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Antonio Vespuci awoke early on the morning of the 13th of June, his first thought was, "Is today the day?" The answer wasn't immediate, as it is most mornings, but he was pretty sure that it was still a no. Not as definite of a no as he was used to, but he didn't feel it was a yes, and surely something like this would be definite.
He rose in his usual cheerful manner, dressed in his usual cheerful way and went cheerfully down to breakfast, humming Good Day Sunshine to himself.
Sarah was just coming in the main doors, a plastic cup of 7-11 coffee gripped precariously in hands too full of books and bright yellow binders. He stepped to her quickly, snatched the cup in mid-drop just as it tumbled from her hands.
"Gah! Thanks, Tony." She laid her books and binders in a perilous stack on one of the tables near the door. "You're a life saver, like always." Her smile was unadorned by the events of last week and he was glad of that; she was a nice girl and bounced back quickly from tragedy.
"You're welcome, Miss Sarah." He frowned at the cup of coffee as he handed it back to her, "I'll bring you a bagel and some strawberries in a little bit." She made as if to protest but he waved it away, "You're a growing girl and coffee's better on a full stomach anyways."
"Thanks again, Tony. You're an angel." She kissed him on the cheek and began putting her things away.
In the kitchen, Marta had already laid out his breakfast. Thursday meant a steaming plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, three pieces of buttered toast and a cup of coffee, "Dark as the devil's heart and sweet as a stolen kiss." He sat at his stool and exchanged pleasantries with her in Spanish while he ate. He liked talking with her, she twinkled on the inside while she cooked and it was a pleasure to speak his native tongue. There were times that he wished things could be different, she was a woman that he could come to love.
But today was not the day, and until that time he couldn't afford the responsibilities of a family. At least he was mostly sure today wasn't the day. The thought that he wasn't sure was nagging at the back of his mind, like a snippet of song whose name you can't remember.
The day passed in its accustomed manner, he spent most of it doing the yard work he hadn't gotten around to, then finished painting the mural on one of the room doors and wrapped up by finishing the clean up of Room Six. Lunch was spent with Sarah and Ted, which was nice. Work finished up around six o'clock, he retired to his room to read. The night wrapped its slow dark arms around the hotel, and eventually pulled Antonio to his bed and sleep.
Antonio Vespuci awoke early on the morning of the 14th of June, his first thought was, "Is today the day?" The immediate answer was yes. Today is the day. He lay in bed for fifteen minutes, mind racing, considering this from every angle. Today. After so many years of waiting, it would finally happen today. He began to rise from bed, and just as foot met floor, he saw the giraffe.
It was staring at him through his second floor window, clearly more interested in the cud it was chewing than the view. The two of them stood there, seeing each other, for a few moments, then it swallowed its cud and turned away. Antonio stepped to the dresser and began to brush his hair.
Looking out the window he could see the rest of the circus being wrangled. Waking lions belched out early morning roars, trucks of roustabouts that would turn into clowns later in the day began the processes of unpacking tents. Someone was calling to someone else that the giraffe had gotten away again and needed to be herded back to its cage.
Sitting down to breakfast (Friday: waffles and sausages) he talked with Marta about the circus and how exciting it was to have them staying over. Shyly, Marta asked him if he was going to the special performance they were setting up for the hotel staff and guests and the two of them agreed to go together after some clumsy negotiations.
It was while they were talking that it happened.
A voice, bellowing like the wrath of gods, "Antonio Vespuci! I call you forth to battle and your death! Your place of hiding is no more, coward! Come out and face me!"
A moment of stunned silence. The wall behind him was violently wrenched away by talons the size of tables, the whole building shaking with its loss. The sounds of rubble being tossed aside, and there she stood. Mother Mayhem, arch villain leader of the Chaos Crew.
He felt a glow, like a swallowed shot of vodka. Setting his cup of coffee down on the counter he turned to Marta and smiled, "I am so sorry, dear lady. I fear that the circus may not be performing this evening. We shall see." Then he burst into flame.
Marta made no reply, mouth gaping.
The battle that followed was epic and seemed everlasting. Mother Mayhem and The Miracle fought like worlds colliding, and in a sense that is exactly what happened. Decades of hatred, love, fear and mutual losses were at stake, neither offered nor asked for respite.
In the end of such a conflict, there can be only one survivor. Miracle Man stood shaking with exhaustion over the body of his fallen wife, tears and blood streaming down his face. Around him the ruins of the Lands End hotel and the broken bodies of staff and guests, with pieces of animals strewn into the mix. He toppled to his knees, hands rising to his face in grief of his victory and his loss.
Slowly, he came back to himself, shuddering with the effort. Looking around at the utter destruction he heaved the sigh of the truly despairing and got back to his feet.
A wave of his hand and all was restored. He stood in his bedroom, Antonio Vespuci once again.