Chapter 45: Control
JUST before I exited the monastery basement, I passed a mirror and did a double take. My face stared back at me in disbelief. I’d aged a few years. It was subtle but noticeable. Aging from using powers hadn’t mattered to me until that moment.
I pulled myself away from the mirror, then hurried down the torch-lit hall and caught up to Brother Lawrence. “Thank you for saving my life.”
“You are most welcome.” He smiled pleasantly.
“How long was I…dead?”
“Only a couple of minutes.”
It seemed like a lot longer.
He climbed a set of stairs and stopped short of a door in the ceiling to the first floor of the monastery. “Not to worry, though. I made sure you had plenty of air and circulation before I restarted your heart.”
Oh, that was lovely. I’d been practically kissed by a bald-headed monk today, probably several times. At least I didn’t remember it.
Brother Lawrence opened the door out into the open air. No monastery stood around us. No buildings stood around us. No city stood around us. Just scattered debris in disarray, like a bomb had wiped out the town.
I gaped. “Whoa.”
People I recognized from town but wasn’t acquainted with were coming out of storm shelters and basements. Some searched the disaster area for survivors, others for their homes. A few monks combed the wreckage while others tended to the wounded or helped them hobble toward the monastery basement.
The horrific scene sent painful questions through my mind. How many of my classmates had died in the tornadoes today? How many people in town had survived this awful mess? Who had I known before that I’d never see again?
As if those questions weren’t difficult enough, worse ones came to mind. Had the Hunters followed me here? Had Dad been with them?
Brother Lawrence looked at me very matter of fact, breaking my train of thought. “So, where did you park your car?”
I stifled a massive laugh, feeling a bit delirious from the shock of all of this. Did he expect the car to be functional?
I humored him. “I left it by the Country Rose Café.”
He chose a direction, then set off.
I kept pace beside him, unsure where we were headed.
Eventually, we crossed over the torn-up asphalt that was once 5th Street. Brother Lawrence stopped and pulled some of the wreckage off the door of a basement. A senile old man popped out waving a pistol and a block of C4 in his hands, wearing nothing but an army helmet and tighty-whities. “Charlie’s everywhere!” he yelled. “Take cover!”
I ducked as he swung his gun past me and dropped the C4.
Brother Lawrence gently placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and the man locked fear-streaked eyes with him. “All is well, brother.”
The man visibly relaxed and let the gun drop to his waist.
Brother Lawrence pointed the man toward the monks near the monastery basement for help.
I watched the old man wander off toward the monastery for a few moments. The C4 was gone, but I hadn’t seen him pick it up. I searched for it. Nothing. Weird.
When I looked back, Brother Lawrence was shifting the rubble around, sifting through it. He quickly lost interest and set off again in his chosen direction.
I looked around, trying to get my bearings straight once more. We were probably getting close to where the café used to be. Only piles of debris stood in its place now. Brother Lawrence began tossing aside boards and cinderblocks from the site.
“What are we looking for?” I helped out, tossing a board to the side.
He didn’t answer.
After a few moments, he caught a glimpse of something beneath a large pile of boards. “Oh, wonderful!”
I shot him a bewildered look. “Huh?”
The monk removed the board he’d just pulled up, toppling it to the side. Underneath was the silver Aston Martin Vanquish. “Your car.”
I stared at it in disbelief. Nothing but the roof was visible, but it looked pretty good, aside from some dust and dirt. “I don’t believe it.”
“Well, how else did you expect us to get to Elian?”
The little man never ceased to amaze me.
He continued clearing the debris from the car and I searched for where the diner’s basement door should be and cleaned away a few boards and pans from it. I didn’t call out Sam and his mother, though. The less they saw, the better.
Once the car was free, we climbed inside. Several expressions crossed Brother Lawrence’s face while he looked around the interior. Surprise. Intrigue. Fascination. “This is quite a beautiful car. I believe these cost nearly three-hundred-thousand dollars.”
Since when did monks keep up with exotic car prices?
I gave him a sideways glance, then started the car and drove over and around debris that once formed houses and buildings. I’d never driven through town worried about picking up a piece of a house in my tire before. But it wasn’t a town anymore. It was a trash heap.
I shook my head at the thought and headed toward I70. “So, where’s Summerlight?”
Brother Lawrence shook his head. “I don’t know.”
I glared at him. “What?”
“The Light assures me He knows where it is.” The monk sounded confident. Then again, I had a feeling he always sounded confident.
“And is He going to share that with us?”
“Of course, brother.” The monk smiled.
Brother Lawrence didn’t answer. Instead, he explored the car, fidgeting with different parts of it like a child.
I was willingly on a journey with a guy who heard a voice in his head and seemed to think it was going to guide us to Elian. Maybe the madness had taken me, too.
Driving through Denver, Brother Lawrence suddenly pointed to an exit. “Take this one.”
I jerked the car to the right, barely making the exit. “Can you give me a little more warning next time?”
“I gave you as much warning as I had.” The monk seemed content with the answer. Was the Light going to drive us off a cliff next?
The monk pointed me into a small gift shop a few blocks away and we parked. “The Light says there are very nice souvenirs inside.” He opened his door.
“So we’re on vacation now?”
“Oh, vacation!” He headed for the gift shop with excitement in his eyes. “That sounds delightful!”
“Alright.” I stepped out of the car. “Let’s go see some souvenirs.”
Inside the gift shop, the monk seemed like a kid in a candy store. He fingered through countless postcards, admiring the photography, then moved on to colored stones, refrigerator magnets, and t-shirts. Periodically, after reading one of them, he’d let out a laugh and say, “Oh, that’s quite clever.”
Before long, he had collected everything he needed. “I believe this is sufficient.”
The monk nodded cheerfully.
I gave him an inquisitive stare. “And how do you expect to pay for these?”
“The Light says you’re the one with the money.” He stared at me innocently.
Rolling my eyes, I pulled out my wallet and covered the total. The monk had purchased only refrigerator magnets. Several of them. “Are you done shopping now?”
“Yes. Thank you, brother.” He headed to the door. “We can go now.”
I shook my head and followed him out of the shop. “What was that all about?”
“The Light asked me to buy some things we’ll need.”
“You mean he asked me.”
“Yes, that’s what I said. He asked me.”
I sighed. “Why refrigerator magnets? You don’t even own a refrigerator.”
He didn’t answer.
I got an odd feeling suddenly and looked both ways down the street. No cops. Joseph’s statement about worrying when the cops weren’t around had made me paranoid. Then two men in business suits step out of a car not far away. Behind us, two more men dressed in business suits came around a corner. There’d been times when I’d seen no cops all day and it didn’t mean anything. But this was not one of those times.
I gave Brother Lawrence a friendly nudge toward the car. “Get in. Quick.”
“Oh, certainly, brother.” He stepped up his pace and climbed in.
I circled the car and jumped in, too.
The men in suits converged on us just as I inserted the key fob into the dash and hit the start button. The car roared to life and I peeled out onto the street, nearly clipping two of the agents.
The monk seemed excited, as usual. “So those are the men you’re running from?”
“Yeah. Hunters. How did you know I—” Stupid question. “Never mind.”
“Oh, this should be good fun.”