Impress Me

Chapter 7 - The Last Ritual

Another night, another chance to thwart the plans of a demon obsessed. But with delicate circumstances, it must be handed with the utmost care. No hesitation, before even the last bits of her daylight shell could fall, she was gone before she could be stopped. The sky was lit up by radiant moon beams, each trying to light her path to answers when all answers seemed content in darkness.

Haven was only still learning to ride the wind so she ran on all fours as she was used to, never stopping or even considering the commotion she’s cause running through the streets like that. Her mind was intensely focused on one thing alone; finding Kale and bringing him back. She could not fail this time. She was gone from sight before the other could even finish their ‘yawn’.

“Goliath!” he called. The large creature looked to where he was then answered back, “Go after her. I will summon the other and we will search for her.”

Lexington approached the massive gargoyle, “I’ll go see what those artifacts were that Demona stole.”

Goliath nodded to him. With the flap of a wing, they was out for another night.

A night ago

Kale struggled within her grasp, trying to open his air passage even slightly.

“Stop struggling already, unless you want to fall to your death.” she saw his face convulsing from lack of air and finally got the idea that she was squeezing too tightly, “Oh, you can’t breathe. You humans are so fragile.”

She loosened her grip at last letting air fill his lungs. “Where are you taking me?!” Kale spat, “Let me go you ugly old hag!”

“Bite your tongue, brat!” Demona snapped, “I think I preferred you when you couldn’t breathe.”

They flew over smaller buildings, trees, and the shore lining the Hudson River. Looking down, Kale recognized where he was and how to get home from here. The landing he’d figure out but right now he had to fight to get out of this monster’s hold. He wriggled and squirmed to weaken Demona’s grasp. “Enough, boy, or I will drop you!”

In his thrashing, he saw a flash of red somewhere on the ground. In that instant, there was a loud, thunder-like sound and before they were aware, they were tumbling out of the air and into the Hudson.

Once again, his lungs were denied air as water filled his air passage. Water all about him and all the thrashing in the world wasn’t getting him any closer to the surface, to fresh air. Water ran between his fingers and pulled on his clothes as his arms flailed in desperation for air. He swore that gravity was pulling more at his right side as he wasn’t even right side up. Finally, he knew where the surface was, but his arms ceased to move. Before he could reach it, the last bubbles escaped his mouth. The street lights that shine beacons to salvation began growing dark. And as they darkened, Kale began to sink deeper into the Hudson. Deeper and deeper, until his clothes began to pull him backwards, then his arm, then the rest of him, all began to pull him backwards away from the dark depths. Moments later, he could feel the absence of water rushing through his fingers. Now, tiny grains of something with more shape and feel took its place. He could feel gusts of air being blown into him followed by sharp shoves onto his chest. This repeated until the water regurgitated from him. “-ale…Kale.”

A voice was calling Kale from the border of consciousness; a soft, calming voice, but an unfamiliar one. “Kale, wake up.”

He opened his eyes and saw a red jacket and blue hair, not the red hair, the titian skin, or white wings he was hoping to see. “Who…?”

His eyes still hazed out of focus. “I never did say who I was, did I? I’m Detective Maza.”

Kale sat up still very drained from his brush with death. Elisa removed her jacket and put it over him. “Here, try to stay warm until I can get you home.”

“NO!” Kale objected, “I’m not going back until I find my mom.”

“But what about your dad? He’s worried about you.” Elisa asked concernedly. Kale found new strength in his anger. “I don’t care. He lied to me!”

“And when you find your mom, then what?” Kale had a rebuttal for everything, “Then I’ll stay with her. I’m not going back to my dad’s.”

Elisa gave up, “Fine, I’ll make a deal with you, I’ll help you find your mom, but in return, you have to apologize to your dad for running away and making him worry. Deal?”

Elisa held out her hand for Kale to show proof of agreement. Kale thought for a moment and decided it was a fair deal. Even though he didn’t want to apologize to his father, it would be nice if he had some help from the police. He took the detectives hand with one sharp shake. “Deal.”

Elisa smiled and stood with him to leave, “All right, first, we’ll stop by my place and clean you up.”

It had been a good few minutes since they plummeted into the river but it seemed even drowning couldn’t stop such strong rage and hatred. Demona emerged from the water with eyes glowing a sinister red. “Run!”

Elisa and Kale ran but Demona took hold of Elisa and tossed her to the ground. Kale stopped ready to help without knowing how. “Don’t stop! And don’t look back!”

Kale ran – scared and filled with guilt – long until he was out of sight dropping her coat on the shore. Elisa took out her gun once more but Demona shrieked and rammed the back of her hand into Elisa’a temple hard enough to knock her from cognizance. “How I’ve coveted this moment when your life would be in my hands to crush – without interruptions or distractions – but it would be smarter to keep you alive, for now.”

Demona took off with Elisa, hauling her to a familiar building about a mile away down the shores of the Hudson; the Cloisters. As daylight came, Elisa awoke in an empty room. The only thing in there was a tapestry on the wall depicting a crowd of men surrounding a unicorn. That indicated to Elisa where she was. She tried to stand but her ankles and wrists were bound tightly, so tight that even the slightest shift and her wrists and ankle hurt miserably. From beyond the door, Elisa could hear noises outside. Thinking it may be people, she called for help. Her answer was Demona’s voice from outside the door. “Save your breath. It’s Monday. This place is closed.”

“What about the employees? There are people who work here on closed days.” Elisa interrogated. Demona snickered, “They’ve volunteered to become important…ingredients so I’ve provided them with special accommodations.”

“What are you planning, Demona?” demanded Elisa. Footsteps from heels could be heard echoing through the halls with baleful laughter, “You’ll find out soon enough. You’re the guest of honor.”

The day passed and by nightfall, the stage was set. Demona had successfully turned the courtyard into a place fit for a mage’s ceremony. As the sun disappeared into the horizon, she reverted back to her beastly form. Elisa had been arching her back so her hands could reach the ropes on her ankles. She caught it many times but she couldn’t hold it for long when the rope slipped from her hands just as Demona came in. She dragged Elisa out of the empty room and into the courtyard where the employees and perhaps their boss too were trapped in a large cage screaming and waling for help. See could even see a man in a moving company uniform; surely, the man who brought the cage and accidentally got involved.

The cage lay in the center of the courtyard before an alter bearing the Folgorite dagger, the Crest of the Fallen, and the Grimorum Arcanorum set on a specific page. Demona lugged Elisa to a pillar set up just for her. She, with great difficulty and struggling from Maza, untied Elisa’s bindings to chain her to the pillar. The chains were high up and facing away from the courtyard with Elisa facing it, limiting her mobility and making it difficult for her to breathe. Demona left her there to tend to her other prisoners.

“Now comes the beginning of the end.” She picked up the Grimorum and outstretched one arm over the artifacts. “Watch carefully human, this won’t be the worst of which you’ll experience tonight.”

Demona looked over the spell and read aloud, “Proin separate saeculorum veterum reliquiae duo unum fiunt tempore coniungitur.”[1]

A great pillar of light around the alter and the cage ascended to the night sky with the deafening screams of the hapless souls trapped within. With each passing cry, the dagger and crest merged together to become one.

“Haven! Wait up!” Brooklyn flew over Haven as she ran through the streets, “Let me carry you.”

“So I guess after spying on me, you think it’s ok to offer to carry me now that you know my handicap?!” he could hear it in her voice that she was pissed, but now was not the time, “You’ll start a panic with this many people seeing you. Everything behind you is in a giant car wreck.”

“And I’m supposed to care?” She heard his calls and closed her ears to them. Brooklyn flew down to her side to speak with her but she never slowed and kept at her slightly frantic pace. Her feet almost seemed to stomp the ground beneath them with every stride. It was somewhat of a struggle for Brooklyn to keep up. At last, Brooklyn had had enough; he swooped down and picked her up. She fought against it until he went above a single story and kept going higher. She shut her eyes tight and clenched every muscle she could but forced herself to look down just as Angela had trained her to do, as she had trained herself.

He carried her to Central Park just a few blocks down where he set her down and she slugged him in the face, “Now that ALL of you know my personal business, don’t EVER pull me off the ground again!” she snapped. Brooklyn rubbed his cheek, “I’m only trying to help.”

“I don’t need your help.” she didn’t even look at him. “You still haven’t learned to trust anyone.” he stated calmly. He was hurt too, hearing that she knew how he felt and said nothing. “This has nothing to do with trust.”

“Then why won’t you let me help you?” He grabbed her arm before she could run off ahead of him again. “You can’t! This is my burden! Let go!” she concluded, trying to break from his grip but he pulled her in to grip bother her arms, “What is it with you?! Why do you think you need to take the world alone?!”

she came to him and pounced as her eyes began to glow. They rolled about the floor, struggling against one another. Haven punched and kicked but he refused to strike back. Each blow to the head, he grew dizzier. Every blow to the stomach made him weak but he refused to give in. Soon, she was worn out under him where he held her wrists firmly at either side of her head. She fought hard and harder but his grip never waned. “What makes you think I need you to save me?!”

“Because you’re trembling right now and you’re out of control! You need to calm down!”

“I CAN’T LOSE HER AGAIN!” Brooklyn paused on that word he and Lexington missed back in the tunnel, “’her’? What are you…Haven, that’s not your sister.”

That traumatizing night flashed before her eyes; the torches, the stifling bloodlust in the air, the cries of one not even given the chance to know her first flight. Brooklyn watched as her eyes became glossy, ready to flood. Finally, he understood; the unconscious slip of words, why she was so anxious, all of it. He released her wrists and allowed her to sit up. Brooklyn rested his hands on her arms one more time but this time, more gently. She held broth his arms down but not for him to let go.

“I know.” she whimpered, “but I keep seeing her. Every time he’s near me and I can’t stop it. That’s why I left him with you all. I don’t want to see her but it’s hard to look away…too long…I can’t…it’s my burden…it’s my guilt…I killed her…”

Brooklyn froze upon hearing this but didn’t stop her, “I could have done something; grabbed her…got over it…I knew how then but I was so afraid of coming off the ground…” she sobbed, “I could have protected them both, but…I froze…it’s my fault.” Now Brooklyn understood: it’s not just that she can’t glide, but she was acrophobic. The trembling when climbing out of the alley and flying to Castle Wyvern, he rage towards baby Alex when he levitated her in a chair for sport, why she never left when it was so obvious she wanted to, why she declined a tour of NYC, he felt so stupid.

“It wasn’t your fault, and neither is this.” Brooklyn assured, “So this is not something you have to face alone. But you need to trust in us.”

Haven hesitantly nodded, drying up her tears and stifling her sobs. Brooklyn pulled her to her feet and offered her back to carry her. This time she took it. Brooklyn took them to a tree and began climbing from branch to branch all the way to the top, “Don’t do any sharp movements if you can avoid it.”

They flew over the trees until they were over the shore lining the Hudson. Her heart pounded against Brooklyn’s back so he gripped her arms around his neck tightly, “Don’t let go but open you wings.”

She worried but did so and the wind snatched them right up. She whimpered with the sudden jolt but held firm, “Feel the wind and try to move your wings like mine.”

He knew this would be hard for her since her wings were shaped differently but she got used to the currents somewhat. She was hoping it was her instincts that was telling her she was liking this feeling. Just then, they spotted something red lying upon the sand. They went lower to see until Brooklyn recognized it as Elisa’s jacket. As they landed they saw that the jacket was half buried by sand as the tide had come in that day but now retreated. Brooklyn picked up the jacket and brushed off the sand, “What’s Elisa’s jacket doing here?”

“You mean that cop from a few days ago? Are you sure it’s hers?” Haven questioned. Brooklyn nodded, “Yeah, it’s hers but she wears this everywhere. Why would she just leave it lying here?”

At that moment, a beacon of light emitted from a building only a little further down the shoreline; the Cloisters. “Maybe we’ll find some answers there. Come on.”

They could hear the cries of people, a cry neither of them could fathom; wails from men, shrieks from women, screams from a child that came with his mother at work, all creating a chorus of ungodly misery and anguish. Once there, they hid behind a pillar to examine the scene. What their eyes beheld was a cage of men, women, and a single child suffering the magics from the Grimmorum as Demona cackled ravingly. When the light finally dimmed, the room went silent and the two artifacts – the Folgorite dagger and Crest of the Fallen – were one. The cage now empty save a few drips of splattered blood and the cap of a child, Demona lifted the combined artifact to examine it.

“At long last,” she announced, “I will be rid of the humans. And how lucky you are to have the honor of being the first.” Demona turned to face one Elisa Maza chained to a pillar.

“What’s she going to do to her?” Haven asked. Brooklyn’s eyes started to glow brightly, “I don’t know, but I’m not waiting to find out.”

In another instant, Brooklyn was charging at Demona head on. He pounced on her knocking the new dagger out of her hand. They both struggled to reach it while trying to keep the other away. Haven ran to help Elisa. “Never thought I’d be saved by you.”

“Cierra la boca! I don’t have many problems with leaving you here.” Haven snapped, “Is Kale here?”

Elisa shook her head as Haven pulled at the chains, “He got away before I was knocked out. I don’t know where he is. The kid’s harder to find than Waldo and Carmen Sandiego combined.”

Haven stared at Elisa confused, “Who?” Elisa just shook her head again, “Nevermind.”

Haven pulled harder at the chains. “What are these made of? Diamond? They should have broken by now.”

Demona rammed Brooklyn into a wall stunning him for a minute. When she saw Haven trying to free her sacrifice, she bolted into Haven’s gut and hammered her into the ground. The blow winded her for a moment before she was back on her feet and roping Demona’s neck and left arm into a lock. “What are you doing?! Can’t you see, I’m doing this for the good of our race!”

“I’m not sure myself but there’s someone important to me who’d never forgive me if I let you do this.” Haven struggled to hold Demona but her grip was becoming hard to maintain. Brooklyn was finally getting his second wind.

“YOU FOOL!!!” Demona broke free and grabbed Haven’s tail, swinging her into the bars of the cage then over her shoulder and onto the stone floor, cracking it on impact. She grunted dazed when Brooklyn had just made it to his knees and saw, “HAVEN!”

Demona ran back to the Grimmorum and flipped to a bookmarked page. “I had planned for interruptions. Surge, creatura aeris venenosa.Fac me iubere.Attende clamorem meum.”[2]

Out from the Grimmorum arose a dark billow of smoke which seemed to have three glowing eyes; two in their respective places and one vertically in the center. The creature slapped Haven and Brooklyn into the air where they crashed through a column or went straight for the back wall. That last blow left Haven on the borders of consciousness. The creature was approaching so Brooklyn rushed the thing but went right through it. Sooner than his feet could land, it grabbed him and rammed him into the ground. “Argh!”

“That’s enough playtime.” Demona giggled, “Finish them off. I have business to attend to.”

The monster reached down to seized them both and began squeezing them to death while suffocating them in its smog. They could barely even move their diaphragms to cough properly. Demona picked up the dagger and walked towards Elisa. Just when it looked like Haven and Brooklyn were done, the rest of the clan came to help. Goliath quickly assessed the situation, “Broadway, Hudson, help those two. Angela, intercom Lexington our whereabouts and help Elisa. I’ll take care of Demona.”

Broadway and Hudson ran into battle unsure of what they were fighting. “What sort of being is this?” Hudson demanded. Broadway gave his analysis “It’s solid yet not solid. How are we supposed to get them out of there?”

The creature attacked, picking up Hudson and throwing him into Broadway. “I don’t know,” Hudson continued, “But we better think of something fast.”

Already, Brooklyn and Haven’s struggles were slowing as their air and energy were depleting. Meanwhile, Demona was having difficulty dealing with Goliath. “Give up, Demona.” Goliath commanded looking down over her.

She sneered, “I’d sooner die. Creature, defend your master!”

The creature divided into two and captured Goliath in black haze smothering him after beating him about. Goliath struggle to escape but his body and his breath remained the captive of the toxic vapors. Before more interludes, Demona took up the dagger once again and ran towards Elisa. Before Angela could fight her off, the creature snatched her up too just as Lexington appeared. Lexington immediately saw the creature and, with fast thinking, slammed the Grimmorum shut dissipating the smoke beast into the air and releasing its hostages. Goliath, Angela, and Haven fell to the ground coughing but Brooklyn wasn’t conscious. Haven crawled over to him and began rubbing his chest and calling out to him to wake him. Meanwhile, Demona was charging to strike Elisa. “It ends NOW!!!”

She stabbed Elisa’s abdomen with one swift move that it almost took Goliath’s breath in one gasp, “ELISA!!!”

The wound glowed whiter than that of an enraged gargoyle and glowing, gurgling fluids streamed from her mouth, then she slumped down and went still. The city that never sleeps suddenly fell silent. In the deep silence, one sound began to grow; at first it was a snicker, next a chuckle, then a low laugh, and finally a loud cackle, and it just wouldn’t stop building. Goliath’s eye – for the first time ever – burned with the deepest red, “NO!!!!!!”

He lunged at Demona and nearly killed her with the first blow. Barely getting away, she accidentally dropped the dagger to fight him off or at the very least dodge his blows of pure rage. Goliath’s wrath and sorrow were so ferocious that – in place of tears – blood flowed from his eyes. He lusted for revenge with a passion untamed. Demona managed to ensnare Goliath in the cage but it would not hold him for very long as his inhuman strength was slowly bending the bars. Angela, Broadway, and Hudson stormed her with nearly the same amount of fury but Demona was making quick work of them. Haven finally got Brooklyn to wake up. He sat up and coughed the last remnants of smoke in his lungs. Demona had evaded the others and made plans to snatch up the dagger and make her escape. Lexington warned the others, “Don’t let her get the dagger!”

Haven was the closest so she bolted for the dagger and got to it before Demona did. Demona attacked Haven but before she could get it back, Haven tossed the dagger to Lexington, “Lex, pass!”

Lexington caught it but Demona was one his tail faster than white on rice so he fled. He leaped onto a column and took off with Demona right behind him and the others following too. He barely got far over a few streets and trees when Demona reached him and pulled herself within reach of the artifact. Her weight threw off his flight and he went spiraling into the river but not before Demona cut her losses and let him go flying off without the dagger. The others saw but the first to react was Haven. She dove in without hesitation using her finlike tail to cut through the water with unreal speed. It was simple recovering Lexington but she lost the dagger in the dark water. She hauled him back to shore – hacking up water along the way – to her astonished companions.

“That was amazing! Did you see how fast she went?!” Broadway divulged. Hudson knelt over Lexington to help him sit up, “Are ye okay, lad?”

Lexington heaved up the last drops, “I’m fine. Where’d you learn to swim like that?” just then, Lexington gasped, “Oh no, I dropped the dagger!”

“I’ll get it.” Haven declared, and she dove back into the dark water. Vision was nearly impossible in those waters but she was used to fishing in dark water. She calculated where Lexington fell then darted all the way to the bottom, escaping the pressure with her well-trained ears. Feeling around blindly, she found glass, seaweed, moss, a boot, a Raggedy-Anna doll, and used cigarettes but no dagger. Her air was running out when she finally found it. On the surface, she had been under the water for a few minutes. They couldn’t wait any longer and were about to dive in after her, when Haven darted up to the surface and swam back to shore with exceptional speed. Once with the others, Haven gave the dagger to Lexington and he race back to the Cloisters with the meaning of haste on his mind.

As they came back to the courtyard, they watched Goliath rip the chains holding Elisa to the pillar as if they were paper-mâché. Elisa’s limp body slumped into his bulky arms as he fell to his knees. He held the back of her neck showing the true meaning of tender as tears filled his eyes; staring at the wound then back at her, trying to understand what happened. There were no words, no sounds apart from his strangled sobs. He buried his face into the crook of her neck to stifle his blubbering. His voice was strained and nearly hoarse when words finally escaped his lips, “Elisa.”

All the world was silent, seemingly to mourn this one death; to mourn her passing and curse their fate with eyes that will never again open and dreams that will never come to be. All the world was silent when the breath of the human race vanished in an instant.

Goliath held onto Elisa. He was trapped even then between gripping her tighter to help ease his pain and of holding her limp frame loosely so as not to break her further. In that quiet world, the only sounds were the sobs of a gargoyle that lost his beloved. Lexington tried to ease him, “Um, Goliath…”

The giant lifted his face from her chest, “Leave me be.”

“But Goliath,” he persisted, “We might be able to save her and humanity.”

“What do you mean? Is it possible? We can save her?” he looked on with frantic hope; his voice elevating with each question. Hudson rested his well-aged hand on the giant’s shoulder. “Easy, Goliath. Let the lad finish.”

Lexington continued, “Well, I don’t know for sure. It was just a legend after all but we could still try?”

“What legend?” inserted Broadway. Lexington focused his gaze on Goliath, “It’d probably be easier to show you, but you have to trust me completely.”

Goliath took note of Lexington’s hand clenching tighter around the dagger. Was he to defile her body only to have it not work? Goliath cupped her face. The warmth in Elisa’s cheek was beginning to fade away. He clasped his eyes shut as his hand took hers, bringing her cold fingers to press against his lips. What other choice was there? “Do it.”

Lexington took in a sharp breath and heaved it out before he approached. Goliath lay Elisa flat on the ground to give him free access. He knelt down beside her and lifted the dagger over the wound in her stomach. The others gawked with eyes wide and unbelieving. Lexington understood that he had to get it on the first try and the pressure was building. He took in a deep breath and held it there. With one swift move, Lexington stabbed the dagger into the wound and quickly pulled it out, afraid he might have failed. There were many objections for his actions but all remained silent in anticipation of Elisa’s revival. Moments passed and hope grew evanescent. Nothing; her eyes still remained closed, her breath still broken, and her heart still absent of a beat. Goliath could not bear to look any longer. He rose to be alone when there was suddenly a white glow emitting from the wound in her abdomen. Unbeknownst to them all, all the world glowed with that same white light, every place where there once was life. Goliath spun around and stayed by her side. He took her hand into both of his as the glow calmed and dimmed; waiting to see those brown eyes once more. Everything in its entirety was muted in that instant when her fingers moved in his grasp, “Hey, big guy.”

Every face there lit up with joy but none so much as Goliath’s, “Elisa! You’re alive!” Goliath took her into his arms too afraid to let go ever again. Elisa gasped at the sudden grip, “Not for long if I can’t breathe.”

Goliath eased his grip to allow her to sit up on her own. He looked to Lexington for an answer to this miracle, “How…?

Just then, a deafening shriek when out that could be heard throughout the city. A long pause and then attention fell on Lexington as he took a moment to explain, “The artifacts Demona stole were the Crest of the Fallen and the Folgorite dagger. The Crest of the Fallen was found on the shores of Denmark and brought to a museum in Manhatten. It was displayed as the seal of a lost king but when I found a file containing scanned pages of the Grimorum in Xanatos’ computer, it read otherwise. The Crest of the Fallen was a lost treasure in the cave of Grendel’s mother. It’s not a seal; it’s a vial. She made it with a spell to contain the blood of every living creature so she could ‘hold the world in her hands’.

“The other artifact is the Folgorite dagger. Legend has it that a frost giant named Folgora mocked Thor but they were equal in power. Loki decided to help him by giving him a dagger that will kill as fast as lightning on the first strike. So when Thor challenged Folgora again, he beat him in one blow but he didn’t stop until he took out his entire family. When he cornered Folgora’s wife, she asked how he came upon such great power. Thor told her that his new power was forged by the greatness of his might and killed her. When Loki heard, he became angry and cursed the dagger to forever undo any death blow upon the second strike. Then he tricked Thor into believing that Folgora still lived. He dared him to try and hit the same place twice, mocking him until Thor couldn’t stand it any longer. Thor struck the same place and revived Folgora. Though it worked on other frost giants, he tried many times later to undo his mistake but Folgora was forever immune to the dagger’s malee and mocked him until the end of his days.

“When Demona combined these two items, she held in her hand the power to destroy an entire race. When she stabbed Elisa…” Elisa finished his sentence, “She effectively killed all of humanity. She finally did it.”

Brooklyn took a turn, “So when Lex stabbed you again, he brought everyone back.”

“And now humanity is immune.” Angela impeded, “So she can’t use this again.”

“That’s why she let Lex and the dagger fall in the water.” Haven examined, “The waters of the Hudson are too dark for any average gargoyle to find and by morning, the current would have swept the dagger out to sea.”

Elisa’s voice was weak, “She was very careful not to convey her plans. She was probably banking on us not knowing the significance of the artifacts.”

Suddenly, realization impaled Haven like a plethora of knives, “Kale. A few moments ago he was…” Brooklyn instantly became aware of her thoughts, “Let’s go…”

And they were gone ten minutes ago. Goliath seemed to understand as well and organized the clan accordingly, “Lexington, Broadway, join them in the search for Kale.”

Not a second later, the two were off to search the city. “Hudson, take Elisa home and guard her.” Goliath continued, “Angela, you’re with me.”

“Perhaps the lass is finally coming around to humans.” Hudson analyzed.

“Hmm, I hope you are right.” Goliath agreed, “We would not want her to become like Demona.” They took to the skies in a city that had found a new life and a new reason to ‘stay awake’.

Kale awoke from death on the side walk like most people out that night. The city was in an uproar; everyone fussing about waking up on the ground or in their car. News report all over came to a complete halt to cover this new story but absolutely no one had an answer. Even when they looked back at the tapes, they couldn’t give a legitimate answer to the confused citizens. Police forces that were heading towards the beacon of light near the Hudson River were swarmed by people demanding answers as if they knew.

Kale groggily stood to find his balance when he saw a flicker of hair that looked familiar to hi. A woman stopped to check the street, turning his way for a moment. It was only a moment but he knew with 120% certainty that this was her. He ran after her, struggling to keep up with her longer legs. He called out to her but she didn’t seem to hear. With the few children currently out with they’re mothers in this panic, how could she expect to hear a call to herself.

He followed her around a corner, down a block, across the street, and into an apartment building. By now she was very far away but still in his sights. She stopped for a moment to catch her breath so Kale used his youthful energy to his advantage and got closer. His heart was leaping in his chest for joy and from running. Just as he was across the street from her and about to call her out again, she went into the building and started up the stairs. Kale was short on breath but he pressed forward, too excited to stop. The echo of her heels reverberated off the walls far louder than his sneakers did so his footsteps went nearly unheard down a few flights. She stopped climbing on the seventh floor. He was so close, just one more flight. He could hear her catching her breath before opening the door. Just as she came into sight, the door opened for her and a man stood there. He grabbed her and held her in his arms with her name on his lips, “Cielo.”

Kale was about to charge this strange man when his mom embraced back calling out to him, “It’s okay, Grey. I’m fine.”

Grey led her in and shut the door behind them. Kale ran up the door and placed his ear to it. Everything was muffled and there were no openings or cracks where he could peep through. A few yards down the hall was a window. He went to the window to find a fire escape to the left and took no time to jump over to it. The window at the fire escape led straight to the apartment. He peered through the window and saw his mom kissing this strange man. “How could she betray dad like this?”

Cielo asked where some ‘Angel’ was so Grey went into another room and brought back out a baby boy. Cielo kissed and held the child the exact same way she held Kale in the picture. Kale stood unbelieving at the window. This was the one thing his dad ever told him that was truth; his mother left him and started a new family. He had been replaced and forgotten.

His eyes could not believe it. They never wanted to see what they were witnessing now but there was no denying it. It was right in front of him; the mother he idolized in that picture holding him, the mother who stood faithfully next to his father, she was now in the arms of another man with a new child. It was as if a new family portrait was taken and his was thrown out with no reason or explanation.

The infant held tightly to her index as she kissed his tiny knuckles. Kale could watch no more. In that instant, it seemed as if his heart gave out, but then why was he still alive to suffer through it? He turned away from the window and slumped against the side of the building, his rear thumping against the metal of the fire escape.

He just sat there for a moment or two when he heard “…hear something?” and the window opening next to him. Kale gasped as his eyes met with his mother’s. She seemed overtly shocked to see him sitting there outside her apartment of all places. Kale’s eye filled with water despite him wishing they didn’t in front of her. As she opened her mouth to call “Kale?” he shot up and dashed down the fire escape.

Down one step ladder, around to the next, and the down another; Kale raced down those seven stories ignoring her calls to him. He realized that once she stopped, she was coming down to meet him which made him all the more frantic to get away. The last ladder was stuck like most fire escape ladders in NYC. How he cursed the accuracy of the movies and games with fire escapes. He was too high up to just jump so he pushed with everything he had. The ladder budged only few inches but abruptly enough to make Kale lose his balance and grip and fall twenty and two feet to the alley floor.

His shoulder broke his fall and he sat there for a moment grunting and groaning, waiting for the pain to pass. Before it could though, his mom burst out of the front door of her apartment complex and rounded the corner to find him. As she neared him, Kale brushed off the pain, got up, and ran as if she were some beast coming to devour him. Holding his arm to limit its movement and the pain, he just ran.

He turned around just once to see her just standing over where he landed holding his picture. When did he drop it? He didn’t care; he had no further use for it. The pain in his shoulder kept creeping up on him until he realized that it wasn’t just his shoulder, it was his entire arm. It was pulsating and bleeding but he had no time to worry about that. He looked back once more and couldn’t see her. Not paying attention to where he was going, he tripped over his own feet and fell forward. It started to rain and any other time he would look for shelter but he didn’t care right then. Kale just lay there on the sidewalk wallowing in self-pity.

Half of him wanted her to find him and take care of him and justify to him all he had just seen. He wanted her to make everything alright and repair his image of her. The other half questioned how she dared to call his name with some other brat fresh off her lips. He wanted to never see her again; didn’t care whether she lived or died just as long as he wasn’t a part of it. Then he thought she had no right to follow. She had been alive this whole time and made no effort to see him or explain why he left. She just left him and his dad to make another happily ever after. Then he thought about how she knew who he was on first glance. He looked nothing like when he was a baby and could have been any random boy to her so how did she know? The only reason he could think of was that she had been watching him or had stayed in contact with his dad but if that were true, why did his dad lie and why didn’t she come see him? How dare she recognize him?

People walked by but no one stopped to help him or give any notion that they cared if a child was hurt on the ground in the rain in New York. After a while, his mind just ran blank and he decided to get up and walk away. Where could he go? Back to his dad, no, Kale didn’t want to see him either. He didn’t have any relatives that he knew about. His dad kept him from them all if he had any. He just walked until he came back to a well acquainted part of the city. Stopping next to a familiar alleyway, he saw the boxes he was living in not so long ago. A lot of them were gone and only two of them remained but what were twelve or two boxes when at the end of the day they were still boxes. He just curled himself up in one. By now, his arm had gone numb, no doubt it was broken but who cared. He just sat there watching the rain fall until sleep took him.

It didn’t stop raining all throughout that night or the day after.

[1] Enchanted relics of the ancient, from ages separate, two become one and unite time.

[2] Arise, creature of the toxic air. Do my bidding. Heed my cry.

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