The sweet smell of freshly baked cookies pervaded the dimly lit kitchen. Dark stone counter tops were littered in baking supplies and heat seemed to be radiating from the oven as a second batch of chocolate chip cookies baked. A kind-looking portly woman sat at a battered wooden table next to a young man who had similar bushy eyebrows and broad shoulders. A third young man with jet black hair in a bun sat across from the pair and spoke with his head in his hands, “I just… All I want is to talk to her. We used to talk everyday. It’s not just losing my girlfriend of three years… I’ve-I’ve lost one of my best friends.”
The woman softly replied, “You poor thing. I know it must be hard, Jove. Have you tried to get her back?”
“Yes!” exclaimed Jove. “I’ve been to her house three times this week and tried to call her I don’t know how many times until she blocked me today. It really feels like I’ve lost her, I went there today and all she told me on her doorstep was, ‘I don’t love you. Stop trying.'”
The pair looked at the heartbroken sixteen year old boy sitting across from them and seemed to be at a collective loss on how to comfort him. The woman whispered, “Virgil go get the cookies and some milk.” The boy rose with a quiet, “OK mom.”
As his best friend worked his way around the kitchen putting cookies on a plate, his mother leaned in and said, “Jove, you are so young. Understand that this breakup pains you so much more keenly because this was a first love that you spent three years with at a time in your life when you have only been old enough to date for three years!”
Virgil returned to the table setting a plate of cookies and three glasses of milk onto the rough wooden surface. “You have so much love in you, give it to someone who wants it rather than try to force it on someone who made the decision not to be with you.” Remarks Virgil’s mother as she picks up and holds out a cookie with a kind look. Jove accepts it with a small smile and feels a little braver as the warm chocolate and sweet dough melt into his mouth.
“Thanks Mrs. Maro, that actually does help a bit,” said Jove between bites of his cookie. “If you had any other advice for me dealing with this what would it be?”
She shut her eyes and nodded once before replying sagely, “The mind is a powerful thing. Your thoughts do not have to be reactive to the environments and situations around you. Fill your focus with positive thinking and your life will be positive. You’re a special boy Jove you can-”
The doorbell chime cut her off as it rang loud and long as if someone was holding down the buzzer. The wooden chair creaked as Mrs. Maro got up with a sigh and made her way around the corner to the door. Jove takes the moment alone to look at Virgil over the plate of cookies, “Hey thank you man. I don’t know what I would do without you and your mom, you’re a great friend.”
Virgil opened his mouth to reply but pauses as a loud masculine voice booms from the door. “Your human license has expired. Pregnancy was detected by ODiNN, explain.”
The crying, shaky voice of Virgil’s mom replies, “That’s not possible-”
“ODiNN does not lie.” Declares the voice harshly. “You will come with us now to undergo testing to determine how you got pregnant without Kronos approval.”
Hearing this Virgil sprang up from the table knocking his chair to the floor in his haste to the front door. Jove followed a second later around the corner and saw a group of five guards dragging Mrs. Maro bodily down the street. Virgil shouts, “Let go of her you bastards!” as he sprints towards them.
The guards all turn in surprise but then laugh as they see the sixteen year old boy charging them. Two turn around and draw stun batons with evil smiles. Virgil isn’t thinking of the danger but Jove watches the batons warily from the safety of the doorway. He wanted to shout out a warning but the acrid smell of smoke fills his nostrils from behind distracting him in that second so that he turns to look for the source and only sees too late out of the corner of his eye as his best friend is hit with millions of volts and crashes to the ground seizing uncontrollably.
The guards step over Virgil’s seizing body towards Jove menacingly while another guard with an enormous mustache stalks his way over to me while calling out, “Our favorite prankster! Come back and play with us, we must you over at Juvie little Jove.” Ugly Matt, shit. Most guards were just bored and wanted some action but Matt and his crew actually enjoyed torturing for Kronos. Jove took one last lingering look at his still seizing friend and his captured mother and understood that he could not help them.
The guards were steadily creeping towards him until Jove backpedaled quickly behind the door and then they were sprinting towards him as he slammed and locked the door. Jove turned the corner and quickly made his way down the smoky hallway panicking slightly as the sound of bodies thudded against the door, trying to break it down. The sound of splintering wood echos throughout the small house a few frantic heartbeats later and echoed the breaking of Jove’s confidence. As he sprinted through the blinding smoke billowing from the burning cookies in the oven, he slammed into the wooden table roughly, knocking the glass jug to the floor with a shattering crash. Feeling his way blindly to the back door’s handle and trying not to breath in the suffocating smoke, Jove felt a heat, either from panic or the fire he could not tell. Arms outstretched, eyes closed and drenched in sweat from the heat and the panic that threatened to consume him, relief in the form of a door handle in his palm gave him a brief glimmer of hope. This hope only lasted a heartbeat, however, in which time the physical pressure of a barrel of a gun on the side of his head is the last memory he had before his world is consumed in smoke.