September 18, Present Day
Wilson County, Pennsylvania
A crack of lightning tore through the darkened sky, outlining the looming clouds that blanketed Nine Hills and mercilessly flung pellets of rain on the grey and dismal town. No one was outside, as the streets and sidewalks were unsurpassable rivers and the park was a lake that greedily kept the treasured playground to itself. No one was outside on this day save a few souls crazy or desperate enough to test the might of Mother Nature.
There was one, however, that was a little of both and so much more. Even at the young age of sixteen, he had experienced things most people would not even suffer while trapped within their worst nightmares. Such was his life and if certain persons were to be believed, so would the remaining two or three years.
Refusing to endure the horrors for even another week, he had arrived to end it, to end it where it all began. But before he would leave the fate of his soul up to the hands of God, he had something, or rather someone, to finish.
So the sixteen year old stood in the football field, near the very spot that started his road trip through nightmarish lands, waiting for the woman who took his parents away from him to pay a little visit, as he knew she would.
As he stood silent, the wind pulled at his unbuttoned black on black pinstripe dress shirt and shaggy blonde hair like tiny hands dragging him down to the depths of Hell, all the while rain soaked through his denim jeans and blue graphic tee.
Soon though, the added weight of what he was about to do proved too much and, try as he might to keep them dammed up, the memories of the past two years flowed through his mind like a flood, carving out horrific battle scenes into the back of his eyes and plastering the faces of the ones he had slain on the remnants of his once serene life.
But even with the seemingly endless wave after wave of corpses, there continued to be a peaceful island that stubbornly stayed above the sea of horrors.
She was the only one person who had made him feel normal and no matter what he had done, he could always look into her sky-blue eyes and see the unyielding love she had for him. Just remembering how her cheeks would match her fiery red mane whenever she blushed made his heart skip a beat.
And with such precious few minutes left, it finally dawned on him as to what that feeling meant. Instantly he regretted that it took him so long to realize it and how he would never get the chance to tell her what she meant to him.
Maybe he still could though, if he left now he would see her again before nightfall. But then again, he hadn’t left on the best of terms. What was it Ezekiel had said about such things? One heartfelt reunion will always shine through the gloom of a thousand repentant goodbyes.
Repentant didn’t even come close to describing how they left things. There was no yelling, fighting or even harsh words spoken and that made it all the worse. She had begged him to stay but he just grabbed what he needed and left her sitting by her dead mother as she tried to hold back tears.
He had to go back, he had to find a way to right the wrong that he had-
“Hey! You there!”
Even over the constant rumbling of the storm and the splattering of rain, the harshness of the voice dragged him out of his daze and back to the forsaken field in which he stood. Even with the fat raindrops creating a curtain of water, he could see her perfectly. A wrinkled old woman clunking towards him in steel-toed boots and a faint neon yellow poncho that covered denim work-overalls.
Just seeing her again enraged him past the point of no return.
Everything else became irrelevant, as he knew that very, very soon the one who had orchestrated his parent’s demise would quickly be meeting with the Reaper herself.
“What are you doing on my football fi-?”
A sudden burst of lightning blasted the ground not even a yard ahead of the old lady, splattering her with mud and knocking her flat on her back.
Only after she had finished wiping the grime from her thick-rimmed glasses did she see that the teenager was standing over her, like a hunter over a kill.
“Hello Mrs. Trindlestone,” he said. “Or would you prefer me to call you Doctor Maria Orsitsch?”
“I have no idea what you mean.”
“Do not toy with me!” he thundered. “You’ve been watching me ever since my first day at the high school and reporting to them on how my powers advanced just so you can get back all those years you’ve lost. Admit it and I just might let you live.”
“I-I had to,” the elderly woman stammered. “They would have killed me and my family, even my grandkids!”
“Liar!” he yelled over a roll of thunder as fire blazed in his golden eyes. “Everything you’ve ever said or done has been nothing but lies! You have no husband, no family, no brothers, no sisters and especially no grandkids. You were born on October 31st, 1895 and have always had an obsession with fairies and their immortality.
“Then when Hitler came into power he asked you and the rest of the Vril Society to build him a Wunderwaffe, a wonder weapon, that would obliterate his enemies with the push of a button. But that’s not what you built him, was it? Instead you built a Lilith Device, the only thing in the entire Universe that can imbue a human with the eternal youth and power of a Faerie.”
“Well, if that’s the case then why could I be your grandmother?” she asked, regaining a sense of unnatural calm.
“Because it didn’t work as well as you had planned,” he replied, trying to maintain his rising fury. “All it did was slow down the ravages of time to maybe a quarter of what it would be normally.”
“It would appear you’ve been told quite a lot about me,” she said with a sly grin, rising to her feet. “And I can’t deny that what you just said is true but I still wonder if you’ve been given the big picture.”
“I don’t give a damn about the big picture! All I care about is the fact that my parents are dead and you’re the one responsible!”
“Admittedly, I did play a hand in coordinating the accident but even with that said I only supplied the information, they organized the end result.”
“That makes you just as guilty as the rest of them.”
The teenager was pulsing with unkept rage. It was time for what he came to do. Slowly, he reached in a pocket and pulled out something that glistened with a metallic sheen. It was-
“A spoon? You’re going to kill me with a spoon?” Maria scoffed.
“Not just any spoon, this is a very special spoon,” he said, covering it with his hand, “as it can change.”
When he moved his hand away, the spoon had flattened out and stretched to form a dagger-like blade with a hook at the end.
“Wow, telekinesis,” she said, “what a nice little parlor trick. Am I supposed to be impressed?”
“Doesn’t matter to me,” he shrugged. “But I wonder, if that’s considered a parlor trick then where does this next one fall?” the teenager finished with a snap of his fingers.
Suddenly, two brown and slimy roots, like giant mutant worms, shot out of the ground and wrapped themselves around her ankles. Before Maria knew what was happening her feet were pulled out from beneath her, forcing her to painfully kiss the ground then she was flipped over and two more roots found their way to her wrists while a third tightened its grip on her neck.
Their hold wasn’t strong enough to cause much harm; they were just to keep her from squirming as he planned to make her death as slow and painful as possible.
He couldn’t stop himself from smiling as Orsitsch began to whimper but then, ever so slowly and to his dismay, it changed to a giggle and finally into a hysterical mocking cackle. Her laugh was like nails on a chalkboard and it infuriated him.
“Whatever you’re going to do, do it, but quite frankly, I don’t think you have the guts,” she said.
“Oh, you don’t think I will?”
“Honestly, you are the last person I would expect who would kill in cold blood,” she said. “Especially since you refused to dissect anything in Biology; even a stupid fish.”
“Who ever said anything about killing you? I have something much more enjoyable planned,” he replied. “Well, enjoyable for me at least.”
He gave the slightest flick of his wrist and the roots responded by pulling themselves further out of the ground, and lifting the doctor to eye level of the teen’s six-foot frame.
“Go ahead and torture me all you like, you’re nothing compared to what I had to endure to prove myself a true believer of the Führer’s vision.”
A knowing smile slide across his otherwise dark face.
“We’ll see how you feel once you’re missing most of your skin.”
Orsitsch returned his smirk, which made both all the more unnerving.
“All this talk is torture, and that’s all it is, is talk. Like I said, you don’t have the nerve for anything, except maybe a few punches.”
“I’ll admit to being a pacifist in the past, but too many things want me dead for me not to change,” he raised the dagger to her scalp and dug in just enough to draw a drop of blood. “Let me show you what I’ve been turned into.”
But just then, there was a sudden shift in the wind and the pounding rain began to slow. He paused, quickly glancing from side to side. Something had changed the weather, and he knew exactly who it was.
“Thomas,” said a voice.
The sixteen year old instinctively tensed but remained silent, waiting as an old and feeble looking Native American, wearing a robe of deep royal purple and straw sandals, slowly hobbled up behind him, leaning on a redwood staff and favoring his left leg.
“Thomas, you know we’re not supposed to use our powers unless we’re on official business,” said the old man.
“I am on official business,” the teen replied through clenched teeth.
“Revenge is not official business,” he said. “Now, Thomas, if you would be so kind as to lower Miss Orsitsch to her feet. Gently,” he added.
The sixteen year old couldn’t help but flinch each time his name was spoken. He hated his name, the name of the Chosen, of the Last Keeper of the Divide, and of the Bringer of the End. He was tired of being told who he was and what he would become. How was it possible to be instructed as a keeper only to become the Destroyer of All Things? Why was he given such a burden? Why couldn’t he be the master of his own fate like everyone else?
Putting all that aside though, Thomas quickly weighed the possible outcomes of disobeying his mentor but none of them looked good. Giving a defeated sigh, he withdrew his dagger, turned and began walking away, letting the roots drop the elderly woman on her face and sink back into the ground.
“I’ve always known you were weak,” she said getting up and spitting out some mud. “Pathetic.”
If Maria Orsitsch had been smart enough to keep her mouth shut, it would have ended right then and there but that comment was one Thomas could not ignore.
In the blink of an eye, Thomas had launched himself, knocking her back onto the muddy field and began pummeling her face into an unrecognizable black and blue lump even though first punch had knocked her unconscious.
“I’ll kill you!” he cried. “I’ll kill you! It’s your fault my parents are dead! Your fault!”
Seeing Thomas like this filled the elderly Indian’s already heavy heart with sorrow. Hadn’t he given Thomas advice when his parents died? Hadn’t the goal he gave Thomas to strive for good enough? Wasn’t the protection of the human race more important than getting revenge? This is what all the old texts said would cause the End, lowly vengeance for the one that the Chosen loved most. And to make things even worse there was said to be no way to stop it.
“This isn’t the way it should be,” he said to the wind.
“No, it isn’t,” came a whisper. “But it will get better, all he needs is a little guidance, a little understanding. Only you and I know what he’s capable of, but only you, Ezekiel, have the power to prevent him from walking down The Twin Paths before he is ready to decide which to take.”
“But both paths will lead him to become the Bringer of Doom,” the man said with an empty heart. “There is no way for him to change what Fate has already decided.”
“There’s always a way. But you need to stop him now before he ruins his chance of making his own destiny when he is not yet ready to see the Truth.”
“I don’t want to have to do that.”
“There is no other way,” said the voice.
Ezekiel sighed with the resignation of what he was about to do.
He let his staff fall to the ground as he removed his robe revealing a chougu that did little to hide the scarred frame underneath, then straightened up and charged.
In a flash, he had his student placed in a headlock but Thomas jumped backwards, landing hard on the mud and breaking the old man’s grip.
Thomas quickly spun around to face him, ready with a sucker punch but Ezekiel heeled Thomas’ face, sending him staggering backwards.
Wiping the blood from his broken nose, Thomas quickly crouched then leapt. He collided into his teacher with the force of a supersonic jet.
Soaring like an angry rocket, the two smashed through the football stands as if they were mere tissue paper. They quickly flew across the road and barreled through the outer and inner wall of a classroom in a shower of bricks and broken glass.
Students screamed and scattered in an attempt to avoid being hit by debris from the broken desks and chairs that were being used in the struggle.
Suddenly the exchange of blows stopped with a heavy thud and the cloud of dust began to settle, revealing someone panting over a motionless body while still holding the remnants of a chair in case his opponent decided to rise.
“Oh my god, Thomas? Thomas, is that you?” someone asked from within the crowd of those few who hadn’t completely fled in terror.
A girl with flowing blonde hair and emerald green eyes pushed to the front, a look of pure disbelief on her face.
“Natasha?” Thomas asked, dropping the chair behind him, dumbfounded.
Seizing his chance, Ezekiel pulled out a gun and shot a blue-tailed dart at Thomas’ heart.
With unnatural reflexes, Thomas dodged the projectile, letting it stick harmlessly in a cork board. But before he could face back around, Ezekiel had jumped to his feet and tackled Thomas, causing the two of them to tumble out of the room, onto the road and across the path of a passing SUV.
Swerving to avoid the two coupled in mortal combat, the driver slammed on the brakes and jumped out of the car in a fit of anger.
“What the Hell do you two idiots think you’re doing?” he yelled.
Ezekiel gave Thomas an uppercut that knocked him right off his feet and smash into the windshield of the car. Quickly recovering, Thomas rolled off, narrowly avoiding a swing from the old man’s elbow then he kicked in Ezekiel’s bad knee, shattering the bone and sending him to the ground.
Taking advantage of his teacher’s weakened state; Thomas tore the bumper straight from the car as if it was merely held on by magnets. He then swung hard and batted Ezekiel away, sending him flying back into the school.
The driver opened his mouth in protest but snapped it shut when Thomas threatened, “Say anything and you’ll be a home run.”
The driver quickly retreated then ran back the way he came.
A stubborn groan floated from the classroom as Ezekiel unsteadily stood, leaning against the crumbling wall.
“Persistent little sucker,” Thomas remarked.
Hoping to finally finish the old man off, Thomas lifted the SUV above his head with a smirk then heaved the 3-ton bulk.
The SUV spiraled through the air too fast for Ezekiel to react in his weakened condition. He took the full force of the car as it drove him even further into the school and finally wedged him against a stairwell.
With a sinister smile, Thomas walked through the rubble and decimated classrooms then finally up to his crushed mentor.
“You shouldn’t have tried to stop me. Look at what happened because of it. Now I have to wait until that bitch Orsitsch is awake again,” Thomas said, “it’s no fun if people aren’t aware that you’re torturing them and I won’t stop until she’s ready to sell her soul to Death himself.”
“I didn’t come to stop you, I came as a distraction,” Ezekiel wheezed.
“What do you talking about, old man?” Thomas asked.
Ezekiel motioned to look behind him.
Thomas turned and faced a girl with flame-red hair, freckles and sky-blue eyes. He opened his mouth to say something but she blew a fine blue powder in his face, cutting off his words in a cough.
Almost immediately Thomas collapsed and darkness closed in around him but before his brain totally shut down, it let him say one word.
Then everything went dark.
The redhead knelt down next to Thomas and as a single tear rolled down her cheek, all she could say was “I’m so sorry Thomas.”