Flame and Shadow

By Joshua Carr All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Other

Chapter 51

“So, now you’ve gotta tell me something.” Devon continued. “What brings you three here? I’m sure it wasn’t the allure of my little repair shop. You seem like you’re up to something…exciting.”

Sera began to speak, but Milo stomped on her foot. Hopping up and down in pain, Sera yowled angrily.

“I wasn’t going to tell him anything! I was just wondering about what he meant by his repair shop.”

Devon chuckled.

“Let me guess, brother and sister?”

I nodded.

“Well, in answer to the question you would have asked; yes. This is my repair shop. I know I’m young, but I started it up around four years ago after a certain incident in Calmingo. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve kept it up and running. With some help of course.”

He looked at the three of us for a few moments, then made an offer.

“Hey, you guys don’t seem like you have a place to stay. Would you like to come back to my house for tonight? It’s late, and I’m sure you’re all exhausted from the day’s adventures.”

I immediately started to nod. Right now, there’s nothing in the world that sounds better than a nice bed to lay my head. I felt like I got in a fight with Sylvester Stallone, and lost. Milo, however, was as stubborn as ever.

“Thanks for the offer, but I don’t know if we can trust you. There are…a lot of people that want us dead right now.”

“I can certainly relate to that.” Devon inserted.

“Even if you’re not one of them, I don’t want to get you involved.” Milo resumed.

“Plus, we’ve got a page from a three-thousand-year old Book of Prophecy that we need to reveal, and that’s…you know…oops.” Sera realized her mistake as she saw the would-be host’s bright blue eyes light up.

“Ancient prophecies, adventure, on the run from evil organizations? OK. I’m afraid now I have to insist that you stay with me. I want to know all about it, and I have a lot I’d like to tell you about too…”

A short time later, we found ourselves walking through the night and exiting the town limits. Devon had bid the last couple of employees working the third shift goodnight, and was presumably leading us to his home. I guess AEGIS Car Care was open 24 hours or something. Whatever the case, for someone who said they had a lot to tell us about, the trip through the darkness was surprisingly silent. Maybe he wanted to wait until we got back to his house.

After the brief peaceful walk, we reached a simple one-story house, with the only illumination coming from a porch light.

“I usually work first shift, and my family’s waiting for me to come home. Tonight, though, there was a guy who needed some repairs, and he could only do it after nine. So I simply worked late today. I believe that God had a hand in that appointment, so I could meet you guys.”

I looked at Milo, afraid that he would scoff at the mention of divine intervention. He had a cantankerous expression on his face, but managed to remain silent.

“I’d love to introduce you to my family, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I’m sure you’d like the chance to get some sleep anyway. I’ll just set you up in the guest room or on the couch, and we’ll talk in the morning.”

There wasn’t a single objection to this plan. It had been an exceptionally long day. We were escorted inside the house. Milo lay down on the couch in the living room, and Devon led Sera and me into the guest room. I was too exhausted to even observe a single detail of the house, and was asleep within seconds of hitting the pillow.

Before I knew it, I was coaxed into the land of the waking by a warm beam of sunlight washing my face. As I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I noticed Sera’s arm lying peacefully across my stomach. I couldn’t help but smile. What an interesting person. The girl was still dead asleep, so I didn’t stir to avoid waking her up. What a journey it had been so far, and we were just getting started. What did the future hold for us? Did we have a chance of fulfilling the prophecy, and if we did, what did it actually mean?

Eventually, the house began to smell like an old-school American diner, with aromas of coffee, pancakes, and…could it be… bacon?

At the wafting scent of the specially selected pig meat, Sera snapped awake.

“Do I smell...bacon?”

The girl hopped out of bed, and hustled into the kitchen. I found myself lying alone. Drat. My brain felt like it was being crushed by some kind of clamp. It was probably a result of the damage done to my force field the day before. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I guess it was time to get up now.

Against the odds, I pulled myself out of the bed and to the carpeted floor. My feet trudged into the kitchen, where I found Milo and Sera, as well as our host, Devon, and a young woman I didn’t recognize. She was calmly flipping the last of a batch of pancakes, before bringing over a plate stacked high with the golden disks of love. After setting the platter down on the table, Devon put his arm around her shoulder.

“Guys, I’d like you to meet my wife, Meda.”

“Good morning, Meda! Thanks for the pancakes!” Sera greeted.

Milo nodded politely. I smiled and gave a small wave of my hand. The lady had olive-colored skin and dark hair. Her vibrant purple eyes were breathtakingly beautiful, and had a kind and expressive appearance to them. She looked serene and happy, like she had found her place in the world. I couldn’t help but feel good for her. I had no idea what kind of life she had lived, but she had the look on her face of one who had been through a lot, before finally making it back home. When she laughed, I was able to see that she had large, fang-like canine teeth. That’s a bit surprising, because she seemed so sweet, not at all fearsome.

“I want to hear all about your adventures,” Devon began. “But first, let’s eat. Meda makes the best pancakes on the planet, and, well, you know…bacon.”

Sera needed no further encouragement. She piled her plate with uncountable pancakes and slices of bacon, before drenching the entire thing with maple syrup. Milo followed with a much more conservative approach…at the beginning anyway. But by the time he went back for seconds and thirds (especially of the bacon), he had eaten as much as his sister. Devon and Meda also did sizeable damage to the breakfast food, until the only one who hadn’t eaten anything was me.

“Are you OK?” Devon asked me, concern on his face. “Is something bothering you?”

I hesitated. In reality, there was a lot bothering me. My head was so full of thoughts and worries, that I didn’t feel like I could put anything in my stomach. I could think of no way to express this without sounding like an idiot, so I just shook my head.

“I’m alright.”

“OK…but if you ever want someone to talk to, you can talk to us.”

I looked down, a little embarrassed.

After we had eaten, Devon began telling his story by asking a question.

“What have you heard about what happened in the Azure city four years ago?”

Milo responded first.

“It was a terrorist attack.”

As Devon nodded his head, Sera adder her knowledge.

“Everyone said it was a terrorist attack, but there were rumors floating around Nahalore that it was something else.”

“What kind of something else?” Devon pressed.

“Well, I heard that there was some kind of monster that attacked the city, and a hero stopped it, but that’s probably all ridiculous.”

“Actually, that’s a lot more true than you might think. In fact, you know that monster and hero? Well, they’re both right here having pancakes with you as we speak.”

“Riiight.” Milo stated dubiously.

Devon laughed.

“I know, hard to believe, but Meda wasn’t always as you see her today. But don’t take my word for it.”

Meda finally spoke up.

“It’s true. I was designed to be a killing machine. I used to be able to deploy blades out of my wrists, I was covered in bullet-proof tattoos, and I was a mindless bloodthirsty monster.”

“What?” Sera exclaimed. “You?”

The purple-eyed girl nodded.

“Yep. I was designed to be a killing machine, and that’s how I would have lived and died, if I hadn’t met Devon, and met Jesus.”

“Her tattoos disappeared after the incident in the city, but she still sets off metal detectors, and her blood can still eat through pretty much anything.

“Except for me, actually. When her bodily fluids touch me, it doesn’t hurt at all. Actually, it kinda…kinda feels like…(addictive?)...ahem, well, I won’t go there, but yeah. Everything you heard about the attack on Calmingo was a fabrication to cover up what actually happened. There were stronger forces at play than they want you to know about.

She’s also extremely ticklish.”

Meda blushed red.

“Devon! That’s not something you just…”

He laughed, and, in a moment, she laughed too. I could tell that they really loved each other. The way they interacted, and the fact that he slipped his hand into hers every time she wasn’t doing something made it obvious.

Devon paused for a moment to look at our faces. I couldn’t really tell if Sera or Milo were still skeptical, but I believed it. It’s possible that I was just a sucker, but I could somehow tell that it was all true. The two normal-looking people before us had lived through adventures we could only dream of.

“Oh, yeah. There’s one more thing I wanted to show you.” Devon said, right before he was interrupted.

“Daddy!”

Sera, Milo and I turned our heads toward the source of the high-pitched squeal. In a moment, a cute little girl with eyes every bit as bright purple as her mothers’, leapt up into her parents’ laps.

“Good morning, Mommy and Daddy!”

“Good morning squirt!” Devon responded.

“Morning, baby.” Meda greeted. “Did you sleep OK?”

The girl nodded, then clutched tightly to her mother and looked over her shoulder at us.

“Mommy, who are those weirdoes?”

Meda attempted to suppress a giggle, and put her finger to her child’s lips.

“Oh, these are our new friends! They’re staying with us for a little while.”

The child pointed a little finger at me.

“Did that one draw all over her face?”

I blushed, and looked away. I wasn’t mad, but just the acknowledgement of my markings, especially by a young and innocent child, made me feel incredibly self-conscious.

“Ah, I’m sorry, Hal!” Devon apologized, then, to his child: “Squirt, it’s not nice to make fun of people or point at them…”

“Huh? I like the drawings! They’re pretty!”

Leave it to a child to speak their mind. I had never heard anyone compliment my markings before, but this kid just said purely what she believed, so I knew she wasn’t making it up to make me feel better. I colored again.

“Um…Thank you. What’s your name?” I asked.

“I’m Arihi.” The girl stated confidently.

“Yep.” Devon agreed. “Arihi Amy Persich. She’s named after Meda’s mother and grandmother. Well, her genetic template and her genetic template’s mother, to be more accurate.”

“Wow! How old are you?” Sera asked.

The tiny girl held up four fingers.

Meda laughed, and gave Arihi a big squeeze. “She’s almost four. She’s the joy of our lives, made of the love between us.”

“We didn’t think she was going to survive.” Devon expounded. “You see, in the course of our adventures, Meda was dosed with a huge amount of radiation while pregnant with Arihi. It was supposed to kill the baby, but it failed.”

“We think that it must have damaged my eggs, though, because we haven’t been able to have any more children since then.” Meda sounded a little said, but then she brightened. “But we’ve got her, our little miracle baby. And that’s enough for me.”

“Me too.” Devon agreed. “You just watch. I’m sure God has big plans for this little girl.”

“So, is your daughter normal in every way?” Milo asked.

Devon and Meda exchanged a quick glance with each other. “Um…yeah. Perfectly normal. We couldn’t have asked for a better kid.”

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