Coming Home Chapter Nine

Entering the darkness of the mine seemed to have a calming effect on me. After only a few feet I stopped and kneeled down to catch my breath and try to calm my mind. The air smelled stale but there was another aroma that floated in on it. It took me a few minutes to place where I had smelled something akin to that pungent odor before. It finally struck me like a blow to the head, it smelled just like the reptile exhibit in a zoo. This strange pungent smell, it was the enemy, I realized for the first time that I had always faced them in the open, never enclosed like this and to be honest, it was a little unnerving.

I wondered, would they stand and face me, the two at the entrance seemed like they wanted to make a go of it, but still, maybe they was supposed to slow me down. Either way, it didn’t work, I went past them like a breeze.

Easing along the path that had been carved into the mountain long ago by miners searching for coal, it was easy going. The only sound of my passing was the occasional slosh of my boots in standing water, or the sucking sound of mud as I passed. 

I paused, thinking how I would love a set of night vision googles right then, but I took a deep breath and realized we have to make do sometimes. My only option was to go slow, rely on my own tuned night vision and just keep going. It seemed as if others came in with me, others I couldn’t see. I thought that in the inky blackness, my mind was starting to get the best of me. Thats when I thought back to the bonfire at home with all those faces staring back at me. Maybe, just maybe, even though I couldn’t see them, they could see me. Who knows, maybe they guided me as I walked right now. Watching with me and showing my way in the darkness that surrounded my with enemies of unknown evil surrounding me.

I tried all I could to not laugh out loud, I did smile from ear to ear. It was no different now than in everyday life before this. We walk into a darkness where we don’t know what’s around the corner, what lay in the shadows for us, but if we calm our spirits and listen, we might just realize as I did at this moment that we always had help if we only listened.

I kept creeping forward, minute after minute, pausing and listening, smelling, trying to pick up any sign I could as to how close I was getting. It was as still in sound as it was as inky black without light.

I slowed as I sensed a drop in the floor, it seemed to have steepened quickly and the air was changing. It should have been getting colder but instead it was warming and become humid. I kneeled next to the rock face, holding the axes in my hands thinking on why and how this could be. After a while, it made sense, reptiles love warmth humidity. It seemed to me that they had made a den of sorts for themselves somewhere up ahead. 

I slowly moved my head back and forth using my tricks I had picked up to try and pick any movement or area in the darkness that just didn’t belong. The pungent smell seemed to be growing along with the scent of decay and filth.

Some world the enemy liked. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we are such great enemies, we each need something different to survive and be comfortable. This couldn’t be all of the enmity between us of course, I think, rather, knew that it went back much longer and much deeper than that. It didn’t matter to me now, whatever world they went to after this one, that’s where I was determined to send each and every one of them down here I could find.

I eased forward again, step after slow agonizing step until I was almost getting bored and comfortable at the same time with the dank blackness that surrounded me. I was beginning to think this might have all been for nothing. Maybe they sensed or knew I was coming and wanting nothing to do with me. I should have been relieved with those thoughts but instead I had a feeling of being let down. As twenty more minutes passed I began to think that maybe I should turn around. I started to think that I might have made more of this mine than it was and more of my abilities than I really had. Still, deep down I knew there was more here than what I could see or sense. If only I had a way to see like they did, to pierce the ink that surrounded me. 

It was then that the thought occurred to me to ask the All-father for help, maybe this was what he meant to ask when I was in need.

“All-father if your paying attention, you might have noticed I’m in a bit of a hole here, now it could be this is where you want me, blind to all around me but to be honest I doubt you’ve sent me here to stand in the middle of nothingness like this. If there is a way for me to be able to see, now is a good time to show me.” I whispered in my mind. Afraid that even my thoughts would echo.

I sat still for minutes after this little prayer. Nothing, not a whisper of an answer came to me. It figures, it must be one of those figure it out for yourself kind of things, that or he wasn’t listening at the moment. That made me chuckle. I turned and scanned around me knowing that I could feel the old ones with me even though my eyes didn’t see them, my spirit seemed to sense them.

“You guys got any ideas?” I barely breathed as I looked around as if they kneeled there with me.

Nothing.

“Good plan, let stick with that, just wing it; great idea, wish I had thought of it!” I whisper again sarcastically.

It was then that I felt talons grab my shoulder. I turn my head and readied an axe for a blow, all my strength switched into high speed when I saw those two beady glowing blue eyes open inches from my face. My eyes saw the glow of blue light up my face but my brain was taking a second to work out what was happening.

“Calm yourself John, we came but you got to learn to give us a minute, we are over 10,000 years old you know!” Came a quiet giggling voice right into my ear.

It was Munnin! How had he flown up on me without me hearing him, then again, he carried me to the next world and back so I guess sneaking up on me in a mine of darkness was no big deal for him?

“Yeah, John, he heard you but it’s more fun to see if you’ll sit and wait or run off and do something stupid first!” Huginn, whispered from my other shoulder!

I turned and slowly he opened his eyes, or cut the light on that they can emit I suppose but either way here they both sat.

“He heard me, so he sends you two to be my eyes?” I asked a little worried how this was supposed to work.

“Oh, no John, No, No. He sent us to give you something much better than our eyes!” Munnin whispered and giggled.

“What a flashlight?” I asked with a little nervous chuckle in my whisper. They both ignore the comment.

“Look John, you know some lessons cause pain, some cause enlightenment, unfortunately for you this gift does both. I need you to sit calmly and no matter what, don’t let a sound escape your lips. Go with the discomfort for just a minute and then you will be enlightened enough to see the way before you.” Huginn whispered in my other ear.

I wondered what these two Ravens seemed to be mumbling about but then again, they had always done me right up to this point.

“You ready?” They asked.

I nodded because I know they could see me.

“Ok, bite down on one of those axe handles and open you eyes and be very still and quiet.”

I did as they said and bit down on the leather bound wood.

No sooner than I had, I realized I might have made another one of my many errors in judgement. At the same time, with Munnin on the right and Huginn on my left, they slashed in with their beaks, which glowed blue at the moment, just as their eyes did and literally, pecked my eyes. It felt more like ate them to be honest. The searing pain and stinging was almost more than I could bear. I thought I was going to break my teeth on the handle as I sucked in a deep breath to keep from passing out. Blue light seemed to be pouring into where my eyes used to be. The horror dawned on me that I think they just pecked my eyeballs out and blinded me! Swirling patterns of blue light seemed to swirl in my vision, it you could call it vision. A burning stinging, swirl of color. I dropped the axe from my teeth and reached up to my eyes with the palms of my hands and covered where my poor eyes used to be. 

I felt betrayed, I felt like I was going to be sick. I waited for the blood that I knew must be there to cover my hands. Betrayed in the darkness, alone, blind, it was hopeless. I screamed in my mind. My breaths came in rapid puffs.

“Calm yourself John, be still and relax. The pain will ease in a moment.” One of them whispered, which one I couldn’t tale, I was focused on the pain.

“You betrayed me!” I hissed.

“Easy John, feel the coolness rush into to replace the sting and burn. You’re almost past the worst part.” I heard the whisper as I felt a wing gently stroke the back of my head as another brushed my forehead above my hands that clamped onto my eye sockets, prying them off.

“Open you eyes John, breath, blink.” Came one of their voices in a soothing manner.

“What eyes!” I gasped. The feathers pried harder on my hands until I could no longer keep them on my face.

“Let go and blink John.” Came Huginn’s voice.

Why not, I thought, black is black I guess. I tried to open my eyelids but the blue light still swirled, it was like staring at a bright blue bulb, tears seemed to flow down my cheeks. As I continued to try and blink past the stinging, a coolness did seem to start swirling with the blue patterns around my eye sockets. I worried how deformed I would look with two empty holes where my eyes used to be.

I continued to blink as the wing continued to stroke the back of my head.

“Blink, John, relax. Clear your tears and open your eyes and look!” Munnin whispered as the wing still stroked my head.

I did as he asked. The more I did, the more the blue swirl seemed to drain into my head. I blinked more and rubbed my eyes to clear the tears. I jumped a little when instead of gaping holes, I felt my eye balls. I ran my fingers over them in astonishment, rubbing tears away as the blueness seemed to drain into my skull.

I glanced around and thought at that moment that I might cry or pass out in puzzlement. Slowly at first but more and more rapidly, the mine opened around me as if it glowed in a soft light of royal blue as I looked around myself. I could see every detail, the light made all shadows open up, nothing was hid from me. I looked down at my hands and could see them in the glow of blue light.

“What did you do to me?” I asked with wonder.

“We took the scales off of your eyes John, now you will always walk in the light. Darkness has no more meaning for you! We picked a soft royal blue because in your mind we could see that was a pleasing and calming color for you!” Huginn whispered as I turned to look at him clearly.

“Well, not that I’m not grateful fella’s, this is amazing, but its going to be a little hard to sneak around in the dark with my eyes glowing like yours do is it not?” I asked still in shock.

They both laughed, not loudly but enough.

“No John, you eyes will not glow, as a matter of fact, to others, they will see no difference, only you will know of this gift you have been given, well, unless you decide to tell.” Munnin whispered.

“Time to act John, get up and go your way. We will leave you now but don’t worry this is all you need form us anyway. Just know he heard you but answers when he wants, sometimes as a joke, sometimes like this when the time is right for what you need.” Huginn whispered on my other shoulder as I looked from one to the other as they rose and flew straight up into the rock and out of sight.

I just sat there for a minute, staring at my hands, my feet, glancing all around me. Just amazed, that’s the only way I could hope to put it into words.

I finally eased up and for the first time since I entered this forsaken hole, and just started walking. It wasn’t for long however, when not more than 30 yards away, I could see ten of the enemy sitting around what appeared to be a stove of some type, a stove like nothing I had ever seen before, that’s for sure. I froze at first but then thought, why not make a game of it and see how close I could get without them seeing or noticing me.

I got down on all fours and started the crawl I had become so good at. The distance faded in no time until I was just inches outside red glow that the stove they huddled around emitted.

I slowly stood and just remained motionless, only my chest moving with the breaths of fetid air that I took. It seemed as if I stood there for minutes. Occasionally, one would sniff the air and seemed to lick the air with his tongue, just like the serpent would. Finally, one turned to look right at me, I knew the game was up but remained motionless. He sniffed and licked the air, moving his head and neck back and forth like no human ever could. I tensed to strike but stood still, waiting to see what the reaction to me being here would be.

Nothing.

He turned back to the stove. They can’t see me yet, I was barely three feet from him! I thought to myself. This is almost cheating! As I stepped a little closer I guess I hit that invisible line to where they either saw me or sensed my heat maybe like a snake would. They all jumped up and appeared to be confused and scared I noticed.

With that, I raised the axes and went to work. The ones that didn’t fall out right within the first few seconds seemed to realize what was happening and they tried to scatter and hide in the corners of what they must have seen as dark shadows but not me, it was all bathed in blue.

As I finished the last one, I could tell he was in shock that I could see him in the inky blackness, he didn’t even really put up a fight, I would say he had a look of surprise in his eyes but all I could still see was a silver shine looking right at me. I thought this is how a snake must feel when it’s trapped in a barn by a farmer and hunted down without mercy.

It was over quick and I stood, looking at the area around me. The filth and decay led me to believe that these things must have lived down here a long time. I couldn’t stand the air any more and turned and started at a slow jog out of the old mine shaft.

It wasn’t long until I neared the opening and I slowed to a stop to let my breathing ease up. I just stood, listening for anything outside that might not be too happy that I was walking out. After a few minutes, I decided it was clear, well clear enough and just walked out into the night air and took deep breaths to clean my lungs out of the stink of that hole.

I looked up at the sky and gasped with the view. I could see star upon star, a solid blanket of lights looking back at me in that shade of blue. I then glanced up to the ridge I had last seen Culsit and Vali on and sure enough, still there, they saw me and came at a run. I could see every detail, all the while amazed.

It was then and there that I decided to tell no one but Vali of my gift, she deserved to know. Well, you know, in case she was in her unmentionables and thought I couldn’t see her, which might get me hurt. That made me laugh, as fun as that would be for me I don’t think she would find it so funny.

As they reached me, both grabbed me in a crushing squeeze, I think they were truly shocked to see me. 

“Are you ok?” She asked as she felt on me for wounds.

“Not a scratch!”

“Didn’t find any enemy down there?” Culsit asked as he tilted his head and looked at me with more than astonishment.

“Whats this look like?” I said as I held the axes up.

“Oh, Oh, that’s nasty!” He jumped back.

“Yeah, got to clean these up and get ready for round two!” I chuckled.

“You’re twisted little brother!” And for the first time since I met Culsit, in the dark of the night, I saw not just his teeth shining back at me but his whole face.

I just slapped him on the arm and laughed. I could see now, it was time to pay him back for all those times he stood just inches from me when I couldn’t see him in the dark until he smiled. The next time he tried that I think he would be in for a shock.

I just had to think of an excuse about how I was seeing him when he tried it next time. I know I would tell him but I wanted to have some fun with him first. It made me laugh even harder thinking about it.

 

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If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got into this kind of bind.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1

 

all photos courtesy of Kathys Kreations™

Coming Home Chapter Eight

As daylight broke I watched Culsit drink water that cascaded over a moss covered waterfall like a dog. I just look at him and had to laugh. I knew he was intelligent but he just looked like a two year old with a new toy. I know he had things in his life that I didn’t know about, family life, you name it but you couldn’t tell by looking at him. I just sat on the rock looking down at him and smiling from ear to ear. As I turned too the pool that Vali was kneeling next to, I just watched as she wet her long blonde hair and rung it dry. I stared as the rising sun glinted off of the drops of water as she squeezed her hair dry and thought how I could sit here for a thousand years and just watch her like this. I content I could be to just sit here and watch her like this for an eternity. As she turned to glance at me, I guess she must have seen the look I had in my eyes because she just smiled and blushed but she didn’t look away. It was a perfect moment, if you ask me, but as usual, the big fur bag ruined it.

“She is pretty for a human, huh, little brother?” He said as he plopped down beside me like a heap of wet dog.

“Do you do this on purpose?”

“What?” He asked with a big grin forming just inches from my face.

“You know what you big fur monkey. You know I was having a moment and as usual you show up to ruin it!”

“Ruin it! I thought I was sharing it with you! Here I am this close to the great Vali and thought I would just sit and enjoy it with you!” His grin grew bigger as he slapped me on my back so hard it knocked me off my rock.

I picked myself up and turned to look at him as he just snickered like a teenager as he usually did.

“Sometimes I wonder why I tolerate you! Do you know that?” I hissed.

“Just keeping your mind on the task at hand little brother. You do know we are not here for a romantic stream side picnic right?” Culsit said just grinning bigger. I swear I could have killed him right then.

“I bet you haven’t even thought about what your next steps are, have you little brother?” He said grinning down at me.

“Well, yes, I have, I’m going to meet up with Jager and Rory, then I’m going to walk down amongst the enemy and do what I do best and that’s lay waste to all of them!” I said as I sat back on my rock.

“Is that right? You sure have come along way from that guy fly fishing on the river thinking I was a bear and throwing rocks at me haven’t you. Do you even know how to use those things?” He said as he pointed at the two short handled axes I had at my waist.

I looked down at them and I guess the image of Vali with water droplets dripping off her hair and the glint of the polished edges of steel must have triggered a memory. I was transformed in my mind to another time, a long time ago and back in my true home. It was Vali and I sitting next to a pool of water tumbling down rocks in a group of Fir trees. I could feel the heat of the light absorbing into my skin. I could feel her finger tips tracing over the scars on my chest that ran left and right from a fight that had happened even longer in the past. It felt like electricity flowing into my skin at her touch. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes, with the memory of how I got those scars rushing in. I could see the sword flashes coming in for me and I could feel the sting as the bronze bit into my chest, I could also see the flash of my two friends as they seemed to be nothing more but sharpened extensions of my hands. The memory of how fast and hard I struck even made me tremble, or was it the thought of her nails tracing the lines on my skin. I didn’t know. I seemed to snap back to the present and I actually pulled open my shirt to look at the scars. I thought I remember getting cut trying to slide under a fence but I guess that was wrong. My mind whirled in confusion as I felt her touch on the back of my neck surge into me.

“You scared me!” I chuckled as I turned my head up to see her standing before me, glowing it seemed in the morning light.

“You remember how you got those scars now don’t you? Sure they might have faded with time but now you are starting to see who and what you really are. It’s now just words now, but something you’re starting to really believe yourself. I knew you would, I have waited patiently all this time for you to remember the love we have between each other. We bound ourselves together at the beginning of this universe and we will always be.” She said as she stared straight into my soul.

“I don’t know Vali, after watching John all these years, I think you could have done much better!” Culsit laughed and broke the trance I seemed to be in staring at her face.

“I really think I hate you sometimes, you know that?” I said as I turned to him.

“No, you don’t, now it’s not time anyway for you to be playing boyfriend and girlfriend, it’s time for you to show us what you really can do. Enough of the sappy stuff before you make me sick!” Culsit just grinned even bigger showing those huge teeth.

“You know Culsit, if you had seen the things I had seen John do, you’d probably be careful with what you said.” Vali said as she turned to look at Culsit. He just still sat still, grinning from ear to ear.

“He’s right, it’s time to get moving and into the valley and get this party started.” I said.

With that we picked up and started moving. Culsit moved up farther ahead with Vali and I moving fast just a few yards apart. I could feel my entire body tuning into all that was around me. The sound of a startled squirrel, they way a bird moved its wings as we passed by. The ground just seemed to slip passed as the day grew on. I knew that the time and miles slipped past but my thoughts seemed focused on what I was heading into. I know it took all day but it felt like just minutes when I realized the sun was slipping behind the mountain ridges to the West. 

It was the sound of Culsit knocking ahead of me that brought me back to the present. I just stopped and glanced at Vali. She just grinned back at me, I supposed my mind might have been wondering but I guess my body was focused because I couldn’t remember my steps to get here but she seemed to approve and that said a lot.

I eased up next to the ridge top Culsit sat below as he turned to tell me of the reply. 

“Did you hear to knocks back?” He asked while looking at me with worry.

“Yeah, just a single tap, not even a knock. You think Jager or Rory will work over to us to fill us in?” I asked.

Culsit just turned to try and see over the ridge with worry on his brow.

“I don’t think so little brother, with a single knock, it tells me they are either surrounded or in a position that any more replies would give them away.” He said with worry on his face.

“Maybe I should just walk down there and ask the enemy what they think I should do next?” I said grinning trying to ease Culsit’s worry. Vali had a mischievous grin spread across her face, I think she knew what was coming and I swear, the look on her face made me wonder if maybe, just maybe she wasn’t looking forward to watching what I would do just a little too much. Even though I didn’t know for sure what I would for sure myself. I just had a feeling, its hard to explain, but I knew I was literally about to do just what I had suggested jokingly to Culsit, walk right down into the hollow and ask the enemy, face to face for the first time .

“Funny, little brother, thats a good joke. We really need to think about our next move.” Culsit said with worry still showing.

I just stood and looked down at that giant, looking as if he was trying to hide behind that Oak tree he huddle behind.

“I wasn’t kidding, watch this my furry friend.” I said as I stood and started to crest the ridge.

Culsit started to follow but out of the corner of my eye, I could see Vali touch his shoulder and shake her head.

I did what I said, I crested the ridge and stopped for a moment. I looked down into the hollow and grinned, I didn’t know how or why but I knew somehow that I was about to become who I really was, it excited and scared me at the same time. I just started to walk down amongst where the enemy was with a smile on my face.

As I got to the bottom I stopped and stood still. The air had a heaviness that even the heat and humidity didn’t do justice to. I stood there looking towards the old mines that I knew had eyes that I couldn’t see staring at me. It seemed like hours passed but it was only just a minute or so.

“Is one of you coming out to talk or do you just want me to come in there and kill you all?” I screamed.

Not long after I yelled this, a figure emerged from the darkness of the mines as the last rays of the sun disappeared and the grey of twilight started to turn to the slate blackness of night. 

I watched as he cautiously, all the while glancing around, made his way to me. As he neared he slowed to a stop and stared at me with nothing but what looked like hate in his eyes.

“You decided to come and brave us face to face finally?!” He said in a voice that sound like a cross between a whisper and a hiss.

I just smiled and looked at those eyes, just like the ones I had seen in what seemed so long ago when Rory saved me for the first time. I didn’t say a word but just to continued to smile. I thought to myself as confusion started to form on his face, not this time, I didn’t need protection or help from anyone.

Before I realized what I was doing, I snapped the two axes from my waist and relieved this excuse of an enemy of his head. I supposed I was yelling something as I took off at a run for the mine opening with the two axes raised above my head. I did know he was just the first of many and believe it or not, I felt comfortable with that. I supposed I should have been wondering what had come over me but instead I was giddy with excitement and strangely had a feeling of enjoyment.

I took one glance at the ridge I knew Culsit and Vali stood on before I entered the mine, Culsit stood there with his arms at his sides, his mouth gaped open in wonder and astonishment with Vali standing there with a look of approval on her face as they both faded into the blackness as I charged in. Time had come, time for me to be me and for the enemy to realize what they had feared all this time. Me, just me, realizing who I really was.

 

If you reading this using Facebook, thanks for stopping by and thanks for getting this far. Although no fee or “tip” is required to read, they are appreciated. Due to the way facebook handles paypal and wildrosetales.com and its software you would have to use this link pasted into your favorite browser in order to “tip”. Again sorry for the trouble and thanks for reading!

https://wildrosetales.com/2019/06/27/coming-home-chapter-eight/

 

If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got into this kind of bind.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1

 

all photos courtesy of Kathys Kreations™

Coming Home Chapter Seven

The going was tough, if you’ve never been in the woods in the South during the hot of the year then you will never truly get how miserable this can be. It’s almost like walking non-stop in a shower, heat, dampness, it all blends into one long wet march. You’d think you’d welcome rain but you don’t because you just know that one, that brings out the bugs and two, it just means it’s going to be even more humid afterwards. As we made our way into the forest, no breeze stirred and that just made things almost beyond bearable. You do get used to it but I don’t think you ever learn to like it really.

I watched Culsit as he slid from tree to tree, it didn’t seem to bother him but then again, he wouldn’t say a word if it did. I thought back to the days when my ancestors walked this same land when it was just as wild and without any of the things we all took for granted not so long ago. I’ve heard the argument that they didn’t know any different but they did know hot and cold and I wondered right then if they thought the same thoughts that I was thinking right now about the heat.

I shook my head, trying to get my thoughts to stop drifting and to focus on the task at hand. I turned and glanced at Vali just yards behind me. Something Culsit said before we left camp made me wonder, he said that he had never seen Vali, yet he had, for years. I could see her for who she was but he couldn’t. Maybe he still had blinders of sorts over his eyes like I used have to before my trip home, maybe he just couldn’t see her true self. Enough! I thought to myself. I would have to start concentrating more, less of this mind fog I seemed to be drifting in.

It was then that I realized that I had stopped and sat down on a fallen tree. I didn’t even realize I had sat down, strange, I started to wonder what was wrong with me. It was then that Vali came and eased down beside me and handed me a slice of deer that Jager and Rory  had dried while they all waited for us at the camp we just left.

“You need to eat John. I can tell by your walk that your hungry, wether you know it or not.” She said.

I began to chew and almost instantly started to feel better. I chuckled, funny how in the movies, the good guys never got hungry or tired. How did she know? I thought. I was going to ask her but as I turned to her, she was chewing and looking at me. I thought it best to just leave it alone. I probably didn’t want to know how she knew anyway. I don’t know how to put into words what I was feeling right then. I mean, I have heard the cheesy line of getting lost in someones eyes but this was different. This was like she was looking past my skin, and right into my soul. Right to who I really was. I was started to think on the lines of her face and the flecks of gold in her eyes when as usual the big fur bag ruined it all for me.

“Didn’t see a thing for at least a half of a mile John.” Culsit said as he sat down on the other side of me and started chewing some jerky himself.

Now I was a little irritated with him for interrupting my thoughts but I was more mad at myself for not noticing him coming up to us. I just turned to look at him.

“You have to get your mind right little brother! This isn’t a stroll in the park with your girlfriend, serious business this.” He said with a grin.

“Shut up! I know I do, I knew you was coming.”

“Liar! I could have eaten you both before you knew it!”

“You eating people now?” I grinned as I look at him.

“Well, maybe her, not you, too gamey!” He chuckled and snorted as he rocked back on the log so hard it started to shift.

I was about to make a reply that would get Vali involved when I noticed Culsit whip his head around and stare off to the West. His ears are better than mine because he was responding to hearing a knock that I could barely make out. In fact, if he hadn’t reacted the way he did, I don’t think I would have paid it much attention. I know it was a knock but from this distance it sounded more like a lone woodpecker strike against a far away tree. That made me wonder how many times when I was a kid I thought the same thing, it’s just a woodpecker. Culsit stood and found two rocks near the foot of the tree we sat on where it had fallen. When he struck them together, it sounded to me like a crack of a gunshot.

“Whats up Culsit?” Vali asked. I strained to hear the response. It wasn’t just the number of knocks that let you know the message but also the timing between them. Never fast enough so that you could tell it wasn’t made by nature. I listened and watched Culsit as he watched me, when the echo of knocks rang back.

“Jager and Rory just passed a farm with people on it.” I replied as Culsit nodded in agreement. I had forgotten that Rory had wanted to go with Jager, I think it still made him nervous being around me after I thought him a traitor.

“Where?” She asked. I help a hand up to keep listening. More knocks echoed in slowly.

Culsit made one more clap of stone that split the air as it raced back towards Jager.

“About 5 miles and just on top of the mountain. Smoke from a fire and the smell of food cooking. Lights from lanterns burning and two standing watch. One on the roof of a barn and another in a tree stand just inside the tree line.” Culsit said as he laid the stones down gently.

“You guys can tale all of that from knocks?” She asked with more than a bit of skepticism.

“Well, yes, and more I think he said they had soup on, vegetable I believe.” Culsit said and I began to laugh while shaking my head.

“You’re both jerks!” She said as she punched me in the shoulder.

“Ouch! He said it, not me!” I continued to quietly laugh.

“We have traveled, what, 30 miles?” I asked while looking at Culsit. “I’m surprised those people are still alive.”

“Maybe they found an empty farm and stayed, I bet they haven’t been there long being just miles from the enemy.” Culsit said as he looked in that direction.

“I guess we are going to talk to then?” Vali asked.

Culsit didn’t speak, he just nodded his head and took off. We followed right behind, running and dripping with sweat.

It took over two hours to just cover those miles. Even thought the enemy didn’t seem to be in this area right now, I still didn’t feel comfortable just flat running up one ridge and down the next making enough noise to basically send a signal telling where we happened to be.

As we drew close, I motioned for Culsit to circle to the back of the clearing the house and barn seemed to be placed in and to wait for me to show myself. He knew to stay out of sight unless the situation went wrong. There was no need to scare people more than was necessary.

Vali circled with him, so I gave them about ten minutes before I started moving to where I could see the watcher sitting up in a tree just right where the mountain sloped off. He appeared to be a younger guy, maybe late twenties and he was looking out over the trees kind of haphazardly. I did the slow crawl, almost silent move up to the base of the tree he sat in. I watched a minute as he sat there and looked at the old single shot shotgun be had cradled in his arms. I thought a minute on how to show myself to him without getting shot. I decided to ease over to a large oak next to him and get behind it before I called out to him.

“Hey friend, don’t shoot, you see any trouble out there?” I asked calmly.

He about fell out of the tree when I spoke but recovered quickly and swung that long barrel in my direction. I chanced a peak and could tell his finger was on the trigger.

“Show yourself! Who are you?” He hissed.

“My name is John and I’ll come out when your finger is off that trigger!” I replied.

“I aint putting down this gun!”

“No, I wouldn’t either but you can take that finger off that bang switch. I don’t much feel like getting shot tonight.”

“All right, come on out! Keep you hands where I can see them!”

I chanced another quick glance and indeed he had moved the gun more toward the sky but his finger was still on that trigger. I decided to risk it. I couldn’t spend all night arguing about it. I exposed half my body from behind the tree.

“Hands mister!” He said as I watched his body tense. This seemed to be a new experience for him. Hunting deer was one thing, hunting something that could hunt you back was a totally new game for him, I could tell. I moved as slow as ice, I didn’t want his nervousness to get the best of him. I wasn’t nervous about buying it here this night, but I didn’t relish the thought of that shot screaming at me either.

“Easy there, son, I am just passing by and wanted to talk to you guys.”

“About what!”

“About the danger you are in from the people that are not far off. I mean you no harm.”

“How do I know that? How do I know you just want to talk as you say?” He replied and shifted in the tree.

“Because if I had wanted to harm you, you’d be dead already and I sure wouldn’t have ever spoken. Come on down and let’s go up to the house and talk.” I replied.

“Turn around while I come down and don’t move.”

I did as he asked but even though I wasn’t looking, my ears peaked at every sounds as he came down, just listening for the slightest thing out of place. I stood there and listening as he walked up behind me. He reached to grab my shoulder and that is when I struck, just as he his hand reached out, I ducked and twisted, grabbing the gun barrel and throwing my hip to knock him off balance. I jerked the gun back and up in case his finger was still on the trigger and in case it went off. It was a gamble but it worked and before he hit the ground, I had the barrel broke open and the shell in my hand.

“See, I mean you no harm but you have got to calm down a little bit before you start to get on my nerves.” I said as I placed the shotgun still open over my shoulder and offered him a hand to help him up.

His face was red and I could see the anger glaring back at me but I just looked down at him and smiled. If he knew what I could really do he would be thankful I just planted him on his rear. He slapped my hand away and stood up dusting the dead leaves off himself.

“Give me my gun back!”

“Shut up and start walking, you’re to twitchy right now.” I said as I pointed him towards the house.

As we cleared the trees I glanced towards the barn and the person on top of it. I knew they couldn’t see us yet in the dark but I could see them by using the tricks I had picked up from Culsit and Jager. We stopped in the front yard when he called to the house and all hell broke loose. People spilled out of the door, I kept an eye on them and also on the one coming down from the barn. I didn’t see anyone else armed, not even the one coming from the barn. I held up my hands and motioned like I was wanting them to stop moving, they must have thought I was signaling it to them but really it was for Culsit and Vali to wait.

“Oh we are moving mister!” One of them spoke as be came off the porch pulling a Glock from under his shirt and pointing it right at my face. I just stood there and let him approach, all the while scanning the others for weapons but none appeared. All I could do was think to let him get just a little closer but I quickly reminded myself that I wasn’t here to cause harm to them but to help. I could tell by all of their body language, none knew what they were doing, this was just as new to them as it had been for me not that long ago.

“You all right?” He said looking at the one I had taken out of the tree.

“Fine! Now get my gun from him!” He exclaimed.

“Why did you let him take it!” The new stranger with the Glock said as he reached for the shotgun. I just leaned my shoulder so he could grab it.

“Because he didn’t have a choice. It’s not his fault really.” I said with a smile.

“You son of a….” He started to say with hate but before he realized what was happening I had him in a chock hold from behind with his own gun pointed at his temple. My thought was probably the same as his right at that moment, how in the world had I just done that. I didn’t think, it was like by muscles went on autopilot.

“Easy everybody, I’m not here for trouble, I’m trying to help you.” I said calmly all the while shielding myself with loudmouth here.

“See, that’s how I lost my shotgun, he’s fast and crazy.”

“Look, Im trying to help you people. You need to leave here and get as far north as fast as you can. Take what you can carry and run for it.” I replied.

“You just want our stuff!” The one I held at gunpoint growled.

“No, if I wanted your stuff, it would be mine already. Now, I’m going to let you go. Don’t any of you be stupid or I will end every last one of you.” I said with a menace as I looked at the four others standing before me.

I released him while at the same dropping the magazine and racking the round out of the chamber. I held out his empty pistol as he whipped around to face me.

“I should drop you right her and now mister!” He screamed. I just stood there and smiled.

He snatched the pistol from my hand and started to reach for his waist.

“Bud, if you grab a magazine, I’ll split you in two right here. I’m just trying to save you people. The enemy that caused all these problems are just a few miles away and when I get done with them, if any make it past me, they might just make sure to take care of every last one of you.” I replied calmly.

“We can handle ourselves, if you think we are leaving this house just so you can take it, you’re nuts! You’re just after our food!”

As I looked around, they all had the same nod going. I knew then, it was pointless, these people weren’t going to budge. Fine! When the time comes I can say I tried.

“Have it y’alls way, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” I said as I started to turn and walk away.

“Where are you going? We didn’t tell you that you could leave!” The one with the pistol yelled at me.

I slowly turned back to face them all and just started to laugh.

“Look, I’m leaving, the only question is how many of you want to die trying to stop me?”

“Mister, you’re all alone, you have nothing but two axes, I don’t think you have much say in this.” He replied.

I just nodded my head and at that point I heard the thump on the roof. Culsit had jumped up above them onto the roof and Vali came walking out of the darkness behind me, which surprised even me. She must have circled back around during all of my speech giving.

“Oh, I’m not alone.” At that moment Culsit released a growl so low and loud you could feel it in your chest, vibrating the air in your lungs.

The look on their faces changed from one of malice and anger to pure fear.

“Like I said,” I calmly spoke,”I’m leaving and if you’re smart, you would also.”

I turned to walk away and they all just stood, frozen in place, watching with open mouths as Vali and I melted into the darkness. I knew Culsit had made his exit already because I could hear him coming back around towards where we stood. He was actually making noise on purpose, it sounded like a bull coming, shaking trees over 30 feet tall and growling. To be honest, it even made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I could only imagine what it was doing to those people back at that house.

“You like that little brother?” Culsit chuckled as he walked up to us.

“Yeah! I did, you even made me jump a little and that little rampage in the trees scared me a little!” I said with a little fake chuckle.

“See, don’t make me mad.” He grinned and leaned down towards me, I thumped him on his forehead and laughed.

“You ladies ready to get down to Jager? These people are a lost cause. They have become so paranoid and paralyzed with fear I don’t think there is anything that we could do to help them.” I said.

“Yeah, let’s get down to the bottom and find some water, I’m parched.” Culsit said.

“Ready Vali?”

“Yup.” Came her reply as she grinned ear to ear and adjusted her gear, I knew she was getting ready for what was to come. I guess we all were in a way, it’s just I knew the outcome of it. It might take some cuts and bruises on my part but there was no doubt about what I was about to unleash and I think she knew it. She had seen it before, on enemies long gone and no doubt on many more to come. Culsit just shook leaves and limbs of the trees he had busted up off of him like a dog would water, not a care in the world, at least none that showed.

 

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If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got into this kind of bind.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1

 

all photos courtesy of Kathys Kreations™

Coming Home Chapter Six

I walked over to where Culsit still lay on the ground and looked down on him with a big grin, offering him my hand.

“Get up you big fur bag, we have work to do.” I said as he looked at my hand and took it. The funny part was, I couldn’t have pulled him up if my life depended on it. It was symbolic more than anything I suppose.

Everyone came and gathered around Vali and I and we started to go over what I thought we should do. Just at that moment Munnin and Huginn swooped out of what seemed like nowhere and landed on my shoulders. I started to turn to look at them but stopped myself, heck I imagined how cool it would look to the others if I acted like I knew that was supposed to happen. It was all I could do not to laugh at the picture that painted in my mind.

Just when I started to speak, Munnin leaned over to my ear and spoke. I glanced at Vali and for the first time I saw fear in her eyes. I was getting real tired of all these twist and turns in my life. It was more like I was a puppet on a string at times and frankly it was getting real old.

“John, the Allfather wants a word with you.” Munnin whispered.

I was speechless. I thought when you had a word with him, it was you last word. I know it sounds bad but my first thought in my head wasn’t how it would happen, it wasn’t what would I hear or see, nope! My first thought was ‘Ah shit!’. As I stood there looking at Vali I heard Culsit laughing. It was then I realized my thought was out loud!

“A word with me? How does that work?” I asked with a worried tone.

“Yessssss.” Was all he hissed back at me, looking with those eyes whose lids looked like silver when he blinked.

“How do…..” I started to asked but before I could finish the word does, their winds flapped while grabbing their talons into my shoulder and instantly I was flying through a tunnel of light that swirled and ebbed with color and light. This must be the tunnel people talk about! This is how it ends for me? I’ve gone from minding my own business fly fishing to jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, crashing some not so good ones, getting shot at, damn near drowned and it all ends on the top of a ridge in a place I didn’t even know the name of.

As I was thinking all these thoughts at the same time, I realized I couldn’t be dead, I could feel the pain of their talons gripping me as we flew up the tunnel. I should have been afraid but as strange as it sounds, the more we flew the more at peace I became. Yup, I though, this must be it but it felt so peaceful I didn’t care. This wasn’t like the thing Philo did zapping us from one place to the next, this was way more different and if I had to guess, we had left Earth way behind.

I could see the point of light we had been headed for and it was growing but just as fast as I noticed that, we popped out into a new place. I would call it a world but that doesn’t do it justice. Imagine somewhere that fits the idea you have of a perfect landscape, this was better than that. It was getting twilight as we kept flying west. I noticed at this point we seemed to be heading to a large clearing with what looked like a large fire burning at its center.

They gently sat me down near what did turn out to be a large bonfire near the center and then flew off as fast as they had come for me on earth. I stood there all alone, neither hot or cold but just perfect. I glanced at the sky and was amazed at the array of colors as light faded the farther I looked towards what I assume was east. I glanced north at snow capped mountains larger and more pretty than anything I had ever seen  as they captured the light as it faded. I was enthralled looking around, it was beyond breathtaking.

Thats when I heard his voice. Now this will sound stranger than anything I’ve told you about before but it wasn’t a voice like you or I talk with. Image a sound that you can not only hear but also feel with every cell in your body.

I turned towards the fire and where the voice came from and immediately fell to my knees. I was looking at a man I would guess was in his 60’s but at the same time was built strong and solid. A grin was spread across his bearded face as his hand reached for me to stand me up, I just stammered as he stood me up, looking me up and down and grinning.

“John!” He exclaimed as he grabbed me in a hug that felt like a warm blanket on a cold winters night. A perfect hug? I guess that would be how I would describe it. He released me from the hug and held me at arms length as he looked me up and down.

“How you have changed since the last time you where here! I am more proud of you now than I have ever been!” He said.

I just stood there staring, unable to form a thought much less speak one.

“Its ok John, you know who I am! Be yourself!” He said as he grinned bigger.

“I….I don’t know what to say!” I stammered.

Jetzt ist die Zeit! (Now is the time)” He said as he held up his hands and gestured all around me.

“Ich weiß und bin froh. (I know and I am glad)” I replied.

“Sie mussten hierher kommen, um zu verstehen. (You had to come here to understand)

“Ich kenne. (I know)” I replied.

Just then I realized I was speaking German like I was born to it.

“Warum so überrascht! (Why so surprised!)”

“Deutsch war schon immer deine rede! (German has always been your language)” He laughed as he already knew what my shock was about. It was then that I realized He and I had been speaking German the whole time!

“I don’t know German!” I exclaimed about the same time I realized that too was in German. He just laughed.

“Well, for someone who doesn’t know it, you sure speak it really well.” This reply came with more laughter from him.

“Come, sit, let’s talk.” He said as he motioned to stumps arranged around the fire.

I hadn’t noticed them before but that wasn’t the shock I had as I glanced around. The shock was the clearing was full of stumps and sitting on those stumps was people, thousand of them. But, it only got weirder from there because as I looked around, I knew each and every one of them. As I looked from one to the other, smiles spread everywhere I glanced.

“What John! You don’t recognize you own kin!” He said.

“I do, but how?” I asked while staring around.

“Here John, the blinders are off, don’t be rude, say hello!” At this, they all laughed.

I said hello and sat beside him to the empty stump across from him.

“John, I rarely do this and when I do most think it was just a dream or hallucination and refuse to listen to the lesson I tried to teach them but I know you will remember and I know you will do what is asked of you.”

“Anything, I will do it but can I asked one thing?”

“Go ahead.”

“Your not going to ask me to leave here are you?” I said as I looked around to the forest and mountains surrounding us.

“Yes, John, for a time but unlike the last time you left here, you will be able to remember who you really are, where you really come from and what you are meant to do.” He replied still smiling.

“Oh I think I would remember being here, and I sure wouldn’t have left!”

“You wouldn’t if I asked you to forget and you would leave if I asked. You did before and you will this time.”

“I know.” This was my turn to grin. I knew it all now, all the thoughts and memories flooded in at once. I knew this was my true home, where I had always existed and where I always would. I looked to the mountain highlighted in the waning light. I knew just below that snow line was my home, my real home. Nestled in a meadow next to a stream that worked its way down that mountain among giant spruce that dwarfed anything known on earth. I could picture my porch there, with my cedar chair I had made myself. A warm fire on a snowy night, snuggled under a blanket with Vali, listening to the wind in the trees. The sound of the water over the rocks and the sight of golden colored trout running up and down my favorite pool, almost like pets. My bow, axes, all my favorite toys. This is when my mind jumped back to Vali. She was always there with me! I lived with the Goddess of Vengeance in this world! What did that make me?

“You remember now don’t you John?” He said still grinning.

“Yes, I do, but at the same time, it shocks me in the sense of I don’t believe I ever would agree to forget it!” I said.

“Honestly why should I care about the enemy back there after remembering all this?” I asked.

“I know John, it must be confusing but look at the flames and let me show you something.”

I stared at the fire, and instantly it was like watching the best definition movie ever. I saw the world as it was in the beginning. Just like this. No pain, no death, no problems just a green and blue paradise. Then a darkness began to spread, this was the enemy. I watched as mankind was subjected to every possible injustice there was. I watched as that paradise was transformed into a hell in all but name. War, robbery, violence, disease and misery, that’s what they brought. I saw how at one time the enemy had been different but they grew jealous of man and vowed to destroy them. I got to see why the Allfather just didn’t destroy them. He couldn’t without destroying mankind in the process. I saw the beginning of Culsit and his people, all creatures really and to top it all off, it just took seconds.

“I understand now, you can’t kill the wolves outright without killing the sheep also. My biggest question is how can I be here now? Im not dead or am I?” I asked.

He just laughed.

“Hold you hand up to the sky John.” And when I did I realized it was my true hand. Not some ghost image, me just more real than before.

“Now down to business. Just as we are speaking in a language you thought you didn’t know, there are many things that you know now that I will not erase from your memory when you go back.” He spoke solemnly.

I could see it in my mind, I knew when I would be back here to stay and that was the greatest weapon of all. I knew know how to do things I had never thought possible before. I knew my skills, I knew my strengths, I knew I was about to unleash a storm on the enemy the likes of which they had never seen before. I was going to enjoy it, I thought as a grin spread on my face.

“You see know, have no fear, you are the destroyer, you always have been and you know when and how I will call you home and that makes you the most dangerous weapon on earth. Thats the reason I don’t let people know their fates. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if people didn’t go there to learn a thing.”

“I get it now. I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore and I thank you for that. I would ask, however, if I could bring my two friends back with me.” As I motioned towards my home.

“No worries John, you go back now and do what you are supposed to. Just do me one favor.” He spoke.

“Anything.”

“Well, two things really.” I nodded. “ One, don’t bow or kneel to me, you’re a warrior not a slave! Got it! And finally, tell Culsit that if he asked me one more time in his prayers for a beer that doesn’t give you a headache when you drink to much that I am going to come down there personally and shave him bare like a newborn!”

At that I fell off my stump laughing. I’d love to defeat the enemy but I think the sweetest thing was the message for Culsit. He knew I liked it because he winked at me.

With that wink, just like before, Munnin and Huginn showed up out of nowhere carrying my two friends in their mouth and snatched me up to take me back. I’d like to say it was sad, but really I laughed even harder. One, I knew this was only a temporary trip and sweetest of all I couldn’t wait to nail Culsit.

The trip back looked the same as it had coming except I literally laughed all the way.

The sensation I felt next would be more akin to jumping off your roof and slamming into the ground. At least that’s what it felt like to me when I slammed back into myself. I looked up from the ground I was laying on with everyone standing around me. I glanced from Vali to Culsit and Jager and just busted out laughing until my ribs hurt and tears ran down my face.

“Oh no, The Allfather has made him insane!” Culsit screeched.

I laughed even harder.

As I gathered myself I sat up again and leaning my two friends again the log I had been sitting on before I left, I turned to Vali.

“Es ist in Ordnung, ich verstehe es alle wissen. Ich wünschte nur, ich wüsste vorher, dass du meine Frau zu Hause bist und deshalb hier, wenn du möchtest?” (It is fine, I understand it all know. I just wished I knew before that your was my woman back home and therefore here if you’d like?)

Her eyes lit with the firelight shown moist back at me.

“Ja, du Idiot!” (Yes, you idiot!) She replied.

As I leaned over to kiss her, Culsit screeched again like a rat.

“Culsit, I have a message for you.” I said trying my best not to start laughing again.

“For me? Anything, what does he need me to do?” Oh, he was making it hard not to laugh.

“This is very important, are you paying attention?” I asked and he nodded.

“Ok, he asked for you to stop praying for beer that doesn’t give you a hangover or he said and I quote he will personally come down here and shave you bare like a newborn babe!” As I said this he squeaked again and we all laughed so hard that I swear I thought I was going to mess my pants up.

As the laughter settled, I motioned for everyone to gather around.

“Its time to get down to business. So far we have only reacted to what the enemy has been doing. Not anymore, we are going hunting.” I yelled as I raised a fist.

They all erupted with yells of joy.

“No more running and hiding, I know them, I know where they are, I know what they want and I know how to hunt them. Time is on their side but my two friends are on ours!” I roared as I raised the two axes in the air I had brought from home.

“Any maybe when this is all over, either in this world or the next we can all live once again in peace and hopefully give Culsit time to develop his miracle beer!”

That just brought laughter from everyone even Culsit, all except Vali, she stared at my two friends and smiled from ear to ear. She knew as I did, with them, it was best to steer clear of me.

“Culsit, Jager about 40 miles west of us are a series of abandoned mines. Either of you know anything about them?” I asked.

Both nodded that they did but Jager spoke first.

“We never go near that place, the waters are poisoned from the mines and nothing that does go near lives to tell about it.” He said.

“Thats true, nothing there will live because I am going! We are leaving tonight and I want you and you’re scouts to take the lead. Stay in knocking distance and warn any of your people you might find to flee north. If you cross humans signal, and I will do the same. Culsit, you’re with me if you don’t mind.” I said.

“No problem John, we will go right away.” Jager answered and raced off to prepare.

I stood there with Culsit and reached up to put my hand on his shoulder.

“You ready big brother?” I asked with a big grin.

“No, not really but I will. I just have a few questions.” He said.

“Ask them then.”

“How do you know Vali, I know of her but have never seen her thank goodness. My father told me when I was little if you see Vali, its the last you would ever see! Yet you kissed her like it was no big deal!” He said looking toward her as she grinned back at him.

“We are each others Culsit, always have been, always will be.” I said.

“Culsit, the stories your father told you are true. In times past when you seen me, it was the last. Do you know why?” She asked him as she walked closer. He just shook his head.

“Because if you saw me, John was already behind you and the flash of his two friends there ended it all.” She said as she nodded to the two axes tucked in my belt.

Culsit just looked at me. I worried at first that this was too much for him. But slowly he started to grin.

“Good thing you’re my little brother then huh!” He said with a roaring laugh and the typical slap on my back.

I laughed back and reached up again to squeeze his shoulder. I knew he got it then.

“Besides, I’d like to see him try to shave me, that would be harder than he thinks.” Culsit said pointing up toward the sky.

Just then a flash of lightening split the sky from east to west with a deafening thunder. I knew Culsit was joking because I saw him wink at the sky just before the lightening ripped past.

As we headed off to follow Jager, Culsit still roared with laughter. All was right in his world again and the time had come to stop hiding and running and start setting things right again.

If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got to this table looking to their futures.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Coming Home Chapter Five

I slept in fits all night as the waters continue to roar past the mountain top I sat on which had turned into an island in the middle of a churning river of rocks, mud and trees. I finally gave up on sleep and started searching around in the dark for wood that was dry that I could use to start a fire. I wasn’t cold, I think it was just to have something to occupy my thoughts and keep my hands busy. It didn’t take long to have a nice pile ready for when I got a flame going. I crept along trying to be quite but realized after a few minutes that there was no point to that, the sound of the water was a constant rumble so who cares, I wasn’t waking Jager, Culsit or the Scout with the noise.

I settled down and started getting my tinder ready and struck a fire in just a few minutes. As the flames began to build, I could make out Culsit and Jager balled up asleep next to the rock we had taken shelter behind. I scanned carefully for a few minutes but could see the scout anywhere. I started to get worried and stood and looked around for him. I didn’t notice him when I was looking for the wood and I couldn’t find him now. After a few minutes of looking and thinking I just couldn’t decide if I should wake Culsit and tell him. I sat by the fire again and then more I thought on it the more I came to realize it didn’t matter. There wasn’t anywhere he could have gone, so he was probably just wedged in somewhere trying to escape the noise and wind.

I sat there for hours, just feeding the fire and staring into the flames. It’s strange what your mind conjures when you do that. You swear at times you can see scenes play out in the flames, almost to the point that you stare so hard your eyes water. I guess I was still in this trance like state when Culsit plumped down beside me.

“You scared me!” I said as I jumped from my thoughts to the present.

“You cold little brother?” Culsit asked while pointing to the roaring fire I had built.

“No, just bored I think and I wanted to push back the darkness a bit you know?”

“I guess, of course, you fire is too big but I will let it pass, I don’t think it matters anymore if anyone sees the flames but you might want to let it die down, we need to save the wood.” Culsit said as he stared into the flames himself now.

“Good point, I wasn’t thinking. By the way, have you seen the Scout, I can’t recall his name sadly in all this but I haven’t seen him in hours.”

“He’s gone little brother, just after dark.” Culsit said without even looking away from the fire.

“Gone! Where? How?” I exclaimed.

“From the world, he was one of the ones that just can’t handle things like this. I have talked to you much about being different haven’t I? He was one of those that wasn’t different. Beings like you and I and Jager there are made to handle the storms this world hurls against us. Some are born with a spirit that fights and strives no matter what, others are born with a spirit of surrender. Some spirits are old and wise and know that no matter what the problem, no matter what the pain, no matter what the struggle is, we put one foot in front of the next and just keep going. Sadly those spirits are few, the majority, just sit down and stop walking. They have no vision, they see no path even if they stood in the middle of the largest trail over the mountain, they just refuse to see it or walk it. To be honest, I didn’t know his name either. I didn’t want to know because you could see the spirit in his eyes and that is was weak. I have too much to do myself beside carry a weak spirit on my back.” Culsit droned on and on before looking from the fire to me as he finished his words.

“I understand, I never really thought about looking at things like that before. I just always do what needs to be done and not worry about it too much.”

“You have learned a lot in a short period of time little brother but your spirit is old. I look at your eyes and I see that fire, that drive. You are no different from us, you want to know what’s over the next ridge. You want to know how to do things, make things and survive things. What some see as a horrible tragedy, you settle down and see a chance to learn something but more importantly you keep walking the path.” He ended with a grin.

“You two are nothing but little kids playing in the dirt!” Jager said as he slowly rose and came to the flames.

All Culsit did was grunt and I just looked at him and smiled. We sat that for what seemed forever without another word. Jager never mentioned the scout nor did he look for him. It seems like Culsit, he knew and didn’t care. I wanted to ask but figured it might be one of those things best left alone.

“I think I’m going to run down to the store and grab a Coke and chocolate bar. You fur bags want something?” I said with a grin as I stretched and started to scan the waters around us as the grayness of down started to spread.

They just laughed but I rummaged in my bag for some dried deer meat and passed it out. I was joking about the store but I wasn’t about being hungry. I popped a piece in my mouth and started chewing and swallowing.

“He’s just like a young one!” Culsit said pointing at me. “ I am surprised I don’t have to show him how to do everything. Don’t eat it so fast little brother. Put a piece in you mouth and just chew and let it sit. It makes the hunger go away and leaves you with more food.” Culsit said and laughed with Jager as usual.

I grinned back. “If I run out I’ll just cook one of you fat lumps.”

That brought a deep laugh from both. As the light got brighter I walked up to the top and looked around. The water had dropped maybe twenty feet and sometime during the night had reversed direction. It was flowing back out to the coast and the sea but who knows how long it would take for it to drop enough for us to move. I scanned for a mark on the bluff across to the South so that I could measure how far it dropped over the hours. As I made my way back to the fire I noticed Culsit and Jager standing by the large oak that still stood alone down the ridge near the water so I made my way to them to see what those two where at.

“Time to try to send a call.” Jager said as he swung a branch as big as my leg and longer than me like it was nothing. The cracking sound it made as it smacked the tree was almost painful with nothing nearby to absorb the echos.

We stood for a few minutes turning our head listening for a response. None came so Culsit picked up two large stones about the size of basket balls and clapped them together so hard I’m surprised they didn’t crack. Still nothing came back. I gave up and marched back to the fire and sat down to greet the full light of day.

I added just a small amount of wood as those two came back and sat down. Not a word passed between us for a few hours. We just sat by the fire and watched the water as it ran by and continued to drop. By lunch the I stood on the top again and could see that the water had dropped a lot from the mark I was using to measure it against. So much so, that I could see that only a few feet of water separated us from being able to walk back towards where we had left the others before the waters had come.

As I strode up to Culsit, I noticed they had put the fire out and seemed to be waiting on me.

“Lets move little brother.”

We moved down and the stepped over the water onto the next ridge but I had to get a run and go but made it. The ground wasn’t as muddy as I expected it to be. Just more like after a heavy rain than the deluge that had torn past. Although, most leaved, small trees and rocks seemed to be scattered about or piled into areas here and there, wherever the water had pushed it. It was a lot to take in but we just kept putting one foot in front of another. We jumped from ridge to ridge like this for the rest of the day. Sometimes the gap was so wide that Culsit would have to toss me across, that was no fun but as darkness started to fall we found ourselves on top of a long ridge that had been spared the water. It was covered in wildlife that had avoided the water. Just by looking you could tell that food and firewood wasn’t going to be a problem here. Disturbingly we hadn’t seen anyone else in our days travel. I wasn’t surprised however, we really had covered that much territory with our ridge hopping but maybe tomorrow travel would be easier.

The night passed quickly it seemed. We ate a deer that Jager brought in and I                 boiled several cups of water for us to share. Not much was said between us, I think mainly because all our thoughts kept turning to what we would try at daybreak and most importantly what we would find. I know my thoughts swirled around like that and I could tell by looking it seemed to be the same with Jager and Culsit.

Sleep came in fits for all of us but luckily daylight started creeping back in and we prepared to move again. It seemed that in the night, a lot of the animals moved on just like we planned on doing. Thankfully, the water was way down to the point where I wouldn’t have to be thrown across anymore and I was glad to see that.

We skipped breakfast and moved off at a fast past just as soon as it became daylight. I know we could have moved into the darkness but I think this world was as new to them as it was me and this was no time to risk an injury because one of us missed a hole or drop covered by debris.

All day we moved with the occasional stop for some wood knocking or rock clapping but we never heard a response. I think just like myself, these two had started to worry as much me. As we topped a ridge just about an hour and prepared to stop for the night, Culsit pointed about a half a mile west at a sparking of flame on the ridge there. All three of us took off at a run. Well, those two trotted but I had to flat run to keep up. As we got closer we slowed and finally came to a stop and spread out. We knew our people was in this direction but we had to make sure these where out people.

I looked over to where Culsit sat crouched being a large pine in the gathering darkness and he motioned me to go in close and take a look. I nodded and dropped to all fours and started the bear crawl I had learned and started my approach towards the camp.

I knew that even if it was our people, I could get within inches of them without them knowing. If it was strangers, I would be in and out without them being any the wiser. My only concern would be with other Bigfoot. They would be the only ones that would have a chance at detecting me coming in.

I slowly made my way, stopping to look and listen for anything that shouldn’t be there. Shadows near trees, rocks out of place, you’d be surprised at how many Bigfoot you probably stared straight at in you life in broad daylight and never even noticed a thing. I would notice but so far, everything looked as it should.

Once I finally got into a position where I could watch the fire, I counted two humans and three Bigfoot. What worried me was the fact that the Bigfoot never sat by a fire in the open and never and I mean never sat around without someone watching. None of this seemed right. I couldn’t make out faces because all of them had their backs towards my direction which again, never had I seen a Bigfoot do this. They always sat in sort of a triangle pattern, that way eyes looked in a complete circle all around them. Not this time, which just made my skin tingle with alarm. Maybe I was just jumpy from the flood and the trip here but my mind was in overdrive. Every movement and sound drew my attention. It must have taken me twenty minutes to cover as many feet but here I was, not more than two feet behind the closest human and I still couldn’t make out enough features to figure out who I was looking at.

I sat still for until well after dark and no one moved very much. Maybe to lean over and stoke the fire but not any movement so that I could identify them. As my legs began to get numb I had a thought. A distraction, if I could toss a stone over them, maybe they would stand or go look in that direction and I could hopefully see who I was looking at.

I searched around with my right hand, looking for a stone big enough for my purpose. I was surprised how dry it was all up to this point. I was beginning to thing this was the top of a wide mountain that had been spared completely from the waters. As I thought about that possibility I tossed the rock but none of them even flinched.

That tingle had turned to the beginning of a panic, maybe I had just crawled my over confident butt into a trap. All I could think was that this was probably going to hurt when a voice that sounded as soothing as an angels came from the figure closest to me.

“John, enough of playing around like Culsit. Stop playing cat and come sit with me.”

As soon as I heard her voice I knew it was Vanessa, so I just gave up all caution and stood hoping it wasn’t the stupidest and last decision of my life.

“How did you know it was me?” I asked as I sat and looked into her face as it glowed with the fire, ignore all those around us.

“I felt you spirit coming. I was testing you to see if you was listening for my spirit but either you didn’t hear it, or you a little to dense to listen.” She said as a smile spread across her face.

“Umm, no I didn’t, I must admit I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” I said as Culsit and Jager walked in and I realized they was shaking hands and talking to Rory and exchanging greetings with the other Bigfoot that seemed to be from Jagers’ group. I turned my attention back to her.

“How did you hear my spirit?” I asked in amazement.

“John, I was sent into this world again for you. I am Vali.” She said. When she did, all the others heads snapped around and mouths dropped open for each and every one of them. I just sat there not knowing who or what that was but I was guessing it was important by the others reactions.

“And a Vali is?” I asked with a little bit of tiredness creeping into my voice as I stretched my legs out.

“Vali is my name John.” She spoke as she stood and took on a whitish golden glow. The other bent a knee to her but I just kept sitting. I’d seen so much and been thru so much I just didn’t care at this point.

“And?” I asked a bit sarcastically as I glanced and Culsit and he shook his head no and grimaced. I began to realize this might be a problem.

“And!” She exclaimed as I watched as she grew in height to even dwarf Culsit.

“I am Vali, Goddess of the fallen, Goddess of Vengeance!” Her voiced seemed to echo off the moon.

I jumped to me feet, startled. Maybe I should have cared because it seemed like I was in a bit of trouble here.

“I, I….” My voice trailed off, I couldn’t think of a word to say.

As I stared up at her face, a smile spread across her face and she shrank back down to her normal, for me anyway, size and leaned in to give me a hug.

When she did, I heard Culsit and Jager gasp and I started to worry this might be it for me.

As her head leaned into mine, I began to think it was for the end but instead it was to whisper into my ear, which made me grin and I grabbed her and kissed her. Culsit let out a chirp and gasp that was comical but it seemed he was  really frightened because the hair on the his back was standing straight up. I just kept kissing her and gave him a wink.

He fell over. I stopped and Vanessa turned to look at him and we both laughed. I couldn’t think of any other time that I had shocked Culsit so much in all the time that I have known him. Now I know he didn’t know what she whispered to me and I know I would never tell him but I guess to him, I just went for broke since he figured she was going to end me.

She wasn’t there to end me, she was there to be a beginning.

If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got to this table looking to their futures.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Coming Home Chapter Four

As the sun rose, I rolled over, surprised that I still wasn’t used to sleeping on the ground. You would think that after all the times we have over these months sleeping out in the woods that I wouldn’t be so stiff and sore but yet here it was. I lay there looking our the cave entrance watching the blackness fade to a light grey, I wondered if I would ever figure all this stuff out. I thought about the visitor from last night, birds? Really? Then again, I if you asked me not that long ago about Bigfoot, Nephilim, beings like Philo and I would have thought you crazy. Still, two birds names Munnin and Huginn, Ragnarok, all of this really, was approaching the point of me not being able to keep track of all the things happening.

The more I watched the woods light level rise outside, the more I finally realized the only way to get past any of the challenges I faced now was to just think about myself. By that I mean, not worry what everyone thought about me or what I was supposed to be doing in this world. I would just focus on surviving and if some higher power of the universe had some master plan of what my life was to be about then it would happen rather I tried to change it or plan it or not. The more I thought on it the greater the sense of peace came over me. It was decided, I would simply just live, not think too much about things and just go with the flow, as the saying went.

I made my way to the top of the ridge above the cave and sat facing east watching the sun pop above the ridges I just sat, breathing, not thinking, just letting the smells, sights and sounds just happen. I felt like I had been part of these mountains for thousands of years, sitting in this same spot watching the mountains fade to nothings, trees come and go and letting time march by with a stillness as if I was stone. As the light from the sun was warming me with the feeling of sitting in front of a giant fire it was just then that my body sensed him, well them.

Jager and his group had come from the West and I assume Culsit had gone out during the night to meet them because just a few feet behind me, to my right and left, those two appeared to be trying to sneak up on me.

“Unless you two idiots want me to get up and slap the hair off of both of you, I suggest you give up trying to sneak up behind me!” I said with a grin forming on my face.

All I could hear was snickering on both sides of me.

“Well, John, I am glad you have perfected all that I taught you!” Jager said while standing up and sitting beside me.

“I taught him all this, you did nothing but babysit him while I was busy, that is all.” Culsit laughed out as he took a seat in front of me.

“You two ever think maybe I was born this good, and just never noticed it? Maybe it had nothing to do with you two tick magnets?”

“You know Culsit, I think we need to give John a real name.” Jager said while appearing to ignore the words I had spoken.

“I have thinking the same thing. Little brother needs a name. What do you have in mind?”

They both sat, looking me up and down all the while describing me or rather the things they thought funny about me. How short I was compared to them, how small my muscles seemed, how ugly I was. When they got to the looks I couldn’t help but laugh, I made a comment about that but they ignored me.

“I got it, how about hairless one?” Jager said with the all the seriousness he could muster while looking at Culsit and totally ignoring my protest.

“Hmmm, how about smooth one?” Culsit said just as serious as he looked straight at me.

“Hmmm?” Jager said as he rubbed on his chin.

“How about we just stick with little brother?” Culsit said as a huge grin broke out between the two of them. I couldn’t figure out if they could tell I didn’t like those names or if the whole back and forth had been a joke.

“Yeah, little brother, or sister, whatever works at the time.” Jager said as they both laughed.

I just grinned and shook my head noting that all up and down the ridge I could make out over ten Bigfoot. I doubt anyone else would have noticed them if they walked within feet of them but I could see them blending in almost like mere shadows.

“I don’t assume you came all this way to crack jokes at me Jager, what’s the rush and why bring so many?” I started pointing to each one I could see.

Jager looked even more impressed, maybe the jokes was all to try and distract me, maybe this as all a test to see if I could see the scouts watching all around us. None looking in towards us but all of them looking out and away. Who knows, because neither was saying a thing about that as I point to each one.

“No, we are scouting the area, it seems that our home for over two hundred years is about over. After the attacks, the animals are just disappearing, the rivers carry no fish and even the trees out to one another about the missing animals.”

“You mean your whole band is moving this way Jager?” I asked, worried.

“No, the problem is we have to disband into smaller groups. We haven’t come on any areas that support us all anymore. It is like the world is failing, almost as if the very clouds themselves just blow by with no purpose anymore. Look at the sky, it is the wrong color for late spring. It is warm yet the leaves on the trees look tired. The smell of the forest is off. It is almost as if everything in this world has decided to stop doing its job. I know I have heard the old ones talk of days like this that would come that signal the end of days and the time for us to pass into memory but I still have a hard time accepting any of it.” Jager let on with a sigh.

I had to agree as I looked around, it did seem off, different but in a way that is hard to put into words. I assumed it was just me and the changes that had happened so fast over the last week or so but the more I thought on it, the more I realized these changes had been creeping up on all of us slowly for longer than I had known about all this weirdness I had come to know had finally made enough of a difference that all of us could see and feel it.

“What did the old ones say about these changes?” I asked.

“Well, mainly that the snake men would change this world to their liking, perverting all that the creator has made, making this world into a wasteland where every the birds refused to fly in, where the stars would turn their back, the rivers would stop flowing and the moon would protest by changing its path in the sky.” Culsit said as he just stared into the forest.

“Well, as joyful as all of that sounds, I’m not sure I buy it. I don’t see how all the rivers would dry up much less the moon change its orbit. If the moon could do what it wanted, that alone would create earth quakes and tidal waves that would be almost unimaginable.” I said.

“Think what you want little brother but the old ones never seem to be wrong.” Jager replied.

I just sat there thinking on all that had been said in silence when a knock came from the north of us. Before I even realized what I was doing, I jumped up, grabbing a small branch smacking the oak next to me with all my strength to answer back. As I stood listening, I noticed both Jager and Culsit nodding with approval. No answer ever came so I knew it wasn’t the enemy approaching.

After a few minutes I decided it would be best to head that way and see what the scout had noticed. The single knock was just a way of saying something was different, out of place but nothing was being seen that present a direct threat. I just took off at a silent run to the North. I think it caught those two off guard but considering they could both run me into the ground without even trying, they just took up strides on either side of me.

It only took about twenty minutes at a good trot to reach the spot, I guess I had covered about two and a half miles but I noticed the scout right away sitting just below the lip of high bluff that ringed the entire tip of this mountain. As I approached, the scout who I didn’t recognize just sat there with his shoulders slumped looking at the ground with his arms stretched across his knees.

I came to a halt just feet in front of him and started to ask what he had noticed when he raised his head and stared straight at me with tears running from his eyes. I was shocked, I figured they could cry but I couldn’t recall ever seeing it, even in some of the battles we had seen, even looking at the devastation of some areas to the south of us.

“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” I was thinking now, maybe the knock was supposed to be a call for help but he couldn’t get more than the one. Maybe he fell, got a snakebite, I was running thru all the possibilities when he just pointed over the bluff. I rose and cautiously made my way to the edge to see what the problem was. Staying on my stomach to not only hid but to prevent me from accidentally falling off I crept right up to the edge.

I just looked out over a wooded valley stretching away to the East, nothing looking out of the ordinary. I scanned as far as I could to the East and west and noticed nothing. I next focused on the mountain ridges across the valley to the South and again didn’t see anything. It wasn’t hot enough yet for a heat stroke but I wondered if maybe the scout had hit his head or something. I say no reason whatsoever for his alarm.

As I lay there looking even closer as Culsit and Jager slide up to my right and starting looking. I expected they would see what I did, nothing. I lay there scanning one more time, looking for movement, or a glint of sunlight off something but came up with nothing. Just as I was about ready to head back I heard Culsit gasp. I turned my head towards him and then to the area off the East where he was staring but I could see nothing.

“Oh no!” Jager gasped as I continued to strain looking for something, anything but again I only saw the valley stretch away.

“Ok, clue me in, I don’t see anything!” I exclaimed.

Culsit pointed but again I saw nothing strange.

“I don’t see anything guys, what is it?” I said this time with a bit of annoyance in my voice.

“Look at the air, see how it is thickening with moisture? See the wind moving up both ridges of the valley?” Jager said.

I stared harder, it did look like it was more humid but then again that was to be expected as the mountains dropped off to the coast. I could see the trees barely swaying, well I could see the tops of them move but again, as the sun heat the air down in the valley it was only natural that it would rise. I just didn’t see what the problem was.

“What do you think Culsit? How much time do you think?” Jager asked as they both held their hands up to the sun measuring to the horizon. I knew they both seemed to be measuring time but for what. I looked back to the East again.

“Maybe twenty minutes give or take.” Culsit replied as the both stood and left me laying there as they started scanning around in all directions. Before I realized it Jager took off back down the ridge and started knocking in a pattern unlike anything I had ever heard followed by a series of yells that made my hair stand up even thought I knew it was coming from him.

“Whats going on Culsit? I just don’t see the problem here.” I said as I stood and looked at Culsit as he stared off to the East.

“Little brother the ocean is coming and its coming fast! Our grandfather used to tell us over and over what to watch for when the oceans jump their places and come into our world. Every one of us are taught from a young age how to tell the times and the season by certain signs. Not some strange spooky way like you are thinking but by the way the earth, water, air, everything behaved. When something out of the ordinary is about to happen, if you know what to look for, nature tells you it’s coming. Take a winter snow, you can tell by the wetness of the air and the drop of temperature that it’s coming or the wind storms of spring, when they sky takes on a certain color and the air feels electrified in a way we know it’s coming.” Culsit finished saying as Jager returned glancing again toward the sun.

He pointed and started telling me what to watch for.

“Look at the air thicken with moisture John,” he pointed, “see how it looks like a storm building from the ground up instead of the sky down? And the trees, look close, they are all pulling down and in towards the valley, up and away like they would if it was the warm air rising from the heat of the sun.” Jager said as he continued to direct me.

The closer I looked and now that I knew what I was looking for, he was right. The trees on both sides of the valley that I could see all seemed to be pulling down and in towards the valley without a sway at all, almost like someone had tied a rope to each as was pulling. As I looked at what I thought was humidity I could see now that the base was dark way above where the tree tops would be. It did appear to look like a thunderstorm that was upside down as I followed the thickness of the air as it thinned as it got a few thousand feet above the mountains. The most strangest thing of all was that it seemed if it was moving, up the valley, pulling on the trees and the more I stared I could start to make out one feature after another disappear into the thickness.

“What are you guys saying? A tidal wave? Thats impossible, we are over three hundred miles at least from the coast not to mention we are almost two thousand feet above sea level here if I had to guess.” I exclaimed pointing to the strange view.

“Well, guess all you want but in about ten minutes it will be here and you will see. Go send another message Jager and tell them to hurry as fast as possible. Make sure they get Rory and Vanessa, tell them to get as high as possible on the West side when they do.” Culsit said as he stared intently to the East.

“Will do, I’ll meet you two down where the scout picked below the ridge, it’s the best choice we have right here.” Jager said as he trailed back down.

“If it’s water coming, shouldn’t we stay up as high as possible? Why drop lower on the West side of the ridge.” I asked.

“Well, little brother, the stories we are taught warn us the before the ocean comes, the wind comes, and it is called the tree ripper wind, now I’ve never seen it myself but from the description of the stories it is something I hoped I never would.” Culsit said as I watched the trees disappear into the thickness faster and faster. It was then that I noticed a sound, like a distant roar but building in loudness. I also noticed the ground start to feel like it was trembling in fear.

“Time to go little brother, we are out of time and if we stand here to watch it will be the last thing we see.” Culsit said as he turned and dropped down the ridge to sit where the scout was. I took one last look at the upside down storm coming and followed him.

I dropped down the last small drop and settled in among the three Bigfoot that sat there now. I just thought how strange it must look to someone, me sitting here hiding behind a ridge from something coming that I didn’t understand and frankly was didn’t seem to look as bad as they described but I trusted them and just as those thoughts popped in I realized it was a good thing that I did.

The roar started to build quickly now, so much so that the ground literally started to tremble to the point that you could look and see the dirt beneath the leaves jumping with vibrations. I sat there watching the leaves and dirt dance when the sun seemed to just disappear. Darkness did fade it, it jumped in as the sound of the roar became deafening. I looked up to see if the thick air had built enough to block the sky but to my horror I didn’t see a cloud but I did see a shattered Oak at least fifty feet tall stripped of its leave coming sailing in a straight line over the ridge. It was followed by the sound of thousands of trees flying over followed by dirt, rock, everything imaginable really. I don’t know if you have ever heard the sound of a belt sander removing wood but this sounded like that then thousand times over. That analogy sprang to mind just then because the sound was the same but what all this debris seemed to be doing was like a giant sander, it was literally scrubbing away everything around us. The only thing saving is, and barely was it doing that was sitting below this ridge all of this earth blew past us at speeds I could only guess at. It seemed like it lasted for hours but I know it was only a minute or so. This is when the sky cleared and the sound changed. This sound was more like a constant thunder clap, continuous and deafening. I looked at Culsit and he seemed to be pretending like his hand and arm was a snake but I didn’t know why. I just looked at him and almost wanted to laugh in the middle of this horror.

As the sound got louder Culsit reached over and picked me up and threw me on his back like it was nothing and all of raced up to the top of the bluff where we had just been standing. As he put me down I looked and watched a wall of brown water running just a mere fifty feet below us, trees and rocks rolling in it like a giant mixer. I think my brain was starting to overload. It was all I could do to not pass out from shear fright. As the water rushed by, the sound changed again to more over a hissing rumble.

“Ragnarok, the serpent has stirred the waters.” Jager exclaimed with a roar.

I thought back to the books I had read and vaguely remember the myth of a giant serpent awaking around the oceans of the earth and causing the water to come onto land. That made me recoil in horror thinking that this might be everywhere. My next thought was the serpent in the myth the enemy we dealt with now? It seemed to make sense to me.

I stared to the West and the water swirling around mountain ridges like boulders in rivers that I had flyfished in. I guess Culsit knew what my worry was.

“Don’t worry little brother, I am sure our people got up higher. Jager sent them plenty of warning. Even though we are stuck on our new little island here for a few days I guess when the noice eases we can knock and send messages around to see what is happening with them.” Culsit said as he slapped my shoulder.

I looked at the cuts and scraps I didn’t even realize I had gotten and hoped he was right. It seemed that every time I made a plan to get past all this something so strange that I couldn’t even dream it happened and I had to start think all over again. I just continued looking west and hoped for the best.

If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got to this table looking to their futures.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Coming Home Chapter Three

We continued up the valley looking as we went for any sign of others or the enemy but the only things I noticed was game signs. Culsit and I took the lead and weaved out way across and up as we went. Occasionally we would send a wood knocks back and forth just to keep up with each other. I was starting to learn why Culsit and his people did things the way they did. I mean to stay basically hidden for so long and still survive and thrive was truly astounding. It still made me scratch my head just thinking of how many wondered not only the wilderness but also right on the edge of large urban areas. It was amazing really the more thought I put into it as I moved towards the head of the valley aiming to intersect a low set of bluffs on my right.

As I approached, I moved to be able to come on the ridge from the top. This way I could see better up the valley and also so nothing could slip up on me from above. I had learned over these months of fighting that the saying of the high ground is life was literally true. I eased on top of a large boulder and started listening, smelling and watching. Until well after noon I watched and waited seeing only a few deer and I think a thousand squirrels. I could hear Rory and Vanessa moving up from below but as far as Culsit and I, we sat silently across the valley from each other just waiting. I knew by now that if I got that hair raising uneasiness then it was trouble. My only worry now was I didn’t have my M4, no grenades, not much of anything I was used to fighting with. I know Culsit stressed I had to learn to fight. As I sat there, I checked my gear just like I would have done with my old stuff. Instead of feeling for magazines, doing press checks to see if I had a round chambered I started a new routine. I checked on my belt on my right hip for the large drop point knife in its sheath, I reached to my neck and followed the cord down to a neck knife I had in its sheath, finally I removed the hatchet, a short axe really, more like a tomahawk than a hatchet I guess now that I looked at it from a loop on my waist and laid it across my lap. I was still more than uncertain about using this type of weapons, I didn’t doubt my ability or my will to survive but when you have no real experience with something you feel apprehensive.

I remembered a private talk Philo had giving me just before we left. I moved my finger along the edge of the blade laying in my lap and felt a tingle, almost like an energy flowing off it into my finger. It’s hard to describe but I think the words of Philo was starting to make sense. As I listened and watched I let my mind drift back to the words he spoke.

“Listen John, there will come a time when you have to use skills you don’t know that you have. I know this must sound strange but inside every cell of your body is stored the collective memory of every ancestor you’ve had, every mistake they made, every thing they learned, its all inside you, just waiting for you to listen and let it take over. By this I mean, your body and muscles are like a child’s, you can walk now in a stumbling way but your ability to run is there, you just need practice.” Philo spoke to me as we waited in the mist earlier that morning in Greenland before we left.

“I don’t understand, are you saying I know how to live the way we are going to try?”

“Yes, not only that but much, much more. The only thing you truly have to learn is how to listen, how to let go, how to let the old ones show you and guide you to become what the Allfather has declared that you should be. The choice is yours of course, He would never force you to become this person but just know, a lot of people are trusting that you will. You owe no one anything in this world but every action you make rings thru time. He might not always chose the easiest path for you but it is the path that needs to be taken. If you learn, you can listen and hear the old ones talk to you, guide you.”

“Philo, I think hearing voices would maybe make me thing I was loosing my mind!” I responded.

He laughed long and hard. “No, not actual voices but with something different, something not of this world, you will know when it starts to happen, you will feel a little electric buzz maybe, maybe you will feel like your thoughts keep focusing on a certain point, it varies but you will know what to watch for the more it starts to happen. Just let go of your ego and learn to hear, learn to heed their words and you will be fine.”

“If you say so Philo, it all seems a little weird sounding to me right now.” I replied.

“Look John, I know for a fact you’ve had the two ravens come to you. Their names are Munnin and Huginn, memory and thought. They not only report to the Allfather but they also can speak to you, not in a way that you think but in a way that you know. Let me give you and example. I know you remember it but let me explain it for you. Do you remember when you had a rough time in your life so you walked out into the woods to sit and think about what to do, do you remember that feeling of being helpless and at the crossroads of being at your wits end?”

“Yes, Philo I remember. I also remember the two ravens that came that day and sat there with me.” I replied.

“Good, remember how they flew down and just walked around you, looking at you, blinking with those eyelids that looked silver? Remember how you talked to them and told them your problems? Remember how they seemed to bring you peace and thoughts came into your mind about what to do and what would happen next?”

“Yeah I remember all that and much more. I always wondered why those two birds seemed so relaxed and friendly. I often wondered if they happened to be escaped pets.”

“Pets, no, friends, yes. You’ve seen them many times since then but you just brushed it off. From now on, let all that you think you know go and learn. When they come, talk and listen. Promise me this.”

“I promise.” I replied.

My mind drifted back to the tingling coming into my finger tips from the short axe layer across my lap. I didn’t say it out loud but I spoke to the axe like it was alive.

“I hear you friend, I will listen when the time comes, you guide and I will follow.” No sooner than I thought this, the tingling feeling faded and I smiled.

I looked back down the valley and could see Rory and Vanessa now. I decided it was time to knock for Culsit to come in and for us to decide on a place to camp and wait for Jager to arrive. I stood and reverse the axe and swung twice against a solid oak that grew by the boulder I was perched on. Almost instantly, his knocks came echoing back with mine and I turned to see Rory and Vanessa look to where I was standing now.

I held the axe and climbed down to meet them and move to a cave I had noticed and had kept my eye on.

“John, you made me jump in my skin with those knocks. I was tracking you, we would have found you without all that.” Vanessa said as she walked up to me.

“It was for Culsit not us.” Rory replied.

She just looked surprised as I smiled and turned my gaze to where I new Culsit was coming from. I couldn’t see him, I couldn’t hear him but I could feel him coming, if that made sense. I knew now how Culsit knew Jager was coming. I guess I just couldn’t feel that far out yet.

Just a few minutes later, sure enough Culsit came out exactly where I knew he would, grinning as I knew he would be. He walked up and nodded and without a word passing between is we both turned towards where the cave was and made our way there.

As I stood there scanning the entrance for any sign of activity I saw none. I am sure Culsit did the same thing but he had more practice and he just walked in. I stood there waiting. Again, I don’t know how to explain it but I knew that’s what he wanted for us to do. After several minutes he came out.

“It is good, just a cup in the rock. Solid back wall with a floor that is about three feet up. It would be a good place to stay for a few days, maybe more with some improvements. First we need wood for a fire, dry wood most of all. You three spread out and gather that while I bring some stones in for a fire pit and then you and I will go catch dinner.” Culsit said and walked off.

“Well, let’s stay in sight of each other for now and do what he said.” I said then we went about the task of dropping dead trees and finding what we could. For over an hour, by that time we had what I would call at least a chord of wood piled and split against one of the side walls of the cave. Culsit had moved about eight huge stones in to make a pit for the fire. He had dug down and lined the hole with smaller stones he then ringed it with the larger ones. I guess he knew what I was thinking and just explained it without me even asking.

“We dig the fire pit deep and line it with stones for two reasons. One it focuses the light from the fire straight up, making it very hard to see from a distance and second so that the rocks retain the heat. If you look at the large stone the all slope inward to the pit, creating an overhang almost over the fire. Then he pointed out in several places where he had buried hollow logs to create an air flow into the bottom of the pit.” He pointed out each rock and the shape that he had obviously chosen on purpose. I realized then that this type of fire-pit would be and afterburner fire, it would burn even the smoke as it became super heated. I never thought he would have known of that but then again, I was realizing that when it came to this technology I was the dumb one not him.

“If my people had been here before, this would have been left for the next one to use.” Culsit said with a look of satisfaction that he knew I understood.

I stood and asked if Vanessa and Rory could get a fire started while Culsit and I went to find dinner. Culsit stressed to build it small first and slowly build it until there was very little flames and more glowing coals than anything.

As they started to set to work Culsit and I made our way to the top of the ridge and stopped just below the top. Culsit leaned over and explained that we would take one of the deer that would come in to feed on the oak flat above. He went further to explain since we wasn’t starving I would be the one to hunt while he watched.

“I don’t know how to do this Culsit!” I hissed.

“Sure you do little brother. Sneak up on them like we have been practicing with each other all this time. It’s the same thing. When you’re close, strike with you axe quickly and we eat.” He said grinning in the fading light.

As darkness creeped in he nodded and pointed to the deer as we watched them walk under the oaks feeding. I moved on all fours just like I had a hundred times since the time with Jager. All the lessons I had been shown seemed to make sense now. Dark as it was, I could see, not like it was daylight but close enough. I crept up on the doe closest to me and I could feel my heart beating so loud I was afraid she would hear it but she didn’t seem to know I was there. I glanced back at where Culsit was and I could just barely make out the top of his eyes peeking over a fallen log. It amazed me something so large could hide behind something so small compared to him.

I turned my focus back to the deer and moved to within a few feet. I took my axe and struck swiftly. It was over before it even started. As the other deer bound off, confused as to what just happened I just kneeled there thanking the deer for the sacrifice she had made.

“Exactly little brother! We do think her.” Culsit said right beside me.

I was so focused on the deer that I didn’t notice him come up beside me.

“Do you thanks but never lose your focus out here little brother. What if I wasn’t here to watch you back? Always learn to do these things at the same time.” Culsit said and I just nodded knowing he was right.

Over the next few minutes he showed me how to dress the deer so we could get back to the cave. He showed me the parts we would eat tonight and explained how we would go down to the stream while it cooked and gather some willow branched to make racks to dry the rest to keep for later. He explained this way, nothing would be waisted, each item from the deer had a use and he would show me step by step what to do.

As we returned to the cave, I handed Vanessa and Rory the meat we would eat for dinner as Culsit Hung the rest high outside the entrance. I started helping get the meat roasting which reminded me just how hungry I was as Culsit slipped off to gather the willow.

I had just got the meat hanging over the pit to roast when I heard Rory shushing something off. I turned to see two Ravens sitting in the entrance, not coming in but just standing there. Vanessa and I both at the same time exclaimed to stop! Don’t scare them away, of course I doubt you could if you wanted. I reached over and sliced to pieces off the meat that was cooking and walked over to them.

“Here friends, eat and come in and warm yourselves.” I said.

They did exactly that, acting like two little humans more than birds. I glanced at Rory and he looked surprised and puzzled. Vanessa looked like this was a normal thing which gave me thoughts of questions I needed to ask her about who she really was. As I was thinking on these things, Culsit came walking in and exclaimed in a language I didn’t know but he dropped the willow and walked over and started talking to the two ravens just as he would me. That was surprising enough but I fell off the rock I was sitting on when the two ravens started to talk back. Yes, talked, I couldn’t understand the words but as I picked myself up to sit on my rock again I glanced at Vanessa. She was nodding and smiling. She knew what the three was saying! She looked over at me staring at her and while still smiling, she pointed at me and said some words I didn’t understand but Culsit and the two ravens did because they all turned and started laughing at me. Ravens laughing, I wondered for sure what I had gotten myself into now.

If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got to this table looking to their futures.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Coming Home Chapters One and Two

Chapter One

Glancing around the room reminded me of a scene from a movie.  Imagine if you took a classic Viking movie and gave it a modern twist, that’s what I was sitting here staring around at. I had food enough to feed ten of me, enough beer that I don’t think even Culsit could drink it all and as usual the laughter and rough behavior was a bit more than just shocking to me. I’ll admit, since if you’re reading this story now it doesn’t matter anyway, that I was still devastated from the thought that Rory had turned on us. I just couldn’t believe that, there had to be more to the story than mere betrayal. As my mind moved over all these things like one giant train of thought roaring through my head, I sat staring across the room at Culsit, it seemed he had found a bucket and was using it as a beer mug, all I could do was laugh.

I shifted back to my plate when I noticed someone moving towards me from over my shoulder. I didn’t give much thought to it but after being in what I had been in, my brain just seemed to track his approach wether I wanted it to or not. Have you ever had that feeling when you know things are just going too good, it’s not dread, more of a gnawing at your soul that tells you to buckle up, the ride is about to get going and make sure you keep your arms inside at all times. Well, that’s the feeling I was getting. I reached down and felt for my pistol slyly under my jacket, she waited there for me to call on her to do my bidding. I shook my head and took another bite of roast, reminding myself I was safe here, Philo had called these people my true family and friends. I was just having a hard time turning off the fight or flight mode my body had become used to running on constantly.

As the mountain of a man came to stand beside me, I just turned my head to look at him and sat up a little straighter just in case.

“You must be this John we have all heard about?” He said while looking down at me. The sneer on his face and the way he let the words ooze out seemed more like a threat than a question but again I tried to look at it different since I was still wired.

“Yes, sir, and you are?” I asked between bites not looking at him anymore as I took another bite.

“Me? Thats not as important as who I am.”

“Yeah? Who might that be?” I replied as I turned back toward him.

“I’m the one that’s going to show all these people they are wrong. No-one is more deserving of being called the destroyer than me! Look at you! You’re small, middle aged and frankly useless in my eyes.”

As he spoke these words I knew this wasn’t one of those times like when I first met Jager with Culsit so long ago it seemed. This guy seemed really hostile towards me just because of what people seemed to be saying about me. My mind decided in a flash that I would ask one question, just one and if he answered wrong I knew which way this had to go.

“Is that right?” I asked while trying not to let my body look tense.

“Thats right little man!” The words came out of him with real hate in them.

Wrong answer I thought, enough was enough. I let go of my body and let pure instinct and adrenaline fueled reflex just take over. He had at least a foot of height on me and probably one hundred pounds in weight but my mind had already decided on a route to take and it was time to cut fence, and sort this problem out real quick.

Before I even realized what I was doing, I slammed the large glass mug I was drinking out of into the side of his right knee. I was on my feet and jabbing my fist into his throat as I moved in closer knocking him off balance making him fall backwards to the floor. I didn’t even realize how it happened but the next thing I knew I was staring into his wide eyes across the top of my pistols slide with my foot holding him to the floor on his neck.

“Now, Mister ‘my names not important,’ I know you’re struggling too breath right now so let me properly introduce myself.” I said calmly, surprisingly.

“I am the one that’s about to fix your breathing problem permanently, I am also the one that will not tolerate disrespect.” I smiled, fully determined to finish this little dance right now.

As my finger started to squeeze the three pounds that would end this, I heard my name yelled over my shoulder. It caused my finger to stop, I just stood looking down at the horror in his eyes as he realized I wasn’t joking about what was about to happen.

“What?” I yelled without turning my head from the focus I held on his eyes laying there on the floor.

“John! Stop, this is not you!” I recognized the voice. My anger rose and my finger began to move again.

“Don’t! I’m the one you’re angry at but let me explain!” This time it was Rory’s voice. He was right, it was him I was angry at, maybe this bullet should be used against him I thought. I pushed harder with my foot on the guy on the floor’s neck and in an instance swung the pistol around to the door that Rory’s voice was coming from. The whole time my finger hovered on the trigger right on the breaking point. In my mind it, I was determined as soon as the sights aligned on Rory, this chapter of his life was going to end at 1200 feet per second.

As I followed the front sight, it settled right on Venessa’s forehead! She was standing in front of Rory! In an instance my finger came off the trigger and I pointed the pistol to the ceiling.

“Move Vanessa, you don’t understand what’s going on here!” I pleaded.

“No John, you don’t understand, just relax and let us come over and explain what you thought you saw.” She looked into what seemed to be my very soul with those piecing blue eyes with the breeze from the door moving her blonde hair in waves. My body seemed to be riding on a roller coaster ride for sure, it was bouncing from one emotion to the next and to be honest right at this very moment I didn’t know who to shoot. What I did know that sometimes you see images that burn themselves into your mind so deeply that you just know way deep down that you will carry them in this world and the next.

“No, I don’t understand! Tell you what, let me shoot this idiot and we can talk!” I said as I swung the pistol back towards the poor terrified guy on the floor.

As my finger moved back to the trigger and started the squeeze, that big half drunk idiot had done it again. His face was inches from mine. Teeth grinning from ear to ear, smelling like a cross between a skunk and a beer can.

“You sure you want to do this here little brother?” Culsit asked as he pointed to the guy on the floor.

I turned my head to look at him, huge grin and all.

“Well, Culsit, yeah I am sure but it seems like everyone is all set against me smoking this idiot!” I said with exacerbation moving into my voice.

“Look at him little brother, this close your going to get your boots dirty! Just not worth it is it?” I held Culsit vision for a minute and found his smile was infectious. I mean think about it, here I stand, threatening it seems, everyone that moves with a pistol and he’s just bending over me grinning from ear to ear. I started to smile myself, maybe he’s right.

“I guess you just got lucky.” I said to the idiot on the floor with a smile coming on my face. “Never judge someones danger by their looks my friend!”, I said as I threw my gun down on the table and removed my foot from his neck. I turned to sit back in my seat as Culsit roared out a laugh and slapped me on my back as usual.

“Good choice little brother, good choice! I’ll get us new mugs.” He said as his voice trailed off to do exactly that.

“You good?” I asked as I looked down and offered my hand to help the idiot up off the floor. He took my hand still coughing and eased up to his knee. I ignored him then and turned my attention to Vanessa and Rory walking towards me. My eyes focused on hers now.

As they sat down, the idiot still kneeled there on one knee, choking to get his breath back. I didn’t give him even another glance after that. I just looked back up and watched as Vanessa and Rory sat down, her right beside me and Rory took a spot right across from me,

“John, just listen to him talk, you’ll understand, it wasn’t what it seemed like.” Vanessa said as she grabbed my hands on the table. I’m not for sure if she did that our of concern or out of fear I might shoot him anyway.

“Fine, but it best be really good Rory!” I said while staring straight at him.

“It is John, I had to do it, Vanessa and I are the only ones to make it out alive. I saw Doc go down myself. Jim, the others, they took the path that the Bigfoot you killed up in Washington did, they went to work with the enemy, hoping for a good spot in the new world when ours is destroyed. I listened to the speech and knew the only chance any of us had where to just go along with it and hope for the best. I got Vanessa on board by telling her that you had joined the enemy. It crushed her but it was the only chance I had to make her want to see you captured or killed.” He stopped and we glanced at her as a tear rolled down her cheek and she squeezed my hands a little tighter.

“How do I know any of this is the truth Rory? I saw you firing right at me, that bullet that was aimed right at my head would have killed me had Philo not shown up!” I yelled.

“I get it John.” Rory said holding up a palm. “ I saw the flash of Philo coming and decided to risk making it look like I was really trying to kill you until I could be rescued!”

“I shot at you also John, but you know I was missing on purpose, you’ve seen me shoot!” Vanessa said with a smile and the tear still on her cheek. I whipped my head around, stunned, I never saw her there.

“You! You where there?” I asked.

“Yes, but I am as good as you and Culsit at not being seen.” She said with a laugh and Culsit sat down placing four mugs on the table, grinning from ear to ear.

“What are you grinning at?” I took the mug and asked.

“Its good to all be sitting at the same table again little brother! I knew these two couldn’t have turned against us.” Culsit said as he practically emptied the mug with one gulp.

“You saw her there?” I asked pointing at her with my voice rising.

“Yes, but I didn’t tell you.” Culsit just kept on grinning with foam stuck at the sides of his huge mouth.

I wanted to smack the fur bag again right now.

“This is all fine and sounds good Rory but how could so many at home be converted over to the enemies without anyone noticing?” I asked because it just didn’t make sense.

“John, you’ve been home, what? Two days in the last few months? How would you have known? Rory has been gone just as much and everyone steers away from me most of the time anyway. Don’t you think we would have got out or warned others sooner if we could?” Vanessa said in the most serious tone I had ever heard her use.

“But Jim, how long do you think he has turned? I mean I fought with him in the same whole the night we got shelled. I trusted my life to him, I just can’t come to grips with it. Are you sure he just isn’t going along to escape?” I asked, pleaded really.

“No John, I watched him shoot Doc face to face myself. He wasn’t pretending.” Rory said with sadness creeping into his voice.

I just couldn’t get my mind around how fast things had changed. Out of all those I had lived for months and months with the remnants sat at this table and I looked over to my team at the next table over, drinking and eating like there was no tomorrow. Well, who knew if there would be. This was it, us and the guys from Delta team. I just hung my head and shook it. How could this be?

I looked up at Rory, I could tell by the look on his face that he was praying I would listen to him and most of all believe him.

“We good John? You forgive me?” Rory asked as he extended his hand across the table.

I sat there, thinking for a minute, looking at his hand. The more I thought on it, the more I thought about how he looked when he mentioned Doc being killed in cold blood, I knew he was telling the truth.

“Nothing to forgive, you did what you had to and I am glad you guys did!” I said as I shook his hand with my right and squeezed Vanessa’s with my left. 

Up to this point I forgot about the idiot I just knocked to the floor but he just stood there by the table looking down.

“Again, I’m John of course and you are?” I asked as we all turned to look at him just standing there.

“Lars, my name is Lars. I am the leader of what is known as the Bear group of warriors. I apologize for the rudeness but you just didn’t look all that dangerous to me, much less the one that has been foretold that will lead this fight.” Lars said as he looked at me with a smile starting.

“Well, Lars, it is nice to meet you, and no hard feelings from me but of course I am not the one that took a beating.”

“No hard feelings, John, it’s an honor.” He said as I shook his hand.

Rory and Culsit busted out laughing so hard that I thought they would both choke.

“What do you two find so funny?” I asked as Lars looked on with curiosity.

“Lars, you get dumber and dumber every year, I told you about your Great-Great grandfather remember. This is John, it was his Great grandfather! You just got your ass handed to you by your on kin!” Rory laughed even harder.

“What!” Lars and I both exclaimed at the same time.

“Yup, it is true, I was friends with him when he worked for the CCC after the war. We spent many days looking for and fighting the enemy.” Culsit said with a sip.

“You knew him also? Is there no-one you haven’t known?” I asked.

“He’s known a lot of our family John. Culsit, did you ever tell him how you protected our people when we first came to the mountains on the Tennessee River?” Rory asked.

“Nope, hadn’t got around to it. I’ll tell him someday.” Culsit grinned.

“I sat for hours with great grandaddy and he never mentioned any of this to me?” I said in wonder more to myself than anyone else.

“Well, did you expect him to tell a kid that there really was monsters in the woods and the dark? That he fought all his life for all of our freedom all the while taking no credit nor asking for any honer from it?” Rory asked.

“But he had a family, kids, all of that. How did he live this life and do all that?” Lars asked.

“Well, Lars, it was different back then. Look at your family for example. John has never heard of you yet you’re not that far apart. I suppose it’s possible we might have to go back to fighting more like granddad did than the military structure we have been using. I mean we have lost a lot of our support we had before. We just might have to live like that again.” Rory said as he looked down at the table. We all got quiet as we sat there and the only thing that broke me out of my thoughts was the squeeze of Vanessa’s hand.

“I could think of worse ways to live compared to what we have been doing.” I finally said as I looked around.

“Well, what do you think about it Culsit, we seem to be losing and we don’t have the numbers left to keep fighting the way we have been?” Rory asked Culsit.

“Look, all of you are going to have to look at how my people do this, we have done it this way for generations. We live our lives, we stay hidden, yet we are some of the fiercest fighters you have.” Culsit said as he stood to go fill his mug again.

“Well, that’s great then!” I said sarcastically. “What are we doing here? Wherever this is.” I asked.

“We are here to get our plan together, gear up and set it in motion. As far as where we are, it’s Greenland.” Rory said as he looked at the grin on Lars face.

I thought on this and it made sense, Greenland, midway for those fighting but it would never work for us, not the way we fight and the areas we knew. No, our only choice was to go back home and take the fight guerrilla style. I’ll admit, the part about going back to living like great grandpa did sound good to me. Having a place to stay and what appeared to be a normal life, which of course it really wasn’t, but at least it would sort of look like that. Besides, as I stared at the smooth skin on Vanessa’s hand, I thought it could be worse. I could be stuck for weeks at a time in a muddy, wet and cold wood sleeping next to Culsit. I just turned and grinned at him as he sat down again. He grinned back at me with that big stupid smile. It was a good thing he couldn’t read my mind because I grinned even bigger thinking how much fun that wouldn’t be. It was now, for the first time since I about killed Lars that I realized the laughter was just as loud now as it was when I first came in here. I guess violence, be it Outside or inside, was just another fact of life here, I didn’t want that for a life.

I sat there nursing my mug, glancing at Vanessa as I did every now and again. I wondered if we went with this plan, if she was thinking like I was right now. Would it be possible to go home and ‘play house’ during the day with her all the while at night her and I could go out and raise a little trouble. Rory for a neighbor? Culsit for a scarecrow? I just burst out laughing and turned to look at Culsit.

“You ever been a scarecrow Culsit?” I looked at him laughing, everybody else just looked at me like I was crazy.

“Scarecrow? No, No cant think of a time.” He sat there and I swear I think he really was thinking about if he had done something like that before. “Well, that’s not exactly true. One time I snuck into a field to borrow some watermelons one night and I had to stand there like a scarecrow for a good while when the farmer came our to see what his dogs barked at.” He finished as serious as could be. I laughed even harder.

“How about you?” I turned to Vanessa. “You make good biscuits?” I snorted this time as I laughed.

“Yeah I do!” She said as she squeezed my hand until it started to hurt. “I can also set broken bones! Of course that’s usually because I broke them in the first place.” She said with a voice like she was the sweetest thing on earth. I knew better.

I just looked across the table at Rory and nodded my head. We both knew what had to be done, now it was just a matter of getting things in order to get moving with it.

Chapter Two

The next morning after sleeping a good night for the first time in a long time, I awoke to the sound of Culsit knocking on the door with a growl. Well, I guess knock is not the word, pounding? No, that doesn’t describe it either, a battering, that would cover it. I thought about ignoring it but I knew he would just beat the door down or the wall, maybe both, either way I was getting up.

“What?” I yelled as I yanked the door open. 

To my surprise there was nothing there! Why half way beat the door down and walk off. Sometimes I think that giant bag of fur had lost his mind. I looked both ways into the mist of the morning but I saw nothing. Not even a swirl from him walking off. I might just smack him this time. I closed the door and turned to walk back and get dressed for the day but the dull light from the dawn in the mist outside still made the inside of my cabin seem pitch black. Yup, I was going to smack him for sure for this. Knowing him, he probably just woke me up then went back to sleep himself. 

I stumbled back towards my bed and found the table beside it. I felt for the candle there and patted around on the table for the matches. All the while, thinking about just smacking the hair right off his head when I saw him again. I struck the match and to my horror, not more than inches from the flame was his big ugly grin. I fell back and dropped the match and the room turned to totally inky darkness again. I would have yelled but my breath was stuck in my lungs but my mind was on definitely smacking Culsit for this one.

His roaring laugh echoed off the walls. 

“You jackass! I just about passed out!” I yelled.

“Come on little brother, no time to sleep. We have to get our things together. It’s time to get things rolling to get back home.” Was all he said as he strolled out the door like nothing happened.

I followed him a few minutes later, back to the long house we first ate in last night. It wasn’t as crowded and was definitely quite. No wonder, I know Culsit drank the mead by the barrel yet it didn’t seem to have any effect on him. Ducking in the door, it looked much as it had the night before. Breakfast was being served and to be honest they all looked like nothing had ever happened. I guess for these guys it was a normal morning but for me it was almost like a dream.

Vanessa flagged me over to a set of long table our group had taken over and I went and sat down. No sooner than I had done so and Culsit literally dropped a plate of food on the table in front of me and slammed a mug down with it.

“I can’t eat all of this you big ape!” I exclaimed looking at the pancakes and bacon piled on the plate. He just sneered his teeth at me and started eating so I did the same. The shock came when I reached for the mug, it was mead!

“I can’t drink this with breakfast!” He sneered again and reached over and downed the mug.

“Now you don’t have too little brother.” He grinned with mead dripping in his hair, what a jerk.

“If you two can stop holding hands, we need to get our heads together with what we need. Philo says he can jump four of us today but after that he has to go do some of the AllFathers business somewhere else and won’t be able to help for a while.” Rory said as he looked between me and Culsit.

“We can’t just fly and jump?” I asked.

“Well, John, no we can’t. First we don’t have any aircraft and even if we did, we don’t have the fuel to go that far anyway. Now these guys said they will supply us the best they can but we need to put out heads together to come up with a list of things we can carry on us to get started back home.” Rory said as he ate.

“Just give me an M4 and about 500 rounds and I’m good.”  I explained.

“No John, they don’t have it. The only rounds we have are what we brought in and that’s it.”

“I didn’t have any left when I came in. Thats why I threw my pistol on the table last night. I was bluffing, I didn’t have a round if I needed it.” I exclaimed.

“Dumb, little brother, dumb. What if I wasn’t there to save you?” Culsit said.

“Save me! You didn’t do anything!”

“Didn’t I?” He said as he grinned.

“Enough you two, Culsit, you are the goto guy about this. What do we need?” Rory asked.

“Just your clothes really if you’re going to learn from me to fight the way my people do. But I guess to be safe, if we can’t get ammo for you, which I think is a good thing. You see my people survived by not making noise. We learned to use fires with little smoke. We learned to live off of the land. Then we need to look at some knives, rope, and a good axe.”

“Knives and Axes, have you lost your mind?” I asked looking around.

“No choice John, things are going down hill fast and we are just going to have to learn from Culsit. I know you spent time with them learning all you could but you have been the first man they allowed to do that. Now it’s up to you and Culsit to teach us.” Rory replied.

I understood his point and the more I sat there eating and thinking about it, I realized he was right. I had learned a lot from Culsit and Jager. I could move like a ghost in the forest and by the time you realized I was next to you, it was too late. So I started thinking over what I would want to take with me. It had to be just what I could carry for some reason. I would have to asked Philo sometime why he couldn’t jump us there with a whole crate of stuff. However, if he said with just what we could carry then that’s what it had to be.

After breakfast Lars, came and took us to there supply room. I picked out a couple of knives of various kinds and two axes. A large one and a hatchet, and a stainless steel pot and cup. I shoved all this into my pack I had arrived with. It had lots of room because the radio I dropped, it didn’t work anyway. I kept one ammo can to keep my things in I didn’t want to get wet. I looked at it all spread out there as I got ready to pack it again and to be honest it looked pitiful compared to what I had been using. No night vision, no radio’s, no ammo, it was just a little depressing to think how fast things have changed.

Culsit made his rounds as we packed to inspect what we had each chosen. He added some things, I couldn’t see what to Vanessa’s pack and threw out a few things Rory packed but left my alone. With a nod he stood up from looking at my stuff and said it was time to get Philo and go. I just nodded back and shouldered my pack.

As we four walked up to Philo talking to Lars and his group he turned and asked if it was time.

Rory nodded and Lars stepped forward and offered his hand.

“John, I can’t say I understand it, but Philo tells me you are the one which means this is not goodbye but more of I’ll see you soon. I don’t know how but I trust what he says. Stay safe and if I don’t meet you again until Valhalla then just know the first thing I’m going to do is punch you in the face!” He grinned then wrapped me in a bear hug.

“Thanks for the heads up. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.” I struggled to breath as he let me go. I looked around and the whole camp was gathered. I looked to the guys of Delta team that was staying here to fight and couldn’t find the words. They seemed to be thinking the same thing and just one by one gave me and Culsit a thumbs up.

As I stood there, trying to think of something to say, Philo just announced it was time and reached for me. With the same sickening and disorienting snap I was standing on a ridge covered in Oaks back home. I shook my head and glanced around at the others. Rory and Vanessa appeared shaken as I did but Culsit looked like nothing at all had happened.

“Here you are John, look to the Ravens for signs from the AllFather and myself. It could be awhile before I get back here.” Philo said as he stepped back getting ready to leave.

I looked over his shoulder as the sun started to climb over a ridge to the East. “Philo, when can we expect you and how am I supposed to know by a bird what’s going on?” I asked.

“I don’t have a clue John and these aren’t just ordinary birds. You will know when you see the two Ravens. You will also know what they have to say. Culsit will show you if you have trouble.” And with those words he snapped to where I don’t know.

I just stood listening to the woods, the birds, squirrels, the sound of the breeze in the leaves. The smell of the forest floor, plants, it was amazing how fast, in just a snap of the fingers really, all that I had learned from Jager and Culsit just seemed to turn on.

I looked back just in time to see Culsit ease low over the ridge to look around. I knew what he was doing and I knew he wanted me to look to the ridge towards the East. “Stay tight you two, we will be back in a minute.” I said, but before they could say a word, just like Culsit, without a sound I had moved over the ridge and was out of sight.

I moved just like I had learned. Each animal and tree seemed to speak to me. It all seemed normal but still I took my time and listened. I was just looking for anything out of the ordinary. I didn’t this up and down the ridge and after finding everything as it should I moved back to Rory and Vanessa and found Culsit sitting there with them waiting on me.

“Jager is coming John.” Culsit said while chewing on a sassafras root he had found.

“When?” I asked.

“About two days out, according to what I could see. I think he knew we was coming here so my opinion is we find somewhere to make a shelter and wait on him.” Culsit replied.

“Agreed,  I doubt Philo dropped us here by accident. I say we move farther up this draw and get settled in and wait.” I said as I looked to Rory and Vanessa.

“Sounds like a plan.” Vanessa said as Rory just nodded.

It was just then that it struck me. Culsit and I had taken over how we did things. It seemed strange as I thought it but just as fast as the thought crossed my mind it left because I knew, in the forest, I was just a furless Bigfoot, nothing more nothing less. I chuckled as I walked past Culsit and smacked his forehead as I passed by, heading up the ridge to find a camp.

If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got to this table looking to their futures.

https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Jeffery-Owens/dp/1795786191/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jeffery+owens&qid=1552245035&s=gateway&sr=8-1