Rise of the Savior: Acolyte of Truth

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Chapter 3

Four days later, a portal opens over the bed in Jamie’s moonlit bedroom. He falls through it, bringing sprinkles of sand down with him, before the portal closes and disappears.

Jamie rises like a vampire coming out of a coffin, panting and feeling his chest for bullet wounds. He can’t believe how gritty and dirty he is. What happened? Was it all a dream? It had to be! Thank God. It was just a dream.

He feels something sticking him in the side, so he reaches into his pocket, pulls out his cell phone, and presses a button. It’s dead, so he connects it to the charger, then switches it back on. He flops his head back on the pillow, letting out a sigh of relief, and falls asleep until the sun wakes him up.

His cell phone rings. He lets out a yawn and picks it up. “Hello,” he says, exhausted.

“Where have you been?” Megan sobs.

“Why do you care? You didn’t come home last night! Don’t call crying because you feel sorry for what you’ve done. What I do is no longer your business. I want a divorce!” he fumes.

“Come to the hospital. Lucas isn’t doing well,” she blubbers.

“He was fine when I saw him yesterday. What’s wrong with him?” Jamie rubs his face but is surprised to find a full beard and mustache where the skin was smooth before. He pulls at it, making sure it’s real, then rushes to the bathroom to look in the mirror, only to drop his phone in shock.

“W-what’s going on?” he sputters. His wife is still yelling through the phone, so he quickly picks it up and places it to his ear.

“You’ve been gone for four days! Please, just come to the hospital,” she begs.

“On my way.” He hangs up the phone and checks to see what day it is in puzzlement. It’s true—four days have passed. Come on, get a grip. There has to be some type of logical explanation for what’s going on. I’ll just find out later. Your son needs you now.

He smells a foul odor coming from himself and decides to bathe first. Ten minutes later, he goes outside and sees that his car is missing, much to his frustration.

After arriving at the hospital, Jamie enters his son’s room and sees him asleep with bandages around his head. Megan sits in the corner with her head down, reading a book.

“Looks like he’s sleeping like a baby.” The sound of Jamie’s voice startles Megan.

“I’m sorry. Do I know you?” She closes her book and approaches Jamie.

“Megan, I don’t have time for stupid games. Our son is lying in a hospital bed. Now, tell me what’s wrong!” he snaps.

“Jamie? Is that you?” She grabs his beard and yanks on it to see if it’s real. “Why do you look like this?”

“I’m guessing our son is doing fine, since you’re so concerned about how I look. What happened? Did he hit his head at the park or something?”

“No!” Megan shoves him out of the room. “You know why he’s sleeping like a baby: heavy pain meds. I tell you your son is in the hospital, and it literally takes you hours to get here,” she says furiously.

“I was busy—”

“Right, busy. Always putting stuff before your family. It’s what I can’t stand about you. But anyway, your son has . . .” Megan begins to tear up.

“He has what?” Jamie frets.

“He had a seizure after you left. When it stopped, he woke up with partial weakness on the left side of the body and disorientation. I thought it was heatstroke or something, but it was worse. A skull computerized tomography scan showed a deep-seated, irregularly-shaped expansive lesion on the right side of his brain, with peripheral contrast uptake impinging on and obstructing the cerebrospinal fluid pathways. Surgery was performed to relieve some of the pressure off his brain, and they took a sample of the tumor for a biopsy. Now, I’m just waiting for the results.” She sniffles.

“A brain tumor? This is all your fault!” he shouts. “If you’d gotten him to his doctor’s appointment two weeks ago, maybe something could have been done sooner! He might not be in this condition!” Jamie chastises, pacing back and forth.

“You’re not making this any easier. Just leave!” Megan commands. Their shouting match draws the attention of nurses.

“I need to be here for my son!” he thunders.

“Please, just leave. I don’t want to make an even bigger scene; it wouldn’t be good for any of us,” she whines, then goes to her chair and begins bawling.

Jamie gives her a long stare. “Alright, fine. I’ll leave. But I’ll be back tomorrow to check on my son.” He storms away, fighting back tears. “It’s not fair!” He wipes away his tears with his sleeve.

He goes to the chapel in the hospital and closes the door behind him. He walks to the front and stares at a large crucifix.

“It’s not fair!” he screams. A warping sound comes from the back of the chapel, but Jamie is too distraught to hear it. “I dedicate my entire life to helping people who don’t deserve it, and they waste their lives. But you’re going to take away a kid with so much potential. He wants to be a doctor, just like me. But you don’t care, do you? Answer me! Why won’t you answer?” He drops to his knees, feeling defeated. He goes into a child’s pose and begins to cry.

“Maybe you’re praying to the wrong god,” a deep voice gibes from the back of the chapel.

Jamie quickly stands to his feet and turns around to see someone sitting in the corner of the chapel. The tall stranger is wearing a black robe with a hood over their head, not revealing any part of their body.

“Look, I don’t want any problems. Just leave me alone,” he grumbles, then turns back around and looks at the crucifix.

“I’ve left you alone long enough, Jamie. You need me now more than ever. Your life is falling apart, and your son is sick. I can’t make you any promises, but maybe your son doesn’t have to die a slow, painful death,” the deep voice says.

“Wait, how do you know about my—” Jamie turns around and sees the person is gone. He looks up at the ceiling and sees something running around quickly, jumping from corner to corner. He’s barely able to keep up with how fast the figure is moving.

“What are you?” he asks fearfully, trying and failing to follow him with his eyes. A growl prickles next to his ear, and a long black snout appears in his peripheral vision. He wheels around and sees a vicious dog with its teeth bared.

“I’m your god, now kneel before me,” the dog figure says, towering above Jamie.

Jamie falls to the ground and backs away. He looks up, terrified by what he sees. “What do you want from me? What are you?” he whimpers.

“I’m Chigaru, the deity of death. There’s nothing you can offer me but entertainment as my acolyte of death.” Chigaru stands tall above him, holding an ankh and a divine scepter, which he points at Jamie. “Within you lies a power that can bring people death and possibly more. What you choose to do with this power is of your own free will.”

“This isn’t real. I have to be dreaming,” he says frantically.

“You can waste time in a state of denial, or you can start saving your son. Do you want my help or not?” Chigaru jeers.

Jamie’s fear quickly turns into desperation as he looks up at Chigaru’s face. “Yes, I want your help.”

Chigaru holds out his divine scepter. “Grab on with both hands.”

Jamie does as he’s told. “Now what?”

“Now, it’s time to see which powers your true nature unlocks.” Chigaru thrusts his scepter into Jamie’s chest, making him scream in pain as blood seeps out around the scepter.

“Now, let the fun begin,” Chigaru laughs as Jamie continues to scream until he faints.

Jamie wakes with a start in complete darkness. There is nothing above, around, or below him. For a moment, he wonders if he’s dead.

“Hello?” Jamie yells out. A brown door opens, showcasing a white void. He walks through, and the door disappears.

A chair quickly comes rolling behind Jamie from deep within the white void. It scoops him up, sweeping his feet from under him, and continues to roll until it arrives in front of a standing man who looks like him, only wearing a hood. Half of his body looks like a white film negative, and the other half looks like the inverted version of one. They both stare at each other for a few seconds.

“So, am I dead?” Jamie wonders dolefully.

The multicolored Jamie puts on a fixed smile. “Not even close.” A TV floats down in front of Jamie and shows him an image of himself, unconscious in the chapel. “Your real body is in the chapel right now. You can’t control your physical body while in this realm of thought, but there are benefits to being here. Learning the abilities to save your son, for example.”

Jamie sits slack jawed. “What? I don’t understand what’s going on right now. What are you? Where are we?” He covers his face and sighs with frustration.

“Jamie, calm down! No need to get worked up. Since you’re the acolyte of death, that makes me the kundalini of death, and I’ve been lying in the base of your spine. But calling me ‘kundalini’ is a little formal, so just call me Grim. I’ve been with you since birth but was just recently activated by your deity when you accepted his help and he stuck his scepter into you. I’m a divine energy that can either create or destroy depending on who you are as a person. Right now, you’re at a crisis point in your life because of everything going on. Your wife cheated on you, and now your kid might die. You’re a good person, but your mind is in a dark state right now, leaving you vulnerable to bad decisions—like murdering your wife. I’m a part of you, so I know you thought about doing that. It still sits in your mind because you’re blaming her for everything that’s happening. This crossroads between good and evil in you affects me too, which is why I look like this. I’m the embodiment of good and evil, and the question I’m about to ask you will determine what happens next in your life. Are you willing to kill to save your son?”

“Yes, I will do what it takes to save my son. There are plenty of people out there who doesn’t deserve to live. I work on them all the time at the hospital,” Jamie answers without hesitation.

“That’s all I needed to hear. You’re willing to kill, and my wanting you to kill should sync us together.” Grim turns completely inverted, like a film negative. “If you didn’t mean what you said, then what I’m getting ready to do will destroy you, and your son will die.”

“Wait, what are you getting ready to do?”

“Give you the power to kill!” Grim says.

“How will that save my son?”

“Trust me, it will. So, are you confident in your own words?” Grim asks.

“Yes!”

Grim points his finger toward Jamie, and his fingernail grows to a sharp point and extends until it punctures Jamie in the chest. He grabs at his chest and screams in pain.

Grim trips Jamie to the ground and sits on top of him, then puts both of his hands on his stomach and pushes down. Jamie’s body jerks as though he’s been shocked by a defibrillator, and he continues to scream in pain, but slowly starts to calm down.

“Looks like you meant what you said. Welcome to the dark side!” Grim grins.

Jamie feels a burning sensation on his stomach and looks down to see what’s causing it. A circular maze appears around his belly button. Jamie gets up, dusting himself off. “I’m glad that’s over. Hopefully all that pain was worth it. Now what?”

Large golden Egyptian bracelets with many tiny holes covering them drop down. “Those bracelets are energy links that are a direct source to my powers and will allow you to use the abilities I teach you. Put the energy links on your wrists, and they’ll appear on your real body, too. Now, I must warn you, once these are on, you can’t take them off even if you try.”

Jamie picks up the bracelets and puts them on his wrists. “That’s fine. Now what?”

“There was more to what I was saying, but I’ll let you figure out what it is when you’re back in your world. Okay, we’ve wasted enough time. Let me teach you a few useful things right now. Then, you can come back later to practice. I’m not sure how long you can lie there uninterrupted. Anything you learn and practice in here, you’ll be able to do in the real world with the links I gave you. The laws of physics don’t apply here, so you’ll be able to do things here with your powers easily. But back on your world, using these powers will be much harder and will take a toll on your body. When you touch someone for three seconds, they’ll start to decay until they turn into dust—anything less than that will just age their bones. Before someone dies, they’ll hear a large church bell ring. Next, I’ll show you how to completely immobilize someone. A tiny bit of fear is all a person needs for you to amplify that fear by a thousand to freeze them in their tracks. Like this.” Grim’s eyes begin sparkling red.

“N-no. I’m sorry! P-please don’t hurt me!” Jamie shivers, trying to turn away, but he can’t. Grim’s eyes go back to normal, and Jamie stops trembling. “That was a terrible feeling. I felt like you were going to kill me, but I was too scared to do anything!”

“That power is at your disposal. Being the acolyte of death, it’s important to be able to lurk in the shadows.” Two circular shadows appear a few feet apart from each other. Grim walks over to one, sinks into it, and begins to move as a separate shadow across the ground of the white void until he reaches the other circular shadow, which he then reappears from. “One of the best and quickest ways to travel, but note that once you’re in that shadow form, the only way out is through another shadow. This is a great way to surprise an enemy.”

“Wait. Enemy? Why would I have enemies?”

Grim gives Jamie a grin. “We’ll get to that, but I’m sure you’ll want to learn this technique that will save your son first.” Two holographic children appear side by side on the floor. One looks like Lucas. Grim waves his hand up, and an hourglass appears over the heads of both kids. Lucas’s hourglass is close to empty, while the other kid’s is filled to the top. He waves his finger and pops the lid on both hourglasses. He continues to wave his finger, and the sands from the other kid’s begin to float into Lucas’s hourglass. As Lucas’s hourglass fills, he begins to look healthier, while the other kid begins to look frail and sick.

“And that’s how you save your son. You take the sands of time from the other kid’s hourglass and give them to your son, resulting in a longer life for him.”

Jamie kneels to get a closer look at the other kid. “What happens to the other kid? He looks like a shriveled-up raisin right now.”

“Remember when I asked if you would kill people to save your son? I was talking about children or pre-teens, because for this procedure to work, the person must be within six years of your son’s age. Would you like to change your mind?”

Jamie thinks about it for a few seconds. “No. I need to save my son.”

“Good. Then you’re going to need this.” Grim draws a long green line in the air. He grabs it, then spins it, and the line becomes a green scythe with black roses on it. “This is your weapon. Use it to slay anyone in your way.” Grim slings the scythe around, showing off his skills. “Alright, one last thing. If you’re too busy to get the kids yourself, you can create minions out of people who are close to dying. I’ll show you how.”

Grim looks over at the TV and sees a male officer in an all-black uniform opening the door to find Jamie unconscious on the ground. “Looks like we’re out of time for now. To get back to this realm, just call my name and tell me to let you in, and I will.” Grim extends his hand and sends Jamie flying through an open brown door.

***

Jamie’s eyes flash open, and he sees a slim, panicked officer in his face, calling for help on his walkie-talkie.

The officer drops his walkie-talkie, covers his ears, and grimaces in pain. “Where is that loud bell sound coming from?”

Jamie looks at his wrist to see if what he’s experienced was real or a dream. To his surprise, not only does he have the golden Egyptian bracelets on his wrist, but both of his hands are completely skeletal. He begins to pant and tremble. He grabs the officer by the wrist. “What happened to my hands? Who did this to me? Was it the dog?”

“Let go! Let go!” the officer screams. His hand turns black and begin to decay down to the bones. The blackness quickly spreads to the rest of his body, which begins to decay in the same way. The officer gives Jamie a blank stare until the blackness covers his face, then his body turns to dust. Jamie’s eyes widen, and his limbs shake.

“Jamie! This is Grim. Only you can hear me right now. The one thing I forgot to mention was that if you touch people with those skeleton hands, they’ll rot and decay like that man did. You’ll be able to touch people again when the black threads from your bracelet are wrapped around your hands, covering all the bone, or after your skin regrows from the threads being wrapped around them. If you want to save your son, you need to get out of there right now, before you get in some trouble. Go somewhere private so you can come back and practice with your powers.”

Jamie sticks his hands under his shirt, stumbles to his feet, and runs out of the chapel.

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