7 ~ In The Moment

Posted: September 6, 2015 in Entropis

“Is it drugs? Is that what it is?”

“No! Damn it, no, it’s not drugs! I’m telling you it’s nothing illegal!”

“Well then tell me! Come on, enlighten me, what is this mystery job!”
She hadn’t thought this through. She’d assumed that they’d be more interested in the money rather than where it came from. Over the last few days she’d been careful; buying sets of plastic rings and necklaces from pound stores and toy shops and transmuting them into pure gold to sell at pawn shops around the area. Never the same one twice and never too many that it might look like she’d stolen them. They said something about missing hallmarks, irregular weight, and ended up giving her less than she’d expected, but she still made more in a day than she’d made in her life.

“I thought you’d be happy! Don’t you want me to pay you some rent?”

“Not if it’s drug money I don’t!”

“It isn’t drug money!”

“Then tell me how you got it! It’s really simple!”

“I… it’s…”
Facing down her mother’s accusations would be easy if she could tell her the truth, or even had thought of a convincing lie in advance, but with the Stare Of Judgement bearing down on her she was struggling to come up with something convincing while not making it obvious. She’d been so excited about having real money for a change that she hadn’t even thought of this happening.

“Is… Is it porn? Are you being paid to–”

“No! Mum, stop, it isn’t anything like that!”

“Then what is it? Because I don’t understand how you can make hundreds of pounds in just under a week with no qualifications, no experience, no references…” She ticked them off on her fingers, “You don’t make money like that without doing something illegal!”

“Well…” The closer to the truth she made it, the easier she found it to lie, “I was selling stuff, but… but none of it stolen! Really, I wouldn’t do that!”
Now she thought about it, was selling fabricated gold illegal? It wasn’t fake gold, so it wasn’t forgery. At least, not in the normal sense…

“I don’t want to believe that you would! Trust me, I really don’t, but you’re still not telling me how you got it! So what am I supposed to believe, huh?”
Silver bit her lip.

“I’m just… buying and reselling stuff, that’s all…”

“Buying and reselling what?” Her mother wasn’t buying it, “I thought you said it wasn’t drugs.”

“It isn’t! I started off with some of my own stuff, you know? To get a little something.”
She shrugged, hiding her inward relief at having found a thread she could run with. She really had started with her own jewellery, but she didn’t have enough after most of it had gone in the first Schism, and what she did have didn’t look like it would be made in gold.

“And, well, a friend of mine sells stuff online and he was saying how to do it, and how I could do it… so I gave it a go and ended up selling stuff for way more than I bought it!” She quickly scaled down her grin from self satisfied to apologetic, “I’m… pretty good at it, you know?”
There was a pause as her mother studied her, Silver could feel her scanning for any holes in her story or body language, any tiny indication that might verify her mother’s suspicions.

“Why did you sell your stuff?” She said, lie detector mode still on full, “You couldn’t have been paid so quickly, you’ve only been gone a few days!”

“Well, that’s why I went to my friend!” Silver gestured off, as if towards him, “It was his account! He paid me what I’d be getting, just in advance!”
Her mother wasn’t listening,

“You could have told me, you could’ve… you could’ve borrowed money from us! You don’t need to sell your own stuff just for money!”

“Why not?” She’d changed her approach, which meant she’d started to believe it. It’d be easy from here. “It’s my stuff! I can sell it if I want! I couldn’t keep half of it anyway, it was way too much to keep here. I’d have to rent storage and that’d just cost more. It’s not like I even needed it!”
She shrugged again, thinking back to all her old stuff that burned down with Jake’s apartment, wiped from existence in the Schism. With money so available, she’d be able to replace it all with even better stuff. Designer clothes, high end computers and giant TVs. Hell, there was no reason she couldn’t finish her parents mortgage, even buy her own place! She turned her attention back to her lie, her fake job and partner, the ghost of her old troubles,

“Borrowing from you doesn’t solve anything. How else would I have got some money without having to pay it back again?”

“You could’ve got a job.”
Silver groaned and rolled her head back. The last gasp of parental wisdom – when all else fails, get a job.

“There are no jobs. For exactly the reasons you said. No experience, no qualifications, no nothing.”

“Then why don’t you go to University! That’s what student loans are for!”

“I’m not doing this now.” Silver shook her head, “We’re just going to go round in circles. I’ve made some money, okay? Just… just be happy for me, for once, maybe.”
Her mother looked away, her mind churning for a new angle, a new outlet. Something didn’t smell right to her, that much was obvious, but Silver could see her struggling to find a hole in her story.

“I’m just worried about you. That’s a lot of money to just turn up with in three days.”
Silver stared,

“Well, I’d kinda appreciate it if you didn’t just assume I’m dealing drugs or whatever.” Whether or not magically crafted gold was illegal, it still stung that her mother’d assume it straight away, “I kinda hoped you’d know me better.”
The timer beeped on the kitchen side and her mother opened the oven, leaning down to stare in at the meat inside. The rich aroma that wafted out made Silver’s stomach churn with its own emptiness. She waited for a response.

“Go and tell your brother dinner’s ready, would you?”
Nothing? No response at all? A complete change of subject, in fact. What was that supposed to mean? That she didn’t know her better, but felt she couldn’t say that? Had her time away lowered her so much in her mother’s mind that she’d expect her to break the law?

“Well? Are you going to do it or shall I tell him myself?”

“No, it’s fine.” Silver turned away, “I’ll go.”
Her father would be back soon, and whether he knew it or not his reaction would decide the matter. Her mother wouldn’t bother making an argument out of it if he thought it was positive; fighting the issue against a majority would only make her look bad. But if he became suspicious too, then she’d end up using that to interrogate Silver further. She needed to get him when he came through the door, before he had the chance to hear about it in a negative manner. She could hear it in her mind, how her mother would phrase it to start lighting the fires of suspicion in his mind.

‘Oh, did you hear darling? Our sweet little girl has gone from having no prospects to making hundreds of pounds in a day! I wasn’t sure how at first but she’s assured me it’s a completely legitimate business.’
Yeah, just like that. And she’d use that ‘Isn’t that interesting?’ tone that’s just serious enough that she could deny any accusations of sarcasm. She definitely needed to get to her father first.

“Ben!” Silver yelled up the stairs, “Ben! Dinner’s ready! Come on!”
There was no reply, so she stomped her way up as loud as she could. Damn kid probably had his headphones in. She pummelled his door until it opened.

Sullen eyes stared through slim glasses at her, his dark hair grown out in a fringe. She smirked at him, glancing past him and into his room.

“Dinner’s ready. What’re you up to? Playing games again?”
He closed his door behind him,

“No. None of your business anyway. Is dinner actually ready?”

“Kinda. In a ‘mum wants you to set the table in advance’ type of ready.” She barred his way, and grinned at him, “If you’re not playing games like always, what’re you doing? Homework? Like a good boy?”

“I said none of your business,” He sneered, “What do you care, anyway?”
He went to push past her, but she pushed him back. He’d grown quite a bit, and she felt for a moment like he might get past her, but he gave up. At just fourteen, he was already starting to gain on her in strength, but for now she still had the advantage. She couldn’t help but enjoy it while she still could, and she stifled her smile.

“Come on, don’t go yet, I haven’t seen you in ages! Can’t I ask what my little brother is doing?”

“You’ll only take the piss, whatever I say.” He folded his arms, “So I’m not gonna tell you either way. Can we go now?”
Silver mock-pouted,

“Aw, don’t be like that. Come on, I’m trying to mend bridges here!” She smiled, “Just because we haven’t got along before doesn’t mean we can’t start now! I’m back, we should do something together!” she nudged him, “Just tell me what you want to do, eh?”
He stared at her, his face blank,

“I want to go downstairs and have dinner. Can I do that?”

“Urgh! Come on! I’m not talking about right now! I’m talking about in the future! What do you like to do, or go, or whatever?”

“Are you serious?” He twisted his lip, “What is this, a trick? Mum’ll get mad if I’m too long, can we just go already?”
She paused,

“…Alright, alright I can see how it’d look that way right now, but, how else am I gonna talk to you? You lock yourself away and only come out for meals! I left, and I got some space, you know?” She nudged him, “Now I’m back I want to make up for it. I don’t mean to tease, it’s just habit. Let me get to know my brother on better terms. Let me take you out eh?” She smiled, “What do you want to do?”
He stared at her, looking bewildered and cautious, “I dunno…”

“Well,” she shrugged, “Think about it. Do you still like football? Still into the uh…” she cast a line back into her memory, but got nothing, “…Red team?”

“Red team?” He smirked, “You mean Arsenal? Yeah, I still support them.”

“Well then let’s go see one of their games! It’ll be fun!”
He squinted, “Seriously? I thought you hated football.”

“Haah, well… whatever, it’s not about me is it. Maybe it’ll change my mind.” She shrugged again, “Come on, it’s not like you can afford tickets.”

“Can you? I mean, it’d be like sixty quid for the both of us, and that’s just the cheap seats.”

“Cheap seats? And, the expensive seats, how much are they?”

“Like, a hundred each!”
She grinned,

“Heh, well, leave it to me okay? I’ll sort it out.”
They eyed each other, Ben staring at her, disbelief tinged with caution. He probably thought it was a prank or something, but she couldn’t wait to see his face when they sat up the front of a major stadium. Sure, it’d probably be dull as hell to watch a bunch of guys kick a ball into nets for an hour and a half, but maybe it’d convince Ben she’d changed. The more she learnt about these powers, the schisms, and the dangers that came with them, the more she wanted to be able to forget about it. Here, with her family, she could relax. She could love them and be loved by them, and know it for sure. If Ben could only come around, she’d have the perfect hide-away, free from crazy magic and imploding buildings. Her mum and dad would be easy, but Ben would be harder to crack. She heard the lock click downstairs, and clapped Ben on the shoulder.

“Sounds like Dad’s home, better get going eh?”
She dashed to the stairs, paused, then began to walk down casually. ‘How coincidental that she was coming down the stairs as he came in!’ he would think. Ben was catching up behind her, which would make it look even more casual.

“Oh, hey dad!”

“Hey dad.” Ben chimed in.

“Oh, he-ey!” Her father dragged bags of shopping through the door, one in each meaty hand, “Good timing you two, come help me unpack!”
He grinned up at them, his bristly beard unkempt and unruly. He’d put on weight since she left, sporting a belly that he joked was where he stored spare beer in case of emergencies. More like last weeks beer, thought Silver.

“I can’t,” Ben slouched off the stairs and towards the kitchen, “Mum wants me to lay the table.”

“I’ll do it.” Silver pulled the door out and followed her father as he went on ahead of her, “Where’s the car?”

“A bit further up, couldn’t find a place to park. Let’s get the bags in and we’ll take ‘em through after.”

She watched him walk ahead, keeping slightly behind him. She hadn’t seen much of him over the few days she’d been back, her irregular hours meant she missed him, either being at work or already in bed. Seeing him again seemed strange, somehow, as if her family had been set apart from him. She loved him, but at the same time, she didn’t really know him. Not like she knew Ben, or her mother. He’d worked on an oil rig when she was growing up, working to earn enough for the house they lived in, but it meant that once he was eventually promoted to something more desk-based, she’d been too old to spend proper time with him, preferring the company of her friends. Now that she thought about it, was the difference that he was around more, or because she wanted to try?

“So you’re back for good now? Your mum told me you’re moving back into your old room.” He turned slightly to look at her, still walking towards the car, “I’m surprised it’s big enough for you, these days.”

“It’ll do for now,” She smiled, “I don’t know about for good, but for a while. At least until I get a handle on things. That’s… that’s okay, right? She said you were just using it for storage.”

“Oh yeah!” He nodded, pulling his keys from his pocket, “Yeah it’s fine. It’d be nice to ‘ave you back! Ben’s not so talkative these days, in his moody teens. It’ll be good to have a third person at the table.” He winked.

“Hah, yeah…” She waited as he opened up the boot of the car, still the old Corsa, and taking bags as he handed them to her, “I might not be able to make every dinner, but I’ll do my best.”
He nodded, shutting the car again.

“Yeah you seem busy lately. If you’re ‘aving trouble moving out, you know, if you need any ‘elp…”

“Oh, no, it’s nothing like that.” Silver realised, this was her chance, “Actually, I’ve just started up a little business with a friend of mine. Buying and selling stuff. You know, eBay and all that.” She grinned at him as he picked up his share of bags and started to follow her back, “I’m pretty good at it, I’m making decent money! My friend’s helping me get started.”

“That’s great, I’m glad.” He huffed, “Really, that’s great. A job like that, as well, you can do it part time. You could do it while you were at Uni, or whatever.”

“You too? Come on, I told mum I didn’t want to go, I don’t want you nagging me too. Besides, if I work it full time, I make way more money. After selling all my old stuff I didn’t need, and using that money to get me started, I’ve made great progress! Plus, it’s pretty fun.”
He nodded, quiet for a moment,

“Well, if that’s what you wanna do, then I guess that’s that. I’m just glad you’re back for a bit. It’ll be nice to see you.”

“Yeah. Yeah it’ll be good to see you too. Hey… hey listen, I know you don’t get a lot of time off but… I was wondering about, you know, maybe taking Ben to go see a football match. Treat him a bit now I’m back.” She pushed her way back into the house, “I was wondering if… well… maybe you’d like to come?”

“‘Ey maybe! When is it?”

“I don’t know yet.” She paused, “I don’t know much, actually, but if you’d like, we could all go together. Not mum, she’d hate it, but you know, just us three.”

“Well… it’d depend on when… and what time of day it is, I mean I’d prob’ly have to take the whole day off…” He put the bags down and rolled his shoulders, “But, if I can, then yeah,” he grinned, “That sounds fun.”
She smiled back. After all the horrors of the schisms, after watching the world tear itself apart, along with the minds and bodies of anyone close enough, this was what she needed. To feel normal again, surrounded by family, in a place she was welcome, where she was safe. She could smell dinner in the dining room, but more than anything she was looking forward to the few hours she’d have where she could forget about it all. Put it all out of her mind, and maybe, just maybe, for the first night since the fire, she could feel just a little less alone.

“Go ‘elp your mum dish up, I’ll take this lot through.” He bent down to pick his bags back up, then paused, “Oh, and check the fridge. I bought some cider. I always wanted to take you out for your first, well, hah, first legal drink.” He chuckled, then shrugged, “But it’s a bit late now, so I thought we’d have a toast or something, welcome you back.”
Silver nodded,

“Right. Thanks, dad.”
She never did realise just how much she lost when she left. She’d always been so keen to get out, to move in with Jake, to gain some independence, she never considered all the things she’d really been leaving behind. Maybe now she’d be able to make up for it. She’d thought at first that it’d be her family that’d be happiest to have her back, but really, it was her who needed them. She could use her powers to help them, but whatever she did with money, it’d never compare with what they did for her.
Maybe she really could help Iris and Euphie and even Kia save the world. It was no wonder Kia seemed so worn down and pessimistic, after all, she went back to her fancy apartment alone. The thought of trying to take on those nightmares without any family, or friends or anything… With no break to relax and let it go… Silver didn’t know how she’d managed it. But she didn’t need to do it alone anymore. Together, they’d be an unstoppable magical girl team. And Silver could stop the Schisms, come home, and let it all wash away. With her family there, maybe she really could do it. They wouldn’t even know it, but she couldn’t be Silver without them.
She sat down at the table and breathed in the smell. She could do this. She knew that now. With them to come home to, she really could do this.


“No, no please, I can’t do this… Please, I can’t…”

“You don’t have a choice! You need to do it now!”
Another train smashed through the regenerating wall, shards of stone scattering across the other tracks and platforms, the train’s horn eclipsing the smash with a blast of noise so loud they flinched away from it.

“That’s another, they’re not going to stop, don’t you get it!?”
Kia ducked her head as the train hit a chunk of stone from a previous breach, jerking the vehicle off the rails and slamming it down into the floor. Carriage by carriage they slid sideways, the squeal of metal scraping against the condensing gravel below it like a dying scream from the great steel snake. Kia turned away from it and back to Silver,

“How many more trains full of people are you going to let die!? How many?”

“I can’t…” Silver sobbed, “I can’t concentrate on it, every time it feels like… like it’s gonna…”
The train smashed into one of the previous ones, the carriages whiplashing the impact through to the end until it came to a complete stop. She watched as Euphie ran over to it, climbing up the wheels and onto the roof. Kia snatched her attention away, her face twisted with fury.

“What!? Like it’s gonna start affecting you, too? Every single one of those people feels that the moment they’re in here! Every one starts feeling themselves change!” She clenched her fists, and took a deep breath, “Pull yourself together! You’ve got it easier than anyone in here!”
Silver turned back to the Heart. It seemed so smooth, a perfect sphere of uncalloused metal, except it didn’t look hard like metal. It transcended that, somehow. And whenever she focussed on it, tried to mould it with her mind, she felt it mould straight back. She felt her consciousness stiffen, her body become rigid and focussed. Dedicated, almost. She felt her energy drain from her, but one specific part strengthen. Each time she tried was different. Her strength, her speed, her awareness, her toughness. It didn’t just drive her body to adapt to one specific trait but her mind, too. The last had been her emotions, and she’d been flooded with so many feelings and sensations that she couldn’t take it. She’d never felt so vulnerable, every thought filling her with hysteria until she broke the tendrils of its focus. Kia didn’t seem to understand.

“What you feel, that’s happening to them for real! Permanently! And every train that comes smashing through here means more people suffer!”

“Kia!” Euphie’s voice cut through as she bellowed across to their platform, “This train isn’t opening! The windows, they’re, they’re turning to steel! Everything is! I can’t get them out!”
Kia paused, straightened up, and yelled,

“Leave them! They’re better off in there than out here!”
Euphie dithered, looking between her mentor and the train. She crouched down, straining to look inside, then stood up again,

“But it’s filling up inside too! They’re panicking, I can’t leave them!”

“Yes! You can!” Kia balled her hands into fists, “They’re already dead! If you let them out they’ll attack us! Leave them! Get back to Iris, she needs your support!”
She turned back to Silver, lowering her voice and tone to a threatening growl,

“Every moment you don’t fix this is another chance for more people to die like they will.”

“Why can’t you do it?” Silver could hear how pathetic she sounded, “You’ve done this before, you don’t need me!”

“Because you need to be able to! By using your element, you can scale it back, you can change it from whatever it’s trying to lock itself into and force it to balance out again! I can degrade it, but that’ll only make it work harder to strengthen itself.” Kia shook her head, “And if you can’t beat this one, then you won’t be able to beat any of them. You’ll be useless.”
Silver sank, her long hair hanging down around her head to block out the twisted world around her. If only she were stronger, if only she were able to face this stuff like the others. Iris had collapsed the last Schism, and she hadn’t broken down in tears over trying to fix the Heart. In fact, she’d pulled it off by now. Iris was smart and talented, Euphie was fearless, and Kia was experienced. Silver had none of those, so maybe she really was useless. If she left it to them, maybe they’d fix the Schisms faster, because they hadn’t tried to rely on her. Drops hit the floor beneath her face, then evaporated. Maybe if she hadn’t been here, that last train wouldn’t have come through. If she hadn’t been here, they’d all have survived.

“We don’t have time for this!” Kia seethed, “If you’re not going to do it, then I’ll try to do it with Euphie. You’ll have to help Iris keep us safe.”
Silver stared at the spots where her tears had fallen, feeling the trails along her face. What the hell was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she just do it? Her element was Metasis, the embodiment of change and growth and mutation, so surely she could adapt? She had to face it, otherwise what was the point? Why not just give up and pretend she was normal like Euphie had said on the train. The others all had their reasons, but why did she do it? What really made her Silver? She turned to the Heart once more, focussing on it, feeling its power with her mind. She had to try one last time. She had to prove she could do it, not just to Kia, but to herself.
She could feel it growing. It appeared like it was adding layers to itself, building itself up to be bigger, stronger, harder, but as she probed her mind out to it she felt all that energy probe back. It pulsed through her body searching for something to grip onto, and after a brief feeling of being filled with it, the sensation began to pull. Her mind began to scream at her to hide, to become small and run and flee, to get away from everything and disappear, and her body felt like it was being sucked inward, a black hole deep inside her trying to shrink her down, make her so small nothing could ever find her ever again.
She pushed back, ignoring the whimper that escaped from her lips, and forced her mind to try to change it, to make it fixate on something else. Anything else. But her mind kept telling her to pull away, to hide and run. Take Kia’s offer, it told her. Take it and try to get out of here. You’ll be safer from all this if you just hide. Just run and keep running. It’s the only way. She couldn’t shake it. Whatever she tried to change it to, she couldn’t concentrate. How could she force her magic onto it when it was doing the same to her? Surely Kia would find it easier! Breaking something, degenerating it down to nothing, that must be easy! Changing something, you had to mould it with your mind, concentrate on exactly what you wanted to change it to. From one thing to another, and the transition between them. How could she do that to something that was trying to force her to concentrate on only one thing? Even worse, running away was exactly what she wanted to do, Heart influenced or not. She couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t do it.
She broke away, reeling from the magic flooding through her and crawled back, shaking her head.

“I-I can’t. I just can’t…”

Kia’s reply was cut off by Euphie’s scream, and as they turned to look, she struggled on top of the train with two passengers, each of them trying to force her off the train, with more climbing out of the window she’d opened.

“Fuck, I told her not to open it!”
Kia leapt, shooting through the air towards Euphie and smashing into one of the passengers. He was dressed in a suit, probably going home from work, but as he swung an arm out at Kia she caught it, and though she only seemed to push it aside, as she let go it was withered and atrophied, a muscleless husk. He collapsed to his knees, clutching at it as she swung her elbow into the back of the other passenger’s head, a casually dressed woman. She collapsed too, unconscious or dead, Silver couldn’t tell from the platform. Kia gave them no mercy, she never hesitated and never held back. Was that why she was so good at fixing Schisms? Or was it just that so many Schisms had made her that way? A year, she’d said. That’s all it’d been between now and Kia transforming. Silver couldn’t imagine herself being so ruthless, certainly not so fast. They were on their way back now, the other passengers pushed back inside and left to their fate. A young girl was climbing out as they jumped down, struggling to pull herself out. She flailed, trying to pull herself free, stuck somewhere inside. She let go of the edge but didn’t fall, her hands grasping at whatever was holding her, desperation clear in her movements. Silver turned away. She couldn’t watch. She couldn’t do anything, either. Iris was right, this was all so hopeless.

“And if you don’t listen, how the hell do you expect to survive? I know what I’m doing! I’ve been through this before! If I say leave them, you fucking leave them!”

“R-right, Kia.” Euphie’s voice was small and shaken.

“And Iris? Where’s she? Why didn’t she go with you?”

“She’s still back at the other carriage.”

“What?” Kia rounded on her, “You left her!?

“I was– I’ve only been gone a minute! She’ll be fine!” Euphie faltered, “I… I thought…”
Kia took a deep breath, sucking down the frustration that creased her features. It was replaced with a cool calmness and a practiced air of command.

“Right, Euphie you’re staying here. See if you can break down the Heart or something. I don’t know, whatever, just stay here.” she turned to Silver, “You’re coming with me. If Iris is missing any parts you’ll need to shape her new ones.”
Euphie paled,

“Missing any… this is crazy, I’ve only just got here!”
Kia snarled,

“You’re so… naive!” She spat the word, “You were there to balance her out! Every time she uses her powers, she’s heightening the element around her! She makes this whole place worse!” Kia turned her back on the girl, “If she’s going to try to defend herself, she’ll be pumping it with more Immallean magic. So stay here, and don’t fuck anything else up.”
Euphie shrank, and Kia began to run. Silver did her best to keep pace, and watched as Kia corroded her way through the husk of one of the other trains.

“If she’s been pushed back to the edge, she’s done for.” Kia forced her way through, “The edge accelerates fastest, and Immallea purifies. It concentrates all physical matter into its purest form. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except air ain’t pure. It’s like, seventy percent nitrogen. And if any of us gets knocked out, we ain’t gonna have the protection our Transformation gives us.”
Silver stared as she broke through the other side, shavings of rust drifting to the floor, gradually becoming pure iron once more even as they fell.
Kia flexed, took a deep breath, and began to run once more,

“And if anyone needs to survive, it’s her.”


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Read Chapter 8 – In The Moment – (Coming September 6th)

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