The broadcast echoes through the length of the house. It pools out into the open windows disturbing the peaceful summer evening. So swiftly today has transformed it into a chaotic hallucination. Even as the fan twirls and a breeze shifts through the curtains, the dread weighing on my shoulders ceases every sensation.
“The bomb went off at exactly 12:56 PM today in this small town in Allamuchy. The witnesses here are scrambling to make sense of this atrocity. Two people were killed when they were blown through the glass windows. Several were injured by falling debris. It is still unclear what kind of bomb did such incredible damage without leaving a trace.
“There are two suspects that are missing from the scene. Seen here on the security cameras is a man in his thirties with brown hair, approximately, a hundred and seventy pounds. The young woman he was with is of Asian decent, black hair, and a scarf around her neck. We are asking the public for any information they have of these two people. The police are looking into a suicide bombing, but without the bodies, their information is limited.”
Meryl covers her mouth, burying her head in her husband’s arm. He holds onto her tight, glancing at me. I flick my reserved gaze to the door. I fully expect the Ruling to knock at any moment. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to deal with law enforcement. It would however be the first occurrence where they have come for Tymician. It’s a high probability that they’ve already arrested him.
“We have no feed for several miles as the black out affected much of the county. It is confirmed that the two missing arrived in a beat up white Ford truck. No witness noticed the license plate. That same truck is missing from the parking lot. Again the chance of survival so close to the bomb is minimal. We are keeping track of hospitals in the area. ”
Meryl looks at me in hopes of understanding. Soon the entire clan will call here hoping that I know more than what I’ve only just learned. I need to appear knowledgeable. Or least calm, pretending this isn’t as big a deal as it seems.
But I’m sort of freaking out.
Tymician and Kyla were on their way to Canada. Their destination was a secured cottage, covert and private. I wasn’t given an address or the exact details to their new lifestyle. As for the move itself, there wasn’t any specific reason or motive. As far as I knew, Tymician’s fear escalated from self-inflicted irrationality.
Yet as I think on it, I wonder why Tymician ran. I question why he didn’t trust me enough to include me in his radical plan while still considering me his best friend and closest confidant.
Miley’s feet pound on the wooden steps as she barrels down the stairs, “Did you see it?” She shrieks. “It’s Kyla’s fault, I bet. I hate her! Why was Tymician even with her?”
“Calm down please.” I respond softly, leaning back against the couch. I adjust my navy shirt, annoyed that it clings to my skin and I pull at my shorts that have ridden up. It’s all an attempt to ignore Miley’s glowering gaze.
Miley is a drama queen. She tends to have borderline tantrums and if I fight back, it usually leads to worse battles. I find patience is truly a virtue with her but I’m Irish. That being said, I’ve basically had to build up such a divine quality like an abused muscle.
She folds into the recliner, curling in her long legs, “Where is he?” Miley whines, her blue eyes shifting to pleading.
“I don’t know. But I assure you he’s safe. Has Tymician ever been in trouble before?”
Meryl broaches the subject that I don’t want to think about, “From this story, Tymician’s killed two humans. The Ruling will go after him. They’ll come here.”
“If they do, we tell them the truth. That we know nothing.”
“I’m not lying for that freak of nature!”
“I’m not asking you to lie for Kyla. I’m telling you to tell the truth about Tymician.” As I catch the widening of her blue eyes, I realize the mistake in my tone. “Miley--”
“No.” She murmurs, “Any other orders, master? Do you want me to wash the floors or scrub the walls? Want me to slit my wrists for you too?”
I slouch, sighing.
“I’m not lying for that thing. She’s not my family and she never was.” Miley pounds up the steps and shortly after I hear the door slam.
I direct my question to Meryl, hoping for some rationality. “Why does she hate Kyla so badly?”
Meryl heaves herself up to go ease her sister’s fury. “She doesn’t hate Kyla, she hates the attention you all give Kyla.”
Roger slaps my leg in sympathy, “Life, huh?”
I laugh at him, expecting nothing else from an Angel.
In search of my phone, I return to the shed where I spent most of the morning. I had given myself today off. Every six months, I attempt to have a single day where I concentrate on something that I want to do but somehow it never works out. I like working with my hands so I devoted my day with Leon, working on the family cars in our industrious sized shed.
The moment I step into the garage, I hear my cell phone. I rush forward, dipping and diving over the numerous vehicles, jumping over the set of tools we forgot to put away. My excitement flees when I look on the screen of the phone. I thought perhaps Tymician would be calling instead I face a distant house leader searching for answers about the news they’ve just seen.
I let it ring, resting back against a mustang. The clan will want answers but I haven’t any so the best thing I can do is avoid them until I can make a speech or until Tymician resurfaces. It’s not the first time he’s done something foolish or stayed off of the clan’s radar. I’m used to making up excuses and dodging angry members of Kio.
But this was a different situation, wasn’t it?
As soon as the call ends, I dial a specific number and wait for an answer.
As I suspect, Misha is as concerned as everyone else is. “Felix, I’ve called you numerous times, where are you?”
I fold my arms over my chest. I’ve called for answers, not to be reprimanded. “Home.”
“You don’t like the tone of my voice? I don’t like being ignored. I’m the Clan Liaison and for that I need communication. Don’t you know you must carry your phone on you at all times? You are Second of Kio, heir to the throne. You must always be on top of everything.”
I sigh through my nose.
“I know, I treat you as a child, blah blah, blah. I talk too fast. But let me fill you in. I take it you called me because you saw the news. I’ll have you know I am already in Allamuchy Township and I have spoken to the New York Council. The Angels here are far from friendly but I have managed to get the details surrounding Tymician’s mishap. I will email you all that I know.”
“Have you spoken to him?”
“Tymician destroyed his cell phone. He comprehends the Ruling will be hunting him.”
“So it’s true then. He killed humans?”
Misha stalls a moment. “I’ll send you the email. Speaking on the phone is never safe, you must know that by now.”
I hold the cell phone in the palm of my hand. Even though Misha says his number is disconnected I still punch it in and wait. The dial tone is my reply. I scratch my red scalp, looking around the large garage for some idea to figure out this madness before I head back inside. My phone rings again and against better judgment, I ignore it. I will have to make a statement before house leaders begin showing up at my doorstep demanding my attention.
I sit at the kitchen table and settle my laptop on the glass.
The clan’s website is a communication database. It’s password protected, along with government approval. It’s a way to keep connected with the three hundred and thirteen houses that Kio owns from around the world. It will help me gauge how fast this news has traveled and how much damage control I will eventually have to do.
Eric and Tristan however burst through the front door, calling for me. “Felix!”
Eric finds me first and I sit back as he enters, peering through the holes of a black mask. “We got a call from our mates that Ty made a real hash of this morning.” He removes the gloves from his hands, slapping them on the kitchen table
I skim over the mutilated skin he reveals before I close the lid on the computer. “Gather the girls. We need a family meeting.”
Discussing anything with five newborns is a delicate thing. Newborns have too much emotion without the discipline. They aren’t savvy of traditions and laws.
“Why can’t we go after him?”
“Because, there are rules, Miley.” Even as I say this, I know she is devising some way to disobey me. I have to scare them enough to put an end to any plotting. “The New York Council, a highly formidable Angel clan, owns that land. As a member of Kio, you cannot go anywhere you like. If they have probable cause, they can imprison you.”
“Is obviously very different from you. Do I need to go into detail?”
Though Eric and Tristan are well aware of Tymician’s specialties, Miley and Meryl narrow their twin brows in puzzlement. “He is a Transcending Erelim, the strongest Fallen on this planet but also stronger than any Angel. He can do what he wants. And until you become an Asuras, you’re not allowed to leave our territories without proper supervision.” Miley slouches and I feel as if I haven’t gotten through to her yet. “The Ruling will be coming here. I don’t need you to be rebellious right now, not with the reputations that each of you somehow managed to gain during your early days.”
“They made it sound like he’s a freaking murderer. We have a right to defend him!”
“There are ways to deal with the New York Council--”
“Avoiding them is a great way.”
I sit back in my chair, crossing my arms. My shirt stretches uncomfortably and the frustration boils to a point where it becomes difficult not to rip the thing off me. She knows how to aggravate me, she knows what buttons to push.
She doesn’t meet my piercing glower, perhaps knowing better. “Miley.” I blow out forced air, “I will handle them when the time comes. They wouldn’t touch Ty. For all we know, he is still on course. So until we get further information, we are not throwing the first stone in a possible war.”
“War?” She mocks bitterly, “A little overdramatic.”
As she pounds up the kitchen steps, I curl my fingers. ‘If only she were a boy.’ I muse. She and I would handle our arguments in a much more violent way. Our relationship would be better, I think, if we could scrape out in the backyard every night.
Grabbing a can of soda in front of me, I take a swig before I point to the boys, “I need you all to keep the rumors to a minimum. Call your friends; tell them that Ty is fine. I can’t have protests or people attacking the NYC because they have a hunch that Ty is a captive. I’ll talk to the Elders. I’ll figure out what’s going. When the Ruling comes, please act like a normal family.”
Roger, a silent but very tentative family member, raises his hand. “What’s the Ruling?”
Tristan, munching on a bag of chips, throws the empty plastic on the counter, “The Ruling is an Angel and Fallen police force. When laws are broken, they make arrests and conduct trials like any court system. They have a massive prison in Japan.”
Eric cackles through his mask, “Her Majesty’s pleasure ain’t exactly posh.”
Roger looks around obliviously, “I’m sorry, what does that mean?”
Meryl grins up at Eric, “You need to spend more time with my brother. You start understanding British slang after a while.”
Though it’s difficult to see his face through the fabric, I can tell when Eric smiles. He wraps his arm around Meryl’s shoulder in a momentary act of affection and even kisses her cheek.
I begin dinner, if only to distract myself from my vibrating cell phone. Misha’s email lies on the counter beside me. Tomato sauce splatters on the white paper but it cannot rescind its contents. I’ve read it near ten times now and I still have a hard time believing it.
Tymician is a rational man. A being of his age relies on being rational. He knows far too well the consequences to respond with anything other than composed, meticulous behaviors.
I then have to ask myself, what was he keeping from me?
Secrets are common, I won’t pretend he told me everything. But when it came to my wards, to the people in this house that I call family, he revealed the unpleasant parts of who they are and what they’ve done. I’ve never judge them or held their past against them. I’ve proven to him that I am worthy of his confidence. So what was so different about Kyla that he completely excluded me?
The refrigerator door closes behind me knocking my thoughts off course. “Put that back.” I chastise Eric, “Dinner’s almost ready.”
Eric’s shoulders sag but he returns the fruit cup, slapping the door closed. Leaning against the counter, he removes the black mask from his face. I watch from the corner of my eye as he scratches his sunken cheeks, opening and closing his jaw to stretch the taut skin, and rubs the dry, mutilated blotches of his bald scalp. He pulls at the remaining tissues of his ears and blows air out of the remains of his disfigured lips.
I leave the kitchen, scrambling in the bathroom medicine cabinet with earnest.
He hollers, “I’m not putting it on, it’s bloody awful. And smelly.” He adds as an afterthought.
I return with the tube of ointment, holding it out, “Ty got this from Gula, an apothecary. Don’t you think you should try it out? It might help with the pain.”
He takes it from my fingers only to sneer at it with disgust.
I stir the softened noodles dejected I can’t help him anymore. Though I’ve gotten used to Eric’s malformed body, I feel as if I’ve made no progress helping him. He’s the one that wears a mask, ashamed to expose himself to anyone he doesn’t trust. He’s the one that can’t look into a mirror. And he’s the one, I worry about most.
“I can still feel it sometimes.” He says. “The fire. Licking at me”
“That happened when you were human, Eric. You’re Fallen now and it’s been nearly five hundred years. These are the things you have to let go.”
Eric smirks but with his intangible lips, it’s near impossible to tell, “You don’t have to start preaching, Felix. I was just chit-chatting.”
I allow the passive attitude simply because I have enough to deal with right now. “Go wake Leon and get the girls for dinner.”
As he pounds his way up the steps, Tristan approaches the island bar, “He’s never going to get over it.”
I turn to the sink, dumping the hot noodles in the strainer.
“He still has nightmares. His sister and mother were right beside him as the Church of England burned them alive.”
I hustle to the oven, praying I didn’t burn the garlic bread, “Yeah well, until we figure out what kind of witch cursed him and ask her to undo it, or kill her, there’s not much we can do about his body. He just needs to move on. Believe me, there are worse things than being stuck in a body like that.”
“Yeah, we can look like you.”
I toss a hot noodle at him as Eric jots down the stairs, “Leon isn’t up there.”
My red brows knit as I rub my hands off on a towel, “Is his car here?” I twist through the laundry room, crossing the threshold into the massive garage and crane my neck over the multiple vehicles in search of his car. The spot is vacant. I return to the kitchen, catching the boys with their hands in my garlic bread, “Hey!” They dart away stuffing it in their mouths quickly. “Call Leon. I want him home until we know what’s going on.”
Miley struts through the dining room. “Oh, now Leon has to follow orders too?” She collapses in a chair.
Meryl gets soda from the laundry room refrigerator, “She didn’t mean it and she’s sorry.”
Miley smiles insincerely. “So sorry.”
I rub my scalp, “Leon’s the oldest. And he’s the only one in this family that can hold down a job longer than a month. But until I know what’s going on I want everyone home. No gallivanting tonight. And tell Roger I’m sorry but Meryl I want you to stay home with us tonight as well.”
Disregarding the grumbles and the protests is easy considering I hear its classic chorus on every decision I ever make.
I set up the table, laying out the noodles, sauce and bread before beaming, “We can play football tonight!”
The typical refrain sings its dirge and I laugh.
I sit by the pool watching the four of them play Marco Polo. The sun has set, leaving dusk in its wake. The pool light illuminates the arena and the kitchen light streams out onto the deck. With the trees looming in a protective embrace and the sky a wondrous blue, I love this time of day. Usually.
I should have heard from someone by now. I clench tight to my cell phone waiting for a call that will hold some meaning to me. For the past couple of hours it has only been house leaders and I’ve ignored them. I want an Elder to call me.
I am an idiot to think any Elder would contact me. I mean who am I, really?I may be heir to Kio’s throne, but I am a two thousand year old Newborn in the eyes of Kio’s Royal Court.
Being heir is an honorable position to hold, but it is cast in shadow and is rarely looked upon. I try to make myself feel better in moments of self-doubt. The millions of humans that reside in the US know who their president is. They can identify his features, his voice. They’d recognize his laugh or his cry. They could probably even describe a few of his likes or dislikes. But ask them the name of the vice-president and their faces will scrunch up in sour distaste as they think long and hard upon the response. That’s who I am. I am the guy that you’ve heard of, once, maybe twice, but can’t quite remember his face.
Yet when the President goes missing, guess who suddenly becomes important?
I shake my head, resting against the lounge to stare up at the graying sky.
Tymician isn’t missing. He is simply avoiding us. He knows what he did was wrong. Until he can make it right, he chooses to stay out of sight. Tomorrow morning this will be better. I will be forgotten again.
“Felix!” The girls call, “Go get your suit. Come play with us!”
The more I protest the worse they call. I heave up on my feet before the boys can throw me in and hurry up the stairs.
It’s then my footsteps stall. I stand in front of a closed door. Kyla’s room. In all this time, with Tymician missing and the clan hectically falling apart, I’ve forgotten about Kyla.
My fingers touch the stickers plastered to the panel. Bands of questionable tastes: The Misfits, The Flaming Lips, Tool, Linkin Park, and the White Mice are to name a few. I let the door swing open and hit the back wall. I have rarely entered Kyla’s room. How many conversations have I really had with the strange girl that lived here? I can count them on one hand. She was Tymician’s ward. She was never mine.
I step in, though I feel as if I’m intruding. Boxes line the wall, filled with her stuff. There is only the bed, nightstand and her vanity left in place, all empty. I flip on the light to get a better look.
There are marks on the wall where all her posters used to hang. Music posters, of course. I at least knew that much about her. She loved music and she loved her job.
If Tymician is missing, where the hell is Kyla?
I usually don’t care what Kyla does or where she is. It’s not my priority. She took care of herself and we stayed out of each other’s lives. I preferred it like that and she did as well. There are some people in this world that no matter what I do, I won’t get along with. It’s unfortunate Kyla was one of those. I don’t think it was anything she did. It’s just who she was.
I dial Kyla’s phone number only to hear a cell ring at the base of my feet. I lift her book bag and dig my hand through it, finding the device.
Kyla could be lost in Pennsylvania, New York or Jersey, with no money, no identification or phone. Now I have an obligation to tread through the NYC territory to pick up a girl I don’t like because she is a part of this family.
Blaming Tymician for this ill-fated situation is too easy. If he had simply let her stay, none of this would be happening right now.
With her book bag on my lap, I feel the weight of something else inside and poke around. I pull out her five-star notebook. Glancing at the door, I have a strong desire to flip through it, innocently, if only to have a quick glimpse into Kyla’s mind.
Meryl calls me.
She peeks her head around the door as I’m stuffing her notebook back into her book bag. “She left that in my car. I’d die without my cell phone.”
Meryl holds a towel tight around her but it doesn’t stop the water from her blond hair dripping on the floor. She runs her fingers along the numerous boxes, “I didn’t think you would miss her already.”
“I don’t miss her.”
A knowing smile rests smug on her red lips and she plops on the bed, “Out of all the wards you’ve had, Felix, why’d you hate Kyla so badly?”
“I don’t hate any of my wards.”
It’s a true enough statement. I never saw Kyla as my ward.
I lay down, staring up at the ceiling. Meryl rests her wet head on my gut, her small fingers playing with the wrinkles in my shirt. “Newborns are like foster kids. They hate the world. They blame everyone for their problems. They blame God for the reason they Fell. They are so easy to fix. You find that one little niche, the one thing that will make them happy and you can get through to them.”
“What was my niche?”
She giggles, squeezing me with esteem.
“Kyla didn’t have a niche because she wasn’t unhappy. She didn’t need me. She wanted only Tymician and when he wasn’t around she got along by herself.”
“So you were jealous.”
I scoff getting to my feet, “Jealous?”
“I think we are all a bit jealous of the way Tymician pays attention to Kyla. He treats her like she’s his daughter. It’s the way he looks at her and the way he talks to her. We all want that. Because we all feel like we are his kids.”
“I’m a little too old to feel like that.”
“No. You just think you have to be like that, Felix but no one is too old to want a dad. And your real dads never loved you like they should have.”
Disgusted by this attempt to wean further into my psyche, I puff up, “Where’s Leon, why isn’t he home yet?”
My phone rings and I peek a glance at the number. ‘UNKNOWN’ it reads.
Hope tightens my muscles and I snap it open, “Ty?”
Obnoxious, piercing metallic wails echoed through the earpiece enough to make me shove the phone away from my ear. I hear it from the distance, waiting impatiently as the seconds roll by for the terrible noises to cease.
It ends abruptly and I fasten it to my ear, “Ty?”
A female voice replies, “The line is secure. Where is the package?”
It takes a moment to digest, “Who is this?”
“My name is irrelevant. Trust I am a friend. Tymician was to deliver a package and it is long overdue. Where is the package?”
“The girl, where is the girl?”
My eyes dilate. She’s talking about Kyla.
I stutter, unsure even as I force, “With him.”
“The project has been compromised. Tymician is not on the Earth realm. Find her.” The line ends and I sit, gawping at my feet.
I rush down the steps, gaining everyone’s attention in the pool. “Where’s Leon?”
Eric replies unsurely. “I phoned the git. He should be along now.”
“Get dressed. We’re going out.”