I'm Not Strong Like You Are - tumbletv (2024)

Larry
sal. im sry dude. pls dont blame urself
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Sal
sry 4 wat? wat r u talking about?
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Larry
its time for me to go
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Sal
u better not be doing anything stupid
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Larry
its too late. ill be gone soon
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Sal
stop messing around larry. this isnt funny
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Sal
hey?
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Sal
larry?
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Rushing to dial his brother’s number, hand shaking with adrenaline, Sal knew exactly what this was about. Larry’s mental health had been tanking recently, he knew that. With the cult up and running again, they’d all been working overtime to try and fight back, and while all of them had been suffering mentally, they all knew that the only way to fully get rid of the cult was to focus only on that and nothing else. For some, it was easier to do. For others, not so much.

“Pick up…” murmured Sal, listening to the phone ring. “Pick up the phone, Larry…”

As the first dial ended, he ran to his door, flinging it open and ignoring when the doorknob slammed into the wall behind it. There was already a hole there, it’d be fine. Neil and Todd were in the living room, peacefully cuddling as they watched some sh*tty rom-com, and startled when they heard Sal’s door hit the wall.

“You better pick up…” he whispered, not bothering to put on shoes as he ran outside and ignoring Neil and Todd’s yelling behind him. “Oh god, Larry-”

The rain was cold and harsh, coming down in thick sheets against him as he ran. The hem of his jeans were soaked, followed closely by the rest of him. The padding of his prosthetic rubbed uncomfortably against his face, the straps sliding around the back of his head. He knew his hair would be knotted to hell and back later.

Past the Nockfell Homes sign. As far as he knew, Lisa kept all medications locked up for just this reason, so he couldn’t have downed a bottle of antidepressants or gabapentin. If he’d downed some pills, it was either benadryl or something he bought off someone on campus. God, if it was some kind of opioid he was screwed. He always kept narcan on him when he planned to leave the house, knowing that the area he lived in was full of drug addicts and party-goers. Of course, the medication was left in the messenger bag he always carried around and not in the pockets of his pants. Larry usually kept it in his room somewhere for the same reason, but he still hoped it wasn’t that.

Past the Phelps Ministry. He hated that f*cking church- cult- whatever it was. He hated it with his whole being. They were the reason his face was f*cked up. They were the reason Megan couldn’t move on to the afterlife with her family. They were the reason his mom was dead. They were the reason he woke up in a cold sweat. They were the reason so many psychologists thought he was insane. They were the reason Larry went back to smoking after months of being sober. They were the reason Ash started drinking. They were the reason Todd and Neil had relationship problems over Todd trying to dismantle them. They were the reason so many ghosts kept showing up. They practically opened a door to the afterlife and left it open for whatever god they were praising to cross through.

Past the Addison Apartments sign. Into the building. The building he spent only a few years in but held so many core memories. He remembered the day he met Larry like it was yesterday. Listening to Sanity Falls, hitting his face with his prosthetic, making his best friend’s nose bleed in the process. Meeting Megan, exploring the fifth floor, finally having friends that didn’t care about his face. The sleepovers that he, Larry, Ash, and Todd had in Larry’s living room, watching horror movie reruns and eating sh*tty food.

Down to the basem*nt. The access key never felt heavier in his hand than it did now. A card identical to the ones Larry and Lisa had. Exactly as it was the same day it was given to him, minus a few new scratches. Scratches from his keys being in the same pocket. Scratches from dropping it while rifling through his pockets for a vape. Scratches from before he kept it in his wallet when it’d fall out whenever he ran. Scratches from the life it went through with him.

Into Larry’s apartment. Lisa gave him a key within the first month of Larry and him being friends. She knew Sal could be trusted. She knew her son was safe with him. She knew he would take care of him whenever things got bad. It felt like acid being poured through his veins as he remembered her telling him that she trusted the teen.

“Larry?”

Silence.

“Larry?!”

He ran to the bathroom, fearing he’d see his friend already dead in the bathtub, having bled out slowly from wounds caused by his own hand. Phone still in hand from when he’d texted Sal apologies on apologies, none of them needed, all of them full of guilt for something he didn’t cause. Skin cold and pale, eyes staring blankly at the tiles in front of him-

“Where the hell are you?!” Sal screamed, tears pouring down his face beneath his mask.

He flung open the door to his bedroom, sobbing and confused despite knowing exactly what was going on. Empty bed, empty bean bag, nothing out of place. Even his shoes were still by the door, still damp from coming home from class earlier that day. A class he had with his brother. A class Sal walked him home from. Sal asked if they wanted to hang out, Larry turned down the offer, said he needed to nap. Nothing out of the ordinary, Larry was a hardcore napper. He took them rather seriously and had a set routine for them. He thought he was fine. They were joking around just hours ago.

Up the stairs and back into the rain, barely noticing the downpour as he sprinted to the treehouse, the only other place he could think of Larry being in. The treehouse he learned about Larry’s dad in. The treehouse they would play games on their Nintendo DSs in. The treehouse where they officially decided to figure out why there were so many ghosts. The treehouse they snuck out to late at night to smoke in.

He ignored the note nailed between two of the rungs of the ladder, climbing right up. He could hear breathing up there, even through the rain. He didn’t care if it was just his mind playing tricks on him, he didn’t have time to waste by reading his brother’s suicide letter. He collapsed onto the rickety flooring of the treehouse, heaving for air as he looked around on his hands and knees. He panicked when he didn’t see him at first, spinning around, but his eyes landed on his brother’s unmistakable hair later than he would’ve liked. It could've been the lighting or the adrenaline or the fact that he was tucked so far into a corner that it was hard to see him in his hoodie and jeans, but whatever it was, he was there.

Slumped in the corner, hugging himself loosely, lips and fingertips blue. His hair was damp from the rain, clumpy as it dried in the damp air of the treehouse. The window above him was cracked, and despite the duct tape over the break it still leaked down onto his legs. His feet were bare, the hems of his jeans soaked and muddy, skin scraped up from climbing up the ladder just like Sal’s.

“No, no, nononono-” Sal cried, scrambling to his brother.

Shaking hands pulled Larry more upright, leaning into the corner with his head lolling forward. His skin was clammy and cold as Sal harshly tapped (borderline slapping) Larry’s face, vigorously shaking his shoulders as he cried.

“No, come on, Larry- You can’t die on me, man-”

Sal pressed fingers to Larry’s neck, digging in to feel for his pulse while simultaneously listening for breathing. His pulse was there, rapid and thready but there. His breathing was shallow and quiet, hardly a full breath as Sal was practically breathing enough for both of them. He shook his shoulders, head bobbing up and down with the movement.

Somewhere along the line Sal ended up calling for an ambulance, hardly recalling anything he said as he answered their questions. All he could see was the syringes on the floor and a few scattered white pills, and his brother. God, his brother. The brother he knew was his brother from the day they met, from the moment they saw each other, from the first conversation they had. The brother that listened to his ramblings, the brother that talked to ghosts with him, the brother that got piercings with him. The brother that helped him back to sleep when he had nightmares about the day his mom died. The brother that he helped remember to take his meds because Larry’s ADHD made him forget. The brother that he baked with when it was snowing.

He sobbed when he saw the flashing lights of the ambulance pull up outside the apartment, knowing they were too late, just like Larry said. He pressed his fingers against his throat again, screaming when there was no pulse beneath his fingertips, just cold skin. He tore off his prosthetic, pressing his forehead to Larry’s as tears fell from his eyes, mixing with the water dripping from his hair.

He fought tooth and nail when the paramedics tried to take Larry away, kicking and punching until an officer had to hold him back. He only stopped when the medics loaded him into the back of the ambulance, vigorously performing CPR and yelling back and forth to each other. He went limp, sobbing into his hands when the officer let him go. He didn’t even get up to get into the ambulance with him. He knew it would be too busy there for him. Even though he hated cops, he still let the officer hold him close as he cried, gripping the back of the woman’s uniform in his hands as she carded her fingers through his hair.

All he could think of was how he’d have to tell Lisa.

I'm Not Strong Like You Are - tumbletv (2024)
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