CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and ONE
“What did you do?” Frederec said.
“I remembered Mrs. Yvonne,” Sissy said. “Do you know her?”
“The most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” Frederec said. “Ever. And that’s saying a lot. My mother and I have had the pleasure of dressing her a few times.”
“She was treated really horribly by this guy,” Sissy said. “She was humiliated publicly. Shamed! Everyone knows or at least knew what she was. Yet, she’s always so gracious, polite. She doesn’t let anyone dim her beauty. When you see her, you can see her beauty and power. No one can dim her grace. I want to be like her.”
Frederec nodded in agreement.
“She told me once that the shame belonged to her Spider,” Sissy said. “That’s what she calls the guy who held her captive.”
“She is correct,” Frederec said.
“Yes, she is,” Sissy said. “So I just took off my leotard. I didn’t take off my tights. I figured if he wanted me to take off my sports bra, he would just have to ask.”
“And did he,” Frederec said.
“Oh, Sissy, I’m so sorry,” Frederec said.
“It was great, really,” Sissy said. “I took off the bra and stood there thinking of the grace and beauty of Mrs. Yvonne. He ordered me to do some dance forms. I started and like one second later, the girl who’s the highest position in my year was dancing with her top and bra off too. Her male partner took off his top and was dancing on the other side of me. It was like a mutiny. Everyone in the class took off their leotards and bras, you know, if they were wearing them.”
“I know!” Sissy said. “It was great for me — and very confronting to the teacher. I could tell he was ashamed of himself. He called the class early and then asked to speak to me alone. The lead boy in my year told him that they would not allow him to humiliate me further. I was a member of their class. If the teacher had something to say, he could say it to the whole class.”
Frederec softly applauded and Sissy grinned.
“I mean, for me?” Sissy leaned forward and clutched her heart. “My heart was pounding a million miles a minute. The tension was thick and awful. I was sure someone was going to be in big trouble. BIG TROUBLE.”
“You were not in an American classroom,” Frederec said.
“I know!” Sissy said. “I was just saying … I mean, that would never happen in any classroom I’ve ever been in.”
Frederec nodded and grinned.
“And then, it was okay,” Sissy said. “The teacher recovered himself. He told the class that we were correct. Once he’d seen the wounds, he’d realized that he didn’t really need to see them. And then everyone clapped. It was …”
“Awesome,” Frederec said.
Taking a drink of her tea, Sissy nodded.
“And was it worth it?” Frederec asked.
“You mean, did he end up having something to say about my injuries and dancing?” Sissy asked.
“Not really,” Sissy said. “He acknowledged that the trouble I have with my leg is from constriction due to the injury. He told me to work through strengthening and stretching the muscles I’m already working on. He had me dance with the lead boy and then asked the boy what he thought. He said that I was a little weak on one side, but not bad or more noticeable than a lot of dancers. So, it wasn’t anything I didn’t know. But it was good, I guess, that we’re all on the same page, you know?”
“Overall, it was a good day,” Frederec said.
“Awesome day,” Sissy said. “Because of Mrs. Yvonne.”
Frederec held up his glass of whiskey and Sissy emulated him with her tea.
“Dieu vous protège, Mrs. Yvonne,” Frederec said.
“God bless, Mrs. Yvonne,” Sissy said in agreement. “I’m going to try to be like her more often.”
“Good thinking,” Frederec said.
Nodding, Sissy smiled and, for the first time, looked out the window at the Parisian street beyond.
Deep inside the Marlowe Mine
They stood as still as statues. Archangel Uriel had his hand on Yvonne’s shoulder. Her hand covered his hand. Jacob held the heavy stone up in case the moment came when Yvonne could direct her light through the stone to send a stream of pure boron to blast the soul stealer.
The moment didn’t come.
Abi and Gilfand fought valiantly, but every blow bounced right off the soul stealers time-hardened shell. The creature was deft with his claws. He seemed to anticipate every blow. Abi and Gilfand worked to find any advantage, any soft spot. But none seemed to exist.
Jacob glanced up at the archangel. He scowling and shaking his head. Jacob nodded in agreement.
They would not be able to attack this creature from the front.
“No creature is invulnerable,” Jacob said to himself.
Yvonne scowled. Her eyes glanced at him and she scowled.
And then … He wasn’t sure what happened next. Of course, he was inches away from an Archangel, his child, and a few feet from the First Woman and First Man. It easily could have been magic. It looked like a trick of the light.
This is what happened. A beam of light hit the smooth ceiling of the tunnel and bounced down. The light reflected off Abi’s swinging sword and highlighted the junction between the creature’s head and his trunk.
“You bite the head off a crawdad,” Yvonne said softly.
“You saw that, too?” Jacob asked.
“But how?” Yvonne’s eyes flicked to Jacob.
Jacob winked at her and turned back to watch the fight.
“Abi,” Jacob said in his mind.
“I’m a little busy here, Jacob,” Abi said.
“Can you get a reflective shield?” Jacob asked.
“She can get anything, son,” Gilfand said with more than his usual derision. “You realize that you’re playing into his hands.”
The creature pointed at Jacob and chuckled. He raised a claw to point at Jacob.
“I can’t wait to own your soul,” the creature said. “We’ll have so much fun.”
Uriel snorted with rage.
“Come get me, asshole,” Jacob said.
He saw a flash of light as Abi was carrying a bright and shiny metal shield.
“Now,” Uriel said.
Yvonne shot her light through the stone Jacob had created. Abi held the shield up. The light bounced off the shield and hit the creature at the spot where his head attached to his trunk. The creature jerked as if he was in pain.
“Shit,” Jacob said.
“You have a spot now,” Urial said. “A weakness. Go on.”
Jacob looked down at the stone he was holding. The blue of the diamond was gone. He chucked it aside.
“Quickly now,” Gilfand said.
Jacob grabbed a stone and focused to transform it. By the time he’d finished, the blackened spot on the soul stealer had almost healed over. When he finished, Yvonne shot another blast through the stone. Abi caught the light and hit the creature with it.
Same blackened spot on his shell.
“How fast can you go?” Jacob whispered to Yvonne.
“No idea.” Yvonne shrugged.
“Just do it,” Urial said. The archangel raised his hand to point at Jacob. “You, Jacob Marlowe, are more than you know.”
Jacob felt a blast of power. He nodded at Urial. His hands found stones, which he transformed with his touch. As if he were in baseball practice, he threw the stone in his right hand. Yvonne blasted light through the stone. Abi caught the light and aimed it at the soul stealer.
Jacob felt like he was on fire. The more he used his psychokinetic power, the stronger he felt. Yvonne’s cheeks flushed but she also seemed to only get more powerful. It was like being high. They fought with all of their skills and power.
One after the other, the blows of light hit the soul stealer. Of course, many of the light beams missed their mark. But more than enough hit the soul stealer right where he was vulnerable.
The soul stealer did everything in his power to protect himself. He turned away at the last minute. He raised a claw to the light. But with Gilfand not letting up, and Abi deftly catching Yvonne’s light through the stone, the soul steal was hit over and over again with the boron infused light.
The soul stealer was beginning to slow down.
“We have to get off his head!” Yvonne yelled.
Jacob grabbed a bigger stone and tossed it into the air. The stone transformed from grey rock to dazzling blue diamond as it moved through the air.
Yvonne pulled back, allowing her hand to cup her own light, before throwing it through the stone.
Abi perfectly caught the light with the reflective shield.
The blast of light hit the soul stealer with an insignificant “Pop.”
The creature’s head blew off his body.
“Duck!” Abi yelled.
Moving by instinct, they rotated away from the creature. Jacob threw himself over Yvonne. The soul stealer’s flesh pounded his back. Jacob pulled back from Yvonne and noticed that the soul stealer’s flesh was quivering. Quickly the pieces began to rejoin together.
“The pieces!” Jacob screamed. “They are joining back together.”
“He’s reforming!” Gilfand yelled.
“Use the water!” Yvonne said.
Crawling to the stream because she was unable to stand, Yvonne took off her boot and filled it with water. She poured the water over the pieces of the soul stealers flesh.
The flesh sizzled as if it were on the grill. There was a pop and it caught on fire. Abi and Gilfand were holding plastic tubs which they filled with water. Not one for ceremony, Jacob grabbed a stream of water with his psychokinetic power. The stream flew effortlessly through the air until it landed on the place where the soul stealers head had been. Water poured into the soul stealer’s body.
As they worked, small pieces of the soul stealer’s flesh began to catch on fire. Jacob kept the stream on the soul stealer’s body until it began to smolder.
“Watch out,” Gilfand said.
The soul stealer’s body began to burn. Abi threw a tub after tub of water over the body. The fire consuming soul stealer’s body grew. Yvonne began to cough.
“We have to get it out before the fire destroys all the oxygen down here!” Jacob yelled.
“Jacob!” Urial pointed to a pile of rocks dislodged when Yvonne hit the support beam.
Jacob grabbed the pile of rocks, dirt, and debris with his mind and threw it on top of the soul stealer’s burning body. The fire went out immediately. Smoke came out from under the rocks and debris.
“Try the water now!” Gilfand said.
Jacob grabbed the stream again. Within minutes, the body stopped smoking. Abi stood over the husk of flesh for a full five minutes before she would concede that he was truly dead.
Jacob fell to his knees with exhaustion. Gilfand dropped down to rest against the side of the tunnel. Only Abi was on guard. Raising her sword, she stormed toward where Uriel was standing.
“Who is here?” Abi asked.
“My father,” Yvonne said in a soft voice.
Abi dropped her sword and snorted a laugh.
“Well met, son,” Abi said to her daughter Ne Ne’s love.
Unable to see him, she held out her hand. Uriel grabbed her hand and pulled her to him. They hugged each other tight. It was a brief, fast gesture. One moment, Abi was being hugged and the next the archangel was gone. Abi smiled at Yvonne and went to check on Gilfand.
No one said anything. The only sound in the Marlowe Mine was the running water of the stream. Abi stood over the rock pile where soul stealer’s corpse had been.
“Is he gone?” Yvonne asked.
“Yes,” Abi said. To confirm, she poked through the stones with her sword. “He is no longer here.”
“We should …” Yvonne tried to get up. Gasping with pain, she fell back into her spot.
“You need to get to the hospital,” Jacob said.
“What about the thing that lives in the Fire of Hell?” Yvonne asked. “You will need me to help.”
“That may be the case, but you can’t really help us now,” Jacob said. There was a hard edge to his voice, but his manner was kind. “You’re amazing. A true badass. But your part of this adventure is over for now.”
Jacob looked up to where Abi was poking the debris and Gilfand was resting.
“Can either of you take her?” Jacob asked.
“Where?” Abi asked turning toward him.
“I think it’s best that she returns to the house where Delphie and her friends are staying,” Jacob said. “They can call an ambulance and get her to the hospital.”
“And the creature?” Gilfand asked.
“Uriel said that Abi would recognize the creature in the Fire of Hell,” Jacob said. “He specifically said that she would know what to do.”
“Abi?” Gilfand asked.
“No idea,” Abi said.
“I need to rest,” Gilfand said.
“All of that court living has made you soft, old man,” Abi said.
Gilfand gave her an irritated look which made her laugh. He shook his head for a moment before laughing.
“It really has,” Gilfand said. He looked at Yvonne. “I need to rest for a while. Then I shall take you.”
“Fine with me,” Yvonne said.
“We’ll rest then,” Gilfand said.
Jacob had been holding himself together to help Yvonne. With Gilfand’s words, Jacob fell back on this his rear. He leaned against the cool walls of the tunnel. He fell into a light dreamless sleep. An hour or more later, Abi nudged his knees. He opened his eyes to see that she’d cleaned up and rested.
“They have gone,” Abi said. “It’s just you and me.”
Jacob nodded and scrambled to standing.
“You okay with this?” Abi asked.
“I’m glad that Yvonne is getting the care she needs,” Jacob said. “And … well … I hope we can rescue whatever has been stuck here.”
Abi nodded. She turned to look in the direction of the Fire of Hell.
“Uriel said that you would know what it was,” Jacob said.
Abi looked at him and nodded.
“He also said that eating souls had distorted this creature,” Jacob said. “It has made it …”
“Grotesque,” Abi whispered. She nodded. “I will need you before we sort this out.”
“How can I possibly help you?” Jacob asked with a snort. He pointed himself. “Human, remember.”
Abi grinned so wide that he chuckled.
“Ready?” Abi asked.
“As you wish,” Jacob said.
Abi started walking down the tunnel toward the Fire of Hell.
“You know,” Abi said. “I’d wish to have one of those blue diamonds. Maybe a necklace? I bet Yvonne would like one, too.”
“I’ll be sure to make some before we leave,” Jacob said.
“How did you know?” Abi asked.
“I just …” Jacob said. He glanced at her before looking in front of him. “I guess I’ve always known. There’s something magical about the stones and unnatural.”
“They are very beautiful,” Abi said. “We can give them to Fin. He will never forgive me for telling you but he makes beautiful jewelry. It’s something he does with his hands, not magic.”
Jacob smiled and nodded. They reached the junction of tunnels. Abi holstered her sword and slipped the shield onto a carrier on her back. She took out something that looked like a sling shot and held it in her hand. Jacob picked up his backpack from where he’d dropped it. He checked the compartment and took out a bottle of clean water. For a moment, they stood at the junction of tunnels and took long drinks of water.
“We have a long walk,” Abi said. “Are you up for it?”
Jacob tucked what was left of the water into his pack.
“I am,” Jacob said.
Abi nodded. They started down the tunnel toward the Fire of Hell.
Monday morning — 11:52 a.m.
“Why didn’t I stay home with everyone else?” Tink asked, again, hoping for another answer.
She was sitting in the passenger seat of Jeraine’s car. Tanesha was taking her to school.
“You need to check in with the school psychologist and Mrs. Seigle,” Tanesha said. “Your parents were called to give another statement to the Denver Police so I thought I’d take you.”
“I can stay with you all day,” Tanesha said. “If you decide that you want to go home, we’re out of there. No questions asked. If you feel like you’d like to go to school, then I’ll go home.”
“What if I decide to stay and can’t hack it?” Tink asked.
“I’ll come right back to get you,” Tanesha said. “No problem.”
Tink nodded and looked out the passenger window.
“How are you?” Tanesha asked.
“I am …” Tink said, with a sigh. “If you’d asked me last night when we were in Paris or when we were in New York or … I was happy, mostly. I mean, sad some, too. I went all mental all over Sissy.”
“She can handle it,” Tanesha said.
“I know, but …” Tink stopped talking. She turned to look at Tanesha. “I don’t know how to feel. My brother is dead. I am still here. It’s like … unreal.”
“I think you just feel how you feel,” Tanesha said. “I’ve lost people in the past, but they are my loss. This was your brother. He and you have your own experiences of growing up together. No one else has that. Losing him will affect you in a unique way.”
Tink nodded. They fell silent. Tanesha turned off Colorado and pulled into a spot in the Marlowe School parking lot.
“You’ll stay with me?” Tink asked.
“I will,” Tanesha said.
“If I want to go home?” Tink asked.
“We’ll go home,” Tanesha said.
“No questions asked,” Tink said.
“Exactly,” Tanesha said with a nod.
Tink gave Tanesha a long look, before nodding. Not saying a word, Tink got out of the car.
“What’s up?” Tanesha asked.
“I didn’t know you had that,” Tink said.
“What?” Tanesha asked.
“Your mom is such a badass,” Tink said. “I didn’t realize you were a badass too.”
“Hey,” Tanesha stopped walking. “I’ve had to deal with Jeraine for all of these years.”
Tink laughed and they started walking again.
“He’s okay now?” Tink asked.
“He’d better be,” Tanesha said.
Laughing, Tink pushed open the front doors to the Marlowe School.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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