NaNoWriMo Day 28 (1001 words) Visions from the Coffee Cup

The door fell from the cabinet, and the creature bolted to the other side. Allen leapt to open the other door and swat the creature away before he took that door too. But Allen stepped on one of the plates and his foot slipped out. He landed hard and slammed his shoulder against a plate, and it snapped in half. The voice of the creature came through the cabinet door. It said, “Stop that.”

Allen said, “Stop what?” He struggled to get up from the floor trying to ignore the pain of his fall. He pushed up to his hands and knees. When he reached up to the counter to pull himself up the shifting weight caused another plate to snap under his knee.

The creature said, “Stop that. Don’t break the dishes.”

Allen said, “What? You don’t like that?” He grabbed one of the plates from off the counter and slammed it against the metal of the kitchen sink. The plate shattered into small pieces. There was a thump, and the creature fell out of the cabinet into the counter. The creature got back onto its feet, but it looked dazed.

Allen picked up another plate and held it over his head. The creature said, “I hate that sound. Please, stop.”

Allen said, “Then you better stop taking my house apart.”

The creature said, “Listen, wizard. You called me here and didn’t assign a task for me to do. You can’t expect me not to be bored.”

Allen said, “I am no wizard.”

The creature said, “Clearly not. Wizards are never so cruel. Trap me somewhere with nothing to fix. You know a gruagach who isn’t properly worked at night can’t sleep through the day.” The creature folded its arms and lowered its head. “I was just doing something so I could get exhausted enough to get some sleep.”

Allen said, “If I give you a job, will you go away?”

The creature said, “First you call me an asshole, then you start breaking plates where I can hear them. I don’t think I want to do anything for you.”

Allen said, “You don’t, do you? Then I will make you go away.”

The creature said, “I don’t know how you can see me or even understand what I am saying, but I am starting to think you are not the wizard that brought me here and definitely not the one that trapped me here.”

Allen said, “And what if I’m not.”

The creature said, “I guess that means I get no sleep especially with you breaking dishes, and I have no where to run to get away from the noise.”

Allen said, “If you go back to taking my house apart, I will break more.”

The creature said, “I already figured that out. I’m not stupid.” The creature let his arms drop to his side, and he looked up at Allen. “Well, if you don’t know magic, you could at least show a little hospitality. There is power to hospitality.”

Allen said, “Are you saying you want me to invite you to dinner?”

The creature said, “That’s not usually the way it happens, but that would be a start.”

Allen said, “If you are good, I will ask Linda if you can eat dinner with us. I will even let you talk to my son.”

The creature said, “I would like that. Most people would just build me a bed and leave a little food out at night. Then, they pay me when the job is done.”

Allen said, “Let me see if I have a shoebox. Would a shoebox and a rolled-up towel be an acceptable bed?”

The creature said, “That sounds like heaven right about now.”

Allen ended up moving all of his tools out of the toolbox and put the towel in there. Allen put the makeshift bed on the counter and set a cracker and a piece of cheese next to it. Alen said, “Don’t eat too much if you want to be hungry for dinner tonight.”

The creature said, “Could you give me a hand? Just hold the cabinet doors in place and I will put the screws back in.” They put the cabinets back together fairly quickly then the creature said, “Put all the broken plates in one place and I will fix them tonight. That is too big of a job for me to do and still get some sleep before dinner.” The creature laid down in the toolbox and pulled a bit of towel over him as a makeshift blanket.

Allen went into the other room to let the creature sleep. He texted Linda to tell her who was joining them for dinner. Linda didn’t seem too shocked to hear the news, and she said that she didn’t think he would eat much. When Markey got home from school, he seemed delighted to hear who he would be having dinner with. Linda said, “Son, this doesn’t mean that you can be that this was ok. You need to be completely sure you aren’t letting things through. It could have turned out much worse.”

Markey said, “Sorry, mom.”

Linda called everyone to the table. She looked at the creature, and said, “I hope you don’t mind paper plates.” Allen looked a little dejected. Linda said, “No, honey. You did great.”

During dinner Markey and the gruagach talked almost the whole time. And by the end of the dinner the creature even whispered his true name in Markey’s ear. After dinner, the creature climbed up on Markey’s shoulder and they went off and played. The next morning, they had a stack of plates in the cabinet that looked just as good as new. And on the counter next to the toolbox where they had left a stack of coins the night before was a tiny note. It said, “Thank you for a great night. The next time you need any work done, feel free to ask for me by name.”

NaNoWriMo Day 27 (2423 words) Visions from the Coffee Cup

Allen was in the kitchen looking through the kitchen one morning trying to find something to eat. He reached for cabinet door and the handle came off in his hand. Linda and Markey were not in the house, so he cussed out loud. When he grabbed the edge of the door with the tips of his fingers and the screw came rolling out and fell onto the counter below. He grabbed the handle and the screw and handle and placed them in his pocket, so they did not get lost while he went to get his Phillips head screwdriver from the little toolbox that Linda allowed him to keep.

She always told him that it was the maintenance man’s job to fix things around the apartment, but he knew how easy a fix most things were. She would say, “Come on, Allen. You are going to get us in trouble. It says in the lease agreement that we are not allowed to make any changes to the building without express permission from the management company.” But he was a man, and men were expected to do this kind of work. Linda even liked to see him get his hands a little dirty from time to time, and by getting his hands dirty she meant tightening screws that had worked themselves loose or applying lubricant to squeaky door hinges.

Linda has had so much trouble going out and finding so much trouble finding cleaning solutions to help her clean up the rust ring around the faucet in the bathroom sink. She has used bleach scrubs and rust removers and always has to end up using tons of elbow grease to get the white porcelain of the sink to look passably clean, but it always ends up stained again. He had offered so many times to take apart the faucet and fix it. Just last week, he said, “All it needs is a new application of Teflon tape around the threads of the pipe. It’s an easy fix.”

She said, “I have had the guy up here to do that. I watched. We just need a new sink.” The thought even crossed his mind to surprise her with a new faucet because even just that would stop it from having that slow leak, but she must have seen the faraway look in his eye. She said, “That is up to the apartment management service, Allen. If you put in a new sink, they will kick us out for sure.” He always said that they wouldn’t mind if they improved the apartment. She always went back to the line in the lease agreement. He had half a mind to read the lease agreement himself to see what it really said because as much as he trusted her—and he trusted her implicitly—nobody ever read their lease agreement. There was no possible way that she could be quoting accurately. The best she might have done was skim over, but he wasn’t sure she had done even that. Who would?

Allen had remembered that he had put his toolbox in the top of the closet, but he looked and couldn’t find it. He moved around the shoeboxes of stuff that they had stored up there. It wasn’t that long ago that he had rearranged everything on that shelf to make room for his tools. Even before he and Markey had moved in with her, there was never enough storage space. He had placed the tools on the far right of the shelf for easy access when he slid the door opened to his side of the closet. The first thing he did when he arrived at her apartment long before they even knew they would be moving in together was make a mental note of all the things that he could fix if he lived there. He wasn’t being presumptuous. He had just had that sort of thing beaten to him by his parents.

His father would always be working around the house or helping out one of the neighbors. Allen was always given the option of helping his father to earn a little extra on his allowance. Depending on the amount of Saturday morning he would be expected to burn on the task, he would earn between three and five dollars, and on really big jobs, he could be expected to earn up to twenty dollars a day. He thought that was big money back then.

His mother always reminded him that the money was only a bonus, and the real payment was the help that they were spreading across the community. He always took that to mean that if he didn’t volunteer to help his father, he would still be expected to go and help only he wouldn’t get paid, but he also believed her about the importance of building up the community. That was something that he missed about living in the city. They lived in a community, but the people never acted like a community. In the city it was always about how your money could help others once it was filtered through some philanthropic organization of course. Everybody needed their cut, like the maintenance man. He was just trying to justify his job by making everyone too scared to do their own simple jobs around their own apartments.

There had been an empty space in the top of the closed where his toolbox had been, and he knew that he was moving the boxes around in vain. Linda must have gotten into his tools and forgotten to put them back. Either that, or Markey had gotten out a chair and gotten into them. But Allen didn’t think that he had because the tools would have been scattered around the apartment, and he would not have needed to look in the closet to know his tools were not there. But there were some clothes piled up in the corner of Linda’s side of the closet. That was strange because Linda wouldn’t just pull her clothes off the hanger, and they didn’t own a cat who might be expected to pull down clothes while trying to climb to the top of the closet to catch a rat. He had heard that rats could be rather sizable in this city, and he knew it was hard to keep out the rats in a city this size. But he had not seen any evidence of one unless this was the evidence right here.

Allen picked up the clothes to see if they had any rodent damage and to put them back up on the hanger had they comedown for some other reason. They were three of Linda’s blouses with the hangers still in them. Wouldn’t you know it, his toolbox and all of his tools had been hidden under the clothes. The toolbox looked like it had fallen off the shelf and popped open dumping the tools except after they fell and scattered, they were all pushed into the far corner and hidden under some clothes. Markey was starting to look like a suspect after all. Allen still didn’t know why Linda hadn’t noticed the mess and cleaned it up on her way to drop Markey off that morning.

He straightened the blouses on the hangers and tried to brush out the wrinkles with his hand hoping that hanging them back up would remove the wrinkles that wouldn’t come out. Then he gathered the contents of his meager toolbox and placed them back inside. He had four wrenches two metric and two standard, a Philips and a flat blade screwdriver, a few wood screws and a handful of nuts and bolts. Just the basics for puttering around an apartment that you aren’t allowed to fix on your own. He pocketed the Philips and placed everything else back in the box.

Back in the kitchen, Allen screwed the handle back onto the cabinet door. He had thought about getting those stubby screwdrivers when he had gone out to the hardware store to put together his home handyman kit, but he was glad he had gone with the medium length screwdrivers. The stubby ones can get into tighter spaces, but the longer ones give you more control over the screws. And sometimes those screws can be squirrely and hard to handle especially the small ones like this one that holds cabinet handles in place. The job was done, and it was a simple one. It would have been even simpler had he not had to search for and then clean up his tools, but he was happy about his work. He smiled and felt like a proper man of the house when he closed the cabinet door to test out his work.

It had taken longer than he had expected to get this job done, and now he was really and truly ready to get him that breakfast he had come in here for in the first place. When he heard the sound of screws falling onto the wooden shelves of the cabinet, he was totally crestfallen. He opened the cabinet to see what needed fixing this time, and the cabinet door came completely off its hinges and nearly hit him on the head before he blocked it with his forearm. He heard the sound of scurrying inside the locked cabinets and what sounded like soft sniggering from the next cabinet before its doors fell away from its hinges. It turned out that it wasn’t Markey after all who had had scattered and hidden his tools. But Markey must have accidently let something in the last time he went through one of his fiery portals to the regions of hell.

Allen thought he had remembered skimming over something about evil brownies or some other gremlin type creature when he was trying his best to help Markey with his studies of The Grimoire of Shadows, or one of the other books of dark magic that Raul had sent with him. Allen was glad it wasn’t something more serious. A mischievous creature that gets his jollies from taking things apart was much better than a poltergeist or some other thing that could cause him actual harm. The worst thing this creature is piss off the maintenance man if he took something apart that Allen couldn’t fix. He only hoped the thing couldn’t figure a way around the barrier spell that Markey had put up just incase something gotten out during his magic studies. Or worse, what if there were time limits to the barrier spells, or what if this was one of those creatures that grew in power every time it did a mischievous act. Allen knew so little about the dark magic side of the universe. He knew even less about it than he did about actual science, and he really didn’t know too much about that either. He had a feeling he could learn about the dark magic, and he thought he could probably use seeing as how he was the same person as Raul, and Raul was a master of such things. That thought frightened Allen, but at the same time, he knew that he had to take care of this on his own.

He couldn’t leave this creature to the maintenance man to take care of, and he didn’t think Linda would think any less of him if he had to wait for her help. But like fixing things around the house, taking care of infestations was man’s work, and he felt like he needed to prove it to himself. If he couldn’t take care of it himself, it would be fine then to go ask for some help.

Allen grabbed a big plastic bowl from the cabinets. He was going to try to catch this thing. He turned on the flashlight on his phone and started to shine it into the cabinets. At the end of the cabinet, he saw a vaguely human like creature wearing pointed gnomelike hat. It was back in the corner behind a stack of plates and glasses. The creature didn’t seem to like door handles and hinges but it had been strangely careful of the dishes. Its eyes reflected back green light like a cat at night and its skin had a light green tint. It couldn’t have been more than about six inches high, and it was bearing its sharp fanglike teeth. It was crouched like it was going to pounce if it had to.

If he could tell from the body language of a creature he had never even believed existed, he thought the thing was showing a mixture of fear and bravado. He thought it was almost daring him to make a move. He had also seen the almost innate ability Markey had with monsters, and he hoped that with all the studying he had to do just to just barely understand the things that the boy was studying that some of that ability might have rubbed off on him.

He reached into the cabinet to grab the creature, and the thing hissed at him. Allen said, “Now, now. We don’t need any of that.” He moved a few inches closer to the creature, and it lunged forward and snapped its jaws shut in a bluff attack. He said, “It’s ok little fella. I’m not gonna hurt you.” The thing seemed to relax a little with the sound of Allen’s voice, so he kept saying things in a soothing voice and moving his hand toward the creature. He put his hand around the creature, and it bit him. Allen jumped back knocking the plates and cups out of the cabinet. Several of them hit the counter and bounced and made a terrible noise others fell all the way to the carpet on the floor. Amazingly, none of the dishes broke.

The creature jumped onto the counter from the cabinet leaped across the sink. It jumped up knocked the cabinet door open and climbed inside. Allen said, “I can’t believe the little asshole bit me!”

There was a tiny voice from inside the cabinet. It said, “You’re the asshole. I warned you twice not to touch me.” The squeaking of screws coming undone started coming from the cabinet door. The handle fell to the counter and the door started to sag on its hinges.

Allen said, “If you can understand me, then please stop breaking my house.”

From inside the cabinet, the creature said, “I don’t do favors for people that call me an asshole.”

NaNoWriMo Day 26 (1,586 words) Pointless Filler

Isn’t it nice to waste so much of the day when all you wanted to do was go out and see if the window in the car was fixable? Come to find out the only reason the window wouldn’t roll up was because whoever ‘fixed’ the window the last time lost all of the machine screws that were supposed to hold the window motor in place. Instead of trying to find something to replace the lost screws, he must have decided that a friction fit would be good enough. I guess he figured once we got off his lot with the car it was our problem.

He did try to get some of replacement for the screws he lost because all of the threads in the holes were stripped out. He only left one of the holes in good enough condition to still accept a screw. He probably said, “I know the hole takes a quarter inch bolt, but if I work this metric one long enough, I can get the steel to stretch.”

It turns out that the guy wasn’t simply taking advantage out of pure laziness. I mean he was lazy, and he was taking advantage. But I went around town to all the stores on the day after Thanksgiving of all the idiotic days to be out trying to buy something. And none of the stores had a quarter inch bolt or machine screw short enough to fit because the end of the hole was crimped to hold the screws in place.

I ended up taking the step that the lazy mechanic decided not to take. I cut some bolts down to the right size. Only then did I realize the holes had been rendered unusable by the man’s laziness. I thought that maybe I had cut the screws too short because the one that worked looked a fraction of an inch longer than the others, so when I cut the next one, I left it quite a bit longer than the others. I figured it was my fault why the machine screw wouldn’t work. I did use a flathead screw because that was the only quarter inch fastener I had, and flatheads are notoriously bad at staying straight even in perfect conditions. But after ten minutes of trying and failing to get the stupid thing to screw in, I started to get frustrated. After thirty minutes, I started to cuss. I had gone back to the shed to get some sandpaper to clean up the rough edges where I cut the screw. A time or two I thought I was going to get the thing to go in cross threaded, but it would just pop back out after I started to give it a turn. I was even putting as much pressure on the screwdriver as I possibly could praying to God that the screw didn’t slip and cause me to stab through the fingers of the hand holding the screw.

Eventually I gave up trying to ger the proper sized screw into the hole. I got a bolt and nut that were thin enough to pass through the crimped end of the hole and a couple of washers. I fastened one of the holes of the window motor with the bolt and washers and gave up on finding a way to fasten the other holes down. I figure if a pressure fit kept the window running for the last several years, having two of the holes fastened down should keep the window working for the next several years at least. If I could count on the rest of the car to last as long as that window should, I would be in good shape.

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t like to work with my hands, this is why. Every time I try to do even simple jobs like fasten something on with a few screws it turns into a logistical nightmare that takes the entire day. There are many people that get a lot of fulfilment and sometimes even joy out of mechanical work like this, but I can’t. It is not even one of those things that I haven’t given enough time to get good at. I know those kinds of things exist. Like playing an instrument it is the most frustrating thing in the world until you get good at it. Then, it is fun and fulfilling. Working with my hands has never been like that for me. I have even done mechanically related jobs in the past and I hated every second of it.

I spent four years in the Navy as a shipboard electrician. I worked those years screwing and unscrewing electrical boxes, check and replacing electrical components, running wires and removing wires. I might even say I had the time to get good at it. I would rather shave my face with shards of broken glass than go back to doing anything like that. I hated it the entire time. I would much rather spend my time writing. Even when it is frustrating or I can’t think of anything fun or interesting to write, I can find enjoyment and fulfillment in the simple task of writing out whatever it is that I am thinking at the time. Sometimes it is good. Sometimes it is a pointless gripefest like this one, but I never regret having sat down to write. I may regret posting something that I shouldn’t have, and I may regret not writing on the project that I am currently consumed with but not the act of getting my words onto paper. If nothing else it is an enjoyable waste of time even if it will never pay me a dime.

Come to think of it, writing was one of those things for me that was frustrating and difficult until I got good at it. I always hated writing long hand. The pencil would leave a dent in my finger and my fingers would be stiff at the end of each day of school and that was long before arthritis began to kick in. My handwriting was poor and still is. I was often forced to rewrite things that I had written because people did not like to look at my crappy handwriting or simply couldn’t read it. Of course, you might expect that teachers might have me rewrite assignments, but on many occasions at jobs I have been required to rewrite the things I wrote because people didn’t like my handwriting. And typing practice was like pulling teeth. As a result, I avoided writing as much as possible. It turns out that there is more to writing than the simple act of writing things out, and when I finally went back to school and was forced to write I realized I was good at it. I was very slow at it because I had to hunt and peck to type things out, but the actual composition was fun. Once I came to grips with the fact that the first draft was never perfect, I started to think of writing as a kind of jigsaw puzzle except one that was actually fun to do because everyone knows that jigsaw puzzles are the worst and most boring waste of time in the world.

But even when it took me two or three days to write out a five hundred word essay, I realized that I was good at it. And what did I do with that knowledge? I decided that because I was good at writing I should spend my time in college learning to do something I was not good at. Therefore, I studied guitar performance. I earned an associates degree in music performance, but I was still bad at it, and when I transferred over to a real university, I found out how bad I really was at guitar. I ended up switching my major over to English, and I never looked back. Except right now, but this really doesn’t count.

And all that time in college earning my bachelor’s degree in English, I did without knowing how to touch type. I liked to write so much that I was able to deal with being absurdly slow at typing while being in a college major that required more writing than just about any other. But after I graduated, I bit the bullet and spent my newly found free time teaching myself to touch type. I spent three hours per day practicing touch typing and in about a month I was doing it without thinking about what was where on the keyboard. I am not a fast typist even after years of practice, but I am leaps and bounds faster than hunt and peck and I can look at the page and read what I am writing while I am writing it which I couldn’t do when I was stuck in hunt and peck mode. And the best part of touch typing, I can actually close my eyes while I am writing. If the words are not coming freely enough of if my imagination needs a head start, I can simply let my mind wander and still write. Well today’s writing was a long rambling bit of nonsense but at least I can still count it as part of the wordcount for my NaNoWriMo novel. Maybe tomorrow I will have a more productive writing session maybe not. We will see, and by we will see, I mean I will see.

NaNoWriMo Day 25 (2480 words) Visions from the Coffee Cup

Allen had been working for a couple of weeks at the data entry job when he received a call at home. When he got a call from the office manager at Temps Anonymous. He was on the phone with Ophelia. He was just about to leave for work that morning, and he was surprised to be getting a call from them. She said, “I have the address you need for your next job. Do you have a pen and paper ready?”

Allen said, “I don’t need another job right now. You caught me on the way out the door to do the data entry work at Saxon and Sons.”

Ophelia said, “They didn’t tell you?”

Allen said, “They told me I was doing a great job and they would see me in the morning.”

Ophelia said, “Well they called me this morning asking me to send them a replacement for you.” Allen mumbled something of surprise. She said, “Don’t let it get you down. This happens sometimes. The good thing is that I’ve got you work this morning, and this job even pays a dollar more per hour. That is if you still want to work. You do want to work, right?”

Allen said, “Yes, of course. It just caught me off guard that is all.” Allen found a pen and paper and he wrote down the name and address of his new job. She had told him that it would only be a few days work, but she would probably have another job lined up for him as soon as he finished up this one.

The job was entering a shoebox full of food and bar receipts at the East Side Meeting Hall. He was given the address and the name Jim. The front door was unlocked, and the building was empty. Allen almost left, but the lights were on in the lobby. He walked and called out, “Hello!”

He heard a man’s voice from through the double doors into what was labeled: The Ball Room, so he walked in. The room had rugs on the side and hardwood floor in the center of the room. There was a stage on the far side of the room, and half of the room was laid out with rows of folding chairs. Jim had two chairs in each hand, and he folded them out and sat them in the unfinished row.

Jim pointed to the tiny office in the corner. He said, “The computer is over there. I would normally do it myself, but I’ve had more work than I can handle the last couple of weeks.” Allen shook his hand. Jim said, “I hope you can work with noise because I have a big group of religious nuts coming in in about thirty minutes.” Jim hunched his shoulders almost imperceptibly. He said, “You’re not one of them, are you? You’re not wearing red. I guess you are not. Look, don’t tell them I called them nuts. They pay and they want the room just about every morning. Go ahead and get to work. I have to finish this up before they start coming in.”

Allen got to work inputting receipt data onto the computer spreadsheet, and he was so deeply engaged in his work that he didn’t even notice the people in the ballroom until the preacher got up to speak. Allen was surprised to hear the words spoken in their sermon, but the story was very familiar.

The preacher got up onto the stage wearing a red button-down shirt, red pants, and dark sunglasses. Allen saw him through the little office’s window. Allen tried to ignore the preacher’s sermon to get as much work done as possible, but his productivity suffered anyway.

The preacher said, “Markey was a good kid, and he just wanted to please. In his previous life, in the other universe, he was his father’s son. Not that he had a choice. His mother had died. He did what his father asked despite him just wanting to go and play with the other children. His father had a job, so he had a job. His father had plans, so he had plans. It never really went the other way around.

“His father was Raul Botulin, The Emperor of Evil, and so Markey held the apprentice position by matter of birth. Raul was the most powerful source of evil in his universe with the power to raise armies of the dead and send them out to maim, kill, and destroy. If there were other verbs that could be used to describe the same actions, they would be used as well. As Markey knew well, his father was all about branding. You don’t come up with the title, The Emperor of Evil by accident.

“Raul was something of a different sort. He wasn’t one of these deities of death that just sat quietly by and waited for people to cross over the veil. He would tell Markey. He’d say, ‘You don’t want to be a grim reaper. Sure, the name sounds cool, and you get the black robe and the scythe. But really, who wants to just sit on their hands and wait for people’s time to go.’ He would get really excited and crouch down to his son’s level—when he still had knees to bend and a back to hunch. His spirit has since been held in that mirror in their floating castle—and he’d say, ‘No son. You got to get out there and bring the death to them. Cut them down in their prime.’

“Some would tell you that was the only reason that Raul ever had a body in the first place—back before the incident that is. They might say his body was only there to make the murdering more frightening. A disembodied consciousness is much less frightening than one standing right in front of you that you can reach out and touch and can reach out and touch you, is it not?

“Some believed that Raul’s body had coalesced form the gathering together of all the evil energy in the entire universe in one spot. That is almost certainly not how it happened because evil energy isn’t even a thing. It really is hard to tell with beings that transcend time and place because the reality is that there is no one story.

“But not with Markey. He knew where he came from. He was the son of two loving parents. Raul, his father, and Mistress Carla the Empress of Evil. Mistress Carla was at least as evil as Raul. Some say she was even worse. –See, I told you that those people had to be wrong about Raul, I mean how could Mistress Carla surpass Raul’s evil if all the evil energy had been used up to create his body. Can’t everything just make sense? Why does everything have to be so weird?– But this all happened back before they were joined together in the black cathedral downtown.

“You know the cathedral, or rather, you don’t. It is downtown. You pass it all the time, but it exists out of existence. It is just outside the periphery of time and space. If you thought it was weird for someone to exist everywhere at once, then try to wrap your head around a place that exists nowhere and never except only sometimes. The black cathedral is just that kind of place. It showed up at the union of Mistress Carla and Raul Botulin, it showed up to christen Markey after his birth, and it showed up at Mistress Carla’s death when her body was entombed at the base of the statue in the courtyard.

“You know the statue I’m talking about, or you would when it existed—if it existed. It is the one that shows Raul standing alone in his conqueror’s pose, one foot up on a rock and eyes fixed on the horizon. Or it shows the happy couple fingers entwined and eyes locked on each other. Or it shows them looking over their newborn son. Or it shows Markey at his coming of age transitioning to his father’s throne taking his rightful place as the next Emperor of Evil. Or it shows his transcendence to something else entirely. The truth is that no one really knows what it shows because it doesn’t exist but only sometimes.

“The same is the case with Mistress Carla’s death. No one knows exactly how it happened or why. After her death, Raul was no longer the same happy go lucky Emperor of Evil that he once was. He was no longer content with going out and destroying life as fast as it could spring up. No, evil was no longer enough.

“He wasn’t about to let people go on and live happy lives to old age, but he had grown beyond simply leading armies of death. He left his armies to his son. Markey was eight years old. He didn’t know everything there was about being an Emperor of Evil, but it was something that Raul was sure he could figure out with a little on the job training. Raul sent out Markey in his place to destroy all living things and bring evil and death to all corners of the universe starting with the Midwest. First Chicago and then on from there. Raul had more important things to do. He needed to figure out how to bring a Goddess back from the dead if you really could call Mistress Carla a Goddess if a Goddess really could die.

“It was Markey who first saw through the vortex of space and time to see Linda watching him. Markey was the first to mistake her for his mother. It was a strange image as if seen through reflection not too unlike the vision of his father in the throne room mirror radiating darkness if such a thing could be said to occur. But Linda’s was a darkness circled in white. It emitted a warmth that rose up to him like steam. There was a fluidity to her image as if her mirror was not made of glass.

“Markey had seen how distant his father had become in his search for how to get his mother back. It was only after Raul had started to build his machine that his soul had become bound to the mirror. Some say Raul had simply ignored his bodies needs and let it wither away and die. Others believe that there was an intervention. Some say that someone had seen the destructive power of the machine that Raul had branded as the Portal of Souls. Some say Markey had figured out what his father was up to and had to step in to stop the destruction the machine was sure to cause. Of course, this is all speculation, and all answers are wrong when it comes to the things that humans cannot understand. Whatever the case, Raul was in no way quiet about the existence of the machine, or his intentions to use it.

“He let it be known that he had his machine, and he would be using it to bring Mistress Carla back from the dead. All he had to do was harvest the souls from the people that he sent Markey to kill. Most of the Portal of Souls was a battery to power the rest of the machine. And the portal wasn’t even a portal for anyone but Mistress Carla. In fact, it wasn’t even a portal because it wasn’t designed as a doorway of any kind. It was a device designed to bring together all the powers of evil and death. The souls required to start the machine were only just the spark required to set things into motion. Raul only cared that he bring back his wife. He didn’t concern himself with the completely real possibility that it could bring about the end of all things, his universe and all those beyond.

“In fact, the existence of other planes of existence was a new and novel concept for him. It wasn’t until Markey had showed him the image of Linda looking through the veil that he even knew that there was one there. He had thought that existence through all of time and space before and after was all there was. It would seem that even a God, if that was what Raul was, couldn’t be expected to understand the true nature of things. Seeing as how he was tapping into the basic unifying forces of all being in all universes—and all includes even the ones that we are unaware of the existence of—you can see that there are plenty of other entities that could have stepped in to stop Raul than his own son. It was Markey himself that recaptured Raul’s soul and bound it to that mirror. Hoping himself to find a way—a better way to save his father’s life. A way that wouldn’t bring about the destruction of the universe and everything, but he was only and eight year old boy and what could a little boy be expected to do?

“We must find the boy. We must help him return the Mother Goddess. Only she can stop him. Only she can put an end to the destruction Raul has planned.”

After the preacher finished up, they broke into smaller groups to plan out who was going to hand out what pamphlets on which street corner. They made other plans as well, but Allen was able to tune most of that out. He had gotten through two thirds of the receipts in the shoebox. Jim was surprised with the amount of work Allen was able to get done in one day.

He said, “You bet I’m asking for you back tomorrow. I only wish I had more work for you than I do.” He shook Allen’s hand. He said, “I’ll tell you what. When you get finished tomorrow, I will find you some more work for you so you can get paid for a full day. Your company made me sign something that said I couldn’t steal you away from them until you have worked for me for at least six months. But if you quit them and start looking for a different job you go ahead and use me as a reference.” Jim wrote his name, phone number, and address. He said, “You use this, and I will tell them that I knew you for the last two years.” He held out the piece of paper and Allen took it and put it in his pocket.

Allen decided he would wait and see how things turned out at the end of the next day before he decided if he was going to keep the man’s phone number for a reference or not.

NaNoWriMo Day 24 (1056 words) Visions from the Coffee Cup

The cafeteria was in the back of the school. The dining area was big and open except for the rows of tables and benches. The room was surprisingly quiet as the children slowly filed in, but once the hot lunch line had dwindled to a trickle of students, they nearly had to shout to be heard over the sound of the children chattering to each other.

Linda had packed a bologna sandwich, a bag of chips, two cookies, and a bag of raw carrots cut into strips and placed them into Halloween themed lunchbox that his father had sent along with all of Markey’s of the luggage. She had packed him fruit punch in a juice box, and a handful of change just in case Markey wanted to buy himself a small carton of milk. Markey and the other children who brought their lunch had their pick of seats, and while all of the other children had the new cloth lunchboxes that zipped up, Markey had a throwback metal lunchbox that was held shut with a metal hasp with a keyhole in case he wanted to lock his lunchbox for some the same reason that any young kid might do anything, and like any good child his age he had lost the key within days of receiving the lunchbox.

Markey stood at the back of the lunchroom and watched the other kids as they went to their accustomed tables. Markey saw one of the kids that he kind of knew from his class and started to follow her. When he was about to put his lunchbox on the table, she said, “This is the girls table, silly.” She pointed at a table at the end of the row. “Boys sit over there.”

Markey said, “Can’t I sit here?”

She said, “You can if you want.” There was defeat in her voice, so Markey stepped back from the table and looked for somewhere else to sit.

He sat down at the table next to another boy about his age. The other boy was washing a mouthful of sandwich down with a glug of milk and followed that up with a handful of potato chips. Markey followed his lead and just ate his lunch quietly. The tables in the lunchroom were more or less broken down by age. The younger children stayed to one side of the room and the older children stayed to the other. The boys and the girls generally had their own tables but the children in the older grades were more likely to have a mix of boys and girls. The older grades were more interested in separating by the cool kids kept to one side of the room the weird kids stayed to the other side, and the band kids stayed toward the middle. And teachers were stationed periodically along the walls to tell the children to hush when they got too loud.

 Markey ate everything except the carrot sticks. He sat quietly for a little moment before he picked up a carrot stick in each hand and bounced them around on end like little men walking around. He made some sound effects for the carrot stick men and had them talk to each other.

The other boy looked over at Markey and smiled. He said, “What are you playing?”

Markey said, “I’m playing zombies.”

The boy said, “Can I play, too?” Markey handed him a carrot stick and they played until the bell rang for them to go back to their classes. Just before they had to leave, the boy said, “My name is Felix. Do you want to be my friend?” Markey told the boy his name and agreed to be his friend.

The next day, Markey knew right where to sit at lunch. He and Felix ate and talked and played carrot zombies.

One day one of the older kids from the weird side of the room came over to Markey and Felix as they were eating their lunches. He slapped Felix on his back while he was taking a drink of his milk and made him choke. He said, “Why do you two like zombies so much?” He looked at Markey directly in his eyes.

The teacher that was assigned to this side of the lunchroom walked over. She was an older softspoken woman who had been teaching for years and her mere presence walking towards them hushed their entire corner of the lunchroom. The older boy took two steps back. He said, “I didn’t do nothing, Mrs. C.”

Mrs. Cranston said, “William.” There was so much in that one word even Markey who had never met this boy before knew that ‘William’ was not the name that the boy preferred, and that they had a long history that ‘William’ had not wanted to relive. He said, “I’m sorry Mrs. Cranston.” And he went back to his table without any of the swagger that he had approached with.

Mrs. Cranston looked over at Felix and Markey only long enough to quietly assess the situation. Felix quickly grabbed some napkins from the dispenser in the center of the table and cleaned up the mil that the older boy had made him spill. Mrs. Cranston walked back to her station against the wall, but she watched William quite a bit more than she had earlier that day.

Markey motioned with his head to where William had sat. He said, “I bet his name is Billy Butt Face.” Both kids laughed.

Felix said, “Don’t say that too close to him.”

Markey said, “Butt Face?”

Felix giggled. He said, “He is a butt face.” They went back to playing carrot zombies. Felix said, “I don’t like him. He’s always mean to people. If we leave him alone, he will find someone else to pick on.”

Markey said, “My dad would call that weak.”

Felix said, “Mine too. But what can we do? He is big.”

Markey said, “I could send some zombies to gobble him up.”

Felix said, “Here is Billy Butt Face.” He pulled a piece of uneaten celery that his parents had packed in his lunch. He said, “Get him zombies.” He had his carrot jump on top of the celery’s head and he made roaring and chomping sounds. Markey joined in with the carrot stick zombie mayhem.