At Midnight All of the Secrets...
“It’s just not right! He’s fifteen and you’re gonna’ dump this huge life worth of secrets on him?” Daniel was clearly the loudest participant in the hushed argument; his deep, clear, way of talking and their four month old daughter finally drifting into sleep once more made it impossible to misunderstand what was being said.
This struck immediate fear into Paul Lanche…
He sat wide awake in his bed, as his mother decided to retort, “How could we keep this from him any longer? What, shall we wait another five, ten or twenty years?” Every rash word that came from her naturally soothing voice just built the confusion to an unimaginably high extent, “We have to tell him ourselves, they will soon enough, the age doesn’t change and you know it, he’ll never forgive us!” Admittedly Paul was noted to have a short temper, but it seemed quite drastic to believe that any secret could lead to him completely emancipating himself.
“It isn’t right, he’s fifteen Sarah! What’s to say he’ll keep it a secret? By telling him we’ll put our entire family in danger, he will slip up with this and deep down you know it!"
“Deep down I know that he has a right to know and I’ll tell him whether you want me to or not because he needs a good chance of surviving what’s ahead of him, they could be hunting right now and you’d rather him just never knowing?” Her counter was immediate and fluid to the argument, so much that Daniel had to pace around the bedroom with his erratic breathing becoming more audible than spoken words.
“Why can’t we just hold this back a few more days? I’m sick of this weight, this burden, I’m sick of us being like this,” even Paul could agree with the blunt honesty, weeks had passed with nothing but awkward meals and the occasional snide remark in the living room, “we need to focus on Beth as well, she’s our daughter and we’re not gonna’ be able raise her like that if we let this destroy us! We can’t change the future but we can help our child through it.” This comment reminded the fifteen year old that he was no longer their priority, since his birthday (a few days ago) Paul realized that now he has to become more independent before he officially becomes an adult and now their new baby must become his parents focus.
“But if we continue to be secretive from Paul, how can we truly set a good example?” The final words were almost incomprehensible as Sarah softly began to weep; Paul couldn’t help but want to comfort her but knew that in doing so he would alert them of his eavesdropping.
“Look,” Daniel began as he consoled his wife, “we’ve always known this wouldn’t be easy but the reason we made this commitment was (for me at least) I knew that together is when both of us are strongest and we can survive this, if we’re a family.” The deep almost emotionless persona began to fade slightly as his tender and nurturing side came into light; Paul, for a moment, began to reminisce over his younger years when this different persona seemed to appear more often. “I’m not procrastinating, or trying to ‘delay the inevitable’ but for now, let’s just go back to sleep,” almost like magic the argument seemed to conclude with no evidence but a baffled Paul Lanche laying in his bed, “we’ll probably only have an hour or two before she wakes up again anyway!” His natural charm and sense of humor that so many years ago made her fall in love with him managed to signify what would almost be a temporary end to the arguing as they curled up into bed.
The silence faded and only the confusion was left for Paul to indulge in, after remembering some of what was not thought of at first, more questions began to circulate.
Who was the danger towards the family?
What was this secret?
When did they start to hide secrets from him?
Where did all the lies and deceit begin?
Why did they have little faith in their own son?
How could it possibly destroy their family?
This was only the tip of the teenagers’ suspicions as every thought branched to another with little resolution seeming available; yet for now the best thing to do was let their own guilt hopefully lead to an answer. As such he rolled over squashing his short blonde hair and hard triangular nose against the fluffy white pillow, a hand wiped off the sweat from Paul’s clean shaven chin before closing his murky blue eyes and planning to have an enjoyable night of rest.
Light peered through the metal blinds; the moment of complete separation from dreaming was always difficult in the early hours of a day as senses began to adjust to the world he had left in the dead of night for the more creative part of his mind. Slowly Paul opened both eyes to a blurry haze where the room should be. It took many seconds until vision was completely restored and clear enough to view his room that was covered in posters glorifying the teenagers’ favourite movies, to a point where the teal paint was almost absent; accompanying one of the walls was the huge thirty-seven inch plasma screen connected by a bracket, that had been brought through the particularly generous Christmas tips received during Paul’s first year of delivering papers. Although this almost perfect sanctuary for a young adult at the same age was tarnished by an ever increasing pile of dirty clothing scattered chaotically around his space, adding to this was the unclean image present by his desk, overloaded with mass amounts of overdue homework; yet a framed picture of himself at the age of five with his Uncle Doug looked almost obscene against the backdrop of the mess.
Stretching his spine whilst perching on the corner of the bed, fragments and sometimes only words were remembered, “they could be hunting right now” and the unease began to seep into what was normally a calm morning regime; still Paul proceeded trying to subdue the pieces of argument that led to further frustration.
He quickly stumbled into a red slim fitting T-shirt before putting on his black fleeced hooded jumper and faded blue jeans, which he had set out for himself the night before and jogged down stairs; making sure that he looked at himself in the mirror that stood at the wall opposite the bottom of the staircase, a brief moment was necessary to gain a sense of normality amongst the family and even managed to stretch a smile with his broad lips.
Being the last to enter the kitchen, Sarah, Daniel and Beth (in her high chair) were already at the table helping themselves too handfuls of bacon and eggs; except for the baby who was preoccupied with an annoyingly repetitive squeaky toy.
The mere sight of both parents managed to enforce the situation of the conversation that had occurred in the dead of night; he sat in silence, not looking at anyone else sitting at the table whilst struggling with suppressing the questions that would not leave.
“You’re late; we wondered what happened to you.” Sarah said cheerfully. Paul’s eyes quickly shifted from Daniel to Sarah, they remained distant and detached. Paul knew it just by looking at them; their similar shaded hazel eyes that darted around each other revealed this fact.
“Yeah, because waking up at half nine should always be a cause for concern.” His voice, that was slowly breaking, gave its first line of sarcasm for the day which effectively destroyed the conversation.
Paul placed several helpings of bacon onto his plate; he acted like he had slept through last night’s conversation. Paul knew he should have done, because if Sarah and Daniel wanted him to have heard that conversation there would be a discussion about the secret they had hidden for so long.
The letter box.
It was post time.
“I’ll get it.” Volunteered Paul as he fled from the table; sighing quietly after realising that breakfast was going to be another one of those awkward silent moments. He walked across the living room, navigating past the sofa positioned in the centre of the room and swooped the letters up off the floor.
There were seven letters in total, Paul flicked through them, three were addressed to Daniel, the others were for Sarah. Every time Paul looked through the names on the letters he had that uneasy feeling in his stomach every time he saw the name ‘Holloway’, Daniel and Sarah told him from an early age that the name difference was simply due to the fact that Paul was born before they married and her maiden name was Lanche.
He never made a discussion of it and today was no change.
Slowly he began to slump his way back, dreading every step taken.
His head forced himself to look directly at the roof.
His body became paralysed as the most bizarre feeling he had ever experienced in his lifetime sucked all the life away from him and the room began to pull away.
Paul stayed fixated to one spot that no longer had any detail.
It replaced with an empty, solid black colour.
It immersed everything else.
A feeling that Paul suspected was death overcame him.
His heart slowed steadily until beating stopped.
There was no need for him to keep breathing so he decided not to.
He was surprised at how relaxing this feeling felt as suddenly everything had been taken away and he wondered if there was an end to this sensation or did it continue for eternity?
“Well Paul Lanche, have you nothing to say or ask?” A soft, soothing sound amplified all around with no clear source; it was hard for Paul to determine whether it was male or female and quickly he tried to think what he should ask it first.
“Where am I?”
“Although this may look like an empty space of matter, this is The Realm of Endless Possibility. The location is in one of the further reaches of space that is occupied by us, and it is set far away from any known galaxy.” It explained in the same voice that did not haunt Paul as the response had not really cleared anything up for him.
“If I’m far away from another galaxy, including my own, do I still exist or am I dead?”
He craved the answer.
His hands shook at the possibility life was over.
Fear quaked within over the answer that he would receive.
It had to be there!
But it wasn’t!
The same dead feel to it...
Suddenly every passing second between the sounds response felt longer than the last as the memories of the past seemed distant which may have been a fair description of the actuality of the situation.
“In this realm there is no such thing as being either living or dead, so currently you are neither which is why normal breathing or a heartbeat are not being experienced although your brain is still active. If you were to stay in this realm long enough you would realise that most of the actions that were essential in your previous life no longer have any relevance. You will never feel exhaustion, hunger or other necessities like this, which is why this is a place where anything is possible since your brain has access to more space; the only reason you appear to be standing is because you believe you are, when in reality there is nothing for you to rest your feet. Try sitting, or at least think about it.” Upon hearing this Paul cautiously began to lower himself to the immediate surprise that his body was greeted by a solid surface and waited there in bewilderment. “You see, but there is nothing you are sitting on as your mind created it. This is also how the universe was initially created in a realm of possibility, where there is an endless space to create what you want, it is only here that we could reveal this kind of information to you without anyone else interfering or eavesdropping.
This voice had a tendency to pace its speech in a disjointed manner, which unintentionally heightened the tension at the prospect at revealing private information. “For the duration of our encounter, I have referred to myself as a collective ‘we’ this is merely because I am only a replication of Randal Cropley’s mind, I am not the actual sentient being, merely a copy of the logic behind the man and therefore can answer nearly every question you could ask.” There was a brief halt for a challenge to this statement, but the teenager was merely perched in intrigue, “the sentient me currently is the active director at the Head Enterprise for Research Officials Enquiring Super-humans, which is simply abbreviated to H.E.R.O.E.S. and our database notes us that your fifteenth birthday recently passed, is this correct?” The question sounded rhetorical.
“Which is why you are in our possession presently, for now we must reveal of your true heritage, Paul Lanche, you are a Themisian, otherwise known as Super-humans who develop what can only be described as unique abilities once past the age of fifteen.”
“I have super powers?! Damn this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!” Paul proudly leapt into the air and laughed spontaneously, an endless smile stained his face before sitting again on the non-existent seat.
“It would be appreciated if your emotions were subdued for the time being. An individual’s powers cannot be predicted, yet you Paul Lanche are different from the rest of your breed. You will develop further than others, you may even have powers formulating as we speak in this surrounding that will become apparent eventually or in times of desperation. Yet Earth is not the planet for Super-humans, Themis is their point of origin, however others live amongst you this is why foolishness linked with your abilities is forbidden and punished if necessary. Since Intergalactic War II is imminent-”
“Hold up; a second Intergalactic War? You missed the part about the first one.” A hint of sarcasm blended with his question, it was no secret that history was Paul’s least favourite class but the prospect of galaxy fighting wouldn’t have been skimmed over in lesson.
“That information can not be disclosed, it is most confidential; yet I can assume you do not want the guilt of the inevitable destruction?” Before Paul could draw breath it continued, “I understand this may be confusing for a child of your age. However, based on the time I spent with your parents before their death I-“
A never ending hollow took over his stomach.
As empty as the realm he stood in.
The seat beneath him collapsed into nothing.
“Death?” He repeated it once again, quieter in a sign of disbelief.
Was it anger or sadness he felt?
The voice offered no condolence but instead added to the bleak isolation.
“They were two of the greatest Super-humans that ever existed, truly honoured and respected.”
“What good is that?” A broken teenager spoke. “I don’t know who they are?” He rose slightly, disgruntlement present. “Why was I never told!?” Anger boiled over, he spun on the balls of his feet to look for anything to lash out on.
“We were sworn to secrecy by them until you became of age.”
“Take me back home!” He demanded, although he was uncertain of where that would be.
“This information is crucial to the survival of yourself and the galaxy.”
“I don’t care,” he broke into a heap, and began to weep. The concept that his entire life had been controlled by two people that weren’t his real parents made him heave, “can we hurry this up please?”
“Certainly, I must stress the importance of remaining hidden and secretive, besides breaking regulations there is a group we refer to as “The Menace” that will hunt you in an attempt to expose our organisation and push all factions into Intergalactic War II. Your survival is essential, you will be returned to your normal life now, exactly in the same time frame as before.” A brief pause sustained before it delved into a more sinister voice, “you must never speak of this place Paul Lanche, or attempt to return. If necessary we may intervene to protect the sanctity of this realm. Farewell Mr. Lanche and good luck.” The ominous voice concluded.
Paul made a decision to never speak of this place under any circumstance but he could never forget what was being said, he breathed deeply trying to submerge any emotions linked to his deceased parents.
Life surrounded him, warped and twisted to replicate what was there before.
The living room and all of its furnishings propelled forward until they were in position.
His heart beat pounded inside Paul’s ribcage.
A sharp intake of air.
He was back to what he called home.
Initially there was nothing Paul thought of to do, the revelation that his true parents were dead and furthermore weren’t Sarah and Daniel limited his options to a few. Maybe the blood hadn’t managed to flow to his brain quick enough to ensure rational thinking, but he needed to leave the house engulfed in deceit.
Questions still stunted every movement
Obtaining Super-human powers?
A second Intergalactic War?
A super-human planet called Themis?
The Menace hunting him?
Nothing made sense, but there was no time to sit and ponder the outcome to everything, he needed to leave.
He abandoned the letters and thundered up the stairs with little care or subtlety.
He never imagined this happening.
Paul never wanted to be anything special or strive for in life yet suddenly there was a burden and importance that remaining in the Holloway’s couldn’t help.
He walked over to his window.
Pushed it upwards; making minimal noise as the silence down stairs made everything seem loud.
He walked back, got his bag pack and crammed it with whatever clothes he could get out of his draws. There was already food at the bottom to last him a couple of days.
Taking one last look at the life that he used to have, it couldn’t cause too much damage to take a brief moment to reminisce the previous fifteen years living there; looking at the bed reminded him of sleepovers that ran on dead into the night, feeling rebellious at how long he would remain awake. The film posters he had grown accustomed to seeing every morning allowed the thoughts of seeing those movies for the first time vivid once again, similarly the stack of comic books in a corner may have a layer of dust but remained symbolic of weekends spent reading entire runs of his favourite superheroes; Paul smirked at the irony given his lack of resources in his current predicament. Slowly that diminished as the life they established for him was a lie.
He stuck his head out of his window and felt the cool wind blow into his face.
It was a long way down.
Yet it was the only way to get out, except for suicide. But that wasn’t an option, considering that he was the hope of a planet he had never heard of.
Paul grabbed onto the drain pipe and felt it move unsteadily, a cold rush ran upwards, he wrapped his feet around for extra assurance as suddenly he realised he was out in the open.
Sliding down every inch had to be done carefully.
Tension was felt in his upper arm.
The friction between sweaty hands and the pipe was horrible to the ears.
A foot slipped.
It precariously rested upon the kitchen window ledge.
Heart pounding against his ribs.
Many meters stood between Paul and the ground, but lowering any further would bring him into view of the kitchen. He needed to take a leap.
Paul jumped off and quickly hit the floor.
His ankle hurt for a moment.
Still he didn’t let this halt him tearing through the back garden pounding the gate at the end.
Suddenly everything was different, he was alone although Paul believed Sarah and Daniel shouting was audible because the amount of noise he made from escaping would attract their attention, quickly he seized his BMX from the lamppost and turned the chilled metal dials until it clicked unlocked.
He threw himself onto the achingly painful seat and pedalled erratically.
The rebellious teenager found himself out of the alleyway and onto an open road, he narrowly missed a parked car as he skidded around a corner directly into another street which he couldn’t remember the name of amidst all of the confusion.
Clear from the Holloway’s residence he paused to regain essential oxygen, as sweat uncontrollable trickle down his body accompanied by a vomiting feeling.
Paul’s option were limited, almost completely non-existent.
Every second mattered, so he began to peddle again, resolutions weren’t being created fast enough.
Hostels were out of the question, they’d need an identity check and Paul would eventually be returned to the Holloway’s.
The level of crime in Redview Grove meant that sleeping on the streets was considered by citizens to be a form of suicide.
Plittside City was an option that lingered most, escaping to the bigger city and hoping for the best. Although it seemed like the most promising solution, it couldn’t possibly sustain with less than taxi fare available to Paul’s name.
Nothing seemed logical; he needed someone he could trust.
There was only one person who fit the criteria.
Although it was a complete mystery as to if it was a possible resolution to the days upheaval, it was the only option available.
His Uncle Doug...