Monday, May 27, 2013
Monday Night Chinese v5 Part 5: An Afterthought
Part 05: An Afterthought
It had been quite some time since the incident with Raphael, and every now and again Levi, Alice and Blue would discuss those events, sometimes even being kind enough to invite LeRose. They would talk of how No One escaped from Astoria, where his other minions, if Raphael wasn’t the only one, might be and when, if ever, they would show up once again in the Afterlife. Blue was of the opinion that No One would focus on the two planes of existence that weren’t filled with able bodied spirits who knew what to look for now (the Dreamscape and the living world), but Alice was uneasy all the same. She spent more time after that out in the living world fighting and tracking down demons to better her combat skills and from time to time Levi and other Listeners such as Uriel would accompany her or Laura to track down the missing Afterlife workers. A few had been found, but many, such as Grimshaw, were still missing.
Levi worked as peacefully as he could now that he had grown slightly more paranoid of his own surroundings. He spent more and more of his time time cooped up in his restaurant, thinking.
On one particular occasion that Levi found perfectly appropriate to stay in his favorite booth (third from the front on the left side, it had the best feng shui), Blue had decided to pop in for a chat. He slid in opposite Levi, beaming with cheer. Levi said nothing for a while; he only stared at his zodiac calendar placemat. Blue took the initiative and spoke first.
“You still haven’t told me who cooks for the restaurant,” He said playfully, resting his arms on the sturdy table. Levi didn’t respond. Instead, he folded his arms and stroked his chin. Blue didn’t stop smiling, not even once. “You know, I heard Alice say she’d be by later. I think there’s someone else looking for you, too.”
Alice’s previously frequent visits had occurred less and less in the year and a half since the event, due in part to her increasing trips into the living world. Levi wouldn’t admit it, but it affected him not having her around and he never enjoyed the few and far between trips he would take with her into the living world to search for the still missing employees. Somehow they were always a little painful, and never fun. He had tried filling the void of her friendship with his love of the idea of Laura, but after two dates their relationship hadn’t taken off, but they remained friendlier than they had been before. She, along with Blue, would stop by the Chinese restaurant to check up on the ever withdrawing Levi and make sure he got out at least once in a while.
“Are you thinking about Kristjan?” Blue’s voice cracked through Levi’s thoughts, and he finally glanced up at the young man.
“Yes. What happened to him was something that should have been prevented. I didn’t even want to be involved with any of this.” Levi stopped stroking his chin, leaving his hands resting on the table, clenching and unclenching them periodically. “I couldn’t fix him. I wonder if Merrill was really able to stop his pain.”
“I really dig your British accent, you know that? You should never have hid it,” Blue leaned further in, apparently trying very hard to invade Levi’s bubble.
“I sort of forgot it had even existed to begin with. Once you’ve been dead as long as I have, you start to forget who you were in your past life.” Levi tapped on the table. Blue had a peculiar look of confusion and disturbance that made his face wrinkle, creating aged lines of experience his features were too young to have. He may have been dead, but mentally he was still growing and maturing.
The door to the restaurant opened and LeRose, the model thin female Reaper with the most delightfully disturbing ruby hair stepped in. Everything about her demanded the attention of the boys in the room, from her snarling face to her clothing choice of Daisy Dukes and a dark tank top. Behind her in the hallway was a giant black blob with four spindly legs popping out. It was covered with hundreds of beady green eyes that were looking at everything it could, and every time one of the eyes would blink it secreted a noxious steam. There were chains wrapped around it and Charles, tall and thin with nicely parted sandy hair and clothes equally as nice and appropriate for the workplace, held on to one of those chains that secured the demon, preventing it from running amok. He looked bitterly uncomfortable.
“What is that?” Blue asked curiously. Levi could see the ‘this is so totally awesome’ look on Blue’s face take over.
“Order up! We’ve got another one for you. Friggin’ Charlie didn’t want to go near the thing like usual, but at least he’s still a better partner than Grimshaw. I just wish he’d man the hell up,” LeRose said with her typical scowl, holding on to another chain that wrapped around the demon. Levi was convinced her face was frozen that way. He was at least somewhat thankful that he rarely saw her as she spent much of her time with her new partner, Charlie, who had recently come to the Afterlife. They were just similar enough that they got along and when they did bicker, it was over such petty, trivial things that they often forgot what they had been arguing over five minutes after they had started.
“Just another face in the crowd,” Levi said in response to Blue. He stood up and walked towards the creature that dwarfed him; it strained against the chains to greet the Listener, every single one of its eyes shifting at once to focus on the man.
Levi allowed the L noise to wash over him. “If you felt you were justified, then you were. Ignore what anyone else says. If they deserved to die, then they did, Christopher Dowd.”
The demon exploded in a flurry of steam that engulfed the room in a flash and just as quickly evaporated into nothingness, leaving behind a strong looking young man with a shaved head. He held a wicked grin, and a broken heart was tattooed on his forehead. He made a lunge at Levi, but LeRose kneed the man in the gut.
“LeRose, always the delicate flower.” Levi ran his hand through his wavy hair.
“Shove it,” she said as indelicately as Levi imagined she could.
Levi touched the cracked heart on the man’s forehead.
“The people you killed didn’t deserve it. And you don’t deserve reincarnation.” Levi rapped the knuckle of his index finger on the heart. “Sometimes Listeners have to lie to get the job done.”
“Little boy Blue, follow me up to the river. He’s your business now.”
“I’m feeling like he’s going straight in the river. Later, Levi.” Blue stood up and ran out the door, shoving past Charles. “Race you there, LeRose!”
“You can take all the head start you want, you know you’ll get winded after fifty feet!” LeRose shouted after Blue, taking her sweet time walking out of the restaurant while dragging along both Charles and the bald man.
Levi sighed heavily, peering out into the hallways of the Afterlife, gazing at his coworkers as they passed by. With great effort, he separated himself from his little area, and set out to see something. Maybe, if he were lucky, he’d run into Alice.
That was not the case. Levi had gone quite a ways away from his little nook, wandering ever closer to the shores of Acheron, the place where the halls shifted into caverns, following the others who had left his restaurant. He had rarely gone this way; the last time he had seen the shores was probably fifty years prior, yet he felt drawn to them.
As he arrived he noted how not much had changed. Little boats came and went frequently and Levi waved to the people he recognized, stopping once he found Blue walking into the water, followed by LeRose and Charles, who held the tattooed man on either side. He thrashed violently, kicking up a spray of water.
Blue grabbed the man’s face and began chanting. Levi couldn’t understand the spell, but after a minute it was drowned out by a haunting scream that everyone ignored. And then it stopped. It stopped, and slowly the man sank in to the waters, Charles and LeRose letting go of him so he could be eaten by the river. There was a soft glow, and then nothing; his soul had become one with Acheron, trapped by the sins he committed before becoming a demon. Levi would have continued to ponder the man’s fate had he not heard the word Monday shouted at full force. Levi looked around.
It was Friday. Friday? Friday!
Certainly spotting Friday was the last thing that Levi had expected, but nonetheless he was surprisingly excited to see the Guardian. He walked briskly towards Friday, who waved in broad strokes with his arm.
“Monday, my dear, dear long lost friend!” Friday embraced Levi. “I have news!”
“Good Friday, Black Friday, what brings you to the Afterlife?” Levi felt his speech shifting in tone to match at least part of the ridiculousness of Friday’s.
“Well if you’d let me explain instead of asking silly questions, I told you I have… no, now it’s gone. Like a bubble. It just popped. Maybe if bubbles were made of paper they’d last longer?”
Levi laughed. He wasn’t even irritated, just strangely calm. He felt peaceful. “Well, while you think, I have some news. Do you remember Raphael?”
“Possibly. About this high, terrible at games?”
“That’s the one. I used the L Noise on him, and it turns out Raphael was actually his name. How did you know?”
Friday cocked his head. “You can’t lie in Astoria. I thought I—didn’t I say that? Nobody listens. Frustrating.”
Without being able to help it, Levi laughed an honest to goodness laugh. Perhaps it was because he was trying to fill a void he felt he had created for himself, but not much had made him happy the past few months. Not much at all. But Friday did. His presence was just what Levi needed; something random to make things less boring in a safe way.
“Oh, now I remember. We’ve had a hit on No One!” Friday snapped his finger, pleased with himself that he could remember his message.
Just like that, Levi no longer appreciated Friday’s presence. “What?”
“No One found a body and was invading the Dreamscape, but HR says he was stopped. Funny place to invade, it’s always changing. It would give me a headache.”
Levi chewed on his lip, not wanting to let Friday on to the grotesque feeling that was churning in his gut at the news. He really was wrapped up in all of this, whether he wanted to be or not. And so he chose his next words carefully. “Well then. The game is afoot.”
See you on Tuesday J