Brothers & Sisters – Chapter Twenty-Five: Epilogue
Brothers & Sisters
A Tale of The Weirdo
By Brett N. Lashuay
April 14th, 2003
It looked like an island in the sky, like some perfect version of Laputa. The dark rock, which made the bottom, was smooth to the touch and looked like the sort of stones one used to get in Warner Brothers cartoons. This was a rock that Wiley Coyote would look desolately into as it came ever closer to obliterating his afternoon.
Above the yellowish stone was still the field, and the brook of cool clean water coming from no source and flowing towards no pond. It simply started at one end and ran through to the other end. The grass here was actually green a lush emerald, and it as tall and verdant. There were small white butterflies, which fluttered lazily through the soft air, going about their affairs. One might almost think that this was merely a patch of one reality that had been temporarily displaced into our reality. One might think anything though, so perhaps a more definite statement should come.
The Weirdo and Lucifer walked through it, standing near a tree where the grass grew a little shorter. They looked at a hill, which The Weirdo had made when this place had been built. It had grown up around him, as an idea of perfection.
“You know how wrong it would be to build anything here?” Lucifer asked.
“No.” The Weirdo said. “You have to make something.”
“Yes.” The Weirdo said. “Those fields always seemed to me to be too open to the elements.”
“It’s a place of perfection though.” Lucifer said.
“Morning dew is morning dew.” The Weirdo said. “Even in perfection though it fades with the sun.”
“You made such a perfect place, for us to build something on it?”
“Every time you hear about one of these places,” The Weirdo began. “It’s always some damn austere place with no grass or life around it. Big pearly gates, a mountaintop, underground lair, no grass. I like fields, I like grass.”
“You made a lawn so the house would have a lawn?”
“Yes.” He said.
“Alright then.” Lucifer held his hand out and a large castle made of what could have either been silver or steel sort of faded into existence.
It was the sort of castle one saw in storybooks, the sort that knights in golden armor rode out of on horses covered in velvet tunics. It was the sort of place a person might go to if they were lost on the road of the afterlife.
“Nice.” The Weirdo said, nodding.
“I’m glad you like it.” Lucifer said.
“You like it?” The Weirdo asked.
“Good.” The Weirdo said. “Because it’s yours.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“This place. I made it, and now it’s for you.”
“I don’t understand.” Lucifer said.
“I told you I’d find a place for you and your people to be able to go to. As I couldn’t find anyone reliable who would take you in, I made a place for you.” He sat down under the tree and fanned himself with his hat. “Go gather the people out of the wasteland and bring them here.”
“I think I will.” Lucifer said, looking at the massive gates. “I think I’ll keep those gates open.”
“Yes, keep the gates just to show that they never shut.” Lucifer said nodding. “I think we’ll make this a place were anyone can come for solace.”
“Do you have a name in mind?” Lucifer asked.
“I shall call it Forgiveness.” Lucifer said. “I think the debt is tipped in your favor.”
“Doubt it.” The Weirdo said. “This is what I agreed to.”
“This is beyond the agreement.” Lucifer said. “We will owe you I think.”
“I think it’ll be okay.” The Weirdo said, and then asked. “Why not call is something like New Heaven or something?”
“Heaven is a lost idea.” Lucifer said. “This place shall be the original thought. I will let anyone in, unlike those…”
He broke off and an angry pained look crossed his face.
“You never finished tell me about the revolution.” The Weirdo said. “You started once but broke off and never got into it.”
“It’s not worth re-telling.” Lucifer said. “I lost, and they cast me out.”
“Yeah, but I was looking for your side of the story and you didn’t really give it to me. You said there was a major misconception.”
“Ah that.” Lucifer said. “The misconception is that the revolt was not successful and that the person cast out was not the one who had brought light to the world.”
“So you were…” The Weirdo began, and then broke off.
“Yes.” Lucifer said. “But now I shall make this place what Heaven was meant to be.”
“Then you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.”
“Yes.” Lucifer agreed. “Yes, I think I do.”
April 14th, 2003
There is, as has possibly been mentioned, a small brook which runs through The Weirdo’s property on his island. It’s an entirely man made thing, which takes the over flow from a fountain and directs it into a small coy pond. Over that small brook is a large arch bridge, which is far too big for the small brook. It is however a perfect place to stand and have conversations away from the house. The white stones, which make up the bridge nearly shone in the light of the early afternoon sun.
“So that’s it.” The Weirdo said. “I have one bullet left and these spent shells.”
The Weirdo opened the black gun and the five spent shells spilled into his hand with the one live brother still left. He set the handful on the wide valence of the bridge and held the single diamond bullet that remained up to the light. It was a fairly good diamond as far as he knew how to judge. The sparkle and fire of it was magnificent, why would anyone make it into a bullet was beyond him.
“I think I’ll keep one of these.” Tommy said picking one of the spent shells up.
“Why?” The Weirdo asked.
There was a quick moment where Tommy wasn’t sure if The Weirdo was yanking his chain or not. Sometimes he asked questions purely to get an answer, and sometimes he asked because he wanted to see the reaction that came with the answer. Tommy thought, this time, that he actually couldn’t fathom why he’d want this thing.
“To remember the day by.” He said. “I mean are you going to tell me you’re not interested in this sort of memento?”
“Not really.” The Weirdo said.
“Have you no sense of nostalgia?” Tommy asked. “One of these held the bullet that killed those ugly mothers. It’s a memento.”
“Oh.” He then added. “Well what a day to remember. The day I was wiped from existence, had my insides pulled out, scrapped off and then was turned back. I’ve been emptied, destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up. I’ve gone through more pain and horror than I ever thought I could endure, but in the end I came out okay and on top. Yes, I certainly want to remember this day above all others.”
“No wonder you’ve got no religion.” Tommy said with a hint of exasperation.
The Weirdo had no use, for the most part, of mementos. His memory was after all, pretty good. He would also most likely have no trouble remembering this day. Particularly after the tale The Weirdo had just told, Tommy thought that memories of this day might be under the avoid category anyway. He wanted a memento though, and so he slipped the single used shell casing into his pocket he scooped up the other four as well and looked at them.
“Kestrel, Max and Jack might also like one each.” The Weirdo said as he closed the now empty gun.
“They might.” Tommy agreed.
“It wasn’t so bad you know, standing there with her.”
“Oh?” Tommy asked, leaning against the balustrade and glancing just over The Weirdo’s shoulder. “Which her are you referring to?”
“Grandma, well she was nice.” The Weirdo said. “I got the idea that I was the favorite grandchild if that makes sense.”
“You are a favorite grandchild.” Tommy said. “There is another her you should consider though.”
The Weirdo turned and the two of them looked at Elise, standing just far enough to be out of earshot. The Weirdo’s face softened enough for Tommy to wonder about him. She was dressed in a black dress again, the corset probably crushing her ribs and forcing her body to constrain to an outmoded vision of beauty. A small black hat with a netted vial was draped over her eyes, but he could just make out the pale blue from here.
“She’s so proper.” The Weirdo said, as if he admired the fact. “You notice she’s standing just out of hearing range.”
“I did.” Tommy said. “You should probably go to her.”
“Should I?” The Weirdo asked. “Why doesn’t she come to me?”
“Because we’re talking man talk.”
“I’ll go to her then.” He said and began towards her.
She smiled more brightly as he approached than she had before, if that was indeed possible. She looked so very happy, and he felt something pop in his chest. Either he was having a heart attack, or she was having an effect on him. His arm didn’t feel numb, so it was very possible that it wasn’t a heart attack. He took her hands as he approached and couldn’t help himself but to kiss her.
“Hi.” He said as they parted.
“Hello.” She said.
“You don’t have to wait for permission to approach you know.”
“I could tell the two of you needed to talk.” She said. “I’ve thought about what you asked.”
“I think I will stay here with you for a while.” She said.
“Then I have to do something.” He said.
“It’s a private matter.” He told her. “I’ve got to say goodbye to some one so that we can have that chance.”
“When are you going to do it?”
“I’m going to leave in a few minuets.” He said, “I’ve just got to change.”
April 14th, 2003
It was bright, and actually warm that day. There was the smell of flowers and of growing things in the air. There was a sense of rising humidity near the plants, which were growing a bright blue near the woods and beginning already to bring themselves up a good height. The smell was pleasant enough, but not as delightful as some people found it. The warmth near the plants made him stand away from them, not wishing to sweat in his suit. The suit was black, and he wore a gray shirt and a black tie with it. His black shoes were shinny in the mid day light as he walked across the fresh blue grass.
The Weirdo stood alone on the dock that stretched like a tongue of some great beast. It seemed to him that the house were some kind of animal and was trying to lap up water from a bowl. He looked back at the dark deep lake and his hands ached a bit. Arthritis had begun to sting at his hands again in the last few days. It made his hands feel stiff, swelled, and immovable. The pain was only really there when he didn’t use his hands, and thus he was finding he had to clench and unclench his fists to drive the cramping away. Of course the pain was then transferred to the parts of his joints where the bones were rubbing against the lost cartilage, but that pain was less.
He looked at the two rings of white gold in his hand. The larger ring was resting in the palm of his left hand, caught by folding skin. He played with the smaller ring, spinning it at the tips of the fingers of both hands. He dropped the smaller ring into his left palm and the smaller ring sat inside the larger.
Her fingers had been so small, so slender, that her ring fit inside his. You could pass her ring through his without ever touching the side of his ring. You would have to be careful as you did it, but you could perform the feat. As it was though, they clinked together as he held them in his hands. They didn’t shine in any special way, or catch the light any better than any other metal he had. People have this thing about gold, they say it shines brighter, but he never saw it. Gold shines the same as any other metal he’d found, no better or worse. These rings shone in his hand, but no more than any other metal might.
They looked like normal hands, with the same ridges and swirls across the palms and fingertips normal men had. If all you saw were these hands, you wouldn’t think that they particularly belonged to anyone important. You wouldn’t think that they had held the gun that had prevented the destruction of the world. You wouldn’t think that it had held that tiny child in this very lake while a fever made her skin the temperature of red glowing steel. They might be anyone’s hands, anyone at all.
He was that close to be just another normal, ordinary person.
He looked at the lake and the two white gold rings in his hand, bouncing them on his palm and then clenching his hand closed. His hand hurt, and he could feel the swelling of his knuckles as he squeezed. The knuckles hurt a lot these last few days, as if they had suddenly given in and had let the pain sink in.
His left hand swung back and then swung forward, towards the lake. His fingers opened and let the rings rest on his palm as his hand swung forward, until his hand stopped. The rings both left his hand at the same instant, and flew through the air very close together. They hit the water so close together that there was almost only one set of rings on the water. There were two rings though, and those two sets of ripples moving away from the place of impact. He knew that the two rings would likely land yards away from each other, that they wouldn’t touch again. No one was going into that lake, probably never again. There would be no reason to suppose that those two small rings of metal would ever be found.
He was wrong though, the smaller of the two rings followed the larger to the ground, and fell inside it. If you ever find that lake, and can overcome the fear of going into it, you could dive a long way down and eventually come to an outcrop of rock. On the edge of that outcrop is a small white gold ring, with a smaller ring sitting within it, like a Russian nesting doll. Of course by this time you would have been eaten by whatever dark thing likely live at the bottom of that lake, but you could find it.
“So that’s it then.” He announced to himself. “Goodbye Shannon.”
He didn’t cry, which was odd. He felt that there should be a few tears, but none would come. This he found strange, but simply let it go because it didn’t matter anymore. He had shed his tears, and didn’t think it likely he would shed more. He looked around and wondered what would happen if he did stick his hand in the water.
He bent down and looked at the water, without a reflection and decided against the experiment. He didn’t think it would be wise to temp the fates with that he might be dragged in. Worse yet he might drag something out, something, which didn’t want to come out.
So he kept his hand out of the water, which had saved The Other and himself if he had to tell the truth. It hadn’t bothered him to enter that icy cold water then, but he wouldn’t enter it now. There had been something about the water, something forbidding. He thought it was the direct opposite of a large bonfire. It was something he could run into and stand in if necessary, but he wasn’t going to do it for a lark.
It wasn’t the complete opposite of a bon fire; it was the dark cousin of it. Both were forbidding, yet both had a strange fascinating pull. You wanted to look into the center of each and find the grain of universal truth that lay within. You couldn’t touch either of them, but you could sit so close as to almost touch them. One reached up into the heavens, while the other sank down to the depths. One of them could ever so easily burn your entire body unto cinders, the other could permanently freeze your bones and cause every muscle to give up and sink. One gave off heat and light, the other, seemed to generate cold and darkness. One was made up of a mass of sticks that would be used up in only a few hours; the other had been around for ten thousand years and would likely be unmoved in another ten thousand.
He rubbed the joints of his right pinky between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. He then moved to the joints of his ring finger, moving up the rest of his hand, rubbing each finger in turn. His right hand was his shooting hand, he had to keep that one limber, had to keep it together. He rubbed because he had been told that more was coming.
He didn’t know how long it would be, but he knew something was on the way. This had apparently just been the end of the first salvo, and more would be coming. He rubbed his tired hand and wondered what exactly it was that was going to happen. He hadn’t ever really felt old before, yet suddenly he felt the weight of years on that hand of his. It was as if all the years he had spent trotting around the earth had suddenly closed in around his right hand, and the ensuing arthritis ached.
His right ear began to squeal again, the tinnitus screaming a long droning whine. It was nice that his hand now had a companion in pain, that it was also his ear. It was so very comforting to him that his hand and ear would now both occupy each other. He could hear birds over the painful whine in his right ear, yet it also seemed all he could hear was the whine. He looked around the back woods that stood behind the cabin and began to walk up the dock again. His right hand began to have also a companion in his left hand, which he just noticed was feeling swelled. That would mean the pain would start in his left hand soon. He would have to watch that, if both his hand were going to ache how would be fight? Could he pull a trigger if he was going to have his hands freezing up with pain?
He didn’t know, but he figured he was going to have to find out in no short amount of time. He didn’t know when the next opportunity would come, he had a feeling it might be a long way off. He had a sinking suspicion that it would all be a bit of a way off. Maybe a year, maybe ten years, the former probably. He sighed, and looked up at the house as his feet left the dock and stepped onto solid ground again.
He could tell without looking, that the ground had begun and the wood planks had ended. The ground had a soft, yielding, almost feminine quality to it that the hard wood planking didn’t have. The dark brown earth was packed down, and small pieces of gray stone and concrete had been pressed into it. There were small plants, beginning to grow up even in these places where the repeated walking generally kept plant life to a minimum.
Summer was coming soon, with it would come new growth, large blue plants spreading about. The life that surrounded him would expand, grow out more fully, and become a small forest of plants. He looked at the still blue plants around him, and wondered if the green plants of his youth were gone forever.
“You know I remember being a kid.” The gray man said as he stepped next to him.
“Yeah?” The Weirdo asked.
“Blue skies and green grass.” He said.
They both looked up at the sky, wondering what color is might be. The same white clouds gently drifted across the same light blue sky as always. The sky was at least unchanging as far as they could tell, which is odd as the sky used to be the most changing part of the local scenery. It used to be that the sky could not be looked away from for an instant without going unaltered, and even looked at it was ever changing. Now it seemed to be the one steady rock and foundation on which a person could build. It would probably go back to the way it was soon, the ever-changing sky over the unchanging grass, and the wind, which never touched the lake.
“So what do we do now?” The Weirdo asked.
“I go back with Aph and Eoster to one of Aph’s temples, wait out however long a Goddesses pregnancy lasts.”
“For now.” The older version of the two of them said. “You know I’m not you, not anymore.”
“What do you mean?” The Weirdo asked turning to face the elder.
“I was broken, my world ripped a sunder.”
“Just one sunder. Only if it was ripped, wouldn’t it be two sunders?”
There was a long moment where The Gray man had to wonder if The Weirdo was trying to make a joke, or was he having one of those moments. The Weirdo, he knew, had moments of near hallucination where he became very literal. These were moments were he could no longer tell reality from unreality, because everything felt like it had been laid out at once. When the persistent illusion of time fails to persist, then one has to question nearly everything. It would get so bad that he would look at words on a page and forget how they were held up instead of falling to the bottom of the paper. If this was one of those moments, he might not notice that he had made the pun.
“Shut up and let me finish.” The statement was an experiment.
“Okay.” It was inconclusive what that meant.
“You’re someone else now.” The Gray man said. “It’s important that you remember that.”
“I will.” The Weirdo said.
“Good.” The Gray man said.
“So how long until you go?” The Weirdo said looking out at the lake, when he looked back he was not surprised to find himself alone. “I wonder if I could do that trick?”
“I could help.” The Other said.
“Could you?” He asked, unphased to find her there next to him
“Yeah.” She said smiling.
March 27th, 2002
Loki saw a figure begin to move in the window and gripped the machine gun a little tighter. He lifted the Mac10 up and felt something near him. He guessed it just for a bird and raised the gun to get a level at who ever was moving in the window. This would be the defining moment, this killing. After he pulled the trigger, the rest of his life would take a completely different path. He had figured it all out, he would…
“Hey fucktard.” A voice said to his right and he turned to look down the black barrel of a very large gun.
The universe froze when the hammer fell, and then it seemed to explode. Loki’s head, and most of his shoulders vanished in the blast of red mist. The body fell to the ground and began to turn to a gray powdery ash like dust, before catching on a sudden wind and vanishing. The Weirdo spun the black gun on his finger and slung it back into place. The last diamond round had indeed done the good work for which he had thought to save it.
“I would have never thought to do that.” The Gray man said.
“Well I do things a little differently than you sometimes.”
“So I’ve noticed.” The gray man said.
“Maybe he doesn’t have to fight Loki to defeat Lilith.” The Weirdo said.
“No.” He said.
“She’s okay.” The Other said rushing to them.
“You tackled her though and started acting silly on the floor though.” The Other said with disapproval.
“Delightful.” The Weirdo smiled and nodded.
“How does this help exactly?”
“How can Lilith seduce him, if he’s got Shannon and their daughter?”
“Shannon won’t die in childbirth?” The Gray Man asked.
“No.” The Weirdo said shaking his head. “I don’t think she’ll ever have to die until they’ve completed the game.”
“Worth a shot I suppose.” The Gray man conceded.
“Can we go now?” The Other asked.
“Sure kiddo.” The Weirdo said, “Let’s go home.”
April 14th, 2003
Cydrill Blackheart looked out at the bright spring afternoon and took in a deep breath of free air. The world was bright, and soaked with magic. There was a swarm of fairies flying across the city that was so large it looked like a cloud. A bright yellow cloud that sparkled in the bright sunlight, but a cloud nonetheless. They moved above the city, looked down like a squadron of B-52s looking to dive bomb the world with kindness. He remembered the magic clouds that would form in this childhood, which he now understood had made Asitania such an attractive target for the twins when they had come.
How long had the fact that magic had been expelled saved this place? Had it at all, since now there had always been magic about. Humans were no longer aware that the world had ever been otherwise. He still had his memories of the world without magic, and yet he could remember it always being here. He had a feeling that the old memories would slowly be pushed aside in favor of these new memories, which would match reality more fully.
“I think we made the right choice, coming back here.” Cydrill Blackheart said to his sister. “Saving this world turns out to have opened the magic right up.”
“Yes.” Azgana said, stretched out on a couch looking at a newspaper. “It would seem that we made a correct choice.”
“But?” He asked.
“What do you mean?” She asked him, looking over the gray page.
“You’re about to make some sort of rebuke.” He said.
“Am I?” she asked.
“I wish to save our ancestral home.” She said into the newspaper, specifically a story about the price of pork in Japan.
“I don’t know if that’s possible.” He said.
“If we can, we should make the effort.”
“You understand it could be gone.” He asked.
“Yes.” She said. “But the attempt should be made.”
“I agree.” He said, watching out the window.
April 15th, 2003
The Weirdo’s cell phone began to vibrate a split second before it actually began to ring. He snatched it up and was surprised to see the number from which he was being called. He didn’t think that it was possible for her to be calling, but he answered anyway.
“Hello?” He asked
“Hi Weirdo.” Lilith’s voice said.
“You sound tired.” He said. “But then I thought you were dead.”
“I was for a moment.” She said. “Do you remember what you told me about dying?”
“That it changes you?”
“You were right.” She said. “I’m not sure what exactly, but something changed inside of me. I think Max probably saved me by killing… well what I had become. I can’t explain it just yet, but I feel like I’m free. For the first time in years I feel free.”
“Do you want to meet and discuss it?”
“If you and I were seen together people would know I’m not dead, and they would still want what I’m carrying. Your daughter is still alive in me you know.”
“Oh yes?” He asked, his throat feeling very dry.
“Yes.” She said. “I’ve transferred Julie away from the headquarters and hidden her somewhere safe. I’m going to go there soon, after I’ve liquidated a few stocks and such. I’ve got to protect these babies, got to keep them out of the wrong hands. I’ve got to keep myself out of the wrong hands.”
“Where do you think your going to go?” He asked.
“Someplace secret.” She said. “Someplace safe. I would like to have you there for the birth, but it would be too dangerous. Besides, I’ve got a lot of repentance to do.”
“If you come back here we can keep you safe.” He said.
“My darling my love.” She said with a little laugh. “Is it any wonder I mistook you for the knight?”
“I suppose not.”
“I want to come back to you, because I love you. If I came back now though, I would lean against you and never learn to stand on my own two feet again. I’ve got to learn to stand up by myself before I can come back to you. Not standing up on my own is what caused all this trouble for me in the first place. No, I’ve got to learn to be strong for myself. Then when I come back we can be equals.”
“There is still the problem of the children though.” He said.
“They’ll know their father, don’t worry about that.” She said. “I won’t be away that long.”
“Darling, I love you, but I have to do this.”
“I love you too.” He said.
“I know you do.” She said. “I’ll make sure I’m right before I try to come back to you. I have to go. The… well I guess they’re people. The people I’m traveling with just arrived. They’re going to help keep us safe.”
“I will speak with you later though?”
“Yes.” She said. “Bye.”
April 19th, 2003
“You know?” Max said to The Weirdo.
“I ah, I never mentioned this but.” He laughed a bit for a second and then his lip trembled a bit.
“You know I shot Lilith?” Max asked.
“Yes?” The Weirdo asked, drawing the word out into a question that asked ‘why are we discussing this now?’
“It’s just she was pregnant.”
“Yes.” The Weirdo asked again.
“I killed The Other.” Max said.
“No.” The Weirdo said shaking his head. “You remember Julie?”
“The woman they put in front of the mirror.”
“Yes.” Max said nodding.
“Why do you think they kept here alive?” The Weirdo asked.
“She was pregnant?” Max asked.
The Weirdo simply looked at him and nodded. A look of relief washed over Max’s face and he felt like crying. He had worried about this for so long, and now it was a weight of his shoulders. He looked like tears were just at the edge of his face and The Weirdo stood up and patted him on the shoulder. He wondered if he should tell Max about the call.
“Lilith always had a plan in reserve.” The Weirdo said, and then he decided to tell Max everything. “Besides you didn’t actually kill her. She called me.”
“She says something changed inside her when you shot her.” He said, and began to relate the call.
The Great Temple of Aphrodite
June 3rd 1197 B. C.
Aphrodite stood alone, watching the sea, apprehension standing out on her face. She had suggested the idea to Chronos, had made a deal for The Other’s mother to stay alive. Even with the greatest mid wives that all of time had to offer, the birth wasn’t going well. There had been a lot of screaming, and towels soaked with blood had simply been thrown out the door. She had wanted her to be alive, to be able. They had brought her back to her temple because of the security she was able to provide, and now no security would help.
“She’s not going to make it, is she?” The Other asked.
“I don’t think so.” Aphrodite said.
“She shouldn’t have to die.” The child said, “I could do something.”
“No sweetie.” Aphrodite said. “If you do something during the birth, you could accidentally kill them both. There’s a lot of power in that room.”
“But she could die.” The child said.
“And if you tired to heal her, while the other you is being born, you could create a loop, kill all three of you.”
“No.” The Other said
The child ran into the room, pushing past the ineffective guards. Aphrodite knew what was going to happen, and held her hand over her mouth to conceal her pain. She knew the mother was going to die, and there was nothing the little girl could do. She kept herself from running after The Other though, because what would be the point?
“She’s dead.” A voice said. “They’re both dead.”
Aphrodite’s tears began to roll down her cheeks, and questioned her own place in the universe. She was sure that the child wouldn’t be able to get over a death like this. She had been very important these last nine months, and now she would be gone. Everything seemed to be crash down around Aphrodite’s head. They hadn’t both died, that wasn’t part of it
The little cleric’s hand clenched and she bore her teeth. Aphrodite actually found herself terrified of the little child. There was some sort of rage that boiled just under the surface. She remembered who her father was and the kind of anger he was capable of and how some of that had to have been inherited by her. They moved away from the little girl as she moved forward and spoke.
“No.” The child’s voice said as her teeth chattered. “It won’t do.”
The light was possibly the most beautiful thing that Aphrodite had seen; yet it was nearly blinding. She had to shield her eyes as it grew up and blasted out of the doorways. The light of the sun seemed to be blazing from the spot where the child stood, and there was a sudden wind. It was as if death was being completely expelled from the room, and she felt that even she was being vaguely driven away.
Then it ended.
The Other came out and pushed a few stray stands of blond hair from her far and looked up at Aphrodite. The goddess looked at the calm child who then sniffed. She did this in a dramatic way, twisting her entire face and even raising one shoulder in the extreme gesture that looked exactly like something The Weirdo would do.
“C’mon.” The Other said
Eoster was sitting up, her back against the raised bed, which had been repositioned now. A small, inexorably tiny, child was clutched in her arms. She looked exhausted, sweat made her hair cling to her face and the side of her neck. She looked happy despite the look of wanting to go to sleep almost immediately. The gray man looked exhausted, near to passing out. His exhaustion spoke more of the mental having an impact on the physical though. He sat on the floor, his knees up near his chest and panting hard. His hands were resting on his knees and trembling. If one looked closely at his face, they might notice he was crying.
Aphrodite looked at the two of them and the tiny pink-handed child who was gurgling in her arms. The Other was dragging a chair over to the bed in order to get a better look at the tiny baby Eoster held.
“They’re alive.” She said.
“Yeah.” The child said walking back into the room. “Neat huh?”
Aphrodite looked down at the small child, and wondered if she had miscalculated the amount of power held within the small body. She must have been more powerful than Aphrodite had thought she would be. She climbed up on the chair and looked at the baby in the Goddess’s arms.
“Is that what I looked like?” The child asked, looking at the new born.
“I guess so.” Eoster said.
“I didn’t have any hair?”
“It’ll come in.” Eoster said. “You’ll see.”
“Nope.” The child said. “I gotta go.”
Aphrodite turned as the child walked to the chest where her things were kept and began to put them in her backpack. They were not a great deal of possessions, but they were important to her. A few Capri Sun drink pouches, a box of fruit snacks, the ignition switch from a nineteen forty-one Buick. The tiny child put her pink raincoat on and slung her backpack over her shoulders.
“Where are you going?” Aphrodite asked. “We’ve done most of what we needed to.”
“Nope.” The child said. “I’ve gotta be on the ground, in the trenches. I’ve gotta go be with him.”
“You’re only four.” Aphrodite said.
“I gotta start.” She said. “Gray is going to take me though.”
She pointed to the Gray Man who was standing in the door of the room, his hat in his hand.
“You will take care of her.” Eoster said. “Or make sure someone will take care of her.”
“We’ll be fine.” The Gray man said.
Aphrodite ran out of the room to chase them as they began to walk to the steps of the temple. She wasn’t about to let her influence end like this, there had to be more.
“Wait.” She called out.
“What?” The child asked.
“You know why I made sure you were born?” Aphrodite asked.
“Yeah.” The child said.
“You’re going to do your job?”
“I’ll do the job.” The child said. “And I’ll do it when it’s got to be done.”
“Okay.” Aphrodite said, and she sat down on the steps.
“Sweetie, go get me a date would you?” The Gray man said pointing at a date tree, tossing his hat in his hand slightly.
“You just wanna talk to her with out me.” The child said.
“No, I really want a date.” He said.
“Try a personal ad.” The child said walking toward the date trees.
“You said Eoster died.” Aphrodite said.
“I said the mother died, she wasn’t even the mother last time.” He said rotating the hat in his hand, “But then The Other wasn’t here last time either. You guided and struggled and finally cheated or exploited some one else’s cheating to make her to do a job, and she did her job.”
“I wasn’t expecting Eoster to live.”
“So?” He asked. “You angry?”
“No.” She said. “I’m delighted, but I was ready for her death. Now I… it’s…”
“You asked me to do this, you and Grandma wanted me to make sure she did what was best.”
“Yes.” Aphrodite said. “Yes I did, it’s just when you do your job…”
“It’s disconcerting at best.” He said.
“Yes.” She said.
“He and I, we’re like different people now.”
“I hadn’t expected you could save him at all.” She said. “You didn’t tell me you had plans of your own.”
“No.” The gray man said. “I kept some things to myself.”
“And you managed to do what I couldn’t even begin to think of.” The Goddess said looking at the child who was sitting under the date tree. “For starters I’d thought that you had lost your power.”
“You thought it was The Weirdo would be the father.”
“The Weirdo is the father.” She said. “Or aren’t you The Weirdo any more?”
“I don’t know what I am exactly.” He said. “Or is it who? Either way I’m not quite sure what we should go about calling me.”
“If her mother wasn’t Eoster,” Aphrodite began, inkling her head towards the child, “Who was?”
“Last time?” He asked.
“I don’t remember. The memory is gone.” He said. “It’s been replaced with the memory of Eoster being her mother.”
“Who’s the father?”
“Oh The Weirdo was.”
“Old or young?”
“Young.” He said with a rueful smile. “I think it might have been Lilith, or possibly Julie.”
“Julie died though.” Aphrodite said. “Didn’t she?”
“But last time, she might have been the mother.” The gray man said rolling over this question. “Last time maybe Lilith came to term before Max Shot her.”
“It’s all very confusing.” She said.
“He’s her father.” The gray man said. “I think that’s all that matters.”
“So what are we going to do now?
“I’m going to leave her with her father.” The Gray man said. “And then we are going to go about the business of raising our child.”
“We don’t have a child.” She said. “You and Eoster have a child.”
“You are to be as much a mother as the one who birthed her.” He said taking her hand. “If I’m going to love you the rest of my life, you’re going to have to be part of every part of it. I’ll be back.”
He kissed her gently on the lips and walked to the date tree where the child was juggling seven dates at once. This is quite a feat for anyone, but particularly a four year old. She was doing it, while bobbing her head to a tune she had heard a few days ago and now couldn’t get out of her head.
“I knew you didn’t want a date.” The child said.
“On the contrary.” He said snatching a date from the air and biting into it.
April 20th, 2003
“Hello Weirdo.” The Other said walking into the room where he was sitting with a book in his hands.
He wasn’t actually reading the book, he was only looking at it. He had been looking at the same page for the last twenty minuets, but he hadn’t actually read it. She had been reading quite studiously, fascinated at the tale she had engrossed herself into. He had a feeling that The Other was going to make some sort of announcement when she came back and he was waiting for it.
“Hello squirt.” He said. “Julie was it?”
“Eoster.” The Other said. “Julie is with Lilith, where ever she went.”
“I never, um… well I did once but it didn’t…”
“Gray did.” She said taking the pink raincoat off and tossing it onto the chair across from him.
“Gray?” Elise asked.
“Yup.” The tiny child said.
“That old rascal.” He said admiringly “But then I’m not your… No I am, aren’t I?”
“Well yeah.” She said climbing up onto the chair with him.
She situated her self on to his lap and then flopped herself into his chest and held onto him. He was big and strong, even though she probably had strength that made him seem the child. She held him and listened to the sound of his lungs as they took in air, the thump of his heart. It made her entire head vibrate when he spoke.
“So shouldn’t you be with him now?” He asked.
“Well he said that last time the mother wasn’t Eoster, and she died giving birth.”
“So you’re thinking you’re just an orphan.” He said.
“Yeah.” She said.
He nodded his head, his left hand absentmindedly stroking her head. She held her head against his chest, listening to his heart thump and the whoosh sound of his lungs filling and expelling. His hand was so gentle as it stroked her head, you’d never believe he’d done what he had.
“So I guess you’d better stay here with us then.” He said.
“Really?” The Other asked, not lifting her head.
“Well yeah.” He said. “I mean what am I gonna do? Send you back with Aph who’s gonna let you stay up all night?”
“You let me stay up all night.” She said.
“Yes but you know you should be in bed and that I am just indulging you. That’s different.”
“Because I said so.”
“Oh.” She said, and then just lay with her head against his chest, listening to his heart. She could accept that answer, quite easily in fact. To be honest, from him, it would be the only answer she would ever need.
He looked at her little face, eyes closed in some sort of rapture. She was happy to be here, and he thought that if he ever loved anyone besides Shannon, he loved her. This was the sort of daughter he would have always hoped for, and here she was. He looked at the adoration, which shone through and promised silently to himself that he would do whatever was necessary to make her a well-adjusted well-rounded kid. He would protect her, and let her ride her bike with out pads sometimes. He would kiss the skinned knees and apply Band-Aids, while encouraging whatever activity resulted in the knee becoming skinned.
In short he promised that whatever was necessary to raise this little child he would do that. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close to him. They were two lost souls, waiting out the night together. As long as they had each other, they figured things would be okay.
He hadn’t realized it before, but he was desperately tired. He was so incredibly tired, that he couldn’t keep his eyes open. His lids drooped, and he fell asleep a moment later. The Other, resting against the man she had decided was enough of her father, looked up at him and then set her head back down and began to drowse. A moment later than that, Fancy came and leapt upon them, curled up in the crook of his arm and fell asleep as well.
April 20th, 2003
“Go ahead.” Kestrel said, prodding Darrian.
“I don’t know.” He whispered back, looking through the crack in the door.
“Go on.” She said. “Or Cassimano and I will have to do something hugely embarrassing.”
“Like what?” He asked, suddenly freezing.
“Well I’m not above childish taunting.” Cassimano said.
“I can sing a song about being up a tree.” Kestrel said.
“Fine.” Darrian said, straitening up.
He opened the doors and closed them firmly behind him as he entered the reading room. This meant that Kestrel and Cassimano would have to listen at the keyhole and wouldn’t be able to see very much of anything. He was going to rob them of as much glee as he could.
“Hello Azgana.” He said as he pulled the door in behind him.
“Hello Michael.” She said. “It is Michael isn’t it?”
“That’s right.” He said, as his nervous mind screamed. “She remembered my name! What am I doing here?”
“How are you feeling now?” She asked. “I was here for the battle and my brother doesn’t explain much. What was it like?”
“Well I could tell you all about it.” He said. “Maybe we could have some dinner, in the city? I don’t even know if they’re still in the same place any more, but I used to know a couple of great places.”
“I think I’d like that.” She said slowly standing.
She did this with a grace that made Michael Darrian want to collapse. His knees were certainly working against him in this department. She had a way of perfect movement that made him feel, with all his grace and style, like a country bumpkin. She smiled as she walked towards him and extended a hand. He took it gently and a smell wafted off her that was the sweetest he’d ever smelled. It was all that was pleasant of winter, in one jolting scent, yet it was so very mild. It made one’s mind uncoil and spring loose of it’s own accord.
She smiled as he took her hand and had he known what was in her mind at that moment he would have been a great deal less nervous. She was herself thinking what an attractive man he was, and how convenient it was that as long as she kept fresh blood near him he would last forever. She thought him smooth, and polished, but with enough actual experience to not be another of those damn fops. Besides he was a vampire, how cool is that? These might not be the best reasons to be attracted to a person, certainly nothing to build a relationship on, but these are first attractions. It’s these first shallow thoughts that cause a person to stretch out feelers and test the waters. Human interaction is a funny thing, and you’ve got to start somewhere.
April 20th, 2003
Cassimano and Athena sat together in the living room, actually across from each other. He smiled at her, she smiled at him, and he knew it was time to say it was over. It had been over for a few days, as much as there had been anything between them, it was gone now. It had been a momentary reaction of chemicals, and now they had worn off.
“It wouldn’t work you know.” He said aloud.
“What?” She asked.
“You and me. He said. “I don’t think it would work.”
“Why not?” She asked.
“Nike is jealous, and you don’t know what you want.” He said. “That’s for starters. We add in what a cad I am, that I’m just not responsible and it turns troublesome.”
“You’re trying to get me very mad aren’t you?” She asked. “Because you think if we have a big argument it’ll be a clean break away and we can get on with our lives.”
“Um, yeah.” He admitted sheepishly. “Is it working?”
“No.” She said. “I think your reasons are accurate though.”
“Yes.” She said. “But I don’t want to break completely.”
“Well I was hoping you’d get over being steamed after a while.” He admitted.
“Well now you can just stop sleeping with me and have the fond hope of doing it again someday without the screaming match.” She stood up as she spoke; she then reached down and kissed him on the cheek. “See you around D’var. You’ll always be special to me.”
She then strode out of the room, making sure to walk with a swagger, so that her butt would move hypnotically. He watched her go and couldn’t help but feel that he had just been dumped. He looked at his former, well former, walking away and couldn’t shake the feeling. She had left him, just as he was about to suggest that maybe they should split up. Not only that, but she managed to leave the door open if she felt frisky later.
He had been dumped before, a lot in fact. It had been a while since it had happened last, and he was a little shaky on the protocol. If he remembered though, he had to grab his best friend and get drunk. He then tried to think of who his best friend was, and he came up dry on that point as well. One name did come up, so he decided to find that person.
April 20th, 2003
“So she just walked out?” Kestrel asked.
“Just up and left.” Cassimano replied, as best he could with half a bottle of Bushmill’s in him. “She and Nike took off. I dunno where they went.”
“Damn.” Kestrel said taking the bottle back from him. He had maybe taken four swigs from the bottle so far, and thus was just feeling a little warm.
“I mean how does that work?” He asked. “You get all set to dump a girl, as she says oh sorry I was gonna dump you. How do you respond to that?”
“I’ve never had to dump a girl.” Kestrel said,
He looked at her side long for a long moment and then either realization or a stomach cramp hit him. He nodded and held the bottle up and took another hefty swing form it.
“That’s right.” He said. “You and Marla are the only strait chicks in this joint. You two should hook up. Get together to show solidarity.”
“No thank you” She said taking the bottle from him again. She took what looked like a swing, as she had done before, which was really just tipping the bottle against her tongue. It looked like she was taking a swing, but she got only a taste.
“You know what you need?” He asked.
“What’s that D’var?”
“You need a man.”
“Do I?” She asked. “Got any suggestions?”
“Not me.” He said. “Look at me, I’m no good for anybody, not right now. I got kids to take care of for at least a little while. I’ve got to talk sense into that boy, talk some out of that girl. I think you need to find a nice accountant or something, some one boring. Try it for a while, see how it fits.”
“I don’t think it would.” She said,
“No.” He said taking the bottle back. “It wouldn’t, not at all, but we’d like to think it would. I mean don’t we? All like to have the family like Jack’s but you notice how often he’s got to hide them away, make sure they don’t get hurt. And don’t we miss all this when it’s not around? You take the edge off, and you find you’re a dull blade. You’re just like the rest of those dull blades, no edge left.”
“You become the Wendys.” She said,
“Exactly.” He said taking another swig. “Can’t be a Wendy.”
Kestrel looked at the beautiful D’var and noticed something in his manner. There was an older brother there, someone who understood. He took all his pain and covered it up and never let it slip out unless necessary. He’d hidden it all under the veil of a stupid playboy, yet under either there was something else.
“You know why I fell through that time hole?” He asked. “Because I was going to abdicate. I didn’t want to be the Duke; my brother would be better than me. I wonder if I ever made it back, I’d hate to think that he was marred by scandal. I run off, no one ever sees me again, foul play they’d say. I’d like to make it back, if only just long enough to officially abdicate. To tell everyone that I’m no damn good and they should take him.”
“Bein’ a bit tough on yourself.” She said taking the bottle from him again, trying to keep it away best she could.
“Maybe.” He said. “I used to be pretty spoiled though, I think I’m making up for it.”
“Nah, your fine.”
“So you could be good for some lucky girl.” She said, and then remembered his preferences. “Or boy, you could be good for a boy too. Or even a couple, a group, a miniature commune.”
“We just gotta find her, him, or them.”
“Exactly.” Kestrel said,
“I liked Athena, but we would not have gotten on long term.”
“Maybe we can locate another lonely goddess.”
“Maybe.” He said and took the bottle away from her so that he might imbibe further.
April 20th, 2003
Elise found the two of them sleeping in a chair together. The Other’s head resting against his chest like a muscular pillow. She watched as The Other was lifted by the intake of his breath, and then lowered by exhalation. The small kitten was curled up with them, one forepaw crossed over her tiny face as if to block out the light, one back paw pressed firmly against her forehead. She felt a strong love for the child, almost as strong as for the man.
She wasn’t sure now, if she could say he didn’t love her, she thought he might. She had always loved him from a far, and she though he was beginning to feel the same for her. She had worried that once she had gotten close to him, that interaction might kill the love she felt. It hadn’t happened, if anything her love had grown and intensified. It was odd that she should love a man whom she had previously had so little interaction with.
She pulled a blanket off the couch and opened it up, walking towards them slowly and stealthily. When she approached Fancy’s eyes opened and she raised her head for a moment. Her front legs stretched out and she yawned wide enough to swallow the world. She then closed her mouth and shifted her weight a bit, laying her head down again. Elise lowered the blanket over the father and daughter gently, tucking the blanket under The Other’s chin. She brushed some of The Other’s hair out of her face and sat back looking at the two of them. The kitten was under the blanket, but she thought that cats often liked being under blankets.
The Weirdo’s face looked so peaceful, she wanted to kiss and caress it. She had been around him a long time though, watching unseen. She knew he was both an amazingly deep sleeper and so light that a falling leaf could wake him. She felt that if she were trying to wake him he would sleep deep, if she were trying not to it would be as light as the dawn. She there fore decided that prudence would be the wisest course of action and leave him to his sleep. She watched as he took air in and exhaled, it out again. She had watched him so long, and now she watched him with a feeling of ownership. This was no longer an item in the window rather it was something she could hold in her hands. She wasn’t sure if she could claim he was hers, but she felt like he was. He belonged to her, at least for the moment. She was beginning to feel like she was his as well, and that was something she hadn’t felt in a long time, perhaps never. She knew he was growing to love her, and it would happen soon.
April 21st, 2003
“You know what gets me a bit.” Tommy said as he racked up the billiard balls.
“No.” Kestrel said. “What gets you?”
“Well, he was supposed to be the knight right?” He said tilting his head at The Weirdo.
“That was the prophecy.” Jack agreed as he set the white cue ball down and look at the triangle of balls.
“He was also supposed to father the other.” Tommy said. “And the knight was supposed to be destroyed by the twins or fight the destroyer or something.”
“Are you getting to a point?” Max asked as Jack hit the cue ball, which broke the formation.
“Did you fight a destroyer or knight?” Tommy asked.
“I fought several knights.” The Weirdo said as Kestrel looked at the table. “Killed them all.”
“And you fathered some children?” Cassimano asked.
“Not The Other though.” Tommy said. “I mean if you were the Destroyer, you were supposed to help well, destroy.”
“Yeah.” The Weirdo said.
“But you didn’t.” Max said, suddenly catching the drift.
“No.” The Weirdo agreed as Kestrel made her shot.
“So the prophecies were wrong?” Tommy asked.
“Yeah.” The Weirdo said leaning over the table and aiming.
“But they were prophecies man.” Tommy said.
“Prophets don’t know everything.” The Weirdo said.
“But every single prophecy turned out wrong.” Max said. “I mean you could widdle the facts and the wording down to make a square peg fit a round hole, but they were wrong.”
“That’s right.” The Weirdo agreed.
“So what’s the grand message here then?” Tommy asked.
“That pre-determinism can suck my dick.” The Weirdo said.
“Well said.” Cassimano chimed in.
April 22nd, 2003
Kestrel’s plane wasn’t due to leave for an hour and a half, but these were new days. The towers had still fallen, and terrorists were still out there apparently. Of course they were no longer Islamic fundamentalists. That would be too easy, too simple. Now they were dwarves worshipers of Grom or some such thing. There were still fundamentalist of course, but it had been the dwarven laborers who had taken over those planes now, not humans. What was odd was that it would still have happened that Tuesday in September. It still happened at the same time, and the same place.
The Weirdo was thinking about this as he walked he towards the ticket line, which was where he had to stop escorting her. She turned and smiled at him as she looked at the line. She had her ticket already; she would land in Cork and tour from there. They had arranged her transit through the United Nations, which also managed to still, exist with Jorgaes as the head of their section.
“Well.” She said turning to take his hand. “Here I go.”
“Yes.” He said taking her hand. “You know the shrimp cocktail thinks you should just stay.”
“Yeah.” She said. “She said something about that. I have to do this though; I need to see the places where it all began. Once I’ve seen it and dealt with it, maybe I can stop carrying it with me.”
“Yeah.” He said nodding slowly. “I can understand that.”
“I’ll be back though.” She said. “Once this little trip is over I’ll give you a call.”
“Okay.” He said.
“It was pretty cool you know, the whole thing.” She said smiling.
“We saved the whole world.” She said. “It ever strike you how god damn cool that is?”
“Never thought about it that way I guess.” He said shrugging.
“No,” She said shaking her head, “You wouldn’t. To you it was just another thing you had to do. If some one asks you about it later you’ll just pass it off as something you did once.”
She smiled as he watched her go through the gate, and vanished from his sight. He wondered exactly what they were going to say when they found her guns, and he realized he hadn’t asked where they were. He hadn’t bothered to ask her about them, which worried him for a moment. He either trusted her competence or he was loosing it. He hoped it was the former, but feared it might be the later. A lot of things had felt off in the last few days he noticed as little things had happened.
He wondered if maybe it was because of the difference in memories or something. He was still getting used to the idea that he had been a child in a world both with and without magic. He could remember everything for two different worlds. The facts had changed between the two of them. In this new world, apparently, Ronald Reagan didn’t die from the gun shot wounds inflicted on his person. Reagan was still alive, though tragically wasting away from Alzheimer’s. That was just one of the many things he had noticed was different now. At least everyone else around him shared his dilemma; they all had fractured memories, which caused them confusion. Max managed to say it best when he said that the problem was that you couldn’t always tell which was the new and which was the old memory. Until it involved magic you couldn’t tell which set that particular memory was part of, which caused confusion.
The Weirdo was worried that he might not be able to remember which world he was living in, like Reagan he could get lost in a conversation and not remember which reality he was in. He might start talking about an old memory only to realize half way through that he was using the old worlds facts and not this new world’s.
These were problems for later he decided; when the problem arose he would deal with it. He wasn’t going to worry about a failing memory until it started to actually begin to fail. He would simply let the sleeping dog lie for now, and worry about it later. After all there was enough to worry about with the arthritis and the tinnitus, he didn’t need more worries.
May 12th, 2003
“I think this will do fine.” Alice said looking out the window.
She could see the empire state building and the Chrysler building from this apartment in the Trump Tower. There weren’t exactly what you’d call external walls, just large floor to ceiling windows, like those of an office building. She looked at Keyrran and nodded as he looked out the window with her.
“You think so?” He asked.
“Yes.” She said. “We’ll start here.”
“You don’t want to go back to Greece?”
“Not now.” She said shaking her head. “You convinced me Keyrran. We’ll get more attention here anyway.”
D’var Cassimano was standing just near enough to hear them speaking to each other but decided not to intrude on the conversation. He instead watched his children and then looked at the real estate agent, standing at attention. He might have been a soldier waiting for the general’s comments. He looked at the two young Gods and nodded at the man and gave a thumbs up. The smile that crossed the man’s face was tinged with relief and D’var wondered how many times he had shown this place in the recent declining economy.
“I think you can start drawing up papers.” Alice said. “We’ll take the place.”
“Excellent.” The man said smiling widely now.
“I still need offices though.” She said. “This will do well as a place to live, but I need a place to work as well.”
“I have many, many locations.” He said delighted to help.
“Good.” she said.
Her plan had already begun; a few lower tier gods of the Olympians had already asked her if there was a place for them. Chronos and Hermes had mentioned what side they had been on before. Zoltan and Makemake had come to see her in the same day, wondering if there was a place in the new organization she was forming. She had talked with the Green Man and Hel about what could be done with the shattered remains of their worlds. There was, it seemed, a great number of disaffected Gods who were ready for new positions and places to live.
The phone she had in the back pocket of her jeans began to vibrate. A tune began to play, if you have an ear for tunes you might recognize Queen’s masterwork played at every sports event, “We Are The Champions” as it came from the small silver device. She flipped the device open and spoke into it after a moment of looking at the number.
“Hello Jorgaes.” She said.
“Hello Alice.” He said over the line. “I have Ur and Gauargi in my office.”
“Do we have someone working water?” She asked.
“We don’t, not yet.” Jorgaes said. “You want me to give Ur the number?”
“We’re about to start looking at offices in a moment.” She said. “What do you think?”
“I think they need a place to be.” He said. “And we don’t have anyone who works water yet. Gauargi isn’t a God but has more uses in a city than I can think of. It is of course up to you.”
“Okay.” She said. “Give them the number and help them find a place to stay for now.”
“Okay.” He said.
“I’ll be at you’re office before six.” She said.
“I’ll be here.” He said.
“Okay, I’ll talk to you later.”
“Talk to you later.” He said and set the phone’s receiver back down in its cradle. “What did I tell you?” He asked.
“She said?” Ur asked.
“I am to give you a phone number.” He said. “We’ve rented out the entire Ritz, oddly enough an associate of ours owns it. You go, get a room, which I will set up for you. You call the number and they begin to find a place for you to be until our offices get set up.”
“Okay.” Gauargi said nodding.
Jorgaes took two of his business card and began to write on the back of them.
“Do you two know of any others like you?” he asked as he wrote.
“What do you mean like us?” Gauargi asked.
“Who weren’t taken in, who weren’t killed when those… things showed up.”
“We ran.” Ur said. “I wasn’t happy about going and when it looked like a full fledged war was coming I ran.”
“Okay.” Jorgaes said nodding, holding out the two cards. “If you do find anyone, who doesn’t want to be part of the old system, send them our way.”
They took the cards wordlessly and nodded, looking at each other. They walked out with out any more than a thank you and he was alone in his office for a moment. He looked out the window at the curved building below that made up the U.N. meeting area. He then looked at the phone and reached for it. He didn’t have to look the number up; he had memorized it over the years. He typed the two names into a spreadsheet list he had been making. There were now twenty-five of them, who had decided to join up with Alice. He looked at the names, some of which hurt his mouth to speak. He listened to the voice that answered the phone and began to speak.
“Two more.” He said. “Ur and Gauargi, find some rooms for them. Yeah I think they’ll be signing on once she talks to them, they’re tired of fighting.”
Jorgaes looked at the e-mails he had received in the last day or so. The Mouse was now wondering what she should be doing. She had infiltrated the System after they had blown up her apartment and now wondered what to do next. He checked his real estate holdings for anyplace that looked plausible for her to be living from the amount she was supposed to be making. One of the Glams had also survived and was informing him. They had both e-mailed to check in with him, trying to find out what had happened. So at least two of his heroes had survived and manage to check it. It might not be the end of that project then. This was certainly a set back, but one that could be overcome. He would have to find out how many of them were left and recruit new heroes. His project might come to its intended conclusion then. In the mean time he could go see the Glam who had lived, and spend some time in her beautiful company. He looked at his watch and considered how much time he had. The Mouse would be arriving for their monthly meeting soon anyway. He would call Susan and see if she wanted dinner. He could go see her after talking to Julia.
May 15th, 2003
“I think we’re ready.” Cydrill said as he walked into the living room.
“Okay.” The Weirdo said standing.
They walked out to the car where Azgana stood with Piedmont. They were talking about a route and when Cydrill came to the car, Piedmont opened the door for him. Azgana stood away from the car as he did this. Cydrill got into the passenger seat and Piedmont closed the door for him. He then turned towards The Weirdo.
“I think we owe you some gratitude.” Piedmont said.
“Don’t worry about it.” The Weirdo said.
“Well.” Piedmont nodded and walked around the car to the drivers seat.
Cydrill’s window lowered with a powered hum and he looked at his sister and grandson. She was going to stay in New York for a while, and with him for at least a few more weeks. He looked at the two of them and noted how they both had the same manner of standing, waiting for him to say something.
“Perhaps we should try to get together for Christmas.” He said. “Or something?”
“Sure.” The Weirdo nodded. “I’ll call you.”
“Good.” Cydrill said as the motor of the car started. “We’ll see you then.”
He waved as the car pulled away and drove towards the gate and the street beyond. The Weirdo waved in what he felt was an oddly stiff way, his eyes catching how she waved in the same manner. She noticed him and stopped waving as the car pulled away down the street.
“I want to thank you for letting me stay here with you.” She said as her eyes watched the place where the car had been.
“Well, you’re an aunt, I’m not gonna cast a family member into the street.”
“If I had been given my way, we wouldn’t even be here to discuss it.”
“Well that’s alright.” He said touching her arm as they began to walk inside. “Can’t worry about every damn thing.”
They entered and she walked to the room where Darrian was sitting reading a magazine story about particle physics. He walked through the house, looking for who was left. Wondering if there were indeed any guests left.
He was having a sort of end of summer camp feeling, or was it the end of term at college? He had never actually been to either and thus couldn’t actually say. One by one, now that the business was completed, they were leaving. Alice and Keyrran had bought an apartment and office building. They were now in the city but beginning to gather their own pantheon based in New York where the past couldn’t get them. Kaala and Angel had left last night, driving their partially stolen convertible into the sunset. He didn’t expect to ever see them again, but he wished them well and gave them a lot of money to get away with. Cassimano had stopped by a few times but was going to leave for Europe soon, looking for the rest of the old Assitanians. He knew that Darrian and Azgana would soon be departing for Boston, to set up house one hoped.
May 17th, 2003
The last of the house guests had gone that morning, their rooms had been cleared out, and fresh linens had been laid down. If you went into any of the rooms now, they might have never been occupied. There was now, at this moment, no sign that the events of the last few weeks had happened at all. Until one looked outside and noticed that the grass was that beautiful shade of blue that might let a person know. There were no guests left though.
As full as the place had been before, it now felt terribly empty and alone. The Weirdo was feeling an acute sense of this. He looked up one hall and down the other looking for anyone and failed to see a soul, he couldn’t actually find anyone. He clasped his hands behind his back and began to wander about looking for people. They were sitting in the living room, watching videos. The image of Homer Simpson saying doh for some reason.
He looked at them, and smiled as he walked into the room. Tommy sat on a couch, between Judy and Sheila. Jack sat on a large leather chair with Marla on his lap, Max sat alone on another chair. Mrs. Pendleton sat on the floor with the three children as he entered.
Elise sat on the floor, but leaned against an arm of the couch. She was wearing blue jeans and a white man’s shirt, his shirt actually. He liked that, that she was wearing some of his clothes. It made it feel more right somehow, like he had made the correct choice.
“Hello.” Max said as he came through the door.
“Ah the American family all huddled around the tube.” The Weirdo said.
“It’s the Simpson’s.” The Other said. “Homer’s funny.”
“It’s not high art I’ll admit.” Tommy said. “But it’ll do for now.”
“I got a call from Kaala this morning.” Judy said. “They’ve got to Kansas City, their going to hang out there for a while she said.”
“Are they?” The Weirdo asked.
“Why Kansas City?” Max asked.
“Good a place as any.” The Weirdo said.
“So that’s everyone accounted for then.” Tommy said.
“For the moment.” The Weirdo agreed.
“Everybody’s fine and everything’s peaceful?”
“Well I don’t know about that.” Jack said. “The elves in the EU are trying to force a vote giving them extra powers.”
“Not my problem.” The Weirdo said.
“Those elves on the West Coast were making some rumblings too.” Max said.
“And the dryads in South America tore up a bunch of loggers, but it’s not my problem now.” The Weirdo said. “I think I deserve not to have to think about all that for a little while.”
“Probably.” Max said. “We could always go on vacation or something. Go to the Bahamas or something.”
“We’re not exactly tropical get away people.” The Weirdo said sitting down on the corner of the couch and touching Elise’s shoulder.
“True.” Max said. “But since everyone knows that, trouble will go to other places looking for you.”
“He’s got a point.” Tommy said.
“He does at that.” The Weirdo agreed.
“We could see the ocean when it doesn’t have dead drug dealers floating in it.” Judy said, quite excited by the prospect.
“And since our work here seems to be done,” The Weirdo said. “Maybe we deserve a vacation.”
“And everyone ends the story in love.” Tommy said.
“What are you talking about?” The Weirdo asked.
“Well I’ve got Judy and Sheila, Jack has Marla, even Max has been seeing Alice on the nights he’s not seeing her mother.”
“Which means he’s got the most problems out of any of us.” Marla said.
“I’m not sleeping with any of them thank you.” Max said.
“Why in heavens name not?” The Weirdo asked.
“Because I’m an old fashioned boy.” Max said.
There was a long pause in which the two of them looked at each other. The Weirdo seemed to be weighing the possibilities, or trying to outstare Max. It was hard to tell, but after a while The Weirdo nodded.
“Yeah, okay.” The Weirdo said as Fancy leapt onto his lap.
“I am.” Max said. “It’s got nothing to do with the fact that it just hasn’t progressed to the bed room yet.”
“Hey, I believe you.” The Weirdo said lifting the kitten. “It’s Fancy though, she has doubts.”
“But I mean Cassimano is probably with Kestrel in Ireland by now you know, and Azgana and Darrian are hanging around an awful lot.” Tommy interrupted.
“I don’t think there’s anything going on between Cassimano and Kestrel.” The Weirdo said.
“I think he’s got it in his mind she’s like his little sister.” The Weirdo continued.
“Still they’re hanging out together.” Tommy countered. “And now you’ve got Elise.”
“And I’ve got The Other.” The Weirdo said pointing, and the tiny cleric raised her head and smiled. “And she gives me more trouble than any five fully grown women.”
She stuck her tongue out at him and went back to watching the cartoons.
“You see?” The Weirdo asked. “Besides, when June the third rolls around I owe her a big party with a cake made mostly of frosting.”
Bagheera walked into the room and leapt up to The Weirdo’s lap, finding Fancy there already. He stared at Fancy as the two of them stood on his lap, and then gave up and sat down. The kitten sat down next to him and The Weirdo used a hand each to scratch them on the head.
It had been an annoyance for Bagheera, having this kitten follow him around. She was constantly behind him, every time he turned. She was imitating him when he jumped, watching him as he played with his rattling mousy toy; it was getting on his nerves. Unfortunately as she was still just a tiny kitten, he couldn’t lay the smack down quite yet, but he was going to soon if she didn’t stop having to be where he was all the time.
May 17th, 2003
The Weirdo was looking out the window at the city beyond his bedroom and then at the bed. Elise was on the far right side of the bed, sleeping soundly and Bagheera had taken up residence at the foot. The Weirdo never understood that, with the whole bed to choose from the cat would only lay at the foot. He took his shirt off and looked at the bed as he drew the covers back. His eye caught Elise’s bare back and he had to catch his breath again.
Things had been going well for them, the spark of attraction had started and ember of affection that was growing into a flame in his chest. He was sure that if she didn’t decide to try and kill him with a group of religious fanatics, then love couldn’t be far behind. She was less assertive than he was used to, but he thought he could work that out of her with time. He was enjoying the pliancy of her spirit, but thought she should be a bit more demanding at times. She was slowly making her way into the rest of the household as well, forming relationships with the rest of the people who lived there. That was important as well.
He was slightly worried about the amount of traits he noticed she shared with The Other though. He had been told her mother would die in childbirth, and that was not a risk he was willing to take. Yet they had the same eyes, the same ears, and many mannerisms. He had wondered if perhaps she wasn’t meant to be the mother. Eoster had died in childbirth and The Other had prevented the death, so there could be hope. He thought though, that if Eoster had given birth, than Eoster was her mother. It didn’t matter, he thought, as he looked at Elise’s naked back in the moonlight.
Her pale lavender curls slipped down as she shifted slightly and touched her shoulder blade, he moved them gently and kissed her shoulder. He then began to slide himself under the blankets, maneuvering himself to lay on his right side looking out at the room. If he lay on his left side, he could look at Elise’s back some more, but he couldn’t sleep. He looked at the cat whose head raised up to see what the disturbance was about.
“You know Baggy.” He said to the cat who looked up at him. “These last few years have been almost like one long day. I mean in the morning I came back, in the afternoon Loki destroyed my world and this evening, this happened.”
“One might wonder what tomorrow will bring.” Bagheera said.
“I didn’t know cat’s could talk.” The Weirdo said conversationally.
“Oh we all can, and most of us do.” Bagheera said smiling, and getting the last reference of the book in no less. “Just not when you humans are around, we save it to conspire against you.”
“Oh.” The Weirdo said, and set his head down.
He was asleep on the instant, and had no bad dreams or reoccurrence of faces. He slept soundly and through the entire night. It had, after all, been a very long day.
© 2014 Autumn Knight Productions
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