My repeat song for this chapter, more near the middle :
One day you’ll be a robot. They used to say. And then you’ll understand.
I understand now.
No, ha ha, I’m just kidding! These circuits aren’t advanced enough.
Not to understand this behavior anyway.
A box got squished and then people got sent to their rooms to go sleep while two black-haired adults exchange intense pleasantries.
Obviously, the Nikolas I know well didn’t go to sleep! Not after that interesting event. Even I wouldn’t go to sleep if I still had that capacity. We’re just watching his dad and his grandpa arguing now. Or more his dad beating on his grandpa who keeps trying to leave the conversation.
Xavier is his name, and he’s managed to yell about the zombie hand, his own authority being undermined and Nikolas being encouraged wrongly in a span of thirty minutes. It’s when the witch started to come to the conclusion that things might be easier without the vampire around, that the latter lost patience.
I’m really just impressed his patience lasted so long.
With the zombie’s remains all packed up in a new sealed box, the vampire signed some final cold words. I can’t analyze sign language, but he looked angry so I’m assuming it was some unhappy words.
And then he left, glancing back and giving Nikolas a short wave. My friend waved back. He flinched when he caught his own father glaring at him though. I watched Nikolas scurry off to his room. I stuck a metal rod out at Xavier – an equivalent of a grimace, I hope he got the message – and followed after Niko.
I slammed the door shut to make sure Niko’s dad knows I’m not happy.
“I really don’t like your dad.” I repeated. My arm locked in place with a distracting tik tik tik tik. “Why is he so high strung and on everyone’s case all the time?” I asked as I hit my arm till it unstuck.
Nikolas shrugged. “Who knows.”
“How long do you think I’ll be able to stay?”
“What do you mean? As long as you want.” Nikolas replied.
“I really doubt that, if you know what I mean.” I said wagging my metal plates at him. I don’t like his dad and he doesn’t like me.
“…right. Well my dad won’t be kicking you out any time soon. He’s got bigger things to worry about now. We have enough time to convince him to let you stay.” He said.
“I think he’s beyond reason now.” I said shaking my head. My jaw wiggled in its socket. “We should leave Niko! We can go pick up your friend Salandra and we can all go somewhere else! Without zombies and control freak fathers!” I proposed with so much excitement that some smoke shot out from somewhere in my back.
A small smirk crawled up the teen’s face. “Where would be the fun in that?” He weakly joked. I watched as my friend swallowed and his gaze drifted thoughtfully.
He didn’t think I was serious? “I’m serious.” I clarified. “You don’t have to stay here if you don’t want to Nikolas.”
“I need to sleep right now, Oscar. I didn’t get any yesterday and I’m exhausted from those 3 hours of casting magic.” Nikolas said as he rubbed his eyes.
“Alright, I’ll power down in a corner. I’ll be your watch dog.” Niko’s dog snorted from his bed. “I’m sure I’m a much better watch dog than you are, dog.”
I silently watched as Nikolas fell asleep, pretty rapidly too.
I owe a lot to him, he’s been a great friend! I just came out of nowhere, became a problem for him, but he still did his best to find a solution for both of us. I want to repay this. Make sure he’s happy and safe.
He’s making this difficult.
I powered down, not completely though, so that I can still be aware of a meteor falling on the house or something – like in the game haha.
I woke up fully as a light came on in the corridor.
I could hear someone’s footsteps. Most likely one of Nikolas’ family members up for a late night snack.
I listened as the footsteps approached the door…and stopped.
I focused my hearing and I heard breathing on the other side. Somebody rubbing their hands. Muttering under their breath. I upped my hearing more and caught some words.
“-bound by my oath of safety
Depicted by my perimeter
Restricted on all actions
Outside of the caster’s permission”
Along with the words came tendrils of magic under the door and straight for Nikolas, curling around him like a cocoon.
I stomped towards the door, the loud clanks shaking the house. I nearly ripped the door off its hinges. Robots are really strong you know! This system of pulleys is way more efficient than muscles.
I was not surprised. The dad I don’t like was behind the door, magic still seeping from his hands as evidence.
“AHA.” I yelled, just as I opened the door. He jumped up at least two feet from the surprise. “CAUGHT RED-HANDED. How could you!? He’s sleeping!”
Xavier clutched his chest. “Please stop making a racket. People are trying to sleep.”
“WOAH, I will not. That HAD to be illegal! Casting a spell on your own son while he’s SLEEPING. And not any spell I bet. I’m going to shout it. Don’t think you’re getting away with this.” I threatened.
“I’m only doing what’s best for my son.” He grimaced.
“LIAR. You’re doing what’s best for you!”
“I don’t need to justify myself to a robot.” He declared. He brought his hand up, magic already charging up in his hand. I suddenly got scared – I am just a robot, is he going to shut me up?
I was saved by two confused ‘dad?’, one from behind me and one from down the corridor.
“What’s going on? What’s with all the yelling?” Nikita asked. Tyzel peeked into the room to see Nikolas wake up, just as equally confused.
I poked the witch in the back. “Tell them, go on, or I will. Okay, I will! He put his ultimate grounding spell on Niko! While he was still sleeping! Without warning him!”
“I did cast the spell, but-”
Nikolas shot to his feet, his face contorted in anger to challenge his father on this, but his words caught in his throat. I could see it on his face. He was unable to voice his opinions on it.
He clutched his neck, looking at his father in dismay.
“Dad!” Nikita exclaimed, gesturing at her brother.
“That’s an unexpected side-effect.” The man admitted. I just want to slap him silly.
“Take the spell off.” I demanded.
“Yeah dad, it clearly backfired. Nikolas can’t even talk.” Nikita added.
Tyzel looked around, his face serious as if asking himself if this was really happening.
“The spell just ended up limiting him. He can still talk.” The father tried to justify defensively.
“I can still talk. As long as it doesn’t offend you.” Nikolas stated calmly, his eyes glued to the ground. Nato had gotten up, touching Niko’s hand with his snout.
“Let’s all go back to bed. Everyone’s tired and not thinking clearly.” Xavier announced. “We’ll talk about this in the morning.”
“NO.” I slammed my foot down, a puff of smoke exiting my ear. “Take the spell off now.”
“No.” Xavier shot back at me. “Now everyone go back to sleep, before you end up waking Edmund up as well!”
Nikita scoffed. “Dad come on, just take the spell off. It clearly failed.”
“With all due respect,” Tyzel butted in. “You made a bad decision and a mistake, but it’s not too late to fix it.”
“Take. It. Off.” I growled – growling being actually my gears grinding harshly.
All four of us circled Xavier, pressuring him to undo this. With the actions of a caged animal, he brought his hands up in one smooth movement, magic streaming from his fingers as he did so.
He uttered the word sleep and almost instantly Nikita, Tyzel and Nikolas all collapsed.
His hands came down shakily, the magic dissipating in the air. He seemed to have forgotten that I existed. Maybe he assumed the sleeping spell would’ve affected me too – a robot with no biological need like sleep.
He gripped his head and then leaned on his legs, looking like he’d run a marathon.
I slowly closed Nikolas’ door.
The other father chose that moment to come out and see what all the ruckus was about. His eyes stuck on the sleeping couple.
“Xav? What happened?”
Xavier looked up in a panic. “It looks bad, but it isn’t! I-”
I’d had enough of this. I brought back my robotic arm that could tear a door off its hinges and I used it to strike the back of Xavier’s head. He instantly collapsed.
“He cast the spell on-” I tried to explain to the other father, Edmund, but his eyes got all wide and scared and he ran back into his room. I rolled my eyes. Time to get out of this crazy house. I sneaked back into Nikolas’ room.
The spell had knocked him out just as effectively as the others. He was even snoring a bit.
“Niko, Nikolas,” I said, shaking his shoulder a bit. Right the spell is too strong for me to wake him the normal way. I glanced back at the door. “Maybe now you’ll believe me that this is the absolute best solution.” I clanked as I leaned down and snaked my metal arms under him.
“Excuse me, pardon me, passing through.” I said, weaving through the unconscious bodies. “Don’t you worry Niko. I’m going to bring you far far away from here. Where your dad’s magic can’t get to you. Having that much magic, and using it like this!? He doesn’t deserve it. There’s a hundred better things to use spells on than your teenage son. Don’t you agree with me?”
“Bet you do, look at that, we’ve already made it to the front door. You can stay asleep as long as you want. Pretty sure my robot arms won’t feel the fatigue. Pretty darn useful! I know you weren’t happy with my decision last time, but you see it now right? That was horrible, and the best way to prevent it from happening again is going far away.” I said. “There’s no other choice. Your dad is crazy. I didn’t like him from the start, but this just takes the cake.”
“Um.” I pushed forwards but was halted in my march. “Oh no.” Whenever I approached the doorway, a shield would make itself visible, and I could feel resistance from Nikolas’ body. I couldn’t leave the house with him. The spell was still in effect! Which meant Niko couldn’t leave the house without his father expressively giving him permission.
I gently put Nikolas down, confirmed that I alone could pass, and that it was really just Niko who was stuck here – and then I considered my options.
I’m going to need help if I’m going to get Niko out of here! I glanced back at the phone perched on the wall. Who could I call?
Who could I call who’d recently been insulted repeatedly by Xavier, and who’s obviously fond of Nikolas and wants his well-being like I do?
I do believe I remember the phone number that such a person gave Nikolas a few days ago.
“Won’t be much longer Niko! I’m going to call something even better than 911! Or you know actually, the person the 911 people would, I’m sure, LOVE to have in custody.” I said, grabbing the phone and dialing. “It was CRAZY the things he told us that he did. I still don’t believe half of- OH YES, is there someone on the other side? Hello? I would like to place an order for a rescue mission please.”