The Phil Phorce is a fictional periodical featuring my favorite characters from my own writing. It comes out in episodes, once every three months or so. To find out more and to read previous episodes, please go to these two pages: About the Phils and the Phil Phorce. Please enjoy Phil Phorce, episode 6: Soap Opera.
“But we can’t give them my car,” said Percival. “I need my car.”
“They might need your car too,” said Quirk.
“Is that really what you had in mind when you made that agreement?” asked Percival. “The Blanks would help you escape, and you would give them my car?”
“Not really,” said Quirk. “I thought you would give them your car. And anyway, they didn’t help me escape—they just left and allowed me to escape.”
“Which could be called helping.” Percival turned away from Quirk. “Sebase, get your hand out of the aquarium! We are not having sushi tonight.”
“I told you, I’m fully qualified,” said Sebase. “I even know which end of the knife to hold!”
“No,” said Percival. “And get Steve out of there.”
“He won’t drown,” said Sebase.
“The fish might when it sees him making faces,” said Percival. “Just get him out of there.”
Grumbling, Sebase pulled Steve out of the fish tank and dried him off. The ping pong ball choked up water.
“That was not funny,” he said, glaring at Sebase. “I was drowning, for your information. Just because I’m plastic doesn’t mean I can swim.”
Percival checked the bathroom to see if anyone was trying to misuse the bathtub. He had caught the old lady holding a Kentucky-Derby-style cockroach race in there a few days ago.
“Honestly, I wish you hadn’t moved in here,” said Percival, peeling a My Little Pony sticker off the wall and sticking it to the table in front of Quirk. Quirk fell out of his chair and pressed up against the wall, eyes wide. Percival chuckled and put the sticker in the garbage.
“Where else could I have gone?” asked Quirk, checking himself as if a pony was clinging to his shirt somewhere. “The old lady had your keys, so we let ourselves in. None of the rest of us have apartments anywhere!”
“So sleep on the streets!” Percival rubbed at the leprechaun Phume had drawn on the wall. “And that’s another thing! Where did you get my keys?”
“The old lady took them from your pocket before she washed your clothes,” said Quirk. “If you don’t want that to happen, you should wash your own stuff.”
“I do wash my own stuff. She’s a pickpocket.”
“Laundress, Percival,” called the old lady from the other room. “There’s a difference.”
“Whatever,” mumbled Percival. He looked up. “Are you watching TV in there again?”
The old lady didn’t answer for a moment. “Maybe,” she said.
“Of course not,” said Phoenix. “She’s helping me with my… needlepoint.”
“I can hear other voices.”
“And we’re practicing ventriloquism.”
“And I hear music,” said Percival.
“With the record player going,” said the old lady. She paused. “Okay, we’re watching TV, but it’s just Pride and Prejudice. You can’t take offense at a little Jane Austen, can you?”
Percival heard an explosion from the other room, tinny through the television speakers.
When Quirk heard it, he perked up. “I want to watch too!” He rushed into the other room, and Percival could hear him say, “I love the scene where Mr. Darcy blows up the village.”
Percival sighed and checked the closets. Isaac was probably sleeping, but he had seen Phume running around carrying Feiron in a bucket, and he didn’t want them to do anything nasty. He really wished Quirk hadn’t chosen this spot to settle down.
His phone buzzed in his pocket. He jerked it from his pocket and punched the button without looking at the number. “What?”
“General of the Blanks.”
“Oh, you. I haven’t come up with anything yet.”
“I think I have,” said Jordan.
“You can’t have my car,” said Percival.
Jordan paused. “I don’t want your car. We have better cars.”
That didn’t make Percival feel any better. “What have you come up with?”
“We’ve been watching the Phils since the beginning,” said Jordan. “Your group is good at taking an idea and running with it, especially if it’s out of the ordinary. We want you to help us find something odd.”
“Look in the mirror,” said Percival.
Jordan laughed sarcastically. “We’ve already seen something odd—we want you to figure out why it happened.”
“What, did you have an acne breakout? Humans at your age get those, not that you have anything in common.” It felt good to yell at someone who couldn’t pull rank on him.
“One of our men disappeared without a trace.”
“Don’t you have your own Sherlock Holmes? Someone among you has got to be destined to fall down dead after apprehending a murderer.”
“Our homicide division is taking a group vacation in Australia for the next month. Anyway, we aren’t even sure this is a murder. As you insist on pointing out, we don’t die like normal people.”
Percival heard Jordan’s sigh. “Yes, unlike humans, we have expiration dates. Now, will you help us or not?”
“If we agree to this, the debt is paid?”
Percival bit the inside of his cheek. He didn’t want to help the Blanks like this, but with the favor Quirk had promised, he had no choice. Looking around the apartment, his eyes fell on a large stain on the tablecloth. He didn’t want the Phils in his apartment any longer. This might give him an opportunity to find them another place.
“We’ll do it,” he said.