A glance to the clock, another to the sky peering between the building, and he knew it was afternnon.
Around him, in the park, several tables with chess games, cards strewn by, and plenty, plenty of seniors minding their own business. A slow tack to move a chess piece:In some tables, this caused no reaction, just another movement. In others, the same fingers that pinced the piece then proceeded to seized the other one, removed it from the board, and the game went on.
He sat on one of the benches, leading to a row of bricked appartments, fireladders, and chaotically curtained windows. The cough still remained.
The monoxide odor did as well.
A family of three: a father, fitted up for a jog around the park, a mother dressed up for a light stroll, and a dog. Surprisingly not any of the breeds that decreased in size as their bark volume grew up, along with the amount of complaints from the neighbour.
As expected, said domestic portable animal nearly tore its owner´s arm out of the clavicle as sooon as it saw them. The man´s desperate shouts for the animal to stop were unheeded, and the woman ran, all confusion in her voice and screams, behind him.
The other one just chuckled, amusement evident in her tone of voice.
-Ah, never gets old, that reaction.- She lazily stretched her arms above her head, with all the air of a sleepy cat. Followed the chaos until they had dissapeared from sight, and then she turned, all mischief present in her face.
He just sat there, staring at a window, four, five stories up, breath of monoxide, fume leaks,face expressionless.
She smirked at the way his hands clenched, fingers tapping the wristwatch-oh, forgot that watch´s batteries died so lon-
"You´ll see them. Relax." Her tone is soothing, warm. Quirk of the lips is softer now, no longer amused, but gentler. A nudge at his shoulder.
Irritated, he grunts and fakes a scoot-away from her. Amused, she lets out another chuckle. More pedestrians walk by, some cars, a couple of hornblares, people coming out of the doors, other going inside.
He looks at the clock again, sun projecting a shadow on the windows and walls of the fronting buildings. She is still staring at him, still looking for some sort of reaction, a twitch, a clenched hand, nervous fingers, impatient foot tapping.
She does not need to look at any clock to see how this will turn out.
Clouds move in the sky, earth bends and liquefies, people go on about their business, day fades out, and the city opens all its lights.
In all that time, he hasn´t moved. Not blinked, not twitched, not moved even a muscle.
Not even taken a breathe.
Then again, it is not like it would serve a purpose anymore. Her smile twitched as she stared at his immobile figure.
Now it is truly afternoon; walls colored in the orangish tone of the fading day, the traffic is steadily becmoing denser: more cars, more school buses, more people hurriedly emerging from the subway station. Parents clenching their hands around their children´s, frazzled officepeople running behind the buses or a cab, almost always too late. There are voices, shouts, laughter, horns blaring loudly in the afternoon, the odd siren somewhere, dozens of footsteps running, walking. People entering and leaving buildings.
Not to say it isn´t enjoyable to watch, she muses, but they must leave. Soon.
-So, when will you finally end this charade of yours? Just go and visit her.Still, he does not move.
-You DO known that today ends the grant, right? Today at midnight, you will leave the human world forever.
Still he remains motionless, never moving, vacantly staring at nothing in particular.
-Look, you came here... what? Two, two and nearly three days ago to say your farewells. Boss gave you this one opprtunity to say goodbye to anyone you wanted, and you chose her. Not a lover, not an ex-girlfriend, not a relative, not your rotting-mother-who-will-live-to-see-Mars-colonized. You chose her.-She had stood up as she spoke and was now standing in front of him, blocking his view of the buildings-Otherside- knows-why, after all that happened, which was a lot, but here we are, you have already wasted all your remaining time-
Then she bent forward staring directly into his literally empty black eyes. Said emptinesses stared back at her equally void sockets.
-And you will never see her again. Never again will you be able to watch her from afar as she grows up, bears children, grays, and gets old. You will not be able to finally put matters between both of you behind. Rest in peace, as humans would say? After she used you, like the rest of this sad metalball you once called home, after she shed the costumary tears at your funeral, selling up all your possessions to pay for it, dump your old woman in a rest home-The voice grew in volumen, booming, bouncing from every spot-Even if I managed to steal your last will away, and don´t you deny it, you gas filled spook, even when we were brought together in these three days, the three last days you will be able to stay here, you still will not fulfill your last wish, your dearest wish.
She stood up, and the day grew gray, the light dimmed, shadows grew.
-You sad, sad phantom. Still cowardly admiring the one person who ever showed you any kind of consideration, even considering she is not your real sist-
Her words are cut off by his violent reaction: Shrouded in a massive wall of fog and gas, his clothes now totally different from before: torn, worn out. Yellowed skin, wild hair rapidly graying. Eyes now completely white, like a drowned man, jaw tense in a snarl of yellow teeth, fumes of smoke erupting from his mouth.
He does not speak, does not utter a single word, but the odor of monoxide grows more and more noticeable. A low growl, echoing and reverberating everywhere, is the only indication of any reaction.
-If you were so kind, could you please stop trying to strangle me? Ooof! Learn how to treat a lady do you? I´m no groceries bag to drop at your pleasure. You humans and your tempers,tch.
The odor and the fog fade, and his appearance returns to a visage of humanity once again. He sits down again, the same emotionless visage, and he resumes his previous vigilance.
-Not to provoke that temper of yours again, but shouldn´t you have settled this years ago?.As amusing as they are, those "ghost hunters" that like to hang out around you Remaining Ones tend to be....annoying.
She sighs and sits next to him. An imaginary clock ticks inside her, and she assumes it is the same for him. Little by little, time is running out.
-Think about it, if not for you, at least...for her.
She stands up, and leaves an object she just found inside her shirt´s breast pocket. An old memory device, used in computers that existed from the Time Before the Veil Was Torn.
It has a name inscribed on pen ink. It has a name inscribed on male-styled cursive handwriting.
Did you know she has nearly all your belongings? Did you know she copied your old computer´s data into her own? She tried giving your old archives to some old college acquaintances, see if she could get some people interested in publishing i- a sudden rush of smoke, scent of gas in her direction-it.
She sighs, and opens her arms, almost in resignation.
I´ve been overseeing you for years kid. Ever since you stumbled out of that damned gas-filled apartment. And...ugh, I DO like it when I get happy endings, ensure you stop roaming around. And...you have sort of grown on me.
You have little time left. Just... go. Go and say goodbye.
She turns around and leaves.
The scent of gas has dissapeared.