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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flickering Light [Part 12]

Alex Reinhart didn’t like this. His day had already been going terribly wrong. He was late for work, and his uptight boss gave him some stern words. Then at lunch, another phone call from his sons’ school let him know that Cody got into detention yet again, frustrating him more. Since detention would take some time, Reinhart stayed at work (and around his disdainful boss) for an extra half hour. On his way to the car, this man had come up with a gun and forced him to be a chauffeur to where Cody was. The man, who called himself Conrad, was genial and tried to explain that he was Cody’s father and that he didn’t really want to hurt anybody. Reinhart didn’t trust him at all, and figured that the man was just disgruntled that he didn’t get his kid in whatever legal battle that he put Cody through.

On the way over, Reinhart got another call, this time from his wife. She was in tears and could only tell him there was an incident at the school and to be over there as fast as he could go. Conrad could understand the conversation just from hearing his end and fidgeted as they raced along the suburban road. Then without warning, Conrad shouted that he saw his son on the side of the road. Reinhart slammed on his brakes, not believing his eyes. He was dumbfounded, worried what might’ve happened that made Cody run from school. And was Ian okay?

This thought drove Reinhart to angrily yell at Cody and his father to stop hugging and get back in the car. They were both all smiles as they turned back. That was when Reinhart noticed the necklace that Cody’s father wore. It shone blue just like Cody’s, and both of theirs seemed to grow a little brighter as they walked over from the grassy shoulder of the road. But unlike Cody’s, Conrad had a clear coin shaped pendant. It didn’t seem natural, but Reinhart had bigger problems to worry about.

“We’re not going to the school. We need to get out of here, Mr. Reinhart,” Conrad said.

“I’m getting my other son and we’re heading back home where we’re never seeing you again, whether you like it or-”


“Mr. Reinhart, I don’t want to threaten you, but going to fetch your ‘other’ son is not an option right now, unless you want all three of us to get killed. Do you understand?”

“No, I don’t, buddy. Why the hell can’t I go get Ian and make sure he’s safe?”

“Because that would put us in more danger than you realize. There are men there that want to kill both Cody and myself, and would kill you in a heartbeat if they needed to. I don’t personally know who they are, and I don’t really care. All I need is a safe place for us that nobody knows that you know about.”

“What about Tom’s place?” asked Cody. “He lives in a bigger school place, and he took care of me really well.”

“No, absolutely not, I need to make sure Ian is safe and-”

“Mr. Reinhart. You will die if you go there. If not by the men that tried to kill my son, then by myself. Do you know where it is that my son is talking about?”

“Well I know the college he was found by, but-”

“And you know where Tom lives around there?”

“I do! I got his address right here!” Cody pulled out a piece of paper from the wallet his parents gave him. It was crumpled and stained, but legible. After much protesting, gun waving, and pushing through rush hour traffic, Reinhart managed to find the school and the apartment. He parked nearby, and Cody got out to find the right room. While he let his son go, Conrad stayed back.

“Look, Mr. Reinhart, can we have a little talk?”

* * *

Cody had found the door, with the correct number. He knocked twice and heard a muffled voice say ‘Coming, hold on’ from the other side. A few moments later, and the door opened revealing Jeremy with a spatula in one hand and plastic cup in the other. He looked down at Cody curiously until recognition swept over his face. Jeremy blinked twice and silently motioned for Cody to enter.

Jeremy led Cody into the small living room in the apartment, and went back to the kitchen where a pot was boiling over. He turned the heat down and grabbed a butcher knife to chop up some onions. The TV showed a comedian doing stand up as Cody found a seat on a couch near it.

“Um, is Tom here?” Cody asked, trying to make eye contact without luck.

“No. He’s not here. And he’ll never be here.” Jeremy was quick to answer, and cut down a little harder on the onion. Little bits flew away from the knife, and the audience on TV gave a round of cheery laughter.

“Never be here? Did he move out?”

“When he was coming back from the hospital one day, he crashed his car. He’s dead.”

* * *

“What do you want out of my wife and my children? Why are you threatening us?”

Reinhart’s eyes stayed on the gun while he spoke. Otherwise he faced forward while Conrad spoke.

“Look, I know this has been tough to accept and all, but he is my son and he needs to come back with me. I also believe that, since you took Cody into your home, which was very generous of you, I must say, but that since you did that, you put yourself in much danger. There-”

“I’d say so! A crazed man like you waving a gun around trying to find his own son? How many restraining orders do you have on you right now?”

“Mr. Reinhart, I really don’t appreciate your tone-”

“And I don’t appreciate the shit you’ve put me through today!”

“If you don’t shut your mouth and listen, I’ll explain! Cody and I aren’t from this town, this state, country, or even this planet. Probably completely different universes, but I haven’t figured that part out yet. We don’t belong here, Mr. Reinhart, and the longer we stay on your Earth then the harder it is for us to get back. It’s pure luck that we managed to even find Cody alive!”

Reinhart turned to look at Conrad, disbelieving. Cody’s father chuckled slightly to himself, as if he made a joke.

“You expect me to believe that? What’s so funny?” Reinhart asked.

“It’s nothing, and of course I don’t expect you to. The government in my world didn’t believe it when I explained it to them either. Your police force certainly didn’t. But see these pendants? These little charms we wear? You haven’t discovered how to make them here, have you? They’re my only proof to you, Mr. Reinhart.”

Reinhart gave him a long, hard stare. The radio buzzed in and out, and a college girl walked up to the apartment Cody had entered and knocked. A few birds sang out from the trees.

"You're nuts. Get out of my car and never come back."

"You and your wife are in danger! Now that they attacked my son at that school, they won't hesitate to kill either of you or that other boy of yours."

"Oh yeah? And who would that be, you lunatic?"

A jingle played somewhere in Reinhart’s pocket. Keeping his eyes on the crazed man, he slowly reached in to pull out his ringing cell phone to see that his wife was calling. His eyes lingered over Conrad’s gun for a few seconds longer before answering.

“Hello?...Who-...what-...honey, calm down, what’s going on?...Yes, I do, he’s with me. What? Well I’d love to but there’s a guy with a gun that says he’s his father and-...Hello? Who’s this? Put my wife back on. I don’t-...What’s going on? Why do you need him?...Coming for him? You don’t even know where I am! Give the phone back to my wife and stay away from us! I won’t let you-Hello? Hello? HELLO?”

Reinhart looked stupidly at the dead phone, then back up at Cody’s father who had been listening intently. Conrad started speaking.

“We need to go, now, before-”

A moment later, Reinhart’s hands were at Conrad’s throat, and punches were being thrown in the small sedan. Seatbelts came off and all of Reinhart’s childhood martial arts training suddenly came to him. And soon, so did Conrad’s gun.

* * *

“Yeah. Dead.” Jeremy made another harsh cut, barely missing his finger. His hands started shaking slightly. “I didn’t believe it either. I mean, he was my first real friend here. He was the smart guy, the guy who had his shit together, who knew where he was going in his life. Then you came along and ruined it all.”

“What? I didn’t ruin anything.”

Jeremy turned and glared. Cody sank a little further into the chair.

“You didn’t ruin it? Do you know what he did while he wasn’t visiting you? He was doing all sorts of research, trying to figure out what your stupid necklace was! He spent hours at the library and tons of time driving around, trying to find information. That’s all he did, day in, day out. He had to know, and the more he found out the less he cared about the rest of his life.”

Jeremy approached Cody, tears welling up in his eyes. His grip on the knife tightened while he shook it at Cody for emphasis. Cody stood up and began backing away as Jeremy’s voice grew louder and louder. The room felt much smaller to Cody as another burst of laughter came from the TV.

“We never hung out, he lost all his good grades, he was always distracted by figuring out that fucking necklace! That god damned necklace! And now you see what happened? He’s dead! He’s dead because he kept visiting you and cared about nothing else! My best friend is dead because of you!”

Jeremy sped forward and grabbed at Cody’s hair. Finding it, he yanked it back. Cody felt cold steel press against his neck, closed his eyes and whimpered. Jeremy’s voice was low as he spoke.

“If only you had never came here. If you had just died before we found you, then everything would be okay.”

Cody swallowed and waited for everything to end.


[Part 11][Part 13]

for those of you wondering, it's not Tosh.0 on the TV, because that show sucks

With that, I'm going to be moving to a month-long hiatus! I've decided to go ahead and do NaNoWriMo this year for the first time, and I doubt I will have any care to work on this story at all. Once November is over, then writing will resume...hopefully

Therefore, I leave you with this. Enjoy.

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