Nikki - Upside Down
“W-who are you?!” I managed to speak. My voice felt so cold and dry as it escaped out of my throat. But the man didn’t even faze. The two of us were alone in my room. I didn’t know what to do. I made no move. Not even a flinch. There was no feeling of danger nor hostility. There was no threat in his presence.
The man had his back on me. All I could see was his long silvery-white hair. Based on his voice, he wasn’t as old as my mother, but he was no teenager either. It was deep and cold like the ocean. He was wearing a black cloak that draped on him.
“I can’t tell you my name yet. If you want to know, then you must first learn how to wield that blade.” He muttered. His voice colder this time. “It is made of the finest and purest Basilican Steel. Even I don’t know the exact properties it holds. Your patron must have highly adorned you, boy.”
“Then you’re not the one who left this here.” I replied.
“It is still a mystery who left that sword in your room.” The man muttered. “In fact, its presence had actually caught my attention. It led me to this place. I’m a bit jealous, to be honest. To receive such a gift means you are of high importance.”
“Me? Important? That’s a good joke. I’m practically invisible at school.” I was bewildered by the man’s compliment. “You can actually take this sword from me, and I would be completely helpless.”
“I wish I could, boy. I wish I could.” The man spoke rather grimly. “But alas, the blade had made its choice. And it has chosen you. Even if I kill you, it will not grant me its ownership. It will simply meld into the shadows.”
“So how did it find me?! I’m just a normal kid. Living inside a normal house. With a normal mother. And studying in a normal school.” I exclaimed. I gulped down so hard from the nervousness that he must’ve heard it. “You’re not making sense.”
“Look around you.” The man muttered dryly. I then realized there was something different in my room. It was damp and dark. The sinister aura on my walls had dispersed some, like tendrils trying to grab me. At the same time, it was eerily silent. The sky outside had a purple glow. It was a freaky sight. Even for me. “You’re already in another dimension.”
“What?! Where am I?!” I demanded. I threw the blanket to the side and gripped the Nyxian Blade firmly, pointing towards the man. The nightmarish color of the blade had taken an even darker glow. “Take me back home!”
“You’re the one who went here in the first place. And I wouldn’t point that thing at me if I were you.” The man warned, his back still on me. He was calm and collected despite the threat. But I, on the other hand, was trying not to lose it. “You’re in Death. Although you may also call it as Asphodel.”
“I couldn’t remember dying, so I don’t think I’m dead.” I frowned. “You killed me, didn’t you? Or at least attempted to. “
“I wish I did, but you’re the one who transported yourself here.” The man calmly said. My death seemed like a joke to him. “You don’t even know you’re a Necromancer.”
“Impossible.” I gasped. “But aren’t they supposed to summon the dead and not the dead summoning them back? And I don’t remember taking up Necromancy class at school.”
“Necromancy is a lot of things.” The man chuckled. “I am only able to enter into Death like you, but I cannot communicate nor command the dead. It is not the magic that I do focus on. But you can be so much more in this art.”
“And I can’t even go back to the living world.” I was picking up. When I looked around, the objects inside my room were perfectly replicated. Based on what I understand, it was like another dimension overlapping our own. And seemed that I can transport myself back and forth. But doing it seems a lot more complicated. “Do you call this as so much more?”
“You have a lot more to learn, little child.” The man muttered. “We will meet again. But for now, you should figure it on your own. You’re more intelligent than Israfil’s vessel. I know you can do it.”
“Wait! Where are you going? You have to teach me how-” But before I could say more, the man collapsed on his shadow, and he was gone. I was left alone in Asphodel, and I still have yet to figure out how to go back to the living world. “At least I have a sword with me.”
I started by walking around my room. It was the same way I left it. However, the lighting was way different, and my skin felt so cold as if I was actually dead. My skin had become ghastly pale, which didn’t look good at all. Maybe I only have limited time in Asphodel before I would kill myself in it. To make things worse, I accidentally peeked through my window and saw a few people walking on the pavement.
I scanned them, and I knew that they were spirits at first look. One or two must have noticed me because they were staring in my direction. And that was not good.
Some of them had a bad injury that would have killed a person off. Some chills ran up my spine. So, I went back into concentrating. I took a deep breath and focused. Slowly, my body began to warm up, and the sinister aura was slowly fading away. After a couple of seconds, the room had a brighter and warmer glow. My skin color went back to normal, and there were no more glaring spirits outside my window.
However, I was still gripping my Nyxian Blade, which was still as light as a wooden stick would be. I was amazed at how balanced it was. Obviously, I could kill someone with it, but the weight of it perplexed me more. Hopefully, it won’t break in half when I strike someone. But the biggest question was, how could I get rid of it.
“Okay, magic sword. Begone!” I proclaimed. But the double-edged blade was still in my hands with its nightmarish color staring back at me. I shook my head in disbelief. “Abra Kadabra! Shazam! Expelliarmus!”
But when I looked down, I noticed that the Nyxian Blade’s shadow was darker than my own. I raised it up and willed upon it. Imagining it like how the man had vanished. It took a while before the blade collapsed into black smoke and disintegrated. In a couple of seconds, there was no trace of the Nyxian Blade.
I smiled. “Good boy.”
The next day, Otis and Phineas met me on the bus. They were silent. They scrutinized me, but they couldn’t put their finger on it. My eyes seemed to spit out daggers. The kindness in it was gone. And I didn’t know until later.
“Why are you looking at me that way?” I asked. It was uncomfortable with the two staring at me. I barely noticed the change in my impression. I was wearing dark colors that day. A purple shirt and skinny black jeans. “Do I have ketchup on my face?”
“No.” Phineas muttered. He was still examining me. His eyes were protruding through my defenses. “You seem different today.”
“What do you mean?” I scrunched my nose. Obviously, perplexed by the question. There was nothing different. Is there? Then I looked at Otis, who looked away. “Even you? The Great Otis?”
“Oh, boy.” Otis shivered. “You don’t have to ask me why I’m great.”
“What’s wrong?” I sounded worried. My voice felt dry from their sudden questioning. “I know we had a murdered teacher yesterday, but you don’t have to stare at me like I’m the killer.”
“Nothing. Let’s not think about it.” Phineas said.
“Yeah. Nikki is just having a bad day.” Otis snickered.
“Hey. I’m not having a bad day.” I pouted. I crossed my arms and frowned at my two friends who just shrugged it off. “Am I being too weird again?”
“You’re fine.” Phineas snapped. “We still have to find that article in the newspaper.”
“Yeah. And we’ll meet our new weird teacher again.” I nodded.
“Oh, you mean Mr. Cain?” Otis’ eyes lit up. “I actually thought he’s cool.”
“Yeah.” Phineas agreed. “I don’t find him weird at all.”
“Okay? Are you in some kind of spell? I find it weird he used Mr. Kelly’s death to introduce a new topic in class.” I reasoned out. “It’s a bit insulting.”
“No.” Phineas shook his head. “I find that one creative.”
“You and your weird antics.” I muttered. “How about you, Otis?”
“I dunno. He’s cool.” Otis grinned. “I only met him in the hallways. He asked me if I want to join a new club he’s going to handle.”
“And why would he want you to join his club?” Phineas laughed. “Is it some kind of club for morons?”
“Well, he heard me singing the comfort room.” Otis blushed. The other two stared in awe. Yes, Otis could sing. His voice was flawless and had good quality in it. Although, there were times that he was out of tempo. But not that bad. “He asked me if I could audition for his new club. I guess it’s a club for singers. Not morons.”
“Nice.” I smiled. “I wish I could sing. Too bad, I’m tone-deaf.”
“What’s that?” Otis asked.
“It means he can’t distinguish the tone differences.” Phineas said in a matter-of-factly way. “He can’t sing. Or if he can, it’s gonna be hard for him.”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “I wish I could sing.”
“No wonder you called me The Great Otis.” The other boy chuckled. “Next time, I’ll try to dance as well. Maybe I’ll get to be a performer someday.”
“In a circus?” I asked. “Sure. You’ll fit right in.”
“He’s right. You’ll be Otis, the monkey.” Phineas added. “I’m sure you’ll be famous. There aren’t many monkeys out there who can sing and dance.”
“Hey. At least I’m not a weirdo like you.” Otis pouted.
“You don’t need it. You’re good as you are.” Phineas winked at him. He was right. Then he looked outside the window. His mind darted off to somewhere else. The bus had arrived a few minutes before class.
“I’ll see you later, guys.” I said. “We still have Miss Weird to investigate.”
Then we separated. Phineas and Otis went to their respective classrooms. But I didn’t. I had other plans. I waited until my friends were out of sight. My body was aching to go back to Asphodel. Things were different there. I wanted to explore the other dimension. It was a whole new world for me. Also, it will be the first time for me to cut classes.
Just as the bell rang, I stepped into the comfort room. Then went inside a cubicle and locked myself in. I closed my eyes like last time and breathed in all the air I will be needing. I only had to focus my will on it. It was a good thing. No voices could be heard from the other side of the door. Only the thumping of my heart could echo through my ears. It was going slower and slower. I thought I was dying and shot my eyes open. But I was in Death. Or Asphodel. Or whatever. I felt the same vibes just like last time. And I was getting more familiar with it.
Then I stepped out of the cubicle. The room got dimmer. A sinister aura was echoing off the walls. An eerie silence was dominating my ears. The tile walls seemed to get older, as well. It was like I was in a horror movie. The surrounding itself got frightening. I wasn’t welcome here. And I could feel it. Oh well. Time to explore.
But before I could reach the door, I noticed myself in the mirror. There was something odd about it. It was like seeing through the “other world.” I was seeing the real world. The living world where my friends are. A boy was on the other side, washing his face. He had a light skin tone and red hair. When he wiped the water off his face, I noticed the freckles on it. It was none other than Phineas. The other boy saw me through the mirror. The shock was painted on his face.
“Hey, Nikki!” He laughed. “You scared the shit out of me.”
Phineas then turned towards the other side. But I was gone. Managed to escape through the door. He was laughing at himself. No wonder people see ghosts through the mirror most of the time. Mirrors were windows to see into the realm of Asphodel.
I wondered why I could go in and out of Death. It was both repulsive and comforting at the same time. I could feel the silence approaching me. It was so deafening. Insanity was also creeping up on me. It felt like I was going mad. But I wanted to explore. So, I had to compose myself and open the door. But all I saw was an empty hallway.
Then I wandered through the hallways. Its cold grasp had made me shiver. The silence followed my trail. It was the exact replica of the real world. Only darker. Dimmer. Colder. More sinister. I mustered my courage and went further on into Asphodel. Then I noticed myself in the trophy cases. A reflection of me. But there was another difference. My eyes were both blue. Its hue was piercing and fierce. Glimmering like the stars in the sky. The glint of green in it was gone. I wasn’t heterochromic anymore. Another thing was my glare. The gentle look on them was gone. Replaced by a grim impression. I stepped back. Frightened by own reflection. The same look how Phineas and Otis showed on the bus. Traveling into Death had done that.
“Nicholas.” A chilly voice whispered. My ears tingled, and a shiver shot up my spine. I quickly turned around to find no one there. The Nyxian Blade summoned itself in my hand from my fright. I was already in some sort of stance. Ready to defend myself. The blade seemed to be doing this. It was only trying to protect its master.
“Show yourself.” I squeaked. But there was no response. I gripped the blade tighter. Then I gulped from fear. My heart hammered. Although the place was too cold for me to even sweat, I could feel my blood boil from fright.
“Welcome home.” It whispered again. “I missed you.”
“Sorry. But I didn’t.” I muttered.
“We’ll meet soon.” The voice echoed through the walls. It wasn’t coming from one point. But as if the hallway itself was speaking. Even the call itself was chilling to the core. It was no human voice. Far too demonic to consider it human.
“Can’t you just show yourself?!” I roared. “I don’t have time for a chit-chat.”
“Don’t be too excited, little one.” It said. “Everyone has the time to meet me.”
Then its presence was gone. I felt it no longer. Somehow, I knew. The sword on my hand had collapsed into a cloud of shadowy dust just like last time. It didn’t feel the threat for it to be needed by its wielder. However, I was still in Asphodel. So, I decided to go back to the real world. It was getting colder the longer I stayed in that realm. My whole body was already shivering.
I took a deep breath, and in an instant, I was back in the real world. Then I noticed it was already lunchtime. But no one noticed I zapped back from Asphodel. Looks like time moved differently in the other dimension. There was no way of telling the time in the real world. And after the creepy encounter with that voice, there was no way I would go back soon.
“Hey.” Otis spoke behind him with Phineas trailing behind. I almost gasped from their sudden appearance. So I smiled back sheepishly. But it was pretty obvious I did something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. “It’s lunchtime. We might want to get a move on.”
“Yeah.” I chirped. But Phineas had his eyes on me. It was trying to bore many holes through my body. Especially seeing me in the mirror. “Let’s go to the cafeteria.”
“You can go find a table for us, Otis.” Phineas spoke. A bit grimly even. His tone was dead and contemplative. I knew that my friend had suspicions. With an over-imaginative mind like that, I would unquestionably pry him open with questions. “I need to ask Nikki something.”
“Sure.” Otis replied. Then he animatedly walked towards the cafeteria. “You two just be quick okay? No more funny business.”
“Don’t worry.” Phineas said with a sly smile. “We will.”
“So. What’s up?” I asked. But the tension could be seen on his face. A drop of sweat slowly drooped down on the right side of his face. He had a nervous smile, which showed his guilt. “Is this about Miss Schwartz?”
“No.” Phineas muttered. “This is about you. Where were you after we went to class?”
“I was in class. Duh.” I lied.
“Are you sure? Because Jessica asked me where you were. It means you cut class. You would never try to cut class, Nikki. Otis might do it. But you surely wouldn’t. Why on earth would you cut class? You, of all people. What’s up, Nikki?” Phineas had a colder tone of voice. It was a side we barely see. I was sure Phineas was interested since what I did was way out of my behavior. “Did you try to find the girl again?”
“No.” I squeaked. My voice got smaller. “You don’t understand. I’ll try to explain next time when I get the hang of it.”
“Get the hang of what?” Phineas was pinning me down with questions. His eyes had a demanding glare. No way is he going to take no for an answer. “Are you hiding something from us? I don’t want to be invasive, Nikki. I’m just worried.”
“Don’t be. I’m fine. Thanks for your concern.” I smiled. I tried to relax and ease the tension between the two of us. “Let’s just go to the cafeteria. You don’t want Otis to wait.”
“You’re right.” Phineas nodded. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” I replied. “You’re just worried for me. I appreciate that.”
But before I could turn around, the room got dimmer. A sinister aura started to vibrate off the walls. The air got dense and cold. The silence boomed into existence. My skin’s temperature dropped down. A chilly feeling danced on it. And I was suddenly alone. Phineas was gone. In an instant, I was back in Asphodel.
“Your eyes are so cold and blue. An icy stare.” A woman’s voice spoke. It was as dead as a dangling corpse. I turned to see a woman in robes. Her skin was flawless and white. Her eyes were furious red but had a glassy stare. Just like the girl I met before. Her presence was intimidating. I felt myself stepped back from her. “Here in this world, your eyes shine like the stars in the night sky. I’ve met someone like that before. Eyes so blue and cold. And if I’m right, then that man is your father.”