The Plummeting Ascension

Ch. 3 The Sun Rises Only to Shatter Good Dreams



He sat cold and shivering on a hard metal banded park bench desperate and lonely. No one to talk to, no home to go back to and nowhere else to go. His heart sank as he thought about the future.

“what future do I have?” he spat while snarling at his own pale ghoulish reflection in a puddle made by the sprinklers now watering the lawn. The wee hours of the morning were always his favorite time to think, though he had spent all night running as hard and as fast as he could and now exhaustion set in heavy his heart feeling even heavier than his feet and eyelids. He wanted to curl up on the cold green metal bench and sleep forever, though; the air was cooler than he would have liked and when his eyes closed horrible things came to view repeatedly. He stood up slowly, creaking sore muscles stiff from the hellish night before responded slowly, and he walked or rather, he hobbled into the wet grass. He was already drenched in sweat, so it now made no difference to him if he got sprayed.

The deep purple and royal blue of fading night mixed with the blazing golden salmon clouds marking the rapidly approaching sunrise well announced. The crickets sung a cheerful tune with much gusto which he felt was an ironic scenario for what he had just lived through. He bit his lip and drew blood on the thought that anyone could be happy while he was in this much pain. The hissing of the spraying water mixed with the thundering bass of his own pulse beating down on his eardrums only drew him more on edge. Like a violin string ready to snap after being tightened stretched and sawed at. His heart screeched a tune of anguish that would make anyone’s ears bleed.

“I have nothing, no home, no family, nothing…” choking back bitter, burning tears his stomach turned in on itself as he rinsed his hands off in the icy water soaking the green field around him. Thick, red ran from his hands mixing with the colors of the early morning and like a grotesque bout with watercolors swirled staining the blank gray pavement leaving it forever changed just like he was now. He could only stare in horror as his bloody hands ran, gasping for air he began shaking uncontrollably, perhaps it was the cold or perhaps not. His broken heart was falling apart, and he was losing his grip on reality.

“Make it stop, make it stop, oh god someone help me, please! I don’t want to be alone anymore!” shrouded in shadow all he could do was sit in the wet pooling grass and hope that if he got sick it would kill him. Curling in on himself and whipping his runny red hands off on his once white but now dingy tan button up shirt. The fabric clung to his small frame becoming translucent, he pulled at his long ebony hair normally silky smooth, it was now a starched rats nest hardened by sweat and dirt. The sorrow hung over his head and choked him like smoke from a burning forest.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault! I wish I were dead! I wish I were never born! Your life would have been better without me, everyone’s lives would be better. I’m just a wretched curse!” He said in a voice heavy and exhausted the sigh of total defeat. With burdens far too heavy to bare he looked to the bridge in the parks distant horizon knowing that the rushing waves of the river would be perhaps enough to take away his pain. He may have turned fourteen the day before, but on this night, he felt as if time had stopped, an invisible force had ripped out his childhood and all that was once good inside of him and aged him thirty years. He felt dry and cracked and parched even while freezing water soaked him to the bone. Slowly he lumbered to the bridge stumbling on the slick wet grass his shoes squeaked and squished with flooded padding trailing ghostly wet footprints behind him.

“I have died on this night, everything is gone, my whole life is over no one could ever love a monster like me.” Visions of a dark house, a gunshot splitting the peaceful evening air, fear, horror, terror, desperate primal screams of mysterious origin assaulting the silent night air like the repetitive pounding of builders laying down shingling on a roof. The strange smell, wet and metallic. The taste in the dark room, the mist in the air, like salty copper. Heart beating, beating, beating… slowing… stopping… silence. Cold silence, black silence a morbid chill befalls those who stand with death, who hold its hand. An empty hallow forms where the heart should be when you fight with death, when you fight in someone’s stead for life and fail. Death is not evil, or vindictive but nor is he merciful or kind. Death comes to us all in due time, indifferent and duty bound. He does what must be done for the sake of life not in favor of one particular life.

Empty cold, golden brown eyes staring back at me, slowly graying with deaths deep kiss. An empty cavernous hole, pale white hands spattered with a contrast of ruby droplets, Ebony hair and crimson flowing together in a tranquil swirl as a life is flushed away. “Why, why, why? Mommy why did this happen?” rumbling from under his feet pulled him away from his dark reverie. Leaving him wide eyed at the railing of the pedestrian bridge. A tall, long gray stone bridge with rod iron gothic railing hung over the crystalline waters like a hangman’s tree in a flower garden. His pale creamy skin and soft angular feature lit up in the suns cresting beams and the massive windows overhead glared and gleamed sending rainbow reflections throughout the park-scape. He was as beautiful as he was retched and every bit as hopeless to boot. With his raven colored hair hanging wet and clinging to his cheeks and neck he placed a trembling foot between two rails with a clank and then another. Gingerly he climbed the side of the bridge and stood on the damp edge looking down at the rapid silvery water churning thirty feet below. He closed his eyes taking a deep breath, the water smelled crisp and clean, the scent of dew and night air still lingering. “Someone, please save me! Or please let me die, let my pain die!” he groaned and the words left his lips like the last spurt of blood from an emptying artery. It was cold, the world was so cold.

…….

Running, jumping, diving through trees this way and that in an early misty morning, Platinum blond hair flying wildly in the cool breeze. Leaves and twigs filled the glinting metallic mane, but she didn’t care, it was life or death to her. She had to find it, absolutely had to before they did. Frantically searching the forest floor of the oak grove in the park she knew it was here somewhere and if they found it before her… she shuttered at the thought of what might happen. Heavy breathing was catching up behind her. It was them! She shrieked, panic setting in she was almost out of time! There in the corner of her eye, a man in black, tall, muscular, fast as lightning, he came bounding out of the shadows. She darted behind some trees and down a small embankment to the edge of a slight stream. Counter stepping across rocks and using the water flowing to prevent tracks from being left behind she knew how to survive in the wild. Her mother and father had drilled it into her. Always insisting that she know how to live on her own in the wilderness they ran her through different drills regularly. Diving into a thicket of fully flowering bushes she held her breath and watched as a few seconds later this man caught up to her and went running by. She sighed, there was no time to lose. She got back up to her feet, her grey jogging outfit was a mess with dirt and mud painted all over it. Grass stains on her knees she looked like a refugee.

Running, panting, eyes darting all around for any sign of movement. She felt like a deer being stocked by a bear. Panic quickly welling in her throat as she spotted it, a patch of light green herd flowing with a white feather like plume. But there on the other side of the clearing stood a small figure, slight and streamline. Liking her lips, she crouched into a sprinters position and burst forward with all her strength. She had to reach the plant before the woman on the other side did. Then in a blink of an eye she was swept off her feet by a man in a dark running outfit. The woman across the way made her way skipping and humming to the plant. She cried out and her scream echoed. Landing hard in a pile of leaves she scrambled to her feet but not before the laughing man grabbed her ankle and pulled her down once again.

“This isn’t fair! You said I’d have an hour there’s still fifteen minutes!” His hands were firmly set on her sides squeezing. She gasped for air her body crumpling weak and helpless.

“stop… no… not fair… DAD!!!” tears rolled down her cheeks as he got to his feet he tore off his black mask and beamed down at her with a glittering triumphant smile stamped across his face. He had a jagged scar across his face running from one ear to the other. The scar was at one point deep and dieted his nose giving him a Wildman sort of appearance as if he were always wearing war paint. He huffed and placed his hands on his streamline hips,

“Very well, I shall allow you 45 seconds to catch your breath.” She sighed and laid flat on her back. She was totally exhausted! He looked at her with a sly expression,

“but you know, I’ve never been very good with telling time…” she sat up and scowled at him

“don’t you dare…” but in a flash he leapt on her and began his onslaught of tickling again. The slight woman joined them with nothing but giggles. His dog tags jingled under his cloths as they rolled through the leaves and battled on the forest floor. The platinum haired wild girl stuck her fingers in her father’s nose and he cried out half laughing and half in shock as he reared back she kicked off on his stomach and rolled to a crouching position out of his reach.

“You little!” He laughed and growled at once, kicking leaves into her face he covered her face and laughed,

“nice try but that won’t work on me ever again!” She rolled to the side and came up in his arms.

“aw, dang…” She sighed and was slammed back to the ground and tickled even harder.

“this is a good batch, I’m so happy we found it before its flowers medicinal properties expired!” she bundled the plume like flowers in a cloth and placed them gently in her herbologist pouch. She was poking at a large ant hill and watching them scurry around while she hummed the tune to the minute waltz. The laughing was cut short however by a loud gurgling scream.

…….

He could hear the turtle dove’s early morning song echoing from under the bridge and wondered how many people they had seen jump from this bridge, if he would be the first, or if he would be the last. If he was just a faceless statistic about to join other blank faced phantoms. Then with arms spread wide he leaned forward and felt himself floating at first then his stomach lurched as he picked up speed. In the next moment all he could feel was unexpected amounts of pain his face, his stomach both stung with the impact. His whole body felt like pins and needles, the icy water was not forgiving or kind. Sweeping him up in a toiling torrent of roaring water he tumbled repeatedly banging against rocks and scraping the sides of the canal. He felt something hot burst forth from him, heat so intense it evaporated water in large steamy clouds and engulfed his entire body.

Roaring like a great beast thrashing across a vast bloody battlefield ensnared his senses. The smell of smoke and blood, ichor and charred flesh assaulted his entire being. The screaming of someone very precious to him echoed in his mind. The screaming was endless, thousands of voices cried out for help but he could move not a single crispy finger, merely burn with pain, sorrow, and cursed dragon fire! She called out his name over and over, they all did! Just out of reach they burned and writhed and were ravaged without mercy but he could do nothing! They were ravaged endlessly by dark figures that he could not see, whos eyes glowed like the wicked flames that consumed his body. His heart broke, they called his name but what was it? He could not hear his own name.

“Who am I?” he shrieked as the world went dark “Who am I?” Burning, drowning, thrashing all about he felt a cool hand grab ahold of his own hand. It was small and gentle, and the heat he felt like an aching dagger in his heart and throat subsided. Flaring once again at the sound of a mysterious voice asking him for his name the heat lasted for only a moment before cooling again and water swirled gingerly around him as he floated safely to shore. A petite body pressed against his back soothing his fears. In another flash of half consciousness he felt the water harden around him and like a hand it picked him up and placed him on the bank of the river near a thicket of great red oak. Bloody, not breathing he faded in and out of darkness as a small faint voice called out for her parents to come quickly, her cries echoed, like her voice did. Like the voices of so many children whos parents would never hold them again.

“What’s your name?” ‘angelic’ he thought, ‘she must be an angel. With a voice as fine and comforting as hers she must be.’

“Your name, can you tell me what it is? Do you have any family?” he groaned and opened his eyes. Gurgling though blurry dizzy vision was all he could muster. But he could make out a small pair of vibrant purple Alexandrite eyes staring deep into his own golden eyes under the dark shaded canopy of the red oak grove. It felt almost as if he were staring up at a night sky with two purple Alexandrite stars guiding him home. With herculean effort he parted his lips and spoke the only words he could muster.

“My… name?…what was it?” He fumbled over it thinking only of the sound of a gunshot and a roaring dragon and her screams, whoever she was. He could taste blood hot and think in his mouth, the way the mist had tasted in his mother’s bedroom but more of it now.

“My name, I’m Kro Rowen…” A dragon roared in his head, and echoes of screams reverberated in his mind inaudible to all but himself. “Wait no, that’s not right… I think… I’m Julius… Amaranth… I’m so alone… wish you had left me… alone.” His vision went black and he felt the world around him spinning. Footsteps rustling the grass and leaves near his head and a voice, masculine saying,

“This boy is a mage, who is he?” Then he heard his name sung from the lips of an angel,

“He’s super confused I think he’s Julius Amaranth, he’s alone.”

“that’s right, all alone. Wish I was dead.” He thought, maybe he spoke it aloud he was not certain.

“Julius, you’re going to be okay my father is here, and he can heal you. Julius, my name is…” He never heard her name or anything else after just a grave silence and black static. Dark torment, paralyzed and writhing in agony. He felt hot, and dry, like his flesh was charred and cracking. Like a rotisserie chicken left alive and hung over the flames for far too long. Then, out of the darkness he was bathed in gentle golden light that soothed his misery and his spinning dizziness slowed. His body felt strange and heavy, panic flooded his mind wondering what could be happening to him. All he knew was he was in pain and cold now, then he was warm, and he felt stiff but pain free. The whole world dissolved away to blackness once again, but it was a deep slumber of someone who was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained, a near death coma.

‘God damn, this is bad! I can’t take this train wreck with us! He’s a damn liability! What do I do?’ thought the girls’ father in stoic panic and isolated indignation. ‘She is just like her mother! Is there a gene for finding wounded strays and nursing them back to health? Christ, what the hell do I do now, if we take him with us it could back lash on my girls.’ He groaned as he forced all of his energy into healing light around the unconscious and water logged boy. The hounds howled at the entrance to the park some ways off and the young girl’s father snapped something between his fingers and sprinkled pepper over the surrounding area before they left with great haste. ‘Sorry kiddo, my family is more important to me. If they find you…. that will buy us more time to get farther away.’ He loomed heavy over the boys sleeping body. ‘You are now as I was then, I really hope you make it out of this one kiddo. I don’t know what happened or what you got yourself into but I can’t afford to care right now.’ He tore himself away from the seen with haste and fled quickly knowing the pepper would prevent any other sent from being picked up by the hounds. “No! we need to take him with us! Daddy, he needs our help!” cried the bright alexandrite eyed girl. Her father quickly tossed her onto his shoulder like a sack of flower or potatoes and bolted for the thickets of shrubs and trees. It was now a race to get away in time!

…….

Watching from behind a great red oak tree sat a hulking figure shrouded in cloaks of haunted shadow silk with misty moonlight grey trim. The giant of a figure had a jagged sacrificial dagger with skeletal ram’s head hand guard and spinal column like ridged handle dangling on a barbed golden chain around his neck. The figures eyes flashed red for a moment as it continued watching, taking everything in. It stood silently and took out a holo-phone from an inner cloak breast pocket, a hologram image of a keypad appeared and with a gloved hand it began dialing for emergency response as the great looming beast lumbered lazily to Julius’ side. A monotone woman bored at work answered but the figure did not speak just set the phone down by Julius’ unconscious body and stepped away. Stepping into the shadows it took another phone out and dialed a different number. In a high pitch, perky, feminine voice the beast spoke, clearly mimicking a foreign human voice.

“Yes, I have found him my lord. He has… promise you could say. He is certainly broken now I think, the boy must now be molded. I trust you know better than I on how to proceed from here?” there came a smooth charming male voice from the other end,

“Thank you, Treptoe, I can handle it from here. Take to your other duties and keep me informed of how things develop on all fronts.” The call ended, and the figure dropped the holo-tele-projection phone. The device burst into flames as the figure snapped its fingers. A deep, nearly inhuman voice came from the figure as it chuckled and walked out of the park, the abnormally tall figure blended in with all the foot traffic with little effort and after a moment the figure vanished all together, gradually taking the form of an average human in drab, average colored clothing. Within ten minutes the abandoned H.T.P. phone was traced to Julius’ limp body. The hounds closed in sniffing the air, the three hounds in the lead gagged as they reached the boy and their noses and eyes all began to water fiercely. Howling in pain the hound officers backed away as the pepper assaulted their honed and delicate senses.

“Damn it! Someone peppered the area! Human officers spread out and search, hounds fall back!” the other officers did as a big greying German Sheppard growled, he started wildly sneezing and whipping away tears, but his ears were completely alert, and he seemed less hindered than the other hounds. He stood a head taller than the other hounds, sleek and slender he was a scarred war dog forced into retirement because of his age. Meaner and harder than the rest of his younger hounds and twice as smart he was one of the very few hounds to have ever made it to the rank of an officer in any branch of service let alone both military and police duty. The big greying hound called in for backup and requested a military ambulance be sent out with escort. Because the boy was a half breed the extra guards would be needed and military vehicles were the only hover vehicles allowed to be used in the dome city airspace. The giant of a hound prowled around the woods and his hackles stood on end.

“Yeah, deep shit, there’s been something nasty here, don’t know what but we got some messed up business going on here.” The other officers looked to the growling officer.

“You sure sir?” asked a green new detective

“As sure as the gods have sandals boy, somethings not right.” the hound paced around the slumbering boy as he steamed and rapidly healed before their eyes.

“This aint right, somethings up! take him to…” He was cut off by a gruff and pompous voice from behind.

“To Aztisean, this case must be dealt with properly.” The hounds ears slicked back and his tail tucked but his hackles stayed prickled up as a man in silver military uniform strutted his way. Golden epaulets and gilded shimmering sword on hip. magnificent gold inlay gleamed off the mans’ armor vest. ‘Major!’ exclaimed a number of shocked police as they parted from the way of the gilded man walking with heavy escort.

“G’after noon… Sir…” Growled the hound, “To what do we owe a visit like this to? Don’t you think a big brass escort for a little boy is a bit… excessive… sir?” the man scoffed and waved his hand dismissively at the hound in charge. He backed away but remained ever intense.

“There has been a great deal of reports on murders and huge energy readings as of late, so I was sent to investigate personally, nothing more. The doctor in Aztisean is accepting new patients so it would be a shame to let this boy’s life go to waste, he is so very young and already a vicious criminal in need of fixing. Investigation concluded. Return to your posts this is now official military business.” The major’s men fanned out and took up dominant tactical positions to secure the area. The ambulance and armored escorts pulled in and the hound officer pulled back, glaring at the Major taking command.

“Oh, boy,” The major whistled as if calling for a sheep dog at a distance. The large hound in charge turned with a deep growl. He motioned for his investigators to pull out and they moved from the seen without contestation. “What was your name dog?” The major strutted over to the large hound and yanked his dog tags out from under his finely polished but scarred armor to check his name and information. “Lieutenant Totten huh? Whos’ ass did you sniff to get this rank?” The scarred and battle-hardened hound towered over the tall Major by a full head and shoulders. Slipping a long-clawed finger down the Majors uniform front he pulled out the officers’ own identification tags out from under his pristine, glittering armor. Totten looked them over before the Major could stop him.

“Well Major Brindwell, my own naturally, it was the only ass in the brass worth sniffing.” He disrespectfully flicked the major’s tags back at him just as the major had done to him only moments ago. “All the rest of you are politicians. Aint nothing special about a bunch of desk jockeys living on their knees. I was earning my stripes in combat while you were dusting dicks and playing with children’s building blocks in the daycare center, I mean War Room.” In a fit of rage, Major Brindwell pulled a small silver whistle from a side pocket and blew on it as hard as he could. The straw dogs in the area all howled in pain and cowered while covering their ears, all except for Lieutenant Totten who glared intently without flinching once at the Major. Taking the whistle from the stunned Majors hand he inhaled deeply and blew on it even harder than the major had.

“That training whistle works on pup’s sir, not hounds.” Totten dropped the whistle back into Major Brindwells hand as he glared up at the giant mangy dog. Clutching the whistle tight his face turned red as Totten turned unceremoniously and walked away without a solute nor waiting for proper dismissal.

‘This shit aint right, somethings very wrong here.’ thought the greying hound as they returned to their precinct. ‘What the hell is going on here? That was too weird. That Major aint never taken the field for anything before now. That Major has only ever commanded from over the coms, never in person.’

“Load him up and wrap it up! We are burning daylight!” Shouted the Major and his personnel hustled even faster. Hoovering up all evidence and securing the captive.

“Brindwell…” The Major jumped with fright for a moment not expecting the familiar rumbling shadowy voice to speak his name.

“I thought you were supposed to be gone already fool!”

“One can never be too careful when playing a game of immortals chess; you must be seen leaving an area so as to better monitor your enemies once they think they are all alone. No one escapes their shadows, and I’ll be there… listening and watching… once they feel safe”

“Well don’t do that shit to me, you abyssal voyeur!”

“I just wanted to warn you to be careful with that one he’s got a strong will and an even stronger fighting spirit, when the time comes, I want to eat that one. He will be delicious, that Totten was it? A fine name for a fine snack.” the gigantic shadow chuckled to the major before he vanished deeper into the oak grove in total silence. The major looked to the tiny whistle still in hand, bending it in his tight grip he dropped the destroyed whistle to the ground and stomped it into the mud of the lush grass before turning and storming off back to his armored transport. Fixing his uniform before getting into his vehicle he tucked his tags back under his armor with a huff. Clearing his throat, he sank into the lavish luxury transport and spoke in a hirer, more pleasant pitched voice, looking to a figure in dark gleaming, sapphire encrusted shoes.

“Sorry for the delay my lord, all is as it should be thus far. To Aztisean then sir?”

“Indeed, and remember Treptoe shall be working closely with you and the good Doctor while you two finish phase 1.” Brindwell wiped away a cold bead of sweat as the small gem encrusted man spoke with a razor like intensity. “I do hope you two will try play nicely together, keep in mind that he is, The Butcher of the Abyss, and is much higher on the food chain than you are.” The unimposing man spoke in a soft, smooth voice and his eyes flickered blue under the hood of his fine midnight blue cloak. Several disposable H.T.P. phones lay in molten smoldering’s in the ash tray next to him. He seemed unphased by the smoke, lighting a fine cigar off the toxic flames of the burning plastic he inhaled deeply and as if completely at peace exhaled a curtain of thick smoke. The major held back coughs as he tried to adjust, the man’s smooth voice pierced through the curtain of thick smoke like light through a mine shaft.

“Yes, of course my lord I am as your hand.” He coughed gently trying to control the volume of his choking for his guest’s convenience.

“Oh, Major… One of your brothers called, all is going well on his end also. A family reunion is long overdue, so wrap things up quickly Brindwell, you’re the only one behind schedule.” Another thick curtain of smoke blew the majors way and he broke out into a coughing fit accompanied by the gentleman’s snide laughter.

…….

Julius woke with a fright, siting up with a shout foreign sounding cracks and pops split the air and he was jerked back to the gurney with a loud clank and a thud. Hand cuffs rattled against the metal rails of the flat board gurney and a young man in a blue uniform and two paramedics all shouted at the same time as the boy in response and the officer drew his gun. “click” the safety came off.

“Stay down, don’t you try anything, or I’ll have to shoot!” his gun shook in his hand just enough to give the clear impression that everyone in the confined space was fair game whether the greenhorn officer meant it or not. A wide-eyed Julius laid his head down slowly keeping an eye on everyone.

“Where am I?”

“On your way to the hospital you were found injured on the bank of the water way.” Spoke a soft airy voiced female. Her hair was sandy in color and pulled back tight into a clean bun with eyes of light brown to match, plane features she was a little on the hefty side but with a mildly pretty face. The other paramedic was an abnormally tall and thin man with light hair, skin and eyes. If he were green, he would be a been pole.

“Do you know why you were where you were?” asked the tall man with a growl as he tried to find a place to put all of his legs, a place that wasn’t painful or in the way.

“Well… I…” then he gasped remembering those eyes. He searched the cab for those eyes looking uncomfortably deep into each of his captors’ eyes.

“Whatever it is you’re doing stop it! We don’t want any of your weird magic cast on us!” shrieked the young man in blue. He may have been 21 but he still looked only 16. It was hard for Julius to really take him seriously as an authority. However, the gun spoke loud enough to vouch for him.

“I can’t cast magic at will.”

“Then that’s even worse! You, creatures should all be in the institutes learning control!”

“That’s what I wanted…” Julius protested with a broken voce then thought back to the conversation with his mother the days prior. That when he had asked for her blessing to leave at such an early age she had refused and when he revealed his nature as an awoken mage she had insisted that he continue to hide it from the world and it would go away eventually. That he owed her that secrecy and he owed her his time taking care of her. All he had ever wanted to do was be himself, he wanted to go to the school and learn how to live. Then…

“Well that’s what you’re getting! Dangerous man killers like you are dealt with as such!”

“Wait, what! Man killer, I’ve never…” he stopped as he searched the eyes of the officer, in the eyes of the law it was his fault. Just as he had been blaming himself and hoping he was wrong, in those hateful eyes the truth burned hot and that unyielding hate pierced his heart.

“I wish I were dead,” he sighed and closed his eyes. Refusing to answer any more questions the rest of the way he bit his lip as the officer egged him on. If both hands had not been cuffed to the gurney he would have strangled that unpleasant man, badge or not. The sirens blared as they rushed him on, in the dark he could still feel himself being swept away in the currents of icy water. Yet, it was not water he was being swept up in this time but the inescapable void of condemnation. His guilt poisoned his heart, but the overwhelming guilt dropped on him by those trying to save his life only proved that it was out of malice that they had been working to save him. They just wanted to see him suffer, then he saw those eyes, he missed those compassionate eyes. Was it love, kindness, or pity that he saw in those beautiful, haunting eyes.

“He is healing at such a rapid rate, I’m not sure what to make of it.” Said the airy voiced woman as she checked the boy’s condition. Withdrawing her hand quickly from his skin she gasped.

“He is… hot to the touch.” She caressed her hand gingerly as she stared at the boy in amazement.

“you mean he’s burning a fever? We may need to ice him down then.” asked the tall man leaning forward he withdrew a slender silvery object from a case in his breast pocket to place in the boys’ mouth. The thermometer projected a hologram image of numbers and reading, charts and diagrams for heart rate, internal temperatures, blood pressure, blood sugars and alcohol content as well as projected a gaging of symptoms of known contagious diseases the body displayed. The small object did not make it to the boys’ mouth, however; as the bean pole had placed his hand on the metal railing of the gurney only to scorch his hand. It felt like the gurney had been left out in the sun to bake for hours on a 110-degree day. He looked from his hand to the lady then to the boy.

“Told you.” She huffed with a turn and looked back at the boy.She was much smarter, taking out something that looked like a police issue radar gun, she flicked it on with a hum, pointed it at the boy and pulled the trigger. A blue light came from the square leans in place of a barrel and the gadget spoke in a dry toneless masculine voice.

“Surface temperature is… 421 degrees Fahrenheit… 423… 436… 446” She released the trigger with a huff and a gasp. Cracks, and popping of dislocated bone finding their homes was almost palpable and shattered bone reforming could be heard jingling like chimes in the silence of the cab. Grim, pale faces stared at Julius in horror and revulsion. None of them had noticed the temperature rising steadily in the cab until now. Whipping sweat from their brows they attempted to take a blood pressure but only managed to melt the polyester pressure band. Melted polyester beaded and ran off his skin leaving red streaks behind them. Though surprisingly there was no pain, he thought perhaps there should be it would be better than the almost unbearable itching he felt. Little by little his wounds all healed, and his itching began to subside so that upon entry into the emergency drive of the Memorial Park Hospital he had regained full feeling and function. Aside from minor bruising he was in tip top shape. Leaping from the cab first was the desperate bean pole who groped for the nearest potted plant in a great concrete planter and released the days sustenance with much enthusiasm.

Between the heat and the horrific display of body contortion his stomach was as good as on hunger strike. Other ER nurses came rushing out to assist but were called to help the young green officer who had passed out and was laying on the floor of the ambulance in a puddle of sweat and vomit. The seasoned vet was the only professional to emerged from the van with her own power, large rings of sweat stained her blue uniform. She looked like she had been caught in an unexpected downpour of rain but otherwise was unshaken. Following closely behind was a bewildered fourteen-year-old boy looking like he had just been scarred for life. The lady from the van sat him down on the curb while the others attended to the new casualties.

Stepping out of a black unmarked vehicle two men in strange suits emerged from the dark. Walking in silent unison, they each took one of the unsuspecting boys’ arms and gracefully lifted him off the ground before he could flinch or dart away, they had him dangling, feet free from the ground. With a steaming white gloved hand under each armpit they swung him around like a weightless rag doll. Unaffected by the heat the boy produced their gloves simply steamed and seemed to cool the boy rapidly. Julius let out a frantic yelp and tried to kick free but the moment his bare foot struck one of the silent men he saw stars and the world spun as he was slammed into a nearby concrete pillar. His ears rung, and his teeth clacked together with the force of the impact. One of the strange men placed a strange square paper with a black runic squiggle on his forehead and he immediately felt sleepy and weak. His limbs and eyelids felt heavy and his lips felt, glued together.

“how strange,” one man whispered to the other, “The reaction should have been instant and more potent.”

“I concur,” Said the other as he took out a strange small device from his pocket and opened it up. It unfolded like a little dish with a handle and emitted an inaudible frequency in the direction of the nurses and officers on scene. Blood quickly came pouring from their ears, eyes, and pores. They quietly laid down and went to sleep in pools of their own blood. The men then turned to the groggy boy.

“You are charged with seven counts of third-degree murder by means of illegal uncontrolled magic, you are also charged with illegal use of magic and negligent endangerment of public property and emergency response personnel. How do you plead?”Julius dazed and bewildered looked around hoping someone would come to his rescue, or perhaps, maybe speak up for him in some way.’An explanation of who, you assholes are and what is happening would be nice.’ he thought. He tried to speak out loud but found his lips were truly sealed. With that he panicked but the more he struggled the sleepier he got. The men seemed to understand his thoughts as they spoke,

“I see, you act innocent, but your aggression proves your guilt. You are found guilty by the martial laws set in place by Major Brindwell. You shall be placed in the care of Aztrisean correctional facility.”

‘What are you talking about? What’s Aztrisean?’

“Due to your… youth, we have been ordered not to charge you as an adult even though we very easily could, yet… if you exhibit any further hostilities toward myself or my associate, we will be forced to treat you as an adult and put you down.”

‘Get your hands off me, put me down! Wait, put me down… like a sick dog? Someone help me! Please they’re going to kill me! I’m sorry mommy, please someone help me! These guys are crazy!’ Julius tried to scream but could only muster muffled blurbs. Then, the world faded to black as he felt the last bit of his energy drain in a cold swirl from his body. “Mommy,” He whimpered as his lips finally came unglued and parted.


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