A Pocket God Oneshot
-first in the Series of Unfortunate Oneshots
I glanced up at the speaker, staring at him blankly. It took a moment for me to recognize him: Dooby, watching me anxiously.
"Coming to supper, dude?" he asked.
I shook my head wordlessly, and he frowned at me in return. "You sure?"
Didn't I already answer that question? He knew very well that I wouldn't be coming to eat. I hadn't been coming to meals for days. Why couldn't he just take a hint and leave me alone?
"Come on, dude, you've got to eat." he urged when I didn't respond. "Or at least get some rest. You need to look after yourself."
I didn't have time. There was someone who needed me more right now. He knew that, too.
" He hesitated. "I know you're worried about Klik dude, but starving yourself isn't going to help him one bit. We're worried about him too."
Oh, really? Well, I wasn't going to leave his side. He had better get used to that idea, because it wasn't going to change.
"Let me watch him for a while." Dooby urged. "Go eat, go rest. One hour, that's all I ask. Klik dude isn't going anywhere."
He might die. He was dying, he might be dead in a few minutes. I couldn't leave him, not now. I had to know he wasn't dead, not because of my stupid mistakes.
Not because of what I did.
He waited for an answer, looking at me expectantly. I let him wait.
"Dude?" he asked eventually. "What do you say?"
I shook my head again, turning away from him and fixing my gaze on the motionless figure that lay on the bed beside me. Twisted and broken, the only sign of life the ragged breath that barely made it past his cold lips, barely clinging to what life that remained in his shattered body, Klik lay utterly stilljust as he had for the past few days. And once that was gone, nothing would be left. He wouldn't come back.
Because of me.
After a while, Dooby left us alone. Goodthat was what I wanted. I wanted to be alone. I didn't want anyone else with us.
Klik hadn't so much as stirred for the past two days, and the days before that were ones that I never wanted to revisit. Half the time he had been unable to move, too weak to even lift his head, and during that time he had begged me to get the Gem of Life to the temple. I had nearly given in
but the other half of the time, he had been in agony. It was at those times that I swore I would never leave his side, because during those painful moments he had screamed from the sheer agony of it all. Not just crying out in pain; I've heard that plenty of times from all of us as we met our temporary demise. There was fear in that scream too, and the tears he wept were not just the tears of suffering. He couldn't help but be afraid, and I didn't blame himbecause even then he knew that this was his last life. This was the last time he would be able to die, and he was on the edge of death. Death that lasted forever.
I had never heard him cry like that. And even worse, I knew that it was my faultthe entire tribe did. The Gem of Life had faded because of me
meaning I had been the one that kept him from coming back. And though he had insisted in one of his lucid moments that he didn't blame menot much, at leastwe both knew that he was just saying that.
So maybe I hadn't caused the accident that had done this to himthat was the fault of a lightning bolt striking a tree, sending it toppling onto himit wouldn't matter if it weren't for my mistakes. He was dying, he was dying and he would never come back, he was dying and when he was dead I would be the only one to blame.
Then he had lost consciousness, and he hadn't woken up. Even I knew that eternal death was waiting to snatch him up any day now.
And that was why I couldn't leave. If I couldn't make it right again, I had to at least be there when he died. Nothing else mattered, not anymore.
Hours came and went. He didn't move and neither did I. He didn't eat and neither did I. He didn't do anything but lay there, motionless and unconscious; I didn't do anything but watch him, hopeless and guilty. Because I should be the one lying there, not him. He didn't do anything to deserve this.
You hit the wrong pygmy, gods. So if you could do a quick switch-up
Booga stopped by later that evening, though he didn't stay long. We barely exchanged two words as he sat by Klik for a few minutes, wordlessly regarding him with an emotion that I couldn't quite place, before absently bidding me farewell and leaving again. Maybe he had been prayingI hoped so. We needed all the help we could get.
I couldn't help but remember something he had said to me during those final days when I saw Booga come and go. Maybe it was the simple but sincere loyalty proclaimed in that action, perhaps the fact that he was suffering the grief in his own way, but Klik's words echoed in my mind, refusing to leave even when I pushed them off. The gem, bring it to the temple. It's the only way. Even if I die, the others deserve another chance.
Klik had cared about the tribe. Maybe it would have been better if he didn't. But he did care, and that caring would kill him.
"Isn't that the way it always works?" I whispered to myself. "Someone always pays for my mistakes. But it's never me
and I've never cared before."
Irony. Fine, sweet irony that made my stomach curl and bile rise in my throat. The gods had a twisted sense of humor, didn't they? Either that or an equally twisted sense of justice. I do something stupid; they punish Klik for it. Were they killing him just to make me feel guilty? Was the cost of this lesson going to be his life?
Another voice. Klak was behind me, standing in the doorway. Great, now what? More nagging to abandon my friend in his time of need?
"Is he any better?" he asked, coming to stand beside me.
Obviously not. Obviously he wasn't recoveringnot now, not ever. That tree had broken something important when it fell, probably several important things. Klik wasn't going to get better. But if he didn't know this, I could let him keep hoping.
"Worse?" he ventured when I said nothing.
I nodded, shutting my eyes with a sigh. Worse. His breathing was fainter, his fever warmer. He was worse, he was dying.
"What about the Gem of Life?" Klak glanced at the exit, then back at me. "Can't it do something?"
I shook my head. Not anymore.
"If we brought it to the temple?"
Maybe. I didn't know. But Klik had told me that I had to bring the gemstone there
even as his words became increasingly vague and cryptic, lost in worlds beyond our sight, he was insistent on that point. Get the gem to the temple, make peace with the gods, restore out immortality. Save the tribe. Protect the tribe. It didn't matter if we left him to die, it didn't matter if we killed him ourselves. What he wanted was for us to return the gemstone to its original pedestal, and worry about him later.
But I couldn't just leave him, could I? That would be abandoning him to his death, while the rest of us got off easy and got eternal life. There was no way we could make it there in time for him to share in our immortality, assuming we got it at all. It was a huge risk, one that I wasn't willing to take.
Because he couldn't die. It just wasn't possible. I would rather make the journey to the temple alone than have that happen. I would rather die myself than have him die because of me.
But Klik would sacrifice himself for the tribe in a heartbeat. We all knew this to be true. He would rather kill himself than have me stay here with him instead of trying to make things right again. I knew it was incredibly selfish of me to go against his wishes, but I couldn't leave him
alone, he wouldn't last a day. One of us would have to stay behind, and four of us wouldn't make it all the way. Five, maybe
but not four. Never four.
"We should at least try." Klak urged. "Klik would hate us if we didn't. There's a chance, right? There has to be a chance."
"And if we're wrong?" I asked, voice husky from lack of use. "What if it turns out that we can't save him, and we let him die for nothing?"
"Then he would have accepted that." he answered. "He would want us to try."
He was right. We both knew he was right. But leaving him behind, unprotected
"It's your call, Ooga." Klak sighed. "But we're running out of time. Klik isn't going to last forever, and eventually it's going to be too late to help him."
I swore I could have punched him as he departed. Right then, I hated him for even suggesting we abandon Klik to pursue something that was nothing more than a legend; that we risk his life for something that might not even be true. I despised him for even daring to consider it.
I hated him even more for the fact that he was right.
I looked helplessly at my unconscious friend. "I don't know." I muttered. "I just don't know."
What should I do? What can I do?
All I knew was that I had to choose, and soon. Klak was right about one thing for sure: Klik didn't have a lot of time left. Every I second I wasted could cost him his life.
But I still didn't know what to do.
"Why am I the one who has to choose?" I demanded to no one in particular. Maybe to the gods, maybe to Klik, maybe to myself. I didn't know. "Why do I have to do this? Why me?"
The gods didn't answer. Neither did Klik. Hardly a surprise; one was dying, and the other was ignoring us completely.
Great. That meant that no one was going to answer, except maybe me. And that meant that there was no answer coming, because I didn't know that, either.
Alone, alone with my guilt, alone with Klik. And his dying form lying on the bed beside me offered no comfort, no wisdom nor advice. Nothing but silence.
Gods, this hurt. I had to make a ruthless decision right now, spare myself nothing, maybe even ignore basic right and wrong. I had to risk my friend's life knowing that he might die because of me. I had to do it alone. And if I didn't, Klik would die.
How could they expect this of me?
But my choice was clear, blindingly clear. Maybe it always had been, and I just didn't want to see it. There was only one answer to this question; I just had to follow through with it.
"I'm sorry, Klik." I said softly, glancing back at his motionless form. "For
And it might have been just my imagination, just a trick of the light or just wishful thinking, but I could have sworn that he smiled, just a little bit.
"I have to do this, don't I?" I continued, quite aware that I was talking to myself. It was easier this way, like I could pretend he could hear me. Then someone else would be there to listen, and I wouldn't be alone. "Just me. Not you. Not one of them. It has to be me
this is my fault. It's my job to make it right."
"And I will. For both of us."
To be continued...