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Phantom Wars Chapter 13

A deeper look into the history the characters.

Chapter Thirteen: Memories of Family

Ethan waited until all of the bodies had disappeared from the cave before moving on. He wandered around the caverns for hours, maybe even days before finally finding a portal out of them.

The portal took Ethan to a desolate swamp with patches of land and muddy water around it all. There was a light mist all around and the only other life Ethan could see was the occasional dark decaying tree on the patches of land throughout the swamp.

Slowly Ethan approached the murky waters and put his hand through it. It was slimy and smelled foul but otherwise Ethan didn’t sense any threat lurking under it, though he couldn’t tell how deep it was either. Ethan sighed and stepped into the murky waters, they were only a couple feet deep.

Exhausted and almost broken Ethan wandered around the desolate swamp looking for the next portal. In some areas the fog was so thick he couldn’t see anything in front of him except for more fog. After wondering around for what felt like days Ethan was beginning to suspect he was going in circles.

After more aimless wondering Ethan, heard strange whispers coming from the thicker area of the fog. Carefully Ethan approached the thick fog but didn’t go in it. “Hello?” Ethan called out.

The voice got a little louder but Ethan still couldn’t make out what it was saying. Then a shadowy figure suddenly appeared in the fog and Ethan had to fight his instincts to turn and run. He could see the figures mouth moving and hear its voice echoing around him but still was unable to comprehend what it was saying.

“Who are you talking to you?” Ethan asked the shadowy figure.

The fog then parted ways for the figure and Ethan could see a man just a little shorter than himself standing there. The man wore a tailored suit that was fashioned in a purple design; his eyes were deep and sinister. His hair was cut short and was grey like a man in his eighties but this man looked no older than forty. He put his hands behind his back and said, “Why you of course, Ethan Alaster.”

Ethan took a step back from the man and asked, “How do you know who I am?”

Carefully the man started approaching Ethan with a wolfish smile and said, “My dear boy you have nothing to fear from me.”

The man kept walking towards Ethan but stopped when Ethan raised his fists in front of him in a defensive position. He smiled and continued talking, “You must have been through a lot recently. But as I said I’m not going to hurt you, I only wish to talk; however I understand if I would need to earn your trust first.”

Ethan starred the man down, his sinister eyes looked calm and non-hostile, even his posture was that of peace in a way. Ethan still couldn’t help but feel like he should turn and run as far away from this man right away. But then Ethan realized all of this may be nothing more than paranoia and rage that he still had left over from the battle he was just in.

Slowly Ethan lowered his arms and the man bowed lightly and smiled. Then something shifted in the man’s eyes, his face seemed to grow aggravated for just a split-second then go back to its usual calmness. “Until we meet again Ethan, the portal that will take you out of this swamp is directly in front of you several paces ahead. Just watch that first step and don’t run through it.” The man said.

Then the man, without warning, burst into a mix of purple and blue flames and in less than a second there was nothing there. Moments later another man came running out of the fog, he looked extremely angry and hostile. Ethan was a mix of emotions from starring at the man who just came out of the fog. He was tall, about an inch taller than Ethan, and was the spitting image of Ethan himself if he was 12 years older.

David Alaster looked around the area searching for something that was not there. His gaze swept over Ethan and stopped immediately on him. David walked over to Ethan his fists clenched starring him down, he was gritting his teeth but didn’t notice it. For a moment David just starred at Ethan, rage seething through him then he grabbed Ethan by his jacket and started shaking him while shouting.

“You!?” David shouted. “You can’t be here, you can’t be my son this is a trick of his! My son is not dead, do you here me!? MY SON IS NOT DEAD!!!”

David was on the verge of tears but Ethan’s emotions only changed into rage. Ethan broke his fathers grip on him and shoved him back. “Get off me you psycho!” Then he punched him the face so hard that he fell to the ground. Afterwards Ethan just ran ahead.

Warm tears fell down Ethan’s face as he ran ahead and saw the portal in front of him. He kept running until he went through the portal and even then he continued running until he wasn’t running anymore and was now falling. Ethan paid absolutely no attention to what was around him or below him, and the last thing he remembered was the sense of falling down.

* *

When Ethan and Picario came to they were standing next to each other in the lobby of the 90 th floor. Ethan looked around him, everything looked exactly the same as when he entered the portal. Picario started talking but Ethan wasn’t paying attention.

“Hello Ethan, are you alright?” Picario asked as he waved his hand in front of Ethan.

Ethan blinked a few times looked at Picario then said, “I’m sorry I have to go, I’ll see you back in the room later.” Then Ethan pulled out his amber crystal and teleported to floor one. He rushed out the front door and into the snow covered streets of his neighborhood.

Most of the houses were covered in lights and other Christmas decorations. The sight brought Ethan back to happier times and he could see several snowmen of all sizes in every yard.

Slowly Ethan made his way down the street until he stopped in front of his house. The yard was covered in perfect untouched snow, the driveway and walkway were covered in snow that hadn’t been shoveled at all. That was Ethan’s job.

“I may be dead but I’m not useless.” Ethan said to himself.

Ethan looked around his street to check if anyone was awake or outside. No one was, and so he set out to clearing the driveway and the walk way with his hands. It didn’t take long for his hands to go numb from moving all the snow but he continued regardless.

Now and then Ethan would have to stop moving snow around when people got in their cars and drove off. They might not have been able to see him but if they saw the snow moving all by itself that would draw unwanted attention. Finally after a couple hours Ethan cleared the entire drive way and walk way as best as he could.

Ethan packed down the left over snow as and started rolling it up into a large snow ball. After that he started gathering snow from all around for another snow ball a little smaller than the first one then placed it on top. Then he made one final small ball of snow and put it on the top of the first two and used his thumb to carve in a smiley face. His snowman was completed.

When Ethan returned to his room he was greeted by Nessie who playfully shoved him. The force of her shove nearly knocked Ethan down but he remained standing and when he rebalanced himself he rubbed the top of her head. He had to swim to the waterfall and get completely drenched just to get into the homestead part of his shared room.

When Ethan got to the bedroom he quickly changed out of his soaking clothes and into dry ones. Then Ethan searched around for Picario and called out his name, there was no answer. After searching the entire homestead behind the waterfall Ethan gave up and picked up some of Picario’s comics and started reading them.

Eventually Picario returned and when he saw Ethan he immediately started with the questions. “Ethan where the hell have you been?” Picario asked.

Ethan sighed then said, “Out. It was no big deal.”

“Well what happened after I died, did the twins get you?”

Then Ethan remembered that Picario had no idea what happened after he was killed in the tournament. Only Ethan and Marry knew that they took out the twins, he had left his friend thinking he was tortured and that’s why Picario was so distraught.

“No, no me and the witch, Marry, managed to take them out.”

“So then why did you suddenly run out on me, I was searching everywhere I could think of for you.”

“Look I’m sorry man but I’m fine and that’s it.” Ethan said a little more hostile than he intended.

Picarios tone softened up a little as he said, “What happened to you in there? I know the first few times of the tournaments can be frightening but it’s rarely this bad.”

Ethan looked away from Picario then after a long moment of silence finally said, “I ran into my father in there.”

“Well that’s good then right?”

“You don’t understand it’s not a good thing, at all. Seeing him again just brought back so many things that I thought I had moved on from.”

Picario’s tone became apprehensive as he said, “I understand he’s your father and you should respect him.”

“No you understand nothing!” Ethan shouted.

Picario’s eyes turned angry for an instant then calmed down right away. Lightly he spoke, “Then help me to understand. I’m your friend, and this is what friends are for helping one another through the bad times; like a family.”

Ethan glared at Picario for a long minute then finally came to his senses. He was right that’s what friends were for and Picario was the best friend Ethan ever had. When he settled down enough to speak again Ethan said, “Alright then I will trade you. I shall tell you my story if you tell me yours.”

“What do you mean my story?” Picario asked.

“Why don’t you like going to Tilly’s shop, I asked Kelly about it and she said it’s because of your family but she wouldn’t share anymore. So I tell you about my family and you tell me about yours, deal?”

Picario thought about it in silent for a few minutes then reluctantly said, “Alright deal.”

Part of Ethan wanted Picario to say no so he wouldn’t have to share his past but he made a deal and now he was forced to go through with it. He never told this story to anyone else and he met all his other friends years after it all happened.

Ethan looked down at the ground because it was easier to face the floor than his friend when he talked about this part of his life.

“At first I had a happy and loving family like most people.” Ethan said. “My father loved me and my Mom very much and always told us everyday. He would spoil us with attention whenever he got home so we never had to work for it and it was wonderful.

I remember when I was younger and I saw someone die of natural causes, I watched the life slowly fade from the man’s eyes and it terrified me. One moment the man was moving about like everyone else the next he faded away into nothingness. I was so afraid that would happen to me I stayed in my room for days until my dad finally talked to me about death.

He told me that everyone one day dies and though it may seem scary at first it’s like going to sleep only faster. He said that sometimes when people die their spirit lingers in a home invisible to us where others like them are gathered. ‘In this place is new wonders our eyes have yet to behold,’ my father said.

When I asked him how he knew about this he said that someone he met when he was very young long ago had told him all of this. That this person who told him is in fact one of these spirits. After that I not only cheered up but I gained a whole new perspective on life as well.

That was all when I was eight years old and a few years later when I was eleven my father changed. Me and my mom didn’t know what it was exactly but he was a different person almost entirely. He became almost obsessed with death and spirits but he did his best not to let us know about it, I only found out by accident.

Anyways later that same year I came home from school to find him hanging from the ceiling by a rope, a chair was knocked over near his feet. He hung himself. There was no note, no warning; just dead.

I resented him ever since that day, hated him for leaving mom and me alone like that. My anger kept me going gave me what I needed to carry on with my life but my mom, she was extremely depressed. She stopped going to work altogether and was fired from her job. Bills started piling up and we almost lost the house but I made sure that no matter what happened I would be by her side to do my best to cheer her up.

Finally I made a breakthrough with her when I was twelve, she got a new job we got our bills paid off and didn’t lose the house. And we began rebuilding our lives and family from there.

And then I died and came here to the mansion where I discovered all the other phantoms, even entered the tournament. It was when I got out of the first tournament and looked at the rankings where I saw my father when everything that happened with him when I was eleven started making sense. He killed himself so he could come here, I don’t know why but there he was at the top of the rankings.”

Picario took everything in that Ethan said and when he finished his last sentence he was almost speechless. It took him a little while to sift through Ethan’s heartbreaking tale and his curiosity for the question he wanted to ask. He waited until Ethan finished drying his eyes until he asked his question.

“Your father, he’s David Alaster?” Picario asked.

Ethan looked up to Picario with surprise and asked, “You know my father!?”

Picario gulped then said, “Everyone knows David Alaster… he’s a monster. I mean not like the twins but after Silver he is the most powerful phantom that anyone has seen.”

Ethan started to grow suspicious now and asked, “What do you mean by that?”

“Well when he first came here I think he was an ordinary Joe, just another lost spirit like everyone else but then some time later rumors about him began to spread. He rapidly started climbing the ranks of the tournaments and when he rose to first place he never lost it. And I don’t mean just the Grand tournament; I mean the Reapers tournament, and even the Masters tournament.

No one has ever been able to hold first place for so long in every tournament like he has. People can win the grand tournament with a lot of luck sometimes but not the reapers tournament and the Masters tournament only a handful of people were in competition for first place until your father came along. Now the tournaments are a competition for second place, I never fought him but I know without a doubt I could never beat him.”

Ethan couldn’t believe what he was hearing his mind raced through everything he just heard and tried making sense of it and relating it to the events of when he was eleven. For a few minutes he just sat there festering but got control of his thoughts long enough to turn his attention to Picario. Hopefully his friends tale would help take his mind off of everything.

“Alright well I told you my story so now it’s your turn.”

Picario looked away and said, “I don’t know where to start.”

“Try from the beginning.”

Picario sighed then climbed up to the top of his bunk and starred at the ceiling then started. “Alright sure.” He made sure to speak loud so that Ethan could hear him fine.

“You know I used to have an older brother and Sister. Tom and Jena, they were four and three years older than I was. Like normal siblings we fought all the time about everything, hot water in the shower, who got the biggest slice of cake during birthdays, the usual stuff. My mom and dad would always tell us to get along whenever they saw us fighting.

Used to say that if something ever happened to one of us then we would be sad about it and if the last thing we did with our brother or sister was have a fight we would regret it for the rest of our lives. So we would act nice in front of them but when they weren’t around we would be back at each other bickering or wrestling around.

But things weren’t like that all the time we also used to look out for one another at school and stuff. I remember my brother Tom wanted to ask this one pretty dame… I mean girl out to a dance but he didn’t know how. So I went up to the girl told her my name and said my brother thought she was really pretty but is too shy to talk to her. She thought it was the most adorable thing, Tom’s little brother talking to the girl for him, and the same day she went over talked to Tom and the two started dating since then.

And then there was this time some bullies chased me into an alley and Jena was nearby and stood up for me. She told them if they ever picked on me again she would tell every girl in the school district about it and then they would become losers who would never get a date or even get talked to by another girl again. After that the bullies left me alone entirely.

But no matter how bad or good things were the one time where we would all get along perfectly was the first Friday of every month. That’s where all of us as a family would go to this local malt shop and our parents allowed us to pig out on whatever we wanted. And me, Tom, and Jena would order this sundae supreme ice cream that took at least four people to eat but we three ate it all each time. And then we washed it down with milkshakes. And just for that one day of the month everything was always perfect.

You know after I passed away I would go by that same malt shop on the first Friday of every month just too see my family. At first I checked on them at home but they never had a smile to be worn and I couldn’t stand seeing them like that; knowing it was because of me they were this upset. So I just went to the one place where everything was perfect for just one time a month, and after the first half a year I never saw them at the shop again.

When I was about to give up hope for the last time I went, there they were smiling as a family again. Their smiles were a little weak and they didn’t order much but they were there and smiling that’s all that mattered to me. Years went by and I saw Tom and Jena gradually getting older with each visit until eventually they stopped coming by all together.

That’s when I decided to come here to the mansion, I had nothing left to lose anymore. And at first it was terrifying but this place soon grew on me and all of its wonders helped me to forget how much I missed my family. Then I started entering the tournaments and battle games and was able to start buying things and began visiting all of the shops here.

Tilly’s shop had been a new attraction when I first went there. The moment I first stepped in there from the corner of my eye I saw my family sitting around just like they used to back when I was alive. I turned to see them and greet them but when I did there they weren’t there; it was all in my head. And ever since then every time I go there I can still see my family out of the corner of my eye.

I can’t go to that place because everything about it is a horrible reminder of the life I had, and the one I lost, and the family I no longer have.”

Picario had to stop talking so he could start sobbing into his pillow. Ethan got up and put his hand on his friends shoulder and squeezed gently; a gesture that meant more then words ever could at that moment. Then Ethan left the room to give his friend some time to himself.

Ethan found himself at Kelly’s Pet shop for unknown reasons. Maybe part of him knew Kelly was the only other person who he could talk to right now, since he didn’t want to be alone.

He found Kelly in the aquatic part of the shop behind the counter. She greeted him when she saw him and Ethan said hello back.

When she saw the look on Ethan’s face she asked, “What’s wrong?”

Ethan shrugged then said, “Me and Picario were talking about our families, and well he needed some time alone so I left. And I decided that I did not want to be alone so here I am.”

Kelly kept a plain face and leaned on the counter saying, “So you know about his family now huh?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“You know I think that Picario thinks of us almost like the brother and sister he had lost all those years ago. I don’t think he’s trying to replace them but I think having us around from time to time helps him cope. You know he’s actually become a lot happier since you moved in with him, I mean he spent most of his free time with me but I am a busy person so it didn’t last long each time.”

“Yeah you know I would be dead lost without him so the feelings mutual. How about you, any siblings you miss?”

“Nah. I’m an only child, besides who needs a brother or sister who would put gum in your hair while you sleep.”

Ethan smiled a little then went back to the same saddened look on his face. Kelly hopped the counter and grabbed Ethan’s hand dragging him away. “Come on,” she said. “I know a puppet show that will take your mind off of things and make you smile uncontrollably. Well if you’re anything like me that is. But if your cry then I’m calling you a baby because these shows are all happy ones.”

And so Ethan let Kelly drag him to the puppet show, which was something for all ages to enjoy. They bought popcorn and soda at the concessions stand and Ethan let the show take his mind off everything; blissfully unaware that those happy times at the mansion were numbered.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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