“Shit. Shit. Shit,” Joshua chants after listening to the message from his mom. “She thinks I’m-“
“Dead,” Dominic interrupts. “Yes, I know.” At the look of confusion that flits across Joshua’s face, he adds, “My kind have very good hearing.”
“Of course you do. Why does she think I’m dead?”
“I heard the same message you did.”
Joshua’s gaze hardens to a glare. “You’re gonna have to try better than that. My life didn’t turn upside down until you walked into it. She said she ‘heard what happened’ and had to call because she ‘can’t believe I’m really gone.’ Where would she have heard…? She can’t possibly have heard ‘what happened’ because it’s not like anything that’s actually happened to us would be on the news or anything so…”
“I would tend to agree. But watching the news may not be a bad idea. If she heard something there we can find out what it was.”
Joshua returns his attention to his phone.
“Do not call her,” Dominic commands quickly.
“Yes, sir. I was actually going to check online for news. I was paying attention all of, what – six minutes ago? – when you said it’d be safer for my family if they don’t know anything. Hey! There’s WiFi!”
Joshua’s iPhone vibrates in his pocket, where he’d forgotten it. He pulls it out and sees that it’s survived the accident without damage. It’s lit it up with the word ‘Mom’ and a photo of her. It’s very late for her to be calling – past 2:00am – so something must be wrong.
He starts sliding his finger across the screen to answer but before he can, Dominic snatches it from him.
“It’ll be much safer for your family if they don’t know anything about where you are or what’s happening to you.”
“You mean the people after us will send people after them too?”
The call goes to voicemail. Dominic doesn’t hand the phone back to him. “They will spy on your family. If you don’t make contact with your family then they shouldn’t have any reason to harm them.”
“Except as bait to draw me out.”
Dominic shakes his head. “Not if they don’t find out about the power you have. Right now, you’re only in danger because of your association with me. They’re unlikely to use your family as bait because they know it won’t get them what they currently want – me.”
Joshua frowns as he thinks through the implications of that – that Dominic wouldn’t help Joshua save his family if his family was put in danger because of this mess of a situation.
The iPhone lights up again, this time with a voicemail notification.
I stop short a couple paces from my bedroom door. Carson’s in the hallway, staring at the wall. Then he touches it, shakes his head, takes a couple steps, and stares again. He’s clearly unaware of me so I send him the lightest of telepathic nudges, a gentle nok.
“Eyan!” he exclaims, hastily distancing himself from the wall and giving an abashed smile. “Hi.”
<Hi… What are you doing?>
<I’m looking for the hallway computer interface.> He gives me what I can only describe as a partial glare, as if it’s my fault he can’t find it.
I laugh, walking past him halfway down the hallway and gesturing at the wall to my right. <It’s here.> I activate it by touching the camouflaged panel at eye level. It’s virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding paint when deactivated.
Carson joins me, shaking his head at the computer. <Why is it hidden?>
<It’s not hidden, it’s discrete.>
He frowns. <What’s the difference?>
<Subterfuge versus aesthetics.>
The corners of Carson’s eyes crease with amusement. <All right. Why are they discrete?>
<Because computers are just tools. We don’t want them dominating our lives the way humans have let them.>
His mouth thins. <I wish you wouldn’t disparage humans so much. We would be just like them if not
“How do I learn how to control it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, shit. If you don’t know then who does?”
“Joshua… I don’t know if anyone does. You may be unprecedented.”
Joshua shakes his head. “What about another creature from the in-between?”
“We’re already being hunted. If they find out what you are… They’ll want to kill you and take your power.”
“Greeeeeat. Do you have any good news?”
“We’re safe here.”
“You should go back to sleep.”
“You have to be joking! ‘Hey Joshua, my dog who was murdered is alive because you brought her back but it’s no biggie so go to bed.’ No one could sleep after that!”
Dominic doesn’t say anything for a long time. “You’re a human with the power of a creature from the in-between. You didn’t grow up with this. You were never meant to have it. I don’t know how it came to you. But I do know the power is yours and you don’t know how to control it. If you’re very scared, if you’re very angry, it’s going to manifest. When you’re dreaming you’ll have even less control.”
“Then shouldn’t I stay awake?”
“Yes, of course, just never sleep, why didn’t I think of that?” Dominic deadpans. “Your being exhausted isn’t going to help anything. Do you meditate?”
“Now’s a better time than most to start.”
“But…could I hurt people with this power?”
This weekend I went to Fresno for a wedding. Between that and being sick, I haven’t had the time/energy to post. I mostly seem to be down to a cough and I’ve caught up on my finances tonight (rent is obscenely expensive) so I thought I’d continue Red:
“Were you dreaming?” Dominic asks he’s own question instead of answering Joshua’s.
Joshua tells him.
“She’s alive because you brought her back.”
“What!? No, I didn’t. How the fuck would I bring her back? Back from where?”
Tsubasa returns her attention to Dominic, nosing against his hand. Dominic finally greets her, scratching behind her ears and petting her snout. “It’s good to see you, Tsu. Sorry about the ambush.”
Tsubasa barks once, wagging her tail.
Joshua sighs. Loudly. Exasperatedly. “You know I don’t talk to exercise my voice, right?”
It may not seem like it but I have been working on my blog the last several days – small functionality updates that took way too much time because WordPress and PHP are pains. I’d planned to get back to Red today but last night I had my worst night since February 20th and I’m exhausted. Also (minorly) sick. The good news is that these kinds of nights used to be more frequent. It’s pretty amazing that it’s been since February. I’ll feel better about that tomorrow after more sleep.
I’m going to leave you with a favorite part from my favorite current poet and the first poem I ever read/heard by him:
And if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
Get a better mirror
Look a little closer
Stare a little longer
Because there’s something inside you
That made you keep trying
Despite everyone who told you to quit
– Shane Koyczan, “To This Day”
“Joshua!” It’s Dominic, shouting from the doorway of a room Joshua doesn’t recognize.
In less than a blink, Dominic is next to him. “You need to calm down.”
The low-pitched gentle words catch Joshua off guard.
“Breath in. Hold it. Breathe out. Come on, breathe in. Hold it. Breathe out.”
Closing his eyes, Joshua matches the pace of his breathing to Dominic’s words.
“Breathe in. Hold it. Breathe out. Good.” Then after several repetitions, “Okay, open your eyes.”
Joshua does. The red light is gone. That’s all he notices before something large and black comes between them. It’s Tsubasa, and she’s wagging her tail hyper fast and licking all over Dominic’s face. When she turns to Joshua he instinctively tries to shrink away but she’s faster, nosing against his hands. She feels…normal. Just like a dog.
“Dominic, how is she alive again?”
Dominic doesn’t answer. He’s gone completely still, watching Tsubasa.
Joshua wrenches himself awake, gasping for breath. He’s drenched in sweat and…the light. The red light. It’s coming from him.
I have a friend visiting so my posts this weekend will be brief.
It starts with a nightmare that’s spikes and flashes. Tsubasa knifed, whining as she dies. Breaking glass. Wings and sharp teeth. Red light. Screaming. Screaming. Screaming.
Suddenly, Joshua realizes he’s the one screaming.