TMStarnes2013

Novelist and more.

Champions of the Veil Chapter Eight

st-michael

Sam and Raquel, still admiring Robert’s power to change people’s visual perceptions , continue toward New Orleans to speak to Robert’s dead Grandfather. Their lessons continue as the miles roll past. Robert has many new lessons to share…

Chapter 8

This life is a test. It is only a test. Had this been an actual life, you would have received further instructions as to what to do and where to go.

Unknown

 

They were twenty minutes out of Alexandria heading south on Interstate 49 toward Lafayette.

Robert wore a black t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, Raquel a pair of combat pants and boots with an over-sized pink t-shirt, Sam a white polo shirt, slacks and dress shoes. They were comfortable and relaxed for a long ride so Sam asked Robert about his powers.

Robert explained his powers of persuasion were the reasons he was in Shreveport instead of an asylum in Colorado. He knew he needed to get away from the creature that killed the Scaletti family so he used his powers on the judge (because he knew he wasn’t guilty or insane) to have him transferred as far away as possible from Colorado. He then convinced doctors the best place for him would be Shreveport because he knew the area and would be able to hide for a while until he was able to find help or get divine guidance. Things backfired on him though, because for some reason, his memory seemed scattered and his thought processes were erratic. He hid himself by creating a barrier of protection with the markings on his room’s padded walls. He remained confused because all of his powers had not returned…as far as he knew.

“So you don’t always know where this power is coming from?” Raquel asked.

“Oh, no, I know where it’s coming from. It’s coming from the divine because I’ve never used it for evil. The Key could be used for evil if a truly malign being ever gains control of it. That’s why I carry it inside of me now. My family used other techniques. Mine was just an accident.”

She frowned, “What do you mean an accident?”

Robert chuckled, “Well, I decided to share a bottle of really good wine with a friend one night in Denver. She took a taxi home since we were both pretty well toasted. Anyway, I picked up the Key to try to think of a way to hide it so the dark side of the veil wouldn’t find it. I fell asleep with it lying on my chest.”

“Uh-oh, I think I see what’s going to happen.” Raquel snickered.

“Yep! I woke up thinking I was on fire. My shirt was smoldering and the Key was sinking into my flesh through the shirt. I jumped up and ran into the shower. The Key was already halfway into my chest by the time had the water running. I felt dizzy then slipped and fell out of the shower knocking myself out.”

They snickered.

He sighed, “Oh, yeah it’s funny until someone loses an eye. Fall down and hit your head on a ceramic floor and see how you feel.”

They apologized.

“Now, continuing with my tale. I woke the next morning. In the bathroom mirror, there was the brand on my chest, but I couldn’t feel it in me at all. I looked around on the floor and in the shower to see if it had fallen somewhere but I was right, it was in me.”

“How did you get it out?” Sam asked.

“Well, I fell to my knees and prayed for it to come out. After screaming my throat raw, jumping in and out of a cold shower, and crying more than I’ve ever cried as a grown man; it pushed itself out and fell into my palms totally cool but I still had the sunburned area in its shape on my chest.”

“Ouch.” Sam muttered.

“So I did the smartest thing I could think of-”

“Don’t say it.” Raquel winced.

“-I put it back inside.”

That was the smartest thing?” Sam stared at him.

Robert shrugged, “I thought so at the time but the pain almost made me reconsider. I kept going, and I spent a weekend taking in and out until I could stand the pain.”

Raquel leaned into the front seat, “Robert, sweetheart, you’re a deeply troubled man.”

He laughed, “That’s what the Doctor’s told me. I told them not to get inside my head because it was a bad neighborhood and dangerous to walk through.”

Sam laughed, “If that’s not the truth.”

Robert scratched his chest, “Even though it’s painful to get in and out, it’s saved me some trouble with the dark side. In me, like I told you, they can’t see it. The good guys can, but they can’t make it out clearly. See, not all of the forces of light are supposed to have it.”

“What do you mean?” Raquel’s young sounding voice made him smile.

“The light side can be tempted to the dark just like the dark can come into the light. Everyone when they’re born has a mission in life, something only they can do and no other. In all of history, each of us has a mission to do when we are born or reborn. My family happened to have a bloodline of Champions.”

Sam stopped him, “Whoa, hold it. You said born or ‘reborn’, you mean like in the faith, like reborn Christians.”

He shook his head, “No, although that can happen too, but I’m talking about reincarnation actually.”

Sam rolled his eyes, “Okay, there you go. You’ve lost me, I thought you believe in Christ and Heaven and stuff?”

“Where did I lose you? I do believe in all that…and more.”

Sam ran his fingers through his thinning hair, “Reincarnation? I thought you have one soul and it goes to Heaven or Hell or whatever which ever religion calls their afterlife places?”

“You think like a human.” Robert laughed.

Sam looked back at Raquel who shrugged.

“What am I supposed to think like?”

He wagged his finger, “It’s not possible, but you have to think like the Great Spirit.”

Sam frowned, “Okay explain it for me.”

Robert took a deep breath, “Say you have a child. You love him or her, let’s say her, deeply. She smashes one of your favorite keepsakes. Do you banish her forever from your sight?”

“Of course not.”

“She wrecks and totals your car when she gets old enough to drive. Do you throw her out then?”

“No. It’s just a car.”

“She gets pregnant and doesn’t know the father. Do you banish her?” He deepened his voice theatrically.

“Not if I truly loved her.”

“You find out she’s a lesbian? Toss her out?”

“Things like that shouldn’t matter if I loved my child.”

“Gets into drugs? Banish her, turn her away, or get her help?”

He tossed up his hands, “Help her.”

“Has a furious argument with you. Tells you she hates you with all her heart and soul and wishes you were dead. What do you do?”

“Ignore her, and try to fix things.” Sam looked perplexed.

Robert held up one finger, “Aha! Now you’re thinking a little more open. By the way, I liked all your answers. If you, as a mortal, can give that much love to your child, and give her all those chances and still love her, still accept her, still care about her. Do you not think the creator, with his infinite love, wouldn’t give all his children the same opportunities? Do you think just because aborigines in South America that has always lived in the jungles and has never been to the civilized world would be cast into Hell due to his ignorance of the Bible, or any other sacred text?”

Sam thought for a moment, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t believe he would.” Raquel quietly answered from behind them.

Robert winked at her in the rear-view mirror, “That’s why the Key is not for everyone, not everyone thinks this way.”

“So how does reincarnation help those who don’t know him?” Sam asked.

“Well, there are two parts to that story. First part: is the belief in aspects of the divine, I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Second part: think of your body as a car, let’s say a Gremlin.”

Sam dropped his head as Raquel quietly laughed.

Robert grinned as Sam’s irritation, “Eventually, the car is going to run down, break, or get old and unusable. Your soul or spirit or maat or chi or whatever you want to call your soul is the driver. You, the driver, hasn’t finished your work using the car, so you ask the one and only number one dealer in town for a new car to finish your work. The dealer is a relative, lo and behold, your own father, and gives you a brand new state of the art car telling you when you finish with it and need another, come on back and pick out another. Then he says once all your jobs and errands are done, to come home and he loves you and will be waiting.”

‘That’s kind of nice.” Raquel whispered.

Sam remained perplexed, “So how many times do you believe you can be reincarnated?”

“How many times would you give a chance to your kid to fix a wrong they had committed?”

Sam rubbed his chin, “Okay, I see what you mean. So if I’m human and my love can change and isn’t infinite, then it’s just the opposite with our creator?”

Robert nodded slowly, “Now you’re not thinking like a human.”

“So you know for a fact reincarnation is real?” Sam wondered.

Robert made a face, “Heck, no, nothing is guaranteed. But it might be, which makes you think about all the things you’ve done and said to people in your life and makes you wonder if you might come back as someone like them, or already were.”

Sam sighed in exasperation, “So you don’t know? Then why did you tell us all that?”

Robert laughed, “Hey, ya won’t know till you gotta go.”

“So again, everyone is right and everyone is wrong?”

He nodded, “Yep, golden rule and all, take the greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as you would yourself or your God. Of course, I’m coming from the Judeo Christian perspective. People seem to forget about who said it in the New Testament and concentrate on the old too much, I think. Greater words were never spoken by so many people.”

“I thought Christ said it?”

“He did but others have said the same things in different ways since the beginning of time. So…you better listen.”

Raquel leaned forward again, “What was that first part you were talking about? ‘The aspects of the divine’?”

Robert sat straighter, “Oh, this is where if I ever go on a talk show, religious people are going to hate me.”

“Go on, tell us.” She insisted.

He grinned happily, “Working from the Christian aspect; Old Testament, Moses tablets; thou shall not have no other gods before me nor make unto thee any graven image, etc. You know the rest. Anyway…at one time, and even now, humans worship things; statues, trees, or worshiped objects, such as the crucifix and Mary and the cross. In some countries it’s nature spirits. I’ve even heard of pagan religions starting back up. Well, before the Creator threw the laws down, he was an angry jealous God, until the Christ came and changed all that. So far so good?”

“Yes.” they answered.

Robert gave them a sly look, “So what about all those gods once worshiped? What happened to them?”

“They never existed.” Sam answered.

He smiled, “Well, yes and no. They did and they didn’t.”

“Now you’ve lost me…and giving me a headache.” Raquel laughed.

Robert adopted a fake British accent, “‘Imaginary Gods history 101’ by Robert Oliver Wilcox. Worshiped as gods but weren’t gods. They were more along the lines of a separate set of angelic or demonic beings man worshiped before they knew about the one and only. The demonic worked with the Morning Star, otherwise known as Lucifer, so they were considered demons. The benevolent gods were intermediaries between man and the heavenly hosts. They conveyed the prayers they received to their boss until God decided enough was enough and his children needed to know him and him only. So…you’ve got all these beings on the edge of the veil with heavenly or demonic powers suddenly without a job. Some returned to Heaven or Hell; others decided to stay with us humans to help or harass us. Then there were those who just ended up liking us more and decided to hang around, they became partially human and have long life spans but can be killed. The opponents, the bad guys, just have fun setting up souls for their boss.”

Raquel nodded at him in the mirror, “Okay, I kind of get it. So some of these gods are still around?”

“Yes, ma’am, and a lot in America hang around New Orleans, it’s one of the oldest European settled cities in the North American continent. So when we get there, don’t be surprised by what you may see or hear.”

Raquel perked up, “Oh! Does that mean you’re going to let me see things like Sam?”

“Don’t be too happy about it, it’s not a sight to look forward to.” Sam injected.

Robert became serious, “Actually, temporarily, this time I’m going to give you both the ability to see and hear what’s in New Orleans. It’s going to be things you need to know and learn about.”

“What’s wrong?” She asked, seeing his demeanor change in the rear-view mirror.

Robert rubbed his eyes with his free hand, “This is the hardest part for me, guys. Just driving down this highway, I see the unseen. In cars, walking on the roadside, floating around people, and even the storm overhead. I also hear them. Evil sounds awful, good is music to my ears.” He readjusted himself in his seat, “But I keep things together by being a clown. Joking things off. It’s not so bad while we’re not in a big open area, but think of having claustrophobia and being in a little room with demons and angels fighting around you constantly. New Orleans is like that to me, I’ve been there several times, just before the Scaletti murders as a matter of fact. Before then, I was able to hold on, I remember that, but since then I lose control a lot. Go bonkers. I…I’m…going to need the two of you to help me when we arrive. I may be able to handle it but…you never know.” he glanced out the driver’s window.

Raquel gripped his shoulder, “Sure, of course we will, right Sam?”

Sam didn’t say anything for a moment.

“Sam!” Raquel yelled; shoving the back of his seat.

He glanced at her, “Of course I will. I was just waiting to see what you mean by going bonkers and what to do to help you.”

Robert grimaced, “I’ll be seeing all the unseen and all the unheard, most times I can block out the bad, but sometimes…like when I think I might be able to help someone…I lose control and try and help them. Like I once did back in the nut house, that’s how Roy was hurt. I’ll need you two to watch me and if you see me starting to wig out, just grab hold of me and remind me where I am.”

“Oh, that’s no problem I thought you meant we would have to knock you out or down or something.” Sam said.

Robert didn’t respond.

Sam’s eyes bulged, “You mean we might have to?”

He nodded, “It’s possible. Just imagine me unleashing some of the power I have in a crowd. Some who are sensitive, especially in New Orleans, will see the power, most won’t. If I wig out, you might have to put me out.”

“But wouldn’t that leave you in danger of attack by one of the bad guys if we do?” Raquel asked.

“That’s why you’ll need the sight and the hearing; you’ll freak out a bit, just imagine they’re making a horror movie in New Orleans, that’s the best way to rationalize what you see and hear.”

“What if these things turn on us?” she asked.

He poked his finger into the air, “Ah, the rules. I forgot to tell you the rules, and you, Sam, the rest of the rules. Listen closely, this will save your life. First: find a desk and duck and cover”

“C’mon.” Raquel shoved his seat.

“Okay really, here are the full rules-. You know; I never did understand that duck and cover thing, I mean it’s a nuclear warhead going off, it’s going to blow the whole school away so what good is hiding under a desk going -”

“Could you focus here?” She pushed him in the back of the head.

“Oh, right, the rules. In their entirety I think would keep you alive if you encounter or are confronted by the unseen are these: One: If you see them and they don’t see you, watch them or fight. Two: If you see them and they see you, don’t look them in the eye because they’ll know you can see them. Three: If you fight, fight for your life. Four: If you’re fighting and losing, call for help but wait for none. Five: If help comes, fight and give no quarter. Six: If you choose to fight, do it to win for they won’t give you quarter. Lastly, Seven: Remember, there are only battles, the war always goes on.”

Raquel nodded, “Okay so what if one of them gets right up in our face?”

“Refer to rule Two. Or run, running sometimes is better.”

“What kind of aid are you talking about?” she asked.

“Heavenly, there are a lot of divine beings in New Orleans just as many as the bad. They’ll take many forms just like the demonic will. You, Raquel, already have a large number of guardians so you shouldn’t have that much need for help if you call. They’re already there. Sam or the other hand-” he shrugged.

Sam sighed, “Let me guess; I don’t have any?”

“You do, two actually, they just kind of sit on the back of your shoulders. You never really call for them, that’s the problem with cynics; the help is there it’s just never asked for.”

“So my guardians are lazy, huh?” he laughed.

Robert shrugged, “Actually, no…you are. You’re a good man, but your faith is weak. Your virtue levels are mediocre. I sense a well of power in you, but you just don’t dig for it.”

“Hey, I believe in God.” he said indignantly.

“The Great Spirit believes in you more. You just don’t acknowledge him or his works as much as you could. It’s not a bad thing…well, a little it is. You just haven’t been told any better.”

Sam didn’t respond.

“So…what kind of things are we going to see in New Orleans? Unseen good and bad so I, I mean, we can prepare ourselves.” Raquel pushed herself forward between them.

They were five miles from Baton Rouge as he explained some of the creatures he remembered in the power locale of New Orleans, primarily the French quarter.

“Remember my memory is splotchy, so you know about the Alco; the Pedos; the Bestials; the Pounders; their larvae; horses and riders; Djinn; Devas; Guardians and Angels. Well I’ve described them, at least the evil ones, but let me start with the good guys.” he said taking a long breath.

“Heavenly hosts, what you need is what you get. You’re stranded on the roadside in the middle of the night on a long deserted stretch of road, well lookee here! Here comes a stranger who just happens to know how to fix your troubles. That woman pulling you back in from crossing the street right before a car hits you then walks away, human or angel? Now don’t get me wrong. Not everyone that helps you is an angel, but they might be. What’s the saying ‘Be kind to strangers because you may be attending angels unawares’?”

“That’s something I’ve always wandered about.” Raquel whispered.

“Now some of the shapes of Heavenly hosts you might see in the big easy may look like you or me. Human, but once you have the sight only you’ll able to see them. You’ll see the winged kind, the butterfly winged kind, they can look black, oriental, just about as many races and colors on this planet will be the type of hosts you will see. Then there are the hierarchies: archangels, warrior Angels, wisdom angels, guardian angels, cherubs, seraphim, all the types in the Judeo Christian belief system. Then of course there are the non-Christian ones, their appearance will be looking like they do for the type of religion the person devotes himself or herself to. Imagine if you were a Christian and the Elephant headed god of the Hindu religion, Ganesha, appeared to help you, or Shiva, for that matter, with her multiple arms aspect. You would think they were demons attacking you. So what you know is what aspect you get.”

He watched their faces as he spoke.

“Then you have the nature spirits, lesser heavenly hosts, well I shouldn’t say lesser, just different. Sprites, Faeries, animal spirits, the nature spirits cover a wide range but they battle the anti-nature spirits. You’ll see them everywhere. Fireflies or Faeries? Hmm?” he tapped his chin with his finger.

“This sounds so farfetched”, Sam said, “but I have to agree with you because I’ve seen what you’ve shown me.”

“You’re getting wiser by the mile. The good guys are more numerous then you can imagine. But then, so are the bad.”

“Yeah, this is the part I’m kind of scared about.” Raquel’s voice dropped an octave.

Robert slapped Sam’s shoulder, “Have no fear, my dear, Sam I am is here!”

He pushed his hand away, “I don’t want to really hear this either.”

Robert ignored him, “The hosts of Hell. Not pretty, don’t smell good, don’t sound good, and don’t act good. Then there are the pretty ones, the nice smelling ones, the nice sounding ones, and the really friendly ones.”

“Wait a minute you just contradicted yourself.” Sam pointed out.

“Nope, I’m describing both sides of the evil legions. May I go on?”

Sam kept quiet.

“First: the ugliest. Now first you have to understand the unseen will look different from the visible ones that have somehow gotten into our world or they’ll be riding on the most enticing of the horses they can influence.” He thought for a moment, “Let’s see…hmm…the Enticers. The Enticers rake through you to see if they can activate your darker side. Influence you to do bad things. You’ll see plenty of them. Murderers are big or small, nasty looking little things that are sometimes confused with Whisperers. Whisperers by the way are those that try to get you to steal a candy bar, or urinate in your bosses’ coffee.”

“Yuck!” Raquel exclaimed.

“Murderers are the ones that just work at you and work and you until you finally do murder, they’re kind of berserk, crazy-seeming. Then there are the Killer demons, they’re more calculating than the murder ones. The Seven Deadly Sinners, I have to tell you about them. Pride: think of a ‘yes’ man or woman. Always telling you, you’re the best, you’re the sexiest; you do a better job than anyone else. Pretty much Pride leads to the other sins. Then we’ve got Envy: always telling you someone else is better in whatever. Wanting you to be somebody you’re not and could never be. Envy makes you angry. We have Gluttony: real big in America right now. Gluttony procreates like a rabbit. Eat more, there’s room! Gluttony is rampant in the big easy too.”

He took another deep breath; “Lust: ah lust, succubus or incubus, lust comes at you both ways. Makes you want to cheat on your significant other. Longing for sexual acts your love would never do. Lots of those horses are in prison. Strip club addicts, that sort of thing. Which if they’re married leads to the next. Anger: no patience, shut that kid up, damn…insert ethnic race here, damn…insert earning level here, damn this and that. Someone cuts you off in traffic, flip them the finger, and curse them out. Curse your kids for deleting something off your computer for work, etc. Then along comes Greed. Forget about the spiritual, I need money, I need a new car, I need a new boat, I need, I need, I need, usually something they never need, but Greed leads them to it. It helps crime to commit crimes.

They entered Baton Rouge, Robert suddenly hunched over the steering wheel staring straight ahead.

“Everything cool?” Sam tapped him on the arm.

“Just trying to ignore the bad scenery, I’m fine. Thanks, that’s what I need the two of you to watch out for me.”

Even though he tried his best to ignore the sights and sounds of Baton Rouges good and evil he couldn’t blank it all out. Out of the corner of his eyes, horses and riders were everywhere. Bestials roared, dark shapes fluttered across the highway. Then the ever present storm overhead spat redder bolts, then struck gold, white or blue. A man and his three children walked out of a store ahead, two of the children covered in larvae, one not. The man carried a Pedos, a Pounder, and an Alco all fighting for dominance of him. The little boy with no larvae had three guardians floating behind him struck out at the father’s riders whenever they tried to reach for him.

“You’ve only told us six.” Raquel gripped his shoulders, massaging the knots of tension out of his shoulders.

He leaned back, relaxing a little, “Right, right. Last one; Sloth: lot of dope heads are convinced by this one. Married people who don’t have kids while their significant other works as they sit home eating and watching television all day. Sloth gets to many potential Alco horses. Sloth is big in the Americans too. Whenever we get to-”

He stopped when a howling, slobbering, monster rushed at the drivers’ side of the window; clawing at the glass, cursing him, telling him he was going to die a horrible death. It looked like something out of a radioactive hell. Blackened sores with bits of hair clinging to it. With bloodshot eyes, a gaping wound where a nose would be with snot dripping into its misshapen mouth with fangs too large for it to contain. Urinating a pus-filled, amber stream against the driver’s door as Robert tried to ignore it. It yelled that it saw his light, his goodness, and all of it would be destroyed. It would remember his stink it said, and then it turned, running down the road behind them.

“Robert? Robert! Are you okay?” Raquel asked, feeling him tense.

Grimacing he shook his head, “Cool as a cucumber, rock solid, not singing the blues.”

They knew his jokes by now were his defense mechanism.

Sam took him by the arm again, “Hey, mental case. What just happened?”

He smiled back, “Oh, I was just attacked by a Murderer Demon, no biggy.”

“What!” Raquel squeaked, “Is it gone?”

Robert nodded, “Yeah, yeah, it was attracted to my light, my aura. It’s just looking for a victim to kill. I distracted it.”

Raquel squeezed his shoulders, “Hey, tell you what Sensei, why don’t you pull this ride over for a minute and let me drive. Lay back here in the back. Take a nap. Sam can navigate; it’ll give me some time back in the saddle.” She radiated empathy at him in the rear-view mirror.

“Whoa. When was the last time you drove?” Sam asked.

“When I was twelve.” She said with sarcasm, “Duh! Sam I am, I walk because I have no car. I drove a delivery truck just a couple of weeks ago, so I think I can handle your Explorer.”

They agreed as he pulled over, she took the driver’s seat, Sam continued riding shotgun, and Robert lay down in back to sleep.

Just before they pulled back into traffic, Sam lightly poked her head.

“Hey! What’s that for?”

“For helping him with that ‘Sam I am’ junk, I told you not to start.” he pouted.

“That’s right you did.” She grinned wickedly, “Sam I am, Sam I am, Sam I am, Sam I am, Sam I am, Sam I am-” she continued, making the words into a song as Robert joined in.

Mildly disgusted, but secretly entertained, Sam crossed his arms and did his best to ignore their taunts.

To be continued…

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