Chapter 15

Author’s note:  We’re almost finished!  One more chapter and the epilogue left.  Stay tuned…

Epluri opened his eyes, “Where am I?  It’s so light, like when Harry took me and Jason to the library.  Ohh, Jason.  I’m so sorry.”

He took a few tentative steps around in the bright light but quickly found its perimeter.  Outside was darkness, pure darkness, and the light barely penetrated its shroud. 

“Oh no,” he whispered, “I recognize this place.  How did I end up here?  I must have messed up somehow with the whole going to the ether thing.  Harvey told us about this place, the in-between, not full ether but not Earth.  Damn!  How do I get up to the next level?!”

Epluri stepped out of the light’s circle and tentatively explored the area around him.  Nothing was here, not a thing, which was the same as before.  Meanwhile, Algharoob was throwing Harvey’s body around like a rag doll into the bathroom, moving Baybar’s body, and going to the ether proper itself.  Epluri sat for hours just outside the white light unable to think of any solution and unwilling to leave the comfort of the light.  Then a thin red outline of a rectangle appeared far above him. 

“Of course!” he thought, “The door in the sky.  How could I have forgotten?”

The door opened like a cellar door and twilight streamed in from above illuminating the desolate landscape below.

“Harvey” Epluri breathed to himself relieved.

There was something wrong, however, with the twilight, it had a reddish tinge to it, similar to just after sunset.  A figure appeared looking down.  It was too far away to see who or what it was but then it started to descend calmly and majestically.  Loose clothing hung off its frame tight to the body but not constrictive.  At first Epluri thought he couldn’t see the face because it was backlit from the opening, but then he realized that the light was not the issue but that there was cloth covering its face much like a woman from Egypt.

“This is definitely not Harvey,” he thought as he scuttled a few feet away from the light and crouched in the darkness. 

The figure landed lightly but audibly on the dry ground; its garments settling around it gracefully.

A voice floated out through the darkness, “Epluri, the game is up.  You are all along in a godforsaken place.  Come to us, and we will make your death painless.”

There was no reply from Epluri who was slowly circling around in order to put the light in between him and whoever’s voice that was.

“You are probably wondering who we are, and it is a shame you do not remember us,” came the voice again now to Epluri’s far left.

“How did he or she move so fast?” Epluri thought unable to pin down the sex from the androgynous voice.

“You put us in a place very much like this for a long, long time when you were whole.  When we escaped, however, you were gone, split and hidden.  We were unable to find out what happened after the Uprising until recently.  Good for you too, we guess, otherwise you would have died, truly died, much sooner,” said the voice now from behind Epluri.

“It moves so fast,” he thought frantically but then he calmed, “He is looking for me, doesn’t know where I am which gives me the advantage.”

The next time the cool slippery voice spoke, it chilled his blood and made his heart skip a beat because it came from directly behind his left ear, “You don’t lock Algharoob up ever.  We are master here.  We have been watching you skirt around.  Thinking that we couldn’t see you?  This is our element: darkness.”

Epluri scrambled to his feet, ran past the light, and bee-lined directly away from the creature.  In his panic he ran and stopped about ten meters from the light.  Something big and burly, the height of a table, and not the shape of the lithe creature from above obscured the light briefly.  There was a predatorial snick snick as is moved.

Algharoob’s laugh echoed and then was swallowed up by the nothingness of the empty plain, “You are out of your element youngling.  Here we control the beasts, some put here by you.  If only you remembered.  Best watch out for A-shath, his sickled tendrils are quite sharp and designed to cull the soul from the body.”

The red eyes from the new monster bloomed open, as it faced him blades gleaming ominously in the malevolent glare.

“Oh no!  That’s what Jason and I literally stumbled over last time we were here.”

“Do you remember it?  It has been resting in this place, waiting for its chance for revenge since you put it here ages ago.  Thought it would be out of the way, did you?”

The monster charged, scythes swinging wildly making very little noise for a creature of its size.  Epluri realizing he needed to act more like Epluri, the hero inside of him, now literally on the outside, in order to survive.  He stood stock still and exhaled.  Then running towards the creature and praying that his timing was right, he used his skinny body and increased balance to evade the initial attack from the scythes and run up its central trunk past the eyes.  The tendrils followed him tracking and swinging after him on his passage across the monster’s back.  The whipping soul blades followed his progress unwittingly gouging its own body.  Epluri dove off the tail feeling the breeze from the weapons’ paths.  He landed on the ground panting with his head covered.  No pain or tug at his soul bothered him, so he looked back.  The monster had collapsed its blades cleaving out its own glistening soul.  The body was intact but the sickled weapons had pierced deep, shredding the remnants of any soul this creature had.  The blades lay uselessly on the ground dripping silver liquid that gleamed translucent and then faded.

“Impressive,” said Algharoob, “but I am not as easily duped or as blunt with my attack.”

Epluri now scanned the area from his prone position, “Where was the voice coming from now?”

“Huzzah!” yelled Harvey as the cold water ran over his face.

He shot straight up, an action he immediately regretted as pain flowed like a river and as loud as a full orchestra to his head, “Ohh Baybars…Aisha.”

“I’m here,” she said holding toilet paper to here lips.

Harvey squinted at her, hair dripping water and sitting flat on his head, “You do that?”

“Yes.”

“Thanks,” and then as he looked at her more closely, “Sweetie, you’re hurt.  Come here.  I’m a fireman, got first aid training and everything.”

She smiled at his attempt at a joke, but her face hurt. 

“Just a small cut on both lips on the left side.  Nothing to worry about,” he said with a smile, “You’ll be spic and span in no time.  Now let’s get out of here.  Gotta get back to Baltimore.”

“We can’t, “she said with a small voice, “It’s blocked, and he’s still out there.”

“Who?”

She looked at him confused, “The policemen who beat you up.”

“What?” and then it all came back to him like a rushing train brushing aside the little bit of amnesia he’d had, “Gotta get out.  Kill.  Baybars?”

“He’s out there,” she said pointing through the door, “with him.”

He ain’t human,” he snarled, “Stand back.”

Harvey rushed the door slamming his bulk against it, but it and the chair just outside held.  He fell back wincing.

“I’m so weak,” he gasped, “What happened while I was out?”

Aisha told him how Epluri went to the ether and that Algharoob had locked them in the bathroom.

“That fool!” Harvey thundered, voice echoing off the tiled floor and walls, “He’s just a kid and doesn’t know what he is doing.  I’ve got to follow.”

“But aren’t you weak?”

Harvey threw her a look and said, “Maybe, but I’ve got to go after him.  It’s the right thing.  Besides my weakness here may not translate to there.  Just sit tight.”

He lay down cramped in the tub and then the lights in Harvey’s head went out.

Aisha curled up against the wall and looking into the tub whispered to herself, “Just like Baybars.”

It was quiet again in the motel, the only sound being Aisha’s quiet breathing.

Epluri was paralyzed with fear.  He couldn’t move away from the dead beast nor towards the light to what he assumed would be safety.  His breathing was high and fast, and waited for the end.  Algharoob’s clothing swished, and Epluri now stared at the monster’s feet. 

“So fast.”

Then he was lifted up in the air as easily as a child would lift a feather.

“Time to die boy,” it hissed.

Epluri stared up praying for divine intervention and gaped.  He was getting the next best thing.  A skull shaped outline peered over the edge of rectangular opening.  He saw it throw itself over the edge and tumble end over end until it smacked into the ground in the middle of the circle of light. 

“Eh?” grunted Algharoob as it turned to the sound.

A voice boomed from the light, “Algharoob!  Leave the boy.”

It hissed back snake-like, “No, we want him.”

“Kill me, and you can have him.”

“We will have him whether you are living or dead.  We prefer now.”

Hamee emerged from the light, a savior in Epluri’s eyes.  He could see that Hamee was damaged, his left breastplate or part of his chest was cracked, but if he felt pain, Hamee did not show it. 

“The boy lives, “he commanded eyes aflame with intensity.

Epluri landed with a thump on dry earth as Algharoob tossed him aside, “Nobody!  Nobody tells us what to do!  And you are supposed to be dead.”

“Oh really?”  Hamee said, “I believe I just did.”

With those words Hamee ran into the darkness only to be met halfway by Algharoob.  Epluri watched the silhouettes fight backlit as he slowly scooted towards the light but away from the entangled figures.  Suddenly Hamee deflected a blow which opened up Algharoob’s chest to attack.  With a yell, he pierced through clothing and flesh using his hand as a spear aiming for Algharoob’s heart.  For a millisecond Epluri saw them captured frozen as if in the flash of a photograph.  Harvey was aggressively forward and rooted firmly to the ground and Algharoob swayed, body back, arms flailing, and chest exposed.  Hamee firmly withdrew his hand clutching a heart.  Algharoob’s fluttering hands went to the cavity.  Hamee smiled evilly, and then to his surprise, Algharoob laughed. He looked down to the heart which was already crumbling to ash. 

“You know so little about this world, Protector.”

He reached out and grabbed Hamee by the shoulders and immobilized him making him feel the already healed flesh on its chest.  Now he could neither run, nor fight, but just stand there and wait for death.

“Any last words because I have some for you.”

“You are my enemy, no?”

“Yes.”

“But you don’t look like anyone, I’ve read about with…with Kaatib,” Hamee said struggling to get the last two words out.

“Truly?”

“Are you not–?”

Epluri could not hear the last word as it was drowned out in a chorus from hell combined with the screech from a ten car pile up and the dying screams of six hundred and sixty-six babies.  Algharoob stared taken aback for a moment, that anyone would have the audacity to utter the name.  Then he laughed.

“Ha, ha!  That old fool all bald and bushy eyebrowed.  We are actually doing a favor for him by killing the child, for which he will owe us,” Algharoob said lying through his teeth about who worked for whom, “We will also kill our hunter, and use the moment to return to our former glory on Earth finally freed from this inconvenient confinement to the ether.”

“Then I shall die then,” Harvey said, resigned.

“Quite,” it said and uttered a whisper in Hamee’s ear which hurt Baybar’s head even though he hadn’t heard it himself.

Hamee’s armor plated body withered away into dust scattered by an unseen and unfelt wind.  The only thing left was a glowing orb of light which Epluri could only assume was Hamee’s soul.  That too shrunk in on itself and then exploded silently into nothingness.

“Ahh, that’s what they call annihilation, little one,” Algharoob said turning to where Epluri had lain. 

Epluri was not there finally running to the light and stepping through its perimeter.  Algharoob caught the flash of his left heel disappearing into the brightness.

“You know this will not stop us,” Algharoob now drawled as he strolled over to the circle of light, “Sure it will cause us some pain, but you will still be pulled from it.”

“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” whispered Epluri willing himself unsuccessfully to leave this world. 

She had just watched Harvey breathe his last.  Aisha felt a chill come over her, but she didn’t think it was from seeing the dead body.

Then the world went fuzzy.

1 Comment

  1. “…the dying screams of six hundred and sixty-six babies.” that really sent chills doen my spine!


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