Chapter 10

Adam and Charlotte left Jerry’s house, now standing outside near the road—his back to her.

“So… your dad. I kind of know a little based on what I learned in my investigation.” Charlotte sighed, walking around Adam to face him directly. “You up for telling me more?”

Adam did not answer directly, yet nodded slowly as he began to head back toward his house. Charlotte was still for a moment before swiftly catching up—her pace matching his.

“My dad, huh…? Well, he works for some company—I don’t even know what it’s called. He’s always gone—is rarely home. When he is, we barely say a word to each other.”

“Hmm… So you’ve never had a close relationship?” Charlotte rubbed the side of her neck anxiously. 

Adam nodded. “Recently, ever since… well, earlier this year, it’s like he vanished. Money’s still sent to me, and the bills are paid, but…” He shook his head, cursing at himself.

“I think I get it. You don’t have to say anything else right now, that’s fine.” Charlotte patted Adam’s shoulder, causing him to flinch. “I’m sorry, should I have not…?”

“Oh, you’re fine. You hand’s cold as hell, though. Even with my shirt on, it’s like you placed an ice cube on me.”

“Right…” Charlotte looked down at her palm. “I’m a ghost… Listen, Adam. There’s something you need to know going forward.”

“What now?”

“When I need to sleep to recharge my energy… I need to really sleep. I’ve been doing a lot ever since yesterday—transforming into my true self twice, and fighting you. I’ll probably be completely out of it for… a day or two? At least that…” 

Adam noticed Charlotte had already begun to get groggy—almost tripping on her own feet. “Well, I guess you can stay at my place and rest. You don’t have an actual place to go, right?”

“I… I usually fade away to rest. When I ‘wake up,’ I’m usually in the spot where I vanished. So… I often hide in the woods or something.”

“But you were sleeping like a normal human being earlier?”

“Yeah… I seemed to keep my form stable enough to remain in this world. Is it the World Mirror’s doing…? That was rhetorical—I know you wouldn’t know.”

“In any case, just stay with me. Like I said, my dad’s never there, so we shouldn’t have to worry about that. I doubt you’d want to sleep in his bed, and the couch sucks, so… “ Adam took a deep breath. “Listen, this is hard to say… I’m allowing you t-to use my bed.”

“…I know I lied in it earlier, but I sort of… passed out on the spot last night once I brought you home. Sharing a bed is—”

“No… I’m relinquishing m-my bed completely. It’s yours. I’ll… use the shitty couch, I guess…”

Charlotte stared at Adam in concern. “…This really is hard for you. It looks like you’re about to cry.”

“I’m already crying on the inside, don’t you worry.” 

“But…” Charlotte stopped. Adam turned to her as her gaze lowered toward the ground. “Thank you… I…” She stuttered, growing much more bashful. “I-I-I’m sorry about attacking you… seriously.”

Adam waved the check she had given him in her face. “Don’t worry, apology accepted.”

Charlotte stomped her right foot hard, switching rapidly to an angry mood. “Is money really all it takes for you!? I did something inexcusable! I-I know it was to get your power out, but—”

“Relax,” Adam said bluntly. He looked around them—a cool summer breeze rustling the leaves of the trees next to them—the same trees that belonged to the forest they quarreled in, north of the town. 

“I understand why you did what you did. I try to look deeper into the meaning of things, cause most of the world is too lazy to even try.”

Charlotte could only stare at Adam as the wind blew right through her. She looked down at her body—although mostly solid, she sometimes had things like this happen. Unable to feel its temperature, the gales left a peculiar feeling in her—one that could not be described to a living being. 

“If you can understand an unorthodox being such as myself… then…” Charlotte sighed, walking right through Adam—spooking the hell out of him.

“H-Hey, careful!” Adam looked around frantically to make sure nobody had noticed what she had done. His teeth began to chatter while his eyes glowed for a brief moment.

“We’re fine, don’t worry,” Charlotte assured him. “Anyway, let’s get back. I’m exhausted.”

 

Later on that day, Adam had messaged Brandon to meet up with him. He was sitting at a booth inside a diner, known as Mona’s Quality Burgers. Being close to his house, Adam usually frequented the place. He shuffled through the songs that were listed on the tabletop jukebox—all of which were too old for his tastes. 

Taking a sip of apple soda—gleefully grinning at the taste—Adam stared inside his wallet. After cashing the check Charlotte gave him, he could not believe how fat it had become. He had left the majority of the money at his house, yet he kept a few hundred requid on his person.

Adam noticed that Brandon had walked in. He was walking over to Adam’s table at a slow pace, seemingly exhausted. 

“Oh, I forgot. You had practice today, didn’t you?”

Brandon sat opposite of Adam, head hitting the table. “Yeah, after my freaking dad kept me up half the night making me help him out with some car.” Brandon let out a tremendous sigh, echoing off the table. “Honestly, kicking that stupid black and white ball around is therapeutic.”

“Therapeutic, huh?” Adam paused. “Oh, wait! That reminds me, I should schedule another appointment with Jerry’s dad. Although… I gotta proceed carefully.” 

“You’ve gotta frequent that place, don’t ya? Cause of your situation?” Brandon mumbled.

“Yeah… They won’t let me speak to an actual therapist, which is scummy, but at least it’s Thomas. He helps… I think?”

Adam took out his phone to check the date, only to be reminded that his screen was cracked.

“Dude, what happened to your phone!?” Brandon asked. Adam looked at him, nervously. He wanted to tell his friend what had happened the night before, yet he was waiting for an opportunity after they ate—a non-public location preferable.

“I, uh… dropped it. On the…” Adam looked to his side toward the floor. “On the floor!” He pointed at the red tiles that were shiny enough to see one’s own reflection.

“Did you drop it off a freaking skyscraper? I didn’t think that kind of phone you have would break that easily!”

“It was… a very powerful floor.” Adam put his damaged phone back in his pocket. “Anyway, I have to go get another one. Probably going to head to Nexus City, seeing as though no stores in town really sell them. Jerry mentioned you should probably get a new one, as well?”

“Right… I would love to.” Brandon sighed, leaning back in his seat. “Money’s not looking too hot at the moment.”

“Well, as your friend—” Adam pulled out his wallet, showing Brandon the cash inside. “I think we can both afford a nice one with this much.”

“Woah!” Brandon almost jumped into the ceiling. “Where did you get that much cash out of the blue!?”

“Well, you see…” Adam pondered what excuse he could say to Brandon for the time being. He figured out that, in a way, he could be truthful here. But more importantly, he could mess with Brandon.

“I got it from a girl I slept with last night.”

Brandon did not say a thing. His face was frozen, no ounce of emotion able to rise to the surface. Adam waited, slowly taking a sip of his soda. Several moments passed before words were finally able to escape from Brandon’s mouth.

“You. Tell. Me. All. The. Details. Now.”

Adam sat his glass down on the table. “Obviously, I was joking. Sort of. Eh, anyway—”

Sort of!? What the hell is that supposed to mean!?”

Adam raised his hand in front of Brandon’s face, trying to get him to calm down. Brandon did, noticing that Adam’s expression grew serious.

“We can’t talk about it here, but… a lot happened last night. I went to Jerry’s earlier to talk to him about it a bit. And I want to tell you too, of course.”

Brandon let out a sigh. “Well, it’s absolutely out of character for you to do something like that in the first place. Now, something you went to Jerry to talk about… something with a girl… and money… hmm…” He was trying his best to connect the dots in his head, but there was no way he would be able to do it. 

“Let’s go for a walk, Brandon. I’ll tell you about everything.”

Brandon could not help but feel nervous toward what Adam was going to say.

“…Y-You’re not part of a gang now, are you…?”

Adam’s glare—one that tended to appear when Brandon said stupid things—answered the question for him.


Next: Chapter 11

Previous: Chapter 9

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 9

Adam and Charlotte were outside walking within Prelude. His house was on the east side of town, while their destination was on the west. For the time being, both of them decided to leave the situation with the woods alone. Charlotte managed to check and confirm that everything was, in fact, mysteriously restored, like their fight never occurred.

“I would investigate it further, but my energy right now… There’s no way I could fight back if some conflict arose.” Charlotte cursed at herself. 

“It’s cooled down a lot since yesterday. You don’t seem as crazy wearing a sweater. Still a bit, but not as bad.” Adam commented, obviously steering the subject away from the matter.

“I can’t feel temperature, so it doesn’t really matter to me either way…” Charlotte was examining her clothing. “I could always steal something else to wear.”

“Steal…?” Adam asked under his breath. “Anyway, we have to do something about these memories you’ve lost.”

“And you think Jerry would help? I know he was the valedictorian of our class, but I’m not sure if that means much.”

“He’ll get us on the right track, at least. He can explain everything about ghosts much better than I can. Explaining… It’s in their damn blood after all…” Adam muttered the last sentence. He seemed to begin pondering something. “The Ouderkirk family. It was for sure in our curriculum, but nothing aside from the basics. I tried to do a report on them once, but there wasn’t enough info to make anything good.”

“Probably more than I know. I genuinely don’t remember much of anything. Aside from knowing about my powers and the World Mirror. Everything else feels like it was lost somehow…”

“How long… have you been around, exactly? And what have you been doing all of these years?”

“I can’t really give you a precise amount of time… it’s as if I was a newborn. You hardly remember your earlier memories but begin to become more aware of your existence as you grow up. About a hundred and twenty years ago, I’d say I started to notice things around me.”

Charlotte stopped walking. Adam could hear the strain forming in her voice.

“Still… I just stood there. I couldn’t interact with anything around me. It was as if I was frozen in place. Anywhere my body decided to appear. Countless locations all over Requiem. I’ve seen so much.” Charlotte paused and started to look around.

“It was only a few years ago when I was finally able to move on my own… and I’ve been attempting to figure out what I can, with the power I have. I recalled memories of the World Mirror… and how it’s supposed to—somehow—help me… So, I put my time and effort into searching for it.” 

Adam sighed. “Well, we have a lot to figure out, it seems. Let’s take it one step at a time. We don’t need to wear ourselves out too quickly.” 

“You’re right,” Charlotte agreed. “Although it is frustrating.”

“That’s life for you. It’s frustrating.” Adam stated bluntly. 

 

A few minutes later, the two had entered a large two-story yellow house—the home of Adam’s friend, Jerry Peck. They met him in his room, where the spiky red-haired boy was working at his desk. There were five large monitors on the surface, which took up about half the room. The actual computer was massive, lit up in bright blue light, and took residence underneath the desk.

Adam took a seat on Jerry’s bed, which was difficult to do. The rest of the room was cluttered with many electronic devices and chunks of metal—bed included. Charlotte remained at the door, unable to figure out how to walk inside in the first place.

“No need to be shy,” Adam beckoned. “Nothing in here will hurt you… I think.”

Charlotte slowly nodded, walking carefully around a red toolbox on the ground. Adam moved a laptop-looking device over so she could sit down next to him.

“So, what can I do for you guys?” Jerry turned around—his hazel eyes now focused on them. “I didn’t know you two were friends?”

Adam rubbed the side of his neck. “Well, let’s see. How to explain this? There were some… events that transpired last night. And, we need to figure some things out.”

“By… ‘events,’ what do you mean, exactly…?” Jerry narrowed his eyes.

“Not what you’re thinking.” Adam sighed. “Look, I don’t know how to explain this that well. So, just… Charlotte, do something to show him?”

“I can do that,” Charlotte responded. She took a look around Jerry’s room, figuring out what to do. After a moment, she looked to the side of Adam’s head. Shrugging, the ghost girl put her arm right through it. 

Jerry’s eyes lit up immediately. As Adam jumped back from the awkward sensation going through his temple, Jerry shot up and grabbed Charlotte’s arm.

“NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY! DID YOU JUST DO WHAT I THINK YOU JUST DID!?”

Charlotte answered the question by pulling her arm away, phasing right out of Jerry’s hands. 

“This… this sensation!” Jerry curled his fingers, putting great focus into the coldness he now felt. “After all these years, I’ve finally met a ghost! And it was you, Charlotte!? How? How?”

“Well, she’s not an ordinary ghost, to begin with,” Adam stated.

“Well, obviously! There’s no natural way your average ghost could completely act like how she’s acted.” Jerry raised his finger as if he was a teacher. Adam could tell the beast was about to be unleashed.

“Ah, shit. Well, this is what we came here for…”

“Ghosts were confirmed to be entirely possible, but there are limits…” Jerry started giggling, almost uncontrollably. Adam believed that his friend was perfectly capable of becoming a mad scientist.

“What would those limits be?” Charlotte asked, somewhat concerned about who they decided to come to for information.

“Where do we begin…” Jerry rubbed his hands together. “Let’s see… when it comes to the phantons within us, they don’t necessarily disappear after one dies.” Jerry pointed toward his window, which Charlotte just took notice of, considering it was hiding behind the computer monitors. “They can do certain things. The event that happens most of the time is that they rise and head upward toward the sky.”

“To… to heaven?” Charlotte was intrigued that such a thing could have been discovered to exist.

“Well, we’re not sure what it does exactly. We do know that in between the exosphere and thermosphere, the phantons form a sort of barrier referred to as Xavier’s Ceiling.”

“—Named after the guy who discovered the phanton, Xavier Ouderkirk, in 1959,” Adam added nonchalantly, glancing over at Charlotte. 

“Precisely!” Jerry gave Adam a thumbs up. “What happens within this barrier is totally up for debate, however. It does not seem to affect technology at all, as we’ve been able to launch rockets successfully. It’s peculiar, as normally there can certainly be disruptions due to phantonic interference.” Jerry sighed. “Technology also cannot get any specific readings on the dang thing, unfortunately. We can just detect where it is, as we can track the phantons that leave the Earth’s surface.” 

Charlotte was entirely focused on Jerry’s explanation, becoming enthralled in learning about what he was discussing. 

“Well, I’m sure that is informative for her. But how about what happens with those phantons that don’t leave?” Adam asked.

“Yeah… those phantons still need a lot of research. But what we do know is that they like to—well—create ghosts. The phantons can travel to anywhere the deceased person had been in their lifetime. They then proceed to sort of ‘re-create’ events of that person’s life; that’s the most common thing to happen. It’s referred to as a ‘residual occurrence.’” 

Jerry pointed at Charlotte. “Now, with you…” Jerry paused for a moment and let out a sudden squeal. “I can’t believe I’m actually conversing with a ghost, this is the greatest day of my life!”

“Well, I’m glad you are enjoying your first encounter with a ghost,” Adam stated sarcastically. Jerry looked at him in a questioning matter, but he shook his head. “I’ll get to that part soon.”

“Anyway, continuing on. Charlotte—in your case, you would, for sure, be at least considered something known as an ‘intelligent occurrence.’ This is when the phantons can create an entity that is able to do whatever it wants. There is also a massive increase in phantonic power compared to a residual occurrence.”

“She’s plenty powerful, that’s for sure.” Adam winced in remembrance of the pain. “That freaking hurt a lot.”

“What? Did she attack you or something?” Jerry seemed concerned. 

“Yep, right after she kidnapped me,” Adam stated, rather bluntly.

Jerry stared at his friend. “What the hell happened last night!?” 

Charlotte stood up, stretching her body. “He’s right, regarding the power thing. I think it would be simpler to show you.”

Realizing what Charlotte was about to do, Adam grabbed a pillow off of Jerry’s bed and held it up for protection. The azure aura lit up around her body, although nowhere near as powerful as the night prior. Jerry was staring in complete awe as Charlotte revealed her true form to him. 

He fell to his knees, taking hold of Charlotte’s hands. She looked down at him in confusion while Adam lowered the pillow he was holding up.

“My god, you’re an Ouderkirk!? Absolutely amazing! This day…” Tears had begun to fall down Jerry’s face.

“All right, buddy. Easy now.” Adam stood up and got Jerry back on his feet. He turned around and looked at his desk. All of the monitors were glitching out; the images unrecognizable. 

Wiping his tears, Jerry picked up a device that looked like a tablet. He tapped it furiously, wanting to get something to work.

“Thank goodness this is still operational… here we go!” Jerry analyzed the tablet in silence; his mouth slowly opening. “My god… these readings! Adam, if she has this much power and she attacked you, how did—”

Jerry looked up at Adam and stopped talking when he noticed his friend’s eyes. They were glowing precisely as they did the night prior.

“Adam? What… what is that?” Jerry pointed at Adam’s face.

“What are you talking about?” Adam was confused. Jerry tapped the tablet a few more times and showed the screen to him. It was a camera, pointed in his direction. Adam was able to see his own eyes glowing for the very first time.

“What the… hell? Is-Is this the—”

“That is a sign that the World Mirror is active, yes,” Charlotte answered Adam’s question before he could finish it.

“What’s a ‘World Mirror’?” Jerry asked.

“It’s why she freaking attacked me last night…” Adam responded, still staring at his eyes. “Apparently, I have some weird-ass power. Not sure if it can be considered a Concept or not…” He let out a loud sigh. “And this kidnapper right here has been waiting around to find it.”

Charlotte nodded. “Yes. Most of my memories seem to be missing. All I’m aware of is my Ouderkirk heritage and the fact that the World Mirror can help me.”

“Adam… World Mirror…” Jerry seemed to be rooted in thought. “Your memories missing… something doesn’t seem right. My dad’s been working with you for a while now, Adam, to figure out just what the issue was with you not having phantons.” He folded his arms. “Is this why…?”

“We have no idea… It’s why we wanted to see what you thought. If I’m gonna be honest with you—”

“You don’t really want my dad to know, right?” Jerry smirked at him. Adam nodded in confirmation.

“I don’t really care if it just involved me. But Charlotte’s mixed in, as well. With Unity, and how they are… I don’t know how they’d respond to an Ouderkirk who’s a ghost.” 

Charlotte was surprised at Adam’s concern about her safety. Logically, however, it did make sense. She held her tongue for a moment while Jerry nodded, clearly brainstorming something serious.

“…Hey, can I ask something?”

“No shit. We’re here to ask and learn, after all.” Adam answered.

“…My family. Are any of them around still? You said the guy who discovered the phanton was an Ouderkirk, but seems like that was years ago.”

Jerry shook his head. “Well, no… That guy, in fact, was one of the last ones.”

“I see…” As Charlotte glanced to the floor, Adam noticed Jerry seemingly fidget upon answering—an oddity for him, as Jerry tended to answer questions with steadfast confidence.

“Anyway—Charlotte. Are you able to get out of that form for me? I need to use the computer.”

“Sure…” Charlotte, somewhat upset by the answer she obtained, breathed in slowly. In a flash, her body reverted back to her previous state. Almost immediately, Jerry’s computers were back to normal. He sat down and began typing away. 

Adam’s eyes also returned to normal, having been active the entire time, as well. He noted that he seemed to feel a strange sensation—the center of his head and the nape of his neck simultaneously felt like they were being tickled. Looking at the tablet with the camera, he realized the change. Charlotte took note of this as well.

“You noticed that, huh? That should be the first sign that you feel the World Mirror’s power. And the fact that it’s not causing you severe headaches anymore is great as well.” 

Adam held his head. “You may not know what the World Mirror is for, but you do seem to know some details surrounding its power?”

Charlotte pondered for a moment. “Yes… I-I can really understand why I know certain things, yet I am in the complete dark about the rest.” Charlotte sat back down on the bed. “I knew how to get the World Mirror to work. I’m also aware of the great power it holds, along with the fact that the power seems capable of healing wounds you receive.” 

Jerry chimed in. “It seems that the memories you do have hold importance. Not substantial importance, but enough to get you on the right track.” Jerry turned around. “I’ve got a lot to think about and research. Also…” Jerry pondered something.

“I think it’s worth it to finally do that.”

Adam and Charlotte looked at Jerry questionably. He raised his fists up into the air, getting himself pumped up.

“I’m going to hack into the Requiem government’s servers!”

“Woah woah woah, cool it.” Adam went up and held Jerry’s shoulders. “I don’t want you getting in trouble and throwing your life away over some simple information!”

“Relax, you know who you’re talking to, right?” Jerry smirked. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to do this. Not necessarily for information on the Ouderkirk’s, but for other things.” Jerry sat back down at his computer.

“As I’ve studied Phantonics growing up, there have been quite a few holes I’ve noticed in certain areas. We’ll be here for another five hours if I were to explain it to you guys, but… just…” He paused.

“It’s important we find breakthroughs in the field. I want to help others, and I don’t want anything or anyone getting in the way of that.”

Adam smiled softly. “Right, that makes sense. Just be careful, all right?”

“Don’t worry about it. It takes some time anyway. You two look into what you can in the meantime, and let me know if you figure anything out.”

“Well, will do—” Adam pulled out his phone, remembering the screen was busted. “Ah, crap. Can’t really do much with this in its current state.”

“You too? I had to fix up Brandon’s phone this morning. It’s not gonna last much longer, though, so I told him he should probably just get a new one.”

“I think I should, as well…” Adam poked at the screen. “Even you probably could do much with a shattered screen.”

“It would be kind of annoying, but I could probably figure something out.” Jerry grinned at his own confidence.

“Nah, I needed a new one anyway.” Adam shrugged, putting the phone back in his pocket. “I just gotta dip into the funds and see if—”

Charlotte pulled out a slip of paper and held it in front of Adam’s face. “Here, I think you should have this.”

She gave the paper to Adam. He looked at it, realized quickly that it was a check, and had his jaw almost drop to the floor.

“Wh-Wh-What is this!?”

Jerry stood up and looked as well, instantly forming the exact same expression. “W-Why are you giving Adam a check for six thousand requid!?”

“I’m a ghost. I don’t need a home or anything that people living really need. I figured I owe it to Adam anyway, after last night.”

“S-So, you really only had that job for surveillance purposes, I’m guessing?” Adam asked. “And… you don’t have a home?”

“I should probably quit that job… Although, I can’t really disappear out of the blue, especially after the manager has been so kind to me.” Charlotte looked down at the floor. “Even though I used such means to obtain the job in the first place…”

“Ignoring how you worded that—” Adam began to walk toward the door. “Thanks, Jerry. I gotta figure out how I’m gonna tell Brandon about all of this. I figured I’d tell him, but probably just him…”

“That’s… probably a good idea.” Jerry nodded. “Since everyone else has ties with Unity. Even if they purposefully didn’t mention anything, who knows… There are always ways to extract information.”

Adam glanced nervously around the room. “I just hope your dad isn’t too deep, either. If anyone can secretly gain info, it’s him. I can see him placing hidden cameras, mics—all of that…”

“I know he wouldn’t do that.” Jerry chuckled.

“…You really trust your dad, huh?” Adam asked as he walked out, waving back at Jerry. Charlotte slowly followed behind, feeling the uneasiness radiate out of Adam.

“Must be nice…”


Next: Chapter 10

Previous: Chapter 8

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 8

Adam awoke, as he usually would. He found that he lied in his exact bed as well. It took him a few seconds before everything flooded into his mind. 

Jumping onto the floor beside the bed, pain rocketed through Adam’s body. It was strong enough to cause him to fall right back down. He lied there with his feet dangling over the edge.

Taking a glance to his left, he noticed Charlotte had been lying there this entire time, eyes shut. She had returned to her original appearance and seemed to be wearing a navy blue sweater and black pants.

“Why… what the hell?” Adam stood up a second time, this time with his weakened body in mind. He still had to hold onto his nightstand next to his bed to keep his balance. “Why are you sleeping in my bed!?”

“I must recharge my energy, especially after that act I was doing last night.” Charlotte’s eyes opened, and she rose up from the bed in a robotic-like fashion. “I have to make sure my body doesn’t fade away, so moments of rest are required to stay existing.”

“Uh… whatever. ANYWAY! What was all of that!? What happened last night?” Adam looked down at his hand. “I think… Yeah—I used some crazy power? World Mirror… right?” He held his head. “It’s kinda fuzzy… although I DO remember you attacked me.”

“Correct. I couldn’t be nice. You didn’t know how to use the power, so I had to physically and emotionally beat it out of you.”

“T-That’s messed up…”

“But now that you have accessed that power, I’m going to help you figure it out.”

“…It sounded like you needed this power for yourself, though. I wanted you to tell me about it.”

“You collapsed before I could.” Charlotte shrugged. “But… I have to apologize…” She fidgeted around, clearly distraught. “I’ve had my memories altered with, it seems. While helping you, I hope to uncover the things that I have forgotten.” 

“Are you serious…? Of course, your memories were messed with…” Adam had the energy to start walking around his room. “If that’s the case, then how can we be sure this World Mirror stuff is accu—”

Adam stopped walking just in time. Pieces of glass were scattered all over his wooden floor. A glance up revealed that an old, small television that he barely even used was broken. Someone had thrown a remote directly into it—the device still lodged inside.

“I have to apologize…” Charlotte began. Adam turned around and noticed she was facing away from him. “I didn’t know how to get the television to work so I could see that news thing…”

“So, you threw the remote into it?” Adam seemed more disappointed than angry. He carefully walked along his floor so he could reach behind the television. Picking up a cord, he waved it at Charlotte. “You could have just plugged it in. I’m pretty sure it still works decently enough.”

Charlotte turned slowly back toward Adam, seemingly glaring at the cord to the television. She turned back around a few moments later.

“I have to apologize—”

“Enough apologizing.” Adam sighed. “Now, here’s a question. How did you manage to get all of that information on me if you barely know how to work a simple TV? I assume you would have to look up things on a computer and whatnot.”

Charlotte lied back down on the bed. “Since I’m a spirit, I can do things such as pass through objects, as you saw last night. Or possess people.”

“Possess? You can do that too?” Adam was puzzled. “How did you manage to use that to get info?”

“Well, it’s quite simple, really…” Charlotte began an explanation but paused. The next thing Adam noticed, she was fast asleep.

“Uh, hey? Wake up?”

“Must… recharge… energy…” Charlotte was able to mumble those words before the walls started to echo her loud snores.

“What the hell is even happening at this point?” Adam glanced over at his nightstand and noticed his cell phone and the envelope Pam gave to him were there. 

“Damn… this envelope is covered in my blood.” Adam looked down at his clothing. It was torn to shreds, covered with dirt and his blood. “I need a shower.”

Adam opened up the envelope to check the damage done inside. There was a note folded up but was miraculously not covered in blood like the outside was.

“I could open it now… I figure almost dying last night was considered a low point. But…” After hesitating for a few moments, Adam put the note back inside the envelope. “Not yet.”

Setting the envelope down, he picked up his cell phone. Cracked, but seemingly still functional. Although it was difficult for Adam to read what was on the screen. He sighed, putting it down as well.

 

A few minutes later, Adam was in the shower. He had his head lowered, the water flowing through his hair. The dirt and blood on his body were starting to come off, but he figured some extra scrubbing was necessary.

“I don’t feel that pain I felt when I woke up.” Adam looked around on his body. There did not seem to be a scratch on him. “That… World Mirror power. Did it heal me?”

Adam raised his hand, almost touching the showerhead. “I guess I can consider this something along the lines of a Concept…? How do I even use it?”

Adam peeked outside of the shower at the bathroom door. He had locked it, yet knew that Charlotte could just phase through it if she wanted. Or bust it down simply with her strength.

“I’m not sure if I can trust her. She did beat the hell out of me last night, after all. If I do have some incredible power, I need to figure out how to use it. Just in case…”

Adam closed his eyes and held his hand in front of him.

“World Mirror, ACTIVATE!”

Nothing happened.

“Well, that’s all I can think of.” Adam was calm on the outside but was dying of self-embarrassment on the inside.

Adam turned off the shower and got out. After drying off with a towel, he put on clothes that matched the ones he wore the day prior.

Walking out of the bathroom, he was met with Charlotte standing right in front of him—her eyes seemingly empty.

“Uh, hey. Did you enjoy your nap?”

“I have to apologize…”

Adam sighed. “Not this again.”

“When I woke up, I used my phasing ability to pass through the walls to look for you. I ended up in the restroom for a brief moment…” Charlotte bowed. “Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to look!”

“Huh? I don’t care. It’s fine. You’ve been acting really freaking meek ever since I woke up.” Adam lightly patted Charlotte’s shoulder. The cold that he felt jogged his memory swiftly on something he had seemed to lose focus of.

Charlotte was, in fact, a ghost. A spirit—Adam was interacting so casually with someone who was no longer considered alive.

“Hey, so… How much do you know about ghosts?” He asked her.

“I know Phantonics has rounded up quite a bit of detail on them. I was much more focused on trying to search for the World Mirror, however. So… I didn’t have much time to look into it.”

“Right… Okay…” Adam scratched his head. “Well, why not start there? If you learn more about ghosts, you’ll learn more about yourself. Maybe how and why you ended up as one?”

“That could be…” Charlotte nodded—a tiny smile forming. “Let’s start with that, then!”

“All right. I have an idea as to how we can teach you all of that stuff. I’ll have to see if he’s available.” Adam walked back into his room—Charlotte following closely behind. He picked up his phone and sat on his bed, staring intensely at the screen as he pressed it.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to see what these texts I’ve got say. Kinda hard to, since someone smashed up the screen.”

“I ap—”

“Stop,” Adam stated bluntly. “Okay… They’re from Faith and Brandon. Both of them are talking about the same thing, actually…” He glanced up at her. “About the noise in the woods last night…”

“That was definitely our little bout, wouldn’t you say?” Charlotte giggled. 

Adam seemingly became unnerved—Charlotte noticing his body tense up.

“What? You don’t have to worry, I made sure nobody was around. There’s no trace of my energy there, as well—and they don’t have the means to detect your power.”

“…How exactly did you remove all traces of your power?” 

“Huh? I’m an Ouderkirk. I have complete control over phantonic energy. So making sure I didn’t leave any behind was easy. I just… absorbed it back into my body. Pretty simple.”

“…We were in the woods north of town—literally behind my house,” Adam began to explain. “After hearing the strange noises, Faith said people went to investigate it.”

“Yeah…?” Charlotte was puzzled as to what was upsetting him.

“You would think they’d find obvious evidence that there was a fight…” Adam paused, looking intensely at Charlotte.

“They found nothing.” 


Next: Chapter 9

Previous: Chapter 7

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 7

Adam felt a cool breeze upon his skin. He seemed to quickly remember what had occurred before passing out. Vision returning to his eyes, consciousness was coming back. The next moment Adam was on his feet. It was only then he took in where he was.

It seemed to be a clearing of some kind in the middle of the woods. Knowing the layout of Prelude his entire life, Adam could tell that he was still near the town based on a simple observation of his surroundings. He was certain he had walked in this area before—surrounded by pine and apple trees.  All Adam had to help him see was the light of the full moon above him.

“How… long was I out?” Adam looked frantically in each direction.

“Three hours.”

Adam turned toward Charlotte, who was standing behind him. He could have sworn he looked that way and did not see her at all a moment ago.

“I’m not really sure why you fainted—I’ll have to figure out the specifics later. But, it made moving you to a remote location much easier.” Charlotte shrugged.

“…You’re a freaking ghost.” Adam shook his head, completely baffled at the entire situation he now seemed to be in.

“I am. Let me tell you, it’s been quite the task to keep that under wraps as I investigated.” 

“Investigated what…?” Adam began to back away from Charlotte.

“The location of what I was looking for. Which ended up being—”

Adam did not blink. Somehow, Charlotte ended up behind him.

“You…”

He jumped back, falling onto the ground as he tried to defend himself. There was no telling what Charlotte was capable of.

“W-Why me? What’s so special about me? I don’t have some crazy Concept or anything! I don’t even have phantons!”

Charlotte paused for a moment before speaking—somewhat annoyed.

“Concepts… Phantons… Yes, the science of Phantonics has certainly rounded a lot of the supernatural up into one neat package, hasn’t it?” Charlotte began to giggle. “They’ve been trying to study why you lack phantons. What’s funny to me is that it seems as though you think the answer is something negative—something that deems you worthless.”

Adam did not respond—Charlotte assuming he would. She continued to speak as he remained silent.

“What if I told you… your soul is meant to be different? It exists specifically to use a certain something—something that no one else can use?”

“…What the hell are you talking about?”

Charlotte grinned—her arms opening wide.

“The World Mirror.”

“The… World Mirror?” Adam scratched his head. “The hell…? What is that supposed to be?”

“An item with immeasurable power. Power that can only flow through you. It seems like it already has done so—albeit in small amounts.”

“…All right, Miss Ghost,” Adam stood up, not amused with what Charlotte was talking about. “Let’s say this ‘World Mirror’ thing exists. Why are you looking for it? And—you had the audacity in to kidnap me and bring me out here in the woods? You couldn’t just talk to me about it in the store without going all freaking ‘Boo, I’m a ghost—feel my cold-ass forehead and stare into my creepy glowing eyes’!?”

Charlotte could only sigh in response. She gathered her thoughts and decided to answer. “It was too dangerous to do anything in the store. As for why I’m looking for it… It’s necessary.”

 As Adam was about to ask her what she meant, an azure aura started to form around Charlotte. Starting off calmly, it quickly shifted into a tremendous force that knocked Adam off his feet. He tried standing up, only to be knocked back down once again.

The force diminished a few seconds later, and Adam was able to regain his footing. Focusing his attention back onto Charlotte, he noticed her appearance changed. Instead of the jet black hair she usually possessed, Charlotte now had pure white hair. The clothing she wore was now a set of navy blue armor that seemed relatively light and easy to move around in.

“That appearance… it reminds me of…”

Charlotte nodded, seeming to know what Adam was thinking. “Yes, I know it’s been taught in your curriculum. My true name is actually Charlotte Ouderkirk, a member of the royal family of Requiem!”

Adam chuckled in disbelief. “So, this is what I’m dealing with. I was wondering how a ghost was capable of existing like a living person. If you’re a part of them, it makes sense.”

“My family created the World Mirror, you see. It was always considered as something that could help in a time of desperation. Which is why I’m going to be borrowing its power.”

“Listen,” Adam scratched his head. “Even if I do have this World Mirror thing, I have no clue how to use it. So I can’t really help you out with whatever it is you need.”

“Heh… I don’t blame you for being clueless. Trust me, you’re not the only one.” Charlotte held out her hand to the side. “Let me help you—using what I do know.”

Charlotte waved her hand in a motion as if she was beckoning someone. An azure glow formed near it, and a longsword of the same color appeared—the hilt now held by her.

“I call this my ‘Royal Armory.’ Our family has complete control of the things you call phantons, which we can use to create whatever we want.”

“A sword… completely made out of phantons?” Adam began to back away. “W-What are you planning on doing with that…?”

“Relax. The edges of this blade are incredibly dull—you won’t get sliced apart by it.” Charlotte assured. She began to giggle while waving the sword around. “However, I’m still going to use it on you.”

“What!? Why!?” Adam did not give Charlotte time to answer as he began to run away. 

He could not escape. Adam felt a bitter cold surge throughout his body as Charlotte phased right through him, stopping him in his tracks. 

“I need to pressure you. Understanding the ‘why’ isn’t necessary right now. Besides—” Charlotte prepared her blade. “Where’s the fun in just outright telling you?”

Before Adam could react, the blade struck him on his left side with blinding speed. This was followed by several more slashes that hit him before the pain could even begin to register. Charlotte delivered a kick to finish the combo, knocking Adam onto the ground a few feet away.

The agony he felt was like none he had felt before. Blood spewed from his mouth as he convulsed on the grass, certain that—despite the blade not capable of cutting him—several limbs had been broken by the sheer force of Charlotte’s strikes.

“Hm… Strange, nothing’s happening yet.” Charlotte noted, walking towards the young man in suffering. She realized that Adam’s eyes were, in fact, glowing just as they did at the store. “It has to be active… Why isn’t it doing anything?”

Adam could not even attempt to ask what Charlotte was talking about—he could only cough in response.

“…Is it possible that you’re holding back the power yourself? Subconsciously? That’s no good—you’ll die, you know.”

Die. That simple word set something off within Adam. He looked at the earth beneath him, covered in his own blood. The sight brought back memories that he wished never returned.

Charlotte approached him, ready to continue her onslaught. She stopped, realizing that the young man before her was no longer shaking from his injuries. Somehow—she knew the difference. How the body trembled from physical agony versus internal.    

“…I was looking into things for a while now.  Being a spirit, I can do certain things to help me acquire information. Eventually, I narrowed my search down to your school. If I wanted to, I could have found you right away. There were restrictions—unfortunately, that hindered how quickly I could investigate. I had to do things in a specific order. Becoming a student myself was the first thing. Getting information on the students was next. Graduation happened before I could continue, but I did learn some interesting things…” There was a rather long pause.

 “Six months ago, you tried to kill yourself. Is that correct?”

Adam’s eyes widened. Their ghostly gaze shot up and looked at Charlotte—filled with astonishment on how she knew about it.

“A kid with no real hobbies, no real plans for the future. Friends that have loads of promise, on the contrary. You distanced yourself from them, thinking they no longer needed you. And your home life… heh. Truly, you don’t have much of a family, right?”

Adam’s mind went back a few hours ago to what Pam told him.

“You have a family here, don’t forget that.”

Anger seemed to boil within him. He stood, slowly gaining his composure. Something was occurring that he did not seem to notice.

A faint ghostly aura began emerging from his body. Charlotte could feel it in the air—tiny vibrations that held a certain power. Although weak, she knew what she was facing.

The power of life itself.

“So, this is…” She smirked—her body shaking with excitement. “This is the true power of a soul. Fueled by the World Mirror to the point where it physically manifests from your body!”

Adam was not paying attention to her words. Instead, he charged at Charlotte—his fist flying right toward her. She raised her blade, blocking the strike with its side.

Although she stood firmly in place, the force of the impact shook the area surrounding the two.

“Yes… Yes—amazing!”

Adam pulled his fist back—blood now covering the glowing sword. What were fingers mere moments ago had become lumps of crimson flesh—bones protruding from the wounds.

“His body clearly can’t handle the boost in power it’s getting…” Charlotte shook her head, analyzing the situation. The white aura began forming more prominently around Adam’s hand—still unaware of what was happening to his body. She placed her hand on her chin while observing—a gleeful grin on her face. “That’s no issue, however.”

As Adam Grayson revved up for another punch with the same arm, his fingers had miraculously grown back. The newly formed appendages—lit in a blinding phantasmal light—struck Charlotte’s blade a second time, now capable of pushing her away a few feet.

“See… This is your power! With this, you can certainly help me find—”

Charlotte was interrupted by a punch, now from Adam’s left fist. She whacked it away with the side of her blade—the mighty force almost causing her to lose her balance. Adam, seemingly slipping into a blind rage, began sending a volley of attacks her way.

“The power is also fueling his adrenaline… and his anger.” Charlotte parried the berserk onslaught to the best of her capabilities, yet was starting to have difficulty in keeping up. She evaded a kick, which ended up shattering a tree that had been behind her.

“What crazy power… My body won’t be able to hold out in this form much longer.”

As bark and large chunks of wood flew around the area, Charlotte could tell that Adam’s foot—shoe included—was miraculously still intact. Although it was clear that he could barely stand on it.

Yet, with that very foot, Adam leaped at Charlotte. His right arm—now missing its hand—lit up all the way to his shoulder. Bending it back, he unleashed it swiftly, like shooting an arrow. The spectral energy erupted, engulfing Charlotte before she could adequately block the attack. It shot forward—a white comet rocketing through the forest with immense power. 

The recoil knocked Adam onto his back. As the shaking of the earth slowly ceased, his inner fury subsided. 

“…”

He gazed into the scene in front of him, wondering what just happened. There was no pain—he did not seem to understand how much damage his body had taken.

“Family… right. That’s what she was talking about…”

With a wave of her arm, Charlotte blew the dust away, clearing the way for both of them to see. The area had been torn to shreds, like a war zone. Adam’s attention finally turned to his arm—or rather—where his arm should be. Void of emotion, he surveyed the rest of his body. His left hand was also missing, and most of his person was described as a muddy, bloody mess.

Even then, physically and emotionally, he felt nothing. 

Charlotte held the hilt of her sword—the only thing that remained as shards of the blade crumbled away into dust. “You’re pretty strong, you know that?” She tossed the remains of her weapon to the ground, fading away moments later. 

Adam did not respond. He was caught up in his own mind—memories returning to him involving things people have said about him in the past.

“What the hell is that kid even doing here?”

“Is he mute or something?”

“I’ve never heard a peep out of him.”

“Heh, careful guys. He could be a ghost or something.”

“He might as well be dead.”

There were layers of irony in his current situation. Contradictions, as well.

Whether Adam Grayson was a nameless ghost—a soul merely wandering the world—or a peculiar existence that science deemed soulless altogether, none of that mattered now.

Adam had just unleashed a remarkable power from within him. Whatever was said before this moment—it was invalid to him. This was his true starting line. 

He watched as the strange energy continued to form around his wounds. Although the pain was immense—like tiny needles stabbing through him, Adam was now aware that his body had begun to regenerate.

“Just what the hell is happening…?”

“This is the power of the World Mirror,” Charlotte responded. “Even if it was brief, you showed things that I remember from the legends.”

“…Yeah—I think it’s time you started spilling everything that you know.”

“Everything I know…” She sighed. “Let me ask you something first.”

Despite not needing to, Charlotte breathed just like a living person. She inhaled—held the air in—and exhaled, anxious to continue speaking.

“…What pushed you to the point of wanting to take your own life?”

Adam processed Charlotte’s sudden and intense inquiry, his gaze meeting the moon above. At that moment, emotions began to finally surge inside of him. After pondering for a few seconds, he was able to answer calmly.

“I saw it. All of it. Clearly. The despair plaguing the world. Ever since all of those things happened years ago, I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to save… her, and everyone else. Including myself… That feeling combated that despair… and lost.” Adam formed a light smile.

“It’s funny how I lost due to happiness, however. It felt as though she was better off without me. I was so able to see her genuinely smile again. She—and my other friends as well. They have so much going for them. They don’t need me. And that’s all I had… the fact that I could help them through things. I was too scared of the rest of the world to try to find something myself.” Adam violently shook his head.

“Can’t they see… all of this twisted shit in the world!? I know they can, everyone can. And they… they don’t do a damn thing about it! Nobody ever does!

There was silence. Charlotte spoke before it grew to the point of awkwardness.

“So, why are you upset?”

Adam’s eyes widened, seemingly confused from her question. His gaze would remain upward, however.

Charlotte answered herself. “It’s because that feeling actually didn’t lose. That feeling to combat that despair. It’s still there. But it’s struggling. Life makes everything struggle. But it’s not over.” Charlotte walked over to Adam and bent over him, now blocking his gaze at the moon with her own eyes.

“You have a purpose. To continue fighting that despair. That’s why the World Mirror manifested within you. It knows you want so desperately to fight, regardless of how many times you fall.” Charlotte dropped down onto her knee and bowed to Adam as he stared at her in bewilderment.

“I’ll be by your side while you do so. While I figure out my situation, I can help you with yours.” She smiled. “It’s the least I can do… for being so physically and emotionally harsh to you. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me one day, yet you don’t have to—”

Adam had reached his limit. Before Charlotte could finish talking, he collapsed—the glow the World Mirror created fading away. His body was exhausted beyond words and could hardly handle what was happening anymore.

“Well, I guess, for now, that’s fine. I’m exhausted as well. I think to have to act like a villain exhausted me more than using my power.” Charlotte chuckled, lowering her head.

“Was it acting, though?”

The branch of a nearby apple tree that was damaged snapped—the fruit tumbling onto the ground. Charlotte watched as they rolled over toward the two.

As an apple—golden yellow in color—came to a stop next to Adam’s now reformed right hand, the spirit grew uneasy as to what she had just set in motion. 


Next: Chapter 8

Previous: Chapter 6

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 6

Adam walked in the twilight. He always felt a rather strange sensation around this time of day. There were some ancient myths in his country of Requiem which related to the twilight, such as the famous one about souls having the ability to join together as one—a favorite of Adam’s.

“I should look into that stuff… I wonder how those stories came to be? Heh—” Adam chuckled. “Geez, I really could go to school for history. I certainly have the desire to learn more about it. But… I hate it. I hate it, cause there are no freaking jobs that I would like if I decided to get a degree.” His expression turned somber as he recalled the conversation with Robin on the train earlier that day.

“Just what do I do right now…?” 

As Adam passed the scenery around him, he began to space out—the troubles slowly leaving his mind. It was as though Adam was rooted in his own world. A world where there were no thoughts or feelings, only existence. He only snapped back into reality by a pain suddenly surging through his head.

“What the f—” He shook his head rather violently. “Where the hell did this come from!?”

Glancing around, Adam was glad to see nobody was currently nearby. He was relieved, as he made quite the scene. The headache subsided as swiftly as it had appeared.

“Should I get home and sleep it off?” Adam pondered for a moment. “…Could be the fact that I haven’t really eaten. Yeah—I should still go get something at the store.”

 

The shopping district of the town was centrally located right between Adam’s house and the Roswell house. There was a slight increase in people around, but nothing too drastic that would make Adam uncomfortable. A few miscellaneous stores, including a general goods store, a pharmacy, and a gas station, were a few things people could go to.

Adam walked into the store, named Ann’s. The store was rather small, with a few aisles filled with your everyday goods.

A girl who was sitting in a chair behind the counter waved to Adam. He knew her as an acquaintance from school, Charlotte Smith, who had just moved to Prelude his senior year of high school. She played around with her black hair while her blue eyes were glued right to a book in her hands.

Deciding to do something out of the ordinary, Adam walked up to her and initiated small talk. “Yo, how’s it going?”

“Fine,” Charlotte responded, eyes still focused on the book. “What are you up to?”

“Just getting some food, nothing too special,” Adam responded.

“Cool.”

“Damn, this isn’t good. Maybe the fact that she doesn’t seem so interested in talking is a good thing, I can get out of this quicker.”

“Oh, Adam!”

Adam turned to the left of him, a wave a relief passing through him as the focus shifted away from the attempted conversation. Walking up the aisle to the register was Winona Collins, Faith’s best friend. She smiled at Adam, fidgeting with one of the pins in her lengthy, curly black hair. They were like jewels—Adam noting the red, orange, and yellow pins on her right side while green, blue, and violet ones were on her left.

“How nice to see you! Are you doing well?” Winona was holding a blue basket filled with various goods from the store. “I heard you and Brandon hung out at Faith’s? I wish I could have made it. I’ve been doing work in the garden with my father all day.”

“Yeah, I’m all right.” Adam’s tension from the talk with Charlotte was gone now. “You two love working in that garden, don’t ya?”

“Mhmm!” Winona nodded her head. “I always love having a wide variety of flowers to look at.” She shuffled her hand through her basket. “Now, I’m getting some things to help Mom cook a late dinner.”

“You enjoy that. I gotta get some things myself.” He waved at both Winona and Charlotte and headed into the aisle nearest to them.

“I’m all set, Charlotte!” Winona put her basket on the counter and took her items out of it.

Charlotte had a smile on her face as she rang up Winona’s items.

 

As Adam walked down the aisle, he looked back and forth between each side. A sharp pain started to form in his head again, and this time it was as if he felt dizzy.

“I… I’ve eaten recently, right…? This has happened before… but I swore I at least ate an apple this morning. I always remember eating those!” 

Almost losing his balance, Adam was able to regain his posture and focus ahead of him.

There stood someone who was not there a moment prior.

A little girl, about six or seven years old, wearing suspenders and a pink backpack. She had brown eyes and brown hair wrapped up in pigtails using pink braids. Adam was trying his best to analyze her appearance, as something was off about it. Horribly off. 

Adam swore he could see right through her.

Before Adam could conjure up another thought, the girl had disappeared. It seemed as though time stood still. It wasn’t until he felt a hand on his shoulder that he snapped back to reality.

“Hey, how long are you gonna just stand there?” Charlotte was now behind him, seemingly more weirded out than concerned.

Adam turned toward her. What met her blue eyes were not Adam’s usual gray ones. 

His irises now glowed an eerie white. 

The wide-eyed look he had on his face was copied by Charlotte.

“I was right…”

“Huh?” Adam had no clue what Charlotte was talking about. His head seemed to calm down now, as the glow slowly left his eyes, returning them to their natural gray color.

“Just when I thought I could relax here at work after a long day of investigating… Oh well. This is good.”

“…Huh?” 

“You seem to not know, do you? Well, it makes sense, after all the testing you’ve done.”

Charlotte leaned in, placing her hands on Adam’s face. As she got closer, the young man tried processing the situation, coming to a conclusion, and accepting his fate.

“Well, I never assumed my first kiss would occur in the unfortunate non-romantic location of a grocery store. But… sure, why not? Let’s go, Adam Grayson.”

The girl’s forehead touched his own, confusing Adam even more.

“W-What are you—”

Eyes now glowing a vibrant azure stared into Adam’s. Once again, the white glow returned to his eyes in response to this phenomenon.  

“…Who the hell are you, Charlotte?”

“It seems like nobody’s here in the store. Boss has the night off, no customers… and I can always erase the surveillance footage.”

“…Huh!?” Adam was astounded at what Charlotte was saying, making him forget about the mystical eyes glaring right into his soul for a moment. He then noticed something odd about the young woman holding him.

“…She’s freezing?”

“Well, I think it’s safer if we move locations. This could get messy.”

Adam nonchalantly placed his hands on Charlotte’s shoulders, moving her slowly away from him. “…Okay. You need to choose your words better. And—seriously—tell me what’s going on. Do you have some sort of Concept? Is this where this power’s coming from?”

“Concept…” Charlotte lowered her head. “That’s what people nowadays call it. No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember what it used to be referred to.”

“It’s… been a thing long before we were born? It was a term coined in the sixties around the time when phantons were discovered. Why… are you talking like you’ve been around longer?” 

Charlotte looked back up. What appeared to be an innocent smile sent shivers down Adam’s spine, akin to how she physically felt to him. The words that then exited her mouth completely froze him in place.

“Because I have been.”

The inside of Adam’s head was screaming in agony—quite literally—as if someone was shrieking in horror in between his ears. Before being able to completely process the existence of the specter before him, his consciousness faded, unable to withstand the pain. 


Next: Chapter 7

Previous: Chapter 5

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 5

Adam and Brandon were sitting on the couch in the living room. To the side of them, there was a chair that Emma was sitting in. The television a few feet across from the couch was currently on, playing the news. Adam and Emma were busy on their phones while Brandon seemed to be having some sort of crisis.

“What’s your issue?” Emma asked him, irritated at his behavior. Brandon didn’t respond. “Is it because my sister is in the other room, showering? It makes sense since you’re a pervert.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” Adam agreed in passing with Emma. Brandon got angry.

“Hey! Who’s side are you on?”

“I’m on everyone’s side.”

Emma nodded. “Yeah. If you try to sneak a peek on me when I go in there next, I really will kill you.”

Brandon raised an eyebrow, getting a cocky smirk on his face. “Now, why would I wanna sneak a peek of you, you—” Adam interrupted Brandon by clasping his hand over his friend’s mouth, not even looking up from his phone, “You just want to die today, don’t you?”

Emma shook her head. “Whatever. Honestly, I don’t care what you think of me.”

Adam let go of Brandon’s face, wiping his hand on the couch. Brandon didn’t say anything; He just let out a small sigh.

Faith entered the room, wiping her hair with an orange towel. She was now wearing a black t-shirt and brown shorts.

“All right, Em. Your turn.” Faith walked up to her sister, who stood up from her chair. “About time! What took you so long? Actually, don’t answer that.”

Emma walked into the other room while Faith took her seat. She began to sniff the air. “Dang, I don’t think dinner’s ready yet!”

“Well, if that’s the case—” Adam leaned back, shutting his eyes. “I’m gonna nap.”

“You sure?” Brandon asked. “It’s tough to get you to wake up, ya know.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it…” A few moments later, Adam was sound asleep.

“That was fast.” Brandon sighed. He looked at Faith, flustered, unsure of what to do now. He turned to Adam upon hearing him begin to snore. “Oh! We were just talking about this!”

“Huh?” Faith was confused about what Brandon meant.

“Adam—he snores weirdly! He breathes through his nose, wicked hard!”

“And he doesn’t breathe through his mouth at all… But—” Faith placed her hand on her chin. “Is it really that weird? Could just be a funny quirk.”

“I dunno…” Brandon shrugged. “Something about it just gives me the heebie-jeebies.”

Pam was about to enter the living room to tell them that dinner had begun to cook. She stopped upon hearing the conversation Brandon and Faith were having.

“There… There’s no way that Adam knows how to do that, does he…? Who the hell taught him?” She shook her head. “Brandon, you’re the one giving out the heebie-jeebies…”

 

 

Adam eventually awoke from his nap, confused for a moment as to where he was. Quickly figuring it out, he glanced around the living room. Faith, now sitting next to him, smiled.

“Good morning.”

“Morning…? I didn’t sleep for that long, did I?”

“Well, you slept through dinner…” Faith chuckled. “We tried to wake you.”

“Figures,” Adam rubbed his eyes. “I’m quite a heavy sleeper.”

“Brandon already left. He told me to tell you: ‘Don’t even think about it.’ What does he mean by that?”

“I… don’t know. I wouldn’t worry too much about him.”

Faith nodded in understanding. Her face suddenly lit up.

“Oh! This is perfect timing! I wanna show you something.”

“Oh? Sure.” 

Faith reached under the couch and pulled out a small cardboard box. Adam had no idea what could be in it.

“I was cleaning the other day, getting some stuff prepared early for the move. I came across… this stuff.”

Opening the box revealed several photos. They were all pictures of Adam, Faith, and Emma as kids. One was of the three trying to fish at the local creek. Adam almost got pulled in by a gigantic fish while Faith and Emma held onto him for dear life. Another was of Faith and Emma having a tea party with all of their stuffed animals. Adam seemed to be an unhappy guest of the party but still participated.

“Wow… can’t believe you found this.” Adam was amazed at the pure nostalgia these pictures held. They each sat down on the couch. “We were always together when we were younger, weren’t we?”

Faith began giggling almost uncontrollably. “I almost forgot about this one!”

She held up a picture of Adam pretending to be a brave knight who was rescuing the princess, Faith, from a dragon, which was portrayed by Emma.

“You always played the hero role, didn’t you? Well, not always. I played the hero sometimes.” Faith smirked. “You even played the princess that one time. That was hilarious.”

Adam said nothing, merely sighing. “Yeah, that was fun. I liked playing the dragon, as well.”

“Yeah, the hero and dragon roles are always the best, since those are the two who fight each other.” Faith nodded at her own statement.

“So, yeah. I didn’t always play the hero.” Adam started to pick up random photos and go through them. There was silence for a few moments.

“Well, I think you have.”

“Huh?” Adam turned toward Faith, confused at what she meant.

“The hero. You’ve always been like one…”

Adam rustled his hair a little bit. “I mean, I’m not too sure about that.” Adam set the pictures down and looked ahead toward the floor.

“I know you’ve been afraid of using your power,” Adam said bluntly. Faith seemed startled at this topic being brought up.

“I get why, after what happened all those years ago.” Adam put his hands together, just as Faith does when trying to create her flame. “Well, when it comes down to it, those flames that you’re afraid of… well, they saved me. So I guess that makes you a hero too. I can’t be the only one, okay?”

Faith stared at Adam, seemingly wanting to say a million things, but could not get any of them to come out.

“Don’t be afraid of something that can save someone.” Adam stood up from the couch. “I know you can do it.”

“Adam…” Faith stood up as well. “See, this is what I mean by the hero thing. You always know great things to say like that!”

Adam chuckled. “I mean, I guess. If it helps you out, that’s all that mat—”

He was met with a firm embrace. Adam could barely move his arms as Faith held him.

“Thank you… for everything. Just know… I’ve got your back, all right?”

“Well, I mean, sure you do. Your hands are on my back at the moment.” Adam returned the hug, although it was done somewhat awkwardly.

Faith slowly let go of Adam, giggling. “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah.” Adam formed a smile and nodded. “I’ve got yours too.”

The two stared at each other, not noticing the presence standing at the entryway to the living room.

“Am I interrupting something?” The two turned to see Pam smirking at them.

“M-Mom!” Faith jumped back. Adam seemed unfazed.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” Pam laughed.

“Well, I should be going. I might head to the store real quick.” Adam gave a wave to Faith, who waved back.

“I’ll see you later, Adam. You sure you don’t want some of the leftovers? It’s chicken!”

You’re offering me food?” Adam looked back and smirked. “Nah, I’m okay.” As he walked toward the door, Pam followed behind.

“I gotta get something out of the car, I’ll be right back Faith!”

“Kaaaaay!” Faith yelled back to her mom, as she went out the door with Adam.

Outside, Adam turned toward Pam, knowing well that “getting something out of the car” was a filthy lie.

“What’s up?” Adam asked her.

“You’re sharp. I’m happy you got that from your mother…” Pam reached into her pocket and pulled out a plain white envelope. “I was helping Faith out with cleaning, and I found this along with the pictures you guys were looking at.” She handed the envelope to Adam.

“What’s in it?” Adam started to open it, only to be stopped by Pam.

“I had to read it to see what it was, of course. So I know what it is. I want you to promise me you’ll only open it when you’re feeling your lowest, all right?”

“Hm?” Adam tilted his head in confusion. Now he was even more curious. Holding out the envelope in front of him, he eventually decided to put it in his pocket. “All right, sure. I can do that.”

“Well, I hope you don’t get to your lowest again. But if it ever happens… hopefully, that’ll help.” Pam placed her hand on Adam’s shoulder and looked him directly in the eye. “You have a family here, don’t forget that.”

Those words caught him off guard. He did not expect Pam to say something like that. It meant a lot more to Adam than one would think.

“Yeah… thanks.” Adam said his goodbyes to Pam and headed off.


Next: Chapter 6

Previous: Chapter 4

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 4

The town Adam and Brandon lived in was known as Prelude, which was twenty miles southwest of Nexus City. It was a tiny, quiet place to live, with only around a thousand residents—about seventy percent of which were senior citizens who tended to stay indoors. The majority of the houses were designed using Victorian architecture as inspiration.

The two friends got off the train and exited the station on the west side of town. Although it was a calm, tranquil day, it had grown slightly muggy, making the heat annoying to deal with, especially in Adam’s case.

“Geh…” Adam looked as though he was about to pass out.

“Hey, man. Embrace the heat. Sometimes summer days are like this.” Brandon patted Adam on the shoulder.

“I usually stay inside with the air conditioner on. It didn’t cross my mind to check the weather.”

“Do you still want to walk?” Brandon asked while chuckling.

“Well, my house is on the other side of town, so I’m going to have to walk anyway.” Adam was pouting like a child.

“Hmm…” Brandon pondered.

“What is it?”

“You know, no matter how often I see you tired—which is a lot—I never see you breathing heavily, like back in gym class. You do exercise a decent amount with all the walks you take, but even still…”

“T-That’s… kinda strange that you notice something like that…”

“Hey, I’m trying to be serious here!” Brandon scowled.

“Well, in this world, who knows?” Adam shrugged. “I could have a Concept related to breathing? Should I try holding my breath? See how long I can go for?”

“N-No! I can’t let you do something like that!” Brandon shouted rather nervously.

“What’s wrong? It’s just—” It dawned on Adam as to why Brandon seemed so against the idea of simply seeing how long he could go without breathing. Although it’s an act that any common person had tried before—just for fun, or morbid “curiosity”—there was an issue with Adam doing so.

He would be causing harm to himself.

Despite being capable of taking a breath at any time, Adam could understand Brandon’s position. His friend’s reaction made sense, considering all that had happened.

“You don’t have to worry…”

Brandon glanced off to the side, calming himself down.

“Yeah…”

 

Two sisters stood shoulder to shoulder: Faith and Emma Roswell. The sun shimmered off their light brown hair; their eyes, matching the very same color, were focused ahead.

The person that stood opposite of them was their mother, Pamela Roswell. Her hands were placed firmly on her hips with a huge grin on her face.

The sisters were panting heavily, sweat dripping down their faces. Emma, having long hair as opposed to Faith’s bob cut, had to move her ponytail out of her face. It was clear that they were going through some rough training, and the heat did not help them. Pam, on the other hand, did not seem exhausted at all.

“All right, you two. You’re doing great. One more round before I start getting an early dinner ready.” Pam raised her hands up in the air and motioned for the two to come at her.

“We’re almost there… I’m so hungry.” Faith complained. She began to take a few steps toward her mother.

Emma sighed. “You’re always hungry.” She slowly followed Faith’s motions.

Faith let out a small chuckle. “But training…”

She dashed at her mother with almost inhuman speed, fist clenched.

“Makes me even more hungry!”

Pam blocked the punch with ease. “Your speed is good, but you’re attacking in very obvious—” Before Pam could finish, Faith grabbed hold of her mother’s arm.

Emma appeared behind Pam with the same speed Faith used. Emma started to swing her leg toward her mother. With tremendous force, however, Pam was able to throw Faith behind her, intercepting the kick and sending both of the sisters flying.

“That was a pretty basic combo. Yet, I’m impressed at how you two were able to coordinate that without speaking to each other.”

The sisters stood up in pain. Without a doubt, if the two tried to take on their mother in a serious fight, they would lose with ease. It was a glaring gap that was created with years of her experience.

Pam raised her arm slowly into the air. With the movement of her fingers, steam began to emit from her body. Faith looked down at her hands. Her expression turned into a somber one.

Emma stared in awe at her mother. “It’s always amazing, no matter how many times I see it.”

“My good old Concept: Steam.” Pam noticed her eldest daughter’s behavior. “Faith, honey?”

“I want to get to the point where I can use my Concept as easily as you can, but…” Faith’s body seemed to be shaking now. “It… It’s all right. This was something I’ve wanted to get over for a long time now. I think it was sort of a blessing that it ended up being this.”

Pam nodded. “That way of thinking works. Always turn the tables on things like this.”
Faith took a deep breath and slowly let the air out. “Can… Can I try it out, Mom?”

“Absolutely you can. Just take your time.” Pam breathed in as well, raising her arms up into the air; A lot more steam was now coming out of her body. “It’s a part of you, remember that.”

Faith put her hands together as if she was holding something within them. Closing her eyes, she continued to breathe in and breathe out. It was easy to tell that her breathing was unsteady, yet she continued to persist. A few moments later, a small flame began to form within her hands.

“There you go, Faith! You’re doing—”

Pam hushed Emma, preventing Faith from losing too much focus.

“Open your eyes, sweetie. Look at how beautiful your flame is.”

Faith did as she was told, opening her eyes gently. It was true, the small orange flame that she created was so calming and warm to simply look at. Faith was pleased with what she accomplished.

However, that did not last long: Staring into the flame for too long caused her breathing to suddenly pick up. Thoughts came rushing through her head almost instantly. She panicked and threw the fire out of her hands, which fell onto the ground. The flame quickly dissipated. Faith sat down, seemingly unable to stay standing up due to her shaking.

“Hey! Hey, Faith, it’s okay!” Emma grabbed her sister’s arm, trying to calm her down. Pam let out a small sigh, the steam coming out of her body disappearing.

“I… I know. It just sucks that I can’t help… that from coming into my mind.” Faith was able to calm down just as quickly as the event began. Pam walked over to her daughter and leaned over, placing her hand on her shoulder.

“We’ll get there. No need to feel rushed, okay?”

“Yeah, I haven’t even awakened my own Concept yet!” Emma gave Faith a thumbs up. “We’ve got time.”

“Thanks… I guess you’re right.” Faith let out a rather loud sigh. “I really do need to turn the tables on this, though, don’t I?”

Unknown to the family, Adam and Brandon had noticed their training session from the road as they were walking by. They decided to walk into the yard to check it out.

“Yo, Adam.” Emma completely ignored Brandon, who immediately became pissed at her, like a switch being flicked.

“Is… Is everything all right?” Adam asked her. Emma nodded.

“Yeah, just testing some stuff out.”

“Hey, Adam!” Pam greeted him. “We’re just testing out Faith’s power, nothing to be concerned about!”

Faith slowly looked up at him. “Yeah… The flame has grown to be really pretty.” She smiled at him, giving the impression that she was okay. Adam, knowing her his entire life, saw through this with ease.

Nevertheless, he smiled back at her. He held out his hand. “Here. I’ll help you up.”
Faith noticed his hand. This act triggered a sense of nostalgia within her—a certain memory seemed to make an attempt to rise to the surface, not quite making it out of the confines of her mind. She quickly stood up on her own, seemingly flustered.

“I-It’s okay! I’m good! Thank you, though.” Faith calmed down quickly and smiled back at him, this time sincerely. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, no prob…”

“How did your appointment go today?” Pam asked him.

“It went okay. Nothing too unusual to talk about. We’re just getting back from the city.”

“You guys still haven’t figured much out, huh?” Faith asked in a concerned tone.

Adam placed his hand on Faith’s shoulder. “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll get it figured out. Focus on what you’ve gotta focus on for the time being.”

Faith nodded slowly. “Right…”

Brandon was glancing over at Adam, stomping his foot, riled up about something. Emma turned toward him, “What’s your problem, idiot?”

He looked at Emma, turning his irritation toward her. “Hey, don’t call me an idiot. I’ll fight you.”

“And I’d kill you, idiot,” Emma responded. Brandon wanted to continue arguing, but he stopped. He knew she was right.

“Oh, well, you two are welcome to stay for dinner!” Pam suggested.

“Well, if you’re offering, then I don’t see why not?” Adam responded rather nonchalantly.

“We’d love to.” He looked in Brandon’s direction. “Hey, we’re gonna have dinner here.”

“Oh, great. Now I have to be near you with forks and knives.” Brandon sighed, glancing nervously at Emma.

Emma snickered. “Good, you’ll stay well-behaved then.”


Next: Chapter 5

Previous: Chapter 3

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 3

Pine trees began to surround Adam as he walked on a dirt path—the city fading behind him. He was headed for the designated meetup spot, which was the best area he and his friends could rendezvous.

“Let’s see…”

The shimmering waters of Lake Ouderkirk came into view. The massive body of water was about two miles across in each direction, with the vast peaks of the Requiem Mountains towering on the opposite side. 

Adam was currently surveying the stone beach he had stepped foot on. Once in a while, there would be other people who would come to hang out in this location. Luckily, for Adam, there was nobody around.

“Good, good. I can be at peace for a few minutes…” Adam took out his silver smartphone, tapping at its screen. “Yeah—they’ll probably both be here relatively soon.”

Putting his phone back into his pocket, Adam walked up to the edge of the water, feeling the calm breeze on his skin.

“Hmm…”

It was difficult for him to put his thoughts together. There was far too much to ponder. 

“It’s… interesting. How, despite surviving that ordeal, I have to deal with so much now. It’s funny, actually. From an outside perspective, I wasn’t really dealing with anything too significant before. These issues the present me is facing are certainly ones that would make someone say: ‘Yeah, I can see you’re going through a lot of shit.’”

Adam sighed heavily, staring at his reflection in the water.

“Problems others can’t see are still problems. It doesn’t matter if they’re invisible to others. If they affect you, it matters.”

He nervously glanced down at his right hand.

“It… matters.”

“What matters?”

A hand lightly tapped Adam’s shoulder, startling him to the point where he almost fell into the water. The young man that had approached jumped back, laughing at his success in scaring his friend.

“Dammit, Brandon!” Adam yelled, trying to grab the black-haired boy. “What do you think you’re doing!?”

“Scaring you, obviously.” Brandon grinned, moving away rather swiftly. He had an athletic build to him, as he played a few sports throughout his life. Adam noticed that he always stayed somewhat slender, though. This made him incredibly nimble and impossible for Adam to catch. 

“Gah… anyway—” Adam glanced to his left. “Where’s Jerry?”

“He’s gonna stay on campus, I guess?” Brandon shrugged. “He’s not even an official student yet, but he’s using those labs for a ton of personal research. Think he was looking into something strange that caught his eye. I tried to ask him about it, but…”

“Yeah, you didn’t get a response.” Adam chuckled.

Brandon took out his own cell phone—his light-blue eyes staring at the screen, waiting for it to turn on. “Damn thing… Whacked it hard during practice the other day. Looks okay on the outside but won’t load up easily. Might have to get a new one. Dammit!”

“How’s that going, by the way? Practice was today, too, yeah?”

“It’s exhausting,” Brandon responded, putting his phone away in defeat. “I’m glad I got a scholarship to this place thanks to soccer, but man, we’ve got to practice a ton. It’s not even the right season!”

“Well, New Age University is a pretty high-class school. It’s no surprise Jerry’s going there, but you’re lucky. You’ll have to keep up with the standards.” Adam shook his head. “I’m getting tired just thinking about it.”

“You got accepted too, ya know.” Brandon smiled. “I know you’re really not up for it at the moment, but I could always use a roommate. Spot will stay open for you.”

“Thanks, Brandon. I appreciate that…”

“But freaking Jerry, dude! I could have roomed with him, but he chose to stay in a fancier dorm!” Brandon shook his head in frustration. “Well, whatever. For the time being, having a room to myself has its benefits…”

Adam grimaced, knowing exactly the kind of thoughts that were running through his friend’s head. Brandon began to rub his hands together with a twisted look on his face.

“I’ll have plenty of alone time, which means I can invite girls over whenever I want! And we can—”

“Study?” Adam interrupted. “Good idea! Jerry might be too busy to help you, and you really need to keep those grades up if you want to stay there, regardless of a soccer scholarship.”

Brandon stared at Adam with a blank expression. “Sex, Adam. I want to have sex.”

“I’m flattered, but no thanks.”

“Not with you!” Brandon jumped back, moving his arms in front of him as if he wanted to fight Adam.

“Anyway, all jokes aside—” Adam began to walk away from the lake. “We might as well get on a train and head back.”

Brandon followed Adam, placing his hands behind his head. “Wanna hang when we get back?” 

“Maybe,” Adam responded. “I was planning on just going for a walk, but we might as well do something.”

“That’s fine! We can just walk if you want!”

“You aren’t tired from practice?” Adam asked. “Besides, isn’t that boring to you?”

“Nah, I’m good. And…” Brandon paused for a moment. “I want to learn more about you…”

“Huh…?” Adam stared at his friend, perplexed.

“Like, how your mind operates, I guess…?” Brandon rubbed his temples in frustration. “Like, how exactly you… got to that point.”

“I… think I get it.” Adam sighed. “Well, you don’t have to worry about any of that.”

“Sorry, but… I am going to worry.” Brandon admitted. “It hasn’t been that long since it happened…”

As the two took a step on the trail Adam arrived from, he stopped, staring at the ground in front of him. Brandon waited for his friend to speak. 

“…You guys all taught me that where I was… wasn’t a good place to be. I want to be back where everyone else is, and not in my own lonely world. Even if some things aren’t for me, this is the place where you guys are. After all, you’ve done for me… I just don’t want to be a burden.”

Brandon let out a small laugh. “Well, this ‘place’ that you’re talking about… the one where we are now. It’s not all that great. I can see why you ‘left’ it. But I think the fact is that all of us are here together. I mean, look at all the cool things in this world! We just gotta stick together and enjoy all the good we have!”

Adam smirked. “Not sure you’re too good at the sentimental talk.”

“I don’t even know what ‘sememental’ means.” Brandon shook his head. 

“It’s ‘sentimental.’” Adam sighed. 

“…Well, better than ‘semen mental.’” 

“W-Why in the hell—I’m leaving you here.” Adam shook his head and began to walk again, this time at a brisk pace.

“What?” Brandon ran after him. “You’re not used to me saying weird shit by now?”


Next: Chapter 4

Previous: Chapter 2

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 2

Adam sat patiently in the tiny gray waiting room, consisting of a few wooden chairs, a rectangular fish tank with a few goldfish swimming about, and—what Adam had his focus on—a blue vending machine.

“T-They’re all out of it…” Adam was staring in dismay at the item slot labeled “B3”, as it was currently empty. Although the majority of the other beverages had plenty in stock, this drink was the only one he desired. “My apple soda…”

A door across from him suddenly swung wide open—a spiky-red haired man entering the room. Gazing through the sunglasses that he wore indoors—something Adam always questioned—he read something on a clipboard in his hand.  

“Let’s see… Adam Grayson? You here, whoever you are?”

“You know who I am…” Adam sighed. “Listen, who do you think you are?”

“Thomas Peck…? Father to one of your best friends? Sounds like you don’t know who I am—”

“I’m talking about the apple soda here in the vending machine. I’m one of the only people you have as a patient, and you didn’t think to stock up on apple soda?”

“Right, right… Forgive me. I’ve been quite busy, you see.”

“And why is that a thing you’re doing now?” Adam pointed at Thomas’ bare chest as he merely wore an open white lab coat. 

“Cause I’ve been able to work out a lot more recently, and I want to show off these abs I’ve been working on. Anyway, enough about me…” Thomas’ expression grew serious. “Ready for another checkup, Adam?”

Adam did not respond. He simply stood up and walked into the room with Thomas.

 

A few minutes later, Adam was putting his shirt back on—the examination already complete. He sat on the exam table while Thomas rolled around the white office in his black computer chair. The man brushed a few pieces of metallic junk off to the side at his desk as he began writing down a few notes. 

“Well, physically, you’re fine. That’s usual.” 

Adam sat in silence—the scribble of the pen on paper, the only thing audible in the room.

“Have you had any injuries since your last visit? You know, the kind that is enough to leave a mark?”

“Nothing I can remember…”

“I don’t see anything, so if you did, it would have healed. I assume by now I don’t have to explain why I ask you about that?”

Adam took a deep breath. “…If I have awakened to a Concept, your best guess is that it can heal any injuries I take, based upon how I…” He trailed off, glancing at the ground.

Thomas nodded his head while turning toward Adam. “But we can’t be sure about a Concept, based upon the true reason why you come here. You don’t have phantons, Adam. At least, they’re somehow undetected by our equipment. However, based on the tests I’ve done… I truly believe you don’t possess them, somehow.”

Adam was silent. Thomas scratched his head, leaning back in his chair.

“Let’s review a few things. Looking at the basics is always a great step into solving a mystery.”

“I don’t need a review—we’ve talked about this stuff before…”

“I think the review will be good, though?”

“I think you should have been a teacher!” Adam yelled, although clearly in the form of harmless banter.

“I’m an engineer, doctor—teacher would be adding too much onto my plate…” Thomas chuckled.

“Well, go on. Let’s get this over with.” Adam sighed in frustration.

“All right,” Thomas cleared his throat. “First of all, phantons. The things you don’t possess. Every single person should have them, as we’ve determined they help fuel the energy of life, so to speak.”

“That is correct, yes.” Adam nodded.

“We first stumbled upon this strange issue with you earlier this year, after you… well, got injured. Despite clearly having your own blood all over you, there was no wound. It had healed. How did this happen? The obvious answer would be the phantons within you went through a process known as ‘awakening,’ and you obtained a Concept.”

“Mr. Peck, what is this ‘Concept’ you speak of?” Adam asked sarcastically.

“Great question!” Thomas played around with Adam’s act. “When phantons awaken, they strengthen to an enormous degree. Doing so, a person can obtain a superpower—in a nutshell. For example, your friend that night happened to actually awaken a Concept. Faith became able to generate and control flames, didn’t she?”

“Yeah…” 

“So, basically, you’re in quite the tough spot right now.” Thomas sighed, tapping on his desk. “All because of how things are run…”

“Unity…” Adam clenched his fist.

“Right…” Thomas scratched his head. “You’re lucky—you know me. I can keep on doing these ‘experiments’ on you to keep them away. If you had a legitimate Concept, the golden rule is that one has to join Unity and fight for their cause, else you be labeled as a criminal. You not having phantons is a whole other issue. They want to know how this phenomenon is happening.”

“As long as we keep up these appointments, I’ll be okay. But…” Adam paused—his words having difficulty in coming out. “What… will happen when you find out the truth? Cause I know you are actually researching it. You’re not just making up random nonsense that will appease them.”

“Well…” Thomas pondered. “Depending on the results, you’d be sent to an actual lab for further testing, or used as if you had a Concept. The later completely depending on if we can figure out how to tap into that power.”

“I mean, I’ve gotten the occasional bruise or scratch since then, and that power hasn’t worked on any of them,” Adam explained. “It certainly isn’t automatic, at least currently.”

Thomas leaned in and placed his hand on Adam’s shoulder—a serious expression on his face. “Whatever you do, don’t do anything drastic. We can figure all of this out. Between myself and Pam… we’ve got your back.”

“Worried, are we?” Adam chuckled. 

“We all are. Your whole situation has… made us worry nonstop.”

“…I’m sorry about that.” Adam stood up, stretching out his body.

“You don’t need to be.” Thomas sighed, turning back toward his desk. “Like I said, don’t do anything drastic. However, if you have any ideas, feel free to explore them. I’ll keep researching the matter until our next appointment.”

“All right…” Adam began to walk toward the door.

“You’re meeting up with Brandon and Jerry before you leave the city, right?” Thomas asked him. Adam turned around, nodding at the scientist’s question.

“Remember, they’re there for you, as well.”

“I know…” Adam sighed. “Thanks, Thomas. I’ll see you later.”

With a small wave, Thomas watched as Adam left his office. He brought his attention to the notes he had been taking on his desk. “Now, let’s see… If I can gain additional access to the network, then maybe I can—”

Thomas paused. Out of the corner of his eye, he swore he saw something.

“…!?”

A quick glance to his left revealed nothing—merely the room in its natural state. Thomas shook his head rapidly.

“…I really need to get more rest, don’t I…?”

 

At the top of a skyscraper that stood tall in Nexus City, there was a young woman with short hair—jet-black that matched the building. Her sapphire eyes peered down upon the city as she reviewed the information she had just obtained.

“He’s been one I’ve been keeping an eye on… I’ve really narrowed down my list at this point. And I think, maybe—just—maybe…”

Her navy-blue sweater and black pants—clothes one would not be caught wearing in the summertime—rustled in the strong gales blowing around her. 

“Should make a move…?”

The girl’s body began to turn transparent. A moment later, she had vanished into the wind.


Next: Chapter 3

Previous: Chapter 1

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 1

“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?”

“Then, struggle.”

“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.”

 

“…Huh?”

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. Only four years after the phanton itself was discovered—”

“Yeah, I know. I’m quite good at history.” Adam interrupted. “Sorry if that was rude, 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 trailed off, going silent.

“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.

“Breathe.”

“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

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