Omens of the Moon – Part 4: “End of the World Party

So you might have noticed that fellow Glass House Press author KristaLyn A. Vetovich have been embarking on a story swap journey, where each of us alternate writing a section of a story each week.

We were originally inspired because of what’s happening with the moon on January 31st of this year: it’ll be a full moon, a blue moon, a supermoon, and a lunar eclipse. Well, KristaLyn’s and my imaginations couldn’t handle all the delight. We had to write a story about it.

We’ve been building off of each other’s pieces this whole month, and — wow, time has flown! — we’ll each write our own endings on the 31st of January… just in time for you to have your own moon adventure.

If you’ve missed the previous segments, go catch up on them right here:

Part One: Gasp! The beginning! The start! The liftoff!

Part Two: Intrigue begins… mwahahahah. (Also, annoying siblings.)

Part Three: Should we believe it? Can we believe it? Do we want to believe it?

… and here we are! Part Four:

 

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“Boy, I am teaching you how to clean after this,” Sophia declared at 1:30 in the morning, stumbling through the door after her shift at the hospital. Trevor came to his feet, the only thing in his head what had happened at the dock.

“You said clean it, not how well,” he answered hurriedly. Passive-aggressive sarcasm was his default mode.

“Don’t be a dick.”

He felt a faint twinge of guilt, pulled into the present as he realized how exhausted she looked.

“All right, well,” she said, throwing her purse and coat across the couch, which was probably once black, but was now more of a grey. “We’ve got half an hour until people arrive.”

“What?”

“Party. Friends. Fellow interns. Didn’t I tell you they were coming over?” She batted her eyelashes.

“Uhm, no.” Trevor felt a little hostile, shrinking in on himself at the idea of having to face people after the day he’d had. He wasn’t about to tell a room full of people what he’d seen in the water.

“Well, they are. And they’re cooking since I’m hosting, which is fabulous, because Maria makes effing amazing carnitas.”

“What is the occasion?”

Sophia snorted, pulling bleach out of a cupboard Trevor didn’t even realize existed. “The end of the world, of course.”

Oh. Right. The eclipse. His mouth dried a little. He’d managed to forget that phenomenon in the face of the water… creature.

They couldn’t be connected. No, they weren’t. These were two separate things –

“You. Here’s the mop. Floor. It’s sticky, and I have no idea why, so it needs to not be sticky anymore.”

Trevor had a mop and two different large bottles of something promptly tossed in his direction, half of which he dropped. Thankfully, nothing broke. Trevor juggled the items and stared at them for a minute.

“Do you need a lesson in mopping?” Sophia put her hands on her hips.

Trevor clenched his teeth for a minute before he made them unclench. “Yesssss.”

Sophia was silent for a long minute, until her lips twitched and then she broke out in one of her signature grins. “Little bro, I am going to teach you so much.”

 

His sister became a whirlwind when cleaning, which made it impossible to interject anything outside of what she was doing. Trevor beat down impatience. His stomach felt like it had a boulder in it, taking an enormous amount of effort to force it up his throat into words.

“Why are there so many damn cleaning products?” he muttered instead.

“Because germs are naughty,” she responded from across the room, somehow hearing him.

She was currently balancing on a chair dusting something up high. Who the hell cared if there was dust up there?

She finally became quiet, after barfing up everything that had happened at the ER that day. It had been a madhouse, like usual on the full moon, but Trevor had started sweating when she’d told him there had been a much higher rate of water related injuries.

Maybe she was quiet because she was thinking about what they’d seen last night, too.

“I went to the dock today,” Trevor blurted.

“Oh! God, I’m an awful sister, I forgot to ask: How was your day? Besides not cleaning.”

The boulder in his gut got stuck in his esophagus and made his voice weird. “I saw something.”

Out of his periphery, he saw his sister turn to look at him.

“What kind of something?”

“Like the thing with fins we saw last night – ”

There was a knock on the door. Sophia’s attention snapped to the door and back to him, expression serious. “Let me get her set up and we’ll talk, okay?”

Swallowing hard, he nodded.

Sophia danced to the door and jerked it open. “Woman! You’re early. I’m still in my scrubs.”

“And you’re damn cute in ‘em!”

“Fawnia! You’re here too!”

Trevor scrambled to try to shove cleaning products away as two women – both stocky, one brunette and the other black-haired and Hispanic-looking – dressed in sweaters and leggings came into the small kitchen, one carrying a bag and the other carrying a crock pot. They were talking a mile a minute as Sophia trailed behind them – how the hell did they have this energy at almost 2 in the morning? – but both stopped as they saw him.

“You didn’t tell us the brother would be here!”

Both women deposited their items on the counter and offered him their hands, beaming.

“Maria.”

“Fawnia.”

“… Trevor.”

“We’ve heard so much about you – I know, very cliché – but it’s wonderful to finally meet you!” Fawnia exclaimed.

Sophia smirked, leaning in the doorway to the kitchen behind them. Great. She’d been talking about him. And knowing her, they probably knew horribly sordid little details about him, too. Sophia didn’t view things with the same level of embarrassment as he did.

“All right, I’ll get you guys set up and then we both need to change and fresh up,” Sophia said, giving Trevor a meaningful look.

His gut cramped. He stuffed his hands into his jeans and tried not to squirm with impatience as Sophia tried to extract herself from her doctor friends. She finally did, glancing at him as she headed down the short hallway towards her bedroom.

There was another knock on the front door. Sophia looked at Trevor with resignation and went to open it.

 

Friend after friend arrived, until the small apartment was filled with bodies, heat, and the smell of good food. Also: alcohol. That came out, which was more than a little interesting to Trevor.

When Sophia did manage to get away to change her clothes, two of her friends followed, talking, so she wasn’t alone and Trevor couldn’t talk to her.

Trevor also had his own issues extracting himself from her friends: as the new addition to the obviously close group, and apparently his sister’s favorite thing to gossip about, he was the center of attention.

He was uncomfortable. But he was also the center of attention of a group of very intelligent, driven, and compassionate women – and they weren’t hard on the eyes. So being straight and, well, you know, interested, he decided a little discomfort was okay. He knew nothing would happen with any of them, but that didn’t stop the pleasure of having so much female attention.

“Are you interested in pharmacy? My dad is head of the one a few hours south of here – I bet I could get you behind the scenes,” one of them said – Carmen? He thought? She had light brown hair and was cute as hell – and towered over him at 6 feet tall.

“I don’t know… that’s the problem, I have no idea…” How could he decide what to put all his energy into when he didn’t even know what he cared about?

“You need to explore! Make your mark! Figure shit out!” Maria pushed another glass in his hand, the second Spanish Coffee she’d handed him. His eyes darted around for Sophia, but she was currently miming something while the two women around her were in stitches of laughter. He had no idea what was happening: she looked ridiculous.

They were mixing all their drinks with caffeine, as some of them were going on 24 hours awake. He downed half of the scalding liquid quickly: it was making the boulder in his stomach go away, and he was damn okay with that.

“It’s starting, it’s starting!” someone bellowed.

Trevor almost dumped hot liquid all over his lap.

Everyone crowded over to the sliding doors that opened to the balcony. This building was freaking archaic, with terrible water pressure and sometimes cockroaches and a hot water heater that went out at times, but Sophia loved this apartment because of the huge balcony and view.

There was about a mile of quaint ocean town between Sophia’s place and the ocean that stretched out like a giant, dark blanket. Above the dark waters, the full moon hung; along its edge, a sliver of rust was forming.

Which god is swallowing the moon? Trevor wondered, before he mentally shook himself. He’d been listened to too much folklore podcasts today. Er. Yesterday, since it was technically the wee-hours of the next day.

He swayed a little where he stood. Haaaa, he needed to eat.

“Okay, that’s cool, this is going to take a while. Food time!” Maria clapped her hands together.

Trevor startled at the abrupt return of conversation that filled the apartment, not realizing how quiet it had been a second before.

 

It turns out, the eclipse takes hours to occur. While the eclipse technically started at almost 3 in the morning (their time anyway), the moon wouldn’t be at full eclipse until almost five. He hadn’t stayed up this late in a while, but between the conversation and the coffee, he wasn’t having too much of a problem. He perched on the armrest of the couch and stuffed his face with food (and another Spanish Coffee – why the hell were these things so good?), pretending he wasn’t nervous as his leg bounced up and down erratically.

Then, somehow, it was almost five in the morning. Sweat broke out on Trevor’s back as he stood on the balcony and stared up at the ruddy monstrosity in the sky. Did the moon seem bigger? It seemed bigger. Technically, a casual observer couldn’t tell that Supermoons were closer, the difference was so minimal. It shouldn’t seem bigger.

Ridiculous name. ‘Supermoon.’

The crimson crept, inching… inching… inching towards completion. He felt his heart race, the silence around him deafening as every eye in the room was riveted. It was so slow – was the moon completely red now? Now? Now? Every time he thought it was, he refocused and saw another tiny sliver of white.

What was going to happen when it was completely red?

In horror, Trevor realized he actually thought something was going to happen. Nothing is going to happen! It was just animals in the water and conspiracy theories and –

An ear-splitting noise exploded in the room.

Trevor yelped, bumping into the railing of the balcony as he jumped. He wasn’t the only one: Sophia’s friends jerked, a few swearing.

It took him a second to realize that his darling sister Sophia had her head bent backwards and she was howling up at the sky.

“What the f – ”

“We have to scare it away!” Sophia cackled. “We have to scare away whatever is swallowing the moon!”

She lifted her face to the sky again and howled at the top of her lungs.

“Jesus Christ,” Trevor muttered, his heart trying to declare mutiny in his chest. Laughter bubbled around him. He wondered how long his sister was going to keep this up –

Maria cupped her hands around her mouth and bellowed at the moon.

“Oh for – ”

Fawnia and Carmen immediately joined in.

“Oh god.”

Trevor covered his eyes with his hand as Sophia and all her friends began to howl, raising a racket the likes of which would probably wake the neighborhood. He shook his head, not able to believe this was happening right now.

His lips started switching. Hilarity bubbled up before he could stop it, and his shoulders quivered with laughter.

Sophia wacked him on the shoulder without saying a word.

“Aaaaooooooo,” he said half-heartedly.

Maria bumped him with her shoulder, repeatedly, with surprisingly violent nudges.

“All right, all right!” Trevor cupped his hands around his mouth, lifted his head, and howled at the moon at the top of his lungs.

Laughter broke out around him, followed by a cacophony of sound that made him laugh so hard he couldn’t breathe. Shivers raced over his skin, down his spine, elation filling his stomach until he felt light-headed.

Trevor howled until he threatened to make himself pass out, leaning against the railing and gasping for oxygen.

They all began to fall silent, one by one. Only breathing and occasional giggles broke the quiet. Sophia was next him, her eyes riveted to the sky; as he watched, her expression melted, turned serious. Trevor felt his skin prickle, something shivering down his spine.

He looked up… just as moon turned blood red.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Hope you enjoyed this segment! Man, it’s been really fun to watch these characters fumble around. Tune in next Wednesday as KristaLyn and I both write our conclusions to the mystery (it’s going to be so fun to see where we both end up!). 

Oh! And in case you’re interested, we both have novels coming out Fall of this year. You might want to hang around and see what they’re all about. (The best way to keep updated on me is to follow my blog or sign up for my newsletter here; you get goodies and exclusive sneak peaks!) You should definitely head over to KristaLyn’s place to see what she’s up to… 

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

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