NaNoWriMo Day 19 (1542 words) Visions from the Coffee Cup

Linda was sitting at her kitchen table with her laptop open in front of her working on horoscopes for the next issue of the paper. She was having a hard time coming up with an interesting way of wording the horoscope. She felt like writing the same thing over and over again would make it easier because she had the format down perfectly. Now, she had a whole new set of things she had to worry about. She would wonder if each of the horoscopes were read back to back would each of the horoscopes sound too similar to each other? Would they sound too different from each other? Did she say the same thing last week, the week before? Should she pay closer attention to tone?

Today she hadn’t even gotten down a single word. Every time she sat down at the table to write there was another thing that came up to pull her away from the work. Earlier Markey had wanted her to make him a glass of chocolate milk. After that, Allen had come to her asking if she had seen his house slippers. This time, it was her own fault. She was online researching how to write a horoscope. She had decided that after a lifetime of practice giving psychic readings and lucky numbers and the like she had no idea of how to do exactly what it was that she was an expert at. She was currently going back and forth between a page on astrological charts, one on the elements of writing style, and a competitor’s horoscope page to see if she could bust some ideas loose in her mind.

She thought she had something to write down, but the idea evaporated out of her mind when she switched to her word processor program and stared at that blank page. Technically, it wasn’t blank because it had a one-word title: Horoscopes. Somehow that made the task of writing the first word that much more daunting. She could hear Markey and Allen chasing each other through their little apartment playing hide and seek and she wanted so badly to get up from the table and go play with them as well. An eight-year-old child could be so much fun and so tiering simultaneously. And when that eight-year-old is a talented necromancer in his own right, things can get downright hectic. Like right now, she was smelling sulfurous smoke. Her first thought was that the apartment was on fire. Then she saw how much trouble Allen had finding Markey in his new hiding spot. Linda folded down the screen of her laptop. Linda said, “Just give up, Allen. You are never going to find him.”

Allen said, “I know. He cheats. Earlier he was using a scrying spell to find out where I had hidden, and now, I think he opened a quick portal to hell and ducked inside.” Allen cupped both hands around his mouth. “I give up, Markey. Come on out!”

There was a woosh and another hit of the sulfur smell. Light at first and then stronger like a good fart, and not too far off from the smell. Markey came out of the bedroom with a big smile on his face. He said, “I win. You gave up. I win.”

Allen grabbed him and said, “No, I just got you.”

Markey said, “That’s cheating.”

Allen said, “Slipping between dimensions is cheating, too.”

Markey stuck out his bottom lip and crossed his arms. He said, “It’s not fair. You know where all my hiding spots are.”

Allen said, “The house is only so big. What do you want me to do?”

Markey said, “You can erase your memories again.”

Allen said, “You know I don’t have any powers in this body.”

Markey hardened his face and said, “You’re lying.”

Allen said, “I am not.”

Markey turned to Linda. He said, “Mom, erase his memories again.”

Linda said, “I’m not going to do that to your dad. Bad things happened the last time I did that.”

Markey said, “I know that Allen is my dad, but my dad is my dad. Can’t you just make him one person again?”

Linda said, “I don’t think I did that to him, Markey. There is more than one of all of us.”

Markey reached up and touched Allen’s arm and pinched it. Allen yanked his arm back and threatened to pinch Markey if he didn’t stop doing that. Markey said, “He’s not a doppelganger. I think he really is my dad, but not at the same time.”

Linda said, “No not a doppelganger. Those are just shapeshifters. Allen is you dad. He and Raul are the same.”

Allen said, “Do you remember when we talked about the multiverse theory?”

Markey said, “That was just for science class. Science is fake.”

Linda said, “Science isn’t fake.”

Markey said, “Then why do my friends at school say that monsters aren’t real, and why does Mrs. Packwood say that you can’t bring zombies back from the dead?”

Allen said, “I bet your friends at school do believe in monsters. Ask them if they believe in Chompie, the bull shark that is supposed to live in the pond at Leucothea park.”

Markey said, “A shark isn’t a monster. It’s a shark.”

Allen said, “What is a monster? A monster is big and can eat a person. And a shark is big and can eat a person.”

Markey said, “Monsters are evil, and sharks aren’t evil.”

Allen said, “Well what about, Spot. The black slime that your father is keeping for you while you are living with us. Is he evil?”

Markey said, “Yes.”

Allen said, “Why is he evil?”

Markey said, “Because he eats people.”

Allen said, “Aha! Then Chompie is evil, and he is a monster.”

Markey said, “Who has Chompie eaten? Spot was going to eat you and mom.”

Linda said, “He’s got you there, Allen.” Linda thought for a second then she said, “I am having trouble getting any writing done here. Why don’t we go to the park? You two can try to get a picture of Chompie, and I will take the laptop along and maybe the change of scenery will help me get some of my work done. I sure don’t want Mr. Hutchinson mad at me again for not getting my work done on time.”

Markey got excited and started dancing and jumping in a circle. He said, “Yeah, yeah! I have never seen a real live shark before. If I see him, I will tell you if a shark is a monster or not.”

It was a bright day winding down toward noon and only a short bus ride to the park. Markey was excited that he would be able to see Mr. Branzino. Markey had taken to calling him Grampa despite Mr. B’s claim that they were not related. Mr. Branzino’s shop had taken surprising little damage in the fires that day and his insurance had covered the repairs. They ate lunch at Mr. B’s Deli. He couldn’t talk much because business was doing well, but he did give Markey a stick to wear on the front of his shirt. It was a cartoon picture of Chompie with a sharp toothed grin and a dorsal fin raised in a thumbs up. He said all the polite things you say to the people you know, and he told them to come back after the lunch rush when he could talk more. He smiled and said, “If not, the coffeepot will keep me informed.”

They found one of the more secluded benches on the hill overlooking the pond and Linda sat down with her computer in her lap. She watched as Markey ran toward the pond dodging a couple teenagers playing frisbee and an old couple walking along the running trail. Allen called out after him. “Wait up. You will need my phone if you want to take pictures.” He was digging in his pocket and trying to jog along after Markey at the same time.

There were several pairs of people dressed in red button up shirts and dark sunglasses stationed throughout the park passing out pamphlets. In fact, they had seen several of these redshirted people on the street corners who they had passed while on the bus. There had been a schism in the Church of Raul after Linda had come along and reabsorbed Stacy to become a whole person, and this offshoot had almost totally eclipsed the numbers of the previous cult in numbers of proselytizers at least. They were preaching to any who would listen about the return of Stacy whom they were referring to as The Mother Goddess, and they were denouncing Raul as a false God and the Prince of Darkness. They weren’t far off from the Emperor of Evil, but Raul really wasn’t as bad as these people were making out. Linda only hoped that Markey would not hear what they are saying about his father. She was afraid it might hurt his feelings. She figured no well meaning adult of any faith would want to hurt the feelings of a young boy even if they weren’t going out to do it on purpose.

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