Hello lovely reader! If you're new around here, you will probably want to read Today I am Yawn and Today I am Atonement before this installment for The Called. Or enjoy any of the stand-alone stories The Quilled Sister has to offer! Thank you!
This is a terrible plan. I know it’s a terrible plan, but at the same time, I just… don’t care.
When Captain ordered me to be part of Anise’s pity party, I voiced my disapproval and walked back to join McKoi at his watch post. We’ve all seen shit by this point, there’s no reason to let yourself drown in it like the last rat off a boat.
But Teak found me. She always does. I can hide from genetically-enhanced bat radar but not from Teak.
“Come on, Darluth. You know we all have to take part of the load.”
I turned my back to her, catering to the emotionally weak does not count as part of the load.
She sighed behind me.
“McKoi, could you?” I heard her grumble.
“Yes, Sergeant.” McKoi saluted her, gave me the cool it dude look, and returned to camp. Coward.
When the sound of McKoi’s footsteps had retreated far enough away, I felt Teak’s lean arms incircle my waist, her forehead nuzzle between my shoulder blades. Even though it was warm and I liked it, I shook her off.
“You can’t cuddle me into thinking it’s okay to baby Private Tillum.”
“I could order you to, though. Which would be kinda hot from my end.”
“Not from mine.”
She moved toward me again, slipping her hands in my pockets to intertwine our fingers, “I could order you to pretend you thought it was hot.”
I allowed a small smirk. “I would appreciate if you didn’t.”
But she was right. She could order me to do anything, and because of rank and a million other reasons, I’d have to do what she said. Yet she didn’t. Sergeant Teak was not the ordering type. She just had this way of being right that made it easier to agree, rather than look like a fool in front of her later.
And that’s why I am here. In the middle of this terrible plan that is basically useless. If we were still mortal, it might be nice to sit at a bar with a martini every couple of weeks, but alcohol burns off too quickly before it can do anything in bodies built for battles along the time/space continuum.
Blessedly built the ugly wizard says.
I do like the barkeeps. I won’t admit this to Teak or anyone else, but I do get mildly entertained watching the watchers. It’s been true throughout history- barkeeps see everything. Everyone talks to them, from the most powerful sultans, down to this nonsense cat lady next to me tonight. And they’ve got the best view of humanity too, in my opinion. People are raw when they sit against a bar. They don’t feel like they’re facing another person, just their drink. So the words and faces that flow out of them for the barkeeps to see are unfiltered not just by intoxication, but by some odd agreement of conversation I’ve yet to experience anywhere else. It’s a handy way to get secrets out of people, and I’ve used it many times myself.
It’s a busy Saturday night at The Swan, so it’s the managing barkeep and her little protege- Caroline and Neal. I wonder if either one of them realize she’s training him to take over. She’s on to bigger things, the smell of success wafts off her like an expensive gin wafts off the bachelorettes waddling out of here. Teak would say it’s a shame, because the girl seems happy here. But I’ve never seen happiness as a reason to hold oneself back from potential.
Of course worthless assignments hold oneself back from potential all the time. Clearly.
There is one interesting little being here. The rest of the bar gossips about her because she just sits at the bar staring at her drink. But I think it’s more interesting that she’s some sort of immortal.
I know she’s not one of us, we entered this world together and are able to sense each other’s movements. But she’s powerful and wild. I do wonder what she’s doing here, sitting with a bunch of useless people, staring, and then sneaking out the back door when she thinks no one sees.
But I do. I see everything. It’s my specialty.
So of course I notice when my target enters The Swan. But everyone does, she’s sort of a celebrity.
Pepper Tillum Rivkin. Of the Northeastern Tillums, who migrated from Egypt several centuries ago for unknown reasons. She married Clark Jameson Rivkin at 27, a hotel founder on the way to big money. That’s when we entered, screwed everything up, activated Private Anise’s guilt, who then proceeded to insert herself unnecessarily into a normal’s life, and now I’m stuck here. Wasting a perfectly good winter night when the Kishi will be in hibernation and I could be stealing all the good pome-berries that grow in their fields. Teak loves when I make little hand pies with them.
But I’m here instead. For no reason, as it’s the same thing every time. The target walks in like the head of a parade, all these little plebeians bask in her social radiance, and then she sits at the biggest curve of the bar, holding court and passing out kernels of advice as if it was gold thread straight from her asshole. After everyone has admired her glorious wisdom, she drops a humongous tip, and saunters back to what I imagine is a diamond encrusted cave.
Which is why I entertain myself by dropping my tip in the form of whatever last country I’ve visited. She tips for us both, and I have no reason for random foreign coins. Neal seems to be starting a collection, so I always make sure it’s him that’s nearby when I take off.
Oh lookie there, Target’s shaking it up tonight. We’re going to go bother immortal-lady. See I don’t know if I can respect a fellow immortal who can’t be bothered to shimmy off the humans. It would be so easy for her to put on an off-putting cloud like me- a tiny spell that makes me visible, but erases anyone’s desire to come near.
Pepper’s probably going to bore her with some nonsense about living truly or following your heart or investing while young, or whatever. Once she realizes the little immortal doesn’t want to impress her, she’ll prance back over here and continue her performance.
So I keep a third eye on her while I peruse the bar. Surely there’s something here that’ll keep me awake until I’m allowed to go back to camp.
There’s an Assistant Attorney General with his hand on the thigh of a newly wed, about to ruin his career because her husband is a lawyer for a publicity firm.
Across the bar is a groom getting married in a few days. He’s so in love with his bride, but trying to impress his friends, so he’ll say yes when they offer to take him to a strip club, but then he’ll hide in the corner. Teak would want to interfere, but I can see that he’ll make better friends after his marriage.
In the back room is a second date. It’s going terribly.
Next to me, mister regular John is on another first date. It’s going wonderfully but he’ll call the guy the wrong name and that’ll tank the whole relationship. He’ll bring in his soulmate a few weeks from now but won’t notice because he’s still too gun-shy from the mistake he’s about to make. Again, Teak would beg me to interfere. But that’s not what full-sight is for. It’s for seeing, not getting involved. It’s more about being able to read the whole big picture. Should I raze the entire Amazon Rainforest for the broken heart of a cane-toad? No. But that’s the whole philosophical debate Teak and I get into every time I see something she thinks should be fixed. God I wish this martini effected me.
aaaaand I lost her. I lost the Target. Can’t sense her anywhere. Shit.
Daedal (adjective): Skillful; ingenious. Cleverly intricate.
I think today’s word is pretty obviously tied to the story, which may be a first for me! I still think it’s an excellent word.
Sometimes when I write a little chapter for The Called, I feel like I’m discouraging new readers from becoming return-readers, because there’s so much they need to know before hand. On the same token, I really enjoy weaving everyone together. It’s interesting to build a world step by step, and have to match rules that were set in previous stories. There is probably a beautiful middle ground of creating stand-alones that still continue a chapter, but I’m aware I haven’t hit it yet. I’m going to continue to work towards it, but if anyone has a good idea for a step towards that goal, I’d be happy to hear it! As a new writer, I love hearing feedback, so if you have any feelings on this, hit me up via the Contact page!