Reports were coming in from everywhere. Cassy couldn’t keep up with them. Facebook, texts, radio. She tried her best to ignore them and focus on driving. That was easier said than done, as the roads were a nightmare. She suspected that everyone was doing the same thing she was.
She finally made it to her parents house. It was the same two story house where she grew up. She hadn’t seen them for years. It’s not that she didn’t love them, it’s that they drove each other crazy.
“Mom, Dad?” she asked as she opened the door. Luckily she still had a key. “Hey guys. Are you here? Have you been watching the news?”
Nothing had changed much since the last time she was here. They still had that tan corduroy couch. Her father’s newspapers were sitting on his chair like always. They added a few new paintings, landscapes, big god-awful green landscapes. Her portrait was missing from the corner. It used to sit next to Jennifer, her sister. No, surprise. I mean you don’t disown your child and then spend every day looking at them.
“Mom? Dad? Your cars are in the driveway. Are you here?”
She worked her way into the kitchen. This is where they used to fight. Fight about the boys she was dating. Fight about how lazy she was. They would fight about everything. She reached down and wrapped her hand around her mothers coffee cup. Still warm. It’s been thirty plus years and she’s still drinking from that same coffee mug.
“Mom?” she said again.
She glanced out the screen door into the backyard, but didn’t see anyone out there. Her dad called it is man patio. The TV was on, and there was a glass of tea on the side table, but the chair was empty.
She worked her way down the hallway to the bedrooms. Family photos and sayings lined the walls. ‘God, grant me the serenity’, she read to herself. She hated that quote.
“Mom, dad, for fuck sake, where are you? And don’t shoot me. It’s your daughter Cassy. Remember me? I just came to see how you are and if you’re okay. There’s some crazy shit going on.” she said as she peeked through the door to her old room.
“Shhhh.” he said putting his finger up to his mouth. He was sitting on the edge of her old desk chair. Her mother was laying in the bed, with the covers almost to he chin.
“Is she okay? Have you been listening to the news? I’m glad you are okay, half of my friends on Facebook are missing. Seattle, oh my god Seattle? Isn’t that where Aunt Sophie lives? I completely forgot about Sophie,” Cassy said franticly.
“Yes, she lives just outside of Seattle, Mercer Island, I think. Why don’t we go to the kitchen.”
Cassy followed her dad in to the kitchen. He was older than she remembered. When you see someone everyday you don’t notice the changes, but it had been a good couple years since she had seen him. His face was more weathered and worn. His hair was thinner. But, he was still dad. The same mannerisms. That wasn’t the first time he’d asked her into the kitchen that way. It took her back.
He picked up her mothers coffee cup and poured it down the drain. He turned and rested on the edge of the sink.
“It’s not her,” he said.
“What do you mean, it’s not her?” Cassie replied.
“It’s not her. I’ve known your mother almost my entire life, and that’s not her. That’s, someone else. I mean, I don’t know if it’s related to all the disappearances and kooky stuff going on. It has to be, doesn’t it? It’s just to much of a coincidence.”
“Why is she in bed?” Cassy asked.
“Okay. I’m not proud of this, but I slipped a couple sedatives into her coffee.”
“I drugged her. She was acting all crazy.”
“You mean more so than normal?”
“Okay, different, she was acting different, like she was a different person. She had all of her memories, but her personality was of some one else. I couldn’t get her to understand that she was different, and that made her nuts. You know how your mother gets.”
“I needed some time to think, and check in with the news. And we still haven’t heard from Jennifer. I hope she’s okay?”
His head sunk and he started to cry. Cassy put her arm around him and comforted him.
“I need to talk to her,” Cassy said.
“Of course. She’s coherent, just a little high.”
Cassy slipped out of her fathers embrace and headed to her room. Her mother was laying on the bed fully dressed. She had been fidgeting and threw the covers off.
“Mom?” Cassy said. “Are you okay?”
“Your dad is a monster, Cassy. A monster. Don’t trust him,” she slurred.
“Mom, what are you talking about, Dad’s not a monster. He did this for your own safety, he said you were get all worked up.”
“Monsters work me up.”
Then she said it. “Cassy, I miss you.”
“Okay, now I’m on Dads side. Who are you? You are the one who told me you didn’t need me anymore. You are the one who said, never comeback. My mother would never say that.” Cassy paced around the room, as her mother reached a hand out to her. “I’m your mother Cassy, and I miss you.”
It was too good to be true. Cassy had longed for the day when her mother would call and say that she missed her. But, it never happen, and Cassy lost hope that it ever would. Her mother was the most stubborn person she’d ever met. She was never going to give in. She would never say that. Maybe dad was right, she thought.
“Do you feel different, mom?”
“You mean like someone slipped a Mickie in my coffee? Yeah, I do,” she said laughingly.
“You can’t be my mother,” Cassy said. She didn’t mean to say it out loud, but she did.
“And apparently I’m not his wife either,” her mother replied.
“I’ll be right back,” Cassy said.
“I’d come with you, if I could,” said her mother as she flopped her arm back down on the bed.
Cassy’s father was sitting in his chair. He was flipping though the channels. They were all pretty much the same. Every channel was news about what was going on. Reports on how Seattle had just disappeared. Stories of missing people. And now stories of people changing.
“Why do you hate us?”
“What?” Cassy said. “The worlds on fire and is is what you want to talk about?”
“Yeah, seems as good a time as ever.”
“I don’t hate you. We just see things differently.”
“Why does that have to hurt?”
“That’s a very good question. I’m not sure I have an answer for you,” Cassy said.
“I mean we did what we were supposed to do, right? We raised you, took care of you. And you hate us.”
“I don’t hate you dad, I just don’t get along with you. It’s different.”
The TV went white and lit up the room. They both looked over. A passage appeared in the center of the screen.
We are rebooting your simulation due to a fatal error. Please stay calm while things return to normal.
The saying also appeared in their heads as if someone was reading it to them. Cassy didn’t really understand it. Then she felt things blink. It was hard to explain, but it was a blink. It was like suddenly things were different.
“How did you get in? And why are you here?”
“That’s a very good question, Dad.”
“You should probably leave before your mother….”
“Cassy? Is that you?”
Cassy braced for it, for the anger, for the hate, for the fight. But, it didn’t happen. Her mother ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug she’d ever gotten.
“I missed you, Cassy,” she said.
“I missed you, too, mom”