Chapter 14: En-deer-ing
He stared at the note for a while. The answer was much more blunt than he was expecting. Unlike most mornings, he didn’t feel like his brain was foggy; he felt more awake, more aware.
The dream was still fresh in his mind; the details were like strokes of neon paint. He still didn’t really know how to feel about Avery, or what to do with the information they had given him; it was just a lot. Why did all of Sullivan's creations introduce themself by info-dumping?
There was a warm, fuzzy weight on his abdomen. He lifted the blanket and found Lucy, curled up into a ball. Her tail was tucked over her nose.
Keith smiled, but now he was faced with a dilemma: he needed to get up, but he didn’t want to wake Lucy. He had had this problem many times before, but alas, he had never found a solution.
As if on cue, the problem seemed to resolve itself. Lucy slowly unfurled as the light hit her. She yawned. At first, her mouth was only open slightly, but soon she had basically unhinged her jaw.
Keith took the blanket off completely to make sure he was seeing this right. Lucy’s mouth was stretched way farther than it should have been, with way more teeth than she logically should have; her mouth was like an endless pit of points and blades. Two long, green tentacles swung around as she let out a deep roar.
And then, her mouth closed. She was back to normal; there was no sign that this had ever happened. As she looked up at Keith, her eyes widened, like she had made some fatal, irreversible error.
This did not surprise Keith as much as it should have. Was it terrifying? Sure, but it also made sense—cats were just like that. And besides, Lucy was still Lucy—right?
Lucy hopped out of bed, and Keith did too. She scratched at the door, which was closed. How had she even gotten in? Perhaps she had used some of her eldritch cat magic; he didn’t really know. Or care. He changed into some casual housewear and walked into the hall.
Flax seemed to be checking out something in the living room; Molly was still sleeping on the couch.
“Oh, good morning, Keith!” Said Flax, taking his attention away from whatever he was observing. He had made a little nest of blankets and pillows, which he sat down in. A couple of things in the living room seemed slightly out of place, as if tampered with by a curious deer.
Keith stared at the cervitaur in his living room, a little bit of disbelief still lingering. Perhaps he had been staring for too long.
“Good morning,” he replied, walking past him and towards Molly. He poked her. “Molly, it’s time to get up.”
She turned away. “No…” she muttered, “five more minutes…”
“Do you even know what a minute is?” He asked. Molly didn’t know anything about anything, but he hadn’t had the time to teach her basic concepts like time or math.
“Yes…” she lied.
He picked her up and set her upright. Her little arms flailed about, and her round brows furrowed as he put her down.
Keith fixed up some breakfast for all of them—he was still low on pretty much everything, but he had just enough ingredients for avocado toast. He had even convinced Molly to eat some; he didn’t want her eating cat food forever. She ended up liking it.
When they were all done, Flax wandered back into the living room. His horns just barely scraped the top of the ceiling.
He looked at his reflection in the TV, tapping the screen gently. “Keith, I was meaning to ask you: do you collect old things too?
Flax chuckled. “I mean, where did you get such an ancient television?” He poked it with his finger, and jumped back, as if he expected it to do something
Keith was perplexed. Was he being genuine?
“Ancient?” He asked.
Flax looked back at him. Excitement filled his large green eyes. “Yeah! This may seem a tad strange, but I’ve always had a sort of… affinity for outdated technology; I find the rusted copper and limited function to be beautiful, in a strange sense. Pocket watches, arm keypads, knorplezobbers…” He trailed off, listing a bunch of technology that Keith had never heard of.
Flax wasn’t answering the question. “No, that’s not what I meant.” He gestured towards the TV. “What I’m asking is: how is this ancient?”
“We-well…” Flax said, speaking slowly and stuttering in confusion, “It’s incredibly small…and does not respond to touch…and probably doesn’t have the usual features that come with a television… why do you ask?’ He asked, as if this was something that everyone knew.
“Because,” Keith replied, “this TV came out last year.”
There was silence between the two of them, as neither was sure how to respond.
Flax looked from the TV to Keith. “What?” He muttered. “But these haven’t been used in… forever!”
“Does time…work differently where you’re from?” Keith asked. “Is Earth, like, stuck in the past or something?”
Flax thought about it. “No, I don’t think so. Time moves forward the same way in every dimension…well, unless you factor in pocket dimensions and such, but I don’t think that applies here.”
A shiver down Keith’s spine interrupted the conversation. It was accompanied by a cold presence behind him and a sense of anticipation.
He turned around, expecting to see a cartoony clown ghost, but there was nothing there—except for Molly, who was across the room.
She hopped over to them. “Are you two done with… whatever you’re doing? I wanna watch Sparkle Hooves!”
Keith almost responded, but he stopped himself. He looked back at the TV, and realized something that he hadn’t thought about before:
How had the rest of the world reacted to yesterday’s events?
Surely there would be some sort of broadcast or news report about it, right?
“Okay, Molly,” he said, “but first, I’ve got to do something important.”
He picked up the remote and turned it on—or, at least, he tried to. The screen remained dark. He pressed the button a couple more times, but nothing changed.
Was the remote dead? No, he put new batteries in a couple days ago. He checked if the TV was plugged in. Yep, it was.
He then tried to check his phone.
But it wouldn’t even turn on. It had been charging all night; there was no way it was dead.
“I was going to check out the news, but nothing’s working,” he said to Flax.
“So, can I watch Sparkle Hooves now?” Asked Molly, obviously not paying attention.
As if on cue, static filled the TV screen. It stayed this way for a couple of seconds, before cutting to something else.
It definitely wasn’t a news broadcast, though.
A purple-haired girl stared into the screen. The view tilted and went in and out of focus, like she was adjusting the camera. The video did not quite fit the TV screen.
“Okay, that’s good,” she said to herself. “Alright, chat, this is so crazy. Like, mega crazy. I can’t even begin to comprehend this.” Her voice was like a mean girl in every 2000’s high school movie. "I'm filming this on an old camera right now because, like, none of my other devices would even turn on. It's crazy."
Keith quickly realized what was going on. “I think… I think this is someone’s livestream.” But how is she broadcasting this to the TV? Is what he wanted to ask, but didn’t.
Flax’s eyes were wide open, but Keith had the feeling that he was just fascinated by TVs.
A low rumble came from the TV. It got louder with every second, and soon Keith could actually feel the ground shaking underneath his feet.
It was immediately followed by a sharp, futuristic sound—almost like something was being sliced open.
The girl’s eyes widened as she looked back. “OMG, chat, you’ve got to see this!” She exclaimed as she turned the camera around.
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Next: Chapter 15