some time when Griffin, formerly known as Project 09, awoke. He barely managed to stand himself upright in the street, still breathing heavily, while he gazed at the destruction he had caused; he said nothing, heard nothing, perceived nothing except that he could no longer see the man. For once, the murderous rage inside of him subsided, and he fell onto a bed of rubble that had fallen into the street.
The garnet eyes closed.