Chapter 1 Rainy Day, Rainy Death


Of all the days that it had to thunder, it had to do so on the day of the funeral. How beautifully cliche.

Joseph A. Sykes, more commonly referred to by the nickname Lanky, watched as his father's gravestone was set up. The people who did this looked like they were bored out of their minds and didn't want to be there in the slightest. Lanky didn't blame them, considering that the clouds sent buckets full of precipitation down on them. This only seemed to heighten their sour, befuddled moods and accentuate the pouty, irritated looks on their faces.

Lanky put his hands in the pockets of his black pants and turned toward his mother, Mary Sykes, who stood beside him. Behind the two of them stood the many many many members of their extended family, as well as a few acquaintances of Lanky's father. Honestly, Lanky was surprised that his dad had managed to acquire so many friends. For most of Lanky's life, he had just spent time in his lab, not caring or even thinking about interacting with anyone other than his wife and son. He had been a crazy shut-in. Always had been.

Another family, dealing with a fresh round of grief, were having the grave of their relative set up at the exact same time as Lanky and his mother. In fact, the gravesite was directly to the right of the Sykes family. Their cries and wails carried down the streets, much to Lanky's annoyance. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a cigarette. Sure, he knew it would be disrespectful, and he wouldn't be able to get much use of it while in the rain. However, he still stuck it between his teeth. Just the sensation of the unlit cigarette in his mouth was enough to calm his agitated nerves. His mother, despite noticing this, didn't even bother to reprimand him, but just kept her eyes glued to her husband's grave.

The grave diggers finally finished setting up the headstone. It hadn't taken as long as it usually did, but that was mostly due to the fact that a body wasn't present. Lanky knew that if a body had been present, the job would have taken so much longer. At least with this scenario, he could get out of the rain, away from his throng of relatives and away from the wails that would make a banshee blush.

The crowd lowered their heads and closed their eyes, the sound of thunder accompanying them. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity, Lanky silently shimmied away from his family. They were so downcast that they didn't even notice.

Lanky now stood in line at his favorite coffee shop, Misty Morning. Lanky always appreciated the meaning behind the name. People would often argue back and forth about said meaning, throwing around theories that Lanky just didn't find to be as fun as his own idea. Some argued that it was named this because it was founded on a misty morning. Others argued that it was named that because it was set up two blocks away from the graveyard, which was known for misty mornings.

Lanky? He believed it was named this because the coffee was laced with so much caffeine that it could jolt anyone awake, even on a misty morning.

But whatever. He wasn't here to ponder the name. He was here for a pick-me-up. He was here for a refreshing hot beverage after nearly melting in the rain outside. He stepped forward and was greeted by the smile of Jerrica, the barista whom Lanky had grown far too comfortable seeing over the years.

"Hey, Lanky." See, she even called him by his famous nickname. "The usual?"

Lanky nodded and paid, not even needing to be told the amount anymore. Jerrica rang it up and brought him his usual aromatic hot chocolate with towering high whipped cream. A drink that, in all honesty, Lanky would never grow tired of. He was addicted to the stuff. If he could find a way to switch from having blood flowing through his veins to having hot chocolate, he would definitely have it happen.

"Thank you," he said quietly. He was just about to walk over to a table near the window when Jerrica spoke to him.

"Hey," she said. Her eyes shined with empathy, and her tone dripped with condolences. "I'm sorry for your loss."

Lanky grunted before giving the usual "thank you" that was to be expected in times like this. He didn't even bother to tell her that the death wasn't recent; in fact it had happened two years ago. The reason why the funeral was held now of all times was because Lanky's mother was terrible at planning things, and Lanky's own complicated feelings of survivor's guilt and grief had prevented him from doing much in the way of help. Thankfully, the wounds had at least lessened a little bit, meaning that could now look upon his father's death with an objective sense rather than a sad one.

With these thoughts in mind, Lanky made his way over to the table, sighing with content as he lowered himself into the seat. He took a sip of his beverage, allowing the creamy, chocolatey goodness to flood his mouth. The warmth was much appreciated today, for it caused Lanky's cold body to cease with its shivering.

"Look at that guy at the window. Doesn't he look weird?"

Lanky's ears perked up upon hearing someone talking about him. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a pair of preteen boys. They whispered amongst themselves, clearly entranced by Lanky's appearance.

"He does! His hair is bright lime green!"

The other boy laughed. "I bet his wack job of a dad was the one who did the dye job."

The kid snickered. Lanky shook his head as he took a long gulp of his cocoa.

"Oh yeah," he said. "I heard that Marvin Sykes was a total nut! He even got himself killed in a lab accident with one of his machines!"

The other kid chuckled, clearly entranced by this supposed story. "Man. He must have been really dumb."

Lanky set his cup down on the table with a hard thump. "It's not nice to speak ill of the dead, boys."

The eyes of both boys grew wide. Lanky stared them down, an eyebrow raised as high as the ceiling. If these brats were going to bash the name of his father, they needed to be taught a lesson severely fast.

One of the boys stuttered. "I...I didn't know you….we're sorry, sir!"

"Yeah!" The other boy said. "Really sorry!"

Lanky just took another nonchalant sip of his cocoa. "Well, I would pound you to hell and back." He wiped his mouth of the whipped cream that had gotten on his face. "However, you two aren't worth going to jail over." He stood up and went to the door. "I have better things to spend my time on, anyway."

With the boys staring slack jawed at his retreating back, Lanky exited the store. He took one more sip of his hot chocolate before crumpling the empty cup and dumping it in the trash. He put his hands in his pockets and pulled the hood of his coat over his head. He did this because one, the rain still hadn't cleared up and two, he didn't want anyone else calling attention to his lime green mess of a hair color.

Seriously. Lanky's hair would always serve as a constant reminder of that day. His hair hadn't always been this color; he was actually naturally blonde. And yet, it had changed color on the day he lost his dad. Lanky had tried time and time again to wash out the lime green stains, but nothing worked. His hair was as bright as a neon sign, and would remain like that permanently.

Lanky supposed that was to be expected, given how his father had been a mad scientist. With him, everything that he did left a flashy show. Everything Marvin Sykes accomplished always called attention to the Sykes family.

Even when that something was his death.