John gave explanations for specialties of each racer based on the galaxy or nebula they came from. He shrugged, "What did you say?"
"There was a shaman, you stopped talking about him when you came back to the table. You grabbed on, you know for dear life, and then you sat there, like a statue, only tense. Something ’bout dunlipods? I think...but that was it." Jerry said.
"Oh yea, MoDkrife. An asexual creature, drives this vehicle, it’s like an oblong rock. Travels light years to get to Earth. Older than any racer, possibly before time. This MoDkrife can have multiple consciousness, different souls. Like, two lives happening in one body, only again...and the voice pattern will change. "
"John, I cannot even imagine. All this? Are you going to be ok? You scared me a little back there at the pub." Jerry motioned to John, pointing his thumb behind him.
"Well, sorry about that. Not too sure, how things are going." John watched the traffic light switch red. No longer crossable.
They took a right at the next sidewalk.
"Do you remember going to the restroom?" Jerry asked. "You were gone for a bit."
"Bits and pieces, the front door, passing the bartender, and you helping me when I bumped into the empty table adjacent from the pool table." John recounted his moves. He took a left at the light, to cross the street. Did he suggest this way too?
Jerry coughed, and grabbed onto his belt, "This damn sweater, I think it’s time to go to an XL."
"XL? I was helping Kimberly with this--ok, giving her my opinion on this plus size blouse the other night, she may have some answers. We should go to her place. Maybe she is the one missing from the puzzle. Maybe she can shed light on the Three-Lily. Let’s go to Kim’s."
Jerry slowed his gait, his face at a loss.
"You know, my girlfriend, let’s go--" John said impatiently. "What Mr. Baker??"
"That is where we are going. You said, never mind." Jerry placed his hands in his pockets and leaned over to spit onto the road. "Christ Johnny, what if it was that real severe head cold," He swung his arm with his back hand tapping John’s stomach, "You said you were coming down, right? Sounded bad. So, you have the cold, and you took some Nyquil."
John felt his itchy throat, "A lot of people around the law firm were sick this week."
"And maybe...you avoided the warning signs and ’accidentally’ drank the whole bottle. That glisht will mess you up. I should know" Jerry smirked, "too many nights..."
"It sounds...possible, I guess." Roughly ten minutes away from John’s girlfriend’s place left plenty of time for another spin down memory(less) lane. John went robot like, and jumped in time, bouncing to another topic, "I have no idea why three of them..."
"What you saying there Johnny?" Jerry inquired.
"...and they are not all named Lily, so why call them the Three-Lily right?" The question sank inside of his core and John’s eyes rolled. He was a walking documentary film on the great Zerseck 6,000 Tri-Universal, and the pause button was pushed once more to start the movie.
"There is one crackpot theory the Galactorians created the Three-Lily to have their jailed spirits transmitted into each one of the girls, attain freedom. Freedom in a sense, albeit spotty, because their signal is too weak coming all the way from the Gonal Sector, notably Janisoglospire." John walked onward through the saga he told. "When the girls turned nine years with age...whoa,"
A car drove by, passing the two men. Jerry turned his head to see the passing motorist.
John felt lightheaded, he took another couple steps forward, "Somethin--" he dropped to one knee smashing his knee cap.
Something Happened! The ocean, seaside, and the voice of a young man, in pain--mine? There it was again, along with the dehydration I felt when I swallowed too much salt water. I felt loopy. The corporeal voice prepared me for days I already lived, before big business drove the dump truck, and the wolves of time ate the leavings, before technology overgrew into a pandemic. "Hello?" It went soft, quiet, but that feeling? Objects in motion.
A history making event.
Deborah Evenworth, The Chalice addressed her camera operator with a quaint genuine smile, polite, but tarnished. Smiling was part of the job as being the primetime purveyor of news for Chanel 408-EWW, but after a while melancholy blends in with the harder stories.
"If I may ask you, Dr. Perish, what happened to the girl’s mother?" The Chalice was adept at reading others, "off the record of course."
"Yes of course, now, this is a sensitive issue with my wife, Claire. She is in the other room with our girls. As for your question Ms. Evenworth, I have no answers. Lila, Lilia, and Lily were left on the steps of a forgotten monument in Boston, no mom to be found. And their paternal side lent itself to a brain dead father. Well, the man claimed to be their father, he possessed no motor movement, was barely cognitive. You can see how this did not leave much for answers." Dr. Perish respected her with a warm smile on his face.
"I see. I say we set up right here." The Chalice directed her camera operator. "I will speak to the girls first, have a chance to meet with them, if that is ok with the Perishes of course. Would that be allowed Dr. Perish?" She asked cautiously.
"Of course, of course Ms. Evenworth, and feel free to call me Adam, my days of being the professor have been a long time gone. It is so nice to have you here. Hopefully this interview can clear some things up. People are outraged, they say we are forcing the girls to stay inside. As if we have locked them away. They call us cruel, but when we invite people to see for themselves, they, well they’re afraid Ms. Evenworth."
The Chalice breathed in the interior of the Perish household. Nothing suggested mistreatment, or an unhappy life for young or old. The smell of something warm being baked in the oven came from the kitchen. Across the room blinked a digital read out, the letters spelled out:
The letters created a rainbow. By the kitchen counter was a table with three large boxes stacked on top, each a different size from the rest, all adorned with a lavish bow. Bookcases brimming with literature of all topics and genres were neatly arranged in alphabetical order. Three rows of the shelves housed the Universal Encyclopedic Collections, with each of their twelve editions. Virtually no dust, on any of the shelves. There were pictures of Dr. Perish and Claire with the girls. The Chalice noted only one not taken indoors but one with the girls at the beach.
"They often went to the beach, the sounds of the ocean, it was the girls favorite spot. They always talked about how innocent...the meditation of the waves, the pure white water that flowed, carried by loving arms, the serenity, the vastness of the oceanic bodies of Earth." John gazed at the rooted trees in the sidewalk he stepped on; his knee throbbed and he himself needed assistance from Jerry.
The Chalice came to the Perish home unsure of the girls identities, but she knew their names: Lilia, Lila, and Lily. The Three-Lily were auspiciously happy and gay, and today was their ninth birthday.
"Little does the outside world know, this is how Lilia, Lila, and Lily like to spend their time, surrounded by their family, learning...always learning, drinking up history and all the events since life’s creation. They are so advanced now, Heh! Claire and I can barely keep up with the little Einsteins." Dr. Perish corrected his tie, and cleared his throat, "Our girls are so happy to meet you. This is their first time meeting someone who fits a celebrity," Dr. Perish opened his fists, spreading his fingers on The Chalice’s first and last name, like fireworks popping. Deborah Evenworth. They kept saying your name all morning." Dr. Perish brushed his slacks, "Isn’t that right hunny?" He directed his question to his wife, busy in the other room.
The Chalice walked in to Claire Perish, brushing the hair of one of the three triplets. The Three-Lily were blessed with beautiful soft blonde hair, natural highlights. All of the birthday girls gaped at The Chalice, giggling. Each of them with piercing hazel brown eyes, pockets into the mind of pure genius. A slight smile on each of Three-Lily quite intrigued The Chalice as she bent down to shake one of the girls hands. "Hello, my name is Deb-"
"Yes, Ms. Evenworth, lead anchor of the Earth-Worldwide on Channel 408, it is a pleasure to meet you, my sisters, all and I agree you chose a beautiful splash of Carolina blue for your attire." One of the girls, appearing to be the oldest, though they were all eight years old, about to turn nine.
"Carolina blue?" The Chalice asked.
"Yes, via the University of North Carolina, their adopted colors since as far back as the 1880’s. Though your nails do not match this evening." The young girl fixed her eyes on the outside world beyond windows.
"Was indigo not complementary to my dress?" The Chalice peeked at her nails to judge them.
The young girl walked over to her and held her hand out to get a closer look at The Chalice’s nails. "Indigo is fairly close in our spectrum, this is electric indigo."
"Electric?" The Chalice distracted her gaze around the room, her eyes stopping at the other two girls. She gave a smile for both of them.
"Yes, it is much brighter than the standard indigo pigment. Perhaps, you may be a candidate of achromatopsia." The young girl advised.
The Chalice raised her eyebrows causing her forehead to wrinkle and crack up some of her foundation.
The young girl made no attempt to conceal her boredom, "color blind." She sighed. "You stride along with a confidence unparallel to any of your other colleagues."
"Yes, thank--You all agree about my dress? That’s sweet--But."
"You are correct to your surmise, as this is the first time we met, and have not seen you anytime previous, except for the occasional broadcast. Plus there is the fact we did not discuss your attire in the short time you have been in the room with us, but I assure you we all love your taste in dress. My name is Lily. Over there," she motioned to one of her sisters sitting on the floor, "is Lilia, and the one getting her hair brushed is Lila."
Lila grimaced with each hair brush stroke.
"Mother, her roots are fragile, Lila prefers you brush a tad more on the gentile side." Lily dipped her eyes and smirked for her sister.
"Do you always talk for your other sisters Lily?" The Chalice said, reclaiming her professional matter.
Lilia got up from the floor and walked over to the table beautifully lined with pastel party hats and a variety of party favors. She picked up one party hat with a lighter tint of green and brought it over to The Chalice.
"To match your nails." Lilia placed the party hat kindly in the reporters hand. Lilia spoke with a distinct Russian accent.
"Pairs green, and dear are you from Russia or the Supra-Ukraine?" The Chalice shifted her head with an awkward grin.
Lilia shook her head no, and pointed her finger to the party hat, "I take pleasure in the particular accent," she chuckled, "It’s tea green. I love Paris green! Paris green has an RGB of 80, 200, 120...while Tea green has a RGB of 208, 240, 192." Her Russian accent, robust like maple syrup just starting to freeze, rolled off her tongue.
The Chalice, delved closer to meet the tea green party hat, "Oh yes, that makes sense. I see that now."
Claire bubbled up with a little red in her face holding down a small laugh, pulling a little too tight on Lila’s hair, "Oh, sorry dear. Too much?" She kissed her daughter’s head and turned her around on the couch to see Lila’s pale face. "You look beautiful darling, ready for the grand ball."
"Like Queen Rania of Jordan," Lily said.
"Oh yes, her favorite." Lilia said in her favorite accent. She walked back over to the table and grabbed more pastel party hats.
"I’m sorry, I am not familiar with her, what fairytale is she from?" The Chalice stared, her sightline cast down at Lily.
Lily’s smile turned to stone. She spoke academically, "She was Queen of Jordan during the 1990’s into the 2000’s. Married to King Abdulla II." Lily circled The Chalice, avoiding eye contact with the reporter."Interesting how the Chalice does not know a woman of such high regard, making great strides in..."
Lila turned away from her mother’s tempered brush strokes and caught eyes with The Chalice, "Education."
Lilia put on a light apricot-gamboge colored party hat, "cross cultural dialogue between the East and West, and a strong opponent for..."
Lily’s lip quivered, "Honor killings."
The Chalice regarded Claire, "No...I did not know any of that, uhh, information."
"Interesting name, The Chalice...from your series of interviews where you pronged the existential phenomenon, the interconnected workings dealing with the abolishment of Christianity. There was no headline of such value and meaning, and it is stories like this--people drink them in while you soak it all up. It was your media that awarded you such an asinine title. We do not fault you for it, but my sisters and I have much to prepare for our party. Our dad is in the other room, I think it is time for your interview with our guardians.
"Mommy and daddy Lily." Lila’s pale skin exposed her impression of weakness when she kissed Claire on the cheek, "thank you Mommy," she got down from the couch and strolled over to her two sisters and grabbed each of their hands. The Three-Lily helped each other with their party hats, laughing and giggling.
The Chalice cocked her head with a fixed look.
Claire sat on the couch upon one of her legs. "They get along with each other, that is when they are the little girls they appear to be, but those girls are special Ms. Evenworth. You yourself have seen it. They are a lot more."
"Special is one way of putting it Mrs. Perish. Shall we begin with our interview?"
Dr. Perish and Claire talked about the last nine years, about the sacrifice they were making for our world.
"Never leaving the house to care for them, cannot be so easy, especially for work. And what is your profession Dr. Perish?" The Chalice, attentive on the family dynamic observed how close Adam and Claire sat next to each other.
"I was a Histronics professor for the University of Caredon, cross galaxy. I--" Dr. Perish crossed his leg over the other.
"You say, were. Did something happen to you professor, may I call you professor?" The Chalice proded, politely, as she rubbed the back of her leg with her foot.
"I am no longer a professor, I hung up my professorial robes when Lila, Lilia, and Lily came into our lives." Dr. Perish smiled at Claire.
"It seems strange to me that you gave up a respected title as Professor of Histronics, with..." The Chalice scanned over her notes, "your doctorates in Robotics and Universal History. You wrote your thesis on the Asimov Paradox, and you yourself are responsible for the RCO, which is," The Chalice put her pen down, "Recombinant Cybernetic Organism. Incredible work Dr. Perish. Why give all that up for these girls, Three-Lily if I may, that you yourself never met?"
Dr. Perish appeared to be nervous, but he placed his hands together, and explained, "My father, when I was in my youth, he said, ’Adam, there is something you must know.’ You have to realize, now I was maybe ten years old when he told me this, but he said, ’our family will be incremental in saving the world.’ From generations, dating back over 1,000 years, the Perish family, my family was brought up with this belief. The Three-Lily as you have deemed them, will be precious and pivotal is saving us."
"Meaning the world?" The Chalice’s eyes narrowed.
"Everything." Dr. Perish said with resonance.
The room went quiet.
The Chalice leaned back in her chair as if she owned it. Her eyes shifted over to the Three-Lily off camera, all watching on, but not watching the interview, only her.
"How exactly do you see the Three-Lily saving us, the universe, if I understand you correctly. How are they prepared to take on such an insurmountable task?" The Chalice shed her smile like a dried out lizard.
"We have prepared our girls Ms. Evenworth." Claire said, a calm edge to her.
"Do you feel your mission to teach these three beautiful girls will not leave long lasting psychological effects on them as they grow older? Have they ever been outside there home of yours as you so flippantly call it? Looking closer at your pictures, there is no evidence that suggests otherwise." The Chalice dug deep. Her words, she felt their influence.
Claire took that one, "We have not sheltered them so they are to not socialize, but people out there are scared to come over, for fear of being overshadowed by our angels’ brilliance. They refuse to let their children come near. The girls felt isolation was best. We use to go to the beach a lot, but..." Claire lowered her head, a sadness gradually consumed her, "I’m, I’m sorry."
Ms. Evenworth crawled up from her chair, "Did something happen at the beach Mrs. Perish. Did something happen to the Three-Lily?"
Dr. Perish grabbed his wife’s hand, and squeezed it with a loving touch. He cleared his throat and said to the reporter, "One of our girls, Lilia."
Ms. Evenworth brought up a pen in her right hand, "The one with the party hats, is that correct Claire?"
"The one who fell in love with Russian culture." Dr. Perish patted Claire’s hand, nodded to his wife, "She almost drowned. There was no one around to help us. We, we almost lost her."
"They did not leave their room for a couple weeks after that day--at the beach. They are free to go outside, we welcome it, but they tell us the world is not quite ready for them." Claire said with sniffles.
Claire offered a good retort, and one the Chalice did not see coming.
Time for a commercial break.
Claire excused herself to get the birthday cake she worked on all day. She brought the cake over. Dr. Perish, Claire, plus the Chalice and her crew sang:
"Bright Warm Wishes! Happiest of birthdays dear Lilia, Lily, and Lila...Happiest of Birthdays..."
The Three-Lily bowed their heads, closed their eyes, "tooooo yoooou."
The ground grappled with mother Earth.
The Three-Lily mumbled back and forth, to and fro.
Lilia broke off, snapped her head like a frozen jrulad, the meatiest of sticks, and screamed.
The shaking grew louder and more violent.
Lila flew from the ground to the ceiling--
Lila hung limp, lightly hovering near the ceiling, as if tossed up there by an invisible hand. Her damaged back left her in sad shape as tears streamed down her face.
The camera crew captured it all.
All three of the girls opened their eyes. Their once hazel brown eyes, glowed green, as if a film projector turned on within the Three-Lily playing images on the wall with the rainbow colored digital Happy Birthday banner.
The Chalice hovered back, unsure of what she saw: mass hysteria, strange horrific creatures bringing on destruction, tears, sandy claws, and an oddly metallic shiny jaw around the creature’s mouth, hardened. Revenant.
The screaming formed into the metallic screeching. Lilia’s vocals peeled and crackled the walls of the Perish’s living room.
The dining table forcefully careened into the wall where The Chalice stood.
The Chalice fell to the ground, one of the wooden legs smacked her in the face, her head smashed the back of a framed photo...dropped her. When she fell, face forward, a sponge mark of blood appeared on the photo behind her.
The camera lenses splintered, causing the recorded images to become distorted. The sounds softened--shaking settled when the Three-Lily spoke:
Her ears rung like a menace with a bell, but the Chalice heard the message.
“Lay witness to death. Nine years from now they will first arrive. Many will perish. Our guardian will fall protecting us. We must remain composed. They will make their presence again, and we will not be equipped. Fear will be our penultimate end. We are not ready.” The words echoed in a cool machine like tone, icy daggers to the soul.
"Keep the camera’s rolling!" The Chalice waded through her murky ache from her position on the cold carpeting of the living room. We will not be ready...
The Chalice saw her camera operator--dead, his body slammed into the marble counter of the kitchen bar. His neck curled up around itself. The Chalice hoped the camera kept rolling as the shaking finally dissipated. "He worked too hard for anything less."
Dr. Perish and Claire ran over to their girls.
Lilia, trembled awaiting them on the carpet as Lila gradually floated down from the ceiling.
The Chalice tried to move, but she surged with a deep stomach pain. She slid her hand down to her belly. Her hand felt warm and wet when she felt around the area near her right abdomen.
"Oh Anglee, hunny, hunny, what happened, my little angles." Claire put her arm around Lilia.
Lilia, a red liquid dripped from her mouth. She wheezed, trying to speak...her Russian mottled and guttural.
"Adam, Adam! She’s freezing." Claire’s hand trembled on her daughter’s forehead.
"So is Lila, by the Haps of Mayz, their eyes..." Lila cried as Dr. Perish devotedly held his broken angel before placing Lila on the ground. Dr. Perish, knelt down, "Hunny, sweetie, try not to move, alright? Mommy and Daddy are here. Where is Lily!? Claire!! Where is Lily."
"The Perish home was left broken, marked for desolation. Lilia and Lila. Their hair color was not blonde like their sister’s henceforth--Lilia’s was now red like the former Soviet Union, and Lila, as she still writhed in agony on the floor, was a ghostly gray."
"But their eyes were now green. All of them, and they were beyond this world, our world." Jerry sneezed, missing the fact he just spoke, as if he never said anything.
"Dr. Perish never fully recovered after losing our mom, but he spent his last and final years making sure the Three-Lily were ready--to save our world." John said.
Jerry nodded like a zombie and sneezed again. He reached into his left pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. "Oh Christ Johnny, your nose. Here, here, take this. Do not move it from your face." Jerry shoved the handkerchief into John’s hands.
"But what about the Three-Lily?" John slurred over his words.
"We’re here, Johnny we’re here. Snap out of it kid!" Jerry pulled John’s hands up to his face to cover up John’s nose with the handkerchief.
The itchy cloth irritated John’s busted nose, and he came back down to reality.
John and Jerry arrived at Kimberly’s, as she walked up her stairs.
Kimberly looked happy to see John, “I was worried about you John, you were so out of it a couple days ago.”
“A couple days ago, so I was here.”
“You okay? You look awful. Still sick I see.” Kimberly pointed to her nose, "nice snot rag."
“Thanks. Yeah, it’s a long story.” John dwelled in the pain, his nose hurt badly, but he kept the handkerchief tight.
Jerry interjected with a laugh.
John imagined Kimberly’s reaction to his saga. He fondled some keys in his cranberry hoodie and noticed two missing. “Did I borrow the car?”
“Ummm, yeah,” Kimberly sounded slightly concerned at John’s question. “Where’s the car John?”
John did not know how to answer Kim’s question without having another hundred or so spring up. His nose leaked onto the handkerchief.
"He was just, we are on our way of getting it right now. He was helping me with some things at the stand. I told him he should go home and rest, but you know John." Jerry presented Kimberly a calm reassurance to help ease the situation. "My car is parked down the road, John insisted we walk, said it helps the aches, right Johnny?"
“Go home and get some rest, alright sweetie? You want me to come by later, grab a bite for you to eat?” Kimberly rubbed her lips together, tasting her lipstick. "I have a lot of new products in, so I have to get started. But, I’ll come by later."
“Sure, that sounds great.” John rubbed his ear, a hesitant smile coming out of the woodwork.
“Ok, Nice seeing you again Jerry.” Kimberly waved her hand and turned to the door. John and Jerry waited for Kimberly to shut the door before they walked off.
Jerry did not wait for the lock to switch, "You stole Kim’s car?"
"I didn’t steal it. I borrowed it, I think. I didn’t steal it, maybe..." John took his two pointer fingers, raised them to his temples and applied a slight pressure to the side of his head with them.
"Ok, maybe, maybe you didn’t, but now Jacob Riles, did you happen to borrow his bike?"
"Now, well, that is a different--We have to find her car, because it’s not her car." John slouched, diminishing his posture.
"Well, who’s is it?" Jerry asked.
"It’s the company’s car, the one she works for." John’s face twisted, appearing to be deeply occupied by overpowering constipation.
"Christ Johnny." Jerry’s face flushed. "You are in deep glisht if you do not find her car, or their car, makeup, advertise-bullshit whatever." He bustled his hair. A condensation sweat peeking through his blotchy skin.
Across from Jerry, John stood motionless and stiff. "I think I am already." The sentence was there, and it was coherent, but it fell like spray from a broken irrigation system of a lonely patio. John reached into the pocket of his hoodie, fumbling around for something inside.
"Now what?" Jerry eyeballed John’s pocket. "Jesus Christ, what the Fuck Johnny?"
John pulled out his hand, a Colt revolver and Kimberly’s car keys enclosed in it.
"Where did you get the gun John?" Jerry begun to talk, but trampled on his own words. "But we missed something, what?" Jerry, confused by his own words, grabbed the revolver from John and put it in his own pants. Jerry fumbled as he slipped it between his waist and the pants he wore. He covered it up with his yellow pull over.
VROOOOM. VrrrrooOOOOM. VROOM.
"Fallen Wanderers?" Jerry asked.
"Maybe, sounded blocks away". John reached his hand into the other pocket and found a scribbled note with a message.
Jerry caught his breath after almost swallowing it, "What’s on the paper?"
"It’s a map." His hands caressed it, feeling it’s surface for answers. A map to where? To what? Was it in This world? or The next..."It’s my handwriting, only different. The A and G are off, rushed.
"Scribbled by a different hand you mean?" Jerry readjusted the gun in his pants. "Damn thing is cold."
John spoke to himself, tapping his fingertips on his thumbs, trying to recollect, "Another person handled this gun, took Kimberly’s car--right? A stranger, unfamiliar, but I do known him. Sometime, sometime before?
"What’s it say, anything?" Jerry walked closer, cautiously.
John searched for an unknown answer, unsure of who Jerry was talking to. John held up the map so Jerry could read it:
"It’s another question." John’s hands, barely able to grasp the mysterious map, crinkled the map’s edges.
VROOOM VROOOM VRRRRRROOOOOM!
The sounds of motorcycles grew louder.
"Oh no, Mr. Baker, follow me, down this alley." John said.
Jerry turned around as John already closed his hand around Jerry’s sleeve, squeezing the threads. They ran into an alley, down a long passageway. At the end, placed with inconvenience to anyone trying to get out from the other end were two large green dumpsters. John put his fingers to his lips: hush, quiet. The eye of the hurricane circled above, John and Jerry steadily waited in the calm center for it to pass. He pulled Jerry aside and they both kneeled, cramped by the dumpsters.
The smell of putrid, stagnant bong water with hints of dried pizza and spoiled collard greens staked their claim. Drip. Drip. The alley was plagued with puddles, a recent wash from a hose, attached to the back wall of a Chinese takeout restaurant, which allowed enough time for the residue to form in the surface, the crevices of the brick walls.