~ Beep. My finger presses lightly against the creamy yellow button on the wall before me, and the metal doors creak open. I step into the room, causing a light 'click' to echo through the air. It seems darker in this particular room than any other in the building, which is strange, but it's probably just for dramatic reasons. The large oval table inside the surprisingly small room has all but four seats filled in, and I can tell who exactly the people missing are. Well, there's me, for one, but I just got here. The ones yet to come are Mercury, and whoever our guests are, whom I'm guessing are Grey and that tall guy. They won't tell me his name, but I know his face. We rarely ever gather in this room, only for serious meetings, that are serious. I glance around the room as everyone stares at me. "What?" I ask, feeling unwelcomed. "It's not like all of you have never seen me before." I take my seat next to Madigan and lean against the arm of the chair by placing my left arm on it. "Nat," Madigan, my best friend, says in greeting. This is strange. Usually she's... well... hyper. Wonder how they bribed her to sit still for half an hour. "Hey," I say in response. Everyone goes back to their business, waiting for the meeting to start. Scarce, an evil spirit- I don't know what of, though - sits beside Madigan. Beside him is Viper, spirit of dark magic. On the other side of the table is, in order, Venom (spirit of poison), Snare (spirit of cruelty), Mercury (only 11, not a spirit), Chaos (spirit of disaster), and X (spirit of isolation). The people who are supposed to be arriving, well, do, and take their seats in silence. Grey, and... that... guy. "Hello, everyone," Grey greets. Everyone returns the gesture but me, but no one seems to notice. "We're here today to discuss the current state of the evil spirits." He continues, but I'm pretty much ignoring everything he's saying. Grey finally catches my attention when he says, "And today, we'd like to introduce a new addition to your team." He finishes, then begins to stand. "Wait, what?" I blurt. "Um, a new... spirit." Madigan whispers to me, and I scoff at her. "I know that. Who?" I return my attention to Grey. "Hang on, he's right out here." The other door at that end of the room swings open with a painful squawk as the new one steps inside. "Winter, spirit of cold and dark." His hair is short, jagged, and black, and his eyes are a bright emerald green. "Nice to meet you all." He says in a calm, cool voice. "Um... Why is he so polite?" I question. Winter chuckles and takes his seat, apparently on the other side of me, to the left. "Nat, everyone's supposed to be polite at their introduction." X says to me. "Well, that doesn't make sense, since you're all just going to be evil anyway." I reply, imagining everyone here being pleasant at their introductions, causing a small smile to spread across my face. "That will be all." Grey and the tall guy stand to leave. The tall one has a grim expression on his face. I wonder why. We bid the two farewell, and they exit the building. ~
~"Well, um, anyway..." Viper starts, only to be interrupted by a now frantic sounding Cryptos. "Uh, guys, I gotta, er... go. Talk to you all later, ok? Bye!" Before we get a chance to say anything, he hangs up, leaving us in the now awkward situation of being holed up in one room, in silence. "What's wrong with him?" Madigan says at last. "Um, maybe he had some urgent work to do?" Snare suggests, and the room breaks out in conversations. Mercury stares at the phone for a moment, then puts it away. I glance around and notice almost everyone chatting nervously. I sigh and head back to my room. I hear footsteps following and turn around lazily to see who it is. No one. Whoop de doo. I turn back around and there stands Winter. "Oh gosh! Why?!" I inhale sharply, startled by his strange way of approaching people. "Sorry, Nat. But... What was that 'Cryptos' talking about? He sounded worried." He questions. "I really have no idea, and next time you feel the need to talk to ME about everything, try not to almost hurt me. Okay?" I reply, exhaustion flooding my tone. "Oh, um... alright. Sorry, Nat." He steps aside with a sort of shocked expression and I walk past him to my room at the end of the hall. "Goodnight, Nat." I hear Winter say as I'm about to enter my room. I look down the hall at him, the way he stands so respectfully and politely. He has to be some sort of engineered experiment. No, maybe not. "Uh, goodnight... Winter." He nods and disappears into his room in silence. I shake my head and walk into the dark room. I sigh again and flop down on my cushiony bed, tired from being lazy all day. Madigan walks into my room without warning, a happy expression on her face. "What's up?" She greets giddily, landing on my bed beside me. "Nothing. Why?" She looks around, checking for all of no people that aren't listening. "Viper is doing some research and trying to figure out something he thinks has been going on lately. But he won't tell anyone what it is." I sit up, my full attention on what she's saying. "What do you mean? Is something wrong?" I demand. She responds with a disclaiming shrug, "I don't know. Go ask him, he's completely focused on it and ignoring everyone else, but... maybe he'll tell you something?" She gets up and heads towards the door. "Night," She says, swinging the door shut behind her. I hop up and slip into the hallway. The sky is darkened completely, as is the inside of the house. I step up to Viper's room, pressing my ear to the door to hear anything. All I can hear is soft mumbling and some sort of scratching. I knock gently, hoping for a response. "What?" The muffled response says. "Um... could I come in?" I ask as nicely as possible. I hear a long, exasperated sigh and then, "Alright." I open the door and slip inside quietly. I watch for a few moments as he scribbles something down in his notebook. "Well, what do you want?" He barks. "Oh, um... I just wanted to know... what you're up to." He eyes me, not moving his head. "Really? YOU want to know what I'M doing. Is that right?" He asks skeptically. "Um... yeah... I was just... worried..." I say quietly. "What? ... Who's telling you things?" He raises an eyebrow at me, and I give in. "Maddie told me you were trying to figure something out." I look up at the closed window, making this room seem much darker than the rest. "Well, I am, I guess, but you don't need to know what. Goodbye." I sigh in defeat and turn towards the closed door to open it when I hear a loud noise coming from the outside. I turn the knob to see what, but Viper stops me, somehow appearing right behind me, gripping my wrist. "Hey!" I say accusingly as he pulls me aside, pressing his ear to the closed door. I listen with him, trying to hear the noise in better detail. All I can make out is someone shouting, "Why did you do this?!" Viper pulls away from the door and shakes his head. "Hey, we need to get out there, someone could be hurt." I suggest softly. "No, we need to stay out of sight as much as possible." Viper orders, and his piercing glare makes me obey. I begin to hear crashing noises, and get more concerned. "Are you sure we shouldn't do some-" His expression silences me, and I try to tune out the noises. Viper starts to pack up his materials and says, "All we need to do is stay out of it." I don't respond, staying where I am. Viper glances at the door, and says, "You can go now. But you better hurry to your room." I nod and go as silently and quickly as possible. When I arrive at my room, I slink inside and pull the door shut. I release the breath I didn't realize I was holding and lay down to sleep, only to be kept awake by loud noises coming from outside. Lots of loud noises. ~
Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter of 'Forgotten Meaning'! ;)
~The sound of thunder erupts in my ears, and I jump. "Wow, you must get scared really easily, Nat." Winter chuckles at me. I catch my breath from the scare and punch him jokingly in the arm. "Oh shut up," I warn, but I'm laughing with him, now. The thunder dies down then builds up again after I see lightning flash outside the window. I stand and slowly walk to the glass window in wonder. "Wow," I say quietly. "What? Have you never seen lightning before, Nat?" Winter asks, walking up beside me. "Well, yeah, but I've always thought it looked so cool." I marvel at the streaks of golden light flickering down from the dark, angry clouds looming above, making paths from them to the earth below. "I can see why." Winter says at last. I glance at him, and he has a smile making its way onto his face. A genuine one. It spreads to my face and I can notice a glint of joy flicker in his eyes. We stand there for a while, watching the storm play out, listening to the thunder and patterns of the rain. "GUYS!" We hear shouting from the other room and I tear myself away from the amazing look of the storm to see what's up. Winter follows, eager to see the situation. Mercury stands in the main room, holding the phone. "It's Cryptos." He says, grinning. "Ooh, great!" I sit on the couch before Mercury, wanting to talk to him. "Who's..." Winter starts. "He's another spirit. Always away. It's part of his job." I explain to him, and motion for him to sit beside me. Chaos trots into the room, cheery as ever. "Ooh, boy! I wonder what he's up to." She sits cross-legged on the floor, and so does Mercury. Everyone files into the room, wanting to hear the sound of Cryptos' voice. After everyone's settled in, Mercury presses the speaker button and we all hear Cryptos say, "Hello? Mercury?" Everyone but Winter shouts their hellos, and Cryptos hesitates a moment before responding. "Hey, guys." He says, chuckling a bit. "What're you up to?" Venom says, leaning forward to hear better. "Oh, nothing, just working. What about you guys? What's going on?" I move closer to the phone and say, "There's a new guy!" In a sing-songy voice. "Oh... really?" He doesn't really sound excited, but scared. "Wh-what's wrong?" I ask, smiling nervously. "No... nothing. It's, uh, it's... nothing." Everyone in the room exchanges worried and confused glances, but I look at Winter. Is there something wrong with him? There couldn't be, right?
~Getting bored of the clouds outside, I head into the main room to see if there's anything for me to do. "Yo," Scarce greets, glancing up at me from the news on TV. I plunk down beside him and sigh, giving a bored, "'Sup?" I look at what he's watching. The weather. "Gonna be a storm," He announces somewhat loudly. "Called it," I say with a bored tone. "What?" Someone calls from the other room. Chaos. She walks into the room from the kitchen, a dusty apron encircling her waist, hanging down to her mid-calf. "Chaos? What are you doing?" I ask, brow raised. "Cooking!" She squeals excitedly, clapping her hands together. She runs back into the kitchen, laughing hysterically. "Well then," Scarce returns his attention to the TV as Madigan slides on the wood floor into the room in her socks. "TV! I'm sitting on you now." Not knowing which of us she's talking to, Scarce and I exchange a worry glance before she locks her eyes on Scarce and before he can protests, leaps, crashing into him. "Why?" He asks, now being squished beneath her. "Because I felt like it." I smirk and leave the room before Scarce can say anything. I start down the hall to my room, and as I pass Winter's, I hear something from inside. I press my ear to the door, listening closely. Silence. That's odd. There's always something going on around here. Nothing, though. That's new. I place my hand on the doorknob, the metal it's made of cold in my grasp. I turn the knob silently, and peer inside. There's Winter, sitting on a chair, back straight, legs crossed, eyes closed. I think he's meditating? Except he doesn't make the little circles with his fingers. I push the door open, hoping it doesn't make a sound. Fortunately, it doesn't, and I slip inside. He doesn't notice me, and I see he has ear buds in. "Wow," I say quietly. I notice a picture on a small desk of Winter and some people I don't recognize. I pick it up, examining them closely. "What are you doing, Miss Nat?" I jump and let out a squeak. "Oh... My Gosh... I think I... almost died..." I say, breathless. I turn my head and place down the picture to see Winter standing expectantly behind me, hands behind his back. "Sorry, didn't mean to frighten you, Miss Nat." I take a deep breath and look at him. "You know, you don't have to call me 'Miss'. You can just say, 'Nat'." I tell him. "Oh... alright, Nat." He gives a smile, then looks down at the picture I was just holding. "What were you doing, though?" He questions. "Um... I saw this picture... I wondered who these people were. Sorry to bother you, though." He looks down at the picture with a bleak expression, his eyes dark and unforgiving. "Hey, are you alright?" My worry spikes when he frowns and shakes his head, covering his dim expression with a kind, cheerful one. "I'm fine, thank you." He glances at the door, then smiles again. "Are you sure?" I try to look him in the eye, but he avoids my gaze. "Yes." He confirms, but I don't think I believe him. "Okay... but... if you need to say anything..." "I DON'T need to say anything. I'm fine." His tone scares me, and he notices my stricken expression. He sighs, walks over to his bed, and drops down. "I apologize for my attitude, Nat. It's just... how do they do it?" I sit beside him. "Who?" I ask, confused. "The other spirits. You see how cheerful they are. It's like they don't even notice. Or care." "What do you mean?" I ask again. He looks up to me. "Didn't they tell you? How to become a spirit?" I listen to the sharp sound of the rain hitting the roof, washing down on everything in a harsh way. "No..." I reply at last. "You have to leave everything. Your friends, your family. You never get to see them again. Or they'd be too involved." Then how am I here? And Madigan? We're not spirits, do we know too much? I visit my family every now and then, and everything's fine. Chaos is especially cheery. I try to use words to comfort him, but it's really an empty hope. I know it won't work. Then we sit in silence, the sound of the rain filling the gap.
~Everyone is gathered around Winter after the two guests head out. Chaos is basically jumping up and down with excitement, wanting to know everything about this guy. "Lemme show you around!" She insists. "Um, alright." He says, a nervous laugh following. She beams and grabs his wrist, dragging him off like a child would their parents at an amusement park. "What is up with everyone?" I say in a low voice to Madigan. "I don't know, maybe this is what they always do when someone new shows up." She whispers back. "It is." I turn my head to see who's talking to us. It's Snare. "Really? I'm not convinced Chaos isn't throwing him a welcome party right now." I comment, "Her attitude is way too positive for her to be an evil spirit." Snare gives a slight smile. "Well, she had the choice. She chose to be evil." He looks in Chaos and Winter's direction as he says this. "Really? How did that go?" Madigan jokes. Snare raises an eyebrow and grins at her. "How do you think it went?" Madigan rolls her eyes at him and shakes her head, but she's smiling. Chaos races back into the room, dragging Winter behind her. "What a..." Winter looks fazed as he speaks, "nice tour." He smiles nervously and Chaos squeals and skips away. I walk away from Madigan and Snare, who are now engaged in conversation, and approach Winter. "So, New guy," I tease, "How's it goin'?" "I'd prefer if you addressed me by my name, Miss Natara." He requests, flashing a smile. I raise an eye brow at him. "Never... call me... that." I order, taken aback. "Isn't that your name? I thought I got that right." He shakes his head a bit. "Just call me Nat, Okay?" I say with a tired expression in my voice. "Alright, Miss Nat, that is how I will refer to you from now on." He smiles a polite smile and bows a small bow, walking off to the room Chaos probably introduced him to as his. I blink a few times, trying to process this guy. Why on Earth is he so nice?
I forget Winter for now and stare out the glass window in my room. I look at the dark indigo sky and see ominous, grey storm clouds moving in. It makes me think of the tall guy from the meeting, and the dull expression on his face, like he had bad news. But no one ever told us any bad news.
"What are you doing?" I jump at the sudden intrusion to my solitude. It's only Mercury. "Nothing, why?" I don't even know why he's in here. "I got bored." He shrugs and sits down beside me. "Why aren't you bothering the new guy?" I say, looking back to the clouds. "Oh, there's going to be a storm." He ignores my question and peers out the window, and I see his reflection in the shiny glass. "Yeah, I guess." I look down at my knees, until Mercury asks, "Hey Nat... Why aren't you a spirit?" He looks curiously at me, his eyes scanning mine. "What?" Is all I say. "You're old enough, why aren't you one? You live here, you work with the spirits all the time." I'd never thought of that until he just brought it up. "Well... I don't know, really. They've never... asked me to..." I stop talking because I'm trying to figure out why I've never been asked in my head. "Hm." Mercury bounces up and out of the room, leaving me in the shadow of the shady, gloomy clouds.~