Authors Note: Throwing out some love and credit to Breakaway Republic for the great scene involving Oppai, and to Moongrim for his extensive input as well as use of Arawn, Didi and the MBI
July 6th cont…
“You don’t have any authority over him.” Didi shouted in argument to the Lilim.
It was a shit show of epic proportions. Of all the things that could have happened. She hated me, despised me, you would have thought that she would be happy to get rid of me, yet there my daughter stood trying stop Druella from taking my happy ass away. It just made no sense. Why?!
I pinched my eyes shut briefly as the chaos happening was quickly careening towards disaster. She had at gunpoint Druella whom had, in turn, somehow instantly summoned a sword of Dark Matter in her hands. Molly had appeared behind Didi with her scythes unsheathed, ready to kill, and I had Winona drawn on Molly, defending my daughter. All the makings of train wreck that would have an Amtrak exec proud…
If I didn’t do something soon, someone would die and I was damn sure it would be Didi. A Cyclops didn’t stand much of a chance against a Lilim, let alone a Mantis with her scythes ready to decapitate.
The marble in my pocket once again started to heat up, then I began to hear whispers in my ear. There were so many, so faint that I couldn’t make them out. It was like something out of a fucked up horror movie. God, maybe I really was going insane?! I could feel scorching pain from my pocket and pressure building up as the whispers, they got louder and louder, but I still couldn’t understand them. They soon became a deafening roar as I cupped my hands over my ears and squeezed my eyes shut. I’m sure that I cried out in pain but I doubt anyone heard me. Then…
I opened my eyes to see everything had frozen in time. Didi and Druella in mid shouts of each other, Molly still had her scythes aimed at Didi. There was no sound. I couldn’t even hear myself breathing.
Remember who you are.
That voice, it was Romie’s! I tried to speak, to shout, to ask her where she was, how to find her but I couldn’t. I was just as froze as everyone else.
Remember who you are.
God damn it Romie! Where are you! How can I find you? Please! I miss you! I love you! Please!
Remember who you are.
What the hell does that mean?
A light enveloped me and I found myself kneeling before Misrelda, the Queen of Hearts. She wrapped her lithe arms around my neck and whispered into my ear,
“I’m I happy she found you… Son…”
Yeah a regular ol’ in-law of the Lilims, lucky me.
Another light and I was standing in the Maou’s throne room with Romie holding my hand. She turned and gave me a large, mischievous grin.
“Let it also be known that the man next to me is Donnie, also of Earth. Prince and Hero to Wonderland as well as my husband and my love.”
Shit Romie, I’m no damn Hero or a Prince!
The scene shifted again to the evening in the Maou’s parlor where I first met Arawn for our night out.
I asked about letting Romie know where I was going, the bitch turned her head to me and said, “While you’re having your night out, my granddaughter and I will have our night in. Both of us have much to catch up on and I’ve been craving a little girl talk as of late. Now you two boys have fun and don’t get into too much trouble. Remember Donnie, you now count as royalty here so do behave…”
Royalty my ass. Evidently not royal enough to keep you from fucking me over, you cunt.
I was finally returned to the parking lot with everything still frozen.
Remember who you are.
Suddenly everything began to move again.
“…he’s an American citizen and under no obligation to go with you.”
“And I have quite a few senators wrapped around my finger, child. Senators that sit on committees whom oversee your pathetic little bureau. But right now, I would worry about my own well being if I were you…”
I began to get the jist of what she was trying to say to me but… Come on, Romie! That plan is bat shit crazy! It’s…
It was then, I was struck by an epiphany as my dumbass finally figured out what she was really saying. A feeling of calm filled me as it all became clear. I knew what I needed to do.
Now that’s thinking like a Cheshire.
God Romie, I miss you.
All my doubts had vanished as a clear direction revealed itself to me. I had been underestimating myself and they had been underestimating me.
I would set things right, then I would find you Romie. That I promise.
With the marble no longer burning a hole in my leg, I tucked away Winona and calmly walked between the space of my daughter and Druella. There was now a crowd around us with their phones out, recording the scene.
Good, the more eyes, the more video, the better. I wanted the whole world to see this, in particular though, a certain other Lilim that might be able to help me…
“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” Demanded Didi.
Ignoring her, I took a deep breath, and in as loud and as confident of a voice as I could manage, declared, ” I am Prince Donnie ————, Hero of Wonderland, husband to Princess Romilia Smith de’ Cor’Meum. Daughter of the Queen of Hearts, Misrelda de’ Cor’dibus. I am also the man responsible for giving the Maou the access to Earth. As a member of the royal family, this will stop right now. I am not some kind of object to be fought over. I will choose my own direction.”
I heard various gasps and whispers among the crowd of both Human and Mamono. Druella glared angrily at my public admission of such things as Didi lowered the muzzle of her revolver in cautious suspicion of what I was doing.
“The prattling of an insane man.” Druella laughed aloud in show for the crowd.
“Then maybe your big sis Misrelda would be willing to set things straight?” I retorted. I had a hunch that the Lilim both feared and respected her older sister despite being a good foot or two shorter. After all Misrelda was the one who created Wonderland which was one of the first Demon Realms besides the Royal Maki. She kinda helped set the bar.
Her face fell in between that of fear and anger. It seemed that I had called her bluff and won.
“Does that mean I’m a princess too?!” My grandaughter called excitedly.
“Not the time, Vicky”, I answered back sternly, then continued with my statement to the whole damn world, “Also, as a member of the royal family, I am under diplomatic immunity to any and all charges brought against me. I, however, do agree to accompany officer Didi to meet with her superiors in regards to my actions of both past and future.”
Didi’s eyebrow raised as I looked over to her. I then turned my attention to Druella who looked like she was getting ready to me stab me through with her blade. From across the small distance, I met her eyes and as distasteful as it was, I did owe something to her. Was she an obnoxious, rich, prissy bitch? I’ll go on the record to say, “fuck yeah, she is.” But, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t think that she deserved what I had done to her. I had to grow up, to accept and admit that I had been fucking up.
“Druella… Aunt Druella. I’ve… made some mistakes. You took care of me when I was in a coma, took me into your home, gave me a place to stay and I did a lot of bad things to you and others. You… and they didn’t deserve that. The things that I did were incredibly wrong. I’m sorry, and I hope that maybe you can forgive me and that some day I can make things right with you.”
The pure black sword lowered, but I couldn’t get a read on her face. Maybe she was still thinking about killing me, maybe she was in shock of my apology, I honestly didn’t know. But there was still more to say, sparing a quick peek to Didi, I continued,
“My path though, it doesn’t lie with going back with you. I have people who have come into my life that I need to connect with, to learn about. Afterwards, I’m going to search for Romie and find a place here in this world.”
Druella walked towards me, her sword disintegrating in mid step. She stopped a foot away from me and coldly whispered, “You have spilt secrets that should not have been spilt.”
“I would rather it that, then the blood of my daughter,” I retorted back to her.
“You are a fool that knows nothing of what you’re doing. You charge head first without the slightest inkling or regard to anything or anyone. Eventually Donnie, it shall be your downfall.”
That was something I couldn’t argue against. Funny thing was what she said was true, but regardless, what was done, was done. The things I had to do were what I believed, what I hoped to be, the right thing. And if they weren’t… Well I guess I’d have to cross that bridge when I got to it.
“Your mom once told me she cherished life above all else. It’s probably one of the very few things I can say I admire about her. Let’s not disrespect that.”
She glared at me a few moments longer then said quietly, “There will be consequences… and questions.”
I nodded at the ominous statement as I figured as much.
“No, you don’t.” Is all she replied as she turned to walk away.
“I meant it.”
Druella turned her head back to me in question. I swallowed hard, sometimes doing the right thing wasn’t easy. She didn’t deserve the things I had done to her.
“I’m sorry. I really am-“
An open palm with perfectly manicured, pure black nails swung and struck me across my face in a slap, silencing my apology.
“We’re leaving, Molly.” She called to the Mantis.
Hand on my cheek, I watched as the Lilim walked to her limo and got inside. She didn’t look back. Molly followed to the driver’s side. She spared me an emotionless, fleeting glance before entering.
I got off easy. Druella had enough strength and power to tear me limb from limb a million times over. A stinging slap was nothing, but I had a feeling the connotations behind it were severe. I was pretty sure Auntie Dru had just disowned me.
Didi, Vicky, myself and the crowd watched as the midnight black limo drove away. The surrounding tension seemed to fade as I cocked my head and turned to my daughter saying, “Officer Didi, I’m in your care.”
Holstering her revolver, Didi took out a pair of cuffs but paused as she saw that there were still quite a few cameras still aimed at us. Evidently thinking better, she tucked them back into her belt pouch, and yelled to Vicky,
“Vicky, go back to school!”
“Are you going to arrest him?!”
“I SAID GO BACK TO SCHOOL!” She roared at my grandaughter.
Looking to me in fear, I offered my her a small smile and nod.
“See you later.” I mouthed to her and hoped with all my heart that I would.
She gave a small, apprehensive nod in return, looking to Didi and then back to me. I knew she wanted to say more but, it just wasn’t the time. We watched as she walked to her VW Bug and left
Did I know that I would see her later for sure? No. But if I didn’t, in some small way, I at least got to say goodbye to her.
“Get in the car,” Didi grunted as she reached behind and grabbed Winona from my waist.
Her phone then rang as she got in. I could only hear her responses but it sounded like someone told her to take me somewhere. She ended the conversation with a gulp and a nervous “Yes ma’am!”
Didi fixed me with an uneasy glance.
“My director wants to meet you.”
Sounded like fun.
We drove in silence for a while, her taking turns here and there. Then there was the famous Bay Area traffic causing us to stop and go.
“Would you have killed that Mantis?” She asked suddenly at a prolonged red light.
Would I have killed her? It was a question I honestly didn’t have an answer to. If I thought she was going to kill Didi, then yes I would have, as much as I wouldn’t have wanted to. I didn’t think Molly was a bad person, but she was loyal to Druella and would do whatever it took to defend her. I was glad things didn’t reach that point.
“You’re my daughter. As much as you may hate me and as much as you may think otherwise… I do care for you and Vicky.” I replied quietly.
My answer seemed to shock her, which in turn, also somehow managed to piss her off. Neither of us said anything else after. Maybe she was re-evaluating her feelings towards me, maybe she was realizing that I didn’t want to destroy her family, or hell maybe she thought I was just bullshitting her. I don’t know.
A black Volkswagen GLI swerved in front of us causing Didi to slam on the breaks as she cursed roundly. The plates read OPPAI31, whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.
“Maou damn cow drivers!!!” She yelled at the car.
“How do you know it’s a Holst?”
She pointed at the plate and exclaimed, “Really?!”
“What? What’s it suppose to mean?” I asked with a frown.
She sighed deeply and pulled into the adjacent lane while speeding up.
I looked out to my side to see a young Holstaurus on her cell phone while applying lipstick. She seemed more engrossed in her conversation and putting on makeup than keeping an eye on the road.
“Oppai means big boobs in Japanese. It’s something the cows are proud of.” She explained as she accelerated and we passed. There was a slight hint of bitterness in her voice, I could tell there was some kind of past there, but I didn’t dare ask.
“Ah.” I said simply.
Well now I know… and if you believe what GI Joe says, that’s half the battle, kids.
We pulled into the parking basement of a tall, dark gray concrete building with the letters MBI on it and Didi lead to us the elevator, right up to the 8th floor main offices. Walking through, I was met with the stares of various types of Mamono working there. Nekos, Hinezumi’s, Minotaur’s, Ogres, even a Zombie. At the end of the all the rows of desks was a single closed-in office with the words ‘Director’ etched on its glass door.
Didi paused and took a nervously deep breath before knocking.
“Enter.” Called a gruff, feminine voice.
Inside, a green scaled, gray-haired lizardwoman sat at a large desk. Papers were stacked about its surface, and name plate towards its front read Lisa Proudblade. To her left was a flat screen tuned to CNN on mute. Wanna guess what was the hot news topic of the hour? Yep, a video of Didi, myself, Molly and Druella. She peered to the tv, then to me as if making sure I was the same guy.
“Sit.” She ordered after the door closed.
Shrugging, I took a seat on the hard, wooden chair in front. Didi sat to my right as she said, “Director Proudblade, I can explain-“
“Shut up Didi.” The lizard woman said harshly as she glared over at her for a second, then back me from across her desk. We sat in silence as she continued to glare at me, then she flipped open a thin manila folder that laid in front of her.
“Donald ————-, age 23, born in —————, Connecticut. About 4 years ago, you were in a car crash that resulted in you being comatose. 2 years after that, you were transferred to a private care facility, owned by Princess Druella, all the way across the country. And now here you are, among the living, claiming to be related to the Royal family and just a few moments ago, involved in an altercation with Druella, herself. Very, very interesting. Mr. ———, there are a thousand questions I have from just this tiny little dossier of you that, coincidentally, I had to call in quite a few favors for because it had been sealed away.
She flipped the folder closed, and regarded me.
“Why was one of my agents at a San Jose McSabbeth’s, her weapon pulled on member of Mamono royalty, with you in the middle of it?” She asked me evenly.
I met her eyes and could see the contained anger in them, the only thing keeping this chick from losing it was what I had to say.
“During the time I was in the coma, somehow my consciousness was transferred to the Mamono home world some 100 years ago,” I cleared my throat as I could feel my face redden, “Didi here is my daughter, but I never married her mother. There were some… complications in regards to that.”
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Didi shift uncomfortably and heard her mumble, “Maou damn it…”
I knew it was embarrassing, her family’s dirty laundry being aired out to dry in front of her boss. But there was no other way to explain what had just happened.
“I’m actually married to a Cheshire named Romie who is the only daughter of Misrelda, the Queen of Hearts. At the time, I had been searching for a way back home in Wonderland and stumbled upon a nuke from modern times that had also somehow made its way to that world. Then-“
“Wait,” The director interrupted, looking sharply over to Didi then to myself, “What did you say?”
Her voice was strained as if trying to keep herself calm.
“I found a nuke.” I answered nonchalantly.
“A nuke.” She repeated.
“Yeah… A miniaturized nuclear bomb attached to a missile inside a downed military plane in Wonderland. If I had to guess, it was for a Predator drone.”
Funny, I had the same reaction when it all first went down. Now, its old news and water under the bridge.
“A Predator drone.” She parroted again.
Quickly jotting down notes on a paper, she said, “I see. Go on.”
“Victoria, Didi’s mother, was the first Mamono I encountered that didn’t try to rape me. She took me in, cared for me, taught me the ways of the world. She was also an unparalleled blacksmith.”
I paused, thinking about her. Sadness, sorrow, and tears all threatened to overwhelm me. I swallowed hard, trying to keep myself together. Director Proudblade was watching me like a damn hawk, waiting for me to continue.
“You see, back then, evidently there were quite a number of instances where Travelers, people from other dimensions, visited the world. Romie’s dad was one, I was another, and then there was a woman named Colonel Faith, also from my world. She wanted to use the nuke to kill the Maou and revert all the Mamono to their original forms.”
“I’m sorry, what?” She asked in disbelief.
“Faith was a Colonel in the US military, I think the Air Force maybe. She had joined sides with The Order and convinced them that getting their hands on the lost bomb would be their salvation. You guys were winning and they were getting desperate, so they agreed. Then they found some old scriptures saying that the Maou is the one that shapes what Mamono are.” I leaned forward to make my point, “Kill the Maou and Mamono like you, Lisa Proudblade become blood thirsty, lizard-like killing machines.”
She frowned deeply and scowled. She didn’t like that.
“Why would she want to do that?”
“The Order wanted the good old times back. You know; vicious, ugly monsters to kill, and the human population firmly under their thumb. Trying to relive them glory days, I guess.”
She said nothing at that. I also saw that Didi was staring at me as well. She never knew the whole story, only Vicky did and I guessed she never told her.
“Romie, myself and my incredibly loyal horse, Rudolf, took the bomb to Victoria to help dismantle it. She was the only one I could trust and that had the know-how.”
“Why not hide it? Or just give it to the Maou?” Proudblade interjected.
“Faith and her men were hot on my trail, I couldn’t hide it. As far as giving it to the Maou… Well I guess you can say I had the foresight not to trust her…”‘
She raised an eyebrow to that.
“And yet in your public confession, you claim that you helped her come to Earth. You seem to be contradicting yourself.”
I gave her a wry smile. “You’re right, but I’m not done yet. Faith and the goon squad breached one of the entrances to Victoria’s mountain home, she had some Hero kid with this weird ability. He could project an anti magic field. It screwed with Mamono, their nerves or something. I had to make a choice. Kill them and save the world or… “
I trailed off as I remembered Adams face. Faiths face. The blood. The bodies. Screams… Victoria’s screams…
“Or?” She prompted.
It occurred to me what I was confessing. A Colonel and a kid. Nothing like telling a member of law enforcement that you murdered a few people.
Snapping out of it, I gave her a sad smile.
“Let them kill us, including Victoria’s unborn children.”
I heard Didi gasp quietly at my admission.
“I did what I had to do. The Maou’s elite guards came soon after, guess they were following too. They took Romie, myself, my horse and the bomb away to the Royal Maki to meet the Queen B, herself. She wanted to use the nuke as a means to break into Earth. But I had the ignition key that Victoria made. I refused to give it to her because I didn’t trust her. I was afraid that she would bring about World War 3.”
Once again the Director peered over at Didi. It was something she was doing more and more as I told my story.
“The Maou tried all kinds of crap to convince me to give her the key. She threw me in jail, told me her life’s sob story. All that.”
Proudblade gave me another disbelieving look. I honestly didn’t blame her. I mean seriously, with the crap I was saying, I really did sound nutty.
“So what convinced you to give it to her?”
“She had me go on a boys night out with a Majin named Arawn Annwyfn. We ended up repealing an Order invasion of the Royal Maki, then grabbed some drinks. He was the one that convinced me that maybe she wasn’t so bad.”
“What was that name you just said?”
“Arawn Annwyfn, have you heard of him?”
“No,” she lied dismissively as she wrote more on the paper, “and how did you find your way back here?”
“The Maou had some kind of ability to foresee future events. I don’t know how, maybe she had her own psychic friends network. She said there was some going to be some disaster that would happen around the same time I was in the coma. So she sent me back to Earth to stop it, with the reassurance that she would be here to return me to see my wife and everyone else.”
“The Maou hasn’t been seen in-“
“Yeah, I know. Imagine how upset that made me when I found that out?” I replied sarcastically.
Leaning back in her chair, she interlaced her scaled claws together.
“Well! That was quite a story, Mr——-. Romance, a love triangle, murder, and intrigue, you should write a book. Hell, I’d buy it.”
“Yeah, I’m a regular ol’ Tom Clancy.”
“I do have one more question. If what you say IS true than why aren’t you an Incubus yet? Spending that much time around Lilims and the Maou, you should have absorbed an unimaginable amount of demonic energy, yet here you are. Fully human.”
“I’m immune to magic.”
Lizard lady began to laugh. I had the feeling that this was how the Maou felt when I did it to her. That really was a dick move, huh? Still not sorry for doing it, though.
“My, that is convenient! I’d say that would be the only plot hole in your story that would make me think twice about buying your book.”
“I’m more than willing to back up my claim with a test.” I answered crossly.
“And how shall I test you?” She asked with a grin.
“Something with magic?” I shrugged with a frown.
She hummed in thought for a moment, then her grin returned as she pulled from her desk a dagger.
“This was my great grandmothers. Forged from the finest Demon Realm Silver, I keep it as a reminder of how my family was and still is a clan of warriors,” she explained as she pulled the dagger from it’s sheathe, “now hold out your palm.”
She wanted to call a nonexistent bluff. I held out my hand to her. Grabbing it roughly, she ran it down my open palm and gasped as a cut formed and blood seeped from it. The blade itself must have been extremely sharp because I didn’t even feel any pain.
“Stillbirth,” she cursed still staring at my hand, “it’s true.”
Her little experiment had failed. Instead of the edge phasing through my hand, making it fall asleep, it had done the exact opposite. My hand was now all bloody. Didi took out a handkerchief and bandaged it. With her as well, I could tell my story now didn’t sound so crazy.
She put away the dagger and sighed deeply, seeming to look older by the minute.
“You know,” She said conversationally as she looked out the window besides the tv, “I’m four years from retirement? My husband and I, we have it all planned out. We’re going to buy a condo in Hawaii, nothing too big or fancy mind you, maybe a 3 bedroom. Something for the kids and the grandkids to sleep in when they visit. Sure they’ll have to bunk up, but that’s the fun of it.”
I watched as her eyes began to glaze over as she continued on with her retirement dream.
“Mimosa’s and golf in the morning, skeet shooting in the afternoon, maybe some archery if the shoulder isn’t acting up. Then we would end the day with a nice sunset walk on the beach and love-making at night…”
It sounded really nice and all, but I had the unsettling feeling that this one little fantasy was what kept her sane at work.
Her eyes then sharpened as reality didn’t just cruelly pop her bubble, it fucking murdered it. Her head snapped back to both of us.
“Then things like this happen and I’m reminded that four years is a very, very long time from now!” She exclaimed. Angrily reaching into her desk, she pulled out and opened a brown prescription bottle. Shaking a couple of pills into her hand, she dry swallowed them and regarded me.
“What in the hell am I going to do with you, now?” She pondered to herself in a mumble.
“Director-” Didi began again.
“Forgive me Didi, I must be going senile in my old age, but I thought I told you to shut up?” She snapped at my daughter. Didi said no more, just stiffened in her chair out of fear of her boss.
Wow, what a hard ass.
“Mr.———-, you don’t survive in my line of work by putting your nose where it doesn’t belong. Everything about you reeks of trouble way beyond my position and pay grade.
“If I may make a suggestion?” I asked politely, not wanting to piss off lady Godzilla even more.
She nodded her head at me in affirmation and I said, “How about this. You’re going to expunge my record, then allow me some time with my daughters and granddaughter,” I cocked a thumb over at Didi, “after that you’re going to fly me to England, with some spending money, and I’m going to go hunt down the Queen of Hearts because I need her help.”
The lizard woman blankly looked at me as if in shock at what I just said. Snapping out of it, she smiled in a way that was of both amusement and disbelief.
“That’s quite a list of demands,” then her faced hardened as she spat, “and what, pray tell, makes you think that sending you back to the mental institution isn’t an option for me? It’s an easy fix and it might even buy me a nice little favor from the princess, herself. It seems she doesn’t like you too much.”
It was my turn to smile evilly as I met her eyes, “We both know you won’t do that. You don’t want to mess with this kind of family drama. Plus a decent amount of my story is being spread all over the internet and news right now. My hand and the sealed records are also proof for you. Maybe you should ask your own agent as well.”
I watched her eyes move to meet Didi.
“Oh her and I are going to have a very long conversation later on…”
I heard Didi swallow hard at that one.
“Look, the fact is I am an in-law of the Maou and I gave her access to Earth. By the way, you’re welcome. Frankly, right now, I’m a big ass thorn in your side in which you want gone. Everything I asked for leads to me being gone, because you really don’t want me hanging around. Plus you’d still have a Royal owing you a favor.”
She cocked her head.
“A threat?” She asked in a dangerous tone.
“Think of it as more like a friendly bribe to keep the gears turning smoothly here at the office. Lady, I’ve just told you I’ve been through some shit, and likewise, shit seems to follow me. I doubt you wanna be in on it and trust me when I say, this is a win, win.” I answered with a small smile.
Tapping her talons on the desk in thought, she remarked, “A very tall tale indeed, Mr. ———- , and you sound more like a Danuki than a Royal.”
“Just call me Donnie, and yeah, I do realize that it’s a bit of a… stretch,” I shrugged, “But hey truth is stranger than fiction, right? Plus I got my own special way of dealing with things.”
“I can see that. Truth is stranger than fiction, hmm? An interesting phrase…”
She looked to Didi briefly then back to me, the wheels in her head turning. Sure this whole thing sounded crazier than a weekend at Bernie’s, but somehow, I got the feeling that maybe she believed me. I mean otherwise we wouldn’t have been talking for so long, right? Somewhere, deep down, she knew I was telling the truth and what I was asking for wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things.
There was painfully long-span of time where her and I just stared at each other. Maybe she was trying to intimidate me, or peer into my soul… Yeah, good luck on that one, lady. But then a disgusted look formed on her face, as if she were admitting some kind of personal defeat, and she flared,
“Alright, fine. I believe you. I’ll need a few days anyway for me to get the ball rolling on the plane ticket and funds, as well as taking care of your criminal record. You can spend that time with Didi where I’m sure she will take the utmost care in keeping you out of trouble and harms way, isn’t that right Didi?”
Translation; if I get on the news one more time, her ass is fired.
“Y-yes ma’am!” Stuttered my daughter as she tried to straighten even more in her chair.
“I’ll also be expecting a FULL report afterwards as well.”
I prayed to whatever god out there that Didi wouldn’t have a heart attack with all her “yes ma’am’s.” I had no idea how to give CPR.
“Now get out of my office, both of you.” She growled.
Didi and I both stood to leave, then boss lady lizard added with a slight nod of her head to me, almost as an afterthought, “Oh and have a pleasant day, your highness.”
Nice to finally get some respect around here.
Nodding back, I followed Didi out. I was willing to call it a victory, and now a days, those were few and far between. Hell at that point, waking up alive was one, just to let you all know at what part of the barrel I was at.
With the door closed and the interrogation out-of-the-way, Didi seemed to be a tad bit calmer as we walked back to the elevator. She kept glancing over at me, as if unsure about something. As we descended back down to the parking garage, she took out her phone and dialed a number.
“Hey it’s- yes he’s fine… No you can’t talk to him. Look, shut up. Head home… No I mean to your mother’s house… Why?”
Didi looked over at me.
“Because we’re going to have a family dinner and meeting. There’s a lot we need to tell your mother and George.”
Who the hell was George?
“No don’t tell her yet. Just…. Just tell her we have a… guest coming…”
A guest, huh? Nice to know I was moving up in the world.
It was painfully slow on the 101 north. Too many cars and not enough lanes. We were headed to the very house that Victoria ended up buying when she immigrated to Earth. Deanna, my other daughter, apparently still lived there while Didi had moved out some time ago into a small apartment in a place called Fremont, which was not too far away.
As I stared at the tail end of an old Buick with a faded bumper sticker saying; It’s not rape if he cums, I decided to ask a question that Didi never answered.
“How did you know where to find me that night?”
She didn’t answer, and I depressingly thought that we were back to that point again, but then she finally replied,
”Few days ago, Vicky told me she found you. I didn’t believe her, thought she was just messing around. Then, when I was on assignment, I ended up talking to your dragon buddy, Allen. He told me about you and I realized that Vicky was telling the truth. Later that night, I got a text from a blocked number. It gave me a set of cross streets and said that the answers to my questions would be found there. That my father would be found there. I thought it was a prank, but then… it told me something that no one else could know. I tried texting back, but no answer. So I decided to go see for myself.”
The Buick changed lanes and a BMW took its place. I guess I owed the Goddess more than what I thought I did. It was funny, she hated the Mamono, yet still reached out to one for me.
We continued driving in silence, then Didi suddenly asked in a small voice,
“Did you love my mother?”
“Yes,” I said without a doubt, “I loved her.”
Before anyone says anything in regards to that, let me set the record straight. In the situation I was in, the circumstances, the time, in what was considered normal for the world… Yes, I did fall in love with two different women. Don’t ask me any of the how’s, or the why’s. If, somehow, my old journal has made its way into your hands then you should already understand. If not, then I suppose the only thing I can say is that shit happens and you can’t give the heart a set of rules to follow, because it usually won’t. Words of wisdom from your favorite gun slinging, dimensional traveling, fuck up of a prince.
“Then why did you leave? Why didn’t you just stay with her, get married and live together? Why couldn’t you have been a father to us?!” Her voice cracked at the end, and she cleared her throat to compose herself.
Oddly enough, I expected that kind of question. It was only a matter of time until she wanted answers instead of hatred.
“I was 19 when I first met her. A guy from the 21st century, trapped in the equivalent of the dark ages, Didi. Settling down, it just never occurred to me. I know that you know this already but, your mother was an agoraphobe, she was content in spending her life in a mountain. I missed my family, I missed my life. I was going stir crazy there. She was the one that actually suggested that I go out, travel and look for a way back home. All of this happened before there were any thoughts of kids. Almost felt like we were kids ourselves.”
Didi didn’t say anything to that. Another 5-10 minutes passed and she asked,
“Then why didn’t you send a letter or something! Let her know about what was going on?”
I sighed and stared at dashboard in front of me.
“Your mom…. mother… was a pacifist,” I began, “although that’s something I’m sure you already knew. She hated violence, killing. All that stuff.”
I pushed my head against the seats rest in remembrance.
“Before I ventured out on my own, I wanted a weapon to defend myself from all the rape happy gal’s out there in the motherland. I was horrible at using swords and the like, but I was really great at shooting. I guess you can thank all the time I spent at the arcade for that. It was a hard sell to get her to help me create Winona- my revolver. Her and I would go at it, back and forth for days. If I wanted to find a way back home, I would need it. We both knew the dangers of an untaken man running around. She’s the one who thought up Demon Realm Silver bullets. A non lethal, magical alternative. Absolutely brilliant. With that compromise, we created Winona and her ammo-“
“I’m not done yet.” I interrupted back. She needed to know the full story.
Didi fumed but didn’t say anything more. I took a breath as I recalled one of the worst days of my life.
“Like I told your boss, I came to Victoria because she was the only one I could trust to help me dismantle the nuke I found.”
Out of the corner of my eye I could see her stiffen again. I vaguely wondered why.
“We really need to talk about you blabbing that, but go on.”
“Colonel Faith and her men played a fucked up game of cat and mouse with me for it. I thought I lost them when I got to Victoria’s mountain.”
Turning my head, the traffic had cleared and we got up to a good speed. I stared at the passing trees and buildings as they wizzed by.
“Your mother was a good person. Kind. Peaceful. Sometimes too peaceful. She lived in a world where violence and killing was the norm. She hated it, even if it was for the right reasons,” my voice lowered to a whisper as I said more to myself, “even if it was the only way…”
I turned my head back to look at her. Though I could only see the side of her face, she was keeping her attention on the road, I could tell her expression had changed with what I had just revealed. She looked more thoughtful.
”I lost Victoria that day when I killed a woman and a kid in front of her, in her own home. The Maou’s goons came right after. Took me away. Then all that other stuff happened. I never saw her again, even though I thought of her, every day. Even though… I missed her dearly…”
I swallowed hard, trying to rein in my own emotions.
”I will always miss her, she was an important part of my life. I wished things could have been different. A happy ending with everyone, together. We could have made it work somehow. I would have even given up going back to my world. Back to the present, here. As much as it would have pained me, I would have even given up seeing my family again. Victoria loved me, that I knew, but she also knew my life was… complicated… full of shit that was beyond what she was comfortable with. Despite all that, she still wanted kids with me. Even though there was a good chance I wouldn’t be around all the time or hell, even dead maybe. You and your sister were the result of both love and the refusal to settle for circumstances dictating our fate. Things… just never came together for what we all wanted.”
Didi didn’t say anything after, neither did I. There was nothing more to say.
We drove to a city called San Mateo. It was close to the San Francisco Bay and seemed like a nice place. Definitely cooler in weather compared to the Central Valley. The houses had perfect lawns, people both Human and Mamono alike, walking and jogging on the sidewalks. A quiet little perfect slice of suburbia.
Didi pulled us into the drive way of a brown two-story house with a white picket fence. Looking upon the building, I was hit with a feeling of nostalgia and irony.
A long time ago, I once told Victoria about how I would sometimes spend summers as a kid with my grandparents at their house- a brown two-story house with a picket fence in front. Being there was some of my happiest memories.
Did you buy this house for that very same reason, Victoria? Because of what I told you? So that maybe our children and grandchildren would have the same?
I then realized that Didi had already gotten out and was waiting for me. Already there was Vicky’s old gray VW Bug. Getting out, I saw Vicky sitting on the porch, waiting for us. She was on her phone but quickly put it away when she saw us arrive. Running, she opened the gate and exclaimed with an excited grin,
”Okay, all I told her and dad was that you were bringing a guest for dinner, that’s it. I think, she thinks you’re bringing a boyfriend for us all to meet.”
Didi reddened deeply at that and looked over to me.
I shrugged and said, “Hey, it could be worse.”
“How could it be worse than that?”
I smiled at that and said, “ I could be the Chief God.”
Didi scowled and Vicky laughed loudly as she lead us to the front porch. Going up the steps, I was hit with a sudden bout of nervousness as I realized, I was about to meet my other daughter. Vicky opened the door and walked in while I stood frozen in place.
“What’s wrong?” Didi asked.
”I uh… I guess I just got the case of the nerves…”
“Nerves?” She repeated, disbelieving, “After everything you’ve been through?”
“Yeah,” I laughed awkwardly, “who would have guessed. Lilims, a Demon Lord, and everything else. And this is what does it for me… Stupid, huh?”
I would have thought that she would be angry but instead her expression softened and she sighed,
“Look, this isn’t easy for me either, and I know it’s going to be… weird… but we’re going in and doing this, okay?”
Fucking amazing pep talk, woman. Hopefully she wouldn’t quit her day job.
”Sure,” I breathed and followed her in.
Inside, was decently spacious. The walls were painted a dark grey, with furniture in the colors of black, grey and dark brown. For some reason I was reminded of Victorias’ own caves. Perhaps that was what she was going for. For me, the real mystery was how she was able to travel from her mountain home all the way to Earth and somehow settle in California.
Vicky lead us to the living room where a baseball game was playing on a flat screen. Sitting on a black leather recliner, intently watching the game, was an incubus in his 40’s-50’s, with reddish hair. He had a beer in one hand, a remote in the other, and a scowl on his face. Now, normally, incubi will range quite differently in appearance, from looking like a total monster to being almost fully human. He was more on the latter side of things.
“What are you doing?! Swing the damn bat! You idiot! You could have hit that one!” He yelled angrily at the tv.
”Dad! They’re here! Come on, turn it off!” Vicky yelled chidingly to him.
Dad, huh? God this was going to be awkward. Yeah, hey, how’s it going sonnyboy, I’m your long-lost father in-law. Christ, I’d almost take fighting back an Order invasion over this.
“Fine,” he grumbled, turning off the tv and standing, “damn Giants are losing anyway. Rodriguez can’t swing to save his life.”
”Mom, get outta the kitchen!”
“Coming!” Yelled back a cheerful voice.
I looked nervously over to Didi, whom returned my look with one of her own. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one in this boat.
“Names George,” he smiled and held out his hand, “glad Didi’s finally got herself a man! We were all getting worried she’d end up as a spinster! Although I wouldn’t have thought she’d go for a younger guy!”
George laughed aloud at his own joke as I took his hand hesitantly and shook it.
“N-names Donnie…” I stuttered, glancing over to see Didi blushing fiercely.
“Dad, he-“ Vicky began.
“He’s not my boyfriend, George.” Didi corrected, clearly annoyed at him.
“Sorry, I was just putting the finishing touches on dinner.”
An auburn haired cyclops came into view, wiping her hands on a dish towel. Both fit and beautiful with jeans and a green blouse on, she was the picture perfect, modern house wife. I could see some similarities to Didi but I could also find traces of my own mothers looks in her. I had to admit, it made my heart ache a little. I felt even worse as her face lit up when she saw me.
“Oh my, are you Didi’s boyfriend? It’s so good to meet you! I’m Deanna, her sister.”
“No, he’s not, Deanna!” Didi growled through gritted teeth.
“Um, no. My name is Donnie. I’m uh…”
How do I even begin?
”Alright, listen up everyone!” Vicky announced in a loud, commanding voice, “let’s all sit down because there’s gonna be some heavy shit comin up!”
”Vicky! What have I told you about the profanity! I swear to the Maou, I don’t know where or who you get it from!” Deanna reprimanded in the typical mom tone.
Oops… Guess that one is my bad, huh?
“Mom, this is super important. Like the most important thing this family will ever know.” Vicky pleadingly retorted as she sat on the sofa, “please, just sit down.”
“She’s right De.” Didi confirmed softly as she took her own seat.
Dreading the upcoming conversation, I sighed and sat next to her. Deanna and George both looked at each other in concern before sitting.
”Alright, what’s so what’s going on?” George asked cautiously.
“Mom,” Vicky began, “do you remember when you gave me grandma’s memory keeper to try and fix?”
“Why, yes of course! Didi and I took it to every dark mage we could find to try to get it to work. None of them could.”
”There’s a reason why! It’s a phone! His phone!” She pointed to me, “Its not magical, it’s technology. The battery was gone, and I replaced it. I got it to work!”
She took the iPhone out of her pocket and turned it on. Holding it up, she showed everyone various pictures from it. Selfies of Victoria and I, of her home, of Romie and so on…
“This phone wasn’t grandma’s, it was grandads.” She looked to me in point.
Both looked shocked, but it was Deanna that reached out for the phone with shaky hands. She stared at the pictures, then looked at me, then back down at them as she swiped through my collection.
“How?” She whispered.
”He’s from another reality! He traveled from this time to the other world, a hundred years ago. Mom, he helped the Maou open the doorway to come to Earth!” Vicky explained excitedly.
Well shit, if my grandaughter wanted to take the reins on all this, then fine by me! She kinda skimmed over a few things and the whole helping the Maou thing is a matter of perspective, in my opinion, but whatever.
George looked to Vicky, then to me in bewilderment.
“What are you talking about, Vicky?”
“He’s mom’s and aunt Didi’s dad! My grandfather! He’s a time traveler, dad! He changed everything!”
Okay, she was kinda going off the rails now.
“I think what Vicky’s trying to say is… it’s a long story. But… I’m… related to all of you… except you George. Sorry this is all really difficult to explain.” I cut in trying to figure out how the hell to untangle this mess.
“I, um… made some dinner. Meatloaf,” Deanna said in a slight daze, “maybe we should sit down to eat and talk about all of this?”
Meatloaf? Haven’t had that in years.
“… so I traveled around, became a mercenary, did odd jobs for almost everyone around, even The Order.”
I saw Didi, Deanna and Vicky all stiffen at the table as I said that. We had all sat down at good-sized oak dining table and, once again, I began to tell my story.
It seemed that Deanna was quite the cook as she put out a very nice spread. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, dinner rolls and even some pie and ice cream for dessert. Pinch me because I was in heaven!
“Hey, don’t worry, I didn’t hurt anyone. In fact I probably saved a few Mamono from the Inquisitor that was partnered with me.” I smiled, remembering quite a few adventures.
The tension left after I included that part in and I added for some professional pride,
“I even tried to stop the whole war between them and the Maou over in a crappy little place called Elador.”
“The failed peace talks of Elador?! You were a part of that?!” Exclaimed Deanna, “I remember reading about it in my Mamono studies in college. The book never mentioned names, I was always curious about that.”
I winced at the name. Jesus, that’s what they were calling it? It wasn’t that bad. I then thought back to where I had to shoot up the ceiling just to shut everyone up. Okay, maybe it was that bad.
“Uh, yeah… that was me…” I said with an awkward laugh and cough.
“Then I…” I paused in mid sentence. That was when I met Romie and she took me to Wonderland. Should I really mention that here? I was by no means ashamed of being with her, but considering the circumstances and the audience, a little bit of tact was in order.
I swallowed and continued, “I traveled around a bit more, ended up finding a downed military plane with a nuke in it, not something you come across every day, right? Also found out that I wasn’t the only one from Earth-“
“What’s a nuke?” Vicky interrupted. I saw that all the faces at the table had questioning looks, except Didi.
“What, serious?” I laughed, “You know a nuke!”
I made an exploding gesture with my hands complete with noise.
“Donnie…” Didi warned but I was too absorbed in my story telling to see the kind of look she was giving me.
“A nuclear bomb, you know… Albert Einstein, World War…oh… oh shit.”
All eyes were on me as I uttered a profanity at the dinner table in realization.
“That’s right, you guys never had that.” I said under my breath.
“What are you talking about?” George asked, his brow furrowed. I still had the feeling he wasn’t too sold on me.
“Something from your old reality, right?” Chimed in Vicky.
I looked over to Vicky, gratefully.
George gave his daughter a look and sighed loudly in disbelief. I honestly couldn’t blame him. It sounded crazy. But…No war, no pacific conflict, no need for Einstein to build it…
”Donnie…” Didi growled again.
“Have any of you ever heard of Albert Einstein?” I asked carefully.
Frowns, shakes of the head and murmurs of ‘no’ filled the room.
“Are we supposed to?” He asked.
“I think you need to end this conversation,” Didi demanded, “right NOW.”
Her expression was dead serious and I quickly plastered a fake smile on my face and said, “Sure, sorry, was doing some checking.”
I couldn’t help myself though, as I reviewed my own history in my mind. I had to ask, what about the space race?
“Alright, I have another… odd question.”
George sighed loudly again and this time Deanna gave him a dirty look. I stabbed a piece of meatloaf and asked,
“Has anyone gone to the moon?”
All eyes were once again upon me. There was a moment of quiet that was finally broke. When Vicky asked, “Like physically put a person on the moon?”
“Yeah.” I replied, putting the fork in my mouth.
Deanna, Didi, Vicky and George all exchanges looks with each other as I chewed.
“No, why?” Didi asked with a frown. Everyone else followed suite as if what I said was completely alien.
So, no space race with Russia either. Internally, I chuckled sadly; between the Maou and myself, we did quite a number on history, didn’t we?
“Let me guess,” George began angrily, “in “your” world or whatever, we’re all on the moon and have flying cars?”
“George!” Deanna exclaimed.
“I can’t help it Anna!” He shouted, “There’s a stranger in our house, sitting at our table, that looks twenty years younger than you, claiming to be your father from another… whatever… and you’re all just accepting it?!”
He stood up, his chair falling backwards behind him, and threw up his hands in the air.
“Am I the only one in this family that hasn’t lost it?! And you-“ He pointed at Didi, “You work for the government, if anyone should on my side against this… scammer, it’s you! Yet here you are delivering him here!”
“No! I’m done with it! If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the living room!”
We watched as he stormed out of the dining room. Should I have said something? But really what was I to say to a guy that was old enough to be my father, yet technically I was his father-in-law? Jesus, what a fucking situation. Time travel… paradoxes.. whatever, they really suck.
Deanna stood to go after him but Didi stopped her.
”I’ll go. You need to hear what he has to say. Besides, it’s better if I talk to him.”
”Better than his own wife?” She questioned angrily.
“You know I’m right.” She answered evenly.
Sighing, one daughter sat down, while the other went after George to sort out the mess I had brought to them. Did I have doubts as to what I was doing there? Absolutely, but I owed them an explanation and so much more. Being there wasn’t easy, but it was something I had to do, a responsibility and I suppose a part of growing up.
Thus with Deanna and Vicky still in the room, I continued my tale…
I sighed in relief as I sat down on the plush bed and tucked Winona under my pillow. I finally got her back from Didi. Always did sleep better with my lady next to me, plus old habits die-hard, no matter where you are or what planet your ass is on.
It was late late at night when I had finished with all the questions and answers that everyone had for me. My throat honestly hurt from all the talking I did, but it felt good to be done with everything. I was staying in Didi’s old room that was converted to a guest room. I wanted to just sleep on the couch and let her take the bed, but everyone got all crazy on me, telling me I was their guest. I felt awkwardly honored if I had to peg a name to the feeling.
I pulled off my boots, eager to end the day. Peeling off my socks, I once again marveled at the clothing that Ilias gave me. They should have been a sweaty, stinky mess, yet they were fresh and clean as if never worn.
Too bad I couldn’t reproduce them. Shit I’d make a fortune with just the footwear, let alone the whole ensemble. A soft knock on the door interrupted my entrepreneurial musings.
“Come in.” I called.
The door opened and Deanna quickly entered, and shut the door behind her. Pushing herself back against it, she stared at me for a moment before asking,
“Tell me something about my mother only you would know.”
I was guessing this was a test. Something to reassure her that I was who everyone said I was. You couldn’t blame her, really. I thought for a moment, then said,
“Well, I think Victoria bought this house because it was a lot like the one I told her about, years ago. My grandparents lived in a place like this, and I told her how I would spend summers as a kid there. That I loved being there, that they would spoil me. I had a lot of happy memories with them.”
She said nothing, still just staring at me. So I added for good measure,
“She loved pancakes. It was her favorite breakfast food. I’m the one that got her hooked. She used to make me cook them every morning. The sweeter, the better. Always bugged me for the recipe, but I never gave it to her. Said it was my insurance so she wouldn’t kick my ass out.”
I looked down and chuckled at the happy memory,
“Used to piss her off, me saying that – “
I was cut off by Deanna lunging at me in a hug.
“It really is you!” She whispered as she started to cry, “I wanted to believe so bad, but seeing how young you are and…. and just the stories you told… just… just..”
She trailed off and I wrapped my arms around my crying daughter, just holding her tight. She was someone whom I didn’t know. Who was older than me, who was a complete stranger, yet she was my daughter, my blood and inexplicably, I loved her. It was an emotional experience I will never forget, my first time being a father and comforting my weeping child…
We stayed like that for a while, until she excused herself. Still teary eye’d, but smiling, she wished me a good night before leaving. For some reason, I felt better, like a small weight was lifted off my shoulders. I debated on taking a shower, but it seemed so late that maybe in the morning it would be better. Laying my head down on the pillow, I closed my eyes.
Romie, wait for me. Just let me sort this all out and I’ll see you soon, my Cheshire.
It was a dark, muggy night as usual in the Royal Maki as I walked down the cobblestone street. Somehow the clinging air here kept reminding me of how Florida was in the late evening. I passed by buildings of both brick and wood, my way lit by candled street lamps and found myself in front of a familiar looking bar. I just couldn’t place it though… which bar was it again?
Oh yeah, that’s right. I looked up at the hanging wooden sign above the door. The Prancing Satyros.
It did have a snazzy name.
From the outside, I could hear the sounds of rowdy laughter and conversations, the smell of beer and wine. Well shit, I had me a sack of gold. Why not get some good food, good booze and get this shindig started?! I also the Parapawhatever on me as well, it kept everything on the DL with the gals around. I’d be safe.
Walking through the door, I was confused to find the room empty. No boisterous crowd, No bottles of alcohol, not even a bartender in sight. I stepped over to the counter and ran my hand on its rough, wooden surface.
What the hell was going on? I remember being here before…
“The night we celebrated our victory over the Order’s failed invasion of the Royal Maki.”
Yep, sent those assholes packing! Me and… Wait a minute!
I turned around to see a dear old friend sitting at one of the tables. He was flirting with a familiarish looking Shoggoth dressed as a bar maid standing next to him. She bent down and whispered something in his ear, then kissed him on the cheek. He blushed slightly, something I’ve never seen that serious bastard do before. She turned to give me a warm smile and a deep bow before mysteriously fading from view.
“Arawn!” I cried, incredibly happy to see that beautiful Tenchi Muyo lookalike son of a bitch again. Barreling over to him, he stood with a smile on his face that was quickly erased when I flipped over the table with drinks and food on top and captured him in a huge bear hug.
“You have no fucking idea how happy I am to see you!” I growled joyously.
”I believe I am getting said idea…” He gasped.
”We’ve got so much to talk about! So much to catch up on!” I shook him in emphasis.
“Yes, but before we do, you will have to release me from your embrace.”
I reluctantly let go. God, its been forever since I was this happy. We each grabbed a fallen chair to set upright and Arawn swung his hand across where the table once was. Instantly it was there again, fully topped with various fried food and two wooden mugs of beer.
Sitting, I grabbed my cup with a grin and raised it high.
“A toast! To old friends and happy reunions!”
Smiling, Arawn raised his own and I crashed mine into his. We both drank deeply from our mugs. God damn, this was good beer! Good drinks, good company, I grabbed a fried snack and tried it. Yep! Good food too! I was high on happiness and loving every second of it!
“First, I would like to extend my apologies for entering and modifying your dream.”
“Dream? This is a dream?!” I frowned, trying to remember. I was back on Earth now, wasn’t I? That’s right! I was staying with my daughters!
“Yes,” he said, looking a bit sheepish, “It is quite easy to enter one, even you could, if given proper instruction. Although, I would caution the danger of being caught in a Succubus’ dream.”
He shuddered slightly at the thought.
Jesus, everyone’s all breaking into my head at night and messing around like it’s a god damn 7-11. Not the first and probably not the last… But hey, at least this time, it’s just Arawn. Oh well, I thought, who cares. I deserve some guy time with my friend anyway! My smile returned as I said,
”Ah hell buddy, I don’t mind! Besides you’re not the first. Ilias’s did it a few times too.”
He raised an eyebrow at that in silent question.
”Yeah, the first time, she screwed with my memories so I would go out on a date with her. The second time, she asked me to marry her and go with her to travel the universe. I told her no. She got pissed.”
If my guys brows went any further up his head, they would have become a part of his hair with what I told him.
“That is…. quite unprecedented.” He said slowly then took another gulp of his drink as if he badly needed it.
“Well, I saw her again back on Earth when Druella had my ass committed to the looney bin. She busted me out, gave me a few gifts, then left the planet for parts unknown. Said she was done with it.”
“It is incredibly unusual that a mortal would gain the attention of a God. Even more uncanny that they would fall in love with one.”
I sighed, “Yeah, it’s been a fucking trip, buddy. Dude, where the hell are you in real, though? I need your help on some serious shit going on.”
He looked at me with a sad smile and said, “I am dead, Donnie.”
My stomach fell to the floor as I stuttered, “W-What?”
”I have achieved my wish, and ended my immortality.”
My short lived bliss came crashing down upon me as he said that.
“Is this real? Are you real? Talking to me in my dream? Or is this just my imagination, a fake you in my head?” I asked bitterly while staring down at my drink.
I felt a warm hand firmly grasp my forearm and looked up to see him offering a warmer smile to me.
“Donnie, death is not the end. It never was. I am now in a place where I can begin to redeem myself for the wounds that I have caused. I would tell you more, but I think it would be more appropriate if you found out in your own way. Although I have become something different, I have been and always will be, your friend. Star Trek Two, Wrath of Khan, Spock’s final words to Kirk…” He quoted softly to me, with a grin crossing his face, “Yes Donnie I am aware of what Star Trek is all about. At least as far as your original timeline is concerned. “
Son of a bitch, who would have thought…
With his words and grin, I couldn’t help but grin back,
“Okay.” I whispered.
I hoped that he was right, that he was telling the truth, that he just wasn’t some wishful thinking come to life in my dream. As if sensing my thoughts he added,
”When you awake, look for a green stone by the bed you have slept upon. I offer that as proof to you that I am real.”
For some reason, that comforted and assured me. I smiled and nodded.
“Alright. I’ll look for it as soon as I wake up. Now what’s up?”
He suddenly turned serious as he stated, “First, I must inform you that you have a memory block placed upon you. From what I can tell, it was from a being you have previously encountered and the memories are of significant actions and experiences taken place before you arrived to Earth.”
I busted up laughing.
”Seriously Arawn? Look, buddy, you can’t trust what those plant Mamono in heaven or whatever give you to smoke, cuz I’m pretty sure it’s not high-grade weed. Or if it is, then you really need to lay off that crap. Do you have a hard on? You better not be sporting a hard on while talking to me!”
I pulled out my chair and peaked under the table, much to his discomfort.
“I am not erect Donnie,” he frowned, “nor am I under the influence of a narcotic. What I have told you is the truth. When the Maou sent you to Earth, you were waylaid multiple times.”
I sat back in my chair and took another sip from the mug. Kinda sad how only in my dreams could I get a decent beer.
“If it’s who I think it is, then I know all about Mr. Omnipotent. He grabbed me in orbit before I got sent to Earth. Had a little talk with me, nearly shit myself when I saw who it was.”
Cradling the mug in my hands, I tilted my head back to stare at the dirty ceiling. It was smoky and filled with pot marks here and there. I looked back down to see Arawn watching me with an unreadable expression.
”He hit me up later when I got thrown into the insane asylum, right before Ilias showed up. Who would have guessed the writers for Star Trek got it right?”
He raised an eyebrow to my question and responded, “Indeed, but they were not the only instances and actions. There are others in which you have not accounted for.”
”So you’re saying before I landed on good old Tera Firma, I was off somewhere else, doing god knows what, and I have no memory of it?”
I had some doubts at my own words, though. When I first woke up, I had weird sensations that I was forgetting something or that there was something I just couldn’t remember. Eventually those feelings went away but, with what he said, it gave me the uncomfortable vibe that it wasn’t my imagination.
“I understand your reluctance to accept what was said, but it is true. However we must put that aside as I have a more pressing concern to discuss with you.”
“A concern that’s more pressing than that? Jesus Arawn, you’re just the fucking good news fairy tonight, aren’t you?”
“I do wish that our reunion was with filled with more happy tidings,” he spread his hands, “unfortunately, Fate seldom works to our advantage.”
”I hear ya, that bitch and I don’t exactly have the greatest relationship going on either…” I mumbled in agreement.
”Fine, what else is going on?” I sighed.
“You have plans to locate and meet with the Queen of Hearts, correct?”
I nodded, “Yep. Pretty sure she might be able to help me find Romie. Out of everyone in the whole “family,” she seemed to liked me the most. Even called me “son.”
“You will perish.”
“Excuse me?” I said in shock.
“In my current state, I am able to foresee certain events and timelines. If you stay on your path, you will die.”
His statement hit me like a freight train as I looked down at the splintered wooden table, my bitterness returning . It was always something, wasn’t it? Some kind of roadblock or bomb or fucking Demon Lord or something. The bitterness then turned to anger as I looked up to Arawn observing me.
”No… No, fuck that shit. I didn’t go through hell and back, time and space, losing my reality and everything else, just to give up! If I’m gonna die, then at least I know I’ll be dying while trying to find the woman I love!”
“You will fail and you will die.” He said evenly, without expression.
“Then I’ll die on my feet! In control of my own god damn destiny! Go out in a blaze of glory! Whatever!” I growled back at him and slammed my fist on the table causing our drinks to spill.
A smile slowly formed on his face and he nodded.
“Excellent. I am glad the previous events have not diminished your rebellious nature. It is decided then.”
I squinted at him in confusion, “Arawn, what the fuck are you talking about?”
”Donnie, in my considerably long existence, I have fought both Gods and Demons,” he tilted his head slightly in thought, “as well as a good amount of other beings that need not be discussed. If you are to survive your endeavor, then you will need to be taught to battle those much more powerful than yourself.”
”So what, you’re going to teach me to fight?” I laughed.
”No Donnie, not just I…”
From around him, his not-brothers materialized-Tetris, Quartus and Quintus.
“We will teach you to fight.”