Flame and Shadow

By Joshua Carr All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Other

Chapter 69

Sera and I came close to Milo, still kneeling over the departed scorpion guy.

“Was he your friend?” I asked.

“Yeah. You’ll meet him someday.”

“Say, not to change the subject but…” Sera changed the subject. “What do you think the odds are that ol’ what’s-his-face left a page of the Book of Prophecy somewhere around here?”

“Hm…considering that he expected us to be dead, there’s a good chance he did.” Milo replied.

“Ah. Well, let’s go look for it!” I enthusiastically advised, and began cheerfully marching away.

“Say, Hal.” Milo’s voice froze me in mid step.

“Yeah?” I didn’t turn around.

“When were you going to tell us you were a part of Teklos?”

I knew that question was coming. In all of our journeying, I had hoped I would never run into anyone who would reveal my past. Seeing my father was the worst possible thing that could have happened. I hadn’t seen him in over five years, but absence certainly didn’t make the heart grow fonder. He hated me every bit as much as he ever did.

I wasn’t proud of growing up in Teklos. But it had been so long since I’d actually been a part, I didn’t think it would matter at all. But I should have told them. They trusted me. They trusted me to be who I said I was, but I didn’t tell them the whole truth.

I slowly turned around, my cheeks red with embarrassment.

“I’m really sorry. I should have told you right away, but…well, at first it seemed like it wasn’t necessary, since I was helping you escape from them. Then, I was afraid you wouldn’t let me help you if you thought I was with them. Then, I thought that-“

Milo held up his hand.

“I’ve always trusted you Hal.”

“I know. I’m so sorry I-“

“And I still do. I’ve seen your heart. I know you’re not betraying us or anything. I’m sure you’ll tell us everything that we really need to know.”

Wow, that was a relief!

“Thank you. I left Teklos more than five years ago. I don’t really have any connection with them anymore, except these.”

I gestured to my markings.

“Gotcha. I do have one question, though.” Sera said. “What’s with your dad? He doesn’t seem to like you at all, and when he’s not trying to use you, he’s trying to kill you.”

“Well, he told me I was an accident, and he blames me for my mother’s death, because she died giving birth to me. He wanted to use me to reveal the prophecy. That’s the only reason he kept me alive.”

“Charming. One last question. Should I call him Cape of Wrath, Captain Crappy Father, or Count Robula?”

“Um, actually his name is Abimilech Shomal Nouri.”

Sera paused for a second.

“OK. Cape of Wrath it is.”

The three of us headed through the battle-damaged chapel-like room onward to my father’s office.

“I hope the door isn’t locked.” I vocalized as we reached it. “Since we don’t have the lockpick anymore.”

Without hesitation, Milo kicked the door down with a mighty THIS-IS-SPARTA front kick.

“Never mind.”

We began to rifle through the room like thieves. It didn’t seem like we were making much progress though; none of us found anything of interest.

“Maybe there aren’t any more missing pages?” Sera conjectured. “We could have to look for something else.”

“No…No I know there’s one more. And I know it’s right here…somewhere.”

I closed my eyes, and tried to picture where he may have kept it. Let’s see…what did I know about my father? Hm…he didn’t like me. Um…he was obsessed with the ancient prophecy…he liked books… Hm…maybe…

I went over to his bookshelf, and began pulling each tome out one by one, inspecting the three ends with pages, and putting it back.

“What’re you doing?” Milo asked. “Got an idea?”

“Yeah…just a minute.”

Eventually, I hit paydirt. A huge atlas had the very edge of a now familiar old yellowed page sticking out of it. I carefully removed the piece of paper.

“This is it. This will lead us to the end of our journey.”

I immediately set it on the floor and prepared to use my markings on it. Before I could, Milo stopped me.

“Are you sure we want to do that? If anything that your father said is true, we could be messing with a power that we shouldn’t. Maybe we should just destroy it, and not do something we’ll regret.”

“Actually, the fact that my father said that we shouldn’t do it, means we should. He’s a liar, and he wants power for himself. I’m sure that he’s just afraid he’ll lose control of Teklos’ power if the prophecy is fulfilled. This is what you were born to do. Both of you. And we can’t stop now.”

Milo nodded.

“OK. Go ahead.”

In a moment, I was back in Mrs. Redenbacher’s home. I pulled myself out of bed. Again, I had one of those dreams; the kind that seemed so real, but when you wake up, you can’t remember the details. The vivid visions were beginning to affect me, but I was still unsure what they meant. I…needed to meet someone…somewhere. East maybe? Still trying to place it all together, I walked down the stairs into the kitchen.

“Good morning.” I greeted the elderly lady.

“Good morning, Miss Whiskers! Did you find the ball of yarn I left for you last night? I know how you love it!”

I walked up to where the woman was sitting at the table, pouring the contents of a box into her bowl. I removed the box of dishwasher detergent from her hand, and replaced it with the box of Raisin Bran. Then I grabbed an orange, and began peeling it for myself.

I had been living there for five years. Originally, I had only wanted to help the woman get back on her feet, but it was obvious she couldn’t care for herself, much less the 10 million animals in her house that she thought were all cats. So I became a sort of personal housekeeper, taking care of all the animals, and making sure Mrs. Redenbacher didn’t kill herself accidentally. I love animals, but somehow, I felt like I was meant for more.

I had been trained in combat for years back at Teklos’ headquarters, and I continued to practice whenever I had free time. I also practiced with my newly discovered force fields, until I knew all of their limits, strengths, and precision applications. Additionally, considering that the woman I was taking care of had 50s and 60s classic oldies paying 24/6, I had a number of very irritating songs permanently ingrained into my brain.

I say 24/6, because on Sundays, Mrs. Redenbacher played all Christian stuff. Music, preaching, teaching… that was my favorite day of the week. I learned so much about God. As I drew nearer to Him, I was finally able to forgive myself for my mother’s and sister’s deaths. I knew God had a purpose for me, I just had to figure out what it was. Maybe it had to do with these dreams I kept having. Well, whatever the case, this was the day I’d make my move.

I cleared my throat.

“Mrs. Redenbacher, I have a question.”

“OK. You can ask me anything!”

“Alright. I was wondering if it would be OK if I went away for a while.”

“Oh heavens no! As soon as you leave the house, you’ll get pregnant!”

For once, I was very pleased that she was blind so she couldn’t see me blushing heavily.

“Um…I wasn’t... um… It’s just… (sigh). I’ve been having these dreams, that there’s something I have to do. I need to go east of here, and I need to meet some people. I’ve actually been having them for a while now, but today, I need to go. I can’t let another day go by, because then, it might be too late.”

“You always were an impetuous little cat, weren’t you? OK! Go have your adventure! Just remember, you’ll always be welcome here!”

“Thank you, ma’am. I promise I’ll be back!”

“Oh, I’m sure you will, if you don’t get hit by a car or something. That’s what usually happens. It’s been nice knowing you, Miss Whiskers!”

So with that cheery goodbye, I left. That night, I met Milo and Sera, and the rest is history.

When I opened my eyes, I was not in my father’s office. In fact, I had no idea where I was. I was all alone in a featureless landscape. By my observations, It wasn’t always featureless though. It appeared that I was standing at ground zero of a nuclear holocost. Everything was reduced to ashes and rubble.

As far as I could see, everything was burning. There were mounds of ashes all around. Even the sky appeared to be on fire. A sickening feeling came over me as I realized what happened. Every living thing on the planet was gone, except for me. What happened? Did I do this?

“Hal! Hal! Wake up!”

I came to just to see Sera shaking me awake.

“You were really freaking out! Are you OK?”

“Yeah…I’m fine. I just saw… ah. It’s nothing.”

“Take a look at the image that appeared.” Milo held up the page. “See if you can make anything out of it.”

“Hm…it looks like a sweet potato…”

“Our next destination is a sweet potato farm!” Sera exclaimed. “I do like sweet potatoes.”

“I hate sweet potatoes.” Milo condemned the spud.

“Your brain’s a potato.”

“Shut up.”

The idea was thoroughly ridiculous, but I had to admit that the outline that appeared on the page did look like a sweet potato. Ah, I’d seen this somewhere before!

“Where’s that atlas?” I asked. “The one where I found this page. I know this shape.”

Milo reached over, and handed me the large book. I took it, and began flipping through the pages.

“I know I’ve seen this shape before…I think somewhere in the pacific…island…yes…no… maybe?”

After a few minutes, I found what I was looking for.

“Ah ha! Here it is! ‘La Patata de Diablo’. Um, the Devil’s potato.”

“I told you they suck.” Milo gloated.

“Guys, it’s the exact shape. We’ve got to go here!”

“Hm…It’s out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, over a thousand miles off the coast of Peru. Too bad we can’t fly.” Milo observed.

“Yeah. If only we had Phil’s phone number.” Rued Sera. “He might be able to fly us out there.”

“Yeah. We’ve gotta think of something. That’s our final destination. I can feel it.”

“We’ll figure something out. But first, let’s get back up to Tsalderek. They were still fighting Teklos when we left. I hope they’re alright.”

We took the elevator back up to the first floor, and found our way out of the room where Milo had fought Sagar. When we entered the hub area where the battle had taken place, everything was calm. The agents of Tsalderek were tending to their wounded and killed, but there was no sign of Teklos.

“Are they gone?” Milo asked someone.

“Yeah. Just when it looked like they were going to beat us, they started pulling out. I’m not sure what you guys did down there, but it worked. Thanks.”

“No problem. Have you seen Sagar?”

“I’m here.”

The man was sitting down behind us. He was scarred, and his chest was wrapped with bandages, but he was alive.

“How’re you doing?” Sera asked him.

“Been better.” He grimaced. “But, I’ve been a lot worse. Thank you, Milo.”

Milo nodded. “I hope you’ll think about what I told you. I know you know the truth. You just need to decide if you’re going to accept it or not.”

“Right. I think I’ll have a lot of time on my hands to think for a while here.” He patted his chest lightly. “I feel like an English muffin. Just don’t go smearing me with butter.”

Just then, I heard a noise. I looked off to the left. I heard it again, and saw a bandaged hand beckoning around the corner. I quickly got Milo and Sera’s attention, and we went to investigate. As I had suspected, it was Rachael.

“What’re you doing here?” Milo whispered. “Teklos left, didn’t they?”

“Yeah, but…I stayed. I wanted to say…thank you for sparing my life. I’m done with them. I saw something there…that I’m not sure I liked.”

“OK. Good for you. I hope you know I’m not mad at you for anything, and I really am sorry for getting you kicked out. I thought you were a spy. I didn’t know people could be born in Tsalderek with those powers.”

“It’s OK. I’m…not good at stuff like this, but…uh yeah. I’m just not. I’m better at fighting.”

Milo smiled.

“That makes two of us.”

“Anyway. I know where Teklos hid the aircraft they used to get here. They lost so many soldiers, I doubt they were able to fly all of them back. I have a feeling that you need one.”

“Sure. You’re a lifesaver Windy.” Sera expressed her gratitude.

Windy?”

“Yeah, you know, because of your wind and stuff?”

“You’re...pretty special aren’t you.”

“Hey! Thanks.”

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