My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Phoenix: Chapter 14

I returned to work. For the next eight months, I traveled through Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and back through Iowa. Mark and I had collected a pretty good sum of money for performing, and the house’s rent was all paid up. Mark made money off of his portable computer job. We spent about half a month in each state, doing two or three performances of the same show, over and over. I didn’t use Annabelle any more, and I’d never turned into a bird.

When I’d first come back, I wasn’t sure how to approach the others, but they were acting normally by then and Mark was even back to his Cheeto-and-banana-sandwich-eating habits. It was about then that Dakota, Emma and I started to cook for everyone, charging five bucks a plate. It turned out to be another source of profit, and the three of us split the money evenly.

With Mark and I each working two jobs, we had enough money to afford even an airplane. Even though Mark still didn’t want to get more than thirty feet off the ground.

By the time we were back in Iowa, Mark and I were sick of performing, I had turned thirteen, and we were ready to bid everyone a good-bye now that our work contract had run out.

“The audience in Missouri will be disappointed,” Keegan said. “They were so looking forward to seeing the girl with wings.”

“Should’ve come to Iowa, then,” I said.

Emma winked at me, and Dakota smiled faintly. She knew I knew what it meant. Success.

Nobody had said, but I knew why Mark wasn’t grumpy about leaving Key. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. She had to be coming with us.

Of course she was. She left with us, packing her computers as we did, and joined us as we left.

“Where to?” Key asked jovially from the front passenger seat of Mark’s silver Audi A4 Quattro, something he’d bought off of eBay and fixed up. Mark knew next to nothing about car popularity or customer feedback, but if you left him in the presence of any sort of robot long enough, it would eventually work very well, and this car had traipsed across thirteen states without any real issues. So far.

“We’re driving?” I asked.

“Yes,” Mark said. “No hurry, I guess. You’ve been fine for eight months. And I don’t trust the trains now.

“In that case…” Key said, leaning over and pointing to a mall nearby. “Lemme run in and get some Orange Julius. My treat.”

Stretching out on leather seats with Orange Julius in the cup holder and Mark’s computer on my lap, Key and I playing Angry Birds and making Mark drive, I had begun to enjoy myself. I didn’t have to worry about turning into a phoenix in front of a giant audience, or snooty Annabelle taking me over. I didn’t have to worry about money, or whether I could stand to perform that routine again. I was ready to keep going.

I was also curious about the Agency. Were they really as bad as Leslie and the others made them out to be? If the Agency was so oppressive as to keep people locked up, I doubted that any of the rebels had actually been to the Agency, or they wouldn’t be free. And if they had been there, then the Agency sure didn’t keep them locked up very well, and Leslie had said everyone was under tight security there.

But I didn’t have to worry about that just then, either. No, because I was here, and I was relaxed, and ready, and magical.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 2:03 am and is filed under Phoenix. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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