Chapter 8 Page 47
Posted December 1, 2023 at 04:21 am

I did a poll on Twitter to see if people thought vampires should appear in photographs or not, and, as you can see, I received definitive data. The Davy photo on this page is painstakingly hand-painted. Thanks for reading, and please support Paranatural on Patreon! 



        The sun had set a long time back... but then, it never quite rose on the Jones house

        The cavernous mansion that enveloped Cody’s room was just as free from warmth as it was light; it was a sleek and modern fortress, austere like a museum and as sterile as a phone store on the moon. What few windows it had were tinted a sallow, paparazzi-proof black, though the compound, nestled on a leeward crook of West Hill that the dawn could never reach, didn’t welcome curiosity... or any guests that left still drawing breath. Abstract paintings and inscrutable statues imported from all over the world perched against walls that stretched up into shadow, devoid of any context that could clarify their meaning. Each piece was solitary, some staking out territory several rooms wide, so that the mansion seemed a string of shrines, a brutalist buffet of grim divinities.

        Swallowed by the priceless lack surrounding them, the Hijacks both felt smaller than they’d ever felt before. It didn’t help that they were best measured in inches at the moment, nor that their bulbous goldfish eyes could not begin to parse the mansion’s scale. Whatever limited depth perception their host could manage under normal circumstances was entirely lost to them; the Hijacks only had one eye apiece.

        While right brain Hijack was busy looking around and feeling things about art or something pointless like that, left brain Hijack peered through plastic up at Cody. Though the pale young man carrying them was silent now, having fully donned his presidential persona, the plan he’d shared just minutes back still echoed in the spirit’s cloven mind.

        “So... you say your desire is to be reunited with your mother?” Left Hijack had been left to ask—Right Hijack was already streaming tears. “Hmm. I suppose I understand the impulse, logically speaking. Herr Freud outlined its pull in his chef-d’oeuvre, the yet-unchallenged creed of psychoanalysis—”

        Cody had shrugged and scoffed politely as one could. “I think you’re overthinking it, LB. You and RB want the same exact thing, don’t you? To get back to your mom, Doctor Zarei!”

        The Hijacks had already acquiesced to their new nicknames. LB, short for Left Brain, had said “Like the button on the Wii Classic Controller...” and RB, short for Right Brain, had said “Like the place that gave mom’s dentist food poisoning!” and that was that with next to no objection.

        “...How do you know about Doctor Zarei?” a leering LB hissed, while RB sobbed in spurts at Cody’s sheer relatability.

        “You two talk in your sleep! You know, when you were out cold after I sliced you?” This was true, but most of what Cody had gleaned from the Hijacks, he’d led them to confess offhand while conscious as bisected brains could be. “You’re like her spies or something, right? And she’s a superhero that fights bad guys like my dad. Pretty cool!”

        Neither Hijack was immune to being told their mom was cool. They blushed and mumbled little else as he continued on.

        “Well, that’s pretty much what my mom’s deal is, too.” Cody smiled and shut his eyes, sinking back into faint memory. “I don’t remember much about her. I was really young when she... when my mom went away. But she was loud, her laugh especially, with hair like clouds and eyes that looked like mine.” He opened just one baby blue to glance sideways at Hijack. “Er... at least one eye that looked like mine. I’m pretty sure she wore an eyepatch? And she had this gnarly scar—”

        “She sounds beautiful,” sniffed RB.

        “Your parents are like two halves of one pirate,” added LB. “No wonder they decided to consolidate their genes.”

        Cody briefly contemplated abandoning his humanity and going full evil vampire in response to this, but kept his smile strong and soldiered on.

        “Anyways,” he said, gritting his fangs, “that’s all I knew about my mom until around... a year ago? My dad had always claimed that she’d been ‘lost in a tragic accident,’ and said he’d tell me more when I was older.” Cody struck a puckish pose. “There’s a good chance I’ll be young forever, though, and it’s more fun when things don’t go the way that my dad wants them to... so I started seeking answers on my own!”

        In the dark of Davy’s mansion, the left eye of the goldfish scanned the rooms as they went by, wondering which one had held the truth that Cody found. Hijack’s right eye took its spot fixed on their host. How lonely had it been to grow up in an empty home like this? No wonder Cody wanted to escape it.

        “It turns out,” Cody had whispered, leaning close and sparkling with pride, “that my mom was a way cool monster hunter. I found a huge cache of her stuff—stakes and swords and chains and silver bullets—stashed away in my dad’s vault. The gross mushy love letters that they sent each other, too. Can you believe that sucker’s password was my birthday?”

        Both Hijacks would have needed to combine their respective talents in order to unpack the fraught family dynamic implied by Cody’s last few cheerful statements. Instead, they both just nodded. This was just like Castlevania.

        “The Cousinhood called her Shrike. She’d nearly hunted vampires to extinction before she added to their number making me.” Cody plopped a fist into his palm, as if he’d just remembered some small detail he should fit in as a footnote. “Oh, and like I said—she isn’t dead. I’m pretty sure that my dad’s just been keeping her away. Ever since I was little... I think that’s when she got bit by a werewolf.”

        The Hijacks’ neurons lit up like a Christmas tree.