Friday, November 12, 2010

Chapter 31

Someone of Consequence

It wasn’t until about forty-five minutes after leaving Metromax City, and their Dreadnik friends, behind; that Mike and Callie discovered they had a stowaway.
They had been driving in silence for some time, when the distinct sound of snoring could be heard, coming from the back seats.
Mike glanced at Callie, and with a quick head movement, motioned her to check out the sound. He pulled over to the side of the road and brought the car to a stop, as Callie removed her seatbelt and climbed over to the back.
There, on the floor of the car, hidden under the blankets and pillows Rynza and Carissa had given them, Callie found Edward curled up in a fetal position; sleeping soundly.
Callie twanged his earlobe with a flick of her finger.
“Oww!” he said, as he woke.
Seeing that he had been found out, he smiled sheepishly.
“Hi Callie!” he said.
Callie grabbed him by the ear, and brought his head up so Mike could see who it was.
“Mike, we have a problem.” she said.
“Okay, you got me,” Edward said, “Let go!”
Callie released his ear.
“Edward?!” Mike said, “How are you here? WHY are you here?!”
“I like you guys!” Edward said, “We’ve been through stuff together. I wanted to come with you, but I knew you’d say no.”
“Yeah, for a REASON.” Mike said, “What are we supposed to do with you now?”
“Take me with you, what else?” Edward said, “Unless you want to drive all the way back to Metromax.”
Mike and Callie looked at each other.
“I say we leave him here and let him walk back.” said Mike.
“Sounds good to me.” said Callie.
“C’mon, guys! I could be a real help to you. An extra pair of hands and feet; something you might need in a sticky situation!”
“More like a fifth wheel.” Mike said.
“Another mouth to feed.” Callie added.
“Come ON!” Edward reiterated.
“Edward, it isn’t that we don’t want you around; it’s just that we’re driving into unknown dangers.” Callie said, “We don’t know what crazy crap we have waiting for us. There may be no coming back.”
“I understand that, Callie. I saw your father bring Kitty and Corrina back from the dead! I saw the black snakes! I was there with you. What I’m saying is that I want to help.” Edward said, “Is it so hard to believe that you might need me?”
“What about the Dreadniks, Edward?” Callie asked, “What about your friends back there?”
“I love them, I will miss them, and I will be forever grateful for all they’ve done for me.” Edward answered, “But they don’t need me. Not really. You two do. I can feel it.”
Unspoken sibling communication passed between Mike and Callie with a single look.
“Okay, Edward,” Mike said, “If you want to, you can stay.”
“Yes!” Edward said. He bounded up and down on the back seats with great enthusiasm.
“Don’t celebrate too much,” Mike said, “You may come to regret this decision, and it's too late to turn back now.”

Late afternoon found the three travelers parked at a rest area.
Nearby pavilions with picnic tables beneath provided a place for them to take a break from the road, and eat the food Rynza and Carissa had provided them.
Mike noticed Callie staring past the food in her hands with a grim look on her face.
“What’s got you so glum, Cal?” he asked, “Besides our impending doom, that is.”
“Huh? Oh. Just thinking,” she said, “Exactly one week ago today, at about this time, I was preparing supper for Dad. Just like every other day in my stinking life up to that point.”
“Has it been a week already?” Mike asked, “Damn, it feels like that was months ago.”
Callie nodded in agreement.
“Call me crazy,” Mike continued, “But it almost feels like our lives didn’t really start until that day; like we were living in a fog, or something, before then.”
“Friday I bashed Dad on the head. Saturday we took off.”
“Reached Kraddock on Tuesday night.” Mike added.
“Crossed the Rough Country Wednesday, reached Metromax City, met Rak, lost the wagon, met Jon and the others. Found the wagon yesterday, got it back.”
“And then lost it again today.” Mike said, “But the Dreadniks lost more than that. A whole lot more.”
Callie sighed. “I really kinda hoped…”
“That it would last?” Mike asked.
She nodded. “At least a little while longer.” she said, “Yet here we are, running away again. Our friends scattered and imprisoned.”
“Turned into black snakes…” Edward added helpfully.
“And where are we? Eating sandwiches on the side of a road.”
“Callie---” Mike started to say.
“I don’t mean to interrupt,” Edward interrupted, “But night will be coming soon. Where are we going to sleep when it gets dark?”
“In the car, of course.” said Mike, “Like Callie and I did on our way to Metromax.”
“Yeah, but you had a wagon then, and there were only two of you.” Edward said, “We, right now, have a car, and there’s three of us. How do you suggest we work this out?”
“Well, you’re just going to have to sleep outside.” Mike said.
“I can’t sleep outside!” Edward exclaimed, indignant.
“You should’ve thought of that before stowing away.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“You can always sleep under the car.” Mike replied.
“Or on top of it!” Callie added, her somber mood now broken.
“Then again, there’s always the trunk!” Mike grinned.
“Come on!” Edward said, horrified, “Really?”
Callie laughed and mussed up his hair with her hands. “Just kidding, silly!” she said, “You can sleep on the floor of the car, like before. You seemed comfortable enough there earlier.”
“Thank you!” Edward said, relieved.
When they finished eating, they got back on the road.

Still far off, was the town of Murgent.
In the heart of Murgent, in the center of town, stood a three story building that had once been, in better times, the Sarrgoset Hotel. For the last five years, the building had served as the home of Zedda Stanetta; Murgent’s tormentor.
On the top floor of this hotel, Zedda had her divination room. She was there now, drawing the stones.
From a brown cloth bag she drew, one at a time, nine flat jade stones with a different symbol carved into each. She took these stones and placed them on a small, ornately decorated, table. On the tabletop was carved and painted a red circle with a square inside. The square was subdivided into nine smaller squares; each with its own symbol drawn in its center. Each symbol had its own meaning, and each stone drawn was then placed on a square in a prescribed order.
Zedda studied the layout, and frowned.
Like all the other divination methods she had tried of late, the Majisrune stones gave her contradictory readings. The Dragon stone lay in the House of Belethene, the Phoenix stone was placed on the House of Passenon; while the Tasmata, the stone bearing her own symbol, had landed, inexplicably, in the House of Nelloquim.
The last time the Majisrunes had been this cryptic was three months ago; a day before the Nurrek had fallen into her net.
The only thing the stones assured her of, without contradiction, was that someone of consequence was coming, and soon.

In the basement of the Sarrgoset Hotel was a large wooden box, a cage, surrounded by magical circles of containment.
In that cage was imprisoned the only thing in the world that Zedda Stanetta still feared. 
If the promise of great power it presented wasn’t so grand, she would have had it destroyed on sight.
In it’s box, the Nurrek dreamed it’s mind free, soaring over the very building in which it was caged. From there, it launched itself beyond Murgent, beyond Zedda’s sphere of influence. On and on it went, for miles and miles, until it found itself over a road; drawn to a single car.
It’s mind came closer to the car until it was right on top of it. There were three children in that car, two older than the third.
Their path would inevitably bring them into Murgent.
“The time is near…” the Nurrek thought to itself, and grunted horribly in it’s sleep.

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