Chapter 5 - Nighttime On EarthMature

I felt as
though I was suspended by puppet strings, then suddenly dropped onto the stage.
As soon as I had ran through the arch that would take me to Earth, I was stuck
in an peculiar warp for what seemed to be quite some time. Once I ended up on a
cold, hard pavement in what sounded to be a bustling city, I noticed that close
to no time passed while I was in the warp.

I realized I
had been transported into the heart of a city as soon as I stood up to get a
bearing of my surroundings. Skyscrapers dominated the space, and I recognized
them easily as the buildings that dotted the metropolitan closest to my home;
if I got started walking soon, I could reach my township in the middle of the
night.

I believed
that I had been taken away from Earth for a long time. Never in the afterlife
have I seen the towering buildings that covered the landscape, their lights
blazing into the twilight. The many people carrying suitcases and rushing to
their cars to get out to their homes before traffic built up gave a sense of a
working machine; employees going in, and then employees going out, only coming
back again the next day to pick up their previous doings from yesterday. The
cars rushing by and then coming to a seemingly immediate halt showed off the
highlights of the industrial age, as well as the factories with their large,
tall smokestacks.

Seeing the
sights of modern Earth made me feel right at home without me actually being at
my home. I could stay here and stare in awe for hours I thought, until I
remembered my objective; a church nearby was getting pestered by protestors
that were against religion. I would have to stop them, hopefully, and then
renew a century’s old blessing that would protect my family.

I started
walking down the sidewalk I had landed on. I few passing pedestrians observed
me curiously, and I couldn’t blame them; a boy alone in the city was an odd
sight indeed.

The street I
was on connected right to a bridge that would lead me over a small gorge and on
my way to the township I had previously resided in. I quickened my pace as I
continued down the sidewalk, brushing past some people that were hurrying to
some other place all over this area. More than once I heard someone shout back
at me to “Watch it!” or to “Mind your way, boy!” among other things. I realized
soon that most people were going opposite my direction, so I powered through,
becoming a little more aggressive than I should be.

Moving down
to the end of the path, I stopped dead in my tracks; a crosswalk laid before
me. All I could think about was how Hunter had run me down as I crossed one
back at my school. I was nervous, thinking that any car could be my impending
death… again.

Forgetting
the past for a brief moment, I quickly crossed the street and kept on my way,
with more shouts directed at me by angry individuals. Their attitudes showed me
the dark side of Earth I had grown to despise, and I started to rethink about
my plans just because of the things I currently observed.

I passed by
a bookstore and thought none of it. When I was around one block away from it, I
remembered something Amanda Gregory had once said; maybe the book I had made
was published after my death! I ran back to the store and swung open the door,
which meant it was still, thankfully, open.

I walked at
a hurrying pace towards the shelves that populated the room I had entered.
Propped up on a table that was positioned right in front of me was a book
titled The Infection. I reached out
and snatched it, realizing the name as the title of the book I had submitted to
my friend’s father to publish!

I stared in
amazement. I had actually gotten my book out into the public, it was actually
in bookstores! Flipping through the pages, I found the author’s biography.
There was no mistaking my face in the picture that was placed above the text. I
turned back to the beginning of the book, and I read the opening paragraph. It
was, undeniably, my writing style.

I wasn’t
sure what I could do with it. I didn’t believe I carried any money with me, or
had any at my Earthly house to begin with. I had half an instinct to just carry
it out without paying for it, but I held my desire back. A thought appeared in
my head; if the clerk recognized me as the boy who wrote the book, I would be
able to, possibly, take it for free. It was an attempt I was willing to make.

I walked
over to the counter by the entrance and laid the book on the counter. The clerk
scanned the tag on the back of it and then read the numbers off of the
computer.

“Right,
that’s ten dollars boy” the man behind the counter said. He had a very thick
British accent.

I shook my
head. “I have no money, sorry, but I can-“

“What the
bloody hell are you doing then? No money, no book” he said simply.

“I wrote it,
and I just wanted to check out what the final copy looked like” I quickly
explained. “I need to see it, and I was wondering if you could possibly…”

The man
scowled. “What are you trying to pull on me? The kid who wrote this book is
dead, you stupid git. You’re not stealing from me, no sir!”

I shook my
head furiously. “No, no, look on the back, I actually am-“

“Besides,
with all the bloody cash you’re getting, how would you not have any with you?”
he pointed out.

“Wait, I’m
getting a lot of money?” I asked, my happiness soaring. My book was well
received!

At this
point, the man was pretty confused and set on his decision. “I get people like
you trying to pull off quick grabs all the time. I’ve seen it all. I’m not
caving in, hear?”

I continued
to shake my head. If only this man would understand.

“I am Jordan
Dikes! I wrote that book! Look on the-“

“I’m done
with you, alright?’ he said, waving his hands. “Piss off, will ya? Or I’ll get
the authorities over here.”

I sighed and
stomped out the door, making sure to slam it as I exited. If only he had
checked the back of the book, he might have understood, but he continued to
refuse to do so. It was a badly laid out plan anyways, no need to get hung up
over it.

I went back
on my path homeward, not looking back at the bookstore, though I could’ve sworn
the clerk was looking me over as I persisted down the sidewalk. The ongoing sea
of people had seemed to die down, and I had more walking liberty than
previously.

Already it
seemed as though the skies had grown pitch-black, the only light being provided
from the numerous street lights and various other lights inside of buildings. I
wasn’t sure if I should stop at an apartment or something instead of carrying
on my way. I suddenly remembered that I had no money with me, and probably no
way of getting any cash, at least at this hour. Maybe I could hide away in an
alley-way somewhere nearby for the night and return on my way towards the
church the next day. I had, technically, seven days and a night to fix the
church problem and see my friends, and go and see Hunter… for a very different
reason.

I was about
to turn into an alley-way and camp there so I could get a good sleep, but then
someone grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. I was face-to-face with a man
with a large, black beard wearing an expensive suit.

“You… Jordan
Dikes?” he asked me.

I was taken
by complete surprise at the man’s inquiry. I wasn’t completely sure if I should
tell him that I was really the teenager that was killed in a car accident just
a few days ago.

“I saw you
at the bookstore” the man went on. “I knew as soon as I saw your face… you were
him”.

I didn’t
know how to respond to him.

“I uh… think
you have the wrong person” I replied as calmly as I could.

He shook his
head in response. “No, it’s you. I know it’s you”.

I looked
around to make sure no one else was listening. If I was telling one person that
I was still alive and back on Earth for a week, I didn’t want to tell much
more.

“Ok… yeah,
it’s me. What do you want?” I asked him, which was a far more important
question.

The man look
taken aback by my comment.

“You don’t
remember me?” he said.

“I’m sorry…
no”.

He shrugged.
“I shouldn’t have expected you to”.

He gestured
to himself. “I’m Paul Hundson… I’m Amanda’s uncle. We met one time at a party.
Now do you remember that?”

I finally
recognized the man that stood before me.

“Sorry, I
didn’t realize it was you… what with the outgrown beard and all”.

He nodded.
“I didn’t recognize myself for a while. I’ve neglected to shave for quite some
time, and especially since yesterday, what with your… you know…”

“I’m not
dead… at the moment” I said.

He tilted
his head. “What does that mean exactly?” he asked.

“Long story
short, I’m still alive for a week” I explained as quickly as I could. “If I
talk any more, we’d be discussing until the sun comes up”.

He nodded
slowly, obviously not comprehending my brief summary.

“Anyways, I
just wanted… Amanda… to be happy…” he said, the sadness evident in his voice.
“She’s been depressed ever since you died, and I know it was only a day ago…
but she’s taking it incredibly hard… I’m not sure if she’ll ever feel better”.

“I know how
she’s feeling… I could see what she had been doing” I responded. “If it makes
you feel any better… I was going to see her later today”.

He looked at
me, happiness returning to him. “Oh, thank you! You’ll make her get out of this
depression… hopefully. I can’t stand to watch her fall down to this level”.

I nodded.
“Don’t worry… I’ll go see her”.

Paul nodded
in response. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

I turned
around and was ready to leave when Paul turned me back around once again.

“By the way,
Jordan… it’s good to see you”.

And with
that, Paul was gone, walking away into the darkness of the night. I smiled as
he left. Paul, from what I knew, was a very kind man; a good sense of humor and
a sympathetic manner.

His talk of
Amanda worried me though; I knew she had been depressed from my death, but by
the sounds of it, it was worse than I believed it to be. I promised to myself
to go see her immediately the next day.

I walked
into the alley-way, yawning as I strolled. I was able to thankfully locate a
blanket by a garbage bin. I wasn’t prepared to use it, or I would have been
under normal circumstances, but I had nowhere else to go. I should have
mentioned to Paul that I didn’t have a home at the moment, but that was the
past now. My fault for not asking.

I wrapped
the blanket around my figure and it warmed me up. I found it to be quite
sanitary and fine to sleep in, at least for the night. I definitely wouldn’t
keep it, but it would be great for the time being.

As soon as I
lied down and got ready to sleep, a shout rang out from the building next door.
I stood up quickly, instantly alert. Suddenly, the door on the side of the
structure burst open! A figure covered from head to toe in dirt and stained
clothes came out with a very worried and nervous facial expression. He looked
both ways down the alley-way, and then sprinted down to the wall at the end of
it.

I heard
another shout and saw another person sprint out of the building. This figure
was large and well-built, with a brown handlebar mustache. In his hands was a
long, sharp knife. He ignored my presence and chased after the man that had
previously exited from the door.

The large
man, who was a cook I assumed from his white clothing stained with salad,
eventually caught up to the runaway. He grabbed him and began to drag him back
to the building. I looked the terrified man over once again; I had guessed from
his appearance that he was homeless, and the food he held in his hands were now
evident of this.

“Please,
leave me be!” the man pleaded to the cook.

The cook
kept dragging the homeless man to the threshold.

“Stealing
from me, I will most certainly not tolerate!” the cook shouted.

I held out
my hand. “Leave him be” I said calmly. The cook snapped around quickly and made
eye contact with me.

“Another one
of those damn hoboing children. Get moving out of here!” he commanded, waving
his hands down towards the exit of the alley-way.

I pointed at
the homeless man, who was still completely scared.

“Look at
him. He’s poor and probably doesn’t have any food to begin with. He had no
choice but to steal… he’s desperate. If you just let him go, I bet he won’t
ever bother you again”.

“You bet
so?” he asked in an angry tone.

“I believe I
know so”.

The cook
raised an eyebrow, then looked back at the homeless man, sizing him up as though
wondering if it was worth punishing him. In a split second, he let go of his
shirt and retreated back inside of the building next door.

The homeless
man walked over to me.

“Thank you…
for what you did” he said. His accent sounded like that of an old
African-American. He looked at my blanket.

“You found
my blanket too!” he said gleefully, taking the blanket from me. “This has been
in my family for generations. I was not ready to lose it”. As soon as he had
the blanket in his possession, he dashed out of the alley-way. I mourned the
loss of the comfortable blanket, but at the same time I was at ease knowing it
was in the hands of someone who needed it much more. I decided that staying in
this area wouldn’t be took much of a good idea. I walked out back into the
streets and looked around the city. So far, I had gone nowhere, and had nowhere
to go.

Paul,
however, coincidentally drove by my position just as I continued down the
street in search of somewhere else to get to.

“Where are
you going off to?” he asked me.

I shrugged.
“Truthfully, I have no idea. I was about to just rest in an alley, but I didn’t
really have anything to keep me warm… I’m not sure where I’m to go at this
point except forward”.

Paul
gestured over to his car.

“I insist,
stay with me for a day or two. I live nearby Amanda’s house!”

I quickly
jumped inside of the car and thanked Paul for his generosity. He seemed to
represent the part of Earth that I had grown to like, the reason I must’ve had
to keep living for all those years.

“It’s not
too long of a drive. We should be there soon” Paul called out to me. “It has a
nice view of the Brewman River; remember that? It’s not too big, but it can
house the two of us with no problem”.

I had
already fallen fast asleep. The events that had passed; the British clerk and
the homeless man; must’ve worn me out for whatever reason. Either that or I
didn’t get enough sleep back in the afterlife. I should’ve slept in instead of
going downstairs to witness that one news report, then having to be with Amanda
and us… whatever. She’s the past now.

Maybe I had
self-exhausted myself, something I do often for really no reason at all. At
least the quiet darkness of my slumber would help me think for a little while.

Paul said he
lives nearby Amanda’s house, which in turn is nearby Jeoman High School, which
in turn is nearby to Hunter’s house. If he wasn’t there and was already in prison,
I would find him somehow and show him how happy I am to see him. The bastard
would receive the payback he so well deserves. I would make sure of that.

The church I
assumed was the Jeoman Christian Church, which was located just a little bit
before the county’s borders. Getting there shouldn’t be a problem, but getting
inside of it is still something of a mystery to me. All I can think of is going
through the roof somehow… and I have no idea how I could pull that off. I
hadn’t considered the option yet of maybe just going in through the front door.
With the right persuasion, the protestors might back off.

Previously I
had been planning to take my friends to the bowling alley like we were
previously going to. It would be like we were having our day off just one day
later than we had expected. If I could get Amanda to come, that would knock two
objectives out with a stone; Amanda would be happy and I would’ve met my
friends. That would hopefully get her out of the depression she was apparently
spiraling in to. Truthfully, if she despaired over me any longer, I’d probably
lose my sanity.

I felt
myself jerk forward suddenly, but I still stayed completely in sleep mode.
There was a weird feeling of my body being lifted off of the car seat I had
laid on to. Maybe it was a dream… I began to feel myself getting moved forward.
Maybe I was on a cloud, taking me to wherever I pleased. Maybe I should stop
assuming these things because they’re completely ridiculous.

I was placed
onto a soft surface and immediately lost myself inside of it. I was going to
sleep like I had never slept before hopefully. I needed a good rest before I
got to getting around initiating my plans.

I guessed I
was off to a good start. Tomorrow, I bet, is going to be a long day, consisting
of me running back and forth to see my friends… and then go pay a visit to
someone.

The End

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