When we got back inside everyone was shouting.
“Oh my god!” Red said. “There’s a bird in here!”
She was ducked down on the floor covering her head, and The Admiral was on top of a chair holding a broomstick. Just then a flash of darkness swooped around and divebombed them. It was The Crow.
Red screamed, and The Admiral swung at it and missed. The Crow flew in a few circles and then noticed me and came straight towards me. I just stood there staring at it and didn’t flinch, and its claw scraped right across my face.
“Oh my god!” Red said. “It got HD.”
“I’ll take care of this,” The General said.
Then he grabbed the sabre off the wall and pulled it out of its sheath. The lights of The Barracks shined off the metal, and The General held it into the air like the leader of the cavalry.
“Where’d it go?” he said.
“Over there,” The Admiral said. “It’s taking Ace’s music.”
It had The Great Trip Mix in its beak and was about to make another swoop.
“Oh my god!” Red said, “Get it!”
The General held his weapon high and charged. The Crow dodged outta the way tho and turned back toward me.
“Go ahead,” I told it. “Get me again.”
The Crow dove down at my face. I didn’t flinch again, and it scraped my other cheek. It perched on the globe for a second and looked at me confused. It left its guard down for just that second, and TheGeneral&TheAdmiral took advantage. The Admiral smacked it in the face with the broom, and then The General swiped at its wing with the sabre, and feathers flew up everywhere. When they finally settled on the ground, The Crow had vanished.
“It must’ve flown out from wherever it came in,” The General said. “Although I don’t know how it could’ve. This place is a fortress.”
“Was that The Gods?” The Admiral asked.
“No,” I said, “It was just a coincidence. It probably flew in from the balcony when you weren’t looking.”
“Oh my god, HD,” Red said, “your cheeks are all bloody!”
“I’ll be alright.”
Then I wiped them with my hands, and my fingers got all red.
“Oh my god,” Red said, “let me clean you up.”
Then we went into the bathroom so she could look at it. She took a wet cloth and wiped the blood off.
“I think you need a band-aid,” she said.
Then she got some out of the medicine cabinet, peeled off the wrappers, and stuck one on each of my cheeks. It was nice, and a little Alright, Baby, and it made her seem like she was someone else.
“Thanks, La Renarde,” I said.
“Oh my god,” she said, “I’m Red.”
“You look like La Renarde. You have the same red hair.”
“You’re so funny, HD.”
“Are you guys like twins?”
“No I’m younger.”
But they really looked exactly the same to me. I had one last vague sense I was being TimeWarped, but when I went to look down at my Grounding Device, once again it and the jacket it was stuck to weren’t there anymore.
“Hey La Renarde,” I said. “Maybe if we kiss again it’ll turn out different this time.”
“Um, you’re acting kinda weird now.”
“Why did you kiss me if you were just going to be in Love with that other guy?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Let’s go back in the room, HD.”
“I’m not HD, I’m Jonathan, and I just wanted to be Reality Travel enough so you’d Love me. I did all of this for you, and now you don’t even believe in it anymore.”
“I really think we should go back in.”
“Please kiss me.”
“I don’t like you like that.”
“So you’re still not going to kiss me ever?”
Then she pulled away from me as far as she could and told TheGeneral&TheAdmiral everything that just happened.
“Hahaha,” The Admiral said, “hahaha.”
“I win again,” The General said. “When will you learn you just don’t have the Gods on your side.”
I looked at Red’s hair again as she avoided me across the room, and it was so LaRenarde-red, and then when I looked away everything else around us was the same color. The walls and the counter and the door and the floor and The Admiral’s face and The General’s face, all pure red. Then suddenly I felt a redness build and surge from inside me. It was redbird, and it felt powerful and completely correct.
“Ahhrgh!” it made me say.
And then I charged ahead and attacked them with my redbird.
“Oww!” it made them say.
I took a step back, and all the normal colors suddenly came back around me. White and black and gray. Except for Red’s hair and clothes and a little red splatter on the floor. Red’s eyes were wide open and she covered her mouth with her hand. The Admiral was dazed on the ground, and The General was standing up holding his face. One little red drop fell thru his fingers and hit the floor in front of him, and it almost made it seem like he was crying tears of blood.