TMStarnes2013

Novelist and more.

Champions of the Veil Chapter Twenty-Three

aura

While Raquel fights for her life in the dreaming world, learning to use and hone her fighting skills, Robert dreams his own lessons. As the new day dawns, Sam will find he has some surprises in store for them all. And Robert will get a chance to show off…again.

Chapter 23

As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

Benjamin Disraeli

Robert woke early to the sound of Sam talking quietly on his cell phone.

“- do you know it moved? Why do you think it’s going there? Only the wife is missing? Is she a suspect? So she wasn’t there when it happened. How long has she been gone? You’re breaking up. A week, probably a week, fine, then we’ll head in that direction. You’re sure no one saw anything? Okay. Okay. All right. Yeah. Talk to you later. Bye.”

Sam stood by the window looking out. Robert slept on the floor the previous night, he glanced over at the sleeping young woman, all twisted in her sheets, her legs sticking out displaying her shorts and tank top. He sat up to cover her legs motioning to Sam to come to the bathroom.

“So Sam I am, what makes you so grim or you just doing it on a whim?”

Sam rolled his eyes, “That was my contact on the phone. He told me the person…the place… we were heading to in Memphis was attacked. The M.O. was the same, Husband torn to bits. Some of his pieces were found in his twelve-year-old daughter; don’t ask me what or where. She was a rag doll; head twisted around and barely held on by the skin of her neck, same with each leg and arm. Every joint was broken but not tore off. Another daughter, fourteen years old, discovered with all of her body cavities violated sexually then filled with stuffed animals. The wife was originally suspected but she’s been traveling for about a week and they can confirm her whereabouts and it sounds like a loving marriage. The oldest daughter had a friend over last night, she came back this morning to hang out, and she saw blood all over the living room floor through a window. She called 911. Neighbors heard nothing in between the time she left the previous night and when she came back the next morning. Oh, yeah, three dogs were torn to shreds, along with a cat too.”

“Were the family wealthy?”

“Yes. The husband worked out of the home, the wife is as an R.N. at the local hospital. They haven’t been able to contact her yet. Neighbors say she was attending a conference at Duke University in Raleigh and might be meeting someone in her family.”

“Let me guess, in Charlotte, North Carolina?”

“How did you-? Why should I even ask? So I guess that’s where we’re heading now huh?”

“Right you are my dear Watson, excellent deductive reasoning. As soon as our dear Ms. Monroe wakes up we’ll be on our way.”

Glancing at her, she snored beneath her pillow.

“Well, Sammy Boy, looks like we might have a while? Shower for you or for me?” He motioned toward the waiting bathroom.

“Yeah, I’ll grab one. Ezra came to me in a dream last night, now I have all these things I know I can do. Need to clear the cobwebs.”

Sam set his cell phone on the sink, which made Robert think.

“I’ve been wondering since I escaped from the asylum. Did you take this job for an article as I psychically read you doing or did someone hire you?”

“Actually my contact called me and gave me the lead. He heard through other contacts I was asking questions about the case and had some info,” he pulled off his shirt.

Robert threw his hands in front of his eyes, “My eyes! My eyes! Your ghostly skin is blinding, it’s like a solar flare!”

“Shut up,” he tossed his shirt.

“Anyway…I hope my vision comes back…as I was saying. So this guy, it is a guy right?”

“Yeah, it’s a guy, his name is Gary Collar. Why?”

Robert plucks Sam’s shirt with two fingers dropping it on the floor as if he could catch a disease. “So this Gary calls you up out of the blue and tells you about the murders and tells you how to find me?”

“Well, actually he read an article I did about the newest killing after yours. I mean…you know what I mean.”

He rolls his eyes, “Not innocent, still? Go on.”

“Well, after the article, he contacts me and tells me about the events placing you in an asylum. He thought I should check up on you and after a lot of searching and pulling some favors in both detectives and the medical profession I was able to find where you were,” he started to shave.

“Yeah, um, I tried my best to hide that fact from, oh, just about everyone where I was, except for the people who took care of me. Thanks for finding me, Sam I am,” his tone was dry.

“Well sorry, but I had to follow up on the lead.”

“I have a feeling the reason you were so successful was because of your inept, um, inert powers as a Champion,” he picked up Sam’s phone.

Sam shook his head, “Ha, ha, ha, I laugh in your general direction.”

Robert punched up his last incoming call. It displayed as ‘Unavailable’.

“So how do you get in contact with this Collar fellow? Are you paying him?” he flipped the phone closed noticed most of the previous calls were also ‘Unavailable.’

Sam wiped his face clean, “Actually he prefers to contact me, no money is exchanging hands yet, but I have the feeling he’ll want something with royalties or a finder’s fee. I’m guessing he’s a cop, handling old cold cases that reactivate; I’m hoping to just make money off the story if I can sell it. Just getting the forged FBI documents broke my bank.”

“Without mentioning us, who we are, or our abilities right? I wanna know who your forger friend is too someday,” he arched an eyebrow.

“Actually that was going to be the main part of the story. An escaped lunatic kidnaps me, picks up a hot homeless girl, and makes us see things that don’t exist. Transfers his lunacy to us, giving us horrible things to see and do. Then we end up finding this murderer, sorry, monster doing all the killing. Case solved.”

Robert grinned evilly, “So you think Raquel is hot?”

He dropped his head, “Please don’t start. I meant that as sarcasm.”

“So you do think she’s hot, she’s young enough to be your daughter. You’re a dirty old man!” he waged a finger.

“Will you shut up, she could hear you. Yes, she’s pretty, but I’m not looking at her like that!”

“Oh, now she’s pretty? She went from ‘hot’ to ‘pretty’. You’ve been checking her out while she was sleeping. I bet you were!”

Sam smacked him in the back of his head, “Stop it, that’s not funny.”

“Ow!” Robert rubbed the back of his head, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m sure it’s illegal in some states even if she is legal.”

“Don’t make me smack you again.”

He surrendered, “Okay, Okay! So you have no way to contact this Collar guy. But he can contact you anytime he wants?

“Yeah, pretty much. So far he’s been spot on with his info,” he tried to shut the bathroom door.

“So Sammy my boy, don’t you think that’s a little odd?”

“No why should I?”

“Well, remember when I told you Askonae, Ezra, The Word, however you want to call him told me to take you with me from the asylum?”

“Yeah?”

“I remember he told me to trust you…but not your contact.”

He opened the door a little wider, “Did he say why?”

“I’ll ask him next time we talk, you could ask Ezra too, since they’re the same. Just be careful what you tell this Gary Collar, okay?”

Confused but agreeing, Sam shut the door to take his shower as Robert crawled back onto a bed, turned on the TV turning down the volume completely so Raquel could sleep.

Realizing he could watch TV now, seeing the good and bad guys without panicking about the creatures hovering over the humans on the screen gave him some small comfort.

Several minutes after watching news reports (and a little disturbed by the malign entities hanging around the newscasters with the exception of one or two on site reporters) Raquel rolled over tossing the pillows off the bed.

She sat up with her long hair in a tangled mess looking more like a medusa than human.

She looked at him with one eye shut and the other half open.

“GOOD MORNING!” he beamed.

“Meh,” she grunted.

“So you must have had a good night sleep? Pleasant dreams?” he smiled wider.

“Robert. I will kill you. Painfully…slowly…and really enjoying it, if you don’t dial back your cheerfulness,” she mumbled, slumping forward.

“Oh, don’t tell me you’re one of those people who, after a WONDERFUL night sleep, is grumpy in the morning?

“You have a death wish don’t you?” she muttered.

“Let me guess you had a meeting with The Word last night?”

“More like I was in boot camp, I fought all night long against Michael and one warrior after another,” she brushed the hair out of her eyes looking up at the silent TV.

“Michael? Michael who?”

“Michael. Archangel. You know that Michael?”

“Oh, him, nice fellow. Met him a few times, pretty good with that sword of his, I think he overdoes it with the whole fire on the blade stuff, but hey it works for him.”

She stared, “Nice fellow? He nearly killed me! And you’ve met him a few times?”

“Sure. Oh, he wouldn’t have killed you, probably decapitated you maybe but Gabriel or Uriel would have fixed you right up. He actually has a good sense of humor. Though it’s a little disturbing to me when he appears as a female to some people, Angels really are sexless you know, he really doesn’t look all that different then.”

“Decap-, Gabriel? Uriel? How many Archangels have you met?” she straightened.

“Oh, most of the famous ones, along with a few of the infamous ones, don’t ask me about them. Same with other religions, most of the higher ups I’ve either met with my father or by myself over the years. Even the ones who consider themselves ‘neutral’, yep, I’ve met them. Wait until you meet some of the lesser ones, and the nature spirits, oh some of those will creep you out. Some of them look like the bad guys but they’re not. I guess it’s a choice of personal perception of what’s attractive. I’ve seen some fey folk, that’s fairies, who looked nothing like what people make them look like in books. Some of them are just butt ugly.”

“Wow. You should like this is the most natural stuff in the world.”

“It is. Well, I guess once you get used to seeing it all the time it does become like that. You know some of the crazy people in the asylum with me, they had the sight but that’s all. That’s why they were locked up, they couldn’t come to grips with what they saw as real and the so called sane people couldn’t see them and told them they didn’t exist.”

She heard the shower running, “How long has he been in there?”

“Oh, just a few minutes, he started right before you woke up. By the way how did The Word appear to you, what form?”

“As General Kwan, he was a legendary General that brought Kung Fu and teachings of Buddhism to China.”

“Oh, yeah, him. Met him. The real one. Had to learn ancient Chinese real fast when I met him, he’s fast with that long staff blade thingy thing.”

She stared, “Are you for real, how did you meet him?”

He winked, “What? You think New Orleans was the first time I time traveled? C’mon, I’ve been doing this for a while. I’ve have almost all of my memory back now, or at least I think I do, how would I know?” he shrugged, “I knew a Chinese Warrior who needed some guidance a while back, so I took him to go see the General. Sad thing he died in Tiananmen Square; shot to death. He was a good guy, he and the General got along great. I miss him; he had a wonderful wife too.”

“How many warriors have you known?”

“Oh, lots. We cross paths a lot. We gravitate toward each other. I guess that’s why we were supposed to pick you up. There are greater things going on than we could ever conceive of dear little Raquel.”

“So who else have you met that was famous?” She perked up.

He slumped dropping his head, “Oh, no, I opened that can of worms. Let’s just say…a LOT…a real LOT…who are famous but I met a lot more that should have been and never were. They did just as many good works as the famous ones. The common Champions and warriors are overlooked, sometimes I think that’s good and other times I think it’s bad. But in the eyes of the higher realms all of us are viewed equally so it all evens out. For example Sergeant Luis Garcia, a soldier in the first Gulf War. No one knows him but he repulsed an entire village of Bestials and Murder Demons who had taken possession of mainly youngsters and women. He was a Champion, not a Warrior, he masked his leaving his unit one night right after my father and I found out about the village. He walked into the village just with pure faith, didn’t even take his weapons, I don’t know what he did but when he came back his hair was a little grayer and the village had no Demons. We asked him how he did it; all he said was ‘Faith’, nothing more. He was a humble person. He hated every time he killed a soldier or even shoots one because he was a sniper. Yet he went back when the next war started, lost contact with him after that. See, some people should be famous, to me, but the things we see and do can’t be seen or shown to someone else unless they’re one of us.”

“So you and your dad were in the Gulf war?”

“Yeah, we were posing as doctors without borders. Again, time travel, I ran into him travelling backwards, well that was one of our cover stories. My brother and sister were staying with a cousin while we were over there.”

“You don’t talk too much about them do you?”

“Well, Tammy and I really got along; she thought maybe dad and I actually were a little nuts because of mom’s death. Carl was too young to remember anything; we agreed to use our powers to make them both forget any trouble we came across. As both of them grew, and ended up dating, we kept things even more under wraps. We actually wiped their memories of some horrible things; see she and my brother never did receive any of the powers we possessed. Tammy and I agreed once she got pregnant the first time to limit contact so nothing would follow me to them, then after her next baby we distanced even more, until I got into trouble in the Scaletti case and I wanted her to stop contact with me all together. My brother on the other hand, had many wife troubles and with all the stuff I was into agreed to stop communication with each other to make things easier on his family. I guess it’s best that way, I don’t have to worry about them, and they don’t need to worry about me.”

“I often wondered if I had a brother or sister out there,” she looked wistful.

“Maybe one day you’ll find out, there are ways other than detectives who can find out for you.”

The shower turned off.

He lowered his voice so only she could hear.

“I need you to do me a favor.”

“Yeah?” she drew out the word.

“Next time Sam has his contacts contact him, test your lie detector skills on the informant. His name is Gary Collar, or so he’s told Sam. Just see if you can catch a vibe off the conversation they have?”

“Why, is something up with his contact?”

“Maybe, maybe not, but The Word told me not to trust Sam’s Contact way back when I first met him. Didn’t say exactly what or why or even how much but I think you can pick up on it couldn’t you?”

She nodded, “Yeah, I’ve picked up before when people were telling lies or half-truths over the phone. You tell Sam about this?”

“Not yet, I want him to be as normal as possible when it happens so he doesn’t give himself away.”

Minutes later the bathroom door opened; Robert turned up the news as they watched nonchalantly. When Sam stepped into the room, he took an involuntary step backwards. Robert was covered in a multitude of colors. The brightest; gold. While Raquel shimmered in orange to red hues.

He staggered, “Crap, what are you guys doing?!”

They looked at each other.

“Uh, it’s called watching the news. Many people do it now. But it could go out of style. Why?” Robert shrugged.

“You’re both surrounded with colors, like a fog, what’s going on?” his heart stammered for a moment

“Colors?” he glanced at Raquel, “Wait a minute.”

Closing his eyes, concentrating, Robert opened them looking back and forth at each of them. A fog of bright green and royal blue surrounded Sam with touches of white.

Robert clapped, “Oh, wow! You see auras? You’re seeing them naturally?”

“Auras? Those are auras? I thought I was having a seizure! How do I turn it off, I can barely see you guys.”

“Calm down, Sam I am, calm down. Just close your eyes and concentrate on not seeing them until you want to. It might take a few times, but if you’re seeing them naturally, wow, Ezra did open a gift for you. I have to use the Key to do it. I always thought that was a cool power.”

“COOL? I’m freaking out here!” he closed his eyes and wished this particular ability wouldn’t be active right now. After five more attempts, and some anxiety, finally the colors faded.

“That was a weird vision. Why did it suddenly just pop on?”

Robert shrugged, “Well that’s how some powers work, one second, nada, then BANG!” he slapped his hands together, “Then you have a new power, an awesome one.”

Raquel snuck out of bed as he talked covertly picking up articles of clothing and sliding behind him.

“So I can turn it on and off then?”

“Sure, just concentrate-… hey where do you think you’re going?” Robert finally noticed her.

“I’ve got the shower next!” She laughed, running in and slamming the door.

“No fair! You better leave me some hot water! Geez, you two are just like kids,” he pouted.

She yelled through the door, “Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, water, hot, got it!”

“She’s not going to leave me any hot water is she?” he asked Sam.

“She’s a woman. What do think?”

“Sexist! I name thee sexist! And you think she’s hot too.”

“Will you shut up about that? I didn’t mean it like that! You can be really irritating y’know?” he continued dressing.

“I know. It’s one of my most redeeming qualities,” Robert jumped up on the bed using it as a trampoline for a few minutes sitting down to watch more news.

“Is it me or is the news becoming more of an entertainment show than actual news?”

Sam didn’t reply combing his hair.

***

Robert screamed jumping in and out of the freezing water yelling at Raquel while they rolled on the beds laughing.         Finishing, he threw open the door with a towel around his waist pointing at them in mock anger. He said nothing at their serious and innocent stares slowly returning to the bathroom to dress.

Raquel snickered at Sam while he backed his bags; he was looking out the window down into the parking lot several stories below.

A state trooper slowly pulled into the lot, slowed down, passing his Explorer. It stopped and backed up, he watched the trooper running his plates.

He slowly pulled the drapes closed; at least they were smart enough to have parked the vehicle away from their room but still in sight of the window.

“Robert! Robert, we’ve got a problem,” he banged on the door.

“I’m sorry but I have pneumonia and can’t help.”

Raquel went to see what trouble he meant; she yelled for Robert too.

“Pne-mon-ni-a! Look it up, can’t move, frozen to the sink! Handle it yourselves.”

She ran to the bathroom door, her voice rising even higher than her normal pitch, “Robert! A state trooper is running Sam’s plate!”

Half shaved, wiping shaving cream off his chin, he rushed toward the window. By the time he looked out, the trooper was out of his car, peeking into the windows. He was a tall, older, Caucasian with a bald head, his hand rested on his sidearm. Robert hurriedly dressed.

“He’s going toward the office,” Sam called from the window.

“I’m moving, I’m moving, remember you’re my kids. Come down in a minute and whine about something, everyone who can see us will see you as children and we’ll all be Asian. Remember that,” he pulled at the locks yanking the door open taking the steps two at a time bouncing down. The trooper stopped, looking back just as he was halfway to the office when he saw Robert waving his hands to get his attention.

“Officer? Officer? Is there a problem with my car?”

The trooper appraised him.

To him, an Asian businessman with a suit and untied tie, came toward him. He appeared to be in his mid-forties, pudgy with some gray in his hair. Not at all like the fugitives supposed to be using this Ford.

The officer pointed at the Explorer, “Is this your car sir?”

Robert walked up to it placing himself between the trooper’s car and the Explorer, “Yes, sir. Why? Is there a problem? Was it broken into?”

“How long have you had it sir?” the trooper asked slowly approached him scanning the hotel’s room doors and the lot, his hand resting on his sidearm.

“Oh, a few years, traded in my old car for this so my kids and I could travel more comfortably,” Robert grinned from ear to ear leaning with his left hand on the passenger side.

What Robert actually was doing was subtly changing the appearance of the interior of the Ford. Creating dings on the paint, denting in the front fender adding a faded sticker in one of the side windows and altering the license tags expiration by a month changing the tag’s number from a 3 to an 8 with dirt over part of the 8 as well as the VIN number in the window slowly changed by two numbers.

“Sir, I’m sorry to say your tag has come back as a vehicle used by a fugitive who might have kidnapped someone. Your vehicle matches the description, are you currently alone or under any duress?”

The trooper stopped at the front edge of his patrol car Robert’s face turning to surprise as he pointed at the tag.

My tag? I’ve had this same tag for four years. See, I know the registration sticker only has a month left but this is the same tag I’ve had on it since I bought it.”

“Well, its numbers and description come back as a vehicle crossing state lines from Louisiana.”

“I just drove through Louisiana, a few nights ago, are you sure you have the right tag?” he bent down and scrapped the illusionary dirt off the eight.

“Wait-, that’s an eight? Wait a minute,” the officer looked at a piece of paper in his hand then back at the tag, “Expires next month, I thought it was two months, and the three was an eight? Hold on a moment, don’t move.”

He peeked in the passenger window, at the slightly lighter shade of interior, meanwhile the Champion glanced back at the hotel room urging the others to come running.

“Daddy? What’s going on? I wanna go get some pizza!” Raquel cried.

“She was hitting me Dad!”

“No I didn’t! And he started it anyway!”

The perplexed trooper came around the side of the Explorer to appearance of a fifteen year old girl in pigtails and a sun dress, followed by a tall, thin, twelve year old boy in a heavy metal t-shirt and shorts.

“Kids, quiet now, I’m talking to the trooper, wait your turn.”

Raquel pouted and stomped her foot, “But I want some pizza!”

“Yeah, we’re hungry!” Sam chimed in.

“I’m sorry Mister-?” the trooper began.

“Steinburg, Phuong Steinburg. This is my daughter Lian, and my son Tran, we’re originally from California. We’re traveling to the East coast; maybe see New York when we get there.”

“I’m sorry Mister Steinburg, I apologize, but I entered the wrong information in on my computer, this isn’t the Vehicle we’ve been looking for. Let me call it in real quick so my backup doesn’t panic,” he contacted the dispatcher.

“Oh, can I see the inside of the police car?” Sam begged.

“I like policemen. He’s cute daddy,” Raquel smiled up at the trooper.

“No you can’t, and no, young lady, you’re too young,” he scowled at them.

The trooper spoke again to the dispatcher, “Okay Mister Steinburg, I called it in. I’m sorry I didn’t read the tag correctly.”

“Daddy, can he come eat pizza with us? He can sit by me,” Raquel gave a coy smile at the confused trooper.

“Lian!”

The trooper smiled at her, “I’m sorry sweetheart I’m on duty. But thank you for the offer,” he shook Robert’s hand, “I’m sorry once again Mister Steinburg, I hope you and your family have a nice trip.”

“Can I see your gun?” Sam pushed forward.

“Both of you, back to the room, now, we’ll go get pizza when we finish packing,” Robert pointed angrily toward the room.

Sam pouted, stomping off. Raquel grinned at the trooper slowly backing away then ran up the stairs.

“I’m sorry, single father and all. Sometimes they get out of hand.”

“No harm done, drive safely,” The officer returned to his car, waving goodbye then Robert walked calmly back to the room.

They waited until Robert closed the door before breaking into peals of laughter.

Robert sneered at them, “You’re not funny! You’re not! Okay, some of it was, but you were pushing it,” he finally laughed.

Sam clapped his hands, “What did he see, how did he see us? I was guessing I was going to be fifteen and Raquel was going to be like seventeen or eighteen.”

He described how each of them looked to the trooper.

“TWELVE! With a heavy metal t-shirt!” his jaw fell.

“Fifteen? I was thinking at least seventeen, at the least, holy crap,” Raquel sat down on the edge of the bed.

Robert enjoyed their confusion, “Yeah, I guess I’m going to have to be…a little more specific about how I make us all look in the future. But you have to admit that was pretty funny.”

Sam shook his head, “I’m backing my bags, it’s time to go. I better pack my heavy metal shirt.”

Raquel slung her hair, “Yeah, and are my pig tails straight? You could have at least made us a little older.”

“I thought the ages I picked suited you,” Robert whispered, packing as they both threw a pillow at him.

To be continued…

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This entry was posted on July 2, 2015 by in Champions of the Veil and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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