Act 1: Chapter 7, Part 5

Posted on January 03, 2018

Author's Note: I apologize for the lack of regular updates. I decided that the following scene needed to be written only as I was putting the previous scene up, and I've been a little under the weather, and the holidays were stressful. I had physical therapy on Evan's birthday and will continue to have it regularly for a bit; it's been a bad scene. I hope to finish getting Act 1 up this month, at as high a rate as I can manage, and then the story will be going hiatus for a time as I revise Act 2 and work more on the game.

In Which Chris is Relieved to Get an Explanation

Ryan. Tuesday. Damn Late.

Ryan was actively wondering if he was going to doze off before they heard from Chris as well when his phone rang, the sound of heavy shrine bells echoing out of his phone jerking Cali out of her fitful slumber. Angie, her head nestled in Ryan’s lap, didn’t so much as twitch. Cali’s eyes simply opened and darted to Ryan’s phone. Ryan, who had already had the phone in hand, immediately began breathing easier; it was Chris.

“Ryan,” Ryan said, as quietly as he could and still be confident he’d be understood, as he answered the phone. He started trying to shift his lap out from under Angie’s head without bothering her. “Can you give me a sec,” he all but continued as a whisper, “Angie’s asleep.”

“Whatsat?!” Angie yelped as she lurched upright, her eyes wild, surprising Ryan so much he nearly fell off the couch. She toppled back over onto her other side, immediately squeezing her eyes shut. “Iimup!” she sort of chirped, then she slurred out, “Shpeaker?” She squinted up at Ryan even though the room was dim, the only lights from the TV and the hall.

“Um?” Chris said.

“Uh, you mind if I put you on speaker?” Ryan asked after gathering himself.

“No prob,” Chris said, and Ryan felt a hint of relief.

Ryan activated speaker and said, “On.”

“Evan’s going to be fine,” Chris said to all three of them. Ryan would have sworn his heart actually skipped a beat. Angie’s mostly closed eyes shot open; Cali sat bolt upright, terror writ on her face. “His hip got caught by a claw. It’s a respectable flesh wound, but nothing he won’t recover from; I just got him shipped off to the hospital.”

“What?” Angie managed to ask, her voice a gulp.

“Your boy Evan stumbled upon a Menace-class stalker--” the phone said in Chris’s voice, provoking literal gasps from all three of them--a Menace class was exactly that, a serious menace. Chris continued, “--immediately after it had made a kill.” He went on to tell them a short tale in which Evan started shooting up a nasty Beast just as Chris rounded a corner to witness it. Evan hurt it pretty good, but not enough.

Chris’s voice took on a bemused, almost awed tone as he said, “I think it still would have gotten him, but then the Craziest. Thing. Happened. The night had been pretty still up to that point, but just as the Beast was about to overrun him there were these… just, just enormous gusts of wind that came out of fucking nowhere. In two different directions. At the same time. I could tell it was wind because it caught and bent all the trees in the lane, with some of them going south and some, um, south and the parallel direction the other weird gust blew, and it just, you know, sounded like wind. But that’s not how wind works.

“The one gust picked Evan up off his fucking feet and flung him out of the Beast’s path, right into the windows of the nearby store, and, at the same time, the gust parallel with the street caught the Beast from behind and flipped it completely over and blew it a good fifty feet down the street toward me. Then the air just went still again.” There was a moment’s pause, and Ryan was about to say something when when Chris said, “It was the wildest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Angie giggled sleepily, the news that Evan was basically alright having sunk into them all at this point. “That was me. Tell him I’m sorry.”

There was silence for a moment, then, with the tone of a man who thinks he must have misheard, Chris said, “That was… you?”

“I was scared,” Angie said, her voice smaller than normal. Ryan moved the phone closer to her. “I summoned this storm owl I know and asked her to help keep Evan safe. I wish she hadn’t blown him into a window,” her voice there a more normal size, but not actually much louder, as it was said through her teeth, “but at least he didn’t get ripped apart by a Menace-class Stalker. I assume it was Dens-i-glass and that Evan hasn’t been cut to shreds by shards of a window?”

“Yeah, his head bounced off it pretty good, but he didn’t go through the window or anything like that,” Chris replied, sounding both bemused and relieved. “Well, I’m glad to have an explanation for that, ‘cause it was pretty surreal and I really didn’t know… what was going on, I guess. Evan was pretty out of it too, so we didn’t really get a chance to discuss it. You uh. You can summon spirits, huh? That’s pretty cool!”

“It was my first time trying it, but in principle it’s not that hard,” Angie said. “What’s the plan now. Should we… go to the hospital?”

“I don’t think he was hurt that bad,” Chris replied. “I think they’ll probably patch him up and try and send him home with a militia escort. I was going to go meet him there and take him off their hands instead, so I’ll get him home safe. Can you send me his address so I don’t have to make him navigate for me?”

“Yeah,” Ryan replied. “Soon as we hang up. We’ll see you when you get here.”

There was a momentary pause, then Chris said. “It’s after midnight. Where are you? What’s going on?”

Ryan, Angie, and Cali all started laughing. “Evan’s family and I live together in an old boarding house,” Ryan said. “Angie’s over here right now too. We’re adults now, after all.”

“Suuuure,” Chris said, with a sort of wonder in his tone. “I guess if that flies?”

“It does,” Angie replied primly, then yawned.

“You guys are a trip!” Chris replied in turn, an undercurrent of laughter in his voice. “I’m looking forward to getting to know y’all better!”

Ryan found himself grinning. Angie, too, smiled widely, if sleepily. She looked like she was about to nod off again; that summoning had taken it out of her. She’d devoured a bag of Cheesters and passed out as soon as she’d gone inside after. Cali looked like she didn’t really believe this was happening. Ryan replied, “It’s the same for us, Ser Gramyre.”

Chris laughed, and then, in the tone of a man having an epiphany, he said, “Hey, Megan’s not there, is she?!”

“Alas no,” Ryan said, grinning even wider. “We parted ways with Megan this evening before I called the first time. Also, she probably would have said something by now.”

“Fair,” Chris said. “I should figure out how to get to the hospital. Haven’t been yet. I guess, well, I’ll see you later?”

“If you bring Evan home you will,” Ryan said, grinning still.

“Cool. Later,” the new boy said, and hung up.

“I still can’t believe you guys are suddenly friends with a fucking Light Bearer, man,” Cali said, shaking her head. “That’s so wild. What’s even going on?”

“Time will tell,” Ryan said, looking at Cali. “Go back to sleep while you have time, you’re going to be cranky tomorrow already.” As he spoke, Angie dropped her head back into Ryan’s lap and started was already breathing the shallow breaths of sleep. He went back to what he’d been doing on his phone.

Cali, despite looking sleepy, gave Angie a disbelieving glance, rolled her eyes at Ryan, said, “Okay ‘Dad,’” and started watching the late night programming Ryan had been mostly ignoring, her expression resolute. Within a couple minutes her eyes slipped closed and her head tilted backward. Ryan really let his smirk run wild as he continued reading.