No one laughs at God in a war
As the weeks passed, the number of individuals who were gunned down in Bubbleport increased. Mr. Prelude had been the first, though he had somehow survived the shooting – a real miracle, according to the reporters. The bullet that struck him had missed his vital organs but pierced through his spin upon exiting, restricting him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life as a paraplegic. Still, he was a lucky man compared to the dozen other uprising supporters who could now be found in the local Bubbleport cemeteries.
No one was ever arrested in the shooting of Mr. Prelude. No one was arrested for killing any of the other Berries, either. The media claimed that the police were vigilantly inspecting the cases for evidence. I knew better than to believe those lies. Many of the shootings were done in public, with several eye witnesses to the murders. Numerous witnesses would not stand trial or speak to the police, either out of fear of becoming victims themselves or out of hate for the dead, but many did speak up. They were just turned away or quickly labeled as an unreliable source. The police, though they would never admit it, had no desire to lock away the criminals that had ended so many lives.
The strings of violent crimes against members of the uprising caused its membership to fall off. Loyalty to the cause was all but forgotten when their own lives were at stake. Suddenly everyone was afraid of the resistance’s influence, of what gratuitous actions might be taken against them. It stayed that way for years and an uneasy peace settled over the city of Bubbleport.
Then, one night, the resistance re-emerged as a faceless organization. The revolution worked at night, under the veil of darkness. No longer able to spread their thoughts and opinions through open media outlets, they began painting the city in posters. Posters that depicted my sculpture, the image that was leaked to the resistance and slogans were soon plastered on every building of every street. The city would clean off the ‘defecation of private property’, as the media liked to call it, only to have it slathered back on again the following night. The city tightened its night patrol and declared martial law in attempts to gain control over the situation and, for a while, it seemed they had won. Then slowly, the reports started back up. One poster here. Another there. It was nowhere near the scale as it had been but it was the beacon of hope some needed. The beacon of hope I needed.
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor
Of course, I watched these events unfold over the past three years via my television. The photograph that had been leaked was never traced back to my family. It was never traced back to anyone, to be honest. While I suspected it was Cephei who had slipped the image into someone’s hands, I couldn’t be certain. The night the initial riots broke out Cephei had attempted to contact me. She tried to contact me for weeks after the image was released. I just didn’t want to hear her excuses, her reasons. Ivy sided with me on this, as did Cream. Both women openly discussed their contempt for the yellow Berry with each other and Ivy often apologized for having faith in Cephei for so long. I think it goes without saying that Ivy no longer resides in the same home as her anymore.
While Bubbleport was in ruins, Sugar Valley seemed to revolve in ignorant bliss. There were no posters here. No protestors demanding the truth. Everyone simply acted as if the occurrences in Bubbleport were a nuisance that occasionally caused the price of luxury goods to rise. While this irritated me to no end, I couldn’t help but be relived at the same time.
If no members of uprising made a scene here then that meant the resistance would be at bay, as well. As long as the resistance didn’t storm into town, throwing caution and law to the wind, I could manage to sleep at night. Because as long as they were not here it meant the chance of harm falling upon my family was at a minimum.
No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
“Dad, you promised!”
I suddenly had to curse my son’s curiosity and, apparently, his amazing memory as well, “I just don’t think it is good idea.”
“How come we never get to go anywhere! I just want to see the ocean.” Mithos pleaded.
“Because we’re freaks,” Pandora hissed as she walked into the kitchen and plopped herself down into a chair, “right, Mom?”
Even though she was currently stirring cake mix, Cream didn’t miss a beat, “You’re not a freak, honey,” She paused for a moment and then added, “None of you are.”
Pandora rolled her eyes but stayed silent as I answered Mithos original question, “It’s dangerous out there, Myth. You’re thirteen. I know you all think you know everything but you don’t and –“
“Of course I don’t, you don’t let us do anything.” Mithos whined, following his sister’s example of throwing himself down at the dinner table.
The moody teenage years were upon them and every day I wished they could go back to being the little tikes I use to tuck into bed and read stories to. Honestly, Pandora was the worse. She was never in a good mood, had a bad habit of throwing herself around like a ragdoll and cursed like a sailor. I wasn’t sure where she got it from – I certainly didn’t swear often and neither did Cream – but she could fit more curse words into one sentence than verbs, adjective and nouns combined. Despite her attitude problem, and her tendency to tease Estelle, Pandora had her redeeming qualities. She was quick, witty, and perceptive – not to mention a good fighter. For her last two birthdays in a row she had asked for karate lessons, which we substituted for home lessons via videos.
Myth, on the other hand, was a clone of myself. He was artistic, brave and didn’t believe in the constructs of society – well, the ones that he was aware of, anyway. Cream and I must have told him one too many times as a kid that it was duty to protect his sisters, because he had basically promised to defend them both from any dangers – even imaginary ones. He still checked under Estelle’s bed every night for monsters and often chided Pandora for sticking her nose where it didn’t belong.
Estelle didn’t have a moody bone in her body. She was quiet, possessed a soft voice and rarely spoke unless she was spoken to first. She never complained about the restrictions we put on the three of them and always sat silently when Myth and Panda would attempt to wiggle their way outside. Sometimes though, when the family was having a discussion, she would pipe up out of nowhere and put the whole household to shame with her verbose explanations and diction. She had quite the way with words; she was just too shy to use them.
“Estellise, fudging tell father he can’t make fudging promises he won’t fudging keep.” Panda implored her sister, to which Estelle just shrugged and continued to swing her feet under the table.
“Young lady, we do not use such language!” Cream shouted over her shoulder. Panda rolled her eyes but muttered something that sounded akin to an apology.
“Look you two; I made that promise when you were little. I had no idea that the dangers in the world would spin so out of hand. I just, I can’t take that risk now. Maybe when you are older.”
“We’re thirteen!” Mithos cried, “We’re gonna waste away in this house!”
My reply was cut off by the chime of the doorbell, “I’m going to get that. You all better be on your best behavior.” I warned. Estelle’s cheerful ‘yes sir!’ was almost drowned out by Panda and Myth’s whines.
I already knew who was at the door so when I opened it and two familiar green faces were present, it didn’t surprise me. It was, however, weird to see Ivy with a man. Her husband, to be more exact.
It had been a long road for my best friend and though I didn’t approve of her using this guy as a cover, I wasn’t going to out her to him. Plus, she really wanted children and apparently that was enough to justify marrying a man she could never really love.
The dinner passed by with no real issues. Panda gave her signature attitude throughout dinner but Estelle and Mithos were both well behaved in front of our guests. After being excused from the table, the three teenagers made their way to the back of the house and into their bedroom.
The rest of the night was spent chatting away about our lives. Ivy was now a prominent surgeon at the hospital and had a reputation for being able to save individuals who were passed saving. She was so well known, in fact, that many rich Berries from other parts of the country personally requested her services. They would travel great distances in order to see her or even pay for her flights if they were not well enough to make the trip.
Her husband, Cameo, was a writer from Bubbleport and had met Ivy when he had been in town doing an interview of her. At first Ivy hadn’t cared much for the man but slowly, as they got to know each other over his work, she realized he shared her view on many important political stances – including Mixed Berries, Gay Marriage and Inter-Color Laws. Once he trusted her enough, he admitted that he himself was a part of the uprising in Bubbleport, but only used a pen name when he published articles of that nature.
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet
During our long winded conversation, Cream had excused herself to check on the triplets. When she returned, her face was whiter than usual and tears were welling up in her eyes, “Maize, I can’t find them!”
I turned away from Ivy and Cameo, smile dying from my lips, “What do you mean you can’t find them? Who can’t you find?” It was a dumb question, really. I knew she had to be referring to our kids. No one else was here, after all.
“Our babies, Maize! They’re gone! Their bedroom window is open and they’re gone.” She emphasized the word gone this time, hoping that I would see the importance of the situation.
I did. I was on my feet and searching for the keys to my motorcycle, “Go look in the art room, the bathroom, the waterfall. Anywhere they might be hiding.” I ordered no one in particular. Cream nodded, taking off to check the other rooms while Ivy ran outside to check the pond and waterfall nearby. She must not have gotten far because before I even realized she was missing she was back in the living room, eyes wide.
“Maize, Cameo’s car is missing…”
“What?” Cameo and I shouted in unison, though for different reasons. His car was expensive.
Finally finding my keys, I snatched them off of the bookcase just as Cream came back into the room, “Maize, let me come with you.”
I shook my head, gesturing to Ivy instead, “Will you look after Cream?”
“I will not just sit here while my babies are missing!” Cream bellowed. I flinched, biting my bottom lip. I knew Cream would slow me down; I couldn’t drive as fast with her tagging along on the back of the Beast. We had tried it once before when we were younger and she had been terrified. I couldn’t vocalize that, though. Cream would have my head.
Ivy came to my recuse, “We’ll call a cab to my house and then grab my van to look in town.”
I didn’t stick around to hear whether or not Cream agreed to this plan.
No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
Every moment that I didn’t know where my children were might as well been another blade in my heart. The throbbing in my chest emanated pain throughout my whole body and left a sour taste in my mouth. Tears started blurring my sight, whether from the wind whipping relentless at my eyes or the morbid thoughts that clouded my judgment, I wasn’t certain. I made a routine of wiping my face with the back of my hand in lame attempts to clear my vision. I needed to be able to see – to drive and to find my children.
Soon the sun had set, the late October air biting into my exposed skin. The adrenaline pumping through my system kept me warm despite the falling temperatures as I zigzagged through traffic haphazardly, running stop signs and red lights alike. I ignored the curses thrown callously my way as I cut off a minivan. I must have been searching for hours already, hands stiff on the handlebars, when an epiphany hit me.
Making a wide U-turn, I headed off in the direction of the beach without a second thought. Something in the pit of my stomach told me this is where I would find them. The speed limit was all but forgotten as I raced towards my destination.
I hadn’t even reached the sea before the air became heavy, salt adding a light fragrance to the night. The roads were deserted at this hour – since it was well past midnight – and my single headlight was the sole source of light illuminating the street. Bile rose to the back of my throat, filling my mouth with a distinctively sour taste as two figures burst into view.
Panda and Estelle.
Their hands were tightly clasped together, hair matted down with sweat and dirt. Their wide eyes darted around the open field, fear prominent in their young faces. My stomach dropped as they turned their heads in my direction, blood smeared on both of their fair skin. As they registered who I was the slowly faded from their features as tears welled up in their eyes. They hurried towards me, hands still tightly clasped. I had long since pulled over, hastily strewing my motorcycle in the grass as I raced to their side.
“Are you alright?”
I held onto them with the intention of never letting them go, tears streaking our face as we cherished each other’s warmth. Both girls nodded, hands making small fists in the fabric of my jacket. It wasn’t until Pandora spoke up, teeth chattering, that I realized something was missing.
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood
“Daddy, Myth, he’s… There were these men a-and they started messing with Estelle s-so.” She was speaking so fast I could hardly understand her. The moment Pandora mentioned the men, Estelle soft cries turned into heart wrenching sobs.
I quickly fumbled into my pockets, extracting my cellphone, “Call mother and tell her where we are. Where did you last see Mithos?”
Estelle raised a shaky hand east, the direction they had been fleeing from, before she let go of my jacket and reattached herself to her sister. I gave them both fleeting kisses on the forehead and instructions to sit still until their mother or I returned, before swiftly ran towards the horizon.
It was a good fifteen minute trek downhill before the grass slowly began to ebb away to sand. The darkness clung to the sea and the only help my eyes received was from the waning moon that hung high in the velvet sky. The men Pandora had been whimpering about must have already departed as the beach was isolated. Silence hung thick in the air, only shattered by the occasional wave that crashed against the shore. I slowly began walking parallel to the waterline, listening to the crunch of sand beneath my feet as I scanned the area for my son.
He would be here. He would be fine. We’d go home and laugh about this one day.
I kept repeating that in my head, over and over again, in order to keep my mind from wandering to the darker thoughts that had plagued me on my ride over here. Those words, however, were terminated when I noticed a dark figure collapsed in the distance. As if in disbelief, I started walking faster, gaining speed, until I was almost in a full run. When the darkness gave away to yellow skin and hair, a ghastly screech ripped through the night. I collapsed beside the limp body, not realizing that I was producing the awful noise.
Tears dripped from my chin onto Mithos’ cheek, mixing with the dried blood that had was caked onto his face. My hands twitched beside him, unsure where to touch him. Scanning his body, I could tell that one of his legs was bent at an unnatural angle and his arms didn’t seem quite right. The cause of my anguish, however, stemmed from his eyes. Wide open, his eyes were rolled back into his head revealing the white of his eyes.
Check if he’s breathing.
The thought broke through the shock, and I quickly went to obey the command. His chest was rising and falling, though only slightly, and the air that rushed from his lungs seemed to be ragged and hallow.
“It’s going to be alright,” I whispered instinctively. It was funny how, even though I had no idea if he could hear me or not, I found myself needing to comfort my son, “We’ll get you to the hospital and they’ll fix you up.”
As I scooped his doll-like body into my arms, I realized that perhaps I needed to hear those words more than him.
No one’s laughing at God
When they’ve lost all they’ve got
And they don’t know what for
The hospital didn’t fix Mithos.
Ivy had been the surgeon to operate on him, the only one who even had a chance at saving his life, according to every doctor I spoke to.
But she didn’t.
Not because she didn’t want to, of course. It was simply too late. His wounds were too extensive – his broken ribs had pierced internal organs which lead to internal bleeding which lead to medical terminology I didn’t care to decode. It didn’t matter what medical terminology they used, he had was gone. Faded before his time.
Ivy beat herself up over it. I tried to tell her it wasn’t her fault but I barely had enough energy to get myself out of bed every morning, let alone comfort her. She came over often, cried with Cream in the kitchen for hours until both women looked ready to fade themselves. I often sat in silence and watched, unable to cry. I hadn’t been able to cry since the day he passed.
Besides crying, Cream cut her hair short. Very short and in a style very similar to Mithos’ before he faded. She hardly cooked anymore and we hardly slept in the same bed. She had taken a liking to Mithos’ bed, and slept in it almost every single night. It meant the girls weren’t alone in this time of crisis, which was a good thing.
Pandora was the strongest out of everyone. She kept her head held high and never showed her sadness in public. Even at the small funeral we held for him, she swallowed her sadness and kept a stern face. I wasn’t sure if it was her way of coping or if she was just trying to be the wall she thought she everyone needed.
Estelle might have taken it the hardest. She had always been a quiet child but since the accident she refused to speak. When she needed to communicate something to us she would grab a piece of paper and a pencil before scribbling down everything that she could have just as easily said. That’s right, Estelle was a mute by choice. We had worried that something that happened had night had caused her to lose her ability to speak but she had simply wrote to use that she felt it was better this way.
Why, we didn’t know.
As for myself, I felt like the biggest failure. I often contemplated how we could have avoided this situation and the answer was simple. Freedom. If I had taken Mithos to see the ocean as he had pleaded, he might still be alive. If I hadn’t been so scared of what would happen if we took them outside they wouldn’t have ran away that night. It was my fault. If only I had been there.
But I hadn’t been.
&I had to take every single breath of every single day knowing that was why my son was no longer here – because of me and some hateful Berries.
No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes