Ryan’s Story – The Accident
It had been nearly four years since his parents had been killed, murdered by his then 17-year-old brother Mark. Ryan had been left for dead, his throat cut and soaked in petrol as his older brother torched the family home. Luckily, he had escaped the fire, releasing himself from his bonds and climbing out of a bedroom window. A neighbour had found the ten-year-old, lying burned and near death from blood loss in the front garden. He had been rushed to hospital where he eventually recovered. The burns had healed but the cut to his throat had left a vicious looking scar. The mental damage however would take much longer to heal. When he tried to tell the police and the doctors that the third body they had found was not his brother, but that it was the body of his brother’s accomplice murdered to make it look like Mark had died, no one believed him. Eventually he stopped trying and pretended to accept the “official” version of events. Deep down however, he never stopped believing what had been burned into his memories on that night. Having no living relatives, Ryan had spent the next four years bouncing between foster families and children’s homes. All the time knowing his brother was out there.
Ryan was of average height for his age, his scruffy brown hair and green eyes often poking out from under his favourite red baseball cap. Both his ears were pierced. He kept a low profile, trying his best not to stand out from the crowd. The scar on his neck made this difficult; it was often the first thing people noticed about him. Consequently, he often tried to hide it by wearing a scarf, bandana or wearing the hood up on his hooded sweatshirts.
Today was his fourteenth birthday but since no else seemed to know or care, Ryan did not feel like celebrating. With his headphones on and his head down, Ryan was trying his best to ignore the group following him as he trudged up the steep cliff path. The loud music drowned out their jibes but he still knew they were there. At least they weren’t throwing things at him this time. He had been living with the Johnson’s for just over a month now. A new set of foster parents meant a new town and a new school. Yet again, he was the freaky new kid that sat at the back of the class that some of his so-called classmates had decided was an easy target. There had been a couple of scuffles but nothing major and it was nothing he hadn’t had to deal with before.
The path that Ryan was taking was a shortcut from the lower town where the local school was located up to West Cliffport where his foster parents lived. It led from the harbour up the side of the cliffs to the road that ran along their top. Cliffport had once been a bustling fishing village. However, as the twentieth century rolled around, fishing gave way to tourism and over successive decades, the village had expanded outside the steep-sided valley. Now new residential developments had begun to sprawl up the sides of the hills surrounding the town and its enclosed bay.
He had just reached the top of the path and was about to jump skateboard when the gang made their move, knocking into him from behind. Jake, an older boy a year above him, snatched the skateboard from out of Ryan’s grip while his two partners in crime grabbed his arms. “Hey, give that back!” Ryan demanded shaking himself loose of the grip of the two other boys.
“Not unless you beg for it freak!” Jake taunted.
“I don’t beg for nothing,” said Ryan as he glared angrily at Jake, “especially from dickless morons like you.” On any other day, Ryan would never be so confrontational but at that moment, something inside him had snapped. Today was different; he had been experiencing this kind of aggravation for the last four years and normally he would have endured it, unwilling to get into trouble or make a scene. As Jake held his skateboard out, daring him to take it, Ryan realised that he just could not stand by and let people treat him like crap any longer. Balling his fists, his face became red with adrenaline-laced anger and he took a step towards Jake.
“You want this back, you better be prepared to fight for it.” Jake grinned menacingly, confident in the belief that Ryan would back down as usual. “You fucking…” He never finished the sentence because the smaller boy’s right fist slammed into his midriff winding him. Ryan’s left fist followed up with a sharp jab that connected with the side of Jake’s face. Jake staggered back surprised more by the fact that Ryan had actually attacked him than by the force of the blows. “You punched me, you bastard!” The other two boys were similarly shocked by the act and were stunned into inaction as Ryan caught the skateboard when Jake dropped it.
“I’ve been taking shit from you and the other’s since I got here,” Ryan yelled as Jake rubbed his cheek, “You think that just because I’m the new kid, that means it’s open season on me. That ends here, any of you wanna mess with me and I’ll beat the crap out of you. I don’t care if they kick me out of school and move me to another foster family. I ‘aint taking shit from any of you anymore.”
Red-faced, Jake pulled back his fist to launch a punch at Ryan’s face but the sudden sound of a car horn and the screech of tires from further up the road interrupted the brewing fight. Careening out-of-control down the steep and slippery road, the car swerved onto a collision course with the group, the desperate driver wrestling with the steering wheel. Jake’s two lackeys leapt out of the way of the approaching car but as Ryan was about to dive to the side, he saw that Jake was frozen with fear in the vehicle’s path. Without hesitation, he grabbed Jake and shoved him to the side at the last moment. The car slammed into Ryan and its impact forced him up over the bonnet, his head striking the windscreen. As the car crashed into the wall, it broke through its dry stone construction coming to a rest with its front wheels hanging precariously over the edge. Ryan slid down the wet bonnet, sent over the edge of the cliff by the momentum of the impact. Semi-conscious, he plummeted into the water seventy feet below.
The shock of hitting the cold water roused him from his stupor. Disorientated by the impact with the car’s windscreen and the fall into the water, his arms and legs flailed about in a desperate and uncoordinated attempt to keep afloat. Coughing and spluttering, his head repeatedly sank beneath the waves as the strong current pulled him away from the shore.
Back up at the top of the cliff Jake picked himself up off the tarmac, staring incredulously at the wrecked car as the driver staggered out. “Dude, that car almost pasted you!” One of his friends said as he grabbed Jake’s arm to pull him away from the scene.
“Uh, yeah,” he said vacantly, “I thought I was a goner until…” Jake stopped when he saw a school bag pinned crushed underneath the car. “Wait, where’s Ryan?”
“He um, pushed you out of the way and then the car hit him and I think he fell.”
Jake ran over to the wall and looked over the side. He could see Ryan struggling in the water, his panicked attempts to keep afloat already becoming weak. “Christ,” he said quietly, “I don’t think he can swim.”
Ryan was beginning to tire, fatigue from the exertion and lack of oxygen starting to set in. As his strength began to give out, he sank under the surface. Panicking, he thrashed wildly in a desperate attempt to get back to the surface but the more he tried, the faster he tired. Soon, his struggles weakened to the point where he was barely able to move and white sparkles of light were starting to flash across his vision as he ran out of air. “I’m not going to make it,” he realised dimly, his thoughts becoming as sluggish as his attempts to claw his way through the water. Eventually, he could hold his breath no longer and he involuntarily opened his mouth, breathing in the seawater and passing into unconsciousness.
Jake watched as Ryan disappeared under the choppy water, as the seconds dragged on and he did not resurface, a black hole opened in his stomach as he realised that he was watching someone drown. Unwilling to just stand by and watch it happen, he tore down the cliff path. H he knew that jumping from the cliff top would be potential suicide, there were numerous rocks hidden just below the surface of the water at the foot of the cliff. It had been a miracle that Ryan had missed them when he fell. Less than a minute after Ryan had gone under, Jake reached the point where the path turned onto a footbridge that crossed the river before it joined the sea at the harbour entrance. Taking a deep breath, vaulted over the guardrail and dived into the water. Jake was a strong swimmer and he quickly breaststroked to the point where he had seen Ryan go under. Frantically, he ducked under and searched the murky water for Ryan. It took several attempts before he finally located the smaller boy and pulled him to the surface. After making sure the Ryan’s head was above the water, Jake swam towards the quayside where the few fishing remaining fishing boats were moored alongside tour boats and private vessels. He headed towards the stairs that led down to the water, the nearest point where he could exit the water.
When he finally reached the stairs, people were already beginning to crowd the quayside and Jake hoped that one of them had had the foresight to dial 999. A man who looked like a tourist rather than a local helped him up the stairs. “Sarah,” he called out in an American accent, “get the blankets from the trunk.” The man took Ryan’s still form and carried him up the stairs to the quayside. Jake was met at the top of the stairs by blond-haired woman who wrapped the shivering boy in a blanket. Ryan was set down on the concrete floor, his eyes were closed and he was not breathing.
Unseen to anyone, a figure watched the commotion from a distance. It was neither his nondescript attire nor his plain and average features that made him invisible to those around him. He was invisible because he chose to be. Azarin was a Collector, a minion that served one of the many demon lords that ruled the hell dimensions. His role, as his title suggested, was to collect the souls pledged to his lord regardless of whether they had been pledged willingly or not. The demon smiled. Collecting the souls of children was one thing but when they happened to be innocent too; that was just delicious. Scanning the growing crowd, he located his target watching the futile attempts at resuscitation in disbelief. This one had already escaped him once four years ago. This time, he would not be so lucky.
Unlike his physical body, Ryan’s spirit form was bone dry. At first, he couldn’t remember how he had come to be standing on the quayside but watching in horror as his own body was pulled out of the water, the accident and the events that had followed had come flooding back. He suddenly felt light headed, all strength left his knees and it felt like the whole world was spinning rapidly around him. As he bent over the railing, heaving up the contents of his stomach into the harbour water below, he was startled by a voice behind.
“Tough break kid,” it said conversationally, “of all the ways to go; drowning has to rank as one of the worst.” Ryan looked up at the man standing behind him. He was 6 feet in height, almost a full head taller than Ryan’s five-foot-five height and his powerful build made the fourteen-year-old look even smaller in comparison. The man appeared to be in his 30s and had short black hair.
“Are … are you talking to me?” Ryan asked the man, his voice still shaking.
Azarin looked down at him, smiling. “Do you see any other spirits around here?” Ryan looked at him confused.
“Am I dead?” Ryan asked, unsure if he really wanted to know the answer.
The man laughed. “Of course you are. Do you think that being able to look down on your own body while invisible and incorporeal is something a living person could do?” Azarin took the boy by the arm and lifted him to his feet. “Come on, time to go.”
“Go, go where?”
“Where do you think? The afterlife,” Azarin replied beginning to guide Ryan over towards the breakwater on the far side of the quay.
“Hold up,” a suddenly suspicious Ryan said, “just who the hell are you?”
Azarin smiled at the use of H word, “if only he knew,” he thought to himself. “I’m kind of like a guide sent to make sure you go to the right place.”
“Which is where exactly?”
“I suppose you could call it heaven,” Azarin lied, “it’s not quite how the scriptures describe but the idea is essentially the same. Besides, there are some people waiting for you there. Your mother and father I believe.” Ahead of them, a soft white glow had started to coalesce.
Looking up, Ryan saw only an honest face with kind eyes but Ryan had learned the hard way that people couldn’t be trusted, especially the honest looking ones. There was something about the man that made him uneasy. It was almost as if he was trying too hard to convince him. As they walked away from the crowd, Ryan looked back. “If I’m already dead, why is that man still using CPR?”
“Because humans have a hard time accepting death,” Azarin said tersely, “now hurry up, heaven won’t wait forever.”
“But,” Ryan said stopping and stepping away from Azarin, “he says I’ve got a pulse! How can I be dead if my heart is still beating?”
Azarin stopped and glared at the boy, his face smouldering. He grabbed the boy’s arm and dragged him roughly towards the swirling light on the breakwater. Screaming for help, he tried to pull away but Azarin was too strong and his grip tight enough to leave a bruise. “I fucking hate kids,” he snapped, “especially smart fuckers. You bastards never make it easy.”
“Help!” Ryan screamed in panic as he stumbled.
“Can it,” Azarin yelled half-pulling, half-dragging Ryan to his feet. “You’ll have plenty of time to scream where you’re going. That plane makes the sanitized place you call Hell look like Disney Land.” He stopped short of the glow and waved his free hand towards it. The soft light flared and erupted into fire. Angry red flames forming an oval ring of fire surrounding a black void, rippling like liquid as the light breeze blew across it.
When Ryan saw the flames, he froze in fear, forgetting his current situation. After the night when he had nearly burned to death four years ago, Ryan had been terrified of fire. Azarin picked up the petrified boy by the scruff of his neck and prepared to throw him into the portal. As he stood there, poised to throw, a white streak swept in front of him. It sliced across the portal, extinguishing the flames and dissipating the black void. The demon howled in rage and span around seeking the source of the streak.
Standing a short distance away was another man. The newcomer brushed his long chestnut hair out his face with one hand and caught a boomerang-like double-bladed weapon with the other. The weapon crackled with white liquid energy. He was younger than Azarin, probably not much older than 20. “Put the kid down demon,” he said with a cocky smirk.
“Who’s going to make me? A runt like you?” Azarin asked contemptuously.
“The name’s Daniel,” the newcomer said with a slight sarcastic bow, “and yeah, I’ll make you.”
Azarin sneered and threw Ryan to the floor. He landed roughly, smacking against the metal railings. Before he could recover, a wall of fire erupted around him cutting across the entire width of the breakwater. With fire in front and deep water behind, Ryan was trapped with no route of escape. “The boy belongs to my lord, he is soul pledged to him and there is nothing you can do about it. His blood was spilled with a blessed knife and by the terms of the deal his brother struck with my lord; this boy’s soul is forfeit upon his death.” Azarin flicked his wrists and two large swords appeared in his hands, their blades were wreathed in flames.
Daniel slowly walked towards Azarin, his boomerang splitting into two knifes, each crackling with liquid energy. “This boy is an innocent and you’re not taking him.” He charged forward, leaping at Azarin. The demon took a step back, crossing his swords in front of him as Daniel struck. Their blades connected and sent streamers of energy and sparks flying. Azarin pressed forward, his superior size and strength a clear advantage in the battle. Daniel was forced back, straining to hold his ground. His heart was racing, fear surging through him. He knew that he was no match for the demon, his training had not been completed but he had little choice but to fight. The demon thrusted forward, his left sword batting aside Daniel’s blades while his right slashed at Daniel’s chest. The younger man may not have been as strong as Azarin but he was faster. He saw the strike coming and twisted around the flaming blade. Azarin’s move had left his left side open to attack and Daniel seized the opportunity, raking the demon’s side with his blades. Hissing at the sudden pain, Azarin lashed out with his fist, striking the side of Daniels head. He rolled with the punch, moving swiftly around the demon and leaping onto his back. Azarin reached behind him, grabbed Daniel by the head, and flung him to the floor in front of him. Daniel grunted as he struck the ground and was unable to roll away when Azarin kicked him in the chest forcing him to drop his blades. The demon kicked him several times before picking him up and staring him in the face.
“In what world, did you ever think you had a hope in defeating me?” The demon sneered.
Daniel laughed painfully. “What makes you think I was trying to beat you?” He spat a glob of blood onto the pavement. “Crap, even in the spirit world this shit still hurts. I was just hoping to distract you long enough.”
Azarin looked at him confused. Then his eyes widened in realisation and he looked over to where he had left Ryan only to find the boy gone. “Dammit!” He yelled and turned back to Daniel to deal a killing blow. Daniel, however, merely smiled and waved goodbye as he faded from view, leaving Azarin holding nothing but air. The demon cursed, ranting and raving. Glancing around, he could see no sign of the Ryan’s spirit. Fuming, he reopened the portal. The boy had again avoided his fate; his master would not be in a good mood.
By now, paramedics had arrived and begun treating Ryan. His eye’s briefly fluttered open for a second before lapsed back into unconsciousness. Wasting no time, they loaded him into an ambulance for the 16-mile drive to Derriford, the nearest hospital with an A&E department. As the ambulance left, its sirens blaring, a policeman walked over to where Jake was sitting on a bench, shivering in his damp clothes. He sat down next to Jake and pulled him into a hug. “Let’s get you home and out of those wet clothes son.”
Jake smiled weakly and nodded. “Dad, I need a favour.”
It had been over an hour since Susan and Anthony Johnson had arrived at the hospital. Over an hour since the police had turned up on their doorstep with the news that one of their foster children had been rushed to hospital. They had dropped everything, got in the car, and driven down to the hospital with their other foster child, twelve-year-old Trey Bennet in the back seat. The drive had taken nearly half-an-hour on the twisty Cornish roads but eventually they had reached Derriford.
They had been sitting in the relatives’ room since they had arrived waiting for a doctor. Trey was sitting in a chair, hugging his hitched up knees. Susan was next to him, her arm around his shoulder. The two boys had only known each other for a month, but in sharing a bedroom, they had both discovered each other’s love of comic books. A connection had been forged between them as they had argued over who made the best comics, Marvel or DC.
A doctor entered the room and looked over at the couple. “Mr and Mrs Johnson?” He asked.
They nodded in response and Anthony got up, walking over to the doctor. “Yes, how’s Ryan doctor? No one seems able to tell us anything.”
“Ryan was in a serious accident,” he explained sitting down in chair he pulled over to the couple, “he took a nasty blow to the head when the car hit him and was unconscious when he was pulled from the water. He briefly regained consciousness when the paramedics arrived but lost consciousness soon after. Ryan’s a lucky boy, if hadn’t received first aid when he did, things could have been a lot worse.” He didn’t need to say just how bad it could have been. “As it is, apart from a few cuts and bruises he’s in good shape.”
“So he’s gonna be ok?” Trey asked.
The doctor looked over at the boy and nodded. “He woke up a few minutes ago, he’s still a little woozy but that’s to be expected. We’ll be keeping him in overnight for observation but I see no reason why he shouldn’t be able to go home tomorrow.”
“Can we go in and see him doctor?”
“Sure, follow me.” The doctor led them through the hospital corridors to the room where Ryan was lying in bed. There was a bandage across his forehead and the doctor explained that he’d needed a few stitches.
As they entered the room, Ryan’s eyes flicked over to the door and he smiled weakly. Trey ran over to the side of the bed with a concerned look. “You look terrible.” Ryan laughed, wincing slightly at the unexpected pain in produced.
Ryan’s foster parents joined Trey by the bed looking relieved that he appeared to be ok. “Hey champ, how do you feel?” Asked Anthony.
“Like I went five rounds with Hatton.”
Susan brushed a few stray hairs out of his face. “We’re glad you’re ok, you had us worried.”
“I brought you this,” Trey said holding out a small package, crudely wrapped in wrapping paper. “Happy birthday,” he said as Ryan took it.
“I … I thought no one remembered,” he answered.
“Of course we remembered, we wouldn’t forget something like that.” Susan said.
Anthony put a hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “You were up so early this morning and in such a hurry that you left before we could say anything.”
“You gonna open it or what?” Trey asked impatiently. Ryan ripped off the wrapping paper to reveal a stack of comic books. Flicking through them, he realised that they were all issues of his favourite comics that he was missing.
“Thanks, I mean it.” He reached over and ruffled the younger boy’s hair, something he knew Trey hated. Trey batted and slapped at Ryan’s arm who laughed warmly.
“Ow, hit a man when he’s down why don’t you.”
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2008, in Buffy RPG, Ryan's Story and tagged accident, angel, black magic, boy, car crash, child, demon, horror, murder, occult, ritual, supernatural, young. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.