Chapter 7:

Home sweet Home?

The Aftermath of the Magic Apocalypse

After a harrowing encounter with death and dealing with the subsequent reporting of it to the authorities, my weathered body is finally at my front door of my home. I place my hand on the scanner which serves as the locking mechanism. After it verifies my identity, the door lock makes a click and I push it open. As I step inside-

“Sissss”, my younger brother Mahad runs up to me and gives me a big hug.

My brother is 3 years younger, but he is almost as tall as me, with the top of his head reaching my nose. I wonder if by next year he will finally be at eye level or maybe even outgrow me. I pat him on the head and smile warmly, “Yep, I’m finally home”.

He lets go of me after I pat him and greet him. He gives me an anxious look “What happened that you are so late? Were you caught up with that meteor that happened out there?”

“Yeah, I was. Luckily, I’m okay.”

He scrutinizes my appearance “Sis, your clothes are covered in dirt...and is that blood? Wait...your skirt is ripped too...How are you okay? Maybe we take you to get checked out? ” Mahad gives me a pleading look, clearly worried about me.

I knew Mahad was going to be worried. “Well...the blood is from Hans...who got badly hurt today.” I tried to use my skirt as a bandage..but I couldn’t rip enough of it off. And yeah, the cause of that meteor was a powerful earth witch, so I got dirty”

“Sis, did you forget your clothes are made from the wool of the meep? The fibers are resistant to wear and tear of everyday use, while being elastic to accommodate a variety of sizes. It’s resilient enough you could lose a tooth if you used your mouth to try and rip it”

“Haha. I must have forgotten in my panic to try and curb Hans’ bloodloss...” I look down to the floor.

Mahad brings his hand to his face “Sis, you shouldn’t worry about me so much and live in the company dorms. How do you think I would feel if something really happened to you?” He shows me a concerned look

“Today’s experience was definitely a wake-up call. I’m sure I’ll be asked this at work too, but I really want to keep the promise to mother and father. Or do you have a girlfriend and want me out of the house? Hmmm.” I give him a teasing smirk.

“Sis, isn’t the real reason because you can’t cook for yourself?” Mahad says crossing his arms.

“...It’s not that I can’t cook, I follow the instructions just just doesn’t taste anywhere near as good compared to what you make.” I say bringing my fingers together.

He lets out a sigh, “Well, if you can tease me, I guess you must be alright. Go and take a shower, I’ll warm up dinner for you. Today will be cream of vegetable soup. Milky’s milk came out very good today.”

“Sounds good.” I head up the stairs, grab a change of clothes from my room and head to the bathroom. I step into the shower and after it glows confirming my presence, a thin water mist shoots out. It envelops my skin, forming a membrane that massages my every pore under the gentle vibrations, washing away the dirt and grime and the fatigue I accumulated today. I massage my scalp and give my hair a thorough washing. I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time in the shower as I did tonight.

After stepping out of the shower, the air dryer I step onto blows a gentle warm wind upwards to dry off most of my skin. I still use a towel for extra measure, but most times, the air dryer is enough. I put on my underwear, and a shirt on top and head downstairs.

At the table, waiting for me is a bowl of cream vegetable soup and a garden salad of chopped up olives and celery, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. I savor the broth of the soup, finding it really rich in cream and take a bite from the salad mixing the vegetables together. I drizzle some of the salad in the broth of the soup which can double up as a dressing.

Mahad sits across the table and watches me as I eat, enjoying my reactions as I chomp down the food. Usually, I get home in time for us to eat together, but today I was eating alone given how late I came home.

“Sis, you really should not be so lazy in how you dress at home. What if we ever have guests?”

“What, don’t tell me you see your sister that way? Although you are reliable and a very nice guy, I’m afraid I can’t reciprocate your feelings.” I give him a devilish smile.

“Hah, as if I would ever fall for a girl who can get so engrossed in what she does that she ignores everything else. How many times have I had to wake you up so you wouldn’t be late for work? Who does the cooking, the cleaning or the repairs when the appliances break down? You don’t even go shopping. Though, you do pay for things. Whoever you wind up with needs to be very patient and willing to endure your antics; if you don’t wind up a lifelong spinster.”

“Excuse me for being single-minded” as I pout and sip my tea. Does taking care of the household chores really build maturity? If Mahad had been the one who dealt with the raiders instead of me, would things have turned out that there would have been no problems other than losing money

“Don’t worry sis, I’m sure Ken would gladly take care of you. He’s liked you for a long time.”

“And yet, every other month, he has a new girl in tow. He has more exes than I have had paydays.”
“Aren’t you afraid he will dump you like the others sis? I thought you were self-confident. Unlike most of those girls, the one good thing about you is how far you’ll go to pursue your passions. Maybe that’s why Ken likes you so much. Shouldn’t you give him a chance?”

I let out a sigh “...I know in my head I should just accept his proposal and go out with him...but I can’t quite figure out why I’m bothered by it. I don’t think it is just because I feel jealous or insecure of his experience with the opposite sex while I have none.”

Noticing how troubled my face must look, Mahad gives me a gentle smile. “Won’t it be easier to find out if you go out with him? It’s not like you’ll ever find out without experiencing it for yourself if he is the guy for you or not? If he isn’t, sure things might be awkward since you are friends and co-workers, but I’m sure you would be able to come to a respectful understanding. If you are worried about him cheating on you with another woman, he will learn your wrath for stringing you along, though I don’t think Ken is that type of man”

“Why are you so eager to see your sister get hooked up? Don’t tell me you have a girlfriend you want to live here with you? Don’t forget I still pay the housing allocation so it’s technically my house.”

He straightens his face in response to the dirty look I give him. “No sis, I just think a bit of romance might do you some good. You’ve worked really hard to get into Kaiba Corporation since your days as an apprentice. I can’t help but worry about your tendency to be a workaholic. You don’t take proper care of yourself. Sure you are young now, but as you get older, those bad habits of yours will come back to haunt you in ways you won’t imagine.” He looks at me with a worried expression

I didn’t have any words to debate seemingly sound logic. I wonder if like the raiders, if maybe I have some prejudice against Ken or romance in general that makes me seem hesitant. If I could find out what it was that bothered me, maybe I could take steps to feel sure of my decision. The first step is always the hardest when venturing to new territory. Maybe I could consult some of my colleagues for romantic, they would probably tease me about it. If I hadn’t been silly and set my manager up for a confession from Ken today to get out of trouble, I could have probably talked to her about it. I’m sure she is upset with me for that.

I get up and walk over to Mahad and hug his head. He’s flailing a bit in my embrace but I pet his head gently

“I’m grateful you care so much about me Mahad. I feel lucky that you are my brother and I wouldn’t trade you for anyone else. If I do end up a lifelong spinster, will you look after me as you do now? Don’t worry, you can still get a girlfriend and have a family. I can stay out of your way, even be a babysitter at times.”

Mahad has calmed down since I started speaking gently. I let go of him, noticing how red his ears are. Who knew a hug that was meant to comfort could be seductive?

Mahad blinks and puts his hand to his chin. “Hmmm. If it doesn’t work out between you and Ken, and by the time I’m an adult in 3 years and you still seem hopeless at romance, I’ll seriously consider it. And for Christ’s sake, if you are going to hug like that without warning, at least wear proper clothing.”

I laugh at Mahad’s visible agitation. “So, you do think of your sister in that way. Well, I guess I better be mindful that my little brother is a man now and start dressing properly at night.”

Mahad is clearly annoyed “That devilish persona of yours is charming at times, but it will end up getting you in trouble. I would even venture to guess the reason you got attacked by raiders today was because of something you did to provoke them.”

“Wait, you know raiders don’t attack?”

Mahad’s jaw is wide open. “Seriously, sis? It was you that told me that when I was a kid, that if I ever see raiders, just give them what they want so they can go away. You said it was something taught to you by Ken sometime after he joined Kaiba Corporation.”

“...I don’t remember.” I wonder why I forgot such a convenient piece of information. I need to ask Ken about it the next time I see him and how he learned that information.

“Anyway sis, it’s getting late and you know I have to get up early to tend to the garden and animals. I’m going to bed, you should also get some sleep. I’m sure your ordeal today must have exhausted you more than me for once.”

Mahad takes my plates from the table and puts them in the automatic washer. After washing his hands, he turns off the lights and heads to his room. I decide to head up to my room and lay on my bed. I think back to the ordeal I had today, and the advice I was given from Chief Amana. I wonder if I’ll ever see Beast again and if he’ll let me study him. I look out the window, seeing the lights of the settlement and part of the moon in the background. A shadow of a silhouette appears with eyes bearing down at me. I blink my eyes to ensure I’m not hallucinating. Unfortunately, the figure is still there, staring at me bearing its fangs. In my panic, I let out a shrill shriek.