From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|Player: El Penumbra
|Place of Birth:
|Ft. Wayne, Indiana
|Base of Operations:
The boy ain’t been the same since he learned he could bend rain. It took form ‘round him like a blanket or some kind of cloud the night he came in from a storm dry as a casserole. He started takin’ science lessons shortly after, up at the college some couple hours away. I guess he wanted to see what else his faculties were capable of. Wasn’t long ‘fore he decided he oughta move out of me and his mom’s place. He’d previously seemed content to stay there and cook at the Oochi’s Pizza, but after a few days at those lessons he told us he needed “to find something,” and got an apartment in that college’s town.
The boy was never dumb, though he told me a long time ago that’s what the kids said to him. Just liked to stay to himself’s, all. He always seemed to get along with others just fine, but I don’t know if he ever had a best friend or anything like that. Growin’ up wasn’t easy with his mom sick most times, though. His dad lived over in Huntersville but didn’t see him much, and I tried takin’ care of his essentials best I could. Ain’t easy when you’re old, though.
He’d call from time to time, but it ended up he decided to come back after ‘bout six or seven odd months. I offered his old room to him, just had to move my hobby rockets out, but he said he’d need his own space. I asked him, “For what?” He said, “I’m finding it.”
He bought a place about an acre west of ours, right up the hill. He stuck a blue trailer a few dimensions shy of ours on that land, along with a great, big pool I figure to have a few dimensions on the Y’s. The thing was immaculate.
The boy would come over for dinner every Wednesday. With each week there was some invisible change in him. He looked the same as always, dark, shaggy hair, eyebrows a bit like inchworms, scarcely taking off my old jean jacket like he’d done since he was sixteen. I don’t know what it was. He just felt different.
I brought his ma over to visit his place one sticky, June day. The trailer was littered with some kind of articles I didn’t recognize much of. I knew they were about some sciency stuff and had all these drawings of animals, but I didn’t pay much attention to what they were concernin’. Chances are, if he’da told me, I still wouldn’t know. I noticed he kept that pool real nice and clean. It sure made the sun not seem so bad, the way it got caught and glowed in that crystal sheet of water. I figured I’d give my grandson and his ma a chance to enjoy each other’s company. I took my coffee outside and just took in the countryside a bit, thinkin’ the way an old man always does when he’s left to the world. I wondered about my friends, my high school basketball team, that teacher they’d caught with the preacher’s daughter. I don’t remember how many of ‘em had to go to ‘Nam too. Or how many of ‘em were still around.
I took off my shirt and wiped the sweat from my brow and belly. I gandered at my reflection in the pool a bit. It was neat how the sun seemed to stick to my back, like poncho or shawl or something. Like a turtle shell. I stripped down to my shorts and was about to ease in when Daniel came out raisin’ Cain. He said, “That pool ain’t for swimmin’, it’s for work!” but he didn’t look mad, he looked scared. As I dressed, there was something in the corner of my eye. A flash where the whole picture was clear but lasted less than a second. There were all these bubbles, a hundred or so, with a single yellow pinprick of light in each. When I turned for a full gander, nothing but wind ripples and that same sun starin’ back.
We acted like nothin’ had happened. ‘Course, that was my usual way of doin’ things. I was lucky the boy never needed much discipline growin’ up ‘cause I’m not too sure I’da been able to give it. We just sat havin’ dinner like normal, small chattin’ and all, pass the pepper this, pass the spaghetti that. The boy seemed to be deterioratin’. He talked less and less. His ma couldn’t notice much on account’a she wasn’t all there a lot of the time. Dinner together was every other Wednesday, then with more weeks between. At first, I was scared he was turnin’ out like his momma, but when you’d look at her you could tell she was takin’ a trip of some kind. He was still there, just seemed to be in corner in himself or like he was shrinkin’ in there. As he separated from us, I started seein’ The Glow.
Before bed every night for some thirty years or so, I’d taken to breathin’ in the clear, chilled air. Made my lungs feel alive. Since he’d moved back, I’d always looked up the hill and just wondered about the boy. Few months after the pool incident began this light show, not like fireworks, not exactly like that aurora borealis, but closer to it. There were waves of growin’ and fadin’ lights—blue, greens, yellows, silver. It came with a sound, something vibrating, high-pitched, like a whistle with someone singin’ their highest note over it. It’s a hard thing to put into words, but there was somethin’ sweet about it. Like I was a boy at the aquarium for the first time. Like I was part of a world I thought I could only just imagine.
I tried to check on the boy from time to time. He looked to be in health, though I new he wasn’t eatin’. The fridge, stove, and microwave were all dusty and I never saw anything in the garbage. This went on till winter’d set hold. The pool was tarped, but I’d never wanted to look at it anyhow. Something about it made my hair tickle. Talk was never in great supply, but one time he said to me, “Grandpa, I wanna take us back.” I’d always felt confused around him, so I just listened. “I don’t know how things go wrong, but I wanna fix it. I’m in this family for a reason.”
The night after this talk, I was watching The Glow, as I’d taken to. I was enjoying the sound. Colors’ rhythm. There was the usual pulse, but things sped up. It started flashing instead. Real frantic like something was wrong, until it just stopped. I was scared for him. This pause went on. Forever in five minutes. The sound slowly drifted down the hill as if was tellin’ me somethin’ I still couldn’t understand. But I could feel it. S’pose just like the boy could feel rain.