Family Problems part 4

Not wanting any more bad luck, and making sure I wasn’t available for anyone else Jessica lovingly sent my way, I grabbed my earplugs, locked up shop, and left.  Always be prepared, right?  I could hunt James down later and get my money.  I turned right and walked over a few blocks till I was on Blandina Street and headed over to the Comstock Apartments.  I figured I could check on Dad and see if I could find a bit more of Cousin Antonio’s money.

Comstock Apartments were a golden testament to great thinking in the nineteen seventies.  Tall, brown, and majestic in a way that can only be described as two fat cigars stuck into the ground.  It must have been the highlight of its day, the crème de la crème of senior living, but now it looked like the rumpled trousers of its occupants.   The same couldn’t be said for the current set of cohabitants.

“Hey Cutie Boy, haven’t seen you in a while.”  Mrs. Malachi, the purple haired woman with skin the color of ninety two percent dark chocolate, has always had a soft spot for younger men.  Since she is almost eighty five that qualifies as much of the current population of the city.  That doesn’t bother her though.  She knows she’s God’s gift to men, and bless her heart, she isn’t afraid to remind us of that every time she could.

You had to pay the gate keeper to enter the castle, unless you wanted her to breath fire all over you, and let me tell you, this woman is too hot to handle when she gets going.  Besides, it’s always good to respect your elders.  “Hi Mrs. Malachi.  How are things today?”

She waved her hand dismissing my greeting.  “Cutie boy. drop the Mrs. crap.  The mister went to live with the Lord a long time ago.  I miss him fiercely of course.”

I continued the ritual.  “Of course.”

“But at the same time I still have needs.”  She cleans off imaginary lint from her top.  The top that is probably too open for her age I might add, though I am avoiding going there at all costs.

“We all do.  We’re only human.”  She seems mollified by that for a moment, and I think I’m home free until she reaches down under her seat and pulls out her garish burnt orange purse.  It was fashionable when this edifice was built, and for some reason seemed quite at home in that setting still.

She rummaged through her purse and took out a pack of cigarettes and a Zippo Elvis embossed lighter.  She paused to point the lighter at me.  “Exactly.  You tell that father of yours that I see him coming out of Olivia’s apartment.  He can do much better.”

“I will do that.  Is he home?  I mean visiting Olivia?”  Oops, that could get more awkward than it already is.

“How should I know?”  Mrs. Malachi lights a cigarette and takes a long puff.  I wonder if the smoke signifies that we are done.  It’s worth a try.

“Nice talking with you Miss Malachi.”  Who says I don’t listen.

“I bet I have a niece that would be just perfect for you.”  I almost snap my neck on that just above the knees curve ball strike three call just as I was about to take my base.

“But Miss Malachi, I’m seeing someone right now.”  Now she has me flustered.  I don’t like to be flustered.

She chuckles a bit.  “This too shall pass, and when it does, let me know.”  Is she kidding me?  This too shall pass?  She dismisses me with a gesture, but I don’t take it and stand my ground.

“I’m confused.”

She looked me in the eye so hard I’m sure my grandfather, who was probably talking to Mr. Malachi right now, felt it.  “Cutie Boy, don’t hurt your little mind.  I haven’t seen your dad leave today, so unless he flew out a window or something then he’s here.”

Boy she might know more than he let on, but still, that niece comment.  Better get out while I still have my head.  “Yeah, imagine that, flying out of a window.  Later.”  I rush past Miss Malachi and into the building feeling relieved, but wondering what just happened, and hoping I could somehow fly out a window myself so she couldn’t catch me on the way out.

Banshee Ain’t Got Nothing On That

Lifting her voice to near jet engine levels, my five month daughter lets me know with subtle nuance that she is currently unhappy.  To my fatigued brain I begin down my checklist.  Is it time for my wife to stick a breast in my daughter’s mouth?  While that would shut me up, my daughter only cares about when she is hungry, and she ate just an hour ago.  Let’s see if we can distract her with a toy.  Nope, that jet engine now has nothing on her.  Maybe it’s a wet diaper.  Off to change her.  Nope it’s dry.  What is next on the list?  My daughter shoves her pacifier in her mouth and the world begins to right itself on its axis.  Oops, that was just a temporary reprieve as the aural attack commences.  I roll my saving throw and fail, receiving 4d8 mental damage.  I walk around the house and share her boisterous malcontent with the neighbors in attempt to earn sympathy points for why my lawn isn’t mowed yet. As she reaches for yet another gear I try to remember the next item on the list?  Maybe she has gas.  I try to burp her while simultaneously giving her gas drops.  While the gas drops are a hit, the sound of my eardrum trying to cleave itself in two emanates from my daughter once again.  What can I do?  This screaming is turning what little brain I have left into a liquid mass threatening to pour through that split eardrum.  Suddenly a sonic boom burp tears through the air and the world is at peace.  I breathe a sigh of relief as I look into her angelic face.  She is such a perfect little baby.  At least until I try to put her down…

100 Word Story #5 The Pursuit of Death

To Charlotte it seemed she had always been running, always trying to stay one step ahead of certain death that hunted her.  Every breath ragged as her lungs labored to bring in the oxygen that would allow her legs to pick up and put down her feet yet another time.  But with every stumbling step she lost a bit of her lead.  The sound of her pursuer grew larger than the sound of her blood pounding through her veins.  Her fears cried no, but her body had had enough and turned to embrace fate, dancing for eternity, never running again.

Sariah’s Story chapter 15

Kegan picked at the rest of his meal, but the smells coming from the pot that Sariah was working made him almost lose what he had already eaten.  “The bouquet is going to take days to leave my shop,” he said.  Sariah ignored him, adding more of the very specific green slime they had retrieved from the lake.  “I think I saw my neighbors boarding up their windows when they saw that scent leaving my shop.”

Sariah looked up at him with an exasperated glare.  “You can’t see smells,” she said.

“I can see this one,” he responded, waving around at the light yellowish haze the clung mostly to the ceiling.

Sariah turned back to the pot.  “Okay, you might have a point, but just wave a hand and make it disappear,” she said.

Kegan put his leftovers in the trash.  The food was beginning to taste like the smell.  “Magic can’t do everything,” he said.

Sariah added some more iodine.  “That’s not what you used to tell me,” she said.  “Everything was possible with magic.  We should just stop doing everything else and concentrate on developing our magical gifts.”  She put the iodine bottle down and stretched her back.  “Don’t you have a table at a decent height?”

“I’m half fairy, remember?” Kegan said.

Sariah dipped a piece of copper wire into the solution.  “I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about that,” she said.

Kegan watched as a greenish gas was released.  That gas seemed to do a war with the yellow gas, upping the stinkyness to a whole new level.  Kegan muttered under his breath and pushed with his will, moving the noxious gasses out the open window.

Sariah smiled without looking up from her pot.  “See, that didn’t hurt.  Magic can solve anything, just like you said.”

“You know full well that magic burns,” Kegan said.  “I hate feeling my insides burn.”

“You’re used to it,” Sariah said.  “Besides, that didn’t burn much.”

Just then Asopt’s voice called from outside.  “Man you guys reek.  I’ll come back later.”

“Get your questioning arse in here,” Kegan yelled. “Or I’ll turn you into a toad.”

“A toad?” asked Sariah.

“Well, it was better than something profane.” said Kegan.

“Not really,” she said.  A pinch of dark powder entered the pot and Sariah began to smile.  “There, that’s finished.  Now all I need to do is inject it into him at some point and make it look like something else accidental happened.  His spirit won’t even know what happened.”

“Well you better be thinking really creatively,” Asopt said as he entered the room.  “Your mark has gotten himself walled into his compound.  Seems he fears he is a target for assassination.  He has used royal funds to hire a ton of extra security, including a couple of Kegan’s buddies.”

“Not all magic users are my buddies,” Kegan fired back.  “Besides almost everyone in this city are hacks.  There is nothing to worry about, Sariah.”

“Greggorin and Helfin are hacks?” asked Asopt.

“He paid to have both of them?” asked Kegan.  “Damn.  Sariah you have lots to worry about.”

Asopt continued, “Not only that, but rumor has it he has a necromancer lying in wait, just in case.”

Sariah carefully poured out the powder from the bowl into a small metal box that had seen plenty of use in the past.  She carefully scooped every grain out then slowly closed the box so the shifting air of the closing lid didn’t disrupt the grains inside.  Once the lid was secured she looked back at Asopt.  “There, that’s enough poison to take out half the town guard.  Oh, and you’re lying through your teeth about that necromancer,” she said.

Asopt spread his hands out wide.  “It’s what I heard.  I can not confirm or deny.”

Sariah shook her head.  “Too few of those around in the three kingdoms, much less the free lands.  Unless things have changed that much since I retired there wouldn’t be a necromancer.”

Asopt smiled.  “I agree.  I checked into it a bit, and no one has heard or seen anything, but I thought you should know, just in case.  I wouldn’t want you to be surprised.”  With that Asopt turned on his heel and began to leave the room.

“Where are you going?” asked Sariah.  “Don’t you want a part of this?”

Asopt stopped, but did not turn around.  “You made it abundantly clear that you didn’t need my help other than the information you requested.  I have decided to honor your request.”  With that he continued out of the room.

Kegan spoke up.  “What about those schedules and staff lists?”

“I left them on the table out here,” came Asopt’s voice from the other room, just before they heard him go through the outside door.

“Well are you going to go after him?” asked Kegan.  “He is a part of this crew.”

“I never wanted him in the first place,” said Sariah.  “You were the one who dragged him in.  I say we are better off being without him.”

“I don’t know Sariah.  A lot has changed since you retired,” Kegan said.

“Not that much,” replied Sariah.  “Let’s go plan an accident.”

Fallen From Mercy chapter 11

Dan looked around his bedroom and realized he was still dreaming.  Fear crept in, and he reached into his nightstand to pull out his firearm.  The 9mm felt heavy in his palm as he checked to see that it was loaded.  Dan then disengaged the safety and loaded one into the chamber.  Slipping the safety off, he eased out of bed and listened through the bedroom door.

“Come on out Dan.  I know you’re in there.”

Pastor Sean’s voice amplified the fear.   Dan swallowed it down and threw open the door, his weapon at the ready.

Pastor Sean sat on Dan’s couch, the machete in hand, looking like he owned the place.  Dan’s eyes flashed to the door which was wide open again.  “I decided to let myself in.”

Dan’s pointed the gun momentarily at the door.  “You can let yourself out”

Pastor Sean’s eyes flashed dangerously.  “Sheep need to learn their place.”

“And you’re here to give me a lesson?” asked Dan.

“Put away the weapon.  It will do you no good here.”

“Screw you, you Hannibal wanna be.  You get out!”

Pastor Sean stood up and held the machete at the ready.  “You will not talk to me in that manner.”

“You’re my dream and I can do what the hell I want.”  Dan lowered the pistol to demonstrate that he believed what he was saying.

Pastor Sean smiled an evil smile.  “This is your dream?”  The pastor moved his left hand and the world shifted.

Dan’s apartment was replaced with a small white sand beach that Dan recognized from his trip to Honolulu a few years back.  Pastor Sean took a step forward.  “I control what happens here.”

Dan could feel the anger building, becoming white hot, and burning away the fear.  He pointed the gun back at Pastor Sean.  “Control this.”

Dan began to fire.  The first two shots happened quickly, but then the whole dream kicked into slow motion.  As the third shot rang out in a muted roar, Pastor Sean was already whirling, machete deflecting the first bullet, then parrying the second.  The fourth sounded hollow coming out of the gun.  The third bullet Pastor Sean easily slipped around, taking another step towards Dan.    As the fifth bullet left the gun, the gun exploded to dust in Dan’s hand.  Pastor Sean sliced the fourth bullet in half and each half traveled past him on either side.  He then threw his left hand out, palm first.  As the bullet hit Pastor Sean’s palm the bullet seemed to splash against it like Pastor Sean was just stopping a large drop of water.  The bullet remains dripped to Pastor Sean’s feet.  As each drop of bullet hit the ground time seemed to increase in speed until time seemed to be normal.

Dan was dumbstruck, unable to process what had just happened.  Before he could blink Pastor Sean closed the remaining distance and flung Dan to the ground face first.  “Do you understand now?” Pastor Sean asked.  Dan didn’t respond.  The Pastor got down on his knees and pulled Dan’s head back by his hair.  He looked Dan in the eye.  “Answer me boy.  Do you understand?”  Dan began to growl and Pastor Sean slammed Dan’s face back into the ground.  The Pastor smoothly stood from the kneeling position and then spit on Dan.  “You’re a waste of my time.  I’m going to chew you up and spit you out.”

Dan closed his eyes and reached for his calm.  Pastor Sean kicked him in his side, but Dan just absorbed it as he found his focus.  Pastor Sean kicked him a second time.  “You’ve got nothing to say?”

“This is my dream,” whispered Dan and the scene shifted back to his apartment.  This time Pastor Sean was mid kick when he realized what had happened.  Dan rolled with the kick, grabbed the Pastor’s foot and twisted hard.  Pastor Sean was pulled from his feet and landed ungracefully on his backside.  Dan finished his roll and came to a stop in a crouching position.  “And it’s time for you to go.”

Pastor Sean got up slowly, a smile growing on his face.  “Maybe there’s something to you after all.”  The smile continued to grow and the Pastor’s teeth soon were showing, pointier than what was possible.  “I enjoy my meals when they are more complex.  I’ll see you tomorrow night.”  Pastor Sean walked to the door.  “But before I go.”  The Pastor grabbed onto the open door with both hands and pulled. The door hinges groaned and then gave way.  He then threw the door just over Dan’s head into the half wall dividing the kitchen from the living room.  “Now we don’t have to worry about me having to knock.  Sweet dreams my sheep.”  Pastor Sean walked through the door and disappeared.

Dan laid down on his floor and felt every ache and pain he had from the fight.  He closed his eyes and then opened them to find he was on the floor of his bedroom.  He checked his nose to find it bleeding.  “What the hell,” he said.  “Sleeping is going to kill me.”

Family Problems part 3

She was a Latina with dyed red hair that would make an Irish girl blush.  She was six foot two even without the stilettos.  With them on she blocked my view of the sun.  Didn’t matter.  The way she was dressed I wouldn’t have noticed if it had started to rain frogs outside.  I’ve never seen black look so inviting since the time I was almost seduced by a vampire, but that’s a story for another time.  Right now this woman was the center of my universe and I was stuck in her gravitational pull.

She checked out the place before her eyes drifted to me, dismissing me and at the same time wanting me.  At least I like to think the latter.  “My name is Alita, I was told that you can help with certain things.”

I steepled my fingers in front of my face and tried to keep my id in place.  Okay, it was a bit lower than my id, but a man is still a man.  “I do my best.  What can I help you with?”  I gesture to a chair across from me, but Alita didn’t even notice because she turned to look out the window at the street that was still empty of frogs.

“I need you to find me a certain book, a copy of Catch-22.  You know, the one by Heller,” she said.

I frowned a bit.  “Did you check the Barnes and Noble at the mall?”

She spun on me and all hints of warmth were somewhere with the frogs.  “If you let me finish.”

I raised my hands and surrendered quickly before I lost my fingertips to frostbite.  “Please continue.  I’m all ears.”  And eyes, and fingers, especially the fingers drifting towards.  Focus man!

“The one I’m looking for is a signed copy.  I accidentally left it at my boyfriend’s apartment after I broke up with him.  I want it back.”  Alita turned back on her charm.  “Please”.

As she turned on the charm I thought of cascading cold water.  I shivered from the thought of that cold water.  Really.  “Why do you want me to do it?  Why can’t you just go get it yourself?” I asked once I was back under control.

“We had…”  She paused, tasting again the sour taste of that end moment where she decided it was all over and the only thing to do was kick him to the curb, or maybe what she had for lunch was coming back to haunt her.  Damn, I wish I had lunch.  “well, that’s not really needed.”

I love it when they know what I need.  I really do.  I get on my throne so I can look down on her pretty idea.  “Look, I’m all for the damsel in distress routine, and trust me girl, you pull it off in spades, but if I’m going to do some breaking, entering, or any combination of the two I want to know what I’m getting into.”

“He slept with my sister, okay.  Does that make your job easier?” she asked.

Ouch!  Score one for the jerk behind the desk.  Still, what must her sister look like that this goof cheated on this pissed off goddess in front of me.  “Sorry, but I work best when there are no surprises.  Keeps everyone happy, except your ex of course.”

“I don’t care if he’s happy or not,” Alita said.  “I just want my book.”

“Okay, I can work on that.  Where is your boyfriend’s place, and when do I get a check?”  I stick out my hand as a way of positive reinforcement.  It’s something that my mother taught me.  Always back up the vocal with the physical.  It sends a clear and unmistakable message.  It can also get you slapped, stabbed, or shot at.  I dare you to ask me how I know.

“He’s at The Downs, apartment 24b.”  There was a pause, but I refused to ruin the moment.  She finally gave up and continued.  “As for the check, what do you need to get started?

My smile goes on autopilot since I can tell where this is going.  Normally I would be all happy to take this on the off chance of payment or panties, but I have my cousin Antonio’s best interests at heart.  “Five hundred up front.  Two hundred a day, itemized, plus expenses.”

Alita starts up the pity works.  Her mascara better be waterproof.  I don’t like to see a woman become a clown.  “I really need that book,” she said through quivering lips.  “I can get you the money, but if he decides to do something to that book before I can get it to you.”  The pools were filling.

“And he knows how much this book means to you?”  I watch her left eye.  It seems to be filling faster then the right.  Ever notice that women seem to tear in the left eye first and men the right?  No?  Don’t you pay attention to people when you make them cry?

“Oh my God yes.  You’ve got to help me.  You can even keep the book until I can make it up to you,” she said.    Alita must have really deep eyes because I would have bet one would be tracing down those awesome cheekbones by now.  I hope she doesn’t drown before she lets the hurricane blow.

I gave her a moment to see more of the show, but then I heard that voice inside of me.  I hate that voice.  I tried to get some help to make it shut up, but my psychologist kept insisting it was just my conscience and that drugs weren’t needed.  I told him to tell that to my bank account.  Obviously he wasn’t similarly afflicted since he took my money.  “Okay.  We can work something out, but the book stays with me until we come to an agreement.”

Alita immediately put water conservation rules in place and the tide has turned.  I was now her bestest buddy.  “You are amazing.  Jessica told me you would be.”  She gives me a quick almost hug and sprints towards the door.

“What, did you say…”  My words were swatted by the door closing on their behinds.  Alita, like Elvis, had left the building.  Jessica!  I just got owned, and I should have seen it coming.  I will have to stop by and make sure to show Jessica my appreciation.  Do you think broken glass is an appropriate gift before Labor Day?

100 Word Story #4 Deadly Memories

“Young man,” said an older gentleman holding a futuristic device of LCD screens, nobs, and buttons, “would a movie of your life be interesting?”

“Hell yeah, dude,” Jeremiah said.

The man pointed his gizmo at Jeremiah and Jeremiahs world exploded as he fell to the ground.  The electrodes that had smashed through his skull almost jerked out of his brain, but the barbs held them in.  Jeremiah looked at the man as the old man pressed buttons.  The device came to life, and Jeremiah could hear his memories begin to play on the device as his eyes faded to black.

My Father’s Son

 

Edward looked for his mother in the crowd of people at the genetics conference.    the sea of academics, his mother, Vivian Cox, seemed like a fish out of water.  She was dressed as if she was going to walk the red carpet.  She was a tall woman, made taller by the four inch heals she was wearing.  Her blonde hair cascaded in ringlets around her very round face.  The green satin dress highlighted her green eyes, making them pop out even more.  Edward caught up to her just as the two men she had been chatting with decided to move on.

“Mom,” Edward said, “why are you so dressed up?”

His mother leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.  “Happy twenty-fifth birthday son.  I am so happy how well you turned out.  To think your father never though any of this would work.”   His mom then did a double take and looked him up and down.  “Didn’t I tell you to put that suit I bought you on?” she asked.  “You look like a grad student after an all-night bender.”

Edward might be a grown man, but he still blushed and looked at his shoes.  “Mom, it’s a conference.  I don’t need to dress up.”

“Your father is about to give the keynote talk,” Vivian said.  She leaned in and pulled Edward close.  She dropped her voice to almost a whisper.  “We are going to change the world.”

“Mom, he is talking about cloning chimps.  It’s pretty awesome, but not earth shattering,” Edward responded in the same hushed tone.  He wondered what had gotten into his mother.  She had always treated him more like her own little pet project than her son.  Still, this was weirder than usual.  Edward hadn’t seen either of his parents in the past six months since he had finished his own PhD in bioethics, so maybe she was just excited to see him again.

“The talk is about cloning primates,” she said quietly, but intensely.  She let go of Edward and began waving frantically.  “We’re over here,” she called out.

Edward turned to see his dad shuffle across the floor.  Levin was dressed in a suit, but it seemed to be more of a prison jump suit on him than more formal wear.  When he saw Edward a range of emotions played quickly across Levin’s face, ending in resignation.

Levin shuffled faster to where the two stood.  “Are we ready then?” he asked, looking more at Vivian than Edward.

“Ready?  I’ve been waiting years for this,” Vivian said.  “Time to drop some knowledge on these sheep.”

“Vivian,” said Levin, “please.  This is hard enough.”  Vivian looked like she was going to say more, but his father held up his hand to stop her.  “I know.  You did the hard part.  I promised this to you twenty-five years ago.  I will do it.  Just give me some time with Edward first.”

Vivian looked at Edward one more time.  All warmth was gone.  “Go put on that suit.  I will not have our moment ruined because of laziness.”

“The boy is his own man,” Levin said a bit sternly.  Vivian looked at him for a second, then stormed away.

Levin shook his head as he watched her head into the conference room.  Edward saw so much of himself in his father, but felt proud that his dad still thought of him as his own man.  I am my father’s son.  “Dad, is there something wrong between you and mom?” Edward asked.

Levin looked back at his son.  Levin hung a smile on his face, but it never reached his eye.  Edward got even more worried.  “We will be alright son,” Levin said.  “We just have a professional disagreement.  That is the problem when both you and you wife are accomplished researchers in the same field.  Remember that when you look for a woman to wed.  Of course, if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be here today.”

“Neither would I,” said Edward laughing.

“Yeah, maybe,” Levin said.  “So when I give this talk I want you up sitting behind the podium with me and your mother.”  Edward looked at his father trying to understand.   Levin continued, “Trust me.  You will understand soon enough.  Your mother and I made a breakthrough quite a while back. But I never told anyone, not even you.  I promised your mother this.  Today is the day, our day.”  His father placed his arms on Edwards shoulders and looked him straight in the eyes.  “Nothing changes between us today.  Just remember that.”

The conference organizer came up to the two of them.  “It’s time Dr. Cox.”  Levin nodded and the organizer moved to chorale the rest of the stragglers into the conference room.

Levin turned once more to Edward.  “Happy birthday, son,” he said softly and left Edward standing by himself as he headed into the room.

Edward didn’t know what to think.  He looked at the poster and saw that his mother was correct about the title.

 

Inside the room there was a buzz in the air.  Three news crews had set up shop, causing the normally hermit like academics to flood social media wondering what was about to happen.   Every seat was taken and all eyes were on Edward’s dad as he stepped to the podium to a polite applause.  Edward looked at his mother, and she was practically popping out of her seat.  He could tell she wanted to be right next to his father, enjoying the applause, as lame as it seemed to Edward.  Edward turned his attention back to his dad.

“This year is the thirty-fifth anniversary of Dolly the sheep, the first mammalian clone,” Levin began. “From that beginning many pathways opened up to research.  Progress continued through dogs and cats, on to my own research into primates.  As the science progressed, the ethical and religious concerns about what a clone is and its place in society was debated and decided in legislatures across the planet.  This legislation often was draconian, created by luddites who did not understand the implications of the doorways opened by the technologies.“

“This caused many research groups to go underground until the proverbial legislative dust settled.  During this time the pursuit of knowledge continued.”  Levin paused and looked back at Vivian.  He smiled at her, but it was still that sad smile he had given Edward in the hall.  He didn’t look at Edward before turning back to the audience.  “My wife, Vivian, and I joined those groups in the dark, working at the edges.  We found funding where we could, only coming back out in the daylight once it was safe to do so.”

“My own research gained support in some sectors.  Chimps were supposedly impossible at the time.  I was criticized that I was reaching too far.  Well today I can tell you that my research into chimp cloning was inevitable.”  Levin paused letting that sink into his audience.  “I had already done something more.  Something that made chimps seem easy.”  This caused the audience to buzz with whispers.

Edward was surprised.  His dad had never mentioned any other research.  Edward looked at his mom and she was beaming with satisfaction and exhilaration.  Edward missed the next bit of his father’s speech, but then he tuned back in.

“I waited till this year to announce this since I wanted the proof of what Vivian and I did to be irrefutable.  I announce that we did the truly impossible and cloned a human being,” Levin said as he smashed his fist into the podium, pouring all the energy into that statement.

The silence was deafening for a moment.  Edward thought about what that meant.  The world really had changed.  He should have worn the suit.

A voice called out from the audience.  “What is this proof you speak of?”

Levin waved for Vivian to come to the podium.  She stepped in front of Levin, enjoying the spotlight.  “You want your proof?” she asked.  She held up a folder she was holding.  “I have here in my hands genetic samples run in at ten different DNA labs throughout the world verifying the two samples as identical.”

The room exploded with more shouting and yelling.  Levin held up his hands, trying to quiet the crowd, but it seemed all the questions that had been pent up for years upon years were all being posed at once.  Vivian basked in all this, then practically yelled into the microphone.  “That’s right.  We did it before all of you.”

Edward was still confused why his parents had entrusted him with this secret.  This did change everything.  He didn’t notice until Levin had placed a hand on his shoulder that his dad had left the podium.  He looked at his dad with the question and hurt in his eyes, and his dad smiled and held up a single finger.  Edward shook his head, showing he didn’t understand.

Levin leaned in to make himself heard over the din.  “One more surprise.”

The conference organizer tried to bring order back to conference.  Finally one voice called out “But where is the clone?”

Vivian asked back, ”You want to meet it?”

Levin flinched and suddenly Edward had a horrifying thought.  It was confirmed when Vivian swept her hand to point at him.  “There is your clone.”

As the hall exploded once again Edward fell to his knees as his world shattered irreversibly with that simple sentence.  There is your clone.  Edward looked up to see his dad cry silently, but with a look of pride on his face as people from the news crews pressed in.  Through it all, the only one thing going through Edward’s mind:  I am my father’s monster.

Fallen From Mercy chapter 10

Dan was thankful for a night’s sleep without another weird dream.  It must have just been the stress of being bit.  Thinking back to his talk with Jorge at the club, Tom realized that the bandage that Jorge was wearing was probably another bite from that weirdo.  Something to follow up on tomorrow, but now it was time to get Ruthie back home to Agatha.

Ruthie threw her bags into the trunk of the car and jumped in.  “What’s your excuse for not helping me this time?” she asked.

Dan started the car and pulled away from the curb.  “I felt you needed the practice.  Wasn’t sure you had it down pat yet.”

Ruthie stuck out her tongue.  “You need to grow up.”

“Just a couple of nights ago you were telling me I needed to get in touch with my inner kid,” Dan said.

Ruthie stared out her window.  “Well, now I think it should go to its room.”

Dan laughed.  That set Ruthie to laughing as well.  “I hope you enjoyed your birthday weekend,” Dan said.

“It was pretty cool, but you still owe me a musical,” Ruthie responded.

“Fair enough.”  Dan quickly glanced at Ruthie who was still looking out the window.  He smiled a little sadly that their weekend was over so quickly.

A comfortable silence accompanied them the rest of the car ride.

Agatha was swinging on the porch swing as Dan pulled the car into the driveway.  Ruthie jumped out and gave her mom a hug.  Dan got out slowly and went to the trunk and pulled out Ruthie’s bags.

After Dan closed the trunk Ruthie gave him a warm hug as well.  “Thanks Dad.  For everything.  Except that whole job thing.”

“Hey that wasn’t only me,” Dan said.  “Tell her Agatha.”

“You decided to tell her about your plan to make her work for her car?” asked Agatha.

“Ha!  I so knew it!  In your face!” yelled Ruthie.  With that she grabbed her bags and ran up onto the porch.  She paused at the door and turned to Agatha.  “Is it okay if I get on the computer?”

Agatha nodded.  “Go ahead.  Just close out my side.”  Without another word Ruthie disappeared into the house.

“Why didn’t you back me up there?” Dan asked.  “A little parental support would have been nice.”

“It was your idea.” Agatha answered.

“But you agreed to it.”

Agatha smiled a sad smile.  “True, but that’s what parents do.  They give and take on how to raise there kids.”

Dan fell silent and looked back his car.  He was avoiding Agatha’s eyes, but Agatha never even glanced away.

“Why don’t you come in and have a cup of tea,” Agatha said.  “I have a blackberry sage black tea that is almost sinful to drink.”

Dan shook his head and pulled out his car keys.  “Sounds great, but I’ll take a rain check on that.  I’ve got some stuff I need to get done before working tomorrow.”

Agatha placed a hand on his arm.  That touched more than just his skin.  “You sure you can’t stay a few minutes?” she asked.

Dan couldn’t avoid looking her in her eyes. He felt all the sorrow and emptiness from the opportunities lost and promises broken, especially by him.  Tears welled up, and Dan closed his eyes trying to wall off the surging emotions.  “Sorry,” Dan breathed and got into the car.

“If you’re sorry why are you running away?” Agatha asked.

Agatha stepped back to give him room, but she never stopped watching, hoping he would change his mind, that he would give her a chance.  All Dan could give though was the sound of the Camaro’s engine coming to life and him driving away.

Dan punched the dash of the car in disgust.  “What the hell is getting into me?” but that question, like Agatha’s, went unanswered.

Friends with benefits?

Jennifer looked back at Robert and tried to smile, but the corners of her mouth were just too heavy.  “I understand,” she said, “It doesn’t mean we still can’t be friends.”

“Of course we can,” Robert said.  “I’m totally into being friends.  Super friends even!  I mean, we obviously were friendly.  We can still be that way.”

“Be what way?” Jennifer asked.  “I’m confused.”

Robert put on his most charming grin.  Boy Jennifer loved that grin.  “Well, like we were before.  Super friends with benefits,” he said.

“Wait, you want to break up, AND be together?” Jennifer asked, her fiery red hair whipped up by her emotions and the wind.

Robert held his hand up for a high five.  “Exactly!  How cool is that?” he asked.

Jennifer felt the fires begin to burn in her stomach.  “You want to break up with me,” Jennifer said, “but still want to hook up.”  Robert smiled with that charming grin still on his face.  Right now she wanted to burn it completely to ash, but it was so too cute.  She shook her head trying to banish his power over her.  “And stop doing that!”

“Doing what?” Robert asked, the dimples of his cheeks almost twinkling.

“Trying to cast a spell on me,” Jennifer replied.  “Keep it up and I will burn you.

“Oops, sorry,” he said, as he turned down his smile into something more manageable.  “Is that better?”

“Much.”  Jennifer shook her head, trying to shake the last of the cobwebs out.  She felt her righteous anger return.  “This is all about Miss Magnificent, isn’t it?” she asked.  “I knew that I should have burnt that bitch to the ground the first time you brought her around.”

“Don’t say that Jennifer,” Robert said.  “You’re a hero to her, not some villain.”

“She was jealous of what we had, and now she’s taking you away from me,” Jennifer said.  She didn’t know if she wanted to cry or burn this whole place down to the ground.  She loved being with Robert.  They worked so well together.  “Is she really that much better than me?”

“This isn’t about Linda,” Robert said.

“Miss Magnificent!” said Jennifer.

Robert ignored her outburst.  “Linda pointed out I could have an opportunity to hook up with more people.  I liked the thought of that.  I wanted to try out being part of a group.  You always wanted to be exclusive,” he said.

“I didn’t realize you were into the whole group thing,” Jennifer said.  “You never told me about that.”

“Would it have made a difference?” Robert asked.

“No,” Jennifer fired back.  “But it would have been nice to know.  Maybe we wouldn’t have hooked up in the first place.”

“Don’t say that Jennifer.  That hurts,” said Robert.

Jennifer seized her opening.  “As much as when Miss Magnificent and the rest of her floozies leave you high and dry?”

Robert dropped the remaining bits of his smile.  “What is so wrong with Linda?” he asked.  “You always had it in for her.”

“She is hideous!” Jennifer fired back.  “Always showing off how high and mighty she is.  She is always lauding her power over others.  It is disgusting.  If you have it, you don’t need to flaunt it.”

Robert laughed.  “You’re jealous of her.”

“Of her,” Jennifer replied, “no.”  Robert stared at her in disbelief.  “Of her abilities,” Jennifer continued, “hell yes.  She is amazing and looks great.  All. The. Time.  It leaves a little girl like me feeling less self-assured.”

“You know you are awesome,” Robert said.  “You have been my hero for so long that maybe I forgot how awesome you are.”

Robert reached out to give Jennifer a hug, but she placed her hands on his ample muscular chest and kept him at arm’s length.  Damn he was a fine specimen.  “One step closer and we will see how flame retardant your shirt is,” Jennifer said.  “And will you stop trying to be so nice.  I want to hate you for a while.”

Robert looked her in the eyes.  “No games, just listen,” he said.  “What we’ve done, that has been legendary.  People still talk about that time we hooked up in the park.”  Jennifer laughed a little.  “See, that’s better.”

Jennifer nodded.  “Maybe it’s for the best.  I’ll miss you,” she said.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Robert said.  “You could join our group.”

“I’m not like that,” Jennifer said.  “I…”

A distant voice screamed.  “Help, Martyrdom is attacking city hall.”

Robert held out his hand to Jennifer.  “One more time then?” he asked.

Jennifer took his hand.  “Why not,” she said.  Her eyes burst into flames to match her hair.  “I’m ready Mr. Impressive.”

Robert flashed that million dollar smile again.  “Then here we go Flamestress.” And with that he flew them towards the sound of the carnage.