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CHAPTER 1

 

JayKuan is the one. His family have told him so from the beginning. He’s always known; there is nothing else. This didn’t stop them from making him go to school, though this week he got off for spring break. He was sure there was a pilgrimage just waiting to happen.

 

“Only through the awakened heart can your chakras safely unfold.”

 

The school called his living situation “unique”. His sister stopped going to school to work. Every time they left she had to get a new job when they got back.

His mom was in jail and his dad showed up every once in a while for “training”. It wasn’t a big deal.

 

“Come on, we’re leaving.” his sister threw him a bag as soon as he walked through the door. JK was ready. Like I said, he was sure this was coming.

 

He put on his robes and said a prayer. There was always something to pray about. He thought about the kids at school. He thought about his family. He thought about the world. He could feel the green light and sent it out into the world. The reverse spirit bomb. He wasn’t sure it would help but what else was there to do?

 

He and his sister left. JK didn’t know where they were going, but it didn’t matter. He trusted his sister, and his job was only important once they got to the shrine. This was only the 45th, but after this there would be less than a hundred left. Then his job would be done.

 

The two walked to the bus station in relative silence; some people gawked but at this point JK was used to it, and his sister had broken enough wrists, arms, ankles, and even heads in their neighborhood to get the message across: “Don’t fuck with us, asshole.” This was usually the last thing people heard before they tried to fuck with them, and before one of their appendages was rendered useless for life.

 

Sis was brutal. JK secretly liked it, although he had professed non violence long ago. She not only made him feel safe, but she was quite the role model. She was never late for work, she always had food on the table, and she was always interested in what he had to say, no matter how asinine he thought he was.

 

He felt bad for kids who didn’t have a woman like her in their lives. If not for her raison d’etre, she would have been the perfect matriarch.

 

JK tended to imagine a life with her as such. It wasn’t on purpose, and he knew that “ideas of the possible tend to interfere with the actual”. But he loved his sister, and truly thought she deserved more than this empty identity as guardian of “the one”. He would love to be able to meet her kids one day. JK an uncle. The idea was funny and awesome and totally outside of reality.

 

So it goes.

 

The two continued, nearly silently, until the bus stop loomed in the distance. Sis lit a blunt. “Dad’s inside. You’re going alone.”

 

JK was not afraid, but curious. “If dad’s inside, why am I going alone?” She exhaled slowly; Sis always made you wait. The amount of smoke was great, and nearly engulfed the two entirely, creating privacy. She turned and looked at him the way she always looked at him when dad was involved. “Don’t let them scare you.” JK made a look. “OK, I’M the one who’s scared. Plus, what the hell am I supposed to do while you’re gone??” She was visibly annoyed; she didn’t like dad butting in on her job.

 

“It’s just dad. I can handle it.”

 

“I know. You’re older now too so I’m not really trippin… It’s just… I don’t want you to think dad doesn’t care about you or us or, y’know. Dad’s just… Hella stupid.”

 

“We are talking about The Artist, here.”

 

The pair said their goodbye’s and soon enough JK was inside the bus station. It was quiet. There was a fake ass Carls JR, complete with a rip off of the star logo. There were three different vending machines that each swallowed JK’s money without offering so much as a thank you. He waved to the dude who lets people through the gate. Always the same dude.

 

He saw a brightly painted figure in the distance. The Artist.

 

“Hi dad.”

 

“Hi son.”

 

When the time came, they boarded the bus. No luggage for either of them. The Artist was dressed like Rihanna or something; golden robes with ornate, indescribable designs and dangly crystal earrings and big sunglasses. They didn’t wear shoes but you wouldn’t notice because their robes were far longer than they were tall. Although they were well over six feet.

 

Their bald head glistened as the streetlights darted across the windows. It looked like a halo, flickering though, on and off like the lamps at the 99¢ store.

 

The Artist was somewhat of a mystery, even to their two children. Neither JK nor Sis were really sure they were the actual offspring of The Artist, and they both suspected the rumours of The Artist’s 100+ years on earth were at least half true. Most strangers assumed The Artist and Sis were twins, to The Artist’s visible delight and to Sis’ visible chagrin.

 

But they remembered nothing before The Artist and I don’t think either of them tried very hard to. Regardless, The Artist was their father. In fact he had given them both their raison d’etre, making sure they could, at a very early age, discern the echoes of their purpose from the often deafening dark noise that permeates our world. Oh, if only we were all so lucky.

 

JK began to see the halo around The Artist more clearly, until the whisps of gold waltzed around their figure. This was something he had been trained to do. He slowly fixed his vision (though his eyes were closed) to a much broader view, concentrating on his row, then the bus, then the road… finally he had escaped the bus entirely and could make out the cars around him. There were few, as it was probably close to midnight. This made it much easier. Eventually he spotted a hole off to the side of the road. It was small, so he concentrated until it was bigger, growing it in his hands until it was big enough for the whole bus to fall through. He slipped through before it got to that point, careful to close it after he was through.

 

The hole opened into a tunnel, and he floated along, tracing its ribbed walls with his fingers, gaining speed until he could no longer decide which way was up, how fast he was going, or, really, where he and the tunnel failed to be the same thing.

 

The moment came, however. And as soon as it had, it was over.

 

JK, who had taken his deity form, Ugo, stood in the palm of Brotha Woosa (BW), the giant whom he often consulted.

 

“Hello, friend.”

 

BW was far too large for Ugo to see anything more than the palm on which he stood. But this did not stop the communication between a boy and his God.

 

“Woosah,” Ugo declared, “I’ve come to tell you that I may not be able to see you for a while. I know you understand.”

 

He did.

 

“I’ll be off in The World again and dad says- The Artist says it’s dangerous now. I’m a target now because I’m too old.” He paused, and thought about what he was conveying. Often, saying something seems to make it true. “I’m no longer viewed as a defenseless child…”

 

Of course, Brotha Woosah already knew this. But a good friend listens even when they already know.

 

“Yeah so, no one will be here to carry me this time. I suppose I’ve grown a lot since last time. I’m sorry buddy.”

 

BDub, with the most divine of grace, put Ugo’s heart at ease.

 

“Well anyways, we’re probably almost there now so I guess that’s all for now. I’m sorry, again.”

 

Suddenly there appeared before him a box; a chest of sorts with gold leaf and tiny tiny tiny images Ugo had to squint to even notice.

 

“The longest story ever told,” he said in awe, and although the box was no larger than a dresser (say, around 3x3x2 cubic feet) the entirety of the story was in fact there, in little pictograms that almost seemed to move if you didn’t concentrate on them for very long.

 

“That’s amazing,” Ugo exclaimed. He was so fascinated he nearly forgot that chests usually hide their most impressive secrets inside.

 

He didn’t need to open it though, for when he remembered this fact it revealed itself, and when I tell you that the treasure inside it was indescribable, well at least in words…
“You brought it back with you right?” the artist peered down at JK through their large dark lenses. JK nodded. “Good. Very good,” and they smiled, genuinely.