The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 26

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

Chapter 26: I google searched “M.O.M,” and got 404’d. Ouch.

“You knew?!” I wail at Kanti.

“Knew what, Em?” Dad, Ashley, asks in an attempt to deflect my question.

My eyes lock with Kanti’s. Even without the light of the Meta, I wouldn’t have lashed out at Courtney and Ashley. I feel like I’ve always known, but everyone tiptoes around it so much, I just thought I was paranoid. “It’s nothing, dad,” I respond. “Someone I trust lied to me. To my face,” I say with a subtle attitude. He may not be my dad, but that doesn’t entitle me to disrespect him.

Courtney looks at Ashley puzzled. She might as well just ask if I heard them talking. She knows that I know.

What an interesting past couple of days…. Dead brother. Officially dead, anyway. Infinite power. Monster god living inside me… And, my life is essentially a lie, that I sort of knew about. Merry fucking Christmas to me… I sigh again, then face Dad. “It’s nothing. Just thinking out loud,” I mutter. I keep my cool and walk to the kitchen, then close the door behind me and sit against it.

They could’ve told me a long time ago. Kanti could have told me. Even Aiven could have. Why didn’t they? Did they think I wouldn’t find out, or that I couldn’t handle it?

Kanti appears in front of me. His snout is so close to my forehead that I feel him breathing.

“Right… doors and walls to a god…” I mutter.  I’ll never be completely alone as long as I wear the cloak. That’s not a good thing. I squint at Kanti. What else does he know?  “Is that why I felt her presence in Aiven’s room?” I ask Kanti. My grimace does not faze him. Clearly, he has no intention of responding.

“What do I do now?… Do I call her mom? Do I tell my parents… that I know…?” I ask. He continues to stare me down, indifferent.

“It is not my place to meddle in your human affairs,” Kanti says. He sits several feet in front of me.

I avoid eye contact. I don’t want to feel calm, I don’t want this pain to escape. I want to deal with this right here, right now.

A knock vibrates the door. It startles me and I leap to my feet, then scramble to the table.

“Emery?” Dad… I mean, Ashley… says. He jiggles the knob. “Open up, son, ” he demands with unusual understanding.

Son? The nerve of da—this guy. I should say I’m not Aiven. I swallow hard, stand firm against the door. Dad—Ash gently pushes it open. He shoots a half-smile. “What’s up, Em?” He asks, even though he knows full well what it is.

What do you think is up asshole? I should hit him! ‘You should destroy him.’ Whoa! That voice isn’t mine! Fear swallows my rage. “Nothing.  I just…” I respond. The door flings open, “I don’t feel well. I thi—”

“D—Dj’eet-yet?” Dad asks. Is he going to gloss over this? He walks past me. Nothing will change if I say anything else.

“What?” I respond. This makes me feel more hurt than anything. Why doesn’t he just talk to me about it.

“Did you eat yet?” Dad asks again. “Would you like to eat?”

“Oh. No, not yet,” I say, glum.

Ash opens the fridge and grabs a clear container of large brown eggs. “Well… It’s a little late for breakfast, seeing as how you missed it, but it isn’t too late for brunch. Eh? Eh?” He says. Dad winks. “Scrambled eggs and cheese, with some onions and peppers? The way Court makes them?” He asks. Maybe I shouldn’t be so critical…

‘He’s laughing at you,’ the strange voice in my head whispers. ‘He lied to you. They all lied to you. Wipe their smiles from existence, Emery. Together we’ll tear their flesh! Eat their innards! Devour their souls!” It demands.

“Em?” Dad asks, his voice is faint and confused. He reaches for my shoulder. I slap his hand.

“I-I-I thought there was a spider on your hand and got scared,” I say in defense. That voice, that thing that made me want to eat people, was it Aemon? -No, I doubt it. It didn’t feel like him. Does that mean there’s something else attached to my soul?

“That’s okay, son,” he says. “Anyway, those eggs, I think your mom’s made them the same way since you were a kid.” Da—Ash laughs ignorantly.

“I wouldn’t really know what my mom makes for me,” I snap. This anger doesn’t feel natural. I need to get away from him before I say or do something I’m going to regret. I  Where the hell is Kanti when I need him? I glance around the kitchen.

“Eh-Emery…” Ashley stutters. He clears the betrayal from his throat. “E-Emery so, uh, do you wa-wa-want the-them with ch-cheese?” he asks.

“What do you think… dad?” I respond, then walk toward him. What’s happening to me? Some thing is moving my body!

“Are you…” Dad begins. His pitiful excuse for a soul cowers under the my malevolent energy. Fear and regret radiate from him. The taste of his low resonance entices me. My gums quiver and my mouth salivates. “Are you okay… Em?” he asks. Dad takes a step back.

“Why wouldn’t I be… dad? … Is there a reason to be upset?” The thing asks through my mouth. Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! It feels like I have sleep paralysis, except I know I’m awake. My mouth and body are acting on their own!

Ash looks into my eyes. He fumbles with his top collar, then walks to the fridge. He sets a container of eggs on the table. “If you want some space, son, I’m okay with it,” Dad says.  “You can make your own eggs. I just thought I’d help you out. We couldn’t leave you starving.”

Ashley gawks at me. I restrain my response. That thing will only use the opportunity to insult him. I know it. Dad—Ash ignores the glare I can’t control and scurries out of the kitchen.

Against my will, I follow him. Am I going to kill them?

“Emery,” Mom says.  She’s crying. The rage inside of me subsides.

Should I be ashamed that I can’t bring myself to hate them? Or, that I love them so much I don’t care that they lied to me? Is it shame? I mean this thing… it took control of me when I felt negative…

I definitely don’t want to hurt them, but I do want them to feel bad for lying. A tear rolls down my face when I look at my mom. What’s happening to me?

Ash—Sigh—Dad turns around and looks at me. He clears his throat again and plops down next to Mom.

I honestly don’t know how to feel about it this. But, I can’t make the situation worse. It wouldn’t be right. I love my parents. “What’s wrong, Mom?” I ask, concerned.

They stare at each other, then observe at me. We have a weird family hug. Aunt Eliza, my real mother, thumps and thuds through the hall. She stomps down the stairs. Her heels click on the wood steps, then clack on the hard floor. “Damn, it’s late as hell,” she remarks. Eliza crosses her arms. “So, which one of you was gonna’ wake me up?… Ashley… Courtney? Did I miss something?” she asks.

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

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