Chapter 2 Full
Kiernan wakes up in a cold sweat from the most vivid dream he’s ever had, barring the dream after the baby died years ago. When he wakes up, he was confused about where he was. For a moment, he felt like his mind was split in three and he received sensory stimulus from all of these places at once. He blinked a few times and exhaled deeply, but then was able to focus on his tiny apartment. He felt relieved that it was seemingly a dream, but couldn’t shake the strange events that happened since Janet’s death. Something about Daniels seemed especially disturbing to him.
He goes about his daily ritual as the sun starts to shine in on what promises to be another frigid day. He tries to occupy his mind by watching morning TV and ironing his clothes. Eventually, he packs up his few things for work and sets off for the bus stop. As he finds a seat on the early morning ride, his mind wanders back to the book that he saw in Daniels’ car. Pages appeared in his mind, almost like a photograph, only this time he understood whole passages at a time.
Kiernan begins to absently scribble down the images on the side of a newspaper to try to get them out of his mind. He stares at the symbols and is positive that it’s talking about the lost city of Atlantis, for some reason. He begins to get lost in his writing and then realizes he has written down several symbols, which he realizes mean GNOSIS, MANA, MOROS, and NIMBUS. He rolls up the newspaper and puts his head in his hands with a sigh. He decides the list of words are somehow related to Catholicism, specifically MANA – food that God sent to Moses and his people to help them survive the 40 years in the desert. The word NIMBUS made him think of the clouds, and he looks up from his hands and sees a strange green glow coming from somewhere up in front of the bus.
The glow fades away as he tries to get a closer look. He sits back in his seat and sees a young punky woman with a strange green glow flowing through her hands into her cell phone. Nobody else on the bus seems to notice the strange glow, and so he pulls out his newspaper and shifts uncomfortably in his seat, pretending that everything is normal.
The punky girl looks up and notices Kiernan looking at her, so she puts her phone away with a smile. “Oh god, not one of them,” she says.
He lifts the newspaper up to cover his face, trying desperately to just concentrate on getting to work and ignoring everything, but the strange girl comes and sits next to him. “Hi, I’m Lisa.” She holds out her hand politely.
“Ehm, hello Lisa… I’m K-,” Kiernan pauses for a moment and decides to avoid using real names, and finishes with a random ‘K’ name. “—evin. Kevin.”
“Hi… Kevin,” she puts a lot of weight on the last word. “Oh my god! You’re NEW aren’t you?!”
“No, no. I’ve lived here for a while now,” he clears his throat and flips open the newspaper to the business section as if he’s all about stocks and bonds.
“No, silly, that’s not what I mean. But I’m pretty new too but I can do a few things… did you cut yourself shaving or something?” She points to a scar on Kiernan’s cheek, one that he can’t remember how exactly he acquired, but it was from his time with Maeve.
“Something like that,” Kiernan says curtly, then whispers: “Ehm, I really don’t think I know you, miss… Lisa.”
Lisa puts a finger to his lips and shushes him.”Hold still just a sec, k?” Before he can respond, she puts her hand on Kiernan’s cheek and he feels warmth spreading through his face and then he sees the green glow coming from her eyes. She blinks and it’s gone.
Startled, he jumps to his feet to get off the bus. Lisa looks at him triumphantly, digs through her mirror and pulls out a compact. “Hey, take a look before you leave!”
“I don’t use make-up, thank you…” He protests but she shoves the compact in front of his face.
Kiernan puts his hand to his cheek and looks even more upset. The bus stops and as the door opens a crack, he pushes himself out and hops onto the curb.
“You’re welcome!” Lisa shouts from the bus as the door closes.
Kiernan stands at the bus stop waiting for the next ride since he was still some distance from his work. While looking for change, he finds a small piece of paper in his pocket. On it is a phone number as well as a kiss in orange lipstick. He squares his jaw and nearly throws the note away, but decides to just write “Lisa” on it and tuck it in his inner jacket pocket. As he gets on the next bus, he checks his face in the mirror to see if it was some trick of the light, but it looks like his scar is truly gone.
He arrives at work uneventfully and goes about making coffee and cleaning up the break room. Shortly after arriving, he hears the receptionist Pam’s voice, “You OK? You look like you’ve seen a ghost or something.”
Relieved to see a normal person, he hands her some coffee and then takes a jellybean from her desk jar. “Yeah, it’s been… an odd week.”
“How so?” She takes the coffee.
“Oh, you know. Bumpin’ into crazies on the way to work. Once I know the city better, maybe I’ll get a car, right?” He grins.
“You know, you don’t have to get on the bus to meet crazies,” She leans in and whispers, “You see him?” She points to a really odd moonfaced fellow. “He’s been on the phone since he got here, trying to order pregnant mare urine.”
He overhears, “Question: Can I order by the gallon?”
“He didn’t look like the type,” Kiernan says seriously. “Hopefully it gets delivered to his home though, right?”
“... I sure hope so. So what IS the type who orders that?” Pam whispers.
The strange moonfaced man adds, “Question: Can I come inspect the mares to confirm they are indeed pregnant?”
“You know, that’s a good question,” Kiernan turn back to Pam. “Does he do this much?” He picks up the clipboard and looks back at the moonfaced man, pretending to take notes like a doctor.
Pam giggles and when Moonface looks over, she tries to look serious. She winks at Kiernan as the phone rings and he smiles and excuses himself to finish his work. He could swear he heard someone say, “He is so cute,” but decides he’s mistaken. He takes some coffee to Moonface and the others, and then returns to Pam’s desk.
“Listen,” he’ll lean forward on Pam’s desk. “You wouldn’t by any chance be interested in getting some better coffee at a nice coffee shop sometime, would you?” He’ll add, “I mean, if you’re not busy one day…” He nods to the coffee he placed on the desk earlier. “I mean, it’s good, but it’s nothing compared to a nice cafe.”
She looks up surprised. “I’d love to!” She looks composed but you swear you can feel excitement waft off her, like a physical presence leaving her body. He stepped back a moment, taken by the odd sensation. “I have a break at one, we can meet at the java house across the street if that works for you?”
He smiles and pretends to tip his hat to her as he walks back to the break room (his office), “See you there.” Then Kiernan walks back to the break room. Since he doesn’t own a cell phone, he uses the employee complementary phone for local calls. He pulls out Lisa’s number and rings it up.
The phone rings with the callback Hollaback Girl. After about 10 seconds she picks up. “Lisa here, hey Sam, I got a call. I’ll be back in a sec,” she says to someone else.
Kiernan opens his mouth to speak but isn’t sure what to say.
“Hello, who’s this? Is this Kevin?”
“Ehm, Kevin, from the bus, yeah.” Kiernan says quietly.
“Hey cutie! How’s your face?” She asks enthusiastically.
“Well I wanted to ask what you did,” He says very quietly. “Are you one of those street magicians?”
“Oh… you… OH,” she says loudly. “Was that your first, I had no idea!”
“What in the world are you talking about?” He sounds a little agitated.
“How do I… have you had anything really stressful happen in your life lately?”
He looks around the office to make sure no one can hear him, “Thanks for… eh, thanks, good day.” He hangs up the phone and pushes the it back far on the counter, trying to get it away from him. Sighing, he paces in the break room, considering his two hours before his meeting with Pam, and decides to give the detective a call.
“Hello, you’ve reached the office of Ethan Daniels. Please leave your name and number as well as a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!”
“Just wanted to know if you heard anything about Janet. Please send me an email at email@example.com thanks,” Kiernan says quietly in the phone and hangs up.
Then he walks to the park and sit on a bench reading a newspaper or watching ducks til it’s time to meet with Pam. Shortly after he arrives, a happy dog comes running up. It barks, wags its tail and sits down in front of Kiernan.
He gives it a pat on the head, but since he doesn’t have anything to give it, he encourages it to scram. As the dog tilts its head, Kiernan notices a note in the dog’s collar and he pulls it out and reluctantly decides to look at it. It contains Lisa’s number, address and an orange kiss print.
“Thanks, duggy…” After Kiernan takes the note, the dog wags its tail and pads off.
“Ahma pure bampot…” He mutters to himself. [ Scottish: “I’m a total nutjob” ]
After about an hour he goes to the Java House and discovers that it’s a pleasant little hole in the wall place with some trendy indie music playing in the background. He takes a seat and then waves at the cute secretary when she walks in a bit later. She waves at Kiernan when she walks in, then puts up her index finger signifying one second, and walks over to the barista. In a moment, she walks over with an oversized mug of coffee and sits down.
“It’s Kiernan, right?”
He nods and drinks some of his warm tea. “That’s right,” he’ll smile.
She blushes a little. “I’m Pam.”
“Nice to meet you then,” he smiles and holds his drink up. “Cheers, eh?”
“Cheers… to pregnant mare urine!” She takes a sip and sets the mug down.
“Mm, that’s a thought,” he grins. “At least he doesn’t make the coffee anymore, right?”
“Oh, I’m sure if he thought it’d help him get a head at all he would… but he keeps things entertaining in there.”
“Seems like an interesting sort of place.”
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s not usually the most exciting place to work.”
“Trust me, it’s exciting enough…” He leans in with raised eyebrows and adds, “I’ve already seen a man punch through the wall once!”
“At the office? I miss everything exciting…”
He shrugs, “I think he went to anger management, but he seemed happy.”
“Oh, I was wondering where Andy went. So what brings you to Chicago to work in an office? I mean, you don’t sound like you’re from here is all…” She blushes again.
He pauses for a moment, mentally grumbling to himself for his apparently sloppy American accent. “Got family here,” he drinks some of his tea. “Seems like a good enough job, schedule works. And can’t complain about the friendly smile every day, cannae?”
They continue to have a nice conversation with mild flirting for the next 45 minutes until her lunch hour is over.
“Well, it’s been a pleasure, Pam.” Kiernan stands up as she gets up to leave.
“Well, thank you for inviting me out for coffee, I had fun!” She pulls her purse over her shoulder and smiles at Kiernan.
“I would love to do this again sometime,” Kiernan smiles, showing off his awfully adorable dimples.
“Just let me know when, I love coffee,” she giggles and waves as she walks out.
“Have a good day, watch out for the horsey one.” He winks as she leaves, then he finishes his tea and leaves to the address on his note.
The address looks like some kind of consignment store called the Buffalo Exchange. Kiernan walks there with determination, mentally going over a list of things to say and trying to make it sound as demanding as possible, then planning for a quick exit.
Outside of the store he sees the same dog from the park. The dog looks up at Kiernan and wags its tail as he walks up.
“Hiya, duggy.” He pats it on the head as he walks inside.
The store looks like the place where Lisa got all her clothes she was wearing. He pretends that he’s browsing until he has the feeling that she’s coming through the bead curtains behind him. He turns around to see her standing nearby.
“Oh, Kev! You shouldn’t just hang up on people like that.”
He shrugs it off. “Listen, not sure what sorta trick dog you’ve got, but look, I need to know what you did to my face. Seriously, please.” As he turns to say that, her hair is now the same orange as her lipstick, where he could have sworn it as pink before.
He reminds himself to make that eye doctor appointment.
“You a magician then? Just tell me, I won’t bother you.”
“I’ll try and explain… do you want some coffee or something?”
“No.” He’ll compose himself (tried to anyway, failed). “I just want to know then I’ll be out of your… hair.” He seemed almost hesitant to say hair but then figured he’d go for it.
“Oh that? That’s easy,” She closes her eyes, runs her hands through her hair, and her hair is now black.
He blinks once, slowly.
It’s still black.
Green sparkles fall from her hands and fade into the carpet.
“So, you sure you can’t stay a minute?”
Awright. Ehm pure scunnurt, but ah don hava scoob. He mutters to himself quietly, then he clears his throat. [ Scottish: “I’m fed up (with this) but I don’t have a clue (so..) ]
“Five minutes,” he says firmly.
“Alright, 5 minutes, come into the back and I’ll tell you what I know.” She walks back through the beaded curtains.
He follows, but looks around cautiously as he enters the stock room.
She looks at Kiernan up and down. “Let me guess, something life changing happened in your life. Then you had some weird thoughts… then things started happening around you you couldn’t explain? Probably some fucked up dreams too, ya?”
“Aye.” He seems like he doesn’t want to elaborate.
“OK… well, the word They like to use for what you’ve done is Awaken.” He gets the impression that she said They like it was a proper noun.
He looks to the floor, listening quietly.
“But, like, we can use your word. You’re a magician.”
“Oh,” He says curtly.
“Look, I know this sounds crazy… it took me a while to make any sense of it. But just think about the last few days, and tell me if a few things don’t make a little more sense,” she suggests.
“Well, that explains everything,” he looks up coldly.
She sighs, “Don’t hate me honey, I’m just the messenger.”
“I’m bloody well lucky. I can get a job workin’ cups on the street. Better call Dumbledore! Just brilliant,” he says bitterly.
He shakes his head and begins to walk out of the store.
“Feel free to come back when you’ve had time to think. You can’t deal with this on your own!” She calls after him. “Wait! At least take this with you.” She holds out a book that he recognizes.
Kiernan looks at it skeptically. “What’s this.”
“It’s… a history book, just take it.” She pushes it into his hands before he can object. It’s the same book that was in Daniel’s car.
“Thanks.” He looks dejected but holds the book in his hand.
“I’ll be here,” she walks off and starts helping a customer.
Kiernan walks out of the store and heads home. He flips through the book once, but tries not to read any of it.
The rest of his day goes by uneventfully until he gets home. He notices his door is slightly ajar, and enters his flat with his fists ready.
He discovers a strange man rummaging through his stuff in the bedroom. As he sneaks up, he hears in his head, “Damn this guy has shitty stuff.”
He pushes the thought aside, figuring it was softly spoken by the man. With a swift punch to the back of the head, the man falls to the ground.
“Get out my house, scamp!”
The man spins around and holds a gun pointed toward Kiernan. “Back the fuck up, man!”
Kiernan scrambles backwards out into the living room, “take wotcha want, mate!” but the man’s hand seems to contort violently. The burglar drops the gun, howling.
“What the fuck?!?? JESUS! Fuck!” He grabs the spasming hand with his other hand.
Kiernan rushes over and kicks the gun under the bed.
As he turns to kick the gun under the bed, the man’s hand stops spasming. “Alright man, you’re gonna get it,” the burglar threatens as he begins to stand up.
Kiernan turns to him while he’s getting up and screams, “Get OUT!” Not particularly caring about the guy’s hand problems.
As he screams, the man’s eyes go blank and he calmly jumps out the window. Kiernan rushes to the window and looks down the 2 stories to see the man writhing in pain from an obviously broken leg below.
Kiernan runs down the stairs and onto the lawn, picking up the guy’s cell phone that fell from his jacket as he fell. “Look mate, don’t move. I’ll call the ambulance.”
The man becomes very still.
“THEN I’ll call the cops,” he sneers at the burglar while he punches in 911. “OY!“ Kiernan points at the man. “Wake UP!“
When he says that, the burglar starts moving around again, grasping at his leg.
“STOP MOVING,” Kiernan steps back from the man while he waits for the cops to pick up. “You’ll just hurt yerself more.” He tells the operator his address and demands an ambulance.
The man becomes very still again.
Kiernan edges over to the man and nudges him with his foot.
The cops arrive within minutes, and a crowd forms around the scene. The man’s eyes watch Kiernan, but otherwise he’s motionless.
Kiernan gives the guy an odd look, wondering what kind of junk he’s on. As he thinks about it, he can FEEL the thief’s addiction… the beast breathing down his neck… For a moment, he can almost imagine that sweet familiar feeling entering his own system. Kiernan leans against a wall, trying to shove the thoughts from his mind when a cop walks up to him.
“Are you the one that called?” The cop asks and pulls out a notepad.
“Eh, yea,” Kiernan looks up at the cop with shifty eyes.
“Sir, are you OK?”
“Feelin’ a bit sick,” he doesn’t lie.
“What happened here?”
“Got home, saw door was open. Found that mingin in my room scroungin’ my shite… punched him in the napper and he pulled a gun.. Kicked it under my bed, by the by, an’ then he jus’... jumped out the window. Broke a leg or summit,” he slips back into his accent, strongly equating his time doing drugs, being with Maeve, and cops and crime with his life back in Scotland. [ Scottish: mingin = dirty homeless/smelly/horrible person or thing napper = head ]
He questions Kiernan for what feels like an eternity, but a glance at his watch reveals it’s been less than two minutes. His head pounds with the familiar pain that had followed him for the past week since Janet’s death.
“Is the gun still in your apartment sir?”
Kiernan concentrates on pushing the thoughts of addiction out of his mind, and stands up a bit straighter and folds his arms over his chest, resolute on his sobriety. “Yea, should be under my bed somewhere,” his American accent re-emerges.
The cops go inside the building to retrieve the gun, and tell Kiernan that they will contact him. He stumbles upstairs and takes a handful of aspirin, then passes out with his head buried tightly under pillows in a weak attempt to stop the pain.