The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 15

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

Chapter 15: A decent proposal.

If I’d known it would come to this, would I have accepted the cloak? Maybe Aiven could have lived forever. Why is he turning into a Nothing? I look out the window and stare beyond the streetlights, beyond the neighbors’ ugly, blue-shingled house. Beyond civilization.

Aiven sits at my computer desk. “You’re so dramatic, Em.” He leans back and stares at the ceiling, letting out a heavy sigh. I can read your mind you know? You realize I was already dead? What point would I have living as a godly specter?”

“Well, you could live forever as a ghost… Play pranks, watch over people you care about, see how the world develops… You’d continue to protect people… and stuff, even though it’d be as a ghost.”

Kanti lies on the floor stretching his legs. “Are you prepared?” He asks Aiven calmly, reducing the tension. Anxiety slowly thickens the air in my room.

Aiven nods. He sits up. “An astral being and a ghost are two very different things, bro. A ghost is the manifestation of latent emotional energy: it isn’t conscious of time, space or its own existence. It only understands the pain that caused it to die. An astral being is fully aware of everything. All the time.”

“Sounds like a fate worse than death,” I say, materializing and dematerializing the cloak.

Aiven lets out an empty laugh. “We gotta’ get a move on.” He stands up, subtly wiping a tear from his cheek.

Kanti walks toward him. He rubs his nose into Aiven’s palm.

“We need to get to The Meta: that blue place you stopped at before we pulled you back. I’ll be able to die peacefully if you release my soul there,” Aiven says. His ghoulish appearance downplays his confident smile. “We’ll meet you there,” Aiven says. Light traces his body.

“Wait! What?” I wail. “What do you mean meet you there? I don’t even know what the place is or how I got there except that you guys were involved,” I say clasping and pulling my hands apart, creating small orbs of light. “Guys?”

Kanti and Aiven stare at each other intensely, ignoring me. Are they having a telepathic conversation?

“Somethings are better left unsaid, Young Emery,” Kanti replies to the question I posed in my mind.  “Thoughts flow faster than ordinary speech; the process involved in communicating an involved plan would consume even more time due to the structure of conventional language. We can communicate through images in human minds; divine entities have the ability to speak at the speed of what you call light.”

Gravel crunches in the driveway.

“In the time it took Dad to pull up, Kanti and I discussed fourteen different plans, their outcomes, what we can do to make them more desirable, and how we can carry them out within our time constraints,” Aiven says, nonchalantly. His voice is cold and distant.

“Dad’s here?” I ask, immediately running to my window. He parks beside Mom’s car. Dad reaches for a pad in the passenger seat and opens the door. He casually walks to the front door while talking on the phone.

“That’s beside the point Emery. The thing is telepathy is more efficient than speaking. We are going to have to limit ourselves to it; at this risk of sounding like a broken record, we really don’t have any time,” Aiven says solemnly. The clarity of his voice makes me aware he’s speaking to me telepathically.

“Obviously, since you wear the cloak, and you’ve been to The Meta and The Void, you should inherently be able to warp there, and back, but maybe—”

“Of course, Master Aiven, brilliant!” Kanti interrupts as an image of light and the word power flashes through my mind. “If we can find a conduit to bring some of Aemon’s power out then Emery can use that energy to pull himself through the space between worlds and into The Meta.” Kanti trots over to me and sits beside me like a statue. He’s so massive, his head’s almost at my shoulder.

Isn’t that a bad idea? The whole point of the cloak was not to awaken Aemon, or whatever. Why would we use his energy? I mean it doesn’t sound—

“It isn’t one hundred percent safe, and there’s a chance that we won’t go anywhere… In which case, you’ll have to…”

“Master Aiven and I observed that Aemon is currently feeding on energy to allow himself to manifest. There is a bond that you deeply treasure; one that you have seemed willing to stake your soul for—”

Roslyn?! I interrupt without moving my lips. I keep my composure and open the window to greet Dad. “Bendicion Papi, Mom’s cooking. Aunt Eliza is here too.”

I stare at Dad, who’s paused several feet from the front door. He smiles, continuing his phone conversation. Dad smiles when he looks up at me. He points at his headset. “Sounds good, Tameer,” his lips motion. Dad paces toward the door. A faded image of bright light, power outage and a cemetery flash through my mind. I almost panic, then Kanti calms me with his gaze.

If whatever Kanti and Aiven are planning doesn’t work, then Aemon is going to absorb Roslyn’s soul… She’ll die, and I’ll be responsible. I can’t do that. I can’t do that, Aiven. If you turn into a Nothing… I—

“I understand,” Aiven responds to my thoughts. “I left you hanging, and you’ve been living all this time thinking I committed suicide, Em. Obviously, her life is more valuable to you then the life I gave up. All I’m asking you for is a little bit of faith. I can’t become a Nothing. I can’t survive off negative emotions, and then devour the souls of the humans I once protected.”

Damn it! I’m such a piece of shit. Shit, he can… they both can hear me…

“Young Emery, I am a divine entity. I do not judge human affairs. There is no right or wrong in dealing with this situation; it is your choice to make and the consequences will be your own to keep.”

Aiven nods. “I get it, bro. I’m not angry with you; I just want you to understand where my fear stems from.”

What if we fail? What if Aemon gets her and her soul sinks into me like the Nothing he’s already consumed? What then?

“The thing is, her soul was completely intact when Aemon tried to reach for it. There’s a chance, not a certainty, that maybe he can’t consume her soul. If he lives in you, and is still incubating and gathering energy, maybe he’s a part of you…”

I squint at Aiven, shut my eyes tightly and rub my head. What do you mean? I open my eyes wide and try to wrap my head around where he’s going with this. It’s one thing if Aemon is in me like a cancer, it’s another thing if he’s a part of me, a piece of my own existence. This—

“Perhaps, without conscious effort, Aemon may not be able to absorb the souls of those whom you care about. The source of his nourishment during his incubation must be brought to him from the Nothing since the fragment existing within you lacks the ability to gather for itself; it is, of course, only speculation, but I surmise that such a scenario is quite plausible given what occurred this morning.”

I guess so. That makes sense, but if that’s the case, that means he’ll attract a behemoth-like Nothing, or worse. If I end up in the lower part of The Void again, I’m sure I’ll die or Aemon will escape.

“I guess that raises the biggest question, Em,” Aiven says, placing his hand on my shoulder.

What’s that? I ask telepathically.

“Would you sacrifice yourself to save me?”

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

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