RESUME GOD, Part 4

Previously in RESUME GOD: We meet Gisae, a young shamaness and troublemaker. When she returns to her village with a tale of seeing their god battling the Kaerbani invaders, she is cast out to rediscover her center… but that process is interrupted when she is approached by her god himself, Carl McCall!

chairAVATAR IS BETTER THAN NONE

Part Four (of Nine)

“So you got one letter out. All day.”

Mindy McCall was mad, but to her credit, she was giving Carl a chance to explain. Unfortunately for Carl, he didn’t have an explanation that didn’t involve microuniverses and invading demons.

“I just… couldn’t get it together today,” was the best he could come up with.

Mindy pinched the bridge of her nose to stave off the likely tension headache.

“Look, hon,” she said in a measured tone. “I know it sucked when they closed the Borders and you lost the assistant manager job that you worked so hard for. But you had been able to do that, remember?” She turned, hanging her purse on a chair in the kitchenette outside Carl’s office. Without stopping the conversation, she moved towards the living room. Carl got out of the Chair and followed. Until the talk was over, Carl was pretty much at Mindy’s mercy.

Sitting down on the living room couch, Mindy picked up the television remote so Carl couldn’t turn something on until they were done talking. Carl sat on the other side, one leg under him, facing her.

“It was just today I…” he started, but even he knew he was just talking placeholder dialogue.

“It’s not just today,” Mindy said matter-of-factly. “It’s been months. It’s like you’ve given up on getting anything done. If you couldn’t face doing the job search, why didn’t you work on the house? The kitchen is a mess and there are still loads of boxes left to unpack in your office and the spare room.”

Carl so desperately wanted to tell her about Nataal. That somehow he had inherited guardianship of an entire universe when his father died. That she was so important to him and he desired nothing more than to be a husband worthy of her. That it wasn’t his fault.

Except it was.

He chose to protect Nataal. He had too many responsibilities, and he had to choose. The niggling question in the wrong side of the tracks part of Carl’s brain was whether he chose the way he did because it was the right thing to do or because it was easier than doing what he ought to be doing on earth. The truth was, he hated job searching. He just wanted to create art, to design. He didn’t want to have to convince people of his ability to do so. Similarly, housework was never something he was either good at or called to. A sink of dishes was more upsetting to him than a Kaerbani rotbomb.

Besides… Nataal needed him. Anyone could vacuum the living room; Carl was the only person who could protect the people of the microverse.

Even if he did tell her, she would never believe him. Mindy loved fantasy as much as Carl did, but she didn’t believe in it. Magic, ghosts, aliens, free lunches, celebrity romances… these things weren’t real. All Carl could offer as proof would be the spectacle of watching him take a nap in a chair. No, honesty was not a policy of appeasement here.

“Are you listening to me?” Mindy asked. Carl tried to pull from his subconscious what she had just said, but his mind had been elsewhere.

“Yes,” he said, trying to modulate his voice to offer the right mix of understanding and repentance. It apparently didn’t work, because Mindy frowned.

“I have to be able to count on you when I’m not here, Carl,” she said. “You have to be able to handle things yourself.”

Carl’s brain, perhaps trying to make up for letting him down during the “are you listening to me” fiasco, fired off some previously disparate neurons and forged a mental connection that hit Carl like an epiphany, which is exactly what it was.

“Count on me… when I’m not here. Handle things myself,” he repeated. Mindy nodded, frowning slightly less, completely unaware that Carl wasn’t thinking anything at all like what she had meant. Still, she hated arguing as much as he did, and she was willing to take even the slightest indication that Carl might take what she was saying to heart.

“Why don’t you go wash a few dishes and I’ll order Chinese,” she offered as an olive branch. Carl took it, wanting a little time to himself anyway to process the idea that had come to him.

Water just a little too hot for his hands (well, his mortal hands) ran over his soapy fingers as he scrubbed at dried pasta sauce and cheese. Still, he barely noticed. While Mindy was out at grad school, she left him in charge of the house. Why couldn’t he do the same thing in Nataal? He’d read enough Fantastic Four to know that a portion of the power cosmic could always be lent out to a herald or two. What did they call it when a god lent a mortal some of his power? Right. An Avatar.

Sitting on the couch eating Chinese and watching Netflix with Mindy was usually the most relaxing part of his day… the twilight wind down, when responsibilities weren’t expected of him. Tonight, though, Carl was barely able to sit still in his skin. He wanted to get to Nataal before the sun went down. Finally, after the evening’s second episode of Buffy, Mindy excused herself to the bathroom. Carl seized the chance and practically ran to the office. To the chair. To Nataal.

As he fell through the outer spheres of the world within, he slowed the contraction of his consciousness, staying far above where he could still see everything. However, despite his omniscience, he still wasn’t sure what he was looking for. A man born without fear? A blessed peacemaker? A champion? A cleric? An illusionist/thief?

Someone who will do what’s right, he thought. That’s what I need most.

Like a danger alert on a summer blockbuster spy agency holo-map, a bright white light flickered to life. Carl noticed with some curiosity that the light was almost exactly where he had closed the rift earlier that day. Still, he didn’t have time to muse, he had to make his offer before Mindy got back from the toilet.

Down, inward, focused. Once again to Nataal came Carl McCall.

He didn’t recognize the girl, but the light inside her was the white one he had followed here. It spilled from her head and ran over the muddy ground like shampoo commercial hair. As Carl formed his body around him, he realized it actually was hair.

He knew her name. He knew why she had run from her village. He knew she was the one he needed.

“Gisae, right?” he asked. “Look, I’ve got to ask you a really big favor…”

To be continued…

© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.

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