CHAPTER 6: DEUS DECEPTOR
Three minutes ago…
Julie had grabbed her bag and ran back inside the building when she saw the two men in black approaching. In the empty lobby she was met by the imposing eagle copper statue that stood at the center, its wings spread out in a predatory pose. Though she had seen it before, today she felt its lifeless eyes were watching her.
“God, is that you?” she pondered. The statue glared down at her.
She looked around. The only ones that could still be in the building were the janitors, who were nowhere near, or the afterschool tutors upstairs. What if she went looking for them? However, what if as soon as she left to get help her father came for looking for her? He would then leave again or run into the men in black, and him being sick from his heart, they could hurt him or much worse!
“Ah, shit!” Julie exclaimed.
“Little weese runs fast,” she heard one of the men in black say. Her attention was back to the glass doors behind her.
“Matches the description… Homme, brunette and preteen… could be her,” said another, much raspier, voice.
“And if she ain’t… should we kill her like the last one?” asked the first voice. Listening to this, Julie whimpered. Daddy, please get here RIGHT NOW!
“Nah, we can still make profit from her. That pedo freak Rajah’s always looking for new girls for videos,” responded the second voice.
“Yeah, he also said costumers overseas love the taste of their meat,” responded the first voice with a chuckle. Julie could not believe her ears.
Who are these nasty creeps!? Where the damn hocus pocus are you dad!? She thought alarmed. She dared not come closer to peek. She knew the two strangers were still outside and could not bear to look at that dark man again. The sight of him brought back nightmarish visions that skated through her mind…
He stood behind the glass door of A.S.P.T., looking at her. He grinned and she could see his baring yellowing fangs splitting his face in half. The light jagged scar that ran down his face stretched over folds of his cheek, deforming his bestial expression. He would ask to be let it. She would then hear screaming and turn around. Gurru would freeze in time as he flew towards her, telling her to get away from the door. Before she knew it, the man would be no longer outside but right beside her. His hand would cover mouth, muffling any pleas or screams… there would be more screaming, from children… of girls? In the darkness lastly came a red hooded figure… the Red Seraph.
“HEY!” A third voice called out. She looked again at the eagle statue confused, and back at the doors. Who’s that? Daddy? She wondered hopeful.
“Girl, can you hear me?” The third voice said. Julie realized he was talking to her, but his voice was alien to her.
“Who’s that idiot?” She heard one of the men in black ask.
“Girl, you still in there?” The third voice called again.
Curious, Julie parted from the copper statue’s side and came closer to the doors. She saw just behind the men in black a third giant, with blond hair, waving at her. The men in black were also looking at this guy.
“Your dad sent me!” The blond giant began.
He came dashing up the stairs, pushing between the men in black with ease. One of them cursed at him. Julie then saw him coming and quickly backed away from the doors. When he came inside, her head was immediately drawn to the pair of blue eyes mounted on top of his towering frame.
“Hey, kid… hi!” he waved again, lowering his head as he passed the EXIT sign and then nervously caressed the back of his head. He saw Julie drop her book bag in awe. He came closer, but digressed, not wanting to make sudden movements to frighten her. Julie knelt down and reached for her bag, not breaking eye contact once.
“I know Skye, your dad… he sent me,” the blond Theo said, smiling at her nervously. She could see his fangs were whiter than the dark man’s and he was not as frightening.
“My dad?” Julie gulped and then took a step backwards.
“Yeah, I’m Cedric,” He said, standing above the copper eagle statue beside them.
“Where is he? Where is my dad?” she took another step back, holding her book bag close in front of her. Her eyes suddenly widened. Cedric turned around.
The two men in black now stood on the other side of the doors. Cedric locked eyes with the bald man; both menacingly showed their fangs at each other and growled.
“Skye is coming,” Cedric said firmly, still looking at the bald man, “Her father’s coming.”
To this, the bald man’s menacing expression dropped. He glanced at his partner, the dark man, and shook his head. The dark man glared at Cedric. The two then turned their backs and walked away. Cedric quickly went to look out the doors, the men were leaving. He let out a loud sigh, caressing the glass.
“The bad men are gone, kid,” he turned to glance at the frightened Julie.
“You know my dad?” she inquired. Cedric nodded.
“Where is he? Why is he taking so damn long?” Julie asked.
“I saw him following those guys… he was worried they came looking for you,” Cedric rubbed the back of his neck.
“So he sent you?” Julie furrowed her brows.
“Yeah… I mean, I’m faster than the little guy when he’s not flying,” Cedric admitted.
“Oh,” Julie took a step forward. Dad is a slow walker when he doesn’t fly.
“Come, let’s wait for him outside,” Cedric held the door open.
On her way out, Julie tapped on the floor with her red shoes. Moving past Cedric, she eyed him from head to toe.
“Mister…” Cedric looked at her.
“Thank you,” she said.
Walking down the stairs, Cedric patiently kept up with her. Julie smiled, noticing how he hunched when passing under the archway—which was three inches taller than him.
“Wow… you’re big!” She exclaimed.
“Heh, I get that a lot!” Cedric smirked.
“Do you know who those men were?” Julie inquired.
“No, but next time don’t wait, run as far as you can! Scream for help!” Cedric moved ahead and stood in front of her, a concerned look on his face.
“Stranger danger, I know,” Julie looked down and quickly noticed Cedric’s big toe was visible through a hole on his shoe.
“Yeah… stranger danger,” Cedric looked down and hid his foot behind his leg. Julie looked up, her face illuminated.
“Daddy, what took you so long?” she inquired. Skye came running from around the corner of the fence.
Cedric turned around. Skye was soaked in sweat and had wet stains around the neck of his sweater. He came closer, a look of surprise on his face.
“Cedric?” Skye cocked his head.
“Hey, dude,” Cedric replied.
Julie ran up to Skye and put her arms around him.
“Daddy, it was so scary! These big ugly men tried to kidnap me to make videos and EAT me!” Julie cried, rubbing her face against Skye’s stomach.
“Oh my Gods!” Skye exclaimed,
“Did they hurt you?” Julie shook her head.
“Yeah… big men in black,” Cedric said.
“Where did they go?” Skye inquired.
“Mister Cedric sent them away,” Julie looked at her father and then at her protector. Her rosy cheeks stained with tears. Skye eyed Cedric expectantly.
“I didn’t see where they went, dude, your kid was scared shitless so…” Cedric shrugged.
“How did you know?” Skye asked.
“After you left, I… I couldn’t stop thinking about that car, the Icarus, so I followed it. Then I saw you and those guys… you were roof jumping,” Cedric confessed.
Skye let go of his daughter and walked towards Cedric, his expression fixed into a narrow gaze.
“Cedric… did you see the driver’s face?” Skye’s spoke in a serious tone. Cedric noted what color Skye’s eyes were. Surprisingly, they were violet.
“Did you see the driver’s face?” Skye asked again, now more slowly. His eyes had a slight hint of red.
Cedric’s heart raced and his body trembled. He gulped, still focusing on Skye’s eyes. They were changing from reddish violet… back to brown (their natural color). To his relief, Skye then sighed and gave him a sympathetic face.
“That’s okay, bud,” Skye patted Cedric’s arm and turned to his daughter, bringing her close. Julie leaned her head against her father and put her arm around his back.
“Julie’s my world, my life… thank you,” Skye gave Cedric a nod of approval.
“Thanks, Mr. Cedric,” Julie said, waving her small hand at the blue-eyed giant.
Cedric stood still, waving back. He then saw father and daughter hold onto each other in embrace. Both were showered by a blue aura that rippled from atop Skye’s head. Suddenly, they lifted off the ground, a small cloud of dust dispersed under their feet and cracks webbed out around a crater where they had last stood. In seconds Skye and Julie were pulled up by an invisible force and were out of Cedric’s sight. Their blinking blue silhouettes joined the vast indigo sky, then dashed across Luna and Concordia—their world’s two moons—like a shooting star.
MARCH 28, 2028
“SHOO! SHOO!” Gurru flapped his wings at the pigeon grooming its plumage.
The birds stood over the black metal pole protruding the brick wall of the building, just above the front door, from which chains held the wooden sign that read ART SUPPLIES & PAS-TIMES.
“Coo?” the adamant pigeon cocked its head.
“You heard me, metropolitan vermin! Fly off my property this instant!” the plumage atop Gurru’s head rose in warning.
The pigeon turned around, lifted its tail and defecated over the sign. Gurru gapped his beak indignantly.
“YOU ASKED FOR IT, PIG!” the angry songbird shrieked and jumped at the suddenly astonished pigeon, despite it being twice his size.
Below them, a green-skinned roller skater merrily hummed by. However, as she rolled under the wooden sign, she got knocked to the ground by a falling object. From above, Gurru spit out the cluster of feathers he held on his beak.
The girl sat on the sidewalk, dazed, when a passing businessman man with glasses ran to help her. She looked around and saw the pigeon lying on its back beside her, now devoid of several of its feathers and frightened still.
“Tell your friends my roof is no place for hobos,” Gurru whispered from above. His words went unheard by most due to the frightened girl’s screams.
“Dad, Gurru has done it again!” Julie called out, watching from the window inside the store. She turned to the counter, where her father stood in front of his laptop.
“Fighting with pigeons again? Remind me to not get on his bad side,” Skye took a bite out of his crunchy turkey sandwich. He set it down over its wrapper and resumed typing on the keyboard.
“How’s inventory?” Julie asked, walking to her father and leaning over his shoulder. She saw him writing something lengthy, broken into bubbles with avatars. Her dad’s avatar was a picture of them posing for the webcam while the other avatar was that of a tribal pattern over a dark fleshy surface.
“Oh, I finished inventory ages ago! Now I’m conversing online with a friend!” Skye admitted, affectionately rubbing his cheekbone against his daughter’s head.
“Who is Kgosi?” Julie curiously began to read the monitor.
CHIEF KGOSI: We happy. Celebrated union of sister Esha and second mate Zina.
BROTHER SKYE: How lovely! J Hope the clan finds happiness in their new member. Is Zina going to help nurse sister Esha and brother Juma’s new baby? I heard they had a boy.
CHIEF KGOSI: Yes. Juma happy father. Named son Kafele. Boy has two mothers.
BROTHER SKYE: He is a lucky child! I hope to visit the Upendo soon. I miss the tribe so much!
CHIEF KGOSI: We miss brother Skye.
“Kgosi is the leader of the Upendo tribe in the Cavaican continent. He’s an old friend from years ago,” Skye looked at his daughter.
“Are those the Theos with fins on their noses that walk around nudie?” Julie asked with concern.
“Indeed they are,” Skye took another bite out of his sandwich, and then he opened a different tab and browsed for videos.
“How weird, don’t they get embarrassed?” Julie commented.
“Nope. They believe the human body is a beautiful work of art that shouldn’t be covered, because it reflects our individuality best. They also paint their bodies to enhance their beauty, it’s actually pretty fun,” Skye offered Julie a bite of his lunch. She politely refused.
“Have you done it?” Julie gave her dad a surprised look.
“I have! It was part of my initiation into the Upendo tribe. First they stripped me naked and covered me in clay from head to toe. I willingly shaved my head too, and then decorated every part of my body with symbols from ash of a nearby volcano!” Skye chuckled.
“Didn’t you get cold?” Julie pondered.
“No, the climate in the Sahara is so hot it was unbearable to wear any clothing! I actually enjoyed the nudist experience!” Skye held his finger over the ENTER key.
“What are those fins on their faces?” Julie pointed at her own nose.
“It’s an ethnic trait; something only that certain geographically isolated tribe has. A bone growth, similar to the horns on a Theo’s temples, except this one comes up their nose bridge in between their brow and takes on an arched shape like a shark’s fin,” he then pressed ENTER on his keyboard.
“Dang, you know your stuff, Dad!” Julie whistled.
“It’s called street smarts, darling,” Skye replied.
Their attention was then drawn to the screen, at a video of a cat wearing a sweater and playing the piano with its frontal paws.
When Gurru came back inside the store through the custom pipe above his cage, connected to the roof, he heard hysterical laughter from both father and daughter.
“Ooh, I have one! Yuki showed me this one at school!” Julie exclaimed. Skye moved aside to let her type into the browser: dancing chicken.
“You’re going to love this, daddy!” Skye excitedly grinned as he took another bite out of his sandwich.
Gurru had begun to clean his beak by dipping it into his bowl of water and rubbing it against the wooden surface when he noted a piece of meat sticking out from between the toasted bread and hanging below Skye’s hand.
“Eh-hem, what is that?” Gurru asked.
“Where?” Skye turned surprised, unaware Gurru was back.
“In your sandwich. What is in it?” the songbird puffed up.
“Oh! Spinach, pickles, honey mustard and turkey…” Skye suddenly realized what he had said.
“OH! No, I meant… tofurkey! Yeah!” Skye nervously tried correcting himself. Gurru flapped his wings at him.
“YOU MONSTER!” the bird shrieked. Julie instantly paused the video of the dancing internet chicken and glanced at the commotion.
“Uh-oh, Dad, you know Gurru hates it when we eat other birds in front of him!” Julie mentioned. Skye gulped, setting down his sandwich and backing away from the counter.
“It’s only a turkey! Not like I’m eating your relatives!” Skye said.
“I COULD HAVE BEEN A TURKEY IN MY PAST LIFE! HOW DARE YOU?” Gurru flew at Skye and began pecking at him.
“Ow! Ouch—I thought you were a T-Rex!” he tried shielding his face with his hands, but every peck hurt the same regardless.
“YOU CALLING ME A CHICKEN?!” Gurru flew up and roared, then dove down and flew past Skye, making him trip over a stool.
“Stop it! I’ll turn vegan! I promise!” Skye plead on the floor.
“You said that last month!” Gurru pinched Skye’s flesh.
Suddenly, Julie closed the lid of the laptop and took a deep breath.
“CUSTOMER ALERT!” she hollered.
In that instant, Gurru ceased his revenge on Skye and flew over to Julie’s arm. The girl then held the songbird and placed him inside his cage. Skye sat up and felt something wet in his cheek. He collected a few blood drops on his fingertips. There were also tiny triangular marks and scratches over his hands.
“Crazy old bird! You made me bleed!” Skye snapped.
“Bad Gurru! Bad Gurru!” Julie scolded the bird in the cage.
“Look who is talking about being crazy!” Gurru responded, locking glances with Skye.
“W-what are you trying to say?” Skye quizzed, coming closer.
“Drop the act, Skye! I know about the voices in your head!” Gurru puffed up once more.
To this Skye remained silent. Julie looked at him expectantly. She then noticed Gurru looking up too.
“What’s the matter, Daddy?” she asked.
“Stay out of this, Julie! And you!” Skye pointed at Gurru.
“I know the truth about you!” Gurru stated firmly. Skye felt his blood beginning to boil.
Eek! Detective Bird has found us out! Silence him! Erebus muttered inside Skye’s head.
“Whatever! You’re nothing but a decrepit old bird going senile!” Skye stomped hard on the floor and turned his back on Gurru.
“Dad!” Julie exclaimed in surprise, noticing Gurru lowered his head.
Oh-ho-ho! Things getting exciting around here! Hope I didn’t miss a thing! Erebus hummed inside Skye’s head. In response he angrily tapped at his temple, hoping Erebus fell down. Gurru kept watching. That won’t work, chum! Skye then shook his head, trying to silence him. Heh! Am still here! Listen—we can’t let that little snitch ruin things!
“He—he started it! That damned talking… parrot and its remarks… I’m sick of it!” Skye responded, his irises turning red.
“I am tired of you as well, but what can I do?” Gurru spoke with resignation,
“You ruined my life long ago, Skye; the least you owe me is respect!”
“RESPECT?!” Skye roared and raised his closed fist at the cage, his eyes on fire. Gurru let out a low chirp, hopping onto his nest in the corner and looking up with his beak wide open.
Go on! Silence that little fucker once and for all! Erebus shouted in a rabid tone. Skye’s fist began to shake. Gurru let out another chirp. If ya didn’t restrain yerself, ya could be the most powerful man in the world! Ya could be a god! Erebus said.
“Dad, stop!” Julie grabbed the cage and moved it behind her. Gurru braced himself, seeing his seeds and water get tipped over by the sudden movement.
“You’re acting like children!” she added.
Skye glanced at his daughter. He noticed this time she did not cower when showing defiance towards him. He closed his eyes and sighed. Suddenly, there was knocking at the front door.
“I’ll get it,” Skye said calmly. When he opened the door he saw none other than Julie’s fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sadira, at the doorstep.
“Good evening, are you open?” the woman asked with a smile.
“Oh—we are!” Skye ripped out the LUNCH BREAK sign on the door and welcomed her inside.
Julie set Gurru’s cage back in its proper place in the counter, when she saw her teacher and a mischievous smile drew across her face.
“Mrs. Sadira! Hi!” Julie excitedly exclaimed, raising her arms in the air.
“Miss Travell, how are you enjoying the day off?” Sadira asked, welcoming her student’s embrace.
“I’m having fun! How was the staff meeting this morning?” Julie inquired.
Skye glanced at both Sadira and Julie. He then smirked and discreetly made his way behind the counter.
“Oh! Dad, did you know Mrs. Sadira likes cranberry juice too?” Julie excitedly said, holding onto her teacher’s arm, bringing her closer to her father.
“I-I just drink it for the antioxidants,” Skye said humbly making brief eye contact with Sadira and giving his daughter a confused look.
“Same… eh, Miss Travell, could you please let go of my arm?” Sadira requested. Julie instead led her to the shelves.
“I will give you the tour! We have all your stuffy school needs! Whatever we don’t have we will order it for you!” Julie said, showing her teacher their banner on 50 percent discount on all holiday decorations.
“Thank you… I would like to look on my own, if that’s okay,” Sadira responded politely. Julie saw her father avoiding contact with Sadira and frowned.
“Mrs. Sadira! Did you know my dad has beautiful handwriting?” she divulged.
“Julie,” Skye, on his laptop again, called out to her in a serious tone.
In response, Julie marched to the couch on the far opposite end, where she sat with her arms crossed and a look of disappointment.
Yer kid was only trying to help! Look at her teacher! Look! Erebus commanded. Skye looked up, seeing Julie’s teacher bending over the shelves in a way that made her pants accentuate the shape of her buttocks. Ain’t she hot? In response, Skye shook his head and then turned to his left, where Julie still sat on the couch.
Skye looked back to his computer, on the monitor he stared blankly at his desktop. Beside him, Gurru had stopped looking at him and groomed his feathers instead.
Psst, hey! Erebus called out again. Skye closed his eyes and focused, soon finding himself standing in the mindscape.
“What do you want, Erebus?” Skye stood in front of Erebus.
“Hey, ya are getting good at this mind stuff!” Erebus chuckled.
“Um, yes,” Skye dismissed his comment.
“Wait—I want you to hear me out!” Erebus added.
“Then talk,” Skye responded.
“It’s been 9 years since Daisy died, that’s in the past! Give this hottie a chance! Yer daughter freaking brought her here for ya!” Erebus grew excited.
“How would you know that?” Skye became suspicious.
“Eh—never mind that… back to what’s important here!” Erebus said impatiently.
“What’s that?” Skye inquired.
He suddenly realized both Julie and Sadira were looking at him expectantly. Erebus was nowhere to be seen. The black void had morphed back to the store. He was no longer in the mindscape.
Where did ya go? Erebus asked.
“Eh… did you hear about that new property tax? What’s up with that?” Skye nervously improvised, looking from side to side. Sadira grinned and bend over again.
She's smokin' hot! Aroo! Skye smiled at Erebus’ howling sounds.
Suddenly, Sadira came over to the counter with several rolls of colorful tissue paper.
Hey, Skye! Look at ‘em boobs! Skye instinctively could not help to glance at Sadira’s cleavage for a second. He quickly cleared his throat and looked back to his computer screen. Seeing his desktop again, he had no idea what to do.
I wanna get laid! Erebus stated and Skye suddenly felt his hip jerk forward, his groin pressing against the wooden counter. His eyes widened in surprise.
“What… how did you do that?” Skye whispered to Erebus.
He felt his body jerk forward again, but he managed to hold onto the counter. From his cage, Gurru felt his cage rattle and saw his water bowl vibrate. He looked up, moving his head sideways, unsure of what was going on.
“Excuse me?” Sadira asked Skye. The latter nervously looked at her and forced a smile.
“Um… my computer! It’s acting weird!” He improvised again.
“Could be a virus?” Sadira suggested.
“Are you ready to purchase?” Skye asked, becoming desperate for her to leave but not wanting to sound rude.
“Oh, yes,” Sadira began looking through her purse. Skye found his eyes back on her cleavage. A drop of sweat ran down his side.
Ask her out! I wanna get some! I HAVE TO! Skye then nervously shook his head. Sadira gave him a confused glance and he changed his head movements to rapid nodding. If ya don’t ask her, I’ll do it then!
“NO!” Skye exclaimed. Sadira looked at Julie with concern, a paper bill on hand. The girl shrugged, equally puzzled at her father’s behavior.
“I mean… notebooks? We have a special on them!” Skye added, his voice showing restrain.
“Um… maybe next time. Thank you,” Sadira gave him a little smile and handed him the money.
Skye’s hand involuntarily trembled as he grabbed the money and made his way to the cashier.
Please! I need some lovin'! I can’t get any ‘cause my snake’s dead! But ya… Yer still got a damn fine one! Watch! Skye suddenly slouched over, leaning against the counter. He felt a rush of blood going to his loins. Sadira looked at him concernedly.
“Are… are you okay?” Sadira asked.
“Daddy?” Julie rose from the couch.
“Ah… yes… just need a minute here,” Skye responded, making hand gestures for neither of them to come closer.
Curious, Gurru squinted his beady eyes and then opened them wide. He looked down and saw the pointed bulge protruding from Skye’s groin, which he desperately attempted to conceal. He looked up at Sadira and then cheeped loudly, drawing her attention and Julie’s to his cage.
“What is it, Gurru?” Julie asked. Sadira noticed the bird flew around his cage non-stop.
Skye shut his eyes. Please, stop this! He pleaded to Erebus with his mind.
Ah need to get some, Skye! Erebus responded loudly.
Not my daughter’s teacher! Skye’s muscles contracted violently.
In the mindscape, Erebus was pushed back by an invisible force and witnessed a wall materialize in front of him brick by brick. Skye exhaled as if he had held his breath for a long time. At last the bulge in his pants subsided.
NOO! Let me out, jerk! Please—I’ll be yer friend! I’ll be good! I'll leave ya alone! Erebus violently pounded at the brick wall with superhuman strength. The more he hit the more bricks began to rain around him and the greater the sting that struck Skye’s brain. I’ll give ya ma soul! Lots o' money! Hugs and kisses! A puppy! A sandwich!! A bigger cock!!
“Have a nice day!” Skye raised his voice, interrupting Erebus, and then brusquely entered the money into the cashier and handed Sadira her change. She noted he was covered in sweat and had turned a sickly pale in a matter of seconds.
“I should call an ambulance,” Sadira suggested. Julie held onto her teacher’s hand, with mild fright.
“LEAVE… please,” Skye said in a deep double voice, half his and half Erebus. Finally, Julie led Sadira to the door, clueless yet apologizing for what had transpired during her visit to A.S.P.T.
Meanwhile, in the mindscape, Erebus kicked the remnants of the mental block wall, tearing it down. However, in the process Erebus changed into a more ghastly appearance, much more frail and decomposed than before. ARGHH! I HATE YA! STUPID BASTARD! I’M GONNA CUT OFF YER BALLS AND SHOVE THEM DOWN YER…!
After she closed the door and saw her teacher off, Julie went back to find Gurru scolding her father, who held onto his forehead in agony.
“You sick pervert! How could you do that in front of a costumer?” Gurru snapped. Skye remained silent. He attempted to walk, only to collapse on his knees, still holding onto his head.
“Gurru, stop! Daddy, you okay?” Julie ran to hold her father from the shoulders.
“Losing my grip… over him,” Skye divulged.
“Who?” Julie inquired. She immediately turned to Gurru, who looked at Skye suspiciously.
“Dad, do you feel any tingling on your left arm?”
“It is the right arm, dear,” Gurru corrected her.
“Just a migraine… that’s all,” Skye grunted.
Color returned to his face and he looked up at his daughter, still breathing in a controlled manner.
“What were you thinking? Trying to set me up with your teacher?” Skye coughed.
“I’m sorry, daddy! I had seen you so lonely and sad lately!” Julie explained.
“Damn it, Julie! She’s a married woman with children!” Skye snapped.
“WHAT?” She exclaimed in surprise.
“Why else did you think she was a Mrs?”
“Dunno. I never gave that any thought!” Julie confessed, feeling foolish.
“You probably didn’t know, but your teacher is married to a good man, a soldier stationed overseas… she misses him and worries about him daily,” his voice dropped.
“She fears he won’t come back… because of his job and she loves him so much… I couldn’t live with myself if I destroyed their family!” He added.
What a queer! Erebus said bitterly. Skye then focused and sent Erebus flying back again. Before he could build another mental block, however, Erebus sent his shadowy tendrils from within the void and himself to tear it down. Skye clenched his teeth and pressed his fingers into his temple. Blood ran down his nose.
“Bloody mac and cheese!” Julie stomped the floor boards and pounded on the counter, unaware of her father’s struggle.
“I’m such an idiot!” She cried.
“You’re not an idiot… just too passionate, caring and good hearted—which is good in most cases,” Skye admitted and quickly wiped the blood on his sleeve.
He managed to get back on his feet and brought Julie close to hug her. She tightly clung her arms around his back.
“Just… stop meddling in my love life, okay?” he caressed her head.
“Okay,” she sighed in her father’s arms.
Julie then glanced at the small circular mirror on the wall. There she saw Erebus reflected, looking physically worn out and upset. He shook his head at her in disappointment. She in turn could not help how embarrassed and angry she felt at that moment. It had been her idea but she had considered asking her father first about how he felt about dating her teacher. Unfortunately, it had been God’s ill-natured advise had led her to keep her teacher’s visit a surprise. Seeing the negative effect divine intervention had on her plans, she pondered: Could she ever trust God’s will again?
A man just can’t have fun anymore without things turning into a fucking mess… yep, life sucks! Erebus thought to himself. He sighed and turned away, instantly vanishing from the mirror.
“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Julie looked away from the empty mirror and pressed her face against her father’s shirt.
Suddenly, the front door opened again. Skye and Julie curiously faced their newest visitor. Gurru as usual pretended to be an ordinary songbird. To their surprise, this was no ordinary visitor.
“Mister Cedric!” Julie exclaimed, happily running to greet him.
“Hi, kid… you been staying out of trouble?” Cedric asked extending his index finger for her to shake.
“Nah!” Julie replied with a wide smile.
“Hey, Ced,” Skye waved from the counter,
“What brings you here?” Cedric looked up at Skye and grinned.
He was wearing heavy duty work boots, a white helmet with holes for his horns, goggles around his neck and a blue jump suit.
“Just on my lunch break, man,” Cedric said.
“You work for a construction site?” Skye inquired.
“Kinda, they needed personnel for that city-wide Lucifer tree project… I needed a job, so…” Cedric held onto his helmet humbly.
“I’m so happy you are doing well,” Skye beamed at him.
“Heh, thanks, dude,” Cedric looked at Julie, who curiously reached for his work helmet.
“Are you super-duper strong?” Julie asked, focusing on his blue eyes.
“Yeah, I am,” Cedric responded.
“How strong?” Skye interrupted, surprising Julie.
“Oh… well, I can lift a van over my head,” Cedric scratched the back of his neck.
“That is so awesome!” Julie chanted.
Gurru let out a chirp. Cedric turned to the bird cage and walked closer.
“Oh, hello there, little guy,” Cedric greeted Gurru, who responded with a series of soft whistles. Cedric then pressed his lips together and whistled along.
“Hey, you sounded just like Gurru!” Julie jumped in excitement,
“How did you do that?”
The giant then turned to face her and showed her how he moved his lips into a round O-shape. Julie tried it, making an off-tune whistle.
“Gurru, you can greet Cedric,” Skye said looking at the elderly songbird. Gurru looked at Skye surprised.
“He knows,” Skye added.
“WHAT?!” Gurru hollered.
“Holy cow, the bird just talked!” Cedric exclaimed, backing away.
“Of course I talked… wait a minute!” Gurru turned swiftly to Skye,
“He did not know! How dare you trick me into revealing our family secrets?”
“I trust him, he’s my pal,” Skye responded with a mischievous smile.
Julie held onto Cedric’s massive hand with both of her much smaller hands as she looked with rejoice at his reaction.
“Close your mouth, silly, or you will swallow a fly!” She laughed. Speechless, Cedric looked still at Skye and Gurru arguing with each other.
MARCH 29, 2028
Under the soothing shade of the schoolyard’s eldest black walnut tree, Julie sat with her notebook and pencil during recess. Thousands of catkins swung freely in the wind and rained over the young artist. Seeing a catkin over her misshapen squirrel doodle, she looked up at the tree.
“Thank you but I am no artist… I stink!” she smiled before tearing the page out. In response, a cluster of catkins fell on her.
“Eh… who are you talking to?” Yuki asked, with both hands behind her back and standing mere feet from her.
“The tree,” Julie responded.
“Can it hear us?” Yuki asked innocently.
“Sure it can! It’s a living thing!”
“What does the tree say?”
“Nothing, it prefers to listen,” Julie tried drawing what looked like a faerie cat.
In that instant, she felt an unusual wind blow behind her neck. She looked up. Yuki’s shadow began to quiver over the grass. Yuki noted the look on Julie’s face and began looking around.
“What do I have on me?” She asked worriedly.
“N-nothing…” Julie then saw a dark silhouette rise from the shadows.
“Eh… are you sure?” Yuki asked again.
Julie nodded. In reality, beside her friend she could see the silhouette solidified, revealing a skeletal fleshy visage and resembling a mummy with its arms crossed over its chest.
“Oh, that is a nice cat,” Yuki said looking at Julie’s doodle.
Julie nodded at her, staring the opposite direction. Yuki looked around again, but saw no one else under the walnut besides them.
“I’m gonna go… um… see if I find the cat again,” with that, Yuki left Julie in solitude.
Meanwhile, staring at the morphing shadows, Julie saw what was becoming the silhouette’s head slowly unraveling up similarly to a party tooter. The arms spread open as the head moved around and snapped its jaw into place.
“Missed me?” Erebus asked with open arms.
Julie lowered her head and silently avoided eye contact. Back on her notebook, she was now compelled to attempt to draw a detailed face with eyebrows, lashes, lips and nose.
“Hey, don’t ignore me!” Erebus looked down over the girl’s shoulder; the way his long thin limbs held onto the tree trunk reminiscent of an arachnid looming over its helpless prey from a wall. His head and shoulders moved closer to her in a slithering manner, until his mouth was next to Julie’s tender ear.
“Chica, what’s yer problem?” his voice sounded gentler.
Julie shivered and shrunk, moving away from Erebus. She gave him a mild look of disgust.
“Your stupid advice got me in trouble!” Julie declared.
“’twas yer idea,” Erebus shook his head.
“But you encouraged me!” Julie nodded.
“Heh, typical of women… ya gonna be mad at me all day?” Erebus rose up the trunk, extending an arm to grab onto the nearest branch.
“No, I just don’t know if I can trust you again, God!” Julie set down her notebook on her lap. The face she drew looked crooked, with an eye smaller than the other and disproportionate brows and lips.
“Lemme see?” Erebus looked at the face she drew,
“No, it is not,” Julie responded angry.
“Not to you, but to me… I would kill to have this face!” Erebus continued to observe the doodle. Julie looked up at him, noticing his features had grown more skeletal and inhuman since they first met.
“Ya have always been beautiful… a goddess among mortals,” Erebus brought his fingers closer, fondling her soft rosy cheek.
“I… did not feel anything,” Julie furrowed her brows, feeling the same cheek Erebus had just touched.
“That’s ‘cause I ain’t alive nor dead…” Erebus whispered to her. Julie frowned,
“I ain’t a ghost either, but here I am. Only ya can see me… my precious child.”
Julie quivered and looked attentively at Erebus’ empty eye sockets. Despite having no visible eyes, it seemed he could still see her somehow. She gulped.
“How can you see me with no eyes?”
“Kid, I need no eyes, I’m God! The world is me!” Erebus laughed.
“Duh,” Julie patted her head and laughed along.
“Yeah, duh!” Erebus repeated, he looked down at the doodle again,
“Wanna learn a new trick, pretty eyes?”
Julie instantly looked up and nodded with excitement. Erebus brought his long bony arm down from the tree branch and pressed his finger against the smooth paper surface, tracing the right eye.
“Do as I do,” Erebus commanded.
Julie began to move her finger along the contour of the left eye.
“Now… will it blink?” Erebus asked.
“Yeah,” Julie responded.
As soon as she lifted her finger from the sheet, the eye closed. Julie gasped, bringing her hands to her mouth. Soon the eye opened again.
“Well done!” Erebus said in a lively voice.
“I… I did that?” Julie saw the eye move around independently.
“Yes… YES! Now, make it stop!” Erebus tapped at the sheet.
“H-how do I do that?” Julie tapped at the eye, making it blink rapidly.
“Destroy it,” Erebus responded somberly.
Julie then tore the sheet from her notebook and wrinkled it into a ball. She still clasped onto it when Erebus nodded at her approvingly. She then opened the ball of paper. The eye no longer moved, but it did not look like it did before either. Julie dropped the ball and screamed. The inanimate eye now looked like it had exploded, probably when she wrinkled the sheet between her hands. Julie then heard Erebus’ wild laughter beside her.
“Let’s have some fun!” Erebus jumped off the tree and landed in front of her in an arachnid pose.
“Did I kill it?” Julie asked concernedly.
“Nah, ya just reverted it to normal,” Erebus stood rigidly and extended his arm to her.
“What do we do next?” Julie inquired, a smile forming across her face.
“We get even,” Erebus responded.
Meanwhile, Skye and Cedric were having lunch together inside the restaurant the “Hungry Mole.” Cedric then looked up, hearing a train screeching beside them upon its arrival. Both then stared out the window, passengers boarded and went inside of trains throughout the subway station.
“How’s the underground taco?” Skye asked Cedric, taking a mouthful of his crunchy meal.
“Very good,” Cedric replied, setting down his half-eaten taco over his bowl to lick the red sauce off his fingers,
“Hey, dude, can I ask you something?”
“Of course,” Skye replied and then took a sip from his green tea.
“How come your eyes change color?” Cedric asked. He tried grabbing a napkin, but ended up knocking over the napkin holder.
“Oh… they change depending on my mood or what I’m doing,” Skye grabbed the napkin holder and set it back up. He then handed Cedric two napkins.
“Thanks… so is there like a color for everything?” Cedric asked.
“Sort of, when I’m mad they turn red, when I’m sad they turn gray, amber gold for when I use my powers… and sometimes violet when I’m around Julie,” Skye took another sip of his tea.
“Hey, aren’t Julie’s eyes violet too?” Cedric said excitedly.
“Yep, it shows our father-child bond,” Skye grabbed his last taco.
“What about when they turn black?” Cedric noted as soon as he asked this, Skye immediately froze still in the middle of the first bite. He then set down the taco and sighed.
“You’ve noticed that too?” Skye asked. Cedric nodded.
“Listen… What I’m about to tell you, no one can know, understood?” Cedric nodded again.
“Not even Gurru or Julie?”
“Not even them,” Skye responded firmly.
Back in Searise Elementary, fellow classmate Anita Brown washed her hands when she glanced at the doodle on the mirror. It had been done with red crayon and resembled an octopus with an angry face. Underneath it read:
“How stupid! Who does that?” Anita said with a frown.
Suddenly, she heard a sneeze and turned around to the stalls behind her.
“Who’s there?” she asked. There was no answer.
Anita bend down, looking at the bottom of every stall. She saw no feet and assumed she was alone. She shook her head.
“I must be imagining things,” she said to herself.
When Anita walked past the mirror with the octopus and the message addressed to her, she felt something grab onto her shoulder.
“What the--?” She exclaimed, then seeing the octopus on the mirror had come alive and roared at her, swinging its tentacles around. One tentacle came out of the mirror and held onto her.
“AHHH! LET ME GO!” She shrieked in terror.
The octopus roared once more, before releasing her. The frightened girl dashed out the restroom screaming non-stop. It was seconds afterwards that laugher filled the girl’s restroom.
“Did ya see that bitch’s face? WAHH!” Erebus mocked Anita’s screaming.
“I bet she peed on herself!” Julie snorted with laughter.
She stood over the edges of the toilet seat inside the stall in front of the doodle on the mirror and held onto the walls. Just above her Erebus used all four limbs to hold onto the walls of the stall, keeping himself from falling over her.
“The sneeze nearly gave ya away, kid!” Erebus scolded her from above.
“Sorry, it’s stuffy in here!” Julie looked up.
“Let’s skedaddle before the grown-ups come!” Erebus suggested.
“Okay!” Julie said getting down from the toilet seat.
At the Hungry Mole, Cedric looks with concern at his friend. The waitress has taken away their empty bowls.
“Don’t feel sorry,” Skye said reassuringly,
“I’m the one who’s sorry most… I almost killed you!”
“You were only defending yourself,” Cedric responded,
“Well… he was.”
“Yes, he is strange like that. He seems to want to care for me sometimes but there are times when I think he wants to get rid of me,” Skye divulged.
“What is he? Why won’t he leave you alone?” Cedric asked.
“I don’t know… it’s been 30 years and I still have no idea what he is or what he wants,” Skye responded somberly.
“You say he is alive… how?”
“He is… at first when I was little I thought he was imaginary… but as the years went by I realized he was much more.”
“Maybe he is your twin?” Cedric suggested. Skye’s eyes widened.
“Like a conjoined twin?”
“Yeah, I mean, like when one twin absorbs the other inside the womb!”
“Oh snap… he could be,” Skye gulped.
Suddenly, he jumped in fright. Cedric backed away. The waitress and other people in the restaurant stood still.
“What?” Cedric asked.
“Oh, shit… nearly soiled myself,” Skye said catching his breath.
“What is it, dude? You okay?” Cedric reached across the table to him.
“You know who… he’s just outside the window,” to this Cedric slowly turned, but saw no one.
“Positive,” Skye coughed.
“Is he listening to us?” Cedric said in a low whisper.
“I am, chum,” Skye replied, his voice much deeper than usual and his eyes completely black. Cedric began stood up.
“Sit boy, sit!” Erebus ordered. Without hesitation Cedric did as told.
“Where is Skye?” Cedric gulped.
“He’s in here… with me,” Erebus replied.
“Let him go… just let him go,” Cedric clenched his fists.
“Or else…?” Erebus asked mockingly.
Cedric remained silent. There was nothing he could do. As long as Erebus took over, he too could use Skye’s powers and he was no match for him.
“Are you going to kill me?” Cedric asked.
“Maybe, but not here… I love this restaurant,” Erebus responded with a grin.
“What do you want?” Cedric demanded.
“Well, I want many things… foremost, a body to feel a beautiful woman’s touch…” Erebus began,
“I also want a family, friends… and the life this asshole friend of yours took from me!” His voice grew rabid.
Cedric looked in horror at Erebus. The man sitting across from him with Skye’s appearance acted like a whole different person.
“His twin brother living inside his brain?” Erebus interrupted with laughter and then said in a more serious voice,
“NO, I’m not, idiot.”
Cedric shrugged in confusion.
“Yer too stupid to understand, but lemme tell ya something, big guy… ya better stop asking questions ‘bout me,” Erebus warned.
“Or else,” Cedric said with hesitation.
“I’m gonna crush ya under my boot like a fucking roach,” Erebus responded with a wide smile. Cedric whimpered, which gave Erebus more delight.
Suddenly, Cedric saw Skye’s body jerk violently and fall off his seat. He stood up, looking at the small man trembling on the ground. The dark-skinned Theo waitress came running to their table.
“Wait!” Cedric said to her. He knelt down beside his friend’s body.
“Skye… buddy?” he asked, nervously placing his hand over his shoulder.
“C-Cedric…” Skye said weakly. He noticed his eyes had changed from black to brown.
“You okay, little man?” Cedric asked. The waitress seemed eager to call for help.
“’m okay…” Skye uttered softly, trying to get back up but failing to gather strength.
Cedric carefully cupped Skye between his arms like a wounded animal and placed him back on his seat.
“Kid, bring him some water!” Cedric told the waitress, who ran into the kitchen in a flash.
“Cedric… I’m losing…” Skye gasped for air. Cedric held onto his shoulders.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m so scared… my heart… he-he’s trying to take over… through my heart,” Skye broke down in tears.
Cedric brought Skye close and hugged him, being careful to not crush him.
“Don’t lose it, dude. If it’s your heart he’s after, we can fight him!” He said to Skye.
“Yes, you can!” Cedric reassured him.