“Yes, I’ve heard it’s challenging.”
Joshua cocks an eyebrow at Dominic. “You’ve heard what is challenging?”
Joshua sputters and then laughs. “Because those are the only options! Either you’re rich enough to build a safe mansion with a sparring room or you’re poor.”
“If only things could be so black and white.”
This one’s a short chapter. Honestly, chapter breaks may still shift but finalizing those is pretty low on my list of priorities at this point. You can find the rest of the chapters here.
Two weeks after the three-day telepathic hell fest, Carson petitions the Educational Board, receiving preliminary approval pending completion of the teaching program. He enrolls, tackling the challenge with a determination that has him finishing it in a record six months, a frenetic period during which he’s hindered only occasionally by the remnants of allucinari and somehow always makes time for his efforts to broaden my perspective through human media. The colleagues who oversee his supervised teaching can’t praise him highly enough, nor can the Board find much to criticize in the yearlong outline he provided for his course. The school schedule is modified to include his class, and he’s given a room, supplies, and a generous salary. He’s astounded by how simple the process is.
I’m equally astounded when he tries to pay me rent after receiving his first paycheck on the day before his class begins – many Shelter jobs provide a ‘start up’ check to help employees settle in.
<How much do I owe you?>
<Nothing,> I reply briskly, glancing at him before returning my attention to the advancing and receding line ahead of us where ocean meets sand. Two miles of beach fall within the field of the Resonance Deflector, a fact I’m increasingly grateful for the longer I’m
I accomplished a lot today on an adulting level but not on a creative level. I’ve seen something floating around online about how working full time (40 hours), cooking dinner, exercising regularly, keeping your home clean, and enjoying weekends isn’t something designed for single people to be able to do (but rather for couples where one works and the other cares for the home and children). I’d never quite thought of it that way and it makes me feel better about not having nearly as much time for writing as I’d like, especially since I’m also adding in getting enough sleep and having sleeping problems that make that difficult. As a side note: I’m throuroughly impressed by single parents.
After eating the surprisingly delicious egg scramble prepared for him by Dominic, Joshua follows him out the kitchen, through the dining room, through the living room, and into…well, Joshua isn’t sure what to make of the enormous empty room. It reminds him of the indoor basketball court where his high school held assemblies, except without the bleachers and with semi-soft flooring. The walls and floor appear to be nearly identical shades of gray, with the floor being only slightly darker. There are no windows.
Joshua consciously realizes for the first time that he was asleep when Dominic brought him in. “So it’s more a safe mansion than a safe house?” he half asks, half jokes.
“It’s space to spar and train in.”
“Oh, the sparing room! Of course! My family had
Dominic explains his idea to Joshua. Joshua doesn’t respond for a long time. A human might say something else, try to explain more clearly, but Dominic merely waits.
“All right,” is all Joshua eventually says. “We’ll try tonight… What do we do in the meantime? We’re safe here but we can’t stay forever, and I need to learn how to control these powers.”
“Yes. I have some ideas there. But first you should eat.” Dominic returns his attention to the stove, where an egg filled frying pan sits on the cold surface. “Do you want cheese or sausage or veggies scrambled in?”
“Cheese and sausage, yes. As for veggies, depends what kind.”
“Any kind you’d like.”
Joshua frowns and then shakes his head once. “Right. Magic.”
“Can you compel people over the phone?” Joshua asks suddenly, “Or do you need eye contact?”
“Eye contact helps but isn’t necessary. As for over the phone…it depends. The more extensive the compulsion, the harder that would be.”
“Could you compel my mom to believe I’m okay?”
“I…perhaps. It’s something she would want to believe so that would help.”
“And do you think they’d be watching her closely enough to hear every phone call? Will they have hacked her cell phone or planted listening devices?”
“It may not be necessary to find out. You are her biological son, correct?”
Joshua blinks. “Yes?”
“You’re not certain?”
“I’m certain, I’m wondering why it’s relevant.”
“We may be able to reach her through a dream.”
This was going to be longer but a friend called. Getting back to Red:
“Sorry, that was a rude question.”
Dominic waves dismissively. “I have certain characteristics that you would associate with vampires. As you know, I can compel people. I am stronger and faster than humans and I do not age. While I do not need an invitation to enter a dwelling, an explicit disinvitation makes staying inside…painful, though not impossible. That, however, is true of all creatures from my realm… I was never human.”
I’m (still) struggling to find a balance. Between work, exercise, relaxing, food prep, pet care, getting enough sleep, and writing. We work too much in this country. We incentivize people to put in long hours at work, but it’s not healthy to work 50 or 60 or more hours per week. I wish more employers cared for the wellbeing of their employees. Well-rested people who have time to do the things they love and be with those they love are happier, more productive people. Really, it should be a win-win. But a lot of things aren’t the way (I think) they should be, and the list of those things is longer and more tragic than I have the energy to get into tonight.
I’m tired of how our society as a whole treats people.
With my somber mood tonight, this will be another short one:
“I want to drink your blood,” Dominic deadpans.
At first Joshua thinks Dominic is actually a vampire but then he sees the slight upward turn at the corner of his mouth and realizes he’s joking.
“Vampires aren’t real, Joshua.”
A short one tonight:
Joshua tries to keep his surprise from showing and mostly succeeds. He is not able to swallow his blurting out of the first question that pops into his head. “What are you?”
I feel like I should go back and show how Joshua and Dominic met. When I wrote that first scene I wasn’t planning for it to turn into a story.
I’ll have to think of something suitable.
Meanwhile, from where we left off:
“Just how closely do you think they’ll be spying on her? If I send her a text telling her I’m okay and asking her to delete the text right away, would they be looking close enough to see it?”
“I thought you were trying to reassure her. Asking her to delete the text sounds strange and ominous.”
“Stranger than the week I’ve had?”
“Of course not, but strange in the context of a familial relationship. Unless something like this has happened before and she will therefore understand that it’s not safe for her to know what’s going on and simultaneously not be alarmed by that?”
Joshua sighs. Loudly. “Wouldn’t it be better than her thinking I’m dead?”
Dominic considers this.
Joshua frowns at how long Dominic appears to be thinking this over. “I mean, wouldn’t any mom rather know her kid is alive?”
“I would not know. I did not have one.”
Joshua sleeps for 14 hours and he doesn’t dream. Waking groggy and bleery eyed, he finds Tsubasa curled up next to him on top of the blanket, eyes open and watching him.
“Did he ask you to look after me?” He asks around a yawn.
She wags her tail.
He scratches her head before swinging his legs over the side of the bed and making his way to the bathroom. Later, they find Dominic in the kitchen, making scrambled eggs.
“So it’s a safe house with WiFi and fresh food?”
“Magic,” Dominic responds simply.
“It’s magic WiFi?”
Dominic smiles briefly. “It’s magic that keeps the food fresh.”
“I had no idea what I was missing out on.”
“Your mom called at least ten more times.”
That sobers Joshua quickly. He slept 14 hours while his mom spent the night thinking he’s dead. “Shit. I have to do something to let her know I’m alive.”