Flame and Shadow

By Joshua Carr All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Other

Chapter 59

Several hours later, we emerged from the rainforest. Miraculously, we had encountered little to no difficulty in our path. We came out quite some distance away from the small airport where we had begun, but it didn’t take too long for us to find our way back.

When we arrived at the airport, Phil had thankfully not left yet. We still had 10 hours before Milo had instructed him to give up on us. After speaking with Phil and explaining our next destination, he agreed to fly us in the direction of Nahalore’s headquarters in Ontario. We wasted no time at getting into the air. It was going to be a long trip.

The flight was fairly uneventful, which was a good thing. I wondered how Phil was such a good pilot. He seemed to fly with a confidence and effortless strategy that made the entire journey seem really easy. By the time we were entering the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it was already dark.

“Whaddaya guys think? Wanna head across the border tonight, or head over in the morning?” Phil called back to us.

“Well…it would be easier to get across during the night…” Milo began. “But…Nahalore is quite a distance away from any airports or towns where we could stay. Resting for the night in the middle of territory we know is crawling with people that want to kill us is probably not a good idea.”

“OK…anyone else?” Phil asked.

“What do you think, Sera?” I turned to my friend.

“It doesn’t matter to me.” Replied Sera gravely.

Ah. She must be worried about going back to Nahalore. Well, I couldn’t really blame her. The reception would likely be less that hospitable.

“Final answer, y’all?”

Milo hesitated for a second, before making the decision.

“Let’s stay in the U.S. for tonight. We can head over first thing in the morning.”

“Rodger that! I’ll put her down at the next airport!”

We touched down at the small Ford Airport in Kingsford Michigan. From there, we got a motel room nearby. All four of us crammed inside. Phil ordered a couple of pizzas delivered to our room, but even that wasn’t enough to cheer up Sera. She seemed very worried about something. When I asked her what was the matter, she tried to brush it off; smiling and saying she just had kind of a bad feeling about it. I didn’t want to press the matter. Shortly afterward, we all got some sleep. The next day was going to be very eventful.

We didn’t have many preparations to make the following morning. In fact, all we had to do was check out of the motel and head over to the airport. My stomach was in knots. Milo and Hal didn’t seem to be very concerned, which was good. I was the one with a past there, and I would have to face the people I’d spent the last 12 years of my life with.

What could I possibly say to Josie, and Mahsa, and Doshi, and Todd, and Bishop Sherman? For all they knew, I had just up and left, neglecting any responsibilities, friendships, and trust that I used to have. I attempted to think of what I could do, but was still coming up blank. The prophecy directed us to go there. Three times it had held true, and I trusted it again. I just wished we didn’t have to go to Nahalore. It was very likely that this excursion would end in violence, which was something I was not looking forward to.

I remained silent as we returned to the airport, and got the plane ready for takeoff. Surprisingly, no mention at all was made of the fact that we would we crossing the Canadian border without authorization. I guess since we were flying over Lake Superior, Phil didn’t worry about it.

A short time later, we were leaving the ground. The fact that we were flying over a large body of water once again certainly didn’t help my nerves. If anyone even mentioned a Captain America-style landing, I’d set their eyebrows on fire.

Within a couple of hours, we had entered Canadian airspace. My eyes were clamped shut, so I wasn’t sure exactly where we were going, but eventually it became obvious that we were descending. Hesitantly, I opened my eyes. Sure enough, we were no longer over water. I didn’t know exactly where we were, but Nahalore’s underground city must not have been too far for Phil to land us here. There was a fairly small town up ahead, and I was honestly surprised that it even had a landing strip for us.

Even though I had spent years in Nahalore, I knew very little about the surrounding country. We were discouraged from ever leaving the confines of the headquarters. Phil made a very skillful landing in the small airport, and we slowed to a halt. Upon climbing out of the aircraft, Milo discussed a plan with our pilot. Essentially, we had about five miles north to go before reaching our destination. Milo decided that it would be best if we proceeded on foot alone, to which Phil agreed. Unlike last time, Phil would not be waiting for us. We were too close to Nahalore for him to remain safely, and things would either go really good, or really really bad, but either way, we would likely no longer need his services.

I was still quite preoccupied, but mumbled a thank you with Milo and Hal as we bid farewell. From there, we had nothing to delay us from departing on our walk to Nahalore. I was silent on the trip, and my companions didn’t have much more to talk about. The closer we got to our journey’s end, the more pessimistic I felt. The Nephilim- it still seemed weird that that’s what we were- weren’t known for being excessively forgiving. For us to waltz in there and ask to investigate something about the prophecy would probably not go over well. We’d have to fight, and I wasn’t convinced that we’d be able to win.

When we neared the underground city, Milo began leading us toward the entrance to the ramp. That was the only way that any vehicle or foot traveler could get inside. Before we entered, I stopped him.

“Hold on. I have an idea.”

I changed our trajectory, and we walked around to the other side. What I had in mind would catch them completely off-guard. The three of us approached the mobile trees that obscured the secret entrance for aircraft such as our helicopters. After entering the initial passage, the channel dropped off in a vertical descent into the earth. Milo and Hal expressed their amazement at this opening, but I kept my mind focused on the problem at hand.

“Milo, can you use your grappling hook thingy to get us down this passage?”

He nodded.

“I should.”

With that he fired the hook at the ground near our feet, and used it to lower himself off into the concrete vertical tunnel. He then rappelled his way down, and Hal and I followed suit. After about a minute, we touched bottom within the aircraft hangar. There appeared to be no one around; the coast was clear. After reaching the floor, he detached the fixed end from above us with a whipping motion in his arm. After the cord had retracted into his device, we proceeded to walk through the expansive white-walled room.

Just then, I thought I could feel someone watching us, and I turned around. My heart jumped when I saw who it was.

“Josie?” I whispered.

Then, my spirits sank as she walked toward us. The look in her eyes was one of lethal hatred, and borderline insanity.

“Josie…are you alright?”

With that, Milo and Hal turned around.

“You…” Josie growled threateningly. “You…demon!”

She then unleashed a wave of icicles that burst from the ground toward us.

“Look out!” I called, and melted myself a path through them.

Hal created a force field around Milo and herself, and the frozen spikes only tossed them up into the air a little.

“Josie, what are you doing?!” I called, but she didn’t acknowledge my question.

“You can die! You can just suffer and die! You…rrrrRRRAAAHH!”

With that, she blasted out another wave of deadly ground-based icicles. Milo used his grappling hook to pull himself toward the ceiling to dodge, and I melted through another piece of ice. Hal made a shield around herself. Snarling furiously, Josie gestured upward with her left hand, and a series of icicles rose from the ground around Hal. She then gestured downward, and more came in from the ceiling right on top of her. The girl was then trapped in a cage of ice.

Milo charged in to attack Josie.

“Stop!” I called out. “Let me try talking to her! Please! Just for a minute!”

My brother nodded, and veered away, allowing me to approach my friend.

“Josie! What’s gotten into you?! Why are you doing this?”

In response, she projected a diagonal barricade of ice skewers. Then, she launched them at me. I narrowly escaped being impaled, as the girl continued her extreme wailing.

“You…betrayed us! You…left me…alone!! You’re trying to destroy the prophecy! And every hope that humanity had!”

“No! I…I’d never do that!”

How could she think I would betray her like that! I tried my best to explain in my note…Wait…

“Didn’t you get my note?”

Her only reply was to continue attacking me violently. I began to get an even stronger sickening feeling in my stomach. She didn’t get the note. In fact, this was completely unlike the girl I knew. She’d never try to hurt anyone.

Doshi.

That guy…I had told him everything, and had entrusted him to take care of Josie. Suddenly, everything was beginning to make sense. Doshi…

But he…did he brainwash her? Make me the enemy, and turn her into a killing machine? What could I possibly hope to do when she viewed me as an evil destroyer of mankind?

She attacked with icicles again, and I narrowly dodged. As I was maneuvering around her, my eyes noticed something that made my heart seize in horror. Her sleeves were stained with blood. My little sister was abusing herself again! She must have been suffering from self-hatred and guilt ever since I left. What did Doshi say or do to her?

For some time, she attempted to kill me, and I was just barely able to evade the piercing spikes. There was no reasoning with her; no matter how I tried to plead, she never even reacted. After an extended conflict, a giant icicle came up from beneath my feet. I leapt backward to dodge the point, but the flat of the structure hit me and sent me tumbling backward.

At that, Milo could no longer stand idly by. Without a word, he sprinted toward the icy girl, preparing to attack. She didn’t see him until he was drawing very close. As she turned around to release cryogenic energy in the form of her deadly icicles, he leapt high in the air to strike. It was unclear which of them would get hurt worse, or killed. No matter what the outcome, it couldn’t be good. I had to stop this, now.

In an instant, I was on my feet, and diving forward toward them. With a powerful shove, I pushed my brother off his path. This prevented him from striking Josie, and from getting impaled on the frozen spears.

Unfortunately, it placed me right in their trajectory.

Stabbing pain jolted through my body as a number of the icicles pierced my back. I could only gasp weakly as they tore through my skin. Then, I fell to my knees, and collapsed to the ground. The entire battlefield froze. From where I lay, my eyes half-closed, I could see the faces of the two whom I was trying to save. Milo stared in horror at my fall, and even Josie seemed struck with disbelief and shock at what she had just done.

Being the first to recover, Milo grabbed Josie by the shoulder, flipped her around to face him, and electrocuted her with the stun gun gadget on his Survivortex. She convulsed with the shock, before dropping to the ground. My twin then rushed over and kneeled by my side.

“Sera! Sera, talk to me! Are you alright!?”

I cracked my eyes open a little more, and whispered.:

“Yeah…they got me, but I melted them before they could cause any real damage. Don’t let her know that yet.”

He looked very surprised, but then he nodded.

By this time, Josie was sitting up on the floor, and shook her head as if to toss out sand that had accumulated in her brain. Then, she looked over at where Milo was kneeling over me.

“What…did I do?” the girl seemed traumatized. “D-did I…kill her?”

Milo moved aside so she could see my condition.

“Look for yourself.”

Her eyes suddenly flooded with tears.

“Sera! I’m sorry! I never meant to hurt you! I…never meant…”

Her crying escalated to massive sobs.

“Everything is my fault! I made you run away! You’d never do something like that! You’re perfect! It was always me…and now I’ve…I’ve…”

The girl removed a knife that she had in her pocket, pulled back her left sleeve, and prepared to inflict more self-punishment. Just before she could begin the act, I caught her by the wrist that held the weapon. My eyes glanced down at her arm. There were uncountable linear scars across her pale, innocent skin. Then I looked directly into her face.

“S-Sera? You…” Josie stammered.

“Shhh....” I shushed her, before tossing aside the knife and holding her head in my arms. “It’s OK. I know….it’s gonna be OK.”

My little sister bawled into my shoulder, pouring out all the disappointment, rage, and sorrow she had felt.

“I’m so sorry!! I’m just *choke* so sorry!!”

As I rocked her gently, Hal walked over and stood beside Milo. After he had shocked Josie, her concentration had been broken, and Hal’s prison had vanished. Neither Hal nor my brother said a word as I comforted the young girl.

“They- they told me that you…were a traitor…and that you wanted to destroy Nahalore and the prophecy…”

“No…that isn’t me. All I ever wanted was to find the truth. I don’t want to destroy anyone. Please believe me…”

The girl sniffed.

“If you say it’s true, then I believe you. I know…you wouldn’t lie to me.”

“Never.” I shook my head.

Then, I reached down and gingerly touched her scars. I didn’t want to think about what sort of mental or physical abuse she had gone through to brainwash her like this. But everything would be OK now. She was going to be OK.

After a couple of minutes, I released her and began standing up.

“Well, we’ve got a job we need to do. We need to figure out why the prophecy sent us here, and, judging by what they had you do, I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.”

“It’ll probably be another page.” Speculated Hal. “We’ve found three so far, oh, but I ripped one of them out of the book itself.”

I nodded. “Yeah, maybe. But, either way, we’re probably in for a rough time.”

Josie rubbed tears out of her eyes, and stood to her feet. “I want to come with you.”

I was not excited about putting her in harm’s way again, but she insisted.

“If there’s gonna be a fight, I want to be on your side. Um, if you forgive me, that is….”

I sighed. I wonder if this is how I seem to other people. Man, I’m an annoying tenacious punk!

“Of course I forgive you. Alright, you can come. This isn’t going to be easy, so please be careful, OK?”

“OK! I can handle myself!”

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