“You doing any better?” Sylwyn asked from the kitchen where he was putting away a couple bags of groceries.
I was laid out on the couch, curled around a hot water bottle in a teddy bear cover, the blanket pulled up over my head so that all that peaked out was my nose. “Been better. Been worse.”
“Brought some ibuprofen if you think that’ll help?” He offered.
“Meh. Just sore and cold.” I pulled myself out from my cocoon and sat up, the blanket pooling around me. I was not letting go of that hot waterbottle for anything, though. The knit texture of the teddy bear cover reassured me after the day I had gone through.
Sylwyn popped the door to the microwave. The clink of platewear meeting glass reminded me of my mother making soup when I was sick. Not sure why that memory decided to make an unannounced visit. Probably because I’d been surviving for too many months on my own and hadn’t heard someone else do that in a while. I missed them, mom and Uncle Tad both, so much.
Last I had seen of them was when I had dropped by for Sunday roast. Uncle Tad’s sepia pale complexion had gotten worse with the second round of chemo. His hair had not lasted through the first round. Mom had on her chunky rainbow cardigan she had bought the day after I’d come out to them. The one thing I was always thankful for was the coroner deciding that it was okay for me not to have to identify the bodies. There hadn’t been much left after the truck pushed their ambulance into the train. Uncle Tad had symptoms of a heart attack and mom had called for an EMT because with her bum back, she couldn’t get him into the car with him not being able to help. She’d said it’d be alright, that she’d keep taking care of him because it was just too expensive to put him in a home. How I wished in that moment that it had not been so expensive as to cost her her life.
“Was that a yes or no?” Sylwyn was standing over me, a crease in his eyebrow, pizza rolls steaming on a plate at my eye level.
“Sorry, I spaced. What?” I blinked against the dusk making everything fuzzy around the edges. I grabbed for my glasses, realizing the fuzziness was me and not the lighting.
“Ranch, want some?”
“Yeah, with your pizza rolls?” He offered.
I raised and eyebrow at him before squinting with concern. He returned the look with mischief and handed me the plate. I set it on a pillow on my lap and tested the heat. Sylwyn came back with a rice bowl with a decent sized blob of Ranch dressing in it. “You’ll thank me.”
There was no good reason to destroy a perfectly good pizza roll. But curiosity had the better of me. The combination gave me the weirdest level of nostalgia.
“See, told you,” Sylwyn chuckled, pleased as he brought his own plate over and sat down on the floor across from me.
“Do I even want to know how you figured that out?” The distraction was nice from where my mind was trying to drown in.
“Ranch was my comfort food for a solid six months and I will not admit to what all I put it on. The pizza rolls was one experiment that I decided I could retain from the great Ranch-seige of Sophomore year.” He plopped a white sauce drenched roll in his mouth, cocky pride spread across his chipmunk face.
“So, we can get ranch and pizza rolls, but not internet?”
“Bogus, I know, but it’s because there are just enough people down here that can’t actually be trusted with what they can find on line.”
“In a ‘if we restrict information we can rule you’ cult-ish type of way?” Sylwyn asked around another roll. I nodded, realizing I had already wolfed down half my plate. “I mean, you can request print offs of Wiki and Ao3 and Wattpad if you’re really motivated to keep up with a story. Not like it’s fully restricted, just less so.”
“I feel bad for the guys inclined to being programmers. There’d be enough kids who would be into it these days.”
“Those with the talent are sent over to the British branch. They have more access to the web and the digital information side.”
I set my plate on the side table. “British branch?”
Sylwyn took my plate and set his empty one and the bowl of sauce on the counter to come back to later. “Each continent has at least one branch, including Antarctica. Most countries have at least one branch. Some have several. London’s one of the older branches. It was expanded back in the 1970s and retrofit to integrate web access back when it was more for professional papers being shared. Anyways, they have more access than we do over here.”
“Why? Seems kinda stupid.”
“No, I got it. Really,” I stopped him from describing whatever horror occurred.
“Ever seen Avenue Q?”
“The Internet is For…”
I face palmed. “Right, Rule 34.”
“That or Rule 49.”
“Remind me which one that’s from.” I sighed at the plight of humanity.
“Southpark ‘Profit’. Want chocolate?”
“What?” I looked up to find Sylwyn off rumaging in the freezer.
“I didn’t wait long enough for them to freeze, but whatever, they were selling them on discount.” He came back to the floor with a giant bag of pumpkin shaped Reeses.
“Yes, chocolate.” I slid off the couch to sit on the floor with him.
“Alright, I forgot cookies, but I fed you. Now, what do we do with the rest of the day? It’s not even evening. I kinda cut out on work, but the Chair can go roll over.”
“You said no video games. That sucks. I still need access to an internet connection at some point. Need to order some stuff. Not like I know where to get that delivered. Need to find out about my stuff from my apartment. Not like I want to lose everything in my life. I’m assuming I can get that all back. Alright, mental note made. Help me summon a god.”
Sylwyn coughed on his chocolate. “Do what?”
“What? Help me summon a god.”
Sylwyn started a pile of orange colored packing on the carpet next to him. “I thought you said that. Two questions. Who and why?”
“Scare the crap out of the Chair?” I shrugged. He squinted at me. “Alright, more like I know they’re wanting me to join up with you in catching whats-her-name and that mystical text about the four direction animals.” I grabbed up a pumpkin chocolate and enjoyed the texture.
“You think you can Read a god into existence?”
I hummed I-don’t-know as I added the wrapper to Sylwyn’s pile.
“Right. Right,” he took a deep breath and stared at the ceiling for a minute. “You haven’t been taught jack. Let’s start from somewhere simpler and see exactly what your summoning limit is. Not everyone can do magic and metaphysics. Cheryl was someone who could, but she didn’t have the talent to become a Dewey. Possibly a Chair member, but those are lifelong positions and only seven of them at a time.”
“I’ve summoned wizards already.” I pointed out.
He rubbed his chin in thought. Laying down, he reached back to his shelf and pulled out a book. Curling up, he handed me the book.
“A Curation of the Fae and Celtic Mythology?” I read off the title of the chunky paperback.
“Let’s try a Brownie. Small, easily contained, not liable to malevolent destruction like a Boggart.”
“How about not a Brownie. My understanding of the little guys leads me to not want it disappearing into the shadows of the apartment and me feeling like it’s watching me for the rest of my life.”
“A Gean-Canach might be an easy option,” Sylwyn mused.
I flipped through the index to try to find this thing. “What does it do?”
“Think Celtic Incubus.”
I glared at him. “Brownie sounds safer. Don’t even think Dullahan, not happening.”
“Oh, come on. You’re over here saying ‘help me summon a god’, but a Brownie and a Boggart are giving you the heebies.”
“Well, Fae tend to have a trickster side to them, a bit of mischieviousness and a sour personality if they get hungry or don’t get what they want. There’s a double play on Snickers in there somewhere. Hmmm, cut up a bunch of snickers into brownie batter. I don’t exactly want to piss one of these things off.”
“Now I have a different definition for Brownie batter, thanks,” Sylwyn bemoaned the innuendo he stumbled on. “Then you just unRead them.”
“Oh, right. And you’re welcome.”
“I guess we’re building up from a Brownie to what? A Leanan Sidhe, Undine, Nymphs, Banshees?” I skimmed the different names in the index.
“Probably a decent set to work up to Danu.”
“She’s a mother goddess, so a little less likely to smite the inside of the apartment with a lightning bolt or flood it.”
“I mean, Hestia might be safer?” I offered the hearth goddess.
“Maybe, but I don’t have any books in here with her in it right now. Circling back, who are you wanting to Read to scare the Chair with?”
“Not quite sure yet. I was thinking Coyote or the Bears from Bear’s Lodge, if I can find the written story for that. Then again, I haven’t exactly been direct quoting things,, so maybe I can get away with Uncle Tad’s old stories” I mused.
“Second time this evening. What?”
“Well, some of the stuff I did the other day when I got pissed off and went to the testing grounds, I was just summoning scenes and characters that I remembered, but I didn’t really have lines memorized for them.”
Sylwyn laid his head in his hands. “You were Reading a vague mood?” He pulled the vowels out in indignation.
“Ehhh.” I wiggled my fingers in a give-and-take way.
“Oh My,” he stalled on that and muttered a scramble of words that edged on cussing. He flicked a hand toward the book. “Just Read the things and work your way through. Let’s see what all you can manage and we’ll revisit the fact that you might be a freaking bard. Lord, I hope not. That’s all we need is a Mnemosyne right now. You are a main character, so of course you’d be able to just…gah”
I snorted. The evening lay before us and I was going to chew through Sylwyn’s collection of English literature to see where my limit lay in conjuring truly powerful beings.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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