Chapter 4 -- Between the Black Cat and Charon

Lucinda CHENG

She holds the phone, and dropped it. She almost forgot that her phone is tapped, so are apps on the laptop. Part of her family worked in the telecommunication section in the military. Her mom was chatting with her about how to sail in the storm called the heart and mind of a man, and the signals passed to her earphone.

On the other hand, Archer has a growing suspicion and anxiety about the entity that is reaching out to him through instant chat windows. They figured out another line of communication.

Immediately, Rachel took out one sheet from a pile of papyrus paper, pen and red ink from her magic weapon treasure box. Before she left to China, she had given Archer five of her papyrus sheets that they collected from a magick store during their trip to Memphis, Egypt. She kept the other half. They are made out of the same water plant stemming from one root.

She told Archer to always leave one between page 10 and 11 of Book IV in Mutiny. She hope he took them with him when he moved to Oklahoma!

Papyrus sheets can make boats and flow in the water; water is the shared medium between human and spirits. Yellow is the colour of divine connections. All the material has to be perfect to make the ritual work.

Quickly, in a single stroke, she drew two connected sigils with red ink on two sheets, so she did five times, chanting,

“Golden clock ticks with hundreds of tempos,

under God’s oculus,

worlds outside of worlds

mountain behind mountain

Holy water pours down to seven seas

and fills my lagoon .

Lord dwelling on the ninth sky,

Supreme Creator, passing the eternal electric fire,

Still and Motion,

Aware and Swirl.

Goddess of Chaos, the destroyer, storms under the order,

Goddess of form, the bearer, weaves the fabric,

With the fire and sound that is my life,

Now I bond you into PAIRS.


She may have constructed the ritual based on some faint, basic ideas on quantum entanglement. It’s both magick and science.

This yellow paper with a red sigil, is now petitioned on her black wooden altar. She focused all her energy like a laser, burning through the paper leaving traces as written words, as she mutters,

“Awareness, Compassion, Spin and Emerge.”

Meanwhile, its twin paper somewhere either in Mutiny or Oklahoma, corresponds. We don’t know. Particles on that paper started to get excited and run in certain ways, burning out a trace -- her cursive, readable English.

Can we make it to the other end of the Deluge and make decentralized measurement and store of value for everyone?

She waits, moments later, one of a papyrus in that pile started to burn. The glittering orange burning line move on the yellow paper like it’s alive, and left the words:

Take the Bart at Powell Street towards Balboa Park at 5:35. Wear a white linen robe, enter Cart number 3 after the train passes 16 street/Mission Street, and follow the Χάρων.

Χάρων, Charon? Why would the ferry of the underworld river Styx cross over to the human world? She had only known Charon from an aunt, her mother’s friend, who is now a blurry image in her memory. Aunt Vivian had a black cat; she was a violinist and a composer at the School of Berklee in Boston in the 90s. She visited them when Rachel was very young.

The interesting thing about aunt Vivian was that, she is an anaesthesia: she sees colour blobs while hearing notes, so composing to her is also painting.

The cat walked around the house like a royalty. One day, it is the last day Rachel remembered seeing them officially -- it came back all wet, like it went for a diving in the Charles river and was dragged out on its last breath.

It was shaking silently, perching on the tall vernecian stand. It was a weird time. All the plants in the house went withered in that month, and her grandparents, her parents barely talk in front of her. They moved around silently with a sort of humble piety that came out of sorrow. It was the type of mood after losing a battle, like mourning; but unlike mourning, it was as if the spirit is still in the house and they were bearing the wound.

She heard them from the next room.

Vivian asked: “Do you want her to grow up as a witch?”

Her mom said: “What did Charon say?”

Vivian: “He said, ‘until the candle burns upside down.’ ”

Her mom paused: “Then no.” she paused again, and said: “No.”

Then the cat took back his long gaze from into the space, walked towards Rachel, looked into her eyes with his glaring yellow eyes for a minute, then it turned around, jumped onto the window counter, and left like a wind. It was a goodbye.

Vivian came into her room. She gently pressed on her shoulder and said: “You are a Lee, remember that.”

That’s the last time she saw the aunt.

She felt since that day, the flowing light in the house and between she and her families was gone. She didn’t quite know what it was.

On that day, something broke, she could no longer finish her father’s sentences.

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