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(NON CANON) Ignis fatui: the omen by Prostapheresys

«AH, brrr… one quick cold shower and I’ll go through the rest of the day as if nothing just happened»
It was barely 8 o’clock in the morning and yet Mark had already had enough for that day: he hadn’t rested well as usual, he was still afflicted by depression as usual but this time he had also encountered two ignis fatui during his usual early morning jog. He knew well what it means to have such an encounter: it’s an omen of great fortune or doom; either way, a life-changing event was bound to happen to him sooner or later.

After the shower Mark put on his bathrobe, went to the living room and sat in front of the TV on the only intact armchair available. Living a sad lone life, Mark had long ago lost any interest in taking care for his surroundings or even himself sometimes, so he didn’t mind fixing all the crappy furniture.
«It’s not like this is MY furniture after all» Mark always thought about that, since he lived in a rent house.

However, he didn’t watch TV right then. He even barely stared at his own reflection in the black screen of the TV as he was completely lost in his thoughts; he just couldn’t stop wondering about the fateful event that occurred to him earlier that morning.
On the previous year Mark’s dear brother Alex had died in a train accident, which was the main reason leading to Mark’s depression as deep inside he never stopped mourning him, but no ignis fatuus was seen that day; could there be in store for him something even worse in order to have an omen?
«What if Alex saw an ignis fatuus before taking that train? Maybe now it’s my turn to die?» he thought. But then again, an ignis fatuus’ omen doesn’t always have to be a bad one…
«Why do I get just a generic omen about my future instead of a proper prediction? Why I must suffer in anxiety to find out whether it’s something good or bad? Why do I even get an omen if I just wanna live my damn life as it is!? I don’t wanna know my destiny, I just wanna LIVE!»

FLAP.

Mark’s train of thought was suddenly interrupted by the distinct sound of a bird’s wings flapping coming from outside.

FLAP-FLAP he heard again, followed by the big shadow of a large creature passing through the window and later by the sound of his doorbell ringing.

– Yes, THE POSTMAN! Of course! He must surely be carrying the key of my destiny in the form of a letter or something! – Mark almost shouted as he immediately stood up. Although “letter carrier” would have been a more politically correct term for defining him since he actually wasn’t a “man” but…

– GOOD MORNING! – suddenly said Mark in a mixture of excitement and anxiety as soon as he opened the door, still in his bathrobe.
SQUAAWK! did the startled gryphon in front of him.
[i]«What’s wrong with this human?»[/i] the gryphon thought. His head and wings resembled those of a juvenile seagull, while the rest of his body looked like the one of a striped grey domestic cat, although the size of a lion.
– Ahem, sorry for that, it’s just that… I’m waiting for a special delivery… – half-lied Mark.
The gryphon wasn’t very convinced about that but didn’t care much; he still had to give letters and packages to other 62 people and wanted to accomplish that before 10 o’clock, his personal record of mail delivery. With speed, attitude, dedication and the ability to fly that gryphon was an excellent letter carrier, and also a proud one for that. Basically like most gryphons actually, who take pride on whatever they do.
So as a reply the gryphon simply grabbed with his beak a pair of envelopes from his carryall and handed them to Mark.
– Umm… a letter from the landlord and the usual random spam letter… great. Well, thank you, I guess… – said Mark, with a tone of voice between the sarcastic and the disappointed, and with that he went back home, almost slamming the door behind.
«No wonder I almost never get to deliver mail to this address…» thought the gryphon as he took off, flying towards the next address in his list.

On his way back to the living room Mark immediately threw away in the trash can the spam letter and then sat back in front of the TV to read the landlord’s message. It was no surprise for him it was about the recently unpaid rent fee; being unemployed for a year now, money was starting to become a real issue and in his current state Mark just couldn’t manage to find a new job or a cheaper rent house.
«Damn, I can no longer keep going like this…»
Feeling his depression trying to overcome him again, he switched on the TV to try relaxing for a moment. If the mail didn’t provide explanation about the omen, maybe the TV would.
He stayed there for some time but no matter what channel he watched, it seemed that right then everyone was either on commercial break or broadcasting boring news. Mark was almost stunned by that and even more by the fact that among the advertisement and the news the “Avalon Agency” topic seemed occurring the most.

This agency was a pretty peculiar one: while in general responsible for great technological advancement, magic research and for cross-species social integration, the Avalon Agency was a multinational lobby with a very shady and mysterious aura all around itself. Firstly, almost anything regarding its location, modus operandi or organization was top secret. Secondly, it relied on government support from almost all over the world for both resources and cooperation and thirdly, for some reason it had its own military force.

So Mark proceeded to go to the kitchen and have a snack instead. Walking on his bare feet though, he stepped on something sharp that made him scream in pain. He looked down and saw a glass shard on the floor as well as few droplets of blood coming from a little cut in his right foot.
«Oh no, I forgot…»
Earlier in the morning he had broken a glass during breakfast but instead of cleaning the floor straightaway, he had gone jogging with the idea of cleaning later. But then he encountered the two ignis fatui, came back home upset and… the rest is history.
Therefore, after disinfecting the small cut in his foot, he took a broom and started doing what he should have done earlier; once he was done, he went to the trash can to throw away all the glass shards he collected but instead he suddenly froze there at the sight of what was inside of it.

«Could it be…»
Mark’s mind was filling with images, thoughts and realizations as he kept staring there, immobile, broom still in one hand and bag of glass shards in the other. For an outsider, it would have looked like someone had put a spell on him.
Inside the trash can, lying on the very bottom of it, there was the spam letter, although it didn’t look like spam anymore to him; it had rather gained a lot of significance now.
«…the omen?»
He put aside the broom and slowly took back that letter from the trash can. Fortunately inside there wasn’t anything dirty or wet that could damage the soft paper of the letter. It was from the Avalon Agency; it was a job opportunity advertisement.

Mark now remembered how everything on that day revolved around the Avalon Agency since he met the two ignis fatui: firstly in the park during his jog, when he saw a poster of the Agency, secondly on his mail when the gryphon arrived and thirdly on TV; he just hadn’t realized it before.
He quickly and almost nervously read the letter. Among other things, it stated that there were plenty of job opportunities regardless of skills or previous work experiences, how all of those would prove beneficial for both the employee and the Agency’s customers and that workers would get to move and live in an expressly designed structure within the Agency until contract end.
«It’s as if it was wrote specifically for me: I terribly need to quickly find a new job, I have to change my life for the better to step out of my misery and leaving this house would be a good way to avoid rent fees, too…»
But in the back of his mind he also knew that with the Avalon Agency things could get very extreme turns; from all over the world hints and suspects, readily denied by the authorities, linked many secret, dangerous or questionable activities to the Agency. Basically the stuff for hoax theorists, so it was no wonder it had a mixed reputation; in fact the letter itself talked a lot about the Avalon Agency in general but was very vague on the details and specifics, even those of the job opportunities.

RING RIIING.

All lost in his thoughts, Mark was distracted once again by a sudden noise, this time coming from his cellphone.

RING RIIING did the cellphone again as Mark went to where he left it in the bedroom. To his great surprise, it was a call from someone he hadn’t talked to for almost year now…

– Hello… Dad? – said Mark almost shyly.
– Oh, ciao Mark! It has been a long time since we had a talk, isn’t it? – replied his father in a forced cheerful tone.
– Yeah… a year?
– Riiight… right… and how have you been doing all this time?
– Umpf… how have YOU been instead? – and an awkward silenced followed between father and son. With the death of Alex, the whole Rondelli family equilibrium had been destroyed and all its members never dared meeting each other again after the funerals, for they were already hardly dealing with personal grief that they didn’t need sharing their sorrow.
– Well… here I and your mother just keep going on, eheh – said his father trying to sound reassuring.
– So do I then… – sighed Mark.
Another moment of silent ensued, until his father eventually broke it:
– Listen Mark… it’s… it’s ok if we don’t talk about this… we don’t need to pretend everything has always been fine after all… I believe we all had our fair share of difficult moments lately but here at least it’s me and your mother together, while you… well… we never stop being your parents, right? So… we just wanted to know if you were ok, you know… coping with this by yourself…

Mark took a long pause before answering him… he definitely did a bad job at coping with his problems but he didn’t want to complain or ask for assistance, especially not to his parents. He didn’t want to make them worry more than that or give the impression of being a weak, helpless guy in his loneliness; he didn’t know however how to sound convincing or how to actually get an improvement in his life.
He looked down at his hand still holding the letter from the Avalon Agency and after a bit of reasoning, he knew what to do.

– I’ve had better times, yes, but I think to have good news now.
– Oh, nice. What is it about?
– I… I’m going to get a new job.
– Really? So wait, you don’t work at the docks anymore?
– No, I quitted my previous job long ago… it… I mean, I didn’t feel like it was the good thing to do for me anymore. I think I need to restart my life anew if I really want to keep going now… so I saw recently an announcement for something completely different and if they take me, I’ll also move to another town…
– Wow… this is… quite a sudden change to say the least, Mark. But you really seem very confident about what you’re doing so I won’t judge. You sure you’ll make it for the new job though?
– Yeah don’t worry… sounds like they’re in real need of new employees, so it shouldn’t be a problem. – said Mark; then he chuckled a bit and added:
– Would you believe I encountered two ignis fatui this very morning?
– What? No way!
– Oh yeah, it’s true, which means the new job is gonna be a blast, so stop worrying!
– Ahah, good for you, because some magic would definitely help here too! – replied his dad, whose poor choice of words accidentally shifted the mood of the conversation back to a much serious and sad tone.
– …and I guess that was all I had to say dad…
– Yeah… ok, I’ll let your mother know then… have a good day, son…
– You too… oh, wait, one more thing!
– Yes?
– Thanks… for calling…
– No problem Mark… Bye – and thus the call ended.

Mark put his cellphone back where it was and sighed. Then he opened the window for some fresh air, leaning on the sill, his eyes pointed somewhere far away in front of him. It was almost midday now, the sun high in the blue sky, no clouds near the horizon and only the regular noise of people and cars passing by could be heard. He started thinking about his parents, his future and the Avalon Agency.
«Maybe this really is a good idea»
He tried imagining himself as an Avalon Agent; he thought he wouldn’t look bad in one of their uniform after all…

(NON CANON) Ignis fatui: the omen

Prostapheresys

And finally, here is my long-promised second story!
I sure took my sweet time with this but at least now I feel like there has already been some improvement in my writing, also thanks to those who commented my previous works ;)

Although I wrote it to be read as a standalone story, this is actually meant to be a continuation of this piece here, so check that one out too. And even if it is longer than the previous one, I plan to further expand this story in the future, making it a 3-parter.

Critique is welcome!

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