Chapter Description: More goes on back home than young Tom knows.
Chapter 6: Meanwhile, on “Earth Realm”
Katlynn was not in Malacus. Just as her twin brother had suspected and hoped, she lay sleeping peacefully on the old mattress bed, portable fan blasting right at her head, as she lay spread eagle.
No blankets were on the bed. it was still too hot for that. No sheets either. Just the bare mattress and bare pillow. This was more a matter of lethargy, laziness, and limited resources. What was the point in making a bed if it was going to get messed up again anyways?
That made the mattress filthy, but like every other thing in the Dean home, Katlynn had gone blind to it. Slumming it was default. Dirty was only really dirty if the smell followed her out of the house. All clothing had to fail the sniff test before it went into the wash, no matter how many times it’d been worn.
Neither she nor Tommy noticed or talked about the light stain left over from years ago when she had her first period. Nor the booger wall from when Tommy went through his nose picking phase. She suspected that when a sock was left by the bedside after one of Tommy’s nights it meant that he’d done more than sleep, but that was something best not thought about.
She definitely wasn’t thinking about it now. If she was dreaming about anything, it was the coming morning and how she was going to get Mary to take them grocery shopping for the month.
Some people counted sheep. Katlynn Dean counted groceries.
The loud BONG did not cause her to stir the first time. Nor the second, nor the third. It can’t really be said if the noise was a physical noise that could be heard by the human ear at all.
Whether she could hear the noise or not is a matter of debate and as Tom went on his little adventure inside the clock, the noise ceased to matter so much, having served its intended purpose.
What mattered now was the tendrils of mist that were starting to creep over her. From out the broken heap of a grandfather clock, a thick fog billowed out spreading to every corner of the house. Under doorways and up the walls, the stuff slithered and skittered like a swarm of spiders. Curiously, none of it wafted into the air.
A standing person might be ankle deep, at best. Laying down as she was, Katlynn had the unusual, seemingly sentient fog crawling over her. Entering her nose. Soothing her lungs. Caressing and cooling her skin.
If she’d been awake, except for the anesthetic coolness of it all, Katlynn might think her home was burning down. She might scream for Mary and Tom and run for her life, buck ass naked into the parking lot calling for neighbors to dial 9-1-1. The high school senior wasn’t awake, however. Like a house fire, this smokey substance only made the girl go into a deeper sleep, impossible to stir.
Good. The mist coming through the clock did it’s best work when no one was looking. Centuries ago, it’s exploits in aiding a failing cobbler were attributed to little helper elves. If quasi-sentient smoke could scoff, it would have.
As if elves could ever be particularly helpful, those pointy eared little charlatans.
Never mind elves. Cleaning was first.
It was less of a scrubbing, what the mist did, and more of a rejuvenation. Paint unpeeled. Odors un stank. Dirt was not washed away from the piles and piles of clothes scattered around the house as much as it was...undirtied.
A certain aforementioned mattress stain ceased to exist. Certain socks become soft and uncrusted. The smell of piss and cigarettes vanished from Tom’s discarded clothes.
Next came reorganizing. Clothes were folded and lifted up on ivory tendrils into delicate stacks. Long empty and neglected dresser drawers, now in mint condition were filled with shirts, shorts, socks, and unmentionables, each with their different drawer. Drawers were itemized but not anally so. Socks and underwear were still bunched up. Dress shirts and slacks found themselves on previously empty hangers and junk piled up for years in spare closets found other, perhaps more decorative piles to join.
A few shirts, last night’s laundry, were stacked on the coffee table. A manageable handful of clothes were made not quite perfect but decidedly less scuzzy and found their way to a laundry basket by the door, just to give it that sense of normalcy.
Without moving her, just patiently waiting for her to roll over, Katlynn’s smoke soaked bed seemed to make itself, slipping a fitted sheet under her as she rolled one way and then a next.
A light sheet, less for insulation and warmth and more for the tactile sensation draped itself over her. The slight added weight would increase the girl’s serotonin levels. She’d sleep better. The portable fan was left blessedly undisturbed
Lastly, the mist traveled to the tiny little kitchenette area. The mice and roaches that scrabbled in the dark corners had a sudden urge to find new places to live in, and every crumb, food and grease stain became a forgotten memory. Come sunrise, when the Deans woke up, they’d find milk in their refrigerator, as well as some bread and lunchmeats.
The meat and the milk would be old and need to be eaten that day lest it spoil, but it would be filling. They’d still need to go shopping, but the SNAP card would have a little extra funds on it so that Mary could buy something nice, an inexpensive dessert to go with dinner that night.
They’d still be dirt poor. But things wouldn’t be quite so dirty or desperate. Their house would still be cluttered with their mother’s useless knick knacks, but it would be more charmingly disorganized than an indoor garbage heap.
Satisfied with its work, the mist billowed back inside the old clock, now seemingly in a ever so slightly better condition. It was still a broken down old grandfather clock...but it seemed nicer; the wood a little less chipped, the crack in the glass a bit shorter.
Were Katlynn awake she might have noticed all of this and gone mad. Thankfully, for her own sanity, she wasn’t awake. And the mist had soaked up inside her, too. Come the sunrise, she would awaken, and see her cleaner, nicer home, and remember it as always being so. Humble. Yet homely. Far less hellish.
That was a trick the mist hadn’t had centuries ago. That’s why those dirty elves had gotten all that undeserved credit.