Saturday, April 30, 2016

Too Wyrd, Excerpt, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Okay, I shouldn't laugh so much. But really? Ragnarok? The end of the world and the death of most of the gods according to the Norse pantheon and its texts?
Joseph stared at me until the hyena cackling had subsided. “You done?”
I wiped the tears from my eyes and nodded. “Yeah, for now. But come on... Ragnarok? That's a battle between the gods. Humans, when they are involved, would be nothing more than cannon fodder, with or without witchcraft.”
Joseph shrugged. “I'm not arguing that he is being rational or anything. I'm just telling you what he said.”
“Yeah, but there's something else to it, something that makes you take it seriously, or you wouldn't be sitting here telling me about a mythological battle of the future, and the man who would be Sergeant Major.” I stood up and grabbed his glass and my empty bottle. I gestured with the glass and he nodded. I stepped inside to get the refills, calling through the patio door. “So what takes this from psycho circus with optional admission to a crazy train running us down at the crossing?”
I heard Joseph move to stand in the doorway. “I don't know. It's mostly just a gut feeling. I think he's up to something more than just the impossible parlor tricks he's been pulling. I just don't know how to figure it out.” He sighed. “And I don't think me confronting him will give us any answers. Keith has always had that slick as goose-shit feel to him.”
I came out of the kitchen with fresh drinks and stopped. Joseph had that look on his face. He was going to ask me to do something, and I wasn't going to like it. “So you want me to talk to him.”
“You could be just the thing to throw him off balance. Besides,” Joseph scrambled to make his case before I shut him down, “you are the only person I know who can read anyone at anytime. You have a gift and it could give us the information we need.”
I walked slowly back to Joseph, handed him his drink and sat down. He sat back down in his seat and let out a sigh. He was sure he'd convinced me. But I still had a case to make. “Why?”
Joseph choked on his swallow of wine. He coughed a few times and choked out his words. “Why what?”
I smiled innocently, knowing Joseph wouldn't buy the innocent part. “Why do we need the information? Why do we need to know? Why should we get involved?” I cut him off as he started to break in. “What is the worst possible scenario? And how is it our fucking problem?”
Joseph stared at me, and I got a sinking feeling. He hadn’t told me everything. He hadn’t told me the thing that I would see as the most important.
“Muriel disappeared from her usual hang-outs about four weeks ago, and rumor has it she'd joined Keith's army before she did.”
I stared at Joseph, wanting to disbelieve. But, no, that was exactly the kind of thing that my step-sister would do. “Crap.”
“I know.”
“You are sure she’s gone?” I sighed when Joseph nodded. “How can anyone be so oblivious?” I lifted my drink to my lips, fighting the urge to gulp it.
Joseph snorted. “How should I know? Your little step-sister can find the only broken chair in a room.”
“Truth.” Without taking my eyes off the bottle I was drinking from, I reached out to give Joseph a fist-bump. We missed. “So, Muriel is missing and probably involved in some deep shit. If she wasn't such a damned innocent, I'd let her sink. Well, if we were a hundred percent certain her deep shit was this thing with Keith, at least. Maybe then she would learn a few things.”
I saw Joseph nod his agreement from the corner of my eye.
I considered the situation from as many angles as I could come up with. Best case scenario was that we were wasting time and we'd leave Muriel to putz around with a fraud until reality set in. Worst case was that Keith could really pull out the big guns and drag her into something that was way over her head.
I looked at Joseph. He glanced at me expectantly. “Is this just about building an army, or do you think Keith is turning to the dark side?”
Joseph shook his head. “I don't know. I hope not, but...” He shrugged. “I just don't know.”
“Fine.” I heaved a sigh. Tracking down Muriel might take a few days. I'll need to get some stuff in order before I just take off. I can finish my current orders and get those mailed off. Ella can visit grandma for a week. I'll just tell her I'm checking out a workshop possibility. I can be back in Indianapolis on Monday.”
Joseph nodded.
I was able to pull in a few workshops and seminars through nearby festivals and conventions, which boosted my income from the online sales of magically charged herb and oil blends, and video-conferenced Tarot readings. I would have to set up my sites to let customers know I was away for a while.
I stood up. “You want the guest bed?”
Joseph gave me a questioning look. I grinned and led him into the living room. I tugged an ottoman towards the wall.
“I got an inflata-bed that plays dead as a foot stool.” I popped the top off of the ottoman and unfolded the bed platform. I tugged out the plug and jammed it into the wall socket. A soft buzz filled the room.
Joseph chuckled. “Beats staying at a hotel, I guess. Let me go out and grab my overnight bag.”
As he walked out the front door, the smile fell from my lips. I closed my eyes, hoping that this was just a dream. Muriel was my responsibility by default. Her father, my step-father, had died a few years ago. Her mom had fallen off the face of the earth a few months before that. I was the closest thing she had to family, and family duty was a sacred duty.

I opened my eyes, resigned, when Joseph walked back into the house.

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