“We’re all going to die,” said Aaliyah firmly. She was sitting on the couch, dripping snow. She hadn’t taken her hat or boots off, and didn’t seem to realize what was going on around her.
We all sat crowded around her, listening intently. Chaos was on the floor stirring a pot of hot cocoa they’d made, serving it into mugs. Right now, there was fat chance of anyone drinking it.
“I dreamt it,” Aaliyah said softly, hugging herself. Her gaze drifted off at the TV, not really seeing it. “We all drowned.”
Chaos offered her a mug of cocoa. I shook my head at them, but Aaliyah took it.
“We all died,” she repeated softly. “But I can’t remember how it happened. There was just all this water and you,” she nodded at me “Couldn’t keep your head above it. There was a shark and -,” she shook her head. “We all drowned.” She looked at Chaos. “You had a wooden crucifix that floated. That was all that was left behind.”
Chaos looked down. We all lowered our gazes. No one knew what to say.
Maybe now’s a good time to say that Aaliyah, being a golden dragon, had rare predictive dreams. She dreamed of the future. Needless to say, dreaming of all of us dying had never happened before, and wasn’t a good sign.
Chaos cleared their throat. All eyes turned to them and I cringed inside, expecting something, well, cringe-worthy.
“You know,” Chaos said, swirling the coca in the pot. “In my realm when one god made a prediction, it was basically taken as a challenge by other gods. A sort of ‘hold my beer’ kind of moment.”
“This was a dream,” Jade said sternly. “It,”
“Was sent by someone,” said Chaos flatly. “And someone else somewhere is probably taking it as a challenge to make it not happen. So-”
“Our world is not populated by zillions of gods like your world was,” I interrupted.
“It’s not written in stone!” Chaos interrupted me back fiercely. “Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true. It’s a warning, not a death sentence. And how many people have avoided the death sentence?”
“Not a whole lot,” I bit back.
“They’ve got a point,” said Charr quietly. “We can maybe do something.”
Chaos pointed the chocolatey spoon towards her. “Avoid water.”
“I’m thinking something else,” said Charr.
“Well,” Charr gave me a meaningful look. “Maybe we should contact, you know, the principals.”
There was an unhappy silence. My stomach did an unhappy flip. I looked grudgingly at Charr. I knew she was right. Of all the times, this was as good as any to travel to meet the principals. But – I didn’t want to. “Can it not be tomorrow? I have an exam.” I said grumpily.
“You always have exams,” Chaos said.
I glared at them. “I should be studying right now, thank you. This is important for me.”
“So is this!” said Aaliyah sharply, near tears. “We might all die!”
I cringed. “Okay, let me do my exam first. I have to go study. But I promise, tomorrow when I get home, we,” I looked pointedly at Charr. “Will go visit the principals.”
Well, I was late for work by about ten minutes, spilled a latte on some jerk’s lap, and that was just the start. It was a long shift, I was bored, and every minute felt like drudgery. Really, I couldn’t wait to get home. Kuryo and Charr were going to visit the principals! Kuryo’s exam was in the early afternoon so when I finished my shift, he and Charr should be ready to go on their little dimension trip.
Well! I rushed home through the snow and buses, climbed up the stairs in a rush, and let myself into the dinky apartment that smelled like home.
The moment I stepped inside, I felt an energy. It wasn’t magic per se, but it was… a presence.
Well I didn’t have to look far, it was right in front of me in the living room and staring me in the face.
“Hi?” I said, my brain doing that dumb thing where it refuses to acknowledge what it’s seeing.
It was Kuryo, but not. In fact, take Kuryo and imagine he hit the gym, fronted a heavy metal band, and put on a medieval tunic and that’s what was staring me in the face, long angry hair included. Charr was sitting on the couch beside him, wearing a black dress that I had never seen her wear before.
“Who’s that?” she asked.
“Temporary roommate,” said another Charr, this one wearing clothes I knew, from the kitchen.
I shut the door behind me, just in case the world needed to not know about this. Yeah, something juicy was happening. I could feel it.
So, being me, I started talking. “Uhm, hi, I’m-”
“Why don’t you go get Kuryo?” Charr said, stirring a mug of something and handing it to the other Charr. “Tell him Kuryo has arrived.”
My mouth may have hung open for a minute while my brain just finished exploding in my head. Say whaaat?
Then the metalhead Kuryo gave me an angry look. I nodded and let myself back out.
I met Kuryo, the real one, at the bus stop.
“I need to tell you something!” I blurted as we met. Heads turned and I cleared my throat. Kuryo looked tired. He’d been up all night studying for this exam. For a moment, I felt bad for him. But then I remembered what was at the apartment.
“Okay, so, don’t freak, but,” I looped an arm around his shoulders and ducked our heads together.
“Is this a love declaration?” he asked hopefully, trying to make light of the situation. He really did look tired.
“Charr told me to tell you that ‘Kuryo is here’. Has arrived. Something like that.”
Kuryo looked at me, so tired. Then he sighed heavily. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah!” I nodded, eyes wide. “And there was this guy in the apartment, and he looked just like you! Except, I mean, he works out, and there was another Charr-”
Kuryo cursed and began walking towards the apartment building. Little flurries of snow were falling through the sky, floating delicately down. They peppered his hair.
“Do you – you know, you don’t have work or somewhere to go? Feel like doing groceries or something?” he asked me as we neared the curve in the street where our block was.
I took it like a traitorous punch to the gut. “What? You don’t want to include me?”
“No, that’s not it,” groaned Kuryo. I took his shoulders, and he drew to a stop, exasperated. “It’s just – this doesn’t concern you.”
“Doesn’t – but I’m, I’m a part of your life! I was in the dream too, wasn’t I? I’m involved!” a whole well of hurt began swelling inside of me. Charr had called me a ‘temporary roommate’ … were they thinking of getting rid of me?
“Yes but,” Kuryo said. A lot of meaning was in his eyes. “You’re,” and he searched for words.
My heart broke. “Are you dumping me?”
Alright it came out a bit louder but, mercifully, there wasn’t anyone around but the snow to hear. My eyes got all misty and stupid. “Are you?”
“But?” I nearly shrieked.
Kuryo lifted his hands, trying to placate me. I was having none of it, scrubbing angrily at my tears. “I just don’t think it is wise for you to meet him.”
“Who is he?” I barked, knowing already the answer. A twin. A relative of sorts. Okay, alright, I get it. I’m not the type that you can bring home all proud and Charr was probably already invited home-
“He’s me,” Kuryo said flatly. “But from another dimension.”
“What?” My mind skipped a beat.
“See? This is too complicated,” he said. “Just – go to the grocery store or something.” and he began walking away. I rushed after him.
“He’s you? From another dimension?” I asked as I kept stride with him. He walked fast, trying to shake me off, but who was the one who did all the cardio huh? Me, that’s who. Little old student here didn’t do a whole lot of exercise.
“Yes, and we didn’t necessarily get along either,” Kuryo said as we crossed the street to our block. “Now if you’re going to stick around, you’re going to want not to cross him. Okay? Just – silent observer, okay? Just that. Don’t say anything.”
“And the – she’s another copy of Charr?”
“Charr is here as well?” he asked, whipping around to me. “You didn’t say that!”
Kuryo hissed some curses and rolled his eyes. “Okay, well, don’t cross any of them, okay? Just – zip it. Okay?”
“I can do that,” I said confidently. Since when was I the chatterbox around here?
Kuryo gave me a nasty look, then drew the block’s door open for us both.