The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 55

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


Chapter 55: That’s a real romp n’ stomp. 

A cemetery.

Arsen points at a hole in the ground. His lips are moving, but he isn’t saying anything. His arm keeps going down to his side, rewinding and replaying. 

“Bro—I can’t hear you! Hey! Arsen!” My voice. It’s gone. “Arsen! Arsen…” 

Here. Emery,” A deep, sinister voice whispers from Arsen’s mouth.

Arsen freezes. A grin spreads across his distorting face.

There someone struggling to climb out of the grave Arsen points at.

I reach for their hand. Why am I doing this? This isn’t right. What the—It’s me?

My doppelganger’s eyes are colorless. He smiles as I pull him up. A second pair of eyes open above his hairless eyebrows. Red light traces his body as the cloak materializes on both of us. His cloak is completely black.

The imposter hand merges with mine as I begin absorbing against my will.

“Wait!” I scream trying to pull away.

It smiles. The imposter’s skin cracks and flakes off his body until he’s a gray astral being wearing black cloak. 

I can’t fight him. The cloak turns gray as we become one.

“Bwa ha ha ha ha!” Erupts from my mouth, jolting me awake. I hop out of bed in a cold sweat. 

Kanti sits up a few feet away from me. “That was Aemon,” he says. His are red. 

“I guess he finally came?” I ask jokingly. I don’t—can’t confront this. I don’t know what to do! I stretch after calmly rolling out of bed. If that happens again, I’ll gladly go without sleep. I never want to see that face again. 

“Under normal circumstances, your joke would be quite humorous. But, when Aemon reaches his climax, I fear the seeds of his evil will sprout forth the end of life,” Kanti says sternly. He pauses. 

We explode with laughter. 

“Good one!” I wish we could laugh more often. “If that weren’t true, it’d be even funnier.”

“All has its time and place. A bit of humor goes a long way under tense circumstances.”

Sigh. “Thanks for not letting me dwell.” I open the curtains. “Oh man! It’s a sunny winter day.” I exhale. Light beams through the square sky lights. “Serious question, Kanti. Sleep. If I don’t need it, why do I still dream?”

“It is as much a mystery as the separate existence of the corporeal and physical. Why do they exist apart?”

“Why don’t mine?”

“Aemon, perhaps. I sense that was not what you intended to ask.”

“It wasn’t actually.”  I reach for the ceiling, feeling the warmth of the sun. “If my whole body—my physical body—can go astral. Could I fly, hover and go through walls as a physical being… without going astral? I mean that would make sense, wouldn’t it?”

“You were able to warp as a physical being within Aysia’s home. Though I am not certain, it is safe to assume that your physical body can do all your astral body can. However, we should err on the side of caution, as doing so may have undesirable effects.” Kanti stares off into space and turns to me abruptly. “Young Emery!” His eyes open wide. “We don’t—!”

“Sometimes you talk too much…” I fly toward the wall clutching the energy crystal, and enjoying the freedom. 

Thud! “God dammit! That hurt!”

“And sometimes you’re too rash, Young Emery,” Kanti says with hearty laugh. 

“Conyaso!” Eliza’s voice booms from downstairs. “Maldito— Aye dios mio! Emery!” Her high heels angrily pound the floor as Eliza stomps her way upstairs. “What the fuck were you doing last night?!” She slams the door open, nearly knocking it off its hinges.

Shit. She knows! The cops called her! “N-n-nothing…” I stutter. “I was here. I mean not here. I was out. I mean not out… I’ve never even been to Chicago. It’s a lie. Lies!” 

“My Rembrandt painting is torn and the frame is in pieces! And, there’s blood and hair on the floor! What the hell did you do last night!?” Eliza clenches her fists. “Well!”

“Really? Well! You tell me! You were pretty drunk last night! I heard you and some guy stomping around, even from up here!” I really hope this works.

Eliza blushes. “Oh my god… again…”  She covers her face. “How many times… Don’t tell Courtney or Ash about this… I’ll make your life a living hell. Do you understand? Em? He-lo?”

I can’t believe that worked! “Huh?”

“I mean it, don’t tell anyone about this.”

“No worries.”

“Fine.”  Eliza gently closes the door and walks down stairs. She’s a psycho: her energy went from complete chaos to harmonic in seconds. 

“Young Emery, what sort of sorcery did you perform?”

“Well, I just figured, she had, or planned to have, a guy over. And I knew she wouldn’t remember last night clearly with how she drinks.” I try to sound intelligent, “I realized after the first time I died, all of my wounds healed. So even if the guy never came over, which he did. I felt his presence. Without a cut or anything on me, Eliza has no proof I broke anything.”  

“Young Emery, I can read your mind, and maintain a thought long enough to know your previous statements were lies. Though I cannot deny I am still impressed.”

“Well, whatever, I wouldn’t be able to explain a lightning-shaped scar on my forehead! And, I didn’t have to, even though that would look kinda’ cool.” I lift the hair on my forehead and stare at my reflection. 

“Humans,” Kanti sighs. “Brands, piercings, tattoos, taboos, and scars…”

“You’ve never heard about that wizard kid who fights the snake monster man? You know, Emma Watson… she’s so hot… It’s a great series. You should read more books, Kanti, or at least watch more movies.” Clutching the crystal, I hover through the door and into the hallway as Kanti trots behind me. My feet are about two inches from the ground so it won’t be too loud if fall. 

“I am familiar with what you speak of. Aiven would occasionally watch all of the installments in one day.” Kanti sighs. 

I glide into the bathroom, smirking and brush my teeth. “Monad,” I say muffled, toothpaste foaming in my mouth. “R’hat name shroun’s framiriar. I r’ow I’ve hear’d it r’efore,” I spit and rinse my mouth. “But, where? Someone other than Th’Rut said it before… it’s on the tip of my tongue.” The aroma of eggs and waffles derails my train of thought. 

I inhale deeply and quickly hover back to my room. Levitating closer to the skylights, I shut my eyes and stretch in the sunlight. Warmth traces my skin. 

“Emery,” Eliza calls out. “Breakfast!”

I ignore her. Clutching Kanti’s energy, I visualize a black tee shirt, my favorite light blue hoodie and the soft denim of my Lucky Brand jeans. The clothes become vivid in my mind’s eye. Energy dances around my feet when I picture socks and my Adidas. I roll my head back, stretch my arms, levitating higher and higher. 

Colors swirl then merge until everything is white. 

I feel happiness, sadness, serenity, anger, acceptance, sorrow, hope, despair, love, regret, pride, jealousy, freedom, and emotions that I’ve never felt, all at once. “Sha-ik’Tael,” I whisper incoherently.

The door flings open and I lose my focus. My body slams on the wood floor.

“What the—!” Eliza does a double take. “Did you just…?”

“What?” I ask nonchalantly. I pretend to adjust my sneakers before standing. 

“Tu estaba— deja lo. Nothing. Desayuno, Turd Nugget.” 

“Turd… Nugget… What kind of crap do you eat?” I say laughing while following Eliza downstairs. 

Eliza ignores me. She has a concerned look on her face. 

I glance around the living room, seeing if Kanti’s roaming around. He disappeared when I asked about Monad. 

Eliza gives me a strange look when we sit at the table. “Em, look at me,” she commands. “You’re not doing witchcraft or Devil, Santaria—Voodoo nonsense in my house?”

“Devil, Santaria, Voodoo nonsense… Is that English?” 

“Para! I’m serious. You were-”

“I was putting my sneaker on while standing up. When you kicked the door open, I fell. I know it’s your house, but you can’t just kick doors open. I’m a growing boy. What if—”

“Whoa!” Eliza puts her palm up and makes a face. “In my house, everyone’s my bitch. Let’s get that straight. Second, you don’t fap in my house.”

Silent, but deadly. “I do what I want,” I respond, laughing like a hyena.

Eliza’s nostrils flare and her eyes open wide. She gives me a dirty look.

“I may be your bitch in your house, but I ask you,” I pause dramatically, “was that, a bitch fart?” 

“Watch your mouth. You can’t curse till you’re older… And, yes, that was… Only a nasty bitch farts at the table.” 

I laugh and stare down at my food. A knot swells up in my throat.

“You haven’t touched the food, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I respond. It’s going to be an awkward Christmas, for all of us if I let out that I know she’s my mom. Why am I thinking about this now? I cut a wedge of waffle and dip it in egg yolk. “It’s sunny out. See how pretty the snow looks?” 

We admire the frost glistening on the trees and over the moist morning grass protruding from the patches of snow. 

“It’ll be an even more beautiful night.”

“The Christmas Eve party?” I ask.

Eliza nods and chews. “I’m not expecting anyone too fun to show up till 7:30. Put on some real clothes before that; Someone special might want to dance under the mistletoe.”  

“Yea right!” Waffle bits shoot from my mouth and ricochet off the table. 

“Egh. Really Emery? That’s so gross. You know better than that.”

“No, pero mi mama din’t teach me how ta’ behave. Por eso yo me escrumble el mumblin’ yo!” I laugh.

Eliza gets up, indifferent. She brings her dishes to the sink. “I’m leaving to the store for some last-minute things. Are you going to be okay alone?” 

“Yep,” I respond, in between chewing.

“Don’t fap in my house.” Eliza smiles at me. “Wouldn’t want your mom to think you’re gross in other people’s houses, now would you?”

“I think she knows.” I smile.

Eliza laughs. “Knowledge is power!” She yells holding up a clean spatula.

“Because knowing… well, kids, knowing is good enough!” I say in a Mexican accent. Somehow my words still come out way too Dominican.

“That all you got, Em? You’re lamer than polio.”

“Original. Sick burn, bruh…” 

We laugh hysterically.

Would things be different if I admitted that I know? Would we hang out more? 

Part of me wants to have more moments like this. Part of me knows that won’t ever happen.


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