I awoke all too soon on a Sunday morning to my alarm clock, which I was sure I had turned off. Not to mention it wasn't where I left it. In fact, my shoes looked like they had been kicked around, too. Someone has been in here while I was asleep. I rolled over expecting to find Riley had snuck in beside me during the night, but found myself completely alone.
Across my room the closet door was slightly ajar, yet another clue that someone had been here. I sighed and rolled out of bed. I wiped my eyes and trudged over to the closet, opening the door. Everything was just as I had left it, save for a duffel bag lying on the ground at my feet.
For some reason I felt a tingle run down my spine as I knelt down and unzipped the bag. As the zipper came down Quin's face appeared with a mischievous grin.
“Boo!” She yelled.
I quickly zipped the bag back up and kicked it deeper into my closet before slamming the door. Her muffled cries for help were oddly satisfying as I followed the smells of breakfast downstairs.
“Have you seen Quin?” My mother asked me as I sat down.
I pretended to think it over for a moment before replying, “no, haven't seen her yet. Maybe she's in her room.”
My mom frowned and headed for the stairs. “Quin... Sweety?” She called.
Sweety... I've only ever heard her call one person sweety before... Congratulations Quin, we're family now.
I heard mom heading upstairs, and I could just barely make out Quin's cries.
“Help! Hellppp! Help!Me! HALP!” She called from inside my closet. I had to stifle a laugh. I know mom couldn't hear her, which made me want to laugh even more.
“Isaac!” I heard my mom yell. “Isaac what did you do?!”
“What makes you think I did something??” I called back.
“Isaac you're my son and I know you're a horrible person now tell me this instant where you've hidden her!” She demanded.
“She hid herself thank you very much!” I said as I ate Quin's bacon.
A few minutes of silence went by. I finished my breakfast and headed upstairs. I was beginning to get a bit concerned that neither of them had been speaking. When I rounded the staircase and walked through my door, I found mom cradling a little Quin sized duffel bag in her arms.
She looked up at me and said, “I didn't realize she was so little.”
Mom had unzipped part of the bag, and I could see Quin's face as tears welled up in her eyes while my mom held her for the first time. I hadn't seen that look in mom's eyes in years. It was like a piece of her was falling back into place. I felt my heart aching despite the joy of the moment.
As I sat on the living room couch watching tv, a pair of hands clutched my head from behind and pulled my view up. There was Quin looking at me angrily.
“Sup?” I asked.
“You're taking me to get ice cream today,” she said.
“You ate my bacons,” she said. “I've killed people for less. If you want me to spare you, it will cost you three scoops, and all the toppings I want,” she said menacingly.
“... Say please or I'll stuff you back in the bag,” I said with a glare.
She released my head and backed away slowly. “I'll just go shower...”
I watched her as she quickly disappeared up the stairs. The closer she and I get the more it hurts to look at her. I keep replaying the day I took her away from that old house... I don't regret it but I can see the pages of her story turning before my eyes. She's a good book I can't put down, but I feel like I'm on the last page. Quin's story is coming to an end, and just like last time... this one's a tragedy.
I listened to the sounds of Quin singing in the shower as I helped mom unpack the groceries she brought in. Mom began to hum the same tune Quin was singing.
“Can you actually hear her?” I asked.
“Sometimes, yea. When it's really quiet I can hear her walking around, or when she's fussing at you. Since that phone call I know what to listen for,” She said.
“I don't know how I feel about that,” I said as I put the milk in the fridge.
“Oh? Are you upset that you can't keep her all to yourself?” She teased.
“No, mom. I just haven't forgotten what happened last time I was the main character, have you?” I said that more harshly than I meant to. My cold words hit her hard. She stopped humming and just stared at the dishes she had begun to wash. I didn't... I couldn't say another word. I made my way upstairs to get dressed for the finale.
I heard the bathroom door open and close as Quin came out. I needed to get one of my shirts back from her, so I shutdown my computer and headed to the door. When I opened it I was surprised to find Quin standing atop the stairs looking down towards the front door.
“Q-Quin..?” I said. She was covered in soot and her skin was blackened and leathery. Her hair was fried and her eyes were glazed over and pale. I reached out a hand to touch her.
“Hm? What?” I heard suddenly from behind me. I turned quickly to see Quin coming out of her room. I looked back to see the horrifying phantom had disappeared.
“Quin...! I don't understand, you were right here, and all burned up and... and...” I was at a loss for words.
Quin suddenly looked very afraid as she spoke. “Was she looking at you?” She asked.
“What was tha-”
“Was. She. Looking at you!” Quin demanded.
“No.” I quietly replied. “No she wasn't.”
She seemed to be relieved to hear that, but there was definitely a different look in her eyes now.
“You know something, don't you?” I asked.
“I know it's no big deal,” she said, though her face didn't seem so sure.
“You sure made it seem like a big deal.” She was getting annoyed the more I pressured for an answer. She didn't speak. She just moped downstairs and paused by the front door. She looked back to me and the look in her eyes said “Are you coming?”
Alright Quin, let's get this over with.
Quin didn't even touch her ice cream. Then again neither did I. We both just sat there in that booth looking anywhere but at one another. Occasionally she would glance at me only to turn away again. I could tell a lot of effort went into today. Her little white shorts and pig tails were criminally cute. It's a shame that it had to be this way.
The walk home was almost as uneventful, until she finally spoke.
“Today was supposed to be so much fun,” she whimpered. “I wanted to go play bingo and get a cookie at the mall.”
“Yea. I guess I sort of spoiled the mood,” I said.
“No! This isn't your fault. It's my fault. Everything is my fault. I'm a bad child and I only cause problems and I'm always embarrassing mom in front of her new boyfriend and that's why... that's why...” she was beginning to break down. She stopped walking, and just stared at the ground. Her fists were shaking and her jaw was clenched. Her past life was flashing before her eyes. I stepped towards her. I left Tessa alone and crying that night in the park and I can't do that again. I reached out to Quin but she slapped my hand away.
“No! Don't touch me!” She cried. She fell to her knees and sobbed into her hands.
“Quin Let me h-”
“Shut up, Isaac!” She never looked at me so hatefully and I felt my heart break as she did. I fell to my knees in front of her and pulled her head to my chest. She bawled into my jacket as I held her tight. A few minutes of this went by before finally the cries stopped, and Quin was no longer clutching desperately to me. For a moment I kept my eyes closed and just remembered every cheeky smile she ever made.
When I opened them I found myself alone. I remember this pain. I remember it all too well. This hollow, helpless, gut-wrenching feeling was the same as it was ten years ago. This is the second time I've had to say goodbye to a sister for the last time.
When mom saw the look in my eyes as I came through the front door I knew she could tell it was over. She hurried to the bedroom wiping tears from her eyes as she did. Dad just stood there as she went by. He had an old photo in his hand, his eyes longingly locked onto it. From the back I could make out the words: “Isaac and Emmy, 2006.”
I think each of us found something in her we had lost in ourselves. Emmy... Quin, you were so much like her. Had I not been born with this curse I would never have met you, but Emmy would still be alive, too. Now I have neither, and our home is full of emptiness once again.
The moment I collapsed on my bed, my phone buzzed. It was a text from Riley asking me what was wrong. Her concern was almost as touching as her telepathy was annoying. The last thing I want to do is talk about it. Especially not with someone connected to my curse. I see Emmy's face every time I get wrapped up in another plot. I think about what might have happened if only I had dodged the first one... Riley's texts kept coming. “I know something is wrong. You can't hide anything from me, Isaac.”
I was so lost in my own sorrow that I almost didn't notice the faint sounds coming from Quin's room. The sounds of covers being pushed away followed by footsteps. Her door opened and closed. The footsteps grew louder as they approached my door and stopped right outside. I could hear the sounds of someone breathing as the knob slowly turned, and the door began to open. The door was cracked open only slightly and I couldn't see through the darkness who was there.
“Quin…?” I asked quietly.
The moment I said her name the breathing stopped, and the room was silent. I got out of bed and went to the door. I braced myself as I flung open the door, but there was nothing there. I walked to Quin's door and opened it. Her bed was made and the room was empty. Her dirty clothes were still piled up in a basket by the door, and one of my shirts was atop the pile.
I gently closed her door and returned to my own. When I walked in I found Quin staring out of my window. Her body was burned once more. The phantom of the stairwell was standing before me once again and I was too terrified to move.
“Isaac?” Came Quin's voice from behind me. I spun around but she wasn't there, and when I looked back the phantom was standing inches from me. Her eyes were locked on the ground, just as they had been this evening. I closed my eyes and thought of Quin's stupid grin and waited for whatever was about to happen, but nothing ever did. When I opened them again, the phantom was gone.
I ran down the stairs, grabbed my shoes and bolted out the door. I was wrong. This isn't over. Quin's soul is not resting in peace.
An hour later I found myself outside of the abandoned house. She's in there. I can feel it. I approached the door and tried the knob. It was blistering hot and I cried out in pain as I pulled away. I grit my teeth and bit back the pain as I wrapped my jacket around my hand and flung open the door. Smoke poured out around me as I rushed in. The door slammed shut behind me and I heard a bolt lock into place. The building was burning all around me and my eyes were stinging. All around me was smoke and the roaring heat of the flames.
“Mommy! Help me, please! Mommy I'm sorry I won't be bad again, please!” Came Quin's voice from the back. I rushed to her side and found her handcuffed to the hot water heater.
“Quin! Quin I'm here! Everything is going to be ok, I'm here!” I yelled over the sounds of the building coming down around us.
Her cries for help had stopped, and she sat silently there in the floor, no longer struggling to be freed. I knelt beside her and desperately tried to free her.
“What's wrong, Quin! Help me! We have to get the hell out of here!” I pleaded with her but she didn't make a sound.
“Quin... What's wrong...?”
“...She's looking at you...”
The hair on my neck stood up as a shadow, flickering in the light of the flames, appeared on the floor beneath me.
I turned around to see the phantom standing by the front door, her eyes locked on mine. Each time I blinked she came a little closer until finally she was inches away from me.
“...Quin...” I mumbled.
“Save me,” The phantom said just before she grabbed me by the throat and flung me across the room. In an instant she was on top of me choking me. Her hands burned my skin and my lungs felt as if they were full of ash. I could hear Quin crying out in pain as phantoms converged on her.
“It burns! Mommy it burns, help me! Help me!” Cried out all the phantoms in unison. No. No! Quin I can't let this happen to you again!
The phantom Quin leaned down, her eyes were all I could see.
To my horror, the moment of Emmy’s death began to replay in my mind's eye. Soon it was all I could see.
“Emmy, no! Don’t open the door!” I cried out in anguish.
I began to scream.
“It’s all your fault” the phantom said to me.
“I know,” I said.
“I can take the pain away.” an almost reassuring voice spoke to me.
“Let go.” it coaxed me into death.
I felt my ear tingle as the phantom leaded down, it’s lips gingerly brushing my skin.
“Everything…” it whispered.
“I… Can’t do that,” I said.
“Oh… Why not?” It asked.
“There’s something I need to do first.”
As I said this my eyes opened and the phantom was gone, but my body still felt the searing heat of the burns where she had touched me. The building was burning down around us. I stood up and ran towards Quin. There were many phantoms now, all around me. Dozens of screaming Quins filled the room. One reached out and tripped me. As I fell, others fell atop me and began clawing at my face and exposed arms.
I cried out in pain as I desperately tore myself away from them.
Finally, I reached Quin. I threw my arms around her as she whimpered and pulled her close to me.
I ran away and left Emmy behind. I won’t do that again.
“Quin, don't give up on tomorrow because of what happened in the past! Remember when I told you that? You were happy then and you'll be happy again! I'm here, Quin! I'm here!” I yelled as I shielded her from the searing pain of the phantom's touch. My whole body felt as though it were cooking and I could smell the pungent scent of burning flesh. The world in front of me began to fade as I struggled to find the air to breath.
The front door exploded off it's hinges in a hail of splinters as Riley came flying in through it. She landed in the living room on all fours and grabbed the nearest phantom by the throat and flung it into a wall. Another attacked her but she clawed clean through it. Her eyes were bright red and full of blood-lust.
She systematically tore the phantoms to shreds.
“I'll kill all of you!” She cried. Her shy voice was replaced by a fiery howl of anger.
Her fighting desperately to save me was the last thing I saw before I died.
If you liked it, leave a comment at the bottom, please. I have no way of knowing if people are reading and enjoying any of this otherwise!
Isaac was born to be the main character, and
he knows it. Though, were it up to him, that would
not be the case.
He wants a quiet life. A normal life. For seventeen
years Isaac has done everything he can to avoid
the lead role.
Supporting characters practically throw themselves
head on into Isaac's path as he desperately tries to
derail whatever Pilot Episode, Prologue, or Opening
their "Chance Meeting" might result in.
Isaac Gray might not be a bad guy,
but he is certainly
No One's Hero.