Novelist and more.
While Robert dines in his dreams with the Native American embodiment of The Word of God, Sam and Raquel put up with his uncomfortable tossing and turning, snoring and his mumbling in his sleep as they continue toward New Orleans…
“Man, he’s an uncomfortable sleeper,” Raquel said in a low voice.
Sam looked back at Robert seeing he was finally settling down.
“How would you sleep if you knew all the nightmares your parents told you weren’t real then you found out they were?”
Raquel glanced at him sideways, “So tell me about what you saw when he gave you this sight?”
“You can’t wait for him to do that can you? It’s not going to be fun or pretty. The things I saw riding people were just picking up their children and that was enough to make me sick. Then, to think about what these children must be going through at home.”
She nodded, “So these rules he gave us, it sounds like they’ll be able to interact with us? Does that mean we’ll be able to interact with them? I mean if we forget and one of those bestial things come at us, are we going to be able to fight it?”
Sam shrugged, “Only he can tell us for sure when he wakes up.”
“So what have you done in the paranormal research field? Anything interesting?”
He shrugged again, “I’ve seen some ghosts, a poltergeist. I learned evil could stay in one place, poisoning everything around it. I believe people can be possessed. I’ve published a few articles in mostly fringe magazines but a few in mainstream publications. I’ve seen mind readers you couldn’t disprove. People moving things with their mind in controlled studies that we set up. That’s what I thought at first Robert was doing with me. Hell, the mutants from Chernobyl have some amazing abilities-”
She held up her hand, “Whoa, stop, rewind. Chernobyl? In the Ukraine? Mutants?”
He grinned, “Sure, the American government sent in spies during the cleanup after the melt down. They went there to see how the babies were who were born after all the exposure. The mothers aborted most of them; a few had physical disabilities and mutations. The normal looking ones? They were the spookiest. The mothers said they didn’t want the monstrosities and gave them away to relief workers who turned them over to the government who turned them over to research facilities. I’ve seen some of those kids in action; they rival Robert’s abilities in some regards.”
“So these kids are like…” she frowned, “…lab rats for these research facilities?”
Sam frowned, “Think of it this way, if they had remained with their family most of them would be dead now, more than likely killed by their parents.”
“Yuck! There are some mean bastards in the world. Oh, OH! What about Area 51? Are there aliens there? Do you know anything about that?”
He smiled, “Ever seen a street magician?”
“You mean one of those close up magicians, their sleight of hand? Yeah.”
“People are told ‘don’t look here’, ‘keep out’, cover places with mine fields, heavy defenses, and told trespassers will be shot. Go away. What is the first reaction for most people to want to do?”
She grinned, “Go see what’s there.”
He nodded, “Just like a street magician,” he held up his hand, “Ignore this hand, because…” he held up his other hand, “…this is the hand you should be looking at. Sleight of hand, nothing there. Area 51 is set up for everyone to see while the real spacecraft and aliens could be testing in any town in America.”
“So have you seen anything?” she whispered.
“I once had a run in with three men in black. I almost wet my pants, they scared me so bad, and I did not, repeat, and did not feel as if who I was talking to was even remotely human even though they looked it.”
“Wow, spooky.” She whistled.
They passed another traffic sign, “See that? Make a right. Let’s go to the French quarter before Robert gets up. That would probably make him a little jumpy but calm him down.”
“Do you like him?” She asked after a few moments.
Sam considered her question, “Yeah, I guess I do. I know for certain, now, he didn’t kill the Scaletti family after seeing the things back at the elementary school.”
She grinned and nodded, “Yeah, he kinda grows on me too. He calls me a truth seer but he’s right, I sensed both of you guys were safe before I joined you.”
“So miss ‘truth seer’, anything interesting happen with your ability?”
She drummed the steering wheel, “When I was little, I knew when something didn’t feel right. My foster parents and the orphanages just called it woman’s intuition. As I got a little older, I could feel when someone told a lie or kept secrets. Sometimes too, I fell when something’s not right.” she laughed.
“To give you a good example; one of my foster parents cheated on her husband. The school I went to was within walking distance to the house and they let us out early one day. When I came home, she was sitting on the couch watching television. No big deal, right? Well, I started feeling as if something was wrong, at the time I didn’t know about her cheating. Anyhow, I walked through the house and sensed someone upstairs trying to keep a secret. She asked why I was home so early. I could tell she was trying to distract me but I couldn’t figure out why. So, I really liked this family, I told her I was going to go play in the backyard if that was alright, she said yes right away.” She giggled, “Within fifteen seconds outside, I heard her go upstairs then two people came down and the front door opened. I looked around the corner of the house and saw this guy running to a car and taking off.”
They broke into soft laughter.
“Needless to say, which was good, she never cheated on her husband while I lived there.”
Sam was curious, “What was it like living in foster homes? If that’s too personal just tell me to shut up.”
She made a face, “I told you I’ve been very lucky. I’ve never had anybody try to molest me. I’ve never gotten involved with drugs. I tried smoking once, made me throw up. I’ve lived with all sorts of people, black, white, Asian. mixed, Hispanic, East Indian. Learned a lot about people and their cultures. Oh, the Asian family was cool; they taught me Aikido, Kung-Fu and Karate. That was fun. The Hispanic families taught me how to cook, and I was encouraged by the East Indian families to study. The black families made sure I went to church; the white families usually encouraged me to try sports and athletics. All in all they were good; I contact them all whenever I can.”
Sam studied her, “Again, you can tell me to shut up, but why didn’t any of them adopt you?”
“Things just never seemed to work out,” she looked sad, “Not enough money, too many children already; some of the families had lots of foster children living with them. I think, since meeting Robert, maybe that was what was supposed to happen. I learned Buddhism from the Asians and Shintoism, Catholic teachings with the Hispanic and whites; Baptist from both the black and whites. The mixed families let me worship any way I wanted. So maybe none of them were supposed to adopt me. I think they all loved me as much as they could, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I know I loved them all. Then I became legal aged and went out on my own.”
Sam remained interested, “What kind of people did you meet when you were on your own?”
She sighed, “Living on the streets were some of the worst times. So many sad people out there. Hopeless, addicted, insane, probably possessed too. I had friends other street people made fun of us, because we weren’t into anything illegal. We spent a lot of time at libraries. We were homeless nerds. We had run-ins with street gangs, and bad cops. Some of my friends I know were clean, and you know I could tell, but were framed by cops for drugs just to harass them, especially my Hispanic and black friends. We looked after some younger street kids and tried to keep them away from the bad ones. We fought off pimps, dealers, and molesters. Still, it wasn’t so bad. My friends kind of looked to me as a leader ‘cause I guess I still had hope for a good future.”
He grinned, “You do have an air of optimism about you.”
She smiled, “Yeah, I’ve been told that. Eventually either they would move on or I would, then the whole thing would start over again, new people, new jobs, new places. I thank God each day I’m alive, healthy and hope all the people I know are the same, even the mean ones. They need the prayers more than any other, I think.”
“You’re pretty deep for such a young lady.”
“Thank you, ‘old man’.” She glanced into the rear mirror at Robert’s sleeping form.
She whispered, “Has he told you how he was going to talk to his dead grandfather when we get to New Orleans? Or do you think he’s just crazy?”
Sam shrugged, “Something about a nunnery, that’s about it. I guess you could say I trust him that he knows what he is up to.”
Raquel rubbed her belly, “I’m looking forward to eating some Cajun food. I’ve heard the food is great in the French quarter. I want to see St. Louis Cathedral, Bourbon Street, and so many other things. I’ve heard it’s a beautiful place. And the Mississippi river! I’ve read so much Mark Twain; I can’t wait to see it.”
Sam cautioned her, “Just remember all the bad stuff living there, like Robert said.”
“Sam I am! You are a cynic!” She blocked his finger as he tried to poke her in the forehead.
“I’m a realist. We’re heading toward a center of good and evil at war. That’s what’s on my mind,” his stomach rumbled, “Well maybe the food… a little.”
“How long do you think we’ll be there? I hope for a while. I want to sight see as much as I can.” She grinned.
“Let’s just hope the police aren’t looking for my Explorer or they at least got the message from the Alexandria police it’s been traded.”
“Hope. You just gotta have hope. Things so far have turned out all right.”
Sam leaned on the dashboard with both hands supporting his head.
“What? What’s wrong, what did I say?”
“You just jinxed us! How many times have you been to a movie or read a book and right after some homicidal maniac jumps out of the closet or woods and hacks you to pieces or the ship hits an iceberg?”
“Booga Booga, bad jinx go away. Oooooooooooo!” She wiggled her fingers in his directions.
He threw up his hands, “We’re gonna die, now I know we’re gonna die.”
She nudged him, “By the way, you forgot, the homicidal maniac is already here, he’s lying in the back seat,” she whispered.
“Accused, homicidal maniac, accused,” Robert’s mumbled.
They looked back at him, “Good afternoon.”
“No one ever gets that ‘allegedly’ accused, homicidal maniac part. The maniac part might be partially true but not the other.” he tousled his hair trying to wake.
Sam shook his head, “I did. The maniac part, that is.”
“Most certainly I did.” Raquel added.
He looked at them, “You two are getting along way too well.”
“We’re almost into New Orleans city limit.”
He stared into the distance toward the French Quarter, his memory coming back.
“Just so you both know what’s going to happen, we have to go to the nunnery in the French Quarter. Something there will help me talk to my grandfather. You both will need to be prepared for what you’re about to see.” He pointed ahead, “Raquel, pull the SUV over to the side of the road when you get the chance. I need to prepare you.”
She pulled over in the emergency lane, turning off the ignition.
Robert slid forward between them, “Now Sam, you’ve only seen a bit of what’s coming, the ethereal storm is heavy over areas of spiritual power so you’ll see pretty much the worst storm you’ve ever seen. Neither of you should react to the things you see on the street unless you know they’re of the good kind. I’m going to make it so your hearing will not be exactly like mine but close. You’ll hear everything heavenly and malicious like you would through a wall in an apartment building. Unless you really concentrate on the sounds, you’ll only hear them as background racket. I should also warn you negative forces will rush up to you to startle you just to see if you will react, mainly because Raquel, you, are heavily protected. I glow like a 1000 watt bulb in the dark, and Sam you glow like a 40 watt.”
He wrinkled his nose, “Gee, thanks.”
“Sorry but it’s the truth. The dark loves to harass females more than males. I don’t know if it’s because of female intuition or because the so-called original offense against God in Eden by Eve so they find women more susceptible to them.” He shrugged, “Maybe it’s because they can carry life? So be wary of that. You’ll both see auras, lights, colors, you wouldn’t see in the normal spectrum of light. Raquel, you might see things we can’t see because you’re a Truth Seer. I just don’t know because up until now this has been a one-man show of a three-ring circus. Sam, you might even have innate powers I don’t even know about. I’ve gotten some of my memory and powers back thanks to divine help while I was sleeping.”
“Huh?” Raquel asked.
“I’ll explain later.”
“Anyway, I’m first going to change your hearing. I’m going to enable it for as long as we’re in New Orleans, that way if I don’t hear something you’ll be able to tell me. I’ll do your eyesight, also, just in the confines of New Orleans and in the French Quarter.”
Raquel rubbed the steering wheel, “Do you think it would be a good idea for us to take your lead when it comes to meeting people that aren’t there? That way we won’t all look… nuts…since you’ve had more experience at this?” She asked.
“That really won’t be a problem, only living, as in our side of the Veil, things have auras. A Heavenly glow. The Demonic are just…you’ll know them on sight. Also, the undead don’t have auras.”
“Undead?” they looked at each other.
Robert’s eyes widened, “Hmm, I guess I haven’t touched on that have I? Well you’ll see what I mean when we get to the Quarter. Now let’s start with your hearing.”
He unlocked their hearing; both commented it did sound like a war in the background. A muffled rumble they both heard.
He placed his hands over their eyes together; both opened their eyes looking toward the French Quarter.
“What in the hell is that!” Raquel squealed pointing.
Rising from the Mississippi river, soaring four stories tall, an obsidian spire twisted itself into a chaotic mass.
“What is it?” Sam whispered.
Robert stared, “I don’t know… and I don’t think I want to know.”
“I thought you’ve been to New Orleans before?” Raquel asked.
“Years ago, that thing wasn’t there. I’ve got no idea what it is.”
The ethereal storm fired red energy bolts into, and were absorbed by, the spire repeatedly.
It took a few moments for them to explain to Raquel about the storm, the bolts, and the colors. A series of multicolored bolts also struck inland. Robert guessed it was St. Louis Cathedral since all the bolts were of a positive tinge. He speculated the forces of evil were trying to affect the weather near New Orleans but he wasn’t sure, since the majority of the colors hitting the dark spire were of the offensive kind.
He pat their shoulders, “Well, if we’re going in, let’s get going. Now remember, don’t freak out about the things you see, remember the rules or we could have a car wreck.”
Raquel frowned, “Hey, c’mon give me a little credit here. I may be a chick, but I’m a tough-”
She stopped speaking when a lumbering creature crossed the road three cars ahead and watched the cars passed through it. It was an eight-foot tall, ten-foot long, slimy slug creature leaving a snail trail behind as it moved.
Robert shrugged, “Sorry, I’ve never seen that before.”
They drove over the slime trail the creature left and were instantly carsick. Each came close to vomiting.
“I know what it is! I’ve got a name: carsick slug!” She laughed.
Robert grinned, “You see now, how, due to you being able to perceive past the Veil, how it can also affect you? The more real it is to you and the clearer you see it, the more power it has. That’s why I gave you the rules. Trust me, it’s nothing compared to some of the things you’ll see.”
As they made their way into the French quarter, they turned onto the road passing beside St. Louis Cathedral Cemetery Number One.
She slowed as demons and angels alike, sat and fought in the cemetery as humans toured below them.
“That’s a skirmish zone, for sure.” She looked in the rear view mirror watching Robert with his eyes closed and mumbling.
She sped up the car.
“Is that better?” she asked Robert.
He opened his left eye, “Very, thanks.”
“Well where do you want us to go?”
“I need to show you both some things before we enter the nunnery. Find a parking area to the east of the Quarter. We’ll walk through there while I give you a run down,” he closed his eyes and prayed.
She eventually found a free parking area. They left the Ford, Rachel grabbing her backpack as they locked the doors.
“Lead on, Tarzan.” She winked at Robert.
Sam shook his head, “Oh, no, she’s getting your sense of humor.”
Robert gave him a smug look, “I told you I was infectious, Sam I am.”
“Yeah, Sam I am.” She teased.
“C’mon, c’mon.” he pushed them forward.
The wonders of the French Quarter awaited them.
To be continued…