The Haunted Pub
Suffering from depression, and going through a rough time because of it, Fizz's misery culminates in his parents throwing him out, leaving him with two bags, twenty pounds, and nowhere to go. Desperate, he calls his brother, who takes him to The Queen Anne's Revenge, where Fizz winds up living in a room that hasn't had a human inhabitant for more years than anyone can actually count—a room that seems to already have an occupant...
Grabbing whatever clothes he could lay his hands on, Fizz jammed everything that would fit into the only two bags he had. His packing was a mess, but it didn't matter; he'd run out of time. Glancing at his dresser, he snatched the framed picture of Luke, his older brother, along with his fiancée and their three-month-old baby. Fizz gazed at the familiar smile on Luke's face. Luke was happy now; he had his own family. But ever since he'd moved out, things had been… different.
Fizz had always known that his parents had a favourite… and that it was Luke. Hard to ignore, when their mother always referred to Luke as "the bright one". Their father had been blunter, and often joked, "Get it right the first time, 'cause the sequel is never as good". Fizz swallowed hard, and placed the picture carefully in his bag.
No sooner had he zipped it closed when his door burst open, making Fizz jump. No knock; just his father barging in, looking pissed off as usual. Fizz looked up at him, waiting, hoping he'd change his mind.
His frown was set as he said, "You ready?"
No! The plea never made it out of him. Despite being terrified, Fizz knew that begging his parents for another chance wouldn't do any good. As his father led him downstairs, carrying one of his bags, Fizz saw a flash of his mother, darting into their bedroom, handkerchief in hand.
"Don't hate me, Jamie!" she wailed after him. "I just can't take it anymore!" Her voice echoed down the stairs. Fizz kept his eyes down, making sure he watched where he stepped. The last thing he needed was to trip.
At the front door, Fizz's bags were placed outside. His father dug in his pocket, then pulled out a twenty-pound note. "This'll get you a bus fare," he said gruffly, shoving the money at Fizz.
The crinkled note unfolded in Fizz's hand as he stared at it. Twenty pounds. The significance wasn't lost on him; he'd had his twentieth birthday only last month.
"This has been a long time coming, Jamie," his father informed him. "Your mother has had enough. I've had enough," he snapped. Fizz flinched. "It's time to get yourself a job, and then maybe you'll have something worth moping about for."
Fizz found the door slammed shut on him as the words finally registered. He'd heard his father's tirades before, but never had he expected this. To be thrown out. Not when each time after his father had shouted at him, his mother would find him and whisper how she understood, because she'd been through "a difficult patch" when she was younger.
"You'll grow out of it," she used to tell him, along with a brief pat on the hand. "I did. And I'm much better for it."
Except Fizz hadn't grown out of it. At least, not yet.
Taking a shaky breath, he picked up his bags. He didn't look back at his family home as he walked away. He couldn't bear to.
Sitting on the curb, alone, with no more than two bags of belongings to his name, Fizz didn't know what to do. The early morning cloud had cleared, and bright sunlight heated the pavement. Cars drove past him; even mothers pushing toddlers in prams quickened their pace as they hurried past. Fizz didn't have any friends. He'd lost contact with those he'd known from school years ago, when he'd stopped attending. He had nowhere to go, no one to call on. He did the only thing he could manage: he took out his very old model mobile phone and called Luke.
Thankfully, he picked up on the second ring. "Hey, Jamie. You all right?"
At the sound of his voice, so reassuring and familiar, the shock finally thawed and sobs bubbled out of Fizz's throat. His eyes burned with hot tears, and he wished with all his heart that Luke would know what to do.
His brother's sigh was audible in his ear. "Where are you, Jamie?"
Less than twenty minutes later, Luke's car pulled up by the curb. He carefully got Fizz into the car, placed his bags inside, then sat in the driver's seat. He expelled a long puff of air. "Oh-kay. You know I can't invite you to stay with us, right? I mean, with the baby an' all, and Maz's hormones." Luke's eyes went wide as he pulled a face, trying to laugh it off. "Well, hormones ain't the word for her mood swings, but either way, there just isn't space, mate. I'm sorry."
Fizz fought hard to keep the sobs down. He nodded silently. He hadn't expected to live at Luke's tiny bedsit; the baby had to come first, of course. Fizz wouldn't have dreamed otherwise. Just as he was about to work up the courage to ask what next? Luke cranked the car into gear.
"Well, there's just one place left. Buckle up, mate, we're going to Brighton."