They say that if a person was beheaded, there was lesser pain, or no pain at all. How gross was that? Moreover, how convenient was that? Wouldn't it actually be nice if you experience less pain when you know you're already dying? No? Do tell. The dead don't speak experiences of death. What was it they say? Dead Men Tell No Tales. It can only be portrayed with what the living know.
But how exactly can one individual describe dying? Those who survived cancer? Those whose life almost got caught up between the lines? Those who thought they were considered dead, only to realize there was still a tad bit of breathe drawing them to life? How fortunate.
It was always the rotten eggs, black sheep, and whatever they call those imbued with bad luck that often lived the longest. It would seem like the forces of Satan are stronger than that of God because those who deserve to be called saints die before they even know it. The sinners prevail even though they're faithful, but not really because we're all sinners before saints.
He was no different. Wherever he went, bad luck followed. Or the opposite. Either that or the world was just too predictable for him to live an honest life in it.
But if I said I'm anything but ordinary, now that's just bullshit.
He didn't want to be here in the first place. He wanted to blame his parents for giving birth to someone like him. He found his own life bland and meaningless. There was no point in him being there.
When he finally decided to face the world, that was the moment it turned its back on him. It was as if his good luck was taken away by the people he saw or interacted with whenever his mind swiveled with thoughts. Thoughts of unimaginable depravity. He didn't always think that way. It was only recently when he discovered a side of him that awakened.
It had been slumbering within him for quite a few years now. He thought it wasn't normal. But the longer it stood radiating from within, the more he thought that perhaps it was really meant to happen. On what it was, when it occurred, how it happened...he didn't know. He wasn't even certain of what was within him. It was like something tugged at him, deep and sleeping.
When he opened his eyes, a reality struck him of possibilities that awakened an entity. It was something obscure, unknown. It can either be a curse or a blessing. But he didn't believe in blessings. There were only the poems of words undelivered by justice. Everything was a lie.
He had a few friends, but never had anybody he really cared about. Despite all the ups and downs of life, no one ever really knew the tale unless it was read until the end. Accounts of a single thought lingered further than the close-minded. People varied every step of the way. There wasn't anything to be thoughtful about either. Things just happen on their own, but his case called out differently.
They call him Llone. And with him, misfortune resided a painful melody.
Why are the dead buried six feet under?
Life was never fair the minute unfortunate souls were born. A single sign won't suffice to give a clueless mind what it sought to answer. A drifting wanderer, once gone, will never glance a second time around. Through endless lifetimes, there are a few chosen to be the gifted ones. Gifts that perhaps even the almighty creator never listed because these children defied the natural order and norms.
On a normal day, there was definitely nothing special about it in the school he was in. You can see all sort of people going in and about, doing their own business, playing games, crafting homeworks, stealing identities, and random bullying. This was senior high where most immature minds still lingered with cliques that separated the decent peers in mainstream society. But one particular soul amidst the pool of youth wasn't very happy.
"We can work in two's but someone has to work alone at this part. Signo, do you mind doing that? You have the resources needed for it, or we'll fail."
Was that a fucking threat? Look at that, when they need you or needed something from you, that's the only time they'll remember that you actually existed. What an asshole. The others agreed too, which left Castellone with no other choice.
He reviewed the part assigned to him. Of course, they'd typically leave behind the difficult part. He simply agreed. He wanted to reply something else but wouldn't want their impressions of him to change. No one wanted their impressions on other people to change unless they're really close enough to know each other or they want to get rid of that person.
He doesn't really get people like the guy who spoke. What drove them to be acting all superior just because they were assigned as team leader? Was the label something to behold for the peasants to cower down and agree to everything the title held? The boy must have been delirious of it. Worst, his parents must have taught him otherwise on the morals of the world. If so, he was an unfortunate one indeed.
Bayoe looked ugly in his pale skin and dark hair, a face filled with freckles and teeth with braces. The only thing missing was a crown that would make him look like a famous character from Riverdale. He was the said team leader.
They heard the bells ring after. Everyone felt relieved that classes have finally ended. Packing his things, Castellone went out and saw one of his buddies staring down his phone along the lobby, smiling like an idiot. Probably the girl he had a crush on. Yeah, everyone had someone they were pinning on these days.
And yes, it was the girl he had a crush on when he suddenly bumped into her by accident. She was also staring down her phone. Now they were having a lovely chat near the restrooms when he finally spotted Castellone.
Blaze waved, and Castellone waved back signaling that he'd be waiting outside allowing Blaze to say as much as he liked to the girl he adored. It was just him and the noise of the others raining out the building. Castellone pictured every face that marched outside. He didn't know majority of them, he just liked to observe the souls born to walk the earth. Some smiled, some giggled, some talked, and some were being rude.
To each his own. Everyone had something to take care off, and that was one thing he probably didn't know. He was nonchalant and apathetic most of the time, agreeing to whatever there was to agree with. It would be too soon until a time would arrive when he can actually care about something. He hoped that heaven could offer more than this.
The idiot arrived and patted Castellone's back. "Let's go," Blaze said with a smile on his silly face.
Castellone knew that face. It was always Blaze's face after talking to Lyté. "Aren't we waiting for the others?"
Blaze must have forgotten about them seeing as to how Lyté took over his thoughts. "Oh, right."
It wasn't long before their companions arrived. One was blonde, the other had dark hair. Blaze had brown hair, and Castellone have an unusual color of azure. A few chats greeted them, a few friendly reminders, and they started walking away from the campus to head home.
Most people theorized that when Castellone's mom was pregnant, she kept consuming blue food coloring that's why it turned oddly that way. His relatives said he fell from the sky and took the color from it. But really, it was just hair color, or at least that's what he liked to believe in. It wasn't his intention to stand out, but it did anyway.
"How's the group research holding up?" Sirius, the one with black hair, asked Castellone.
"Great, it just keeps getting better. Can't wait for us to graduate together." He answered.
"Sarcasm." Sirius said with a gentle smile and never asked about it again. He knew Castellone hated their group in research writing. But what the hell, he was good in sensing things that his friends disliked.
"How's Lyte?" Sirius changed the subject and referred to Blaze. "You made a move yet?"
"Hey, I'm taking baby steps here." Blaze answered. He sounded sure but doubtful, ever a man's nemesis in pursuing a lovely passion to be with.
"If you don't make it quick, someone else will." Sirius reminded kindly, but Blaze often found his concern unnerving in a good way.
Love problems. Well, that's not my problem. Castellone got something bigger in hand while looking at his professor who was making his way towards the parking lot. His friends stopped a few feet away, deciding to wait for him while they spoke in random. He caught up with the professor and paused beside him. "Mr. Renal, do you have a moment?"
"Yes, Mr. Signo, I can assume this is about your research?" Mr. Renal said in a reporter-like voice.
"Yes, can I work alone? I don't feel like being in a group." He answered, although he already knew the answer which was a great big No.
Mr. Renal placed his briefcase inside the trunk of his car and looked at him, unsure. "The department said that this research will be by group. You can't be an exception to that, Llone."
Fuck. Better luck next time? But there won't be a next time to this. College would be a totally different ride, and challenging in a sense. It always was. "Okay. Sorry to bother you."
Disappointed, Castellone headed to where his friends were waiting, and they pursued home. They parted ways when he neared their house along the suburbs a few minutes away from the school grounds. His older brother was just getting out of the car.
Kerxis looked at him when he was approaching. He was awfully early today, making Castellone wonder why. Perhaps the business trip was cut short and they were given a break after landing an approval from the client. Castellone decided not to go inside. He didn't feel like going in the house that moment. It didn't feel right to him somehow. Or maybe he just wasn't used to his brother arriving early. Either way, he made up his mind.
He went past the neighborhood to get to town and stroll around the park hoping to get killed somehow. Yes, he really expected to get killed anytime. He always hoped that someone or something could be the death of him. Anytime was a convenience either, provided that his death would be quick and painless. He wasn't one to complain, he can wait. But the longer he waited, the more aggravating it became.
That afternoon, he settled down on one of the benches by the park and observed the people. They were random. Even the traffic by the street across was random. He observed and took a better look at everyone. Lovebirds strolled the opposite sidewalk possessively. A group of college hoes wore flimsy stockings expecting to get laid anytime. Old people having coffee on the other benches, and then there was him who was out of the blue.
For some time, all he could hear was the distant noise of people until an old lady wearing a long skirt settled beside him and smiled. She asked him if she could take a minute of his time. Then he saw her hold a magazine that was all too familiar. A religious freak!
He immediately made excuses so she wouldn't pin him with unforeseen preaching. "Sorry, I was just about to leave and meet up with someone."
"That's alright, I just wanted to hand this to you so you can read it during your spare time." She handed him a copy. He quickly accepted it without looking at what it was about. Then she was gone.
Relieved by the absence of the modern preacher, Castellone placed the magazine inside his bag before staring back at the street. Cars began to line up. There was this motorcycle that drove on the wrong lane and the cars kept honking and beeping. Castellone couldn't comprehend why a simple rule as following your own lane was hard to abide. He watched, curious as to how it will end for the guy.
"I bet sooner or later you might bump into someone or someone might run into you." Castellone muttered while watching the motorcycle intently. Maybe the motorcyclist was in a hurry, but still.
Of course, nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. What harm can mere words do anyway? He wanted to laugh at the absurdity that words can come to life. On the other hand, he was never one for flashy expressions such as that which costed nothing but created much.
He just settled there and let the urban noise bathe him. Despite the solemnity that the greeneries offered, he felt a sudden change in the wind. A flock of pigeons flew across the park after the unforeseen wave of zephyr that probably alarmed them. There was a twist of fate when he turned to look at an incoming wave from the street. His eyes widened.
They all heard a screeching sound as the traffic light hit green. The automobiles started to rush through. A truck by the intersecting street crashed its way into their lane. The motorcycle was the first to get hit.
The truck got overturned to the side and scraped the asphalt, dragging the motorcyclist's body along. Its enormous wheels got caught up in the man's leg. A sound of agony came from the motorcyclist as his body was dragged along. His blood rendered the asphalt with a deep hue of rubies that gushed out of him. A bow of deep red scattered through that followed the fallen truck's direction.
Everything happened fast and the truck was stopped by a large pine tree along the sidewalk. Pine needles fell off upon the sudden impact. Everyone would think the red color was paint, but it was actually the innards of the motorcyclist. His body sprawled underneath the tires. They could see that his torso was disemboweled in a gruesome half.
Every eye witness was reeled with panic at the scene displayed before them. No one could have ever expected that accident, besides, it wouldn't be called an accident if it didn't happen by surprise. Or so, that's what he wanted to think.
Castellone had to stop himself from hurling as he stood and walked away from the scene. Holy shit, please tell me that wasn't on me.
He kept reminding himself that mantra. He was avoiding the people who were fleeing the scene or calling for help. The cars kept crashing on each other to a sudden stop caused by the accident. Smoke riled up from underneath their tires as they hit the brakes. Metal against metal clashed and dented every mechanical contraption that was ever designed to take people through distances.
Through the crowd, someone had accidentally bumped into him. The woman wasn't looking at where she was going, then she pushed him further into the park's safety.
It was death's chance to actually take him in that moment by the cars if he continued to tread along the sidewalk. If only she hadn't accidentally bumped on him. He could have cried in joy for the thought of it, but it didn't go the way he wanted it to.
Just then, another car lost momentum and hit the woman, breaking her neck. He heard the sound of her bones breaking. No one can describe what happened to her head when he saw a forbidden color oozing from underneath the car's wheel. It pooled fast, every color that blended was either fear that was vexed with uncontrollable panic.
He was settled by the grass, dumbfounded. Whether it was by accident or his fault, he knew that no one would suspect him of anything. In many ways, he was innocent. That should be me where the lady is lying, headless.
That was the only line he could think of while staring at the woman who saved him. It was the same old woman who handed him the religious magazine where the word of the Lord was faithfully recognized.
It had been a week after the account with the foretold whisper. Kerxis had become frantic about his brother not visiting his psychiatrist for his weekly session in overcoming a possible root of trauma.
Castellone, being the impetuous little brother, grimaced at him for all the reminder. He'd head straight for his room after arriving home from school. There was no reason to be doing that nor should Kerxis waste the effort and money to have him in a better mental condition. He hasn't really lost his mind. Not yet anyway.
"I'm not in any fucking trauma, Kerxy. I'm perfectly fine. I don't need some fucking mind-reader telling me stuff I already know." He told his brother. A subtle anger fumed out of him.
Being the only family he had left, Kerxis was only concerned for his younger brother's wellbeing. He knew he wasn't at home all the time because he had to work to keep Castellone fed and had to pay off his tuitions at school.
It wasn't like they're poor, but Kerxis wanted his brother to have a livable future. He thought about how Castellone didn't have to worry about the bills while he was still his acting parent-guardian. He knew Castellone was going to college soon, and he wanted to secure a good future for him.
They've lost their parents years ago after a car accident. It killed them on sudden impact, igniting all the evidence to flames, reducing them to nothing but the remembrance of their ashes. Castellone was barely ten that time, and Kerxis just took his first step into university too. He had to take up part-time jobs while struggling with academics.
Back to the now, the minute Castellone got home, he locked himself in his room and stayed up until he finally finished his part of the dreaded research. He didn't care much about the quality of the output just as long as he had something to present the group the following day. He didn't even care whether they passed or failed either. If I say something now I might just regret it later.
Kerxis hadn't come home that night. He was always busy with work. When he was early, Castellone often skipped dinner. It was one of the effects of not having anyone around the whole time. Most times, he would cook dinner for himself, sometimes for both of them when he felt like it. At first his cooking tasted bad, but learning to grow in a solitary life, he improved over time.
The following morning, the alarm blared him to awaken. He reached out to turn it off, got out of bed, and prepared for school. Kerxis's room was across from his and noticed that his brother's door was ajar. He opened to see if anybody was there but no one was. Kerxis didn't come home. After that, he went downstairs to grab breakfast.
He heard a sound from the garage. It sure didn't sound like the engines of Kerxis' car so he went to check it out just in case. He saw someone closing the garage doors upon entering their property.
"Genon?" Castellone said.
His blond friend turned to face him while biting an apple. "You never locked your garage so, you know."
Yeah, he knew about that hobby of Genon. He often passed through there. "I was just preparing."
Genon followed him into the house. "I'll wait. By the way, did you know?"
Castellone scoffed. "I don't remember what's been happening for the past week." Only that time in the park.
"Rius is moving to Clawde City, he says they got some family business there that he needed to be taught about." Genon said quickly as if rushing to tell the news.
Right, Castellone had forgotten about that. There was one less friend to worry about, but Sirius was a good friend. He was the one among the four of them who can actually tolerate his rotten attitude the most. Blaze and Genon were a different story. They like to goof around a lot, especially Genon who acted like he wasn't enthusiastic every step of the way. Blaze was fine, but his thoughts were clouded with romantic affection most of the time. He was actually glad he wasn't gay or it would be a total waste of good looks for the women. "When was it again?"
"This Sunday. They were just about to finish the transfer papers, so we have the whole week for bye-byes." Genon said and flipped through some scattered magazines by the countertop.
Once Castellone was done preparing, they left the premises of the neighborhood. They haven't spoken about anything else when they walked their way to school. It wasn't far from their neighborhood and they simply wanted the exercise that the distance offered. Genon was the one who manipulated him into walking.
Genon was either the talkative type or the serious talker. He was the one with a kind of reasoning that befell progress and achievements. He wasn't really the competitive type like most brainiacs. To him, life was the hardest game that everyone could ever toy with. And it all went back to the tragedy of the past week.
Things were different when they parted ways on campus, heading to their own classes. Castellone took his place and felt a few gazes settled on him. Those were the ones he didn't dare to impress. If first impressions really worked, nothing could enlighten a darkened soul.
The group's eyes were on Castellone after he handed the papers he'd worked on last night. He didn't care what they thought of it. Fortunately, they were blind not to double check either. They were blind, demanding, and were idiots. The combination of a fool was defined, all in one sitting.
Came passing time, the leaders in every team went ahead to have the papers checked by the professor. There was distaste in the professor's face and eyed their group for a quick moment. The other leaders laughed at Bayoe for whatever the professor may have said.
Okay, they knew someone in the team screwed up. Castellone was confident that it wasn't him. At least, that's what he wanted to think. Which was true in any angle they might peer through at it.
The professor returned the papers to Bayoe, their group leader, who told his groupmates what Mr. Renal told him. After the checking, the class was dismissed and everyone went outside but their group. Bayoe had something to say, obviously what their professor just delivered him. Castellone looked outside of the window hoping to see something to divert his mind off the research.
Everyone was heading to their next class. Some delinquents decided that it was typically cool to leave the campus while classes were still on-going. A person, a girl, passed by his peripheral vision. He glanced sideways just to check. She was settled a few seats away from him. Her back faced him. She had straight dark hair, her frame was small.
He narrowed his eyes to what seemed like a familiar sight. He knew he saw that frame somewhere, but perhaps it was in the blink of an eye. A quick glitter that vanished the minute the wind swept through, leaving behind nothing but clean pages.
"Signo, this is your fucking doing." Bayoe said.
Now wait just a minute. Where was the serenity Castellone was looking for outside the window? Before his thoughts on the girl were surrendered back to the bookshelf? "Excuse me?"
"Come on, Signo, you screwed up the research." Bayoe dumped the papers on Castellone's desk. It had been studded with red marks that the professor disapproved of or needed editing.
Castellone scanned the pages with red marks. He double checked just to make sure. None of them were his part of the work. Not a single word he wrote. What was it with people who don't read and understand the situation? He raised the papers. "And where did I go wrong again?"
"This research!" Bayoe exclaimed.
The research was about the people's perception on the canonical painting modes of the renaissance. It didn't sound like a research paper that most would do so Castellone went ahead and suggested it. That happened out of the blue. He didn't really mean to say it but no one was talking at that time. So he pulled out his own tongue and let the words roll.
Majority in the group had chosen it. When the decision was made, they had to go with it. Bayoe had no right to blame him for what most of them wanted. Besides, he wasn't being clear with the blaming. Castellone can assume he was being blamed for the topic.
The rest of the conversation became a passing dream, a palette of meaningless verses to Castellone. He paid no attention to what Bayoe was saying. He was certain that Bayoe was saying something like Castellone should be responsible for the mess he brought to the group and fix the remarks. Edit everything, work himself to the bone, squeeze the bottle cap tight, and face the music.
How unprofessional and childish. Castellone didn't say anything the whole time. He didn't have the thoughts to argue with the narrow minded. After Bayoe was done complaining, the others followed and left Castellone alone in the classroom. He settled and leaned on the table and pushed the papers aside. He diverted his gaze back outside.
Fuck you too, Bayoe. He believed gravely in karma and hoped it would strike Bayoe soon. He just knew it was bound to occur soon. Fate was the silent killer in making life worst for most people. In fact, he had no reason to complain. There were lives more unfortunate than he probably did, all he could do was watch.
But silence in bad situations weren't always the best thing to do...
He decided to skip the next class, not that the subject mattered anyway. He wanted to nap for a bit. And nap, he did. He was never the type to smile. This, his closest friends knew. He sighed before closing his eyes, entering a world that rose his subconscious.
Before he could delve into fantasy, something made him string up a few words. He thought it was him, but it was something else. Something growing from within. His lips moved, and with it was a thought and purpose of great demise. "Go and burn to hell, Bayoe."
He was soon taken into the darkness. There was nothing, it was black and cold. Out of the darkness was a voice. It was faint, it sounded like the plea of a thousand fists. They, or perhaps it, was raising a voice, incomprehensible. Word after word that never made out any sense or a single thought.
Words were the power of every politician and law maker. Words were the fantasies in every writer's yellow pages. Words were the thought of clustered individuals within society wanting to be heard, and desperate. Words were penetrating if used severely. Words...
There was a smile in the darkness. It was the only image he saw for a brief moment. It was sudden, but it was defined. It was defined in a way that portrayed something of deeper, greater...loss. And blood.
Hours passed by, sirens were suddenly wailing. It alarmed everyone, panic rose but some young minds took that as something to laugh about.
Castellone thought they were a part of his dream, but it was real. The fire alarm system was actually spraying droplets on him, soaking him by the minute. The indoor rain woke him up. He rushed out of the classroom and saw more people running towards the exit. He decided to follow even without the idea of what was currently going on.
Along the way, he caught a whiff of something burning, toast and rotten at the same time. It was not natural.
He met familiar faces from the parking lot just across the campus. Blaze and Genon were there. Most people had astonished faces and some were panic-stricken by the sudden rush of uncertainty. To some, they were horrified, but some plastered a smile even if there wasn't anything that was supposed to be merry about. Christmas was either a long way from January, or was close to being treated reversely.
Deciding to face the school, Castellone saw that it was on fire.