Over the next few days there were fewer and fewer messages from Melony until they stopped completely, even though he could see that she was online. After two days of no replies to his messages, Lukas decided it was time to go to Melony’s house and make sure she was okay. The day dragged on slowly towards the end. Gloopy moved around Lukas’s feet as he worked, rolling over them, time and time again.
As soon as the workday came to a close Lukas picked up his friend and put him in his bag and headed for the door. His mind had been distracted all day, and he was sure that he was going to get another invite to the office to discuss productivity, but that didn’t really matter to him. He opened the door to the hallway and found Tony leaning against the far wall, pale and spaced out. He was almost on the floor, his face covered in sweat.
“Dude, are you okay?”
“Fine. Just resting.”
“Do you want some help, getting to bed?” Lukas asked, hoping that Tony would decline the offer so he wouldn’t need to get close to him.
“No, no. I’m going to the toilet. I’ll be alright. You go now. Don’t want you to get ill as well.”
Lukas hesitated, but made his way down the corridor before turning around to see that Tony had started walking again. Each step was heavy and clumsy. His back was arched over as he stepped forward. Lukas wasn’t even sure if Tony was aware he was in the hallway with him. There was an absentness in Tony’s eyes as he took each step.
“I’ll get you some more medicine,” Lukas said. “I’ll be back home in an hour or so. Make sure you get some rest.”
Tony didn’t react to his words at all. After waiting for Tony to make it to the bathroom, Lukas left the house. He only needed to see that Melony was okay, and then he could come back to Tony and make sure that he didn’t hurt himself by accident. With every step Lukas could feel Gloopy moving around in the bag, almost excitedly. Up to that point he was sure that it couldn’t even remember Gwendoline or Melony. Not once had it shown any sign of missing them or missing going outside while they were bundled up in his bedroom, but in that bag it was moving around more than Lukas had ever known it to before.
They reached Melony’s house, and Lukas felt reassured that everything looked in place from the outside. Her car was still in the driveway, the street looked calm, and nothing was out of place. His heart was racing as he walked up towards Melony’s front door. He pressed the doorbell and held his breath as he waited to hear something from inside the house.
It took a few moments for Lukas to hear sound coming from within the house and through the blurry window he could see a figure coming towards him. He took a step back as Melony opened the door and looked at him. Her face was completely neutral.
“Hi Melony, how are you feeling?”
“Hi. I’m fine. Thank you.”
“What’s been going on?”
“What do you mean nothing?”
“Everything is as expected.”
“What?” Where’s Gwendoline?”
“Gwendoline has disappeared.”
“Really? I’m so sorry. When did you last see her? I can help you look for her again.”
“I do not wish to look for her. I am sorry. I have work to catch up on. Goodbye.”
Melony closed the door, leaving Lukas standing in the cold. In his bag he could feel that Gloopy had all but stopped moving. He wondered if his friend was disappointed.
None of it made any sense to him, as he walked back home through the cold streets. She acted so strangely, but what could he do? Something was definitely wrong. Lukas spent the walk home worrying about Melony. He’d completely forgotten about Tony, but as soon as he turned his key to open the front door, he remembered how fragile his friend had looked.
Lukas found Tony on the sofa; half slumped to the floor. His skin a pale grey colour, and his mouth open. His skin was thin and crinkled, attached to his skeleton like shrink-wrap. His lips cracked. Eyes empty and lifeless. Lukas had never seen a dead body before then. He moved closer to his friend, not noticing how his footsteps echoed around the room. Tony’s arms were spread out, hanging loosely. They looked incredibly thin and fragile, like they could be snapped by the slightest movement. Lukas got closer and started to shake, tears forming in his eyes. He sat next to Tony and placed his hand on his friend’s arm. It was cold.
“This isn’t right,” he said and stood back up.
None of it made no sense. He’d been gone for thirty minutes, tops, and there was no way that this could have happened in that time. Tony looked ill earlier, but this couldn’t have been natural. He pulled out his phone.
“Hello, yes. I need an ambulance at fifteen Parkland Close, please. I don’t know what’s happened. I think he’s dead, but it was all so quick. Just please get someone here. No, I can’t see that he’s breathing. No, I don’t think he’s been hurt. There’s no blood. I am staying calm. Please just send someone. He’s dead alright. He’s not breathing and not moving. He was ill and now he’s dead. Just send someone. Okay, thank you. Sorry I don’t mean to shout. No, I don’t need you to stay on the phone with me. I’m not in any danger. I’m not hurt. He was ill. It’s just a shock. Thank you.”
Lukas was glad to be off the phone, even though it had been brief. He was sure the voice on the other end wouldn’t understand what was happening, especially since Lukas didn’t understand it himself.
He moved closer to Tony again, struggling to believe that his friend was gone. Lukas felt the world spinning under his feet, the walls bending and moving around him. Each second stretched out into infinity and passed at rapid speed at the same time. He could see something on Tony’s arm, just under his jumper sleeve. It looked like a mark of some kind. Lukas got closer and lifted up the sleeve and found a mark, like a bruise. Bright purple, and very alive. He turned around, tears flowing down his face. In the doorway was Tony, looking normal and healthy.
“Hello, Lukas,” it said.
To be continued…
Part Seven will be available soon!