So I’ve been missing for quite a while but at least I’ll have a lot of things to tell! So there’s the Gala Concert, the Enterprise Competition, the Islam class incident and other things! As for Deus Ex Machina, this is the first story that have reached more than ten chapters! Avalon stopped when I was in the middle of the tenth chapter because I was weighing the pros and cons of writing it. But I think Deus Ex Machina is really fun to write because I use everyday ideas I get from friends, family and the internet. My brother just told me this brilliant idea that I’m going to use in the eleventh chapter so stay tuned!
Deus Ex Machina
10 – Ad pondus omnium
Dea walked down the streets thinking nervously about the graduation day. She had heard that Zach would not be there so Jenny would take his place in order to take pictures of the occasion. She had hoped Jenny would refuse – like she usually did – but seeing as it was also his son’s graduation, of course she would come.
She had been denying herself but she had also wished her full-blood relative would be present, whether it would be Zach or even one of the Peters. She had thought her mother dead ever since she was little, but she had that speck deep inside her heart where she wished Lethe Peters was still alive. Dea wasn’t sure what Abel thought about their mother; maybe he didn’t remember her or maybe he just didn’t care.
Dea’s friends, especially her loyal Richard, had organized a graduation party that will take place all day after the ceremony – this will be a great time to cool off from Jenny’s stressful presence and a little bit of fun before responsibilities heavier than before cling around her neck. All she Dea had done throughout her school life was study, study, study, while she spent her free time doing tiring activities such as designing better security systems or hunt in the woods. She had done all of these not for fun but rather for the family’s safety and happiness. Dea remembered the time when she went to the amusement park with the other Naitt children despite herself hating the noise – she went so she could make sure nobody killed anyone or themselves.
As she engulfed herself in thoughts, a jumpy husky pup padded over to her and nuzzled between her legs. It panted and barked cheerfully, looking up at Dea with brown beady eyes. The owner, an elderly man, laughed heartily as he came over. He had a worn out brown beret upon his bald head, his back a little hunched and his hands clasped at the small of his back, eyeing the dog with affection. “Oh, you little rascal!” he chuckled, “Stop bothering the young lady! I’m so sorry, lass – he’s just really excited because he’s just healed from an illness,” the old man said to Dea.
“It’s not a problem, sir,” Dea smiled, “I love animals, anyway. He’s really cute!”
The old man regarded Dea for a moment before her exclaimed “Oh! You’re that Naitt girl that won the archery competition! Congratulations miss! You were brilliant; stunning!”
Dea blushed but swelled with pride nonetheless, “Thank you, sir. I admit it wasn’t easy.”
“With you doing it, it looked like a breeze! Wha – hey! Kirby!” The husky stood on its hind legs and tried to climb up Dea’s legs, barking happily. “Sorry, miss, sorry. I’d better get going, now. It was nice meeting you, miss; take care.” After saying her goodbye to the old man, Dea walked back to the house with newfound happiness.
* * *
Abel hadn’t expected to run into Ace when he was about to go out for a walk. He yelped in surprise and stepped back, eyeing the pale-looking redhead in front of him. Upon noticing who he ran into, Ace murmured an apology and took off to his room, shoulders slumped as if an albatross was nesting on it. That was unusual.
Even the house workers looked agitated when Ace slipped past them silently, sensing some sort of ominous aura around him. Jenny walked past him on her way downstairs and looked at him oddly with hidden worry in her eyes, shaking her head dismissively later on when she thought that it must have been hormones. Not long after, Dea walked into the house with a springy atmosphere, humming a catchy tune and saluting Abel. “Where’ve you been, Dea?” Abel asked.
“Returning some books to the library, and I met my own fan!” Dea squealed at the last remark, her smile widened and her expression giddy.
Abel snorted, “You make it sound like as if you only have one in the whole world.”
“You mean I have more?!” Dea’s eyes were practically sparkling with hope and excitement, her voice getting higher and “girlier” (as once Hiero had said).
“Yeah, I mean, everyone at school’s been talking about you. In fact, they even made a fan club with members from outside the school…Didn’t you know?”
“Oh…my…gosh! Abel, I’m famous!” With that, Dea skipped off to her bedroom, leaving trails of dreamy gold dust and ribbons of rainbows in her magical wake.
Shaking his head fondly, Abel headed outside.
Dea headed towards her room when she met Annette on the way, the look on the brunette’s face was that of dilemma. “Hey, Annie,” Dea greeted.
Annette looked shell-shocked and stammered as she answered Dea, “Oh…h-hey, Dea.” This was wrong.
“Are you okay? You don’t look good,” Dea said, concern seeping off of her like water.
“Hmm? Ah, y-yeah – I was just…thinking, I guess,” Annette’s face scrunched up into confusion and anger.
“…Are you sure?”
“Yeah, yeah! I’m fine!” Annette forced a smile that looked as stiff as a board and her eyes still shimmered with troubles.
Dea nodded slowly, “…Okay, if you say so…” Annette scurried off downstairs, leaving Dea ultimately puzzled.
In her room, Dea checked her security records and found no signs of trespassing ever since Michael arrived. Maybe it had been Michael who was sneaking in, but he had said that that was the first time in a very long while he had stepped a foot in Olympia Mansion. However, Michael was a trickster – there was a strong possibility that he lied. Dea slapped her forehead when she had remembered that she was supposed to visit Brian and Vincent for more information on Michael. She grabbed her phone and scrolled down on her contact lost to Brian’s number.
She pondered on whether or not she should call him; chances were that he’ll be either drunk or someone else would pick it up (Brian mentioned something about losing his phone a long while ago). Dea didn’t have Vincent’s number because the Naitt rarely shows up during any time of the year. Sighing, she pressed the dial button and pressed the phone to her left ear.
A series of slow beeping was all she heard. She waited, and waited, and waited. She didn’t dare to release her breath in fear she’ll never get to hear Brian again. No one picked it up. She was about to give up when there was a click on the other side, followed by a familiar (sober) voice. “’llo?”
“Oh my gosh, Brian! You still have your phone,” Dea huffed a relieved laugh.
“Dea, it’s Dea. Deanna.”
A pause on the other end. Suddenly, there was a bark of a laugh. “Dea! Hey! ‘s been a while!”
“Yeah, it has. I didn’t think you’ll be sober, though.”
“I’ve cut my drinkin’ to once a week now, ‘cause the teacher’s been nagging me ‘bout it – he even made a special lesson about how alcohol damages the body. Scared most of us, includin’ me, I guess.”
Dea snorted fondly, “Never thought it’ll get to you. Okay listen,” Dea said, taking on a more serious tone, “Do you know why Michael’s here? I mean, here, in Olympia?”
There was a solemn silence on the other hand. Dea was about to tell him to forget it when Brian suddenly talked. “Sorry, Dea; he told me not to tell a soul.”
“Oh, alright then…” Dea said dejectedly.
“…But I can make a vague summary for ya,” Brian offered.
“Yeah, sure. That’ll be good, too.”
“Right, so not long ago, this man came to Mike’s home and told him to work with him –”
“Why? Who’s this person?”
“That, I can’t tell.” Brian sounded fidgety, as if he felt like he should tell Dea everything. “Anyway, Mike refused, ‘cause the man wanted to do some bad stuff to Zach or somethin’. After that, the man kept on comin’ to Mike’s house and by the seventh day he began talkin’ to him outside his house – he even waited outside the school gates afterschool! But everytime Mike said no, and the man was gettin’ furious.
“The man began terrorisin’ Mike, like putting nasty traps wherever he go and assaultin’ him – no, not that kind of assault! More like throwin’ eggs and stuff. At first they were harmless, but they soon become serious.
“Mike began getting mysterious calls, explodin’ packages and whenever no one’s home they would find it real messy when they got home. Plates were broken, windows were smashed and certain things were missin’. Mike couldn’t tell the police ‘cause there was a note sayin’ that if he were to tell anyone, he’d come and murder everyone he loves. Mike and his mum decided to move house, but even at their new house the man kept on harmin’ them.
“Then Mike noticed somethin’ – the man only harm him, not his mum. And that’s why he decided to leave his mum and try to get as far away from her as possible. He was right about that thin’, ‘cause his mum was just fine as soon as he was away. I think the man only wanted Mike for somethin’.”
Dea hummed in deep thought, her brows knitted in worry and concentration. So Michael had something the mysterious man wanted and it seemed like he’ll get it no matter what, using harassment and violence as last resort. “Thanks Brian, that was actually helpful. So, I’m not supposed to know who this person is and his real purpose?” Dea said.
“No, I’m not.”
“Did Michael tell you to not to?”
“No, the man did,” Brian said in a low voice.
“You met the man?” Dea exclaimed.
“Not really. He called me once and told me not to tell anyone; he knows that Mike tells me everythin’.”
“How would he know if you’re telling anyone anything?” Dea said. Though she said this, she had expected an answer similar to bugging and other secretive surveillance technique.
Brian hesitated but relented soon after. “I’m actually outside now ‘cause my house’s been bugged. Found a chip under the table one night and assumed the house is full of it. The only place I can talk freely is outside.”
“Well, then why aren’t you telling me everything?”
“…He’s everywhere, Dea.”
* * *
Annette worried her thumb whilst pacing around in her room. She had scolded herself to not chew her nails but this time there was no helping it. She stopped and stared at her blank monitor, contemplating on to whether or not she should show the others about the message or if she should handle things herself. The monitor just stared back at her as if it was urging her to make her decisions quickly, its smooth black screen impatient.
The brunette walked over to the monitor and swiped the mouse to wake it up. The screen showed an e-mail sent by an unknown e-mail address. The letter was typed in Verdana font size twelve and constructed to look like a formal letter – in truth, this letter had no signs of formalities.
Annette clicked her tongue and rubbed her face wearily. She’s battling herself and the mysterious sender.
* * *
Everything was silent at night in the tree house. Michael stared up at the ceiling, his arms cushioning the back of his head and his legs crossed lazily. He used his messenger bag as a pillow but he found his arms more comfortable than a pile of books and spare clothes blanketed with dyed rough canvas. He had kicked his shoes off in favour of touching the cool wood with his feet, and he had taken off his hoodie to leave him with a simple shirt so that the gentle breeze could caress his skin. He had always preferred the cold over the hot, but not in an extreme way.
He thought about many things whilst lying down. He thought about his mother and how she was faring. He thought about Brian and Vincent, about whether or not he was a burden to them. He thought about the other Naitt children in Olympia Mansion, and how he dreaded the presence of a certain monster that lived with them. He thought about…that man.
Michael closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind. Since he’s away from those he loved, there won’t be any problem, right?
There shouldn’t be, anyway.
The upbeat tune of his ringtone jingled excitedly, startling Michael out of his train of thoughts. He snatched the phone hurriedly and looked at the notification. One unread message by an unknown number. Spam, probably. But something about his number made the back of his mind kick in urgency. He clicked the middle button that leads him to the said message.
He sat up abruptly, blood freezing, eyes wide and not seeing at everything but the message.
R.I.P. – Brian Naitt (15).