Go read Box: Detach instead!
"Did you call her yet?" Rivin asked me again - for the hundredth time today - and so I threw my empty water bottle at his face, a signal for him to shut up.
The two of us sat solemnly on opposing chairs around the dining table.
Everything was unbelievably quiet.
Usually, even at nine in the evening, you would hear kids rolling about on their skateboards outside on the street. The birds rustling in the trees in the backyard would make me holler at them with a pistol in my hands, threatening to murder them all just for some solace and peace to do what I like to do.
That would usually be playing video games with my little brother and Edward, but tonight was different.
It was nine, and we still hadn't had dinner yet.
We had trudged back up to the kitchen in hopes that Mom would be in here as usual, cooking up a stir of questionable delicacies that both of us would complain about.
As far as I could remember, Mom would never be too far away from us during the night, and she never left like this without giving us a forewarning. I couldn't even remember the last time she hadn't cooked dinner for us.
I glanced over at the pot of still-boiling water on the countertop, at the bowl of fresh vegetables sitting on the cutting board, and knew for a fact that this was all unplanned for.
What could Mom be doing at this time of the day?
It wasn't like we were scared of being alone. We're both fifteen, and we have super powerful abilities on top of that. We could take care of ourselves without any problem, but it was just unnerving that for once, mom wasn't here with us in the dining room.
The water began to scream, and I jumped up from my chair to throw in the vegetables before I got too distracted.
Rivin didn't seem to be doing well.
A quick peek at his blank face told me everything I needed to know from my little brother.
Lost in his own thoughts, and yet, I couldn't blame him for it this time.
That world map didn't freak me out. Those word documents with pictures of Rivin didn't freak me out. It was the fact that the lights turned off exactly when I called out for Mom along with the computer being destroyed that gave me a long forgotten sense of panic.
Just for a moment.
I could see how my brother would be scared, though. If Mom had made the word documents, and if they meant anything significant at all, then of course I would be a little troubled.
It was incredibly stalker-ish to do something like that.
They even contained specific measurements like hand size that I didn't even know about Rivin myself.
And what was about that tunnel? Since Mom disappeared three hours ago, I had debated on going into that tunnel to check what the hell was up with that, but I had ultimately decided that it wasn't worth it.
At least, not yet.
Right now, dinner needed to be handled, and we needed to sit down to have our own time. Especially Rivin.
"Did you call Mom again?" I asked as I dumped in two packets of instant noodles into the boiling water.
"She isn't picking up."
"That's to be expected, I guess." I said, taking my seat once again across the table. "Where do you think she left to? I'm thinking Ikea to replace that chair that you broke yesterday."
"I didn't break it. You threw it at me."
"So your body broke it, which means I'm right." I cut him off before he could shoot back at me. "Everything is fine. There's no need to worry."
Rivin placed both his hands on the table and propped up his head. "I don't think so."
My eyes widened. "Alright then, let's hear it. Begin brainstorming right now."
To be honest, I didn't really think there was a need to do that either.
It was pretty likely that Mom would return in a few hours, and we'd see her tomorrow morning before we went to school. For Rivin, he might even see her sneaking back into the house in the middle of the night, since he never sleeps and walks around like a zombie every night.
Still, if brainstorming helped calm him down, I suppose I could entertain him for a bit before the noodle cooks.
"We found a secret cave underneath our already secret basement that only we know about. There wasn't any door-"
"Because I kicked it down before we could check." I interrupted. "Go on."
"But it was too flimsy, so there must have been a contraption to open it. Metal walls aren't made out of cardboard, but that one was. So, the cavern must have been accessible to someone in the house. If it isn't me or you, then it had to be Mom."
"It could be dad's before he died. We don't know how long Mom's lived here after she escaped from her home planet."
Rivin waved the concerns away. "I know, I know, it's just a thought. Anyways, on that computer, there was a computer with a world map already opened. You also said that the computer was never shut down in the first place, and if it was, the first thing that we should have seen was the home screen, and not that app or whatever thing it was."
"And on that world map, there were coloured dots. Purple and yellow," I said.
"And black. There was one black dot in Antarctica, though I didn't click on it." He pointed out, and I nodded along even if I found this entire thought train rather far-stretched. "The purple ones were all me. Or something. I don't know."
"Don't be frustrated. It's natural that we don't know jack. This is just a brainstorm, so just keep going."
It was unusual as well, to see my little brother get so worked up about this.
Maybe he does have something interesting in mind.
"The yellow one that I did click on said danger, and that 'someone' should never approach it. Don't know what that means, no idea at all, so it doesn't matter."
"Uh huh, and?"
Rivin moved up his chair and leaned forward, face deadly serious. "Let's assume that the purple dots is 'someone'. There was one in Chicago, where the purple dot is basically touching the yellow dot. If that 'someone' was not supposed to approach it, and it did, then wouldn't it mean that he would be in danger?"
"That is a very big leap. Very big."
"Of course it is. But then, why would Mom suddenly disappear like this?"
"Explain it to my dummy brain."
"After you told her we found her secret cave downstairs, she disappeared, right? What did she look like when you told her about it?"
I had to think for a moment.
Nothing stood out too much in particular when I tried to recall the moment I told her that we found the cave, and how cool I thought the world map was. I also told her about the dots, and she seemed particularly interested in asking about the overlapping Antarctica ones.
Then, she had smiled as always, and told me that she would join us downstairs once she finished her cooking.
Of course, she never did came down. And she never finished the cooking either. That was the worst part, because now, I was stuck with the role of being the family chef.
"She looked normal," I finally said. "I told her everything that we saw, and she just told me to come back down to you. That was when the lights turned off, and that was the last time I saw her."
"That's a lie then, because after you told her about our discovery, she just left. You see here? She kept it a secret because she didn't want us to find that computer and the documents on it, but now that she knows that we know, she left to avoid the explanation. I don't know why, but I think that's why she left."
I grimaced. "I dunno, it's too much guessing and assumptions. There's too many 'something's to work about it. Besides, what, you think Mom would just up and leave us forever? She'll come back, and when she does, we can ask her about it again."
He slumped back into his chair, defeated. "Yeah. Yeah, I know. We should just wait for a while before we do anything."
I didn't think there was anything we had to do about this. Mom always came back for us, and there's no way she would just leave us alone like this.
Those were all good observations from little brother, but I would rather just eat dinner.
And speaking of...
"Hey," I said.
"What's on fire?"
"Am I supposed to say you?"
I laughed. "Correct. But also, get a cup of water, the vegetables are going to hell."
"How did you screw up vegetables?" Rivin said, not at all concerned about the raging ball of fire behind him.
"I must have accidentally dropped one of them onto the fire. I think that's why the fire isn't so bad. Go get a cup."
"You do it."
"No. If I cook, then you clean up, that's the unwritten rule of all households."
Rivin did not budge. "This is not clean up. This is satanic retribution for screwing up vegetables, so you have to do it."
"Fine then, let the plant burn in agony."
And we sat there until the fire started to fizzle and spark in various places.
In the end, both of us were forced to smack down the unholy flame with wet towels before mom could come back home and kill us for burning the kitchen down.
It was about two in the morning when someone barged into my bedroom with thunderous footsteps that I heard even from outside the hallway.
It was a sweet dream where I was armed with rifles in two hands, blasting freely away at everyone I hated at school, along with the birds that I hated so vehemently in our backyard.
A perfect dream for a young lady such as me.
Which was why my first priority was to chuck my pencil sharpener with full force at my little brother.
I wiped my eyes groggily as I tried to get used to the dark. At least he was considerate enough to not flick the lights on and off like a pre-schooler.
"Out of my room, walking dead," I moaned, continuing to throw random objects on my bed stand. It wasn't like Rivin would get hit anyways, what with his Parallel Eyes and all that.
Seeing one second into the future was more than enough, as I had tried to explain to Mom countless times.
"I found a pen and paper note!" Rivin said excitingly, and shone a flashlight from underneath his face to give off a ghostly visage. Though, his face bore no signs of fatigue, another strange talent of my little brother that he considers a curse. "And it's from Mom."
"Yo, that's cool. But can you, like, leave? Just tell me in the morning." I rolled over and pulled up my blanket to cover myself from the air conditioner blasting into my uncovered head.
Goddamnit, I don't think I'd get the same dream again.
"Samantha, if you don't get up, I'm going to do the flicking light thing."
"Don't you dare do it, or you'll be the five year-old walking dead from now on." I warned, but my supposedly menacing threat only came out as little more than a muffled groan.
"No, just... listen," he said exasperatedly. "Mom said she's leaving us for a while, and there's a wad of cash that she left for us."
"What?" I pushed off my blankets and shot up. "What's the rest of the note?"
"I could read it like this, but I could just turn on the lights for convenience-"
"Just give it to me." I reached forward and snatched the lined paper in Rivin's hands, who had gotten uncomfortably close to my bed while I was hiding under the blanket. "Give me your phone, I need some dim light."
He didn't resist for once, and tossed the phone despite not needing to. I caught it out of the air and shone it on the note, where hastily scribbled words lined the entire strip of the paper.
"To Samantha and Rivin," I spoke. "I'm sorry to leave you like this, but there is something I need to do regarding the cavern you have unfortunately discovered. I had hoped you would never find it, and that I would be the one to tell you about it."
Rivin rushed me on. "Yeah, okay, but keep going on, ignore the first half."
I scanned the rest of the passage, until I finally arrived at something I found interesting.
"I will be leaving to ascertain something Samantha told me about. I'm sorry that I had to destroy the computer like that, but I would rather tell you both myself than have you make assumptions. You won't be biased that way." I had to stop at that particular sentence. "What does Mom mean by 'biased'? And how could she have destroyed the computer?"
"Do I look like I know?"
"Oh, that's right, C-grade physics boy."
"Damnit, just keep reading."
I continued. "I know that the two of you will be very confused, and that likely won't change until I come back. Despite that, as your mother, please don't go off on your own and do something dangerous. I will be back soon. Use the money I left on the table to take care of yourself."
Rivin and I looked at each other. My fingers brushed against something protruding on the backside of the paper, and I flipped it around to see one more line behind.
"P.S. If, on the off chance that anyone unusual comes knocking on the door, I give the two of you permission to shoot them and dispose of them." I grinned. "Damn, Mom. That's pretty brutal of you to say."
"So?" Rivin said. "What do you think?"
"I mean, I was going to go investigate myself after that note, but after that last part? We're gonna go on a trip. Go pack up your stuff, and make sure to stash some bombs in." I leapt off the bed and moved past Rivin, and flicked on the lights despite my complaints not to do so just a minute ago.
"We're going to Chicago, right? To look for the yellow dot?"
"Of course we are. We'd be stupid to not go investigate on our own after everything that we found."
"But wouldn't it be reckless, though?" Rivin said with a slight grin on the side of his lips.
"You were obviously already prepared to go at a moment's notice, so I'm thinking that you already had it all planned out before you barged into my room."
I hadn't noticed it initially, but Rivin was wearing full water resistant clothing plus a dark blue vest that he stuck to sacrilegiously, no matter how much I told him that only old people wore vests like that.
He even had on the black socks, and we never wore the black socks unless it was for something serious.
"Ah, you know me well. Ask away," He said as he paced around my frugally decorated bedroom in circles.
"Most important thing: School. I take it you've already contacted them about our absence for maybe... the next week or two?"
"No, you idiot. It's three in the morning, no one's at the office. You'll tell them on the way to Chicago. I doubt the office would question your voice impression that much. Besides, it's a Thursday, so if it goes smoothly, we'd be back by Monday."
"Are we going by train?"
"I already brought bus tickets online. It leaves in an hour, so hurry."
"Yeah, I know, stop rushing me," I muttered as I tossed every piece of clothing I could find into my open luggage, wondering where I last saw my lucky hair comb. "How about accommodation, did you do that already?"
"No, but there's a motel near Southeast Unity Church, so I'm thinking we can go there. And also, Mom left us plenty of money to splurge with, so I think if we make the trip short, we can even have some fun."
It was always impressive hearing Rivin lay out the plan like that.
Gone was the frustration and the stuck-in-his-own-mind symptoms of information overload, and only the careful little brother that always had everything planned out remained.
I knew that if I ever told him that, I'd never hear the end of it, but still. I couldn't help but wish I could have some of that attention to detail mind that he has.
I never thought it was justified that I had to 'protect' him, even with his weaker ability.
He could handle himself just fine.
Even now, amidst the dark in the middle of the night, while I'm still bumbling around the room groggy and tired, Rivin's pacing around furiously like the living devil is possessing his body. I
If only I had some of that drive.
Then I slapped myself in the face.
I didn't do self-pitying.
I do what I do, and I do it well.
That's all I had to focus on right now.
"Alright. Then, what would we be looking for in Chicago?"
"Samantha, do you know if I have an identical twin?" he asked out of the blue, and I scoffed at the ridiculous thought.
"I think Mom would have told us if she had another baby, much less five or six of them. Was it five purple dots on that world map?"
"Yeah, including... me. I wonder what that would mean."
"No point thinking about it. However, on the off chance that Mom did have another baby, and it turns out to be an identical twin, maybe we should be looking for yourself in Chicago. Along with the yellow dot marked danger." I chuckled at the thought, though something nagged at the back of my head.
Should we really be doing this?
It seemed reckless and stupid to just leave without a proper target.
We'd be going to a new place without any real clues or hints to follow. It'd be a completely blind trip, and the chances of us returning empty handed is near a hundred percent. Besides, we had never done something like this before. We have little to no experience in investigating, and it didn't help that we had no idea what we should investigate in the first place.
Identical twins? Danger? They were all things out of a poor-budgeted action movie.
And just as quickly as I had proposed going on this trip, I had already rebuked myself in my own mind.
I wanted to speak out now to cancel this trip, but Rivin kept talking.
"That's what I thought so, too. Regardless, we should just go. It's rare that Mom ever leaves us, so even if we don't find anything, it could still be a fun trip. And we get to skip school." He gave me a thumbs up.
... Oh, well.
He had a point.
If it helped Rivin calm down and helps us both relax, then why not?
Like he said, it could just be a fun trip.
And we get to skip school, which is always a plus.
I shooed my brother out of my room so I could change into something more flexible. I finally decided on what I wanted to wear on our getaway mission to Chicago: Full blue outfit, with stretchable jeans and a hoodie that would make me stand out from the crowd like a sore thumb.
It might be stupid, but I loved the colour, and no one could ever deny me from wearing what I wanted to wear.
I pushed open the bedroom door with my luggage in tow to see Rivin leaning against his bedroom door adjacent to mines. He was tapping away at his phone aimlessly, likely checking the final bus details before we set off for the station.
"Let's hope that your identical twin isn't some sort of phantom thief." I joked as I dragged the luggage down the stairs, making heavy thumps with every second of contact, since I might as well make myself less fatigued by blowing my eardrums out.
"Let's hope I don't even find an identical twin in the first place."