The Remnant Resonance (Ruth)
The telephone rang. Ruby ignored it, wrapped up in the grips of the novel she was reading. She habitually didn’t answer the phone, since most often it was for Nora or one of the boys. It wasn’t till she heard Ophelia’s voice answering the phone that Ruby suddenly remembered with a violent wrench of her heart that Charlie and Martin wouldn’t be answering the phone ever again--and Ophelia didn’t know.
“Is this some kind of joke?” Ophelia growled, and slammed the receiver back in its cradle.
Feeling guilty, Ruby tiptoed to the doorway and poked her head through. Ophelia was scowling darkly at the telephone, as one would defiantly stare down an enemy.
“Who was it?” Ruby asked, attempting in vain to keep her voice casual, even though she knew exactly who it must be.
Ophelia pursed her lips tightly. “Some joker passing himself off as a doctor from the city morgue. Said we had an appointment to identify the bodies of Martin and Charles Burke this afternoon.” She smirked. “I didn’t fall for that line, though; they’re not due back till next week.”
Ruby felt that she couldn’t deliver the news standing up. She quickly dropped into a chair at the table next to Ophelia.
“Fee…” she began slowly. “It… it wasn’t a joke.”
Ophelia snorted. “What, you expect me to believe that our husbands somehow died without our knowing?” She chuckled. “You know, now that I think of it, Nora did mention something about a surprise coming the other day.” She playfully cast a knowing look at her friend. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you? Something like, we go down to the morgue, and they are hiding under sheets, and they jump out and scare us? One of the ladies down the assembly line was telling a story like that, only her husband arranged with the doctor to do it a few weeks ago, on Halloween. Seems a bit out-of-season to do a trick like that now, wouldn’t you say?”
“Fee, it’s not a trick!” The longer it took to get the news out, the harder it became. “We were meaning to tell you. Nora and I went down to the train station to meet Charlie and Martin--”
Ophelia shook her head. “So you were all in on it together! Taking advantage of the fact that I’m always the last to know, eh? So tell me, do you think they’d mind if I just didn’t react when they jumped? I bet they wouldn’t expect that!”
“Ophelia, stop!” Ruby begged, feeling the hard lump forming in her throat. “It’s not a trick, the boys aren’t at Harvard… they wanted to come early… that was the surprise…” Ruby could only manage a phrase at a time.
“What are you talking about?” Ophelia frowned. “Of course it’s a joke! Could you imagine such a freak thing as both brothers dying at once?” She picked up the receiver again. “I bet if I recalled that number, it will be something completely different.” She dialed the operator. “Yes, could you connect me to the number that just called a few minutes ago?” She held the receiver away from her ear so that Ruby could hear the voice as well. Ophelia grinned as the thready voice spoke.
“Harlem City Morgue; who is speaking?”
The grin vanished. Ophelia slammed the receiver down so hard that Ruby worried she might actually be strong enough to break the cradle.
“You shut your fool mouth!” she screamed at the phone, as if it had been the source of the revelation.
“Ophelia,” Ruby reached toward her. “I tried to tell you--”“No!” Ophelia shoved her hands away and retreated to the far corner of the kitchen. “It’s not true! It’s not real!” She began sobbing in heaving, open-mouthed wails. “Stop! No! NO!”
The Astonishing Adventures of Jonas Crow (Jonah)
The comic issue had opened to a page near the back of the book he had never seen before. Frantically, he checked the front cover: B.Y.B.L Issue #37, one of his “legacy” comics, an issue he’d received early on in his development of the “hidden message” conspiracy. It should have been one he knew by heart, but the pictures on this particular page were entirely unfamiliar. It was a segment called “A Prophet Arising,’ and Deus had called Remus in to tell him of a new mission and a new figure he was going to recruit.
“Here is your new mission,” said Deus, looking more shadowy than usual. “I’m going to let you uncover more intel about the true identity of Nixon Seatent.”
“What will you be doing while I’m out of the way?” Remus asked.
“I need to stop by and visit a friend of mine,” Deus replied.
“The Prophet?” Remus asked.
“Some would call him that.” The artist had drawn a wide grin on Deus’ face--at least, the lower half that was sketched and not blacked out for dramatic effect. “I have a very important mission for him.”
“Why not give me the mission?” Remus asked. “If it’s so important. I feel like you’re shuffling me off to the side.”
“The difference is that you already trust me,” Deus stated, “while The Prophet still needs to learn how to do that.”
“Can I ask what sort of mission his will be?” Remus inquired.
“You certainly may, I don’t have secrets from you. I have decided that he will be the one to deliver my message to The Siren, that she needs to relinquish her power and return to the cave from whence she came, or she will face my wrath.”
“He’s not going to like it,” Remus remarked.
“I know,” said Deus. “But he’ll have no choice.”
Jonas felt his scalp prickle as goosebumps stood up all over his skin. The Prophet? Deus and Remus--they were discussing him! “The Prophet still needs to learn how to trust me.” Was that the reason Deus was sending him to Vegas? Jonas shook his head.
“What am I thinking?” he mused. “Going to Vegas? Ha! That will never happen, unless I get a sudden death wish!” He chuckled to himself and got up to pull the leftover pizza out of the refrigerator.