Tale of Souls Chapter Twenty Two
I’m home. I’m at the front door. I’m here to live the last days, at least that’s the trick in case we fail. This isn’t even the first time we’ve failed evidently. It’s harrowing to know how much we’ve failed since the beginning of it all. I’m standing here, I don’t have my key. I have tears starting to well up cause I could text Sai to open the door – but what if he’s not here? What if we’ve failed already?
The door opens.
“Baka. Get in here, you’re going to be fine. We have an estimation on when things are going to go down, and you got here in time for dinner. We’ve gotten Aura safe in one of the double lockable rooms and given her endless poptarts. “ Saitou looked at me, then took me by the hand and walked me inside. “Stop your tears, we’re not going to lose.”
“How do you know?”
“Because, I have you by my side. I didn’t have that the first time.”
“I wasn’t even born then, you’re like some several hundred year old elf alien taking a child on a date every saturday night.”
“Time flows differently on each quadrant, let alone the different planetary quadrants within the time quadrants. It’s a lot to learn, but if we’re still here at the end of it – I want to take you back – I know we’ve been to see the Arashi lowlands – but I wanted to see what was left of the Warai and Illyara highlands.” Saitou hugged me, and pushed me lightly down the hallway.
“Kristoff was telling me more than he needed to as usual.”
“He doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut around you, he doesn’t want you to worry nor freak out – but he just lets it slip. There’s not much more loyalty in the world than the family loyalty you four have.” Saitou smiled, “Come, we’re going to have dinner before we prepare.”
“Where is everyone?”
“Come – we’re dishing up now.” Saitou motioned for me to follow, and patted me on the shoulder. “You’ll be fine, we’ll be fine – just chill and enjoy the food.”
“I’m so confused.” I looked around and things were a bit more of a vibe then last time.
“Sit down, sit down – we have our last meal before we have to batten down the hatches and wait for the oncoming storm.” Saitou dragged me away and motioned for everyone to find a seat. “Normally we don’t all sit in the mess hall for anything these days, but I’ve collected anyone and everyone I could that was left on staff and students that aren’t fighting in the lines or dead and gone.”
“Gee, I feel so special Dad.” Psilas groaned as he walked out from the kitchen with a piled lasagna dish. “Eat up guys, g’ma’s ‘sanga special!”
“Lasagna? Mom’s … Lasagna?” Rana blinked, got up from his seat and stalked Psilas for the moment putting his nose eerily close to the glass dish. “ Mmmmm lasagna.” He stopped in his tracks, and anxiously sat back down and put his shirt over his face while sniffling a little and trying to slip under the table so nobody sees him.
“You can stop pouting, we all miss mom.” Ryan dragged Rana up from under the table and rolled his eyes. “Even me, who usually ignores the fact that the emotion you’re feeling exists.”
“Hey I miss her and I never met her.” Psilas put the lasagna on the table and pulled a picture out of his pocket. “The last time Mike was here he gave me this. I don’t know what time quadrant it’s from but it’s Lily.”
“You shouldn’t have other world photos laying around Psilas, it’s dangerous” Saitou snatched it off Psilas and pocketed it, and moved to the kitchen to bring more food out. “MATTHEW STOP LICKING THE FRIDGE.”
“STOP YELLING AT MY CHILD.” Rana quipped.
“Him and Luke are in adult mode, LICKING THE FRIDGE FROM THE OUTSIDE. I can’t stress this enough, TEACH THEM things before their brains cement.” Saitou growled and peeled two adult sized figures from the kitchen and deposited them to the end of the table where Rana was sitting.
“Matthew, Lucas… just because Daddy isn’t here doesn’t mean you can act like dipshits and lick the fridge out of stress.” Rana trying to parent was actually the cutest thing on the planet. I mean, I didn’t expect that i’d have a kid or something but i guess it just happened. “Don’t cry, if you have to let your brains go into other mode it’s OK just – remember what we taught you”
“And what would that be?” I quietly asked, “What’s ‘other mode’?” I’m losing my mind, I should know what’s going on – but I’ve been shunted to different places and I’ve lost family so excuse me if parts of the last week are blank.
“They’re Thomas and Piri from the future, so they turn into Kristoff and Rana respectively because they’re well sort of clones, sort of not.” Psilas replied, “They’ve been hiding in the future and they got out before the shunting happened.”
“Ok that’s not just .. a little creepy, that’s super fucking creepy.” I should’ve been more careful. I somehow sort of remember Yasuo saying something about this. Yet somehow i’m starting to remember that they were able to do this another time. My mind is just blocking things left and right, and I’ve had my barriers removed. Why does it keep doing this?
“Be aware, the words you will say from now on doesn’t just affect me dear brother, but you’ll have two child like versions of Kristoff and I to deal with if I let them be adults for the evening. Have care, because I haven’t had time to teach them more manners than their parents have.” Rana sighed and glared at me.
“I’m just saying, I’m creeped out – I’m not saying…”
“You’re going to be in deep shit if you continue, so i’d quit.”
“Dad, why is Uncle Justin being a fucktard.” Lucas blinked for a moment, his eyes matching Kristoff’s and in this mode – they have less of a childlike glow to them.
“YEA PAPA why is Uncle being Weird.” Matthew wasn’t any good at trying to be an adult, I can see – his brain sits too close to being Rana – and Rana being fried at the best of days, i’d imagine Matthew is a few screws loose more than Rana.
“Because he hasn’t been here in a while, and nor have you two. Your mini field trip almost got you two killed. Your Uncle isn’t trying to be mean, he just hasn’t gotten his thick skull around the prospect of you two being the way you are.” Rana scooted over on his chair and watched as two more chairs followed and Matthew and Luke sat by him. “Do chew your food, I realize you have adult bodies but you two suck up food like you’re still toddlers – which is why we haven’t fully brought you outside the house.”
“Enough yapping about who’s creepy and who’s not, let’s all sit down and eat. I’m not meaning harm by my tired words, just that we’re all gathered for a reason and I don’t want to continue ruining it.” I laughed a little, I know it’s hard when you have a large amount of people together in one space before the end of time. Sinners, non believers – believers and non sinners alike you could say – but whatever the cost
“We’re here because there’s not much more we can do, and there’s someone coming home tomorrow that isn’t who they should be. While I know they could be on the doorstep tonight, i’ve made it quite clear that they had some errands to finish before arriving tomorrow.” Saitou nervously checked his phone, and I noticed the amount of stress level that was rising when he opened up the text messages. “Phew, they accepted the errands and yes at earliest it’ll be after dinner, and at latest tomorrow.”
“You can just say it.”
“No, dear I cannot. I am aware I’m risking it by just checking my phone, and even slightly mentioning it. Ears and eyes are everywhere by now, and even in our own home – because of who once owned this place.” Saitou sat down finally, pouring some water into my glass and motioning for everyone else to sit down. We had seats for at least fifty, but only half or less than that showed up.
“Is that why only a certain amount of us showed up”
“Yea, I think there’s more than just eyes and ears around here and I’m not prepared to fight it until I have all my things in order.” Saitou pocketed his phone and smiled, “Ryan, I do thank you for getting a babysitter for your daughter.”
“Dude, she would’ve made a mess of this without the current impending doom. The fact you have water, lasagna and not pop tarts and rinsed off spaghetti o’s and kool-aid would mean she would’ve turned the electricity off, shoved the lasagna in everyone’s faces and hid under the sink for six days.” Ryan raised his eyebrow while grabbing a piece of garlic bread. “I mean i’m happy to have her sit her ass at home safely so she doesn’t fuck this up”
I stared down the glass of water in front of me, and started to look inward at everything that’s happened before. I’ve started to have a fragment of memories of shit that might be mine, but might not be. How much can you sort out before you go insane? Is this why they put barriers in my head all these years ago?
“Take some food honey, you’ll starve.” Saitou rubbed my shoulder and motioned for me to grab some food. “I made some satay in case you didn’t want your mother’s lasagna, and I made the Mexican chicken drums you suggested last time you were home.”
“I can’t eat this, I can’t eat with the notion we’re about to die – and there’s not much I can do to stop the oncoming storm.” I swigged the water around the glass, it was like I was hoping a hop or a vision was going to take me back somewhere else. It was as if I couldn’t take this anymore, because I couldn’t. I’m not depressed, i’m just critical of everyone’s future – and how we have zero time to not fuck this up.
Frankly, the mood was about right. You can’t be too careful what you wish for, and that isn’t just an old adage of the past. That was something Mike instilled in us back when we were in a renegade faction fighting against the same shit we’re fighting now. I was only shy of eighteen, just removed from the weapon program to have a better life. He’d tell us all that if you wish for shit far too hard, it’ll come true. Not like chocolate chip cookies and weed was a big deal when I was that age -but when you’re wishing for an alternative to the storm that’s almost as bad..
Staring down the barrel, the glass – the liquid moving around in a rotation, everything spinning at once. Sometimes in the hops, the skips and the jumps – nobody can see me fall over, my eyes rolling back. Sometimes they do, but in this case nothing shows – and I just move on like nothing ever happened. Of course, if you look back at this – Saitou knows, and everyone knows- they’re just not saying anything.
And yes, the room’s gone black.