Birds of a Feather

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I look at Domenica, worry filling my head. The supernatural hypothesis is much harder to dismiss now, somehow.

"So you think this could be, hum, a magical cult?" I say, feeling utterly ridiculous for saying it. It's not my fault the situation's so messed up! If they bring the unicorns out, I swear I'm out of here.

Domenica gives me an apologetic smile. "Sorry, I know it might be weird. Stick with me. The people we met seemed very much human to me. I have no doubt that if there is an actual cult at work at the factory, it's simply people worshiping something in their own special way. It makes me wonder, though. Exactly how sacred is their mountain?"

I swallow with difficulty. She looks at me and resumes: "It seems possible for rituals and prayers to connect and possibly fuel or awaken some supernatural process. Again, I warn you, this is very explicitly no science. Hypothesis based on reproducible experiences don't work there. All we have to go forward is intuition and wild speculation." She thinks for a while. "I might have elements to back this up," she says. "Care to follow me?"

Domenica carefully puts Nathan down, grabs her mug and bolts towards the living room. She crosses the corridor, opens the door and disappears behind the piles of books and papers walling off her desk space. We follow, Nathan like a duckling and me like I don't know how to belong.

It seems to be turning out the same way it did yesterday. I know she's got a pretty good excuse for being distracted today. Still, if she's gonna be completely absorbed in her work every time we see each other, it's gonna be a turnoff, my beautiful goddess.

"Should I let you work?" I say. I don't want to be in the way and I would like even less to stand there and be forgotten.

"No, please don't!" she says, panicked. Her head raises over the book line. She looks very sorry and still focused on something else. I feel bad about stressing her out.

"It's OK, I can wait," I say. I'm a spineless fool.

Domenica looks at me with a furrowed brow. "You'd better," she says. "I'm not letting you out of here again before the cops arrive." Good point. The situation momentarily slipped my mind.

"You could read me a story," says Nathan. He's quietly sitting on the couch. It's probably not the first time he's seen her like this. I could read him a story. I go sit beside him and he hands me a book called "Purple Lion lost a tooth". It seems to be a story for someone who's a little younger, but I know how we can read the same old stories all over again even as an adult and love them all the same.

"I found my data!" says Domenica, triumphant. Purple Lion will have to be put on hold. She grabs a chair and sits in front of us, a pile of documents in hand.

"I knew I remembered something," she says, skimming through the papers. "Here. Among the legends surrounding El Pollo, there is the story of a mythical beast or god, it's not very clear. The original name of the mountain, Ñox Cayu, seems to refer to an entity that would have lived in the area."

"An animal god? You think that could be real?" I say, reluctant. It's one thing to acknowledge that weird stuff is going on and another to start believing in a genesis involving a giant turtle, elephants or who knows what.

Head first in her papers, Domenica reassures me. "Not the beast per se, more the beliefs and phenomena associated with it. The idea of it, if you want. Ideas are more powerful than you know."

She skips a few pages. "There," she says. "It seems to be a rather harsh entity, relying on punishment rather than reward... Not many indications about the rituals involved." She pauses suddenly. "This says he has a way to turn people into his warriors and have them do his bidding."

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