Artwork by Dhanasekar Ajay
The “toy chest” was in Zack’s room for two reasons: First, because it was “massive and creepy” (his sister Gina), which made it “extremely cool” (Zack). Second, and mostly, because the mysterious objects that it contained (courtesy of Aunt Aloysia) moved around all by themselves. Constantly. Which Zack had gotten used to and Gina hadn’t.
Why the Objects did this and what they were for, no one knew. Dad said they had “hidden motors.” Aunt Aloysia said they would reveal their purpose “when it was time.”
Half an hour after coming home, Zack opened his bedroom door. Gina was still in the hallway. He slinked over, squatted down, and offered a piece of paper to her back.
“I drew a new Zachary Zinn picture.”
“I think it’s really good.”
“But maybe it’s not.”
“Maybe it’s stupid.”
Gina hated it when Zack fished. In one continuous motion, she reached behind her, took the picture, placed it in front of her, scanned it, handed it back, and said, “Cool.”
Zack stared at her expressionless back. Gina used to love his artwork, and told him so—all the time. Now she ignored him—all the time. All she ever said was, “Cool,” which meant roughly the same thing as a dial tone. Mixed emotions flittered across his face, then some dam of resentment that had been building for months broke. He sprouted a perverse little grin and said, “And I touched a big, hairy dog!”
Gina instantly went into alarm mode. She was allergic to animal fur.
Now you’re paying attention! thought Zack. And then, before she could roll out of the way, he dove onto her back and began rubbing his hands all over her. Gina was the reason Zack had to have hamsters instead of dogs; he was only allowed to have small animals that lived in cages, and had always suspected her of having allergies “on purpose.”
“Get off, Zack!”
The Dore home wasn’t exactly a hot-bed of violence, but Zack and Gina’s frustrations did sometimes take the form of angry “play.” And while Zack would have insisted that he was only playing now, he wasn’t, he was desperate. So he slathered Gina all over with hair-cooties, braying, “I have a flesh-eating disease!”
And like a fool, Gina laughed. She routinely alternated between wanting to hug her kid brother and squash him like a bug—like when he flailed his arms and made idiotic noises he thought were funny. The problem was sometimes they were, so she would laugh, and then he would do the crazed dork routine another 250 times!
But this outbreak was different. Something was literally in the air. For the air around the Dore house had begun to shimmer like a mirage, and the Objects in Zack’s room were flailing and crashing about…
Out of control.
Thoughts: Are their mysterious Objects in your life, things or people whose purpose has not yet been revealed?
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