Despite feeling solidly hit by Jose's best whirlwind impression, and knowing the futility of avoiding his friend's 'orders', Martin decided he'd delay the pain of seeing a counselor a bit. Martin knew Jose would be more than a little upset he'd not seen somebody immediately, but felt he could endure the inevitable glaring and eventual escort to a counselor if it meant time to prepare.

 

         As the others turned to go to class, Jose gave Martin one last push towards the counselor's office but Martin, who'd timed such things expertly, took a hard right into the bathroom as soon as the last of his friends exited the hallway. Martin quickly got into a stall and put his feet behind the door. While it was frowned upon by the establishment, some counselors liked to check the bathrooms for despondent youngsters after the bell. After a few minutes Martin made his way back to class, satisfied he'd delayed the pain.
 

         As Martin walked in and sat down, Jose took one look and knew the truth.

 

         “Did you go?” Jose whisper yelled in the way only a student can.

 

         “Yeah,” Martin said “. . . said I'd be fine.” Looking away, Martin knew his friend was not fooled; he wasn't really trying.

 

         The first period of 'independent study' usually consisted of Martin reading some dumb book he found in the book bin, a source of random literature the school had put in the gym to give kids reading options. The vast majority of its contents were mindless drivel, and Martin looked for the worst of it hoping to find an odd laugh or two at the expense of the author. The only alternative might have been a good match in the goth kids' 'best of who's left' chess tournament. Today, however, no excitement came from that side of the room. The goth group was the only one that grew larger through the crisis. The goth section had, predictably, upped their level of morbidity to ludicrous levels.

 

         Everything was even worse that day. Jose's foreseen glaring, fierce as it was, was made far worse as Martin read some clumsy no-name author's awkward attempt at a fantasy novel. The book followed the experiences a group of teenagers and their families when people started vanishing en mass the world over.

 

         During the break Martin endured the folly of his tactic, though he would not have long to ponder his mistake. At the end of class, Jose leapt up and maneuvered Martin out of the door in what seemed like one fluid (and very queer) motion. Jose looked back to his other friends just long enough for the door to shut. As Jose opened the door and turned his head to scold Martin, he was nowhere to be found. Jose let out a blood curdling scream, fell his knees and began to cry uncontrollably.

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Majik is a free to view, donation supported fantasy universe created by
Horror-Fantasy writer (Among other things) LIL 6 but is intended to be shared by
the fandom. Rather than try to own it, LIL feels that the best way to create something
amazing is to allow it to be created by its culture. Fan fiction is invited and some
of what is submitted will become canon and some writers will be invited
to write canon about stories that have been planned.


“This is my creation but I want to give it to its fans; this is yours.”

Eventually a group will form to decide what will or will not be canon and
LIL will relinquish control to them and move on to create other shared
universes already in the works.

Chapter Three

A Keyhole Perspective

         “Wake up son, you're gonna be late... you know I'm not havin' it!” The next morning, predictably, Martin awoke to his mother's voice, having slept through his alarm.

 

         While still exhausted, Martin knew better than to make his mother ask again. His mother, Bella, was a holy terror in her effort to secure her children's futures. Bella had turned it up a notch since Jake went missing and Martin, being the oldest remaining child, was taking the brunt. Martin wondered what was the point, given the growing doubt as to how much of a future anyone had. It was enough to break someone. For Martin and most everyone who suffer common tragedy, no one had given themselves the time or the permission for regret.

 

         On most mornings Martin wouldn't shake his generalized melancholy until about one. As lunch wrapped up, a friend would somehow crack his exterior, garnering half a smile or a restrained laugh. It was in those few moments Martin could let go, when Jake no longer dominated his thoughts. That morning, however, was different. Worse still, as soon as he'd recalled the previous night his mind was awash in terrible wonder. Martin's experience triggered fascination and dread in equal measure. This was an oddity, because Martin had always been more sensible than that; not the guy in a horror movie who would 'go check out a noise,' rather one who would split before shit went down. Still, his experience was so surreal that by the time he got to school he had convinced himself it was a dream. After all, the idea of such things, while beyond ridiculous, was even as farther past terrifying.

 

         “Earth to you.” Sara made Martin jump as she easily snuck up on him while he stared at his cereal, pondering what he'd seen the night before.

 

         “I think he's in there somewhere but I doubt we can find him before we have to leave for school.” said Rayn, Sara's twin, Martin's other sister. Rayn, at age 12, what some might call a radical, was head of the LGBT club at her middle school in which there were four brave members. More surprising was the political organization she and her best friend, River, formed called Atheist Anarchists for Change at any Cost (or AAC aaC as kids had called it before Martin put a healthy dose of fear into Rayn's peers). Rayn and River had recruited one other member, of whom they were incessantly proud: Josh, a tragically normal thirteen year old, obviously crushing on the two clearly 'wrong trees' leading the group. It quickly reached a point they couldn't shut up about it.

 

         “Hey, River... Hey River... Josh told me about how Lenin's biggest mistake was letting Stalin get too entrenched...” Rayn once said; To which River replied

 

         “He's learning so fast!” River said setting up Rayn's punchline.

 

         “I mean he's wrong, but at least he's learning...” at which time Martin left the room so neither of the two caught his giggle and cornered him for a recitation of their latest manifesto. While mom and dad were worried their daughter was going counter-culture at 12, Martin had a perspective typical generation parents did not share: finding yourself is not a phase in life, it is life.

 

         “Aw let him stew, he's just deluding himself.” Sara and Rayn obviously planned a tag team effort to express disapproval for Martin's theory presented previous evening.

 

         “A bit much, Sara!” Sara had clearly gone too far too quickly for Rayn. “You don't think I want River and Jake back too? I wish I had it in me to hope, you stupid bourgey bitch.”

 

         Sara and Rayn's alliance was typically short lived. Rayn found herself inadvertently taking Martin's side. Sara and Rayn were, without an ounce of irony, like oil and water. Any agreement between the twins took little or no effort in breaking. Sara saw Rayn as an arrogant leftist intellectual, unwilling to allow others to have their own opinions without a great deal of effort to 'correct' them. On the other hand, Rayn saw Sara as a wishy washy brat whose opinions were largely formed in response to her own. Each, with a little more age and experience, might see they'd pretty well summed up the other.

 

         “Rayn Drake! You apologize to your sister right now!” Karl Drake, a typical Generation X wannabe progressive 'Dad' type, looked up from staring at his remaining son while he worked out how to address the same elephant in the room his twin daughters had just set to a frenzy. Martin was highly annoyed with everyone, but risking conversation was hardly worth speaking up.

 

         “Don't use that name!” Rayn seethed, as she prepared to re-enter a very old argument.

 

         Rayn, as many of her peers including her missing friend River had done, changed her name. Karl however, while progressive enough to allow for a change of a first name, was too old fashioned and proud to sit by while Rayn scorned generations of 'Drakes'.

 

         “I'm willing to let you call yourself Rayn but the family name is Drake” Karl struggled valiantly to restrain himself in hopes of not exciting his daughter farther, but that ship had sailed. Sara and Martin began plotting escape from what could become a full blown fight.

 

         “My name is Rayn... Rayn, got it dad, I'm not 'calling myself', anything, I am Rayn Cloud and that is that!” Rayn began a rant; Martin and Sara began a strategic withdrawal but Sara fell just short a clean escape, breaking out in laughter just before exiting.

 

         Sara's misfortune was a boon for Karl, as Rayn's anger at her father was quickly redirected towards her twin instead. Rayn bolted out of the door at Sara as if ready to attack, though she knew Martin would surely intervene. Seconds later Martin had a sister on the end of each arm, his hands halting the twin girls' by that point, half-hearted attempts at getting at their counterpart. The siblings' shenanigans quickly halted, of course, when Bella emerged seconds later to get the trio to school.

 

         Bella's stepped-up rules dictated that no one was to go out alone, and whenever possible an adult (usually Mom or dad) accompanied them. This combination of course completely prevented Martin from going anywhere there was actual fun.

 

         On that morning, their mother was so exceedingly silent that all three of her children assumed someone was in for it, thus they took Bella's example of silence as they crept ever closer to the comparative safety of school. Taking Bella's silence as a portent of trouble the three tried to pretend nothing was happening. But the trio's capacity to maintain a silence was quickly waning. Finally Rayn, who couldn't recall doing anything that would trigger such an extreme use of the silent treatment, broke it.

 

         “So I'm thinking of pitching Sean Davies for membership in the Party!” Rayn proudly stated as if she'd just planted the Black starred red flag atop the white house.

 

         “That's good.” Bella muttered. Suddenly everyone got quiet again, not even daring to move lest their clothing rustle. For their mother to be this level of quiet, Bella had likely discovered some damnable evidence against someone. To Martin's sheer and utter horror, his mother let his sisters out at their middle school without the slightest pause. To Martin this was unmistakable evidence Bella was saving up a scolding so serious that he could not fathom what he might have done to earn it. As the car stopped in front of Martin's high school he gulped the air so hard he might have been drinking it.

Going Counter-Culture at 12

Nowhere to be Found

         “Son, I need to say something” Bella's words seemed rehearsed as she turned to Martin, tears rolling down her face. Martin couldn't remember the last time he'd seen tears on mother's face. Bella hadn't cried through the entire ordeal, at least not openly, even when Jake vanished. Martin was about to find out at least part of why.

         “You're right.” Bella muttered through her tears after a seemingly endless half a minute.

         “Right about what?” Martin had no clue what Bella was on about.

         “They're out there somewhere, they have to be!” Bella paused again to collect herself “Otherwise what would be the purpose for any of us? Don't tell anyone. I'm not ready for that. I'm not that brave, at least not yet.”

         Martin forgot himself as any teenage misgivings he might have had were suddenly light-years away and gave his mother the biggest hug he'd ever given. Tears pouring down their faces, Martin turned to go to school, collecting himself and whipping his face. Martin's chest stuck out with pride and his tears felt more like badges of honor than symbols of vulnerability .

         School, as it had become, was not so bad for Martin, but a great measure worse for his friends and family. Somehow Martin seemed immune to the constant random efforts of counseling staff to ask stupid questions like “Are you okay?” Virtually everyone, at times in secret more often at the top of someone's lungs and generally greeted by louder agreement, had the same answer... 'Of course I'm not okay!”

         Martin wondered what the hell the 'experts' expected. Pretty much any company students actually entertained were agreeable to just about any mockery, rant, or outright expression of rage anyone might aim towards the councilors.

         Martin's uncanny ability to 'dodge the raindrops', as Jose called it - the deluge of 'help' - often felt as if caught in a downpour, made Martin the center of an unending series of jokes. Embracing humor was due course because for Martin any sensory input with a chance of triggering laughs was welcome. Light-saber and force choking poses by friends and others followed every narrow avoidance of counselors with some accompanying jape like, 'So Marty, when you introducing us to your Master?'

         Escapes defying explanation might be followed with discussions as to which side Martin was on, Jedi or Sith, or some other drawn out ribbing. Joking and teasing with those closest was Martin's best way of coping with stress before things got weird. Compounded by the crisis, it may have been the last coping method Martin had.

         If more self aware and comfortable with himself, Martin might have realized Jose was the type of guy Martin might be attracted to if he swung that way. Martin was convinced that, while he could fall for a trans girl, his sexual orientation was fixed in the direction of those identifying female.

         “No rest for the wicked. You sleep last night?” Jose, had taken to waiting for all his friends to arrive at school. Given how stubborn Jose could get, his friends waited as well. 'People are disappearing; I'm not going into this shit hole until I know no ones been body-snatched!' Jose would often lament.

         “Bad dream.” Martin spoke as calmly as he knew how. Knowing his attempt to cover the level of 'bad dream' had no chance of fooling Jose, he tried anyway.

         “Well, you look like like shit,” Jose was never one to mince words, though on that particular day he welcomed a conversation that distracted from the oddity of his own night and morning. “You're telling me about the dream - nope, non-negotiable and I do mean now!”

         Martin quickly, and in the most understated words he could, explained what he'd seen the night before. As he progressed however Jose's face went from interested to concerned to panicked.

         “Damn, Marty . . .

 

          Jose started “I hate you so much right now.” Martin was momentarily confused “You're gonna make me do it.” Martin was more confused “You have to see a counselor!, no more playing 'douche – dodge.' Go down that hall and pick a door!” Martin went from confusion to dread.

         “Come on man... You can't seriously call what those clowns do counseling.” Martin knew he had no chance of winning, that Jose had thought of every argument Martin could make and several he'd yet to think of and would eat him alive in any discussion.

         “Dude, school has become a place where we sit around playing checkers all day while bozos called counselors periodically come up to make awkward attempts to help us be 'okay' with the end of the world. I'm not even sure they look at the homework anymore before grading. Seriously, I think next time I might hand in a grocery list or something and see what happens... Anyway, you need to adopt a more flexible vocabulary.”

         Jose shoved Martin through the school's doors with the gentlest of touches - in a way only a close friend would. Not surprisingly Martin could overhear Jose saying “Marty emergency, Marty emergency! Marty had a total f.u.b.a.r. dream and I'm making him go see one of the twits so they can make sure his brain isn't broken or something,” this as Sam and Jamie arrived.

A More Flexible Vocabulary

         “Ghet orffa mhe!” Jose mumbled as he rolled over and swatted at whatever was wet against his cheek, assuming it was something Sam had decide to harass him with. Whatever it was, Jose had to give his sibling credit, he could not have guessed. It felt like the most course sandpaper, moistened and given the slightest jolt of static electricity; it felt enormously disgusting.

 

         While he heard a sharp snicker and the patter of feet Jose saw nothing. Suddenly he was worried... Sam was never that fast nor as light on his feet.

 

         “Sam... Pst... Sam...” Jose poked his head in as he opened the door to his brothers room.

 

         “Wha-da-ya-wan” Sam said, rolling over to look at his brother “It's 5:48 in the freakin morning” Sam picked up his alarm clock and turned off; the alarm that was set for 6 am.

 

         “Somebody. . . . something is in the house” Jose tried to sound nonplussed as not to put his brother in protector mode but it was no use. Sam bolted to his feet, picking up an aluminum baseball bat, ready for a fight.

 

         “It's probably nothing...” Jose was having second thoughts about waking Sam up as his brother going on adrenaline was never one to take a threat, or even the vaguest suggestion of a threat lightly. “I don't know I felt something wet on my cheek and when I turned to look I heard what sounding like laughter... I was probably dreaming.”

 

         “Never known you to be that jumpy.” Sam whispered as he slowly opened Jose's door and looking in. Sam was not wrong, Jose was grasping in his attempts to calm his brother and he knew it. Truth was Jose was freaking out a bit also; with all that had happened in recent months it wasn't hard to scare anyone.

 

         It was then Jose noticed it: on the bookshelf behind Sam sat the cat-like creature from Sam's closet, but just as Jose was about to say something the creature did something altogether unbelievable! As soon as Jose locked eyes on it, the thing raise a paw to its mouth an put on claw in front of it's mouth as if to shush him. Jose did not really want to listen but was so dumbfounded he decided he might just as well.

 

         “Yeah, there's nothing here, I'm sorry now that I'm awake all the way, I think it was a dream.” Jose lied as he guided Sam out of the room. Sam was at once in the very same mind as Jose moments before; not really wanting to listen but too dumbstruck to wage protest.

 

         As Sam left, the creature came down from the shelf in a bolt of light and rubbed on Jose's leg. Jose sat in his chair and looked at the thing.

         “This can't be real.” Jose reasoned, though he could hardly really argue with what he and Sam had both seen.

         Jose, still going on adrenaline, slunk into his chair and sighed. The creature looked at him and tilted it's head quizzically, rearing up. In a flash of light, it suddenly appeared in Jose's lap looking him in the face and purring gently.

         “What are you?” Jose asked rhetorically.

         “I'm a sphinx, I am to be your companion. I'm here to let you know as bad as the day will be, by it's end, life will have turned for the better.” The creature spoke in a high pitched voice every work enunciated exactly.

         “What, wait, you can talk?” Jose was once again dumbfounded. In the next while he would question the thing only to have it purr and stare at him. After dozing for a few minutes he found the animal gone and decided he'd just been tired, half asleep and only dreaming.

Going on Adrenaline