It’s a special day, folks.
Last part of Say Uncle.
Which I am posting a leetle early just because big Blank Mastermind stuff is happening tomorrow.
BIG BOOK WEEK. Last part of Say Uncle, and Blank Mastermind getting published. Woowee.
Anyway! Catch up below if you’re new. Good time to do it, since all of the story is here now. xD
And the last bits! Hope you guys enjoy! 😀
It was another couple of seconds before Rudy looked up at me. I was still staring at him.
I swallowed and nodded, pushing off the truck. “Well . . . thanks.”
Rudy nodded back, shifting the UFO in his arms to examine the dent in the side. “He was being a jerk. And I needed to test out attack-mode on my spaceship anyway,” he replied matter-of-factly.
I rubbed at the side of my sore face, stepping up next to him. “Guess I can call it even on the snake thing here.”
Rudy glanced up at me with a bit of a grin on his face. “Sounds good.”
We both stepped around the kidnapper and back out of the garage, coming out into the driveway just as Fnu, Charley Alice came out the busted front door of the house with Penrod and Tiny.
Fnu raised a hand, scooping up sniffling Tiny and hurrying down the steps. “Hey! You got the kidnapper?” He looked up again as he hit the bottom of the creaky steps and grimaced. “Ohhh dude, your face . . .”
“Rudy took him out, actually.” I gestured down to my nephew, who stood up straighter next to me.
Rudy grinned and held up his UFO. “Guess what? I whacked him in the head with this after he hit Uncle Micah.”
Tiny unburied her face from Fnu’s shirt and looked over at Rudy. “You . . . you did attack mode on ‘im?”
Rudy nodded proudly.
Tiny smiled a little.
The police sirens were wailing closer and I guessed they’d be here in just a few minutes. Fnu was starting to get a little antsy.
Alice had joined us with Penrod and Charley by now, Charley with one arm put protectively around Penrod’s small shoulders. I came closer, checking Penrod and Tiny over to see if they were hurt. They were both scared, definitely. Tear stains on their faces and their clothes a little dirty. But okay. They weren’t hurt.
The tight knot that had been sitting in my stomach slowly came untied. I blew out my breath and straightened back up, running a hand back through my hair. “Glad you guys are okay.”
“I-I’m glad you came to get us,” Penrod swallowed. “That man was a bad man.” He looked up at me and his brow furrowed up. “What . . . happened to your face?”
I touched at my lip again, wincing at the sting as my fingers came back with blood on them still. “Mr. Kidnapper was in a bad mood and took it out on my face.” I stuck one hand in my pocket and came out with the pepper spray, handing it back over to Alice. “Thanks for that. Came in handy.”
Alice took it, her expression shifting to look sort of impressed. “So snakes freak you out, but you’re totally cool with big ol’ muscly kidnappers getting in your face like that?”
I felt my face getting red again. I shrugged.
Alice smirked, shrugging back. “You might be cooler than I thought.”
I let out my breath and grinned back.
“That’s Micah alright,” Fnu confirmed. The police sirens were almost to us and he was shifting anxiously from foot to foot. He glanced back and forth, then set Tiny down next to me and gave me a salute. “’kay, I gotta take off before the fuzz gets here, dude.”
“Fuzz?” Tiny perked up a little.
“Cops,” clarified Rudy.
“Fuzzy cops?” asked Tiny, not willing to give up her need to pet something fuzzy so quickly.
“See you guys back at the house!” Fnu saluted, then loped off down the street with his long hair flopping against his back. He disappeared around the corner just as the cops came from the other way down the street.
Penrod watched the spot where he’d last seen Fnu, frowning. “Is the government actually watching Mr. Fnu?”
I shook my head and sighed. “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Sorting through everything with the police and getting the kidnapper IDed and arrested took a lot longer than I expected.
The police had a lot of questions to ask everyone. A lot of things to sort out before they actually just drove off with that kidnapper jerk in the backseat.
It was about an hour or so later before we were back at the house and Alice had gone back to hers. One window in Henry’s house was lit up and we came in to find Fnu eating more of my pizza rolls and watching some documentary Cecily had about juicing things.
“It’s actually really interesting,” he insisted around another bite, gesturing to the TV. “Seriously, I didn’t know juice could be so cool.”
“Juice is the healthiest thing you could put in your body, Mom says,” Penrod informed him. He seemed to be feeling a lot better after his kidnapping adventure if he was back to preaching.
Rudy looked over at the TV and wrinkled his nose thoughtfully.
Charley just marched right over and turned it off.
Fnu gaped at her. “Hey!”
She popped the disc out, then came over to him and grabbed one of the pizza rolls. Now a twice-stolen snack. I should have brought more.
I blew out my breath and looked over at the clock. Eight-thirty.
My last night here babysitting.
Man. Seems like I’ve been here forever already.
I mean . . . at least I had all the kids again. I could leave in pretty good conscience.
But along with the relief there was just a little twinge of . . . something a kind of like . . . I’d miss it. Sort of.
Well obviously I was totally fine going back to regular life. Was looking forward to it, definitely. But really, the kids . . . weren’t all as bad as I thought. And while it wasn’t easy, I felt good for actually meeting the challenge. Not passing with flying colors. But still muscling my way through.
And I could make my way out of here without getting my head taken off by Henry, so that was a plus.
“Except for the guy with the beard, those cops weren’t very fuzzy,” Tiny remarked. She gave a yawn and leaned her head against my, wrapping one arm around and holding my jeans. “I’m hungry.” She looked up. “Can we have a snack?”
Rudy stopped in the middle of trying to steal another pizza roll from Fnu and looked up at me.
In fact, everyone looked up at me.
I’d almost forgotten what snack addicts I had here.
I looked thoughtful for a second, looking back to the kitchen. “Hmm.”
The kids looked even more interested.
“Hmm . . .” I stroked my chin and walked slowly over to the fridge. “You know, I think with everyone surviving the night and everything, we might all just deserve some ice cream.” I pulled open the freezer drawer.
Penrod raised a hand. “But Uncle Micah? I can’t . . . have milk . . .”
I pulled a container out of the freezer, tossing it up in the air and catching it again before holding it up. “And I guess that’s why we have cashew milk ice cream, little buddy. Everybody get a spoon.”
We all stayed up kind of late that night.
The kids loved hearing Fnu tell and act out stories from his travels around the states and we hung out listening to him tell stories for a while.
And then . . . well . . . Rudy put me up to playing a bit of that old Donkey Kong game with him downstairs and I couldn’t really pass that up. It was involved enough that everyone else got into making commentary and cheering for us in the background too. We made a new slot for “Rudy and Micah” and got up quite a few levels before Penrod pointed out that it was almost eleven.
So then it was bedtime.
Fnu crashed out in under a minute on the other couch in the living room.
Tiny was mostly asleep anyway by that point and didn’t really mind another badly sung, rock music lullabye. And for once I didn’t really mind giving it. I was really just glad to have her back in the house.
I still gave Gerald a wide berth when I got Rudy in to bed. Penrod still barely had me do anything except turn out the light and come over so he could give me a hug. Which . . . it was a little weird, but if I was gonna take it from anyone, I’d put up with it from any kid, it’d definitely be Penrod.
And then off to Charley’s room.
Where the babygate was pulled down off the open window and Charley was nowhere to be seen.
I froze in the doorway for a few seconds, trying not to panic. And having a moment of asking myself if I was really sure this was Thursday, not Tuesday.
Then I spotted the shadowy figure sitting out on the edge of the roof in the dark just outside the window.
I let out my breath that I didn’t realize I was holding and went over to the window. I propped my hands on the windowsill. “Jeez, Charley. I thought you . . .” I shook my head, not finishing the sentence.
Charley turned to look over her shoulder at me for a few seconds. She gave a small motion with her hand and patted it on the roof next to her, then turned her head back up to look at the sky.
Was that a . . . “come sit with me” gesture?
I just stood there for a second, trying to figure if I’d translated that motion right.
She looked back at me again.
I shrugged and slowly started climbing out of the window. It was a pretty flat roof. I should be okay as long as she didn’t shove me off.
I got myself out and crawled the short distance to get next to my niece. “Everything okay?”
I swung my feet out in front of me and propped my hands against the rough shingles. At least this was an improvement from running away to the woods. Maybe one of the extra perks about having Fnu in the house with us.
I sat there quietly for a bit, drumming my fingers and watching Charley.
She just kept looking at the sky. And after a few more seconds, she looked back over at me with an annoyed expression.
I pulled back defensively. “What?”
She jabbed my side with her elbow and nodded sharply up towards the sky with a “get a clue, moron” expression, before looking back up that way herself.
I looked up along with her.
There wasn’t a moon out tonight and there were more stars than normal. A pretty surprising amount, considering we were this close to the city.
And I’ll admit, it was pretty cool.
So we sat there in silence for a while, just watching the stars. I pursed my lips and tilted my head back further, looking for the grand total of three constellations I knew. There was a small movement off to one side of my vision and I nudged Charley as I looked over.
“Hey, look,” I pointed as the flash streaked across the sky for a few seconds before fizzling out.
Charley gave a happy gasp. I grinned.
Okay, so maybe now I saw why she and Fnu liked sneaking out at night so much.
My phone dinging woke me up.
I dragged my eyes open and rolled over, fumbling to get my phone off the coffee table. I clicked it on, focusing my vision on the time at the top.
And then the text underneath, from Henry that had come in just a couple minutes ago.
– Should be there in about an hour.
I shot back a quick “ok”, then set down the phone and rubbed a hand over my eyes, stifling a yawn.
Got to admit I had more appreciation for this sort of sleeping schedule now that I’d had a taste of the “getting up and getting kids out the door for school”. I lay there for another minute, just letting myself wake up all the way and listening for any sounds around the house.
There were a few quiet sounds of moving around upstairs. Something clinked in the kitchen. I thought I heard Rudy’s voice saying something.
So a couple kids were up at least. Fnu usually slept in until about noon unless we were doing something else, so I’d probably have to give him a poke . . .
I pushed up and looked over to the other couch. And blinked in surprise.
The blanket was rumpled up at the end of the couch and the pillows were stacked next to it with a little blue sticky note stuck to them.
I frowned and swung my feet down to the floor, pushing up off the couch. I walked over to the other couch and pulled the note off the pillows, squinting at it.
I’ve been able to decode some pretty bad handwriting before. Ingrid’s wasn’t the prettiest thing ever and my dad’s is a bit of a scrawl. But this . . .
Literally. This was scribbles.
Up and down wiggly lines. That was it.
Correction: scribbles with a smiley face down at the bottom.
Man, I’d forgotten how bad Fnu’s handwriting really was.
I looked at it for another few seconds, then turned it over. Like maybe there’d be some translation on the back or something. Nothing.
Well, Fnu was gone. That much was obvious.
And that was probably better for the actual adults showing up anyway. Fnu would be a little hard to explain.
Charley poked into the room just then, Penrod coming just behind.
I raised a hand in greeting. “Morning.”
“Good morning.” Penrod grinned his gap-toothed smile at me. “Can we have fruit for breakfast?”
I shrugged. “Yeah sure. Hey, your dad and mom are coming in like an hour. I just got a text.”
Penrod’s face lit up. He scampered out of the room, calling the news out to Rudy.
Charley moved over towards the couch Fnu was obviously missing from and frowned. She looked up at me and pointed to the couch with a frown.
“He left. I’m pretty sure. Just woke up and he was gone, so . . .” I shook my head.
She looked at the note in my hand.
“Yeah, he left this.” I handed it over to her. The smiley face should be reassuring at least.
Charley took it and turned it around, looking it over intently. Her gaze went back and forth over the paper like . . . she was actually reading it. After a minute, she nodded, looking relieved, and handed it back to me. She headed back out after Penrod.
I stood there and looked down at the note again.
She could read that?
I was torn between being impressed and insulted. I’d known Fnu for years and never figured out how to read his handwriting or learned his real name. Apparently Charlotte had managed to do both?
I blew out my breath, shook my head and dropped the note down on the coffee table, switching it out for my phone. I shot off a text to Fnu asking where he’d gone, then started cleaning up my stuff. Putting things back into my bag and folding up the blankets. And folding up Fnu’s blankets.
The answer popped up just a minute later.
An alert had come in about a huge, crazy incident with crop circles over in Arkansas. He had to take off to investigate.
I told him it wasn’t a problem and to have a good time doing whatever he was doing with that.
Anyone who was friends with Fnu Lnu had to come to terms with it sooner or later that they’d play second fiddle to any and all cryptids. I was fine with it.
So, the kids and I had fruit for breakfast. We spiffed up the house a bit. And then we had some spare time so we went back down to play more Donkey Kong.
Rudy and I had gotten through another few levels when Penrod came running back down the basement stairs, gesturing wildly.
“They’re here, they’re here!” He pointed towards the upstairs. “I saw them! They’re in the driveway!”
I hit a few more buttons, trying to finish getting through this obstacle before heading up. Rudy worked his own controller, jumping and bobbing around as he did. Charley stood up to go, while Tiny stayed by my side, gripping my knee.
“Really, they’re here, guys!” Penrod insisted. “And Grandpa and Grandma are here too!”
I hit the wrong button in surprise before pausing the game and turning back to look at Penrod. “Seriously?”
“Yes! C’mon!” he dashed up the stairs. The rest of us followed close behind.
Sure enough, just as we got up to the top of the stairs, the front door opened. And in came not only the kids’ parents . . . but my parents too.
“Daddy! Mommy!” Tiny screamed, launching herself at her parents.
Henry laughed, stumbling back a step. “Clementine! It’s good to see you too, honey.” Cecily bent down to exclaim over her and hug her and all the rest of the kids as they came rushing up.
I stood back with my hands jammed in my pockets, grinning in spite of myself at the enthusiastic reunion. My gaze wandered back towards Mom and Dad, who were standing in back of Henry and Cecily. Mom was smiling and laughing at the kids and exclaiming over how big they’d gotten. I caught Dad’s eye just as he glanced over at me.
The corners of his eyes crinkled up in the subtle Dad-smile I hadn’t seen in forever. He nodded.
I raised my eyebrows a little, giving a smile back.
The kids finished saying hi and scrambling over each other to give hugs to their parents and grandparents, then as they finished jabbering out all their greetings, there was a moment of quiet. Happy quiet. Mainly with the adults looking the kids over one more time to make sure they were really there and the kids doing the same with the adults.
It was Mom who broke the silence. She tucked a strand of hair behind one ear and clasped her hands. “Well I’d just like to . . . thank you all for bearing with us through this tough time. Even you littlest ones, having to put up with your mommy and daddy being gone.” She gave the kids a sympathetic smile, her gaze flicking up to me for a fraction of a second. “Everyone here has helped in some way or another and hopefully . . .” she put an arm around Dad’s middle and he put an arm over her shoulders. “Hopefully things will be better from here on out. We really just needed the time to sort things.”
Henry and I nodded. The kids just stood there respectfully.
“Oh, it was no trouble at all,” Cecily insisted.
I barely swallowed back a laugh. Those couple weeks had been . . . a lot of things. But “no trouble” wasn’t one of them.
The small noise I ended up making drew their attention to me. Cecily looked mildly confused.
I shook my head, waving a hand. “Oh it’s just . . . yeah. Interesting week, that’s all. It’s good.”
Attention turned to the kids.
Henry stuck his thumb through one of his belt loops, raising his eyebrows at the kids. “Well, how did you like being babysat by your Uncle Micah?”
Penrod and Tiny both chorused in together, their voices clashing loudly.
Something about fun and picnics and Bigfoot and something about kidnapping that got lost in translation because Cecily didn’t bat an eyelash.
I let out my breath.
“What about you, Rudy?” Henry asked.
Rudy had his hands stuck in his pockets in a small imitation of my pose. He nodded, giving his sideways grin along with an indifferent shrug. “He was cool, yeah. He helped me get a lot more levels on Donkey Kong.”
My dad laughed. “He’ll do that for you, won’t he?”
“Yeah.” Rudy looked over at me and his smile grew. “I like ‘im. I guess.”
I chuckled. “Yeah, well you’re not too bad either. I guess.”
Henry turned to the last child in the lineup. “Did you have a good time, Charley?”
Charley just stood there, her mouth a straight line and her eyes narrowed in thought. Then she nodded, looking up to her parents.
And she spoke.
“Can Uncle Micah babysit us next time?”
Here would be where you’d expect me to say we all lived happily ever after. To say that was the family bonding time that really fixed everything and we were closer than ever after all that. No more family problems, yaaayy.
But I mean . . . that’d honestly be ridiculous.
My family’s never been perfect. And one crazy week where everyone was stuck in the wrong spots didn’t change anything.
Mom and Dad still bicker sometimes. Ingrid’s still gone and I miss her. Henry and Cecily distantly disapprove of my lifestyle and drop passive-aggressive hints about it.
And you know? I’m actually fine with it. It might not be all good, but it’s definitely not bad. Especially on a few fronts.
I stopped by to say bye to Alice before I took off and we’ve actually met up a couple of times since then. I get out more now. Sort of decided to take a while to try being Fnu minus the aliens (which basically means just travelling around, hanging out in different spots and getting odd jobs). And I actually joined up with Fnu for a bit. It’s not a bad life out of the basement, you know.
And something that didn’t really change, but I more became aware of after that.
That I actually had four little nieces and nephews who thought I was the coolest thing ever. And who I could now say that I could babysit without risking them dying.
I stop by Missouri more like once a month now. I’m giving Charley drumming lessons and Rudy and I have long since beaten all the levels of Donkey Kong, moving on to play a few other games on the other game system I found for him. Penrod’s convinced me to like a few more organic foods and Tiny insists I sing her to sleep whenever I’m around to.
Life isn’t transformed but . . . you know, sometimes the smallest changes make life just that much better.
Like I told Alice, I guess some kids do end up growing on you sometimes.
YAAAYYY FOR THE FINALE OF SAY UNCLE!
Thank you guys so much for coming along for the ride, it’s been a blast and I love you all. ❤
Well, now that it’s all over, I gotta hear everyone’s favorite characters and scenes and everything. 😀 Please comment below! I’d love to hear from you!