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Max_Writer

Superworld: Lost Boy and Dr. Murder's Mayhem Part 1 - The Dreams

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Monday, March 23, 2015

(After playing the original Superworld scenarios “The Lost Boy” and “Dr. Murder’s Mayhem” Sunday from 12:20 p.m. to 5 p.m. with Nissa Campbell, James Brown, James Dixon, Aaron Scott, and Bo Lewis.)

The strange dreams of the young boy trapped in the coffin of ice continued for the heroes of Charlotte.

* * *

Absolem’s Riddle had been having trouble in her secret identity, Alice Souza, at work. Her boss, Dirk, had been riding her to work more hours at Whiskey River, where she bartended in downtown Charlotte. It had consumed all of her time since they had tracked the Gentleman to his house. She had been completely swamped.

She was leaving for work one day when her nosy neighbor, Juniper “Chuck” Fitzsimmons, caught her in the hallway.

“Did you see?” she asked. “Did you hear?”

“No,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“There was a monster in the building,” Juniper said. “I saw it in the stairwell.”

She pointed down the hall to the stairwell door.

“And it waved at me,” she said.

“Well, you know, kids these days like all kinds of weird things and getting into costumes …” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“That was a big costume,” Juniper said.

That evening, she suggested that Tera join FORCE so that she didn’t get attacked by pitchforks and so that people knew she was a super heroine. Tera noted she was kind of conspicuous and Absolem’s Riddle agreed, noting that since she was in the news and her boss was being stupid, it might be a good idea.

* * *

Chillrend, in his secret identity as Arathus Netherstrom, had been teaching at UNC Charlotte since the terrible incident with the little girl. He had talked to Dr. Paul Wesson, the man who had freed him from the ice in Greenland, about another expedition to the same place. Dr. Wesson said he would see what he could do but he couldn’t guarantee anything. He was hoping to get back to Greenland that summer.

* * *

Edward got a page from Tera. It read: “You still need help with the homeless thing?”

“I’ve hit a dead end with it,” he paged back.

He had talked to another homeless person who had been a police officer before his life had fallen apart. The man suggested there were ways he could continue the investigation. He could canvas the area around the Shops at Freedom, where Scott the Creep had disappeared. He also might want to talk to others in the homeless community to find out who actually went missing and when, as that information could lead him somewhere.

Edward also heard rumors about the reclusive people that had been spotted in the sewers. That could be a lead.

When he talked to Bob about it, the man also had some advice.

“You know about that other homeless community, right?” he said.

“No,” Edward said.

“It’s closer to downtown,” Bob said.

Edward had only been in the area for about nine months and had kept to himself at the beginning, afraid that he would be turned in or ostracized.

“Yeah, there’s another community and it’s mainly composed of people who can’t go on the surface,” Bob said. “You know? People that have changed … badly. There’s some exotics that live down there. I could tell you how to get there. That part of the sewers is called Freak Town. I mean … no offense to them, but … wow. Some people call it that. Sometimes it’s called Bad Bottom because it’s deep. It’d down under the sewers actually. Everybody calls it Shunned. People don’t usually go down there. I don’t go down there.”

“Huh,” Edward said.

* * *

Magic Man had been hearing a lot of rumors of a superhero or villain who was in town and had been keeping a relatively low profile. He also learned that someone had been asking around about Magic Man in the area where he lived.

I’m popular, he thought.

* * *

Absolem’s Riddle put out a general page, asking if people wanted to meet on Wednesday. Chillrend suggested they meet at the Charlotte Take-Out, a Chinese restaurant on Morehead Street that usually didn’t have customers in the dining area. He went there often as it was so quiet and deserted and the food was good. Absolem’s Riddle thought it would be a good place as dragons were good luck for the Chinese.

They met on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, for lunch.

Magic Man had been phoned by Edward and arrived looking quite snappy in a nice suit though he had his Professor Orpheus face. Edward slipped into the restaurant quietly. Chillrend, wearing a nice tweed jacket, already had a booth. Absolem’s Riddle appeared at the door in costume just as Tera arrived. The former had driven to a spot nearby and then teleported to the restaurant.

There was no one else in the restaurant but the kitchen sounded very busy. A few moments after they sat down a Laotian woman came out of the back. She stopped when she saw the customers and seemed surprised. She walked slowly over to the table and looked at Chillrend.

“Ah Professor,” she said. “Who are these people?”

She looked at Tera, Edward, and Absolem’s Riddle.

“Are you here to rob me!?!” she said.

“Uh … no?” Tera said.

“Mr. Wang!” the woman shouted towards the back.

“Mrs. Wang, these are my friends,” Chillrend said.

“Okay …” she said uncertainly.

“This is …”

“You must sit on floor!” Mrs. Wang said to Tera, who stood by the booth. “I’m not going to replace furniture for you.”

“I have no idea who this is, by the way,” Chillrend said, pointing at Tera.

“Wait, you got komodo dragon too?” Mrs. Wang said, pointing at Edward.

“Yeah,” Chillrend said. “I’ll just let them introduce themselves.”

“I just take orders!” Mrs. Wang said. “Here! Here’s menus!”

She handed out paper menus.

“You have to stand or sit on floor!” she said to Tera again.

Tera shrugged and sat on the floor, putting her at about the right height for the table anyway. Mrs. Wang brought water out to them and then left again.

“I wanted sweet tea,” Edward said.

Magic Man pointed to Edward’s water and it turned brown. The crocodile took a sip and smiled. It was delicious.

“Whoa, thanks,” Edward said.

“So, who exactly am I looking at here?” Chillrend said to Tera.

“Oh, hi,” she said. “I’m Tera.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Chillrend said.

“I said ‘Hi, I’m Tera,’” she said again.

“Oh, okay. You can call me Arthur.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah. You’re that … GarGirl?”

“That’s what the news is calling me.”

“Oh. So, uh, I’ll call you by your actual name if that’s what you prefer.”

“Tera’s fine.”

“GarGirl,” Edward said with a toothy grin.

“It’s not a terrible name or anything,” Chillrend said. “It’s just unusual.”

“She was human like two or three weeks ago,” Absolem’s Riddle said. “She, uh …”

“So, what’s your story?” Chillrend asked Tera.

“Stupid little aliens captured me and tested on me and apparently got more than what they were thinking,” Tera said. “And now it’s this.”

“Aliens are real?” Chillrend said.

“I beat some up!” Edward said. “One up. I held it to the ground.”

“Oh, I missed a lot, I see,” Chillrend said.

“I don’t think they were able to kill them though, so we still need to do that,” Tera said.

“I see aliens all the time,” Magic Man said. “What did these look like?”

“It’s not like they come by very often,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Gray,” Edward said to Magic Man. “The typical gray man.”

“Great!” Magic Man said.

“Where’s everybody else?” Chillrend asked.

Edward laughed.

“Gray,” he said with a smile. “Great.”

“I’ve got something for your friend,” Chillrend said.

He put his hands together and when he pulled them apart, a tiny ice sculpture of Edward was there. He handed it to the crocodile. He had given him one before but figured it had melted.

“Why are you making sculptures of him?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Because he likes them,” Chillrend said. “He likes them a lot. It’s just regular ice, I promise. Nothing weird with it.”

“So, good job on the Gentleman, you guys,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Yeah, I heard about that on the news,” Chillrend said.

“Who was even there?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Yeah, I was there,” Tera said. “Protean was there. I haven’t seen him since.”

“He disappears.”

“And Tinker was there.”

“Oh.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about Tinker,” Chillrend said.

“We think Protean’s dead,” Tera said.

“Oh,” Chillrend said.

“Protean?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“I’m not sure if he’s coming back,” Tera said.

“What happened?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“He got broken into a lot of little pieces.”

“Are you sure it was him and not … it wasn’t like a statue he left?”

“I’m not sure. I couldn’t see him at the time, but he broke into a lot of little pieces and then didn’t come back afterwards.”

“I was never sure about him,” Edward said.

“Does anyone have any problems going on right now or is everyone okay?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“My skeleton keeps calling me Elsa ‘cause I let him watch Frozen,” Chillrend said.

“Your skeleton,” Absolem’s Riddle said. “Like the one inside of you?”

“Oh! You haven’t met him yet,” Chillrend said.

“What?” Tera said.

“What’s Frozen?” Edward asked.

“Do you know what a motion picture is?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” Chillrend said.

“A movie?” Edward said.

“Yeah, it’s that,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“All right, here he is,” Chillrend said.

He snapped his fingers and a skeleton apparently made of ice appeared standing next to their table. The temperature dropped in the immediate vicinity. The skeleton had blue glowing eyes and bluish mist seeped out of its mouth. It wore a bluish helmet also apparently made of ice and had a pauldron on one shoulder that appeared to be strapped on with a piece of blue leather, both of them of ice as well. A piece of blue cloth hung off the pauldron and another torn piece was around the skeleton’s neck. On his left wrist he wore an iron cuff or bracelet that was about two inches wide.

“Cool!” Edward said.

“Demon?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“He’s not a demon, he’s a person,” Chillrend said.

“Uh … you should probably put him away,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Naw, he’s cool,” Chillrend said. “He’s cool.”

“Yeah,” Absolem’s Riddle said. “He’s made of ice.”

“He’s cool!” Edward said.

“I was watching One Day at a Time!” the skeleton said.

“Not in the restaurant,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“It’s chilly in here now,” Tera said.

“They don’t care,” Chillrend said. “They’ve seen him before. He likes to talk to them.”

“Is he a spirit?” Absolem’s Riddle said. “A demon?”

“I don’t know,” Chillrend said to Absolem’s Riddle.

“An illusion?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“What’s his name?” Edward asked.

“I’m Shivers,” the skeleton said.

“He’s Shivers,” Chillrend said.

“Shivers,” Edward said.

“Shivers!” Shivers said.

“Shivers,” Edward said.

“Well, that’s what they call me,” Shivers said. “I can’t remember a whole lot.”

“Neither of us can,” Chillrend said. “We don’t have much memory of what we were.”

“But you’re a professor,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Yeah, I’m a professor,” Chillrend said.

“So that was after … whatever happened,” she said.

“After … yeah, whatever happened. Apparently I’m … pretty old. Which could explain my weird name.”

“Apparently?”

“Apparently.”

“Were you a frozen time capsule?”

“Bingo!” Shivers said. “No, wait! Bazinga! Bazinga! No, wait, that doesn’t … hold on.”

Shivers grabbed a chair and pulled it up to the table, taking a cell phone out from under his pauldron and consulting it.

“I don’t buy him I-phones, because the last time−” Chillrend said.

“Bingo! Yeah, it’s bingo,” Shivers said.

“All right,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Yeah,” Chillrend said. “He’s neat.”

“So, when did you regain consciousness?” she asked.

“About five years ago, I was found in Greenland,” Chillrend said.

“So, all you remember is the last five years?”

“And whatever was left to me in a note apparently written by myself.”

“What’d you write?” Magic Man asked.

“Not nice things,” Shivers said.

“Not nice things,” Chillrend said.

“That’s what I would’ve wrote too,” Magic Man said.

“But, I don’t know how−”Chillrend said.

“Hey!” Shivers said, pointing at Magic Man.

“What’s up?” Magic Man said.

“I know you!” Shivers said.

“What’s up?” Magic Man said again.

“Doctor Orpheus!”

“My man!”

“Doctor Orpheus?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“What?” Tera said.

“I love that show!” Shivers said.

“Right?” Magic Man said.

“All he does is sit at home watch TV all day,” Chillrend said.

“What … show?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Venture Brothers,” Chillrend said.

“I also make drinks colder,” Shivers said.

“He basically has the same powers I do but not really as powerful,” Chillrend said.

“But if you can summon him, can …?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“He’s basically just a person,” Chillrend said. “He just comes when I call him because he was there−”

“You didn’t call him!” she said. “You snapped him into the air.”

“Yeah, that’s calling,” he said.

“Whatchu talkin’ about Willis?” Shivers said.

“What a timely reference,” Magic Man said.

“I watch a lot of TNT,” Shivers said.

“He loves TV,” Chillrend said.

“Can you whistle?” Edward asked the skeleton.

“Can you whistle?” Chillrend said.

There was a hissing noise from the skeleton.

“He doesn’t have lips,” Chillrend said.

“I don’t even know how I can talk!” Shivers said. “Look at this!”

He tapped his bony finger on the ribs, producing a noise not completely unlike a xylophone, though without tune.

“I have a feeling he was not always like this,” Chillrend said. “I think it’s the memory loss getting to him.”

Shivers shrugged.

“I pretty much memorized the note, because it’s all I know about myself,” Chillrend said. “Six hundred and seventy years ago I was frozen. Maybe. I don’t know how true the note is.”

“Does it say I’m being frozen right now?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Yeah,” Chillrend said. “Apparently I was a ruthless dictator.”

“Wizard stuff!” Shivers said. “You know, like the Ice King.”

“I like magic,” Edward said.

“Yeah,” Chillrend said. “Apparently I was some kind of emperor back in the day and I had a frozen kingdom.”

“Neat,” Edward said.

“How are you a professor then, if you’ve only been around for five years?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“I know a guy,” Chillrend said.

“Okay,” she said.

“That found me,” he said. “His name’s Paul.”

“He pulls strings,” Shivers said. “And he has some dirt on somebody. Kind of like Falcon’s Crest. You ever watch that show?”

“No,” Edward said.

“It’s really good!” Shivers said.

“I don’t watch a lot of TV,” Edward said.

“You should,” Shivers said.

“I’m not that person anymore,” Chillrend said. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what changed me.”

“I like America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Edward said.

“Or for how long,” Chillrend went on. “But … these two are going to be best friends, I can tell.”

He gestured at Edward and Shivers.

“He’s funny,” Edward said.

“But as far as I know, I’m just a normal guy now who just happens to have ice powers,” Chillrend said.

“Okay, what you want to drink?” Mrs. Wang said as she approached the table.

She frowned when she saw Shivers.

“You brought him again?” she said. “He not allowed in here in the winter. He run up our heating bill!”

“How old are you?” Absolem’s Riddle asked Chillrend. “As far as you know?”

“As far as I know, around 700,” Chillrend said.

“Yeah, minus the time freezing, about how old?” she asked.

“About 730,” he said.

“So, you’re about 30?”

“About 30, yeah.”

“Pshaw!” Mrs. Wang said. “He young! What you want to drink?”

Chillrend ordered a Pepsi with no ice. Edward asked for iced tea. She returned with their drinks and took their food orders, then scurried off again. Chillrend noticed that there was ice in the Pepsi, though there hadn’t been any in there when the woman had brought it.

“She didn’t put ice in it,” Chillrend said, looking at Magic Man.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Magic Man said.

“So, what’s the problem nowadays?” Chillrend said. “Other than the aliens, I guess.”

“My boss is a dick,” Absolem’s Riddle said. “But other than that …

“Let’s kill him,” Magic Man said. “Isn’t that what we do?”

She looked at him.

“Who invited him?” she said.

Edward raised his hand.

“Edward!” she said.

“We’re trying to kill the aliens,” Tera said.

“We’re killing aliens?” Magic Man said. “What are they up to?”

“What do they do?” Chillrend asked.

“Um …” Tera said.

“Well, other than your whole problem,” Chillrend said.

“It sounds like they might attack Tinker again,” she said.

“Why?” Absolem’s Riddle said. “Why would they attack … what?”

“Because he has something of theirs,” Tera said.

“He has a gun,” Edward said.

“He took their gun?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“We gave him their gun,” Edward said.

“Space laser,” Tera said.

“How did he get … when did this happen?” she asked.

“We got onto the UFO,” Edward said.

“And they attacked him because he has their gun?” she asked.

“And we took their gun,” Edward said.

“They might,” Tera said.

“They can track him with the gun,” Edward said.

“How do you know?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“That’s what the men in black said,” Tera said.

“What men in black?” Absolem’s Riddle said. “Are you kidding me?”

“Shivers, what do you know about aliens?” Chillrend asked.

“What?” Shivers said. “Hold on.”

He pulled out his cell phone.

“There’s this website called aliensarereallyreallyrealman.com,” the skeleton said. “But it’s one of those conspiracy websites. I don’t know much. I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind. That was good.”

“Okay, disregarding movie things that don’t tell the truth …” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“We have a tracker on the gun that the men in black have,” Edward said.

“Wait, what?” Absolem’s Riddle said. “Who are the men in black?”

“Some people in suits showed up after we got attacked by the aliens,” Edward said.

“All right, why don’t you start with the aliens.”

“Aliens abducted me and Arclight and, uh, we fell through the roof and then I tackled one because they decided to shoot at us. Arclight punched one against the wall and then … we were … uh … apparently, we asked them to let us go and they did.”

“After you beat them up?”

“It was because we flew off the planet. We were already off the planet but we flew farther off the planet into space. And we’re like ‘We don’t wanna go.’”

“Wait. You beat them up and then asked them to drop you off?”

“Yeah, right?”

“Instead of the other way around?”

“Why did you beat them up in the first place?” Chillrend asked.

“Cause they were shooting,” Magic Man said.

“I tackled one and … oh, you said ‘why?’” Edward said.

“Yeah,” Chillrend said.

“Oh,” Edward said. “Uh …”

“Cause they were shooting,” Tera said.

“Yeah, they pulled a gun on us,” Edward said.

“Oh, okay,” Chillrend said. “That’s a good reason.”

“That makes more sense,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“I can see that,” Chillrend said.

“And then they shot … Arclight did something to make the guns not work,” Edward said. “But I saw them pull the trigger. So I shot back and missed. So, I decided to not use my gun, just tackle. I pulled the guy down with my teeth.”

“Okay, now …” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Oh yeah!” Edward said. “Then, when we got down to the ground, some people in suits showed up and picked all of us up and−”

“Including the aliens?”Absolem’s Riddle said.

“No,” Edward said. “Aliens left. The three left after they dropped us off.”

“Barely got away!” Tera said.

“Why did they bring you back?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Because we asked them to,” Edward said.

“But they were attacking you,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Yeah,” Edward said.

“Everybody has problems in their life,” Magic Man said.

Absolem’s Riddle smacked him in the side of his head.

“We were trying to track them and they abducted us,” Edward said. “They pulled guns on us, we fought back, then asked them to let us go. They let us go. Then some people in suits picked us up and then questioned us.”

“Almost got into their ship,” Tera said.

“And how did you get a tracker on their gun?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Oh, Tinker made a gun and I stole a pistol, like a gun-looking thing,” Edward said.

“I know what a pistol is,” she said.

“And then I put the tracker on the gun and then the men in black took that gun, so now they have it,” Edward said.

“It was a regular gun that they took?”

“No. It was an alien gun.”

“Okay, that was important.”

“Okay. The alien gun has−”

“Here your orders! Here your orders!” Mrs. Wang said as she returned with the food.

She put plates in front of everyone and was gone moments later.

“Nice!” Edward said.

He dug into the Mongolian beef he’d ordered.

“Edward!” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Yes?” Edward said.

“So, there were two guns that you took from the aliens?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “One was a bigger one, like a rifle.”

“Is that the one tinker has?”

“Yes. One was more like a smaller hand gun.”

“So how do you know there’s a tracker on that?”

“Because the men in black told us that the technology that they use allows them to track it - their own stuff. So Tinker has something they can track.”

“So, is he trying to disassemble it right now or something?”

“That’s what we gave it to him for. So he can learn about it.”

“So, we should probably go check on him.”

“But there’s food right here.”

He pointed to his plate and began eating again.

She took out her cell phone and texted Tinker: “Hey, are you okay? I heard aliens might come after you.”

“Does he know that the aliens might come after him?” she asked Edward.

“Yes,” he said.

“Okay, she said.

She added to the text: “Have they come after you? Are you okay?” A few moments later, a text came back from Tinker: “It’s under control.” She texted him back: “What’s under control?” The text that came back read: “Can’t talk. Busy.” She typed to him “What’s my name?” The answer was “Alice” which was correct. Another text came through: “I’m right in the middle of something right now.” She paged back “Just wanted to make sure.”

The door to Charlotte Take-Out opened and the small gong over it rang. A young black man entered the place. He had a hoodie on and was smoking a cigarette. He looked around nervously and then, when he spotted Tera, who recognized him as the same guy that had been at Arclight’s apartment a few days ago, his eyes went wide.

“Oh shit,” he muttered.

He left the place quickly.

“You know that guy?” Chillrend said.

“I think that guy has the other pager,” she said.

“Oh,” he said.

“Why does he have a pager?” Absolem’s Riddle said. “Who?”

“I don’t know how he got it,” Tera said.

Absolem’s Riddle glared at Magic Man.

“How do you know he has one?” she asked.

“Cause I saw him last time there was a group page,” Tera said.

Absolem’s Riddle leapt up and ran out of the place after the guy.

* * *

The man was walking down the street away from the restaurant at a good pace, his hands in his pocket and a swirl of cigarette smoke around his head. She concentrated on the corner ahead of the man and teleported there, then slipped around the corner and waited until she heard his footsteps. She stepped back out from around the corner.

“Hey buddy,” she said.

The man kept his head down. He reeked of cigarette smoke.

“Yeah,” he said, trying to walk by her.

She stepped into his path.

“Hey, uh, you know Arclight then?” she asked.

“Mm-hm,” he muttered vaguely.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I know Arclight,” the man said vaguely, not looking her in the eye.

“Yeah, but you have one of my pagers, I believe.”

“What? No.”

“Then how did you know where to find where Arclight would be?”

“What? ‘Cause it’s in the news.”

“No.”

“Yeah.”

“He’s not in the news at the Chinese Restaurant.”

“He said he was gonna be there.”

“Ah, so you do have pager.”

“The news said he’s gonna be there.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“The news did.”

“The news did not …”

“Said he was going to be there.”

“No.”

The man was still trying to get by her but she kept blocking his path. She put her hand on his chest and he started to freak out, yelping over and over again.

“I didn’t do nothin’, man!” he cried. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

“You want to just tell me about the pager?” she said.

The man turned his back on her and put his hands against the wall, spreading his legs as if he expected to be frisked. His cigarette dropped from his lips. She looked at the man a moment and then took Ñaro out of her purse and told him to search the man. As soon as the sugar glider leapt onto his shoulder and slipped into his sweatshirt, the man freaked out. He screamed and ran out into traffic away from her. There weren’t many cars and they stopped quickly for the crazy man.

She teleported to the opposite side of the street. He screamed when he saw her and then turned and ran down the street, still screaming.

“Dude! Dude!” she called after him. “It’s cool! What’s the matter!”

“Nothing!” he screamed back. “Nothing! I’m fine! Get this thing off me!”

“Hold still and he’ll come out!” she called.

The man stopped running but was obviously still flipping out. He wheezed heavily and shook, obviously trying not to move. Ñaro came out and tossed her the pager.

“That’s my pager!” he said.

“It’s my pager,” she replied.

“No, I paid like fifty bucks for that!” he said.

“I don’t think so,” she replied.

“I did!”

“Here. Let me see something.”

She fiddled with her own pager, and paged the pager she’d given to Magic Man.

“There was this guy!” the man said. “He sold it to me.”

The page went through to the pager the man had been carrying.

“What did he look like?” she asked. “Was it magical?”

“Was it … magical?” the man asked. “No. He looked like a bum.”

“Okay, yeah,” she said. “Okay.”

“That was fifty bucks!” the man said again.

“Okay, uh, here’s fifty bucks back,” she said, handing the man the money.

The man hung his head and then took the money and walked way.

She teleported back to booth where she’d been sitting before and tried to slap Magic Man in the head. Her hand went right through him.

“Damn it,” she said. “Where are you?”

“I’m here,” he said. “What’s up?”

“No, you’re not,” she said. “Where is he?”

She reached behind her and slapped at the empty air.

“No more selling pagers to drug addicts,” she said.

She felt a tap on her shoulder. She frowned and swung at the air behind her but didn’t connect with anything.

“So, maybe violence wasn’t the answer,” Magic Man said.

“Don’t sell the pagers!” she said to him. “This could be sensitive information going on and we can’t just have any person coming and finding out where we are!”

“I don’t know how pagers work,” he said.

“I told you how pagers work!” she said.

“You said they beeped.”

“No, I told you. I explained exactly how it worked!”

“Can I have it back?”

She put the pager down on the table and smashed it with her fist.

“You owe me fifty bucks!” she said.

“I don’t remember that,” Magic Man said.

“Well, it’s not like you would even give me real money anyway,” she said. “Don’t give people things that aren’t …”

“So, did you give Phil fifty bucks?” Magic Man asked.

“It’s none of your business!” she said. “Wait … I knew it! Stupid … fricking …”

“He only gave me twenty, so we’re good,” Magic Man said.

“So, where did you last see the aliens?” Chillrend asked.

“Huh?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Oh yeah, aliens,” Magic Man said.

“Oh yeah, space,” Chillrend said. “I’m wagering space.”

“I don’t know what it’s called,” Edward said.

“It was in the Concord area,” Tera said.

“Tinker says he’s fine and there are no aliens right now,” Absolem’s Riddle told them.

They discussed going back to Concord. Absolem’s Riddle did not feel right about attacking the aliens. Magic Man suggested they befriend them. Chillrend wanted to just talk to them. Edward was fine so long as they didn’t draw a weapon on him. Chillrend wasn’t sure how he felt about the men in black either. Magic Man was of the opinion that they should befriend them too.

“Well, how did they abduct you?” Absolem’s Riddle asked Edward.

“They pulled guns on us and told us to get into their car,” Edward said.

“Did they do experiments on you?” Chillrend said. “Wait, is that the men in black or the aliens?”

“It was the men in black,” Edward said.

“I was talking about the aliens,” Absolem’s Riddle said. “How did they abduct you?”

“Oh,” Edward said.

“Abduct,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Well, men in black abducted us as well,” Tera said.

“Well, the aliens, me and Arclight landed on their ship,” Edward said.

“So, you attacked their ship first,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Well, they …” Edward said.

“So they could probably be−” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“We were trying to track them and they showed up. And we’re like ‘Hey, let’s land on this.’”

“Land on it?”

“Land on the UFO.”

“Were you flying?”

“Arclight was carrying me and he was flying.”

“So, essentially, they were defending themselves because you just jumped their ship.”

“They came to us!”

“You jumped on their ship.”

“And then … the roof opened up.”

“They’re evil!” Tera said.

“How do you …” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“How do you know they’re evil?” Chillrend asked.

“Are they the same ones?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“They’re abducting people and then implanting things in them!” Tera said.

“What did your aliens look like?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“They looked gray to me,” Tera said.

She looked at Edward.

“They looked gray,” he said.

“Are you an alligator or a crocodile?” Chillrend asked Edward.

“Crocodile,” Edward said.

“Can you project with your little armband what they look like?” Absolem’s Riddle asked him.

“No,” he said.

“Or draw it?” she said.

“I’m not an overhead projector,” he said.

“Because if they’re not the same aliens, I don’t see why we should attack them,” she said.

“We should probably try to talk to them,” Chillrend said.

“Did they speak in a language you didn’t understand or did they speak English?” Chillrend asked.

“They made noises,” Edward said. “I couldn’t understand it.”

Tera pointed out she had given a description of what she thought the creatures would be and Edward told her what he’d seen and they’d matched up. Edward continued to eat the excellent food. Then they talked about the other things that were going on in their lives.

Absolem’s Riddle, not having had enough sleep and having filled up on the Chinese food, nodded off as they talked and dreamt about the child in the laboratory again.

“Ghost child!” she said, coming out of it.

“Ghost child?” Chillrend said.

“Frozen …” she muttered.

“Ghost Rider?” Tera asked.

“Ghost child,” Chillrend said again.

“Frozen kid,” Absolem’s Riddle said. “Sorry. Dream.”

“What frozen dream kid?” Chillrend asked.

“Popsicle,” Edward said.

“Frozen dream kid,” she said again. “Frozen. Talking. But he’s frozen. Weird. Sorry. It makes no sense.”

“Wait,” Chillrend said.

“I’ve also had this kidsicle dream,” Tera said.

“I’ve also had this kidsicle dream,” Chillrend said.

“Wait,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“What happens in your dream?” Chillrend asked her.

“I need coffee,” she said.

“They have coffee here,” Chillrend said. “But what’s in your dream?”

“What do you mean?” Absolem’s Riddle said to Chillrend. “I just told you. It’s a boy.”

“Is that all that happens?” Chillrend asked.

“Hallway?” she said. “Stairs? Go into a room?”

“Sentences,” Chillrend said. “Paragraphs. What about this ghost child?”

“Well, it’s not a ghost,” she said. “There’s this kid that’s talking but it looks like he’s frozen …”

“Frozen in ice and he’s telepathically talking to you, something like that?” Chillrend said.

“Yeah,” she said.

“I’ve had that dream too,” he said.

They discussed it and learned that both of them had been having the same dream. Tera noted he was in a cylinder thing. They realized that the child they were talking about was the same one in each of their dreams. Meanwhile, Edward and Magic Man were quietly discussing the missing people from Edward’s homeless community.

“Who hasn’t had this dream?” Edward asked.

“Shivers, have you had this dream?” Chillrend asked the skeleton.

“What are you talking about?” Shivers said. “I don’t dream.”

“Yeah, he doesn’t sleep,” Chillrend said.

“I don’t sleep!” Shivers said.

“Sometimes I forget.”

“Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”

“Could you get a new catchphrase please?”

“All right.”

“Try bazinga - that’s cool right.”

“I like bazinga. But it doesn’t apply.”

“It … doesn’t apply.”

“How can that apply to that? You watch TV too.”

“What does it even mean, Shivers?”

“I don’t know, but it’s funny. And Sheldon says it. I like Sheldon. He’s really smart. He’s smarter than you are, you know that right? Yeah, he is.”

“You know he’s an actor, right?” Absolem’s Riddle said. “And he’s not that smart, right?”

“What?” Shivers said.

“Aw, you hurt his feelings,” Chillrend said.

“Well …” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“He’s a person just like you and me,” Chillrend said.

“If Sheldon’s not smart, this changes my whole world view!” Shivers said.

“I’m sorry if I gave him a bone, but …” she said.

“He just doesn’t have a body,” Chillrend said.

“Wait wait wait,” Shivers said. “What about Big Brother? Are those people real?”

“Yes,” Chillrend said.

“How about The Voice?” Shivers asked.

“They’re all real.”

“What about those other singing shows?” Shivers said. “Those get boring after a really short time. Except the beginning when they’re like ‘You suck! You’re not going to Hollywood!”

He laughed.

“So, Shivers has never had this dream because he doesn’t sleep,” Chillrend said.

“Wait, let him talk,” Magic Man said.

Absolem’s Riddle asked Edward if he’d had the dream but the crocodile claimed he didn’t dream.

“Why are you still here?” she asked Magic Man.

“Why are you still here?” he replied.

“I invited him,” Edward said.

“Who invited you?” Magic Man said.

“I don’t like him,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“So, we’re clearly having the same dream here, but how do we go about investigating this?” Chillrend asked. “Because that’s really weird.”

“Weren’t you frozen?” Edward asked him.

“You were frozen,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“I was frozen,” Chillrend said.

“But I was never frozen,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“I wasn’t frozen as a child,” Chillrend said.

“Were you telepathic?” Magic Man asked.

“I was frozen as an adult,” Chillrend said. “As far as I know, I’m not telepathic.”

“You’re a child at heart,” Magic Man said.

“So, the two of us have had this dream,” Absolem’s Riddle said. “What connects him and me?”

“I’m a cold, ruthless emperor at heart,” Chillrend said to Magic Man. “Let’s not talk about that.”

“So, I’ve had this dream, but I just leave it every time,” Tera said. “It’s very irritating.”

“So, you’ve had this dream too?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Yeah, but not quite as much detail because I don’t get close,” Tera said.

“That’s weird,” Edward said.

“Thank you … Edward,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

Chillrend suggested they text the others and see if they’d had the same dreams. They did so but there were no replies. Absolem’s Riddle texted Tinker about it. The reply she got was “I’m turning off my phone.”

Tera, feeling the cold coming off of Shivers, scooted away from him.

“Too cold,” she said.

“It’s the only vessel that can keep his soul in,” Chillrend told her.

“Can you breathe fire?” Absolem’s Riddle asked Tera.

“Yes,” the woman replied.

“She burned a person,” Chillrend said.

“I did once,” Edward said.

“Yeah, we all can,” Magic Man said. “Can you?”

She glared at him.

“I breathe ice,” Chillrend said.

“I can’t,” Shivers said.

“Yeah, you can,” Magic Man said to the skeleton. “You just gotta believe.”

“Shivers can breathe ice,” Chillrend said. “Try it. Go ahead.”

Shivers looked at him.

“No,” he finally said.

“He gets a little shy,” Chillrend said.

They discussed where the dream was coming from and Absolem’s Riddle suggested they go to a hypnotist and get hypnotized into entering the dream again. Chillrend knew a psychology professor who might have the names and numbers of some hypnotists or therapists who practiced hypnotism. They talked about how strange it would be that some telepathic kid was contacting them via their dreams, though it sounded fantastic.

“But you never know,” Tera said. “Apparently we have dragon people and ice people.”

“Where?” Shivers suddenly said, and then laughed. He looked at Chillrend. “That was original.”

“What a card,” Tera said.

“I love this guy,” Chillrend said. “He’s not normally this excited. He likes new people. He doesn’t get to see many people.”

“Yeah, especially people from the news,” Shivers said. “Of course, you’re not … and you’re not … and you’re not … and you’re not. So … one new person from the news.”

Only Tera had been in the news.

“Obviously there are problems plaguing this city, so we should form some kind of team,” Chillrend said.

“Like FORCE?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“What?” Chillrend said.

“Like FORCE?” Absolem’s Riddle said again.

“Oh yeah,” Chillrend said.

“I’ll be ‘F,’” Magic Man said.

“Shivers, what’s FORCE?” Chillrend asked.

“I’ll be … C,” Edward said.

Shivers told him that FORCE was the Federal organization that the government set up for exotic registration.

“Freaks, like us,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Oh,” Chillrend said.

“No,” Shivers said. “Freaks is a movie from the 40s. It was really good. I really enjoyed it. And then there’s American Freakshow … wait.”

Absolem’s Riddle got a little bigger, picked up her chopsticks and tapped them against the skeleton.

“I can make his bones hollow,” Chillrend said. “It makes him pretty fragile though.”

“What?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Making his bones hollow.”

“Don’t make ‘em hollow.”

“I’m not gonna make ‘em hollow.”

“Yeah!” Shivers said. “I do not like that!”

“It sounds mean,” Tera said.

“He did it once!” Shivers said. “Thought it was funny. ‘Hey, look at this, honey.’ Pink! Shatter. It wasn’t funny.”

“Honey?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“He’s got a girlfriend!” Shivers said.

“Oh, okay,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“She’s kind of clingy,” Shivers said.

“She calls a lot,” Chillrend said.

“She’s nice,” Shivers said. “She’s nice.”

“My legs vibrated five times since I got here,” Chillrend said.

“I hope you’re referring to your phone and nothing else,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“I’m referring to my phone,” Chillrend said.

“She’s worried,” Shivers said.

“Speaking of,” Chillrend said, taking out his cell phone.

Shivers compared them to Ross and Rachel though Absolem’s Riddle noted they had not gotten along. Shivers pointed out Ross was always dreamy-eyed for Rachel and Absolem’s Riddle clarified she was like Ross. He nodded. He said again she was nice.

“When are you going to marry her anyway?” Shivers asked Chillrend. “She keeps asking.”

“Anyways!” Absolem’s Riddle said.

Mrs. Wang returned.

“You want more?” she asked Edward when she saw his plate was empty.

“No, we’re leaving,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“You want another order?” Mrs. Wang asked Edward.

“Yes!” the crocodile said with a grin.

“Okay!” Mrs. Wang said.

She returned with another plate of the food and he dug in.

“Now, Edward … do you have money?” Tera asked.

“What?” Edward asked.

“Do you have money to pay for your food?” Chillrend asked.

The crocodile just looked at him.

“Do not let him give you fake money to give to that poor lady!” Absolem’s Riddle said, pointing at Magic Man. “No!”

“What, I thought this was your treat,” Magic Man said to her.

“You thought … I … but …” she said.

“Who invited us to lunch?” Magic Man asked.

“Edward!” Absolem’s Riddle said. “I do not like that you are friends with him!”

“It’s all right guys, I can pay,” Chillrend said.

“He seems okay!” Shivers said. “He looks like Dr. Orpheus.”

“No one asked you, Bones,” Absolem’s Riddle replied.

“Do the voice!” Shivers said to Magic Man.

“I am Magic Mannnnn!” Magic man said, the lighting changing around him to highlight his features.

“Dead on!” Shivers said.

“Don’t worry, I’m a college professor; I make big money,” Chillrend said. “But I can pay.”

He shook his head.

“I’m glad you mentioned that because I just realized I don’t have any money on me either,” Tera said.

“That’s okay - I’ll pay for everybody,” Chillrend said.

“She’s a goldbricker, I’ve heard that term,” Shivers said.

“Gold digger?” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Yes,” Shivers said.

“Shivers, you’ve got to brush up on your terminology,” Chillrend said.

“I’ve only been around for four years,” Shivers said.

Magic Man was explaining to Edward what money was and the crocodile said he knew what it was. Chillrend, meanwhile, was berating Shivers for watching too much television, though the skeleton noted he was immersing himself in the culture. Absolem’s Riddle told Edward not to take Magic Man’s fake money but the man protested he was going to give him real money.

“No, you won’t!” she said. “You’re not even real right now! See!”

She tried to slap him in the head again and her hand went right through.

“I’m totally real!” he said.

He poked her in the face and she felt it.

“What about these homeless people?” Shivers said. “Edward keeps talking about them. I’m sitting right next to him. I can’t help but overhear.”

“I live in the sewers,” Edward said.

“Some people have so much money, I guess they’re not worried about homeless people,” Magic Man said.

“You know who else lives in the sewers?” Shivers said. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

“Not in this city,” Chillrend said.

“Maybe,” Magic Man said.

“What?” Shivers said. “You mean they’re not real either?”

“No, just not in this city,” Chillrend said. “They live in New York.”

“Oh, good,” Shivers said.

There was discussion about the homeless people and talk of getting to a hypnotist. Chillrend said he could talk to the psychology professor on campus. Absolem’s Riddle wondered if the dreams might be connected with the homeless people. Chillrend texted the man and got the names of two local therapists who did some hypnosis therapy. “You owe me!” was what the psychology professor texted Chillrend at the end. But he always did. Magic Man claimed he could put people to sleep but Absolem’s Riddle didn’t believe him, guessing it would just be the illusion of sleep.

“What are you, my FORCE file?” Magic Man said to her.

“You’re not in FORCE!” she said.

Chillrend gave Absolem’s Riddle the numbers and she called and made appointments at both of them. The cost was going to be $100 an hour and each of the receptionists tried to get a little background information beforehand, going through several questions to the woman. She said eventually just yelled “My phone is tapped! My phone is tapped!” and hung up. Her appointments were at 8 a.m. and noon.

She noted to the others she had the appointments but had time if there was other things they wished to do. Edward talked about a creepypasta thing he’d read about an endless staircase. Shivers had read that as well. Chillrend asked if anyone had anything to do until the next day. They arranged to meet around 1 p.m. at the restaurant.

They all went their separate ways.

* * *

Edward talked to some of the homeless people in the sewers about Freak Town. What he learned from others was that the people in Freak Town were allowed to go to the surface, they were just smart enough not to go up. Most of the people there were mutated to a horrific level and had learned that when they showed themselves in public, people screamed and pointed, the police were called, and there was a danger of being incarcerated for study or the good of the public. He also got referred to Bob, the old man who lived near him.

Edward questioned Bob on the location of Freak Town.

“Why do you want to go there?” Bob asked. “You’re not a freak. You can actually go up on the street.”

“I want to go see if any of them have been missing lately,” Edward said. “Or if they know anything about the people missing on the edge of our homeless community.”

Bob gave him instructions on how to get there and it looked to Edward like the entrance to Freak Town was off the sewers closer to downtown.

“But you know who I think is behind the disappearances?” Bob said.

“Who?” Edward said.

“Those weird, creepy people that no one can get a good look at that are hanging out up northeast of here,” Bob said. “But nobody listens to me.”

“What?” Edward said. “What weird people?”

He remembered he had heard a few rumors of another community in the sewers on the edge of their own with a reclusive people who would not let anyone get a good look at them. Rumors had been going around those people might have something to do with the disappearances, though there was no proof of it.

Bob gave him instructions on how to get to Freak Town but Edward thought the reclusive people were a better lead. Bob advised Edward not look into the reclusive people or to Freak Town alone.

“I don’t go to Freak Town alone,” he said.

“Do you go?” Edward asked.

“I’ve been twice,” Bob said.

“Huh,” Edward said.

“I went with Mr. Simmons,” Bob said.

Edward knew Mr. Simmons. He lived in the sewers and was also homeless. He had been a teacher until budget cuts took his job, Edward had heard. He was a nice fellow and he knew everybody. He tried to teach people he knew how to better themselves.

“Mr. Simmons goes down there quite a bit, I guess,” Bob said. “He feels a kinship with them. He … he’s trying to help them out.”

“Okay,” Edward said.

“But I didn’t go alone,” Bob said.

Edward was more interested in the Peripherals, those reclusive people living on the edge of the community. Bob warned him again not to deal with it by himself.

“I totally got this!” Edward said.

Bob pointed him in the direction where most of the peripherals had been seen: an older section of town just north of downtown.

“You’ll know when you find the entrance to their area,” Bob said. “There’s a busted hole in the side of the sewers and somebody had painted ‘Keep Out’ and ‘Danger’ or something, I don’t know.”

* * *

At 8 a.m. on Thursday, October 16, 2014, Absolem’s Riddle, in her secret identity as Leila Alice Souza, went to the office of Dr. Thomas Fitzhugh. She had to fill out a pile of paperwork and then was able to see the doctor. She claimed her problem was a recurring dream that didn’t seem complete and she wanted to know what it meant, where it started, and where it ended. She was shortly shown into the psychiatrist.

Dr. Fitzhugh proved to be very southern and began with a typical therapeutic interview. She requested hypnotherapy to start though he told her he preferred to wait a few sessions for such a drastic measure to be taken. He noted that sometimes such therapy was not even necessary and simply talking would probably be of more use. She was insistent that she wanted the hypnotism. He pointed out that many people claimed to have repressed memories but often simple therapy was actually more useful in their treatments.

When she told the man that one of her friends had the same recurring dreams, he asked more questions about the dream and about her friend. She resisted answering his questions, unsure why it mattered. He noted that it might be possible to get her friend in to help with the therapy.

“Wait, do you think this is some kind of mystical thing?” Dr. Fitzhugh asked.

“Mystical?” she said. “Why would I think that?”

“Mystical, magic, aliens, superpowers, superheroes?” he asked.

“Why would I think that?” she asked.

“Do you think this is some kind of outside source influencing you?”

“That is a possibility and that’s why I would like to know where it’s coming from.”

He again asked her friend’s name because he wanted to talk to him as well. She told him that she could not give that out without his permission. However, he was willing to put her under with hypnotism, though there were other forms she would have to sign in case she hurt herself or harmed him. He took out a box with a big red button on it and kept it within reach.

“What is that?” she asked.

“This is the panic button,” he said.

“For me or for you?” she asked.

“Oh, that’s for me,” he said.

“What if I need it.”

“If you go crazy and attack me or suddenly display some kind of malevolent entity that tries to kill me, I hit the button and people will come and try to help me. The receptionist. She’ll come. She does have a taser.”

Then he put her under.

She found herself in the same place that she’d been in her dreams: facing a massive metal door with a control panel to one side with a large green button on it. A slit down the middle of the door indicated it should slide open into the walls. Behind her was a wide set of steps climbing upward as far as she could see.

She pressed the button and the doors opened to reveal some kind of exotic super-science laboratory. The floor was white tile and the walls and ceiling were likewise white. Computer banks and large pieces of futuristic scientific equipment lined the walls of the circular room. Everything was white and gleaming and clean with numerous multicolored glowing buttons, dials, and lights all over everything. None of the equipment looked vaguely familiar in the least.

Situated in the center of the room was a coffin-shaped piece of equipment, white and gleaming with super science like everything else in the room. The lid of the box was clear and, from the shadow, there seemed to be something inside. As she approached, she could see that there was also frost on the outside of the cabinet, which lay on its back. Controls on the side made little or no sense but the cabinet hummed with power.

When she wiped away the frost, she could see the features of a young boy of no more than about 10 in the cabinet. He had dark hair and his eyes were closed. His hands lay across his chest and he looked, for all intents and purposes, dead.

She had tried to press buttons before to get the child out but it had never worked. It didn’t work this time either. She searched for secret doors in the walls without luck. None of the equipment was labeled or marked and there was nothing that looked familiar - no keyboard or monitor. It was just unmarked buttons and lights.

She went to the foot of the stairs and then, knowing she was in a dream, flew up the stairwell. She continued to fly and fly and fly for what felt like hours. She never reached anywhere. However, when she looked back, the landing was right behind her.

There was a snap and she found herself in the psychiatrist’s office once again.

“That didn’t reveal anything new,” she said.

“Well, I can set you up with another appointment,” Dr. Fitzhugh said.

“All right,” she said.

“Is next week fine the same time?” he asked.

“Uh …”

“Next Thursday?”

“How about next Tuesday?”

“Next Tuesday, no. Next Tuesday’s filled. Uh … Wednesday’s open.”

“All right.”

“If you talk to my receptionist, she’ll set you up.”

“All right.”

He thanked her and again asked her to talk to her friend about the identical dream. She set up the appointment and then left the office, paging Chillrend. She asked him to meet her early if he could at the same place at 11 and met him at Charlotte Take-Out. She told him she had the first appointment and was hypnotized. She said the dream was exactly the same and guessed it was because it wasn’t being projected into her mind but being revisited. He agreed that sounded right. She told him the psychiatrist suggested that the next time they met, she bring him along. She suggested they both go together to the noon appointment and he was fine with that.

At noon, she went into the offices of Dr. Sally Myers. She filled out the paperwork and both of them entered the office.

“This is your husband?” Dr. Myers asked.

“This is my friend that’s having the same dream,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“But … are you dating?”

“No.”

“We haven’t known each other very long. We’re just acquaintances.”

“So, just lovers.”

“Acquaintances.”

Dr. Myers was willing to put them under with hypnotism, though admitted that she didn’t do much couples therapy.

“It’s not a couple!” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Did you want to go under as well?” Dr. Myers asked Chillrend.

“Yes,” he said.

“Mr. … what’s your name?” she asked.

“Arthur,” he said.

“Mr. Arthur what?” she asked.

“Mr. Arthur,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

“Mr. Arthur,” Chillrend said.

“No no no no no,” she said. “I’m not going to play this game.”

“Netherstrom,” he said.

The psychiatrist hypnotized them.

They both appeared together in front of the door.

“Are you in my dream or am I just dreaming you in here?” Absolem’s Riddle asked.

“Are you in my dream?” Chillrend replied.

“Okay, remember this word: watermelon,” she said trying not to say it to the therapist.

“Watermelon,” he said.

They felt the therapist urging them into the room and they went. It felt cold in the room, though Chillrend was very comfortable. Absolem’s Riddle wrote “We are coming” backwards in the glass in the frost. Chillrend raised his hands to try to smash the frost.

“Not on the words,” Absolem’s Riddle said.

He moved to one side. Then he thought about it a moment and then used his powers to freeze the glass even more in the hopes of weakening it. Nothing seemed to happen. He hit the thing and most of the frost came off it, including the frost that Absolem’s Riddle had written on.

“What did I say?” she said.

“I didn’t do it on the words,” he protested.

“Freeze it back over,” she said.

He did so. She wrote the words on the thing again.

Then they woke up.

“It was just getting good,” Chillrend said.

“Time’s up,” Dr. Myers said.

They declined to make a follow-up appointment.

“So, what’s the word?” she asked as they left the office.

“Watermelon,” he said.

“So you were in my brain!” she said.

“You were in my brain,” he replied.

They were unsure if she had said the word out loud during therapy, however.

* * *

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