The Aluetian Chronicals: Chance Encounters

Epiologue: Keeping Promises

The smell of diesel fuel filled the humid air. Night felt as though it was an encrusted shell, only the sounds of the roving sea telling that the outside was present. As the night was still, without any whisper of any sound calling, the wavering fumes added something that could’ve been a mere resemblance to the notion. And with the Plunger settled at the bottom of the sea, itself entombing Mathias forever in the battlefield and the calling he loved as much as his wife, Faith, there wasn’t any reason why the fumes should be flowing on the gentle breezes.

But Aleutian knew why.

Standing some twenty yards from the opened door of Mathias’s house, his duffel bag behind him about five yards back, he held his black fedora in his hands, looking at it with looming eyes of uncertainty. He still wore his aviator jacket even though there wasn’t any need to fend off the lite breeze. But it had this company for the misery he felt in the choices he’s made. The one he was contemplating to make. He didn’t have to gaze far with the glimmer from the quarter moon, showering its low, pale light through the door, emitting his black coat on the wooden floor.

Are you sure you want to do this? he asked himself, reaching into his right jacket pocket. Are you sure you can live with yourself totally with what you’re asking?

Aleutian’s fear of an empty house going to waste was founded. He’d seen through the better ages of his life of what happens to homes that were once called sanctuary to his long dead friends and companions. He had gone back to one some years and came upon it cleaned out of the former inhabitants’ belongings and possessions. And so with that one of many brooding memories echoing to him, he cleaned out Mathias’s house right away.

Well, almost. Aleutian only took what really mattered to him and to no one else. Pictures, logs from past sails, and a few keepsake items for himself.

Before turning his weak energy to his own set tasks, he’d asked a favor from Sonic. To retrieve his black coat and hat.

“You coming with us?” Sonic had asked before he and the rest of the Freedom Fighters departed.

“I don’t know yet,” Aleutian replied softly to him, it almost seemed to himself.

And now he stood before the house that he grew up in for most of his life. The joys, the pains, the frustrations; it all resonated in here. But as he glared more towards the foot of the door, the repulsive feeling he felt seeing it dissolve into an empty nest, it fueled Aleutian’s kindled heart, igniting old painful memories of the happiness that had left with his adopted family. The ones who looked after him while he and his father fought their indifference from afar.

They were all gone.

With the lighter he retrieved from his jacket pocket becoming the answer to his question, he unshielded the wick and flicked the flint. A lone flame was birthed from it, dancing lonely in his hand. Touching the felt hat he watched the fire spread around the brim in a ballet of licking glow of orange. Putting the lighter back into his pocket and switching the burning hat to his right hand, he swung himself to the left and kicked back to the right, sending the fedora inside the house like a Frisbee, grunting his frustrations out in the same instant. The hat bounced off the floor and slid into the diesel soaked jacket, erupting it into a fierce fire as the fuel was ignited.

Aleutian slowly walked backwards in bewilderment, passing his duffel bag, and collapsing to the ground as he gazed at the fire engulfing the house with a quickness that placed him back to reality. The inferno spread from the front living room to the adjacent rooms in a matter of minutes with an orange glow lighting up the surrounding field. As the fire grew hotter, thermals kicked up hot embers that rose up with black smoke into the night air.

He crossed his legs beneath him and gazed at the burning house with a dazed look, watching the happier times of his life burn away. For a moment his thoughts were lost to the wind and the crackling roar of wood being burned.

Then his inner voice exhumed itself over it all.

What have I done? he painfully questioned himself in the sanctuary of his troubled mind.

“What you believed in!”

The loud voice that boomed over the crackling blaze made Aleutian look up. He was startled from the grips of his loneliness at seeing the contours of Locke’s commiserated face being etched from the shadows of the burning house.

Aleutian stood up and stared hard in his father’s face, tears streaming down from his own. “What are you doing here?” he spat out angrily in a trembling voice.

With his hands beside him, Locke looked straight into Aleutian’s eyes, still holding his offering, warm expression. “Coming to thank the one who raised my son.”

Aleutian stiffened his jaw, only staring at his father through the dancing flames.

Locke then took in a lasting breath, his eyes never leaving Aleutian’s.

“May I stand with my son?...May I stand with you when there is no one who can?”

Aleutian’s lips shuddered. He stood, holding his angered face to his father.

And then it faltered.

Within two steps, he closed the gap between them, digging his head into his father’s chest, and squeezing his arms around his sides. “I’m sorry, Father!” Aleutian wept out forcefully into his father’s chest. “I’m so sorry!”

Locke felt the hard shunts of breaths in his chest as he held his crying son in his arms. At that point, the war, the quest for destiny, and the foretold prophesies...they were all forgotten. He had been too selfish for so long. And here was Aleutian, the one bringing it through his weeping tears. It took a death and a fire to start it, and for Locke, he had to answer for that price...not his scarred son.

Locke embraced him ever tighter under his own welling eyes.

“I should’ve never of done this to you all. Never!” Aleutian cried out, his voice succumbing to his tears. “I never wanted it to be like this!...”

Locke continued his firm squeeze around his son, feeling along his dreads with his shaking right hand. “No, it is me who shouldn’t have done what I did to you,” Locke whispered in a sincere voice. “I should be wearing those scars and not you,” he choked through, squeezing Aleutian’s head tighter into him, caressing with his hand the scars across his face, watching in the distance as the fire claimed the whole house.

What have I done? Locke questioned to himself harshly, repeating Aleutian’s question that he felt was aimed at his very soul. But then the words that he told Knuckles crept into his head for his answer...

He needs me... and I need him.

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