"The Cause" Episode 7- "Homecoming"
" Cause mama, mama I’m comin’ home…"
" Get out the board Gaia. Set up your side."
" You’re very bossy, you know. Maybe that’s why people don’t like you. Why do I only get one piece?"
" Them’s the rules, Gaia. You agreed to them. Is this the last game?"
" Yes, Dark, it is. Hopefully I’ll get some more pieces soon. My pawn is close to death."
The world was in ever-increasing peril. Gravity came, went, and returned, with a vengeance. Volcanoes erupted and earthquakes shook. North and South switched places, and West disappeared, only to be replaced by a new direction called Fleen, which is said to be in between south-west and a hard place. The dead excavated themselves from their coffins, presumably to serve on the side of Evil in the coming battle. And the people of the Earth? They died. Oh, how they died. And what of Gaia’s pawn? The earth’s appointed savior? Well, he was asleep. He’d had a rough day.
Ash awoke at 10:30. To his surprise, it was night again. He didn’t know the sun had been blocked out by ominous clouds. Oh well. He stumbled out of the cemetery. This lurching gait, combined with Ash’s various injuries, and the fact that he was coated in mud, made him look like a common zombie, which were often seen these days, seeing as how they were pulling themselves out of graves with frightening regularity. Living people had vacated the area quite regularly ever since this had all started, leaving Ash with a bevy of automobiles to choose from. He chose a white Honda Civic. Luckily, since all that Ash knew of carjacking was his having seen Gone in 60 Seconds four times, the keys were in the ignition. The previous occupant had died nearby, judging from the corpse. Ash had only one thought on his mind.
" I’ve got to find Mom, and I’ve got to find Aliciana, and I’ve got to get them out of here PDQ."
Ash gunned the engine, running over a few zombies chowing down on the corpse of the car’s previous owner.
Ash escaped the inner city around eleven o’ clock. At the nearest non-zombified phone booth, he found Aliciana Underwood’s address and ripped it out. He got back in the car and turned on the radio. Finding mostly static, Ash searched for a while, and found someone on a university station.
" Welcome back to APNW, Apocalypse Now Radio. That was ‘Spanish Bombs’ by The Clash. Coming up, we’ve got whatever else I want to listen to, followed by some screaming. But first, here’s ‘ Armagideon Time’ by The Clash again. I feel it fitting. Don’t you?"
Ash turned off the radio. He started off again, towards the suburbs.
" Wait a minute. Got an idea."
He turned on to the grass beside the sidewalk. Mailboxes filled the air.
" Always wanted to do that."
" Mom! I’m home! Hopefully, you aren’t dead, like that scene in The Stand!"
Ash’s mother popped out of her hiding place, a shotgun cradled in her arms. When she saw her son’s face, she rushed up to meet him.
" Ash! I thought you were dead!"
" I was, momentarily."
" Come in, come in. Sit down. Take the load off."
" Ma, all the furniture’s piled up against the front door!"
" Sit on the floor. ‘Scuse me."
Ash’s mom shot a zombie leering in through the front window.
" What’s all this momentarily stuff?"
" Well, Mom, the bus got hit by a truck today…."
" And then I woke up in the cemetery. What a bad dream that was! Although, this one isn’t much better."
Ash’s mother looked stern.
" What? What is it?"
" That wasn’t a dream, Ash. I am a Sin-Eater, and your father is a Viking warrior. He’s out on a supply run now."
" It wasn’t a dream. It was true."
" Hello, son."
Ash looked up, and saw a man dressed primarily in gray standing above him. He had a long beard, and a wild look in his red eyes.
" Yeah, it’s me. Your mom’s having a siesta. How’s life?"
" How’s your afterlife? I heard you were dead. "
" I should ask the same. I heard you died too."
" Yeah. It hurt."
" Tell me about it. At least you didn’t die a ‘heroic death in the face of impossible odds’. Let me tell ya, Valhalla ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Say, can you do the berserker thing too? "
" Yeah, although I’ve got the advantage of a god-foot. It’s Hermes’s."
" Wow! I guess your feet are the feet to beat!"
" Yeah, well, if clues were shoes, you’d be barefoot. Sorry, Dad, I had to get that one in."
" I know. Hey, I heard you laid a hell of a whoopin’ on Ares yesterday. Caught it on the Ankh. I always hated that guy. Did I ever tell you that I sparred with him? Yeah! It was in preparation for my battle against the forces of Evil."
" No, you never talked about that. You died too early for me to really talk to you much."
" Sorry about that. So how’s Fate doin’? I haven’t seen the old girl in millennia!"
" Old? She looks fifteen!"
" She must have not given you the speech yet. Apparently, ‘nothing is more unpredictable than a fifteen year old girl’. Like I’d know. In my village, the girls married when they were thirteen."
" That brings up an interesting point, Dad. How did a Viking Berserker who died a thousand years ago meet up with my Mom?"
" Well son, after I died, Fate told me about my last mission, which was to marry your mom, and eventually produce you. She painted such a picture of her that I fell in love centuries before she was born. That’s it, unless you want to hear about your procreation…"
" Appetizing as that sounds, I’ll pass. I’ve got another question to ask you, anyway. Why don’t you speak like an ancient Scandinavian? Why are you wearing a regular shirt, and not your battle armor?"
" I kept up with the culture as it evolved. Hey, did they give you the Ankh, too?"
" Yeah, why?"
" If you really want to get away from the gods, you’ve got to take off the Ankh. It’s like a radio transponder. That’s how they speak in your head and follow you around all day. Yeah, you’ve got to take it off, unless…"
Ash removed his shirt. He saw only a large scar.
" Damn. It implanted itself in you. Same thing happened to me, too."
An assortment of suitcases fell down the stairs, followed by Ash’s mother.
" Whoops. Oh well. All right, every one, I’m packed."
" Yeah, I forgot to tell you. Your mother and I are going to leave the Earth. We’re to old for this. Especially me. Saving the world is a young man’s game."
" Ummmm, Mom, can I come?"
" Ash, you know you and that girl have to save the world. Besides, there’s no room for you in the car. You’d have to go on the roof rack, and where we’re going, there’s no kids on roof racks allowed."
" Where are you going?"
" Can’t tell you. Just think of it as a ‘Winnebago to the Stars’ if you want to. That’s the closest that your mind will comprehend. Well, bye."
Ash received a kiss from each of his parents.
" Say hello to Aliciana to me. Nice girl, I always thought."
" I will."
Ash waved goodbye as the family minivan, followed by a huge Airstream trailer, took off into the air. Then he went back inside and cried. His parents were gone, and he was the only one who could save the world. It was starting to wear on him. He fell asleep soon after.
Ash packed his suitcase. A warm jacket, new superhero/anime themed T-shirts (he had taken off the Green Lantern one, and had put on a Akira shirt), a new sweater, two black hoodies, his CD player, CDs, underwear, socks. And the bonsai tree. He couldn’t forget little Tree-San in all this wreckage. The family cat, Pixel, climbed into the car as he was hoisting his suitcase into the trunk.
" All right Pixel, let’s go. We’ve got a world to save! Corny, or what?"
Pixel meowed, and the Civic turned off in the direction of Aliciana’s house.
" I hope she had the sense to stay inside. Lots of bad stuff tonight."
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