What Follows

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6.0: Way To Human Extinction

`The risk I took was calculated, but man...am I bad at math.`

There are stretches of non-ending darkness. Infinite miles of colourless emptiness. And I wonder if that’s how fear would look like as a thing. And I don’t know if that’s what’s inside my head or if that’s what I’m actually looking at. If I’ve finally and indefinitely returned to the ‘Darkoom’. And if this time, there isn’t a Tobias or a Benji to accompany me.

I stretch my arms out, but I know that even if I’m touching something, I wouldn’t know what it is, cause I can’t feel shit. And I gulp down my fright as my brain fires up at the actual possibility that I’m utterly alone with my cursed thoughts.

"Hey. Roseline-” I hear someone say. Someone I know, calling my name from far, far away. “Wake up-” That very same voice says as my head somehow lols to the side.

And then I open my eyes just in time to witness Tobias slapping me. My head turns against the impact, and my eyes widen at his bright figure. And I, of course, feel no pain.

Tobias flinches back, but his face remains very close to mine. His honey drops for eyes are alert and glassy with lots of doubts and questions. And his hair is a red, scary creature standing atop his head.

I lazily glance to his side, where Benji stands in his own light, still attached to Tobias with his leash.

"Roseline-” Tobias draws my attention back to him. He then shakes his head at my obviously destitute condition. “Are you okay?”

I numbly stare at him, my lips parted. I touch my fingers to my lips for some reason as if trying to touch my words on my mouth. Trying to see if I’ve got some kind of a new sense in this dimension. Like touching words or hearing thoughts.

There are none.

Tobias’ lips are pressed in a straight line, and it could be the first time he’s serious about anything. And it’s kinda scary, morbid.

I close my eyes as if in pain. I then open them to look down and realize I’m not standing. But sitting, or floating on my buttocks, with Tobias sitting cross-legged in front of me. I pull my knees toward my chest, trying to attempt humanly sitting positions that no longer make sense in my dimension. Because our standards of ‘comfortable’ are nonexistent.

I look back at Tobias whose gaze never left me and then say, “I’m confused-” He then catches my eyes, and I try not to look away. “I’m tired and confused-”

Tobias sighs loudly. “What are you confused about?” He asks softly, his eyes unblinking.

I sniff loudly. “Why did God want to show me those different sides of all those people I loved when I’m dead?” I ask and am surprised by my voice’s steadiness. It’s supernatural.

Tobias blinks, his face mirroring mine. Alert, sorrowful and curious. “Because He wants you to regret it-”

“Regret it?” I repeat brokenly. “Why?" I say bitterly. “I wasn’t having much fun in His ‘world’-”

“No-one did, no-one is, and no-one ever will-” Tobias replies. “We’re just unfair-”

“Unfair?” I sniff. “How?” I shake my head. “We’re just...awfully broken-”

Tobias sighs. “We’re all broken. Everyone is, in their own way, at some point in their lives-” He tilts his head. “Problem is that we didn’t realize that by doing this-” He refers to our suicide. “We’re breaking people more than they already are-”

"Really?" I say slightly livid. “Aren’t those people the reason why we’re so broken in the first place? Why we killed ourselves?”

Tobias looks away and doesn’t say anything for a while. “You know, it’s not that simple. I used to think like you before-” He glances at Benji. “That they all deserve this sadness. Until I was let into their lives. Until I realized that those people who broke us are broken by other people, who’re broken by more people. Then broken people break more people. It keeps going on-” Tobias looks up at me. “What I’m saying is, if every broken person killed themselves, humans would cease to exist-”

I blink at him and sniff. “So you’re saying that everyone is as broken as we were?”

Tobias nods sadly. “We’re not as special as we’d like to think. We all have circumstances that break us-”

I part my lips at him and frown silently, slowly shaking my head. “Circumstances?”

“Circumstances that broken people create,” Tobias elaborates. “Look we didn’t know that. No-one does-” Tobias tilts his head. “Or no-one wants to believe it. Everyone wants to think that their own problems are the toughest ones possible-” He lifts a brow. “Like only their pain is the most intolerable. Out of those people are some people. People like us, who’d go to the extent of thinking that it’s justifiable to just kill themselves-”

I stare at him in shock, trying to process all his words over. “But I’m not weak-” I whisper. I was brought to shake mountains, chase clouds and swallow pouring rain. “The world was just too weak to take me.”

Tobias scoffs loudly, and I look at him, trying not to be offended, cause what does it matter?

“C’ mon, do you believe this bullshit? Truly?” He tells me, his eyes losing their soft twinkle. “We’re out here, footless. Useless. Watching people change. Watching people need us, need our help, and we can’t do anything about it-” He rants out.

“I watched people die in front of me-” He continues. “-and I knew that if I was still alive, I could’ve saved him.” He blinks at me as his eyes slowly water up. “Greatness isn’t really about having power, it’s about giving it to those who need it. It’s about helping others. If greatness was what you desired, you wouldn’t have killed yourself”

I gulp and forcefully shake my head. “That’s not true. We can’t help those people-”

"Yeah?" Tobias whispers loudly, his lips frowning. “If you were alive, you could’ve helped stop your brother from smoking-”

I stare at him unblinking, feeling absolutely hurt. I don’t know what to say to prove him wrong. I don’t know what to do to calm that voice inside my head that seems to be jubilant to agree with Tobias and stand against me.

“You’re wrong-” I deny bitterly. “If I were alive, I couldn’t have helped him. I wouldn’t have known-”

“You don’t know that-” He narrows his eyes at me, and I frown.

“Why the hell are you acting like I’m the only mistaken one here?” I tell him angrily.

“Oh, maybe because you are?” He tells me bluntly, and I gasp.

“You have-”

"No, I have an idea what you’ve gone through-” He cuts me off, and I almost roll my eyes. “Unfair parents whom you thought hated you. A misunderstood ex-boyfriend. Confused, sad brothers that you’ve been compared with. And a bitch of a best friend who might be the reason behind your bullying, but you didn’t know that-” He clenches his fist and raises it in front of his face. He then points his index finger at me. “None are terrible enough reasons to give your life up-”

“You have no right to tell me that when you’ve probably killed yourself for some pathetic reason!” I tell him infuriated and feel the need to stand up. But I know it’s of no use, given that we’re not human and are incapable of feeling the satisfaction of fighting while standing.

I get up anyway, to Tobias’ surprise.

“You know that’s the thing about you-” He tells me. “You always see the flaws, every possible, terrible thing to justify your actions-” He scowls. “You never see how it could’ve been very easy to solve them. Your tiny problems-”

“Oh?” I start before he gets up. “Then why the hell did you kill yourself? What are your super indispensable, mighty reasons?”

“I’m not obliged to tell you-”

“Why? You’re so ashamed of your stupid reasons?”

“You wouldn’t understand-” He hisses at me, his face losing its familiarity and kindness. “I come from another generation-”

“So do I!” I defend myself.

“But I have lived through your generation-” He says, raising his voice. “I know what teenagers nowadays do!”

I stop arguing and shake my head in sad defeat. “You just have no right to belittle my pains-” I then back away from him. “You don’t know how it feels like to be so happy at one point, and then find out that the people closest to you don’t fucking care. Don’t care to be happy for your happiness. Don’t care to share them with you. You have no idea how lonely this felt-”

“Why didn’t you go out? You aren’t the only lonely person on Earth!”

“It isn’t that easy with someone like me-” I yell out, placing my hands on my chest. “Someone who’s got her fingers terribly burnt by people-” I pant out. “Everyone has disappointed me. All my classmates thought I was a loser. Most likely not to succeed. A loser whom people glance at hallways instead of talk to-”

Tobias calms down a little. “Why is it do you think that it’s people who have to start? Why don’t you think that it should’ve been you?!"

“I won’t force myself on anybody-” I shake my head and sniff. “I won’t be bullied for it-”

“You had some friends!” Tobias says. “Sierra! Mason? Your brothers?! Why did you break their hearts for?”

I look at him lost. “I didn’t mean it-”

“This isn’t even half of a proper excuse-” Tobias shakes his head and juts out his lower lip. “Because truth is, you killed yourself based on wrong assumptions, you’ve had a great time painting, of people you love-”

“They hid all of their true feelings-” I say. “How could I’ve known?”

"Faith?” Tobias suggests. “Ever tried it out?”

“You’re a hypocrite-” I pant out. “You stand here, count all my misdeeds and criticize me while you remain hidden, unwilling to share the reason you’ve done it yourself!”

“What I’m trying to say is-” He holds my eyes. “If I had your problems, I would’ve been easily able to solve them!”

I look at him appalled. What the hell is he even saying?

“Well, alas. You fucking don’t-” I yell across the empty, dark space between us. “This isn’t how it works. We all have different personalities, different priorities; and thus different responses to them-” I make a face. “I’m certain if you told me your problem I would’ve been able to solve it!”

Tobias shuts up and glares at me, which provokes me further.

“You know-” I swallow (I don’t know what though. My tongue? Saliva? Air?). “I liked your company. I respected you. But no more.”

Tobias’ shoulders drop, and he momentarily shuts his eyes and holds his temples. He paces around in front of me, groans loudly, then turns to me.

“Why are we even fighting?” He then asks calmly and opens his eyes to look at me.

I grimace. “Oh, maybe because you think you’re the best of us? The one with the title of Most Appreciated Suicide?”

Tobias blinks at me, licks his lower lip. “No. We’re fighting because of you. For you.”

“For me?” I scoff. “You just want to prove how bitchy I am-”

“Look, you aren’t ′bitchy‘-” He says it like it’s a weird word and pronounces it more like ’peachy’. “Look, I just wanted to know what really, truly broke you. Your last string as your brother’s called it-”

I blankly stare at him. “I don’t know?” I breathe out. “It’s a combination of things, Tobias-”

“Well, according to Jacob it isn’t-” Tobias says. “While you were breaking down, he said something. About your parents. And he thinks it’s why you did it-”

I look at him curiously as he pulls down on his shirt and adjusts his jacket.

“He talked about their-” I look sideways. “-divorce?”

“No-” He shakes his head with lifted eyebrows.

“Well, of course-” I say bitterly. “After my death, they seem to be back to their Romeo and Juliet stage-”

"Oh-” Tobias says, and I sigh. My life has always been so ‘oh’.

“That’s exactly what I was talking about-” I close my eyes for a second. “Everything got better after I died. Just like I wanted it-”

“So I take it that you’re not really aware of what I’m gonna say-” Tobias says slowly.

“What exactly?” I sigh dramatically. “My folks aren’t interesting. My mom’s a shopaholic, and my dad’s a workaholic. Both unsuited for parenting. They’ve got all the wrong priorities-”

“That’s it?” Tobias asks cautiously. “There isn’t anything that would make them, you know-” He clears his throat. “-treat you differently?”

“I guess I’m just their dumb, middle kid-” I shrug noncommittally.

“No, Rosey-” Tobias looks a little uncomfortable. “Something more convincing-”

“Look, all my life I was searching for this one convincing reason as to why my parents turned against me-” I sigh. “There was this time when they were really nice to me. Then Jacob came, and then I don’t know what happened-” I pout. “Guess, the got bored of me, and now they’re just feeling guilty-”

“C’ mon-” Tobias searches my face. “Even your brothers seem to be against them-” He says. “Are you sure you know no other reason?”

“Just tell me, Tobias-” I lift my hands and sigh. “Won’t make much of a difference-”

“Well, I’m not sure of what I heard-” Tobias says. “But Jacob said that he thinks that your parents’ upbringing is the reason behind your weakness-”

I ignore him calling me weak and narrow my eyes at him. “Well, of course-”

“Yes, Rosey-” Tobias’ hazel eyes constrict, and he drops his voice as if telling me a secret. “Of course, but they treated you differently for a reason-” Tobias steps closer to me. “I’m not sure if I should tell you. It wouldn’t matter-”

Feeling anxious at what he’s going to reveal, I snap at him. “Just tell me, dammit-”

Tobias blinks, glances at a lost, quiet Benji, licks his lower lip and catches my eyes. “Well, he told Judas that you were-” He trails off, his eyes losing their focus.

I almost hyperventilate because of how he builds up this mysterious reason. And knowing Tobias, it’ll probably be stupid.

“Cut the shit-” I tell him vehemently.

“He said you were adopted-” He rips the bandage and shuts his eyes in dread before opening them one after the other.

I stand still, repeating his words in my head so that they can make better sense. I turn it left and right, and my mind comes up with a lot of incidents, painful moments and whispered conversations about me. It mainly brings up Mom’s riddle and my brothers’ bitterness.

“It makes sense-” I say calmly. “Makes perfect sense-”

Tobias’ eyes widen. “Wait, you’re not mad?” He questions. “You’re not- you’re not gonna...cry?"

Cry? What did he take me for?

In fact, Tobias, I feel nothing. If you take a peek behind this red dress of mine, you’ll find hollowness, a void that can no longer get deeper or wider. So if you think that me being an adopted kid, maybe even a bastard kid, will shake my grounds, then you’ve got it coming- is what I want to tell him.

I’ve revealed far worse truths, I want to tell him. I’ve seen far worse things. I’ve been hurt in the most grotesque ways possible, and it turned out okay. Till I killed myself of course.

“Look, this isn’t some TV show-” I choke out and wonder why the words in my head seemed far easier to say. “I’m not going to dramatize a non-dramatic matter-” I look at Tobias. “I don’t mind it much, you know. I never once belonged there-”

“But-but it’s wrong-” He blathers angrily. “They should’ve treated you equally or they shouldn’t have adopted you in the first place!”

I smile at Tobias, then start laughing loudly. Tobias looks at me like I’m weird and relaxes a bit as I pretend that my laughter is unfallen tears being freed. I then stop laughing, sigh softly and settle for a fake smile.

“I know, Tobias-” I click my tongue. “You don’t think I wondered if I was adopted before?” I make a face. “’Course I did. Frequently, actually. It didn’t matter because I knew that my biological parents are even much worse to bring me to this world just to leave me-”

Tobias looks like emptied pockets, without dimes of thoughts or nickels of words. He looks perplexed, yet circumspect.

“Well, at least that explains Jake-” He says slowly, hesitant about locking my eyes. He catches them anyway and inhales deeply. “I just- you know- I’m just-” He sighs and eases his shoulders. “I’m sorry for what I said before. It was insensitive-”

“Whatever-” I furrow my eyebrows. “I don’t want to talk about it-”

Tobias looks relieved. “Neither do I-” He pushes his tongue against his inner cheek. “But you know what you should do?”


“Hold on to me.”


“In case you leave again-”

“Oh, you mean give you the knife to kill me with whenever you want?” I ask him, casting down my eyes.

Tobias looks down and smiles. He looks quite handsome right then with his pushed back red hair and his thick, slightly darker eyebrows. I fight a smile.

“I’m trying to get you to understand the point of this whole thing-” He waves his arms around the Darkoom.

“Yeah, you made your point-” I then look up at him with an idea forming in my head. “Guess if I couldn’t make the world a better place while I was alive-” I sigh and lock his eyes. “Maybe I can try doing that when I’m dead-”

Tobias smiles and shakes his head. “Whatever, Roseline. Whatever, Rosey-” He then looks down at Benji. “You ’kay, buddy?”

Benji responds just by wagging his tail. He just seems very overwhelmed by all the darkness around him. He then kneels to pet him and pick him up. Then with a small smile, Tobias confidently grabs my forearm.

I roll my eyes as we stand speechlessly, awaiting our departure. It doesn’t happen for a long time, and I almost think it’s ridiculous.

Well, until I seem to get absorbed into a sponge of darkness.

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