Hello once again and damn, are things really getting going now. The finale is upon us, we have 5 more days. 5 more chapters, and these characters, these people will finally get their endings. It was a long journey, and I really did wish I could have more time in adding into the story, giving more characterization to those who couldn’t get that much. But again, this was a 30 day marathon, and just being in the home stretch is simply amazing. I more or less have a game plan set for this finale, and the ending is going to be more or less strange, to say the least (probably). Anyway, we also hit 50,000 words(The overall goal to “win” National Novel Writing Month) Word count: 51,780. Here you go, chapter 24 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
The world was crumbling. Ryan was running. Everything he once knew slowly turned fragile, and it all threatened to shatter like glass. The norms he had worked so hard to keep, and the norms he found himself in were all breaking away, and Ryan had only one chance to stave it off. Ryan only had one chance to make sure that he would be able to live in a norm he could proudly call his own. Ryan was scared. He knew what fear was, and he had already felt it with his friends, his family. However, the type of fear he was experiencing now, was something he never thought he would ever feel. It was the type of fear that made his stomach want to turn into itself. It was the type of fear that churned and ran across his mind without warning. It was the type of fear when everything that was once normal and fine was slowly turning to dust. It was the fear of loss.
“Ryan?” Amanda called out towards the running Ryan, who ignored the words and ignored the world around him. Amanda had been informed of his name by Lorna, but to Amanda, his cooperation in the case was less vital. Amanda and James were on the verge of cracking a major case, and they were on the verge of having to break laws; section laws.
“Hold on!” Amanda grabbed Ryan as he ran past her, his vision narrowed, and his ears closed off everything but his own thoughts. Before Ryan realized it, he had slipped into a small stupor, he had ignored everything that didn’t concern him, and he was fixated on his own ideals. He was fixated on keeping his norms, and keeping his family and friends, and experiences.
“What’s the matter with you?” Amanda said as she held Ryan into place. Ryan hadn’t fully realized what was going on until a few moments had passed. His breathing fluctuated and his face turned beet red. His hands were shaking, and he could barely stand. Surprisingly, his weak constitution paid him no heed, and he didn’t find himself having to gasp for air.
“You okay?” Amanda asked. Ryan had slowly calmed down, his world was crumbling. His breathing steadied, and his eyes widened, surprised as to where he was, his world was crumbling. His feet slowly gave in, the rush of the run kicking in, and his lungs felt like they would collapse at any moment, his world was crumbling. Ryan was scared, he was scared, but he wasn’t scared because of Amanda, nor was he scared because of how he ignored his mother, or his uncle, he was scared because of what Lorna had said, he was scared because of what everyone had said. His world was crumbling.
“Ryan?” Amanda asked, quite persistent in trying to get Ryan to speak. Ryan simply gave Amanda a blank stare, which prompted Amanda to reply with her own confused stare. Amanda had no idea what was going on, and at this moment, had no obligation to continue her search. Her work had long past, and she was simply on a normal patrol. James was out at the moment as well, and if anything, Amanda just wanted to help him. Ryan seemed frantic, Amanda thought; he was like a frightened sheep after a herd of wolves had passed. However, Ryan wasn’t a sheep, he was a farmhand.
“Where am I?” Ryan asked, his voice shaking, and his expression implying his ignorance of the marathon he just ran.
“What time is it?” Ryan’s speech heightened, he spoke quickly, less clear, and with no regards to accentuating.
“Where are they!?” Ryan was almost yelling at this point, his eyes widened greatly in a frenzy, and he was shaking Amanda, thinking she had the answers to all his vague questions; she did.
“Are you okay? What happened?” Amanda ignored his questions and simply inquired about his own state. Amanda has learned that simply answering their questions wouldn’t do much. If you need a witness, and if you need compliance, then you need to understand where they come from. It makes a world of difference if you can come to a mutual agreement then if you simply abide, Amanda concluded. Ryan wasn’t fine, he was far from fine, and what he needed right now wasn’t his answers, it was time to catch his breath, Amanda thought. Albeit, to Ryan, the only thing he needed right now were answers, and he would stop for no questions.
“They–” Ryan paused. His eyes darted to the ground. It didn’t seem to Amanda like he was talking to her. Amanda was more like a mist, an afterthought to Ryan, she was simply there, watching.
“Are breaking,” Ryan said, speaking only to himself and only bringing it into context with what he knew. What Ryan knew was breaking was his norms and his way of life. Perhaps it was too early to say, or perhaps it was an exaggeration, but Ryan’s mind flooded with these thoughts nevertheless.
“What’s breaking?” Amanda played on with Ryan’s tune, simply trying to get him to understand where he is and to explain the issue to Amanda. After all, she was still obliged.
“They’re leaving. They’re talking,” Ryan said.
“Who’s leaving? Who’s talking?” Amanda tried to get through to Ryan, but her attempts turned to cinder. She wasn’t what Ryan needed, she thought. Somehow, one way or another, Ryan was searching for someone, someone who was far away, someone who was misplaced, Amanda concluded. What made the situation so quaint was that Amanda had every right to be involved in his situation, and she was the direct cause of it all.
“I need to go. I need to find them!” Ryan attempted to run off, but was quickly stopped by Amanda, who grabbed onto his shoulder and stopped him from lifting his leg.
“Calm down,” Amanda whispered.
“Everything will be alright. Just talk.” Amanda’s voice had slipped into her assertive and commanding tone. What she needed to be now was the adult, and what she needed to be now was a clear source of justification.
“I have to go!” Ryan simply flailed in her grasp and attempted to break free, his path dead set on the building.
“You’re leaving me with no choice, calm down, now!” Amanda didn’t ask, she demanded. And as Ryan continued to ignore her, and continued his grovel, her patience had run out. Amanda moved her arm towards Ryan’s shoulder, and pressed down, she then used her left leg to sweep Ryan’s feet and quickly brought him to the ground. Amanda then brought Ryan’s arm behind him, and pressed her body weight into his back. Ryan didn’t show any signs of pain, and simply struggled to break free from her hold. The sight of it all made Amanda feel pity for him, he was clearly out of his mind, she thought.
“Willing to talk?” Amanda said as she held Ryan down, her face contorting into a small weak smile. Amanda hasn’t done any recent takedowns, and the change of pace has definitely changed her mood. It was exhilarating, although, to a target like Ryan, it was still rather bland, which made Amanda rather disappointed. Each time Ryan would try to break free, Amanda would only tighten her grip. What Amanda wanted to do wasn’t physically restrict Ryan, but to push him to talk. The only way a person like Ryan, in his state of mind would comply, would be physical exertion, Amanda concluded.
“We can do this all day,” Amanda said, as she continued to press down onto Ryan’s back. After a few moments, Ryan’s breathing had slowed once again. This time however, his mind had also been set back, and his stupor had completely dissipated. He realized where he was, and how he got there, and he realized why he was being physically detained. He also realized how much it hurt.
“Alright. I get it. I’m calm now. Let go of me,” Ryan said in annoyance. Amanda let go of her grip, but remained in position in case Ryan had another sudden outburst. Ryan got up, brushed off the dirt from his clothes, and sat at the curb of the sidewalk.
“Didn’t need to be so rough you know?” Ryan said with a suave tone.
“Didn’t want to.”
“Sometimes your wants and needs are construed, huh?”
“Following protocol, and following my own intuition.”
“Your procedures are full of it,” Ryan said, frustrated with the magnitude of the situation. Although Ryan didn’t know what was going on with Lorna, Ryan could figure that it had to do with the bad guys. It had to do with Amanda, and it had to do with them and them not liking their norm. It had to do with them not liking his way of life, and them not liking the things he’s worked so hard to build. It made Ryan angry, but he contained himself, he breathed in and out and tried his best to sit still. Ryan still didn’t have concise answers, and he knew he couldn’t act on pure speculation. That wouldn’t sit right with him.
“What the hell’s your problem, Ryan?” Amanda briskly asked.
“My problem?” Ryan considered his words, he wasn’t thinking straight. His mind was clouded with emotions and his mind was clouded with the chaos of everything. He couldn’t think, and he didn’t want to. The only thing Ryan wanted to do was break free and run to Lorna, to run to his norm and question. And in the off chance that he would get answers, he would fight.
“My problem is this goddamn world,” Ryan couldn’t hear the words coming out of his mouth. However, the words appeared in his mind, and they raced around him. What he had just said, felt nostalgic. It wasn’t his words. They were words of someone who was more attentive then him. They were words of someone who was playful, someone who always seemed to know, and always seemed to know where you were. They were the words of a person who started it all.
“It’s filled with aliens, and agents!” Ryan said, his voice turning into that of a sales person. It was assertive in nature, but not intrinsically implied. If listened to long enough, it was probably annoying, Ryan thought. It wasn’t his voice. It was the voice of a boy who was very strange in nature, but good at heart. It was the voice of a boy who was sharp but just couldn’t put his thoughts to words.
“It’s cold. The world is so cold, and at the same time, so warm.” Ryan spoke in relation to someone he had in mind. It was the voice of a person with a quiet tone, but a loud sense of morality. She was reserved, and that was her nature. She cared, and that was her nature. She was cold, but warm, and that was her nature.
“That’s not fair. It just isn’t fair. It makes my blood boil. It makes life exciting. It makes me want to go out and do everything,” Ryan spoke with the mindset of someone with an abrasive attitude. He was a daredevil, always out for adventure, and always out for excitement. He didn’t turn down a challenge and was always ahead.
“And your problem?” Amanda asked again.
“I want to be there for them. I want to be strong,” Ryan continued his soliloquy. His mind was now projecting a certain strength that he’s witnessed. It was the strength of a friend. It was the strength of a friend who could protect others. It was the strength of a friend who despite all odds, will continue to fight.
“But, it will be alright. Everything will be okay. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, so I’ll run with them,” Ryan had run Amanda’s patience dry. What Ryan needed was not reason, but assurance. Ryan had spoken with the intention of exhibiting affection and care. It was a borrowed ideal, something he agreed on, but knew wasn’t his. It was far too cheery for Ryan to have known on his own, especially in his old state.
“Even so, the reality of my problem is still scary.”
“Are you scared?”
“I am. I really am.”
“Why are you scared.”
“Because I know that they aren’t bad guys.”
“They’re not bad guys, because I said they aren’t.” Ryan circled around Amanda’s question. He had remembered words of a time long past, of a time when he had only realized the norms he wanted, and he altered them, he made them his own. They were words that stuck with Ryan, and they were words that could never escape him. There was a certain sense of mysticism in that thought. A longing held tight only with verbal context. Ryan was sure to bring that up with Walker later.
“And I hate it all. I hate everything. I just wish they would all disappear,” Ryan’s nature had shifted to one of lightheartedness, to one of aggression. However, even that shift in nature, wasn’t Ryan’s. It was the nature of a girl who was afraid of ghosts, and despite this, still held strong and still holds her pride straight. It was the nature of a girl who despite caring about her friends, has a tough time expressing it.
“My problem–” Ryan calmed down, his breathing had slowed, and he gathered his own words in his head. Not the words he came to know, not the tone and the natures of the people he was surrounded by, but his own words. Ryan had to make his own norm, and he had to protect his own norm. It was Ryan’s job alone, and he knew that he was the only one who could do it. He couldn’t ask for help, he couldn’t be someone else, he had to be himself. Ryan was Ray, who was Ryan.
“Is that my worlds are ending.”
“What do you mean?”
“The norms I used to live by are falling apart. They’re becoming fragile. I can’t keep going on like this.” Ryan got up from his spot. Amanda tensed her guard, but noticed that Ryan wasn’t giving off any violent intent. Ryan was rather apathetic, and simply turned back towards his path. He didn’t show any intention to run, but rather slowly groveled his way. Ryan had long been past the panic and emergency of the situation. Ryan’s head was more than clear, and Ryan’s goal had still remained the same. Ryan needed to get to the orphanage, and Ryan needed to have a talk with Lorna, to figure out exactly what was going on, and what they were going to do. Ryan had no intention of giving an answer without this norm being fixed, Ryan concluded. Despite what Ryan may feel, he just can’t bring himself to move on when one of his norms are being crushed. If Ryan were to never see Lorna and the children again without saying a proper goodbye, then Ryan was sure that he would never progress. Ryan was sure that he would revert back to his previous self. Ryan was sure that his second home, his new family, and his new friends would all be left in a trail of miasmic toxin. Ryan didn’t want that. Ryan walked, and as he walked, he picked up speed. And as he picked up speed, he began running. He began running again, and he trailed off into the forest. Amanda was left no answers, but her own answers would soon come to fruition in due time. Amanda simply stood there, watching Ryan run off, and sighed. He reminded her of a close friend, of someone who also ran, and also chased after a norm that they wanted to create, and that they wanted to protect. He reminded her of the time when her own friend had sought out a life all on their own, and had made her proud. He reminded her of Lorna.