“A god and a shapeshifter walk into a burger joint. The cashier says, ‘what do you think this is, a bar?’” Ryan gave his sister a wide grin.
Isabel rolled her eyes and punched him on the arm. “You are such a nerd, you know that?”
“Absolutely,” Ryan said as they stepped up to the counter. “I’ll have a Letter C with cheese fries and a small concrete.”
“And I’ll have the Letter D, Moon Size, with the chili cheese fries and a large concrete.” Isabel paused to think, “and a Moon Chicken Jr. sandwich,” she added, jerking a thumb towards Ryan. “He’s paying.”
Isabel’s order took up the majority of the tray. “You getting enough food there, Izzy?” Ryan asked as they snagged table.
“Hey, this might be our last check to eat Moon Burger before the literal end of the world. I think I’m allowed to go a bit wild on the menu.” Isabel gave him a wide grin. “Besides, I don’t think I need to worry about weight gain anymore. No more fad diets, no more exercise bike. I eat what I want.”
Ryan shook his head. “Could we not talk about that right now?”
“Exercise bikes? I know you hate working out, Ryan, but I didn’t realize it had gotten that bad.” Ryan opened his mouth to protest, and Isabel held up a hand. “I know what you meant, Ryan. But it’s kind of hard to not talk about, you know?”
“Oh, I know.” Ryan sighed. “Izzy, I just want to get Moon Burger with my sister and pretend everything’s fine for just a couple hours. Can we do that?”
Isabel paused and looked at his face, then softened her joking expression into something closer to compassion. “Sure thing, Ry. So what do you want to talk about?”
Ryan waited until Isabel had taken a big bite of her chicken sandwich before asking, “So, you going to do anything about your crush on Crystal?”
He sat back and grinned at Isabel nearly choked on her sandwich, needing some time to get a coughing fit under control. “You asshole,” she rasped once she was able to breathe normally. “You did that on purpose.”
“Me?” Ryan widened his eyes in mock innocence. “Isabel Smith, I am shocked and appalled you would accuse me of such a heinous-” Ryan paused to grin as Isabel’s upraised middle finger. “C’mon, seriously though.”
“Nope, nuh-uh, no way. If you get to nix the end of the world as a topic, I’m going to nix my crush on a literal goddess. Find something else to talk about or things are going to get apocalyptic in here.”
Ryan raised an eyebrow. “You mean because you’re going to talk about it, or because you’re going to blow something up?”
Isabel pointed at him with a fry. “Test me and find out, I dare you.”
Ryan opted against it. “Fine, then…” He trailed off. “If that’s the case, I’m suddenly struggling to come up with conversation topics.”
“Then shut your mouth and stick a burger in it. You think better when you’re full.”
Very carefully, Ryan closed his mouth and pushed the burger against his lips. “This isn’t working very well,” he said after a few attempts. “Maybe I should try the burger first, then shutting my mouth.”
Isabel giggled. “You are such a nerd. I can’t believe we’re related sometimes. Also, you’ve got mustard like, all over your face.” Ryan grabbed a napkin and Isabel took advantage of his inability to speak. “Look, Ry, I know you don’t want to talk about it. I get it. I do. But we’ve always used these lunches to talk about the biggest things in our lives. I mean, we used to talk about school, even though no sane person likes school.”
“I liked school,” Ryan protested.
“Thus proving my point,” Isabel said smugly.
“Fine.” Ryan sighed, but it was more for effect than anything else. Even the small slice of normal that was Wednesday Moon Burger with Isabel was enough to calm him down. “Something in particular on your mind?”
“Well, for starters, how you’re going to end the world.”
“Oh, so nothing big then.”
Isabel laughed, then sobered. “I’m serious, though. We don’t know how long we have left, and this heat wave has me worried.”
“You think the sun’s already starting to go wonky?” Ryan asked.
“Wonky. That’s a fairly light term. Yes, I think the sun’s going wonky. It’s too warm out there, and the news says that’s happening everywhere.”
“Could be global warming?” Ryan said hopefully.
Isabel gave him a flat look. “It’s too quick, and too global. C’mon, Ryan. What else could it be?”
“No, you’re right.” Ryan shrugged. “I’ve got no idea. I mean, I have plenty ideas for how I could end the world, but all of them involve terrible things happening to pretty much everyone. Asteroids, plagues…the classics. And I’m not going to do that. I’d rather let the sun explode. At least then it’s not my fault.”
“You’re getting into the trolley problem there,” Isabel countered. “Not pulling the lever is still a choice. Not saying you should start summoning ebola, but…being passive might not be the best options.”
“I’m open to suggestions,” Ryan said.
“I wish I had some.” It was Isabel’s turn to sigh. “Isn’t there some old wise man on a mountain or a magic item that can answer all our problems? Or at least help out with them? If movies have taught me anything, it’s that there’s always a McGuffin of some kind we can count on. A ring to take to Mount Doom, an alien mothership, a really big drill…something.”
“I don’t think so,” Ryan said, then paused, frowning. “Actually…I don’t know. I’d assume one of the others would have mentioned if we had something we could pull out of a hat to save humanity, but…”
“But?” Isabel prompted after Ryan trailed off.
“But they’re all thousands of years old. Maybe they forgot. Wouldn’t hurt to try and jostle their memory. Worst case scenario, I get told I’m being stupid, and I’ve gotten that so much that I’m practically immune.”
Isabel beamed at him. “And you didn’t think there was a benefit to growing up with me. If I hadn’t been around to deflate your ego, Crystal and Athena would have torn you apart.”
“Ego? Isabel, it’s me. I’m the least egotistical man alive.”
“And the humblest.” She stuck out her tongue as Ryan sputtered, and then started crumpling up her wrappers.
Ryan gaped at her. “You’re already finished?”
“I was hungry. Unlike some people, I’m still mortal. I haven’t eaten enough lately. You barely touched yours.”
Ryan glanced down at his food and saw she was right. It smelled good, it had tasted good, but without any Hungers it hadn’t held is attention. “I got a taste of everything,” he said. “It’s good enough.”
“Your call, bro. Let’s get back to the others, then.”
“Not yet. There’s one thing I want to do before we meet up with the others. I know it’s a couple weeks early, but since we’re both in town…”
“Oh.” Isabel’s face turned serious. “Yeah. Might be our last chance, after all. Mind if we get flowers on the way? I forgot the flowers last time and it didn’t feel right.”
Ryan nodded, and together they went to visit their parents’ grave.
Don’t forget to, if you haven’t yet, to pick up book 1, Weird Theology!