Novelist and more.
Raquel is left behind in a New Orleans nunnery with her butterfly knife jammed in the thigh of a Priest. Robert and Sam are in the past, trying to speak with Robert’s deceased father.
The day Robert remembers as one of the worst days of his life.
Robert turned back toward the portal just as it closed.
“Did you hear something?” he asked.
Sam stared up at the stars around the Machu Picchu ruins, shaking his head.
“No, I was looking at the scenery.”
The wind swept across the mountain. Once more, the archeological site wasn’t in its futuristic cultivated state. Jungle growth covered the area. Insects and animals could be heard everywhere. A few feet away over a hill, a lamplight illuminated the night.
Robert pointed, “There! That’s my campsite. I mean my father’s. Hurry!”
He leapt into a run, as Sam trailed behind.
A bloodcurdling child’s scream erupted in the night. Then a Woman’s scream followed just as Robert started to crest the hill. Her scream abruptly cut off as Sam started up the hill. A round object with trailing fibers flew over the hill rolling down to lay at his feet.
A blood covered blonde long-haired woman’s head stopped face down inches from Sam, but he didn’t have time to acknowledge his repulsion as Robert barked orders from the top of the hill leaping over the rise.
“Sam! Help the Boy! Jonathan! Grab the children! I’ll handle this thing!”
Sam stepped around the severed head, running up and over, finding a young boy with his abdomen ripped open and another man running toward a boy and older girl.
Robert ran toward some sort of Devil.
The Devil was the size of a small bull. Walking on six heavily muscled legs ending in razor sharp claws, spines and bristled hair covered its body. Its Rhino sized head, included a Rhino’s middle horn and two smaller horns on either side of its jaws with shark teeth but no lips or gums.
Sam cringed seeing what the creature shook back and forth in its jaws like a dog playing with a chew toy.
It was the woman’s body and the creature was tearing the corpse to shreds.
“UNCLEAN! Base Devil of Hell! Drop the woman and face me!” Robert yelled.
The creature turned its six insect-like eyes in his direction.
It spat her out.
“Thou think ye are my equal, o man? I have feasted on thy diseased kind before thy kind walked upright. I shall slurp the shit from thy innards slowly once I kill thee and the others. Brazen clay ye are!” It replied mostly in Robert’s mind mixed with its guttural growling.
“Stop bragging and fight!”
The Devil leapt twenty feet from a stationary position toward him. Robert’s hands rose in unison while a shimmering ruby light enveloped his body. When the Tearer, which Sam thought it must be according to Robert’s late night descriptions, fell onto the shield, a great explosion of smoke and lightning propelled it backwards.
Snarling, the Tearer turned about as its bottom side sizzled.
“Clay! What are thee that ye have this shield! It matters not, I shall still rend ye!” it roared rushing at him again.
Robert responded with two glowing fistfuls of bluish light shoved into its insect eyes, it squealed and backpedaled.
“Vermin! Blinded or nay, I smell the blood of thy body,” it snarled, “Here, a gift!”
Three claws raked upward tossing and pelting Robert with baseball sized clods of dirt and rocks as it charged again.
“A gift for you, Devil!” He screamed back, a blood red spike of light encircled his right arm to growing two feet into a point in front of his flattened hand.
Robert knelt, diving to the side as the creature tried to shift in midair but the spike cut a swath down the Devil’s right side and back hind leg.
The Tearer fell and spun.
Samuel held onto the collapsed young boy. It dawned on him the young boy favored Robert judging by his looks. His belly split from sternum to groin from the Tearer. The boy cried for his mother. He realized the woman’s head and body was Robert’s own mother.
Sam thought of nothing else and pushed the sides of the wound closed and held them together. The man, who was Robert’s father, came running over with a small girl and boy under each arm.
“ROBERT! DEAR GOD! ROBERT!” he screamed, setting the crying children down.
“Do you have any medical training?” Sam asked remembering some of Robert’s family history.
“Yes, I was a medic in the Korean War,” he motioned for the other children to step back.
Sam stared for a second; he wasn’t sure what year this was but Robert’s father looked much too young to have fought in the Korean War especially as young as Robert is.
“Do you have supplies?” Sam tried to remain calm seeing older Robert over his fathers’ shoulder shove red glowing fists into the Tearer’s eyes.
“They’re in the tent, my….wife?” he said, starting to look to her body.
“LISTEN TO ME! Sam yelled, “You have to save this boy’s life! He’s been disemboweled! He needs immediate attention! Help him!”
He glanced into Sam’s eyes. Power left Sam’s eyes and entered Robert’s father.
Robert’s father’s demeanor changed immediately, recognizing a kindred spirit with powers similar to his own.
“Children, listen to me! Children!” Robert’s father had to yell to get their attention away from the fight behind them.
They turned to him, “Remember the place where we found the funny pots? I want you both to go there now! As fast as you can, once you’re there, make no sound until you hear calm human voices, understand?”
They nodded; the girl took the younger boys hand running away from them into the night.
“Sir, I’m Jonathan Wilcox, I need you to continue what you’re doing. I’m going to get my medical kit and be right back, can you do it?”
He motioned toward adult Robert, “Your friend-”
“He can take care of himself, now go!”
As he ran off, Sam leaned down to whisper in the boy’s ear.
“Alright, Champion. You hang in there, I know you make it. But you still hang in there. The pain will be gone in a while, be the man I know you’ll become.”
The Devil snarled licking its wounds with a spiked tongue.
“O man, thou have wounded me more than once. Thy death will be that much sweeter. How thee have done this, I know not, nor care not. But I shall kill thee.”
Robert gave the thing a mocking grin, “Come on then you stinking pile of hell shit! Take on a Champion from the better side of the Veil.”
The Tearer started to charge then stopped, “A Champion? A Champion?” it reacted as if it were laughing.
“Doth thee know how many Champions I have killed, O man? Twenty-two during my last release. Think thou being a Champion would scare me?” it charged.
An ivory and scarlet shield enveloped Robert’s left arm as the right continued glowing with the blood red spike. The monster reared onto its hind most legs rapidly attacking with claws against the shield. Robert ducked when the Tearer’s jaws snapped near his head pressing away the creatures’ claws with his shield and thrusting with the spike.
Eventually the Devil turned away as if to run then whipping its entire upper body against him sending Robert flying thirty feet. He landed with a thud on his back knocking the wind out of his body dispersing the weapons. He gasped struggling to stand.
Three mighty leaps brought the Devil on top of Robert, pinning him choking for breath to the earth.
“Speak, O man, O mighty Champion. Cry out to thy God to aid thee. What? Thou dost gasp, yet do not speak? While thee have cut me and partially blinded me, man of clay, I yet fight.”
A spiked tongue snaked out raking across Robert’s left jaw as he gasped for air, tearing his skin and licking blood at the same time.
“Hmmm, pure. Thy soul is not as corrupted as I would have suspected. Most of thy brethren usually become Champions after a life of unknowing servitude with my master.”
Praying inwardly for energy as the Devil raised back its head to bite off his, Robert felt his chest burn slightly over the Key.
Crackling crimson power circled Robert like a film of oil; tremendous arcs of energy blasted, burned, and tossed the Devil forty feet upward in the air and to Robert’s right. It lay dazed for several moments as the Champion caught his breath.
Sam watched them, as Jonathan returned to aid his young son. Robert raised, slowly, painfully, the light fading from him. Sam remembered when Robert first pulled the glyphs into his body in the asylum; the same appeared to be happening now. Robert glanced back at Sam and his father and younger self. His skin darkened to ebony except for the bright smile that then turned ebony looking down at himself.
Robert turned toward the Devil; “I…learned…at an…early age …Demons…Devils and your master were real. As is mine.”
Robert smirked at the Tearer as it scrambled to its multiple feet smoke rising from its underside.
It looked down its underside so it didn’t see the ebony human approaching it with steady steps.
“Clay! Thou have wounded me again! Thy blood and soul will be-” it stopped in mid-sentence as its good eyes peered through the dark.
“Thou art a Master Champion!” it roared, scrambling to attack as its defense.
Screaming in angry Aramaic, Robert raised his arms above his head.
The Tearer roared in response and charged.
Crimson and amber energy sparked between Robert’s outstretched hands then a ball of concentrated faith blasted outward at the charging Devil resembling a cannonball.
The Tearer tumbled backwards, ice crystals forming across its body turning into ice spikes penetrating its flesh. It howled in pain as its claws worked to break the ice from its flesh.
Sam looked over Jonathan’s shoulder at its howl but couldn’t see Robert except for his clothes in the moonlight; he was beyond the range of the firelight.
“I’m at a point where you can go and help your friend,” Robert’s father said, stabilizing his son.
Sam smiled down at the younger Robert, “I think he can take care of himself. How’s your kid?”
“He’ll have a nasty scar. That…thing appeared to leap out of the Ankh I let him read. I was teaching him Aramaic, when…” He started to look toward his wives body, Sam saw confusion cross his face as his hands began to tremble.
“Jonathan, look at me.” Sam commanded.
Jonathan Wilcox struggled to look back at Sam, he could tell the heavier man was a Champion having dealt with them all his life beside his father, and was using his abilities to calm him.
“Your son needs you now. Concentrate on your son.” once again eye contact with Robert’s father created a power connection from his gaze to Jonathan Wilcox as he continued silently working on the unconscious young boy.
Robert encased himself in metaphysical armor; power surging through him. What had the thing called him? A “Master” Champion? He vaguely recalled being considered that in the past. Perhaps when Askonae, The Word, released the mind trap of fear from the other Tearer curse, it returned his powers giving him unconscious control of his energies once again.
Maybe he was just more powerful because this was the thing that killed his mother and he was really, really, angry.
He cried out to the Devil in Aramaic; “Heat, Cold, whatever it takes to destroy you abomination! You’ll suffer before I send you back to your master!”
Blackish, puss filled mucus oozed from the Tearer’s wounds.
“Master Champion. Thou art sly, worthy of my Master’s teachings. Hiding thou greater power from mine eyes. My Master would give thee much to come to his side.”
Fury gripped Robert as he charged with another spell, yellowish in color, creating oily globs around both hands.
Robert’s anger made him careless; the supposedly direly hurt Devil sprang to its six legs and rushed at the oncoming human. Robert dived to the side but his shirt caught in the left tusk of the Devil that resulted in the Champion dragged for yards.
The Devil didn’t immediately realize the Champion was caught since Robert was on the blinded side of its head, but when Robert smeared the yellowish oily substance on the creature’s left foremost leg and it began sizzling and dissolving, it tossed the human away with a snap of its head.
Robert flew ten feet colliding with a ruined wall. Air whooshed from him as his head bounced against the primitive bricks, sending stars exploding in his sight.
The Tearer rolled in the dirt, dust and grass of the plain trying to rub the acidic substance off its foreleg. It growled in anger as the leg dropped off then dissolved into a yellowish mush.
It whipped its head around looking for the thrown Champion.
The ebony human rose, groggily yet confidently, to his feet.
He spoke in Aramaic, “Tell your Master you failed. I won’t betray my fellow Champions or my master!”
Robert concentrated a solidified Chi energy ball into each palm as he unsteadily, this time, walked toward the Devil.
The Tearer snarled, flinging four round orange-red energy balls from its remaining eyes at the advancing human.
Five feet from Robert another crimson shield formed a semicircle and a dome stopping the destructive balls as they exploded across its protection.
Robert tossed a ball of his scarlet Chi at the monster hitting it like a fifty caliber round. Robert spun his arms like a windmill tossing Chi ball after Chi ball at the malignant creature.
Each contact forced the Tearer back, closer to the mountain ledge of the cliffs of Machu Picchu.
Once more in Aramaic Robert screamed, “THAT is for affronts against MY master. THESE are also for the Champions you have slain!”
The Devil snarled and yelped as bits of its body blasted away creating dripping mucous and bile falling to the earth. It couldn’t gain footing neither could it advance at the Champion.
It felt the wind of the cliffs behind it, forcing it to seek stability with its claws while protecting its remaining eyes.
Then Robert screamed in English, “THIS IS FOR THE DEATH OF THE WOMAN YOU KILLED! THIS IS FOR THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER!”
Pressing both Chi balls together turning to his right, launching the energy in the form of a large baseball aimed at a batter at home plate, the balls hit the Devil in the neck, lifting it off its feet and outward twenty feet over the lip of the canyon where it howled in surprise, plunging back to the darkness below.
Robert ran to the edge of the canyon as the receding howl decreased then a large thump cut off the howl, then another, and a final one.
“That was for you, Mom. I’m so sorry I released it,” he whispered.
He made his way toward Sam, his father, and his younger self, lying near the firelight, filled with weariness.
Sam scrutinized the ebony dark figure noticing the color coming back into Robert’s skin. Robert stopped by the mangled and headless body of his mother, knowing he shed tears for her; Sam turned his attention to the father.
“Well?” he asked.
Sweat poured from Jonathan Wilcox’s forehead, “I…believe I have the bleeding under control but I can’t be sure. I can’t see clearly in the dark to do what I need. He’s been sliced through muscle and tendons. I think…think I have all the bleeding under control-”
“You don’t,” replied a quiet voice over his shoulder.
They looked up at older Robert wearing clothing ripped, torn, dirty and crusted with slime.
“Please, Jon, if I may?” Robert knelt beside himself.
“How do you know my name?” Jonathan asked, backing away.
Sam tapped him on the shoulder, “Trust him with your son’s life. You don’t have the least thing to worry about.”
Placing his dirty hands over the still partially open wounds, as his father leaned forward, Jonathan cautioned his unrecognized son, “Your hands! Infection!” Sam grabbed him and held him back.
Robert didn’t reply, continuing to hold his hands to his own slashed stomach. He sensed infection already from the Devil inside the young boy who would one day become him. Gathering his energy, his Chi, his life force, and channeled it into his hands. Some faiths would call it laying on of hands, others Chi transfer, while others might call it witchcraft. Whatever the different faiths called it, Robert did it.
Golden white flames danced over his hands. His father gasped and Sam struggling to restrain him. The flames crept into, over the wound, and around the young body. The flames crept up the older versions arms too. Slime and putrescence oozed from the open wound over his larger fingers.
The dirt on Robert’s hands, the diseased areas, and the infection burned away, neither Sam nor Jonathan felt heat coming from them.
A shudder ran through young Robert’s body, projectile vomiting straight into the air a trail of blackness two feet high. The flames destroyed it before it fell to the earth. The shadows of taint leaked from of young Robert’s closed eyes, nose, and tightly clenched mouth, all evaporating as the tongues of metaphysical energy flicked away.
Jonathan, being released, inspected his son glancing at the closed eyed, praying man healing his son. Looking down toward older Robert’s torn shirt, he noticed an aged and faded scar on his belly. He frowned, and glancing back at his healing son, then back at the man. The scars were in the same place and length. He examined the man’s face closer. Jonathan remembered his father had told him repeatedly about two men coming out of time to teach him more ways to use the Key Signorum and warn him about the items dangers. Jonathan remembered his father’s face, his own face, and the man’s face as he glanced down at his healing son.
Quietly he whispered,” Robbie?” asking the older healer.
Both his wounded son and the healer smiled.
Jonathan turned to look at Sam and older Robert, “Are you two the men my father….Robbie’s grandfather said came out of time?”
Sam smiled, “Why don’t you talk to him when he’s done, right now I’m just a sidekick.”
The young boy opened his eyes seeing a familiar seeming man leaning over him.
Older Robert opened his own eyes looking down.
“Pop?” the young boy asked.
Robert remembered he used to call his dad the same, “No kiddo, I’m a healer. Rest for a while.”
“Okay.” he replied. “You know what?”
“What?” Robert recalled his energy back into his body.
The boy whispered with his eyes closed, “I think I saw God.”
Older Robert’s brows furrowed, he didn’t remember saying that.
He continued, “Angels were all around me, they were pretty, but God was-”
Then he fell asleep while the confused older Robert tried to remember if he ever said those things.
Leaning back on his rear and straightened arms behind him, older Robert caught his breath.
Jonathan Wilcox gawked.
The incision, closed but not fully healed, the man calling himself a healer had truly saved his son. More recognition and familiarity confirmed his suspicions.
“Robbie?” he asked again.
Robert grinned slightly, “Yeah Pop, it’s me. Come walk with me for a while. I…need to tell you some things. Sam? Straight ahead you’ll see two large structures, go to them and call for my sister and brother, their names are Tammy and Carl, tell them everyone’s fine. Tammy’s headstrong so don’t stop until she comes out. She won’t know you.”
Jonathan reached for the older version of his son.
“How?” Jonathan asked.
Placing his hand on his fathers’ shoulder, he felt the calming spell Sam placed on him, nodding approval and wondered how Sam did it, and removed it.
“First Pop, we have to go take care of mom,” a tear crept out of his right eye as he said it.
To be continued…