Forever Brave, Forever Seventeen
“Grandpa, I will be in the attic, listening to music there. Don’t lose me.”
“Okay, Charlie. Be careful.”
Charlie climbed to the attic of his grandfather’s house. The attic was his favorite place because there was a quiet and calm atmosphere. Moreover, the window was looking directly at the forest of Philadelphia. The forest was, indeed, of a big size; trees were the skyscrapers of the glades; they were ancient and timeless, disappearing into the sky. Trees used to be rough and injured. It was said that there was a huge fire in 1911; as a result, a sixteen-year-old boy died. However, now, their roughness had been worn out by the soft greenness of the moss. Charlie liked to stare at that forest thinking about his life, friends, and school by accompanying melancholic songs in his playlist.
The attic was old enough to be grown over by spider webs. In each corner of the walls was seen tons of dust. The floor was creaking every time someone would walk in. The attic did not have a lamp, that is why Charlie had to use candles. The attic was small and empty, only the brownish-grey closet stood in the right corner in front of the window. Charlie’s grandfather stored his old clothes and items there; these things reminded him of his past that he was so desperately hiding from his grandson Charlie. The dark past is full of danger and mystery, fear and terror.
Charlie was listening to his music. Unexpectedly, he started hearing the voices of something through his headphones. He took them off and started walking around to get to know where these noises were coming from. It was unclear and inexplicit. He got a little scared as the voices were becoming loud and disturbing. Suddenly, a black crow appeared in front of the window, flying with its large and blunt wings. When Charlie understood that there was nothing strange and that the noises were from the crow, the panic left him. That is why he decided to open the window to oversee the black crow. But as soon as he opened the window, the black crow harshly entered the attic, flying around and making a mess.
Charlie could only defend himself from this crow by backing up to the corner of the attic. When the crow hit that brownish-grey forbidden closet and fell to the floor, Charlie managed to get to it. Before moving too close, he had been staring at it for about 3 minutes, poking it with a stick. The bird did not show any signs of life. There was only smashed blood around the floor.
Charlie did not quite understand what just happened. But he did not want to disturb his grandfather. That is why he started clearing things up by himself. First of all, he washed that blood over and then packed that black crow into the box, so he would be able to bury it later on. When he finished it, he started putting things in their proper places and noticed that there was damage on the closet of his grandfather. He did not know what to do. Was he supposed to fix it or leave it that way? After all, he is the one who opened the window and let the bird in.
The feeling of guiltiness outweighed the feeling of prohibition. Charlie decided to fix that closet no matter that he was forbidden to touch it in the first place. He opened it and started sneezing hard. It seemed that the closet had not been opened for a long time. He took his instruments and started fixing the damage.
A hammer fell to the floor of the closet unintentionally, so Charlie bent over to find it. He was searching hard but did not manage to find it because it was too dark inside. He took the candle and put it down. The flames of light made Charlie encounter the box on which was written: “11th of August, 1911, Samuel”.
That name made Charlie flash back to early childhood. He remembered that name – Samuel. He was the best friend of his grandfather. They were really good friends. They used to say that their friendship is stronger than the Devil itself, although Charlie did not understand what they meant. Charlie’s memory got so far that it was too late to be stopped from opening that box. Charlie opened the box that was not only forbidden from opening but from touching at first.
The box was full of different items. There were old photos, bicycle keys, broken glasses with blood on it, and a notebook. These items were so old that the corrosion ate up the keys and the colors of the photos were shading off. Charlie took the photos first. It was hard to say who was in there because the colors were running out of shades.
There stood 3 people. He could not recognize them. Maybe they were 16 or 17 years old. One boy that stood left had black hair and big lips. The others standing next to him had glasses, the ones that were in the box. The third was a girl – beautiful and brave. It was not hard to say that she was brave, because it was obvious by looking at her. When Charlie turned the photo over, he saw the names “Eddie, Samuel, Sophie – forever 17.” He saw the name of his grandfather in this photo – Eddie. He finally figured it out. That boy was his grandfather’s best friend at a young age. It was the year 1911 – they are both 17 there. Once he understood who these boys were, he dived into the box, observing other things trying to find out who that girl was. He took the notebook where on the cover was written: “Forever brave, forever seventeen”. Charlie was seventeen at that time and he found it interesting to get to know what that age of seventeen indicated in that notebook. He opened it and started reading it.
It was the 11th of August, 1911 – the day when my life changed and will never be reversed back. It was not too hot but not too cold, perfect warm weather with the little breeze that makes trees sway gently hither and thither. I decided to go camping with my friends. There were four of us: Eddie, Samuel, Ben, and Noah. We are all seventeen years old raising seniors. We just wanted to have some fun and celebrate the coming end of the junior summer. But this fun turned out to be a terror, the one that changed the lives of all four boys.
On the late morning of 11th of August, we all met together at the old cafe “POPS”, where we ate our breakfasts. Then, went to the forest of our town—Philadelphia. We often went there to play around for a few hours, but this time we went camping for a whole day. We took some food and drinks. Around 2pm we finally reached our destination and constructed a tent near the lake. Everything was going well; we swam in the lake, ate fired marshmallows, drank our apple juices, and sang around the bonfire; camping was going the way it was planned to be. When the time hit midnight, we went to the tent to have a sleep and suddenly we started hearing a male voice. We were not scared or anything, because it was Saturday and other people might be camping too. When I got out of the tent, I saw a boy. He was asking if we had any water. I said “yes” and called Eddie to bring the water here. He brought the bottle of water and gave it to the boy. The boy thanked us and said that he was afraid that this water would be too little.
“Too little for what?” Eddie asked.
“Too little to stop the fire and save this poor boy,” said that boy.
“What boy? What are you talking about?” I said.
I felt that something bad was coming. My gut always said to me when the danger was coming; I always trusted him. So, I made a sign to Eddie to start packing things and be ready to leave this place. Eddie told Noah and Ben. They started packing things as suddenly that boy flew up; his feet were not on the ground; he started making strange noises; his eyes rolled over his head; his hands and legs spread over; his head crushed back and we heard the sound of a broken neck. The fear that we all were experiencing could not be described with words.
Our bodies were shaking, heartbeats were unstable, and the tongues were rolled; we could not either scream or say anything; we stood staring with large pupils as if we were cursed. Suddenly, the boy that was floating above started flaming. He was on fire. The fire started consuming the trees that were nearby. In a minute, lots of trees were already on fire, burning to ashes. The boy started screaming very loud so that we all fell to our knees. The scream was so dark and full of terror; the sound of it made us feel empty and lost. When the scream stopped, that boy fell to the ground. His body was all burned. The skin was pale, dark, and black. There was nothing to see; every inch of the body was too damaged.
We stood to our feet and still could not say anything. Eddie eventually managed to tell us that we better call 911. Noah and Ben agreed by mumbling. I did not say anything but went near that boy to observe his body. I knew that he was dead already, but still, I wanted to make sure if there are any signs of life in him.
That is why I took the stick and poked his breast to see if he was breathing. He was not breathing. But I saw the sign on his chest. A dark sign with the letter A in it. I moved my stick and touched the sign with it. That was a terrible mistake.
Suddenly I felt something burning in my veins. My eyes became red; pupils overshadowed the whole eye. My heartbeat slowed to 20 heartbeats a minute. I was hearing some whispering voices in my head. I started feeling empty and dark inside as if all happiness was leaving me, as if my soul was leaving me. In a minute everything stopped and I forgot what just happened. I went back to my friends. They already packed the stuff and the police with the ambulance and firemen had arrived by that time. Police officers asked us what we witnessed and the sequence of the incident while firemen were putting out the fire. We told them what we saw, how that boy was floating, screaming, and burning, but they did not believe us.
Doctors checked us and said that was just a vision because we were under huge stress from what we saw. They concluded that the boy had an epileptic shock that caused him to lose control over the fire.
The boys and I reached the POPS cafe and sat at the table, silently glancing at each other. We ordered tea and Eddie first started talking.
“So, did you all see that boy floating and burning?”
“Yeah,” said Noah and Ben at one word.
“What about you, Samuel? You okay?” asked Eddie.
I just mumbled and started drinking tea.
“What were you doing near that dead body, Samuel?” asked Eddie.
“I was looking at it and I saw an A sign on his chest. I don’t know what exactly it was.”
“Maybe it was a tattoo?” said Ben.
“Maybe,” I said.
“Guys, do you believe the boy died because of the epileptic shock?” asked Noah.
“No way it was so. We all saw it. He was burning in flames and floating. This is not the signs of epileptic syndrome,” shouted Eddie loudly.
“We should probably go home, sleep,” said Ben quietly.
“We should,” said Eddie.
We all went home and did not see each other for another day. We did not tell our parents about the incident or discussed it among ourselves. A month passed and everything was seen to be forgotten. We were about to return to our lives and start senior year. In the second week of the school year, I had a nosebleed and a hard headache, so I was sent home. The ache in my head was only strengthening. Additionally, my vision started blurring and my heartbeat started being irregular. I started feeling worse than before. My parents decided to go to the doctor for a checkup. Doctors said that these symptoms could not be known what was causing them. That night when we returned home, I went to sleep early, because I was drained and exhausted. The next thing I remember when I woke up was that I was covered in blood. I was sitting in my bedroom, alone. When I called my parents, none of them came. I searched the house but could not find them. I called but no one answered the phone.
I waited till the next morning, but they did not come home. I was afraid that something bad might have happened to them, so I called my friends. They came over as soon as they got the call. They asked me what I was doing this past week. I told him about symptoms, doctors, blood, and the disappearance of the parents. Eddie asked me if this could be linked to that boy. I was so lost I could not give any answers. We decided it would be better to wait 2 days before calling the police about my missing parents.
The next two days were life-changing. We discovered something we did not ever wonder about. Those two days were a description of the devil itself. From Eddie’s mouth, I was acting very weird. I was gazing at the emptiness. I was speaking to someone invisible. During the night I was not sleeping. Instead, I was whispering some incomprehensible words in an unknown language. Eddie witnessed this and came by to check on me. But when he saw me, he was shocked and scared. My eyes were red and rolled up to the upper side of the head; my nose was bleeding; I had no pulse; suddenly, I started floating; my legs no longer were on the ground. Eddie tried to reach my arm to drag me down, but his attempts were effortless. He could not do it because there was some magnetic barrier. Then he was only observing what was going on with me from the corner. He noticed a sign, the one that I saw on that boy in the forest. Now, I was signed with that letter “A”.
Eddie woke Noah and Ben to show them my state. Eddie told them to stay away from me. That lasted 30 minutes. Then I fell to the floor. Eddie ran towards me screaming my name loudly. He said that I was unconscious. They woke me up and asked how I was. I did not understand why they were asking it.
“Guys, it’s the middle of the night. Why are you here?”
“You were floating, Samuel!!!” Noah screamed.
“I was what?”
Eddie then described everything that happened to me. I did not remember anything at all. I told them about how I touched that sign of that boy. I told them my suspicions, that maybe something bad had transferred to me. That night seemed to be infinite; stars never were so long in the sky. We were looking for any information on the internet, but we did not find anything. We didn’t even know what we were searching for. In the morning we went to Philadelphia’s only and largest library. We get to the library’s most ancient part where the books from the 11th century were stored. We managed to go through hundreds of books; they were in dust, faded, and torn; the majority were in English; the rest were in Latin.
Eddie, my dear best friend Eddie, found a book called “Antiqua Daemonia”. This book was what we were searching for. Eddie called us over and we sat at the table. We started reading it. However, we could not understand anything: it was written in Latin.
A girl came to us and started reading that book in Latin. She was fluent. She translated some paragraphs into English. We asked her who she was. She did not introduce herself straightaway. She asked us what we needed that book for. We glanced at each other and then decided to give out the information. It was the only chance to save me. When she heard it, her eyes widened as if she saw a ghost.
Indeed, she had seen an unnatural thing, but it was not the ghost. It was the devil. Her brother had been possessed by the demon. She tried to save him, but it was too late as the demon took the vitals of her brother. Eddie asked her what kind of symptoms her brother had. She told about memory loss, pulse decrease, vision blur, nosebleed, floating, and eyes rolling. Everything was the same with me. Her name was Sophie. She was a brave girl. She was also a senior. We heard that last summer a boy from our school died. But nobody was talking about the way it happened. But now we know how he died.
As soon as we got home, Sophie told us that we first needed to define what kind of demon it was. So, till the evening we were observing my behavior and reading that Latin book. I was scared and afraid and lost. I could not realize that everything was happening in real life. I needed my parents around, but they were not. I was calling them since yesterday, but no one was on the other line. When Noah once again asked if I could make a call to parents, I said “no” with big desperation. Sophie asked us what is wrong with my parents and we told them that they disappeared.
“IT CANNOT BE. NO WAY. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE,” Sophie screamed.
We all flinched from the unexpected screams.
“Now the puzzle has been figured out. The devil that is inside Samuel is Atticus. That sign “A” on his chest stands for Atticus—the most powerful and ancient devil that transmits only to teenagers’ bodies. Atticus lives its way until the organs are not run out from the vitals. For the transition to another body, it needs power. It takes that power from adults. Probably it is now feeding on your parents. You do not remember anything because the devil makes you forget things it makes, Samuel. We need to search the whole house and find your parents until it is not too late,” said Sophie.
I could not think of anything; my head was aching; eyes started rolling up; nose bleeding; this time, by Eddie’s saying, I fell to the floor and my chest started firing in flames; that letter “A” was on fire.
Noah and Ben rushed to me. They touched my hand to help me, but they needed the next help. They fell. Eddie screamed. The scream was full of sadness and fear. He saw his three best friends lying on the floor, unconscious, possessed by the demon, unknown if they are alive or not. He could not come close because the same would happen to him and there would be known to save us all. After a minute I woke up, again with no past action memory. When I saw Noah and Ben lying unconscious, I figured out that I hurt them. I harshly got close to them trying to help them. But I could not. There was no pulse, no signs of life in them. I killed them. I killed my two best friends. I killed Noah and Ben. They are dead. I yelled, screamed, and cried. Eddie cried. Sophie cried. She barely knew us, but she knew that pain of loss of dearest ones. She cried too. That evening we lost two friends.
We searched the whole house but did not find my parents. I again had those demon signs on me. This time Atticus took the whole control over my consciousness.
I started going somewhere. Sophie and Eddie followed me. The demon reached the hidden attic of the house. My parents were there. They were lying in a blooded circle. Barely alive. The demon was finishing its feeding and soon they would be gone. Sophie knew how to rip the circle, but it would be too dangerous; the deadly outcome was probable. Eddie decided to rip the circle without any mediation, even though Sophie was persuading him not to. Eddie risked his own life to save my parents. But he could not do it. He could not save them. They died too. My parents died. Atticus, the demon, got too close to their hearts; they ran out of vitals. Now, Atticus was stronger than ever before. It seemed to be impossible for two teenagers to beat the devil. Sophie knew how to. Eddie wanted to. The belief of two teenagers in the power of faith had overshadowed the devil itself. They together managed to beat demon Atticus.
Atticus was trapped in an ancient jug; the jug was hidden well enough not to be found for another hundred years. When I got free, I did not remember anything. I only clearly remembered how we all four were sitting at POPS, talking and laughing. Now, life has changed. Noah and Ben are dead. My parents are dead. Rest in peace, my best friends and lovely parents. Thank you, Eddie and Sophie. I owe you all so much I could never give back.
Forever brave, forever seventeen.
When Charlie finished reading and closed the diary, his grandfather was looking at him already. Charlie got scared that his grandfather would be mad. But instead, he only smiled and asked how it was. Charlie with cried face got to his grandfather and hugged him and said “forever brave, forever seventeen”.
“Do you miss him? Do you miss Samuel?” asked Charlie to his grandfather Eddie.
“I do. I often think of him. He is at peace with his parents and friends. I know that he is happy now.”
Samuel died in 1950, 39 years from that incident.