Vrin Ten Mortal Gods(55)

By: John Michael Hileman


“We're looking for victims inside a car,” said Humphrey.

“I know!” I snapped at him. “This is all new to me!”

“I'm just saying...”

“If you think this is so easy, you try it!”

“Now you're just being disagreeable,” he said, folding his arms.

The environment shifted again and we found ourselves on a remote road. In the air, droplets of water hovered, like a million tiny tears-- as though time itself had frozen on the most tragic of moments, and nature could not contain its sorrow. I reached out and poked a drop. It left a hollow space, and ran down my finger.

Through the curtain of rain, I saw a woman kneeling by the side of the road. I approached her, creating a path through the droplets. At the bottom of the embankment was the object of her interest, a silver BMW, wrapped around a telephone pole.

I looked down upon the still and somber woman, then back at Humphrey. “She is too old.”

Humphrey’s brow furrowed. “She's not a little girl anymore, the accident happened over twenty years ago.”

“Twenty years? Wouldn't she be past the grief?”

He gazed down at her. “It is not grief that brings her to this dark place. It is guilt.”

I studied her for a long moment, then knelt beside her on the wet pavement. “Excuse me, Miss. What is your father's name?”

She stiffened. “I don't have a father.”

“I'm sorry, what was your father's name?”

“Robert Helm.” Her voice was distant. “Did you know him?”

“I still do.”

“That's not funny!” She stood up.

“I'm not making a joke.” I followed her into the road. “I know your father.”

She stopped on the center line, and for a moment her eyes were uncertain. Then her face contorted in agony as she looked up into the darkness. “HE'S DEAD!” The sky opened up and rain poured down in torrents so thick I had to shield my eyes to see her. She had collapsed to the pavement and was shivering in the downpour.

I knelt beside her. “Come with me, Constance!” I hollered over the roar of the rain. “I will bring you to him!”

“You lie! He's dead! You can't know him!”

I tangibly felt her sadness and guilt, and although she appeared as a woman, I sensed that inwardly she was a still little girl. “Constance, listen to me! When I saw your father, I saw him do this!” I held my pinky out and swooped it in a J shape, then tapped my knuckles together three times.

Her eyelids flicked at the rain as she looked up at me.

“I understand that it was a secret between the two of you! but I know about it! Please believe me when I say I know your father! He loves you very much, Constance. And I can bring you to him!

“But you don’t understand! I can't leave! If I leave, Mommy and Daddy won't wake up!” She looked up at the sky. “I CAN’T LEAVE!” The rain fell harder.

I leaned in closer and shielded my eyes from the deluge. “Come with me! The ambulance is here! They won't let anything happen to your mommy and daddy!”

The scene shifted forward in time and the car was swamped with activity. Lights flashed from the emergency vehicles, paramedics descended the embankment. Constance clutched my jacket and wept. “Please don't let anything happen to my mommy and daddy.”

I gave her a hug. “Everything is going to be all right, Constance. I promise I won’t let...”

A piercing screech filled the air and my head snapped around. A dark form descended onto the hood of the car. The metal gave way under the weight of its massive body. “You do not belong here!” It hissed.

Another creature, thin and humanoid, came out of the shadows. “She cannot go with you.” It droned.

Humphrey stepped between us and the creatures. “Take her back to the portal! I’ll meet you there!”

The creature on the car opened its deformed mouth and let out another screech.

Humphrey’s face snapped back. “Go!”

I pulled Constance by the arm and we headed down the opposite embankment.

Through the wind and rain I heard shouting behind me. “I am a servant of the most high God!” Humphrey declared with confidence. “It is HE you do battle with!”

The air filled with a piercing shriek, but I did not hear what followed, we were in a corn field now, bursting through a flapping flurry of green. I looked over my shoulder. Through the cornstalks I caught a glimpse of a tall gray shape pursuing us. And it was gaining. If we did not get out of the field soon we would be overtaken.

I applied my will to the substance around us and the cornfield morphed into an open air field. Our footfalls echoed on the tarmac. I looked back again-- at an army of thin shadowy figures. My heart pounded in my chest as Constance pleaded with me to stop.

“We can't stop! It's just a little farther!”

If I had been alone I could have escaped easily because the memory of Dantra had fully returned. But Constance did not remember yet and shifting through thought quickly would be painful for her.

“This way!” I pulled her into an airplane hanger. It was large, hollow, and empty-- except for a tool table to the right. I snatched a large wrench off the table and pulled Constance toward the other side. Creatures poured into the hangar from every entrance. Constance screamed in wide-eyed terror as I pulled her toward the exit. “This way!”

We burst out of the hanger and were now running across rooftops. The creatures were everywhere now. Constance let out a screech as something dove at her from the side. I twisted and pulled her out of the way. “We're almost there!”

But it was too late. We skidded to a halt. We were completely surrounded. I swung the wrench wildly at the tall shadowy creatures. Their yellow eyes burned with hatred, their long thin fingers made clicking noises as they groped closer, and closer. Constance pressed against me. I held the wrench out menacingly, but it was no use. We were toast.

A large shadow passed over us and the creatures cowered back. I looked up to see a dark angel hovering overhead. The air from his mighty wings beat down on us.

“LET! THEM! GO!” His voice rattled the rooftops.

The creatures shrank back and I grabbed Constance by the arm and brought her to the edge of the building. She looked down and let out a shriek.

“Constance. Constance! Look at me! You can do this. I know it doesn't make sense to you, but you can do this!”

She was hysterical.

“Trust me! Everything will be okay!”

She looked down at the water far below, then clutched my jacket.

“I promise you, it’s okay. You can do this.”

She took my hand and squeezed her eyes shut. “I trust you.”

Together we leaped into the void.

The water was frigid, and a frenzy of bubbles surrounded us. I pulled up on Constance and kicked hard until we broke the surface. Then with great effort, and a lot of coughing, we made our way up onto the sandy shore. It was still dark, but God's love was stronger here. The portal was close.

“Thomas!”

I looked up the beach. Humphrey was standing in front of a sheer cliff. “This way!” he hollered.

When we reached him, he placed his hand on the rock face. It shuddered as the portal opened, then the three of us stepped through.

“Man, am I glad to see you!” I said, grabbing Humphrey's arm.

“It was easy to get away once you took Constance,” he said.

“We wouldn't have made it if you hadn't sent that angel.”

He gave me a puzzled look, and a grumpy response. “I didn't send an angel.”

“Well whoever sent him is okay in my book.” I turned toward Constance. Her eyes were wide, her expression, one of awe.

“What is this place? It-it feels like church. Is this Ethral?”

“It may take a little time.” I grinned. “But it will come to you.”

She looked at Humphrey, then back to me. “You know.” She gave a small chuckle. “I don't even know your names.”

“Well, I'm Thomas,” I said, “and grumpy here is Humphrey.”

She smiled.

He grumbled and walked away. “We have work to do. I'm supposed to take you to the overlook.”

Constance and I looked at each other. “What's the overlook?” she called after him.

“Just follow me and you'll find out.” Humphrey took another step, then froze in his tracks.

“What's wrong?” I approached and circled around him, but he gave no response. I looked back at Constance. She too had frozen.

Before my confusion could completely take hold, I found myself caught up in a familiar force which drew me toward the gray porous ceiling high above. Humphrey and Constance grew smaller and smaller until I could no longer make them out next to the crystal fortress far below.



CHAPTER 31



THE URGE

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I found myself in the darkened hallway of my old college dorm, searching for something, but I couldn’t remember what. An unknown impulse drove me forward.

“Hey, Thomas, wait up!”

I turned to see my friend Stephen rushing up the hallway, with a stack of books precariously balanced in his arms. “You were supposed to get me,” he said, attempting to push his glasses up with his shoulder.

I assisted him with a poke. “I'm not going to class.”

“What are you talking about? We have finals.”

“I'm not interested in that anymore,” I said. “There are more important things.”