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Chapter Three

"Minimal brain activity."

"Swelling around the blah-de-blah-da."

Okay, so the doctor didn't say 'blah-de-blah-da," but I didn't understand what he said. I just know that no one looked happy.

I had been called braindead before, but that had been a joke. This...this wasn't a joke.

"Is his emergency contacts here?" one of the doctors asked. A nurse nodded. The doctor sighed.

"Bring them in."

The nurse practically walked through me towards the door. I looked back at myself. They had shoved one of those things down my throat. That was going to hurt like a bitch when they pulled it out.


Brian's scream would have sent shivers down my spine if I could have shivered. He was standing in the doorway looking like one of those Weeble people. One strong wind would have knocked him over. A large, kinda hairy hand wrapped around his arm. The arm was attached to a broad shoulder. The shoulder belonged to a dark, nononsense face.

Kevin. They had actually found him. He pushed Bri forward. A second later he collapsed into one of the hard plastic seats.

"What happened?" Kev asked calmly. At least he looked calm.

"Nick was in a bad automobile accident. His car crashed head-on into a tree. The windshield shattered and his seatbelt broke. There was full front lobe trauma upon inpact with the trunk of tree."

My eyes widened. I flew threw the windshield? I hit a tree? Why hadn't I been able to see that?

"How bad's the injury?" I watched Kevin's eyes dart towards me and then back to the doc. The doctor started to ramble all the mumbo jumbo from earlier.



Daaaaamn. I knew it hadn't looked good, but still--to actually hear it---

A loud snort filled the room. Bri had his face buried in one of the Wylee scarves. I'm sure Leighanne hadn't intended them to be snot catchers.

"Can we have a moment?" Kev asked quietly. The doctors nodded. They filed out of the room. Once the door closed, Kev sat down by Bri. He put a hand on his back. Both of them looked over at me.

"There was an option for life support on the sheet I signed," Kev said slowly. "I didn't mark it. I didn't know what Nick might have--"

"You didn't check 'no' did you?" Bri asked in a panic.

"I didn't mark anything," Kevin repeated. "I didn't know what he would have wanted."

"You can't kill him!" Bri shrieked. The soggy scarf flew towards Kev's face, but he dodged it.

"You can't kill someone who's already dead."

Uh-oh. I didn't like where this was headed. Kev was ready to pull the plug on me! I knelt down next to Brian.

"For the love of all things HOLY and BLONDE Brian, tell him to give me life support," I begged. I tried to punch his knee, but my hand went through him. Bri continued to look at Kev.

"I dunno, it just kinda seems like Nick would want to...fight."

"YES!" I screamed. "I wanna fight! I'm a fighter! I'm a lover too, but right now that's not important--"

The door opened and the doctors filed back in. More vitals were taken. The whole time, Kevin's face was a blank mask. I squeezed my eyes shut.

"Sir, you left something blank."

Dang-crabbit. The nurse was standing in me. I shifted feebly to the side. Kevin took the forms. I scrambled to my feet and hovered over his shoulder.

"Please, please, please, please, please," I begged. Kev's head shot up.

"Please what?"

I gasped. Bri just looked confused.

"I didn't say anything," he said.

"MARK YES!" I bellowed. "YES! YES! YES! YES! YE--"

Kev looked all around in bewilderment. It was like he could hear me. With a swipe of the pen, he marked yes. I exhaled.

"If his prognosis changes, we can revisit this at a later time," the nurse said. She took the form back. Meanwhile, I did a moonwalk across the linoleum.

"I swear I heard--" Kev said awkwardly. Before he could finish, Bri threw his arms around his cousin.

"Thank you," he said breathlessly. I smiled.

"Yeah, what he said."

Kev's head shot back up. I paused, mid-backwards slide.

I felt funny. Connected somehow. It was a faint feeling, but it seemed to be growing stronger. Kev stood up.

"Let's go in and see him for a minute," he told Bri. "Then we need to get some sleep. There's nothing we can do for him tonight."

Bri tagged after Kev. I watched quietly as they stood on either side of my bed. Bri started babbling about how Baylee was going to pray for me. Then he started rambling about a basketball game I had, ahem, cheated in last week.

Once he finally shut up, I watched Kev touch my hand.

"We're pulling for you."

With a heavy sigh, Kev turned. Bri leaned down and gave me a hug. When he pulled back, his nose was dripping again. He followed Kev out of the room.

I sank back down by myself. Even as I did, I felt a weird tug. Something told me I had someplace else to go. I just hoped it wasn't up or down. I closed my eyes and gave myself over to the sensation.

The next thing I knew, I was standing in an unfamiliar room. A door opened and the sound of keys hitting a table assailed my senses. The room was dark; I heard someone fumble around. Three clicks later, light flooded the room.

It was Kev. He ran a hand down his face. He looked tired.

"Phew. I thought you were the Grim Reaper," I said jokingly.

His hand paused. Slowly, his fingers spread.

I saw just a sliver of green before he fainted.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I've always been a sensible guy. My mom used to get all confused when I didn't know how to play pretend when I was a kid. I mean what's the point of running in circles in the living room shouting, "I'm a cowboy, I'm a cowboy!" and making pow-pow noises while pointing your fingers at the lamp? (Brian totally used to do this everyday by the way). It didn't make you anymore of a cowboy than it made the lamp a human being.

It's funny that now I'm an actor.

But I'd never been one for making up shit I couldn't really see. At least in acting the props are all there, you can see what you're pretending. That kind of pretending I'm okay with.

But the kind of pretending where you pretend you see your brain-dead friend in your living room ten minutes after signing forms to keep him on life support until you chose otherwise... That kind of pretending I just don't do.

And yet there I was, sitting in the living room of my rented house, giggling like a hyena while my imagination apologized for not being able to get a cup of water for me. "I mean my hand just goes right through stuff, see?" Nick - no, not Nick, my imagination - waved his hand through the coffee table a couple times. "I mean it's cool at first but then moments like this happen and it's like whoa hooollld up!"

I blinked up at him.

"Cos like you need water. Maybe an Advil. And whoa, holy crap, a shower. Why the hell can I smell but not pick shit up? That's a raw deal. Have you showered today?"

I blew a breath of air in his direction, expecting him to evaporate like smoke. Instead he gave me a look of utter confusion. "What the hell are you blowing air at me for? Dude you need to brush your chops too 'cos wheee that ain't pretty..." He paused. "Listen to me being an asshole to you... You saved my life!" He lunged forward and I felt the strangest, most bone-chilling feeling EVER in my ENTIRE LIFE as he passed through me. I almost threw up. He pulled back, an apologetic, tearful expression on his face. "Oh," he mumbled, "I forgot, I can't touch you, either."

I now had the chills. That's all, just the chills. I was obviously literally worried sick about Nick, I was hallucinating and I had the chills. I grabbed the blanket off the back of the sofa and pulled it over me and laid down across the cushions, staring up at the ceiling.

Nick leaned over the back of the sofa. "I mean to say thank you," he whispered, "For checking yes. Thank you for saving my life."

"You can't save what's already dead," I muttered. I closed my eyes and rolled over. I felt sick. "I made a mistake. I should've checked no, I should've just let it be over instead of letting Brian go home with hope that his best friend could wake up, instead of laying here thinking about Nick."

"NO!" he yelled. "No! Kevin, no!" His voice was so frantic, I opened my eyes and stared up at him. He was hovering over me. Full on hovering in the air. I blinked rapidly. Jesus, I thought, This imagination shit really catches up to you when you don't do it for a really long time, doesn't it? Maybe somebody slipped some kind of drug into my coffee at the hospital.

"I'm not dead, Kevin, you can see me, obviously I'm not dead. Can't you see me? Can't you hear me?" His voice dropped a few levels of excitement. He stared at me, his eyes suddenly filling with tears. "...Can't you?" he begged.

"You don't exist," I whispered.

Nick's eyes opened wide. "So you can see me?"

"I'm fucking insane," I whispered, sitting back up. Nick lowered back onto the sofa in front of me. He stared at me, excitement etched into his face. "I'm hallucinating."

"No... no you aren't... Kev, please, you aren't."

I shook my head, "God fucking damn it. I should call the fucking hospital right fucking now and tell them to pull the fucking pl--" I'd reached for the phone but Nick's hand had shot out to stop me and that freezing cold bone-chilling sensation ran up my arm as his hand passed through my hand and the phone and the table the phone sat on.

"DON'T! PLEASE DON'T! I don't wanna die yet! I don't wanna die!"





"This.. this is impossible.. Fucking A, Nick you've finally fucking done it, you've finally drove me off the cliff, you've finally made me lose it, you've finally - finally - after eighteen years of torturing me and being a pain in my fucking ass you've FINALLY made me clinically insane! I HOPE YOUR HAPPY!" I stormed out of the room into the bathroom and ripped the medicine cabinet open so hard I thought it was gonna come off in my hands. I grabbed the Advil PM.

Nick suddenly appeared at my side. He didn't come in the door, no he just appeared. I dropped the Advil when I saw him hovering behind me in the mirror. They clattered into the sink basin. I hung my head and closed my eyes.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, "But you're the only one who can see me."

I clutched the sink counter. "That's because you're in my head," I repeated for about the millionth time.

"Don't give up on me... please Kevin." He put his hand on my shoulder. The bone-chilling cold eked its way through my body once again.

"You," I whispered, "Are a hallucination."

I opened the Advil bottle and took out three pills. I downed them, swallowed a palm-full of water from the tap, and went into the bedroom, where I pulled the blankets over my head and closed my eyes and prayed the hallucinations would be gone the next morning.