The next night, Jake found himself back in the warehouse. The mess from the night before had been cleaned up swiftly by the audience. They were always dependable, even if they were just common criminals. Jake had returned to the warehouse to ponder over things in his mind, mostly about the stranger. Who was he? Why did he vanish so suddenly? Why was he even bothering with the stranger in the first place? He didn't care anything for anybody. Most people, he found disinteresting and not worth his time. But this man was different. He seemed...akin to him in some way. What that way was, though, Jake was unsure.
His thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a soft noise in the upper levels of the warehouse. His switchblade out and ready, he slowly crept up the stairs into the upper levels, his feet never making a noise as he climbed. He stopped, listening for another sound, but none graced his ears. His breathing had become shallow as he began to walk again, stopping on occasion and listening. But no more noises were to be heard. He sighed a little and walked down the stairs once more, taking seat on his operating table.
Jake felt a hand fall on his shoulder. Spinning around quickly, he lashed out wildly with his switchblade at the intruder. A sudden string of laughter cut through the silence as Jake found himself face to face with the stranger from the previous night. Jake closed his switchblade and placed it back in his pocket. He straightened, standing no more than a foot from the stranger. Jake's eyes traveled down to the rip he had made in the man's white cotton tee. There was no blood, and no cut. Jake could have sworn he felt his blade sink into flesh. His gaze went back to the stranger's face, and he found the other man grinning strangely.
"Very good, Jake." Jake tensed when he heard the stranger speak his name. Hardly anyone knew his name. "Few have ever gotten that close to me with a blade." The man spoke in a soft voice, not unlike Jake's; perhaps kinder. "I am sure you have many questions, Jake. I will save you some time and tell you who I am, and why I am here. My name is Gasper. My friends and I have been watching you for a while now, and have come to the conclusion that you belong with us."
"Wait..." Jake interrupted quickly and backed away from Gasper, shaking his head. "I think you've made a mistake. I don't belong anywhere. I just exist, and I'm--"
"Wrong." Gasper finished the sentence. "You say you don't not belong anywhere. Not in Heaven, not in Hell, not on Earth. Even Limbo is not right for you. You are not alone in this."
"What?" Jake searched the eyes of the man before him. They were a startling grey, like his own. His hair was black and cut long, like Jake's natural hair color. They were both the same height and same build. They could have been brothers.
"I am just as you are, Jake. And there are others. My friends. We go through lives existing but not belonging, not having a sense of purpose. We die one day, and wake up in another life, never having a childhood, never needing to eat, drink, or sleep. Love, compassion, comfort...these are mere words to us. Is this not who you are?" Gasper explained, motioning for Jake to take a seat on a box as he did so himself.
Jake sat, staring at Gasper a while, shaking his head a little. He almost didn't want to believe it. Others such as he? How? He was not alone in the world. There were others. Why did they exist, then? If he was not the only one, then there must have been a reason. But what was it?
"So..." Jake started, unsteadily. Gasper motioned for him to continue, waiting for Jake to ask questions. "What are we then?"
Gasper sighed and closed his eyes a moment, then opened them and looked to the ceiling. "We...are the unknown. The unseen, the untouchable, the unwanted and the unwelcome. We were created, long ago, with a purpose."
"What purpose?" Jake asked eagerly. Gasper paused a moment and looked to Jake, shaking his head.
"We, don't know. The lives we lived in which we knew the purpose, have been forgotten by us all."
"No...that's not right. I remember every one of my lives. I know it." Jake shook his head. He couldn't believe that he could just forget his purpose if he had one.
Gasper chuckled a little bit. "Surely, in your dreams, you have seen fragments of the forgotten lives?"
Jake shook his head again. "I do not sleep therefore, I do not dream. I never sleep. I simply stay awake, reading books, taking walks. Anything to occupy my mind. But I never sleep. I did not think I was capable of it."
"You do not need sleep, but you can sleep." Gasper replied with a smile. "Try sleeping tomorrow, and I will meet you here in the night. You can tell me what you dreamed then." Gasper stood from the box, and began to walk slowly towards the exit. Jake jumped up from the box.
"Wait! Uh...Gasper, right? Look...you said I am one of you, right? That you and your friends are like me. Do you...have pain?" Jake asked, watching the man walk away.
Gasper stopped and looked over his shoulder at Jake and nodded slightly. "Yes. We all do. Immeasurable pain. And, we all have a form of release, Jake. Not all like you, no. My release, is arson. Setting things on fire, and watching the flames burn bright. The beauty of the reds, yellow, and oranges consuming anything in their path." He stared straight ahead as he spoke of fire, his eyes half closed and a satisfied look on his face. He chuckled a little bit and looked back slightly at Jake. "All your questions will be answered in time, Jake. For now, go back to your apartment and sleep. Dream. Meet me here tomorrow night and I will take you to my friends. There, you will get some answers. Goodnight, Jake. Sweet dreams." Gasper chuckled and walked out of the warehouse. The door slammed shut and Jake was once more alone.
A few moments later, Jake left the warehouse. He walked down the lonely streets, no one daring to come near him. Shortly, he arrived at his apartment building, and walked the long flight of stairs to his apartment on the sixth story. He unlocked the door and walked in, looking to the room that was meant to be his bedroom. He had never bothered with getting an actual bed, however. He looked to the couch in the living room and sat down on it. The couch, a simple coffee table, and an old TV sitting on top of a stand were the only pieces of furniture he owned.
Sighing deeply, Jake laid out on the couch, quite comfortably. He thought himself foolish for taking a stranger's advice. But...he couldn't ignore it either. He closed his eyes and inwardly laughed at himself. But soon, a fatigue overtook him. He had never felt so tired in all of his lives. He now saw why sleep was so popular. He felt as if he were drifting away into some world where no one would bother him. Where he would have no pain. It was pleasant, soothing, welcoming. Until he began to dream.