Into nothing 5/5

Length: medium-long

<<What happened at that point?>>
Elia sighs <<Well… I was so panicked that I don’t remember much. I yelled a lot, I think, and in doing so I realized that the only voice I heard was mine. Marco was no longer with me, he too was gone. It was just me and … that’s it. And it was all fucking dark.>>
<<Was there really no light source?>>
<<Well, yes, there actually was. It got dark when the phones went out, but I hadn’t moved from the point i were. I remained where the door was. So after a while, when I realized that Marco had now disappeared and that I was alone, I turned around and reached the handle by heart. I opened the door and on the other side i saw Fenny.>>
<<Was she still glowing?>>
<<Very little. And in the distance. But yes, she was glowing.>>
<<I suppose you have reached her.>>
<<Fuck yes.>> he smiled <<It was the only thing I could see. The only one. I ran towards her without hesitation. I was also barefoot, so I also hurt myself leaving the house, but I didn’t give a damn. I ran towards Fenny and recovered her. She was very weak and very hot. And dirty with ashes. The hair seemed to be burning, slowly, like embers.>>
<<What did you do at that point? >>
<<I looked around. I felt like I was really in a seabed. It was all so… too dark. It wasn’t normal. But nothing was normal. And … then I started hearing voices. They were far away, fortunally.>>
<<What type of voices? >>
<<Voices of people. Adults. I got scared and ran back to the house. I obviously didn’t see it but I knew it was there. I reached the entrance and heard footsteps both in front of me and behind me. Some steps were heavy and quick, others more light and slow. I was also afraid to open my mouth, Fenny’s light wasn’t even enough to show me where I was putting my feet, so… well, I shit myself underneath. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know whether to go back or not. And in the end I decided not to.>>
<<What have you done then?>>
<<I looked for a corner in which to hide. I didn’t want those “steps” to find me. But then I also heard noises. Of tears.>>
<<Yes. They were distant and soft. For a moment I thought about Brigitte, like … i felt that she her the one who was crying. I wanted to try to call her, but I was too scared to do so and so I remained silent. I didn’t even know where to go or how to move. I just leaned against the first wall I found and crouched there. And I still felt too exposed.>>
<<Did you move from there at some point?>>
Elijah shakes his head <<No. Fenny looked like she was going to die. She went out, slowly. And when she stopped shining, I didn’t see anything anymore. So I closed my eyes and just hoped I wouldn’t die. Or to not be eaten by anything. Or to not ending up in hell and shit like that.>> he says with a slightly embarrassed smile <<God, what a fear I had. I was sure I was going crazy. My heart was beating so fast that I risked a heart attack. To tell the truth, if I had died of a heart attack … I mean, in retrospect, I admit it wouldn’t have been nice, but at that moment if I had had a heart attack and fainted, I would have been very happy. I didn’t want to stay a second longer there.>>
<<And what happened in the end?>>
<<I have heard other footsteps. They were far away but they were aiming at me, I’m sure about that. I felt they were getting closer. I didn’t have the courage to open my eyes or raise my head. I had lowered it, hidden it between my legs. I didn’t want to hear or see anything. But those footsteps were getting closer and closer. They were getting closer and heavier. I held my breath. I was sure my time had come. I thought I was dead.>>
<<But …?>>
<<The steps were right in front of me. I didn’t have the courage to move. I had Fenny in one hand but because of the fear and tension I was holding her tight. Too tight. I didn’t even think about her. I held her so tightly that she started to get hot. Very hot. Normally I would let go, I was going mad with pain, but I didn’t want to move, I wanted to pretend I wasn’t there, so I clenched my fist tightly and tried to ignore the pain. And she … dissolved. >>
<<Yes. She has become like sand. Boiling sand. Ash. And as soon as it happened… everything went back to normal. The crying stopped. The steps have disappeared. And instead of those weird voices and noises I went back to hearing the voice of the television, the one we left it on at high volume in the living room.>>
<<What did you do at that point?>>
<<I was shivering everywhere. I remained motionless for a while. A lot, actually. But then I had the courage to open my eyes and… well, it was all normal. The darkness was gone, even though it was night. There are no trees there so the night is very bright, the light of the moon and stars reflects on the sea and therefore it is never really dark. At that moment I realized that I was standing on the porch of the house, so I pulled up and looking at my hand I noticed that it was full of ashes. Much had fallen to the ground. I ran inside the house to look for my friends… but nothing was there. The house was empty. Their phones were non-existent. Nothing was resolved.>>
<<What did you do then?>>
<<I did not sleep that night. I’ve been out on the beach. I felt safer there. At a certain point the police arrived and… well, I didn’t understand anything anymore. They tried to speak English to communicate with me, but they and I were not really well versed in that language. The next day I called my parents. I didn’t tell them everything, I just said that a mess had happened and that I needed help. They told me to report the disappearances and then go to the city center, to a hotel, and try to rest. They told me they were trying to figure out how to help me. And as for Fenny … I found her again. On the porch of the house, where there was ashes.>>
<<I took her with me.>>
<<Yes. Because she was the only thing that shed light in that dark place. I thought that if that night it happened again at least I would have Fenny with me … so I took her with me, in the hotel. The others have disappeared completely however, and no one has found them again. They were reported missing, but you already know that. As for me … here I am. They all questioned me when I got home: police, relatives, journalists, psychologists, friends, relatives of friends … and now you. >>
<<Nobody believes your story though. >> I note.
<<And they do well. I wouldn’t believe it either. I also stopped talking about it, I didn’t want everyone to see me as a crazy junkie or something. I also had to change schools because of this … everyone was looking at me strangely there …>>
<<But the videos you made that day are real. Everyone has seen them.>>
<<Yes but they are not incriminating videos. Tommy’s photos could very well be retouched. It doesn’t take shit to change the brightness of a place. And the videos… well, they didn’t shoot at anything in particular. Just kids and adults running around in an house. So they’re not a proof. The psychologist I spoke to also hypothesized that in reality we had been drugged by some kidnapper and the effect of the drug made me dream about those things.>>
<<I understand.>> I then open the folder containing the documents relating to his case and show him a photograph. One of those taken by Tommy when he was “invisible”. Elia looks at it and as he does so his eyes grow larger. They vibrate for a second, shake his head, then look back at me.
<<What …?>>
I showed him more photos, like the photos Brigitte put on her profile on the first day. Elia looked at them amazed … and had a very strong and evident thrill.
<<What the fuck does that mean?>> he asks.
<<He.>> he shows me the photos <<Who is he?>> and points to a boy much smaller and younger than them.
<<You didn’t remember him, didn’t you?>> it’s my answer.
Elia eyes visibly tremble, as do his lips. Flashes of memories are ripping through his brain right now.
<<Marco and Brigitte had a little brother. >> I tell him <<For this reason there were already two beds in your room. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of that boy, he disappeared from the offical data. It also disappeared from the photographs, as you may have noticed. And as you can see he has also disappeared from people’s memory. But now you are remembering it, right?>>
<<Y … yes …>> Elia drops the photograph on the table <<Timmy. We teased him because he had been called after his father, but with a different letter. Oh fuck … little Timmy. Oh fuck! Yes I remember him! It was he who … had finished the ham giving it to Fenny, now I remember! He was the one who had lunch with Tommy when we were out … oh shit.>> shakes his head <<Oh shit! What does this mean? Why did I forget about him?>>
<<Listening well to your story we understood one thing. You often left Fenny at home, but without anyone to guard it, right?>>
<<No! Timmy was there. >> snaps immediately <<Timmy always stayed at home with her. And he slept with her for the first few days. He was always with her. He really likes that chick … that’s why … Marco hate it so much … he was jealous that his little brother always played with Fenny and no longer with us.>>
I nod <<Exactly. But that’s also the reason you don’t remember him anymore. He was the first one to disappear. In your early versions of the story, the ones you gave to the police as soon as you got back from Greece, you mentioned Timmy. But moving forward you stopped doing it. And the others have stopped doing it too. Now, in fact, you don’t remember him anymore. Nobody does. It’s like Timmy never existed.>>
<<But … why?>> Elia gives me a desperate look <<You said that you would have explained to me what happened if I had done this. You said you would help me find them.>> he reminds me <<I said everything. Now it’s your turn.>>
<<You’re right.>> I admit <<There is an explanation for all of this of course. But before we give it to you, you need to tell me about Fenny. Where is she?>>
He hesitates for a moment <<She’s always with me. I take her everywhere.>>
<<So is she here?>>
<<No. I left her out of the building. She has grown up, she is no longer a chick. She can fly now.>>
<<I understand.>>
<<What do you want to know about her?>>
<<We would like to see her.>>
He makes a half grimace <<Never. I’ve already told to a thousand of different people, Fenny can’t be touched. Whenever I show her to someone, something strange happens. Always. The other day I left her free for more than an hour and my phone started ringing. It was Marco who called, but when I answered no one spoke … I only heard a soft music in the distance.>>
<<We know.>> I reassure him <<We know how she works. And don’t worry, we don’t want to separate you from her. Also because if we did you would disappear.>>
<<You are already disappearing, actually. Fenny is just slowing down the process.>>
<<What … > the boy’s face is whitening <<what do you mean?>>
<<Take out your phone.>>
He hesitates, but after looking me in the eye for a long time he decides to do so; he picks up the phone <<And now what? If I take a selfie I can still see myself.>>
<<That’s not the point. Go to the messages.>>
<<Go there.>>
He goes <<So?>>
<<Look at the last message.>>
<<I do not … I do not see anything strange.>>
<<Really? Doesn’t it seem strange to you that the last person to have written to you … did it a week and a half ago?>>
He shivers <<Ehm …>>
<<And it was your mother, right?>>
<<When was the last time you saw her?>>
<<Are you sure?>> I glance at him <<Have you … seen her?>>
<<I heard her go to work.>>
<<So you just heard her.>>
<<Well … >>
<<Did she made you breakfast? >>
<<She has greeted you at least?>>
<<Not even to know if you were okay?>>
<<Ehm … >>
<<You said you changed school, right? And what about the new one? Have you made new friends?>>
<<I haven’t gone there yet.>>
<<No … because I didn’t find it. I mean… I dropped the old one, but I still haven’t found a new school to go to. In the end we decided to wait until next year and start over.>>
<<So you’re not even going to school.>>
He returns to look at me with a desperate face <<Listen, I ->>
<<Open your social networks. >>
<<Eh? >>
<<Socials. Open them.>>
He obeys immediately, with evident nervousness on his face <<Done. Now? Everything is normal here. I don’t publish many photos, it is normal that they are few.>>
<<The last one you put, how many I likes it has?>>
<<T… ten.>>
<<And the previous one?>>
<<And the previous one?>>
<<Two hundred and seven.>> he replies <<And the previous one nine hundred. But the older ones have three thousand … five thousand likes …>>
<<Did you notice it, eh?>> I say <<The average numbers of likes of your photos is three or five thousand. The latter have had less and less than one thousand though. The last one you did it just a week ago, when you have received your last message. How many likes did you say you had?>>
He returns to look at me with wide open eyes <<Ten.>>
<<And whose are they?>>
He immediately goes to check, and as he does so his hands begin to tremble <<Marco… Brig… Timmy… Tommy… Sara … >> he continue reading <<And the others… I don’t know them. I don’t know who these are. But if I go to their profiles I don’t see anything. They are fake profiles, they have no photos. Not even a profile picture. Marco and Brig’s profiles don’t have profile pictures either. They must be fake profiles.>>
I smile <<Ironic said by you.>>
<<Eh?>> he returns to look at me.
<<You don’t have a profile picture either.>>
He checks, and becomes paralyzed <<Shit …>> he murmurs <<But I had it …>>
I close the notebook <<Listen boy. >> I tell him, forcing him to raise his head <<Now you have two choices. Go out that door, call Fenny, bring her here and then let us help you. Or go out that door … and never come back. Never again. Neither here … nor at your home.>>
He swallows <<I do not have many choices …>>
<<No. Actually I think you don’t even have one.>>
He eventually gets up <<Okay.>> he approaches the door of the room <<You have my number, right? >>
<<So … I go out, I call Fenny, and return. And if I don’t come back in less than 5 minutes, please… call me at my phone.>>
<<Calling you is useless.>> I tell him.
I take out my phone and dial his number in front of him.
But the number called is non-existent.