Rhetorical Questions

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: House of Ghosts

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Cold Coffee

Submitted: July 11, 2019

Reads: 59

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Submitted: July 11, 2019

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Chapter One: Cold Coffee 

Articus Flint lays low underneath the brush. It’s so cold and wet, he thinks. Why couldn’t Jeremyah just do this during the day? He sighs and takes a large gulp of coffee from his hip flask. He knows the answer, but he doesn’t want to admit it. He raises his binoculars towards the massive mansion he carefully monitors. 

Meanwhile, his sibling Jeremyah drives through the surrouding town looking for a motel. Why couldn’t Articus just do his research for once? They take a steadying breath and continue their diligent search. They comb the town in search of a decent motel for a cheap price. It’s not like the siblings make a lot of money in their line of work. They park the car in front of a promising building. THE JADED DRAGON MOTEL reads the wooden sign above the doorway. They pull their hood over their head and stepped out into the rain. 

Hours later, just before sunrise, Articus stumbles into the motel. Mud covers his boots, jeans, and jacket. Leaves and twigs stick out from his curly blond hair in a random assortment. “Myah? Are you here?” He whispers carefully. The lights flicker on, and Jeremyah emerges from the sheets. They lay in the bed further from the door, as always. They push back the short stray hairs that escaped from their ponytail. 

“Yes! Where else would I be?” Jeremyah croaks. Their voice softens with their next question. “How did it go?”

“It went great!” Articus mutters sarcastically. At the disheartened face of his younger sibling, he changes his tone. “It was a little wet out, that’s all. I’m going to take a shower.”

“All right…” Jeremyah murmurs, slipping back under their covers. Articus kicks off his shoes by the door before crossing the space to the bathroom. He steps into the shower and sighs with relief as the warm water cascaded down his back. He stretches left and right. Perhaps laying under a bush for eight hours isn’t great for my back. He quickly washes his body and hair, using the same product as shampoo and bodywash. He wants nothing more than sleep. He rapidly pulls on a shirt and shorts, combs his hair, and then runs into bed. As soon as his head hits the pillow, he falls asleep.

When Articus’ head finally rises from his pillow, the sun stands halfway through the sky. “Myah?” He asks slowly as he sat up.

“Yeah?” Jeremyah replies from across the room. They sit at a cluttered desk sifting through the battered leather notebook Articus bought them for their eleventh birthday. They hold a half-eaten donut in one hand and a blue pen in the other. 

“Just checking that you’re there,” he sighs with relief, standing up beside the bed. “Is that coffee?”

“Yup.” Jeremyah finishes their donut and holds out a cup of coffee. Articus grabs the cup. He takes a sip and shook his head. 

“This is cold.” He explains, putting the cup down. Jeremyah rolls their eyes. They grab the cup and hold it between two hands, intently staring at it. They hand the cup back to their brother.

“Is that better?” Articus takes a sip. He nods.

“Thanks.” He sits down across from his sibling. “So, what are you working on?”

“I’m updating the Map.” 

“Ah.” He takes another sip, hoping to avoid the emotional conversation that surely comes after such a statement.

“We’re behind schedule,” Jeremyah states. “By two months.”

“Yeah, Myah, I was gonna talk to you about that.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, uh, Myah…” He puts the cup down and lays his head in his hands. “I don’t think this is a good idea. I think we should stop. Auntie would still let us back home, you know.”

“We can’t stop!” Jeremyah exclaims desperately. “We’ve gone so far, there’s no sense in turning back!”

“Myah, kid, this hunt, this obsession,” Articus looks up as he searched for the right words. “It’s toxic. We aren’t going to find them if they don’t want to be found.”

“But how do you know that they don’t want us to find them?” Both siblings stand up, although for different reasons. Jeremyah intends to storm out and have a good cry, while Articus intends to give his sibling a hug. “Why else would they leave clues?” Articus steps forward. He envelopes his small sibling in a massive, much needed hug. 

“Myah,” He whispers. “If Mum and Dad were coming back, don’t you think they would’ve come back before you were eighteen?”

“Arti-” They choke on a sob. “They promised!”

“I know they did, munchkin.” Articus strokes their sibling’s long, strawberry blonde curls. For the first time in a long while, he cries. He lets himself go behind the cover provided by an embrace. After all, he learned from a young age, a hug is a perfect way to hide your face.

The remains of the Flint family stand in a vaguely clean motel far from home. They also lay in graves in Illinois, the one place their children would never look. They sit on a porch, counting the days until their niblings hopefully return. Little did the Flint children know that people love them, and they missed so many details in a complicated story that is still unfolding. They do not know that their futures hold so much more than this eight year journey. Luckily, the truth will soon confront them.

 


© Copyright 2019 Thalia Bronwen. All rights reserved.

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