I’m a god. Even better, I’m a rich god.
Suck on that, Hahne – how many times did you tell me that I wasn’t good enough for your school? That I was doomed to be nothing? Well, suck it. I’m something. Something a hell of lot more important than you.
The campfire is crackling gently and the cop’s snoring slightly – but that’s not why I can’t sleep. I’m just too damn excited. Seriously. This is a new beginning for me – like suddenly everything makes sense. Every time I fall asleep, I end up back on regular old Earth and I just don’t want to be there right now – I wanna be here. In a land of gods and monsters – where I’m one of them… I’m just not sure which one yet.
The others are all asleep in bedrolls around the fire – there’s the cop, Dameron’s his name, he’s an idiot with a gun, but he’s a cop, so of course, he is, but he’s chilled down a little bit since we met James; Jenaveve, she’s intense and hot and sounds like a leprechaun; Tracy, she’s my sister, but she doesn’t talk so bonding’s been difficult; and then, there’s the Korean guy. I think his name is Tyler, which is a weird name for a Korean guy, but whatever. They’re all cool-ish. All children of gods, just like me. It’s weird to think that all of them are currently running around somewhere on Earth right now, living regular-ish lives. I don’t want to do that anymore – I’m so done with mortality.
There’s a voice coming from further away. I look over – James is sitting around a smaller fire on the crest of the hill. He’s wide awake, his giant creepy moth is sitting on a stool looking at him intently. He’s staring into the fire, poking it occasionally with a stick – either that or he’s roasting something. But, the voice isn’t his – it’s a woman of some kind.
“I know you’re getting these, James!” I hear the voice yell – then it goes on, dropping a bunch of names, I don’t know. I’m too curious about it all, so I get up and go to have a look. As I go over there, I see there are little cave paintings crawling over the floor – they’re all swirling around James in a constant circle, I see bleeding eyes, two large snakes, a bird of some kind and a ton of others. The bird is talking, speaking with a voice that somehow reminds me of that woman we met in the underworld – the one who let us go. “I don’t know what’s going on – but I know it’s about one of the kids. Please, James, just get back to me. I need to know what’s wrong. If one of them is hurt, I deserve to know. Is it Luciana? Dameron? Agincourt? Damn it, James, I’m freaking out here. Just call me.” The voice stops and the cave painting fade away, leaving small wet marks on the dirty ground, like someone had dripped their soda onto it.
“What the hell was that?” I ask.
James turns to look at me. “One of Ophelia’s little tricks. She can send messages through her tattoos. I feel bad; she’s worried about Dameron. But, I need more time.”
I squat down near the fire. “So, just call her or something. Let her know its fine and you’ll see her soon.”
“No can do. If I reply, she’ll know where we are and nothing will stop from getting here,” he starts to fish around his pockets. “So, she gets to stew for a while. She’ll forgive me – I’ll just have to let her pick the next few movies.” He pulls out a couple marshmallows from his pocket and impales them on the end of a stick. “Actually, it might be more than a few movies. It’s fine. You want one?”
“Sure. That would be awesome.”
He puts a third marshmallow on the stick and holds it out over the flame. We both silently watch it cook for a second, then he draws it out, plucks one off with his gloved hands and tosses one to me. I munch mine down in one gulp as he eats his in smaller bites, then holds one out on a stick for his moth to nibble on.
There’s an awkward feeling in my mouth – not the first one I’ve had over the past couple days. I gag slightly, reach into my mouth and pull out a tooth that had shaken loose in my gums.
“Are you OK?” James asks me. He’s staring at me intently.
“Yeah, my teeth seem to falling out. No biggie.” I hold it up to show him. I swear the moth retches a little bit as he finishes his marshmallow. James makes a grimace.
“You’re OK with that?”
“Well, I’m not not okay with it.” I sniff my own tooth. It smells like marshmallows. Whaddya know? It tastes like them too. James makes another grimace. “Stuff like this always kinda happens to me. A boil here, a wart there. I’m used to it.”
“Hmm…” James says aloud as he pulls more marshmallows from his pockets. “Probably your divine nature popping out of you. We all undergo changes – psychologically, physically. Our ages are weird – I’m going up in chunks; a bunch of the others are going down. Most of us have awkward psychological problems – your dad has to look good, for example. He’s always preening and grooming and stuff. He can’t help it.”
“Great,” I say, letting the sarcasm run free. “We’re gonna get on great.”
“Don’t count him out. He’s many things, but he’s not a bad guy. Let him figure you out for himself.”
“If he ain’t a bad guy, and you’re not mad at the others, why aren’t you answering their calls… or tattoo messages or whatever?”
“You guys…” James stutters out. “You need training and information and preparation…”
“Yeah, no offense, boss, but that’s bullcrap.” He scowls at me, forgetting what’s he doing. “You’re burning your marshmallows.”
He panics slightly and retrieves them from the fire – they’re black and burnt and mushy.
“What?" I tell him as he tries to salvage his snack. "Your tone’s all wrong. I heard that tone a hundred times before. The type of excuses people give when they don’t want to tell the truth. ‘We’re firing you because you’re unproductive or you can’t get along with your coworkers.’ You gonna eat those?”
“Oh, no… They’re all yours.”
“Sweet. Thanks.” I grab the burnt marshmallows and start swallowing them down. They taste fine to me. “The real reason they were firing me was simple – I’m a freak. People are uneasy around freaks.”
“You’re not a freak.”
“Yes, I am. Don’t pretend I ain’t.” To punctuate the point, I sniff the stick, then start biting it and swallowing it down too. It tastes like meringue – I love it.
James sighs. It’s a sigh of slight annoyance, but it’s directed at himself, not me. In fact, he looks at me with something that might be kindness. I can’t be entirely sure – it’s been a while since I recognized it in someone’s face. It’s a rough bet, but I decide I’m gonna go ahead and like James. He’s cool.
“It’s nothing you can help me with. Someone I trusted… Well, she turned out not to be entirely worth that trust.”
“I’m sorry. Guess even up here people are just people sometimes. Can’t trust them as far as you can throw them.”
“I could probably throw her pretty far,” James quips.
I nod and smile excitedly. “Cool. Cool, cool, cool…” I finish off my stick. “Well, I’m gonna go sleep and figure out what other me is doing. I’m hoping I will have bought a sports car or something. Good talk, boss.”
I begin to walk away. “Morty,” James says quietly, making me turn around. “You’re not a freak. I don’t know what you are yet, but I know you’re not a freak. You’re exactly what you were meant to be.”
I nod and smile again. “Ain’t no thing like me, ‘cept me. I like that. Thanks, boss.”
I do a two finger wave and settle down into my bedroll. I hear the crackling of the fire again, but I’m much more tired this time. Guess those marshmallows really finished me off. “Ain’t no thing like me, ‘cept me,” I say to myself with a smile before I drift off to the other world.