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Friday, January 14, 2022

F³ Consultation

            “Okay, let’s say I buy into your science fiction mumbo-jumbo about antimatter lightning,” Jack said. “How do we fix it?”

            “I look like Spock to you?” Kate said. “I may know about the stuff, but I’m not a physicist.”

            “So, we need a physicist?” I asked.

            “Sure, why not? Or a doctor? Or a wizard, for all I know.”

            “What about that detective guy?” Nat asked.

            “Mark,” Jack said.

            “Mike,” I said.

            “It’s Matt, you morons,” Kate said.

            “Matt and Kate, sitting in a tree,” Jack sang.

            Kate scowled. “You want to get slapped again.” It wasn’t a question. “I’m sure you can lose more fillings,” Kate flexed her hand and took a couple of practice swings.

            “Sheesh, can’t take a joke.”

            “Can we get back on topic? Should we go talk to Matt?” Nat said.

            “You know, we don’t need to actually visit someone to talk to them,” Kate pulled out her phone.

            “K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” Jack whispered out of Kate’s hearing.

 

Friday, January 7, 2022

F³ Logical Deduction

             “What the hell explodes lightning?” Jack asked.

            “Not lightning,” Nat said. “It just kind of looks like lightning.”

            “Fine, it looks like lightning, and is the opposite cuz it goes around backwards. What the fuck does that even mean.”

            “Anti-lightning?” I suggested.

            “Anti-matter,” Kate said.

            We all turned to look at her.

            “The fuck is that?” Jack asked.

            “What it says, the opposite of matter.”

            Jack looked at me and Nat. “Someone make her make sense, please.”

            “I kinda would like to know more about this, too, Kate.”

            Kate sighed, and it sounded like she said ‘morons’ under her breath, but I couldn’t be sure. “Okay, matter is like protons and electrons to make up atoms. Lightning is electrons because it’s electricity. That’s why it seeks out a positive charge in the ground.”

            “So Reilly is shooting protons?” Nat asked.

            “No, Kate explained. “Protons and electrons have an opposite electric charge, but they’re otherwise not the same. Turns out there are exact mirror images of particles in every way. For protons they’re called anti-protons and for electrons they’re—"

            “Anti-electrons,” Jack said standing tall like he actually knew something.

            “Positrons,” Kate clarified, scowling and shaking her head at Jack.

            “How do you know this?” I asked.

            “I watch Star Trek.”

            “Nerd,” Jack said.

            “Hey, if she’s right, then I’m going to star watching it, too,” I said. “Best explanation we’ve had, so far.”

            Kate held up her hand in a weird salute with thumb outstretched and fingers parted in the center.

            She is a nerd.

Friday, December 31, 2021

F³ What We Take into The New Year

             Cassie was out with friends for a New Year’s Eve party, and I had expected Nikki to drag me to yet another grand ball or party at the Fairhaven Club with the city’s elite, but instead we watched bad horror movies with Elvira hosting. It was like a normal date night, and the best New Year’s Eve in memory.

            “Do you know,” she began, interrupting the commercial for the latest spray-on sealant, which I muted. “I have never been one to truly celebrate the new year. The world’s claims of a time of rebirth or reinvention held no interest for me.”

            “Well, yeah, immortality’ll do that to you.”

            “I witnessed historic revolutions that promised to shake the pillars of nations, and was part of the smaller, personal revolutions in countless lives, and the constant I saw was that change doesn’t happen with the tick of a clock from one second to the next.”

            “So you’re not going to be resolving to lose weight next year? I only mention it—”

            She put a finger on my lips, silencing me. “To try and distract me from a melancholy thought. I appreciate the misdirection for what it is, but allow me to finish, Matthew.”

            I nodded.

            “The seconds, minutes, hours, or even days, weeks, months, and years to not produce change. I have never regarded the calendar as having any power over my outlook on life as the decades and centuries have produced very little change in society or in myself. However, I look back at this year as one of remarkable change, of intimacy with you.”

            “Um, well, I—” I stammered, but she again shushed me.

            “Do not think I am looking for some long-term commitment, Matthew. Merely take it for the compliment that I intend that for the first time in a long time I have looked back on this year and regret its passing, yet I also look forward to what the new year may bring, not because I resolve to make changes, but because this chapter of my life, with you in it, continues.”

            I gave her a small grin. “I never really thought about it like that. Especially in recent years with all the craziness, I’ve kind of looked forward to the new year as a way to leave the old behind. But you flipped it. The parts of the old year you choose to take with you into the new. And for what it’s worth, I feel the same way. ‘If that new year leaves the ground and you’re not with me, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.’” I tried not to lay my Bogart impression on too thick, but couldn’t help but slip into it.

            “I’ll allow the sentiment, but please leave the impression in the old year.”

 

Friday, December 24, 2021

F³ Christmas Story

             For a change, I didn’t have any weirdness going on at Christmas. Nikki hadn’t dropped by, I hadn’t seen the kid, and Nick was staying far away for all I could tell. It was just me and Cassie on the couch watching Christmas specials. The tree twinkled merrily with gifts underneath, and we had hot cocoa, made from Ma’s special powdered mix. I need to make sure we called Florida in the morning. Hopefully we could get the video working, though sometimes Ma and Dad had difficulty with the tech. Heck, sometimes I had problems with the tech.

            I picked up the remote, ready to select the next film, highlighting The Santa Clause, but Cassie shook her head.

            “Not that one, Uncle Matt. We used to watch that one all the time, but now. . . .” she trailed off.

            “Okay, Cassie. We don’t have to watch that one. How do you feel about National Lampoons?”

            She nodded slowly, but as the intro to the selected flick started up, she wasn’t really seeing it. I put an arm around her shoulders, and she leaned into me.

            “I miss them, Uncle Matt.”

            “Me, too, Kiddo. Now, your dad and I, we loved this movie, because your grandpa, well, he kept trying to do the same thing with the lights, only your dad and I were the ones to do all the real work. He was the supervisor, you know? Anyway, even though we were working at it, we still made some fun out of it. Did you know that a strand of Christmas lights is strong enough to support a ten year-old’s body weight?”

“What?” she looked up at me.

“True story. We were scared of sliding off the icy room so we used extra light strands as safety ropes.”

“That worked?”

“Oh yeah. See, the lights in those days were big and needed a lot of juice, not like the skinny strands of lights they have, now. And for all that your grandma worried about us doing crazy things, she never once had a problem with grandpa sending us onto an icy room. Guess she thought we were safe as long as we were ‘supervised.’”

Cassie chuckled at that.

“One time your dad slipped and went over the eave. And there I was up at the top, making sure to belay him. But grandpa, all he says is, ‘You dropped the staple gun. I’ll toss it back up to you.’”

“Nuh uh!”

“Oh, yeah, to you they’re nice grandparents who give you stuff. To your dad and I, they were slavedrivers, though we did get hot chocolate once inside, and your grandma’s cinnamon ring.”

“That sounds good, can we have some, now?”

“Sure thing, but don’t tell Grandma, tomorrow morning. She wanted us to save it.”

Friday, December 17, 2021

F³ Motion in The Ocean

             I didn’t widen the gap between fingers, but I did pump up what I thought was the electricity flowing out of me. It shouldn’t result in a bigger arc, but it did. A fat stream of white lightning danced between my fingers. But it was more jagged than normal lightning, too, or at least . . .

            “It’s fuzzy,” I said.

            “Yeah,” Nat said.

            “Like Kylo Ren’s lightsaber,” Kate said.

            “Never mention those movies,” Jack said.

            “I didn’t say I liked them,” Kate said.

            “They’re definitely explosions,” Nat said.

            “What the fuck is exploding?” I asked.

            “Yeah, it’s not like he’s packing C4 or something,” Kate said.

            “Packing, heh,” Jack said.

            “It feels like lightning inside you?” Nat asked.

            I thought about it, then nodded. “As far as I can tell.”

            “The charge is the same?”

            I hadn’t thought about that. Never had to think about the charge, before. Even positive lightning was really negatively charged. It just moved down a different pathway than typical lightning, from the top of the cloud to the ground instead of the bottom of the cloud.

            I closed my eyes and thought about the lightning inside me, feeling the charge move around my body. Electricity swirled around my stomach, as normal, exactly the same as every other time . . . except the direction it moved. I had never noticed before, never even thought about the direction the electricity flowed until now, but it went clockwise through my stomach. But not now. Now it mostly moved counterclockwise, and it did so automatically.

            “Um, I don’t know, but it’s moving the opposite direction,” I said.

            “What?” Nat asked.

            I shrugged. “Beats me.”

            “That’s fucked up,” Jack said.

Friday, December 10, 2021

F³ Jinxed

             “What do you see?” Jack pushed his face about as close as possible to my fingers.

            “Little explosions.” Natt said. “Just a line of explosions stretching from one finger to the next.”

            “The fuck?” Kate and Jack said.

            “Jinx,” Kate got out first. “So no talking.”

            I looked close. Storm riders could see things, but it wasn’t as easy as flipping a switch like Superman and his various visions. It took a lot of concentration to try and focus at a great distance or down close. More than once my eyes went cross-eyed trying to get there, but finally I was able to see what Nat described, like tiny fireworks going off.

            “Screw that,” Jack said.

            If something is exploding, it has to be caused by something. Why am I thinking fireworks? Wait, is something moving? I can feel it leaving my finger, but am I imagining what I’m seeing? What is—

            The sparks disappeared as I lost all concentration at the sound of a loud slap. Jack went reeling, as if he had been dealt a Hollywood special effects slap.

            “Motherfucker!” Jack rubbed at his cheek as he sat up.

            “What? You get slapped when you break a jinx,” Kate said.

            “No, I buy you a fucking soda!” Jack said. “Fuck! I think you loosened a filling.”

            Nat shook her head and growled something under her breath, then turned her attention back to me.

            “Okay, Reilly, do it again, but maybe make it bigger so we don’t have to squint as hard. And the two of you kindly shut the fuck up or I’ll put my foot in both your asses.”

            “Kinky,” Kate and Jack said together.

            “Jinx,” Kate said.

Friday, December 3, 2021

F³ The Curse of Being Jack

             I frowned, thinking about Nat’s question. Electric arcs, whether lightning or between my fingers, were generally blue. It had to do with the temperature. The hotter it was, the bluer it was. White lightning—not moonshine—wasn’t actually a thing. Generally, any white associated with lightning was just light blue or as a result of gases in the atmosphere being ionized.

            “I don’t feel any heat at all,” I said.

            “How can that be?” Nat said.

            “I look like an expert?”

            “Most of the time I think you’re a moron, but you have a habit of having strange stuff happen to you.”

            “Gee, thanks.”

            “Learn how to take a compliment,” she grinned, but it slipped as she leaned in looking intently at the arc.

            “Don’t touch or you’ll be just like Jack.”

            “God, that’s gotta be the worst fucking curse in existence,” Kate said.

            “Only because you bunch of losers can’t handle my awesomeness,” Jack fired back. “It's a curse, really.”

            “I’m sure you regularly handle your ‘awesomeness.’” Kate did the air quotes.

            “Shh,” Nat hissed. “I think I can see something here. I don’t think this is lightning.”

Friday, November 26, 2021

F³ The Fix

             After the ovation, Nikki and I bowed out to let the kids dance, though I noticed Cassie wasn’t one of them. I expected her to be canoodling in some corner, but instead she and Rick stood talking to a group of other students near the buffet table. Most of them did that thing where they had in-person conversations while simultaneously checking and writing things on their phones, a skill I could never master.

            “Something troubles you, Matthew?” Nikki asked. “You’ve got that crinkle around your eyes when you are engaged in a mystery.”

            “They didn’t sneak off,” I said, “which means it’s something else.”

            “Ah, yes, I’m sure it must be off-putting to you that your niece did not sneak away to enjoy in forbidden fleshly—”

            “Please don’t finish that sentence,” I broke in.

            “I thought you were comfortable with her exploring her sexuality, especially in a controlled, trusting way.”

            “Comfortable is not the word I’d really use, more like accept it as a necessity, kind of like my dating a vampire.”

            “Oh, and I never want you to feel comfortable, at least not in that way. It’s too much fun keeping you off-balance.”

            “Mm-hmm.”

            Cassie’s had trouble making friends since moving here, but she’s got a knot of people around her, now. Hmm.

            “Oh, Matthew, I will make you regret so tame a response. I—are you actually looking at your phone?”

            I was too focused on scrolling into the social media app to tell if her shock was genuine, and I knew I’d regret it later, but I had to make sense of this. And that’s when I saw the pics and videos on Cassie’s page. More than that were all the comments and praise to her for having such a cool uncle.

            I loved that, but I had a concern, too. “Is this going to cause problems for you?” I showed Nikki.

            As a vampire, photos and videos showed up blurry, usually a dead giveaway of her supernatural presence.

            She smiled at the media, scrolling through, then she bent close to my ear so others wouldn’t overhear. “Not at all. I’m very impressed by the technology, today, which makes corrections to the focus. Our fluid dance can explain any blur, especially as some of it has affected you. Do not worry. But you do seem to have solved the mystery.”

            “Yeah, my niece used us to elevate her social status. Clever.”

            “Do you plan to reprimand her?”

            “Nah. She might have to live with us showing up to all her dances from now on, though. I don’t think she thought that part through.”

            “Indeed, I look forward to more of these.”

Friday, November 19, 2021

F³ Fever

             Those dancing competition shows, the ones with the celebrities and their perfectly choreographed routines had nothing on me and Nikki. We’ve been dancing for years, so a routine didn’t matter. We didn’t need it. We created it on the dance floor. With a look or a touch, we indicated our next moves. Here a slide to the left, there a twirl. Spin out then back in, lean down as far as my back would let me—vampires have dense muscles and pack on the pounds! A dip, then spin her around behind me. She whirled me around, then we danced back, her hand pushing me, then a high kick and her ankle on my shoulder. My fingers got a trace of fishnet along her calf before her leg came back down and she’s pulling me forward by the tie before I pull her spinning into me again. Her arms went around my neck and her leg lid up my hip. My hand caressed and held her thigh as the song ends.

            And like that, awareness of the rest of the floor finally snaps home. The floor was empty, aside from us, a solid throng of people ringing all sides, and they’re all clapping and cheering, Cassie going at it the loudest.

            But I’m still wrapped up with Nikki, her breathing quick. Seeing as she didn’t need to breathe, that meant she was excited. I was, too, and sweating and panting with the effort.

            “Dress made of flames for a devil, but also for a burning fever. You in on this?”

            “Not this time, Matthew. I suspect we are both pawns in your niece’s scheme, though I am willing.”

Friday, November 12, 2021

F³ The Move

             “Boo,” Cassie hissed at me on the dance floor.

            Rick gave tiny shakes of his head with big eyes darting to Cassie. Clearly, this wasn’t his idea.

            “What?” I shrugged.

            “You two are better than this. Come on, enjoy yourselves.”

            “It’s your dance, not ours. Why don’t you work on cutting a rug?”

            “We’re trying, but we haven’t put in the time that you two have.”

            “Git gud, scrub.” Cassie had told me that often enough whenever we played games as she trounced me. It felt good to send it back to her.

            Her glare tried to fire a rocket at me. But then it turned into an evil smirk. “Fine.” Taking Rick by the hand, they marched off the floor.

            I shrugged as the song trailed off. I began walking Nikki back towards the punch bowl when the familiar strum of a bass began.

            “Clever girl,” Nikki said.

            “Too clever,” I answered, spying Cassie walking back from the DJ.

            I felt Nikki’s irresistible tug on my arm, pulling me back to the dance floor as “Fever” played.

            Nikki will never not dance to this, and I like it, too. Question is, how did Cassie find out?

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