‘Say the word and there is light, say the word and dead bones rise…’
Nick turned it off. What a load of crap. This was the exclusive, yet-unreleased music Ralph was going on about?
He took his earphones out. Why was he listening to it again? He’d already listened to it once, been appalled by it, and was now replaying it. Gabe, Mike, Ralph- they’d all be proud of him if they knew what he was listening to, but Nick didn’t want them to be proud. All he wanted… he let go of that thought. He’d been over it multiple times. It was clear they weren’t going to listen to him.
Nevertheless, he walked over to where Big G was tinkering with his toolbox. Not to try and tell him- not now, anyway- but to get something to do. He was bored, and he couldn’t listen to the crappy music on Ralph’s Walkman anymore.
He cleared his throat.
Big G continued tinkering.
He did it again, louder this time.
“Yes, son?” he still didn’t look up from his toolbox.
“I’m bored, Sir.”
“What do you want me to do?” Big G didn’t pause for one second the intricate detail of his work.
“Um… I was thinking -maybe you could give me a few tools an’ all, and I could maybe come up with something myself. Something you could add to the Big Project.”
“Mmm?” That wasn’t new. He often lost his hearing when Nick was speaking.
He sighed and repeated what he’d said.
Big G wrapped up a tiny, tiny fraction of the mountain of paraphernalia lying around him in a small dirty handkerchief and, still not looking, threw it to him. He caught it just before it hit his nose.
“P’s and q’s, boy,” he said just as Nick stepped out the door, and he realised it was one of the few moments his father was addressing him directly. “Thank you, Sir,” he said quickly.
With all the odd bits and pieces lying about him, his mind wandered off to other things and for no particular reason, he began attaching two smallish, flattish, roughly-curved-like-a-figure-of-eight orangish pieces to a small dull greenish-brown body. All he’d ever wanted was his father to pay attention to them instead of the Big Project, just for once. But it had always been there, that huge contraption, taking up all of his time and attention.
Big G said it was beautiful, and it was going to be even more beautiful when complete. His brothers echoed that thought. Mike understood it. Ralph understood it. Even Gabe, who was younger than him, understood that the Project was important and their father was right to devote so much time to it.
Even Nick had found it beautiful as a little child. Back then, Big G hadn’t been that obsessed with it, and often, he would pause his work, call out to all his sons, and they would stand side-by-side, the five of them, father and sons, and simply look at it, absorbing its beauty, not saying a word. Nick had liked those moments.
But all of that had changed a long time ago. Big G had changed. He’d added an entirely new feature to the Project. That, he said, was his best addition so far. He’d always been a workaholic, but now an almost frenzied quality had descended upon him. He hardly ever talked to them anymore.
The other three seemed to be perfectly fine with it, though. They still loved the Project as much as they’d always done. Nick hated it. Hated those new additions with every atom of his being. All he had now was Ralph’s crappy Walkman, these odds and ends from Big G’s toolbox, and sometimes the begrudging company of his brothers.
He remembered a time he’d painted a picture of the galaxy and, upon its completion, had immediately run off to show it to Big G. He’d hardly glanced at it and told Mike, his eldest son, to take Nick away and let him continue with his work.
Nick looked at the thing he’d created. It was an odd-looking creature, with a bill like a duck’s and a heavy brown tail. It seemed like a mammal, but since he hadn’t been paying much attention to it, he’d accidentally made it oviparous instead of viviparous. He’d given it a strange funny-sounding name as well- ‘platypus’.
Nick, who’d in the future be labelled the devil by those very new additions to the Big Project, smiled. The platypus would be as out of place in the Project as he was increasingly seeming to be here.