Chapter Eight: Homecoming
Two days after the last encounter with Charles Anthony found himself in church listening to his brother Jim give a stirring Eulogy about their mother. He talked about the many hardships that had befallen her since she was a child. She was a victim of a home without love and she worked every day to make things better for her children. She had to raise five children when their father died which forced her to make many sacrifices. He said how proud he was to have had a mother like her and he hoped to die with half as much dignity as she did. There wasn’t a dry eye left in the house by the time he was done speaking.
Anthony followed the recession out of the church and noticed that Jonathan was there. He must have just arrived this morning because Anthony wasn’t aware that he was back. He gave Anthony a nod before bowing his head to pray. As usual Amanda hang onto his arm like a lost little girl does with her father. They got into his truck and waited for the hearse to start the procession to the cemetery. Amanda was more quiet than usual that day but she was a steady rock on which Anthony could steady himself. Anthony had held back tears for the most part that day.
The hearse pulled out with Jamestown’s only patrol cop leading the way. Anthony pulled his truck into line behind Jim’s Jeep. The drive seemed to take forever as they got closer and closer to where they would bury their mother. The pulled into Calvary Cemetery and they gathered next to their father’s grave. Anthony didn’t know it at the time but this would be the last time he would be here. He stayed long after the final ceremony was done, Amanda still at his side. When he felt it was time for him to leave he turned and there was Jonathan waiting in his car. Jonathan noticed Anthony walking his way so he got out and waited for him.
Jonathan spoke first saying, “Hey man. Sorry for your loss.”
“It’s ok. I was able to talk to her before she died. You were right I needed to hear what she had to say but it just gave me more questions.”
Jonathan nodded his head then spoke, “I know what you would ask. You were wondering how did you have a vision at that age, forget about it and not have another one until you were at the Seminary, right?”
Anthony was amazed, “Yeah. That’s exactly it.”
“It’s because your dad wasn’t supposed to die. You were supposed to save him, although I think there is nothing you could have done. God has plans for us beyond our imagining and his plans were to have your father prepare you for what’s to come. From my understanding you weren’t supposed to have any visions until you were older but things were set in motion by others back then against you. I think you have already met one of them.”
Anthony’s voiced conveyed his frustration, “Geez, am I always the last to find anything out?”
“Well I knew who to talk to and you didn’t for one thing. When you are ready to know things you will find them out.” He stopped there and looked towards the horizon. “Anthony you need to come back to the seminary with me. Father Byrnes requests you come so you can speak with him directly. If all goes right, you won’t be coming back to Jamestown.”
Anthony looked at Amanda then back to Jonathan. “In that case Amanda comes too. I will not leave her alone.”
“I don’t know how that will go over with the Priests but at least she can come along for the ride.”
“Alright, babe, you up for a road trip?” Anthony asked Amanda even though he already knew her answer.
Amanda confidently said, “Of course. It doesn’t sound like we have much choice.”
Anthony directed his attention to Jonathan saying, “We will leave right after the reception.”
They all went back to Anthony’s house to for the reception. The aunts from both sides of his family prepared sandwiches and soup. They worked hard all morning to get things ready to accommodate the seventy some people who showed up. They were all in the backyard talking when they heard a blood curdling scream from inside the house. Anthony recognized the scream, rushed inside to see Theresa watching the TV. The blonde anchor from the local station in Fargo was on the TV speaking, “I repeat all attempts to contact Los Angeles and New York have failed. The last report we have is that an incredibly powerful explosion occurred and it’s unconfirmed if it was a nuclear attack at this time.” The anchor put her hand to her earwig then said, “We have images coming in now.”
They all looked at each as they saw what was left of those cities were burning with an ominous mushroom cloud lingering above them. The news anchor continued, “There are official reports coming from Washington that this was not a missile attack and it’s likely that it was caused by terrorists on the ground.” Anthony quickly prayed for those who have died and their loved ones. He looked to Amanda and asked her to go start packing for them both. She stood there as if in she was paralyzed so he gently shook her arm. She looked at him was if she was waking up from a deep sleep. She nodded to him then disappeared from the room down stairs to his room.
Jim overheard what Anthony had told Amanda to so he took Anthony aside. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Anthony suddenly realized he was not prepared for this conversation. He knew was going to leave but had no idea what he was going to tell anyone. “Me and Amanda are going to the Seminary.”
Jims face contorted with confusion, “Why are you going there? I thought you quit!”
Anthony took a deep breath, “I did and I am not going there for any reason you might think of. I have to go take care of something.”
Jim’s demeanor quickly turned to anger, “This is not a good time for you to leave!”
Anthony made eye contact with Jim then said, “Jim there are things going on that I can’t even begin to explain but trust me for once. I know what I am doing.”
Jim's face contorted as he said, “You want me to trust without you telling me anything?”
Anthony put his hand on Jim’s shoulder before saying, “If I had a better answer for you, I would gladly give it. All I know is, I was asked to go talk to Father Byrnes in person. I should know more after that.”
Jim shrugged off Anthony’s hand saying, “This family needs you here, and I forbid you from going.”
Anthony sighed then said, “Jim I am an adult now and I have the right to decide where I can go. I wouldn’t be leaving if it wasn’t important man. I feel like something is calling me to see this through. I don’t know what my calling is bro but I am going to find out.”
Jim realized at that moment that Anthony wasn’t a kid anymore. He knew it was time to let Anthony make his own decisions. “Ok. Just give me a call when you have some answers. I want to know what’s going on with you.”
Anthony breathed a sigh of relief, “Will do bro.”
Anthony turned to see Amanda was standing there with their bags at her feet. She was listening intently to their conversation. He could tell she was worried about something but he just picked up the bags without saying a word. How could he explain to her that everything they were going through was for some kind of higher purpose and have it make sense to her. They never talked about Faith before and he had no idea what she believed. He made a mental note to talk about later with her.
A short time later they were on the road to Fargo. The only noise they could hear was the sound of the engine. They both sat in silence for most of the drive, neither knowing what to say. Anthony turned the radio on to break the silence feeling that hearing anything but the roar of the engine might help. The trucks radio only picked up AM radio stations so he fumbled with the dial until he found a music station. He didn’t like that most stations on AM radio were talk radio. The last thing he wanted to hear was more bad news from the world. He found a country station that was in the middle of playing, “I’m still a guy” by Brad Paisley. He always enjoyed this song so he stopped turning the dial. They did nothing but listen to the radio as the miles flew by. They arrived in Fargo barely an hour and twenty minutes later.
A thought occurred to him as they navigated the streets of Fargo. This was the first time he actually drove there by himself. He kind of chuckled to himself at that thought. Amanda noticed and couldn’t help but inquire as to “what was so funny.” She didn’t think it was all that funny as her state of mind was not in a very humorous place. She was actually really nervous inside because of what the Seminary meant to him. She was afraid that this calling in his life would come between them and he would choose it over her. She had no illusions about life and didn’t expect her happily ever after to actually come true.
They came to the private road that led to St. Andrews. She saw the old ornate church in front of her and was amazed. The architecture was so beautiful that her jaw literally dropped. Anthony saw it and chuckled again then said, “That was the same way I reacted when I first saw this place three years ago.” She smiled at that thought and couldn’t help but feel a little better. He drove the truck into the student parking lot. He turned to look at her after he shifted the truck into park. He knew he had to say something so he thought for a second before speaking. “I know your worried about something babe, but trust me on one thing. No matter what happens in here that my feelings for you won’t change. I really do love you.”
She swallowed hard before saying, “I love you too.”
The left their bags in the truck and walked inside, each step caused her heart to pound harder and harder. She felt as if her heart would explode by the time they got to the door. He opened the door and let her go in first. “The dorms are to the right here. I can show my old room later if you want. To the left is the recreation room. Ping pong is totally my game if you wanna play some after I am done with my meeting” He laughed a little before continuing, “The door on the other side of the recreation room leads down to the church and beyond that the faculty offices. It’s as good a place as any to find Father Byrnes.”
Amanda couldn’t help but look around at all the artwork and the feeling that she was lost was suddenly gone. She could feel the peace that flows in these hallowed halls. She didn’t think it was possible but she understood Anthony a bit better now.
They made it all the way past the church to the reception area. Anthony walked with a purpose like if he didn’t get there fast enough he might miss something. Amanda had to double her normal speed just to keep pace with him. They got there and the secretary was busy typing at her computer. She noticed their approach and got up to greet them. “Well, hello there young man. I didn’t think I was ever going to see you again.” She was a woman close to retirement who had faithfully served the Seminary for many, many years. She had the usual salt n pepper hair that goes with her age and a face that was wrinkled but still had some beauty to it. She always smelled like cigarettes because once an hour she would take her smoke break. She always reminded Anthony of his grandmother with the addition of the smoke smell.
Anthony couldn’t help but smile as he said, “Delores it is good to see you again. I was told to come here to meet with Father Byrnes. Is he available?”
“It’s good to see you too and I will check for you!” She was very eager to accommodate most requests and always smiled whenever she was done speaking.
Amanda sat down in the chair provided in the waiting area. She was less nervous than before but could not shake the feeling that she might be losing Anthony very soon. She doesn’t understand half of what has been going on and the other half scares her to death. She did her best to concentrate on this rather than what they saw on the news earlier. That would cause even greater worry and concern. She began to twist her hands together and rock back in forth. Anthony noticed this and turned to her saying, “What’s wrong? You seem extremely anxious about something. Can I do anything for you?” She could only shake her head no and she even did manage to fake a pretty convincing smile for him.
“Father Byrnes is in his office waiting for you and he said to come alone.” She said with a nod towards Amanda.
“All right. Thanks. Can you tell him I will be right there?”
“Sure, honey, take your time.” She said and gave that warm smile that Anthony realized he missed a great deal.
He turned to Amanda again, “Hey babe, I don’t know how long this will take. Will you be ok out here?” She could only nod her head for him.
“I will keep her company for you Anthony; in fact I will show her the library if she wants.”
Amanda did like the idea, reading being something she really enjoyed. “That would be awesome. Thanks. By the way I am Amanda.”
Delores extended her to shakes Amanda's as she said, “Delores. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Amanda shook her hand and returned Delores’s smile saying, “Thanks. You too!”
Anthony watched them walk away and he could only guess why she was so anxious about being here. He figured it must have something to do with him not knowing was he calling was. He turned and walked down the corridor to Father Byrnes office. This was a room he visited quite frequently when he was here. He looked forward to his spiritual direction sessions with Father Byrnes more than anything else. He knew as he knocked on the door that this would be quite different.
“Come on in Anthony.”
Anthony made his way in to see both Jonathan and Father Byrnes there. “Hello to both of you.”
They both returned his greeting but then Father Byrnes continued, “Let me start off by saying I am very sorry to hear about your mothers passing. On my next opportunity I will devote a mass for her soul.”
“Thanks Father, she would like that very much.”
“I am glad you got here as fast you did. The events of the past week have been quite alarming. The terrorist attacks today are probably the worst part altogether, although, I do have great concern about you and your life. Jonathan has filled me in the best he could and as such I fear you are too ill-prepared to deal with it.” Father Byrnes stopped there lifting his right hand before continuing, “That is also the past now. We must focus on the needs of the present.” He stopped to measure Anthony’s response.
Anthony’s remained calm knowing exactly what Father Byrnes was doing. Anthony spoke with the conviction, “I would like that as well. Jonathan has told me a few things but I feel there is more that I must hear, but I don’t know what exactly.”
“Always the eager student. You have been given a gift and a calling that goes along with that gift. The gift you are going to have forever, the calling is where you have a choice. I always hoped this would not happen in my lifetime, and wished that all the signs of the past century weren’t really there. I knew the truth of the matter when Jonathan came forward and talked about his visions. I knew there would be another because of what has been written.”
Anthony stopped him there saying, “Written where?”
Father Byrnes put his hand down before saying, “Scrolls of prophecy written almost a thousand years ago.”
Anthony raised his eyebrows. This was not an answer that he was expecting to hear. “What was written in them?”
Father Byrnes leaned back in chair, crossed his legs then said, “Many things, but pertaining to you and Jonathan quite a bit. I knew there would be two of you because with every Archangel there are always two Lieutenants.”
Anthony’s mind focused on that one word, “Archangel? As in Michael or Gabriel?”
“Yes but only in this case you belong to St. Raphael.”
Anthony thought back to his Old Testament classed then said, “St. Raphael helped Tobiah to heal Tobit using the fish parts, right?”
“Very good. Raphael is the one showing you the visions as per God’s Will.”
Anthony looked at Jonathan saying, “The fish on the balance of my sword is the symbol for St. Raphael isn’t it?”
Jonathan did not reply, he simply looked at Father Byrnes who spoke saying, “Yes. Now it’s time for us to discuss why you are here.”
Anthony swallowed hard; he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear this part. He was sure that Father Byrnes would tell him that all this meant he should continue on the path towards becoming a priest. How could he abandon Amanda and go towards the Priesthood after all that has happened. He wasn’t sure which path he would take from here so he decided to wait and hear what Father Byrnes had to say. One thing he learned from Father Byrnes was that rushing to judgment was usually a fool’s errand.
“You have been called to a greater life, Anthony and I pray you choose this life. It’s not going to be an easy road and the training required will test you to your very core. I ask you now to pledge yourself to the path and your calling. We need you.”
Anthony held his breath as he said, “I know in my heart I could never be a Priest and for that I am sorry. If that means I have to walk away right now I will. My heart belongs to someone else.”
Father Byrnes got a confused looked on his face. Anthony assumed Father Byrnes didn’t like the answer he received. “There seems to be a bit of confusion here. Your calling is NOT to the Priesthood my dear boy. It’s to Knighthood. You have been given an invitation to join the most secret Knighthood in existence. The Order of the Archangels. They have existed for nearly a thousand years. Their time to rise has finally come and they will need you both.”
Jonathan decided it was time for him to speak, “So that’s what I couldn’t tell you. I know how you feel, Anthony, being in the dark. I only found this out a little while ago myself.”
Anthony turned to Jonathan saying, “I understand Jonathan, no worries man.” He then turned his attention back to Father Byrnes, “Knighthood? I gotta say I did NOT see this coming. Of course I will join, only there is one complication.”
“Yes, your girlfriend. I am not quite sure what we can do about her. The Order does not prohibit relationships but given the fact that she is touched by evil makes this a very delicate situation.”
Anthony tried his best not to get excited but it showed when he next spoke. “Touched by evil? She was their slave and I freed her. I promised her my protection and I won’t fail her, Father. She has a good heart and I think she may even be developing her own Faith or least that is my hope.”
Father Byrnes asked the obvious question, “Does she have any family she can stay with?”
Anthony shook his head before “No. If she does have any family they are probably slaves to Remus as well. I was hoping she could stay here at the Seminary. I know it would easier for all parties involved if you allowed her to stay in the same dorm suite as me.”
Father Byrnes nodded as he said, “That is possible but who is this Remus you mentioned?”
Anthony realized that he was sitting on crucial information and for once he not the last to know something. “He was the one who was controlling Amanda and still controls my old friend Charles. I am not sure but I think he might be a Nephilim.”
Father Byrnes eyes went wide, “Nephilim? If they are here already we must make haste in your training. Are you sure, what evidence do you have of this?”
Anthony shrugged as he said, “I know what it felt like when he confronted me. It was like slowly dying inside and cold, almost freezing. I am pretty sure he at least a demon but Amanda mentioned meeting his father and them discussing the Nephilim. She didn’t know what the word meant and neither did I until I looked it up. So are they supposed to be here?”
A solemn look over took the Priests face as he said, “In the great scrolls they were mentioned as a dark force that would arise in this time. Heaven help us if they are already here.”
They concluded the meeting then arranged a time for them to gather in the church for Anthony and Jonathan’s swearing in ceremony so they can officially become part of the Order. Anthony asked if he could bring Amanda and was given permission. He walked away hoping he knew everything now. He didn’t want any more secrets to be held over his head. He walked past reception and towards the library where he would give the news to Amanda. He was worried about how she would take this news. He punched in the security code for the door and entered.
Amanda was very anxious to see him again. She was pacing back in forth barely reading the book she picked out. Delores was nowhere to be found. He walked up behind her and called her name. She turned and upon seeing the look on his face she began to cry. She could tell from the look on his face that he chose his path and it was here. She felt like he was abandoning her and there was nothing she could do about it.
Anthony lifted his arms to embrace her but she moved away. So he said, “Why are you crying babe?”
Through tear soaked yes she looked at him and said,“You’re going to become a Priest. That leaves no place for me in your life.”
The fact that she was thinking the exact same thing as him before he found out about the Order made him chuckle. “No. I am not going to be a Priest. My calling is to become a Knight and you have been given permission to stay here with me while I train.” She wrapped her arms around him before he was able to say, “Besides, I would have refused the Priesthood anyway. I can’t live without you.”
She held her breath as she looked up at him then pulled his head down to kiss him. After a moment she pulled away and said, “I still don’t think I deserve you.”
Anthony gave her his usual half smile and said, “Lucky for the both of us then that isn’t for us to decide.”
She smiled and kissed him again this time letting it linger just a bit longer. He wasn’t sure what the future holds for him but if she is with him then he will endure any challenge. He felt an unbelievable amount of joy as he showed her around the Seminary. He took her to his old dorm room which he would now be able to call his own again. He realized he longed to share this part of his life with her for a very long time. As he showed her his room he decided that before the ceremony tonight he would take her to his spot by the river. That more than anything is something he wanted to share with her.
He left her in his room so he could bring in their luggage and helped her to get settled into her room. The dorm suite was basically one room that was divided into two. The middle of the room had a partition that was made of the closet, desk and sink area. There was a crawl space above them but it took a ladder or a really good climber to get over the partition. They could talk to each other over the partition and it would be like sharing a room again. Anthony realized it was unorthodox for a woman to be staying in this dorm. He guessed that in light of the times at hand, certain things had to be allowed.
When Anthony was sure that she was settled good enough he asked her to go for a walk with him. They exited out the rear dormitory doors and walked down to the river. It was a short distance, maybe 200 feet, to his spot. They walked down to where there was a peninsula that jutted out and caused the river to bend around it. This was his spot. He explained how this is where he would go when he needed a break from his studies or from the other Seminarians. He sat down on the same spot where just three months ago he decided to leave. He smiled as he watched the river float by and thought that for once his life was on course.