Chapter 1 Surfacing
This is how I became God…
The unrelenting darkness filled the space surrounding me, but the light within my soul kept the demons scratching just beyond the world I knew as my own. Their screams of torment echoed inside my mind as they tried to reach inside the light, but the brilliance of the hope illuminating from within kept me safe against all danger. With my God unable to save me from this desolate space, he allowed his undying light to stay safe within my body for protection against perils this place would contain.
No matter how hard the light tried to keep the suffering beyond itself, the unbearable pain ripped through my body with no remorse. The coldness blistered against my skin causing misery to enter my core. Searing agony shot through all my extremities right back into my heart. I prayed for a lack of feeling, a sense of deadness to enter me, but in the eternity I spent alone it never came.
Wrapping my arms tightly around me as a shield against the frigid air I felt it biting into my fingers. I lifted them up briefly to see them turning black fearing the light would diminish as the darkness consumed me I prayed harder to my God to save me from this Hell.
As I strayed further into the void, I searched for the fire to touch my skin and free me from the bitter air. The fire is not what I desired, but the slight transition would bring peace to my now frozen body. The ever-changing sands whipped wildly around while I could feel the darkness consuming more of what my body held inside. As I collapsed down unto myself I prayed harder for my God to save me from the darkness ready to devour all I had left.
Her tranquil and harmonious voice came once more just as it had done several times before. Never once would she allow me to look at her when she came to visit. She always remained a simple woman’s voice with a melody calling inside. Often I wondered during her visits if she could not enter the light. “My darling priestess, your light is brighter than before. Are you still continuing to pray for aid from Apollo?”
“He is all I have left,” I answered causing my teeth to chatter against themselves. “How many years have passed since I’ve died?”
“The gods have crossed the sea and gathered a new following.” The voice responded as best she could, I assumed. “Odd though with their new people, they have all taken new names.”
Trying my best to shake the ice from my skin I questioned, “What should I call my god now? What new name has he taken?”
“My darling priestess, he is still the Phoebus Apollo you call your own,” She laughed, “He refused a new name declaring he was still the same therefore his name shall remain.”
Before I even noticed the change, I ran through the narrow paneled hallway towards my parent’s room. The chill removed itself from my body as I found myself now dressed in a light pink one piece footie pajama outfit. Reaching up grabbing a hold of the silver door handle and as I turned it, the door opened freely. I cried out into the darkness of their room for my mother.
“Dear Lord! Charles, wake up!” My mother’s frightened scream, scared me even more than the storm looming above the house.
“She is just having another nightmare because the power went out. Send her back to bed.” My father’s voice sounded heavy with sleep.
The panic in her voice stayed in the forefront as I could hear her aggressively pushing him around in the bed trying to get him to sit up. “Charles, look at her!”
“Good God, she’s glowing!” My father exclaimed wide awake now. Although I couldn’t see them in the shadow of their own room, the tiny hallway lit around me filling out into their doorway. I could hear them rushing to get out of the bed and waiting for them to enter the light shining on the wood paneling walls seemed to be an eternity.
I shuttered as the sound of thunder vibrated through the walls of the house keeping me safe from the storm. Fear struck through my childish figure thinking the storm would tear away the walls at any moment leaving me alone once more in the darkness which consumed the inside my nightmares. Death ripped wildly about the outside of the house trying to find a way in to take me.
“Bree!” A man’s gruff voice came calling from somewhere around me, but it was unrecognizable. “Bree! Wake up!”
Glancing back to where my parents would come for me, their bedroom before me shook and slowly dissolving. When they disappeared right before my eyes I cried out for them, but there was no point when my body shook. Suddenly the house vanished around me leaving me alone once more inside the darkness, just like I feared. Death came to take me.
“Bree! Come on it is time to get up!” The unfamiliar voice came once more causing me to scream out into the nothingness as it incinerated me.
My cry for help faded as my dream became lost and I finally opened my eyes to look straight at a man with dark brown hair falling just over his somewhat bushy eyebrows. I gazed into his deep blue eyes trying to find an answer to who he was. Rifling through my memories, I couldn’t find him in any of them. Every memory inside me halted as the world inside my mind disappeared.
Concern wore through his wide eyes as I studied every inch of his face trying to piece together my life. This man who brought me back into the world from the darkness seemed familiar, but I could not place his face in my memories. With such a slender face, his thin lips seemed nearly invisible against his natural tan skin.
“Bree, where are you? Hello?” His voice lingered, but I still couldn’t remember him. “You will be late for work if you don’t get up.”
“Work?” I repeated the word hoping it would help me discover what I seemed to forget. Without warning, I watched years of my life passing by through my mind. The adoption, birthdays, Christmases, and I could see the young man now standing in front of me growing up. I watched my life pick up again, ending with me standing behind a counter, in a room filled to the brim with books, bored out of my mind. “Work!”
“Welcome back.” Dave smiled and stepped away from me. “Where were you?”
I apologized as I sat up looking around to see the small entertainment center filled with video game consoles. The television hung up on the wall and all the lamps in the room were off. The coffee table sitting right in front of me full of Dave’s books and note pads seemed unsettling organized. With no curtains on the windows, I noticed it was still fairly dark in our living room.
This wasn’t where I expected to wake up. “Why am I on the couch?”
“Don’t ask me. When I came home last night you were right there, passed out cold.” Dave started off toward the kitchen. “Since you are running late, would you like me to get you some breakfast?”
After rubbing the nightmares of memories from my eyes I stared blankly at the clock trying to remember anything from last night. The cheap black frame held inside it the time, but it couldn’t answer the question digging into my stomach. “Dave?”
“What is today?”
Dave laughed from the kitchen, “If I were you, I would be more worried about getting ready since you have a little less than an hour to get to the library. Trust me, you look like you need a shower.”
“Dave,” I asked again, “Just tell me what day it is.”
His blue eyes flashed from around the corner, “Tuesday. What happened to you?”
“I don’t remember. My brain is on some kind of overload right now.” I scrambled trying to recall anything from last night that would bring all those forgotten nightmares back plaguing me.
“Overload? Bree, you just woke up. Overload is when you can’t go to sleep.” Things banged things around in the kitchen. “You will have to come up with a better excuse and an apology for screaming in my face.”
“I’m sorry, but you scared me.” I got up noticing not only did I fall asleep in the living room, but I was still dressed from the day before. Dave was right, I even felt like I needed a shower. Mostly to wash away the nightmares from my mind.
After my short, and not so helpful shower I still could remember nothing since work yesterday. Everything, within that time, seemed lost until Dave woke me from the horrid dreams overwhelming me. Those were times I gladly forgot about, yet I still couldn’t understand why suddenly they had come back haunting me.
“Hey Bree, I made you breakfast!” Dave announced from the kitchen as I finished putting on a light coat of lip gloss. “A lovely toasted cinnamon and raisin bagel.”
“What would I do without you?”
Dave walked back into the living room with a huge grin on his face and the bagel in his hand wrapped in a paper towel, “Well for starters you would be looking for a new job. You would be starving, I’m sure, without this bagel. And for best for last, you would be homeless since I am paying half the rent here.”
“Well, aren’t you a knight in shining, um,” I chuckled at him as he stood there in front of me shirtless. His muscles bulged out from underneath his skin. After years of wrestling, he looked somewhat like a short body builder, “Shorts?”
Dave flexed his muscles as best as he could as he held the bagel he had made for me. I leaned over and kissed him lightly on the cheek. “Couldn’t ask for anything more, could you?”
“I wouldn’t go that far, but at the moment you are the best.” I took my bagel from him before grabbing my yellow backpack and flinging it over my shoulder. As I looked back at him he pretended as though he was deeply wounded. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
“I’ll be fine.” Dave wiped away the fake tears. “If all we have is right now, I guess I will take it.”
Glancing down at my watch I noticed I was running later than I thought. “Hey, aren’t you going to be late for class?”
“The greatest thing about being a guy, all I have to do to get ready is put on some shoes and a shirt. I also have a car which can get me from here to there quickly.” Dave threw himself on the old couch our mother used to own. When we moved out, she gave it to us willingly. I guess the thought of a brand new sofa in her house seemed like a better idea than making us come up with money we didn’t have to buy one. “So I have time before I have to get ready unlike you. Unless you want a ride?”
“You know it won’t happen.” I waved to the egomaniac lying on the couch, “Bye Dave.”
As I exited our apartment building to the street, the cool fall breeze greeted me. Turning to the east I found the sun’s rays were almost cut off by the dense haze of the clouds. In the sky, I found an odd colorless obscured by the thick cloud laying on the ground. I followed it until the mist dissipated and lifted leaving me blinded by the brilliant light.
As the heat hit my skin, the strange dream from not more than an hour ago came crawling back into my mind. A sudden chill ran through my spine causing each hair on the back of my neck to rise. The shadows wrapped around me in each one if I could separate them into two different nightmares. Alienated from the darkness with the radiant light shining through me. What confused me, stood the fact, I couldn’t remember anything when I woke up.
My temporary amnesia plagued the inside my mind until I finally arrived at the school. I kept telling myself I didn’t need to worry about the dreams and I didn’t need to dissect them into something else. At least that is what I declared as I pulled the school id badge from my bag and hung it around my neck. Now is the time for work, not the therapist.
Closing my eyes and inhaling the last breath of fresh air I pushed through the door. I found my way to the next set of double doors that would hold me captive for the next eight and a half hours. The trip through the hallway didn’t take long at all, but before the morning classes, it seemed like a gloomy place to be. Every step I took it echoed off the walls and the ceiling until I finally turned to stand in front of the room where I belonged.
As I entered the library, I exhaled my last breath of freedom, then gradually took in the stale air. Looking around, I saw everything remained as I left it yesterday. I took my time as I flicked on the switches turning on the florescent lights. An explosion of light entered from above casting shadows into all the corners. Before going to the desk where I would remain for the rest of the day, I turned on the computers. A quick flicker came from each of the screens before I moved to the next one.
Cora’s obnoxious voice echoed through the columns of books as I pulled out my chair from the counter. “Bree, can you do me a huge favor?”
“Shh.” I pressed my finger to my lips hushing her as she came into view. Her loud insufferable tone came with a surprising decent envelope. Her bubbly personality came with unnatural golden blonde hair with even lighter highlights trailing down through. Sparkling cheeks glowed in the light as a ton of make-up leaned on the counter. “This is a library, remember?”
She tried her best to giggle quietly. “How could I forget? Listen, I talked to Mrs. Tillman to see about switching my shift for the next two weeks. She told me to ask you.”
“Three to eleven?” The thought of working the long shift agitated my thoughts. Well, it wasn’t any longer than this shift, it seemed like it. After working the second shift for a little over a year, it thrilled me when I finally got offered this one. “Just for two weeks right?”
“Two weeks. I promise.” Clasping her hands together she prayed for me to say yes, “I have to watch my little sister while my mom goes on her honeymoon. I can do the day-shift because she will be in school. Can you help me out? Please?”
“Um,” She paused momentarily as she removed herself from begging to tap her fingertips exasperatingly on the counter. “Tomorrow?”
“Why didn’t you ask me before now?” I tried my best remain calm at the unexpected request. “I mean if your mom was leaving then you would have known this for a while now, right?”
Her bright green eyes shined radiantly in the sun shining through the window above, “Well, I was so busy helping her with the wedding I didn’t even think about it. I also thought my sister would have gone to stay at our dad’s.”
“All right.” I sighed, “Just for two weeks though.”
“So,” Cora let out a long awkward yawn, “I have been meaning to ask you something else.”
“I’m all out of favors this morning, Cora,” I growled.
She held up her hands moving back away from the counter. “No, I was just wondering about Dave.”
“Oh,” I eased up. “What about him?”
“I was just wondering when his next match is.” She asked sheepishly.
Just as I thought. “Tonight at eight, but he has one next week. You could go see that one since I will be working your shift.”
Cora leaned in on the counter, “So are you two a thing or what?”
“A thing?” I laughed, “He’s like my brother.”
“So you wouldn’t mind if I asked him out?” A flash of hope whirled through her eyes.
“Ask him, date him, marry him.” I almost made myself sick. “Don’t marry him. No offense, but I don’t know if I’d want you as a sister.”
“Thanks.” Cora seemed disgusted with me now. “I’ll see you at three then.”
She quickly turned throwing back her blonde hair and sauntered out the two doors separating me from the world. Tomorrow evening I would be stuck here with her shift. After doing it before I thoroughly detested each minute worse than now.
Glancing at the large clock on the wall I watched as it struck seven o’clock. Taking my seat I officially started the extensive day. I sat there in the same spot for nearly three hours checking out books and collecting the ones being returned. Finally, after I nearly filled up the cart, I could be released from my seat. I rejoiced in being able to move around to replenish the bookshelves.
Before I could be freed from the counter, I filed the books in a semblance of order, but I found one completely out of place. Actually, as I looked it over, it didn’t belong here in the library at all. I flipped open the cover hoping there was a name in it, but I couldn’t find one. I flipped through the pages hoping for something to let me know who it could belong to. I didn’t even make it halfway through when a name caught me by surprise. I held the spot as I flipped it over again studying the cover again with a bust of Zeus.
Opening the book back up I read the name that gained my attention, “Apollo, God of light, prophecy, and healing, not to be confused with Helios God of the Sun.”
“My darling priestess, he is still is the Phoebus Apollo that you call your own.” The eerie voice from my dream resurfaced.
After shutting the book I studied the cover for some time. “Why am I dreaming about Greek Mythology?”
I searched what memories I had from old history classes remembering Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, and a few others and Apollo. Why Apollo though? He was a lesser God, the son of Zeus. Apollo, the God of light. Light? Could Apollo’s light be the one in my dream protecting me from the evil outside of it?
“Apollo has left for a new land.”
“He left?” The news frightened me more than the demons grasping for me through the darkness.
“Yes, it is now the time for you to accept his fate and yours. I have done as he wished and forbid him from this world.” Hades’ voice brought me to a standstill in the searing flames eating my flesh. It fell into the blaze as I watched them burst into small flames of their own.
“My god is finished. “I cried unable to produce any tears.
“No, my dearest. Not finished, only beginning.” Hades laughed suddenly, chilling the air around me and causing my heart to break even more. “But he will never be your Apollo again.”
“Excuse me? Hello?” A voice broke into me not belonging to the world I was seeing. “Hello? Can I have this?”
Just as before the scene in front of me faded when I found myself once more back in the library. A man now stood in front of the desk grasping the book I clung to. “I accidentally brought this in and I would like it back. If you would just let it go.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” I studied the cover holding the bearded god made of carved stone, “I was just looking to see if it had a name in it.”
I released the book into his hands. As he turned and walked away, I smacked myself with the palm of my hand. “Get out of my head.”
I tried to push Apollo and the rest of my thoughts to the back of my mind as I attempted to get through the workday. I did, however, check out a book of Greek Mythology to take home. The thought of Apollo nagged at the back of my mind, no matter how hard I fought against it. If I had any more episodes, I would make sure I am safe within the walls of my bedroom, not out in the world for everyone to see.
The clock ticked closer to three o’clock, and I quickly gathered up everything into my bag when I saw Cora strut through the double wooden doors. Without a word spoken between us, I waved and started on my way home. Relieved to be out of there I pushed myself passed the students in the hallways. It didn’t take long before I found myself once again outside in the intense sunlight. Stretching in the fresh air I released the strangulating feeling that took over my body since walking through the doors.
The walk back to the apartment had been quicker than I expected. As soon as I reached my bedroom, I opened all the windows allowing the crisp new air to circulate inside. Looking at the clock I realized there would be about an hour before Dave would arrive. Before I realized it I had the book in my hands and stretched out comfortably on my bed ready to dive into the unknown.
I read everything inside the book regarding Apollo, but nothing made sense with my last vision. Apollo was never cast down to the underworld. His son, Asclepius, had been, but never him. As for my dreams last night, they seemed to follow with everything I read. When the Roman’s adopted the Greek God’s, they renamed almost all of them, but Apollo kept his name.
Hades’ voice came once more through my mind reminding me Apollo left to go to another new land. In this book, it told how Apollo was like many other Gods in so many other religions. Quickly I pulled out a notebook and jotted down the different religions that had similarities between Apollo and their Gods. Staring at the list of five names, Hittite God, Arab God Hobal, Assyro-Babylonian Su God Shamash-Utu, Nordic Sun God and Celts. I ran the history of religions through my mind.
Christianity is the only religion to bring down Roman Mythology. According to this book, the Greeks got Apollo from the Hittite God, the Arab God Hobal, and the sun God Shamash-Utu, but only noted the similarity between the Nordic and Celtic Gods. Would that be where Apollo ran after Christianity took over? Christianity didn’t spread so far north or perhaps he left before Christianity even reached Rome. What if he left before Christianity even thrived as a religion? If he ran north, would that be the new land the woman spoke of?
The big question swirling through my mind the entire time was: What in the world does any of this have to do with me? Visions, dreams whatever I could call them must have developed from somewhere. Not once at any point in my life had I given this more than a single thought. The first dream coexisted with a real memory, and the bright light illuminating from my skin appeared in both.
“Hey, are you almost ready?” Dave’s voice broke into my thoughts causing me to jump up off the bed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s okay.” I tossed the book and papers on my nightstand as the time on the clock stood out, “What the? It’s almost seven thirty.”
“Yeah, that is why I asked if you were ready.” Dave jogged in place, “I figured I would walk over with you tonight.”
“Okay, but I have to get ready.” I couldn’t believe I lost so much time. “Just give me five minutes.”
I headed passed Dave towards the bathroom as he went into my room. “So what were you doing?”
“Just reading about the Greeks,” I answered.
“Yes.” I entered back into my room pulling my hair up into a ponytail. “Is there something wrong with that? I think they are kind of neat.”
“Since when did you get interested in this stuff?” Dave lifted the book. “I mean, it isn’t normal reading. Is it?”
I ripped the book out of his hand and placed it back neatly in my bag out of sight. “You know if it wasn’t for the Greeks you probably wouldn’t be wrestling tonight.”
“Still it isn’t normal for you to be reading this.”
“Someone brought it in and I started reading it. Is that okay with you?” I directed Dave towards the door. “Are you ready?”
“If you are.”
Dave walked so fast I could barely keep up with him. He should have mentioned beforehand about wanting to walk with me because now he was late. “So why did you walk with me tonight?”
It took two full strides just to keep up with one of his. “Well, it has been so long since I’ve taken the time to walk with you, I figured tonight would be a good night before it gets really cold out. Next time I am driving and you are coming with me.”
“I don’t see that one happening,” I announced hoping he would get the point, but he did this every so often.
Dave never took his eyes off the destination in front of us, but he finally slowed his pace allowing me to keep up. “Bree, it has been almost ten years. I think you should just take a short drive with me to see that it is alright to ride in a car again.”
“Ten, twenty, or thirty, I don’t care. They scare me to death and I should be dead right now with my parents.” I snarled picking up my speed hoping the sooner we got there the shorter the conversation would be.
“How many times have I wrecked since I’ve started driving?” Dave threw his arm around my shoulders slowing me down.
“Not once, but are you trying to say my dad was a bad driver because he wasn’t? Don’t you dare say it was a freak accident because if I hear it one more time I will slap you so hard that…” I found myself lost in what I wanted to say so I let my voice draw to an end as did the conversation.
We walked in silence until the gymnasium came into sight, “Hey, I have to get in there. Will you wait for me when it’s over?”
“Go,” I pushed him towards his destination.
After watching him disappear into the side doors, I headed around to the front of the building. While filing into the building with the crowd, the gloom came encircling me again, but the light fought back against it. Quickly I shook the images from my mind as I found a seat near the back of the bleachers. I found a perfect spot away from everyone else allowing full advantage of watching everything.
I always came to support Dave, but I’ll admit I enjoy watching the people more. It was amazing; I thought how excited they got watching two men grope each other and throw each other around. Wrestling is not a sport I am into but Dave was. Since we were family, it seemed necessary to show my support.
My eyes fell on the two men now having their time in the spotlight. Some people were screaming at them while others cheered. As each match ended, I watched the crowd either cheer or jeer in unison. I searched for faces within the group I could recognize from the library. None of them I knew by name, but there were quite a few who came in frequently. Most of the students I saw regularly were quite into wrestling, but those also happened to be the people who needed to be tutored as well. They were trying to keep up with their grades while spending most of their time bothering with extracurricular activities.
Dave finally got his chance in the spotlight, and I honestly tried to gain interest, I couldn’t. I watched him wrestle so many times before it did not differ from when he would play video games. I scanned the audience as they cheered for him. This being a home match, he had the advantage for praises from the crowd.
It didn’t take me long to become bored with the match so I scanned the crowd again. When they all jumped up as Dave remained undefeated I saw one man remain firmly planted in his seat. He was not applauding or even enthused by the sport. He looked more out of place than me.
Hair fell below his jawline covering most of his face causing a black cascade to disrupt my visualization of his entire face. Thin colorless lips were lifeless among the cheering around him. He sat with his elbows placed squarely on each one of his knees with his hands brought together in the middle. He leaned in closer studying Dave while he received his praise. His head followed Dave as he left the gymnasium allowing two other men to have their turn.
I caught myself leaning closer towards this man across the gym trying to gain a better look. When Dave vanished this man slowly turned back to watch the other men. I kept watching him keenly as his head raised slightly as if something caused him alarm. With no warning I caught myself staring straight into his eyes.
Gasping, I tried to pull my gaze from his, but I became completely awe-struck. At first, I assumed it transpired with the intention of his stare or even the dark crimson eyes. However, the longer he held my attention, the more I noticed his perfection. Black hair framing a face, I am sure, emerged from sculpted marble. Glowing garnet eyes appeared to be the only thing standing out against his pallid skin. His age couldn’t be described because no lines existed denoting he was older, which made him look younger than me. His eyes conveyed he could have been much, much older.
My eyes left his briefly when I saw his lifeless lips gain strength to bring a slight upturn to one side. As he bit his lower lip, it caused the start of his grin to disappear. Glancing back up I watched his eyes turn into more of the intense stare he watched Dave with. His eyes slowly closed as he let out his lip again.
My pulse raced through my veins as I never known it to do before. My fingers clenched the seat beneath me with an eagerness waiting for his eyes to open again. I wanted his gaze to be on me once more, but as he opened them he lowered them keeping them firmly planted on the two men on the floor.