Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Chapter Five Hundred and three : That's the plan (part two)


(part two)

Nadia waved and ended the phone call. He’d set the program up so that it took a picture of her smiling face when the call ended. The computer still showed an image of her smiling face. Nash sat at his computer for a few minutes just looking at the screen. He caught someone else’s reflection of the computer.

“You’re doing that thing again,” Nash said, not bothering to hide his irritation. “That thing we talked about.”

“What thing?” Katy asked. “I’m not doing anything.”

“You’re giving me that weird look,” Nash said. He turned around to face at the girl. “Are you going to eat me? Blow me into bits? Or cast a spell on me? What?”

“There’s a ghost there,” Katy said. She pointed to the screen. “Just behind her.”

“I don’t see it,” Nash said.

Katy walked forward to the screen. She put her small finger over something Nash thought was just a fog or maybe a trick of the light.

“It’s her father, I think,” Katy said. “He’s there in all of your conversations.”

“How would you know about all of my conversations?” Nash asked.

“You talk to her so much that I’ve seen,” Katy said. “How come her father’s there with her when you talk?”

“He’s probably there because we’re so not right for each other,” Nash mumbled.

“I think that he’s there with her all the time,” Katy said and nodded.

“What do you want, freakish one?” Nash asked.

Nash loved and admired Katy, but lately he felt so much pressure about this trip that he was irritated with everyone.

“I wanted to tell you that you need Paddie and me to go to Poland with you,” Katy said.

“We don’t need little kids with us,” Nash said, with an irritated sneer.

“You do,” Katy said. “Or I should say that you will by the end.”

Nash sighed.

“You won’t be successful and impress your girlfriend if we’re not there,” Katy said.

“Fine,” Nash said. “But you have to get your parents to agree.”

“Okay,” Katy said. “They’re going to decide to go too. Mom thinks it will be a good cover for you guys if we make a big spectacle of the Americans going on vacation. That’s what she says, at least.”

“Jake will be go with us though,” Nash asked in a firm voice. “Right?”

“Me and Paddie too,” Katy said with a nod.

“Why do I need you?” Nash asked.

“You just do,” Katy said.

The little girl shrugged her shoulders, turned in place, and ran off. Shaking his head, Nash turned around to look at his laptop. There was something creepy in that image of the ghost behind Nadia. He clicked the picture closed.

“What are you doing?” Teddy asked as he came up behind Nash.

“Uh…” Nash said. Too embarrassed to mention the ghost, Nash came up with, “Katy wants to go on the trip. Katy and Paddie. What do you think?”

“Fine, whatever,” Teddy said. “We have a chartered plane plus her dad’s going. He can keep an eye on them.”

Teddy shrugged.

“We have to get to work!” Teddy said.

“Time’s a wasting,” Nash said.

Teddy dropped his laptop on to the table and the boys set to work on today’s task — getting all of the maps together, in pdf form, and on everyone who was coming’s phone.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and three : That's the plan (part one)


(part one)

Monday afternoon — 4:27 p.m.

Denver, Colorado

“You mean, Jake’s not back?” Nadia asked Nash.

They were talking via Internet video call as they did twice a day, every day, since they’d met. Nadia had the day off and hadn’t gotten out of her pajamas all day. Nash was still wearing his Marlowe School uniform.

“No,” Nash said. “We only have a week! Jake was going to come with us to Poland. We won’t be able to get into the mine if he’s not there to do his thing.”

Nash waved his hand to indicate Jacob’s psychokinetic ability. Trying not to panic, Nash nodded.

“Don’t panic,” Nadia said.

“That’s easy for you to say,” Nash said. “Sandy’s relying on me to sort this out. Seth’s dad and the guy who sold the book and…”

“Slow down,” Nadia said.

“How can I?” Nash asked. “We’re leaving in a few days. We’re only have one chance to get into the mine under the radar of the Polish neo-Nazis.”

“Whoa,” Nadia said. She used her hands in a slowdown motion. “Whoa.”

Nash shook his head.

“You’ve done more for this grandfather than anyone could have asked,” Nadia said. “You found his relatives name in the archives. He now knows when his relative died and where. He knows who she was with. You’ve found the mine! That’s a lot!”

“I just want…” Nash blew out a frustrated breath. “I mean, Sissy’s in Paris at the best ballet school in the world. Charlie is a basketball God. Noelle sold her first piece to that judge, you know, from the trial. For a lot of money! Jake’s off saving the world. It’s like everyone I know is doing really great and I… I’m here. Going to school. And…”

“I understand,” Nadia said.

“You do?” Nash asked.

“I do,” Nadia said. “You see everyone succeeding and you want to succeed too. That makes sense”

Nash scowled.

“Jake will be home in time,” Nadia said. “Next Saturday, we’ll all get on a plane and go to Poland. We’ll go into the mine and…”

She shrugged.

“We’ll find out what’s there,” Nadia said. “It’s exciting.”

“Terrifying,” Nash said.

“Exciting,” Nadia said. She smiled. “It’s exciting. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

“There’s just so much to do!” Nash said.

Nadia just smiled at him. He shook his head.

“I miss Sissy,” Nadia said. “And, I’m so happy for her. She’s really living her dream.”

“How’s Ivan?” Nash asked.

“Depressed,” Nadia said with a shrug. “Busy. He’s got so much going on right now with the ballet and school and looking to start a career. Sissy was right. He doesn’t have time to miss Sissy.”

“I bet he still does though,” Nash said, speaking from experience.

Nadia nodded in agreement.

“I should go and… you know,” Nash said.

“Get ready for Friday!” Nadia said.

Nash nodded.

“Do you think…?” Nash asked.

“I think we’ll have an adventure,” Nadia said. “We’re going to a new country. We’ll eat great food. Stay in great places. And…”

“We’ll find the mine,” Nash said.

“We’ll go inside the mine!” Nadia nodded.

“We’ll find the manuscript,” Nash said.

Nadia nodded.

“We’re going to have a really fun time,” Nash said.

“Yes, we will,” Nadia said. “You’ll feel better after to you work through some of these details.”

“Thanks for your help,” Nash said. “I really… Thanks.”

“I’m clicking off this call so you can work,” Nadia said.

Nadia waved and ended the phone call. He’d set the program up so that it took a picture of her smiling face when the call ended. The computer still showed an image of her smiling face. Nash sat at his computer for a few minutes just looking at the screen. He caught someone else’s reflection of the computer’s screen.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and two : On their way (part six)


(part six)

Delphie took a drink from the flask. She blinked and then blinked again. For a moment, she could see every dimension and all of the creatures made of dark matter. She shook her head to clear her eyes.

“Too much,” Delphie said in a soft tone.

Gilfand put his hand on her wrist.

“Try it now,” Gilfand said.

When she opened her eyes, she could still see all of the dimensions and all of the dark matter. This time, she wasn’t afraid. Everything looked familiar and friendly. She smiled. The closest creature made of dark matter turned to look at her. It nodded in greeting.

“I wonder if they’ll help us,” Delphie thought.

“As always, Oracle, we are at your service,” the creature made of dark matter said. He bowed.

“You are loved in every realm,” Gilfand said, softly. “Protected. It is part of the universe. Your kind are protected by all because you protect all with your visions and manipulations.”

“I …” Delphie said.

“You never knew?” Gilfand asked.

Delphie shook her head. In response, Gilfand kissed her cheek.

“You are very brave then,” Gilfand said.

“Why do you say that?” Delphie said. She placed her hand over the place where he’d kissed her.

“Most Oracles know that they are protected and loved,” Gilfand said. “They have no fear to be just what they are. You, however, have never known that and yet still you are one of the strongest Oracles I have ever met. And that’s saying a lot.”

“Sam and Celia saved me,” Delphie said.

“Yes,” Gilfand said. “Sam Lipson is truly an incredible being. I’ve never met a human quite like him. I doubt I will again. Abi adores him and his humanness.”

Smiling, Delphie nodded. When she blinked again, her vision returned to more normal. She saw that Sam and Maresol were laughing and talking. They were sitting in the shade of a tall Cottonwood. Gilfand was sitting by her side.

“What if I want it again?” Delphie asked.

“You just have to touch the spot on your cheek where I kissed you,” Gilfand said. “On. Off.”

Delphie practiced for a few times before nodding to Gilfand. He winked at her. Leaning over, he picked up the sparkling wine and pour glasses of the bright yellow liquid.

“You okay?” Sam asked Delphie in a low voice.

“I am,” Delphie said.

“This fairy stuff is …” Sam said and shrugged. “Weird.”

“Fun weird?” Delphie asked.

Sam grinned at her and nodded.

“You?” Sam asked.

“Weird weird,” Delphie said. “But Gilfand gave me a way to control it a bit.”

“That was nice of him,” Sam said as if that was an oddity.

Delphie grinned at him.

“Are we near this thing?” Gilfand asked in a louder voice.

“Yes,” Delphie said. “It’s maybe five minutes from here.”

“Then let’s enjoy our break,” Gilfand said. “Draw deep my lovelies. The battle is near.”

“Battle?” Maresol asked.

“Unfortunately, my dear,” Gilfand said. “We enter the battle all the while hoping never to fight.”

“I hope not to fight,” Maresol said.

Sam and Delphie nodded.

“To the battle ending peacefully,” Sam held up his wine glass.

“To the battle ending peacefully!” They said in a robust cheer and clinked each other’s glasses.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday…

Chapter Five Hundred and two : On their way (part five)


(part five)

Monday afternoon — 1:42 p.m.

Near Evergreen Cemetery

Leadville, Colorado

They’d climbed down a short hill to the bottom of a dry drainage ditch. They needed to get back up. Even though Delphie was strong and healthy, they were at 10,000 feet in Leadville. The air had much less oxygen than she as used to. After her stroke, Delphie still struggled with heart disease.

Sliding and stepping down the hill, Delphie was covered in sweat and breathing hard. Sam waited for her on the other side of the hill up. Maresol and Gilfand waited near the top. Sam held out his hand. She took his hand and he pulled her up the hill. With his arm around her, he practically carried her to the top. Gilfand took one look at Delphie and gestured toward a nearby tree.

In a blink of Gilfand’s eye, there was a festive blanket sitting in the shade of a nearby tree. They sat down under the cool shade. Gilfand nodded and cold oranges, sparkling wine, various cheeses, long baguettes, ice water, and chocolate appeared.

“May I get anything else?” Gilfand asked.

“This looks perfect,” Maresol said.

“I have one other thing,” Gilfand said. He held up a metal flask. “Abi makes this for her Fairy Corps. It is an elixir of herbs and magic.”

They turned their attention to him.

“Jacob compares it to alcohol,” Gilfand said. “It has… strange effects. For each person, it is unique. I have once in my life given it to another Oracle.”

“How did that go?” Delphie asked with a tired smile.

“Strangely,” Gilfand said. “I am right here and at your service. We’ll do it together.”

“Then why are you giving it to us?” Sam asked. “You can see that Delphie is struggling! We don’t need to go on some mind altering trip.”

“It will protect you from all dark magic,” Gilfand said. “Even though we have destroyed the soul stealer, there is no way to know what creature is living in the Fire of Hell. The shadow is wide and deep. There is a lot of dark magic about.”

Sam gave him a nod. He took the flask, opened it, and held it up to his nose.

“It doesn’t smell like anything,” Sam said. “Cucumbers, maybe.”

Nodding, Sam took a drink of the elixir. He passed it to Maresol, who took a drink. Maresol gave the flask to Delphie.

“Ooh, odd magic coming off this,” Delphie said.

“Odd?” Gilfand asked.

“Old,” Delphie said. “Ancient.”

“That is true,” Gilfand said.

Delphie took a drink from the flask. She blinked and then blinked again. For a moment, she could see every dimension and all of the creatures made of dark matter. She shook her head to clear her eyes.

“Too much,” Delphie said in a soft tone.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and two : On their way (part four)


(part four)

“You mean that a few people have money instead of a life and others live life to the fullest but have little money,” Abi said.

“Do they?” Jacob asked.

“Do they what?” Abi asked.

“Live life to the fullest?” Jacob asked.

“Suffering,” Abi said. “It is the human condition. People with lots of money surround themselves with luxuries with the idea that they will not suffer. Even the smallest pain is too much. Little do they realize that the entire point of being here is to feeleverything.”

“The point of life is suffering?” Jacob asked.

“Of course,” Abi said. “Or better said, the point of life is to overcome suffering so that pain is merely another experience, another sensation. Life is about feeling everything. That is the nature of life.”

“It’s good to eat,” Jacob said, in mild chastising.

“Yes,” Abi said. “If you look at the research into poverty, the reason poverty is stressful is that people feel poor. They endure the shame and humiliation of feeling less than someone else.”

“Aren’t they poor?” Jacob asked.

“No,” Abi said. “Those with the most money are the most lacking in authentic love, real relationships, and genuine living of life. This vacancy is not living.”

“Suffering is?” Jacob asked.

Abi nodded. They walked along for a while in silence.

“Are you alive?” Jacob asked.

Abi glanced at him and laughed. She fell silent without answer. They continued to walk. After more than ten minutes, she looked at him.

“It’s a good question,” Abi said. “Gilfand and I cannot die, so are we alive?”

“Do you suffer like the rest of us?” Jacob asked.

“Oh,” Abi said. “We suffer.”

Abi nodded.

“Gilfand and I have suffered greatly in our long lives, less so now,” Abi said. “But that’s the nature of living.”

“Hmm,” Jacob said.

“We have also lived, experience, enormous wonder,” Abi said. “You can’t imagine what it’s like when the continents come together. You’d think that every creature on earth would fight or struggle for dominance.”

“They don’t?” Jacob asked.

“Some do. Not many,” Abi said. “Most rejoice in the homecoming.”

Listening, Jacob didn’t respond.

“That’s one of my favorite experiences,” Abi said. “Gilfand loves it when the sea rises to cover most of the land. He hasn’t done it in a long time, but he used to spend most of his time in the ocean. That’s where he found Manannán, you know, Queen Fand’s consort.”

Jacob nodded. After a while, Abi sighed.

“I believe that I am a part of this earth,” Abi said. “I was created when the earth was. I will likely die when she does. This sun will not last forever. When it dies, Gilfand and I will pass away. For now, we are here.”

Abi lifted a shoulder in a shrug.

“Have you ever taken a break?” Jacob asked. “Hibernated?”

“No,” Abi said. “There is too much to see and do. This planet seems so stable to humans, but it’s changing all the time. There is always something new to see, something fun to do, someone to interact with.”

“Chatter,” Jacob said.

“We’ve come full circle,” Abi said. “Shall I chatter at you?”

“It doesn’t seem like your way,” Jacob said.

“It’s not,” Abi said. “I’ve spent more than a few millennia without saying even one word.”

“Because you were angry?” Jacob asked.

“There was no one to speak to,” Abi said. “Gilfand was underwater and … Really, how much conversation can you have with a single celled organism?”

“Well, feel free to speak if you’d like,” Jacob said. “I’m here.”

“Thank you, Jacob Marlowe,” Abi said.

Grinning, they continued walking toward the Fire of Hell.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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