PLAYING IT COOL
When they awoke, Aiden decided that if they were to go through with their plan, they were going to have to blend in for as long as possible. If they were being watched, as he suspected they were, it wasn’t going to work. They had to convince Valentine, the higher ups, and whoever else was involved, that they had truly retired the idea and decided that another short life on earth was better than an immortal one anywhere else.
“If we can make them believe us, and I mean truly believe us, we really can make it happen. We just have to pretend for a little while, blend in with the other souls, and then make our move. It’ll be pancakes!” He smiled at the term. His mother used to tell him that whenever he was nervous for something, because of how easy pancakes were to make.
“Oh sweetie, relax. It’ll be pancakes,” she’d say and he always cherished that.
“What other souls? They all disappeared, remember? How are we supposed to blend in when no one is here?”
“They’ve got to come back eventually. They’re just gone now so we can have a close eye kept on us. As soon as they believe we’re done with the idea, they’ll be back. There’s far too many dead to keep a whole mansion for us 5.”
“Okay, well we’ve got to tell the others then. And how do you suppose we convince them of this? We can’t just go tell Valentine ‘oh, yeah, we’re done with the idea, you can stop watching us now’. He’ll see right through it!”
“Like I said, we have to blend in. What did the other souls get up to for the most part when we first arrived?”
“They sat in the living room by the foyer.”
“Exactly. And that is what we will do. We will park our tushies in that living room and just hang until the cows come home, or souls in this case.” He laughed at his own joke and Lydia tried to give a sympathy laugh, but just couldn’t manage it. “It’ll be...”
“Pancakes. I know, I know. Did you just say tushies?”
They laughed together. “I guess I got my mom on the brain.” He smiled. “Let’s go.”
They left the room to go tell the others of their fake plan so that the real one ran smoothly. When they arrived at Erika’s room, Caleb and Quincy were standing in the front of it like bodyguards.
“What’s going on?” Lydia asked quizzically.
“We are the protectors!” Caleb yelled out in his best battle voice, smiling of course.
“I see you’ve gotten a good rest.” Lydia said to him, looking at Quincy. “Hi, I don’t think we’ve officially met. I’m Lydia.”
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance. I hear you are looking for some lifelong advice?” He winked at her with a smirk and she beamed
“Likewise. And yes, well sort of. Let’s go inside and discuss.”
“The lady doth sleep. We must not disturb her.” Caleb said, maintaining his medieval persona.
“Caleb, we have a new plan in place. We should wake her up.”
“Fine,” he whined, defeated. “Let’s wake her up.”
They opened the door to the room and realized it was empty. The lady not doth sleep. She wasn’t anywhere to be seen at all.
“Erika?” They called out but no response. They heard a throat clear from the hallway. Valentine. Fricking Valentine.
“Didn’t you guys hear? Ms. Erika was reincarnated! Sent back to earth to live out another wonderful human life.” He sounded genuinely happy, as if his job depended on the reincarnation of the souls. Lydia then wondered that maybe it wasn’t his job that depended on it, but his entire existence.
“No, no, no. She didn’t even say goodbye. That’s not fair. She was my soul mate!” Caleb screamed at Dexter in a way Lydia never heard from him before. He was truly angry.
“Mr. Oliver, Erika was a lovely young soul yes, but she was not your soul mate.”
“How do you know that?” He stared at him with anger and confusion, but also with a pleading look in his eyes.
“I know much more than you all think.”
He smirked, with a touch of evil on his face and that made Lydia feel a flip in her chest. “Good day.” And he was gone. Again.
Lydia slinked over to Caleb to comfort him. Although he knew that if he and Erika attempted to become immortal together they would have been destroyed, the idea of him becoming immortal at all went out the window as soon as Erika’s soul was sent back to earth. He knew now he was regular, and that realization was almost too much for him to bear. He started to sob.
“Buck up young man, it’s not the end of the world. Far from it actually!” Quincy was trying to be helpful but Caleb just sobbed harder. “Now you can find your real soul mate!” His positivity was remarkable considering he’d been stuck in a basement for God only knew how long. Lydia noticed what he was trying to do, and decided it would be better to help him cheer Caleb up than let him sob for no reason.
“He’s right. Erika wasn’t it. But someone is! We will find her. Besides we have the time to now. Tell em’ Aiden!” Caleb looked up at her, knowing both she and Quincy were right. He would find his soul mate and he, Lydia and Aiden would become immortal and explore the universe together forever. He was sure of it.
“Tell me what?” Caleb asked wiping the tears from his eyes, and in that moment Lydia and Quincy looked at each other in congratulations.
“Well, I’ll tell you this. And I don’t want to
sound insensitive, but it’s going to be easier now, the new plan. Now that Erika’s gone, it’ll be much easier to convince them that we’re done with it. What we’re going to do is this. We’re going to abandon the plan.” He put abandon in air quotes. “We’re not going to try to be immortal anymore. We’re going to sit and wait for our time to be reincarnated. That’s the plan.” Lydia looked at him questioningly. “Until…”
“Until the higher ups and Valentine believe that we’re done. When they truly believe us, the other souls will come back. We’ll hope that one of them will be Caleb’s soul mate. And just when they have stopped watching, we’ll make our break for it. Now we have to do our best in that time not to be sent back, yes, but we can do it if we act quick and smart.”
“Quick and smart.” Quincy repeated.
“So that’s our new plan.” Aiden said with a tone indicating he was through speaking.
Caleb looked around disappointed. “Well it’s not great, Aiden. I’ll tell you that. But let’s hope for the best”
“Thatta’ boy!” Lydia said giving him a light smack on the back. Aiden laughed, and then Caleb too.
They sat in silence for a few moments to take in what had happened. Erika was gone, at the drop of a hate. And as each moment passed, their time to vanish got that much closer. Lydia doubted that their plan would work and
she became convinced—although she didn’t tell anyone else—that they would be reincarnated eventually. She didn’t see how it could work, making the higher ups truly believe their lies. They ran the universe, or at least the middle, after all. They couldn’t be that stupid. A flash of a memory from her living days passed across her brain.
She was at home watching a politician’s debate. There were two main candidates at podiums, both spewing their own line of bull designed to get people to give them the power to make decisions for the collective group. It was ridiculous. To her it sounded like an argument between two grade school kids who had nothing to say but insults. If politicians could be that ridiculous, then maybe they had a shot.
The moment of silence passed and they began to figure out how to go about the middle ‘business as usual’. They hadn’t been good at it up until that point, even when they stayed close to the mansion, but they had to give it the old college try. They decided to go to the living room attached to the front foyer and staircase, and just sit for a while. Waiting.
“This is the most bored I’ve been since I was alive.” Lydia breathed out a long sigh. Her idea of a good, no, decent time, was not sitting around. She was an explorer and she could feel her body humming for an escape. It was like an addiction, something she couldn’t get away from. Wanderlust, or something like it.
“I cannot sit here for much longer. There has got to be something that we’re actually allowed to do.”
“If there is, I don’t know anything about it.” Aiden said jokingly.
“I think I may have something for us.” Quincy said slyly.
‘He’s coming in handy,’ Lydia thought to herself. “Take us away Quince!”