The Elysian: Seventeenth Dream

As I kid, I’d played Gin with my grandfather every other weekend. I was never very good at it, but he insisted I keep playing, saying it kept his mind sharp.

I’m not sure how true that is, but I don’t have much of a choice. I silently take a seat at the table. Godemir hops off my shoulder onto the table, taking a seat on the surface.

“Are you thirsty?” The man’s deep voice rumbles in my chest. He gestures to his side as a young man walks up.

I’m taken aback for a moment. There’s someone else here? He’s wearing a pin striped shirt of red and white, and little paper hat on his head. I suppose he works here, but does that mean this is a real diner?

In contrast to my host, the man’s clothes are neat and clean. His face has something of a blank smile, and as he approached, the pitch of his voice threw me off.

“Hi there, folks! Anything I can get fer ya?” He pulls a little towel from his apron and wipes our table.

“Um, hi? I’m not sure what you have?”

“Oh sure! Take a look at the menu.” He points down to the table.

Confused I look down. A menu appeared on the table where I’m positive there wasn’t one before. Before I could express my befuddlement, the man in rags speaks.

“I’ll have that lavender tea I like.”

The server gives him a nod and heads on back behind the counter. I give a look between the server and the man sitting across from me.

“He’s a fragment of this place. Not quite real, but will bring whatever you order all the same. I recommend the Super-Star Special. And if you’ve a man with a sweet tooth, do try the cinnamon roll pancakes. Not like you need to worry about the sugar anymore.”

Hearing such an authoritative and reverent voice say the words ‘Super-Star Special’ was as close to an out of body experience as I’ve ever had. It was weirder than racing a forest god or flying through space with the moon.

“I’m sorry, but who exactly are you?”

The spirit across from me takes the deck of cards and shuffles and flourishes them from hand to hand. I try to keep up, but lose track as his hands and arms blur, seemingly moving like an unnatural snake.

“I was wondering how long it’d take you to ask. I’ve gone by many names, never ones I chose myself. Apophis. Rahu. Chernobog. I bring with me chaos and darkness, though nothing so simple as what you’d imagine.”

He continues shuffling the cards, each time they grow more and more disordered. All the while, his graceful hands keep them in check.

“I’m no Morningstar, and I demand no sacrifice. All things will come under my sway in time. Even one as pompous as Death himself.”

I guess I really should have taken history or mythology in school. I’ve no clue what this guy is.

“For now, you may call me Cain. And before you get any ideas, no. I’m not that Cain. It’s merely a name to assist your understanding.”

I’m so glad he finished his sentence before I started freaking out. I don’t know my bible very well, but I know that name.

Godemir speaks next, with an air of superiority.

“You don’t think he could pronounce your real name, do ya?”

The spirit gives a chuckle.

“No, I don’t suppose he could. Then again, you’d likely say it wrong as well, my little friend.”

The server comes back about this time, carrying a mug for Cain.

“There you are, sir! And you folks ready to order?”

I look between Cain and Godemir.

“I guess I’ll have the Super-Star Special. And can I substitute the toast with a cinnamon pancake?”

“Sure thing! Anything to drink?”

“Orange juice.”

“Great!” he turns to the rest of the group. “And what about for y’all?”

“Coffee. Black,” Godemir states.

“I’m fine with my tea, thank you Jefferson.”

“Fantastic! I’ll be right back with that!” The server gives a nod and heads off towards the back. Something bugs me as he walks off.

“So, does he do the cooking, or is there another ‘fragment’ like him back there?”

Cain turns and looks where Jefferson walked off to. He turns back and considers for a moment before responding.

“I don’t think he goes anywhere. I don’t think there’s anywhere to go to. He’ll just be back with the food, ready for you.”

“What does that even mean?”

“You’ll figure it out. Now,” he holds out the deck of cards, “Low card has to deal.”

I reach out and split the deck, revealing the card on the bottom of my half. The seven of hearts. Not bad. Not great, but a decent number. I set it back down.

Cain sets the recombined deck down on the table, and snatches up half, revealing his card to be… the nine of clubs. Dammit.

I grab the cards and start shuffling.

“Would you care to cut the deck?”


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