Chapter 10

Author’s Note:  So this was supposed to go up Tuesday.  It was ready Tuesday, but apparently my internet wasn’t.  So here it is.  Check back in Friday (tomorrow) for the next chapter…

“Jason? Jason? Are you there?  Hello?”

Baybars sat up on Harvey’s couch frustrated by his inability to communicate with Jason.  He had received nothing since Jason had painfully flooded his mind with his words, confusion, and fear.  Aisha lay curled up in a ball under some blankets in an orange loveseat across the room.

“Harvey’s apartment is odd,” thought Baybars.

He lay back down to try and reach Jason again.

Hamee sat in the library again.  This time it wasn’t a fun filled adventure but an urgent quest for information while avoiding detection by whatever malicious entities inhabited this particular section of nowhere.  His nerves stood on full alert listening for any sign of books dropping heralding someone or something else’s presence.  Their Dunkin Donuts session had turned into more than just a cup of coffee and a donut; it had become three cups of joe and a dozen donuts.  Hamee went back to their conversation over the chocolate glaze before beginning his search.

“So Jason was with you?” Harvey asked Baybars.

“Yes, we ran together in the darkness, or ether as you call it.”

“Why were you two together?” 

“I don’t know.  It just happened that way, but since we went in together, it must mean we are somehow connected in what you say you need to protect.”

“Maybe,” Harvey mused.

“All the more reason for us to get to New York as soon as possible.”

“I know, but I want to do some more research first.” Harvey said taking a sip of hot black coffee.

“Where?” asked Baybars.

“He was in my dream,” interrupted a forgotten Aisha.

They turned to her.

“I call him leaf man.  He looked like the park come to life with yellow eyes, bright yellow eyes,” she continued,” He said I needed to help him.”

“This is Jason you are talking about?” asked Baybars, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, you said you saw him.  Don’t you remember?” she replied, “He said I needed to help him to help myself.

“It was so dark, and we were scared.” said Baybars, “The trip was all so confusing.”

“Well, I’ll see what I can do to help him,” Harvey said turning backed to Baybars. 

She sulked into her coffee Boston Crème in hand.

“Little Aisha,” Hamee thought as he sat at a computer which he had, for lack of a better word, conjured in the library, “She is a burden, but she has nowhere else to go.”

Hamee activated the search function on his computer, a handy option that allowed him to avoid aimless wandering in the endless mazelike rows of the never ending library.  He searched for ‘nature’ and got way to many entries.  He added his name, ‘Hamee,’ and about half the entries disappeared.

“Ho, ho, ho.  I am popular,” he said to himself.

Hamee added another word to the search: ‘vampire.’  Much fewer results but still not enough to make it possible in the short amount of time he guessed he had.  Sighing he added ‘good vs. evil’ to the search box and blinked in surprise as five results glowed on the screen.  After memorizing the call numbers, he set out, but twenty minutes later he returned empty handed and fuming. 

“Why the hell are all of them missing?” he wondered aloud, “It figures.  What I need and it isn’t there.”

He brought his plated hands down on his desk in a fit of violence and smashed through the top revealing a secret compartment that, if not for his violence, he never would have found.  Covered in splinters lay a yellowed skinned cloth holding several old documents bound with a red rope.  Pulling out the packet reverently, as it was his Kaatib’s last known item, he untied the rope and began to shuffle through the papers an article at a time trying to make sense of what he was reading.  The first one he looked at talked about the Uprising and speculated that the champion of good may have actually been defeated and gone into hiding.

“Well, we know that much is true,” muttered Hamee.

Pawing through more of the documents, he found one discussing how the champion may have gone into hiding.  Hamee realized this was what he really needed to know.

“Why didn’t Kaatib share this with me?  This makes me to handle everything with Baybars differently.”

He stopped when he got to a section on dual/split identities realizing that– 

His thoughts stopped as he watched the papers slide through his fingers.  Harvey blinked his eyes to see a worried Babyars staring at him. 

“Harvey.  It is twelve noon.  We need to go.”

“Right, yea,” he replied unsure how to tell Baybars what he had pieced together, but Baybars stode off gathering Aisha and some supplies before he could open his mouth again.

Harvey tried to ignore the last image of Kaatib that would not leave his brain or conscience alone.  It was the lifeless shell, almost transparent in its disintegration on the floor of the library, of his shortest and most mysterious friend that he knew would haunt him for the rest of his life.  Harvey was strong.  His body had become even stronger in the recent past, yet he had not saved Kaatib.  Guilt, strong enough to cause pain, welled up in his body gripping him in a torturous embrace starting in his stomach and moving up and down his body. 

He screamed at himself, “I am a firefighter!  I save people!  There hadn’t even been a fire, and I let an old man die!  Did my oath I took as a rescuer even mean anything anymore?”

Another feeling blossomed in his gut.  Not new, but this time it had a target, or at least what he had seen of it, unlike the dancing inanimate and taunting wraith of a housefire.  He felt hate and anger, and he resolved to protect those again under his charge no matter how much of a burden they were.

Algharoob sat pale and resting in the discolored recliner as Earl stitched her leg up.

“It was the machete,” it said.

One of the guys got you?” Earl asked with trepidation.

“No, no,” she hissed in pain, “You all can’t hurt me.  I slipped in the blood—my blood—that I was taking.”

Earl said nothing and just continued to work.

“Damn these frail human bodies,” it said again through gritted teeth, “We are forced to feel everything you feel as if this affected our true soul.”

“Sorry boss,” was all that Earl dared to say.

“We need to go somewhere.  When we get back, we will find him, or it will be your life.”

“Yes boss,” Earl gulped.

Algharoob fled from consciousness and awoke pain free in the library, “Ahh, that’s better.”

There was no sound in the library.  It was quiet as death.  The monster strode up the aisles finding an empty desk with a hole in it.  Seeing the papers scattered on the floor, it smiled, seated itself gracefully, and began to reading seeking to know what its enemy knew and wondering who would have come to the library with the old man dead.

“Was is the black plated man?” it wondered.

It didn’t recognize the face.  Looking down at the first paper its hands touched, it frowned. 

“Finally, some information on what we have been missing, especially about the Uprising,” it thought to itself in an internal monologue, “Ever since our soul was destroyed in the physical long before the Uprising, we have roamed the ether searching for information but for naught.  None of the others were willing to give out that information no matter how…persuasive we were.”

Algharoob contemplated that after a long and fruitless search of trying to figure out what happened in the early dark years after it had been banished, it eventually lost interest, turning instead to the only thing which it enjoyed.  It had become dangerously fixated on collecting pain, even for a creature such as itself.  Its mind drifted recalling all those years as its fingers blindly held the papers.  Shaking its head, it moved past is inadequacies, brushed off the idea of insanity, and began reading again.  A smile began creeping up its thin lips rising higher and higher although obscured by its niqab. 

“We understand,” it said through an exhale, “Those two lights we saw in the clouds were really one and the same.  Clever, clever, clever.”  We will soon have our revenge, Epluribisunum, for what you took from us those eons ago: our physical being.”

Another thought strode violently into its head.  It was one of pleasure, one of caution, and one not of its own devising.  Algharoob immediately grew angry on many levels despite the approval it was receiving. 

“We are no one’s lackey!  But…” it continued finally realizing that it was long past being independent, “We can make this to our advantage.  We use this knowledge…Yes, we use this knowledge and our actions to get a corporeal body back and once again roam the Earth where we are top predator.  It will be a grand bargaining chip.”

After reading about the black plated man, Hamee, who protected what it is sought to destroy, it stretched cat-like.  Algharoob returned to that feeling of caution.  It hated its keeper, sent to keep it in check. 

“How many times did it foil our plans on Earth since we settled here?  We thought we would be all alone again, away from the prying eyes of Epluribisunum and others.  Then he showed up!  Our blood burns with the fire of hatred that can only be quenched by wrapping our fingers around its throat and wiping out its soul, perhaps even consuming it.  For the longest time we have never dreamed this possible.  In one bold move, we will destroy all that stands before us.  It is time for the hunter to become the hunted.”

Sifting through the rest of the papers, it found one that seemed to have been untouched by whoever had previously been here.  Its title was “How to Kill a Lower Order Demon: Signs and Practices (In my host body’s language: the vampire Sunset) by Kaatib Almustasharq. 

Algharoob smirked after glancing at the paper thinking only, “Lower order demon no more.”

It then promptly ate the single short essay leaving no evidence of its existence.

Algharrob left the library and headed to the clouds, its borders going fluid.  Energy flowed through it, and it immediately saw the two lights it had been startled to see earlier.  It cupped one in its hand and absorbed.

“Ahh.  New York.”

Kelly’s body woke up with a start and stared at Earl who was sipping coffee.

“Come, we go to New York.”

Earl wordlessly grabbed his Beretta 92FS semi-automatic pistol with accompanying holster and followed his master out the door, discarded bloody clothes, bits of bandages, and spent bullet casings the only remaining artifacts lingering under the ephemeral acrid smell of sweat and the harsh smell of dried blood in the now empty and discarded Fisher’s Club.

Baybars opened his eyes as they pulled onto Fulton Street with the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance.  They were almost to the hospital.  The dull evening sun wrapped around the buildings in a slightly polluted and chemicalized caress as the city’s nightlife emerged.  

He had finally been able to talk to Jason, and both had spent the trip refining their abilities which seemed limited by distance.  It was an odd feeling being able to communicate with his friend without actual speech.  There was someone else in his head now, which he thought would feel strange, but, in actuality, it felt like some part of him had finally come home to roost.  In linking with Jason, their thoughts intermingled.  Never enough that they were in danger of losing themselves in each other; telepathy is only so liberating, but the thoughts danced together in a ballet of color, emotion, smell, and sometimes even specific events.  The only time a really specific thought process occurred is when the two focused together on it.  It seemed to Baybars, and by extension Jason, that it was a self-contained stream of thought, as if they were having conversations with themselves and to themselves.  Baybars would have thought himself crazy with the voice in his head if he told himself about this change two weeks earlier sitting in a café in Egypt on Talaat Harb Street.  He knew he would never be alone ever again.

Aisha lay asleep her arms wrapped protectively around herself in the backseat of Harvey’s weathered car.

Harvery turned and said to the occupants in the car and said in a steely voice, “We’re here.  Let’s get him.”

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