“What would you do at the end of the world?”
“When black and white merge—forming incomprehensible gray.”
“It does not matter how bleak things may seem.”
“You have the means to stand on your own two feet and fight, yes?”
“Struggle and struggle until you reach the end.”
“It does not have to be a masterpiece of a life.”
“I’m sure it hasn’t been… right?”
“That’s okay. You’re still here.”
“Whatever hell is unleashed that threatens you—threatens this world…”
“Reflect it right back.”
A certain young man’s eyes shot wide open as he almost fell out of his leather seat. The train’s whistle roared at the right time, helping him confirm where he was.
“Damn, I fell asleep? I know it’s early, but the ride’s only twenty minutes.” He yawned, staring out the window with his silver-gray eyes at the scenery his country of Requiem had to offer. At the moment, all he could see were vast fields of green.
“I still don’t see any flowers out there… It’s just grass, grass, grass.” He scratched his dark-brown hair while twiddling with the few streaks of hair that were a lighter-brown.
“Quite an interesting thing to comment on.” An old, raspy voice told him. He looked off to the right to see an elderly lady standing in the aisle.
“What’s with that getup…?” He asked himself, observing the dark-brown coat the woman wore. That would be odd enough to wear in the summertime, but the thing that perplexed him the most was the matching dark-brown hat that was shaped like a witch’s hat the covered her gray hair.
“Mind if I sit across from you?” She questioned, adjusting her round glasses while peering into the young man’s eyes.
“I don’t mind…” He responded, beckoning the woman to sit down.
“Thank you,” The old lady quickly sat down, stretching her body out as she slouched in the seat. “My name’s Robin. What’s yours?”
“I’m Adam. Adam Grayson,” He answered. “Nice to meet you.”
Robin seemed to pause for a moment but continued to speak. “Adam, another thing I overheard you say concerns me…”
“Huh? What did I say?”
“You said ‘I know it’s early’… Sweetie, it’s one in the afternoon.”
“I would normally be just getting up around this time. It’s summer, so I don’t have to worry about school. Actually, I just graduated, so I really don’t have to worry about that.”
“What about college? That something you’re doing off the bat, or?”
“Well…” Adam sighed. “Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even know what to go for as a major. I have…quite the abnormal circumstances…”
“Is that right?” Robin asked. She decided to drop the topic upon seeing Adam shifting nervously in his seat. “Anyway, aren’t we about to reach our destination?”
As if the train had traveled through time, it entered the outskirts of the titan known as Nexus City. Skyscrapers, mainly black in color, filled the horizon. That was not the most prominent thing one would notice, however. Scattered across the city were dozens of gigantic azure-colored obelisks radiating a mystical glow. At nighttime, these were a beauty to gaze at. Overall, Nexus City was a sleek, technological wonder.
“Phantonic technology is growing at quite a pace, recently…” Robin commented. “Next year’s the fiftieth anniversary of this place. 1963—boy howdy do I remember that year. The year the phanton itself was discovered—”
“Yeah, I know. I’m quite good at history.” Adam interrupted. “Sorry, I… just don’t like it when people ramble.”
“Oh my,” Robin giggled. “You sure don’t hesitate to speak your mind, young man.”
“Not anymore…” Adam looked down at his hand. “I don’t want to bottle things up. It’s not good for me…”
“Hmm…” Robin’s face lit up. “You’re quite good at history, you say? Why don’t you try that out—”
“Oh, I hate history,” Adam smirked. “Just because I’m good at it, doesn’t mean I like it. I’d be much more interested in—” Adam pointed toward the city, which was now starting to surround them. “…in studying Phantonics…”
“What’s wrong?” Robin noticed Adam’s hesitation in his words.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Adam assured her.
The two exited the train, taking a step onto the shiny granite ground that the station was composed of. People all around them were in a rush to get to their destination. Despite Adam having an appointment, he was in no hurry.
“I know I’m just some random old woman who decided to chat with you, but let me give you some advice…” Robin turned to Adam’s, who gave her an annoyed expression in return. She could see, however, that he was willing to listen.
“Huh?” Adam was puzzled. “I sure hope I’m breathing. If not, wouldn’t that make me a… ghost?” He sighed, glancing off to the side. “I could have turned into one, who knows, with the way this world works…”
“Just because Phantonics proves the existence of ghosts, doesn’t mean you could be one.” Robin chuckled. “I remember when they confirmed that—I was so scared to go to the cemetery to see my husband. I thought he—or some other dead person—would just show up out of nowhere and scare little ol’ me!”
A small laugh escaped Adam’s mouth, catching Robin’s attention. “Despite your rambling, you’re not a bad speaker, Robin. People who talk too much—yet are a pleasure to listen to—are rare.”
“Well, aren’t you a charmer?” Robin giggled, beginning to walk off into the bustling city. “Remember that one, simple word I told you. Take care, Adam Grayson. You’ll be all right.”
Adam smiled, waving to her. “Thank you. Take care of yourself.”
With the station now behind her, Robin turned her attention to the errands she needed to take care of. The young man remained on her mind.
“Good luck, Adam…”
Adam adjusted his dark-gray t-shirt and placed his hands into the pockets of his cargo shorts of identical color. Before he set off, the thought of phantons crossed his mind once more.
“Phantons… the particles that make up the energy of life. They make up the very soul of a person. Then, why…” He shook his head as he took his first steps toward his destination.
Adam Grayson, a young man without a soul, began his journey.
Next: Chapter 2
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON: