He sat on the couch and stared at the carpet. Some light shone in through the living room windows, but within the hour that light faded. Blake tapped his fingers on his legs over and over while his jaw shifted back and forth. Confused thoughts swirled about in his mind the entire time.
She has to know. Right? I mean, it was in her room......
He'd checked three separate times within the last few hours, but still he could not find the scythe in her room. It was as if it just vanished of its own will. Well, if an inanimate object could have a will at all. He'd even considered the possibility that maybe it somehow returned to the chest, but that had disappeared without a trace as well.
Blake stood up with a start; he wanted to check once more. He made his way down the hall, and peeked into Alisha's room yet again. Still a dim light remained in there, and besides the furniture the floors were bare. He stepped inside and checked the closet again, pushing aside some things and squinting his eyes. No. Still not there.
With a dissatisfied grunt Blake left his mother's room and set his hands on the back of his neck. When he returned to the living room he did not sit down again. He instead paced, and shook his head a few times while doing so.
The scene from earlier replayed in his mind, over and over again. The scythe, the clear image of the shadowy creature, what he did.......one of his hands ended up on his forehead as he realized what he'd done. He'd just....sliced it in two. Killed it most likely. Sure, he'd initially struggled to fight back, but something had suddenly pushed him forward to sever that creature in half without the slightest hesitation. He just didn't know why.
Come on, pull yourself together, he scolded inwardly. Freaking out like this is not going to help.
A sudden chill ran up his spine. A warm chill that stayed with him for many seconds. Blake slowly turned around, blinked and then frowned.
"Oh, you must be joking...."
Whatever it was came from the backyard. Much as he didn't want to, Blake headed for the back door and unlocked it. He breathed in before he opened the door and leaned out.
He did not immediately notice anything strange. But his senses told him to look right. And once he did he could not believe his eyes. A spectre stood near the side of his house. But this was different. He could....he actually felt like he could physically see the ghostly figure before him. Not only that, but the image was a much clearer one than anything he'd ever seen. It was a young man, maybe in his late teens or early twenties, with dark but clean hair. However the rest of his body did not appear so immaculate. It seemed dirty. And, there looked to be some as well.
Blake only required a second to look this spectre over. "What happened to yo-?"
Before he could even finish, a sudden force slammed into his chest carrying nothing but a horrific pain, and he thought his lungs would pop right then and there. A second later, he felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. Blake had felt this before and knew that it meant. Though, he'd never experienced that sensation to this extreme, and it took all his composure to remain standing.
"That really hurt, you know," he told the spectre, in as calm a voice as he could manage. "Was it close to here?"
He actually watched the spirit nod its head, something he'd never seen so clearly before. Blake shook his head and kept his focus, looking around.
"Where did you come from....?"
Blake faced the spirit with a sudden jolt, realizing it spoke to him. Or more like, words popped into his head, rather than images or emotions. It was such a jarring and unfamiliar experience, so much so that could only make out a few of the words that washed over him.
He thought on it a moment, then said, "You fell asleep at the wheel?"
Only then did the emotion kick in. Waves of exhaustion hit him like a powerful gust of wind, followed by waves of guilt and fear. The final moments. Blake was all too familiar with the string of residual emotions.
"The nearest highway is that direction." He then pointed south. "Try starting there."
Unable to do anything else, Blake turned around and opened the door back to his house. But he stopped himself. A brief glance told him that the spirit still stood there, and had not moved even an inch. He faced the spirit again, and again pointed southward.
"The highway is that way," he repeated. "You understand, right?"
It did not nod or shake its head, but there was also no indication that the spectre was confused by his words. Instead, though, it took a step towards him.
"Hey, I don't know why you're coming to me," said Blake, taking a step back. "I can't help you any more than that."
But it would not listen; it took a few more steps in his direction. Another wave emitted from the spectre. It was faint, and Blake didn't recognize it at first. But it took him a few moments to identify the emotion. A sense of calming relief. But why?
The sound of car tires squeaking into a driveway shifted his attention. It sounded close. Blake held out open palms before the spirit. "Just....wait here, I'll...I'll figure something out I guess."
Even to himself the uncertainty in his voice was painfully obvious. Yet the spirit seemed quite understanding, and remained in place. He didn't have much of a choice, so Blake re-entered his house and walked down the hall to the front door. He opened it and looked out towards the car in the driveway and immediately observed his mother's car.
But, she had not been the one driving it.
Blake watched with confusion as a woman helped Alisha out of the passenger seat of her own car, and half-carry her up to the house. Blake hurried forward and met them about halfway down the sidewalk. His mother looked terrible, her face pale and a hand clutching her head fiercely.
"Mom." Blake did not raise his voice, but he did not mean to sharpen his tone. "What happened? Are you okay?"
"Sorry about this, Blake," said the woman helping Alisha. She sounded genuinely concerned with her deep but calm voice. "We would have tried calling you, but your mother's got the only phone in the house. She fainted."
Blake breathed out, and tried not to let his words waver. "Again?"
The woman nodded. "It was strange this time-"
It was Alisha who interrupted all of a sudden. She raised her chin, looked at her friend....but her head was clearly not stable. "It's alright, I'm fine."
"You are decidedly not fine." With Blake's assistance the woman helped Alisha into the house, and set her gently on the couch. "You weren't tired enough today for a fainting spell, you'd eaten an hour beforehand...."
"So what went wrong?" asked Blake.
"That's just it: nothing." The woman stepped aside so Blake could sit beside his mother. "I've watched her fainting spells before. But this one happened out of nowhere."
As he rubbed his mother's back, he pressed the woman for more information. "When did it happen?"
"A few hours ago," she replied. "I brought her to the hospital and they gave her some fluids; they thought it might have been dehydration. Anyways, they want her to stay home and rest for now. So don't come in tomorrow Alisha."
Easy enough. Blake nodded to the woman, feeling very grateful towards her. "Thanks, Dr. Reynolds. I'll keep an eye on her tomorrow."
The woman clearly could not hold back a smile. "You don't have to. But thank you for looking after your mother, Blake. And my recommendation? She ought to see the doctor again, maybe switch up her medication."
The idea didn't appeal to him, but if the doc was suggesting it then he supposed he should at least think about it. He gave her a curt nod in response.
"Blake, honey...." Alisha trailed off for a moment but she now had both his and Dr. Reynolds' attention. "You can't stay home from school tomorrow. Not for my sake."
She sounded so tired and uncomfortable, like she didn't want to move or speak anymore. But it was something of strange relief for him. At least she's alert enough to know what day it is, he thought. "No worries, Mom," he assured. "Long story, but....there was a little fire in the school kitchen earlier."
Alisha jolted her head to face Blake and he quickly explained. "But no one got hurt, don't worry! The school's just gonna get closed tomorrow for repairs, so, I'll be home anyway."
She looked a bit relieved by his words. With that, Blake stood up and faced Dr. Reynolds, his hands clasped together as he dipped his head to her with gratitude. "Thanks again, for today."
"Not a problem." She once again gave him a little smile. "You both take care."
Blake showed her out the door, then locked it once the doctor had left. He let out a quiet sigh, and then turned to his mother. She still clutched her head with her hand, but her lips did not appear as wrinkled up as they had been before. He walked towards her, and then stretched out his hand.
"Come on, let's get you to bed."
For the first time that evening, Alisha smiled. "It's a bit early for that, don't you think?"
But Blake did not smile back. "For you, and after what happened today? I don't think so."
Her smile faded, only a little. She relented and grabbed his hand. Blake could feel her fingers, slightly bony and not very warm. Yet they also had a softness about them, and still seemed to carry a little bit of strength in those little extremities. Blake pulled gently, before he carried and led his mother back towards her room. Just as they reached the door, however, Blake panicked. What if that scythe was suddenly back on the floor? Or its case? What if she saw it?
A quick glance into her room washed away all those fears. The scythe was still nowhere to be seen.
He helped his mother to the bed, but then Alisha removed his hand from her side. She sat down on her own, and then laid herself on her back. Blake turned, noticing a near-empty glass of water....and a pill next to it. He breathed in sharply but decided not to say anything right now. Instead he took the water glass, walked into the kitchen, and emptied it in the sink. He refilled the glass with tap water and returned the glass to the nightstand.
"Please get lots of rest," he said. "Okay, Mom?"
Alisha nodded in response after a few moments of hesitation. "I will, promise."
Blake turned to leave the room.
"Yeah?" He stopped and spun around.
He cracked a smile, but said nothing more. He left his mother's room, and looked down the hallway towards the back door. He breathed and waited a few seconds, but felt no strange sensations. Even after a couple more moments there was still nothing. His mind was so wracked that he didn't want to think about anything else right now, and so turned to his own room. He opened the door and closed it most of the way, letting out a sigh of exasperation and lifting his chin high into the air. However, he held back any other emotion he wished to release. He told himself to calm down and take a breath. Blake turned around and faced his bed, freezing suddenly.
The scythe lay right on the covers of his bed.
He clenched his fists together as he lips tightened. He threw his hands up with a jolt, but made no sound. Unbelievable, he thought. But he did not want to deal with this right now. He couldn't. He desperately wanted to, especially now that his mother was home, but Alisha absolutely needed rest and time to recover after what seemed like an unusual day for the both of them. He himself wanted some rest as well, but he dare not touch that thing again.
So instead, he simply sat on the floor next to his bed, and wrapped his arms around his legs.