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Starting over…25…finis

“I honestly don’t know what he sees in Heather,” said Kit, pinning up her hair. “They’re a completely different species.”

“Is she staying there?” asked Jimmy.

“She’s going to try it.  Apparently he gave her a pretty big planet and a moon, along with servants and a lot of weapons.  I had her sign a contract saying that she wouldn’t come back here to kill all four of us.”

“I bet that wasn’t easy to do,” said Lilly.

“You’re right, darling,” sighed Kit.  “That’s what took me so long.  She said she’d sign it, but only if your name was left off the list.  I told her you’d already died once, but she said…well, never mind what she said.  I convinced her to just sign the thing and she finally did.”

“So, does that mean the war is off?” asked Jimmy hopefully.

“For the moment.  Once Heather decides to stay for good, we can be a bit more certain.  Just keep in mind that the others won’t be happy about this decision.  It’s possible that they could attack us, all by themselves, even if that would be a very bad and silly move.”

“But for now, we’re in the clear?” Jimmy said, again.

“Seems that way.”

“So we can all go back to our regular lives?” he asked.

“I don’t see why not, darling.  I’ll keep in touch with Heather and let you know if anything changes.”

“Thank you,” said Lilly.  “I think I’ll go home and tell mom about all of this.”

“Do you want me to come with you?” asked Jimmy. “For moral support?”

“No thank you.  I’m okay.”

“Jerry,” said Kit.  “Either you’re coming back with me or you aren’t.  Make up your mind right now.”

“Definitely coming home, my love.”

“How can we contact you?” asked Lilly.

“We’ll check in with you, darling.  No worries.”

Lilly nodded, then she and Jimmy said goodbye to them and left.

“Kind of anticlimactic don’t you think?” she said.

“No, not at all.  I’m just happy it’s over and I don’t have to do anything.”

“I think Rex is more than just an ordinary dog.”

“I’m not surprised,” said Jimmy.

“I think he’s a guardian dog.”

“Not a guard dog?”

“No.  A guardian dog.”

He nodded again.  “Cool.”

“I wonder what my sister really is.”

“Ask your mother.”

“I’m going to,” said Lilly.  “Maybe there’s something she can tell me that will make me understand why Heather hates me so much.”

“Never hurts to ask.”

“Do you believe that?” she asked.  “That it never hurts to ask, I man?”

“I do not,” laughed Jimmy.  “Not even a little.”

“Want me to hook you up with a friend of mine?”

“Never,” he said.  “The people you know are a bit too weird and intense for me. But what about you and Tommy?”

She shrugged.  “Who knows.”

“He loves you.”

“I know, but is that enough?”

“It’s supposed to be.”

“Even if we’re kind of different?”

“I think so,” he said.  “Different how?”

“I’ll let you know when I figure it out.  You and I are still friends though, right?”

“Definitely.”

“Come over for dinner now and then, so we can hang out, okay?” she asked.

“I promise.”

“I better go in.”

“Call me later.”

She nodded and reached for the door.  “Thanks.”

“No problem.”

“Mom!  I’m home.”

Jimmy laughed as he heard Rex barking and the cats meowing.  He wondered what Lilly would find out about Heather and he hoped she’d let him know whatever it was.  He’d had a pretty exciting month, all things considered, but he hated drama and was looking forward to going back to a peaceful life again.”

“Excuse me,” said an old man.  “Are you the Champion?”

“Why?”

“I have a message for you,” he said, handing him a white envelope.

The man walked on and Jimmy opened the letter.  He read it, then he let it flutter to the ground.

Dearest James:

I stopped the war, at least for now.  But I’m being held prisoner
by a gigantic monster with two noses.  And he smells terrible.

Don’t tell Lilly about this letter.  I love her and I didn’t want her
to get hurt fighting.  I know she would have been stupid and
thrown herself into the battle the second it began.  So I did what
I thought I had to do to save her.  But I don’t like it here and I’m
afraid. 

I want to come home.

Help me, James.  Please, help me.

Your loving girlfriend,

Heather

 

the end

 

 

Starting over….24

“What do you mean, Heather’s considering moving to a new solar system?” asked Jimmy, in shock.

“I mean, just what I said,” mumbled Kit, eating a donut.  “The general seems to be crazy about her and she’s going to look at the tiny planet and moon he offered to give her, if she would stay there.  He said he’d call off the war, if she said yes.”

“I thought she was my girlfriend,” he whined.

“You never even went out with her,” said Lilly.  “And she’s monster, so this is a lateral move for her.”

“She said the best part was that she’d never have to see you again, Lilly, or the bloody cats you’re always talking to, or Tommy, or the dog, or anything you ever touched.”

“I see,” said Lilly.   “Well, glad I could help and avert a war, by simply existing.  I might just say that if she really does move there, we need to watch out for her coming back to kill all of us.  I don’t think we should let our guard down.”

“I really thought she was my girlfriend,” continued Jimmy.

“No one cares, Jimmy,” said Jerry. “Not really.”

“Okay,” he said.  “You’re right.  I never have been out with her and, truthfully, she does seem  a little…”

“Harsh?” asked Kit?

“Loud?” asked Jerry.

“Well, yes, but she has some good points too,” said Jimmy, in her defense.

“Name something,” said Lilly.

Jimmy thought for awhile and then said, “I don’t know her that well, yet.”

They all laughed.

“Darlings, I’m thinking that she’s one of them and was a changing at birth,” said Kit.

“I thought that only happened with fairies,” said Lilly.

“No, darling.  It happens with a lot of beings.”

“What will happen to her, if she stays there?” asked Lilly.

Kit shrugged.  “I think she’ll get anything she wants.  She may have to fight a few of them, but I don’t think that a will be a problem.”

“She must really despise me.  And to hate the cats, as well, is jut nasty.”

“Did I mention how much I love being an only child and the lack of drama in my life?” asked Jimmy.

YES!” they all yelled at him.

“I’M HERE AND I’M READY TO GO,” said Heather, stomping into Jerry’s office, breaking the new glass in the door.

“Are you sure you’ve thought this through?” asked Jimmy.

“YES.  GOING WITH MONSTERS IS BETTER THAN STAYING HERE WITH HER,” she said, glaring at Lilly.

“And what about me?” asked Jimmy.

“WHAT ABOUT YOU?”

“I thought we had something.”

“WHAT MADE YOU THINK THAT?”

“We were going to go out this weekend,” he said.

“SO?  I JUST WANTED TO MAKE HER FEEL BAD BUT YOUR JUST SECONDS AGAIN.  SHE HAD YOU FIRST, SO YOU WERE NEVER THAT IMPORTANT.”

“Wow!” said Jerry.  “You really are evil.”

“Told you,” said Lilly, sadly.  “Did you say goodbye to mom?”

“I LEFT HER A NOTE.”

Lilly nodded.  “You should have talked to her.  She’s going to feel bad and worry about you.”

“WHY?  SHE HAS YOU, DOESN’T SHE.  OBVIOUSLY I WASN’T ENOUGH, OR THEY NEVER WOULD HAVE HAD YOU TO BEGIN WITH.”

“You don’t know why they had me,” said Lilly.  “I could have been an accident.”

“NO, YOU WEREN’T.  I OVERHEAD THEM TALKING AND THEY WANTED YOU.  THE ONLY REASON THEY MUST HAVE WANTED YOU WAS BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T WANT ME.”

“Heather that’s not true.  Most families have more than one child,” said Lilly.  “Not because they don’t love any of them but because they do.”

“EASY FOR YOU TO SAY!” she snarfed.  “IF I LIKE THE THINGS HE SHOWS ME, I WON’T BE BACK.  EVER.”

“Okay,” said Lilly.  “I love you and I’ll miss you.”

“DON’T CARE.  NEVER HAVE.”

“You’re right,” said Jimmy, turning toward Lilly.  “Evil.”

“OH DO SHUT UP, ONLY CHILD.”

“I’ll be back as quickly as possible,” said Kit.  “Believe me.”

They all did.

 

tomorrow…final chapter

 

 

Starting over…23

“DRANZUT?”

“I know darling,” sighed Kit.  “But that’s their latest offer.  No one wants to fight, but you can’t just expect them to give you whatever you ask for.  I mean you did lose the war and now you’re going back on your contract.  That’s not really fair, and you know that.  How would you feel if things were reversed?”

“XQUOTI?  PBNTWYPPI?’

“Yes, darling.  You cannot have any countries or states.  Is there any other way we can resolve this problem?”

“TTRZYP.  KLEVNEERQ.”

“That’s not a bad idea.  But there would be rules to follow.”

“YYARKT.”

“Okay, darling.  I’ll ask and get back to you.”

“Well,” said Kit.  “They want to know if they could just vacation here, but look like themselves.  They would be willing to follow any rules that could be agreed upon, and they wouldn’t kill anyone while they were here, unless they felt threatened.”

“Will everyone be able to see them?” asked Lilly.  “And how do we know what, exactly, will make them feel threatened?”

“I imagine everyone will be able to see them.  If given enough time, or if well prepared, it might not be as bad as you think.  But no one can know that for sure.  And I don’t know what will make them feel threatened.  They’re quite jumpy.”

“Perhaps if we could do it slowly,” said Lilly.  “No one would mind.  If they could have a weekend pass, or…”

“Keep in mind, sweet thing, that they do eat humans, as well as other living things.  They might say they will control their hunger, but when it comes right down to it, one can never be sure.  Especially the lizards.  They are an unruly and dangerous, mad as a hatter bunch of killers.  I mean so are your kind, but the lizards are bigger and more vicious, if you know what I mean.”

“What do you think Jimmy?” asked Lilly.

“Oh, you finally remembered that I’m here?”

“Were you gone?” she asked, innocently.

“Just tell us what they said, Kit,” huffed Jerry.  “These kids are driving m crazy.  Please,” he begged. “What did they say?”

Kit sighed, dramatically.  ” I think you should prepare for war.”

“WHAT IS GOING ON?” screamed Heather, slamming the door to Jerry’s office against the wall so hard, the glass broke and fell to the floor in chunks.

“Your sister knows how to make an entrance,” said Jimmy, smiling at her.

“Hi, Heather,” said Lilly.”

“DON’T HI HEATHER ME, YOU EVIL SISTER.  WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH JAMES AND WHY ARE ALL OF YOU TOGETHER AND WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?” she shouted, looking at Kit and Jerry.

“What is that?” asked Kit, looking Heather up and down. “A weapon?”

“Kind of,” said Lilly.  “That…is my sister.”

“No kidding,” said Kit.  “You poor thing.”

“I know, right?” laughed Lilly.

“THAT IS NOT FUNNY.”

“It is and it would be to you too, if you had any sense of humor at all,” chuckled Lilly.

“Come and sit over here with me,” said Jimmy, patting the chair next to him.”

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON RIGHT NOW!” she bellowed, stamping her foot.

“So, Jimmy explained everything, including the fact that he was now going by Jimmy, rather than James.”

‘YOU MEAN SHE REALLY WAS DEAD?” she yelled, pointing at Lilly, “BUT CAME BACK TO LIFE?”

“I did,” said Lilly.  “Sorry to disappoint you.”

“JUST MY LUCK,”  she hissed, stamping her foot again.  “WHY DO THESE THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME?”

“You mean you’d rather your sister be dead?” asked Jerry, horrified.

“OH DON’T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY YOU MORON.  YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO GROW UP WITH HER.  LILLY THIS AND LILLY THAT AND LOOK WHAT LILLY DID.”

“Wow,” said Lilly.  “Sorry to have disturbed your life by breathing.”

“ME TOO,” she said.  “NO ONE EVEN ASKED ME IF IT WAS OKAY TO HAVE YOU.  THEY JUST BROUGHT YOU HOME AND SAID, HERE’S YOUR SISTER.  AS IF I EVER WANTED YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE!”

“This one is really evil,” said Kit.

“TAKE ME TO THE IDIOTS WHO WANT THIS STUPID WAR AND LET ME AT THEM.”

Kit looked at Jerry.  “Do you think she can survive the trip?”

“Who cares,” he said.  “Just get her out of here.”

Kit laughed.

Jimmy said, “She’ll be alright, won’t she?”

Lilly didn’t say anything except, “If you don’t make back, your new pink jacket will look great on me.”

And then, they were gone.

“Why did you say that to her?” asked Jimmy, frowning.  “It was mean.”

“No, it was the one thing that would make her do absolutely anything to get back here, just to make sure I won’t get her jacket.”

He laughed.  “Smart move.”

***

“THAT’S THE GUY?” asked Heather, staring at the huge monster in front of her.

“Lower your voice,” said Kit.  “And yes, that’s the guy.”

“I’M WHISPERING.  I CAN’T LOWER MY VOICE MORE THAN THIS OR NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO HEAR ME.”

“The entire universe can HEAR you, Heather.”

“WHATEVER,” she said, walking up the the giant alien.  “WHAT’S YOR DEAL, BIG, STRANGE LOOKING, WHATEVER YOU ARE?  DO YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST COME TO EARTH AND THREATEN US?  WE HAVE WEAPONS TOO, YOU KNOW, AND WE’LL KILL ANYTHING THAT GETS IN OUR WAY AND WE AREN’T AFRAID OF ANYONE, CUZ WE DON’T GIVE A RAT’S ASS WHO LIVES AND WHO DIES.  THAT’S THE AMERICAN WAY, SO CALL OFF WHATEVER YOUR PLANING TO DO, OR I’LL BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH MY BARE HANDS AND I FINALLY HAVE A BOYFRIEND SO PISS OFF YOU PURPLE THING WITH TWO NOSES.”

“This is Heather,” said Kit, politely.  “Heather, this is the leader of the alien army, the one with all the weapons that could turn your weapons into a gigantic blob of goo.”

“THBBRNU?”

“Yes, darling, she is for real.”

“QWYPPPTDDLU?”

“No.  You can’t have her.”

“HE WANT TO KEEP ME?” asked Heather, putting her hands on her hips.

“Yes, darling.  He wants to keep you.”

“WHY?”

“Apparently he likes your attitude.”

“WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”

“TTBHRISSLKER BIZZQWRUY.”

“He said you can be a general and have your own satellite planet and one or two moons.  He will visit often and he thinks he’s in love with you.”

Heather punched him in the chest and said, “I’LL TELL YOU WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME YOU GIGANTIC TWIT.”

He smiled.

“Normally, people are terrified of him. He tears people to shreds and eats them for snacks, you see.”

“TRY IT YOU HUGE WHATEVER YOU ARE!”

“QYVVETRB CTYILOPPHG BNNVZZAQE.”

“He said he’ll call off he war if you’ll stay.”

“I’D NEED EVERYTHING IN WRITING AND I WANT TO SEE THE THINGS HE’S GIVING ME BEFORE I MAKE UP MY MIND.  GOT THAT YOU…YOU…THING? AND WHO HAS TWO NOSES?  ONE’S NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU GUYS?”

“YTRRLI CIQQWEVB HVNZXZQ.”

“He agrees to your terms.”

“HE BLOODY WELL BETTER!” She said, shoving him hard.  “IF I DON’T LIKE WHAT HE’S OFFERING I’LL SHOW HIM HOW DISPLEASED I AM.”

“The being laughed and nodded.  HHQWR?  TTUIRL?”

“Day after tomorrow?  Of course, darling. I’ll bring her back then,” said Kit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting over…22

“Well, gather ’round children.  You too Jerry,” said Kit.  “I talked to the Draknotues.  They never realized they were being played by the universe.  They weren’t happy about it, which was good.  I told them that your side wants a truce, so you won’t have to fight and kill each other for the amusement of a third party.”

“And what did they say?” asked, Lilly.

“They are open to negotiations.”

“What kind of negotiations?” asked Jimmy.

“They want Utah, Nevada and parts of Texas.  They said Vegas will remain neutral territory, of course, but the rest of the state will belong to them.  They said your side can have the rest, as long as you keep D.C. away from them.  If the government gives them trouble they’ll eat them.  I told them they could do that now and if they did, we would give them part of California for their trouble.  They’re thinking about it”

“Wait,” said Lilly.  “They want to live here?”

“Some of them do, yes,” said Kit.  “Openly.”

“Why Utah?” asked Jimmy.

“They’ve always been fascinated by mormons,” said Jerry.  “I think they want to study them.”

“And you think we should let them?” asked Lilly.

“Well, seems a small price to pay, when you consider the alternative.  Full out war.  There will be a lot of causalities across the board.”

“I don’t get it,” said Jimmy.  “Once they’re here won’t they expand?  What if they eat the humans around them?”

“Always a possibility,” said Kit.  “None of them can be trusted, but humans kill each other all the time, so it’s just a matter of semantics.”

“Is there room for more negotiation?” asked Lilly.

“A little wiggle room, I suppose,” said Kit.  “Why?  What do you propose?”

“I don’t know,” said Lilly.  “What do you think we should do?”

“I guess you could offer them parts of New Mexico.  Some of them love dry, open spaces.  And there’s always Washington, since it rains a lot and the wet ones would like it there.  Maybe they’d give up Nevada for those places.  it’s good to keep them on the coasts, as much as possible.  Having them in the center of any country could be a problem.  I told them they couldn’t have France, but they wanted Germany and India.  They said we can keep Sweden and Norway but they are interested in Australia.  Africa is quite hot, and many of them melt, so that’s off the board.  I told them Australia can get boiling hot as well, so they were thinking the arctic area might be another place.”

“No.” said Jimmy, standing up.  “They can’t have any of it.”

“Excuse me,” said Kit.

“I said, NO.”

“But why?” she asked, brushing lint off of her blue robes.

“Because it’s ours.”

“That’s not really a reason, darling.”

“It kind of is,” said Lilly.

“Well, sweeties, if you don’t give them something, they won’t agree to a truce.  You can’t expect them to just stop playing, if they can’t take home a goodie bag.”

“They lost last time.  They agreed to a one time deal and they are not going to make demands because they’re sore losers,” said Jimmy.  “Go back and tell them no deal.  Tell them that if they don’t honor the contracts they signed last time, they have no honor and they will bring disgrace upon themselves,”

“Wow,” said Lilly, smiling at him.  “Way to go Jimmy.”

“Yes, yes, darling,” said Kit, “very nice speech, but they really don’t care about things like honor or disgrace.  If you don’t give them something, the war is on.”

“Then the war is on,” said Jimmy.

“Wait,” said Lilly. “Do they have females?”

“They do,” smiled Kit.  “What do they have to say about all of this?”

“The females of most species think males are insane. None of the females want war. With the exception of PNOWKYYTR’S, a species where the males give birth, anyone who carries and gives birth to offspring, don’t want them dead, or wounded.  It’s jut men, who aren’t physically involved, who don’t seem to understand that part.  They’ll kill anything.  Keep in mind that females are vicious fighters, but they mostly fight to save their offspring.  Men will fight just to fight.

“Do you think if all the females of all the species got together, we could stop this from happening?”

“I seriously doubt it, sweetie,” said Kit.  “Males like to kill things, and there doesn’t seem to be anyway to stop them, no matter where they’re from, including here.  The losers don’t actually care about a rematch, they just want war.”

“Well,” said Jimmy, “if it’s war they want, then that’s what we’ll give them, but they can’t live here and they can’t…”

“They already live here,” sighed Jerry.

“What?” said Jimmy and Lilly, at the same time.

“You’d be surprised how many different species live or vacation here.”

“He’s right,” said Kit.  “They’ve been here since the beginning.  They just don’t have any say in how things are done, because their side lost the war.  They want to come out of the universal closet and be seen.  They want you to know they’re living here, by showing their true selves.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” asked Jimmy.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Kit.

“I can’t believe they actually live here,” sighed Lilly.

“Oh, my tiny darlings,” laughed Kit.  “If you only knew the things that lurk and live around you.”

“That’s enough, Kit,” said Jerry. “No need to…”

“Scare the children?” she laughed.

“Yes,” he said.  “Besides, it’s bad business.”

“You’re right,” she said, turning toward Jimmy.  “So war, then?”

“Can we win?”

She smiled at him.  “Let’s just say that it will be a bloody mess, like it was last time, but I think enough fighters will return to help you, and there are so many more of you humans nowadays, and you’re mean as….”

“I get it,” said Jimmy.  “How about you Jerry?  Do you think we can win?”

“No idea,” he said, honestly.  “Many of them have advanced weapons, they all know more than you do and some of them are just plain killers.  The nice species won’t leave their planets, or galaxies.  They don’t believe in fighting.  Then there are those who will pretend that wha’t happening isn’t happening, so they’re useless, and then there will be those who think that by thinking good thoughts and worshiping their gods, that will make a difference, while people and others are dying to save the world for those who are actually doing nothing at all.”

“It’s always that way,” sighed Lilly.

“Yes, darling,” said Kit. “It is always that way.”

“There has to be a way to stop this from happening,” said Jimmy, pacing back and forth.

“Well, you don’t have much time,” said Kit.  “The troops are preparing, so let me know what you decide asap.  Meanwhile, since I’m already here, I’m going to get my nails done.  Would you like to join me Lilly?  My treat.”

“No. But thank you,” she answered, smiling.

“Okay, darlings.  See you in a bit.”  And she was gone.

“What are we going to do?” asked Jimmy.

Lilly shrugged.  “No idea.”

 

 

 

 

Starting over…21

“Look darling, it only makes sense,” said Kit.  “Do you want to constantly be manipulated by a universe that cares nothing for you?  A universe that treats you like a dog’s chew toy?  You do know what a dog is, don’t you, darling?  I’m talking about a universe that gives you no choice in your own future?  Or, do you want to be in control of your own life and make your own choices?  To me, the decision is clear.  Stand up and make your own choices rather than be dragged around by your nose, I mean noses, by a stupid universe that cares not whether you live or die.”

“AZTIOPPKLWQ.”

“Well, yes, of course, darling.  I am talking to the other side, as well.  I’m a representative for both sides. I am, after all, The Mediator.  They have already decided that they don’t want to be jerked around by unseen forces.  Made to play in another’s nursery.  I told them you were incredibly intelligent and superior in every way, and that you would see the brilliance in the decision not to fight.”

” OYEEWQNBT  FTYUI?”

“That might be a problem, but I’ll bring it to the table.”

“YYCNMZOITR?”

“I understand completely, darling, and may I say you’re looking even more beautiful than the last time I saw you.”

“QWTYUIRMNC.”

“Thank you.  You flatter me.”

“PTYYUREIC?”

“I’ll tell them your demands and get back to you.  Is that it for now?”

“TTURNVC.”

“Then I’ll see you soon, darling,” said Kit.  “Love to the little ones.”

“BHRTY.”

“I will, darling.  You can count on me.”

“So are you in love with the Snake guy?” asked James.

“Well, I love him, sure, and his name is Tommy.”

“That’s not what he made me call him.”

“I fell in love with him when I was six and he was eight.  He used to give me rides on his bike and take me places I wasn’t supposed to go.  He was exciting and I always had fun with him and felt safe.”

“And you don’t feel safe with me?”

“I feel as if I can keep you safe,” she said.  “Because I know how to fight and you don’t, but you shouldn’t feel bad about that.”

“Of course I shouldn’t,” he sighed, miserably.

“Why do you think it should always be the other way around?” she asked.

“Because boys are always supposed to protect girls.  Boys are bigger and stronger and they have to fight EACH OTHER, because the only reason girls are never safe is because boys are the ones who hunt them.”

“You’re right about that.  Boys are why we’re always in danger.  Imagine if you weren’t always trying to hurt us.  Females would be free and no long afraid.  I can’t even pretend to know how that might feel for all of us.  You guys make the world an ugly place and we can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys, so you’re all suspect.”

“I know,” he said.

“But you can’t fight.  Or, you won’t.  Either way, you can’t protect anyone from the other boys.  Heather won’t care.  Besides, all she has to do is unleash her Kraken and scream and bitch at them and they’ll all run away.”

“I’m pathetic and that’s not funny, even if Heather could do that.”

“You know her.  Do you seriously doubt it for even a second?”

He smiled and shook his head.  “Probably not.”

“We still don’t know what you can do, you know.  Besides, not all boys like to fight.  A lot of them probably don’t.  Granted, they may have been beaten up a lot, because of that, but they don’t have it in them to fight and that’s what a person has to have.  You have to BE a fighter, if you’re going to be able to really do it.  Tommy was born that way.  He has that inside him.  He’s the sweetest person ever,  but he knows what needs to be done and he can do it.  He’s not for everyone, you know.”

“Do you actually know how to make anyone feel better?”

“Maybe not.  I just know that you’re perfect the way you are and anyone would be lucky to have you.  I am sorry that you love my horrible sister, because she’ll make your life a living hell, but there’s always a chance that your peaceful personality will calm her down.”

“Still not helping.  You make me sound like a mouse, or a security blanket.”

Lilly laughed.  “You’re the champion, James.  And maybe there won’t be a war after all.  I think Kit is pretty smart and she knows a lot of beings.”

“Maybe.”

“Why do you go by James and not Jimmy?”

“Beats me.”

“James is so formal and stuffy.  If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to call you Jimmy.”

“I don’t mind,” he said.  “In fact, it makes me feel like a different person.  As if a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” he said, standing up.  “Really.  Jimmy was the reporter in the old Superman comics.  I like it.  Thank you.”

“Names are important.  They make a huge difference.”

“You’re right,” he said.

“You don’t look like terrified bank teller facing a man wearing a ski mask and pointing a gun at him, any longer.”

That’s what I looked like to you?”

“Yes, didn’t you know that?”

“Of course, I didn’t know that!” he said, horrified.

“Well you don’t look like that anymore,” said Lilly.  “You look more relaxed, softer, and more open.  You even look braver.”

“I suppose that’s a good thing,” he groaned.

“Yes, it’s very good,” she said.

Snowball peeked out of her pocket and said, “He’s right.  You don’t know how to make anyone feel better.”

“I make you feel better, don’t I?”  asked Lilly.

“Yes, you make all the animals feel better, you’re just not good with people.”

“I see,” said Lilly.

“I doubt that.”

“Really?”

“I’m afraid so,” said the hamster.

“I’ll try harder.”

“You can try,” said Snowball.  “But I’m not sure you’ll be able to do it.”

“Snowball said that I don’t know how to make people feel better.”

“Smart hamster,” said Jimmy, agreeably.

“I’m sorry.  I guess I’m not really good at that.”

“No kidding,” said Jimmy.

“You look like a Jimmy.  Does that help?”

“A little.”

The hamster looked at her.  “Is that the best you can do?  Tell him he’s brave and strong and he can do anything.”

“That would be a lie,” said Lilly.

“Then tell him I said it.”

She told him what Snowball said and he thanked her and petted her ears.  “That’s how you do it,” said the hamster.

“That doesn’t seem right.”

“Well it is.”

“Okay.  Thank you.”

“What’s she saying?” he asked.

“Nothing much, but I want you to know that I believe in you and I know that when the time comes, you’ll be able to do exactly what needs to be done.  You are the champion for a reason and I don’t doubt for a single second, that you wont save all of us.”

“That was a little over the top, but a lot better,” said Snowball.

He put his arms around her and said, “Thank Snowball for me, since I’m sure he’s the one who told you to say that..”

“Hey, I said that, not the hamster.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

He hugged her again and said, “Thank you Lilly.”

“You’re welcome, Jimmy.  “Now let’s talk about how you’re going to save the world, shall we?”

 

 

 

Starting over…20

“Look,” said Jerry.  “I don’t know what to tell you.  I don’t know if we’ll have any warning, or if it will be a surprise attack.  I’m guessing it will be the latter.  Suddenly the sky will be filled with waring ships and the battle will have begun.”

“Then how am I supposed to gather the troops?” asked James.

“It just happens.  I don’t know what triggers it, but you’ll light up and those on our side will appear.”

“So basically, the universe is using me to do it’s bidding and I have no say in it at all.”

“The universe is USING all of us to do its bidding, James.  Each and everyone of us.  We’re just pawns in whatever game it’s playing.”

“That sucks,” said Lilly.  “Basically we’re toys.”

“And not well loved toys at that,” agreed Jerry.  “You’re disposable, that’s why you die.  You become boring and the universe keeps hoping the next batch will be more fun.”

“Can we attack the universe?” she asked.

“I don’t see how,” sighed Jerry.  “Think about it, Lilly.  No one even knows what the universe IS.”

“That’s not fair,” she said.

Nothing is fair,” said Jerry.  “None of us have any choices, or control, over anything.  That’s simply an illusion, my girl.  Nothing is real.”

“So what, exactly, are we fighting FOR?” she asked.

“Ah,” said Jerry, “Indeed.  What ARE we fighting for?”

“Just so the universe can have fun playing with us?”

“Perhaps,” sighed Jerry.  “I wouldn’t doubt it.”

“What if we refuse to play its game?”

“How would we do that?  Let the others just kill everyone?”

“What if we white flag them?  What if we want to parlay and get them agree to stop the fighting?  What if we show the other side how we are all being used to kill each other for the fun of something we can’t even see?”

“Lilly,” said James.  “That’s a great idea.”

“Why should we fight and die because someone, or some THING, is bored?”

“You make a good point,” said Jerry.  “I just don’t know if the others will agree to a meeting.”

“It can’t hurt to try.”

“No,” said Jerry.  “I suppose it can’t.”

“What are you babbling about now,” said Kit, who simply appeared sitting on his desk.

They told her.

“Well, this is a fine mess,” she said.

“Tell us something we don’t know,” said James.

“And you,” she said, laser gazing at Jerry.  “How long do you plan on stay here, among the humans.”

“Aw, come on, Kit.  I was just having some fun.”

“That’s what he always has to say when he’s shirking his responsibilities,” she said, looking at Lilly and James.

“I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

“I know that,” she said.

Jerry grimaced.

“Now, about the war,” she said.  “I’ll talk to a few people and see what I can do to set up a meeting.  I doubt they’ll go for it, bloodthirsty things that they are, but I guess it won’t hurt to try.”

“Really?” said James.  “That would be great.  Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” she smirked.  “And I can see that you and Lilly are no longer an item.  What happened?”

“They told her.”

“Seriously?” said Kit, laughing  “Heather?”

James turned beet red and nodded.

“I can see why you like it here, Jerry.  They are endlessly amusing. And you,” she said, looking a Lilly.  “That boy Tommy is trouble.”

“I know.”

Kit smiled.  “Go for it,” she said.  “Jerry was like that once, before he turned into what you see before you now.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Jerry, frowning.

“You’re not what you used to be, that’s all.  All the bad boy has run away and now your just…this.”

“That’s not fair!” said Jerry, standing up.

“Let’s not fight in front of the children, dear,” sighed Kit.

“About the war,” said James.  “Could we get back to that?”

“Of course,” said Kit.  “I’ll see what I can do.  And as for you,” she said, looking at Jerry.  “If you don’t return soon, I won’t be there when you get back.”

“Come on, Kit,” he said.  “I’m just…”

“Don’t care,” she said, turning her attention back to Lilly and James.  “I’ll let you know what I find out.”

“Thank you,” they said.

And she was gone.

“I think you’re in trouble, Jerry,” said James.

Jerry ran his hand over his face.  “Won’t be the first time.”

“It might be the last,” said Lilly.  “I get the feeling that she has someone else in her sights.”

“I better go back,” he said.  “The school will have to get someone else to finish the semester.”

“The kids won’t like that,” said Lilly, smiling.  “No more practicing on each other.”

“True,” said Jerry.  “But they’ll just have to deal with it.”

Once outside James looked at Lilly and said, “Love seems to be messy no matter where it’s happening.”

Lilly nodded.  “Tell me about it.”

“I hope she finds a way to set up a meting.”

“So do I.”

“I wonder what will happen if we all refuse to fight?” said James.

“I don’t know but I want to be there to find out,” she said smiling.  “I think it would be fantastic to stick it to the universe.”

“So do I,” he laughed.  “Let’s see if the toys can trip up the universe.”

“That’s the attitude a champion has, James.  It’s kind of scary to think that the universe might have a temper tantrum.”

“Maybe.”

“No.  It is,” she said, throwing her arm over his shoulder.  “Trust me.”

“Uh, no.  I’m never trusting you again,” he snickered.  “Not after last time.”

“I can understand that,” she said.  “Let’s get something to eat.”

“Okay.”

“We can talk about your thing for Heather.”

“No.  No we can’t.”

“Aw, come on, James.  What is it about her you love?”

“I don’t know,” he sighed.  “It’s too stupid to even talk about. Your sister is mean and horrible.”

“Is that what you like about her?”

“I just think there’s more to her than that?”

“Like what?”

“No idea.”

“Love is strange, don’t you think?”

“More like insane,” said James, smiling at her.  “Even I know that my feelings for her are crazy and that I’m walking into a den of hungry bears who are just waking up from hibernation.”

“And?”

“We’re going out next weekend, if we’re still alive.”

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”

“It’s not that funny,” he said, laughing.

“Then you’re not paying attention,” cried Lilly.

“Just keep walking.”

 

 

Starting over…19

“What do you want, James?” asked Lilly, standing in the doorway.  “I thought you hated me and never wanted to see me again.”

He looked down.  “I’m sorry.”

“For?”

“Being an idiot.  I don’t hate you and I know you were doing what you thought was right.”

“Did Jerry tell you to say that?”

“No.  Not really.”

“Come in.”

“Thanks.”

“What do you want?” she asked, again.

“I want things to be the way they were.”

“I’ve moved on.”

“What does that mean?”

“Things can’t be the way they were, but have anymore people offered to fight with you?”

“What do you mean you’ve moved on?  It’s been like five hours.  And yes, everywhere I go people tell me they are here to fight.”

“I’m not in love with you.  I doubt that I ever was. I think it was just the whole being dead together thing that I was feeling and do you have any idea when the fighting will begin?”

“You don’t love me? Why?  Because I don’t know how to fight, or is it because of that Snake person.  I saw the way he looked at you, you know.  He’s crazy about you and I think the fighting will begin soon because the way things are going politically, and because of the unrest in the streets.  That’s the beginning of everything.”

“I’ve known him all my life and yes, we love each other, but it has nothing to do with whether you can fight or not.  I agree, the battle has begun.  What are you going to do about it?”

“So, we’re just working together now?  That’s it?  I’m just supposed to stop caring about you?  I have no idea what I’m supposed to do about ANYTHING in my life right now.”

“Do you want to hold Snowball?”

“NO, I don’t want to hold a hamster, thank you very much.”

“He’s really soft and sweet.”

“Lilly, you are driving me insane.”

“We should talk to Jerry.”

“Why?  He never really has anything useful to say.”

“He told you how to heal yourself.”

“Besides that.”

“Right,” she said.  “Well, here’s what I think.  I think that when the aliens, or whatever they are, start to fight, it will be above the planet, at least at first.  Remember the woman who said the ships were beautiful?  Well, she didn’t mean boats.  So, unless they’re cloaked, like on Start Trek, we should see them.  I think when that happens your light will be so bright that it will call to those on our side, letting them know that it’s time to fight.  I honestly don’t know what you will do after that, but you are the champion, so I suppose whatever will happen, will happen.”

“This whole thing is stupid.”

“I think so too, but it’s what we have.”

“I should have eaten the carrot again.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said.  “How would that help?”

“How am I going to help now?  All I am is a human lightbulb?”

She started laughing.  “A lightbulb.  That’s funny,” she snorted.  “I think you’ll be more like a beacon, or a lighthouse.”

“Great,” he sighed.

“Hi, James”

“Hello, Heather.”

“Have you found out how crazy my sister is yet?”

“She’s not crazy, Heather.  Why are you so angry with her all the time?”

“I…”

“She loves you and you’re always mean to her.”

“I…”

“What did she ever do to you except be born and that wasn’t her fault.  Go hate your mother and father for that.”

“Screw you James,” said Heather, stamping her foot.

“Maybe, if you turn into a nice person, we can talk about that.”

Heather gasped and stormed from the room.

Lilly just stared at him.  “That,” she said, “was brilliant.”

“I’m not a total idiot,” he said.  “She needs to get over herself.”

“James,” said Lilly.  “I think you like my sister.”

“You have to be kidding,” he said, gagging a little.  “She’s horrible.”

“But?”

“There is something about her,” he admitted, looking at his feet.

They both started laughing.

“Fine,” he said, give me the hamster.”

Snowball sat on his palm and stared at him.  “He’s very conflicted,” he said.

“The hamster said your conflicted.”

“The hamster is right,” said James.

“He doesn’t have to worry,” said Snowball.  “The hero doesn’t have to make plans, the hero simply reacts to circumstances.  All he has to do is be there.”

“Really?” said James.  “That’s what Snowball said?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.  I feel better.”  James kissed the hamster and handed him back to Lilly. “Then I guess I’ll do whatever it is that I’m supposed to do at the right time.”

“I guess you will,” agreed Lilly.  “Do you want me to get Heather for you?”

“Oh, great goats, no.  One battle at a time.”

“Goats?”

“I read a book when I was a kid.  It had goats in it, so I started saying that.  I guess it just popped out,” he said smiling.  “So, are we good?”

“We are,” she said.  “I’ll be there with you no matter what.”

“Thanks and about Heather.”

“Oh, please.  Take her will you.  I’d be so happy if you did.”

“You sure?”

“Absolutely.  You have my blessing.”

He smiled.  “She’s so terrible.”

“I know.”

“Do you think I’m insane?”

“Without a doubt,” said Lilly.  “But love doesn’t care about that.”

“Do you think the people will know there’s a battle going on?”

“I think they know one is happening right now.  They can see it and they’re already dying.”

“I mean will they be able to see the outsiders, or aliens?”

“I don’t know.  I doubt it,” said Lilly.

“I don’t think so either.  I mean how would that go down?”

“Look, all we can do is guess.  We can ask Jerry.  He’s our best source of information,” she said.

“He’s currently our only source.”

“Let’s go,” she said, getting to her feet.  “You can say good by to my sister, if you like.  I’ll meet you out in front.”

“Funny,” he said, frowning at her.  “But, okay.”

Lilly tried to control her giggles and failed miserable.

“Oh, be quiet,” he snickered. “Worse things could happen and they probably will.”

“Worse things than Heather?” she chuckled.  “I seriously doubt that.”

“I’ll meet you out in front”

 

Starting over…18

Lilly was sitting on her bed, pillows against the headboard, Snowflake on her lap, Rex, Cleo and Bitsy toward the bottom of the bed.

“No, you can’t play with the hamster,” she said.  He’s not a toy, he’s a living breathing person.”

“He’s not a person,” said Cleo.  “Not even close.”

“She’s right, you know,” agreed Bitsy.  “A hamster is not a person.”

“I saw Tommy yesterday,” said Lilly.

“Ooooh,” said Cleo, arching her back.  “He was such a pretty one.  I really liked him.  I let him pick me up and…”

“Get over yourself, Cleo,” hissed Bitsy.  “We know you loved him.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” said Cleo.  “He liked me better than he liked you, so you’re still mad about that and besides, you liked the mailperson.”

“I don’t know why she’s like this,” sighed Bitsy.  “Normally, she’s a reasonable cat. I never liked the mailperson and I’m not the jealous type.”

“She had a kitten crush on Tommy and never outgrew it, right, Cleo,” said Lilly.

“No.  Yes.  Maybe a little, but how could I not?  He’s was so adorable.  Those dark eyes, that black hair, those bulging muscles that made me feel that he’d never drop me,” she sighed.  “How does he look now?”

“Still gorgeous, but you can see him yourself, since he’s about to climb through the window.”

“Hey,” he said. “We need to talk.”

“You could have used the front door, you know.” said Lilly.  Cleo was kneading the blanket. hoping to be noticed.

“Is that my fluffy little kitten,” he said, grinning at the cat, who was rolling onto her back.  “Come here,” he said, and she launched herself into his arms, purring loudly.

“Am I the only one who is disgusted by this horrible show of…of…I don’t know what it is, but it’s disgusting,” said Bitsy.

“You’re grossing out Bitsy,” laughed Lilly.

“Aw Bits, don’t be mad at me, you know I love you too,” he crooned, picking her up with his other hand then kissing her neck.

He was holding two purring cats and Rex was sitting in front of him wagging his tail.  He put the cats down and petted the dog.

“The hamster’s good,” chuckled Lilly.

“Why won’t you marry me, Lilly.  You don’t want to be with that weakling, do you?”

“You know that you’re just a normal guy, don’t you.  I know who you are, remember?  Snake?  Really?  You’ll always be Tommy to me.”

“Tommy doesn’t scare anyone Lil, but Snake does.”

“You don’t have to scare people.  You didn’t have to join a gang.”

“I think I did,” he said, shoving her over and laying down next to her.

“That’s silly.”

“It’s not,” he said, watching the cats, settling themselves on his body. “It just seemed right, somehow.”

“Okay, but it’s not a life I would want for myself.”

“I know that,” he sighed.  “But I won’t stop asking.”

“You know I love you.”

“I know,” he said.  “And I love you.”

“We just decided to walk different paths,” she said.

“Don’t you think the paths choose us?” he asked, looking at her.

‘Maybe.  I don’t know.”

“I mean, what if the paths in front of us were different from the very beginning?  What if we never even saw the same paths?”

“That’s a good point.”

“I’ve been think about you a lot, since you brought that James kid to us.  He’s not for you, you know that don’t you?”

“I do.  It was our being dead together that made me think there was more to us than there was.”

“That makes sense.  Could have happened to any two dead people.”

Heather slammed the bedroom door open.  “I thought I heard your voice Tommy.  What are you doing here?”

“I’m talking to Lilly, what does it look like I’m doing.”

“I hate you Lilly.  You get all the good stuff,” she said, and slammed the door closed.

“NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN HEATHER,” he yelled, trying not to laugh.  “Doesn’t she know how awful she is?  I’d be surprised if anyone ever liked her.”

“She not that bad,” said Lilly, petting the hamster’s ears.

“I think she is.”

“Why are you here, Tommy?”

“Wanted to see if you changed your mind and wanted to marry me, and I wanted to ask you more about the upcoming battle.  And before you say no to the first thing, what if I leave the gang and come back?”

“You love your gang.  I’d never ask you to do that.”

“I’m offering.  You never asked me to do anything.”

“The guys would be devastated.”

“I have someone picked out who could take my place.”

“I can’t believe you’d do that for me.”

“I’d do anything for you.  Seeing you again, just reminded me of that.  Besides, you can fight as well as any of them.  You took a beating, time after time, but you always came back and the guys respect you for that.”

“I’m really not old enough to get married right now.  People used to get married right out of high school but they don’t do that anymore.  They want to do other things first, before they settle down.  You’re two years older than I am, but I promise that if I decide to get married soon, you’re the love of my life.  So give me time to think about things, okay?”

“Okay,” he said, kissing her hand.  “What about the battle?”

“I told you everything I know.  James really is the champion.  I don’t know why, or how he’s going to do anything, but he’s the one.”

“Whatever he’s going to do, it won’t be fighting.”

“I know, right?” she laughed.  “I don’t know why he’s so afraid of everything, but he is, and he really hates me for leaving him with you.”

“I know that,” he laughed.  “He kept his eyes closed almost the entire time.”

“Oh, tell me you’re kidding.”

“I’m not.”

Lilly, scooted down on the bed and stared at the ceiling.  “Not everyone is cut out for the arena, Tommy.”

“No.  Not everyone is, Lilly.”

The hamster, ran down Lilly’s arm and up Tommy’s body, where he burrowed into his shirt pocket.

“I think Snowflake likes you.”

“Don’t tell the guys, okay?”

“Promise,” she laughed, as their fingers entwined.

 

 

 

 

Starting over…17

“Well, we did what we could,” said Snake, looking down at James.

“Thanks,” said Lilly.

“He’s not really fight material, you know.”

“I know.”

She bent down and reached toward James, but he slapped her hand away and said, “Don’t touch me.  Ever.  I hate you.”

“You’ll get over it,” she sighed.

“You should come around more often,” said Snake, putting his arm around her.  “You bring nice toys for us to play with.”

Lilly looked at James.  “Can he fight now?”

“No, but he’s getting better at defense.”

She nodded.  “I guess that’s not a bad thing.”

“I despise you,” said James, glaring at Lilly.  “As soon as I heal, I’m going to…”

“You’re going to what, James?” she asked, squatting down next to him.  “Thank me for trying to save your life?”

“We didn’t hurt him,” said Snake.

“I know.”

“He won’t touch a blade, a gun, or pretty much anything.  I don’t know how he got the way he is but he’s a dead man walking, if you ask me.”

“He’s the champion.”

“Of what?” asked Snake.

“I’m not sure yet, but he’s supposed to be the hero.”

“Good luck with that,” said Snake.  “I gotta go, Lil.”

“I’ll let you know when the fight is on.”

He nodded and kissed her.

“Come on James, time to go home.”

“I hate you.”

“You said that already, but let’s go.  You don’t want to be laying around here much longer, it’s too dark outside.”

“I never wanted to be around here in the first place, you…you…awful person.”

“I know.  But you’ll thank me later.”

“I will NEVER thank you and I will NEVER stop hating you.”

“Small price to pay for saving you,” she said, helping him to his feet.  “We have a hamster named Snowball.  Can you believe someone just put the poor thing in their yard when they moved?”

“I hate you.”

“I know.”

“Ouch, ow, ow, ow, ow,” he said.

“Did you block with your arms, or with your ribs?” she asked, not looking at him.

“I really hate you.”

“They did it to me too, you know.”

“What?”

“How do you think I learned how to fight?  I went back every time I finished healing, until that was no longer an issue and they were the ones on the ground.  So don’t think I don’t know what you’re going through.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Really?  I’m a girl.  Do you KNOW what happens to girls in this world?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry.”

“You should be,” she said.

“Excuse me,” said an older woman, coming toward them.  “When is the fighting going to begin?”

“We don’t know,” said Lilly.  “We’re hoping it won’t begin at all.”

The woman tittered.  “Oh, sweet thing, it’s far to late for that.  It’s just a matter of when.  I fought last time and it was amazing.  Once you’ve had that much energy flowing through you, when it’s over, it’s as if all the lights go out.  It’s a huge rush.  All those ships in the air, the different species, costumes, weapons, ideologies.  It’s horrible, but it does have it’s moments, I assure you.”

“We just want peace,” said James. “No fighting, just peace.”

“Well, you’ll never find it here,” laughed the woman.  “I’ll fight with you.  Beware of the lizards, they’re really the worst of the lot.  They’re pretty much killing machines, so don’t give them a second thought before you hit them.  I just wanted you to know that I’ll be there with you.  You’re the champion, so it’s nice to meet you but you better learn to heal a lot faster than you are, if you hope to make it out alive.”

“Learn to heal faster?” said James.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Apparently, you have healing abilities that you aren’t tapping into,” said Lilly.

“I’d like to learn how to do that as quickly as possible,” he wheezed.

“Good idea,” she said.  “Let’s go and see Jerry.”

“Of course you can heal yourselves,”  said Jerry.  “Did you learn NOTHING, when you were dead?”

“No, Jerry! I didn’t learn ANYTHING when I was dead and whose fault is THAT?” shouted James, holding his ribs.

“Oh, you’re right, you’re right.  That might be my fault.”

“Might be?” said James.  “No MIGHT BE about it.  It IS your fault.”

“Well, fix him now and show us how to do it,” said Lilly.

“This is the quickest way,” said Jerry.  “Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath and visualize a door.  Open the door and go inside.  There’s an anatomy chart on the wall.  Go to the chart and touch the places that are damaged on your body.  If you want to, you can run your hand down the entire chart and get rid of all aches and pains.  It will reknit bones, tears, cuts and bruises.  It will help with truly horrific wounds, until you can get to a hospital, or to a witch, whichever is closest.”

“A witch?” asked James.

“Stay in the room until you can feel the repairs begin.  If one of them is stubborn, press the chart again.  Nap, listen to music, read, or just sit there.  You’ll know when it’s safe to leave.  Always thank the chart and wipe it off with the cloth that’s on the table underneath it.  Then leave and close the door behind you.”

“Go ahead, James,” said Lilly.  “Try it.”

Jame closed his eyes and tried to get comfortable.  Then he drifted away.

“What happened to him?” asked Jerry.

Lilly explained the situation.  She also told him about the people they were meeting who wanted to fight again.

Jerry smiled.  “So James is the true champion.  He has to be, if the old gang’s getting back together.”

“What does that actually mean?” asked Lilly.  “He doesn’t want to be a champion, so won’t that screw things up a bit?”

“No.  The champion doesn’t have a say in it. He, or she, is chosen by the universe.  Chosen because the universe sees something inside the person that can keep evil at bay.”

“That makes sense,” said Lilly, watching the bruises on James start to disappear.

“It does?” snickered Jerry. “That makes sense to you?”

“Of course.”

“Don’t you wonder how the universe can choose anything at all?”

“Not really,” she said.

“Why not?  How can that not seem weird?”

“It just doesn’t seem weird.”

“Okay, then,” he laughed.  “Looks like James is waking up.”

“Hey, James,” she said, poking him.  “How do you feel?”

“Better, but I still hate you.”

Jerry laughed.  “I think that will take longer to heal,” he said, looking at Lilly.

“You’re all better, so get up,” she said.

“No. I’m never going anywhere with you again.  EVER!”

“Okay, good luck, then,” she said, waving goodbye to Jerry, as she headed toward the door.

“Where are you going?” asked James.

“Away from you.  That will make both of us happy,” she said.

“Oh, now you’ve gone and done it,” said Jerry, tut tutting him.  “Now, you’ll have to win her back.”

“No way.  Not after what she did to me.”

“She tried to help you.”

“By having me beaten up?”

“No, by helping you stand up.”

 

 

Starting over…16

“He rode with Hell’s Angels and the Chicago Outlaws?”

“I don’t see why he’d make that up,” said Lilly.  “Besides the look on his face was priceless.  He loved that time period.”

“I guess.”

“Maybe it will be like it is in the movies and when you’re attacked, you’ll automatically know how to fight.”

“Don’t hold your breath,” he said, miserably.

“No one can expect you to fight aliens alone.”

“Lilly, I don’t know how to even start thinking about this.”

“It’s okay, we’ll do it together.”

“Did you just see that?” he asked, turning around. “That thing that just floated by?”

“Where?”

“It’s gone now,” he said looking around.

“Maybe you can see things, that I can’t.  It’s probably another one of your gifts.”

“Great,” he said, shaking his head. “You can talk to your cats and I can see weird things, like that guy in the tree over there.”

“What guy?”

“The one waving at us?” he said, waving back.

“Why are you waving at him?”

“He looks friendly and he waved first.”

“Maybe you should ignore the beings you see.”

“How?”

“I don’t know, just pretend that you don’t see them.”

“He’s coming over here and he’s wearing yellow pants.  Who wears yellow pants?”

“What do you mean, he’s coming over here?” asked Lilly, looking around.  “Where is he?”

“I’m right here,” said the person in the yellow pants.  “We can all see you, you know.  Your light is really bright.”

“Great,” said James. “He said everyone can see me because my light is bright.”

“What light?” asked Lilly, looking at him.  “And, more importantly, who is everyone?”

“I’m here to fight on your side, if the war starts up again.  You can call me iug.”

“I don’t think I can, actually.  I can’t pronounce it,” said James.

“Then call me…Luke.”

“Okay, Luke, and thanks.”

“Do you want me to make it so that she can see and hear me?”

“I’ll ask her,” said James.

He explained the situation to Lilly who said, “Duh.  Of course I want to see and hear him.”

Luke touched her arm and smiled.  “Hi,” he said.

“Hello and who are you?” she asked.

“I’m Luke,” he said.  “I fought in the last game and word is that the losers want a rematch.  A lot of us are coming back to fight, in case they don’t take no for an answer.”

“Really?” asked James.  “You’re going to fight?”

“Well, I don’t think you could fight them by yourself and if they took over, things would be even more unpleasant on earth than they are now and before you say anything, yes, that is actually possible.”

“Why is this happening and what does it have to do with James?” asked Lilly.

“I guess he’s the chosen champion.  Every battle needs one.”

“Me?  A champion?  I don’t think so,” said James.  “You need to choose someone else.”

“It doesn’t work that way.  There’s no one else to choose.  You’re the guy.”

“Why?” asked Lilly.  “He doesn’t even know how to fight.”

“Maybe he’s pure of heart, maybe somewhere in his past he had an ancestor who was a god.  I just know that he’s the guy.  He’s a beacon, his light is bright and it calls to all those who fought before.”

“But a motorcycle gang?”

“Ah,” laughed Luke.  “I see you’ve been talking with Jerry.  He loves biker gangs.  He actually rode with Hell’s Angels and the Chicago Outlaws, for awhile, so he would see things that way.  He’s not really wrong, you know.  But others will be attracted to your light, James.  You won’t have to fight alone, so don’t worry.  I’ll be back if, and when, you need me.  But while I’m here, do you know where I can get good Mexican food?”

James told him where he should go to eat and Luke thanked him and disappeared.

“Now I’m hungry,” said Lilly.”

“Why is everything so violent?”

“Well,” said Lilly, thoughtfully,  “let’s assume that the Big Bang really took place.  A lot of scientists don’t think it did, but let’s go with it for the moment.  If it happened, then we were born of violence.  A violence so enormous and powerful, that it made at least one universe, that we know of, and everything in it.  It’s still exploding, making new stars, while black holes are eating everything that touches their even horizons.  Violence is EVERYWHERE and in EVERY THING.  We don’t even know what dark matter is.  What if that’s violent as well.  It’s sure secretive enough.  I mean, think about this whole place.  Things implode and explode, die, are born, attack each other and galaxies consume other galaxies.  Violence is all we really know.  It’s all we’ve ever known.”

“Maybe I should have stayed dead,” he said.

“What about me?  If you stayed dead, we wouldn’t be together.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No. I don’t.”

“I have no idea how long I was dead.  Time doesn’t exist there, not the way it does here.  When I came back, no time had passed.  My parents didn’t even know I had been gone.”

“I didn’t realize that,” said Lilly.

“We were sitting down to the dinner where I died while eating the carrot.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, smiling.  “I’m not trying to make light of how you died, but a carrot?”

“Just laugh and get it over with.”

So she did.  Then she wiped the tears from her eyes and said, “A carrot,” and then she was laughing again, and James was laughing with her.

“Okay,” she said, sniffing.  “Down to business.  So how would you fight a psychotic biker gang?” she asked.  “And please, don’t say that you would just run away.”

“But that’s exactly what I WOULD do,” he said.

“But what if you wouldn’t, or couldn’t.  What would you do then?”

“Die,” he said, truthfully. “In the first three minutes.”

“You are such a…”

“Such a what?” he asked.  “Loser?  Chicken? Coward?  Wimp?”

“I was going to say, non planner.”

“Oh,” he said.  “Well, that too.”

“Here’s what I would do,” said Lilly, standing up.  “I’d act really tough.  Like no one could beat me, no matter what.  I mean attitude is reality, don’t forget that.  Body language is important.  Even if I was afraid, I’d be walking back and forth, in front of them, not showing any fear…”

“How?  How would you do that? How would you not show any fear if you were terrified?”

She shrugged.  “You just do it, that’s all.”

“So not helpful,” he sighed.

“Anyway, I’d be smiling.  Enemies and bullies always hate it when you smile at them, like they can’t touch you, no matter what they do.  They want to taste your fear, so that’s the one thing you NEVER EVER give to them.”

“I’m gonna throw up,” he groaned.

“ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?”

“Yes,” he said, immediately, sitting up straight.  “Sorry.  Don’t show any fear.”

“Right.  Even when you’re scared to death, you don’t let the bad guys know that.  I know you don’t have time to learn how to do that, so you’re just going to have to DO it.  If you let them think you’re afraid, they’ll play with you, because your fear and weakness is like the best thing they’ve ever eaten.  Sure, they might kill you, but if they do, they were going to kill you anyway.  You can die on your feet, or you can die on your knees.  Get what I’m saying?”

“No.  Not at all,” he said, covering his face with his hands. “Not even a little.”

“Okay.  I didn’t want to have to do this, but come with me.”

“Where are we going?” he finally asked, after they had been walking for awhile.   “Isn’t this a bad neighborhood?”

“One of the worst.”

“I don’t want to be here,” he said, pulling on her arm.  “Let’s go back.”

“Hey, bitch, whadda ya doing on my sidewalk?”

Lilly stood in front of James.  “Walking, what does it look like I’m doing you dork?”

“What did you call me?” asked the very surprised guy.  “You have to pay, to walk on my sidewalk.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so, but nice shirt,” she said.

He looked down at his shirt and said, “You got a smart mouth.”

“Thank you,” she said, looking at the two other guys who were walking toward them.

“OMG Lilly,” whispered James.  “Let’s go.”

“Who’s the little boy behind you?”

“Truthfully?”

“Give it to me.”

“He’s a guy who needs to learn how to fight.  He needs to learn fast.  A bunch of badass biker guys are coming for him, some of them aren’t human, and he’s never been in a fight in his entire life.”

“For real?”

“Totally.”

“OMG, omg, omg,” said James.

“I should tell you that he’s already been dead once,” said Lilly.  “They sent him back.”

“No shit.  What was that like?”

“A really boring office job,” said James.

“Not what I was expectin’,” said the guy.

“I know, right?” said Lilly.  “Who knew.”

The guy pulled a gun out from behind him and pointed it at her.

James held on to the back of Lilly’s shirt.

“Who should I shoot first?”

“Put the gun away, Taz.  I know her,” said a guy, walking up behind him.  “Lil, what are you doing here?”

“Hey,” she said, running up and throwing her arms around him.  “Been to long,” she added, kissing him all over his face.  “You look…great.”

“I told you not to do that in front of the boys,” he said, smiling at her.

“Oh, sorry,” she lied and kissed him again.  “I need a favor.”

“What?”

“Do you think you and the boys could teach this one,” she said, pointing at James, how to fight really fast?”

He looked at James and then back at Lilly.  “No.  Not a chance.  Why?”

Lilly explained the situation about the civil war, biker gangs, being dead and then asked again.  “So can you?”

“Look at him Lil.  He’s shakin’ like a leaf.”

“I know but that’s because the doesn’t have any skills.  If he knew how to fight, he wouldn’t be afraid.  You taught me.”

A smile spread across his face.  “That’s true.  I did teach you, didn’t I.”

She punched him, then hugged him again.

“Uh, Lilly,” said how do you know this guy?”

“Oh, sorry,” she said.  “James this is Tommy.  Tommy this is James, and we grew up together.  He used to live next door to me.”

“Call me Snake,” said Tommy.

“Sure,” sighed James. “Why not.”

“Okay, leave him here and pick him up tomorrow.  We’ll do what we can…”

“Wait, what?” said James.  “Leave me HERE?”

“What’s it gonna cost?” asked Lilly.

“We want in on the fight.”

“Deal,” she said, holding out her hand.

“Wait,” said James.  “You can’t be serious.  You’re just LEAVING me here?  With…them?”

All the guys, and there were quite a few by now, were grinning.

“Yes,” she said, turning toward the crowd.  “And if anyone gets out of line, they’ll have to answer to me.”

Some of the grins disappeared.  Snake snickered.  James tried not to whimper.

“It’s okay, James.  You’ll learn a lot, believe me and I’ll be back tomorrow before dinner, okay?”

“No.  Definitely not okay.”

“See ya Tommy,” she said.

“It’s Snake.  Call me Snake.”

“Sure.  See ya Snake.  Take care of James for me.”

“My pleasure,” he chuckled.

“I’m gonna die Lilly,” hissed James.  “And it will be your fault, this time.”

“You’re not gonna die, you’re going to be tougher.”

“Uh, excuse me,” said a tiny voice.

Lilly looked down and saw a hamster sitting by her foot.  “Yes?”

“The people who took care of me, moved away and put me in the backyard.  It’s scary out there and I was wondering if I could go home with you?”

“Of course you can come home with me,” she said, picking up the fuzzy hamster.  “What’s your name?”

“Snowball, what’s yours?”

“Lilly,” she said.  “You’re beautiful and I’ll make a wonderful nest for you.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  Bye James,” she shouted, holding up the hamster.  “We have a new friend.  See you tomorrow.”

“No. You won’t.  I’ll be dead by then.”

“Is he serious?” asked Snowball.

“No.  I mean he believes it, but he won’t be dead.”

“I thought I might be dead when they put me outside.”

“That was mean of them.”

“Tell me about it,” sighed Snowball.  “Can I sleep in your pocket.  I’m really tired.”

“Sure,” she said, placing the hamster in the pocket of her jacket.  “Sweet dreams, little one.”

 

 

 

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