We would have liked to be solving the mysteries of the universe, or at least the mysteries of our universe. In particular, we would have liked to be focusing on the recently acquired knowledge that, in addition to having a crazy younger sister, our missing mother had an identical twin named Queen. In super-particular, we would have liked to be focusing on the fact that Queen and her husband, Joe Ocho, had some offspring, number unspecified, that we had strong reason to believe were those ominous beings known as the Other Eights.
But we couldn’t do any of that, could we?
We couldn’t do any of that because (1) we were asleep, it being that time period ridiculously referred to as "the middle of the night"—ridiculous because dead in the middle of the period most people are asleep, night formally becomes morning; (2) we had something more immediate that was weighing on at least seven of our minds, even if those minds were currently slumbering; and (3) just as the clock turned over to 12:01 a.m. on July 1, seven of us were rudely awakened by the sound of "Hup one! Hup two!" shouted from below.
We tried to ignore it. We really did. Some of us needed our beauty rest, some of us needed that nighttime respite from the active duty of daily life to re-group for the next day, and one of us was still recovering from having a monthlong nervous breakdown over getting her power. But try as we might to ignore the shouts of "Hup one!" and "Hup two!"—not to mention all sorts of annoying pounding noises—after fifteen minutes we realized we’d never get back to sleep under these conditions, so we went to investigate.
We found Rebecca hanging by her arms from the chandelier.
Rebecca had on workout sweats, even though it was the dead of summer and the dead of night, and a sweatband around her head. As we watched, she used her arms to pull her body upward.
"What are you doing?" Annie demanded.
"And here you think you’re so smart," Rebecca said, chinning herself again over the edge of the chandelier. "What does it look like I’m doing? I’m doing pull-ups."
"But it’s the middle of the night," Georgia objected.
"Technically," Marcia corrected, "even though it won’t be light for another five or six hours, it’s morning."
Six of us stared at Marcia. We respected that she was the most observant among us, but she could be so annoyingly precise at times and we were cranky from being woken up.
"Sorry." Marcia blushed. "Sometimes I just can’t help myself."
"Middle of the night, beginning of the morning—who cares?" Rebecca said. Then she dropped to the ground and began doing pushups. "Hup one! Hup two!" We were shocked to see that Rebecca could push herself up so hard that she was able to clap her hands together neatly before beginning the next pushup.
Jackie was the fastest of us, in terms of sheer physical speed, but we were quite certain even she couldn’t do this pushup thing the way Rebecca was now doing it.
"I could see that you were doing pull-ups on the chandelier when we first came in," Jackie said in a reasonable tone of voice, "and I can see that now you are doing hand-clap pushups. Oops! You just switched to jackknife sit-ups—that was fast! But what I don’t think any of us understands is . . . why?"
"Hup one! Hup two!" Rebecca rose from the floor and began sprinting around the room, talking as she sprinted. We must say, our heads got a little dizzy trying to keep track of her progress. In particular, Petal grew very dizzy, as did our eight cats—Anthrax, Dandruff, Greatorex, Jaguar, Minx, Precious, Rambunctious, and Zither—who’d just entered the room, no doubt awakened by all the clatter and clamor Rebecca was creating. Well, Rambunctious didn’t remain dizzy for long because soon Rambunctious was sprinting along with her mistress.
"What I’m doing," Rebecca said, "which should be obvious, is getting myself in shape. You know—preparing my body to receive my power."
"You’re doing . . . what?" Annie demanded.
"Getting in shape, preparing my body," Rebecca said. "Did you not hear me the first time?"
"We heard you," Georgia said. "But you’re not making any sense. This is the middle of the night." Immediately after speaking the words, she raised her hand in Marcia’s direction in a stopping gesture. Georgia was right to do that, for Marcia’s mouth was already open to speak. "This is the very dark beginning of the morning and none of us sees any reason why you should be doing this right now."
"None of you sees." Rebecca sneered as she sprinted. "Of course none of you sees. But that’s because none of you was ready to receive her power. Annie didn’t even know she had hers until Georgia pointed it out. Durinda had to be shown a pro-and-con list for hers. Georgia didn’t figure out for the longest time what use hers was. Marcia’s gave her headaches. And Petal." Rebecca added a snort to go with the sneer and the sprint. "We all know how that turned out."
"You didn’t mention Jackie," Zinnia pointed out.
"No, I didn’t," Rebecca said. And then Rebecca gave Jackie a look of grudging admiration. "That’s because you’re different somehow. Your power of speed just came on you and you slid right into it as though you were born to it." Rebecca paused, then shrugged off whatever admiration she might have been feeling for another being. "Still, fitting a power like a glove is nothing like what it’ll be for me. Because I will be totally prepared, ready to embrace whatever may come."
"Oh, bother." Georgia rolled her eyes.
We couldn’t blame her. What Rebecca was saying was very eye-roll-worthy. Why did she have to be so melodramatic about this? In her own way, she was even worse than Petal about this stuff!
Rebecca finally stopped running.
"I think I need a high-protein snack," Rebecca said. "Durinda, make one for me, won’t you? There’s my good girl."
"I’m not your good girl," Durinda said, clearly highly offended, which proves it never pays to talk down to the household cook. "It’s the middle of the night." Durinda shot a look at open-mouthed Marcia. "It’s the beginning of the morning. My kitchen is closed."
"Fine." Rebecca shrugged. "I can make something myself."
Rebecca marched into the kitchen, Rambunctious by her side, and we followed behind. We may have been exhausted and exasperated, but we were curious as to what Rebecca would consider a high-protein snack.
Once in the kitchen, Rebecca opened the refrigerator.
"You’re not Durinda," Carl the talking refrigerator immediately objected, although he did sound groggy.
"No, I’m not, Carl," Rebecca said, removing a carton of eggs. "I’m prettier and smarter."
"I don’t know if I’d say all that," Carl said. "I only have eyes for robot Betty. But you are ruder. Durinda would never wake me in the middle of the night like this." Immediately, Carl added, "Sorry, Marcia, I mean the beginning of the morning."
Marcia closed her mouth as Rebecca closed the refrigerator door and Carl fell silent.