Learning from Mistakes

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"No." Hubert spoke the word quietly, but it was stern and focused.


* * *


"I didn't make a mistake with you, did I?" Hubert had stared into Ursula's eyes, a day now long ago. "You are not another one, another fuck up?"

I don't appreciate your tone.

"For once, Ursula, I don't give a shit. I need to know. I need to know it now. Did I make a mistake with you? Are you going to turn against me and prove, probably definitively, that all this necromancy shit is one massive mistake?"

No.

"That better be the case, because fuck Jenson, fuck all of this. If I have to come after you, it'll be without mercy and fuelled with some proper rage."

I understand. You need not worry about me.


* * *


"No." The necromancer stood up tall, his back straight, and looked straight at the brain-in-the-jar and it's eerie green light. "I do not want this. You will put them back."


* * *


"I feel I'm easily pushed around, Edgar. Not by you, of course, but by pretty much everything and everyone around me. I have this need to please people and so I agree with them and do the things they want me to do even though really, deep down, I think it's the wrong thing to do."

Edgar spun the dice between his fingerbones, an impressive trick gained through hours of practice.

"That's what happened with Dan. Honestly, I should never have let him in on any of this."

Edgar's eyeless sockets gazed at Hubert with a look of genuine understanding.

"No more mistakes, Edgar. I have to listen to myself."

The dice rolled purposefully from the skeleton's hand. Hubert watched as it bounced across the carpet of his bedroom. It came up a one.

"I have no idea what that means," Hubert complained. "Critical miss, or perfect avoidance."

Edgar smiled his lipless grin.


* * *


"Put them back, Zack. Back into your mind and memory. It's very clever, and I have little doubt that we can find a use for this ability, whatever it is, but right now you put them back."

His voice was a command. Gentle to take into account the little boy's distress and disappointment, but a command nonetheless.


* * *


"I'm going to say it now; I'm not giving up my life to look after her. I don't care if that makes me a bad person, a terrible son, whatever shit you want to throw at me. I'm not going to give up me in order to look after a dying woman, even if I do love her." Nick picked up his beer and took a long swig, wiping his foam moustache with the back of his sleeve.

"Nick, that's fucking awful." Naomi leaned back in the weathered sofa and shook her head slowly.

"Is it?" Nick said, "Come on then Nay, tell me that you are going to do it. You'll give up your job - sorry, I mean your fucking career, and live with her while she drools and dribbles her slow walk to the grave."

"I'm not saying that."

"You're not saying fucking anything." Another swig. "You just want to judge us. Are you judging Hubert too, or just me? He's not said anything."

Hubert looked at the floor, uncomfortable to suddenly be the centre of attention in his siblings' row.

"Hubert?" Naomi asked softly, "What do you think?"

Hubert knew what he thought. He thought that he didn't want to do it either, that he wanted to have Nick's callous and forthright manner. He wanted to say "no", but then he'd never been very good at saying "no".

"I need a piss," he said, excusing himself.

Even stretching the amount of time it took him to wash his hands after expelling three pints' worth of warm urine, the visit to the toilet was less than two minutes in total. He pushed open the swing door between the toilet corridor and the bar and saw that both his brother and sister were looking in his direction, waiting for him to come back. He'd practised it in front of the mirror while he was holding his spraying manhood in his right hand. Manhood, he had reminded himself, because he was a man and could say when he didn't want to do something. "No," he had said quietly, looking at his face in the mirror. The face of a man in his late twenties, his whole life stretching like raw potential before him. "No."

"Well," Naomi all but glared at him as he sat.

"I'll do it," the words came out. No! No! No! His mind screamed. "I'll look after her."

Nick smiled. "It won't be long, mate. A year or so, two at an outside stretch, that's all she's got left."

A year felt like it would be a very long time.

Almost six years had felt a lot longer.


* * *


"No," Hubert repeated. He looked around the room, the devastation. "It's really cool, Zack," he said with honesty. "There's an army of giant Lego men, and you even have a contingent of Daleks - I always wanted a Dalek, but this is not what I need from you."

He put his hand softly on the shoulder of the boy standing before him, a conjured illusion of a traumatised mind.

"There is nothing monster trucks and Playmobil knights can do against Jenson. He doesn't even have form for them to attack. Somewhere out there is a parallel universe where I end up riding a squashy unicorn into battle, but it's not this one.

"Zack, you are so young, and I'm so sorry, but this time I say no. Take your creations and put them all away. Your mind, that power, it has so much potential. Let's learn to use it the right way.

"Not like this," Hubert gestured around him at the array of oversized animated toys. "These are illusions. Don't get me wrong, I can feel them, I know they're pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing. That hole in the wall that the big truck made; that's a real hole that we now need to fix. But they are illusions, they're not real, and they're not what we need."

Hubert glanced over at Ursula, pleased to see a flash of pride in her eyes.

I am doing the right thing, he sent to her.

You are, she agreed.

"Send the army away, Zack, and then tell us where we can find Jenson. Where's the black ghost?"

No more mistakes.

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