An Original Novel
Ario had been poofed back home by Lory, but not without one more offer to join the Occultary. He walked into the front door, but someone stood waiting for him.
“Ario?” his mother called, turning to the door.
“Hey, Mom,” Ario walked up to her, “I didn't expect you home so soon.”
“Oh, baby,” she pulled him into a hug, “I was worried something happened.”
“Why would you think that, Mom?” Ario inquired.
“No reason,” she insisted, “So. Did you meet anyone recently?”
“W-Why would you think that?” Ario asked, hesitantly.
“It's nothing,” she smiled, “Just curious – That's all. Head upstairs, Sweetheart.”
“Sure thing, Mom,” he obeyed, walking off and taking the steps upstairs. On the third step, he stopped and turned back, “Hey, Mom?”
“What's up, Sweetheart?” she wondered.
“What was Dad like?” Ario muttered.
“Your father?” she raised an eyebrow, “Why do you ask?”
“Just curious,” Ario admitted.
“He was normal, Ario,” she replied, smiling, “Very... Human.”
“Oh,” Ario frowned in consideration.
“Now, off you go,” Mrs. Pacrifa said, “Good night, Dear.”
Ario had taken some time in looking at his family line. After a bit of pestering, Ario had managed to get the name of his father. With the help of Lory, he dug up every last thing he could on the man. He was apparently an average man. Married; had a nice home, within driving distance of the beach, in Maryland; works as a tax accountant and barely even had a parking ticket on his record. He liked vanilla ice-cream and children and – ironically enough – angels, although he was nowhere near as crazy about them as someone like Lory. His office was located in Washington D.C. and his home was just outside it in some small town. He lives there with his wife, Rosa. Just like Mrs. Pacrifa had said, he lived an average life – About as human as they get.
Ario kept digging, though. There had to be something – Something that would give away his true identity. But again, nothing – Not even an extensive purchase of bread. Every dark spot of Mr. Pacrifa's life became squeaky clean with just a little research. It was hopeless. There was just nothing wrong with him – At least as far as previous experience can go.
“Lory,” Ario said to her, closing his computer, “There's nothing here. We can't keep doing this forever.”
“If you look hard enough, you can find anything,” Lory insisted, “We can't just give up!”
“I wasn't planning to,” Ario replied, “If we can't find anything online-”
“We go visit him in person!” Lory finished, excited, “Oh! What a great idea, Ario! I'll go get something to take us there right now! You go make up some excuse to your mom and I'll meet you back here!”
“Okay, Lo-” But she was already gone. Ario road his bike back home from Lory's and went inside, getting together some stuff that he'd need and calling his mother.
“Hello? Asara Pacrifa speaking,” she answered the phone.
“Hey, Mom,” Ario said, “I needed to tell you something.”
“What's up, Honey?” she inquired, the sound of shuffling paper and a stapler drifting through the phone.
“I... Um... Am going camping with Lory for a few days,” he lied, “Her idea.”
“I assumed so,” his mother chuckled, “Well, just make sure you pack some sunscreen and snacks. I'm sure you'll remember everything else.”
“Right. Sunscreen. Got it,” Ario nodded, “Thanks, Mom. Love you – See you when we get back.”
“You, too, Baby,” she replied, “Have fun.” The line went dead and Ario sighed deeply before returning the phone to its proper place. He made his way upstairs and into his bedroom, looking for everything he might need. The can of red spray paint rested on his dresser, idly. He picked it up and examined the label. It seemed like such a normal can, you would have never been able to tell it'd been used for something other than painting a model car or something else completely normal. If he'd not been there to see it happen, he wouldn't have believed the experience, either. He dropped the can into his bag as well – He never knew when he might need it. The ride back to Lory's seemed to last forever and a thousand things ran through his mind. What was his father like? Would he want to see him? Was there anyway that he could be something inhumane? Was he a monster? Was Ario and his best friend walking into a trap? Lory stood on her front porch, waiting for him when he arrived. Ario showed her the bag he'd grabbed. And she nodded. They went to the backyard and she pulled out her bottle of golden dust. Could he bring Ario answers? Would he try to eat them? Would he be able to summon those angels if they were in danger? Damiel would definitely help them, unless Ashriel planned to let them die. Would he do that? He was only going out to find his dad because of him, in the first place.
“You ready for this, Ario?” she asked. What if he was a psycho murderer? Would he kill him first, or go for Lory? Maybe bringing her was a bad idea. What if she got hurt... Died even – Or worse.
“Ario!” she clapped her hands in front of his face, “You okay?”
“Huh?” he blinked, pulled from his thoughts.
“I asked if you were ready,” she repeated.
“What? Oh. Yeah,” he confirmed, “I'm ready.”
“Great,” she smiled, opening the bottle, just like she'd done the first time, “Pacrifa!” She threw the dust at the ground and a wall of smoke rose up around them. When it cleared, her backyard was gone and a completely ordinary - but completely new, to them - house stood before them.
“This is it?” Ario asked, hesitantly.
“Yeah,” Lory confirmed, “This is it.”
“Right, then,” he shifted his bag up his shoulder, “Let's go.” They walked up to the door, Ario reached for the doorbell with anxious precaution, unsure of what they would find on the other side. A woman opened the door for them, smiling softly at the new arrivals.
“Can I help you?” she asked, sweetly.
“Hi. Is there a Harold Pacrifa here?” Lory wondered.
“Um. I think he's just left to the store,” she explained, “Who are you?”
“My name's Lory, this is my best friend, Ario,” she explained.
“Harold is my father,” Ario added, hesitantly. She - Who must have been Rosa – was a little taken aback by this information, but did a very good job of hiding it and opened the door for them.
“Really? Please,” she offered, “Come in.”
“Thank you,” Ario gratified, “We won't be here, long... I promise.” They followed Rosa into the house and she had them sit in a living room, complete with plaid couches and a dark, wooden coffee table. The sound of footsteps on the stairs made all three heads turn to see who it was.
“Mommy!” the little girl yelled, stopping at the third to last step and seeing the guests. She stopped and stared. She was about five or six and had brown hair, pulled back into two pigtails She wore a little blue sundress with a flower pattern and white lacy socks, “Who are they?”
“Just some visitors, Mary, Sweetheart,” Rosa insisted, “Where is Eve?”
“EVE!” Mary yelled upstairs.
“WHAT?” came the reply. Again, footsteps traveled down the stairs and a girl, probably about twelve, stood there. Her hair was blonde and long. She wore a pair of beige short-shorts and a tang-top that bore a logo for some designer brand, covered in glitter. She had no shoes or socks and her nails were painted a neon pink, “You didn't say we were having people over.”
“They're unexpected guests,” Rosa explained, “Did your daddy say when he'd be back?”
“Just said he was gonna go get more Windex,” Eve answered, “He's only going to the store. Why? Are the guests for him?”
“Yes,” Rosa replied.
“No offense,” Eve cringed her nose, turning to Ario and Lory, “But aren't you kind of young to be having tax problems?”
“Eve!” Rosa shot her a look.
“Well they are,” Eve rolled her eyes, “Whatever. I'll be upstairs. People are making a petition to kick twelve-year-olds off the internet and I think they ought to be taught a lesson. We contribute a lot, too, you know.” Eve went back upstairs and shut the door to what must have been her bedroom.
“Why are you here?” Mary asked the visitors, quietly.
“We're just here to see your father,” Lory replied.
“But... Why?” Mary asked.
“Business,” Lory explained.
“Is Daddy in twouble?” Mary asked.
“Of course not,” Lory smiled.
“But if he's not in twouble and you don' need taxes, why do you wanna talk to him?” Mary pressured, worry showing in her eyes.
“Perhaps you should go upstairs, dear,” Rosa suggested, “Stop bothering the nice people.”
“No, it's okay,” Ario spoke up, “She's just worried, is all. Listen, Mary. I'm an old friend of your daddy's, okay? I just want to talk to him a little bit and then we're going to go. Nothing to worry about.”
“Daddy knows you?” Mary asked.
“Yep,” Ario confirmed.
“Okay,” she smiled and went upstairs, going back to whatever she was doing. Rosa excused herself, going to answer the phone in the other room, as it had started ringing. As soon as she was gone, Lory turned to her friend.
“Nice job,” she praised.
“Thanks,” Ario nodded.
“Let's just hope the conversation with Mr. Pacrifa goes just as well,” she added. Ario nodded at that, too. They sat there for about fifteen minutes, waiting for the return of Mr. Pacrifa. The front door opened and closed, the sound announcing the arrival of someone. Rosa rushed from the room and went to greet him. There was whispered conversation before the man Ario had never known stormed into the room.
“What are you doing here?” he shouted, raging at the boy's very presence, “You shouldn't be here! Demon child! Illegitimate spawn of Satan! Get out of my house!”
“Harold!” Rosa hissed, holding his arm to keep him from swinging at the boy, “Calm down...” Ario looked at his father, confused and a little hurt. Sure, he knew why the man had left in the first place and he hadn't expected to be greeted like a long lost friend, but this was his father, after all.
“No, Rosa,” he snarled, “You don't know about this boy. His mother laid with a demon. I can smell the impurity rolling off him. It disgusts me – Get him out of my sight!”
“Hold up a sec, Mr. Pacrifa,” Lory spoke up.
“Who are you?” he asked, just noticing her for the first time.
“My name's Lory,” she explained, “I'm Ario's best friend.”
“You shouldn't be involved with this monster, Lory,” Mr. Pacrifa advised, “You're not like him... You're human.”
“What are you talking about, Harold?” Rosa demanded, “We're all human. There's no such thing as monsters.”
“How do you know I'm human and your son is not, Mr. Pacrifa?” Lory wondered.
“He is not my son,” he returned.
“Just answer the question.”
“I... I can just tell,” he explained, “Like... some kind of six sense.”
“I knew it,” Lory smirked, triumphantly.
“Knew what?” Rosa demanded, “None of this is real! It's all just stories! What is going on here!”
“Mr. Pacrifa,” Lory said, calmly, “What do you know about psychics?”
“You aren't implying I'm-” he scoffed.
“I am,” Lory stated.
“That's preposterous!” he snapped.
“Is it?”she asked, “Or are you just overcompensating?” There was silence in the room for a moment. Mr. Pacrifa glared daggers at her and she smiled back, smugly.
“So... Is that what I am?” Ario finally spoke up, “A psychic?”
“You've gotta have a little bit of it in you,” Lory turned back to her, “But psychics are humans – They just have enhanced sense of the supernatural. Like someone who has extraordinary hearing or something. All these people saying you're something else wouldn't have mentioned something like that.”
“I told you!” Mr. Pacrifa claimed, “He's the spawn of a demon!”
“You know Asara, don't you, Mr. Pacrifa?” Lory pressured.
“Your ex-wife?” Rosa said, “What does she have to do with any of this?”
“She's Ario's mother, after all,” Lory reminded, “And if it's not Harold over here that's something else, it must be her.”
“That's ridiculous, Lory,” Ario growled, “Of course Mom isn't some kind of demon.”
“No, perhaps something else,” Lory concluded, “Perhaps something far more powerful. Mr. Pacrifa, when you were with Asara, did you happen to feel anything... different about her? Something... not human?”
“No...” he swallowed, muttering his answer quietly.
“Are you sure?” she pressured. There was silence as he fought whether or not to answer her question, feeling very exposed and found out. All eyes were on him, waiting for the truth they all knew was coming.
“There was something,” he muttered, “Something about her that was... different.”
“Do you know what she was?” Lory asked. He nodded, “What? What was she?” He turned to look at her, disbelieving the very words he spoke.
“An angel,” he said, “She was an angel.”