Loyalty: Book One (REWRITE)
---June 6, 2111---
I was standing at the corner of what was once my front yard, staring at the empty, rusted flag pole. 'That's where it all started,' I think to myself. 'Every bit of it.' I glanced up and down the road behind me. This used to be North Madison Street. There would be cars parked on both sides for the whole half mile of road. Now? It's just empty. Everyone left Orange. Even my family and I. Guess we shoulda thought about trying to keep it the same for so long. Maybe we'll fix it up...nothing better to do.
I came back to this place for...sentimental reasons. The flag pole? It marks where my family's journey began. It's the end of childhood and the coming of a savior. It's a bit of history that no one will ever know. Today is one hundred years since it all began.
I can see in the back yard that the old maple has finally died. Should be in full bloom right now. Same for the snowball bush. Damn shame...I always liked the look of that bush. I glance past the bush up to the front step; the door's been knocked off the hinges.
The green, 1960's roof has faded. The paint on the house is chipping off. The brick is cracked. If I ran a demolition crew, I'd be having a field day right now. But...this is home. Or was, anyways.
I set on the porch for God knows how long. I didn't even bother to look at my watch. I just knew it was late when I looked up and saw the moon starting to set in the West. 'F***, I didn't even sleep.' Even so, I still didn't move.
Despite the uniformly misshapen state of the whole town, there was an almost erie tranquility. Peaceful, even. I never thought I'd find peace in this place.
It was about that time when I noticed someone walking down the street. 'Does someone still live here?' As they got closer, I could tell it was a young man. He was fair skinned with blonde hair. He was tall and skinny, probably underweight, but had unusually broad shoulders for his build. Looked like he was maybe...twenty five? Give or take.
What struck me was his clothes. There was no way he lived here; he was wearing a nice maroon button up shirt with khakis and dark brown shoes. You don't exactly see wanderers dressed like that.
What was even more unusual was that he started towards me. Not in a threatening manner; like he needed directions, or something like that. "Who are you?" I called out.
"Name's Trevor Alley. You?"
"No one of consequence." 'Trevor Alley...that sounds familiar.'
"I doubt that very much; I may just be a journalist, but no one's lived here in twenty years. You a journalist too? Trying to get in on the story?"
"Today marks a hundred years since the very beginning of Loyalty."
"Oh. You want to try to find anything you can on Patrick Bowman for a news story."
"That's correct. No one knows where he is nowadays; if I could get an interview from him, that'd be phenomenal."
"Hm. I don't think he'd want the same; he never was known for being friendly with the press. Hated them. I doubt he'd want to go through an interview."
"You knew him?"
"You could say that."
"And you're certain he hated the press?"
"With a burning passion. No matter what news station it was, no matter what story it was, there was always something that was inconsistent from station to station. Some stations were just plain wrong. Take CNN; back in 2017, four thugs kidnapped an innocent man with a mental disability, tortured him for forty eight hours, and let him loose after cutting him, scalping him, beating him, and making him drink toilet water. What were Don Lemon's famous words? 'I don't think this is evil, just bad parenting,' or something like that. Supposedly, it was just kids being kids. Everyone agreed it happened, but there were people who didn't see the problem with it."
"I see. So I suppose he wouldn't want to see me, then."
"Alright. I was hoping I could get at least something for a story. I'm the only one at my station wanting to do this."
"Why's that?" I asked.
"Well, he's a controversial figure. He's got quite a history. I was the one who came up with the idea because I met him once."
"When was that?"
"About seven years ago at a high school in Dallas."
That's when it clicked. This was the kid that walked up to me after the graduation ceremony. Said he wanted the honor of shaking my hand. I'd asked him what he wanted to do after school, and he said he wanted to be a journalist. The only warning I gave was this: 'Look for the truth. Forget about the ratings. Forget what people might say. World needs people willing to uncover the truth no matter what.' "I suppose I seem like a bit of an ass for forgetting."
He smiled. "Just a bit."
"If I had to guess, you're not with a news station, are you?"
"Now that...that is a journalist," I told him with a smile. "Very rare to see people like you. Must be hard to get by."
"Eh, I manage."
"You still looking for a story? Cause if you've got the time, I've got the story."
---June 6, 2011---
For a few years after this, I didn't speak of it, but after enough time passed, I'd always joke with Mom about making me go outside. "You remember the last time you made me go outside, right?"
The first time received a smack and an emotional breakdown. Subsequent attempts at this brand of humor slowly helped Mom realize that I get through the hard shit by shrugging my shoulders and laughing it off. Eventually, anyways.
See, there's a reason it was a sore subject: it was the beginning.
Sixth of June in 2011. I'd been playing the Wii most of the day and Mom was having none of that. I was promptly evicted into the outside world known as my yard.
I begrudgingly sat on the front porch, waiting for a response.
"Sorry I'm late," a voice called out.
I smiled to myself. My imaginary friend had finally shown up. "Hey Gwenladon. Mom kicked me out again."
"Well, you are a little pale."
"I'm part Irish."
"Even so," he chuckled. He was about my age and height. I was twelve at the time, and Gwenladon was maybe thirteen. We were both close to five foot by this point in life. However, Gwenladon was bigger around than me; I wasn't even a hundred pounds yet. Probably because Gwenladon isn't human; he's a wild cat. He looks like a panther with brown fur and red eyes and on two legs.
"Seen Samus lately?"
"Yeah, she was heading to, uh...Aether?"
"I see. So she won't be with us today." Samus was from the Metroid series by Nintendo. With her and Gweladon, we would go all around the galaxy stopping space pirates and exterminating metroids. If she was going to Aether she'd have to be...22 now? I know her time line.
But of course, this was all in my head. Just pretend play. Gwenladon was never there and Samus didn't exist. I was just a kid day dreaming. See, when you have as few friends as I did, you make your own, or even borrow some. That's what I did. That was how I was never alone.
"How about a walk?" I asked. But I received no answer. "Gwenladon?" Nothing. That's when I started seeing some problems around me. There was a car that had been driving up the road, but it'd stopped dead. The birds overhead were silent and still. And whatever the big thing in the sky coming down through the clouds was, I felt like it wasn't friendly.
A few moments later, it dawned on me that the object was a frigate. A Space Pirate frigate from Metroid. 'This is just another day dream. Yeah, it's not real.' Even when Space Pirates dropped down, I kept telling myself that it was just part of my day dream. That knot on my head that I felt when I woke up begged to differ.
I looked around to realize I'd been thrown in a cell. There was a cot and a toilet, but nothing else. Instead of bars, there was some kind of light. I reached my hand out only to be electrocuted.
I remember that the very first thing I did was panic. I cried for help. I started to bawl. I was a small, weak kid. I'd been bullied in school and I was afraid of what would happen here. After all, I was only a captive of the most brutal aggressors in the universe.
Just then, one of them walked past the cell, looking dead at me. They were ugly in the games, but in real life, they're a nightmare. Picture a six foot tall, carnivorous, two-legged bug that is hell bent on ending everything good and holy in the universe: that's a Space Pirate.
I wanted to scream so bad, but fear had taken control; I couldn't utter anything but a whimper. It finally moved on, leaving me in relative peace. For hours, I listened to the bestial sounds made by the Space Pirates as they roamed around.
I didn't even bother to ask why any of this was real. There was no point in questioning that. The only question I had was this: "Would I ever go home?"