Finally, Ethan thought. Home. The apartment building wasn’t anything special. Just another high rise that was home to several hundred occupants at a time. Despite its capacity, the hallways hummed for as long as doors remained shut, and only when people came and went did signs of life ripple through the corridors. Ethan found he enjoyed the occasional gust of someone’s dinner on the way to his front door, but today there was only the window at the far end and the door mats to welcome him home.
He’s greeted by a fuzzy red block for an apartment door, opaque until Ethan steps before it. It flickered to yellow, allowing him to step through, and went back to red to indicate it was locked behind him. The hallway entrance is sunken in with a step up, only adorned by a pair of loafers besides the pair he just took off. He can hear his father, Shawn, working in his office down the hall. Not wanting to get asked any questions, Ethan tries to be quiet as he moves to his room across from the office.
Along the way, the walls are animated with pictures of his family. A small Ethan being spooked by his Dad in a weird costume, chasing him down the halls of a different home, a dark woman with wild bark-brown hair and a strong figure running with Ethan, scooping him up along the way to escape the ghoul. Another of a little Ethan and his face covered in cake mix and that same woman losing her mind laughing in the background. Ethan would glance at these each time, but looking for too long was… too much.
One creak in the floor announced Ethan’s arrival, and his father was standing in the office door not too long after. Mentally cursing the groundwork, Ethan slowed to a halt in front of his Dad.
“Hey, Pop. I’m home.”
"You had me worried. What took you so long?" He looked down the hall and back to Ethan. "Did you get the stuff I asked you to pick up?"
"... Ah -"
Shawn crossed his arms to his chest and leaned on the doorframe. "Alright, spill it."
Shit. "Nothin’ happened."
"You took longer than expected to get home, but then you didn't get the groceries." After a moment of silence, Shawn twirled his hand at Ethan to get him motivated to speak. "So...?"
The pressure of lying to his Dad was unreal. Ethan sighed. "Yeah, somethin’ happened."
"You in trouble?"
"No, it was just... I dunno. I feel crazy thinking about it."
After relocating to the living room, Ethan explained everything that happened. Shawn is listening intently to his son, but when all is said and done, he says, “Yup, that’s pretty crazy.”
“Thanks, Pop.” Ethan replied, deadpan.
"Well, if you saw a whole fleet of Lawmen and a massive crowd reacting the same way you did, then you probably didn't imagine it, if that's what you're worried about."
"More worried about watching someone—I dunno—VANISH into thin air?" Ethan went quiet as he recalled something. "Pop, do any Entities do that?"
Shawn hesitated to answer, but he didn’t think too long on the matter. "I don't think so... But anything's possible at this point." He suddenly bopped his fist into his palm. "Oh! I forgot. You got that party tonight, don't you? You gonna be late?"
"Huh?" Ethan glanced at the time glowing on the wall. "Oh, uh... yeah, yeah. Las's party at Omega. That's just over an hour from now, though. I got time."
"Guess your old man is ordering takeout since—” He stood up, leaning over to smile at Ethan playfully. “SOMEONE forgot the groceries."
"I said I’m sorry, Pop, damn." Ethan sank into his seat and stared at the ceiling for a moment. Shawn walked over to a wall to interact with it, stopping a set of animated photos to pull up an ordering service to sort his dinner out. Ethan spoke up again.
"Pop?" Shawn looked back at him. "I think what was weirder about what happened was the Lawmen saw them falling but they didn't put a net out to grab their clothes or anything. Is that normal? If they didn't vanish... They would've died for sure, right?"
Ethan studied Shawn as he considered this carefully. His expression was sympathetic, but if Ethan had to guess, it was almost bordering on guilt.
"Then you may be right that the person falling was an Entity, Ethan."
Ethan sat up straight. "W- wait, why? Even if they’re an Entity, isn't the Law supposed to help 'em?"
"Sometimes..." Shawn's sigh came from deep within him. He wasn't thrilled with his next statement. "There's not really a good way to say this, Ethan, but they don't want to save certain people."
"Certain people... You mean Entities." Ethan scoffed. "The hell is that? They can't help being an Entity, so they just let 'em die?"
"It’s not what anyone wants to hear, and no one really says it, but—" Shawn approached Ethan, resting a heavy palm on his head. "Ethan... I'm not saying it's right, but it's reality. They say they have their reasons; we just need to stay out of their way. We follow the rules and we got nothing to worry about."
Ethan threw his disappointment towards the floor, lost in the memory of his experience. Shawn watched him, a stoic look on his face for a moment before he spoke up again, right back to his normal pep.
"Also! There’s no real way to tell someone's an Entity or not, so don't go around accusing anyone of anything, got it? If someone hears you—"
"You really think I’m an asshole like that, Pop?" Ethan looked up, smirking.
"I don’t know...I mean some other asshole did raise you, after all."
“Shut up,” Ethan laughed. Now embarrassed by his reactions, he stood up, but kept his eyes downward. “Thanks for listening, Pop. Sorry for getting so caught up in it. I’m gonna shower and be in my room til I gotta go.”
Shawn remained, eyes following Ethan until he vanished around the corner. He turned his attention to one of the small windows of movies featuring their small family, in this case, Lilavati Glass, Shawn’s wife and Ethan’s deceased mother. Shawn walked over to watch her hold Ethan’s arms over his head when he was just barely turning one, guiding him very carefully along a path she made with yellow tape so he could learn how to walk. Warm brown eyes looked up to the camera and smiled. She tilted her head toward her shoulder, showing off all the little wrinkles in her face.
Shawn smiled back.