The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 13

by Mark Figueroa | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen

Chapter 13: Chaos control.

It feels like warmth hugging my body. I glance at Aiven, then tug at the cloak’s sleeve. “It fits perfectly!” I respond. “Bro, I feel like Jes—”

“No, you don’t,” Aiven interrupts solemnly. “Don’t, Em. Really, just don’t go there.”

“Fine,” I counter, sighing. “Fine… I feel awesome,” I say raising my arms and examining the ethereal fabric.  “A little scary, but awesome.” I nod, grinning.

“Scary?” Aiven retorts. He glances at Kanti, then shrugs.  I didn’t notice it before, but he’s wearing the clothes he died in: a gray hoodie, jeans, and a pair of Adidas. Bags under Aiven’s eyes contrast the fire in his pupils. The radiant light surrounding him has dimmed since I accepted the cloak. His cheeks are more sunken and his skin more shriveled. “What’s scary about it?” Aiven asks again. Stern curiosity in his tone mirrors the fire in his eyes, despite his corpse-like appearance.

“Well,” I begin, self-consciously. “I mean, that chant… the incantation… I feel like we just did something bad,” I say to Aiven, who’s levitating over my bed; his arms are crossed behind his half-shaved head. “It’s like I’m a cross between a thug and a clansman.” I fidget with the oversized hood. “You do know Dominicans are African, Native American and Hispanic, right? I don’t want to make us look bad, or look like I hate my own people, Aiven.”

“Be serious Em,” Aiven mutters, examining his fingernails. He descends onto my bed. “It’s a divine shroud. “People like that feel sick around the cloak. They lack the inner peace to grasp the interdependence of the universe. You wouldn’t be able to don the cloak, let alone see Kanti and me,” He responds. Aiven’s dull, half-open eyes stare through the ceiling.

Kanti sits tall like a shisa statue.

“Well, either way, G, I really can’t wear this thing every day,” I declare to Aiven.

“You forfeited that option when you accepted the cloak,” Aiven replies. His apathy is understandable. If everything he says is true, fashion is the last of my concerns. I just don’t know if I’m ready. “You have pass the Cloak of Nothing to an accepting, suitable heir in order to get rid of it. Whether you’re ready to be a cloak bearer or not, you’re still the one wearing it.”

“Like hell!” I yell struggling to remove the cloak. “I can’t be seen in this every single day!”

“Aye!–My god, Emery! It isn’t clothing!” Aiven roars. He lies on my bed… sneakers and all. “You don’t have to take it off to remove it,” he says. Aiven disappears and materializes against the wall with his arms. He sighs. “Anyway, how does it fit?” He asks changing the subject.

“It’s fine, I guess. I can’t tell it’s on me. I only feel my normal clothes, even though I can’t see them.” I examine the white sleeves and pull the hood over my head, covering my eyes. “What is this made of?”

“It’s an ineffable material. It doesn’t have—”

“What? Wait. What is it? Ineffable? Is that some kind of silk?” I ask, interrupting Aiven.

“Ineffable means it cannot be described in mortal tongue. We can’t fathom the energy it’s made from or its true name, so the first human to wear it dubbed it The Cloak of Nothing.”

I shrug. “Well, learning its true name can’t be any harder than wrapping my head around talking to you… listening to a talking god… dog… thing… and getting used to the fact that some monster lives inside of me,” I retort condescendingly. “Or getting my head bashed in by a glass giant the size of a shed–Not to mention absorbing a shadow girl with a passion for strangling kids.” I sigh. “Obviously, there’s nothing I can do about it at this point. I just want to know what the hell is going on,” I say to Aiven, who just keeps staring into space. What’s on his mind?

Aiven exhales dramatically, and points his thumb at Kanti. “He’s the god of the cloak and your guide, so-to-speak. The Cloak Bearer is Kanti’s disciple so, he’ll train you and fill you in on everything you need to know. I haven’t had the cloak long enough to tell you everything.” Aiven rubs the bridge of his pale nose. “I also didn’t listen at times when I should have.”

“Fair enough… I have a ton of questions though and I won’t cooperate unless you answer them.”

“Shoot, then,” Aiven responds.

“One, why is he a dog? And—”

Aiven yanks the collar of the cloak and lifts me up. “Jesus, Emery, what did I just tell you?!” He shoves me down. “If you have any questions, just ask Kanti.”

I roll my eyes and glance at the dog. “Excuse my insolence Lord Kanti. I mistook you for a leash guy, but I see you’re more progressive: Kibbles, no bits, right? As classy as Lassie…”

“Young Emery, ‘Lord’ is not necessary,” Kanti says respectfully, ignoring my joke. “Despite your malice, I gather from reading your thoughts that you are capable of comprehending the magnitude of your situation. Your acceptance, however, is entirely independent of your comprehension. Such is the case with humans,” he adds stoically. “You were groomed to be this way even before you were conceived.”

A deep shame shakes my core. I swallow hard, then clear my throat. “I can’t deny that, but how can you expect me to accept the situation when I don’t trust the people who put me in it.” I sit on my bed and sigh before falling back on my mattress. Following Aiven’s lead, I gaze wearily at the ceiling.

Aiven stands adjacent to me, “Eh, I know, man. I had to accept the cloak too…”

The door creaks open and I shoot up.

“Emery,” Mom butts in, expressionless in the door frame. “Are you okay up here? We heard a loud thud and the lights flickered—something roared… It sounded like a demon.” She walks in, like she’s entitled to my space, and sits next to me.

I blankly stare at Kanti who’s sitting patiently to my right, then look left at Aiven who’s picking his nose nonchalantly. He’s standing beside Mom.

“Well…” Aiven says, crossing his arms and leaning on the wall. “Get her out.”

I clear my throat.

“She can’t see or hear us, Em. Don’t let this drag on.”

My blood boils at Aiven’s authority. He has no power over me.

Kill him,” a voice says inside my head. It sounds like me when I think, but I know it isn’t. It’s sinister. “It’s going to be mighty hard to curb your appetite with this cloak on…. Just a taste. A snack…” Nope! Not thinking like that! Not now! I blankly stare through mom’s face.

“What?” Mom asks puzzled. “You look like a zombie.”

“I thought I saw something behind you.”

“Lemme’ guess, a ghost?”

“More like a ghayst… a gay ghost!” I laugh awkwardly and rub my hands anxiously, waiting for mom to leave the room.

Aiven gives me a dirty look. “Gayst? Really, Em? How immature of you.”

Mom locks eyes with me, expecting a response. “Well… Your father’s going to be home soon and dinner’s almost ready,” she says in her usual passive aggressive tone.

“What? How is that even possible?” I ask softly. Mom isn’t half as mellow as Dad. She’ll kill me if I give her an attitude. “It was like 2:00 when we got here, Mom.”

“It’s 4:15. Try to keep it down, Em, Elizabeth…Eliza has a headache.”

I force a smile, standing up, subtly forcing my mom to stand. Maybe I can subconsciously influence her out like this? I stare at Aiven for approval.

Aiven smiles. “You really are an idiot,” he says. “You’re not just gonna’ hypnotize Mom out of your room, dumbass.”

I sit back down. Okay, no luck there. I look at Kanti, ignoring Aiven’s bullshit. Faggot-ass, suicidal fuck.

“I can hear your thoughts, dumb-fuck,” Aiven hisses. God, he’s so gay.

I shake my head and stand back up. Fuck Aiven. I know I can influence Mom to get out. It’s like putting your hands in your pockets and shivering when people pass you on the street; it always works. I examine Kanti while making my way to the door. Why can’t Mom see him? Aiven, I understand; he’s dead… or something like that.

“Young Emery, I am a divine being,” Kanti responds to my inner monologue. He jumps on my bed, then lies down behind Mom… Like a dog. His body takes up most of my mattress. Kanti yawns, scratching his neck with his hind leg. “To feel the presence of a divine being, a mortal soul must accept the inescapable suffocating fear of their mortality and transcend their pre-programmed dogmas.”

“Emery?” Mom asks, concerned. She stands up and actually follows me to the door. I guide her out. I can’t believe that actually worked.

“Are you… feeling… okay?” Mom asks. I can tell by her tone she doesn’t care whether I’m okay or not, she just wants to know what’s going on so she can give her two cents. She’s ready to tell me the error of my ways and passive-aggressively put me down because of her own unresolved issues.

“Eh. Heh. Yeah. I’m… uh… in the middle of something important and you’re kind of interrupting, Mom. No offense…” I respond weakly. Please don’t get angry. Please don’t get angry. Please don’t get angry…

“Oh… didn’t mean to bother you…” Mom says, even more curious.

Sigh. Mom’s suspicion is the only thing worse than her anger. Now she’s definitely not leaving me the hell alone. “Sorry. I’ll keep it down,” I say, slowly closing the door in front her.

“What are you working on?” Mom asks abruptly.

“Eh…Well you see…” I clear my throat. “It’s like this thing. It’s… uh…” I never lie to my mom. I never lie to anyone… sort of. Uh, what am I gonna’ say? Think! Think!

She shoves the door open. Mom nonchalantly walks back into my room. She examines my games, books and computer, then crosses her arms. “So, what were you doing?” She asks, smiling. She’s disarming me with kindness! Noooo!

“Holy crap Emery,” Aiven says rubbing his forehead. “You gotta’ be quick on your feet Em… Tell ‘er—” he rants, while mom stares me down, demanding to hear a response she’s already made up in her mind.

“I am… I was…” my hands shuffle. Beads of sweat trickle down my forehead.

“You look awfully tense for not doing anything, Emery,” Mom says, passively demanding an answer.

Aiven rants and rants. “Just say—” he repeats inserting different lines, while insulting me in between. “Quit being a faggot, Em! Get her out!”

“FINE!” I clench my hands. “FINE!” I yell giving Aiven a quick, dirty look. “I was fapping! My vac-”

Disgust beams from Mom’s eyes. She squints, focusing her laser vision around my room. Probing and prodding everything she can see with her heat vision. “FAPPING?! Conyaso! Sucio! Emery Leheir that is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard in this house young man! Wait till your father gets home!” Mom stands up, afraid to touch anything. “Jesus Emery! Ew!” she cringes, avoiding the door knob as she leaves the room. “You’re doing your own laundry!” Mom yells from the hallway. “Oh my god! Elizabeth! Emery…”

I already know what their pointless, circular conversation is going to be about. Mom’s going to mention me, then they’ll talk about how I was as a kid and how it probably isn’t the worst thing I could be doing. Then, they’ll talk about their own childhoods and then they’ll ramble on about how their friends are raising their kids. Their conversations are like two turkeys trying to read a picture book written in Chinese. Bitches, man.

Mom shrieks, interrupting my train of thought. I run out of my room hoping she’s not in danger, stopping at the top step after realizing it’s nothing.

“Ugh! Ewww! He’s holed up touching himself like a creep. I knew we shouldn’t have gotten him that computer. God only knows the smut he watches! Ewww!” Mom laments.

“Well…” Aunt Eliza responds with her usual sassy nonchalance. “Are you surprised, Courtney? He’s just like his mother…”

I shouldn’t be listening to this. I head back to my room.

Mom gasps. “Please, Ash and I are … very discrete… we’re not even kinky or promiscu—”

“Darling, I wasn’t talking about you,” Eliza interrupts.  “Let’s be serious, Courtney, you know what I mean.”

God, I definitely don’t know what neither one of them means, nor do I care. I can’t, and don’t want to, imagine my parents watching porn… or mimicking it… oh god! That’s just gross. I walk to my room, lock the door, then observe Kanti. “Comfortable, Lord Kanti?” I ask, suspiciously.

“Why, yes,” he responds politely. Kanti sprawls out on my bed, while Aiven looks through my manga and video game collection.

“You know,” Aiven begins. He continues probing the shelves. “You could’ve just talked to us telepathically while Mom was here,” Aiven says avoiding eye contact.

I sigh. “I know. It didn’t occur to me that you were trolling me until she left. You can’t put me on the spot like that, man. I don’t like pressure…”

“I loved this series,” Aiven says, apathetically. He turns his head, glancing at me over his shoulder. “You could’ve told her you were reading… maybe watching a show on Netflix… cosplaying… maybe even LARP-ing…”

“Well… she complained about one of my crusty socks the other day so… I just thought…”

“No, Em,” Aiven inserts, “You didn’t think. Thank god you weren’t thinking about the cloak. You would’ve had a harder time explaining that one.”

“Shit! That’s right!” I yelp, flinching. “She didn’t see the cloak!”

Aiven nods. He laughs, then winks at Kanti. “The cloak is special. Almost as special as you,” Aiven says to me.

“The cloak intertwines with the soul of the wearer; it responds like energy,” Kanti says omnipotently. “It is undetectable by all except the wearer.”

Aiven sighs, then chuckles. “You’re no fun, Kanti.” He shakes his head and sits on my computer chair. “No one, but the cloak bearer and other ethereal entities can see the cloak. And, even then, the cloak can be hidden or materialized at will.”

“Guys, my brain is fried from all of this… I really don’t understand what that means. Not because I can’t, or anything. I’m just mentally fatigued,” I respond, sighing. I can’t focus anymore. Aiven and Kanti keep dropping new shit on me. My head is going to burst.

“Everything has energy,” Aiven says, “heat, chi, telekinesis, auras and things of that nature. Energy exists everywhere, incapable of being broken down, yet capable of being harnessed at any moment.” Aiven spins in my computer chair. “Conceptualize the cloak, it will materialize,” he says, still spinning around. “However, that materialization is a one-sided action. Whether you materialize the cloak or not, you will be the only living human conscious of it.”

“So, if I believe it then… it’s here… and, no else can see it? And, humans can’t see it period, right?”

Aiven shoots Kanti a mischievous look and grins. “Except for family,” he inserts, clearly lying. “Materializing and dematerializing the cloak is pretty simple; if you think about it, it’s here. Beliefs are much more powerful than thoughts. You can’t force yourself to believe or stop believing something, whereas anything can be thought and forgotten. So, whether you believe in the Cloak of Nothing, or not, it exists, it’s yours and it’s on you.”

“Such is the cloak,” Kanti adds.

“So… I’m thinking about the cloak right now. It isn’t materializing.”

“Well you need to be capable of thought first,” Aiven laughs.

Kanti stretches then jumps off my bed. “Visualize the cloak, feel its energy and its texture. Imagine it, picture it, feel it. Truly think about it as it is.”

I pull the hood over my head, materializing the cloak. “I see.”

“That’s the easy part, I wore it for two days before un-thinking it,” Aiven says condescendingly. He’s obviously trolling me.

“I’ll figure it out. What I really want to know is where I was this morning…” I say perplexed, my eyes drawn to Kanti like a moth to light.

“The darkest world of The Abyss: The Void,” Kanti responds. “The remaining divines, including myself, have never laid eyes on such a place. Truth be told, Young Emery, I have not the slightest clue as to how to reach the Void,” Kanti says, concerned.

“We tracked Aemon’s dark essence to retrieve you. His energy created a massive distortion that tore a rift to your location,” Aiven says, excited. His crazy hand gestures make me nervous.

“I don’t understand,” I respond.

“You know how a bullet leaves a path behind it?” He asks. “Like when it goes through something solid, it creates a tunnel behind its body… if that makes sense.”

I nod, picturing what he’s saying.

“That’s what Aemon did when he took you to the Void, except on an interdimensional level. He literally left a trail through space, time, every reality, and the fabric of existence, getting both of you to the world of darkness… The place where The Nothing dwell,” Aiven says. There’s a flicker in his eyes: feral, evil and a little threatening. “The tear allowed a few Nothing to escape into the physical realm,” Aiven adds, clenching his fists. His demeanor reminds me of a primeape about to use mega punch.

Kanti shoots Aiven an odd look. I can’t tell if it’s a dirty look or if he’s calling Aiven out for something; whatever it is, it’s pretty clear Aiven did something wrong.

I sit back on my bed. Distorted shadow mannequins flash in my mind. “The Nothing?”

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

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