He woke at ten o'clock the next morning and was very glad it was Saturday. He went downstairs to get his breakfast to find a note stuck to the fridge on a yellow post-it note. It read...
Dad at Council meeting.
I've been called into work
as Jane is ill. I should be
back around 4 + Dad at 6.
There's still some food in
See you later. Mum x
Mort read the note as he waited for his toast to pop up. So, he had the house to himself until four. And then he remembered he had no homework and he smiled as he buttered his toast.
He finished his breakfast and washed up his plate then went upstairs and pulled on a T-shirt and some jeans, grabbed his laptop and wasted a few hours on YouTube. If he ran out of things to watch on YouTube, he would pull out a book and read until he thought of something else to watch. And so, that is what his routine consisted of that day. Back and forth from his laptop to the book shelf until four o'clock when he went upstairs, grabbed his finished RE essay and a pen and sat at the dining table with them. When he heard Paura's car outside he traced over the last sentence so the ink looked fresh, because if Paura thought he had done nothing all day she would probably have his trim the tree or mow the lawn.
"Hey Mort." she said when she came in. She still looked ill but better than the night before.
"Hi, how was work?" he asked, stretching as if he had been working on the essay all day.
"Oh, okay, I guess. I had to cover Jane's desk for the day but it wasn't that hard." she said. Mort didn't really know what Paura did but he knew it was in one of the office blocks in town. "How was your day?" she asked, putting her bag on the table and glancing at the essay.
"Oh, usual. Homework, bit of music. Just stuff." he shrugged.
Paura sighed and sat opposite him. "About last night, Mort, Sinne was just on edge. Him and Rohkeus someone might be deliberately stopping the Feelings from being reborn. He didn't mean anything." she said.
"Yeah, course." Mort mumbled, he picked up his essay and headed to the stairs. He could feel his left cheek burning again, and the sound his neck had made as it had cracked to his right filled his ears.
"Really, Mort. Don't say anything." she said and he turned back to her to see her gaze was a pleading one, even if her voice was the same neutral as usual.
He nodded once and went back to his room. When he got there he turned on his iPod in its speakers, set it into his Two Steps From Hell playlist and lay on his bed, thinking. He drifted in and out of conciousness and when he was finally woke by hunger it was one in the morning. He opened his door, stuck his head out and cocked it to listen.
Sinne was snoring at no sound floated up from downstairs so he crept down and pulled an apple from the fridge and ate it slowly as not to make any noise. Now he had eaten, his brain realised he should be asleep and he instantly felt like just going to sleep then and there but he managed to get back upstairs and fell face first onto his bed and was asleep before his nose hit the pillow.
In his sleep, Mort felt something stirring.
The said something was laughing and, as it laughed, it broke free of its ancient chains. It rose up and out of its prison and Mort felt another presence now too.
"Freedom at last..." the thing said, in a voice older than time and stronger than all of the forces of nature. "Now go," it continued "You must stop the Council. If he gets his Responsibilities the he could free the other Feelings. If he does that, then we both shall fall." the ancient thing said, shaking off the last of the chains that had bound it.
"Yes, I shall stop them." the other said. "But what about Life, Master Opstanak?" he continued.
"Hmm..." Opstanak said, the noise low and load like thunder. "Leave her be. I want to have some fun while I wait. It will be fun to tease the boy with her." he laughed, a sound not much different from grinding metal.
"Yes, naturally." the other said and his presence faded until it was gone.
Opstanak turned back to his old prison and sighed. "Brother, sister; I would free you and allow you to come with me but you were willing to betray me in the final days of the war so I go alone. If, someday, you prove your faithfulness, I will come back and free you but, alas, right now, I do not see the point." he said, and with a twirl of his dark blue robes, he was gone.
Mort woke to find light streaming in through his window and the smell of toast wafted into his room from the kitchen. But nothing could relax him. Not now. Not after that. He could only hear one thing in his head, over and over again.
Opstanak was free.