Chapter 2: This Worlds Optimistic
I didn't make an annoucement earlier because I wanted the readers to grasp the full chapter...
A/N: So I've always wondered since the episode of the flood what would happen to the children of PS118 if an epidemic worse than a flood occured leaving them adult-less? Well I pretty much answered my own question. This is predicted to be 10 chapters but that may change. This story was inspired by the poem Hollow Men by T.S Elliot and the great novel Lord of the flies...
To clear the air on possible questions. The kids are six graders. So ages 11/12 Harold being 14/15.
For a moment I am lost, truly lost and reality has no meaning. My world seems to be ending and nothing is comprehendable. I've lost my family. I always knew that at a young age I would but I had never imagined it would be when I'm eleven. Helga's arms are around me but I don't really feel them anymore like I did when my eyes poured out and she joined me. I feel myself leaning into her embrace holding her closer tighter so that we will never be apart. I have no one to care for anymore except Helga and my friends. So I make a promise to myself, I promise to always protect Helga and I... and the ps118 kids. When I need someone, she's always there to comfort me and I find myself being there for her as well. Its like when death came, my eyes opened up. I am awake for the first time, not in a day dream. Helga has always come first and now here I am realizing it the day I've lost so many, the day I became an adult, the day I took on yet another responsibility beyond my control but I am Arnold and that's just what I do. Helga understands that, that's why she comforts me because she knows I'm human though she referred to me as her angel once, that I am God-like. She understands I am raw of pain and burned with disappointment from life so she sits with me, talks with me, advises me and holds me. I only can wait for the day she kisses me.
Gerald and Phoebe walk in and sit in front of us. Gerald's cheeks covered in dry tears, his eyes in hateful slits. It bothers me but in my state of oblivion I don't care or see much. Phoebe is crying silently and Helga hasn't shed any tears for her own family which I can only assume is dead as well. Everyone we know is dead, except us and that little bit of information frightens me.
"They're all dead." Helga speaks. The silence is entirely consumed and digested into our stomachs. Mine is already full from the burden of death.
"Obviously Pataki." Gerald snarls at the blonde girl. His voice is entirely different from anything I have heard. He speaks with so much hate but I blame it on the earlier slight.
"I was just making sure." Helga actually sounds meek, her voice like Phoebe's. I assume she's too tired to argue.
Gerald grunts and Grabs Phoebe's wrist rather roughly and makes her stand with him. "Arnold, we have to go to Gerald Field." He says before sending Helga a powerful glare. It's almost as if he blames her for all of this. I sigh to myself and face Helga, her face is red, her fist out and she's trembling in anger.
"I could have killed him, Arnold. I could have but I didn't because I tried to understand. I truly tried." I just listen stunned to say the least that Helga didn't lose her compose. She tuly was restraining herself. "That is why I choose not to be nice to people. Kindness is always mistaken for weakness. I am not weak." She harshly bumped into me leaving the boarding house.
I stood here alone for 5 minutes basking in the memories because in the end that'll be the only reason to try. Phoebe amd Gerald are far away from Helga. The two girls look at each other from brief glances and Helga is hurt that Phoebe clearly choose Gerald. If Helga needs a friend, I'll be that. We walk to Gerald field to be greeted with a few of the ps118 kids. The rich kids (Rhonda, Lorenzo, Iggy, and Peapod kid) are crying or either have grim faces. Lorenzo has the most heart broken face among them all, he holds his phone in his hand limply, he seems dead. Helga immediatly goes over to him and pulls him up to her closely, her hair completely down. I tingle a bit from watching her embrace anyone else beside me. These thoughts are dangerous, so I must tuck them away or it'll be the end of me. He doesn't embrace her though, just looks past her shoulder at nothing in particular. Rhonda, of course, is loudly crying and she keeps saying daddy. I think about Lila and how she only has her father and I truly ache. I'm hoping for the best but I expect the worst. The upper middle class (Harold, Park, Curly, Nadine, Eugene and Sheena) approach us. Sheena is holding on to Eugene for dear life as his eyes look off into the distant, there is nothing there. Curly is at his most silent, no manical laugh, no sorrow just disturbia. He will be a problem I mark to myself. Harold is crying for his mommy and Lorenzo cringes at the word. Nadine and Rhonda hold each other. The rest of the kids all share the same dexpression of tears and sorrow. My concern lies for the ones who are silent and distant. I should be concerned about myself because I am silent and distant. I'll just repress it...but the memories are the only thing keeping me going.
I see her red hair, I see the tears spilling endlessly, I see the whimpering and hear her soft moaning. She is beyond crushed and there is nothing I can do because that kind of pain never goes away. I can only show I'm here, I'm alive but she wouldn't give a damn because she never liked me liked me. She would just ever so politely thank me for being there, lie to me and say she's okay when she's not. Helga and her are so close, at times it scares me how close. They both are distant when it comes to their emotions. Lila is quite manipulative, she's used me, knowing my feelings. Helga is a kind timid soul and helps in secrecy. I don't know who I can trust and care for more between the two. I've taken on more than I can handle, I know this. In the end I must fend for myself but that's never been me...I watch as Stinky carries a hateful gleam in his eyes just like Gerald, but he looks almost happy. Everyone knew Stinky's father was abusive, ever since Stinky turned down the million dollars his father would physically abuse him for any fault. Brainy looked as if nothing happened as if he expected this, Sid looked agitated, like he was forcing his tears to stay inside. Joey had his hands in his pockets shifting back and forth on his toes.
Here we all were. We were what was left of Hillwood, I suspected. I wanted to speak but no words formed.
"All of our parents, our families are gone." Helga started. "And it's suspcious...to me that we are the only survivors."
"Helga don't start this paranormal bull. Just be greatful you're still here. God must really pity you." Gerald spoke.
"What's your problem Johanson?! I'm just stating the obvious...no one finds it weird?" Helga looked around frantically and I step up beside her, showing where my loyalty resided at the moment, Gerald was out of turn, he was being heartless.
"Arnold? You believe Helga's bull shit?" Gerald swore. Everyone looked, we didn't cuss except Stinky, Harold and Sid sayign it for laughs but Gerald had used it properly and in perfect context.
"Helga's right Gerald...it's weird that we were the only ones to make it out. you don't think its weird?"
Gerald eyes meet mine and he continued to have those angry slits they soften though as if he was still in thought. He nodded his head and looked off into the distance. "It all makes sense now." He sighed to himself.
"Well wilkers Gerald, what are ye talmbout?"
"The tale of the hollow men" Stinky, Harold and Sid broke out in sighs 'Oohs'
"Gerald as keeper of this tale, speak." Sid introduced Gerald and I couldn't help but bask in the familarity of being a kid again.
"Thank you Sid." Gerald cleared his throat and began. "The story relates to poem but its one of a proficy well more of an omen."
"Hillwood before it became a city was very much farm land. A kid by the name of T.S. Elliot was a farmer's boy. He would often get scolded for his lack of interest in farming. His dad always called him a lazy boy. On the days Elliot was to work in the field for his chores, he instead would look out to the scarecrows that stood still, strong and intimidating. He often wondered how these men came to be, were they men before they became so lifeless? So hollow. And thats what he called them...The Hollow Men.
On one particular day, a day he was supposed to be doing chores, Elliot had a vision. One that would haunt him for the rest of his life. He envisioned the world ending. The apocolypse. Elliot scared for his dear life awaken by the vision looked out to the Hollow Men terrifired for they held the secrets of the worlds ending.
Running toward his small, plain home. He ran into his mothers arms and told her exactly what he had seen.
He had seen children in strange clothing, no adults around, become Hollow Men. His mother didn't believe him of course. She told him to lay down, instead he ran away. Elliot had written a small passage in his time to think and came upon his home later that evening to find burning wood, smoke and ashes. He ran inside to see beloved mother and father...well gone.
Shortly after the good people of Hillwood came to salvage what they could of the family but it was too late, they had found the parents but no Elliot. A young childhood friend of Elliot looked out toward the field, the same field Elliot often gazed upon and saw something startling.
A small scarecrow, dressed in Elliot's attire standing tall with the rest of the Hollow Men. In his hand held a note.
"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper." Gerald ended his speech. Silence consumed us all.
Finally one spoke out, Harold.
"I don't get it." He scratched his head.
"Harold you oaf!" Rhonda dried her eyes, head held high. "What Gerald is saying is that the end of days is happening to us and that we're going to become hollow men!" She began to cry again into her hands and Nadine patted her back.
"I find that highly unlikely, Gerald." Phoebe spoke silently, her voice lacked any life. It hurt to listen.
"I don't think we're going to be scarecrows!" Gerald growled. "Its just weird that his prophecy is happening. Man whatever." Gerald walked away a few paces ahead and started breathing in and out. I felt like I should do the same.
Thinking of the legend just spoken, I find myself trying to interpret it but nothing comes to mind. I shake my head tired. So tired I could sleep...forever.
The silence consumes us all and the sun speaks.
"We need a group leader, I nominate myself." Everyone looks around at each other and my thoughts are interupted, they weren't good ones, so I am grateful.
"Oh no no no! You will NOT lead me. I refuse!" Rhonda crossed her arms across her chest defiently. I do not blame her, Helga has never been quite nice, at least to the others.
"Then who's going to lead us Rhondaloid?! No ones offering!" Helga held her arms up wildly geturing to the rest of us, who's lips are sealed. Cowards, all of them except Helga. Responcibility that great is frightening, am I able?
"I nominate my mans Arnold." Gerald speaks out with so much confidence, I'm touched and yet saddened.
"Yea Arnold" "Oh definetly Arnold." A great few speak out in my name. I can see Helga's expression tighten but she relaxes.
"Fine you chuckleheads! Arnold is the leader." She crosses her arms and looks at me. No glare, no hateful eyes just pure curiousty in those sea envious eyes. "What should we do Arnold?"
Their eyes peer at me, for I am their leader. I hold their lives in my hands. The weight hurts but I carry it.
"Let's grab some pillows and blankets and head to Mighty Old Pete tonight...we can discuss the bodies tomorrow." I grimance at the word and we all remember those we loved most are dead.
The pillows are grabbed, the blankets laid down and all of us lay down feigning sleep. No one is asleep though. We are all struck with the memories. The memories that will only be memories. No future lies with our families anymore. Some sob quietly while others stare at the ceiling or wooden ground comprehending what this all means. I however stand outside the Mighty Pete and again for the third time today, I cry.
The moon is half full and glares down at my body. Is it trying to comfort me or remind me of my loss? Either way it reminds me I'm not alone. I feel a presence, hair teasing my arm flesh, I don't look over because I know who this stranger is.
No crickets chirp, just the moon, the stranger and I. I breathe to myself and make a bold move. I clasp my hand with the strangers, our intertwined finger lie in my lap.
"Helga, tell me something?"
"Did you get what Gerald meant by the story? I keep thinking about it and I'm...well I just don't get you. Do you?" I tend to stray from Helga when it comes to any question because her responces always lead me feeling hurt. I cannot explain this new found courage to be with her constantly but she's allowing me so I take full advantage.
"I didn't cry over my parents today. I didn't cry because I knew a long time ago that they were already dead, especially my mother." I just listened because when Helga speaks she leaves me breathless. "She lay around lifeless, smothie induced, her eyes and voice in a whisper. Whenever she spoke it was lke the wind. you could feel it but do you ever stop and actually listen? No because the wind isn't a living person."
"I'm not sure exactly what Elliot saw in that wacky vision of his but I do know that those hollow men represent us when we die. Our spirit, our will gives up on us sometimes before our bodies do. Scarecrows don't have emotions, but they do have bodies." My eyes widen, she's smarter than any other child I have ever encountered. I curse under my breath angered that I never saw this Helga until it was too late.
"Elliot became a Hollow man because a part of him died and I think...its stupid, never mind."
"No, Helga you can tell me anything." I look into her eyes. The seas look upon my favor and I am forever honored.
"Arnold, we are the Hollow men." Again for the third time today, Helga cries. My finger slides under her eyes catching the seasalt water. We both gasp at the touch. How can a physical touch be felt...everywhere.
Our eyes waiver to each others faces, I can study those seas forever but instead the beings body crashes into mine. I hold her as her arms engulf me.
"Promise me something." I mumble into her hair, she smells so girly. Each intake becoming apart of my bloodstream. I've enhaled her.
"Yes, anything." The sincerity gives me shivers. I tremble and make eyes meet.
"You and I can never seperate. In life and in death, we are forever bound."
She doesn't speak but her eyes are calm, the sea after the storm. The moon shines down in our favor. So I like to believe but I am reminded the moon is an envious creature for she is forever alone in the skies, her lover long dead and deep within the earth. I pray she doesn't tear us apart but I am reminded prayer has stopped working a long time ago.
A/N: I use to write for reviews and now I write for the sole purpose of telling a good story.