Babysitting his old teacher’s daughter, Francine, and his younger sister, Rei, was not what Lancer wanted to do on a weekend night. He wanted to go out with people his own age; have fun and adventures. Jamison said it was amazing having a party on the small island in the middle of the lake. Ashley told him about this one time her older brother used sphereshifting to transport them all to a lavish market in the center of Garde. He wanted to do that.
But he couldn’t. First off, to get to that island, he needed to know basic water sphereshifting or else he needed to swim; and that, he knew by experience, was too difficult. Also, while Ashley’s brother could do most of the transportation sphereshifting, each person going needed to know a minor amount about it, and he knew nothing.
Or, more accurately, he knew how sphereshifting should go―he knew it so well it hurt―but he couldn’t manage it. Maybe he didn’t know it that well, and his tests scores agreed with this, but he knew it. You did this or that, then this and that happened, and poof. Sometimes he got the poof, but it was more of an explosive, accidental kind.
So now, when everyone else was out having fun, enjoying their youth, Lancer was babysitting two twelve year old girls. If that wasn’t bad enough, he couldn’t even help them with their homework. Rei understood it all, assisted Francine, and then corrected the weak answers he put on his own papers.
“I’ll make some tea,” Rei said brightly. “Does anyone want some?”
“Oo~ooh.” Francine’s face lit up. “Mom has fancy sugared biscuits, too.”
“Where are they? I’ll bring them with the tea?”
The girl’s collaborated. The tea would include cookies, all brought in on a platter. Rei left to get to work.
As soon as Rei left, Francine sidled up to Lancer, twirling her hair around her pencil. “Rei says such nice things about you, Lancer.”
Lancer stared blankly at the younger girl. “Yeah. Thanks.”
“I heard Jaylee talking the other day and she said you were a good kisser. Well, she said she thought you’d be a good kisser. A boy in my class wanted me to kiss him, but he’s gross.” Francine stumbled through this speech, trying to attract his attention. “If you want to kiss me, I won’t tell anyone.”
Lancer jerked his head up from his homework. He’d missed half of what she said. “What? Uh, no thanks.”
“You’re only four years older than me. It’s not so bad. My dad is six years older than my mom and I’ve seen them kissing.”
Lancer scooted away from Francine. She scooted closer to him.
“You know, you’re so good at homework,” she said.
He wasn’t good at homework. He’d gotten every answer but one wrong, and that one was lucky because he’d meant to put something else. Rei corrected them all for him. “Thanks.”
A crash sounded from the kitchen, and water seeped through the crack beneath the door. Rei screamed, her voice soon muffled by an unknown source. Lancer jumped up, bounded into the kitchen, and rushed to his sister’s aid.
She was gone. The burner on the stove flamed idly, the teapot formerly above it laying on its side on the ground. Shattered cups and crushed cookies covered the floor. The window above the sink was opened wide, dirt smeared on the sill. A wrinkled note sat on the counter top.
“I have her,” it read. “Tell no one. Or else.”
Signed; the Archaic.