Chapter 1: 1
It was a short, torrid affair that lead to this for the both of them. It had been a gigantic mistake, and the thought that someone would find out – well, that was enough of a reason to want to kill yourself. For Bård and Vegard it flowed deeper than that though, and they made a pact.
It was such an easy thing, they'd write two separate goodbye letters to their family and little brother, a second letter from the both of them to their coworkers and beyond, and it turns out that letter was very short. When they both met up on the day they had previously decided on, Bård hadn't even finished his letter.
“Look, I don't know what to put in the fucking letter, alright?”
Vegard sat him down and made sure it got done, like the calculating older brother that he was, and he had all four letters in his hand soon enough sealed. An e-mail would automatically go out to a close friend at a specific time, long enough for them to have killed themselves, and their bodies would be discovered lifeless.
Because once you let your younger brother drunkenly suggest you sleep together because of the tight bond you have with one another, you didn't argue and actually went through with it, there was no going back from that and Vegard knew that.
They had said things that night, and they had hated one another ever since it had happened – but they still had to work together, they still could not allow anyone to know. They still had to even sit at their parent's place together one tense evening when it was obvious they were in a spat of some sort.
This was the sort of thing you did not live down.
Vegard and Bård retired to the garage, stuffed sheets underneath the shutter door to make sure the gas couldn't escape, and let the car run – along with lighting a gas stove with no flame in the car. It was all very mechanical, a thing that Vegard set up, and they sat in Vegard's car. They heard this would be one of the easiest methods of suicide, they'd just have to sit in the car and breathe in all the toxic fumes that Vegard had redirected to plume into the car itself... and the gas stove was an extra bet.
Maybe it would put them to sleep, nice and easily, before they were both to kick the bucket, so some would say.
There were whole books dedicated to the subject of suicide and how to kill yourself – but what Vegard hadn't expected that before he did, he would be cleaning his house from top to bottom, even getting the dust off of the fans.
“So what do we talk about?”
Bård asked, and Vegard closed his eyes, reclined in his seat, and scoffed.
He loved his brother, he really did, he could never imagine a life without him – and he imagined Bård was the same. He didn't even remember who brought up the idea of suicide, if it had come up as a joke (it had) or what, but here they were, finally going to do it.
“If we talk, don't we breathe more though? It smells fucking awful.”
Vegard gave him a very weary look and sighed, and he just closed his eyes and got as comfortable in the seat as he could. He subconsciously opened his lungs up though, breathing in more of the doomed air.
“Fine. Fuck it. I don't care.”
Bård suggested, even if he clearly did. He just reclined his seat as well and stared at the upholstered ceiling of the car, remembering so many things, like the car in Asia that had smelled of dead dog... well, this was nothing almost in comparison to that.
Enough deep breaths, the span of before running the engine dry of gas – though the stove had long gone out – they had fallen both asleep. With Vegard their past successes were in his mind, but the memories kept becoming muddied and marred by the idea of the one night of incest and mistakes.
Bård was thinking rather depressing thoughts, on how he'd never marry now, how he'd never see their past successes go any further than where they were at already, although with a viral video their success was doubtfully ever going to be replicated ever again.
Their breathing rhythmic, they slowly fell into it deeper from a lack of oxygen to the brain, and before they knew it, all their air was replaced by toxic fumes – enough to kill them.
This was only the beginning.
- - -
The reason this was only the beginning was because something incredible happened.
Vegard woke up.
Not in a car in a sealed off garage, but in a vast barren western American styled wasteland of a landscape being prodded at by something – someone – and he found himself swatting at the arm, because he knew instinctively he was alone and he just felt so tired and...
“Drunk? Or just really drunk?”
He licked at his lips as he heard the foreign voice in English, marred by a Germanic accent not that of which could be found in Northern Germanic countries.
Vegard himself asked out loud what in Norwegian, but then after some concern he heard that maybe he didn't know English, his eyes fluttered open and he squinted up at the sky.
A sun was high in the sky, must have been around noon, but oh gods, where was he and how did he get there? Maybe he had gotten really drunk...
“What happened? Shouldn't I be in a hospital?”
He murmured in concern for himself, because if any scenario was going to happen that was what it would be to him. The dark curls were damp with the sun beaming on them half the day, and he straightened his back – apparently he had been leaning against a tree of some sort, a very crooked tree.
“New arrival, then.” Said the voice to someone, or just to itself, and Vegard saw past the hand he had been swatting away a man much older than himself was attached to it.
“Welcome to... well, whatever this is.”
South Germanic of some sort. Switzerland possibly.
“No, really, what the hell happened? Where am I? For fuck's sake, I was in a car full of gas and--”
“And you killed yourself, so now you're here.”
His throat went dry immediately. If that was not an accurate picture of whatever was going on, he didn't know what was. He shuffled to be able to stand up, still wearing the very suit that he had been in when he killed himself. Well, it was fall when he had died, but now, whenever it was, it was way too hot.
He took his blazer off and could have sat back down, but he draped it over his arm and looked over to the older man, a visible thick purple line around the other man's neck.
“What is going on?”
“This is what happens when you kill yourself.”
“I was with – I was with someone. Where did they go?”
He was met with a shrug. The landscape around them really was barren, but he saw a block of what had to be apartments not too far away. He didn't know for sure this was where the other man had come from, but he had an idea it had been.
“Why don't you come with me, we will sit and discuss and figure out a plan for you.”
A fatherly type man. Yes. Most certainly this man had to have been a father, maybe even a grandfather, or had at least wanted to have been. He felt comfort almost from his presence, but he squinted against the sun, worried about a sunburn popping up, and agreed to come with the man.
- - -
Apparently, suicides were a very special case – Dante's Inferno had them going to a level of hell specifically for them, but there was a purgatory they all ended up in. There was no one he had ever met that hadn't been a suicide, he mentioned, this Hans.
This Hans even offered to let him stay with him for a while, until he could 'get on his feet' – when he told the other what his occupation had been, a comedian and talk show host, there was a long head shake.
“Too many comedians here. Though, they don't make people laugh so much anymore. Just relish in their own depression and rot like the rest of us.”
Vegard kept arguing – but he had been with his brother, where had his brother gone? If he was truly in some type of purgatory hell, he wanted to be with Bård. No matter if what they had done got them there, but he needed Bård there beside him.
It even took some weeks, some job searching, and he felt more furious and hopeless with everyone he spoke with that no one had seen or heard of Bård – but there was no one who had ever heard of such a name, and it became an obsessive quest of his.
But he wasn't one to go off on obsessive whims – the last time he did, he killed himself. So he was regaled to a very ordinary life for a while, getting a new apartment after staying with Hans, doing grocery shopping, working at a café, all the ordinary joys of a wondrous life as he lived paycheck to paycheck.
And never once did he see someone smile.
Chapter 2: 2
Vegard gets into a little bit of social interaction and ends up realizing he must undertake a quest.
There were many things that Vegard learned about this vast other-worldly like desert landscape. That for instance, you could cash in your paycheck and go to a bar drinking afterward, and there were only very loose ruling systems here. People who in the other side, the human world, had lived out lives where they felt compelled to follow – like the odd policeman here and there, but he believed he could go months without paying his rent and finding any repercussions.
He ended up in a dive bar though, grimy and dirty and covered with a layer of sand and dust, and instead of asking people about Bård, he just had a few shots and then settled down to having a beer. The bartender had blown out the back of his head, that much was evident – it was as if everyone, no matter their damage, was put back together just enough to be able to work again in some capacity for this greater cause of nothing.
Settling down into a table seat, it didn't take him very long before he noticed the two blonds looking over his way and giving curt little giggles here and there. It was surreal, though he couldn't know their laughter masked something more sinister. The sound of laughter was a welcome one though.
One of the girls eventually approached him – him, with his skin a bit paler than when he was alive, but she had a bob style haircut and a pert nose that looked almost cute.
But Vegard, he told himself, she was far too young for him, far too young to be drinking in this more American society, but who cared here? She was 19, 20 maybe, and surely enough, her accent was Midwestern American, and the words leaving her mouth left Vegard's mouth agape.
“So, how did you do it?”
He kept beady brown eyes on her as he took a drink from his beer – nothing tasted good here – but his brow furrowed, and he looked at her curiously.
“How did you kill yourself? We like to make bets about it.”
“Oh, oh – you take bets. That's a productive use of time.” Vegard commented, but she looked at him expectantly, almost at the hint of a smile, but he knew one would never be coaxed from her.
“If it makes you feel better I'll tell you mine first – drowning.”
Maybe that's why her lips were tinged a light blue, Vegard had barely been able to tell that they were in the dim lights of the bar. He cautiously continued on speaking with her though, because outside of whatever crummy job he'd managed to dig up serving plates of food and coffee to people, this was the second real interaction he'd had and the first in quite a few weeks.
“Gas leak. I guess. I guess that's how you'd put it.”
She cursed under her breath and gave her friend a thumbs down signal, who soon came over to join them – another blonde, who this time had much longer hair, past her shoulder blades. She seemed curious as to be privy to the information too, but she looked over Vegard.
“How was it?”
“It was a gas leak. I was sure he'd say wrist cutting.”
He pulled up his sleeves and showed off his clean wrists to the two semi-amazed blondes, and he just gave a shrug overall and continued on with with his beer.
“And here I thought we had another drowning victim of themselves. Isn't that a bitch?”
“Sorry to disappoint, girls.” He muttered, flipping some of his hair back. Sure, soon enough he'd need a haircut, but maybe he'd try it at home seeing as he never had yet come across a salon or something of the type.
“It's not your fault. So what made you do it?”
This, however, made him look at shock at the two girls, who seemed to both be expecting an answer. He didn't know whether to give one or not, but part of him was so desperate for this, the human contact.
He countered slowly and cautiously, and while one girl rolled her eyes the other seemed to understand completely. He made slow friends with these two pushy girls, these two polar opposites of people who had never met before death and who in life could have maybe saved each other.
But it was just meant to be for the night, staying up until 3 am when they decided to leave, because the bars never really shut down – people had a lot of problems to drink about here.
- - -
It all happened one day when he was going to the grocery store to pick up a few small things – cheese, bread, that sort of thing. His loneliness was ever persuasive here, but it was a sort of not-life that he'd have to give in to and go with the flow, if he was ever going to get anywhere.
Over the tops of the aisles he could just barely see there was another person in the store with him, but he tried to pay no notice as he threw things in his small basket. If only he had his wealth that he had amassed in Norway, he wouldn't have to be picky about grocery shopping. Hell, when he died, his wallet was even in his pants, but there wasn't exactly conversion booths for crowns.
On the other hand, this made him sorely wish it had been his iPod in his pockets or something instead.
He managed to scrape together some things, and just when he headed over to the counter to pay, he didn't know he would soon be hearing a word, a singular word that would change how he lived from then on. There was something that was going to be incredible happening, and he was going to be a part of it.
Moreso than the two girls at the bar always picking up on who had committed suicide in what way, rather poorly.
He took a few things out of his basket and set them down on the counter, and as the dead eyed cashier rang them up – a look most cashier's even living had – he heard the loud 'fuck' from behind him, and a glass break.
That word, though. He'd heard it many times before – in exactly the same tone. In exactly the same voice.
He turned around and before he could even look down the other person was looking up to him, trying to explain to the cashier he'd pay for it – and Vegard was face to face with Calle, his old friend, his brother's old friend, and they locked eyes for a moment.
“Well fuck me.”
Vegard didn't know what to say, he just looked on at the babbling Calle, the mop of blonde hair having grown out, and he didn't see any noticeable signs of death. He was quite shocked though to see Calle, and Calle brightened up and headed over to him, sidestepping the jar of jam he had broken.
“Yes, yes, I'll pay for that – Vegard! There you fucking are, you motherfucker – where is Bård? Isn't he with you?”
Still silent, he really didn't know what to say, but he swallowed down a few gulps of the dry desert air and tried to come up with something to say.
“No, Bård isn't with me.”
That was what eventually had come out, and Calle – well, his face dropped, even though it had never been brought to the apex of a smile either by seeing an old friend and colleague. Of course he had to of known that the two Ylvisåker brothers were dead, but since he arrived, he figured they were together since learning of the horrific news and then learning first hand himself what happened afterward.
“No Bård, huh? How come?”
“I don't know where he is.”
Vegard's voice came close to cracking, and Calle picked up on the subtle cue. He crossed his arms over his chest and huffily declared.
“Well, we just have to go fucking find him then, don't we?”
The idea wasn't one that hadn't crossed Vegard's mind before, but first of all – he was caught in a whirlwind at the moment – but first of all, why was Calle even here?
“What happened to you, Calle?”
He asked in a whisper, and before he knew it the cashier was pestering him for money. He turned around and got out his wallet, handed over some cash, and before he knew it, he would have Calle at his side again like a barnacle that just wouldn't release itself.
It turned out that Calle lived not so far away from him either – they'd be able to get in contact with one another again, just within walking distance.
And it turned out to be Calle's idea to go on some grand road trip to find Bård – there was shame in Vegard stating that he had never even considered looking for his brother really, as in really doing something about it, that he was more than content to just obsess and obsess over the other in a way.
But then again, if Calle had known why they killed themselves, there would be no question why he hadn't really made such an effort to find the other. After all... but besides that, he just missed the other horrendously anyways, so finding him came to be the plan.
They decided to stock up on things together, a tent, a cooking camp fire stove (how absolutely ironic, Vegard thought) and such, before Vegard ever asked Calle – why were they gathering these things?
“Oh, I have a car, don't you? I mean, can't get around here without a car.”
That much was that, and it mystified Vegard why he had ever asked in the first place.
Chapter 3: 3
Calle and Vegard begin the journey of an untold amount of miles. And Vegard realizes he's decidedly unhappy with this other world.
Before they left, Vegard picked up his last paycheck and cashed it. Taxes were taken out of his pay, but he never once before thought – where did these things go? How was there a functioning system entirely when there seemed to be no one in charge? People seemingly just came in to a system where buildings already existed and they continued to live pseudo-lives according to what they had already been doing before they died – life continued on after death.
But he never before had questioned where the taxes went. Was there a retirement age? Was he ever going to age? There didn't seem to be any comedians around here, though. And no, no he was not going to age a day older than his suicide date, he was regaled to living a life lesser than he ever had lived before.
Calle just picked him up from the bank with a look in his eye that said 'get in, loser' – in a rather old car, the backseats filled to the brim with things in cans and such as that. The tent was in the back and Vegard wondered why everything here looked like it was from the 1970s, but this definitely wasn't Scandinavian anymore. This was just it's own mix of horrid cultures where skin color literally didn't matter.
He got in the car and noticed it had a tape player – incredible, he thought, as a cigarette hung from Calle's pink lips. At least Calle's smoking here would never give him lung cancer, presumably. There seemed to be no doctors, given that no one aged. Not a single pharmacy had been spotted.
Outside of Vegard's very bleak and small look of this other world, the further he got away from it the more his mind started to wander – Calle had to have paid taxes on the cigarettes too, but yet where did the money go? Into who's pockets? Who just was in charge here?
“What happens to the taxes here, Calle?”
And Calle looked startled at the question, sucking out toxic fumes from his lungs with an exhale.
“Taxes? Do we even pay taxes?”
“On all the receipts I've seen, there's been tax taken out, so we pay taxes.”
Calle just shrugged. He was more into the surreal, bizarre type of system that suited him so well already that he literally couldn't muster up caring. Vegard flipped open the case of tapes though and started looking through them, knowing Calle had to of collected quite some good old rock and roll style tapes.
“And who even is in charge? Is there a God here?”
“I always just thought we were in hell. It's hot as balls, enough for it to be hell, and don't suicides go to hell? That's what I always thought. If there's a God, we're not gonna meet him or her or whoever anytime soon.”
The answers left Vegard rather unsatisfied with his nature – he was suddenly amazed at so many things now! So many things he had just bleakly accepted and gotten on with his 'life' as he continued to go on – just anything to escape the boozy breath smell of his brother's lips near his own, the finery of taking their pants off while intoxicated, the – it was something he did not wish to think of.
“Just, we can't drive at night, the headlights are broken.”
“Damn it, Calle, why didn't you tell me that? That's a hell of a lot of ground we can't cover.”
“Who cares? We have to sleep eventually anyway. What, are we going to get ticketed if it gets dark and we're on the road? Oooh, who knows, but I'm so frightened.”
They spoke in their native Norwegian, sneaking in the occasional English word or curse, and at a way it made Vegard feel more comfortable – yet still on edge. He just was. This was the language they'd all speak together with Bård, once they found him.
“If we find somewhere that services cars, we're going to have it looked at.”
“Why? It really doesn't matter.”
“Yes, let's just wreck the car, the only way we have to get anywhere.”
After that, silently fuming, Vegard put in a tape and marveled once more how there was no CD player in the car. Calle seemed like he belonged here, but Vegard had no way to know he just wasn't speaking up – that he just felt out of everyone, he knew he'd have to find someone in charge.
Of course, because he wasn't supposed to be here.
That argument took up most of their driving time that first day though, with the rest of it being played out in silence, and just Vegard stared out the window. If he opened it, sand and debris would come flying through, even if you sat at home and opened the windows a thin layer of sand would settle on nearly everything. Maybe it actually was hell.
But he wouldn't admit to Calle, that there was a chance he could be right, so he just hung tight and flipped the tapes when it was appropriate, changing them out here and there to lose himself to the sweet drug of good old music.
- - -
The first night they had to set up the tent, Calle kicked it back down a total of three times calling it a piece of shit while screaming into the desert wasteland that this was all a bad idea and they should just sleep in the car.
“You can sleep in the car, but I'm setting up the tent.”
Vegard had countered, and Calle would eventually settle down and help him with the tent again – and when Vegard had a good hold of it, they actually successfully managed to get the tent up.
It was truly a small miracle in a place like this, just to bend a piece of framing back to the exact correct position before it would finally work again.
Vegard often had nightmares, or well, night terrors, flashbacks and a traumatized memory from sleeping with his brother – he kicked around a lot in his sleep, not knowing Calle was an insomniac and was walking outside of the tent smoking a cigarette instead of getting kicked yet again.
It had come up so casually, but the taboo of it later, that was what really had killed them.
They felt like everyone was looking at them – and that everyone knew. He knew Bård felt this way too, because he had talked about it with him a total of one time before he finally gave in and just stopped talking very much at all to Bård. Taping their show had been teeth-gritting amounts of annoying, but they buried themselves in more jokes than usual as their own lives spiraled out of control.
Bård asked him, that's what he was dreaming about, Bård asked him once if he could turn the clock back, would he?
Without a doubt, he told his admittedly beautiful brother, and that is the part he hated about himself the most. That was the part he hated and that was the part Bård hated too – once the fine line was crossed, redefined, they couldn't go back at all and it just opened them for all sorts of opportunities to think of each other twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, all while having to work so closely.
When he woke up, he almost wanted to ask Calle what the fallout of their suicides had been.
But Calle was here, he blamed that on himself, that had to of been one of the fallout effects.
So they quietly gathered together brush as tinder and driftwood as logs and formed it together for a fire. Rarely were things fresh here, but they somehow managed to get canned ham and cook it atop of the fire they built themselves.
Where did the food come from, Vegard found himself asking, himself, and a look to Calle's tired eyes – he definitely did not want to ask Calle, the circles underneath his eyes were more prominent than usual. He tried to think of when Calle must have killed himself – his hair was longer than he last remembered, but...
It was a taboo subject. You didn't just ask why someone killed themselves. He didn't want to be one of those girls that had found each other and found some meaning within each other in this place, because then, he convinced himself, Calle would push for details about his own death.
But wasn't it just obvious? If Bård and Vegard were to do something they would do it together – they were brothers, joined at the hip since forever.
Many apologies were to be had, Vegard knew Calle would expect one of these apologies eventually. But just as much as he'd have to accept he just didn't fucking know where all the food came from – he'd just have to... to deal with it.
After they ate they got to moving on again, down the highway, with Vegard hastily messing with a map. It's not as if it were really a highway, it's just there were no other roads – so surely this road connected to another city somewhere down the line, but the map was astoundingly useless, basically just showing the roads and cutting off around the edges where mapmakers had outright given up.
Surely there had to be people – people who were here longer than them – who knew more, but... but well, they hardly spoke to anyone, even at the diner they stopped off at for lunch to drink coffee and eat toast.
- - -
Around the third day of driving during only the daylight hours, they came across a service station – there was some name advertising it, but it was a forgettable one, one that Vegard immediately forgot by the time he was hitting Calle's leg and telling him to pull over.
“Headlights don't work? Yeah, we can get that fixed in a jiffy. He's a magician with cars.”
Vegard's eyes rolled up towards the sky and he praised that at least something went right, while Calle was still thoroughly unimpressed. The two in front of him looked awfully a lot alike, he wanted to ask if they were brothers – but figured even with these Americans it wouldn't be right to ask.
They were – brothers, that was. But Calle wouldn't ask, from the way the taller one set his hand down on the shorter one's shoulder. There seemed to be something eerie and close about their bond, but Vegard didn't even pick up on it. He was too busy trying to look at the headlights with the shorter man, thankfully, the car being the older sort you could still fix.
It was kind of funny – if it had been Bård and Vegard who had come across them, they may have learned they weren't the only two brothers who had killed themselves. But this, this had been with a gas stove, and because their love was too much to bear in public they had killed themselves while holding hands. Of course, just at the very end, their hands slipped away from one another, leaving two very unassuming corpses.
“Yeah, let me just look at it.”
They ended up falling asleep in the car, Vegard and Calle, after hours of nothing to do and the brother just fiddling away with the headlight. However, when Vegard woke up again, he opened the car door – and stepped right off, down and stumbled all the way to the ground, bleary eyed and shouting a very Norwegian 'faen'.
The car was a few meters off the ground.
“Mornin' – I figure this headlight will take just two or three days.”
Calle had already been awake – after such little sleep – and Vegard shouted up towards him.
“Two or three days – we don't have time for this, Bård is fucking out there somewhere right now and doesn't even know you're here – we don't have time for this!”
“Calm down.” Calle shot back, and Vegard took in a deep breath of air.
“Sorry, I really don't think this will work, though. We can compensate you for your time, but--”
“--really, it'd just be a matter of time, and you and your friend can be back on your way.”
“Please, but no thank you, we have to be on our way.”
- - -
They picked up hitchhikers sometimes – each one would have a different sob story, but each one left at nightfall to keep on walking. It was just something to have someone in the backseat to interact with.
They even met a pretty Swedish girl, well, Swedish-American, but she could fluently speak Swedish and had been living in Sweden when she offed. It was incredible, she even laughed sometimes at their rather dry jokes, a rather dry sort of laugh that trilled off into nothingness.
It wasn't even as if they were attempting to joke, it was just their regular back and forth repertoire. But she had been the brightest spot of this entire thing.
Somewhere around 10 days in, Vegard was getting tired and frustrated, not from lack of sleep, but from coming across absolutely fucking nothing.
“If we were still in Norway – we could be in Portugal right now by how much we've driven! Yet no other city, nothing, just the same little apartments and convenience stores where no one has ever heard of the name Bård.”
“Tough shit, maybe this is the other cities. We didn't exactly start at a bustling metropolis ourselves.”
They pulled over to get some gas and Vegard just thought about sticking the hose down his throat and drinking it. What would happen to him if he actually did do it? Calle went inside to buy another pack of cigarettes, and Vegard just stared off into the distance.
He kicked the car.
The pain in his foot brought him back to what he was doing and he just realized a cop car had pulled up – a girl was vandalizing a sign, and he didn't even manage to see what was going on, but the long blonde hair got to him and it clicked it was the Swedish girl, just a few years younger than Bård.
He hurried over to the scene, abandoning the car.
She had a can of spray paint in her hand, writing 'only if you want to' over a rather large 'no smoking' sign – and Vegard saw the cop come out and accost her, accuse her and heard as she protested him beginning to arrest her.
“Stop – please, stop, what's going on? That's – my sister.”
He was looked over rather thoroughly – yes, sister, his Turkish looks were getting to him again – but the American cop seemed to eventually accept it and just plainly replied, the girl in the backseat of the police car.
“Well, your sister here is under arrest.”
“Can like – can you not? She's – she just got here, pretty much, she's just very brought down by the whole atmosphere, and – you remember what it's like, right? To sit around here and serve no purpose for seemingly no greater good? Just keep on keeping on doing the same shit while wanting to kill yourself again, yet you just don't have the willpower?”
She looked up at him, and he took off his cap – a blown out hole through his skull was evident as he used the hat to scratch at his balding head.
During the Vietnam War, he just couldn't continue on anymore – while the rest of his troop was going on, into certain death anyway, he had swallowed his gun.
“I... suppose I can let her off with a warning just once.”
“Thank you, thank you, you don't know what this means--”
Calle eventually came out of the store and joined Vegard and the Swedish gal, who was being un-handcuffed, with a rather puzzled look on his face as he smacked the pack of rolled tobacco sticks against his palm. An unlit one was already behind his ear, one in his mouth hanging out, naturally, unlit as well – he wasn't stupid enough to smoke around a gas station.
When the police officer was far out of the way, the girl looked to them again. Astrid, well, she repeated Vegard hadn't had to have done that for her. Vegard said it was nothing, and they got back into the car all together – three passengers, and Calle started to drive off.
That was when a rather loud and noticeable jerk made Calle stop maybe three feet away from the pump he'd been at.
“The fuck was that?”
“...I left the gas nozzle in the tank.” Vegard replied with a downcast, sardonic voice as the girl took in a sharp breath, the worker of the station seemingly rather angrily coming out of the store and right for them, at that.
Chapter 4: 4
Vegard and Calle get a little closer.
“Oh, it's really no problem, we get people doing that here all the time.”
The gas station attendant told Vegard, and Vegard thought he was being surprisingly chilled out about it – while he could still hear Calle's cursing, he just let the others stay out in the car while he went inside to deal with what was going on.
The attendant pulled out a huge binder, full of incidents, and he requested Vegard write down what happened.
“Really, happens more than you'd think.”
“I ah, see that.” Vegard had replied, and he went to filing out one of the blank pages while the attendant left him to his business. He eventually started flipping through the pages though, trying to decide what was going on within it all.
There was a spot he was stumped on, and it was 'what were you thinking at the time of the incident' – and even though he had asked the other man what it meant, he was told to just write down exactly that. So he hoped maybe in other people, he would find the answers.
Most of them were bleak and depressing, they had been thinking of their suicide – but then he came across a familiar scrawling, in Norwegian even just to be defiant, because who could argue if he lied and said it was one of the only things he knew how to do?
'I was thinking how the man across from me looked exactly like my stupid brother. I know he's out here somewhere, but where is he? I can feel him like he's so close, but...'
That was where it cut off, but he looked over the page more in depth and – holy fuck, it had a phone number, an address, everything.
“Can – can I take one of these reports? My brother wrote it, I've been trying to find him since we offed--”
He was met with a look of doubt before the guy just shrugged it off, agreed, and allowed Vegard to take the piece of paper. He finished up quickly sprawling his own writing across his own page, and he took the page and tore it out of the book from where Bård had written.
Heading back out to the car, he waved the piece of paper to Calle.
“Bård was here, he was fucking here--” and he consulted the map, with the address, and decided that Bård was living not too far away from here. Calle had his moment of freaking out about his best friend too, but in all honesty, he had enjoyed this time with Vegard.
They soon hurried off into the direction of where Vegard told them they should go, and Astrid just was along for the ride – she didn't seem too into speaking about anything, perhaps embarrassed that Vegard had to of bailed her out.
It really wasn't long until they were at Bård's supposed address. Vegard convinced Calle somehow to stay in the car, behind, just until he gave the go ahead to come up and join them – there couldn't be any bad blood if there was Calle there, he just had to have the chance to explain that to Bård first.
Calle started up a new cigarette as he watched Vegard go and run up to the door of the small blue house. Maybe they should have brought some flowers for the kid, but every type of flower here was half dead already.
He watched as a strange man opened the door to Vegard, but that was nothing – maybe Bård was living with a roommate or something. There had to be some explanation, right? Something for everything. But he noticed the look on Vegard's face as he got incredibly more and more dejected, and he noticed Vegard's body language speaking to this stranger, and even Astrid was dead silent as the cigarette rolled out of Calle's lips for a moment as Vegard started back to the car.
He cursed and picked the cigarette back up, unless something was fatal, there was no way there would be any more injuries accounted for here. And no one wanted to know what possible kind of other hell could exist beyond this, so no one ever tried anything fatal. The ashes flickered to gray on his pants.
Surely someone must have at some point of time, but to any of Vegard, Calle, or Astrid's knowledge – well, no, they hadn't. Not to them.
Vegard got into the car again with a startling slam of the car door and he just – well. He stared out ahead of them, out of the front window, not looking to either of them.
“We just missed him. He moved a few days ago.”
“No forwarding address?” Calle ventured softly, and Vegard shook his head.
“They have no idea where your brother is?” Astrid asked, and Vegard shook his head again, angrily.
“Pass me one of those cigarettes, huh, Calle?”
Calle did, and Vegard struck off a match, lighting the cigarette with a puff and he just sunk into the seat.
“So we just keep looking, right Vegard? He can't be that far away.”
He reached over and squeezed Vegard's leg, trying to instill some sort of comfort into the other man. There wasn't much he could do, but hopefully the idea of touch – and Astrid even reached over and put a hand on his shoulder, knowing that coming so close to finding family and yet not must have wrecked him so much in a way.
“I guess we keep looking... it may as well be the stone age again, we've driven so far, can we even find back where we used to live?”
Calle almost piqued up sure that they could, just by driving the opposite direction, but he did nothing. He just squeezed Vegard tighter, and the black curls slowly lulled to the side as he barely puffed away at the cigarette.
- - -
All three of them could comfortably fit inside of the tent.
Now they weren't about to get rid of Astrid, but she noticed Calle's lack of sleeping so much, and she noticed more than Vegard did – the long glances exchanged between one another, and just.... there was something sweet to it.
Most of the time Calle tended to a dying fire and kept it going, he just fettered about outside. Astrid climbed out of the tent and asked him what he was doing.
“Mostly thinking about how I got here.” He replied, looking up to the starless night. There had never been any stars, ever, and he missed the stars more than anything.
“I don't belong here.” He confessed, and she kind of shuffled her feet against the sandiness at her feet.
“One way or another we all got here some way. What makes your case different?” It was just her Swedish bluntness, and Calle looked her over. Could he trust her? Could he trust her not to tell Vegard?
“Because I didn't kill myself, okay?”
“Yet you're here.”
“Yes, but all I did was overdose.”
“That's one of the most likely ways to get here...” She replied, thinking about it rather firmly.
Yes, these corpses often showed no signs, but she couldn't know. She hadn't seen him without a jacket that was rolled up just to his mid arm, hiding the track marks and the not quite pretty impalement of a needle that had pierced into his skin, leaving blue veins visible and all that greatness.
It was like a movie reel playing through his head, tying the tourniquet off and sticking the needle in his skin – something he was rather regretful now that he did, but he knew he shouldn't have. Just after both brothers had left, life had been hard, difficult, impossible - Øyvind and Anders tried to console him, they really did, even Magnus, but there was no consoling him. He was impossible, volatile, he went off the deep end and threw all his friends away for shooting up pain medication and opiates of any kind.
It really wasn't hard, at first he started off just popping them into his mouth, but he quickly spiraled into something harsher – he had been dabbling with pills before even, so spiraling into the deep end was nothing surprising. He had even overdosed the same day the Ylvisåker brothers had killed themselves, but had been resuscitated.
“So what can you do about it, though?”
“Find out whoever is in charge and tell them I didn't kill myself.”
Astrid was skeptical of his plan, but she almost begged him to come get some sleep. A soft spot for the two was forming, but he just wouldn't listen to her.
“Gonna sit out here for a while.”
You could go a long time without sleep here, without eating – but it still took tolls on your body, it still made you tired, it still made you hungry. Calle was always tired, but he asked himself how different was that from when he was alive?
There were in fact no pharmacies. People were patched up enough to be able to live normally and then they were sent to live forever in this hellish place. For some folks though, no medication could at least be a miracle in and of itself in a way.
He didn't manage to sleep that night, but they all enjoyed a breakfast that morning that Calle cooked, cheerfully pretending he managed to wake up before everyone else. All the while, no smile graced his lips.
They then continued onwards into nowhere, with Calle half asleep at the wheel. Eventually he had to stop off at a diner and drink some coffee, Vegard asking constantly if he was okay, and he just brushed it off entirely.
But Vegard did care for him – deeply. He always had, and he always would have. Maybe Calle hadn't been the first thing on his mind, but maybe Calle should have been.
They paid and left after Calle had his fill of cheap coffee – and he managed to stay rather awake at the wheel, until it was getting close to becoming dark again. Astrid reached up and played with the buttons on the stereo though, static all the way through, and Calle tried to brush her hands away.
“Hey, not even the headlights work in this thing, don't fuck anything else up--” he warned, and she blinked, looking at him.
“The headlights don't work?”
“Yeah, they haven't since I got it, see?” He flipped them on to prove it to her, but to all their amazement and perhaps Astrid's dry humor, she just pointed it out plainly.
“It looks like they're working to me.”
The lights had sputtered and flickered on, and Calle slapped Astrid's hand away to just marvel at the lights sprawling across the dim desert landscape. He and Vegard shared a look, before sharing one with Astrid, wondering what the hell she had done to fix them.
“Light! We have light, I repeat, we have light!” Calle exclaimed, possibly in the happiest tone someone could muster. He was still tired as he could be, but there was no use for that here.
He kept flicking the lights on and off here and there, driving into the darkness.
“That's really great about your lights Calle, but don't you think that's a bit dangerous to be doing--”
It was almost as if he summoned it by saying it was dangerous, the fact that by the time Calle flicked the lights on again, someone was suddenly in the middle of the road. He immediately swerved to avoid hitting them, screaming out a curse word as the car hit up against a bunch of piled up metal debris against the side of the road. Something inside the car smoked and Vegard shut his eyes, went to his happy place, all before heading outside of the car to see what the fuck was happening.
“Hey! Hey, what are you doing in the middle of the road, trying to get killed?” He shouted to the stranger, as the other two joined him outside of the car. The man happened to drowsily awake from sleep, siting up in the middle of the road where he had been sprawled, and he looked around.
“What? Trying to get killed – no, I was just asleep...”
Calle kicked the car again and Vegard was soon joined at his side by Calle and Astrid, Calle who grabbed his arm and held on to it tightly. He could feel the stress overcoming himself, so he held on to Vegard like a safety blanket, like something that had been waiting for him.
“Asleep in the middle of the road you fuckface? Come on, give a better excuse than that, who the hell are you?”
He rambled off some sort of name they didn't really hear, and Astrid gently grasped on to Vegard's sleeve as she saw Calle grasping on to his entire arm. It was something, at least.
“Well I hope you have a fucking way to fix the car because it's not going anywhere now, thanks to you.”
Vegard just reached up with his other hand and patted Calle's hand, sighing.
“You don't need a car, you can walk – come with me, you can just stay with me.”
“We're in the middle of fucking looking for someone.”
“Maybe you'll find them, then.” The stranger got up and brushed himself off, squinting around at his surroundings. Calle went back to the car and pulled the keys out of the ignition, after trying to rev it unsuccessfully. Now they really had no choice but to go with this stranger, didn't they?
“Fine, we don't have a fucking choice, is what Vegard means.”
- - -
The sign outside of the encampment read 'The Happy Camp', something that made them all very wary. There was sheet metal structures setting things up and glass, encompassing the unlucky people sleeping within on the military grade bunk beds.
“What is this, exactly?”
“This is my camp.” He replied, almost obliviously, almost exactly with just the precision to avoid the question. Vegard shrugged it off but kept on his guard, Astrid looked around even further, and Calle lit up another cigarette. The match however floated in the air as he left it go, just in time for Vegard to look over, without Calle even noticing.
Vegard was too tired to ask what the fuck that was, but he was going to keep on his guard.
“This is a place where anything can happen – miracles, everything. Just be careful what you do.” The stranger continued on and Vegard just slowly stared at him, and it was as if he knew the match had floated off and was now hovering about their heads.
“You're welcome to stay as long as you want.”
- - -
Vegard and Calle nabbed a bed right next to each other, with Calle on top and Vegard on bottom, even though both of them wanted to be closer than that. It was just what else were they supposed to do right now?
“Alright, so, we just check out this place and see if Bård is here and keep moving on, right Calle?”
Calle still wanted to find Bård as much as Vegard did, but he wondered what would happen when they did and they figured out that life here was still as much as a shit hole as it ever was. The only thing that gave a glimmer to Calle's life here was Vegard, and he would soon enough lose part of that to Bård.
But it wasn't that he didn't want to find Bård – it was just maybe that he wanted to trail his hand down from the bunk bed and hold on to Vegard's hand, for comfort, that maybe he wanted to hold the other man close for a source of comfort and he just wanted overall to be a part of this finally. To be a part of the Ylvisåker brother's weird twin thing going on, and he just...
He didn't know what was plaguing Vegard's mind. He didn't know that the anxiety and pressure that got to Vegard every time the other gave a thought to anything, that he didn't know all of it was backed by a seething voice telling him he slept with his brother and he deserved this, the way things were going now. Incredible, wasn't it?
The suicide may have seemed unmotivated, but it had been motivated by just the right amount of anguish and anger at the same time bubbling up and over for them – and he was surprised Calle didn't ask what was going on still, why they'd really killed themselves, but he was also infinitely glad that Calle hadn't.
So they'd see how things went in the morning and then go on from there, continue on and see if they could ever maybe get the car fixed.
Chapter 5: 5
They may not get any closer to Bård, seemingly, but they get closer to one another.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The camp seemed mainly full of people who had recently offed, people who weren't exactly jiving in with the community the way things were currently – but to them, the strange man who ran the camp must have been a miracle in and of himself. It was something else.
The next day after they woke up Calle just wanted to hold Vegard's hand as they walked up and down the camp looking for Bård – and so he did. He reached out and grabbed a hold of that bony hand, and Vegard had looked over at him for a quick second before allowing it without any further comment. That became that.
They didn't find Bård yet, but they found a lot of people who were misfits in general – people who never fit in anyway. There was even a punk rocker from a country that had been communist with hair that must have been a foot tall walking around, but everyone helped to grow food and take care of everything that was their surroundings.
“So fucking great, we've got ourselves into a hippie commune.”
Calle had commented at one point, but Vegard didn't really care if Bård was there still. It just didn't seem like that was going to happen, that they were going to find him there.
“It'll be fine, really. Isn't it kind of weird how this place works though?”
There was even a turkey, large and fat, that stuck around this place – and the leader of the camp, the one asleep in the middle of the road, he had a dog, small and white but with a ferocious bark.
There were murmurings going on during that day about something, but Vegard and Calle as outsiders – they didn't really get to be privy to the information. They just waited around.
When it came time for there to be something to eat, it was dark out already – and Vegard and Calle found out Astrid had taken to a mute girl during the day, and well, that was just fine in their eyes. They separated hands finally to get something to eat and the resulting food to be scooped up for them was some kind of marshmallow fluff type stuff, but more liquid fluff, and it was something that they really had no idea about. But they were willing to eat it, it was, after all, just a free meal.
And it wasn't as if they had the money to go anywhere else to find any other type of food, besides back out to the car to something canned, so maybe this would be a good change of pace.
Everyone sat up on bleachers as they ate, a sheet set up for a projector to project pictures against – and Vegard wondered where they got things like this from, and he'd never know, but they were already there, just waiting. He waited and waited, as if he was waiting for something grand, and the eventual outcome would not disappoint him.
Or, really surprise him, there was that either, but that was just life.
The white fluffed stuff was somewhat sweet, somewhat like porridge, a texture of complete foam but it still retained some sort of substance and a good taste to it. There was nothing to be afraid about, he figured, once he tried it. Calle's knuckles were going white with how hard he was holding the bowl, and Vegard saw the mute girl feed Astrid a little piece to get her comfortable, so he tried the same with Calle quietly.
“Come on, just have a little. It's not too bad. Weird, but at least it's something fresh here.” He countered, whispering softly, and Calle glared at Vegard before finally opening his lips to allow Vegard to feed him a tiny bit with the spoon.
Vegard got the other to taste it and he did, before Calle shot him over a mocking look – out of love – and took bites from his own spoon after that, still waiting for the show to start up.
They didn't have much longer to wait, because soon enough, the stranger was at the head of a podium while he clicked a button, flipping through different frames of film.
He started off very slowly, very methodically, but with hand movements and gestures implying this wasn't the first time he had given the speech – but perhaps it was the first time in a while.
“Once upon a time there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. And they grew next to each other. And every day the straight tree would look at the crooked tree and he would say, "You're crooked. You've always been crooked and you'll continue to be crooked. But look at me! Look at me!" said the straight tree. He said, "I'm tall and I'm straight."”
Calle and Vegard exchanged looks to one another. The picture against the sheet was ever changing, as he clicked through them slowly, but Calle reached over and leaned his head against Vegard's shoulder, squeezing his leg.
“And then one day the lumberjacks came into the forest and looked around, and the manager in charge said, "Cut all the straight trees." And that crooked tree is still there to this day, growing strong and growing strange.”
There was an eruption of applause that startled Calle once it began, but it soon died down in favor of silence to mull over just what profoundness they had heard and witnessed being spoken. It was something else, wasn't it? Vegard looked down to Calle, trying to convey that sort of look. But Calle looked back up to Vegard, with a look of 'please slit my throat, I'm ready for death again'.
He only looked that way because for him, it really could speak for him too – but he didn't want to say anything or admit that something being spouted off by someone probably crazier than him really resonated with him.
Vegard leaned his head on top of Calle's head, enjoying the quiet intimacy. He just didn't know what to say or what to do as more 'hippie' type notions were spouted off, things about life and death, things about their life here – but he silently stayed patient and listened to them all, until he finally pulled Calle away from him and stepped down off the bleachers, heading off from them to get to some sleep.
“Vegard, wait--” He replied, Calle did, and Calle followed after him to head to sleep unknowingly as well, just wanting to be with Vegard. He followed him and grabbed on to Vegard's arm again, and he took in a deep breath as he felt that truly there was no way that he could feel any shred of comfort without Vegard.
It just so happened that they ended up jammed together in the same small single bed, and Vegard wanted to curl his fingers through Calle's hair yet he didn't. He just nearly did though, letting his hands rest on Calle's shoulders.
“Much more comfortable with two people in one bed, huh?” He joked, and Calle chuckled, extinguishing the cigarette he had been smoking on the concrete ground.
“I think Astrid may be happy here, but I think we ought to get to moving if we're ever going to find Bård.” He couldn't believe he was saying it, seeing as much as he could just stay alone with Vegard. At this point, somewhere around two weeks of searching, a bit more, they had this mantra in their head that they had to find Bård at all costs.
“Yeah, you may be right...” Vegard commented, although Calle may just also be crazy. Why mess with the perfect thing that was blooming right under their noses to go and find Bård? It was just a confusing thing now, he felt conflicted, and he just wanted to ask about it but yet he would not.
“Or I could be crazy, but hey, you know.” He murmured, half singing a song reference, half just moving along and going with the flow of things as he had always done. He held on to Vegard's hand again, and he took the other on for a change.
But that was the thing – every night they would talk about it, but every night they would do the same thing and wake up and not do anything about it. They'd just stay there and would help out in the ways that they could, and Vegard couldn't really tell how he was helping, really, in the grand scheme of things – but was there a grand scheme of things anymore? This was the grandest scheme he had come across.
They both watched Astrid and the mute girl blossom into something of a romance – the mute girl who had drunkenly decided to kill herself, half naked out in the snow one night. They watched them both and easily wondered what this meant about one another, yet never dared to ask.
Their cuddling at night, they eventually turned inwards to one another and held one another close, partially because it was on such tight quarters, partially because it was comforting to the both of them and they just couldn't have it any other way.
They never kissed, never crossed that fine line, but they still acted this way to one another out of some kind of comfort.
One day it was a big commotion – their fair leader's dog was gone, and who knew where off to? But someone came back to the camp saying that 'king' had stolen it, that it refused to leave him, that all sorts of things.
This was confusing for them, especially all to Vegard, who never really caught the man's name who had helped them out besides a murmur at all.
“I can take you all to where it is – I only know how to get there on foot, though, I got lost getting there and--” there were more mad rambles, but Vegard found an opportunity in this.
“Calle and I can go with you.”
Calle gave him a look as if 'like hell we will go off to find some strange dog being hoarded by some king' but he didn't argue, just listened to Vegard and agreed to follow along with him. They figured there was some sort of power in numbers, and so they began out for their trek – half a day on foot they were told it would take – and they decided to start out the next morning.
- - -
“Half a day on foot my ass – this is bullshit, I'm running out of cigarettes already.”
It was almost nightfall, and they had no idea where they were. They had gotten lost, again, although how predictable was that when the whole idea at first was that the person leading them was so unreliable?
“We'll find it – there's dozens of people there, a hundred. Everyone is waiting to see him perform his miracle.”
Ah yes, the miracles – the same thing that had fixed the headlights, the same thing that Vegard became obsessed with. But they never happened to him, and he was told they were never going to ever happen to him, not as long as he stayed so obsessed about them. Floating matches and such, who cared? He was the only one who seemed to, and so it went.
“He's not going to perform any miracle! They're all fools.” Came a loud proclamation, and they decided that they would settle down for the night. There wouldn't be much that they could do, wandering around in darkness, but...
Vegard and Calle took to picking up lumber – the surroundings they were in now were decidedly much more forest like, much more lush and full of life. It was strange, but they had traveled so far – had they? – that they may as well not go back to where they were from anymore.
It was Calle who heard it, though – Calle who quietly proclaimed for Vegard to hush and to listen, even though Vegard heard nothing. Calle heard sounds of the ocean, the seaa, something that had been missing from their lives for the longest time.
Calle took Vegard's hand and hurried off to find where ever it was, and soon after a small cliff they were able to climb down from the surroundings and find that there was an ocean, full of rocks at the shore and glimmering in the moonlight, and how beautiful would it have looked with stars? But the moon alone was enough of a light source to satiate them.
They ran around the beach together, kicking up the sea water and laughing and experiencing – well, not life, but something together. They really felt a new fresh wind in their sails from this experience, and they held hands down along the beach and just soaked in everything together.
When Vegard took Calle's face into his hands and kissed him, they both felt like this was nothing new, nothing to be expected, but nothing new. It was incredible though, and Calle reciprocated the kiss, holding on to Vegard's face as if he'd disappear like sand between his fingers if he let go.
The question in the back of both of their minds of what were they doing was there, but neither of them wanted to answer it. They'd just enjoy the numbingly slow kiss and enjoy it together.
But when Vegard pulled away finally for a breath of air, there was something Calle felt that need said before Vegard did slip away.
“You know, when you left – when you left, a lot of us were dead or half dead already from your deaths. A man would have to be crazy to not look around himself and see all the death that lay in waste and say what's so special about me? What makes me different?”
“Is that... is that why you?”
“I never did, Vegard, I got here by accident.” Calle admitted, trying to skirt away from the issue though entirely if he could. “But why did you and Bård – like, if you and Bård were to, you'd obviously do it together, but why did you? All we got were a lot of apologies. That told us nothing.” He instead turned it around to, and Vegard just felt maybe like he could...
Like maybe if he shared and opened up with Calle Hellevang-Larsen he'd lose the one good thing he had going for him. An accident, though, that really turned the gears in his head, but he stared off to the ocean and Calle could tell in that moment he had the lights shut off inside Vegard's head.
“Bård and I made a very big mistake – not the usual mistake like tax evasion, but a very big mistake, that we couldn't keep on living. You know, eventually, I think it would have settled down though. It became more of a spur of the moment suicide, the more I think about it. A permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
“And now we're both permanently stuck.”
Unless Calle could come up with finding some people in charge to make them listen to his spiel, unless he could make them pay attention to him. It'd be something else, surely, but did he want to leave Vegard here all alone? He was obsessed with the idea in the back of his mind though.
But on the other hand Vegard felt he could deal with it, he could deal with it as long as Calle was there – and he huddled up next to Calle on the rocky shore, fell asleep with the sounds of waves at their feet, fell asleep with the sea singing them a sweet lullaby goodnight.
Do you think this is the weirdest thing I have ever wrote? No, you're wrong, this is just the weirdest thing I've ever wrote for the Ylvis fandom. /So far/.
Chapter 6: 6
After finally finding Bård, miracles come true - or not. Or do they? We just don't know.
They woke up to the shouts of an American pronouncing Vegard's name poorly, and Calle's name not too much better. They groggily woke up though – and in the morning light they could see that they were laying on a bed of needles and syringes, literally, a bed of needles and syringes hardly without a cap in sight.
There were the steps of someone coming down to meet with them and then they both stood up, Calle pulling a needle out of his jacket with disdain, and Vegard checking his own body for any marks.
Once the other third party saw where they were at though it only infuriated him, and his all white suit made him look almost godly in the morning sun.
“What are you two doing, Calle and Vegard? This – this is where intravenous drug users come, this is where prostitutes come, what are you two doing down here?!”
They simply hadn't seen nor felt a single needle all night, so they just exchanged glances between each other. They'd fallen asleep not spooning, but holding, clutching to one another tightly.
“I'm... We were just going to get some sleep. We didn't see the mess.” Vegard confessed, for all the things they had felt or thought were rocks, they just couldn't feel through their shoes...
“Get out of there and get back up here. Yan disappeared off somewhere.”
Yan was supposed to be their guide, and hearing he had disappeared too, well, they followed the man up back to the forest and stood around, where the remnants of a camp fire sat unattended to overnight.
It made Calle think, it had been the best night of his sleep since he had gotten there. He had actually slept, point in example, for once – but now the question beckoned, where had Yan gotten off to?
“Maybe he went to go get lost. Since he got lost the first time finding the place, maybe he just had to get lost to find it again.” Vegard mused out loud – and Calle looked at him, with some sort of admiration, because being dead certainly had brought out some kind of surreal, joking, musing type of personality in Vegard.
It was a refreshing change from the ever so methodical, wondering and logical train of thought that had always followed Vegard around. They still both were getting over the fact they had basically slept on a bed of syringes though, and Vegard held a hand up to his forehead and looked around.
There wasn't much to do but cook a small breakfast over a campfire and just wait. The food may have been sausages out of a can, and they may have been horrible American sausages without any skin, but they couldn't really complain about the quality of the food here.
It was the same everywhere else around them too, after all.
By the time they were cleaning things up and wondering what else to do, Yan came back – the fourth party that had been with them, guiding them – and he was waving his arms rather enthusiastically, inviting them onwards.
“I found it! I found it – and today King is going to perform his miracle, they say, he's going to separate his soul from his body!”
“You found it?” They all three jumped up.
“Yes, where the fuck is it? Where the hell were you?”
“Calle – but yes, where is it?”
“It's just over that way, over that hill.” The man confirmed for them, in his middle ages when he offed, and he had been there for quite some time. Meeting the big boss of the camp had been one of the best things to happen to him because nothing else could really put him through getting used to society.
“It's just over the hill...”
They almost all three recited the fact, and they cleaned and packed things up before they decided cautiously to follow Yan again.
“Your dog refuses to move from him though, they're feeding him t-bone steak and say he's too happy to leave.”
The one dog they had ever seen, and now it was eating better than them. Calle and Vegard both exchanged a glance at one another.
“Bullshit, he's been brainwashed by that idiot – I'm going to get him back, I will.” He insisted, and Vegard and Calle just continued over towards the hill with them. Just across the hill happened to be a large gathering of people, that much they could see, and it was back to the barren desert, with a wall of what seemed to have once been a castle standing up with turrets on either end. Over a hundred people were gathered there, just waiting around, where a large chair sat near a gong at the top of the castle wall.
That was what they all seemed to be focused on, cars piled up on the outskirts and some people on top of them, the same old looking cars like Calle had once had.
It wasn't long before they were fighting their way through the crowd, and easily found themselves up in one of the old standing guard towers. They climbed the stairs and found themselves inside of the place, and the camp owner, well, he was not happy when he saw his dog at the foot of an almost balding yet on the younger side man sitting behind a desk and cleaning underneath his nails with a rather large half sword.
What Vegard's attention was soon called to though, besides the shouting match that was going on quite shortly between the two men over the dog, was that faithfully by the side of King – an actual name, to be clear – was that there was a blondish long haired man at his side, one who's blue eyes lit up at seeing Vegard.
And Calle's heart sunk a little bit, while also simultaneously doing back flips – he didn't know what to feel, but Bård got from behind the desk and ushered the two out of the small room into the hall.
His fingertips grazed through Vegard's hair, his palms lingered on Vegard's cheeks, and he laid solemnly a kiss to the black haired man's forehead.
“Vegard, where have you been?” Calle had followed them out of the room, he'd get his time with Bård soon enough, but... “I've been looking for you, I missed you.” He looked over to Calle, and with even more shock widening his baby blue eyes, he just looked on rather amazingly at the both of them.
“And Calle, when did you get here?”
“Oh, some time ago, I ran into Vegard here at the store...” He nonchalantly rambled off, giving Bård a firm pat on the shoulder. Bård let go of Vegard, his touch having felt like lava, even the kiss on his forehead may as well have been the kiss of acid.
Calle received a hug and a kiss, and then the unanswered question – what the hell was Bård doing here?
“I'm just here for the miracle, like most people. King really helped me out when I first got here – I don't know how Vegard and I weren't together. I was in ruins over that... but hey, he says he can do a fucking miracle, why don't we try and see it?”
The shouting behind them turned in to cooing at the dog, trying to bribe it, trying to get it to one side or the other as if it was a child at a custody hearing being lavished with gifts.
“Bård, this seems like some kind of cult, and you're really just okay with that?”
“King got here by trying to perform the miracle – but instead, he ended up here, we all ended up here. Isn't that maybe something? Doesn't that maybe mean something? Maybe it's thanks to him we're still here. Maybe it didn't work the first time, but it's going to work now, here.”
They seemed to have come up with some sort of consensus over the dog – King getting him, the dog having turned on it's former owner. Man's best friend indeed. But the man left the room and looked to Vegard and Calle, before looking at the third person, King's supposed right hand man with disdain.
“Oh, this is my brother. The one we were trying to find.”
And his expression softened for just a moment, and he exclaimed. “Well! See, maybe just what you needed was a change of pace.”
“Bård? Bård, it's about time for the miracle, I need you.” King called out, and Vegard swallowed his breath and looked at his brother.
“You can't really do this.”
“Vegard, this is the first time I've felt alive in years.”
That was that, and Bård went off to join him – while Calle lit up a cigarette, muttering Norwegian curses under his breath. He could see the same sense in it all that Vegard did, that this seemed awfully a lot like a cult of some sort, but...
But surely Bård would be back to joining them as soon as he realized that they couldn't perform the miracle, yes?
After all, what was a fucking miracle, who could perform those on will?
They all four of them angrily made their way back outside, and found a close up seat to where King soon came out and was addressing the crowd.
“We sit here at the very beginning of something momentous, to see that we can be saved, that we are not some lost souls--” and Vegard tuned him out, looking instead at his brother who had so happily greeted him after such time. It was something weird, truly weird to see Bård go along with this, but he knew that Bård's experiences couldn't have been the same as his own in a place like this, in this place in particular.
It was just that Vegard looked around at the crowd, people with cardboard signs, saying 'save us Messiah' and other such things, and he just realized then that he wasn't even afraid. He wasn't even wondering what was going to go on. He just wanted Bård back and soon enough he would have his family back – Calle included – and they would have eternity to work on their problems.
Calle disappeared off into the crowd, and he found someone to sit up on top of a car with for a better view. The man at Vegard's side just looked to him, over the speech being spoken as it was, and asked.
“Why don't you tell him?”
“Why don't you tell him that you love him?”
“I – what? I can't, he wouldn't – he wouldn't even hear me, anyway.”
Vegard countered, and then he covered his forehead again to shield his eyes as he looked back up to the top of the wall. That was when his eyes went wide, and he saw that there was a knife in King's hands, pointed just over his heart.
“What is he doing? Nobody is this stupid are they?” Vegard yelled over to him, and yet he didn't catch the small, round intercom like device in the man's hand.
“We're going to need backup here, things are getting out of hand...”
He didn't hear the murmuring, but Vegard was just on edge as he watched the man yell that he'd see them on the other side again, and plunge the knife handle-deep into his chest. Bård caught him as he went down on his knees, not even saying a word or uttering a single thing as the light dimmed in his eyes.
Bård looked up to the sky, just as a paratrooper was coming down from it, and he shouted and pointed. “Look, there he is--” and there was more of them, in white suits, leaving Bård to just say “--they are? Look--” and leave it at that before he was accosted and counted for.
What would happen to the man though? Vegard got incredibly on edge – but before he knew it only Yan was still anywhere near him, there were white vans of different sizes pulling up and people in similar white suites getting out and ushering the crowd away.
“This is the people in charge, please look away and disperse...”
They were taking some people though, like he looked up – and he could no longer see Bård, and when he looked back for Calle, Calle was in the back of one of the vans.
“Vegard, I'll be back, I just have to--”
He didn't even have to finish his sentence, Vegard didn't even know if he tried to with his ears then deciding to go temporarily deaf. He was pushed around and soon enough he was left alone with Yan over near the hill again, and he may as well have been alone.
- - -
It turned out that the guy had been running a camp illegally instead of fulfilling his responsibilities as whatever the people in charge did, but they had just – Vegard couldn't get it out of his mind how they had just descended upon everyone in a matter of seconds.
There was no camp to go back to – everything was beat up by the time Yan and he got back, and they just packed up their things. Astrid was there and she said she was off to meet with her girlfriend's family, and it was really something strange to Vegard the way that whole families seemed to get here sometimes, just about.
But there was no more Calle – and no Bård in sight.
- - -
Vegard hitchhiked until he found a city. He started trying to build back up a life like he had prior to seeing Calle, but he had faith in his heart that he would be seeing Calle and Bård again – just this time, they would have to find him.
No more long trips for him for a while, he was tired.
He thought he finally understood what had been said – a miracle will only happen if you don't think about it, if you don't strive for it and want it to happen. Vegard thought maybe he got stuck on things like this, maybe he got stuck on short obsessive affairs that had no meaning further than that. In a way, he doubted Calle was coming back, and it was a good thing.
Calle was, though, fighting his way through talking to everyone he met, explaining it was an accidental overdose – and he finally spoke to the right person, given sheets of paper that looked like old passports. He was shuffled off to some office and off he went, through the door and to the other side.
Meanwhile, as Vegard tried to set his life back up, the guy from camp – well, he had found two files in a warehouse, immeasurable in size, and he could see the pictures of Vegard and Bård's suicide there. He doubted one would want to go back without the other, so he managed to tuck the folders away into his suit to take them to destroy him.
Even if that bastard never had learned his name, or at least had never used it.
Vegard went off to sleep, and then an incredible thing happened:
Vegard woke up.
- - -
When Vegard woke up, he was in a hospital – that much was clearly evident from the bad lighting and all – but he just looked around and sat up in bed, feeling ultimately sick to his stomach. He wondered where he was, why he was there, pinched himself and felt the pain – and a second bed was wheeled in the room, intravenous drips hooked up to his arm and the bed was settled on the other side of the door besides Vegard.
Calle weakly managed to get his eyes to open, somehow, feeling absolutely sick still even though his stomach had been pumped clean from any drugs – and he looked over to Vegard, smiling.
A smile, finally.
Even though the circles under his eyes were bad, his hair was stringy, he looked like he'd been through hell – or purgatory – and Vegard just knew, Bård was alive and in the hospital as well.
Had it all been some bad dream? It couldn't have been – it had been real, because Calle smiled. Calle knew.
Vegard leaned back in bed, and Calle uneasily reached over to grasp his hand.
He reciprocated and reached over and helped on to the hand, not even bother to wonder why Calle was here right know. He could always ream Calle later for being in the hospital, but for now, silence was their best bet.
After all, it was a miracle. They could love again.