I...I was going to fail...the most important exams of the year...and I was going to fail! I didn't have time to study, not whilst their kind refused to give me at least a day off. Yeah, being me was tough.
...My heavily uneven breathing was the only sound as I raced down the seemingly desolate street. My feet burned but I didn't notice as flashback after flashback my mind was taken over by pure focus. How did this happen? I've got to stop this!
My crystal blue eyes were the only sign of my growing desperation and anxiety. I stumbled and fell. My hands that reached out instinctively suffered the most damage. Clenching my fists I ignored the burning sensation travelling throughout my palms. My knees were slightly cut. Sighing I realised if I continued to run I wouldn't make it in time...If only there were more hours in the day...I had to get there faster.
Their lives...in the palm of my hand. Like chess pieces...they were the pawns...I was the King...but even the King needs a Lord to play them. In reality we were all pawns, just of different status...of different importance. Like puppets on a string...destined to obey their puppeteer...their master.
The sweet, greasy smell of fast food matched perfectly with the somewhat old burger joint. My friends talked together, not yet noticing their conversation was one member short. My face, carefully emotionless, obscured yet another reason why my friends should worry about me. But I didn't need their constant badgering.
My head turned, trying to spot lurking shadows, but all I was met with was silence. Silence that was neither a comfort nor a fear. Excitement suddenly surged through my human bones, triggering the adrenaline safely stored in my body. Suddenly an incredibly bright white ring enveloped my waist. It widened then split into two. The rings seemed to repel each other as they moved oppositely up and down my body. The rings started to part, leaving behind a solid black jumpsuit. In the middle of the chest a silver D stood out boldly. A single bright ring moved upwards past my human head, revealing something...or someone who wasn't quite human yet in no way resembled a monster. Astonishingly emerald green orbs glistened in the afternoon sun. My placid skin a beautiful contrast against the ebony ensemble I wore. Whilst my strikingly ashen hair partly covered my face.
If only I had a top hat and tails, I would be the perfect Ringmaster! My audience not just entranced by my appearance, but also by my defiance of gravity and science. My useful array of neon green shocked and awed the crowd. A talented entertainer through and through. My somewhat childish dream came to an abrupt halt as I heard the distant hint of footsteps growing. Acting quickly my spectral tail overshadowed the legs of my former self as, kneeling low to the ground; I shot off into the sky. I smiled brightly as the breeze tickled my face. The humane passersby below unknowingly carried about their business. My smile perished as I realized exactly why I was hovering 50 feet above the ground. Burger joint. Now!
My already exhausted mind desperately tried to make sense of the scattered sheets covering the cheap tattered table. In a rush of frustration I threw the complicated documents to the bleached slippery death trap below. A stream of shimmering silver caught my eye from the wide windows to my right. A single handcuff linked a clenched hand to an old, worn briefcase. Mr...Lancer...I gasped as realization tore apart the sole fragment of righteousness embedded into my very heart.
My face, now permanently set serious, only portrayed half of the panic I was being subjected to. I had eyes for only one target...one solitary location. The seconds passed too fast and the minutes didn't seem to be long enough. Time was running out. My surroundings were blurred as I speedily flew by them. Naively, I breathed a sigh of relief as Nasty Burger came into my view. I would learn to regret that sigh for the rest of my existence. As I touched the ground my tail-turned-feet headed cautiously toward the somewhat empty burger joint. Terror froze my half-existent heart as the familiar blue mist escaped my dry mouth. I whipped my head round, searching for the foreign intruder. A voice...his voice jaggedly cut through the silence...and I turned to face my living nightmare...my ultimate enemy.
I had to get it. It was my only chance of getting anywhere in this flawed life. They owe it to me! My eyes widened then narrowed at the truth of my own thoughts. Flashbacks played throughout my mind. A constant reminder of the unchanging injustice I suffer. My jaw tightened in anger. My fists shook as I barely contained my hurt...my pain...I felt betrayed. Betrayed by the very people I swore to protect. In a bout of fury I ran from the diner. I slumped to the ground behind the burger joint, my mind, a jumbled mess of fury and frustration. My somewhat calm thoughts shattered as Mr Lancer's voice carried through the vents of the diner...
"Why hello Daniel, how nice it is to see you again." He calmly said.
My frantic mind refused to process anything but panic as my body stood, frozen in fear. I stumbled back in horror as my eyes roamed his floating figure. It...it was him! But...how! I had my suspicions but...I never really thought he would be here...now! How did he escape? I stifled my oncoming sob as my fears seemed to materialise in front of my very own dilated pupils. My bravery shredded as my heroic mask slipped from my face...the facade now gone; I turned to fly as fast as I could away from him, intent on never seeing his face again. Faster than my eyes could acknowledge, a sudden red mist appeared before me. The mist began to vanish and in less than a few seconds later, there he stood. His mouth curved up into a malevolent grin and I shuddered as his action partly showed a gleaming fang. All logic left me as I stumbled backwards away from the malicious mirror of myself.
For each step I took backwards, he took one forwards. An endless cycle of cat and mouse. Predator versus Prey. The hunter...and the hunted. My last shred of hope was set alight by the roaring flames of emerald fate as I felt my back hit the hard stone barrier. He knew as well as I...I was trapped...the game was over...now, now the battle begins.
All rationality left me as, turning around I felt the familiar rings pass through my humane body, leaving behind something completely different. Passing through the cracked walls I began searching...searching for that briefcase. As soon as my eyes locked onto it, I rushed forward and without considering the consequences of my actions I reached through the case, grabbed the answer sheet and left the over-crowded diner without a trace. A solitary piece of regret edged itself into my heart but I took no notice. It was what they deserved after all. Not giving me any choice I was forced to take the reward myself. I never asked for anything...not one thing...and what do I get in return for saving these creatures lives countless times! Nothing...not one thing. I had had enough...enough of this situation where whatever I did just wasn't good enough...when was I going to be good enough? I hushed my urge to cry as I reached my room and resolutely began reading the long ticket to a pass grade. At that thought I couldn't help the mischievous smirk from appearing on my face.
Briiiiiing...briiiiiiing. I woke up with a jolt. My hand reached out from under the covers in habit to turn off my noisy intruder. Blinking, my vision slowly cleared until I was able to figure out what that noise meant. I was late for school...I was late for my exam. A rush of dizziness hit my forehead as I hurried to get changed. After my mission of searching frantically for a pair of jeans and a white shirt from my mountain of clothes was accomplished I hurried downstairs. I left the house; bag in hand, a few minutes later after a quick goodbye to my parents and sister. Luckily I made it to the exam just in time. Walking into the classroom I felt as free as a bird without it's cage to confine it. The look of panic and anxiety on my fellow student's faces made me feel giddy inside. I found myself having trouble not laughing out loud in joy at this feeling of arrogance and supremacy. After what seemed like hours, I found my seat and began the exam that would, unknowingly to me, change the fate of the world...forever.
Wall after wall after wall...my spine succumbed to the agonizing pain of solid foundation tearing away half-human flesh. Green oozed from my back...dripped from the destroyed walls...this new wound overshadowed the aged scars covering my skinny back. Relentlessly my opponent continued to subject me to distressing pain. Torturous humour. Finally his actions ceased as my body slumped to the floor...my body, absent of energy, was unable to even lift my drooping head up from my pierced chest. I felt my blood create a trail down my face, like throbbing tears of hurt that refused to shed. A hand cupped my face as I was forced unwillingly into the gaze of my mirrored self.
"We are more alike than you would like to believe, Daniel" He whispered tauntingly.
"N-no...I-I'm...nothing...l-like...you..." I gasped.
He laughed mockingly at my broken self. Then leaned closer, whispering those four words that would be eternally graved into my half-soul.
"It's all your fault"
As soon as those words crossed his lips, anger overwhelmed my very being. My hands seized his fabric-covered shoulders as I felt my whole body convulse in rage. I hissed in barely controlled hatred for this monster in front of my narrowed, crimson orbs. The spectral energy around me suddenly turned visible. The blood red power swirling around me caused my pressurised knees to buckle and my now fabric-free hands drooped to my sides. As soon as my knees touched the floor, the surrounding objects around me were sheathed in glowing red spheres of energy that lifted from the ground. Trees, vehicles and small objects alike were whirling round me in a protective yet menacing barricade. I ran forward, intent on inflicting fatal damage to he who dares cause them pain. One thought was crossing my mind at that point in time. I'm going to make him bleed...I'm going to end it here!
My glowing crimson hands showed no hesitation as they delivered blow after blow to his chest, head, arms...wherever I could hit...I was an unrestrained bringer of agony...and I was out for annihilation. Jumping back a few feet I threw my arm out in the direction of my ultimate enemy. The spherical balls of red energy encasing various objects suddenly lunged forward at my command. I felt my eyes brighten in anticipation as I watched his face pale. His widened eyes were the last thing I saw before I paid witness to the cloud of dust circling his last location.
The dust finally cleared as my ears twitched at the sound of moving debris. Walking cautiously I was more than shocked to see an utterly defeated figure lying face down in the remaining wreckage of demolished walls. I crouched low to the still body. My hand, preparing to reach out to his form, stilled. Standing up straight, I turned around just in time to glimpse his sneak attack. Catching his glowing fist in my own, I twisted his arm and wrenched him toward me. Before he could blink, my free hand plunged deeply into his chest. His breathing hitched and I grinned manically as he futilely tried to free himself from my rigid grip. My hand wrapped around his very core...his ghost heart. My unwavering hand suddenly tightened. I stared, entranced at his comical show of emotions and expressions. From anxiety to fright...from scared to still. I dropped his limp body to the floor.
Unable to hold it back any longer I whipped my head back and unleashed a maniacal laugh to the skies above. After what seemed like hours my laughter stopped and my visible energy disappeared once more. The accustomed white rings enveloped my body and I became human once more. As green converted to red I became shocked at how much blood was pouring out of my weak body. That thought didn't last very long as I didn't have time to worry about myself.
I...I've done it. I...I've saved everyone...before he could hurt them. I thought happily.
My retreating form halted as I heard the faint inkling of a muffled shout. Horror-struck I realised it was coming from the Nasty Burger. My body went into overdrive as I darted back to the diner. The closer I got to the diner, the more louder and clearer the voices became. I was near the entrance when I heard them...their...voices...so clear I swear they were right there next to me...and with a sudden realisation that left me swaying on the spot and holding the wall for balance, I...realised I recognized their voices...because they were the voices of my family, friends and a lone English teacher – Mr Lancer.
What...is this? Did he do all this? Did...did Dan Phantom hold them all hostage? I-I've got to save them! I thought frantically.
As soon as the last thought entered my mind, I began to run as fast as I could to the Nasty Burger. After finally opening the doors leading inside, I witnessed a scene that would surely stay etched into my very being forever.
Staring at me with wide, fear-filled eyes were that of my father, mother, sister, my two best friends Sam and Tucker, and Mr Lancer. They were all gagged and seemed to be tightly strapped to a boiler tank of some sort. Without hesitation, I rushed forward, my mind focused only on rescuing them. I was nearly there...my hand desperately reached out ahead of me...when it happened. A sudden explosion, originating at the boiler tank, swiftly engulfed us all in searing hot pain. The blast knocked me backwards and as I heard glass shatter I realised I must have broken through the front windows of the diner. My body impacted harshly with the rough ground. My left side was full of scrapes from my fall. I laid there in shock for a few minutes, desperately trying to process what was happening.
My face, chest and hands covered with seeping lacerations that were filled with glass shards were paid no notice. The lifeless remains of my hand were not left any thought. My agonising burn on the right side of my face was ignored. The only thoughts sifting throughout my mind were Please be alive...please don't be hurt! And Help...please somebody help! My voice...too strained to vent my thoughts...was just a useless box...void of importance and want. I heard the distant sound of a siren...but I was too distressed to understand what it meant...my mind felt like the leftover shards of glass from the damaged window. With an abrupt surge of energy, I picked myself up from the cracked ground and ran toward the entrance, fixed on saving them.
My intentions were cut short as I felt tyres come to a screeching halt nearby and a solid arm wrapped around my waist in a firm hold, effectively pulling me away from the catastrophic site. But they didn't understand...my family was in that building! I had to save them! I shouted and struggled against this captor, but it did no good. Helplessly I watched on as the roaring flames of death and destruction swallowed up my family and friends. The glorious display of sparks and colours fascinated me as the burning building effectively replaced the absent pyre. The way the fire crackled as it hit the sweltering remnants of the mutilated Nasty Burger intrigued me so much I felt hysterical laughter stir inside me. Too captivated in the musical flames of radiance, I didn't notice the distressed cry somewhere overhead. My body suddenly sagged as I could feel my frame weakening; the last of my adrenaline was used up. The offender's worried gaze was the last thing I saw as the black flecks enclosing my vision grew until I felt the tranquil darkness take me.
My body twisted and turned in a frantic burst of energy as nightmares shook my spirit. The nightmares currently battling with reality had my head jolting sideways and my fists clenching. My whole form lurched suddenly upwards as the victor claimed consciousness. I gasped as my eyes flew open, revealing to me a room which was not in the least distinguishable. My breathing quickened as my eyes glimpsed around the bloodless room. A strange monitor...seemed to be keeping an observation of something and every few seconds it bleeped. A daunting feeling shook me as I instantly recognised where I was. I was in hospital.
The aftermath of my nightmare still not ridden from my mind caused me to hyperventilate and panic. Without a second thought I wrenched the IV from my left wrist, cursing my stupidity as I felt the blood dribble down my arm. The monitor suddenly began screeching, immediately alerting the doctors and nurses nearby. I have to hurry! All of a sudden, whilst yanking the many circular pads off my upper body, I heard hurried footsteps coming from outside the room. Before my mind processed my actions, I leaped out of the window.
As I landed gracefully to the floor I thanked my good luck that my cell was only a few floors above the ground. Small shards of glass rained down on me. Hearing many gasps from the shocked onlookers I thought it best I retreat to the alleyways. A newspaper was carelessly thrown to the floor in front of the backstreet. Curiously I looked at the date of the newspaper. I stifled a gasp when I turn to study the paper, and was met instantly with the faces of my family, friends and my English Teacher – Mr Lancer. I dropped to the floor in resignation...
"It...It wasn't a-a nightmare! E-everything that h-happened...was...the truth...all...of it." I stated brokenly to myself. Tremors took over my whole body whilst I let out a bloodcurdling sob. Friday 15th October... Two days had passed since the incident. I stayed there for what seemed like hours...the rain drenched my figure but I didn't care...the arms wrapped around my frame shook as I let out a final mangled cry. Sluggishly I picked myself up from the tainted floor and began my path to the last resting place of everyone I ever cared about...
No one to go home to...I thought bitterly.
Everything seemed to stop as I stared at the mass of rubble and debris which used to be the Nasty Burger. The rain hammering down upon me was not heard as my ears focused only on my irregular heartbeat. The icy raindrops whipping my numb pallid skin appeared to freeze my whirlpool of emotions whilst washing my troubles away with their streaming currents. I felt at peace with the rain here beside me, like a friend I never knew I had, it gave me great comfort and security. However comfort and security was not enough to stop my knees from shaking uncontrollably as I inched closer to their eternal graves.
It all got too much and I simply couldn't hold up my own body any longer. My knees sagged to the ground whilst I screamed at the skies above.
"WHY! Why did you have to take them away! I-I won't let you do this!"
I screamed and screamed...vainly awaiting an answer that was never coming. Without warning my arms abruptly began clawing at the ground below. The masses of rubble and glass shredded by hands and fingers but I was too desperate to notice. Too desperate clinging on to the shred of hope that believed my family and friends could still be alive. Though I knew I was only fooling myself, the shred of hope seemed to perish bit by bit every second. I was a lost cause, I realised sadly.
Tears pouring down my face seemed to blind my vision, making everything seem blurry. The blood collected around my cut hands and knees, masking some of the debris beneath me. So absorbed in my mission, I didn't hear the voice coming closer behind me.
"Bring them back! Don't you dare take them away from me!" I sobbed.
Quite suddenly I felt a pair of strong arms engulf me. I screamed in shock and struggled in their grip, futilely trying to be free. My body stilled as I heard their voice, instantly recognizing my captor.
"Daniel stop this nonsense this instant!" Vlad cried.
"Let go of me you fruitloop!" I shouted.
"No Daniel, I won't let go until you've calmed down!" Vlad stated.
After minutes of my struggling I found myself too exhausted to resist anymore, I let my form calm as I tried to steady my breathing. My current body, particularly sensitive to the cold, shivered against its merciless wind. I felt a warmth fabric envelope my body and I turned to face Vlad. His pristine blue eyes shimmered against the sun, now covered in clouds and his face was serious, yet comforting. Without a second's hesitation I launched myself into Vlad's warm grip. My frail arms were thrown tightly around his chest, ensuring he wouldn't be able to release me, even if he wanted to. He surprised me as I felt his arms encircle around my shoulders. I sobbed and sobbed into his chest, not caring I was ruining his probably expensive shirt.
"Shhh now Daniel, everything's going to be alright. I promise. No one will ever hurt you while I'm here, my little badger"
Arch enemy personas thrown aside, we revelled in the comfort of one another...revelled in the comfort of someone who knew exactly what I was going through at the moment, in more ways than one. I didn't mind it was Vlad that was providing my comfort, all I cared about was that there was still someone in the world who cared for me at least a little bit. That simple fact made me feel so happy and light I never wanted it to go.
"V-vlad...t-they're...a-all gone! T-the d-diner...it just b-blew up! I-I couldn't e-even save them! I'm u-useless!" I cried.
Vlad's grip around me tightened and he tilted my chin up so I was looking straight into his grief-filled orbs. A single tear escaped his eyelids. It was the first time I had ever seen Vlad cry...and I was shocked. I just wanted to hold him and tell him everything would be ok...but it wouldn't be...not for a long time. We both knew that.
"V-vlad..." I started to say.
"Daniel, you listen to me, you could never be useless. Not even if you tried. Countless days you spend protecting this town against their ghost predicament. You never gave up, even once. Not even against me. Even when the people you fought so hard to protect mistreated you. You are anything but useless Daniel." Vlad said.
I was speechless. I mean...what was I supposed to say...? How was I meant to answer him?
"T-thank you...Vlad" Was the only seemingly logical response I could think of.
I opened my eyes as Vlad pulled away from me. He must have noticed my curious gaze because he answered...
"Come now Daniel, you can't possibly think I would leave you all alone now at a time like this would you? You're coming home with me, at least until I deem your ready to leave." Vlad held out his hand, awaiting my reply.
After a minute of considering my somewhat slim options, I lifted my hand onto his. I heard him gasp in shock and was just about to ask what was wrong when I saw where his gaze led. He was staring at my mutilated hands. Various shards of glass and rubble were embedded into my bruised skin. A flood of blood seeped through every crease in my skin. It wasn't a pretty sight. My whole body wasn't much better either. Though at least my former lacerations were covered in bandages. My recent cuts looked infected as they turned a sickly yellow.
At sighting my wounds, his face turned even more resolute. His arm reached out to grasp my wrist and he gently pulled me forward.
Black rings surrounded his body and separated like a familiar Phantom's to reveal a pale blue skinned creature. His hair, styled ironically like two horns, was pitch black whilst his eyes gleamed crimson maliciously. The older hybrid was wearing a short white cape that connected to his innocent white attire. The inside of the cape was a bright red, destroying whatever innocence his attire obtained.
All of a sudden a violet sphere surrounded us and in an instant, we were gone.
They were all there to discuss my actions of that previous day when it happened. The incident that irreparably broke me forever. Daniel Fenton would exist no longer...and I found myself relieved to never hear that name leave anyone's lips ever again. It hurt too much to think about them...yet they never left my thoughts once in the following months. Not once. My internal clock forever damaged due to months of sleepless nights...crying became the pastime of the night...sleep was a pleasure I was forbidden to receive. Attempt after attempt my wish was never granted. He wouldn't allow it. My disgustingly thin body...not quite starved enough. Again, he wouldn't allow it. Markings covering my swollen wrists...not enough blood loss. He still refused. I didn't understand the point of me being alive anymore. What was it about me that was so precious to Vlad he felt I simply couldn't be allowed to die? I asked him many times, but he would just gaze sadly at my sunken face.
Finally, after two years of striving to end my hollowed life, I slowly began to heal. Technically, my bandaged soul would never heal. But as time moved forward, my spirit would sheath the shredded leftovers of my very essence, intentionally masking my scars forever. I found living an exciting tale of misfortune and rewards, not a chore. As soon as I placed my hand onto Vlad's I knew my life was about to change, but for the better...or for the worst...who can tell? All I knew was that my old life, which had perished that day, was over and in turn a new life began. I didn't know what I was to become...didn't know I was to become the second most feared being in the depths of swirling emerald. The inhabitants dreaded the time when I would seek them through their lavender portal. Only a few escaped with their lives...they were the unlucky ones, bound by mine and Father's will, for eternity. Father was to be the only one I cared about...and I would remain loyal to him until the end of my corrupted life.
My dominant alter ego roamed around the jade abyss. My glowing eyes locked onto the cowering target. It's been three years exactly today...since the incident that claimed so many lives...including my own. I've grown a lot since then I mused to myself. My ebony locks remained the same, although Father is always trying to make me grow them longer, except for the stunning crimson tints and tips. My tall body stubbornly remained skinny. My eyes...oh how I adored my alluring blood-red eyes...the last thing you will ever see, almost as if the blood pouring from your body is reflected into my own orbs. The thorn filled symbol of love encased in my glowing gloved hand setting a beautifully poetic theme whilst my other hand plunged into your spectral core. Upon finding it, my unwavering hand tightened. Your curdling scream fills the air, mixing with my malicious laughter. Oh how you writhe and struggle in my grip! My laughter carries through the eerie atmosphere and I watch with intense satisfaction as your body becomes limp. My eyes widen with relish as I gaze at your glazed eyes. My body trembles as my laughter becomes louder. I drop it unceremoniously. It's body floats away, but I never turn to look as it deteriorates more every second. My maniacal grin widens, presenting a pair of gleaming fangs.
My black and red cape, that flutters as I enter the humane realm of deception, matches perfectly with my coal and scarlet ensemble covering my marked body. As I wander around this familiar territory, I sight a recognizable picture centring an old poster. My eyes narrowed as I looked at the familiar stranger of myself. The naive grin etched into his face sickened me. The happy-go-lucky eyes that held so many secrets shone brightly. Before I ripped the tantalizing picture from it's hanging place my eyes focused on the bold black script below. Laughter rose up from my chest as I struggled to strain my disbelieving thoughts. A booming clock suddenly started to chime.
I'm late again I thought exasperatingly. Shaking my head I lifted into the air and began my flight home. My face brightened momentarily in amusement as I predicted my Father's actions at the news of my recent discovery.
"Those fools never know when to give up" I stated.
Have you seen this boy?
Daniel Fenton – aged 15
Missing since 15th October 2009