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19

Though Mel was excited and didn’t feel the need, he still managed to get at least one hour of sleep that night. Even then, that one hour was filled to the brim with hype. It was like those annoying internet ads that say there are hot singles in your location when, in fact, it is nothing but crackheads, single moms looking for a sugardaddy, or catfishing assholes, whether they were the women with older pictures or men having a giggle. Except, you know, actually real. He was going out with Nobody- er, Daisy. She was allowed to be somebody again. Yup... she was allowed to be someone the moment he knew he could stick his dick in it... The more thought he gave this, the more he felt like a douche, but WHO CARES? DATE NIGHT!

Not even the class or, earlier, the bellyaching of the succubus could hamper him much. “Take us to the infirmary.” “We’re in so much pain.” “Why won’t you listen to us?” “I taste dying.” Is there anything worse than attention seekers? Couldn’t they see this was awesome!

Mel listened to them and stopped by Professor Klan’s to get them treated, but that didn’t stem his excitement at all. He bubbled on and on to the good doctor about how him and Daisy... and his two favorite paperweights were all going to go on a magic carpet ride –of which she simply stated she did not want to hear what kind of kinky fetish that really was.

“What fetish,” he had asked. “We are simply going to travel through the sky on a magic carpet. Has nobody watched Aladdin, read Arabian Nights?”

“It sounds romantic,” Brin chimed in, sighing with her new pair of lungs. They seemed just as pretty as her first pair, but Mel wouldn’t really know. After all, he only saw them when they were crusty little flaps compared to the full pink beauties she now had in her healing chest. “You and Daisy are sure to have an enchanted night.”

“Why were we summoned again?” Saliim burst in, putting those air sacks to good use already, pushing them to their limits. “You are hunted by women night and day; a guy as wanted as you shouldn’t have to summon us.”

“And yet I still did,” he mumbled, though it was more out of reflex, his mind thousand miles elsewhere, plotting the path that they shall take. The best bet was to head west so as to extend their trip. Give chase after the dusk as it were. But what would they see during that? What would they do?

Thank goodness Friday’s class was simply Magic Appreciation. The first professor he ever met, the first class he ever took, and it was the most pointless one out of them all. Who cared about the origin of magic? What was important about magic could be summed up in a neat little phrase: When in doubt, blame magic. And it held true as she went through history with it. What caused mass hysteria? Magic! What lead to unexplained disappearances? Magic! What lead to the Spanish Inquisition? Nobody really knew that one, but people believed it was tied to magic... or religious superiority complexes... Mel still believed it was more than likely black magic fuckery, but it didn’t matter. None of it did. He’d take a test, write down magic for every answer, POOF! Perfect score. Wow, such a hard class... and yet Penelope always struggled in it.

He looked her way, a couple rows back and favoring the left desks so the professor could only see the right side of her face. That didn’t help much, though; Daisy had left quite the impression. Even after Klan patched up her nose... her eye... her cheek... and even her jaw, she still had one wicked bruise that seemed more like a burn, the edges of it like fire, rippling in every direction. It would be a wonder if she ever lost it, if her face would ever lose that mark, and also a shame.

Penelope looked up and caught him staring. At first, Mel expected her to flip him off or to bolt to her feet and run out of the room. Something interesting... instead, she just frowned, dipped her head lower, and continued to take notes... Ah well! Back to plotting out a course. He hummed a soft tune as he drew it out on a folded map, probably one of his more favorite inventions. At that moment, it was showing a section in between California and Nevada, swiped back to show a map of the pacific coast before swiped again to show all of the North American continent. One more swipe and it would show the hemisphere or he could tap his finger on any portion and zoom in on it. It was like smart phone GPS, except it’s not trying to drive you off cliffs. Also, it had more options for voices.

A shadow loomed over his desk, and he looked up to see it was Professor Molly.

“That doesn’t look like notes, Mister Llorwyn,” she said, plucking the map up gently. “Holiday plans?”

“You could say that.”

She chortled, putting it back down, and shot a glance towards Penolope.

“Is that why you two are so spaced apart? Trying to keep a surprise?”

“Trying to, but you’re kind of ruining it.”

“My apologies. I shall move on... Just, could you show a bit more interest in what I am t-”

“World War I was caused by magic that amplified everyone’s dread and lead to the powder keg situation that ultimately exploded with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.”

She rolled her arms, raised her arms, and backed away.

“Okay, okay... You could at least pretend you know.”

Worst part was he was pretending. He only saw the letters W W I and thought they were on World War I and how it started. Again, when in doubt... Mel decided to head straight for Daisy’s after class. As much as he would have loved to partake in some good old-fashioned overcooked meatloaf, there were plenty of stops that night with far more exotic cuisine. And not only exotic cuisine, but a local food he hasn’t had in two bloody years:

Pepperoni rolls.

You never realize how much you miss a home staple until you are imprisoned for two years in a pocket dimension, but, now, more than ever, Mel craved a hot, sticky, greasy, gooey roll filled with pepperoni of questionable origin and heavily processed mozzarella cheese. The very thought gave his feet wings, sending him flying up the steps to Daisy’s entry where he stood there, anxiously, staring down the half-naked angel that guarded her door. Oddly enough, he never once considered the possibility that angels could be black, but, looking at her, it all made too much since. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese; just slap a pair of dove’s wings on their backs, give them a soft, lace dress, and voila! Angel.

It wasn’t long before the angel got a touch creeped out by him staring at her, though, and cleared her throat.

“Might as I ask what you are doing up here,” she said.

“I’m here to take the woman you house on a magic carpet ride.”

“Oh my. Are you going to show her the world-”

“Yes! Finally! Somebody who gets the reference... and yes. You have a beautiful singing voice, by the way.”

“I’m sort of stuck in a pocket dimension in a pocket dimension in a pocket dimension; I had to find myself something to do before I went insane and started to quote memes all the time.”

“What do you have against memes? They make the world go around.”

“That they do, but you can’t let your whole life get absorbed by them.”

“Why not? What could possibly go wrong?”

“You and the young miss must get along famously; she says almost the exact same thing.”

“No doubt.”

The angel looked passed him, giving the succubus a scrutinizing glare.

“If you are here for a date with the young miss, why do you have two demonic seducers in tow?”

“It’s a long story, but, somehow, they cannot be more than a few feet away from me at all times. Sort of like a reverse restraining order.”

“So that magic carpet is going to be rather loaded, huh? I wish I could have the capacity to be tempted to ask to come along, but I’m here, stuck in the pocket in a pocket in a pocket.”

“Do you happen to know who drew you, though? You are very pretty.”

“Aww! Thank you... um... I actually forget. I know he was a darker gent. Not much a looker, but his voice was like sex on the ears. He could say that he’s about to gut you like a fish then turn you around and sodomize you and you’d just have the biggest grin on your face.”

“A natural-born narrator-slash-orator and an artiste... Man, sounds like somebody I would kill to meet... Aside the artiste part -at least I think; never heard him do any painting- that sounds a whole lot like an actor that was popular when I was back in the real world. Loved everything that he was in, though I think he almost let slip who he really was in one comedy. Two if you count the subpar follow-up.”

“A fellow cinemaphile? It’s a shame you are after the young miss; I think you and I would have gotten along well.”

“Yes, but he is. What can you do?” Daisy said as she approached. Once more her robes looked like they were going to simply fall off her, but at least they were a bit tighter; they only somewhat lazed off her breasts with every step. She eased her way passed Mel, though her rump still connected with his middle, taking all his will not to let a certain part of him jump. Even as she pressed back a bit harder. “Seems you took care of it last night.”

“Had to. I didn’t want to fling myself off the bed. Took me until ‘night’ for it to even show it wanted to go down, anyways. Sniped faeries out of the tower the entire time.”

“Sounded like fun. I should have stayed and watched.”

“Then it would have never gone away.”

“Nonsense! I’ll just laugh like that one freakin’ dog whenever you missed ducks.”

“Then I would do the same thing I did to that dog and tried to fire at you inste... oh, you clever girl.”

She giggled, almost unable to give the door the password, but the angel made out what she said well enough and parted. The angel winked at Mel before disappearing into the archway, and he followed Daisy inside, passing her as she stopped at her bed. He went out to the lookout, and reached into his robes, pulling out a long, red-and-white stripe carpet from its folds. It was folded into a neat little square, holding the map, but folded out forty-seven times, taking up the entire platform, easily twenty feet across and thirty feet wide. How? Magic, of course!

Mel gently stepped onto it and made his way towards the center. As he did, the fabric shimmered, pulsed, showing the blue runes laced through the material. He sat upon it, placing his palms flat on the carpet, and slowly raised them, threaded with blue energy. He gave the strand wrapped around his left index a tug; the left flap rose. He did the same with his right index, garnering the same results from the right flap. Next were his pinkies, attached to the back flaps; his middles to, well, the middle, and his thumbs raised and lowered the front. His ring fingers were in charge of the back, but where they were going there was no reason to worry about the rear.

Daisy joined him not too long after, changed out of her school robes into a soft peach day dress. She leaned against him, gasping, clenching hard as he made the carpet rise, but relaxed as it simply floated a few feet off the platform.

“So you were being serious,” she said. “A real magic carpet ride.”

“Of course I was,” he said, and eased the carpet forward.

Only for it to go backwards instead.

It slammed against the tower, the fabric bending up, covering them in its softness while Saliim and Brin tumbled head-over-heels off. Mel looked down at his hands, confused... and smacked his forehead.

“The instructions were backwards,” he said, and exchanged the strands from his rings to his thumbs and vice versa. He clenched his thumbs, and the carpet went forward, right over Saliim and Brin. He waited for them to climb aboard, then pushed the carpet into gear. He took a lap around the school, around all sixteen towers jutting into the starry heavens, through the dining hall, the courtyard, and back into the sky, circling up. He crossed his hands, giving all control to his left, and held up his right. A dark, red circle of small runes grew in it, expanding to his wrist before outwards towards the starry expanse, making it ripple and spark with red energy. “Let’s see if I can get this to work... and...”

The red energy around his hand flashed, and the sky tore open, revealing a long, narrow tunnel through darkness. There was no mistaking what was at its end though; he would know that stank anywhere.

“Oh my,” Daisy said, cupping her nose. “What is that?”

“The smell of a steel mill,” he said, and pushed the carpet through the hole. Its edges seemed to be snagged and caught by the darkness around, but they managed to squeak through, coming out above his lovely home town. “That should remain open until we get back, so let’s go have our fun.”

And so they flew through the night, partaking in the sights of what his lovely little hometown could offer before moving on. The bakery was still open, a quaint little hovel of a place, and he managed to swoop in, grab a dozen of those delicious rolls of sin, then take off into the sky before the overweight students-turned-cheap labor could scream too loud. He, also, made sure to pay a visit to the football field, giving it the send-off it deserved by twisting its field goals into giant middle fingers and painted a giant penis onto the commentators’ boxes. He made sure it was special paint, though; it throbbed and everything. If they tried to wipe it off, it would leave an even nastier surprise. Daisy seemed to get a kick out of that, and even helped by adding hair to the balls. She, also, enjoyed the pepperoni rolls; out of the two of them, she ate the most. By a long shot.

They headed west next, flying over the fly-over states –apptly named. They didn’t want to risk facing the ire of the MIMAL elf and all the fun sights and places to be were along the west coast. Besides, the real fun would be knowing they caused an all new UFO craze; give them locals something to talk about, ya hear? They made for Nevada first, getting there just as the sun started to set on the original Sin City.

They landed in one of the busy strips, no one really paying them any mind; when there’s an Elvis and Dolly and Eminem impersonator on every block, anything is possible here. Mel quickly folded the carpet into his robes, but not fast enough for Daisy, dragging him to one of the casinos. He wasn’t sure how long she wanted to be in there (or at any of the casinos, really), but she was all smiles each time they were kicked out. “Cheating?” “Counting cards?” Did they really think he stooped that low? It’s not his fault he was blessed with such luck... It really was a wonder he wasn’t shot through the back of the head as he unfolded the carpet and took off once more, though that didn’t stop him from keeping an eye to the skies for any drones.

Next was California, and straight to the Hollywood sign. Flat, tacky, unbelievably fake; everything that was already known, but nothing a bit of elbow grease couldn’t fix –and, by elbow grease, it’s actually more magic. The letters quite literally hopped off the hillside and started stomping into the filming lots, stopping such great blockbusters like Rocky MXIV and Aliens Versus Predator Versus Freddy Versus Kruger Versus Alice in Wonderland Part XII... oh, and whatever series they decided to reboot for the sake of x-sploitation. When Mel left home, it was on femsploitation; did they move to Asiansploitation yet? Do they still have Tyler Perry for Blacksploitation? The letters even stomped further, into the... seedier lots. One or two were spared, but the others had no chance.

Beverly Hills was just as much fun. Less rubbing shoulders and shooting the shit with stars, more carving famous, speaking lines into their homes from their movies.

Except for one.

Both Daisy and Mel got off the carpet, made sure they were presentable, then walked passed the One True God’s Prius up to his modest estate. Mel’s hand was shaking as he knocked on the door, his throat stuffed, having to be cleared so many times. Daisy’s own shaking and small squeals didn’t help any, but both went pale and still as stone as the one, the only, Nicholas Cage answered the door.

“Yes?” He said.

“M-m-mister Cage?” Mel said.

“That’s me. Are you here with my bread bowl? Remember, it was light on the clam chowder.”

“We are big fans,” Daisy said, hopping and clapping in place.

He came out of the doorway, dressed in afternoon leisure, little more than a pale blue robe over red polka-dotted boxers.

“Well, it’s nice to meet both of you,” he said, holding out his hands. “Always great to meet my fans.”

“I have seen almost every single one of your movies,” Mel said, shaking his right hand rigorously while Daisy was doing the same to his left.

“My condolences, then.”

“The majority were good,” Daisy said.

“And it’s for the bad ones. I know I’ve had a few stinkers in my day.”

“But you always look like you are giving it your all,” Mel stated, which got a smile out of him.

“That I am. I love to act. It’s... freeing to be on-stage. No matter the role.” He eased his hands away, and pushed passed, holding them out to Saliim and Brin. “Nice to meet you, too. Always great to meet my fans.”

“Who are you?” Saliim said, biting back her scream as her foot suffered a terrible fate. Nobody expects the marble block inquisition.

“Oh my. Where did that come from?” Mr. Cage said, looking around. “Are you okay, miss?”

“Y...yeah. Perfectly fine,” Saliim squeaked out, glowering at Mel all the while Brin was giggling and shaking the One True God’s hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Coppola,” she said.

“Please. I’m Nick Cage. It’s nice to know you’ve done your homework, though.” He exclaimed, and practically hopped by the girls, heading for a red hatchback pulling up to his house. By the time he turned around they were gone, having been graced by God, Himself, now heading for L.A.

On and on they went through the night, globe-hopping until the dawn chased them back through the rift above Mel’s hometown, and the carpet was just as ready as them to call it a night. Daisy implored him to stay; “my bed is more than big enough for the two of us.” He declined, stating that he will only consider it after their next date.

“Well it better be soon,” she said, and kissed him. Even with how tired they both were, it sent a jolt through his senses, loosed his legs enough to let her have a bit of give, almost pulling him back into her room, but Saliim held true, keeping him from falling prey to her clutches. Daisy broke the kiss, smiling at him, but smirked as she sneaked a hand into his robes, feeling him. “This seems to agree, eh?”

“H-hey,” Saliim exclaimed, wrenching him back harder, but Daisy didn’t have that strong a hold.

“Next weekend, then?”

“Sounds good,” Mel said, yawning, and caught Daisy’s next kiss as she blew it, giving him the strength to lumber back to his room, all the while listening to Saliim’s grumblings.

“It wasn’t that great,” she repeated again and again. “Don’t see what’s so special about her. Just another mortal... Didn’t even join in at Okinawa...”

“I had fun,” Brin said, time and again, as if Mel wouldn’t hear or remember in his stupor, even repeating it again as he climbed the stairs to his tower.

Finding Penelope camped before his door.

The door was rippling madly, blue fire leaping and crackling in it while Penelope slumbered away, pressed against it.

“Oh thank gods, young master,” the door said, its voice rippling like mad. “She’s been here all of yesterday and all night!”

Mel sighed, pinching his brow as he gave the door the password, which he got the smallest trace of satisfaction from her grunting as her head fell on the carpet inside. She scrambled to her feet, trying to block him as he entered, but his fields of fucks have been plowed to nothing over night. He pushed through her like a pair of swinging doors, whole again after they flicked passed each other thrice, and fell onto his futon.

“Where were you?” Penelope exclaimed, stomping into the room after him.

“You need to go.” Saliim stated.

“No! I want to know where he was. After you left class yesterday, I was worried sick. You never moved that fast before.”

“Because my master was excited,” Brin answered, pushing by. She sat on the bed and nudged Mel’s arm; it rose, allowed her through, and even whirred as it laid across her, his hand giving one last, squeaky click, pulling her against.

“What was he so excited about... Mel? What were you so excited about!”

“You need to g-” Saliim began.

“Mel!”

“I had a date with Daisy, okay?” He grumbled, yawning again.

“A... a d...d.d.d... You had a...”

Now Mel had to see this; he sat up, watching as she stuttered and jerked in place. He could imagine the sparks shooting out of her neck, the steam rising from her head, the blue-screen sweeping across her eyes as every part of her went into total meltdown. At last she managed to say the word... and crumpled under its weight.

“You... you two went... on a date?” She repeated, her voice so dead, so lifeless, that even robots would feel sorry for her. Her eyes weren’t staring at anything in particular, those black dots lost to their abyss, staring into her very shards of what used to be her heart. “You went out... with another woman?”

“Well, I wasn’t going to do it with men,” he said. “And I guess it’s women. Saliim and Brin were there, too.”

“We met the One True God,” Brin added.

“Who?” Penelope uttered, making Mel sigh.

“You see, this is why it would have never worked out between us,” he grumbled, and yawned one last time. “Now, I’m not kicking you out, but I need to get some rest. It’s been a long night- nights? Technically multiples... If you can promise not to stab yourself or gut anybody in here, you can stay until breakfast.”

“... No... I’ll go.”

He heard her pick herself up, and listened to the rotors of her legs rise and fall, each step like lead as she made her way to and out the door. Saliim sighed and curled up against Mel’s back, kissing his neck, covering it in kisses while her hands caressed and traced his chest.

“You think she’ll be all right?” She said.

“Yeah. She’s just a touch homicidal at the moment, but everything should be A-ok-”

And that was the last thing Mel remembered before he was in Benjamin’s office once again.

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