Then there is the fact that I don’t happen to be interfering with anything. I am an unwilling audience to it all and worse still, I am being yanked around to see it with more clarity then I should. Part of it makes me angry and part of it makes me sad. Sitting here on my porch doesn’t make anything happen, but when things are out of your control, why make things worse? At the time I thought that things worked out better if I let them, and at times I was right. I didn’t know where Jake was anyway, and rather than worry about it pacing around the house, I think it’s just better to sit and watch people and traffic. What little of both there happens to be it does calm me down and always seemed to. I’m in the zone, so I imagined that something needed to come along and interfere with it at any moment.
Now I had walked into an empty house, nothing out of place. The doorway that Darius had thrown Lou through was back to the way it was before the incident. Now of course this really did interfere with my timeline, since I had assumed that it was the next day. Fortunately my little slice of America still has an operator when you hit the zero on your phone who will cheerfully tell you the date and time, and my watch was correct and so was my assumption that this was day three since I had met Lou. It all came down to before and after Lou these days, and no I wasn’t actually obsessing over him I was just realistic of when this time in my life started. I wondered where he was in this time too, because if that screwy angel of his wanted to kill me I was sitting out here on a porch with nobody in sight. He obviously didn’t want to kill me.
I had changed my jeans and thrown on a new shirt, but made sure that the parchment was in my pocket. Nothing had been written on it for an hour or so and for some reason I don’t want Lou to see it, or know about it. I still wasn’t terribly sure that he didn’t know about it, or everything for that matter. He did seem rather genuine when he said that he didn’t know why I jump in and out of time the way I do, and that he can’t do it himself, but again he is the Devil so why do I believe I know anything about him. Two Thousand years of documentation on him don’t exactly paint a picture of honesty or readability, and on the rare occasion that someone has something nice to say about him, it tends to be a “lunatic” wearing face paint in a band that plays intolerable music. Not exactly the best of character references in all reality.
I was staring at the parchment wishing it would just write things and let me read them. Its comfort level is wearing off really quickly no matter how much I rubbed it, or stared at it. “Can you answer my questions?” I ended up saying to it as it sat in my hand. Part of me feels self conscious talking to a blank piece of trash, and the realistic side of me still reminds me that I am either insane or beyond need of ego these days anyway. It remained tragically blank as I looked at it. The questions of “Who are you?” or “What are you?” seriously had never crossed my mind at the time, but it wasn’t like it would answer me anyway. I had a good sign far off in the distance though as I saw someone walking this direction that looked very much like my son Jake. He was still too far away to see clearly, but I decided it was time for the parchment to go away and for me to stop the conversation with myself.
I almost missed it as I was staring to reach for my pocket, but the parchment started warming up in my hand and as I looked at it words again like an invisible pencil was scribbling them down started forming. The words spelled out in the quick script that the parchment itself uses, “If I have time, and I can answer your questions I will,” and as they faded away more words started scrawling in over them, “Who I am, is none of your business, and what I am is a piece of parchment,” as these words faded away more words filled in, “You should show me to Lucifer, it would drive him insane,” and I felt less in the know than I did before it started writing.
I waited for a minute and no words came. I looked down the street and it was Jake walking home carrying his baseball gear. He wasn’t quite in earshot yet, and the parchment was still blank, so I asked it “Why would it drive Lou insane?” half expecting a smart ass answer that didn’t help me any.
Surprisingly the parchment immediately started filling in again and the words stated plainly, “He can’t read me. He never could read me,” and the words disappeared to be replaced with, “I can write in languages only to be read by those I want to read me,” again they faded and “He thinks he understands everything,” was written there, and that was actually understandable to me. I think I have been at this too long already.
I hustled the parchment into my pocket hastily as I heard, “How come you’re not at work mom?” Jake asked me as he started crossing the lawn. It hit me like an arrow, and I can’t even remember if I had shown it in my face. He tossed his things on the porch and sat down next to me. “I went to the diner after the game and it was closed?” and that made me gulp, because apparently a lot more than walls in my kitchen had been repaired.
My mind went into a frantic overdrive, and I started stuttering before I cleared my throat. I had already checked and I hadn’t jumped back in time I had jumped forward. Last I knew the diner was destroyed and I was concerting myself to starving with the rest of the town’s unemployed. I was shocked in my own right to think that perhaps the Skillings plant was still there, but who knew and who cared? I simply lied, and God it was beginning to be too easy for me to lie to Jake now a days, “I closed early to go to your game, and then I wasn’t feeling too great so I came home,” and after his strange look I added, “I would have hated it if my mom was throwing up at one of my softball games,” and I think he bought it, even if he wasn’t the type of kid that could get embarrassed by his mom.
Heaven forbid that it was that easy for he asked immediately, “Well next time let the coach know, I was kind of worried about you, ok?” and his voice really did sound worried when he asked this. Last week I had stuck around and walked him home from the game. This has been a ritual that we had gone through for the last eight years since he first made the tee ball team. Nothing ever made Jake worry about me before so it made my heart sink at the time.
“I’m sorry Jake, I just didn’t think of that. I’m usually the parent you know?” and I gave him a weak smile because I was at a loss on the whole situation. Apparently with absolutely everything being back together around here I am now completely out of the loop for more than an entire day. This was far worse than being in the loop on all the horrors that have happened around this town, if you ask me. Now I have another thing to worry about with every one of these jumps that I know nothing about.
“Did you at least get to see Maria pitch? She did pretty good for being thrown out there at the last minute,” and I was already wondering the obvious but simply hoped Jake would finish it off without my having to ask. He didn’t but continued on another track, “I mean seriously, if you only give up two runs then the rest of the team should be able to carry you, but she was pretty cool about the two to one loss,” and the obvious question of why Ricky wasn’t pitching just loomed for a moment until I could find a place to insert it casually.
Well there’s no time like the present, “Yeah, she did great,” I lied since I saw none of this, but I had to formulate the perfect time to ask the question that came out next, “What happened to Ricky? I thought he was the next great thing?”
Jake looked at me appraisingly. I had the rather growing feeling that he had caught me in a lie. I couldn’t explain it at the time, and I am not going to explain it now, but I just had that feeling. He did answer my question though with, “He told me yesterday that he had to set his priorities right, that he was doing the wrong things in life and that he would regret it if he didn’t take care of the things he needed to take care of,” he licked his lips like he always does when he is about to say something uncomfortable, and I braced myself inside for whatever was coming, “He said he had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and that you were there to help him see the light, so I was hoping that you would tell me,” and now I was stuck telling stories about events that had probably changed around a lot since I had been involved in them. On second thought they must have since looking at it now, my scuffle with Ricky was actually during the game. Aside from this revelation I couldn’t remember talking to Ricky since the first game of the season last week when he walked home with Jake and me.
I could have seen anything happening at this point in my life. That’s pretty much how my life was going as I sat there on the porch trying to defend my actions to my son with no real knowledge of anything that has ever happened apparently. My son is involved in this whether he likes it or not, but I don’t even have a clue how he is, what he knows, what he’s been through. It takes everything I have not to start crying as all of this just collapses in on me from minute to minute. Actually it is far worse than that since it isn’t minute to minute. It’s days and days long in which I only have minutes and hours to deal with it. This is where the tears hold up in the back of my eyes. I’m not James Bond and this crap isn’t fun, and I would defy anyone to really go through these things instead of watching them in a movie and thinking it looks neat. As I was sitting there I only felt trapped.
Of course then there is what I remember, which doesn’t line up with what I am living too. I couldn’t see what he was up to when Mary, or should I say whom I thought was Mary was here, yesterday, and more over it gets confusing to remember which fragment of yesterday I am talking about. Jake didn’t seem too fussed over the way I was staring over his shoulder while I tried to separate the two scenes that don’t quite line up from last night. There was the Jake that came down the stairs and taunted Mary before I jumped back to the diner explosion. Then there was the Jake that was upstairs and either appeared confused or genuinely was confused and I thought he was playing me when I came back. Now there is this Jake that appears to know nothing about either and the diner hasn’t exploded, but I clearly remember all of it. Of course now that I am jaded the way I am I would be lying if I didn’t have a small part of me thinking that this wonderful young man I had raised and loved, could be playing me right now too. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility anymore.
My mind is a mess as I sit here but I knew better than to let the silence remain too much longer, “What’s on tap for the rest of your day buddy?” and I was proud of myself for thinking up something casual that could potentially get me some answers about his state of mind right now. He gave me quite a look and then started saddling by me on his way towards the door. All I could think was “Son of a Bitch, you must have promised to do something with him,” and followed along behind him. This was about as odd as it could get and I was just doomed to live it.
After he put his stuff down he looked at me and said, “Mom, I know you don’t really care about my dad, and I don’t really think that much of him either. That’s not your fault, but I we both should go to the memorial and look like we care, even though we both don’t,” and he then looked at me even worse when I gave a sigh of relief. God at the time there was nothing that was going as I would expect it, but thankfully I now had an answer that the Skillings plant must have still gone up, and my scumbag of an ex husband wasn’t going to be showing up anytime soon. I managed to get a more concerned look on my face and Jake appeared to chalk it up to my hormones as they swirled around having to go to the memorial for my ex husband that he correctly assumed I didn’t care much about. I hadn’t even had time to acknowledge that there was a memorial service in all of this so for all I know it had been scheduled for today all along.
I started thinking to myself after Jake left the room that this didn’t seem plausible, but then again maybe this happens to a lot of people, or even to many other people at this very time, as the Lucifer versus Darius battle was going on out there somewhere. There could be dozens, maybe even hundreds of people stuck in the middle of this, too terrified of their own insanity to tell others. Aside from going on and on about how psychiatrists throughout the world know this but are sworn not to tell? I figured that logically it’s a bit too difficult to explain, and I need to talk to Lou again whether I like it or not. I was going to have another panic attach soon if I didn’t get an opportunity to rest or at least some of my questions answered to put my mind at ease. There was a growing burning sensation in my pocket and I finally snapped my hand in there just to see what was wrong more than to grab the parchment that was causing it. I had almost forgotten it was there, or somehow had started assuming it was gone as everything else that had happened was. The words written on it spelled out three words, “It’s just you.”
Well that settled that then anyway. At least I didn’t have to talk to Lou about how many other people were involved in this. After all the insanity made it perfectly acceptable that a piece of old paper in my pocket was all knowing. I held the piece of parchment in my hand staring at it and simply attempted to think my next question to it and see if that gave me any results, since it appeared to read my mind. It’s a very smart piece of old paper said the sarcastic voice in the back of my head. I tried so hard actually that I could feel my eyes straining, and I think I was holding my breath until I started changing colors. My eyes actually felt dry and then the sarcastic voice in the back of my head got the best of me as I started laughing. Finally the words dissolved and new ones formed, “You look foolish, please don’t let your son see you like this,” and I burst out in laughter again.
“What’s so funny?” Jake yelled down the stairs at me, and I came back to earth quick enough.
My quick wit came back to me as I yelled down the hallway so that it would make it up the stairs to him, “I was thinking up what I should wear to your father’s memorial. Perhaps I should wear the clown costume I put on last Halloween?” and then I had to cover my mouth because now I was going to start laughing even worse.
I wasn’t prepared for what Jake yelled back to me, “Just wear a paper bag over your head like I am, then you don’t have to coordinate. Everyone will know it’s us anyway since the rest of the people there will actually miss their loved ones,” and I crossed my legs quickly as I might have peed myself knowing Jake was as quick as his mother and not as idiotically carnal like his deceased sperm donor.
The parchment warmed up in my hand again, and I quickly looked down at it, thinking I am going to miss what is written on it before it dissolves. Later I realized that it only changes after my eyes have read it each and every time, but I figure it doesn’t ruin the story to let you know that now, and forget about that moment of enlightenment later. “Those that resemble omnipotent cannot change or alter time,” and then the words dissolved giving me new ones scrawling in as fast as a normal person would write, ”they cannot move through it any differently than mortals do,” and as if it were reading my thoughts as they were coming it changed again, “If immortals were ultimately omnipotent,” the words dissolved, “then there would be nothing that forestalls their every whim,” it wiped itself clean and spelled out, “there may be things more powerful than them,” and once again a changing of words, “If they were truly omnipotent then they would know that,” patiently I watched as it changed for the last time, “It would also make it, not omnipotent in and of itself,” and the parchment faded to clean and then went cold in my hand. This also became my cue to know that it was done, and to put it away.
I actually understood what the parchment had told me, and I didn’t at the time think anything of it. This was only the third day of my evolution technically and I was already starting to understand the whole world and all of the things that aren’t really a part of it. Please make sure that you note I said “starting” because all I was doing now was understanding the language that is used to describe it. To explain it this was, I am a human and that makes me the highest level of known life on the food chain here on earth. Yes, I wouldn’t have been talking like this four days ago or more importantly four days before that, but I am explaining something here. Like most humans I assume that I am at the top of the food change in everything that matters to me, and then along comes “creatures” that simply disappear when they move so fast that my eyes can’t see them. To simply call them angels, or more appropriately the Devil and an angel he created puts it into a context that most humans understand and even more importantly almost all humans when you get right down to it would accept that they can walk among us. They are immortal, they are deities, and they are something we have talked about every Sunday that we accept some form of religion. They are basically what we were told they were, but I have bad news for all of you, they aren’t.
Now you have to go back to being a human being. There are probably a thousand things that will kill you, which we know of anyway. There are probably several hundred more that could kill you and you don’t exactly know this but you accept that it can happen. This is the world as you know it, and then there are things that you can’t change and that simply happen and you can’t do anything about them. There are things you can change and you need to either do it or shut up about it. There appears to be another level of all of this above us, and at that very moment all of that was forming in my head and I was fine with it. The problem was what Lou had tried to explain to me before and I just didn’t catch on to it. There is a limit and a set of rules to omnipotence, and they don’t make sense to me because they don’t concern me. What the parchment had just done was confirm that they still don’t concern me.
What unfortunately did concern me as I sat at the table was that I am the only one jumping in and out of time, I am the only one who is in on any of this, and the fact that I had a piece of parchment that seems to know more than everyone else involved who again are immortal and omnipotent. Come to think of it should I stop calling them omnipotent? That was something that was interfering with my ability to formulate my thoughts at the time so I figured I would throw it out there, but what really ruined my train of thought was my son scaring the crap out of me without even trying to. I jumped almost onto the floor when he casually said, “Is that what you are going to wear?”
I of course had to get back up on the chair with the help of Jake who, thank God, was simply concerned that I was too sick to go to the fun and festivities of a group memorial for forty or so people. I really did need to change and go to this with Jake if he really felt like he needed to be there. I would be a first class ass if I didn’t go considering almost every one of the people who dies were very frequent customers, daily actually. I stood up and kissed my son on the forehead, and did note that it wouldn’t be much longer that I would have to get on my tippy toes to do that. I walked past him thinking it was time for me to drag the old “Funerals and Special Occasions” dress out of the closet and make sure it isn’t too wrinkled. It hasn’t gotten much use considering I am always able to find excuses to avoid both.
I can tell you now in all honesty that as silly as it sounds I was praying that the parchment in my pocket would warm up on the way up the stairs and tell me that I can’t go. Yes “saved by the parchment” was very much what I was thinking and it was silly to say the least. The dress hung there in the closet, pretty much alone aside from a winter coat I had been patching for the last seven or eight years. Yeah I sit here now and assess how simple my life had been. All of my pants, shorts and jeans sit in a drawer next to all of my skits, and all of my sweaters, shirts and assorted other tops sit in a drawer above them. I haven’t had much time to be girlie raising my son and working. I’ll most likely be buried in this dress was easily what I was thinking when I pulled it out of the closet, because that was what I always thought when I pulled it out of the closet. I’d describe the process of getting into it, but that doesn’t really get us anywhere does it?
Jake looked so handsome in his suit that I got him last year for his eighth grade graduation. After I asked him how it still fit him he showed me how he had let the hem out where it had been taken up. I was extremely impressed that he learned to do that in home economics class. I was more impressed that he even paid attention in home economics class because none of the guys I went to school with did. He was getting so big that there was a chance someone from another town could think he was my date, but as it stood everyone in this town damn well knew that he was my son. Fortunately the memorial was being held in the high school gym because any other building that could do this sort of memorial was well outside of walking distance and in some other town for that matter. I was lucky that the school conglomerate put the high school in this town let me tell you.
I closed the door behind us as we sauntered out onto the porch so that we could start walking towards the school. An easy five minute walk as it was, I was still thinking more about the events that had unfolded to the point Jake had made it home from his game. All of a sudden the crazy pace that the last few days had taken on had slowed to practically stalling while at the same time being hectic enough since I didn’t know what had happened about four hours before the time I find myself in. Many of our neighbors were walking towards the high school to be there for the memorial too, many waved, most just looked down as they walked. Some cars passed by and friends of Jake’s mostly waved as the cars went past us and turned down the road into the large entrance to the school. Jake didn’t do too much waving as he was solemn, and I found it strange even if we were talking about a memorial to his father.
It was a beautiful day out. I would have really enjoyed this walk last weekend, considering that I wouldn’t have been going to a memorial for a dead lay about do nothing, cat man, and I wouldn’t have been assaulted by an angel of Satan several times. Hell I would have still been ignorant to all of these things, but then again last weekend it was still chilly out, and if I were to be honest I would have made this walk any old weekend and not noticed anything aside from the fact that I had someplace to go and something to do. It’s strange how all of a sudden I am noticing more than I had before. For all I knew it could be like the people who find out they have cancer and then they just don’t want to die. Everything to them becomes all that much more precious when all of that time before that they never seemed to have a care in the world for anything more than the hum drums they paid attention to. Now my world had color and that voice in the back of my head reminded me what I knew all too well a few hours ago, that it ends and Lord knows when. I guess I won’t do any speaking at the memorial with such joyous visions in my head.
It was eye opening to see the way the road was decorated for those that had dies in that explosion. It had made me sad at first, not for the lives that were lost but for the fact that I didn’t feel that way about the one life in that explosion that was related to me if only by the blood of my son. My foggy brain should have also had a healthy respect for the demon that had done this for several reasons, but most of all the fact that I had grappled with it several times and unlike the souls this memorial was dedicated to, I am here to respect them. Not one of them had a clue about what happened to them or why and now that I think of it, and for some reason I hadn’t at the time, neither did a single person at the memorial.
I finally recognized a voice as we were heading down the road to the high school, and it was about time. At this point it had felt like I was wandering around in my own head so much, it was a welcome change to have someone come along and give me something else to think about. The voice of Babe Petrie who sat in my diner almost every morning after she dropped her daughter off at school came from behind me, “Oh Stacy, you look so pretty in a dress,” and I turned around to look at her and give her a smile, and then bent in to give her an awkward hug. She looked rather pretty herself in her dress, but unlike myself everyone saw her in dresses. She was the local dressmaker after all.
I smiled and then said, “You made it so I would hope so,” and she had a bit of a blush on her face not even realizing it. Now how was that, I finally got to shock someone else, and that’s not a bad way to start a funeral or memorial or whatever this really was. “Were you related to anyone that was in the explosion?” I said a lot quieter since it wasn’t exactly celebratory speak. I knew her husband didn’t work at the factory since he owned the only grocery store in town, as small as it was.
She looked around to make sure nobody could overhear us, but most of the people flowing into the parking lot were too busy looking straight ahead so that they could get past this memorial. I assume a good size majority of all of them were just using this as one last good-bye to the town before they struck out for parts unknown and another life. “I’m here because everyone is here. Gary is just parking the car, and he’ll be along any minute now,” she said and then it hit me that she had said everyone in town would be here. I certainly felt like I was in the middle of a herd all of a sudden, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. She piped up, “Oh there’s Gary, and I’ll see you inside. We really should get a new dress on you if I don’t even remember making that one it is just too long Stacy,” and she kissed me on the cheek before she started clicking off on her high heels. I’m glad I am just too tall in Miss Manner’s book for heels so I never bothered.
I felt a tapping on my shoulder, which came from my son and in his hand, was my piece of parchment. I did everything I could to not act shocked that he was holding it and then said, “Can you read this?” innocently enough. I wasn’t sure what it said while it was in his hand and it was a combination of the strange script and the fact that it was upside down anyway. I assumed that it simply wasn’t allowing him to read it as it did for everyone other than me so far.
I held out my hand waiting for him to put the parchment back, and replied “It’s mom speak for ‘tell your nosey son to mind his business’ and that’s why you can’t read it,” but when I had it in my hand I couldn’t understand the script at all. It looked Middle Eastern like Arabic, and fortunately I remembered that it was Aramaic like Lou’s bible. I casually asked him, “What did it look like to you?” and waited while he thought about it for a moment, but all the while as we started walking back toward the gymnasium entrance.
Under his breath he said, and I can only imagine it was under his breath so that someone didn’t mishear what he was saying, “It looked like the scribble you see when a terrorist demands something on the news,” and then he looked around guiltily. That wonderful reaction we all have now a days when we talk about anything that appears Middle Eastern. It drives me up the wall but it has nothing to do with what I am talking about here so I’ll just drop it. I did nod at him to let him know that basically that was what I saw as well, and then I started my inner panic that the parchment stopped working for me, as we walked past a large State Trooper that obviously had come in to officiate over law enforcement in the area if I was to assume that Walter and Jacob were still dead, but how could they be if there was no chaos from the diner explosion?
A hand landed on my arm as I was walking by him and it startled me as he said, “Excuse me miss?” and my body went all cold as I recognized the voice immediately.
Without looking at Darius in his Halloween costume I turned to Jake and told him to head along inside against his protestations. As he saw that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer he finally started walking towards the door looking back a couple of times. Even as he was doing this I was really concerned with his behavior throughout this jump and now more than ever. I didn’t even look at Darius through this whole exchange, as my mind was cleansed of simple fear over something I can’t change in the least, which would be anything Darius does. Jake on the other hand was just acting odd as he was questioning his mother in the company of what looked like a State Trooper. When he finally walked inside the door and I was for the most part alone with Darius I turned and looked at Darius with venom.
There was confusion on Darius’ face. I had seen confusion on Darius’ face quite a bit, but as I looked at the confusion this time there was a strange newness to it. My mind couldn’t possibly work as fast as his but looking back on it his confusion was like an ally in my ability to keep my wits with his. I took a step closer to him and he backed up from me. “Who are you?” he said to me in a panic of sorts. Now that was something extremely strange. I honestly realized that he didn’t have a clue as to who I was and I seized upon that, as I took another step closer. He grabbed me harshly by the top of my dress, as his hand missed my throat and clutched onto it instead. His speed was stifled by his inability to outwit me in that very motion since I somehow had ascertained that he was going to grab me by the throat, since it was his favorite move when he is angry or confused. He definitely didn’t expect what I did next, and to be honest with you neither did I.
My thumbnail actually felt like it was popping a pimento out of a huge green olive. I say this because it was one of my favorite things to do with olives since I was a little girl, and my father had shown me how much fun it was to put certain foods like black olives on my fingers and eat them that way. Later on we had graduated to green olives and I used to pop the pimentos out and eat those while I did puppet shows with the olives on my fingers. After my father had died I was always putting olives on my fingers and eating them, as a way of remembering him. It sounds stupid as I am writing this now, but my mind went reeling through these things in a flash after I had shoved my thumb into Darius’ eye and curled it in until his eye had simply collapsed, and he was screaming in a panic that sounded far more agonizing than anything I had ever heard before.
He was still gripping me by my dress and the screaming was like an immortal that is very young experiencing pain for the first time and that pain was far more painful than anything you or I could experience. I was still thinking all of this before Darius could respond to any of it. Once I had realized what was happening to him I could feel my lips curling into a smile because no matter what happened to me from here I had caused him his first ever pain, and it was going to be worth it. I was hearing many people yelling around us as they must have thought that I, Stacy was assaulting an officer here in front of the school that my husband’s memorial was being held at, and although some of them were trying to figure out what I was doing, many more of them found it to be their civic duty to stop me from doing this. I was starting to see a scenario where this freak was finally going to get me in a lot of trouble by the opinions of others and my apparent insanity, just like he had tried so hard to do with the Mary scenarios before.
When I heard the doors to the gymnasium where several thousands of grieving people from all of the small surrounding communities were and the voices from in there start in on me ten feet back I knew the party of my perceived sanity was over. I also knew that I wasn’t going down for just one eye either as I started reaching towards his other eye, the blood was running down his hideous face from the one thumb and he still clutched me by my dress. My thumb was just about to reach the other eye when he let out a yell like someone going to kill. To my horror I was flying backwards with a perceivable feeling of wind all around me. My mind was taking snapshots of everything as I flew in slow motion. Well not slow motion but my mind was wrapping itself around everything as I careened into people that were standing in the doorway getting their two bits in about my actions towards the trooper. That will teach them since I could feel their bodies crumbling from the force of my body hitting them.
My body hit the floor and simply crumpled there. Why I wasn’t dead I don’t know because I could see one woman standing over one of the men I had bowled over, and his head had shattered like a watermelon on the floor from the force of being knocked over by me. One of my arms was definitely broken and the other one was in agony, but I could adjust my body with it. I couldn’t feel my legs at all. Jake was screaming and I could hear him trying to get around people but for the most part everyone in the gymnasium was moving away from me. Almost none of them went towards the door as they appeared to be afraid of what they had seen.
I veered out of the way from another couple of bodies that Darius had thrown inside of here, and then I could see his hulking frame walk inside the door, state police uniform covered in blood from his eye that was completely gone. It was probably wrapped around my finger, but that was the arm that was under me at the moment, so damned if I know. This officially scared me beyond anything I had seen so far and it wasn’t because Darius was going to kill me but because he had broken me beyond recognition. I wanted him to kill me and he stood in the doorway while everyone in the gymnasium stared at him. Some of the women and children in the place had started seeing the end of their life before anyone could recognize the horror of it all, and they started crying or wailing however hard it hit them. I couldn’t help but feel like Spider Man in the end of days, which made me have to make a smart ass remark through my pain,” I’ll be seeing you asshole.”
“How come you didn’t come to the game mom?” came to me and my eyes came into focus on the face of my son who was standing at the bottom of the stairs. I looked down at him from my daydream like state and had a feeling of déjà-vu that almost hurt as I looked at him. He walked up the stairs and looked at me, then put his hand on my forehead, “Oh God mom, you’re burning up? I think you got an infection in your hands when you hit the ground yesterday at the explosion,” and I let him look at my hands which looked fine to me, “You don’t have any other cuts do you? We learned about these infections in health class.”
I simply started with the lie I had used before, “I really wasn’t feeling very good so I came home and didn’t make it past here because the breeze made me feel better,” and then I saw the look of concern on his face. I was waiting for him to tell me how I should have told his coach or something along those lines, and he didn’t. He simply sat next to me and started telling me about the game like a normal fourteen year old boy would, after seeing that his mother did what his mother always did. She took care of herself.
“Well you missed a good one, mom. Maria dominated Glenn Fork, she almost had a perfect game but she hit a kid that Ricky said was her ex boyfriend from like fall,” and I made note of what he just said, but made sure there was no shock in my expression so I could calmly extract that information when he was done talking, “I got two hits, and scored a run. It was pretty good, but I promise to put on a better show next week.”
After the brief rundown I was able to ask the question I saved, “Ricky didn’t pitch?” and he gave me a very strange look.
He pointed out to me as if it were obvious, “Ricky doesn’t pitch mom. He can barely get the ball into the infield,” and then with a laugh he said, “You pick on him about his weak arm all the time. You even made a joke about how he must have been standing under the window he broke yesterday so don’t pick on him anymore,” and then he actually slapped his knee thinking that I was in the process of ridiculing his friend.
Of course last week I was watching him pitch and it wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either. I am assuming right now that this has since changed in the time line and to be honest with you I could give a crap at this point. The horrific image of being crushed under my own weight after being thrown through people just to watch Darius standing over me was still fresh in my head. I could care little about the Ricky drama anymore as this was happening, again. Last I knew I had tried to kill him and Lou had put the fear of the Devil in him and he was laying in a pile probably still crying on the side of the road since in my reality it was only a half hour ago, minus all the extra drama that was inserted since. Oh I could just start crying and then throw up.
I didn’t have much time to wallow in my muck and mire of my mental insecurities and trying to piece together anything because I was almost startled by a very familiar voice. To be honest with you familiarity in what I hear is not always my friend but this one was a lot better than the last one, “Hello Miss,” and it was basically the same tone as when Darius had said it to me in whatever time it was, “I’d like to know if I could have a word with you about your ex-husband, and his accident?” and I looked up to see Lou standing there in a state trooper’s uniform.
I couldn’t help laughing, but it created a very strange look on Lou’s face because for all I know he has no idea of what I just went through. Jake on the other hand heard the magic words or something close enough to equate his father and turned tail into the house. He was none too interested in anything to do with that man before this point last time, and apparently he is none too interested again. Back to normal and not a minute too soon. After I was sure that Jake was out of earshot, I said with a grin, “Kansas State Troopers and Sherriff’s Deputies aren’t allowed to have long hair, so you better tuck that pony tail up into your hat if you want your new disguise to work.”
Lou shook his head and then said, “There’s too much of it, and I’ve never been able to cut it off,” he grinned, “Usually I just confuse people into seeing me differently then what I am, but I am having trouble with that lately,” and he wasn’t exactly smiling after he said that but he appeared to be trying to grin. I can only imagine how much he hates it when things don’t work normally, but I am happy it doesn’t drive him to rage like his kid.
I looked over my shoulder to make sure that Jake wasn’t spying on us and then said, “Maybe there aren’t enough people around that you can confuse,” feeling very smart all of a sudden I added, “I mean you can’t confuse everyone, it doesn’t work on me, does it?” and I always feel clever when I say something along these lines, but heaven forbid I am not talking to a mere mortal after all.
He looked like he was considering something, but it did curl into a grin when he said, “I don’t know where you got that information from, but if I choose not to trick and confuse you it doesn’t mean that I can’t,” which he took in my smirk for a moment and then said “I shall snap my fingers, to give it a bit of a carnival effect if you would like?” and then he snapped his fingers while holding them up and to his side.
I spread my legs a bit and crossed my arms with every intention of giving him the “I caught you Mr. Man” look that all mothers do. Unfortunately it was interrupted by my gasp when my wrists brushed against fabric that I knew damn well wasn’t on me, or at least wasn’t when I put my blouse on. I ran my hands up my chest to feel a t-shirt on me instead of the button down blouse I had on when I got home and changed. Looking down I could see that words were written on it, and even upside down I could read “I hang out with the Devil and all he gave me was this stupid t-shirt!” and I glared back at him because it was a lot funnier than it should have been given the circumstances.
“You should see what it says on the back,” he then added very seriously, and I wasn’t amused anymore. He spotted this and then started explaining things to me, “The trick is to start unbuttoning it, and then your mind will take it back to what it is. It’s your way of not allowing me to dictate what you see, and if you refuse to see what I show you then I can’t force you to,” he looked over my shoulder towards the face that was peering through the window and then added in a much more conspiratorial voice, which alerted me to our spy, “I don’t want to give away my secrets, but I do want to give away the secrets of others,” and he continued to gaze at Jake, while I stared at him. I peered back realizing what he was looking at and the curtain instantly fell back.
I was slightly amused by what I had seen. Here my son is more afraid of me than the Devil dressed as a state trooper. Can you see the humor in all of this? Perhaps not, but I went back to my problem at hand, “Ok, what do you want?” I finally asked him, “I mean you obviously wanted to talk to me alone, all games aside, and I think you should ask me quickly before Jake can’t take it anymore and comes outside,” and then I peeked over my shoulder again to see the curtain drop.
“You changed time,” he said to me rather bluntly, “You took Ricky’s soul back from me by jumping back in time. I don’t know how you did it, and I don’t know how his mangled soul jumped back in time with you, but what you did made him change his path before he ruined his destiny,” he held up his hand before I could speak and finished up by saying, “I can’t jump in time, but for some reason you can, and then he looked over my shoulder, so I shot Jake another look. He’s not going to last much longer I knew. Lou continued, “ I don’t know why. Before I met you I thought I knew everything, and aside from the damage to my ego, you can change the outcome of your town,” he looked over my shoulder at Jake again who was still firmly in the window and leaned in, “I get pulled to where ever you are and I think Darius does too.”
I figured there was no time like the present to ask Lou a question, because I had an inkling that it was worse than he even thought, “Is this your second time starting at this time?” and there was a puzzled look on his face, so I continued, “I take it you didn’t come to this time and then after a few hours come back to this spot again?” and still he looked at me with confusion. After a quick look over my shoulder Jake dropped the curtain and I added, “At least you remember what is going on even if you missed the last jump. I think Darius forgets who I am every time I jump, and it has been an interesting ally of mine.”
Lou jumped in on what I was saying, “You haven’t actively been confronting Darius have you?” which was an odd question considering that he had encouraged it on one of my jumps. I think he saw it in my face and let me in that he remembered that, “Except yesterday morning after the diner blew up and your sheriff and deputy had met with an unexpected demise each,” and I smirked considering that it was only unexpected for the two of them.
This was when I actually remembered that the diner being gone was back and then said to Lou, “Yeah the last time I came to this time the diner still existed, and I was on the way to the memorial for the people that had died in the explosion at the Skillings plant,” and Lou was listening with a bit of a fascination like he knew nothing about it until I said the memorial, and then his expression changed, so I asked him, “What did I just miss?”
He looked over my shoulder and then showed his badge to the window. I assumed that it worked as well as my looking over there since he started talking to me, “There is no group memorial, I had made sure that I planted the idea in the town clerk that there just was no way there would be one because of fire codes,” he then took a moment to say, “I was worried that there could be another influx of souls should Darius get the idea to destroy the rest of the town with just one more explosion,” and then it dawned on him but he started speaking strangely to me in a different tone, “Ok ma’am I just had to follow up on the lead that your recently deceased sheriff had put into the record, but as I assumed it was just useless conjecture. You shouldn’t have any more news stories coming about this anymore, and I am sorry that it happened to begin with” he tipped his cap towards Jake and said, “Be good, or I’ll have to come by and talk to you some day,” before he walked off towards the car he had driven up in.
I turned around and saw Jake had walked out onto the porch, and I looked up at him a bit angry that he came out while I was having a conversation with someone that he should have thought was an officer. He could see this in my face and immediately said, “Mom, I just wanted you to know that Mary is on the phone,” and then he turned around and walked inside rather quickly as if he really didn’t want to be in the room when I had that conversation with her. Perhaps he didn’t want me to give him some patented mom-guilt for being so nosey. I wasn’t too thrilled to have to start another conversation with Mary since those haven’t been going so well lately.
I grabbed the phone off of the counter and said, “Hello?” very unceremoniously. I have been down this road enough already that I have no desire to play too many games here. For all I know this day probably doesn’t have much longer to it, and if this is another Darius trap I could be jumping out of time and into somewhere else again. There were quite a few hours between now and last night that are missing yet.
The voice on the other end of the phone was Mary’s pretty much, but I had been here before, as I have said enough I know, “Stacy, I wanted to see how you were doing since the explosion yesterday, but I couldn’t get a hold of you last night. How are you doing?” and that was at least a different slant on the whole conversation. I had no idea still who I was talking to and this is no way to go through life was it?
I took a deep breath and decided that I was going to just work my way through this. I had already forgotten about the parchment in my pocket, it still wasn’t like an extra arm or anything. I played it cool, “I’m doing pretty good all things considered. I heard there was a new owner named Darius that was going to rebuild the diner,” and then I waited a moment took a deep breath and continued, “apparently he had come by and told my son that he was going to rebuild it into his chain of diners and he wasn’t going to let this stop him. Isn’t that great news?” and I listened to a very silent line. The fact of the matter was that if I had changed the historical value of Ricky’s soul then I was quick witted enough to know that conversation probably hadn’t happened.
Whoever was on the other side of the phone was surprised that I had said what I did, and it was the audible version of what Darius usually visually does when I catch up to him. I hated the thought that Mary was probably still stuck in all of this but I loved the fact that I was totally ahead of him. Finally she spoke and it was just odd, “Did this Darius fellow tell you where he was from?” and I wasn’t really able to ascertain what I should have heard in that,
“When treading in the darkness, don’t ever let them hear your footsteps for they may see in the dark when you don’t Mary,” was what I said. I have to be honest with you I don’t know what movie I had seen that in but it sounded pretty scary. It must have been because I heard something that resembled a sniffle. I said to Mary for whatever reason I thought it was a bright idea I just said it without thinking about it, “He comes from Hell Mary, and he will be going back there as soon as the Devil can ensnare him and drag him…”
Before I could finish a bellowing, angry voice came over the phone, but it sounded like he had grabbed the phone from Mary and not actually been Mary. I don’t know why that distinction meant anything to me but it did, “Who are you and why do you plague me?” and there was distinct confusion intermixed with the anger. I was happy that he was all the way over at Mary’s house but it was purely because I was stupid still to the fact that he could be here in less than a second.
I still pressed my luck because I was far to enamored with my own cleverness, “How’s the eye?” and I don’t know why I had the overwhelming belief that his eye was still missing. For some strange reason everything in time kept getting repaired in one way or another, most importantly I kept getting repaired, but I couldn’t help but feel that I had permanently damaged that eye, and I was completely correct. More importantly as I had surmised in the last moment I was face to face with Darius before I had come back to this time, I took a leap of faith, or more correctly a dive.
Darius hit my shoulder as I had timed my dive into his knee perfectly, and in that instant he went flying using the amazing speed in which he ran and what should have been a stop in plain sight, and went through my wall as if he had been four tons of steel. Oddly enough it destroyed the doorway exactly the same way that Lou had when Darius had sent Lou through it the previous night. The second time last night, God it gets so amazingly confusing. I should have run at this point, but what was running going to do for me? I walked over into the smashed doorway, which at least shattered in real time and not from an entity hitting the wall so fast I could only see shattering wood. I heard Jake rustling upstairs and coming down the hallway and my heart sunk, but I saw what I had surmised. Darius looked up at me and his left eye was closed and sunken in where my right thumb had dug it out. I taunted him to get him to throw me outside and hopefully follow me before Jake could get down those stairs, “You’re weak, and I’ll take more than your eye next time,” and he vanished.
In a dizzying moment I turned around to see Jake standing in the doorway to the kitchen holding a pane of glass, and I was sitting on the floor with the parchment in my hand, “Trust no one, and never lose me.” I wasn’t puzzled this time since I actually remembered this. Looking over at the window I saw that it was still broken. Now I’m at a loss because I don’t know if anything I had done changed all of this around me, but the window being smashed told me that things appeared to be the same. Then it hit me that the Ricky I had talked to hadn’t done this yet, if he had done this at all, but it came out more like it should have all along. In a wailing stream of tears from between my fingers, because I think I had finally started losing it like a normal person at last.
Jake was confused as he should be, his mother has never broken down in front of him like this before and I simply said, “How did the window break?” between sobs, not really caring if he had told me before I came back. I didn’t have the emotional stability at the time to play games and I was feeling that it would be easier to just get answers and cover my tracks afterwards.
“Why are you asking me?” Jake retorted with a look of dread on his face. It showed me that this time around he wasn’t involved with the broken glass, so I was a bit relieved at first that it had nothing to do with a possessed, for lack of a better word, 14 year old that happened to also be my son’s best friend. The sobbing was my ally now as I could simply make it look like a nervous breakdown. Since somehow this was my issue I just continued to look out of it waiting for Jake to change the subject or tell me what he knew. If I was lucky I would get a little of each.
Jake continued to survey me as he put the glass down next to the window, but he went off to get a screwdriver and hammer I would assume to replace the pane. I know I mentioned before how the wonderful Kansas weather is why you always have extra panes in the house, but did I mention that everyone over the age of 8 knows how to fix a window. I looked down at the parchment which had “Give me a minute” written on it, so I was hoping that it was searching for the answer to what had happened in the time shift this time. It did start to stir in my hand as I saw the words change to, “The glass broke when you were fighting with Mary who was waiting for you when you got home,” and I wondered if it really was Mary this time, or Darius like it was last time. The Parchment didn’t change. I was at least happy to know that I had this much. Now I needed to figure out how to tell my son I was beating up a woman twice my age. What did I say the last time, that might work?
Before I could start rambling into stories, Jake asked me very simply but with a bit of apprehension in his voice, “What made Mary attack you like that,” he glanced over at the window and then back at me, “I mean she is usually pretty gentle no matter how weird she is but that was just insane?” and I was happy to get that much and know it wasn’t my fault. What a wonderful mother I had become when I was now actively looking for permission to lie to my child.
My mind was racing around. How to lie? How to lie? Nothing was coming to me because I haven’t got a clue what happened before Mary had attacked me. Then I realized that this was a continuation of the first time I had been fighting with Mary and not the second time. I could work with that was all I could think, but it wasn’t coming to me particularly quickly. I resorted to a trick that I learned when I was a little girl, and all little boys and girls have tried to master for centuries, “I don’t know,” and then I let it stand at that. I knew at that time that I had to stay as calm as possible despite the raging headache that was coming on from trying to get my stories straight. Jake looked at me with a very peculiar grin. Looking back at it, I think he was giving me a look like any son would when he figured out that his mother was on to his greatest guilt cover up story. His maturity seemed to make it impossible for him to call me on it. Honor amongst thieves I suppose.
I wasn’t prepared for what he asked me next though, “Who was the big guy that threw you off Mary?” and my mind started screaming from inside. How the hell was I supposed to know that? I have two big guys plaguing my life at the moment, thank you very much. I gave him a curious look, trying to feign some sort of mystery about it all, and gave him the same response as I had given the last time, but this time it didn’t work, so he added, “Mom, that was the creepy guy that was stalking around the school, and I want to know why he is coming into our house?” His face wasn’t whimsical now; it was very serious and possibly even scared.
It was easy to lie to him actually because more than half of what I said to him was solid fact, “I don’t know who he is or what he has to do with Mary, and I don’t know what made Mary go crazy, but I am sure that he has something to do with it,” and then I trailed off while having a hard time looking him in the face. Then I slyly added, “He has one eye huh? You never described that to me when you were talking about him today?”
Jake seemed rather taken aback, “I didn’t see all of his face when he threw you off of her mom, I just saw him throw you when I came down the stairs and when he turned his face I saw the one eye,” and my mind tried to ascertain what side of his face was visible to Jake, and it would have been the right, “You can’t call the sheriff or deputy around here either without them putting their hands all over you, especially after they were talking about you being a suspect in these explosions” and with that he smashed his fist on the table. He got to his knees and then said something that still rages at my heart, “I’ll deal with it Mom.”
Who was he fooling? I couldn’t believe he even suggested that he would deal with anything around here. The corrupt sheriff was dead anyway in this time line, and the stupid deputy too. I’m amazed Jake didn’t realize that but then again when I was here the first time I didn’t know either? “What exactly do you mean you will deal with this?” and the stern tone in my voice didn’t sway him all that much which worried me some.
I’m not exactly sure what he was thinking but there was a glint in his eye that I didn’t like. I couldn’t see it and I was wondering what he was up to but he said to me, “I have an idea how I can get some relief for you in all of this. It’s bad enough that you almost die at your own job, and then you are blamed for it by a corrupt sheriff, but if people are going to attack you in your own house then someone has to do something about it,” and I definitely thought it was cute that my son wanted to protect his mother but this was not the time for him to be all protective of me. Especially now that a demonic angel is who is menacing his mother. You can only be so protective of your child, but in this instance I am pretty sure that I would like him to stay out of this.
I started trying to reason with him before I became indignant, “Jake you can’t go around making threatening gestures about law enforcement officers, regardless of what you may think of them or what they are really up to instead of protecting the peace,” and he gave a snort that was very unlike him. I added the threat at the end, “Don’t you dare go and do anything stupid Jake,” and he turned on his heel and went up the stairs after he had finished getting the window in, without even finishing the conversation. This was just what I needed, something else to worry about in all of this. I heard nothing else from him as I sat down and wished I knew what was going on now. It’s one thing raising a son yourself and having to deal with his quirks, but do I have to get used to his amazingly strange ways as they manifest in the middle of all this?
There was a knock on the door behind me, and I figured it had to be Lou, and I was really in need of some answers here. I walked over to the door and looked through the screen to see a one eyed Darius staring at me through the door. I shrugged my shoulders and looked at him, and he simply said to me, “Who are you and why do you keep dragging me through time?” which had me shaking my head.
There was a part of me that was completely out of sorts in all of this, and I was sick of all of the games, if they were games. I looked at him and said, “I thought you were the omnipotent one in all of this, so why do you have to keep asking me?” and then he just looked at me like a scared child with one eye. I was sickened by myself that some small part of me was sick having this conversation. Why doesn’t Lou show up during these times when he is just standing there looking stupidly at me and being anything but omnipotent, and dare I say a hell of a lot less than immortal too? “I took your eye you know?” came out of my mouth I was so angry at this lunatic who just kept coming back to me no matter what I did.
What he said next was just amazing, “Because I am not omnipotent. I am not anything but a bad idea from a crazy angel,” and then he almost seemed to shrink in front of me. I didn’t know what to say now and I wanted to know why he could kill without remorse the way he does and then stand here like a scared child asking me questions. Do any of you understand what I am talking about here, because nobody has ever cared about my opinion before this time and I had no reason to blame them?
A voice behind me said, “You are an aberration, and the only intelligent thing you have said is that you are a mistake, so why are you still here when you can go back to hell where you belong?” and I turned to look at my son who had obviously said those words, but in that instant felt myself knocked to the ground and I was enraged from the way I hit the ground scraping up my hands miserably. My racing mind was terrified as I fumbled around on what I thought was the floor but realized it was the pavement and the sun was out. I was furious that I was here again and what was worse was I knew it before I even heard more of my son’s words, “Mom, thank God you’re ok!” and there he was again running to me as I was laying in the street again by the shattered diner. I knew what was coming next as I heard him whisper in my ear, but this time it was different, “That’s the man that threw you off of Mary, only he is missing an eye now,” I still remember the words from the last time when he had said, “That was the man that was at the school,” so immediately I started assuming that time had shifted and things had changed.
Slowly I turned around to see Darius standing in front of the Grant building and not casually leaning against it looking smug but still looking very proud of himself all over again, like he had the last time. I started wondering if he knew that this was a different scenario. I might have changed my own behavior if I had the chance, knowing full well how stupid it was to run straight at him, but I didn’t have that luxury this time. Hatred again was boiling in me as it had the last time, but for a more obvious reason then I had before. It was Jake running at him this time, and his terrified mother, meaning me, running behind him furious. Furious and terrified actually because I knew my son was running towards the very incarnation of evil created by the standard bearer of evil. I should have thought harder about what Jake whispered because it could have been a mistake from someone who just left a different scene that the actual Jake had, or someone who was trying to warn me of what was actually happening.
In either regards I didn’t put any of it together at the time so I did stumble after him yelling, “Jake! No! Please!” and this was fruitless because he wasn’t listening. The fact that he could run a lot faster than I could was forcing the tears from me as I helplessly ran after my foolish son. “Jake! Please! Stop!” the words were rolling out of me from between my sobs. My sanity was collapsing in on me, but I didn’t have the time to analyze this as I helplessly ran after my son.
I stumbled. My clumsiness, mixed with my emotional duress forced me to hit the ground hard, and looking up I could see the different scenario playing itself out, as Darius had now turned and started running strait at Jake with that same demented look of murder all over his face, as he had had when I had seen this before. All I could see was Jake’s back, and couldn’t tell if he had the same fury as I had the last time, and within that instant I reached my hand out helplessly wishing somehow to just force Jake to stop this insane quest to defend his mother from the demon Darius. What did he know? I desperately wished that time would shift and my son would just be safe from himself.
My mind had already turned into an insane mixture, and desperately I started simply trying to will the time to shift so that the collision wouldn’t happen. I couldn’t help but wonder where Lou was, and why he wasn’t here to put a stop to this and deal with his great mistake, that is threatening my family for whatever damn reason it is happening. In that instant I started blaming God for all of this, in the very second I saw Jake hit Darius. I gave out one last shout and then realized almost instantly that I had been played for God knows how long as I realized that Jake hit Darius. He actually HIT Darius, with the force of an explosion, and the two of them flew about ten feet in the air easily, and hit the ground with Jake on top of Darius, and pavement crumpling beneath them. Crashing blows came down on him like sledge hammers that were creating thunder with every stroke. Darius didn’t look so smug any more, as his head lolled back and forth from the blows that were being showered down upon his head. My son knew something that I obviously hadn’t and now I was watching him rain chaos on Darius.
I struggled to my feet and started stumbling towards the two of them. Darius was desperately trying to defend himself from the onslaught of Jake’s furious blows about his head, but to no avail, he seemed almost powerless against him. I started walking instead of running because curiously my mind told me that I wasn’t here for this part the last time. I had fallen through Darius and ended up in the park where Lou had found me the last time. I didn’t understand and worse than that I can’t comprehend this in the least. Despite the curious way I had to relive all of these things when time shifted on me there was no comfort in knowing the outcomes, to say the least.
As I cautiously walked closer to the scene where Jake was leveling blow upon blow on the defenseless demon, I noted that Darius appeared to be sinking into the Earth. Jake’s knees even appeared to be sinking into the Earth along with him as they straddled him and held him down firmly. It was like Jake was taking him down to hell where he belongs, and the rest of the world was frozen in time to let it happen. I started moving quicker, thinking that somehow this entity was going to drag my son down into the very bellows of the Earth with him, and the terror was killing me inside. Now I was running and completely out of my mind and out of control. I couldn’t let that happen, despite knowing now as I do that I couldn’t have done a damn thing about it either.
I again stumbled and fell hard after suffering a blow from beside me like a car had struck me. My focus had been so fixed that I hadn’t even noticed anything around me, so despite the pain of being hit, the confusion might have actually kept me in the moment. I felt something hit me very hard and very square in my stomach which rolled me over instantly. Defensively I kept rolling and was barely missed by Mary’s foot which tried to kick me again. Even though I had seen Mary’s gnarled and twisted face, the last blow wasn’t that of an old woman, and I wasn’t about to take it again. My ribs were killing me from the last blow, and my shoulder was in extreme pain from hitting the ground. I had totally lost my focus on what was going on with Jake and Darius, and was staring at the lunatic I used to know as Mary the Church Lady.
I aimed a feeble kick at her, and she brushed it off with her hand before kicking me again hard in the desperately aching shoulder this time. It was all I could do to look over at Jake terrified more for my son then even for my own impending doom as I laid there on the pavement, knowing that I was going to be struck again and again until I probably died. My thoughts were completely focused on my son in that very instant, and I gazed over towards him hoping only to have one more look at him. I didn’t get it. Lou was all I saw there, pounding the ground with his fist in a form of a temper tantrum, so my mind immediately shot to my own dire needs. It wasn’t there either, as Mary was simply lying on the ground motionless. Looking back again to the other scene, Lou was gone and there was no evidence that anyone had ever been there.
People started crowding around me as I laid there on the ground gasping. I could hear concern from several of them. One had said something about insanity, and another had said something about a “heart attack” but for the most part it appeared that most of them had seen Mary go nuts and attack me, and then die in the middle of it. The person that started cradling my head touched my shoulder and the pain went away immediately. I didn’t recognize the person at all, but he said to me, “Don’t speak, your ribs probably can’t handle the pressure,” which he didn’t have to tell me twice. Breathing was killing me enough at the moment, and I didn’t want to even try to get through explaining this crap to people with this kind of pain, even though my shoulder was feeling better.
The young blonde man with amazingly curly hair holding my head was quite beautiful in his own rights which made me feel the need to hold my hand up to touch his face. For some reason my mind told me that if it was Lou, I could reveal that simply by touching his face, but it didn’t change other than the smile that appeared to be more broad when I touched it. With that he reached down and pressed two fingers into my abdomen which made me flinch expecting to feel the searing pain I have heard is associated with broken ribs, but my ribs felt perfectly fine as his fingers went into my stomach. He then lifted his fingers to his mouth in a “shhhh” gesture before he whispered to me; “Tell your friend he owes me one and I don’t laugh because his priest joke isn’t funny,” and then he helped me to my feet.
I didn’t get up too easily, because my mind wouldn’t let me simply accept that I was fine. It hadn’t appeared to catch up to the actual scenario and was still mired in the defensive posture of trying to protect a thoroughly broken body. I knew the need to get up and get out of here before all of the awkward questions like, “What the hell happened here?” comes along from local law enforcement. As I was pretty sure Walter and Jacob weren’t dead at this point in time they would be more concerned in checking out my body to make sure that it isn’t damaged, which would be the only real tragedy to either of them. The man walking beside me, who I pretty much knew the name from his comment as I got to my feet, but still feel hard pressed to speak it, was ushering me away from the scene with a bit of haste. “Aren’t they going to come looking for me when the witnesses tell the Sheriff what happened?” I finally asked him when we were out of clear earshot.
He looked at me a bit puzzled, “I never liked the limitations that are placed on me when I come to your plain of existence,” and then he sighed, “I am not used to using the subtleties that are afforded to me here, so I am just going to assume that you know too much already,” he added while still walking me away from the scene. “Unlike my brother, I lie quite frequently, and I could lie to you right now. He doesn’t seem to think it is a valuable tool in dealing with mortals, but then again he doesn’t have to stand over a dying child and try to give them hope, even when a new life is staring them in the face. It’s not in his nature, so he actually has less opportunity I suppose,” again he sighed again in a bit of a melodramatic overstatement, “he does things that could be considered ‘good’ by the unconcerned mind, but he usually does it in the hope that he will get something out of it, and he is far more passionate than the rest of us. It does play into his nature after all,” and I was learning rather quickly that a new immortal brought into the mix was all that I needed to lose any ground I had covered in understanding these people.
I started wondering if he was going to answer my question instead of rambling on about other things. I was about to ask him when he suddenly stopped in front of the bench that I had appeared at when I had jumped out of the time I am in now the last time. He sat down without a second glance or even asking me to sit beside him. I did anyway, and then he continued on, “You are an amazing woman,” he then chirped up. “I can see why Lucifer can’t avoid you, because you are the total opposite of him,” which actually hurt a bit when I considered what I saw in Lou which was a beautiful man but he continued, “Ah, I see what they mean about reading faces and expressions, now. I don’t mean on the outside my friend, you happen to be a very beautiful woman. God would be quite jealous of you, if she were prone to that, but I mean inside you are so strong and rational that my brother probably spends every free moment he has when he is not hunting Darius to try to understand you,” and he smiled at me. “I can’t change time either my friend but I can do certain things to change the present, and nobody there will know you were ever in the vicinity. I am just hoping that I didn’t overdo it like I did that time back in the time most people call ‘the dark ages’, because everyone there will forget you even existed.”
Without even thinking I mused out loud, “I would hate to see how Homer would explain my life,” and looking at the smile on his face, I could see that he did have a sense of humor. I was also amazed that I remembered Homer from school too. The Iliad and the Odyssey were not very good books, and the boys at least got into the war and death, “Why am I involved in all of this?” I asked him hoping that his ability to lie wouldn’t come in handy at this particular moment. Why did I think he knew any of this?
He smiled somewhat gravely and said, “I don’t know,” he took in a deep breath and then said, “I forget to breathe sometimes because I don’t have to do it when I am not here,” but he definitely saw me looking at him like I wasn’t dropping this. Again he took another deep breath and said, “You actually wouldn’t be involved in all of this right now if my brother hadn’t decided to take his will off of Darius. He could have taken him back to hell, but his minion would have killed you,” he looked away from me, as if it was painful to continue but did all the same, “when he took Mary’s life, which he was entitled to since she unknowingly gave her soul to him through Darius, he let go long enough for Darius to get away.”
“Why can’t you help him?” I asked somewhat impudently, but then again, if they are all going to include me in on this crap they are damn well going to deal with me the way I am. I figured there was some stupid reason involving the rules and the law and other things, and I was already plenty sick of that.
He started nodding his head with a very amused smile on his face and then said to me, “I can’t, or at least I couldn’t. I’m not supposed to, or at least I wasn’t,” he looked up like he was trying to get the answer out of thin air, “You’ll have to forgive me, I know what I am trying to say, but I am limited to this form to try to explain it. It goes like this, and you will have to try to put it into something that you can understand for me after I tell you, ok?” After I nodded my agreement he started explaining it as he could, “I can’t help him, we’ll just leave it at that, but when he lost Darius he started screaming to the heavens that he quit,” he started looking at his hands, “that could mean a lot of things, but I am assuming that he meant that he wasn’t going along with everything the way it is, and you just have to believe me when I say that that is the worst thing that could ever happen. In a moment of terror I called back to him, and told him that I could protect you, and he continued after Darius like he has to,” and thus explains the reason he is sitting here next to me on this bench.
I sat there mired in my own quagmire of crap that I have been locked in now for roughly one day, but seeming to last several weeks, and then started talking to him like a student who has solved a complicated physics project, “He was going to stop being the force of evil that un-complicates things by having a good and a bad separated, and we can’t have that now can we?” he started nodding at me until somehow I just couldn’t avoid nodding along with him in return. There was a serious Mr. Rodgers minus the neighborhood with this character, but it was a nice change from all of the gothic crap the other two gave me.
His nodding turned into a grin that was pure sunshine, and let me tell you that was different too, “I never thought of it that way, but it appears that you understand far too well. I don’t even really know how to respond to that so I won’t, but if it makes you happy, I didn’t have to lie,” he then put my hand in his and started talking again, “For lack of a better term, he is extremely clever though, and he bound me into all of this, and I don’t know if he did it on purpose or not, but it wouldn’t be against his grain. He forced the hands of me and all of my brothers by my moment of weakness. I have sworn to protect you, so I have to keep an eye on you whether I like it or not, and I think he may have done it to keep you safe from him as well.”
I could feel that strange rustling of the piece of parchment in my pocket again, and with a sigh of my own I pulled it out and looked at it right in front of him. I could really care anymore. The words etched on the paper read out “He talks too much doesn’t he?” and then as usual the words faded away to be replaced by different words, “He means well, but he can’t be trusted around people,” the words vanished again and in came, “Tell him that priest joke, he hates it,” which made me smile a little too obviously.
Gabriel looked over my shoulder and then said, “Oh my, I can’t read a word of that can you?” and I nodded as I looked at the words dissolve again. Then he said in a very curious voice, “I don’t even know how to do a trick like that, so there must be someone omnipotanter than us that really has taken a liking to you,” and then he looked straight ahead into the field and said nothing more.
Off in the distance I could see that again familiar shape of Lou walking towards me as he had before when I sat in this place and time. Looking beside me I could see that I was alone again, and unfortunately as time has gone on, for lack of a better term, I didn’t even consider it strange anymore when angels just disappeared. If only the people who wrote corny television shows knew that they had it almost right when they showed angels doing that sort of thing, and that the characters dealing with them just got used to it. This whole endeavor had made me pretty jaded. The parchment in my hand made that familiar feel it does now as the words changed on it, “They don’t get along very well.”