I’m postponing “I’m Not Okay” because this idea – scratch that; these ideas – had just suddenly popped into my head and I can’t just ignore it. The title is “Deus Ex Machina” – it’s a Latin phrase meaning “god from the machine” which can be roughly translated into “God made it happen” – it’s used to describe a hopeless situation which is solved by a character, item or unexpected event which will be left unexplained. My story will have some elements of deus ex machina but the reason the story is called that is a different story entirely. This story will have chapters – the chapter names are all sorts of Latin phrases so it’s going to be fun since you’ll have to research the meanings, and the titles will have a connection with the chapter. Also, try to read between the lines and figure out why I have named the characters in such a way.
Anyways, enjoy and give feedback!
Deus Ex Machina
1 – Modus operandi
It was broken. Deanna found it broken clean in half when she had arrived at home – she had rushed straight to her bedroom because her danger senses were tingling the moment she entered the house. Surely enough, she was right. It was very upsetting, but also interesting, as she had locked her room before she stepped out the door that morning, plus she had self-designed traps and security breaches set up in her territory. Who would be smart enough to be able to trespass?
Abel had been with her since she woke up (well, not like that – his room was next to hers and they share a bathroom) so he was free of blame. Jenny had confirmed her alibi by showing Dea her supermarket coupons and the stocked fridge. “I wouldn’t even think about going upstairs,” Jenny had said with an expression of clear disgust. Zach hadn’t been around since September – that makes it three months since Dea had last seen him – and there’s no way he’s just going to show up suddenly; Jenny would’ve been in a fouler mood (if her mood can be worse than it already is normally) and went on a cleaning frenzy. Ace returned home two hours after Dea, and Annette was staying at her mother’s. Then that leaves one person – Erin.
But she had no proof! According to Jenny, she had been out most of the time and Erin had said she needed to go for an errand for her school project. Despite this, Dea was sure it was Erin who sneaked into her room and snapped her treasured bow mercilessly; that day when she had received it from Zach was the day Erin had been trying her best to hypnotise her into believing that Zach used a bow and some arrows as a form of artificial love. Erin was jealous of Zach’s affection towards Ace, Annette, Vivianne, Hiero, Abel and Deanna – she thought that Zach had thought of her as an accident.
Well, she had certainly had constructed an “accident”, as Jenny had put it.
“But it wasn’t an accident!” Dea had insisted, “I locked my room before I went to school, and my spare keys were given to Abel and Annette – there’s no way it was an accident –”
“Well then how did Erin manage to get her way into your room?” Jenny snapped.
“You know her – she’s good at picking locks, and she’s been spying on me since –”
“You’re making her sound like a thief, and no, she hasn’t been spying on you. Now, if you’re going to blame her for your mistreated belongings you will be grounded, young lady.” Jenny’s tone of finality made her tighten up inside. Dea was ready to fight back then and there, but it wasn’t a good choice, she knew. When she made her way up the stairs, she could see Erin poking her head out of her bedroom door, a crescent-shaped wicked grin and eyes full of malice. Yup, it’s her.
Out of all her siblings, Erin was the most troublesome. Dea had wished she’s more like Harmony – all sugar, spice and everything nice – but no; Erin had to be the Mother of All Evil Things. She loved wreaking havoc inside the house, breaking happy spells and destroying perfect moments; even Annette agreed that she must’ve been the most hated being on earth. However, Jenny would always defend Erin because she was her biological child, and so was Ace. The inhabitants of the mansion were lucky that Timothy left the year before for college, else days in the house would be unbearable (Erin had come to live with the family a week after Timothy left).
Dea nearly slammed her door but quickly remembered the last time she did, and decided to gently close it instead. Her broken bow was laid carefully on her desk in the limelight, the two pieces together but not joined. Luckily, the string was not damaged so all she had to do was fix the curvy M-shaped stick. Although she could have just glued the together, it would be rendered as useless as it had been before it was glued, for the stick would not bend properly and could snap at the glued part. She had to get a new bow.
It was such a shame, though; Zach had come all the way to the Olympia Mansion just to give presents to all of his children, ignoring Jenny’s exaggerated protests. Rae had been very welcoming and the children had been more active than usual, anticipation twinkling in their eyes at the thought of their father spending even just a day with them. Their hopes were blown by the cold fall breeze when Zach had announced that he had to attend a meeting overseas just as we were about to have a decent family dinner. However if you had counted the time Zach had spent with us to watch a film, it was the best moment out of all the others.
Dea heaved a deep sigh, gathering the polished chestnut-coloured sticks and proceeded to throw them in the bin, only to have her change her mind and stash them inside her property box.
* * *
Dea would mostly keep to herself or spend her time with Abel, but she would also start up a chat with Annette or have a football match with Ace or Hiero (neither of them see her as a girl because of her love of the wild). Sometimes they would even go for long walks or go to some place fun; Erin preferred to stay indoors, much to everyone’s relief. It was a day when all of them hung out at the pier – Annette had come over and asked them out for some fresh air. How could we not decline that?
The walk to the pier was long and frosty, with some jokes and gossips as well as comfortable silence. Dea would gaze up the sky at some points, noting how the sky had lost its vibrancy now that Christmas was just around the corner, being a steely blue instead of spring’s baby blue, summer’s glaring azure or autumn’s Tiffany blue. At this time of the year, the sea water would be freezing so there will be no swimming for them then… obviously. Dea’s cheeks turned a rosy shade when the winter wind wove its way past the children and beyond. Hiero, being the youngest out of all of of them – but not to be underestimated – hadn’t stopped complaining about the weather since he stepped out of the Naitt household.
After buying some chilidogs – a veggie dog for Dea – and a generous amount of chips with golden cheese sauce, the Naitt children settled down at the edge of the pier, staring out at the bleak horizon. None of them spoke, as they were munching through chilli dogs and chips and relishing the heat pooling inside their guts each time they swallow a bite. Finally, Hiero said, “Zach hadn’t called.”
All of them stilled. Ace had his chilli dog halfway into his mouth but took it out and settled it in his hand, the warmth of the grilled sausage slowly dying in the cold. “Of course he hasn’t. He’s always busy, you know, international businesses,” he said.
“But isn’t it weird that he hadn’t even sent a letter or called? He usually does, no matter how short it’ll be,” Annette said, face blank.
“You guys shouldn’t worry about it too much. He might be really busy, with the worldwide economy doing somersaults and stuff,” Abel shrugged nonchalantly, though anxiety was present in his clear eyes.
Dea stayed silent. The topic had her thinking about her bow and Zach once again, about how Thanksgiving was too uptight without Zach’s useless but interesting facts he’d give at the dinner table. He was a very successful and committed businessman but he was also a father figure to the Naitt children and a free spirit, something Jenny had always hated about him – though Dea admitted that if it weren’t for that part of Zach, then Deanna and Abel Naitt wouldn’t have been born, and neither would Annette, Vivianne and the other halves. If you ask Dea, she would regard Zach’s behaviour as human loving as opposed to Jenny’s “treacherous polyamory”.
Wanting to lift up the mood once more, Dea stole a bite from Annette’s dog (only the bread, though), earning herself a not-so powerful glare from her half-sister. “What? I finished mine, and I’m still hungry,” was all Dea said.
“Yeah, but there’s still some chips,” Annette pointed out.
“But I feel like eating another dog!”
“Hah! You feel like eating a real hotdog? I never knew I’d see the day when you’ll give up all of the vegetarianism stuff!” Hiero teased.
“That’s not what I meant!” Dea protested, “I love animals!”
“What? Dea’s turning to the normal side? We should tell everyone!” Ace barked out. Abel chuckled beside him, and Annette gave Dea an amused look. Great, the idea worked.
* * *
They all went home before sundown (Annette waved goodbye when they reached the roundabout – her stay in her mother’s hadn’t ended yet). Jenny had predicted that they would be coming home with filled stomach so she had only said that if any of us were hungry, the leftovers were in the fridge. Everyone went back to their respective rooms but a grip stilled Dea on her way up the stairs. Half off Erin’s figure was in the shadow, complementing her ebony hair and her equally dark eyes, however her usual devilish smirk was not visible, instead replaced with a thin grim line. Sensing danger, Dea shook her hand out of Erin’s grip and shot her a passive look. “If it’s not something regarding school, then I’m not bothered to listen,” Dea warned.
Erin was silent for a while until she said “…No.” Dea was about to resume her ascend when Erin’s hand shot up to her forearm once more. “…But it’s about your bow.”
Dea glanced at her and then crossed her arms on her chest, glaring at Erin. “Go on, confess.”
“…It wasn’t me. Truth, I tried to get into your room but only for homeworks but I couldn’t get past your security breaches. I did not care the slightest about your stupid bow.” Dea was about to throw an argument when Erin insulted Zach’s gift but then she said “…However, I know who did it.” Dea’s eyes widened for a second before it narrowed dangerously. “No, really; I know who it is… but I’m not allowed to tell you, for the house is bugged.”
“Wait, what? What on earth are you talking about?” Dea asked, incredulous.
“All I can say is that Zach may not return for Christmas or New Year… and that the dead cannot come back to life.” That was all Erin said before she retired to her bedroom. Curious, Dea went up to her bedroom and checked for any sign of trespassing. She found none at the door but when she came over to the window, she found that most of her heat and weight sensors on the brink of death. The window latch was also loose, and the gap where the window meets the sill was bigger – she saw splinters scattered near the latch. The culprit must’ve climbed up the side and through her window, and Erin was most definitely not the person to do so. Erin was right; someone broke into her room, but it wasn’t Erin.
“…and the dead cannot come back to life.”
Surely Erin was just jesting, right?