Quick Notes: This is a Choose Your Own Adventure type story. To full understand this story you will need to read the previous chapters. You can find them here:
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 2.5 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
There you can also find more info about how to play along. As for everyone who’s caught up, enjoy!
Chapter 5: Rose
A million thoughts ran through James’s mind at once. They were all the same though.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Standing in front of James, in his father’s house, was Rose. The young, sarcastic woman who had taken his order at Arby’s earlier today. The girl that had James had thoroughly embarrassed himself in front of. James was unsure what to think. What to feel. What to say.
So he blurted out, “Why are you here?”
Rose stared at him questioningly before answering, “Um, I live here?” She then raised an eyebrow and shot back, “Why are you here?”
James tried to reply but couldn’t. All that came out was the weird static-y TV noise again. As his mind began to slip into all sorts of random thoughts again, Arthur said, “Oh you do that static noise too? I guess you got something from me after all.”
Both James and Rose shot mildly confused looks toward Arthur. Rose asked, “Got something from you? What do you mean by that?”
Arthur looked to Rose and said, “This is the young man I told you about last week. James. My and Victoria’s son.”
Rose’s face remained in the same confused fashion for a while. She looked at Arthur, then at James, then at Arthur again. Soon a relieved expression washed over her.
“Oh right,” she said with a laugh, “I forgot that today was the day. Well, pardon my manners, welcome home James.”
Rose extended her hand out to James, who just stared at it. His mind was all over the place. He was trying to process too many thought at once. Like if you tried to run a game at the highest settings…on a calculator. There was a lot today he hadn’t expected. Running into a crazy old lady in an alley behind Arby’s, gaining possession of an allegedly magical time traveling ring, discovering that his mom had kidnapped him and then lied to him for almost two decades. All of these were unexpected. And yet this was the moment that was causing him the most trouble. What was Rose doing here? She said she lived here. What did that mean? Was she…was she dating his father? Was she married to him? Surely not. But then again, maybe? I mean, sure, Arthur was quite a bit older than her, but he was still a good looking man. And James had heard that some women prefer an older man. And really who was he to judge. It would be strange, having a stepmom that’s the same age as him, but James thought he could handle it. It would take some adjustments but-
“Dude,” Rose said, her face inches from James own as she took his hand in hers. The sudden contact and breach of personal space shocked James out of his headspace. Rose was staring right into his eyes, a somewhat perplexed expression on her face. She continued, “You really, really daydream don’t you. Where the hell do you go?”
James stared back for a moment before relying, “Nowhere.” He then swallowed and forced himself back into the game. In the most calm voice he could muster (which incidentally involved lots of cracks in his voice and a slightly nervous tone) asked, “What do you mean by you live here?”
“I mean I live here?” Rose replied, a bit confused.
“Right, but I mean, like, why? What’s you relationship with my…father?” James asked back.
“Oh that,” Rose replied, blushing a bit. “Yeah, I guess you probably are wondering about that. Um, well, I guess that you could say that you and I are sort of…siblings.”
James’s mind began to slink back into his daydream-y mode, but Rose caught onto it and started snapping her fingers and front of him and saying, “Nope. Not this time. Stay with me James.”
It worked, sort of. James wasn’t out of it, but he wasn’t in it either. In a half daze he muttered, “Oh no, I thought my sister was hot.”
"I thought my sister was hot"
The room was silent. And then Arthur began to chuckle a little. He tried stifling it, but not very effectively. He was making that sort of squeaky sound you make when you’re trying not the laugh, but it’s making it hard to breathe. Rose turned bright red and a smile crept onto her face. A big, ear to ear type of grin. Her whole body tensed up as well.
James just sat there, half dazed. He hadn’t realized he’d said it out loud. Yet.
Rose recognized this and regained enough composure to say, “Well, you see, maybe I should clarify. We’re siblings, but only in a legal sense.”
James snapped out of his daze and asked, “Legal sense? What does that mean?”
Sensing they had avoided the awkward danger for now Rose continued, “Well after your mom ditched you, your dad looked for you for a while. But when nothing turned up, he was depressed. That’s when he turned to an old friend. A women he’d known for a while.”
“Mindy,” James said, interrupting the story.
“…No?” Rose replied. “My mother. Violet. Who the hell is ‘Mindy’?”
Arthur rose out his chair suddenly and answered a bit too loudly, “No one. No one at all. Does anyone want to change the subject? You ever see the old Godzilla movies? How about Mothra?”
Arthur stood there looking at both of his kids. James stared at him, with a “What the hell was that?” sort of expression on his face. Rose stared at him, eyes narrowed accusingly. She continued to stare before continuing, “Okay, we’ll put a pin in that and come back to it later. Anyways, where was I?”
“Your mom,” James answered.
“Oh right, thank you,” Rose replied. “Right, Violet, my mom. Your dad had met her when he started trying to find you. She worked at the police station where he filed the kidnapping report. She was a counselor. They got to know each other over the years he spent looking for you and became friends. But after Arthur realized he may never see you again, he decided to move on. To live his life. And that’s when my mom confessed she loved him. A couple of years later they got married. It was a beautiful wedding.”
Rose then looked at James as though that answered his question. It didn’t.
“So then…how are we only related in a legal sense?” he asked.
Rose blushed a little again and then answered, “Oh. Um, you see, I was already born before our parents got together. My mom and dad split shortly before my mom started to get to know your dad. They were both going through hard times, so they found comfort in each other. I was at the wedding actually, that’s how I knew it was beautiful. It was in the park, under the big oak tree. I was the flower girl. Which I know, haha, Rose the flower girl. I get it.”
James mentally breathed a sigh of relief. No incest related therapy in his future. But then a thought occurred to him, “So where’s your mom?”
Rose suddenly turned pale. Arthur shot James a look that said, “Dude, no”. Arthur walked up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. She placed her hand on his and answered, “She died a few years back. Car accident. She was on her way to work and some drunkard smashed into her. Her car went careening off the road and into a lake. She…drowned.”
James stomach began to feel heavy. He quietly responded, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
James’s voice trailed off and he hung his face down. He’d fucked up. He’d fucked bad. He just wanted to run away. Just get out of there. Subconsciously he rubbed his thighs. He felt the ring in his pocket. Maybe it was time to test it out?
Before he could though he was snapped back to reality by a noise. One he hadn’t expected. Laughter. Rose’s laughter.
He looked up to see her laughing weakly, a few small tears in her eyes. He face was flushed again. She managed to say, “Don’t worry about it. You didn’t know. Besides, I know you lost your mom too. I’m sure you meant nothing by it.”
James felt relieved. His stepsister was amazing. So kind. So understanding. So hot.
Rose got up and said to her stepfather and stepbrother, “Well, I’m going to go upstairs. I’m tired. I’ll catch you guys later.”
Rose left the room waving to both men. When she was gone, James looked at the clock on the wall. It was 9 o’clock PM. He realized he should leave. So he stood up and said, “I should probably get going anyway. Don’t want to miss my bus.”
Arthur replied, “Nonsense, I’ll give you a ride home.”
James almost accepted the offer. But decided he wanted some time to think about what had happened today so he declined.
“I appreciate it, but I want to get some air. Reflect on things,” he responded.
Arthur nodded and replied, “I understand. See you tomorrow?”
James paused for a second before happily responding, “Yeah. See you tomorrow?”
As James opened the door to go outside he was greeted by yet another unexpected surprise.
Standing in his father’s doorway was the crazy old lady from the alleyway. She stood there, hunched over, breathing hard and cursing to herself. Every once in a while she’d look up at him and try to start talking, but she’d just make a wheezing noise and collapse onto her face. This happened a few times before eventually Arthur walked over to see what was up.
As James tried to find the words to explain what was going on, Arthur’s eyes widened as he exclaimed, “Minerva?!”
The old crone, Minerva looked up at him with a smile and said, “Oh, hey Arthur. Long time no see.”
James looked back and forth between Minerva and his father. He finally said, “Um, you two know each other?”
Arthur shot back, “You two know each other?”
James stiffened and replied, “I asked first.”
Arthur gave him a stern look before saying, “I guess that’s true. Yes, I know Minerva. I cut through the alleyway a few months ago behind Arby’s after I dropped Rose off to work. Her car had broken down. I was accosted by Minerva there.”
“Accosted,” Minerva repeated, mockingly. She then said, “Pretty sure what I did didn’t qualify as ‘accosting’.”
“Anyway,” Arthur continued, “She was strange so I just tried to leave but then she said something that got my attention.”
“What?” James asked.
There was a pause before Arthur said, “She told me she could help me find you.”
“How?” James asked, his heart beating wildly in his chest.
“She handed me an envelope. She told me all I had to do was mail it and it would find you. No matter where you were. I thought she was crazy, naturally. But after a while I decided to try it. I mean, if it didn’t work, it didn’t work. I saw no harm in trying.”
James fished the letter from Arthur from his pocket. And stared at it. The envelope was completely blank, except for a company monogram. Bland Ploductions.
“What a weird name,” James thought to himself.
He handed the letter to his father, who smiled at it. “Guess it did work,” he said with a grin.
Suddenly James felt hot. He abruptly said, “Well, gotta go. See you tomorrow.” James then quickly walked out the door, snatching Minerva’s hand and dragging her with him as he went. When he was sure he was far enough away and that his father wasn’t following he asked her, “Why did you come here.”
Minerva replied, “Stop dragging me and I’ll tell you.”
James stopped and let her go. Minerva got up slowly, making plenty of creaks and groans as she got to her feet. She reached into her robe and produced a small bottle of liquid. After taking a swig, she licked her lips and said, “There we are. Now, down to business. You see, I forgot to mention how that ring works.”
James nodded and said, “Well how does it?”
Minerva looked him dead in the eye and replied, “Okay, listen carefully. All you have to do is think about a moment in your life you want to go back to and put the ring on. But, and this is important, you must remember that when you do your soul will be transplanted into your body at that moment. So if you go back to your birth, you’ll be a baby again. You’ll have the mind of yourself right now, but the body of yourself at that moment. The effects weaken the farther you go back. If you go back a day, you’ll have essentially that whole day to mess around with. A few years, you’ll have about a half a day. Your childhood…maybe a few minutes. You also can’t travel to a time you didn’t exist in. Once your time runs out you’ll be transported back to present day.”
Minerva finished her speech and stared at James who stared back. After an awkward silence she asked, “You get all that?”
James nodded. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring.
James replied, “Yeah, I did.”
END OF CHAPTER 5. PLEASE VOTE FOR ONE THE SCENARIOS BELOW TO CONCLUDE THIS STORY:
1 - James slips on the ring.
2 - James hands the ring back to Minerva.
YOU CAN CAST YOUR VOTES HERE: https://strawpoll.com/cex9c23b
Thank you for reading. Man things are getting heavy, huh? So I’d just like to take a moment to say that as I wrote this two endings came to mind. I’d like to offer more choices, but for me these are the only ways I see things ending. Both offer different messages, and both I feel are equally good notes to end on. Also I regret to say I won’t be taking prompts this time. Either of the last chapters will be short(er than this one, sheesh it got away from me) and I don’t feel like having to add in some of the crazy things you guys suggest into them. I’m sorry if this upsets anyone. But congratulations to Cedi whose suggestions were used in this chapter. And finally thank you to everyone who has particpated thus far. It means a lot to me. See you in the final chapter!