Chapter 80: Horacio.
Aemon waves a finger, simultaneously flicking his wrist and sets me down.
“The Keepers?” I ask seeing the silhouettes of my limbs.
“I swear, Emery, Lead lined brain. Yes, the Keepers. The Keepers preside over an infinite wasteland between the Abyss and this realm… Called the Grave of Saints. Where your father is.” Aemon begins.
“That’s great. But, we aren’t talking about my family.”
Aemon sighs. “Right. The draw back to lack of emotion. It’s a sha—”
“Stop. Get to the point.”
Aemon grins. He warps the grayness that stretches as far as I can see, into a gloomy desert beneath a red sky. “The Grave of Saints—the hell, if it exists, for those who commit crimes against nature. Every one of them feeling hunger, thirst, pain and time, for eternity. It’s the Hell for those do not possess human souls; the incarcerated cannot die.
To put into perspective, imagine that you were surrounded by the worst, most grotesque creatures in existence, all suffering unfathomable hunger, thirst and rage, so to pass the time they fight to eat each other since, for the first time in their natural lives they feel hunger at a human level; however, after being beaten, burned, chopped to bits—and, destroyed, for lack of a better term—they yet exist. Remaining fully aware, completely cognizant of their suffering. With no way to heal their wounds, their fragments become the red sand you see before you.
The desert of the Grave of Saints is the mangled fragments of its inhabitants, groaning in incessant agony. This is why I refrain from breaking from beyond the cloak. Mind you, the Keepers are bigger than that bitch, Shaik-La and me.” He waves his hand, and another throne rises. He nods and I sit. “There is more than dreamt of in even the philosophies of the divines. I cringe at the notion of those… creatures still existing.”
Hm. “So what? Are you trying to—”
“No, Emery. I—”
I sit up in bed.
“Young Emery?” Kanti asks puzzled.
“Oh. You’re okay.” I roll out of bed and pet Kanti. Damn it. I didn’t catch the end of what Aemon said. Fuck. Is this what Kanti and Th’Rut were talking about? Shit. What do I do?
Kanti nudges my hands and I rest my arms around him.
It was a dream. But, I’m glad to see him.
“Young Emery… Emery… You seem—”
“Yeah. You wouldn’t believe what happened, Kanti.”
Kanti’s expression is even more confused. “Aemon?”
I shrug. “Just a nightmare.”
“The Meta now!” Kanti roars.
We warp in front of Achron.
“News?” Achron asks concerned. “Dear boy it’s all over your face.”
Really? This is weird. Kanti’s acting strange. I can’t put a finger on it, but this isn’t right. They’re prying. I don’t know what feels right or wrong… Dammit. Ugh. “All over my face?” I might as well act dumb, until I figure out what to say.
Achron and Kanti stare at me and start laughing.
“That was a test. Unlike your alternate self, you passed. You cannot discuss our conversation with Kanti and Th’rut. For their safety, of course.” Kanti says with Aemon’s voice.
Everything turns gray again.
“You understand that Shaik-La is always watching?”
I nod, and close my eyes. I feel nothing, but I’m curious. What if my alternate self—
“—I’ll show you.”
Aemon stands with his back to me. “Sleep… it’s the only time we have for meaningful dialogue. If you choose not sleep after this, I would lose the ability to politely converse with you, Emery. I witness all you do. It should go without saying that establishing countermeasures is foolish— But, I see, you need to learn the hard way as children often do,” Aemon says looking back at me from over his shoulder. “Farewell, Emery. Happy New Year. Eliza’s life was in your hands.”
Aemon waves his hands.
“It is not necessary for you to see the rest of that. Your other self does not comprehend his position,” Aemon says. “Remember, like me, Shaik-La is always watching as well, bearer of the cloak.”
The grayness fades in a dark spiral as I stretch in bed. Sunlight from the windows in the ceiling warms my face. I sit up slowly, feeling a palm on my shoulder.
“I sealed your thoughts, for their safety,” Aemon whispers as I come to. “Shaik-La does not tru—”
—Shit. I’m awake.
Kanti’s curled up into a ball at the foot of the bed.
I gotta’ test this out. “Hey Kanti,” I think curiously.
“Young Emery,” Kanti says. “You’re awake.”
Does he know? I stare at him curiously. I think about Aemon and the Grave of Saints.
“So, Young Emery, what shall we do today?”
Okay. He can’t see or hear me. “Hey, Kanti!” I think, directing my thoughts to him.
“Yes, Young Emery?” He asks puzzled.
“Nothing,” I verbally respond.
Kanti can only hear what I share with him… I can’t tell him about Aemon. “I’m not sure. We can’t hunt Nothing, and I can’t warp anywhere, so we’re limited until after the New Year.”
“Well, it has been a rough few days; I suppose more relaxation would not hinder your development, or our progress, in general.”
“True…” I hover over the ground and wave my hand to dress myself.
“Ahh, mastery,” Kanti says proudly.
“That gesture is a sign of mastery. Though it is not necessary to use one’s limbs or fingers to manipulate matter, the act of doing so focuses on what is being manipulated; rather than expending your own energy, you’re controlling the object with its own energy.”
“Can we train like this?”
“Absolutely, Young Emery,” Kanti says. “It’s only effective if you plan on stopping bullies and purse thieves. But I suppose if we can put an end to negative actions, we can reduce negative intent; thus, making it difficult for the Nothing to find victims— You can, if you master it… use it on yourself, but that—that is nearly impossible.”
“That makes sense.” Aemon can’t manipulate people, and he won’t absorb any souls just yet, so… just in case he was lying, we can interfere… Hopefully, he blocked my mind from himself too… Otherwise…
“EMMMMMMM!” Eliza yells from her room. “EMMMERYYY! HELP ME!”
I stare at Kanti and zip through the door, pausing to go physical before entering Eliza’s room. What if Aemon was lying and he—
Eliza lies in her bed waving a glass. “I’m dying.” She forces an obnoxious cough. “You wouldn’t let me die, would you?” She asks mimicking a frail, old person. “God… I need water.”
Of course. “Yeah, yeah…” I walk outside her room and fall through the floor, then hover to the kitchen. I use my second sight to find the water pitcher in the fridge, and wave my hand to move water into the cup, then hover through ceiling. I go physical and walk into Eliza’s room. “Here.”
“GLUP! GLUP! GLUP! AHHHHHH!”
“Do you have to be so obnoxious…”
Eliza belches. “More… More… MORE!” She rolls to her side. “It wants its!” she yells in a harsh, raspy whisper.
“You didn’t even drink it all,” I say waving my hand subtly as I point at the glass.
“Jesus… How much did I drink?” Eliza asks sitting upright. She inhales the water and struggles to stand. Her hand reaches for the top drawer of her night stand.
“What is that? It smells like skunk farts!”
“Been smellin’ skunk asses, you little shit?” Eliza says, pulling out an intricate glass and pinching some dried grass into it. She groans. “Hey…”
“What…” It’s weed. Sigh.
“It’s nice to have company.” She inhales while holding a lighter to the exposed pot; Eliza lets out a thick, wispy cloud. “Look, Emery, I’m not perfect. I can’t…”
“I love you any way.”
My mom and I hug.
Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the next chapter!
Like my content? Someone else does too. They just don’t know it, yet. Share it.
Read other chapters and related stories
by Mark Figueroa “So what happened next, dad?” The children asked in unison, clutching their sheets in anticipation. “Well, kids,” Antalaus said, resuming his story. “Lars nodded at me. ‘Then, we crush the heads an’ scoop the remainin’ soft meat from the bone,’ he said. His little eyes barely sticking out from underneath his large … Continue reading The Fountain of Truth
By Mark Figueroa It was Thursday. The last Thursday in February. It was cold, cloudy and windy. Fred sat in his car, watching Samantha. She held her son Robert and struggled to close the door behind her. Fred sighed. Samantha gave him the finger. She slapped the icy hood of the car and opened the … Continue reading Idle Idols: Part 1
Written by: Mark Figueroa Frank N. Cadence was stressed. His meter was running low. The liquid in the glass vial flickered. His heart skipped with each belch in the phial. He could hear the rhythm of his soul catching up to his age. Long ago, Frank Cadence was born a twin. He was teased, but … Continue reading Borrowed Time
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 84: More weather terminology. “…There was once a planet in the celestial doldrums,” Kanti replies. “The population resembled spiders. They communicated in shrieks and hisses. Every home was made from large, thick spider webs; there were towers made of webs … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 85
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 84: More weather terminology. “…There was once a planet in the celestial doldrums,” Kanti replies. “The population resembled spiders. They communicated in shrieks and hisses. Every home was made from large, thick spider webs; there were towers made of webs … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 84
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 83: Under the threshold. Kanti warps next to the oven. “I will not pontificate about the complexity of your situation, Young Emery, but it would be wise to consider that there are facts you do not know when judging someone … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 83
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 82: Under the threshold. Kanti warps next to the oven. “I will not pontificate about the complexity of your situation, Young Emery, but it would be wise to consider that there are facts you do not know when judging someone … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 82
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 81: Time heals a little, but not most wounds, unless you’re an idiot. “I’d be a terrible parent.” “Whatever. I know.” She laughs. “You,” Eliza inhales and shoos me back with a wave. “Further,” she says, holding her breath. “Good,” … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 81
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 79: Reality is nourishment. Aemon closes his palm; my body levitates and my elbow snaps into place. “There we go,” he says. “Now, as you know, I’m confined wi—” “I don’t care. Save your speech. Get to the point,” I … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 79
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 78: I am who am. “_ __ .” Aemon responds. He continues speaking, but he’s too powerful for me to hear anything except thunder. The darkness rumbles violently. “I- I -C-c-an’t-t underst-st-stand you!” I tense up to keep my body … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 78