Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Day Seven-Seventy-Eight: The happiest family

Driscol and Evangelina were born in a magical hut, embedded in a cliff wall a half hour’s walk from the Imperium city of Largesse. Raised by their mother, the twins had never known their father. Driscol suspected he had no father, and that July’s pregnancy was the result of some twisted magic. He didn’t much care either way.

By age three, the twins had learned the rudiments of magic, forcing a pair of cockroaches to dance a small jig for their amusement. This pleased brother and sister alike - but when she’d seen their auras to be a brilliant orange, their mother punished them both. She never explained why.

By age six, June had secretly enrolled them in a local school, ensorcelling and seducing a teacher to sneak Driscol and Evangelina into classes for free. They were educated as aristocrats - yet every day they returned to the hut in the cliff, equal parts dank, dark, and permeated with evil magic. June seemed to think that they would change with age, but nothing the twins did ever satisfied their mother.

By age nine, June turned to small medical experiments, using her extreme knowledge of herbs and biology, to tamper with the twins. They ran away in the night, fleeing their mother’s crazed eyes and crazier fingers after drugging her with a sleeping potion.

By age twelve, June found them again. They’d ingratiated themselves into a position with an aristocratic family, working as servants to a pair of bratty children. For reasons neither twin quite understood, June murdered the noble children, then magically forced the household to believe that Driscol and Evangelina were the true inheritors of their estate. She disappeared shortly thereafter, still disappointed.

By age twenty-one, Driscol’s new parents died when a pair of pet snakes he’d charmed broke loose from his still-fledgling magical powers, slithered into their bedroom, and bit them. He and Evangelina jointly inherited the estate. Driscol never told his sister how her adoptive mother and father had died.

By age thirty, Driscol had become acquainted with a young man named Jeffrey. He also met an older man named The Baron. The two hated one another on sight, though for his part Driscol never quite understood his dislike of the bespectacled bureaucrat. It took many years more for Driscol to truly figure it out.

By age thirty-five, Driscol and Evangelina were living in a castle with no set name. They had a plan. The plan did not work.

Now, at age thirty-seven - possibly thirty-eight, as he no longer remembered his real birthday - Driscol was back with his mother. Only now his mother was a young man, a slight, blonde creature women might find attractive, if not for the horrible scar across his torso - and the perpetual, ugly sneer on the young man’s face.

“How ya feeling, buckaroo?” July leaned back on a rock, smiling. “Haven’t checked up on ya lately. Still piss your bed? You used to stink up the hut somethin’ fierce back in the day.”

Bernard chuckled thuggishly. Driscol rocked his head to one side, smacking his fellow Freak, ignoring the blossom of pain and the shriek of irritation. He liked head-butting Bernard. Bernard was an idiot. Cedric was, too, but at least he knew when to shut up.

“Never were good with the other kids.” July cackled. “The complaints I got from yer teachers. Tisk, tisk. Such a temper. Ach, remember that time you forced that one boy to eat a live salamander? I was so proud of your magic that day, let me tell you - “

“Shut up,” Driscol hissed, voice low. “I don’t have to put up with this from you.”

“Not so loud!” Bernard warned, casting a look over his shoulder. The tug of the motion on their shared stitches hurt. “Doc’ll hear ya, stupid! Be quieter!”

“You’re one to talk, you damnable loudmouth,” Driscol replied. He turned back to his ‘mother’. “Making you proud was never high on my wish list, by the way. I had other plans.”

“Oh, yes, and look how they’ve turned out.” Sweeping her hands to encompass all of Freak, July tittered. “A failed revolution, a botched escape, a horrifying death, bondage to one of the most annoying creatures in any world… yes, I’d say your plans have been top-notch quality, my boy. Top notch.”

“Must run in the family,” Cedric cut in huskily. “You don’t look like you’re doin’ much better, asshole. Can’t even keep track of your damned gender.”

July shrugged, inspecting herself. “It’s better ’n what I had. That old body was withered to shit. Should’ve ditched it ages ago, but, ah, sentimentality…”

Driscol shuddered. Living with his mother as long as he had, he’d quickly come to grasp, even as a child, that she was fundamentally insane. Her ambitions - whatever they were - led her to do and say things that would make even the most hardened criminals cringe. Yet her insanity was highly functional, and Driscol knew that July could easily be counted as one of the most dangerous people on the planet. The fact that she’d apparently lived for centuries, travelling from one body to the next, was evidence enough of the threat she posed. Yet even now, he still didn’t know what she wanted, and that frightened Driscol more than anything.

Perhaps sensing this line of thought, July jumped to her feet, rounded the burning fire between herself and Freak, and approached the remains of her son. She yanked his chin to one side, inspecting the long scar that ran down his face.

“This’s quite a wound,” she commented. “The Baron do that, or Doc?”

“Doc,” Driscol said, refusing to elaborate. The memory of Doc’s merciless surgeries had no place in the present.

“Quite a sicko,” July concluded. She slapped Driscol’s face lightly. “‘least you don’t have to shave anymore, eh? Hair follicles are dead? Must be convenient. I’ve had ta shave this brat’s mug a few times, now. Had ta go and inherit his parents’ fuzziness…”

Lingering in front of Freak’s hunched bulk, apparently unconcerned with the fact that Freak could rip her apart with its powerful claws, July inspected each of the faces. Cedric looked away; Driscol matched her gaze; Bernard put up a tough front, but ultimately cracked and groaned when she kissed his cheek. He said something about being “Gay, so gay,” but Driscol tuned him out. He’d put up with too much griping as Freak’s central head not to have learned how to ignore Bernard by now.

“Y’know,” July eventually continued, hopping lightly from one foot to another, “it occurs to me that you ’n him are related. Kinda.”

Driscol cocked an eyebrow. “What?”

July slapped her skinny chest. “Half brothers, I’d say. Sounds about right. Man, those rats… such randy buggers.”

Confused, Driscol forced composure. He had no idea what she was talking about. The body, he knew, belonged to Grayson, the first-born son of Dragomir. Driscol didn’t know exactly what had happened to Grayson, given his mother’s penchant for secrets, but she’d somehow ousted the young man’s soul and replaced it with her own… with some help from Doc’s surgical skills. 

July paused in front of Driscol again, pulling a mirror from one of her ragged pockets. She forced Driscol to turn his head to one side, then to the other, occasionally comparing her own face to his. She didn’t seem to find what she was looking for, though, and eventually gave up with a shrug.

“I don’t see ‘em,” she said over her shoulder, returning to her rock in front of the fire. “Not even a hint of whiskers. Though I guess if I’d seen a big, fuzzy rat face pokin’ outta my cooch, I might’ve set it on fire, y’know? Boy, Doc named you right. You really are a freak.”

1 comment:

  1. [July’s] pregnancy was the result of some twisted magic.

    Is that meant to be June?