Jesse's Book

[I] To the reader,

The following story contains: Religious views that are NOT mainstream, explicit language, dark themes and TB related content. If you do not like this kind of stuff, or disagree with my opinions or views on different matters, please do not complain about it here. My PM box is always open! Thank you.[/I]

This is my current big project that can also be found on ADISC.Org. It’ll take just a short time to post all of the chapters here, and as of now there are eight. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think!

-Thank you.

[U]INDEX

[B][U]Chapter 1: The Shroud

Chapter 2: Youth Remembered

Chapter 3: Painters And A Canvas

Chapter 4: The Sin Of Wrath

Chapter 5: Experience and Wisdom

Chapter 6: “I Promise”

Chapter 7: More or Less, Moral-Less

Chapter 8: Blinded by a Promise

[/U][/B]
[I]Jesse’s Book

Chapter 1, The Shroud

“Ugh, my head,” a boy said, clutching his head. His eyes were lightly opened and his medium length hair swept over his eyes like a bold blond veil of natural secrecy. His body didn’t ache, but it certainly felt warm. He slowly began to stretch, yawning all the while. He soon opened his eyes though his headache dissipating. He blinked a few times, his eyes adjusting to the well lit place. Or at least, he thought it was well lit. The lights around surely were hitting him with enough intensity to consider it a well lit room. He groaned and moaned about the infliction of his eyes, the constricting rays of light not ceasing. He cupped his hands over his eyes and looked around.

“Where am I?” he muttered. He twisted left and then right, and then left and right again. His deep brown pupils finally adjusted well enough for him to make out where he was. Or at least, what it looked like. It was a near empty canvas of a room. There was literally nothing in sight. No floor, no sky, not even a shrub or a shadow was in the room. Not even his own. “What the,” he said, “where am I?!” He sprawled his legs around, getting a good feel for the invisible ground beneath him. He slowly stood up, trembling with angst and fear. This certainly wasn’t an everyday occurrence. “Hello?” he called. “Is anybody out there?”

There was no reply. Not an echo or a reverberation of his voice even came into creation. It was pure, dead silence. It was so quiet that the boy could have sworn it was loud. He took a step forward. He peered down at his feet, hearing what sounded like dress shoes clanging against linoleum tiling. This almost amused him. He glanced at his hands. His Caucasian skin seemed unscathed; undamaged. It was like a soft, smooth pillow when he felt it with his other hand. He sighed. “This is so weird,” he commented.

Slowly he took a few more steps forward. Solace encased him now. There was nothing, nor anybody in sight. He walked along, slowly noticing the attire in which he wore. He was wearing sneakers, which made him question all the more why they sounded like dress shoe. They had red stripes going down the sides, and rainbow colored shoe laces. He was wearing a white T-shirt bearing a simple design of black and gold stars. Over it was a white and black hoodie, which could zip up and down. His jeans were denim, blue with yellow thread to adorn it. He didn’t look half bad. As he continued to walk, he continued pondering the obvious; where was he? Slowly though, nature began taking its course. He began to feel thirsty, and hungry. Nourishment and sustenance was what he required now! If he couldn’t eat, he couldn’t live; and if he couldn’t live, he couldn’t get out of this almost parallel dimension.

“Food… I need food- and water,” he said. Why was he so hungry? He never felt this hungry before in his life. “My life,” he pondered “I’ve never felt hungry like this- in my life.” He slowly blinked, stopping dead in his tracks.

“I’ve never felt hungry like this in my life,” he repeated. “But- wait, my life. I had a life, right? I was alive?” he said. “W-what’s my name? Where did I live?” he said.

“Who am I?!” he barked at himself. Slowly he collapsed. He knew words, he knew how to walk. He knew that he had to get out of here; but he couldn’t remember who he was. “What’s my name…? WHAT’S MY NAME?” he cried. He slowly began to collapse. First, his feet became unstable. It was followed by his ankles shaking, and his knees quivering. Finally, his legs just seemed to give out. He collapsed onto his knees. He fell forward, his momentum unstoppable. He didn’t have time to put his hands in front of his face; and he didn’t have the energy even if he could. He’d never felt such a confusing affliction of pain and suffering in his entire… “I don’t have a life,” he muttered as he expected his face to hit the invisible floor. But it didn’t. Instead, he found himself once again looking right-side up at what he considered a ceiling. Tears ran down his face quickly, his nose now getting drippy and his checks burning red. He quivered from head to toe like a small child. His large teen body lay helpless against this onslaught of emotions.

He cried loudly. As loud as he possibly could, he cried. His cries soon became wails, but his wails soon became whimpers. His body was unable to support this endeavor of terrible coincidences. He was simply defeated. “Wait,” he started “how did I get here?” He questioned softly. He closed his eyes, curling up into a small ball of pity and sorrow. “How?”

Time began to pass. Slowly, quickly; he couldn’t tell. There wasn’t a shadow to indicate light, and there wasn’t a clock to indicate time. He didn’t know when he woke up, and he didn’t know how long he had been asleep. “For the love of god… help me someone!” he begged. “Please! Somebody, anybody!” He said with desperation and depravation in his voice and body, respectively. It was a long while, he assumed, before anything else happened. Off in the distance, he saw a small black dot. No, he couldn’t consider it to be a dot at all! It was more like a spec; a spec on the tip of a small atom that had been shrunken ten times. He rose to his feet quickly, running with all he had left at the spec. This was his only chance; his only opportunity to escape this forsaken place! This was the only way; “the only way!” he thought. Dashing as fast as he could, the speck became a dot, then a shadow, and soon a full blown object. It was being obstructed, though. A white object seemed to be swaying back and forth in between the frames of the door. He ran as fast as he could, stopping dead in front of the obstruction. He only found a man.

The man stood at nearly six feet and two inches tall, but was rather slim. The hair on his head and goatee were black, but his eyes were as blue as a mid-summer noon’s sky. He was wearing a suit of pure white, and a blue tie. His shoes were the only exception, as they were seemingly a perfect black; darker than a cold winter night in the woods with not a light to guide you for a millennia’s worth of miles. He turned his head and faced the boy. “You ready?” he asked.

“F-for what?” the boy said.

“I don’t even know kid. But you’re gonna have to be. You can step through this door, or you can stay here. It’s up to you.” The man said. He faintly reminded the boy of Dr. Strange.

“Is there food in there?” The boy said.

“Only one way to find out, right?” The man said. His voice was soothing, but it also felt strong and energetic. It was as though the man was bustling with anticipation, angst and energy building inside of him. The boy nodded. He crept forward, creeping his way towards the door until he the man stepped through and disappeared. It was as though an invisible wall of black ink was in front of him; but he knew he could walk right through it. He poked his finger at the darkness. His pointer finger was unscathed, but he felt air on the other side. It was like a breeze, but he could tell it was artificial. He looked back at the unwavering torture he was leaving. He didn’t know if there was another way out. He wasn’t about to take his chances. Slowly he stuck his arm through, then his feet and his torso. He stuck his head through, and finally, his body was inside. As he fully entered, the blackness behind him disappeared into obscurity, fading from the plane of its so called existence.

The boy peered around. The room was a simple set up, but it looked so comfortable. It was a giant room filled with books, almost like a library. In the center, a small coffee table lied with two steaming cups on it. On either side lied an armchair, decked out in leather and recline-able. He took note of how they seemed to be able to rock back and forth. There were torch lamps all around, each carrying a high megawatt bulb that enlightened his eyes to the room. Opposite the empty chair he saw the same man from before, wearing now a robe and pajama pants, as well as a slightly visible undershirt, sitting in the other chair. He looked at the man with curiosity. Not a look of confusion seemed to strike his face! He was well groomed and shaven, but he still seemed somewhat rough around the edges. He motioned his hand delicately as though he were French, alluding to the empty chair. The boy crept forward, but stopped in front of the char. He slowly sat down, and looked strangely at the man again, blinking as he did so.

“Who are you?” the boy said, asking the obvious.

“Now isn’t that an interesting question? I don’t really know to be honest,” the man said truthfully. He didn’t have a reason to lie in the first place, as far as the boy could tell. “A lot of different people have called me different things; the Almighty, The Lord, The Creator, titles such as that are those that have been given to me by the inhabitants of the world.” He said. He put his hands together and leaned his chin against them, diverting his gaze from the boy for a moment, only to quickly return to him.

“So, you’re God?” the boy said. He was blunt, right to the point. This wasn’t a time to play around. If he really was talking to god, then he knew he’d get his answers. He had to play it smooth and carefully think about everything he was going to say.

“No, I’m not God. Some people have called me that, though. Being a god means that you can do anything you want; but I honestly cannot. I cannot see into the other realms of realities, nor can I control others. I’m merely a spectacle. I can do some things, but not everything. It’s almost like I have the capacity to do nothing,” he divulged. He took his chin away from his hands and put them in his lap, sighing as he returned his back to the comfortable leather he had been leaning on not a few minutes before. The boy gawked at him.

“So, you’re not God; than what are you?” he said.

“I’m just a man with a few tricks up his sleeve. Or maybe I am the creator, and the destroyer. I don’t quite know to be honest.” He shrugged. He’d obviously thought the through a few times. “How about you; can you tell me your name?”

“My name is-” he started, “I don’t know what my name is. I was hoping maybe you could help me figure that one out,” the boy said with little dignity in his voice.

“Ah, so you’re lost then. Right, I think I know just what to do!” the main said, standing up with a small grunt. He walked over behind his chair to a large stack of books on an even larger shelf. He skimmed through a few of them, looking carefully at the spine of each as he passed.

“Do me a favor, look through the books behind you until you find one with a golden title on the spine!” the man asked politely. Deciding to go along with the man’s strange request, the boy slowly stood up and turned around, looking at the large piles of books in front of him. He sighed, and began searching through the titles on the books’ spines until he came across one with a golden title.

“Jesse Bishop?” he said curiously. The man turned around and strode over to the boy, swiping it rather quickly from his hands. He flipped the book so he could see the front of it and smiled. He motioned for the boy to sit back down. He complied, and soon the two were back in their seats. The man was giddy with anticipation, and placed the book down onto the table. He looked at the boy. “Your name is Jesse Bishop,” he said. Jesse nodded.

“Yeah, Jesse Bishop- that is my name! I remember it!” he said with a gasp. “My name is Jesse bishop!” he stated proudly, repeating the name over again. He knew this was, in fact, his name. The man smiled widely as he looked back down at the book, opening up the cover. He began to scroll through pages… his look turned to that of shock.

“What in the-” he said stammering. “How is this possible?” he said, questioning allowed. His look of shock soon turned to that of almost unbearable tenacious anxiety. It was scary to Jesse.

“Sir? What’s wrong?” he asked. “Is there something wrong with my book?”

“I’m afraid,” he started, “It’s worse than that. Your book doesn’t actually exist. I’ve never seen anything like this before!” he explained.

“Never in my entire life have I seen something as strange as this… never have I seen this.”

“Well, fix it!” the boy demanded. The man shook his head.

“I’m afraid I don’t know how to young one,” he said with a sad sigh of sorrow.

“B-but you’re god, right? The creator, the one who made everything! Just make me a new book!” Jesse pleaded, but to no avail.

“I said I don’t know how to! And I don’t think I can! Everyone has to write their own books! That’s how it’s always been,” the man said.

“Just explain to me what the book is though! Maybe I can write a new one!” Jesse said. The man shook his head.

“You can’t. You can only write one book. Each book contains the person’s life and memories. Without the book, they are an empty shell. They cannot go on to the better place. There has only been one other person to ever have this happen to them, so long as I have been around,” the man said.

"Who was it?

“It was me,” the man said, “and I didn’t like how I had to fix my book.”

“How did you do it? Please tell me! I need to know!” the boy said, pleading.

“The only way to do it is to look at your entire life from the first major event to the last. If you do this, the book will begin to fill back up. The book is only meant to record all the major moments in your life; the ones that actually mean something. Every person’s life is a novel waiting to be written Jesse,” the man explained with wisdom and solidarity in his voice.

“Okay, so how do I look back at my life?” he asked.

“You’ll have to watch if from even to event like a ghost. You won’t be able to interact with anything, you can only sit and watch. You will be able to move around, but only to a place where you can actually see yourself. This story is about you. There is one exception though; if you were killed in life, you will also have to watch your killer’s actions as well. I can’t tell you what specifically you will have to watch, but you’ll watch it. That’s all I can tell you,” he finished. Jesse gulped. He would have to watch his life from a distance, not being able to interact with anyone. He would be a blade in the crowd, dulled down to a spoon; only he would be invisible. He could sit here for eternity… or go with this little plan. He had no choice. He couldn’t get hurt, right? He would be untouchable! He’d just have to sit back and watch it all like a movie.

“Alright, let’s do it!” he said enthusiastically. The man frowned.

“I wouldn’t be so happy if I were you. You don’t know what you might find out about yourself. The more you see, the more you’ll remember,” he warned.

“I’m ready- I have to be!” the boy said. “But, before we do this I need to know something. What can I call you? It’d be kind of awkward if I kept calling you ‘the almighty’ all the time,” the boy joked. The man smiled.

“You may call me Richard. Now, are you sure you’re ready?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” Jesse stated.

“Good. Leave the book there on the table though. We’ll come back to the room after each event. The book will fill up without us present.” Richard said. Jesse nodded.

“Let’s do this,” he said. Richard nodded, and waved his hand. Another black shroud appeared, similar to the one he had first walked through; only now there was no door frame holding it. It stood idly by itself, waiting. Jesse took a deep breath, and walked through the darkness. His life was about to slowly pass before his very eyes.

And he wasn’t even close to ready for it.

Re: Jesse’s Book

Chapter 2, Youth Remembered

Jesse reluctantly looked towards the new shroud of darkness in front of him. He turned to Richard. He knew something was wrong with all of this. When he came into this room, he stopped feeling hungry and weak. He didn’t know what would happen or how it would affect him as he walked through. First his hand went through the shroud. He could feel warm rays of light on the other side hitting his hand. They felt warm and gentle, almost calming him down. He could also tell there was a breeze on the other side. That too seemed to have a calming effect on him. He swallowed hard as he leaped through the darkness, followed closely by Richard. The two stopped dead as they appeared in a strange new place. The scene was happy, and its contents were obviously content with their places here. The two were standing in the middle of a road somewhere in suburbia. It seemed to be a lower middle class suburbia, but a suburb none the less. Around them were men mowing their lawns, women conversing on patios and even kids playing outside with balls and bats and other such objects. The weather wasn’t exactly hot, but it was definitely warm.

“Early summer,” Jesse said, “I remember this!” Richard glanced down at him.

“How much do you remember?” he questioned with bass in his voice. This was obviously a serious question.

“I know that it’s early summer, and I know the town. We’re in Medford, I know it. I don’t know how I know- but I know!” Jesse said with a definite tone in his voice and body language. His hands clenched and his chest seemed to vibrate as he spoke. Richard put his hand on Jesse’s shoulder.

“Relax Jesse, this is normal. You’ll get used to it as we go along. The more you see, the more you’ll remember,” Richard explained. Jesse nodded some, but his train of thought that would help him comprehend and cope with his current affliction soon dissipated as a fast object sped towards them. Richard and Jesse quickly turned around only to see a truck barreling towards them at a speed great enough to cause definite injury. Jesse went to jump out of the way, but Richard stayed still. He knew that there was no escape from the oncoming truck. But just as Jesse began to jump, the car struck… nothing. It ran right through the two and slowed down at an upcoming stop sign just a short ways down the road. Jesse’s body shook hard and he almost screamed; though, he managed to restrain the need to bellow out to the heavens about how he viewed the past situation. Richard stood nonchalantly, caring little about the truck that had come towards the two of them. He looked over and down at Jesse, reaching a hand towards the boy.

“Come on, we need to get going here,” he said as Jesse grabbed his hand. Richard pulled Jesse to his feet as Jesse tried to regain his footing. He looked around, to his left then right, but nobody was looking at them. Nobody had seen anything. “Don’t worry, you’re okay. Nobody can see or hear us, nor can we be effected by the things around us. Except the floor, that is,” Richard started, “but we do still have to abide by certain rules of reality.”

“That was scary man!” Jesse said whilst stopping his shaking fest. Richard chuckled.

“Be glad it wasn’t a chariot, those things hurt!” he laughed.

“Chariot, huh?” Jesse asked. Richard said nothing, but coughed and adjusted his robe. He then seemed to be acting as though he was being rushed, all of a sudden.

“Come on, we need to go find you. You’re probably close by,” Richard said. Jesse nodded and the two began walking down the streets. The neighborhood was nice, and its inhabitants seemed to be happy running about and doing their yard work. Mowing the lawn or planting flowers, cutting hedges or watching the kids; this town seemed to be the suburban dream world that only movies or books talk about. Jesse stuck his hands in his jeans’ pockets and slouched as he walked. He didn’t know why he did this; it just felt natural to him. As natural as walking, as natural as breathing even. Richard’s walk however was more precise. Each step and motion had a meaning, and each meaning had a reason to be. He walked not like a soldier or a businessman, but someone with a purpose. What that purpose was, Jesse couldn’t quite decipher. He thought about the chariot comment for a while. It was strange indeed.

“Was Richard- a Roman or Greek man in life?” Jesse questioned within his mind. Looking up, Jesse stopped short. Richard looked towards him, halting just a few steps in front of him. Richard had to twist back to see the boy, but he managed.

“What is it?” Richard asked. Jesse’s eyes became wide, glistening with water and tears building as he looked to his left. There was a house there on the corner with a small red maple tree, and a broken cobblestone path leading up to the doorway. The driveway was made of haphazard gravel but held a basketball hoop and a royal blue car. The house itself was white with brownish red roof tiles, whilst the screen door in front of the front door had a small hole in it. That wasn’t what Jesse was focusing on, though. He looked over towards the baby red maple tree in the ground and next to it stood a woman. She had blond hair just like his that covered the sides of her head and her neck, and her eyes were a deep blue. She was dressed in a sundress with a matching sunhat to keep her skin undamaged from the sun. Jesse began to cry softly, keeping his head held high as he watched the site of the woman. He teared more, and began to dart over towards her.

“Mom, MOM! It’s me, it’s Jesse!” he screamed. “Mom, Mommy! Please look at me!” he pleaded as he ran up to her. He went down to hug her, maybe just touch her to get her attention- but as he went to grab at her, his hands phased through the woman. He continued trying to hug her, slowly but surely realizing that this wasn’t going to work. But he kept trying; wishing that at least one of these attempts would do the trick. None of them did. Richard stood idly by next to Jesse as he continued to grab for his mother, wanting her to be able to see him.

“Jesse, this is a vision of the past, you cannot interact with the denizens of a time that has come and gone,” Richard said with upset in his voice. Jesse nodded. He wiped his eyes and his nose and stood up, taking a deep breath and gaining his composer. He sighed and looked up at Richard, who only had a single thing to say. “You said you were ready, but you clearly were not. Fret not though; neither was I when I had to do this.”

Jesse let out the last bits of sadness from his body through his salty and watery tears before looking back at Richard. “I think I know where I am,” was all he said. He looked towards the house and began walking towards the front door. He once again phased through the door, gasping just a little as he did so. Entering the house, Richard and Jesse saw the living room. It had a blue carpet with a matching blue sofa. The floor around the rug was perfectly stained wood and a television large enough to accommodate a small crowd of people sat on top of a television stand. The living room was connected to the kitchen as well as the dining room; which was right by the back door. To their right, though, was a hallway. Jesse knew the hallway all too well, and walked over to it. He took a few steps down the hall and turned to his right. A white painted door was blocking his view. He clenched his hands again, walking through the door with ease. Inside was a child’s room, decorated with juvenile cartoon posters and toys. There was a small desk with a box of crayons and some paper on it, and a side-table next to the bed. On the bed was a boy, young but not entirely too young. He had a familiarly colored set of deep, brown eyes and blond hair that could cover his eyes.

“That’s me!” Jesse declared. “That’s me Richard! This is the summer before my fifth grade year!” he gasped. The boy lying on the bed simply continued lying there, tossing a baseball into the air and letting it come back down into his gloved hand. In his mouth though was an odd object. “My pacifier; I remember that thing! I wouldn’t let it go till- wait… why did I give it up?” he questioned. Richard shook his head.

“I can’t tell you that Jesse, only you know,” he said. Jesse nodded as he continued to study his younger self; remembering some key details about his life that he couldn’t even begin to fathom just ten seconds before.

“I like baseball and card games, I like Nintendo and I love mashed potatoes! I can’t stand spaghetti but I love raviolis!” Jesse stammered. Richard looked at him oddly.

“Interesting person you were, eh?” Richard asked. Jesse nodded. Just then though, the boy on the bed stood up and stretched. He looked around the room carefully, eventually spotting a pair of sneakers. He slipped them out and tied them with ease as he then began to walk out of his room. Richard and Jesse began to follow the younger Jesse as he walked throughout the house, eventually walking right out the front door; after of course putting his pacifier in his shorts’ pocket. He looked over to his mother and smiled, waving as she noticed him.

“Where are you going Jesse?” she said.

“Probably just to the park! I wanna get some practice in with John and Matthew before school starts next week; I really wanna make the team!” he declared.

“Oh man, little league!” Jesse laughed. “That was my life back then!”

“And now it’s your life now, isn’t it?” Richard asked. Jesse nodded. He was getting the strong urge to just grab a bat and a ball and swing at it to his heart’s content. He wanted to run the bases and hear the cheers of his teammates as he scored an infield home run; and the groans of the opposing team as he managed to school them in the ways of baseball. He wanted to do it all again so bad; but all he could do was watch now. The time had come and gone for things like that. Jesse’s mother giggled.

“Alright there slugger, go on and get over to your friends! Your dad will be back late tonight, so just be sure to be home before then!” she shouted at the younger Jesse, walking away towards his Bike that was leaning against the house.

“Don’t worry mom, I’ll be back before then!” Jesse shouted back as he hopped onto his bike. Richard and the older Jesse looked at each other.

“We’re going to have to run after me, aren’t we?” Jesse said.

“Oh yeah. Once again, be lucky he isn’t in a chariot!” Richard chuckled. The two began to run after the younger Jesse, just barely keeping up with him. The older Jesse wasn’t feeling tired or out of breath at all while running, and neither was Richard. The two were ready to follow the younger boy to the ends of the blue and green planet earth if they had to. The two stopped eventually as they came close to the park that was mentioned by the younger Jesse just earlier. Jesse and Richard walked slower now as they phased through the fence, getting into the park with ease. They looked around, spotting the younger Jesse running up to two boys who looked to be about his age. As the two approached, they began overhearing the conversation.

“What do you mean they took your bat?!” Jesse yelled at a boy who had short brown hair and light brown eyes. He looked to be just about Jesse’s height, maybe just a centimeter taller.

“Jesse, it wasn’t Matt’s fault,” the other boy, who had medium length brown hair and darker brown eyes began, “it was those stupid bullies again!”

“John. John Carrack,” the older Jesse said aloud. “That’s his name; the name of the kid talking.”

Richard nodded, as the conversation continued.

“Look, we need to get that bat back! I loaned it to you only because I knew you needed one! My dad is going to kill me if he finds out about this!” The younger Jesse stammered. The other boys looked down and away. Just then Jesse’s eyes widened, then narrowed in anger as he looked past his friends. He saw them; two older boys holding a purple and yellow bat laughing as they walked into the park form the opposite end. Jesse gritted his teeth. Matt and John looked at him worriedly but said nothing. Jesse began storming off towards the two boys as Matt and John followed suit. Both the younger and the older Jesse’s adrenaline were pumping hard. The older Jesse gritted his teeth as well, feeling very anxious about the event about to conspire. Richard put his hand on Jesse’s shoulder, trying to relax him. Jesse’s body stopped pumping as much adrenaline, but he still felt anxious. He watched and followed along as the three young boys approached the two older ones; the latter noticing them and crossing their arms.

“The hell do you want?” one of them asked.

“I want my bat back!” Jesse yelled, pointing to the purple and yellow plastic bat in one of the boys’ hands.

“Oh, you mean this? Well why don’t you go get it?!” he yelled with a grunt as he chucked the bat into the nearby woods that they had come from. Jesse yelled and slammed his fist into the boy’s gut hard, but the boy was barely hurt. The older Jesse began to yell.

“Kick his ass! Come on Jesse, hit him! Hit him harder! Make him crawl over and get that bat!” he screamed. Richard frowned.

“Stop reciting your old inner thoughts Jesse,” Richard said. Jesse snapped back to reality, watching as the fight continued. John and Matt tried to help by tackling the other boy, but the other boy’s large muscular body was too strong for them. He grabbed them by the backs of their necks and slammed them hard into the ground, stepping on Matt as he tried to get up. He chuckled fiercely, the power of being stronger and knowing that he didn’t even have to try to win the fight flowing through him. The older Jesse still felt enraged, but stayed silent. He knew that trying to fight these kids now would be meaningless, thanks to his current state of ghostliness. The boy whom the younger Jesse had hit swung his fist back at Jesse. Jesse yelped and fell back, hard. The older boy grunted and lifted him up by his feet, the other boy laughing at the spectacle. The younger Jesse tried to break free, but couldn’t. The older boy smiled more. “Hey Rob, you want to play piñata?” he asked. The other boy nodded.

“Sure, why not Bill?” The boy released Matt from the pressure of his foot and came over to Jesse. He wound back his fist and swung hard at the boy’s gut, hitting him with a grunt. Jesse screamed as the fist hit him. The two boys chuckled, but stopped as a small object fell out of Jesse’s pocket. The boys gawked at the sight and dropped Jesse, no longer being able to hold onto him due to laughing too hard.

“You fucking baby!” Bill laughed. The two boys laughed more and pointed at the younger Jesse before finally leaving.

“Evil little beings those two are.” Richard commented. The expression on his face told the older Jesse that he was quite clearly disgusted with the event that had just transpired. Eventually, the boys all got up and swatted at their clothes, wiping the dirt off from their pants and shirts. Jesse didn’t stand up, though. He sat there and looked at the pacifier that had fallen from his pocket. He growled angrily and picked it up. His friends leaned over him, looking at it as well. Jesse stood up, gripped the pacifier tightly, and threw it into the woods as hard as he could.

“AND STAY THERE!” he yelled at the inanimate object. His friends said nothing. Jesse turned to face him. “Say nothing, the both of you. This stays between us, got it?” he declared. The two nodded.

“Don’t worry Jesse, I won’t say anything,” Matt said.

“Neither will I,” agreed John. The two helped Jesse up, staring at the saddened boy. His stomach wasn’t hurt that bad, but it was still sore. John and Matt’s injuries were minor as well. “Let’s just go. If anyone asks, we were just playing baseball,” John said. Jesse and Matt nodded, beginning to walk over towards the thrown bat in the woods. Just then, right in front of Richard and the older Jesse; another dark shroud appeared. Richard looked down at Jesse.

“Quickly, we’ll talk after we’re through! I have no idea if this thing will stay open for long!” he stammered, walking through the shroud. Quickly but sadly, Jesse followed suit; leaving his youth behind him to contemplate the events of the past day.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3, Painters And A Canvas

Jesse sadly looked towards his younger self as walked forward. He could have sworn that the younger him had looked back at him, but he knew that wasn’t true; this was merely a vision of the past. Richard himself had clearly and directly addressed that. Jesse gasped a bit as he walked into the shroud; only to drop down a full two and a half feet. Richard grabbed him just before he hit the ground and softened his fall. Jesse breathed in heavily as he peered around the room. It was different now; very different indeed. It no longer looked like a study, no; it looked more like an office building lobby now. Somehow though, Jesse knew he wasn’t in another memory or vision, he was in a totally foreign and alien place. He turned his head upwards and looked at Richard.

“Where the heck are we?” he said.

“Back in the same building where the room we were in before is located. The location we’ll appear in will change every time we come back, but the library is always here. Only sometimes it’s a bit harder to find then the last,” Richard said ominously.

“Are you telling me that we’re in an office building right now, and that the almighty creator of all living things doesn’t know where the heck the library is at all times?” Jesse said with a hint of annoyance in his voice.

“I’m not the almighty creator of all living things Jesse, believe me. I might create things, but I also destroy. There were others before me, Jesse. Not everything was made by my hand, though; you’ve probably realized that by now, haven’t you?” Richard asked. He was obviously probing for information, curious as to what the boy could decipher from the small hints he had given him.

“Kind of- wait. You said before that people called you the almighty, the creator! You said you weren’t a god, but- but you said they called you the almighty, and now you’re saying you’re not?!” Jesse stammered, confused.

“I said that people call me the creator, I never said I was,” was all that Richard said before pointing towards a nearby hallway. “We should look down this way. The library might just be around here. Look for the signs on the walls that say ‘study’ on them, and we’ll reach the library in no time!”

Jesse nodded and took a step in front of Richard. He began his walk, contemplating things as we strode through the seemingly endless hallways, watching the markers and plaques on the walls carefully. “He’s not the creator, but that’s what people call him. That’s super weird, I don’t get it! Maybe I can find his book once we get back to the library- er, study, whatever it is! Yeah, I’ll tell him I’m thirsty and he’ll go get me a drink; can’t be that hard to find his book!” Jesse thought as he followed the plaques and directions on the walls until he finally reached the study. As he looked down the hallway, though; he saw the outside of the building. That same white abyss he had just been in was staring him in the face, almost taunting and threatening him. It seemed as though the white abyss itself wanted to swallow Jesse whole. Richard said nothing and breezed past Jesse, swiftly opening the door and ushering the boy inside. Jesse complied and walked into the room, walking right on over to the comfy leather chair he had sat in during his last visit. Jesse noticed that the tea cups were no longer on the table from whence they had once stood idle. He sat down and sighed, looking up at the ceiling. Richard sat in his own leather seat and stared at the boy.

“Mind sharing your thoughts, Jesse?” Richard asked.

“It’s just… I remember all of that, you know, the fight. But when I was watching it- I just couldn’t help but scream what I remembered thinking. It was like this- this rage just took over me!” Jesse said. Richard nodded softly.

“Yes, that tends to happen fairly often when you’re watching your old self from a new perspective. You see, when you think, you’re on a certain state of consciousness. That state of consciousness can sometimes transcend into your current self, due to your current state. Weather your state of current is the same as mine was has yet to be seen though. I’m only relaying to you what I know, and what was told to me when I went through this,” Richard said.

“Wait, someone told you about all this and taught you all of this stuff?” Jesse queried. Richard once again gave a soft nod to the blond, slim boy.

“Yes, just like you I too was made to go through this torture,” he started. “I was made to go through the same rigorous and sometimes tedious concoction of sick evil that you’re going through. I’m actually curious to see what you did to get you here,” Richard said.

Jesse’s heart rate picked up just a small bit as adrenaline pumped through his veins. He tensed up slightly. “Do I ask for a drink now? No, no that’d be stupid. I know…” Jesse thought. “Richard, where exactly are we? Does this building, this place, have a name? What exactly is it?” he asked. Richard sighed a bit. He put his palms together and folded his fingers over each other. He put each finger into an individual spot in between each of the fingers. He stuck his pointers out and let his thumbs do the same, leaning over a bit as he performed these odd motions. He looked Jesse square in the eye.

“Jesse, this is neither a good nor a bad place. It is a place in between the world of the living, and the dead. Both groups of people are able to pass into this realm, but it is rare. Not many people come here, and those who do rarely ever see anything but the blank world only known as ‘the canvas’ that lies outside. Even fewer people who have come into the realm have ever met me. The ones who did needn’t require the treatment in which you are being given; they simply took a wrong turn in the road to the better place,” Richard took a deep breath. “This place is a something that was made before I came here, by the person who came before me, or possibly the person who came before him. It’s sort of a safe haven from the canvas outside.”

“Wait a sec, why did I get to meet you then? That doesn’t make any sense!” Jesse butted in.

“The reason you met me was because you did something, or rather didn’t do something that most everyone does upon realizing that they aren’t getting out of here so easily,” Richard stated matter-of-factly.

“Well, what was it that I did? Come on Richy, you gotta tell me!” Jesse said. He was actually beginning to like this Richard guy. He was never rude, and seemed to be helpful enough to spill the beans about this place; but Jesse still had some suspicions and insecurities to work out before he felt he could trust him, namely the reason in which he was sent to the canvas in the first place!

“You didn’t ask for me. You called not for God, or for The Almighty or Jesus. Not for Yahweh or for Shiva did you ask for, no! You Jesse asked for food and water. You wanted to do it by yourself, get out of here without the need or want to rely on others! You wanted to be strong, even if it meant being all by your lonesome!” he praised. Jesse chuckled a small bit.

“Yeah, I guess. Maybe it’s just that I don’t remember anything else from my life though! I mean, religion didn’t get in the way or any-” Jesse’s heart nearly stopped as he stopped talking. Out of nowhere, he looked below himself only to find another shroud beginning to form. He quickly leaped from the couch, causing Richard to stand up and look down at the forming hole. The chair Jesse was sitting on seemed to be pushed back as the hole began to become larger and larger, finally taking shape as another shroud. Jesse looked up to Richard, who looked down at Jesse.

“We’ll it looks like our next ride’s here,” Richard joked. Jesse gulped and watched as Richard casually walked over to the shroud and jumped in, falling faster than a speeding bullet on cocaine shot from a rocket travelling at hyperspace- or maybe it was just his nerves that caused Jesse to see things becoming faster and faster. He walked over and hopped through the hole. He fell through the floor and ended up in a seat next to Richard in an odd location. But very soon, Jesse remembered it.

“Saint Peter’s cathedral… el nome del Padre, del Figlio e dello Spirito Santo,” he said softly to himself. He covered his lips with his hands as a look of shock hit his face. “I was a Catholic!” he remembered. “I belonged to the saint peter’s cathedral ten minutes away from my house! Both my parents were devout followers of Jesus!” he said. Somewhere deep in his guy though, he felt as though something was wrong. He knew the situation wasn’t bad, nor was it going to be; but he felt that something inside him simply told him that something was wrong with what was he had just said. It wasn’t that the things he had said were false, no. Perhaps his inner moral just didn’t allow for him to accept those facts so easily. He peered around at the magnificent spectacle of a building before him; stained glass windows of Marry and Joseph, Jesus and Saint Peter. He remembered all of it! Very soon though, he noticed something very important. He was surrounded by people. All of them had their heads down and were dead silent. To his left sat a boy; himself of course. He smiled a little at his younger self, dressed in his Sunday best. The boy sat silent though, as the Holy Father, the priest, approached the pedestal.

“Good morning my children of the lord, I’m very pleased at today’s turnout! You have all flocked like sheep to our lord just as sheep would to their herder. The lord I’m very sure is pleased with you!” the priest preached. Richard rubbed his head, seemingly having a headache or a case of serious disappointment; perhaps even shame.

“And now, I would like for you all to please stand and pray with me. Our father, who art…” the priest continued to blather on for another hour and a half. Richard and Jesse simply sat there in the pew and listened to the priest. Surprising enough, he said nothing of the evil malevolent wrath of god, but of how he loved and cared for his children. That is, until the end of the sermon when he gave out his final words.

“Thank you all for coming today, all of you! Your lord I’m sure is very happy! You are all truly righteous men and women to come here instead of sitting at home all day and committing the terrible sin of sloth. Never forget that you mustn’t commit the crime of sloth my children! You are being just as evil when you use your bodies to hurt another, as you are when you don’t use it at all! You must use your body to please the lord every day by committing good and righteous deeds, educating the masses about the love and divinity of our lord and savior Jesus Christ!” the man preached. “For if you do not, the pits of hell might await you!”

The priest finished his services for the day and gave the congregation permission to leave from their uncomfortable wooden pew prisons. As per usual, the vast majority of the congregation left while a small minority stayed and waited to talk with a father of the church in confession. Jesse was one of them. The older Jesse and Richard decided to simply walk in with the younger Jesse once he reached the inside of the confessional booth.

“Forgive me father for I have sinned against my lord,” the young Jesse said. His articulation was childish, but that was to be expected. The older Jesse noted that this couldn’t have been any more than a week or two after the fight with the two bullies at the park.

“My child, what have you done to upset our lord?” the priest questioned.

“Padre, I have done three things wrong this whole week. I cursed once this week when I stubbed my toe getting out of the bathtub for one,” the innocent young Jesse said sadly, “it was the ‘D’ word.”

“Did you use our lord’s name in vein?” the priest said.

“No father, I would never do that!” Jesse stammered. The older Jesse and Richard couldn’t help but giggle a bit at how extremely serious the younger Jesse looked. They continued to listen.

“You are forgiven my child. Coming here today to confession has cleansed you of that sin. Now tell me, what are the other two crimes you have committed?” the priest asked.

“Father, I got into a fight the other day at the park. It wasn’t my fault though, I swear!”

“Can you tell me more my lamb of god?”

“These bullies stole my bat from my friend who borrowed it. The guys threw it into the woods, and then we started hitting each other. I barely was able to hit them before they hurt my friends kinda bad, and then they held me upside down and hit me in the tummy!” Jesse explained; his childish tone still evident.

“My my, sounds like quite the adventure my child! Now tell me, did you swing first?” he asked.

“Yes father, after they threw my bat into the woods.” Jesse said as he began to cry, awaiting his eternal damnation to start right there and then.

“Child, child; there is no need to cry! You simply were overcome by human emotion, it is natural. Three Hail Marries and two our fathers for your sin of wrath, and you will be absolved of that sin. Now, the final sin you have committed?” the padre asked.

“Father, is it… is it bad that I still used a pacifier up to about a week ago?” Jesse asked. The older Jesse quickly turned to Richard.

“I only asked that because I knew that the priest didn’t know who I was while on the other side of the confessional; I couldn’t just go talk to my parents about it! Only a priest would know if it was a sin!” Jesse said. Richard shook his head.

“There is no such thing as sin. There is right and wrong, moral and immoral, but there are no sins. Whatever is right and harmless is not of evil or immorality Jesse, deep inside all people know this. Even you know it.”

The priest continued to speak.

“My child, it was a mere addiction. It is not a sin, I can promise you that. Remember to progress in life, though; take the steps you need to forward! Do not let yourself succumb to the Devil’s evil drugs, and you shall be fine. It is nothing to worry about. You are absolved after you say your prayers aloud this evening. You must say them aloud over your bible, is that understood my lamb?”

“Yes father, I understand. Thank you!” Jesse smiled. At that moment, a shroud reappeared in the area between the younger Jesse and the priest on the other side of the wall in the confessional. Jesse and Richard sighed and looked at the shroud.

“Can’t we get a moment of rest?” Jesse asked.

“Sunday wasn’t the actual day of rest for the original creator, nor was it mine. It was actually a Monday. Not even he could ever seem to get much done on Mondays,” Richard said. The two stepped forward into the shroud, ready to continue their journey to complete Jesse’s book of life.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4, The Sin Of Wrath

Jesse and Richard walked into the shroud, and once again appeared in the office building as they had the previous time. This time, however, the two reappeared in a totally different area of the office building. Not much could be seen other than a slim ray of artificial light coming from a door in front of them. Richard grabbed Jesse by the arm and quickly forced him out of the door, saying nothing. Jesse began to speak.

“Hey let go of me, I can walk my-” he began before Richard put the entirety of his hand around Jesse’s mouth. Jesse stayed silent and breathed through his nose as Richard quickly shut the door, locking it from the outside. Jesse stared up at Richard with a look of both anger and shock. Richard stared back with a look of dissidence and fear. “The hell was that about?” Jesse asked.

“That was about hell incarnate, Jesse. You must never go in that room; not that you’ll have the opportunity,” Richard said. Jesse’s look of anger turned to that of curiosity.

“Why not?” was his question.

“Because as I just said, down there is hell incarnate. Don’t ever go into that room Jesse; feel lucky we made it out without an issue!” Richard assured.

“Are you telling me that Satan or ‘the devil’ is down there?” Jesse asked sarcastically. Richard’s face and tone were serious.

“No Jesse, something worse lurks past that door and in those walls. Come, we have to return to the study before another shroud appears,” he rushed. Jesse walked in front of him, again reading the signs as they went along. Then a question came to Jesse’s mind, just as the two reached the study door.

“Hey Richard, why can’t you ever lead the way back to the study?”

“It is because I cannot read the writing on these walls and plaques Jesse,” Richard explained.

“How can you not understand the language you’re speaking?” Jesse said.

“It is not hard to speak and copy, but it is hard to read and relay. It is not a language I can read with ease. Enough now; come,” he motioned towards the door. Jesse huffed and walked into the room, this time not even sitting down. He stared at Richard.

“Richard, can you get me a drink?” he queried. Richard nodded and waved his hand like a Jedi in front of his face. As Jesse looked down at the dark oak table beside himself, he noticed that another cup of tea had appeared. “Woah- how did you do that?!” Jesse asked. Richard chuckled a bit

“Being me is a science. If I can understand fully what something is and what it’s made of, I can make a copy of it. It’s basic science, really,” he explained. “Not hard once you’ve got the hang of it!”

“But I thought you said you weren’t god?” Jesse asked.

“I’m not a god, Jesse. I cannot create that in which I don’t understand. Why do you think man has not reached the heavens whilst alive? It is because they do not understand them in their entirety. Think of me not as god; but more as just a man in a study with a few magic tricks,” Richard went on. Jesse nodded, but he couldn’t help but internally feel as though he was going to explode.

“Damn it! The bastard can make me anything I want, he’s not gonna leave! Ugh, I need to see that book of his soon! If I don’t, I won’t know anything about him except what he tells me…” Jesse thought.

“I don’t know how long it will be till the next shroud appears, but it will appear soon I can promise you that much,” Richard said. Jesse sighed and tapped his foot rhythmically. Then he thought back to the previous time the shroud had appeared. An almost overly intelligent and genius idea dawned on him; he felt almost dirty for having such a thought.

“Richard, I just realized something. The last time that the shroud appeared, I was talking about religion, right? And the part of my life that I remembered had to do with religion. What if I can trigger the shrouds to make them appear faster?” he said. Richard gawked at Jesse and scratched his goatee.

“I’ve never thought about it, really. You very well could create a shroud; after all they are visions into your past. But, how will you know what the next shroud will lead us to? It might just be best not to think about it and let it all happen naturally,” Richard said. Jesse shook his head defiantly. Things were getting more and more interesting with each passing trip into his past; he wanted to get the whole picture as fast as possible.

“No, I think I’ve got an idea. You ever hear the old saying ‘history repeats itself?’” Jesse said.

“I believe so, yes,” Richard said. Jesse smirked as just then, a shroud appeared behind Richard. Richard turned around and stood up, looking at the portal of darkness behind him. “I really hope that you were thinking about something happy Jesse.”

“No, Richard,” Jesse said, “not even close.” The two waltzed over to the shroud and leaped through it, fearing nothing that existed beyond the portal. Just as Jesse hopped through though, he could have sworn he had heard a low growl. The thought quickly subsided, though, as the two once again appeared inside of Jesse’s house. They looked around and right in front of them was the younger Jesse, leaning over a computer and staring intently at the screen. Every so often he turned around and checked to make sure nobody was there. The older Jesse and Richard looked at each other with looks of curiosity and dumbfoundedness. The two quickly leaned over to see what the younger Jesse was looking at. The older Jesse blinked a few times as he saw what was on the screen. It was an all too familiar bit of literature. Richard read along with Jesse’s younger self, nodding every paragraph or so.

“So this is what you were into, eh? Shakespearian plays and such; the story of Rome and Juliet turned in a different direction, I’ll presume?” Richard said. He chuckled a bit. The older Jesse sneered and mumbled to himself.

“Just be quiet, it’s who I was in life; not who I am now! I don’t even remember reading this, this-”

“Story about Romeo and Marcushio preforming infantile acts with one another?” Richard interrupted. Jesse shook his head.

“Who the hell was I in life?” he said, more to himself than as a question towards Richard. Richard chuckled.

“You were, and still are human. Nobody is truly made equal, because we are all different people. You might just be higher on the worldly pyramid, though, to have the want to be young forever,” Richard said. He didn’t seem to be phased by this at all. All of a sudden the younger Jesse closed out of the website and shut down the computer. He turned around and walked, quite literally, right on through Jesse out of the door to the computer room.

Richard and Jesse quickly began to follow the young boy. “Why do I remember that site? Man, this is so weird. It’s like, I know a ton about whatever the hell that was, but at the same time I don’t know anything about whatever the hell that was! Ugh, my head is spinning right now,” Jesse thought. Richard and Jesse both continued following the younger Jesse until he walked outside.

“I swear to god that if I am going to have to run after myself again,” Jesse said.

“Stop swearing to god and start running, there you go!” Richard said, pointing towards the younger Jesse, rolling out on his bike down the street. Jesse sighed and began to dart through the streets with Richard, keeping pace with his younger self. Jesse had obviously not said anything to anyone that he was going out, so the older Jesse knew that this wasn’t going to end well. He hoped that the thought which had triggered this retelling of his life wasn’t actually what had set off the shroud. The two continued darting through the streets, watching closely the younger Jesse’s movements. Richard looked over at the older Jesse.

“Jesse, where are we going, do you remember?” Richard asked.

“I- I think we’re supposed to be going to the store. It’s not too far from here I’m pretty sure!” Jesse said. Richard nodded and continued running. Sure enough, the younger Jesse eventually did manage to stop at the store; the local pharmacy. Richard and Jesse stepped inside, following the younger Jesse into the air conditioned and well lit pharmacy. Jesse walked for about a minute before he looked down an aisle that Jesse knew, deep down, was the purpose of this mission. The younger Jesse quickly strode down the aisle, grabbed a pacifier off of a metal hook and began to walk towards the front of the store. The older Jesse shook his head though.

“I didn’t have any money,” he said. He watched as his younger self slyly but nervously put the pacifier, still wrapped up in its neat little packaging, into his pants pocket. He sighed and walked out of the pharmacy door, rubbing his forehead from the now dissipating angst. Jesse looked up at Richard. Richard merely shook his head, again with disdain and disappointment.

“Why are you stealing a pacifier? You were worried about the sin of wrath and being addicted to one not one trip into the past ago, and now you’re stealing one from a pharmacy,” Richard said. His voice held a sense of something deeper than disappointment now though. Almost a personal sense of responsibility and regret seemed to come over him. Jesse shook his head.

“No Richard, I’m not stealing it. I’m bringing it back,” he said. Just as he finished his sentence, his younger self stopped cold in his tracks. He looked down towards his pocket and grunted in disgust, and slowly began to walk back into the store. He was careful to make sure nobody saw him put the pacifier back where it belonged, and walked back out of the store. Richard looked almost pleased and satisfied then.

“Taking back a stolen item not ten seconds after you walk out of the place you stole it from? My, weren’t you a gutsy one?” Richard said. Jesse chuckled.

“Yeah, I was gutsy; and I know exactly where we’re going next. Come on, race you there!” Jesse said. He dashed in front of his younger self and began to run as Richard tried to keep pace. The dashed through the warm sun filled suburbia as the younger Jesse actually lagged behind the two ghosts of man. Jesse couldn’t help but show off as he darted through an oncoming bus and kept going, phasing through it like it was nothing. Richard laughed at this, but showed off just as much by cutting Jesse off after running through several houses. Jesse laughed back, and the two continued until they reached a very familiar site; the park. The younger Jesse parked his bike up against a nearby fence and walked into the park, hands in his shorts’ pockets and head hanging low. It looked almost like he didn’t want to be seen there. Richard stared at Jesse.

“Why are we here?”

“I’ve been asking myself the same question for a while now,” Jesse said.

“No, I mean why are we here, at the park?” Richard said.

“Oh, sorry; I’m not quite sure to be honest. Come on, I’m walking over there.” The two followed the younger Jesse once again, this time stopping by the nearby woods. The young Jesse got to his knees and began scanning the ground carefully, passing over each bit of dirt with serious attention. He finally found what he was looking for. He held to small pacifier up to his eyes and twisted it around slightly, making sure that it wasn’t infected with bugs or dirt. While it was slightly dirty, Jesse knew it could be cleaned off with hot water and soap in a matter of twenty or so minutes. He smiled softly to himself and stood up, slipping his treasure back into his pocket. The older Jesse smiled softly down at his young self.

“I didn’t want to take something that didn’t belong to me. I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” he said.

“That’s courageous and kind of you to do. You refused to steal something when you had already gotten away scot free. I commend you now for your good deed. But tell me, you said you had thought of something bad? I have yet to see a negative event play out,” Richard said.

“That’s because troubles coming up in just about ten seconds,” Jesse said nervously. The two looked into the woods, and saw two larger boys coming towards the younger Jesse. The younger Jesse didn’t notice them though as he began to walk off. The two older boys exchanged glances and then quickly began to run after the unsuspecting boy. As they approached, the younger Jesse turned and saw his two soon-to-be assailants. The boys quickly grabbed ahold of Jesse’s shirt, each taking one end. Rob chuckled and shook Jesse a bit.

“Well, look what we have here. A baby alone in the park without his mommy or baby friends!” he said.

“Yeah, we got us a nice little baby. Tell us baby, how much money do you have on ya?” Bill said. Jesse shook his head nervously.

“I swear I don’t have any money! I was just waiting for my friends, but they never showed up!” Jesse said. “Please just let me go! I promise I don’t have any money!”

“Let’s check 'im Bill,” Rob said. Bill, while still holding onto Jesse’s shirt, dug into the boy’s pocket. Of all the days that Jesse had to come back and get his pacifier, it just had to be this one. Jesse whimpered as Bill found the pacifier.

“Again, you really are a baby!” Bill said. He pulled out the pacifier and showed Rob. Rob simply chuckled. Bill threw the pacifier onto the ground and stomped on it hard, but didn’t break it. Jesse cried slightly as the bullies chuckled. Rob then stepped onto Jesse’s treasure, finally breaking the poor baby blue pacifier in half. Jesse began to tear slightly. The older Jesse cried slightly as well. Richard put his hand on the boy’s shoulder, but continued to watch the events unfold.

“Now that you aren’t a baby anymore with you stupid little pacifier, let’s teach you a big boy game,” Rob said. He and Bill released Jesse and let him drop to the ground, falling onto his knees. The boys began to kick him, one after the other until the boy flipped onto his stomach. They frowned and picked him back up by the collar of his now tarnished shirt.

“Come on, fight back you little wimp!” Bill said. Jesse shook his dirt stained head.

“No, I can’t, I can’t!” he cried. Bill growled a low growl and slapped Jesse across the face.

“Why can’t you?”

“Wrath- I can’t let wrath control me. Please, stop!” Jesse pleaded. The bullies didn’t listen, though. Jesse was quickly thrown to the ground, his chest hitting his broken pacifier. The two boys chuckled.

“Fine, don’t fight back you little pussy. Have it your way,” Rob said. The two monstrosities of emotionally unstable and sadistic human beings walked off, past Jesse and towards the main road. The younger Jesse lied there and cried for a while, along with the older Jesse.

“They- they broke it! I… I just wanted to get it back, that’s all! It wasn’t a bad thing, I didn’t do anything wrong! Why is god punishing me like this?” the older Jesse bawled. Richard pulled the boy into a hug.

“Worry not, you aren’t being punished. Even if I knew that this was happening, there is nothing I could have done to stop this abomination of evil. You were brave, Jesse. That’s all anyone could ever ask for.”

The younger Jesse eventually stood up and walked home, having found his bike missing. He strode home, his clothes a little tarnished and his face red as a tomato. He arrived home, but there was no car there. He sighed in relief and walked into the house, putting on a new shirt and washing his face in the bathroom sink. Jesse looked over at Richard.

“My parents weren’t home today. They were out, doing something special. They’ll be back in about ten seconds, though,” Jesse said. Sure enough, within the next ten seconds Jesse’s parents’ car pulled up to the house. They got out of the car and walked into the house.

“Jesse, we’re home!” came a feminine call. Jesse shut off the water in the bathroom, dried his face and walked out to greet his parents.

“Hi mom, hi dad,” he said, masking his true emotions with a verbal mask of joy and jubilation. Jesse looked up at his father, who was wearing his work suit. It held his name on a small tag. Lee Bishop, it read.

“Jesse, your mother and I want to tell you something. Do you want to honey?” Lee said.

“Alright, I’ll tell him. Jesse… your father got a promotion, and we’re moving out in two months! He’s an executive now at Olympus! Isn’t that amazing?” Jesse’s mother said. Jesse’s look went from fake joy, to true shock.

“God damn it,” the older Jesse said.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5, Experience and Wisdom

Jesse peered over at his father, staring into the man’s dark brown eyes. He felt almost revolted and dirty just for looking at them. He then turned his gaze to Richard, who was gripping his head a bit. “Are you okay?” Jesse said.

“I’m fine; just a little migraine is all,” Richard replied, “happens when I hear someone say- what you just said.”

“Oh, I’m sorry Richard! I didn’t know that…”

“It’s okay Jesse, just- don’t do it again, please,” Richard said. Jesse nodded. The two returned their gazes back to the younger Jesse.

“M-moving? Why are we moving? Where are we moving to? What about all my friends and my stuff and, and…” Jesse said, babbling. His father sighed slightly.

“Jesse, Jesse my boy, relax! You need to calm yourself down a little bit here. Don’t worry about moving for right now, just worry about getting yourself ready for tonight,” his father said. Jesse look became rather quizzical.

“Get ready for tonight? What’s happening tonight?” he asked.

“Your cousins and uncle and aunt are coming over tonight to celebrate this momentous occasion!” Lee cheered. The man, even though he knew Jesse was still young, seemed to talk to him with words that someone his own age should know, not someone Jesse’s age should. Jesse got a tad angry just then.

“Are you serious? Now I gotta deal with stupid Kimberly? She’s gonna wreck my stuff if David doesn’t destroy my room first!” Jesse yelled.

“Watch your tongue young man!” his mother barked. “Kimberly won’t touch anything of yours, and David is still just a baby!”

“Honey, he’s almost 4 years old now,” Lee interrupted, “the only thing babyish about him are his bathroom habits, but Gen and Dave are working on that. You know my brother works a lot of hours and Gen isn’t the greatest parent in the world.” Jesse’s mother sighed, whilst the younger Jesse grabbed his head and started to sob. His mother quickly embraced him.

“Honey, come here, it’s okay!” she said, grabbing his head and rubbing it. Then she felt a bump. “Jesse, did you hit your head?” she asked. The young Jesse thought fast.

“Y-yeah, I accidentally hit my head playing today,” he lied. He wasn’t nearly close to ready to tell his parents about what had happened to him today, he knew he would be in severe trouble if they learned that he went all around town while they were out. The older Jesse looked up at Richard.

“Are we going to have to wait an hour or something now and have to watch everything that’s happening?” Jesse asked. Richard nodded.

“Unfortunately, things can get really boring for a time while in these visions. I have a feeling though that things won’t stay boring for long,” Richard said. The two sat around and watched the younger Jesse get dressed in proper clothing, wash himself up a little more and put anything and everything personal into his closet. The older Jesse shook his head though as memories began pouring back into his brain. Richard looked down, motioning for Jesse to spill his guts about what was going to happen.

“There are two big things that’re going to happen. The first is gonna happen a little while after my cousins and aunt and uncle get here. The second is going to happen tomorrow,” he explained. Richard sighed deeply again. “So, are we going to have to stay here a whole evening than?” Jesse asked. Richard shook his head.

“Anything occurring more than 12 hours from the moment you fall asleep in your visions will be something another shroud will take us to. Don’t worry, you’re never bored for too long, you just have to do some waiting at times,” Richard said. Jesse nodded. Eventually, Jesse’s aunt, uncle, and cousins all arrived at Jesse’s humble abode. The first of the group was-

“My uncle Dave,” Jesse said, pointing to a rather large man walking through the front door. He seemed to have a flair of grease in his Italian hair, and a dab of cologne sprayed about. He wore a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with a bit of oil on it. He’d obviously come straight from work.

“My aunt Gen,” Jesse said, pointing to the woman behind Dave. She was wearing some tomboyish clothing, bearing a cigarette in one hand and then using the other one to hug Jesse’s mother.

“And my cousins,” Jesse said with disappointment. He watched as two young kids walked in. “Kimberly and David,” he said. Kimberly was just a tad chubby, sporting pink clips in her hair and a fake toy dog in her right hand. In her left she was holding David’s hand. David was short, but that was to be expected of a 3 year old. His birthday wasn’t for another month, after all. The night went on with congratulations and dramatization of the things that were happening taking place every so often. Jesse locked himself in his room, turning on his desk lamp and sitting down to write. The older Jesse and Richard watched him closely.

“Operation Swipper?” Richard asked. Jesse’s eyes widened.

“Oh boy, I know what he’s going to do! I just can’t remember if it’s going to end well or not…” Jesse said. Richard chuckled.

“Only one way to find out, right?” The two watched as the younger Jesse finally stood up and walked out into the living room. He was greeted with joyous calls of “hello” and “hey bud how you doin’?” He didn’t quite mind all the attention, but it was the last thing he needed if this little ‘operation’ was going to work. Kimberly walked up to him and gave him a hug.

“Hi Jesse, congrats about your dad and stuff!” the nine year old said. Jesse nodded.

“Yeah, thanks I guess,” he said nonchalantly. Kimberly scoffed some.

“Okay, whatever, jerk,” she said. Jesse gawked at her.

“Jerk? The heck did I do?” he asked. Kimberly just scoffed again.

“Well duh, you’re supposed to congratulate me too!” she said as if Jesse was supposed to already know this. He looked at her with a tilted head.

“Um, for what exactly?” he asked. She snarled. “I’m going into fourth grade now Jesse, you’re supposed to congratulate me for that!” she said. Jesse sighed.

“So what, I’m going into fifth grade now. It’s nothing special, so just relax,” he said, "take it easy and don’t get yourself overly hyped; it’ll just be a disappointment.’ Jesse spoke with realistic notions of life in his voice. He was simply trying to explain to the girl that the coming year might not be that exciting for her. She simple flipped her hair and went back to watching television.

“Jesse!” came a small voice from behind him. Jesse turned around only to see David standing there in a pair of overalls with his arms held out as far as he could reach them.

“David!” Jesse replied, kneeling down and opening his arms so he could hug the little tike. The two quickly embraced as David smiled with great joy.

“Jesse, guess what? I’m goin’ to preschool this year!” David cheered. Jesse smiled.

“Yeah, you told me that over the phone last week, remember?” Jesse asked. The young David blinked twice. Jesse knew that he couldn’t really reason time with the boy just yet. “But, I’m glad to hear you’re being such a big boy now,” he said. David smiled and then randomly totted off to go find his sister. Jesse sighed and peered over to the corner near the front door. “Target acquired,” he mumbled. The younger Jesse quickly went over to the front door and scooped up a single white object from the bag beside it. He stuck it in his pants, and looked around to make sure nobody had seen him. The older Jesse looked to Richard.

“You can see where this is going, can’t you?” he asked. Richard nodded.

“It’s not that hard to guess,” he said. The younger Jesse darted back into his room, closing his door with a small slam as he entered. He quickly took the padding out of his pants and stuck it into his pillow case. He sighed in relief.

“Sweetness!” he said. The older Jesse blushed.

“Richard, this is getting uncomfortable…” Jesse said. Richard chuckled.

“I can see that.” Just then the older Jesse looked almost mortified; ass did the younger. The older Jesse started speaking what was coming to his mind.

“Oh no oh no oh no! I- I stole something again! I stole from my aunt and uncle and cousins! This isn’t good, what if someone finds out? What if someone saw me but didn’t say anything? Oh man, this was a bad idea, a bad bad bad bad BAD bad bad-” he was interrupted by Richard gripping him by his shirt and shaking him.

“For the love of- calm yourself boy! Snap out of it Jesse, you’re stronger than your thoughts!” Richard yelled. Jesse eventually snapped out of his daze. Richard let go and Jesse dropped to his knees.

“I’m… sorry Richard. I don’t know what came over me!” he assured. Richard nodded.

“When your younger self feels severe emotions, you shall feel them as well. The thoughts will transcend time, and you will feel the urge to repeat them. Do not give into temptation, though,” Richard warned. Jesse nodded.

“This is crazy though, I mean… I stole something again. I’m a kleptomaniac!”

“No, you’re not. You returned the first thing you stole, so relax. When people are desperate, they take things that don’t belong to them in order to satisfy their own needs and desires,” Richard said.

“Are you talking from experience, or from wisdom?” Jesse inquired.

“Both, I think.”

Jesse stood back up and stretched his body a bit. He chuckled a bit carelessly. “This really is just too much for one man to handle,” he said. Richard nodded.

“And that is why you have me, Jesse.” Jesse returned the nod and watched as the younger Jesse walked out of his room, over to the dining room towards the conversing parents. He quickly hugged his dad. His dad returned the hug.

“You okay sport?” he asked. Jesse shook his head ‘no.’

“No, but I think some food might make me feel a little better. I haven’t had anything to eat all day!” he explained. His father nodded.

“Well, pizza is actually on the way right now. You wanna just go wait with your cousins in the living room until it comes?” he asked. Jesse shook his head with a ‘no’ once again.

“No, but can I have the phone? I wanna call John and talk to him for a bit,” he stated. Lee chuckled.

"Alright, that’s okay I suppose. Phone is on the charger in the kitchen; just bring it back when you’re done. Jesse nodded a ‘yes,’ and darted off to the kitchen. He quickly picked up the phone and dialed in the proper numbers as he walked back to his room.

“Hello, can I please speak to John?”

“Oh hey Jesse, it’s me!” came a familiar voice.

“Dude, I got some bad news man.”

“What’s up?”

“My dad got a promotion today…”

“How is that bad dude? You should be, like, happy right now!”

“I am happy for him! But… I’ll just say it now and get it out of the way; we’re going to be moving!”

Silence came from the other end.

“John, you there? John, hello? Come on man, speak to me? Dude don’t do thi-” the dial tone went dead. Jesse sat down on his bed and cried lightly.

Soon enough the night had begun to end. Pizza was had and comments were shared; even soda was given to the kids as a small treat. A shroud eventually appeared before Jesse and Richard. The two quickly stepped through, leaving the younger Jesse alone once again. It seemed to be a recurring theme; the younger Jesse being alone all of the time.

As they entered the shroud his time, the two found themselves back in the study. Richard cheered.

“Yes! We got back into the study without any issues this time!” he said.

“Well, I’m glad that that’s over with,” Jesse said. He sighed and began to cry deeply, sitting down on his usual chair. Richard looked over at him.

“What’s wrong Jesse?” he asked.

“My best friend in the whole world hung the phone up on me because my stupid dad decided that we were moving!” he replied.

“Friends, now isn’t that a topic I know a lot about? Take my word for it Jesse, things will probably smooth over. You’re a good soul, and so is John. You both are kind people from what I can tell. Don’t worry about any of this. We’ll see what happens when the next shroud comes, okay?” Richard said with wisdom emanating from his entire body. Jesse nodded with a sniffle.

“Right, don’t worry about it,” he replied sarcastically, “that’s not something I’m good at.”

Chapter 6

Chapter 6, “I Promise”

“Not something you’re good at?” Richard asked. Jesse nodded. “Well, in this situation I suppose that’s to be expected…”

“I’m not really sure about that, to be honest,” Jesse said. “In life, I was always worried about things. I was just a worrisome person, I guess,” Jesse shrugged. Richard nodded.

“Whatever you say, Jesse,” he replied. The two sat down in their respective chairs and stared passed each other, thinking deeply. Within Jesse’s mind, though, there was nothing but conflict.

“Damn my dad! That… that asshole; how the hell could he make me move away from my best friend?!” he thought. “But, he did try for a long time to get that position- yeah! I remember all those nights he wouldn’t come home because he was trying to take extra hours at work!” Jesse continued his long train of thought. “I don’t get it, though. I know he’s supposed to try and make my life better, but money and a position in some company isn’t everything- is it?”

Soon enough, another dark shroud appeared before Jesse and Richard; this time appearing on top of the coffee table between the two. Richard said nothing, but instead simply stood up and motioned with his right hand for Jesse to enter the shroud. Jesse nodded softly, and jumped into the portal.

When Jesse appeared on the other side of the shroud; he couldn’t help but notice that Richard was taking just a second more than usual to get through the shroud than the previous times. He disregarded this as sheer tiredness on Richard’s part and turned around. As he had been the night before, he and Richard were back in the younger Jesse’s room. Jesse looked up to Richard.

“It’s the day that I’m moving, Richard,” Jesse replied. Richard nodded. “My dad managed to have things already set up for about a week and a half after he got promoted. John and Matt hadn’t talked to me since I’d called John up,” Jesse explained. They both spun around at the sound of the door clicking to find the younger Jesse walking in. He was wearing a black and yellow T-shirt with matching yellow and black shorts. He had on his socks and sneakers, obviously ready to get out of the house as quickly as possible. The older Jesse’s ears twitched upon seeing his younger self again grabbing the broken pacifier that he’d salvaged out of a drawer from his dresser and slipping it on his pocket. As the younger Jesse walked out, the older Jesse and Richard began to follow him out of his room and soon out the door of the house. The two watched as the younger Jesse walked up to his mother, who was standing right out in the front of the house, and began to hug her. She hugged him back.

“Mom, I’ll be back soon, okay?” Jesse sniveled. Jesse’s mother looked down at him and smiled softly, nodding.

“Be back in a couple of hours at the latest, we need to be getting out of here eventually,” she said. Jesse released her from his grip as she did the very same thing. Jesse then darted towards his bike and immediately set off on his new journey. Richard and the older Jesse began to follow the younger one, once again darting through the streets of Jesse’s home town until they all reached their destination. They stood right behind the younger Jesse like looming creatures, watching as he knocked on a door to yet another suburban house. The older Jesse blinked twice in shock.

“Th-this is Matt’s house!” he said, “this is his house from when we were younger!” The younger Jesse knocked on the door once again, this time the door swinging wide open. A relatively tall woman stood there, staring down at Jesse.

“Oh hello Jesse!” the blond said.

“Hi Bella, is Matt here?” Jesse asked.

“I’m sorry hon’, he’s not home right now. He and his dad went out a half hour ago to go play laser tag; he won’t be back till later tonight. Do you want me to have him call you later?” she asked. The younger and older Jesse almost burst into tears just then.

“N-no ma’am, I don’t think you should have him do that…” the younger Jesse said as he turned around and ran to his bike, riding off away from Matt’s house as fast as he could. Richard and the older Jesse followed suit, the older Jesse’s vision being blurred by tears that he swore were coming right from the past to his eyes, instead of them simply forming in his present state. The two darted after the younger Jesse, following behind him as close as physically possible for the two. Once again, the now recomposed Jesse came across another familiar suburban home.

“It’s John’s house,” Jesse stated simply.

The younger Jesse walked up to the door, breathing deeply as he knocked.

“Be there, be there please be there…” the older Jesse mumbled. Eventually, the door swung open to a red headed woman of average height. She looked down at the young Jesse and smiled softly.

“Hello Jesse, are you here to see John?” she asked. Jesse nodded. The woman stepped aside and allowed Jesse inside of her home. He removed his shoes as soon as he walked in and darted through the halls of the home until he came across a brown wooden door. Jesse took a deep breath and walked inside of the room, not bothering to knock beforehand. Sitting down on the floor looking up at a TV screen with a controller in his hand was none other than John. John glanced to his left for a second, gawked at the site before him, and then turned off his system as fast as he could. The younger Jesse walked into the room, shutting the door behind him. Of course, the older Jesse and Richard were inside of the room already, waiting for the event to take place. The older Jesse was heaving in each breath, exhaling it rarely but not feeling light headed or dizzy.

“John, please don’t be mad at me!” Jesse begged.

“I’m not mad at you.”

“Then why haven’t you called me in the past week and a half dude?”

“Because… because I didn’t want to, that’s why!”

“Dude, I left you a message on your answering machine; you know that today is the day that I’m leaving!”

“Yeah, so what?”

“So what? So what? Dude, come on… don’t do this to me man, please!”

“Do what to you?”

“Do- do this! Do what you’re doing right now!”

“I’m not doing anything right now!” John retorted.

“Dude, we’ve been friends since we were little, you can’t just- you can’t just not talk to me or hang out the day I leave town forever!”

“Yes I can! You’re not the boss of me!”

“Well if I was you’d be fired right now!”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah! You’d be fired for being a crappy friend!” Jesse blurted out. The two went dead silent. Not a cricket, not a pin, not even a clock was able to make a sound in a silence that dead. It was as if the entire planet earth for just a few seconds had stopped moving. John looked at the now angered Jesse with disgust in his eyes. His eyes began to water, as he walked up to the younger Jesse. He clenched his fist but eventually stopped and looked away. Jesse scoffed.

“You’re mad but you can’t even manage to hit me you little sissy,” Jesse said. As he said that John used his open palm to hit Jesse across the check.

“Don’t you dare call me a crappy friend or a sissy; you’re the one that’s leaving town and leaving your best friends behind to deal with those stupid bullies!” John barked. Jesse stood silent. The older Jesse, now upset and enraged, phased through his younger self and tried again and again to slap John in the face. It did nothing more than make the older Jesse more upset, and a tad more tired. He stepped back away from the boy, but Richard said nothing. Not a cough, not a “no,” not even a scoff of his own was emitted from his mouth to show his views on the matter.

“You think I want to leave you and Matt behind? If it were up to me, you’d be moving with me! I’d get you two out of here as fast as I could!” Jesse said. He began to tear heavily. John too started to cry and the two embraced each other, crying until they couldn’t cry any more. The older Jesse, too, cried alongside his younger self and his best friend. The two younger boys eventually sat down on the bed in the room, sniffling a bit.

“So, you’re really leaving today, huh?” John asked.

“Yeah…”

“Dude, this really does suck. Like, a lot!” John commented. Jesse nodded, chuckling a bit.

“Yeah, it does. But I don’t want you to forget me, alright?” Jesse said.

“Dude, I’d never forget you, you know that!” John informed.

“No, I want to make sure you never forget me!” Jesse explained. He dug into his pocket, and pulled out the cracked and broken pacifier.

“This was my favorite one. Bill and his stupid friend jumped me the day I called you up and smashed it into smithereens. I want you to have it,” he said. John slowly grabbed the broken thing, holding it close to himself as if it were a small puppy; or a maybe even a still beating heart that needed to be saved.

“Jesse, dude… you really want me to have this?” he asked. Jesse nodded. John said nothing, but quickly took off the necklace he’d been wearing the entire time. It was real gold, Jesse knew that much, and he commonly saw John wear it. John slipped it over Jesse’s head and said nothing, for a time. Eventually, though, he spoke up.

“Jesse, I want you to have that. My grandpa Max gave it to me. I really want you to have it, okay?”

“Man, if it’s from your grandpa I don’t want to take it away from you; that’s something special!” Jesse said.

“Yeah, and I know that this was special to you for a really long time dude,” John said.

“You knew I used one for a while, didn’t you?”

“I accidentally went through your backpack instead of mine a year ago at a sleepover. Remember how we had the exact same backpack?”

“Aw dude, those were so sweet!”

“Yeah, I know. But… yeah man, it’s okay. Keep it; it’s yours!” John assured the younger Jesse. He nodded softly.

The two got up and began to walk outside, stopping right in front of Jesse’s bike. The older and younger Jesses began to tear up. John quickly embraced his soon to be gone friend in a hug; Jesse’s accepting and hugging him back.

“I’m going to miss you and Matt so much!” he said. John nodded.

“I’ll let him know you said that,” he said, releasing Jesse from his tight grasp. “Just promise me one thing Jesse,” he said.

“What do you want from my life now?” Jesse joked. The two chuckled a bit, still teary eyed.

“Just promise me you don’t let what keeps happening here to happen to you at your new school. I don’t want you to have to keep going through it. Get popular for all three of us, not just me or you okay? At least one of us deserves it,” he said.

“Is that really what you want from me?” Jesse asked. John nodded.

“Just do it dude, I know you can. Don’t let anybody screw with you, fight back the next time!”

“You know I’m no good at fighting John!”

“I don’t care, you’ll have to be. Do you promise? Promise me that you won’t let what happened here happen again to you anywhere else you go!” he said. John stuck out his pinky finger. Jesse quickly embraced his friend’s pinky with his own.

“I promise.”

Chapter 7

Chapter 7, More or Less, Moral-Less

Jesse and Richard stepped through the portal, quickly leaving the younger Jesse behind with his friend. The older Jesse felt almost ashamed for some reason. He didn’t care to look around this time, but instead looked towards his shoes and clutched his face with both hands, letting out a few small coughs as tears raced each other down his face. Richard again said nothing about the crying, but gently put his hand onto Jesse’s back, walking him back to the study so they might yet again brave the past to understand what had happened to Jesse in life. As the two got closer to the door, though, Jesse’s head lifted up a small bit and his tears began to dissipate. He was feeling much better at this point, now that he’d cried his eyes out for a while. As Jesse began to walk more upright and proper, he couldn’t help but take a quick glance down one of the hallways he was passing. He froze, stopping dead in his tracks which then caused Richard to stop. He blinked for a second, looking down the blank hallway.

“Are you okay, Jesse?” Richard said.

“I-I guess so. I thought for a split second I saw a dog in the hallway,” Jesse said. Richard said nothing, but his hand placed on Jesse’s back made Jesse feel even more nervous, due to the simple nature of it gripping him now rather than showing him along. He began to rush Jesse into the study, slamming the door behind him.

Deep in the catacombs an older age that lied just beneath the large building Jesse and Richard are in, though, something began crawling, lurking, trying to regain its own power. It spoke softly.

الصبي ليس من نطاقي ، ومع ذلك فهو هنا… هناك شيئا خاطئا. سوف Aetos فهم خيانته قريبا بما فيه الكفاية ، وبذلك واحدة من أقربائه في هذا المكان ، فكذلك سوف يشعر غضبي…

Back up in the study, Jesse and Richard had already begun their almost ceremonial talk about the events of the past.

“Jesse, you made a promise back there. Are you one to keep your promises?” Richard asked.

“I’m pretty sure I am. I mean, I can’t say for sure, but I hope so,” he said, the last bit of his sentence seemed almost out of place even to Jesse, speaking softer than usual.

“Right, well! I think our ride is here,” Richard said, peering behind the standing Jesse at a deep black shroud forming on the wall. The two had no second thoughts, no hesitations, and most of all; fear driving them to simply jump through and get this small adventure over and done with.

As the two appeared on the other side, they couldn’t help but notice the setting that they were in. A new house, huge in comparison to the old, stood idle in front of Jesse and Richard. The sky was gray and gloomy, the pavement beneath their feet only a few shades darker than the ocean of air above. Jesse looked up at Richard, feeling yet again ashamed for no reason in particular. That feeling was quickly put to rest, though, as the younger Jesse shut the door to the huge house behind him and started walking down the long driveway.

“We’re in Moriches now, Richard. My new house, my new school- my new friends,” Jesse said, mostly rhetorically. He watched as his younger self, dressed nicely in a school uniform, walked towards him and Richard.

“Damn it…” the younger Jesse muttered. He phased through the older Jesse and Richard and walked silently from then on in to his bus stop. The older Jesse and Richard followed behind closely, talking to each other about the current situation.

“Can we even get on a bus?” Jesse said to Richard.

“I think we can, or at least, I hope we can! I doubt we’d be able to catch up with a bus on foot,” Richard replied. The two continued to follow the younger Jesse until he froze some 20 or so feet away from a bunch of kids, about 5 of them, all dressed just like him in school uniforms. The uniforms were prim and proper with a badge sewed into where each of the kids’ hearts were, their dark blue jackets matching perfectly with their equally toned pants. They all didn’t bother even looking towards Jesse. The young boy took a deep breath in, exhaled, and began walking again. His backpack which he gripped seemed to almost yelp back at the younger Jesse as he tightly clutched the straps going over his shoulders with his hands as ferociously as he possible could. He stopped roughly 3 or so feet from the boys and looked away down another street nearby, listening closely to the other boys’ conversation.

“So we went on the boat and didn’t even manage to catch a single fish or crab! It’s long Island, and we have a fishing boat the size of a house, I honestly don’t know how it happened!”

“Steve, your dad owns a fishing company, his men probably took all the product in the water where you were fishing; you do realize that, right?” one boy said

“Hey now, leave the kid alone. It’s not his fault he can’t catch fish for his life, even with a boat!” another boy joked.

“Hey now, you don’t even do anything with your parents money! You just sit on your butt all day and play video games Tom!”

“Well, the Wilter’s family does in fact own a chain of arcades you ditz! What else would I do with my time?” the boy named Tom asked.

“I don’t know; something meaningful to society?” Steve said back. The boys laughed and chuckled a bit, but Jesse made not even the smallest of sounds. He didn’t see the humor in the jokes the boys were dishing out, nor did he care much for the gloating and shameless bragging about family wealth. It wasn’t like him to laugh at such things. Usually between him and his friends, the only bragging that was done was about how many chocolate milk cartons they were each able to drink in a single sitting at lunch without regurgitating. The other boys continued to chat until the boy named Tom glanced over at Jesse.

“Hey, you; you’re wearing an academy uniform. I’ve never seen you around here before, what’s your name?” he said.

Jesse pointed at himself. “Me?” he questioned. “I’m Jesse Bishop, I just moved in up the street a few days ago,” Jesse explained.

“Really? Well, welcome to the neighborhood. Where you from? Hopefully not some low life place around the rest of the island, huh guys?” Tom said. The other boys chuckled a bit.

“Nah, I’m not even from Long Island, I’m, um, from Arizona!” Jesse spit out. There was a deep seeded, disgust inducing feeling deep in both the older and younger Jesses’ stomachs.

“Arizona, huh? It’s pretty hot over there I hear!” Tom said. He was obviously speaking for the entire group, as nobody else said anything.

“Yeah, it’s pretty hot. The desert and all over there, but I lived up in Flagstaff!” Jesse said. In truth, he had been to Flagstaff, but only once on a family vacation with his mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousins and grandparents. “We’ve got a pretty big house over there, it’s a nice little place to be!” he explained. The other boys nodded in agreement, obviously satisfied with Jesse’s answer.

“Yeah, I bet it is! You must be good at skiing, then! I know that Steve skis, too, so maybe you too can chat it up some time!” Tom explained.

“Chat it up?” Jesse murmured as the large yellow school bus came in close to pick the boys up. The older Jesse and Richard, whom had remained silent this whole time, tried to walk onto the bus. They took one step up, then another, then another, and soon they were standing in the middle of the row on the bus. Jesse stomped his foot once or twice each time he walked, making sure he wasn’t about to fall through the floor and hit the pavement below. When all the kids were seated, the bus began moving again. Jesse and Richard stood frozen as the bus moved, and they moved along with it. Richard sighed in relief.

“You know, Jesse, that was kind of scary!” he said. Jesse laughed a bit at the comment.

“Scary? We’re dead, what does it matter?” Jesse commented. Richard replied not to his comment, but instead changed the subject.

“So this academy, do you remember what it’s like?” Richard said.

“Not really, no. I just know that it’s way too big but a hell of a lot of stuff goes on there. There aren’t too many kids that go there, so it isn’t that crowded,” he replied. Richard nodded as the bus continued its morning trek to the school. This was the young Jesse’s first day and he hoped that his impression which he made not ten minutes before would serve him well in getting him into a position where he wouldn’t get his ass beat mercilessly, but instead be able to make friends and communicate on their strange, rich dialect of ‘proper’ English. The bus continued for a short while on its journey until they reached the academy. The bus parked, opened its doors, and all the students began walking out. Jesse hopped out of the bus, nervous as he’d ever been, but stood strong and proud as he walked into the unfamiliar building, passing by doors and carefully reading the numbers. He soon came to realize that the doors with the label of two hundred and up were on the second floor. He looked around, eventually finding a staircase and climbed up it as though it were Everest. He came to the top step and took a quick right, going down the hallway again reading the numbers. He finally came across the door he was looking for.

“Two one seven,” Jesse mumbled. Richard and Jesse, who were following behind the whole time, continued walking behind Jesse’s younger self, joking about how bad Jesse’s sense of direction was to pass the time. Jesse walked into the classroom, seeing Steve and Tom from his bus stop sitting down and chatting with each other casually. Jesse walked up to a rather fit man sitting at a desk in a corner near one of the windows and stood there for a second.

“Um, excuse me sir?” Jesse said nervously. The man peered up and looked up at the small boy.

“Oh, hello there! Would you happen to be Jesse Bishop?” the man asked. Jesse was taken aback for a second, but quickly replied with a “yes I am, sir!”

The man smiled a bit, looked down at a chart and quickly found his seat. “Okay Jesse, you’re right over here, third column, second row seat. It’s already been about a week into the school year so we haven’t done much! Just put your supplies in your desk and then hang your backpack up over on the cubby near the door and you’ll be all set,” the man assured. “I’m Mr. Stock. Pleased to meet you Jesse!” the man held out his hand. Jesse gripped it sheepishly.

“Thank you for your help Mr. Stock!” he said. Jesse strode quickly to his seat, set his book bag down next to him and put his things in his desk as he had been instructed to. He then hung up his backpack and his coat in the cubby near the door. The room quickly filled and soon enough, class had begun.

“Welcome back guys and girls! Alrighty, so! Today we have a new student here with us,” the man said, motioning politely to Jesse. “I’d like you all to say ‘hi’ to Jesse Bishop!” Mr. Stock said. The room of kids waved and said their greetings. Jesse replied with a simple “hello, everyone!”

“Jesse, how about you come up here and tell us a bit about yourself!” Mr. Stock said. Jesse wasn’t about to refuse his teacher. He quickly went up to the front of the room, his school T-shirt which had been previously hidden by his Jacket looking prim and proper as everyone else’s.

“Hey guys! Like Mr. Stock said, my name is Jesse. Well, I come from…” he swallowed hard for a second, nerves bursting inside of him like atom bombs, tension building in his head. “I’m from Flagstaff Arizona, and I just moved here about a week ago. My dad got transferred over to the company building over here, so I had to come along for the ride!” Jesse joked. A few giggles came from the audience of peers, but nothing spectacular.

“Um, I guess that’s really it…” he said softly, walking back to his seat and sitting down, a few people clapping softly and courteously.

“Okay, thank you Jesse! Now, let’s start off today with a lesson about history,” Mr. Stock started. Jesse whipped out a notebook and opened it, quickly putting it back the second that he saw he’d grabbed his personal notebook. “My life of babyhood,” he read in his head before slipping the book back into his desk and grabbing another one.

“That’s my writing journal… I accidentally brought it to school that day, then brought it back home the second I got the chance,” Jesse explained to Richard.

“Now, can anyone tell me what a Neanderthal is?” Mr. Stock asked.

The older Jesse and Richard cared not for the lesson, but did care for the dark shroud forming beneath their feet. They were sucked in quickly, Jesse not even getting enough time to comment on how terrible he felt , but how it was nothing like the kind of bad feeling he’d felt when he had to leave his home town. He was, more or less, moral-less.

Chapter 8

[B][U]Chapter 8, Blinded by a Promise

“Son of a bitch,” Jesse muttered. He’d fallen on his knee on the way down, making it just a tad sore. Richard managed to land on his feet, much to Jesse’s unfortunate jealousy. Of course, though, Richard knelt down and held a hand out for the boy before him. Jesse looked up, gawking for a fraction of a second before he grabbed his hand and stood up. He tried putting a small bit of pressure on his sore leg, winced for a flash and then sighed, putting his full weight on it.

“Came down a little hard, did we?” Richard inquired.

“Just a bit, my left knee feels sore,” Jesse replied almost instantly.

“Here, let me take a look,” Richard said as he bent down to inspect Jesse’s knee. He pulled Jesse’s jeans’ legs up to inspect the injured body part. Visibly, there was nothing wrong with it. Laying his hands on Jesse’s leg, he twitched his left hand and then his right, pushed down quickly and stood up. Jesse, bewildered as ever, looked up at Richard. He didn’t bother helping Jesse up this time, so the boy simply stood up on his own… it didn’t hurt.

“What the…”

“As I said before, once you understand something you can make it, and once you can make it you can fix it. Bone isn’t a very complex thing, and neither are muscles. It’s not hard to mend such things; I consider it trivial. But enough of that, take a seat, Jesse,” Richard said. For some reason, Jesse noted, Richard all of a sudden seemed to glow. Not in a literal sense, but in a more outstanding way. He took his seat, starting at the man whom had an aura of almost righteousness about him. Jesse felt his knee again, but nothing had really changed except for the pain. It was all still there, still intact. There was nothing else added to his knee either. He looked up at Richard quizzically.

“How were you able to mend my leg?” Jesse asked.

“When you’ve been around as long as I have, you tend to pick up on how to do things,” Richard explained. Jesse thought for a moment, and then continued his near interview of Richard.

“How long have you been around, exactly?” Jesse asked.

“I stopped keeping track during one of those blasted wars; I think it was those English fellows and those Arabs that fought each other. Something along those lines, I’m sure,” Richard said. Jesse nodded, knowing that there had been a good handful or two of wars between the groups. Jesse noted that they were probably the holy wars, at least a couple of them. Then it hit him.

“Wait, if you were there for all those wars and you knew they were happening, why didn’t you do anything to stop it?! I mean, you healed my leg pretty easily!”

“You could say that, people in here aren’t like those in the normal world. It’s almost like a different dimension. I cannot affect or interact with those in the land of the living, neither in the past nor the current. This is why you don’t run out of breath when you run in the past, and why you cannot be affected by most things on planet Earth,-”

“Wait, we’re not even on Earth?” Jesse asked. He wanted- no, he needed some kind of answers here.

“That I cannot say; you cannot escape the abyss. I can only do what I’m given the opportunity to do. When others aren’t around, I tend to turn on the television and watch the world unfold,” Richard explained. “I’m kind of like an old lady who cannot leave her home anymore, so she watches the news all day just to get her fill of what’s going on.”

Jesse was tempted to ask another question, but seeing another shroud form just to his right caused that temptation to slip back into his cerebral cortex for the time being. He stood up, stretched his legs and arms, twisted his neck a bit from left to right, then, without even consoling Richard, hopped into the shroud.

Richard however took a second longer than usual. He looked towards the door, peering at the bottom part of it just below where the door actually ended. The light in the halls flickered, and he could have sworn he’d heard someone whisper something to him.

“This isn’t good…” Richard mumbled. With no time to waste, he hopped into the shroud, thinking of the only word he could make out from the sentence he thought he’d heard. “Aetos.”

The two landed on the cold, cool grass on the front lawn to Jesse’s new house. They looked left, then right, then behind them, and then back to the house.

“I’m probably inside, let’s get moving,” Jesse said. He seemed a bit more determined all of a sudden. Richard followed close behind Jesse, acting a bit cautious as they phased into the small manor in front of them. Even Richard was caught off guard by the elegance and grace of the small palace before him. A chandelier hung from the top of the entryway as the two looked around, eager to find the young Jesse. Jesse wasted no time, and went up one of the nearby staircases.

“My dad had been saving money,” Jesse started, “and once he got a promotion blew it on the house, then used the money from our house to sustain us for about a week, until he finally got his first big pay check,” Jesse explained. Richard nodded softly.

“Yes, well, I can see your father has elegant taste!” Richard exclaimed. Jesse nodded.

“I think a more correct word would be expensive, but yeah you’ve got the right idea!” Jesse joked. The two walked upstairs, took a right, and then went through the final door on the left of the hallway. Upon entering, Jesse and Richard immediately knew that they were in the right room. Posters of cartoons and gaming icons littered the walls, and the ten year old Jesse sat at a computer desk, typing away furiously at the computer.

Out of sheer curiosity, Jesse and Richard went over to the younger Jesse and leaned over the computer. They watched as the young Jesse typed quickly on his computer. Upon a quick investigation into the matter, the older Jesse and Richard both concluded in their heads that it was simply Jesse typing away at someone on an online computer game.

“Protect the flag!” Jesse typed.

“STFU FUKIN N00B FAG!” was the response. The younger Jesse sighed as the computer bellowed the phrase “the enemy has returned their flag,” and quickly exited from the game and the program. He stood up, stretching a bit before he leaned down and opened one of the drawers of his desk. He opened it and pulled out a red notebook, a pen, and then proceeded to lie down on his bed. He immediately began writing. Richard went to go see what was being written in the notebook, but the older Jesse stopped him.

“Don’t, I don’t want you to see it,” Jesse said. Richard raised an eyebrow. “The point of writing something down in a notebook is that nobody but you can see it, unless they are purposefully snooping around; not even god.”

Richard had nothing to say. He stood idle. Jesse, on the other hand, walked over and peeked over at the notebook. He began reading.

"I’m still kinda scared, to be honest. There aren’t any stores around here for me to buy baby stuff, it’s ticking me off. I don’t think that’ll matter too much, though. Mom and Dad are busier than ever, so maybe I can buy something off the computer. I heard you can do that, but I don’t know how yet. How are you supposed to get money into the computer?

Oh, and I can’t believe it! I’ve only been here one week, and I already got invited to a sleepover! John still hasn’t called… he doesn’t need to. I’m gonna follow through with our promise, I’ll not get beat up or teased anymore! But I’m still confused… these kids talk about the weirdest stuff. They eat really high-end food, too. I hope that this all goes well and everything, I can’t afford a screw up. Last time I went to a sleepover-" the pen in the Jesse’s hand froze as a woman’s call came rushing down the hallway, quickly invading his ear drums.

“Jesse! Come on, we gotta go!” Jesse’s mother exclaimed. Jesse shut his notebook, quickly tossing it deep under his bed. The older Jesse and Richard began to follow as the younger Jesse put on his shoes and walk out of his room. The young Jesse and his two ghostly companions, whom didn’t even cast so much as a shadow or a sound, walked precisely down the hall and then the stairs, following the still somewhat young mother out the door. The group of four hopped into the car, Jesse and Richard simply phasing their way inside and taking seats in the back next to the older Jesse’s younger self.

The car roared to life, and Jesse’s mother immediately began pulling out of the driveway. She looked at a small piece of somewhat torn paper, carefully viewing the page to make sure she had the correct address locked inside of her head. She put the piece of paper in the overhead mirror area and began driving along the well-lit road to the destination described beforehand on the sheet of paper. Jesse’s mother had already packed his bags in the back of the car before she had left the house and called Jesse downstairs.

“So, you ready for a sleepover with your new friends honey?” she asked.

“Yeah, I think so!” Jesse said, not-so-enthusiastically. Jesse mother smiled a bit, obviously not getting the hint. The rest of the car ride was awkward, the tension in the air building and pushing down on the younger, and older Jesse. It was as if the idea of sleeping over another person’s house was all of a sudden a terrible idea, and that no man, woman or child should ever attempt such a daring and risky operation. The younger Jesse pulled back on his shirt collard a bit, taking a deep breath in as he saw the house numbers pass. The older Jesse, though, noticed how the younger Jesse blinked a few too many times while looking out the window. He seemed almost distracted; stricken with a sudden case of “wait, the hell am I doing here?” syndrome.

As with all car rides, though, the destination so fast on approach magically and whimsically made itself appear right beside the car. A large manor stood to the side of the car. Jesse and his mother, as well as the older Jesse and Richard, gawked at the sight of the house. It was, quite literally, a house times four and a half. The group hopped out of the car, the older Jesse and Richard simply stepping out through the nearest door, and stood with the younger Jesse and his mother. She went to the trunk of the car, unlocked it, grabbed his bag and his pillows and handed them to him gently. He took them as he and his mother, again accompanied by their shadow-less companions, walked up the large driveway and up to the manor door. Jesse knocked three times, and ringed the doorbell. In just a few moments, a tall man dressed in a suit opened the door, gazing down at Jesse and his mother.

“Can I help you?” He asked.

“Um, hi, I’m here for the sleepover with Steve and Tom…” Jesse said nervously.

“And I’m his mother, Mrs. Bishop!” Jesse’s mother added in.

“Oh very good young sir and mad 'am! Please, come in come in!” the butler said. Jesse’s mother shook her head.

“Oh no thank you, I need to be getting back home! Jesse, be good dear!” She said, leaning down and kissing him on the cheek. Jesse rubbed his face a bit, getting rid of the deadly disease which all boys at that age knew for a fact existed; cooties. He wiped the cooties away with the palm of his hand, but decided to risk the infection a second time and hugged his mother goodbye. He waved as she began walking off, then stepped inside and took off his shoes. He looked up at the butler, who looked down at him kindly. He seemed to be a bit of an older man, his hair obviously having quite a few splotches of grey.

“The young masters are upstairs in Steven’s room. Walk up the stairs here, go down the hallway, make a left down the first hallway you see after that, then knock on the door with the name ‘Steve’ on it in bright letters,” the man said. Jesse nodded; taking in every bit of the information he was given. He followed the instructions to a tee, knocked on the door, and after hearing a quick “come in!” he walked into the room.

“Jesse! What’s up dude?” Tom asked. Tom and Steve were simply sitting around, playing video games. Tom, of course, was winning.

“Not much, not much,” Jesse replied, setting his things down near the door. The room he’d entered was not too much bigger than his own, though, his new room was huge compared to his old one. The two paused the game for a second, staring at Jesse for a moment.

“Why did you bring all that?” Tom asked.

“What, my pillows and clothes?” Jesse responded.

“Um, yeah?”

“Well I can’t sleep without a pillow, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need clothes when I wake up and need to change into day time stuff!”

“My parents are taking us to the mall in the morning; we’ll be walking out of the stores in brand new clothes man!” Steve said, chuckling and laughing at the obvious silliness of his new friend. Of course, Jesse was a silly person as it were!

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t know!” Jesse apologized.

“Don’t sweat it,” Steve said, un-pausing the game and continuing his onslaught against Tom.

As the night continued, the three played games and chatted about school, surfed the internet and snacked on foods that most adults wouldn’t go near because their butts would inflate like balloons and their waists would engorge. The three ignored all of those possibilities and continued eating their junk foods, and of course, drinking obscene amounts of soda to keep themselves up to late hours.

As with all sleepovers, no sleeping actually occurred. It was roughly a quarter past midnight when boredom finally set in. Jesse sat for a moment, and silently took in the situation. He failed at concentrating on it, though, as Steve began to groan.

“Ugh, I’m so dang bored!” He whined. The older Jesse and Richard, at this point, were feeling his pain tenfold. They had no say in what the kids could do; they didn’t get a chance at playing the video games. They didn’t get to surf the web, or join in the chat. They were merely spectators, gazing and watching like lifeless specters, haunting the young Jesse.

“I am too… maybe we should go to sleep,” Tom suggested. Steve threw a pillow at him, hitting him upside the head.

“No, don’t you dare say that! You’d be betraying the guy code!” Steve said.

“The heck is ‘the guy code,’” Jesse asked.

“I dunno, it’s something I heard my dad talk about. It’s got something to do with being a man, rather than just a kid, you know?” he asked, though, the question was rhetorical. Despite this, the younger Jesse nodded.

“I get you man, I get you. I’ve had some crazy sleepovers, trust me. Boredom is a pain to kill, but there are ways of keeping yourself not-bored,” the younger Jesse explained. Steve and Tom raised their eyebrows.

“Like?”

“Like, well… father forgive me again for doing this, but we could go ding dong ditch…” Jesse suggested. His plan was now in motion. The idea that he’d cooked up not long ago was now being put into play. He needed to secure his position as these kids’ friend. He needed to get them to do something that he knew they’d never done. Everyone knows, rich kids don’t tend to sneak out at night and do bad stuff- that was a poor kid thing. But Jesse knew just how fun it was to do poor kid things. Whilst he wasn’t per-say poor beforehand, he was most certainly lower-middle class. By his area’s standards, he was poor. As were, of course, his old friends. But his past was behind him- he just needed to remember it for tonight. He’d put those memories and poor kid ideas back when he was done with them.

“Ding, dong, ditch?” Tom asked. “You mean, like, ring on somebody’s doorbell and then run off?” he asked. Jesse nodded.

“I say let’s do it,” Steve said bluntly. Jesse’s eyebrows were now raised- he didn’t think it would be this easy. “Only one problem- everyone around here has a security system. We’d be caught for sure,” he explained.

“Not if we take a ten minute walk over to the western side of town! That’s where all those poorer people live!” Tom said. Jesse was noticing that he himself was beginning to call himself a “rich kid,” but he didn’t quite have the mindset of one. He still had the mindset of a ten year old kid living in a middle class suburbia, with the constant chance of bullies attacking and other very problematic dilemmas- like getting the baseball out of a neighbor’s yard, or hopping a fence to get to the other side of town fifteen seconds faster even though it took an extra 55 seconds to hop over the fence.

“I’m game, we just need to make sure Walter the buzz-kill doesn’t see us,” Steve said.

“Walter?” Jesse asked.

“The butler dude that probably answered the door for you. He’s got some gray hair, he’s super tall-”

“Oh that guy, yeah. Got it, no problem,” Jesse said.

The boys snuck down the stairs quietly and quickly snagged their shoes. The house was very dark at this point, but its emptiness became a problem. The huge rooms and lack of people amplified each sound made to extreme sounds; making the jobs of the boys much harder to accomplish. After much thought, though, the boys figured that they’d simply sneak out through one of the already open windows in a spare room on the first floor, which was only unlocked because of some crazy rhetoric Steve’s mom had said about keeping that room’s window open to make sure that the dust didn’t settle. It hadn’t made any sense to anybody, according to Tom, but they went along with it, him, his father, and Walter, to keep his mother happy. They hopped out of the spare window, being very careful not to cross very specific areas of the lawn. They didn’t want to trigger an alarm by accident.

After ten minutes of walking around, they finally crossed over into the west side of town. Game time, was on.

“Okay, let’s do this guys!” Steve whispered enthusiastically. The other two nodded. The three hid behind a bush, and after some short arguments, Tom went up and rang a nearby doorbell, quickly dodging back into the nearby bush. A man, after a minute or so, opened the door and looked around confused. If it wasn’t for their fright, the boys would have been laughing up a storm. After the man went inside and the boys snuck out of range, they couldn’t help but burst into soft fits of laughter.

“Oh man, that’s priceless! I’ve never done this before, but this is so freaking fun!” Tom said. To get a real feel of the danger, Steve was the next person to try ding dong ditching. This time, though, he knocked violently with both hands on the door, and then ran like he’d been set ablaze behind a nearby fence, away from the younger Jesse and Tom. A woman came out this time, once again confused, but simply blinked a few times and shut the door as she walked back inside to go sleep.

The boys continued on their rampage, upsetting dozens upon dozens of unsuspecting higher middle class suburban homes. They went deeper and deeper into the town, until they got to the far end of the area. The boys all decided that they would be hitting at least three or so more houses before calling it a night. Jesse, this time, ran up after making sure that his friends were safely concealed behind shrubs and trees. He violently, rigorously, and purposefully slammed on the door, scuffing it up a bit accidentally before he darted over to a nearby tree and hid behind it. The boys waited a few minutes, but nothing happened.

“Hey, you think they heard it?” Tom whispered loudly to Steve, a few feet away.

“They had to have…” he whispered back. The older Jesse and Richard this whole time were simply following along, chaperones to this dance of juvenile delinquency. The two watched closely as they saw a small bit of movement inside the house. The younger Jesse finally said loudly, but with a forced hushed tone, “Guys! Let’s just go!”

The three grouped up at the sidewalk and began turning around, just as the door flew open. An old woman, probably in here seventies, was the person they had pranked.

“Hello out there? Anyone there?” She called. Her tone was angry, but the boys were confused. They were standing right there, right out in the open. They’d been caught, but she couldn’t see them. Were they invisible? No, they couldn’t be, they could still see each other! The woman was either dumb or blind; they just hopped it was the prior. “Oh, you young ruffians- I’m calling the police!” She screamed. She slammed her door. The boys had no second thoughts, no other thoughts other than to get the hell out of there. It was like a giant explosion had gone off, as they ran as fast as they could down the streets. It had to have been three in the morning at this point, and the boys were already exhausted. The only thing keeping them going was the thought of being caught by the police. They ran through the streets, sometimes passing by one or two of the houses they’d passed by. In the distance, they saw a familiar flash or red and blue lights, slowly patrolling the streets. The boys panicked, their hearts pumping more blood into them then they thought their veins could store. Their adrenaline kicked into overdrive as a euphoric sense of agonizing danger slowly approached their bodies; their minds no longer being present. They quickly began running towards another street, dodging just out of the way as the cop car began making its turn. They waited behind a nearby bush, waiting for the worst. The younger Jesse’s breath was unhelpful; he didn’t feel at all like he was taking in oxygen. His head was spinning, like he’d just been hit in the head one too many times. He, Tom, and Steve, quickly got back up and ran, though a tad slower now, back to Steve’s house. They reached their destination, slowing their pace to a fast walk as they snuck up onto the property, sneaking into the side window of the house and then up the stairs into Steve’s room. The boys talked in hushed, exhausted tones.

“Oh man, we got the cops mad- we’re going to jail Steve, we’re going to jail man!” Tom said. Unlike usual, he wasn’t being comical; he was legitimately scared for his wellbeing.

“We’re not going to jail, relax. That old lady didn’t even know we were there; she’s probably old and blind. Nobody else saw us; we’re going to be okay!” Jesse said, putting his hand weakly on Tom’s shoulder. The older Jesse and Richard, too, were exhausted and troubled. The older Jesse was feeling the same emotions as the younger Jesse, and they were conflicting with his own. The older Jesse wanted to keep calm, knowing that he’d never gone to Jail, whilst the younger Jesse, deep down, wanted to panic and lash out and start saying that he was, in fact, probably going to go to jail, despite what he was saying aloud.

Eventually, they boys could say nothing else. They didn’t have anything left to say, as it were. All very, very scared, they decided to lay their heads down, if only for a moment. The blind old lady’s image stuck in all of their heads, though, as they began to drift off into the world of dreams. Her words echoed most profoundly in Jesse’s mind, though. He didn’t ever think he was a young ruffian, he barely understood what it meant. He whispered softly as he drifted off.

“God, don’t let me be a bad kid. Stop me if things get too bad, please. Don’t let me be like those kids… don’t let… me…”

The older Jesse knew what was going on, and he knew deep down that this all wasn’t over. His younger self was allowing this promise he had made to control him. He could feel his younger self changing a bit; slightly straying from the path he was on before. It’d only been a short time, but he knew that he wasn’t the same person after tonight. He was being blinded, and Jesus couldn’t cure that type of blindness. No, he couldn’t heal him, this time. No number of ‘Hail Marries’ or ‘Our Fathers’ would make him feel better. What he needed, was atonement.