The Mortal Mantis (OLD)
By 🎐 Nay 🎐
“CHEERS!” Everyone yelled. Connor brought out a bottle of their parent’s most expensive wine. After escaping the trains station, they made their way back to The Miller home. Everyone was exhausted, but even Lori needed a drink after what happened.
“I’d like to say, good work, everyone! We took down a mass murder and saved a lot of people. If that doesn’t call for a drink, I don’t know what does.” Joel said, drinking. “This is awful. I love it!”
“We should be thanking you, Joel. If you hadn’t shown up, we would have died. It didn’t look good,” Lori said, sipping her wine. “This is very strong.” She coughed.
“I think it’s fine. Well, I can’t taste it, but I get the gist.” Connor thought. “As long as it does the job.”
“You know mom and dad are going to kill you. They’ve been saving that one for months. One bottle costs $10,000, and it was imported. Good luck finding another one before they get here in a few weeks.”
“When did they say they’re coming back to Greensboro? I thought they were living it up in California?”
“This morning. Before Mortdecai took me, Dad called, remember? He said they wanted to come down for our birthday. They already made reservations for dinner. They even said Lorelei could come. I may have told them we were hanging out.” Joel almost spits out the wine. “How are you going to tell them about your tongue?”
“Maybe the wine thing will take their attention off me? Dude, I don’t know. I’ll say I was making out with someone so hard they bit it off by mistake; I don’t know. Hey, that might work.” Connor smiled. “What do you think, Lori?”
“Why are you asking me? I would’ve said you were sick or something,”
“Lorelei’s idea is more believable. No one would make out with you. Tongue or no tongue,” Joel laughed.
“Like you have to keep women off of you. Good guitar playing can only get you so far.” Connor sat next to him.
“You think my music’s good? Seriously?” Joel asked, trying to hide a smile.
“It’s not terrible,” Connor laughed. “You can quote me on that.”
“I don’t want your trash opinion, but thanks. I already have a kick-ass recommendation from Lori. She’s my biggest fan now.”
“I never said that,” Lori laughed. She grabbed the remote and turned on the TV.
“Breaking news. This afternoon a scene out of a nightmare occurred at the local train station here in Greensboro, North Carolina. I don’t have an approximate number yet; however, several train goers have been killed. Authorities believe this is connected to the recent murders of late. This investigation is ongoing. We will keep you updated as events unfold.”
“That’s insane. This whole thing is insane.” Joel said. “Same, I don’t remember most of it.”
Thomas appeared in the room. “Sorry, I’m late. I was looking into something. Joel, I need to ask you something.”
“What the hell was that? You were acting like a different person. I’m not waiting anymore for answers. What happened when Mortdecai took you?” Thomas asked. He looked Joel straight in his eyes. Joel’s eyes turned dark. A smile crept across his face.
“He said he doesn’t remember. Take a hint,” Joel said.
“Joel?” Connor asked.
“That’s not him,” Lorelei said. “His spirit feels different.” They all stood in front of Joel.
Joel sighs. “Fine. I guess I do owe you answers. Joel and I met when he was about to die. He appeared in a white room with me. You know what I’m talking about, Thomas. Am I right?”
“I told him I’d lend him my strength to save you. I may have left out the part about the partial possession when I did it. You all are safe. I think it worked out fine. No harm done.”
“Well, that’s shady as hell. You did what you promised now get out of him.”
“Aw, that’s the thing. I can’t. Our powers are intertwined now. So are our souls. One can’t exist without the other. He used too much of my powers. We are one now. I am Joel, and Joel is me. He can hear us, by the way. He says he would do it again if it meant saving you all. If you don’t believe me, then ask him later.”
“What are you? Who are you?” Lori asked.
“I’m like you and Mortdecai. I’m a beacon too. I can attract spirits and manipulate my own. I tried to stop Mortdecai before you showed up, and I died. He put me in that white room for annoying him. I was human, but now…I don’t know. I don’t remember my name. Sorry. Call me Joel if it makes it easier.” Joel smiled.
“Well, calling me no name will get confusing. Anyway, this isn’t that bad, is it? I can help him control his new abilities. Shattering spirits takes a lot of energy. He’s very good at it, as you’ve seen. I can help you too, Lorelei.”
“Why would she agree to that? Get out of my brother. Now.”
“He did help me. I wouldn’t have known I could purify corrupted spirits. Plus, if not for him, we wouldn’t be here right now. I want to hear it from Joel. I want him to tell us that you partially possessing him is okay. Then I will give you my answer. Fair?” Lorelei asked.
Joel’s smile grew wider. “Fair, brb.” Joel’s eyes shut and reopened. His expression went from confused to angry, then back to confused. “Why are you guys staring at me?”
“Look, he doesn’t know! It was lying. We can’t trust it.”
“Joel, do you remember what we were just talking about?” Lorelei asked.
“I remember talking about the train station, but that’s about it. I met a spirit, and he helped me save you guys. I don’t remember the whole conversation, though.”
“Listen, you’re being possessed right now. That spirit that helped you failed to mention that you would be bonded forever. You both sealed the deal when you used his power to enhance your own,” Thomas explained.
Joel stayed silent.
“Say something, Joel.” Connor thought.
“Do I really have a spirit inside me? Another one besides my own, I mean.”
“Yeah,” Lori says.
“****,” Joel said, looking at the floor. “That would make a good song. Soulbound. Yeah, something like that.”
“At least he’s still able to make terrible songs,” Thomas said. “Thank god.”
“I know you’re sarcastic, but that would sell. Admit it.” Joel smiled. “I’m ****** aren’t I?”
“Not necessarily. He offered to train you. Maybe we can find a way to unbound your souls. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible to do the reverse,” Thomas said. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but why are you still here, Tom? I thought us stopping Mortdecai would, you know, free you?”
“I guess I’m not done here. I thought that would work too. However, as you pointed out, I’m still here. So, that brings up something.” Thomas said. Lorelei thought she could she home blushing. “Can I stay here? I figured since I know you guys better now that it would be okay?”
“No,” Connor said. Lori hit him on the arm in return. “Ow, I was joking. He can stay. ****. Joel, that cool with you?”
“Sure, the more, the merrier. Pick a room. We have plenty of space.”
“Thank you. Really. I promise I won’t be like before. I’m different now. I will pull my weight,” Thomas said. Lori could see the joy on his face.
“We will hold you to it. I’m just glad I’m not on my own anymore. There might be more Mortdecai’s out there. We need to be ready if that happens again,” Lori said.
“Sounds good to me,” Connor says, sitting on the couch. “I’m exhausted. Can we pick this up later?”
“Agreed, I’m tired too. Everyone go get some rest. We can meet back up later for dinner. I need a shower too. I don’t think I’ll ever get the smell of blood out of my hair,” Lori said, picking at her hair.
“Do you need help with that?” Connor asked. A shy smirk appeared on his face. Connor felt a sharp pain in the back of his mind. “Ow! What the hell was that?”
“I have no idea,” Lori said, leaving the room.
“You’re hopeless; you know that?” Thomas said, disappearing. “Idiot.”
“I’m heading out too. I’ll see you later, Con.” Joel said, heading for the door.
“You sure you’re alright?”
“I’m alright. I need to be alone for a while. See you, bro.” Joel said, shutting the door.
Connor looked up at the ceiling and smiled. He thought about “helping” Lorelei. “I regret nothing.”
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