Afflictions: Part Twenty One

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Paul stood alone in the basketball court. By his best judgement, he was approximately where it was supposed to happen. He felt like shit. His eyes were barely open, and he could feel a weight on his entire body. He was so tired, and he just wanted to rest. He couldn’t rest until this was fixed, though. If it wasn’t like this before, then it didn’t have to be like this now. It could be changed. Right now, he felt like a dog on one side of a screen door, barking hopelessly at the rabbit taunting him from the other side.

He heard the chainlink fence surrounding the court creaking. Someone was here. If his hunch was right, he knew who it was.

Footsteps broke through the otherwise silent air. “Howdy.” A man spoke. He was panting a little.

“Didn’t see you there.” Paul replied.

The man chuckled. “I can imagine. Do you know who I am?”

“I think I have an idea, Caveat.” Paul’s heart was racing, and adrenaline surged through his veins. He needed to be careful.

“Do you know what I can do?” His voice was careful and calculating. Paul wasn’t the only one with information about the other party.

“Let’s find out.” If he was going to come out of this ahead, he needed to adjust the playing field. “I’ll keep talking with you for a bit, if you, the entity speaking to me, become just as tired as I am.” Paul held out his hand.

Caveat laughed. “Well, it would only be fair.” The pair shook hands, and Caveat groaned. “Jesus, how long has it been since you slept?”

“Well, I passed out in the living room about a half hour ago if that counts.” Paul shrugged. “So, now that the playing field is leveled, what are you peddling?”

“Right to the point, aren’t we?” Caveat sighed. “I simply have it on good authority that you need something right now. The question is, do you even know you need it?”

Paul nodded in silence. It was a tempting offer. The rabbit sat there on the other side of the glass from him, and along comes somebody willing to open the door. The question was, what would he have to give up in return? Was he even in the right frame of mind to make such a decision?

“What do you think I need?” Paul asked.

“How badly do you want to know?”

“If you tell me what you think I need, I’ll tell you what I think I need.” He held out his hand again.

Caveat shook his hand and answered. “I think you need to be able to see again.”

Paul nodded. That was certainly an interesting response. It meant that, whatever his source of information was, it was limited. Vision would certainly be nice, but he asked about what he needed. “I think I need the answer to a question.”

“Interesting…” Caveat paused. “That’s something I can offer you. The answer to any question you could ever have. Do you want to know what caused the green light? Do you want to know exactly what you have to do to get her to love you? Do you want to know how to save someone? How about how your power works?” Caveat paced around Paul as he spoke.

“What would you want in return for the answer to a simple question?” He tried to look unfazed, but a few of those were tempting.

“I’ve got a number of things I could ask of you.” Caveat stood still. “You could give me your soul…” He lingered on that word, but Paul’s expression remained unchanged. “Of course, I’d be willing to take less. After all it would be rude of me to ask too much. It might ruin my credibility to con someone like that.” He leaned in closer, and whispered, “An answer for an answer, then?”

It sent a shiver down Paul’s spine. He was a little too tired to keep this up. He could just have the answer given to him, and all he had to do was answer a question. It wasn’t like Caveat was evil… Probably.

“Caveat, how old are you?”

He paused for a moment, then answered. “45.”

“Have you ever had something you knew you had to do, but it was going to be hard?”

“I don’t think this sounds like a deal, but it sounds like you’re having a lot of trouble for a kid, so fine.” He sighed, and sat down on the pavement. “Yeah, I’ve had to do hard things before. The difference is, I didn’t have anyone I could turn to. You’ve got a whole house full of people you can turn to.”

Paul stared forwards in silence. That was the answer. All he had to do was ask, and they would be there. Sure, he couldn’t tell them the whole story, but that might be his best bet. “Thanks… I think that helped.”

Caveat yawned. “You need to get some sleep, kid. This isn’t healthy.”

“I want to make one deal before I go.”

“I’m all ears.” He stifled another yawn.

“You got sloppy earlier, and didn’t specify how long you’d remain as tired as I am. If you agree to make me well rested, as though I got a full nights sleep last night, I’ll agree to release you from being as tired as I am.” Paul outstretched his hand one last time.

Caveat was quiet for a moment, then broke out laughing. “Well, what do you know? I guess I don’t have much of a choice here.” He shook his hand.

Paul suddenly felt invigorated. The weight had lifted from him, and he could finally keep his eyes open. “Thanks for the talk.”

“No problem, want a card?” He placed a card with some bumps on it in Paul’s hand.

“I’ll pass. I’m shit at braille, and I’m pretty sure if I ever want to make a deal, you won’t be too far away.”

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Greetings all! This is the first proper blurb in a few weeks, as I’ve been busy or in poor health. I am finally recovered, and ready to get back to writing soon. If you happened to be confused about who this “Caveat” guy is, maybe give this a read. I wish you all the best, and thank you for your continued support!

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