Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Twenty-Four

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.  Lina, if you want a shower before you save the world, you should get up now.  Did you know your mother’s power includes a back room to a tent with a full bath?”

Lina blinked up at Jackson and stifled a yawn.  “Shower,” she agreed.  “Clothes?”

“Your mom brought some, here.”  He handed her a pile of clothes.  She stared at them blearily for a moment before blinking a couple times.  “They’re…  These are clothes I like.”

“I negotiated a couple times.  The rest of us’ve been up for almost an hour,” he added.  “You’ve still got time to shower and eat a good breakfast and stuff, but you have to get up now.”

“Getting up, getting up,” she muttered, and followed action to words and got up.  “So I’m going to save the world dressed like a high school student. Instead of…” She had been confused when her mother had insisted on her bringing a couple of her “job interview and internship” outfits camping, but she could bet —

“Skirt suit with power pumps.  Kept the necklace, though; and it’s high school professional student, you have to admit.  Not ripped jeans and a band t-shirt.”

“The only band t-shirt I own I won in a bet from another kid who stole it from a concert.  I mean, do you—?”

“A couple,” he admitted.  “So it’s all high school professional?”

“Well, except like, two camping outfits.”  She gestured vaguely at herself.  “Right.  Shower. We can talk fashion after the world is saved.  I don’t suppose you gave the nice police officer a phone number?”

“You know I did.”  He smiled at her.  “Go, shower, unless you need one or all of us in there to help you with that?” He raised an eyebrow suggestively.  

Lina did not have time to deal with suggestive while she was still trying to figure out saving the world.  “You can’t tell me a shower my mother managed to install in a tent is big enough for four people?”

“Probably seven.  Go on.”  He gave her a shove. 

He wasn’t far off with the shower, though seven people would be a bit crowded.  How had Lina known her mother her whole life and never known she could do something like this?

How had Lina known herself her whole life and only just now ended up with something that could save the world?

What’s more, she didn’t even know which was scarier. 

She showered, she dressed, and she met the guys in the tent.  They looked – Jackson’s “high school professional” was a good term, though at least they all looked like they could run away if they needed to, too. Of course, guys’ shoes, didn’t normally come with the danger of snapping an ankle while running.

“Ready?”  She looked around the group.

Jackson handed her an energy bar.  “We really should eat, but I’m betting you have about as much appetite as me.”

“Is that ‘absolutely none?” She stuck the bar in the pocket of her shorts and looked between them.  “Cause that’s where I am.”

“I’m carrying more of the bars,” Ethan admitted.  “I’m uh.  Nervous.  Stupid, all I have to do is stand there.”

“Yeah, well.  It’s something to be nervous about.  End of the world — well, the city — and all.  Let’s get going before we all chicken out.  Or before we’re mobbed…  I’m assuming – Jackson, you scheduled in interruptions?”

He smirked at her.  “Less than a week and you already know me.  Now if only I could be a seer and predict the interruptions instead of just guessing at them.”

“The world will have to live with you just knowing every prophecy and every book and, apparently, every language.”  Lina patted his shoulder.  “Let’s stay on schedule then.  First interruption is planned for-“

“Second intersection of the campground.”  He started walking; Dylan and Ethan flanked them.  They headed along the camp road as if they had nothing bigger to worry about than where they’d get some beer. 

Like yesterday.  Well, even yesterday they’d had riots and the prophecy and… Like a week ago

They were nearly to the third intersection when they heard it.  Lina didn’t think she wanted to complain too much about Jackson being off by an intersection.

“Ethan!  Come here!  Come here right now!”

The voice was shrill, loud, and awful. 

It was followed by another voice that was, if anything, shriller, louder, and more awful. 

“You know we heard what you’ve been up to and we will not stand for it.”  

“Come away from those horrible kids and get over here; your father and Mr. Lee need you.”

Ethan had frozen. 

Lina reached out and put a hand on his shoulder.  “Come on,” she murmured. “We have a deadline.”

He turned at her, his expression nothing but pain.  “I can’t – you can’t – I mean -“

Jackson set a hand on Ethan’s other shoulder.  “You can, she can, and we know.  Come on, we have a world to save.”

“Ethan,” the first one began again, “Ethan Thomas Martin, you get your toukas over here right now, or so help me-“

Lina turned, putting herself between Ethan and the women she assumed were his aunts. 

They were a pair of unpleasant looking woman wearing khakis with a pressed pleat, pastel madras plaid shirts, and their Organization robes open over the whole thing.  Since it was pushing 90 and threatening to get warmer, she wasn’t surprised they had them open.  Both were platinum blonde, although glancing at Ethan made her question the genetics of that choice, and both had salon-perfect manicures and pastel lipstick in matching frowns. 

She was almost sure they weren’t twins, but that was because the left one was slightly more botox’d looking than the right one. 

“I’m sorry, ma’ams, but I need Ethan for a bit.  We’ve got to go handle this little matter with the power plant, and you know how it is with end of the world events – they don’t really work on a schedule.  Maybe Ethan can come see you later?  Once we’re sure the plant is done with its little problem?”

“Oh, don’t give me that,” the righthand one sneered.  She was the slightly less shrill one, it seemed.  “We know it’s just something you dreamed up to get control of the Organization.”

“Sadly,” she told them, putting everything into sounding like she meant it. “I don’t really want to control the Organization.  I just want to not be bowled over by a power surge – and maybe save some lives while I’m at it.  We can talk about things like this later?” she offered.  “I mean, maybe… next Tuesday?  We should be good by then.”

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3 thoughts on “Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Twenty-Four

  1. Ethan’s aunts, not Dylan’s, check.

    “toukas”, huh. Has that wandered into general usage? That word choice certainly changed my impression a bit, even after they were presented as shrill and demanding rather than creepy.

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