The Reboot

Anpu grabbed my hand and led me away. I knew the way it would start this time would be different than how it started before, but I asked anyway.

“We’re not going to the black room again are we?”

“No, you’re pretty much all here.”

I thought about what had happened before. My ka, my ba, my ren were all back. My shut wasn’t but “shadow work” so it was around here somewhere. What was missing?

“What about my shadow?”

Anpu chuckled. “What were you just thinking?”

“And my ib?”

He didn’t quite answer me. He didn’t exactly say where it was, but he did say he essentially had it, except for a shard which Z has. Instantly I thought of the box with Z’s shard in it. It appeared in my hands, perfectly safe and firmly locked and sealed with magic. I waved it away to wherever it had been hiding.

“Smart girl.” Anpu said cheerfully, pleased that I had opted to hide it than carry it.

He led me into a hallway and then into a room filled with water. The floor of the room was three feet below the doorway, creating a pool of glowing water. Anpu waltzed into it as if it were nothing. Truly the Jackal was cheesy, stealing ideas from other gods, but he knew me well enough that I was more likely to try something I had seen others do than something new. Hence the creation of the black room and now this pool of water.

Of course, there were other reasons for the water, reasons that were uniquely mine. I stared at the water, worried. For one thing, it was cold. It wasn’t frosty or slushy but I could just tell that it was freezing. Anpu had told me earlier that he wanted to teach me strength and bravery first and compassion and empathy second. Passion and drive, the mars to match Pluto. He wanted Sekhmet to teach me, but he was considering Serket instead. I still didn’t know why.

“Come on then.” Anpu coaxed, holding out his arms like a father to a small child. I could almost hear him coaxing me in other ways

Water is your friend. You have a connection with it. You always have. It is soothing to you, healing.

They weren’t lies. However, all I could think of was drowning. I’ve had a fear of drowning for a long time. Some people who have tried to teach me to swim scared me by accident. The cold water often shocks my asthma and I can’t hold my breath very long when in water, and I greatly dislike being splashed or having my face covered with water. I also have sensitive ears, so water in them is painful and disorients me. This all adds up to panicking, which isn’t very useful for trying to swim. My endurance is also low, so I can’t get the hang of it.

Anpu could see my terror on my face. I had told him before I was afraid of drowning, of suffocating in any fashion.

“Do you really think i’d drown you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I swear that I won’t let you drown, and if you do it won’t be because of me.”

I took one step forward, and then turn around and ran. The hallway looped right back to the room.

“Come on now, you didn’t think this would be over that easily did you?” Anpu shouted from the room.

“I’m patient but I won’t wait forever.”

I stood in the hallway, annoyed at the bright blue light of the doorway and took some deep breaths. I called to Dapper, who appeared behind me, amused.

“Yes?”

“I’m scared.”

“I know.”

“Come with me?”

He grabbed my shoulders and marched me back to the room. Anpu was waiting patiently.

“Come on then.”

I backed away, but Dapper held me and gently walked me forward. I dipped a toe in. It was cold, as I expected.

“It’s what you’re expecting. Come on, it isn’t even deep.” Anpu said, losing some patience.

Dapper pushed me more, forcing me down the steps into the water, it was freezing and froze under my feet. I was walking on ice. Anpu rubbed his face, exasperated that I was so desperate to stay out of the water. He grabbed my arms, waiting for me to relax. The ice broke apart and I sank slowly into the water. It wasn’t icy anymore, but it was still chilly. It occurred to me that I was in a dress, but it didn’t float up, it absorbed water and clung to me.

I turned around, Dapper sat on the threshold, curled up so as not to get wet. He smiled at me and I turned back to Anpu. Anpu helped me to float on my back.

“I can’t do this in real life you know.” I said, staring at him.

“No?”

“I get scared.”

“Right, fear of drowning, which is really being afraid of suffocating.”

“Mhmm.”

“For someone so afraid of suffocating you don’t take care of your asthma very well.”

“Well, that’s because I’m used to my asthma. I’m used to it not being a big deal, to being able to fix it, to have easy and fast access to medical intervention.”

“Why does your fear prevent you from floating?”

“I don’t like feeling water on the sides of my face. It’s like it’ll come up and cover me. If I sink I’ll drown. And my ears are sensitive, I feel like they hurt more than other people’s when they get water in them.”

Anpu nodded. “Maybe this irrational fear is rooted in a past life.”

“Who knows.”

Later that night I would dream of being drowned in a barrel while a baby, my baby, cried and was stolen from me. It was scary.

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Talks with the Jackal

Everyone knows Sunday was Easter. For most this means chocolate, special Easter church services, fancy clothes and misinformation about Ostara and the pagan origins of Easter. Oh, and ham, because that’s a big thing. Personally I don’t eat much pork, don’t really like the smell or taste, but everyone else ate ham. It’s a little sad because with my family of bakers there was way more desserts than real food.

Anyway, Easter is a day focused on family and rebirth. Ostara is a holiday celebrating spring and the rebirth of the land, Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. So, of course the Jackal has an opinion too. Anpu isn’t just a god of funerary rites, primarily because He’s just boss like that, but also because in ancient Egypt the funeral and the rites that go with it weren’t about the end of life but about rebirth into the next life. It was all about being prepped for the next life. As such, Anpu wants me to write about rebirth and resurrection and his role in it. That’s gonna take a few weeks because I need to do actual research instead of talking out my ass. And I still have homework.

Yesterday I came home from school and heard Him from the shrine. I was tired and didn’t feel like kneeling, so I just reclined on the mat on the floor. It was absurdly comfy for being the floor, I probably could have fallen asleep if I wasn’t chilly. I closed my eyes and there he was in the temple.

“What’s up?” I asked.
“How are you feeling?”
“Tired.”
“Yes, well, that would be because you aren’t sleeping.”
“That’s not my fault.”
“Are you done being babied yet?” (He said this in reference to my break after being hospitalized)
I scoff, my feelings hurt. “I’m not being babied!”
“I know.”
“So why did you say it?”
“Because I need you to be driven.”

I got a flash of the anger I felt and the purpose with which I moved after finding a cockroach in my kitchen.

“I’m not driven like that. I’m not a very driven person.” I say sourly, avoiding the word “ambitious” because that’s what I actually mean.

“Yes, well you need to be. You need to get over this avoiding your anger. Scorpio has Mars in it too. Serket is not a harmless goddess.”

I raise an eyebrow. That was a very interesting and specific reference to make.
“Are you into astrology Anpu? That’s new.”

He puts his hands on his hips, frowning. “Not the way you humans are. Of course the stars do have some influence, but I see it differently. You take something with a lot of nuance and subtlety, something that is complicated, then you overcomplicate it while missing all the details and over apply it in a simplistic fashion.”

I know what he’s getting at, but I poke fun at him anyway, until he manages to make his sentence shorter and clearer.

“I want you to learn about being driven. About your Mars.”

I shift uncomfortably. “Who would teach me?”

Anpu crossed his arms. “I’d like Sekhmet to teach you, but she has her own agenda and can be greedy.”

I yawn, mentioning again that I’m tired.

“Well, perhaps you should pray to Aset or Serket before bed for restful sleep.”

I squint at him. “Why Serket? I tried before and it didn’t seem to go anywhere.”

“You weren’t trying for long enough, and for a specific reason, for heka. I always wanted you to talk to her.”

“Well you certainly didn’t say one way or the other when I was asking you.” I snap.

He pets my head and takes my hand in his, drawing shapes on my palm with his thumbnail.

“I’d like to restart your shadow work.”

“That’s fine.”

“And you promised me a blog post.”

“I know.”

He called Dapper, who appears from above me. The wolf loves to come down from ceilings.

“I’d like you to teach her shielding and energy work.”

Dapper hums to himself, looking at the floor. “I’d rather teach her healing.”

“I think the first two are important for that don’t you think?”

I could see that Dapper wanted to disagree, but he said nothing, just nodded.

Anpu turned back to me. “I also want you to start working with your tarot cards again.”

“I’m not very good with that.”

“That’s because you ignore your intuition for the book instead.”

“Well why wouldn’t I? I can’t confirm my intuition.”

“Then practice, and make sure you thoroughly examine your intuition. It doesn’t need to be so complex. You think too much. Besides, would you rather go back to trying scrying?”

I shook my head, thinking of how hard it was. I got a vague feeling the tarot issue was related to something else, to other Jackal kids.

I change the subject. “I want to work on bonds I think.”

[Portion of conversation redacted for personal privacy]

“So, you want to sever cords of attachment but keep bonds of affection?”

“Yes.”

“I think we should also consider why these things bother you so much. You have quite a few irrational fears.”

“Yeah I know. I can’t help it, some things I had ingrained growing up.”

He sighed. “No wonder humans are so myopic. You can’t take the long view if you’re so busy worrying about what’s in front of you life after life.”

I shake my head. I can’t really argue with that. Instead I ask about something else.

“Where is Aset?”

“I don’t know. Her actions are her own.”

I narrow my eyes and he rolls his.

“Listen, you are mine. You dedicated yourself to me first and I intend to honor that. I don’t know yet if I’ll go as far as Sekhmet with her.” (I would later find out what he meant by that.)

“You’re not kicking her out are you?”

“I promised you I wouldn’t if she didn’t violate my claim to you.”

“You promised me you wouldn’t period.

“Yes, but she is not respecting me. If she leaves it will be she can’t cooperate of her own accord.”

“Why is she so upset anyway?”

“She doesn’t like how I plan to go about your shadow work. She thinks I’m going to be too harsh. After you got sick she was very upset.”

I folded my arms, half pouting. I didn’t like this. Why couldn’t these two play nice?

“You’re not kicking her out right?”

“Like I said, I’m not sure yet if I’ll go so far as Sekhmet.”

“What are you even having me do anyway?”

“I can’t say, but shadow work is good for you in general. I need you to be more stable.”

“Well no duh, but what are you trying to prepare me for?”

“It won’t matter if you’re not ready in time now will it?” Anpu said impatiently.

“And if I’m not?”

“We’ll see. It depends. You may end up pushed into it anyway, but I can’t say for certain.”

I scoffed, of course he couldn’t. I wondered what he could have planned and if Aset would ever come back. If she couldn’t abide by Anpu’s claim he would likely push her away and it seemed a lot like she couldn’t. I felt a vague sense that this might have been what happened with someone else’s goddess that I had heard about. I also wondered if Serket would actually answer me this time if I reached out to her.

“You could always reach out to Aset as Serket. They do syncretize sometimes, Aset absorbs her as it were.”

I had read somewhere about that, but I had a more pressing question. “Would you even want that?”

Anpu looked away from me. “No, I’ll be honest I’d prefer you not deal with Aset at all. I have staked my claim on you, I can’t have others disrespecting that.”

I didn’t answer, instead deigning to go to sleep.

Talking, Waiting and Stubbornness

Last night was interesting. Zolfyer prayed with me again, which was nice. He also made jokes about staying awake all night to watch me do shadow work. Right, cuz I totally teleport when I do shadow work. Dapper wasn’t (and isn’t) around right now, probably running errands and living his life. Unfortunately, Aset seems like She’s highly upset and pulling away. I don’t think I did anything, but I hope She comes back.

So, the first thing I noticed last night was I was still in the black room. Earlier in the day I had a strange experience between sleep and wakefulness. I was in the black room, laying on the floor, just as much asleep there as in my bed, and felt a piece of me come back. Weird ass sensation having a piece of yourself come back and merge with you. And my only reaction was to say to myself “ah, my ren has come back. I wonder, no, I don’t need to know it. It is unwise, it is what can unmake you.” And then I fell back asleep.

Well, when I went to bed I was in the same spot, arrow still there, box still next to me. Anpu came and sat next to me, and I proceeded to start an argument about which of us was more theatrical. Really, he presents himself as a very quiet and laid back deity and then he does all this theatrical nonsense like make a black room to parallel my knowledge of someone else’s astral travels. His response was essentially: good thing I can pretend to be whatever I want, you’re a pain in the ass, I regret pointing you to those two now that I know you were gonna turn into a pain. Of course, if he hadn’t pointed me out “those two” he would have a clueless and fearful devotee who would be behind and have no foundation. He called me even more of a pain in the ass. What happened to my not snarky god >.> where did all this snark come from?!

I did ask about Aset. He seemed troubled when I asked why She was angry. He said she wasn’t angry at me, but at him.

“She doesn’t seem to have much say.”

“She doesn’t, and she wants to. She wants to be a part of this, but I won’t let Her.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.”

“It isn’t.”

I turned away, wondering if I should press further. I poked at the box containing Z’s shard and felt it tugging at me. I opened the box and, weirdly enough, Z materialized. He was also still asleep. I couldn’t even imagine how he had managed to wiggle his way in this place while sleeping both in bed and in the temple. Anpu chuckled and muttered about stubbornness again.

I ignored the very strong desire to peer inside his ib. I couldn’t imagine what I’d see or sense if I looked in, considering the blast I felt simply by looking into a piece of it.

Z “woke up” then. He was definitely still asleep on this plane, but he was vaguely awake in the black room. He looked around and asked what was up.

“You’re in my room with Anpu and I. Are you gonna remember this?”

He blinked sleepily at me. Anpu shook his head.

“He probably won’t. He’s difficult.”

“How so?”

“He blocks his dreams. He wants answers to questions he needs to answer for himself.”

“He just wants confirmation.”

“Hmm, well it would be easier to confirm if he wasn’t afraid of his potential.”

“His potential?”

“He’s got strong potential, but he doubts it and fears it so much I don’t know what to do with him.”

“Well you’d doubt your potential too if no one taught you how to use it and you were told your whole life that it was dangerous except in very specific circumstances and even then it could still be dangerous and get your soul stomped on. Not to mention no one helped him understand it and were always giving conflicting messages.”

Before the Jackal could respond however, I felt a firm pressure on my shoulder like someone was grabbing me. I knew who it was, that angel from the night before. For some reason it elicits a very strong and aggressive emotion from me. I greatly dislike it, but I can’t place why. Just something in me wants to chase it off.

Be nice to it.” Anpu warned.

I held my tongue and rephrased what I was going to say. I still couldn’t restrain total rudeness.

“What do you want?” I asked it.

It smiled at me and waved me over to a random table with a large book on it. I walked over to examine the book. The pages were discolored and contained numerous pairs of names, all of them with pairs of numbers after them. Including Z’s and mine. (The format was Z-AR:44-59)

“What’s with them numbers? Is that like, the range of years before we die? We gonna die in our sixties or seventies?”

The seraph frowned, confused about how I got to that conclusion. No, why would I show you that? Why would you need to know when you’ll die?

“Well what am I supposed to think? It’s not like you talk to me. You don’t say anything.”

It smiled at me, showing me the numbers again. It really bothered me that our full names were in this book. The fact that every pair of names had the same numbers on these two pages bothered me as well. I was certain they were all different at first, but they all were starting to look like ours. I tried puzzling out the meaning of the numbers since those were clearly the most important.

Four is completion in Ancient Egypt. 4+4 is 8, divided by two is four. 5+9 is 14, which turns into five. But, if you add 8 to it you get 22, which becomes 4. So, if numerology is the point, then it’s a representation of completion, but, why is it a range? The one above it isn’t a range, it says 44:59 instead of 44-59. What’s the significance?

I shook the scene away. I couldn’t make heads or tails and for some reason all of this was making me angry and unsettled. Anpu said something about the word I’m supposed to be looking for, as well as now we’re waiting on my shut. Right, shadow, and the h word that’s related to it. Well, what the fuck is that anyway? I had never heard this word before, and I had searched for it. And yet oddly enough I was absolutely certain that I had heard such a word, but I couldn’t remember where. I fell asleep thinking of it.

Waking up this morning was unpleasant. I literally woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Z is goofy and silly and likes to do correspondingly silly and goofy things, like switching sides of the bed to see if I’ll have different dreams on his side. That was already disorienting, along with weird dialogue with myself about my shadow and waiting for it and being really frustrated about this mysterious word and those numbers. Then I haven’t had enough sleep for the last three days (my fault, but still) and I was getting up earlier than normal. I didn’t even get out of bed when my alarm went off. I had set it overly early on purpose because I’m an owl not a lark and move slow in the morning. Instead I cuddled with Z who was half asleep and more than happy to oblige said cuddling. I really didn’t want to get out of bed.

When I finally did get up I had the distinct and powerful sense that I was missing something. I needed something and not only could I not find it, but I didn’t know what it was. I was in a daze and couldn’t concentrate on much of anything. All I knew was that what I was missing was in my bedroom somewhere and that it was probably related to Z. The only clue was my brain repeating the line that you cannot do anything or go anywhere without your shut. Even when I managed to get my ass out of the house, trying to cross the threshold was difficult. I opened the door and couldn’t move. My whole being said go back, you can’t leave it behind. Going back in the room relieved the feeling, obviously it was in there. But I had to go to work. I was dizzy and spaced out for hours. Luckily my morning was an extremely easy start. I also noted that Aset seemed distant.

This is the last thing that’s bothering me. Aset. She hasn’t been happy since her argument with Sekhmet. This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder about all this. Do gods really act this way with humans? Do they really interact with each other like this? Am I really experiencing this, or is the fact that I am highly imaginative, easily bored and traumatized from past experiences creating these elaborate schemes? And if I’m not a total lunatic, well what the fuck is going on? Why is Aset so upset, why is she blocking me out? And, why is Anpu keeping her back? WHY IS DAY TWO SO HARD?

Prayer and Shadow Work

Yesterday Z asked if he could pray with me. Obviously I didn’t mind, especially since part of the reason he wanted to do so was to be supportive. It was fun, though I forgot to warn him that frankincense can make you loopy. He borrowed one of my free candles and prayed quietly while I made offerings of water and ma’at to Aset and Anpu. They were looking at him though. It didn’t occur to me why for several minutes as I made my basic prayers. I also didn’t notice Dapper nearby until later. Basically, all the Others in my house were paying attention to Z and it flew right over my head.

Afterwards I noticed he was taking a little while to pray, so I waited and then proceeded to ask Anpu if He wouldn’t mind helping Z with whatever it was he was praying for. Said Jackal said He didn’t mind and would think about it, but also had to ask “his maker”. I didn’t really know what to make of that. I knew Anpu wasn’t going to tell me anything about this “maker” because He had told me to mind my business the last time I asked about who was watching over Z.

Z and I talked for a little while with the candles and incense still burning when he was done praying. He revealed an interesting tidbit about his beliefs. I think it’s really cool. Essentially he feels like you should always pray with lit candles because the fire is alive. It represents the spirit’s life force and energy. He pointed to his candle which was flickering wildly and joked that he was mad at that one because obviously it had a lot to say. I mentioned that maybe everyone was talking to each other since Aset and Anpu’s candles were also wavering and flickering vigorously.

He then mentioned that he hoped the candle was Dapper. Well, Dapper was on the bed behind him so I asked him why he hoped it was the wolf. “Well I asked him for help.” Z proceeded to explain some of the things he had prayed about. Work, being unsure, trying to become sure (in his beliefs). Dapper likes Z so I didn’t think that would be a problem (though Dapper finds him to be a very strange human) and my gods were interested it seemed.

We talked for a little while longer, including my finally informing Z that frankincense has been scientifically shown to affect the brain a little like getting high (Z’s complaint about feeling “elevated” and spacy is what started that). He followed that with jokingly accusing me of trying to make him crazy. Finally we went to bed with him complaining that he was now cold with the candles put out, specifically his candle. Before bed I mentioned that Dapper would probably help, especially if he shared some food.

Z went to sleep quickly and true to His word, Anpu showed up. He grabbed my hand and pulled me right into the temple and towards one of the mystery doors. I immediately started looking for Dapper and calling to him. I even asked Anpu where he was. Dapper showed up, smiled at me and kept right on walking.

“He’s got other things to do. For you and Z. He did ask for help after all, you’ll be fine.”

I frowned at Anpu’s comment, but it stopped mattering at the door. It was completely dark beyond the doorway and I was frozen. Now it was in front of me, the start of my shadow work. I didn’t want to move.

“Come on, we have things to do.”

I stepped back. “I’m not ready.”

Anpu turned me around, to see the boring and empty space where I had been for the last year. I could see Aset watching us from the chair.
“Do you really want to spend more time here, in this boring place?”

I shook my head.

“Come on then.”

“I don’t want to.”

“I don’t care. I told you this was coming. I gave you warning. I didn’t even bother you when you slept earlier, I let you rest and you slept deeply.”

Z shifted in his sleep and pulled my attention back to this world for a moment. When I turned back to Anpu I was through the door. Dammit. I looked around and saw three corridors. One to the right, left and straight ahead. All were dark.

“Go on, follow your heart.”

Such a sappy thing to say, but I was a sappy person, so I started walking to the right. I thought to myself, of course, how nice, a labyrinth. The right corridor got light as a door appeared. Inside was, predictably, a labyrinth. However, it was one where the walls only went halfway up. You could see the entire thing and the other side. It was also small, about the size of an apartment. Whatever Dapper had to do it wasn’t so important that he didn’t show up for my first task. It was sweet that he was worried. On the other side of the labyrinth I could see a throne on some raised platform steps. You know what I mean, I just can’t describe it.

Instead of going through it, I climbed it. I could practically see Anpu covering his eyes in exasperation. Climbing the walls and walking across the top of them probably wasn’t how he saw me solving this puzzle. Maybe he expected me to whine or stand there trying to figure out the path for a minute before walking through, but I’m the sort of brat who would rather circumvent the rules. The whole “well you didn’t tell me I couldn’t do that!” excuse.

“Be careful.” Dapper said. He walked through the labyrinth so he could catch me if I fell.

“That’s kind of cheating isn’t it?” Anpu said.

“Nope. You didn’t say I had to walk through it.”

“It kind of is cheating though. You know how these work. You’re so damn stubborn.”

I got to the other side and jumped down. Dapper looked me over and walked through a door to the side of the throne. By the throne was a small fat Buddha statue. I picked it up.

“What’s with the fat Buddha?”

Anpu said nothing, and again my attention broke momentarily to check on Z. And again something changed when I turned back. The statue was a crown instead. I put it on my head and sang a song about being a pretty princess. I imagined an oversize robe and scepter like I had seen in an anime and sat on the throne. Then I unceremoniously chucked the crown to the floor. I was no princess.

“Why not?”

I turned to see Anpu sitting on the wall of the labyrinth. He shifted his form to better match one of my favorite representations of him, drawn by an artist on deviantArt.

“What? You like this one better don’t you?”

I ignored the second question. “I’m just not. I don’t deserve to be.”

“Why is that?”

I didn’t answer. I already knew where this was going.

“You’re thinking about high school already.”

“I had a lot of problems. I shouldn’t have even graduated. I didn’t try hard enough.”

“Really? You had other problems, you tried plenty hard.”

*some dialogue is redacted to protect privacy of myself and others*

“It’s hard, when you’re constantly told that you’re smart. Now you have to live up to the expectation, to stay smart, to be smarter and then maintain that.”

“You realize that your insistence that you didn’t try hard enough just illustrates that unjust pressure right? You did what you could.”

I lay down on the floor in a huff, picking at the gems on the crown.
“This isn’t even a proper princess crown. It isn’t pretty enough, it’s a generic boy’s crown.”

Anpu snorted, suppressing a laugh. “Gods you are spoiled. How are you so stressed?”

I ignored him, using a knife to pull the crown apart.

“You are a princess though.”

“How so?”

“Well, you’re my daughter aren’t you?”

I looked at him in confusion.

“You wanted me to be your Father right?”

I hadn’t asked Him that in a long time. I hadn’t thought about it very deeply either. He had never answered me on that point, so I let it go. He got up and spun a mirror into existence. He literally put his hands out like He was holding it, and the mirror spun into existence in the space. It was some cartoon nonsense for sure.

“How do you see yourself?”

I got up and looked in the mirror and was supremely startled at the reflection. This was the part where I began to wonder if I was really talking to Anpu, really starting shadow work, really in the astral. It was so…entertaining that I wondered if I should take this seriously or if I was just making shit up or getting conned. The mirror reflected not me, but a wolf. The wolf I always imagined myself as since I was a little kid, the one I always wanted to be. If I ever became a werewolf I would look like this. It was profusely confusing. I didn’t think Anpu knew how strongly I wanted that. Of course, magic mirrors being what they are, when I stepped back on the wtfness I was that wolf.

Anpu patted me on the head, an expression of pride on his face. He picked me up in His arms and walked out of the labyrinth, no physics necessary.

“Who am I?”

“The Royal Child.” I said. It had come to mind right before I asked, that one of His epithets was such.

“Well, don’t I also embalm the King?”

“Yeah.”

“So, what does that make you?”

Annoyed. I thought. He set me down outside and shooed me on. I couldn’t decide where to go next. There were things down all the halls that I needed to see, including a door in the labyrinth we just exited.

“Pick somewhere.”

I huffed. “Don’t rush me.”

After literally spinning in a circle trying to decide where to go I decided on going back down the hall towards the original door. I could come back to that door in the labyrinth room later. The hall didn’t exactly pass the original door back to the temple. It did, but it was blurry and backlit with white light. I couldn’t go through it even if I wanted to. I made a right down the hall directly in front of said door and found Z. It was vastly unexpected. He wasn’t moving, and I ran around him checking for any issues or injuries.

“Keep going.” Anpu urged me.

“I can’t, he can’t be alone here. What if he gets lost?”

“Dapper is nearby, besides he can’t move. He is safe.”

I curled around Z’s feet for a few minutes before getting up and continuing down the hall. I tried not to fret, Dapper had been nearby. I found myself in a room and regained my human form. Inside this room was a screen. It was completely dark and various slides were flickering across it, all of them showing a woman and child shortly after birth, though each was different.

“Planning on showing me some past life stuff?” I asked as I examined the pictures, recognizing myself and [privacy] in the photos.

“Yes, but I haven’t decided yet.” Anpu said.

Then a giant steel arrow hit me in the chest. This was yet another moment when I questioned my sanity and the events. It’s just so over the top to me. Which is really a ridiculous thing to think because I’ve honestly heard about even more “ridiculous” proceedings before. It didn’t hurt per se, and the arrow was very pretty (can you see my priorities). I didn’t really know what was going on, I was just startled and on the floor. So startled that I got knocked back to this realm (the fact Z was stirring in his sleep didn’t help). I managed to reconnect and felt my mind dripping through the floor with my blood. Anpu was in the room below, and I said to him that this doesn’t seem much like shadow work. It wasn’t supposed to be fun and painless right?

He frowned, annoyed by that for some reason. He grabbed me and yanked me and my body through the floor/ceiling and let me fall roughly by his feet. It was majorly uncomfortable, especially since the arrow came with, but it wasn’t exactly painful. The most painful thing about it was having my brain so roughly shoved back into my body.

“Better?”

I glared at him, rubbing my chest underneath the arrow.

“What’s with the arrow?” I asked, looking around the room. There was no door, nor were there windows. It was black and dark, with a weird false light that made it possible to see without fire. There was also a black bookshelf and a couch. An amorphous table and TV were in here too, shifting in and out of existence.

“It’s to hold you together.”

“Huh?”

“The soul is made of multiple parts remember? The ren, the ib, the ka, the ba, and the shadow.”

“You had every word except for shadow.”

“Yes, go look it up, I want you to know these things.”

I thought about where I had last seen the word for the shadow. Someone’s blog. Anpu nodded, confirming that I could find it there.

“You have a bad habit of splitting yourself off when you’re in pain. That’s not very useful for shadow work. You can’t repair yourself if your soul is in pieces.”

“Oh. I didn’t know I did that.”

“Writer’s tend to do that a lot. You can create worlds for your pain-ridden pieces to go. Your feelings become your characters. You don’t have to feel them.”

“I see.”

“Shattering yourself is why you sometimes can’t feel like you want to or don’t understand what you’re feeling or why. Some other piece has the information, but it’s off somewhere else.”

“Interesting. So, what are we doing here?”

“Waiting.” Anpu said, sitting on the couch.

I sat next to him, feeling awkward that this giant arrow adjusted itself to not be in the way of sitting.

“For what?”

“Your soul pieces to come back. Other people have them.”

“Really?”

“Some were taken, but most you gave away. It isn’t so strange, everyone has a piece of some other person’s soul.”

“Hmm, what about [name redacted]? Does he have a piece of my soul?”

“Your interesting gay friend? Yes, of course. You have a piece of his too.”

I giggled. He was my interesting gay friend, but hearing anyone, much less a god, refer to him that way was funny. I examined the arrow as my thoughts turned to someone else.

“What about Z?”

“He has many pieces. He also tries to give you his ib. He doesn’t know he’s doing that. He breaks himself up a lot too.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“His ib holds all of him together. He doesn’t understand this, so I stop him. You realize the arrow is through your ib don’t you? The center of your soul that holds all the pieces together. Only I can take whole ibs.”
Anpu then handed me what looked to be a glass shard. It was brown on one side and perfectly reflective on the other. I knew exactly what this was, as soon as I touched it. It was a piece of Z, and although the reflection looked normal, I caught a glimpse of how he saw me by looking at myself in it. Even just that second was overwhelming. I pressed it to my chest protectively. I could never let anything happen to this.

“He’s very stubborn. He insists that you at least have a piece.”

I looked at Anpu, feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. There were no words to describe the wave of feelings that I sensed by looking at myself through Z’s shard.

“How can I protect this? I need to keep it safe.”

Anpu handed me a box from off the black bookshelf. “Put it in this.”

I took the box and placed the shard inside. The box was cushioned and lined with soft, red fabric. Anpu had already placed protective spells all over it and I whispered over the box. I have no idea what I said, it was more direct emotion and what little knowledge I had of protective magic and symbolism.

I hugged the box to my chest, knowing I would never let anything happen to it. Anpu shook his head, muttering something about stubborn humans. I told him to shut up because it was hardly mere stubbornness from either of us.

Our dialogue was interrupted by a sudden pain I had. I usually don’t have strong physical sensations from an incorporeal being’s presence, but this time I did. It was a pressure against my head and back and I rolled over to check on Z who was still asleep behind me. I embraced him and could “see” him standing in front of a being with a shifting form. It’s form settled on that of a seraphim, with wings covering its face and feet. They were talking and the angel hugged him and turned to me. It smiled at me, saying nothing. I asked what it wanted and told it to leave Z alone. For some reason I thought it was trying to guilt Z’s soul into staying attached to a religion that didn’t help him.

“Don’t disrespect it. Leave it alone, it means no harm.” Anpu said from behind me.

I did as bidden and stayed quiet. I realized I still had the box in my hand, and the arrow through me. I was back on the astral. The angel did eventually leave, with one last smile to me. Anpu commented that for someone with so much patience I could be rather short tempered. I told him my patience is only for kids and He could stuff it.