by: William C. Burns, Jr.
I was distracted as fathers often are. Suddenly there it was in this stranger’s eyes. The eyes of a Fire Angel where there had been human eyes just a moment before. It was coming for me in the guise of a man gone stark raving insane. I dodged the first blow by angstroms.
In retrospect I’m sorry to say I reacted, reacted purely on instinct using the touch-far to knock the man/Angel thing against the wall until I could get my hands on them. Detonating a nuclear bomb would have attracted less attention. There was no hiding, my hand was exposed.
It left the man, as that kind of creature is prone to do, sliding through invisible nether realms leaving me in this Time/Space to make excuses. The man, suddenly himself again, was trying to understand why I was holding him so roughly but more he was trying to understand why he had suddenly wanted to kill me.
“Listen friend take a look around,” I whispered. “Notice that the people staring at us seem to believe that you want to kill me. Now I don’t believe that you want that and I certainly don’t want to be hurt so I suggest that you just let go of my throat and we’ll talk. There is that better?” I made it better inside him and continued whispering. “My name is Jack and this kind of thing sometimes happens. I don’t hold you responsible so let’s pretend that we are old friends who do this kind of thing all the time.”
“Craig! How are you? Boy, you had me going.”
Later in the car, in the silence I looked around for signs. It had to be somewhere, maybe somewhere near. “Here kitty kitty kitty . . .” The kids thought I had gone crazy, again. I slid the van into gear and eased into traffic making it home without further incident.
Always quick to sense distraction, the kids refused to go to bed until suspended allowance and grounding were threatened with further reparations when mom got back into town. Kids are like light bulbs, when they’re on they’re on all the way. They go to sleep and snap, they’re out just like that.
Satisfied they were soundly asleep I reached deep and pulled up attributes I had not used in forty-seven years. Drawing recklessly from my nexus I lay an entire array of security aspects in strategic positions all around the house and few in the not so obvious places. As we approached the balance of the night I did the dance that changes things, working up a healthy sweat. Taking on my mindful aspect I prepared cup of Yerba Mate, pulled down one of my favorite tomes and opened a secure pathway through the fireplace. There was sufficient aspect around the pathway to hold a full blown Zergat several orders of magnitude bigger than a Fire Angel. Here kitty kitty kitty.
It regarded me from the tongues of flame.
“Looking for someone?” I asked. It slithered around the confines of the pathway looking for a flaw. “Hey, you. I’m talking to you!” That got its attention.
“I have come from far.”
“I grant you have. From the crest scales of your true-form I would say you’re a female of the Tarpel clan. I fought beside several of your ancestors. Yahleen, Emtaw . . .”
“Speak not the names. I come seeking the one.”
“Me?” No answer. “That was a very nasty little thing you did at the mall today. I have half a notion to bind you and exact a payment.”
“You are an amusing . . .” I snagged her before she could finish the sentence. She was a slippery piece of work, lots of coarse fire tipped fur and nasty serrated teeth. These guys have a real knack for writhing, you have to grab them just behind the ears and hang on.
I had her. “And now my friend, while binding you is not my intent, it remains an option that I can enforce in a trice. Be nice!” I let her growl and hiss in the fire a bit to regain some pride and composure.
“Let’s try this in a more civilized fashion,” I pulled a saucer from the table and filled it with one of my special concoctions, slipping it through the aspect envelope into the pathway without even a ripple. “Would you like some?”
In time she calmed and sampled the brew. Intelligence gradually returned to her eyes. “I have come to find one, one such as you.”
“Be advised, I can see far into your parna and can know your heart. I need to know if you are recon for someone else?”
“No, the fools have long since given up looking for you. None would believe me.” She spoke true.
“Do you lead others?”
“I do not lead or follow.”
“How flattering, you’re quoting me. I want to know if there’s a threat coming?”
“Are you always so direct?”
“You know the stories, you tell me.”
“I seek you, no others come.”
“Why are you here and why were you stupid enough to attack me outright?” I poured more brew.
“I had to know it was you. I was right.”
“What if it hadn’t been me?”
“Then a non would have died.”
“These people are not nons and I will take it personal if you bring harm to any of them. Do you understand?” It coiled and hissed in indignation. I ate a shortbread cookie or two and finished reading my page. Without looking up I asked, “Again I ask, why are you here?”
“They say you have walked the final pathway to the real Death.” You could hear the capital D. “I knew they were wrong, but could not find you by divination or study. You covered your spore very well.”
“You must be very talented to have tracked me to this place.” I offered more brew but she refused, politely.
“You are the best. It was not tracking so much as asking the question, where is the best place to disappear? There are many places and I have walked many of them.”
“And so you have found me. Why are you here?”
“I have come . . .” Her parna said that she was having difficulty speaking about this. “I have come because I . . . admire you.” Her parna said love.
“Do you have a name?”
Mora took on the analogous form of a cat with crimson tipped sable fur. She quickly became a fixture of the household. She ate cat food with gusto, the more expensive the better, but refused to purr. She even connected with my wife, Maxine, who has never had a soft spot for animals. Many things fascinated her but Mora just couldn’t get over the children. Offspring are extremely rare back home and not always gladly received. She spent hours just watching them.
One dark night in October she was lounging beside the fire while I did the dance that holds things together. It was a very invigorating workout.
“Chen . . .”
I cut her off, “Do not speak that name here. The very sound could cause damage.”
“OK Jack, I have been here all this time and I still do not know why you came to this place.”
“I like kids. I wanted to raise a few.”
“This is surely not your mission, a destroyer . . .”
“I am no destroyer despite the lore speakers. I am a Grey Warrior . . .”
“Of considerable aspect. None of which you even use in this distant place.”
“I am and have been many things in many times. All of them by my own choosing. At this time I choose to be as you see me. A Dad.”
“Just one question.”
“I am vain.”
“Non sequitor, you are willing to die defending these children ones. Those are not the actions of a selfish creature.”
“Then I’m just stupid.”
“You have been called many things but the adjective stupid was never been used in connection with you to my knowledge. What is a creature of your power doing here and now?”
“I’m on vacation.”
“Perhaps this is pointless.”
“I believe that there is a future. Children are and always have been a commitment to the future.”
“Lore has it that you were always a dreamer. But why here? You age here.”
“There will be ways of dealing with that later.”
“Will the children have aspect?”
“Strictly speaking that is you third question.”
“The power has taken root, hasn’t it? Rare, in fact impossible.”
Something changed in her parna, a smell I couldn’t name. She rolled over and gazed at the fire well past the balance of the night.
“I must go back.” Mora was on top of a bookshelf beside a statue of Plato.
“I would prefer you stay.” I raised aspect all around us as a precaution.
She was morphing back into her original form. I used the look-far to make sure there was no one else in the house. I was angry and growing confused. Everything had been going so well. “Is the clan Tarpel never at rest?”
“I have come to an understanding. Jack, I love you. At first it was a kind of hero worship spawned in me by the lore speakers. That is why I came to find you, I could not imagine you dead.” Her parna was rippling, a thing I had never seen before. “Then I met the children and I came to know a love that our kind has never even dreamed of. Jack, they are so beautiful, so rare. They are Heaven beasts.” Something was building in her.
“Mora, what’s wrong?”
“I have to go back”
“Mora! Stop what you’re doing.”
“I can’t Jack. This has to happen.”
“What, what has to happen?”
“I am going to go back and block the pathway to this place.”
“No, I forbid . . .”
“In a very short time I will not be able to contain this resonance. I must be in the neck of the pathway when . . . When it happens.”
“Don’t do this Mora.”
“Jack they will find the way here, I did.”
“We’ll stop them, we’ll fight . . ”
“And still they will come. This is the only way. Open the pathway, I am indisposed and getting more so by the moment.”
“Mora. I can’t let you do this.”
“You can’t stop me, now open the path . . .eeeeeeee” She was glowing. I pulled a pathway back through the fireplace and she was gone. I will never know if she heard me say goodbye.
My oldest is away in college now and doing well. Of all the kids I think she misses Mora the most.
I checked the pathway and it is blocked by an Elysium Convolution, a resonate matrix of chaotic energies. I’m not sure that even I can find a way to pass through. I’ll have to when I go back. When I’m ready. But for now we’re secure in this little off the path place where children can grow and prosper and come to know love.