Gaia Planes Part 2 - Death’s Repercussions
by Jessica Kylie Nichols-Vernon aka HawlSera Tygarus Enroygall
Lenny awoke in the middle of the night with his heart pounding and himself breathing deeply. The frightened sixteen year old found he could not move no matter how much he tried forcing his body to do so. “Wh... wha...” he tried mumbling.
The lad eventually broke free of his sleep paralysis and found it was 5:30 AM, earlier than he need to be up, but school was going to start too soon for him to go back to bed. At this moment in time Lenny was naked all except for his black boxers. They were pricey and made of silk. Lenny himself had black hair and was a little on the small side yet had a little more muscle than most of his friends. He wasn’t ripped or anything but out of all the people he knew only Vincent was buffer. Sighing he look down at himself. “Vincent.... “ He said, as he kicked the wall. “Why did I let you talk me into taking Freon from the AC? Why didn’t we just stay inside and play Yars’ Revenge?” he kicked the wall even harder. “WHY GOD DAMN IT!?! WHY!?!?!
“Hmmph.... Leonard...” Spoke a female voice, a young blonde woman only a year younger than Lenny. Immediately she reached over next to the alarm clock to get her glasses and read the clock. “It’s only 5:30.. come back to bed...”
“I can’t sleep Deb... I dreamed about him...” Lenny said, tripping over his words and sounding frustrated. “I dreamed I saw him and I got the feeling.. that.. somehow.. Somehow he’s trying to talk to me.”
Debra snuggled up to Lenny, she was completely naked having stayed with Lenny. The two had not had sex or anything, although Deb did offer it to help Lenny calm down about Vincent, Debra merely didn’t have any qualms about nudity and was considered by many to be an oddball. “Vincent’s dead Lenny, he can’t talk to you.” she said bluntly wanting Lenny to move on and accept the consequences of his and his friend's actions. “When you’re gone, you’re gone.”
Lenny pushed her away and walked from the bed, shaking his head with his back turned to her as though she were the most offensive image that ever was. As if she were the giant statue of a middle finger covered in the defecation of animals and wrapped in a nazi flag. “No I know I saw him! It had to be him! I know Vince, he doesn’t die that easily!”
“But he did die, the bag got stuck on his head and he suffocated. The coroner declared him dead and the cops bugged you all night trying to get you to confess to suffocating him. There is no way after all that you think that he’s alive!” Deb complained.
Lenny turned around, getting furious. “Damn it Deb! I know! I was fucking there, I don’t need YOU telling me that. I remember what happened!” he screamed. “But don’t you believe in God? in Heaven? in Ghost Stories? Haunted Houses?”
“You know I don’t, and it’s very unhealthy to dwell on wish fulfillment, if there was a life beyond that was better than this one we’d start off there and never die. That’s just not the world we live in Leonard.” Deb said coldly trying to be realistic, she smiled getting up and hugging him. “But I’m sure if Vincent WAS a ghost he’d ask you to move on with your life. Besides, you couldn’t have stopped him anyway, you know how he got when he was riled up about something.”
“After I killed him? You know damn well I COULD have stopped him if I wanted too!” Lenny asked, scoffing as he once again pushed Deb away and started getting dressed. “He’s probably a vengeful specter.”
“Look, I get it you’re stressed, I’m stressed too! You weren’t the only one who liked Vincent, but you sound insane.” Deb said, exhaling. “I don’t blame you and I’m sure he wouldn’t blame you either.”
“Of course you don’t, you’re still alive!” Lenny raised his voice, trying his hardest to recall the dream. Yet all he could remember was that the deer had Vincent’s voice.
“Look... I’m gonna go have a bowl of fruit loops.” Deb said, thinking it best to give Lenny his space.
Lenny just looked out the window. “You go do that.” he said, across the street he saw a male deer looking at him, as if right into Lenny’s eyes somehow apologetically, he had to close the blinds immediately. The buck reminded him of Vincent.
The buck across the street wanted to shed a tear, this was no ordinary deer. It was this shape that was all the spirit of Vincent could muster. “....Lenny....” he said, before he felt himself disappear.
Showing up back outside Everchase Vincent stomped on the dirt. “WHY DO I HAVE TO BE DEAD?!?! Why am I back here?!?! I didn’t want to come back here! I never wanted to come back here!” Vincent began squealing, transforming into his boar form. His impressive muscular physique from his buck-state rapidly turned into fat and he appeared scarred and many years old. “I DON’T WANT TO BE DEAD ANYMORE!”
“You should have had your life in consideration before you put a plastic bag over your head Mr. Creede.” Spoke an elegant voice with a touch of a British accent. “I trust we aren’t having any problems, the gods may still send you to Acclamation.” the voice warned.
Vincent the boar squealed once more and attacked the direction of the voice yet there was nothing there. Instead he was grabbed from behind by a skeletal rat with purple embers for eyes. “Calm down Mr. Creede, I want to drag you to hell, don’t let me.” The rat warned.
The boar punched the rat’s skull off which rolled a short distance, Vincent then began beating on the decapitated body until he calmed down and reverted to a deer. “uhh.... sorry about that.... That’s the second time that’s happened to me.”
“I know, I’ve reviewed your file. I am one of the Deaths, I had sensed you about to go pig again so I’ve come to give you a warning.” The skull said as his body screwed that part of him back on.
“A Warning?” Vincent asked.
“I am the most powerful of the deaths, the very last being in your universe that died. Chronologically speaking. I know every trick that your Planet is ever going to come up with, everything from ‘Hey look over there’ to ‘The Gubber-Flaunch Technique’. I am observing you Creede. If you give us a reason or make the Gaia Planes too unsavory, then I shall strike you down to Acclamation where you’ll spend a very long time.” The rodent warned.
“What’s a Gubber-Flaunch Technique?” Asked Vincent who pondered if that was even English.
“Oh it’s a thing in the 38th century where you take a Quantum Inebriater and using a chewed up wad of Rad Randy’s Tyranobeetle-Taffy....” The rodent rubbed down his face with an annoyed glance. “Look that’s not important Mr. Creede, what is the knowledge that there are worse fates than death and if you become a problem for us you’ll become very aware of that.
“I’ll keep it in Mr....” Vincent asked.
“If you know someone or something’s moniker it gives you power over them, and no man, woman, or child is ever meant to hold power over death.” The skeletal rat warning. “Death is the dominion of those whose names are not known by history, only by us.”
“That’d make a fascinating comic book.” Vincent said mulling over what hewas just told.
“Perhaps.” The skeletal rat replied “You have all of eternity or until you reincarnate, maybe you should make it one. A productive pursuit is usually a good way to keep your nose clean. If you excuse me, someone in the 23rd century has irresponsibly and very amateurishly failed at replaceing a drive plate on the mining ship Blue Giant. It looks like a busy night for me.”
“Uhh... okay then.” Vincent wasn’t entirely sure that meant but was glad the rat was leaving. He scared Vincent so bad the poor deer thought that his heart might start beating again. “Good luck I guess.”
“Death doesn’t need luck, his victory is inevitable.” With that, the rodent vanished without a trace after being engulfed by a big bright purple flame.
“That was freakish” Vincent said, scratching his head, accidentally bumping his hoof in the antlers he wasn’t quite used to having yet. There wasn’t anything else he could say to that so he decided the only reasonable thing to do now was to head back into the Afterburg of Everchase to re-unite with his new animal friends. Being dead in general felt cold, there was just no getting away from it. Not having a life anymore felt downright frigid. It wasn’t as if Vincent was constantly shivering, but warm thoughts could no longer cross his mind. Vincent could be happy, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that the sorrow of the world was upon him, the really real feeling that he had completely stopped and yet the entirety of the Earth was moving on without him. It was in every sense the feeling of being truly, irreversible, and by all definitions deceased, dead as a doornail, gone with the old and thrown out with all that is worthless. It ceased only for one moment, the moment he used to enter the afterburg. As the deer merged with its essence as he evaporated into the big glass bowl he felt the cold intensify even further towards a complete freeze. Not even the Earth was moving now, it didn’t even exist, for a moment that felt like an eternity, or perhaps an eternity that felt like a moment absolutely nothing was real as his essence assimilated into a brand new reality, the reality of Everchase.
Vincent hurried back to the bar, but found that things had already wrapped up mostly, or so it seemed. The gang had dispersed to form their own groups, Vincent thinking it wise to stay with Sir Fargos, Gemini 8, and Jake. The silver raccoon was leaning on the bearded’s dragon’s shoulder as he aimed his darts towards a board. “Fair Maiden, I assure you that although your company is appreciated and most warming to my non-beating heart it makes aiming quite difficult.” Sir Fargos said as he squinted his eyes at the dartboard aiming carefully.
“Oh sorry, brave sir knight.” Jake giggled, sitting back down but facing the knight and his manly toss. The silver coon’s fists were clenched with anticipation to see the outcome of the bearded dragon’s dart toss.
“Fret not fair maiden. You were merely drunk on the fine wine of anticipation, hardly the first furiously female to do so.” Spoke the knighted spirit as he let fling his darts. His skills proved worthy to correct a fair shot, one hit near center, two off to the side of center, and the remaining two were a bullseye. Once the score was tallied the gentlemanly noble turned turned around and bowed to Jake, turning to her and taking her hand close to his lips which he puckered to bring a kiss upon her hand. “When Gemini’s toss assures her a loss then we shall celebrate.”
The tigress just yawned, her eyes entirely closed. She seemed to have no concern for the world around her, especially not Sir Fargos’ taunt or skill. Slowly lifting the hand not covering her mouth at the dart board, firing one dart out of her index finger and four more in a series of dramatic poses that wouldn’t look out of place in an action movie or perhaps a rather over the top anime. The whole time her eyes were closed, yet her forehead was glowing green. Each of these five shots had to same result, a bullseye, five darts dead center. The tigress smiled, blowing her finger gun like blowing out a smoking gun. “Assures me a what now? Too bad we don’t have currency in Everchase or you’d owe me a drink.”
“Truthfully despite how it may seem I am not dishonored by you automaton.” Sir Fargos said with a disappointed. “I should have realized your future-time sorcery would tempt you to cheat.”
“For the last time, I’m not an automaton.” Gemini 8 said with a long sigh segwaying into a speech that Vincent and Jake thought sounded incredibly rehearsed, the poor girl probably gave it dozens of times. “I was born a human in the early nineties, and when I grew up I had my body removed and my brain placed inside of a computer where I mainly worked as tech support and as a graphics designer, afterwards I fought in the war against people who disliked people like me, having myself uploaded into a robot body to do so. Afterwards I was computer code until some idiot destroyed the machine that housed me, I have back ups, but they aren’t ready to use. I'm here for the same reasons you all are. I’ve been pronounced dead, which I am. Very dead, kaput, I’ve hung up my dress and joined the choir invisible. And that is why I appeared here. I am not an automaton, I am not a robot, I was not grown in a lab, and I was not always a spirit. Understand?”
“What is a computer?” Sir Fargos responded tilting his head in mystery and legitimate curiosity, giving Gemini no choice but to slap her own forehead in disgust. “I think I’m more lost this time than the last time you tried to explain this. As for this choir invisible, I did not realize you wrote masterpieces. I would like to hear one.”
“Hahahahahaha, it’s a huge machine as big as a football field!” Jake laughed at Fargos. “They say it can do anything!”
“Really, he doesn’t know choir invisible. I thought for sure they had that expression in the middle ages.” Vincent said scratching his head, being polite and waiting for everyone else to finish talking before he spoke up. “Where’s the rest of the gang?”
“Called back to work, Everchase is a scientific community. A pretty good one at that, given that everyone’s dying to help us.” Gemini said with a smile. “We study Death and in some cases Undeath.”
“I see...” Vincent said, still distracted by the everyone’s dying line. “Please tell me you don’t always talk in Death Puns.”
“You shan’t hear another for as long as you shall live. I guarantee it.” Sir Fargos jested having a chuckle of his own.
“But I’m not......” Vincent was about to say, before realizing that this was verification that everyone without life talks in death puns. “Oh Christ....”
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain if you can help it.” Sir Fargos said narrowing his reptilian eyes at the dear.
“...Well I’m already dead and I’m not going to hell. So.. Why not?” Vincent asked
Fargos closed his eyes and shook his head. “Aye, it seems respect is something that is lost after my time. You are with him now though, be good company in his kingdom just as you would in the kingdom of a dear friend, for Christ loves you far more than any man on Earth or this world beyond.”
Vincent wasn’t a serious churchgoer, but he went often enough to listen to Fargos’ words. He smiled and nodded. “You have a fair point, I’ll try to be polite. Afterall, we’re all stuck here for li... for death.”
“Stuck? Or welcome?” Sir Fargos smiled as he looked over a time piece he kept in his pocket. “Hmm, and now I must return to my job as well.”
“You? I thought you didn’t know anything about modern technology... Wait you practice magic then?” Vincent asked, pondering a way for a man like Fargos to be useful to a death research group.
“Absolutely not! I do not practice witchcraft even if my companions do. The only magic I use is to stay in regular communications with my son. He’s becoming a Squire...” Sir Fargos’ eyes began tearing up a little. “Anyway, No, I’m a historian and a librarian.” The bearded dragon put a hand to his chest and another in the air. “It is my job to keep the knowledge of the various legends and tales of man’s demise and provide a first hand account of history for our former species’ record. A job for which I am currently running late. Please excuse me.” He said to Vincent, leaving as Jake blew a kiss to him.
“He’s cute! I hope his widow doesn’t mind if I call dibs!” The shecoon said to herself, watching Fargos leave. “Mhmhm, you know, I never realized I could be so attracted to animal men.”
“There’s a long story explaining that.” Gemini was about to say, opening a file in her cyborg psuedo-body’s augmented reality. “You see, romantic attraction of the deceased is not one done purely for reproduction. As we are already dead leaving little to no use for it.....”
Vincent didn’t feel like sitting down, talking about death. He couldn’t say he felt like doing much of anything, he felt so cold, and yet strangely at peace. He felt like shivering, yet didn’t feel like bothering. Still, he knew he didn’t want to continuously talk about death. “Jake, I’m sure Gemini needs to get back to work herself. Why don’t we check out some more Afterburgs?”
“Mmm.. Alright.” Jake shrugged, she couldn’t think of anything else to do. Especially with how jumpy she felt, quite literally the restless spirit. “Gem, I’m gonna head on out, but... We’ll be back to check on you.”
“Please do, it’s a pleasure meeting you. I hope you come back, we don’t get the chance to study enough people who change like you do.” Gemini said with a purr.
“.....You knew... I... uhh.. VINCE LET’S GO!” Jake said, panicking and yanking on his arm.
“What’s so special about Jake’s change?” Vince asked, ignoring the anxious woman trying to tear off his arm.
“NOTHING!” Jake began dragging Vincent who was shocked the coon had enough strength to do so. This must have been the magic he had heard about. Gemini just looked on as Vince gave up and just left with her, the two taking a minute to remember they had to will themselves out of Everchase.
The two were back outside in the infinite skyless cavern like lands of the Gaia Planes, no other non-life around except for light traces of algae and moss growing. “Jake... What is so special about...”
“I don’t want to talk about it...” Jake said pouting. “That was the old me, I hate that life-stealing bastard! No, please, please don’t make me bring... that person up.”
“Jake....” Vincent called the raccoon’s name slowly, wrapping his hooves around her in a hug, rubbing down her back. “Calm down, I take it you didn’t like who you used to be, that’s obvious. But I’m sure she wasn’t so bad.”
Jake began to cry as soon as Vince finished that sentence. “You just made it a thousand times worse... Believe me when I say dying was the best thing to ever happen to me!”
“Yeah well... it’s the worst thing to happen to me. I... let me just show you.. I need to check up on him again anyway.” Vincent said, rubbing down Jake’s fur as the two began fading out, vanishing from the Gaia Planes. ___________________________________________________________________________
Back on Earth the Duo appeared outside of a high school window, and there was Lenny’s head down on his desk, looking right at them. “See him, with his head down. That’s my best friend, Lenny. He thinks that he murdered me.” Said a talking buck, a buck that was Vincent’s Earthly disguise.
“How do you know he didn’t?” Jake said, now a feral silver raccoon, balancing on Lenny’s back. She had never done this before and was thus looking herself over with wonder, she felt even this was a step up from the human she used to be.
“Like I said, I overdosed on Freon and choked to death. He was talking about how he heard it was a great way to get high, and well, being a good friend I should have talked him out of it.” Vincent said with a sigh. “But I didn’t, I paid the ultimate price, but I feel like he’s the one burdened by all this.”
Jake looked onward at Lenny, she knew exactly who he was talking about. Jake was a bedfellow of the harsh mistress that was depression and she recognized the primary symptoms of Ms. Depression’s most troubling STD, soul-crushing misery. “He looks more like a... like a Jake, than a Lenny.” Jake commented.
“Don’t make this about you...” That’s all Vincent could say to that as he looked into the eyes of Lenny. Eyes that seemed to have surrendered entirely, except for one final battle. The losing fight to keep his tears inside of him. For he was a man, and men don’t cry, not for anything. Yet by the passing second Lenny was getting less and less concerned with that rule and with the world in general. It all seemed hopeless, this strange pursuit to care about anything.
The two sat there for the rest of the class period. Vincent just stared, mourning for his friend. Jake went along with. “...Okay.” and that’s all she said.
Vincent walked towards the school as soon as class ended to get a better look, shifting to back to his more humanoid appearance, but becoming far, far less visible to humans. He felt strange, not like being dead. If anything his feral deer form felt more lively than hanging around in the Gaia Planes was. This felt more like entering Everchase did, like he no longer existed, only this time the world didn’t vanish, only he did. He felt as though he melted into the scenery and become one with all the halls of Lunburg High. Lenny kept his head down as he walked to his locker. As he was looking through his books, he found his locker slammed shut by a young man around his age. Vincent frowned as the young man who shut it was their token black friend Carlos, with Howard and Steve behind him. Vincent and Lenny had known all three since elementary school, the dead deer noted that this time they weren’t about to ask to borrow his copy of Yars’ Revenge.
“You’re a brave man showing up after killing our best friend.” Carlos said, pounding his fist into his hand. “How does it feel murderer.”
“Guys, please.. Vince meant a lot to all of us. I... I’m having problem dealing with it too.” Lenny said, not trying to find a way to stand up for himself. The will could not be found, it had been lost along with Vincent.
“Oh I’m sure he did. First blood means a lot to a stone cold killer!” Carlos said, balling his hand up in a fist.
“Carlos, No! Don’t hurt him!” Vincent called out, running between the two. The deerman felt a little stupid about doing this. He knew what to expect, Carlos’ fist went through him and he punched Lenny without any loss of momentum or velocity. The only thing that he didn’t expect was the warm surge that he felt when Carlos’ blow went threw him. Vincent found it incredible. This warmth tingling through him, for an unforgettable few seconds he felt like he was alive again! Still a deer, but definitely alive again. It was so incredible it actually took him a few seconds to begin to care that the friend he came to check on now was recoiling with a bloody noise.
“Carlos... I... I didn’t...” Lenny pleaded, he was still shaky. For a second he thought he smelled deer, but was too distracted by the blood gushing out of his nose to care. Vincent walked closer to Lenny and touched the area where his friend bled. The blood felt so warm, he felt life returning to his hand, well hoof. “What’s touching me?” he asked, able to feel a cold stone like appendage touching the areas where there were blood. Lenny, could feel Vincent’s hoof dancing in the crimson fluids on his face.
“You were the one that gave him the paper bag, loaded that shit up with that Freon junk. Way I see it you’re well on your way to becoming the next Ed Gein sucka.” Carlos said ignoring Lenny’s question, cracking his neck before grabbing him. Vince getting another rush as Carlos passed through him to push Lenny against his locker.
Vincent was able to retain some of this warmth this time, but it all seemed to drain out of him as soon as he yelled. “CARLOS DROP HIM NOW! HE IS NOT MY ENEMY!!”, strangely enough as the warmness left him and coldness returned. Stranger still, Carlos and Lenny both were able to hear him. He sounded distorted, but it freaked the school out, everyone in the hallway heard him. Even those who were ignoring the abuse of Lenny, not wanting to get involved with the suspected murderer. Though to them it sounded far more like. “CARLOS, HE, IS, MINE!” as his voice kept going in and out.
“The hell was that?” Carlos asked looking towards Vincent’s direction but of course not seeing him. While doing this he dropped Lenny to the ground who scampered away, frightened.
“It’s Vince! I’d know his voice anywhere!” Said one of the two boys who were with Carlos.
“FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!” Lenny said as he ran off, away from school grounds.
“I... Lenny! You..... Carlos, can you see?” Vincent asked, but it seemed he couldn’t get anymore attention. “Did the warmth have something to do with it? Jake do you know anything abou...” It had just occurred to him that Jake didn’t follow him into the school. “....Damned she-coon..” He said to himself. The natural instinct he had was to run after Lenny, but at the same time he needed to keep an eye on Jake. After mulling it over for a few seconds he decided that Jake could handle herself and ran in the direction Lenny had, but quickly just found the end of the hallway. He had lost him, but remembering that he was a ghost, Vincent walked through the walls of the school to see if he could find Lenny or maybe some sight of Jake.
In minutes of running through classrooms, the library, supply closets, teacher’s longues, the gym and a few trips through the girl’s locker room. If asked Vincent would be reluctant to admit he stayed in the girl’s locker room a little longer than he should have, being living impaired doesn’t stop a teenage boy from being a teenage boy. He actually only left because he found a trampy looking rabbit girl there using one of the showers. “EEEK! Hey no boys allowed!” She screamed at him. “First I turn hallucinate turning into a bunny, then my friends ignore me, and now you’re spying on my naughty bits!”
“Uhh sorry, but uhh... you know we’re ghosts right?” Vincent said to her, averting his gaze.
“Hey I fell while doing the human pyramid hard enough to think I have a tail, but not hard enough to go stupid! Beat it creep!” The rabbit said, covering her breasts and lower regions with her paws right.
“Actually you did, Becky right? You broke your neck last week, the game got canceled because of it.” Vincent tried explaining. “We’re dead.”
“Tell it to the principal! SOMEONE GET THIS BOY OUT OF THE GIRL’S ROOM!” Becky The Bunny yelled at the top of her lungs. That didn’t get anyone’s attention at all. Vincent was just standing there with an “I-told-you-so” look on his face as other girls showered not doing much of anything, all pretending as Becky thought, not to notice the boy.
“I’m just looking for a silver raccoon, have you seen her?” Vincent sighed, Becky would figure it out sooner or later.
“Yeah she’s...” Becky was about to say, looking at her friends angrily. When suddenly.
“I am surprised at you, using your invisibility to spy on the girl’s locker room.” Jake said, glaring at the deer.
“Didn’t you just come from the Boy’s Locker Room?” Becky asked, pointing out the double standard.
“Yeah, but, that’s different....” Jake would have blushed if she had any blood running through her veins. “Ahh.. well.. shut up! Come on Vincent, let’s, let’s go back to Everchase. Or find a new place like you said.”
"Vincent? But that’s the kid who got murdered... I... no no, this joke is going too far.” Becky said, getting disturbed, trying to keep that ridiculous idea of her being dead from a cheerleading accident out of her head. “You go to Heaven when you die, you don't turn into some half-animal Bugs Bunny looking freak.”
“....She doesn’t know?” Jake asked, looking at Becky with sheer horror.
“No.” Vincent said while shaking his head. “Yeah, let’s go back to Everchase, I have something I want to ask Fargos.”
With that the two vanished without a trace, Becky was even more worried now, she didn’t even blink and the two just vanished. “Girls? Did you see that?” she asked. Her friends didn’t answer, they just turned the water off and started redressing themselves like nothing had happened. It seemed Vincent was suddenly not the only one with questions. Becky and Lenny, wherever he was, certainly had a lot of questions to ask now.