Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Twelve

Saving the Cult (If not the World) "It's time." Manfield Lee knew he was good at sounding authoritative even when he didn't know what he was talking about - he'd turned a fortune into a megafortune doing just that, after all, not to mention running the Organization - but right now, he DID know what he was talking about. After all, it was just a date, wasn't it? And if the date turned out to be wrong, well, then he knew exactly what to blame it on, and that blame would fall on the scholars and the psychics, not on him. The other thing Manfield Lee knew how to do was to place the blame in very specific ways that were not him.

Lina wiggled her fingers.  “Can you feel that?”

“Feel what?”  Ethan stared at her fingers as if they were made of magic.  Well, they kind of were. 

“I can feel — little tingles of power. In — in eight of my fingers.”

“That’s going to be interesting when you add more people.”  Jackson hrrmed. 

“When?”  Lina wrinkled her nose at him. “Are you planning on me saving more lives?”

They were walking — casually, slowly, like they weren’t in any hurry at all — through the sort of befuddled crowd, currently past what remained of the catering tables. Jackson was handing Lina mini-quiches while Dylan and Ethan grabbed sushi rolls for themselves.  

The people around them didn’t seem like they were going to riot again any time soon; now, they seemed more like they’d suffered a great loss.  Lina was pretty sure nobody had actually died, but maybe — maybe they just realized that they were trapped? “I don’t think they’re going to, uh, run off cliffs again…?”

“Hopefully not.  But considering the whole ‘the world is going to end’ sort of situation we may be in —”

“The world struck as if by a giant force, or a wave that isn’t wet, and the place that shall be safe shall be only the Place Upon the Rocks…”  Lina looked around.

“Good memory.  It took me a few more reads to get that close on it.”

“My school focuses way too much on memorization.”  Lina shrugged. 

“… Where’d you find that?”  Dylan hurried to catch up with them, his cheeks full of food like some sort of prep chipmunk.  “That thing she said.”

Jackson eyed him strangely.  “I know you’ve heard it.  You and I were there two years ago when your father—”

“Look, let’s not talk about my father, okay?”

Jackson held up his hands.  “We’ll have to eventually. He runs the Organization.  That’s probably going to be important if the predictions — the visions — are correct at all.  Hell, with Lina’s mark on you, it’s going to be important even if we all slink home in a week and nothing washes over anything.”

“Yeah, well.”  Dylan swallowed the food in his mouth.  “Not now, okay? Maybe uh. Later. Elsewhere.  Something.”

“Later, elsewhere, something,” Lina agreed.  “Why were you asking about the — the prophecy thing?”  She found herself whispering which, of course, meant that, in the crowd of people, nobody could really hear her. 

It didn’t seem to matter.  Dylan scooted closer to her.  “That’s — I’ve heard it, I mean, Jackson’s right.  Everyone’s heard it. But not like specific wording.  Okay,” he paused.  “Your folks didn’t bring you around.  I don’t know why, maybe because your mother, she gets mouthy about the Organization.  Maybe they wanted to keep you clear of that. I dunno, your father’s weird and your mother, your mother is kind of—”  he trailed off. “I’m not being an asshole, I swear.”

He looked suddenly scared.  Lina snorted. “You’re fine.” They were almost at the entrance — exit — to the grotto.  People were bunched up here, muttering and complaining. “Look, you’re telling me things.  I’m not gonna bitch when you’re telling me things.”

They all eyed her for a moment.  Finally, Jackson handed her another quiche.  “You get a little weird when you’re hungry,” he commented cryptically, “and I don’t have a candy bar on me.”

She ate the quiche.  “Well. So my mother is…?”

“Uh.  She has a reputation.” He put up both hands. “Not like that,” he hurried to say, before Lina could even say something – which wouldn’t have been like that? anyway.  “I mean. She knows she has power and she’s not afraid to use it, and sometimes people have, uh, run afoul of her.

“Run afoul?  What is this, Shakespeare class?”  She took the next quiche as Jackson handed it to her. “Thanks.  So, what did you mean?”

“Well, I mean.  Do you have any idea what your mother can do?”

“Fold space, as far as I can tell.  And unfold it.”

“And can you imagine -“

Lina blanched.  “You’re not telling me my mother folds people.”

“No, no, geeze, no.  Not that I’ve ever heard.  But she can definitely mess up someone’s day just by, say, unfolding their road way too much.  Or folding it at just the right moment so they Just Barely ding someone and have to answer a lot of questions.  Things like that.”

“That’s pretty messed up.”

“On the other hand, imagine having a room in your house or office that only you – and, well, your Mom – can get to or even knows exists.  So, uh. People are wary of your mother, but in a good way, as far as I can tell.” He stared at her. “You really never knew.”

The crowd in front of them continued to shuffle towards the exit.  It was starting to make ‘Lina nervous. 

“The first I knew about any of this was when she pulled a suitcase out of the trunk and unfolded it into a house.  I mean, I knew I had some sort of force field thing before that, but that was it.”

“That’s nuts.”  Ethan shook his head.  “Why didn’t your parents-“

“You know why,” Dylan hissed.

“Yeah, man, but they’re here.  It’s not like-” he stopped himself and gestured, clearly trying to be surreptitious, at the line in front of them. 

“-So she said no, which sucks,” Dylan picked up, “but I figure, once we get out of here, I can always try asking her to that homecoming thing.  Or, I dunno, maybe to like, a group thing. You and that redhead, Jackson here and, uh, what’s her name-?”

“Haley,” Jackson filled in.  “And Lina and-“

“Toby.”  Toby Daniels wasn’t the nicest guy, but he was a tolerable date, especially for an entirely fictional date.  “That’s the really tall one with the kinda weird hair.”

“See?  We can do a quadruple date; that’s a lot safer for her if she’s feeling, I dunno, like I’m a stranger and she doesn’t want to be alone with me, and it lets her, well, see me.”  He cleared his throat and glanced over at Lina. “On my best behavior, I mean.”

“Best behavior would probably mean leaving Ethan at home,” Jackson snorted.

“Hey!  Don’t look at me, I’m just the sidekick! He’s the one that starts all the shit!”

“Hey! What about-” Dylan caught himself, seeming to remember that there was someone they wanted to seem better for.  “-that thing at school last year with Melody Thomas?  You know, the roses.”

“That was you.”

“What?  No it wasn’t, it totally had to be you-“

“Sorry,” Jackson cut in.  “That one was me. But that’s, uh.  So you want to let this girl get to know you, right?  And then-“

Jackson managed to bring them back onto the topic of the possibly-fictional girl and the probably-fictional quadruple date until they pushed their way out of the exit.

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6 thoughts on “Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Twelve

  1. tl;dr – Am I the only one who doesn’t get what’s going on??

    There’s been a lot of cryptic gestures, eyebrow waggling, trailed off sentences, and generally-difficult-to-understand-multiple-people chapters so far. This setting’s magical teenage drama, and teenagers are still figuring out social interaction, so it’s normal that they don’t really understand each other. But I’m finding you write it in such a way that requires me to be on so close a wavelength with you as to be able to picture what you’re seeing. And I’m not. I’m frequently confused as to how the characters are interacting, or why they’re reacting to each other the way they are. And I can’t tell if there’s a culture difference between me-the-reader and you-the-author, a difference in life experience, or if the writing is actually lacking a whole bunch of clarifying adjectives.

    • I don’t know! I know that I often think there’s subtext in stuff that isn’t there.

      On the other hand, Lina has a lot of not understanding what’s going on going on, too.

      Is there something in specific that you can give me as an example?

      • This following example. Why are they all eyeing her? Is it that Lina doesn’t understand why, which is why it’s so vague?

        “Look, you’re telling me things. I’m not gonna bitch when you’re telling me things.”
        They all eyed her for a moment. Finally, Jackson handed her another quiche. “You get a little weird when you’re hungry,” he commented cryptically

        This following example is a good one for where I’m not in sync with your visualisation of the scene: what’s going on with Jackson’s hands? How are they placed? Why did they move? Despite being followed by dialogue, the gesture doesn’t add emphasis to the speech, and clarifies nothing for me.

        …”when your father—”
        “Look, let’s not talk about my father, okay?”
        Jackson held up his hands. “We’ll have to eventually. He runs the Organization.

        • Okay, lemme try here.
          They’re nervous – because she has power over them she didn’t have before, and they don’t know how to handle that or how she’ll handle that, so they’re trying to decide how she’ll handle the information.

          As for Jackson holding up his hands, mm, “placatingly?” like he’s surrendering?

  2. “That’s nuts.” Ethan shook his head. “Why didn’t your parents-“

    “You know why,” Dylan hissed.


    • They’ll get there! .. . Um, eventually. I realized when I was scheduling April chapters that OMG WE AREN”T AT THAT THING YET.

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