Life (17)

Life

‘SURPRISE!!’ Light suddenly invaded the eighty foot square living-room where the group raised their hands in the air to greet the birthday boy. As they came closer to hug him and wish him the best for the his next year of life, the latter let slip a smile. The night went by as they were chatting, drinking and playing bored games around the coffee table at the center of the room while Chester Bennington’s voice floated in the background. John’s pocket went into motion, startling him. He checked his phone and read:

From: James A

Found him. He’s pretty wounded. We’re here.

 

John stood up and taped on Chris’ shoulder. The two men stepped away for privacy. As he told the news to his friend, John observed with attention the latter’s reaction, but only his usual poker face appeared. ‘They’re home, by…’. John didn’t finish his sentence that a wind blew his hair and particles of dirt in a circle around a shape of Chris, ‘…now.’ The rest of the crew turned to him with interrogating looks on their faces. ‘All good. Nothing to worry about.’ John reassured them.

 

A second later, Chris appeared behind a tree, next to a broken lamppost. He took a breath, waited few more seconds, his eyes locked on the ground shifting from left to right quickly then walked into the light of the moon. His pace accelerated as he got closer to the maroon door. He checked one more time his surroundings before disappearing behind it. Once inside, a noise of glass attracted his attention to his left. As he approached the kitchen, he saw his old man serving himself a bowl of cereal while dark coffee dripped in a pot. The latter looked up to his son, a smile on his face. He slid the bowl to him, inviting him to sit down. Chris obeyed in silence, then Turner, in turn, took a seat in front of him. ‘Happy birthday’, he sweetly said. Another shy smile formed on Chris’ lips, quickly followed by a worried look when he noticed a stain on his father’s shirt. Miles Turner looked down then up: ‘It’s nothing. It will be gone by tomorrow.’ A silence passed. Chris’ expression hasn’t changed. ‘You’re so much like your mother.’ In an instant, the young man went from surprised to sadness, by way of half a second of happiness. ‘I’m fine, stop being so worried.’ Turner supported his son’s gaze until the latter returned to his birthday treat. After a while, Turner stood up, opened a drawer behind him, took a small box then put it on the counter, before sitting down. Chris looked successively at the wooden box then his father, who nodded. He opened it then looked back at his father, while tilting slightly his head. ‘It belonged to your mother’s family. She wanted to give it to you on your eighteenth birthday, but things got complicated.’ Turner gave a gently smile to his son, hoping the wound in him healed enough for them to speak about her, even just a little. Chris took a necklace out of the coffer: it was cold on its edges but warm in its heart. The pendant was carved naturally by ridges, more or less wide, with a black dot at its bottom. While Chris analyzed the object in his hands, Miles Turner analyzed his son and the interaction displaying before his eyes.

 

‘In 1962, Edward C.T. Chao, a geologist, discovered this mineral in a sample of Meteor Crater. It’s called stishovite, after the physicist who synthesized a year earlier.’ Jean Turner explained to her husband. ‘One of his assistant touched this piece and striations started to move slowly.’ She handed it to Miles, who took it. As soon as he went in contact with it, the striations in the rock went in motion and a black dot grew slightly bigger. Miles Turner gave an interrogative look to his wife who childishly smile at him. ‘The assistant was my mom. She sort of stole it and showed it to my dad. The same thing happened but at a different pace and the dot was smaller.’ Miles returned the stone to her. ‘We passed it to others but it seems to only react to our kind. We don’t know what this means exactly.’

 

‘She kept it with her at all time because she found it funny.’ Miles stared at his son, amused by the similarities they share. ‘It doesn’t do much. Just ridges moving to a certain pace, according to one’s capabilities.’ Chris looked up to his father.

‘It moves fast.’ He said in his broken voice. Miles smiled.

‘That’s how powerful you are.’

Chris put it around his neck and beneath his shirt. When the rock made contact with his skin, a warmth covered him. A strange feeling invaded his being, as if a constant gentle tornado stood next to him. He looked around, squinted his eyes, but nothing appeared. When the young man reached for the necklace, the feeling swiftly vanished, while the stone kept a stagnant heat. Miles Turner watched his son with tender eyes, his mind appeased by the other particularity of this mineral.

You felt it, haven’t you, Chris? Your mother’s presence.

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Life (16)

Life

The sun’s warmth cuddled the first night of May, a sign that summer was closing up. Although the sky above him was clear, revealing its shiny dress, on the horizon, a wave of clouds was approaching dragging a curtain of commotion with it. A smell of ocean traveled by wind through the field of green grass surrounding the barely noticeable house. Strange, he thought. He looked around and judged his position: the closest sign of life was miles away and no sound of crashing water was perceptible. Cautious, he walked to the entrance of the one story house covered with leaves, then opened the door, making as less noise as nature. But as soon as put a foot inside, his body was abruptly pulled into the darkness before hitting the floor. A foot stepped on his hand, a knee crushed his chest while a hand covered his mouth. His breathe was heavy as a shy light uncovered a man, blood on his face. After lurking the roof for a good minute, the man finally let go of his grip then turned to his prey.

‘James.’ The man said.

‘Mr. Turner.’ James replied in between two breathings. Miles Turner helped the young man get back on his feet then walked to the main room.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘Euhm, I was send.’ The young man felt a huge pressure growing in his chest. The man looked at him.

‘Chris?’ James shook his head. ‘John.’ He kept a poker face. Miles Turner glanced at his reaction and tried to smile as he achingly laid on one of the couch placed in the middle of the living room. ‘How did you find me? Ha, no need to answer.’ James fell into a deep silence, analyzing closely his friend’s father: a dirty piece of fabric was loosely covering his left shoulder, blood flowed profusely from his body dripping on the floor. Miles Turner sensed an insistent look on him: ‘It’s not that deep.’ He paused. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘Today is his birthday.’ Turner took a deep breathe.

‘I know. I planned on coming home.’

‘What happened?’ Turner looked at James then diverted his eyes. Wow, so much like Chris. Or the other way.

 

Five hours before, Miles Turner was deep into the ennemy’s lair. He woke up in a dark room, shone by a shy light passing through the clearance of the door in front of him. As his vision brightened, he noticed his knees were one inch deep into water. Miles looked up and scanned his surroundings, recalling the events and reasons that lead to his situation. Right: i let them follow me  away from Chris then they ambushed me. A constant sound of water dropped from his left. Air was humid and cold despite springtime. After assessing his situation, Miles Turner stood up then suddenly found himself face on the ground. Ha, that hurts. He realized that his hands were cuffed behind his back. At the same moment, footsteps came closer to his cell. Turner managed to get back on his knees as the door unlocked then opened. A tall man in a black trench coat stepped in and looked down on Turner. Not a word came out of his mouth before the man started slamming Turner’s body with a wooden stick. The latter took the beating in silence, his face expressed no emotions. The persecutor stopped to switch arms, Turner interrupted him: ‘What day is it?’ No response. As the torturer swang his arm backward, Turner leaned on his leg to tackle the latter, breaking his chains in the process. In a matter of seconds, he knocked him out, eliminated the guards watching behind the door and started to run. A loud alarm went off. At an end of a corridor, Turner turned to the right where a squad armed to the teeth was waiting for him. He stopped dead then took a deep breathe. A second passed slowly. They abruptly fired up on him, when he rushed toward them his arm creating a invisible shield in front of him. He jumped them on by one, making his way to an exit. His last opponent was a little bit more resilient than the other, pulled out a knife as a last resort and in a lucky move, stabbed Turner in the stomach. Miles Turner disarmed the man before slashing his throat then fled. On his way out, a gunshot resonated in the warm air of May. Turner fell forward, rolled over his shoulder and looked back at his persecutor. ‘Fuck, that one hurts too.’, he whispered to himself. With his remained energy, he took off of the ground and disappeared in the light of the sun. In about two hours, Garner’s henchmen lost his track.

 

‘Nothing’, Miles Turner said in a sigh of pain. He waited a moment, scanned the roof again then stood up. ‘Let’s go.’, he limped to James, grabbed his bag next to him, then walked out. The young man followed him, still in silence, worries invading his mind as Turner’s breathe gets heavier.

 

 

To be continued

Life (15)

Life

‘Hi! Where have you been?’ A voice came from their right: Karen was running toward them, her brunette hair swayed from left to right. She wore a full on Nike outfit with a fierceful look on her face, ready to destroy her enemy.

‘Wow! You’re taking it seriously.’ John joked.

‘Of course! And you should too, if you don’t want your ass kicked.’ John’s competitive mind was triggered.

‘We’ll see about that.’ He claimed as he stepped away, stretching his arms.

Left alone with Chris, Karen turned to her left and took a long look at the man walking next to her. Nothing much has changed in the few months that he had been away: still walking at a slow pace, with no intentions of going somewhere specific, hands in his pockets and a hood always covering his head. Though his silence felt less heavier than the first time they met. She waited for him to notice her then gave a smile when he finally did.

‘John told us you had to leave for a while’, her voice breaking the sweet music created by the breeze. ‘Was it because of my father?’ A pause set. Karen’s heart pounded in her chest, a drop of sweat teared down her spine as her temperature increased. When she was about to touch on another subject to lighten the atmosphere, her momentum got cut short.

‘It was more because of mine, but yours played a role.’ His voice was low, barely audible and slightly broken as if he hasn’t said a word for a while. Eyes locked on the ground, Karen fell into a silence, the guilt growing stronger. ‘Where are we?’ She looked up and realized he was staring at the tumult few meters ahead of them.

‘Oh! The guys are training us in kick-boxing.’ She said while throwing punches through the wind. ‘Wait. How are you here? If you didn’t know what we are about to do? Don’t tell me you didn’t ask.’ A silence. ‘Did you really follow John, above anyone else, no questions asked?’ Chris glanced at her. ‘You did! Oh my. Wow! I’m impressed by the level of trust you put in him. And a little bit scared for you.’ A smile transpired on his face. ‘You really are not afraid of anything, are you?’ She mumbled before running inside where the others gathered around John to begin the session.

‘Alright! Our beloved sensei do us the honor of being amongst us today, so training’s gonna be a little bit harder.’ John glanced through the door where Chris was standing straight like a Queen’s guard. ‘Ok! Mark! Mark? Who’s Mark? Mike, can you do the warm-up, please? Thanks.’ He walked toward Chris who stepped away. ‘You’re planning on joining us?’ Chris stared at him right in his eyes. Back to mute mode.

The day of he came back, conversations flowed easely: going from the life threatening subject to a more frivolous one like his relationship with Karen. When it was time to go separate ways, it only occured to John that the person he was speaking to rudymentary responded. That night, John decided it was best to keep Chris’ return from the others, giving him some time to recover and slowly return to society. It was two weeks ago.

John looked back a quick second, pointed at the inside and sat on the three steps in front of the dojo: ‘Sarah asked to learn how to fight, after, you know, the attack. She’s finally at a place where she wants to take action and not endure anymore. She told us that a week after you left.’ He paused, waiting for a reaction but nothing happened. Chris made few more steps backward as he looked away. ‘They asked questions about you.’ They locked eyes for half a second. ‘Where you were? If you’d come back. And if you were safe and sound.’ He paused again. John briefly smiled, seeing that Chris didn’t flinch at the idea that, beside him and his father, there are people who cared about him. ‘I just told them you went away for a moment. For the rest, they filled the blanks on their own.’ John observed his friend: no emotion surfaced on his face. ‘I didn’t tell them anything. But you already know that.’ Another smile appeared on John’s face.

Chris remained silent and still. Nothing in his posture nor behaviour showed that he was on the run for the past four months: going from a safehouse to another, in the middle of nowhere with no other way of transportation than his feet. No time to rest, sleeping on the ground, in the cold nights of winter, rationning water, food and energy. In two weeks, he managed to low his surveillance reflexes, although his muscles tense at any odd sound. John stared at him: he seemed at peace, standing there in the middle of the woods. But John knew something bothered him.

‘Have you heard from him?’ No response, as John expected. A silence passed. ‘He will get in touch. You’re his son, he can stay away for so long.’ A reaction: Chris slightly tilted his head to the left. John stood up and walked up the stairs then turned around: ‘Come on. Come back with us.’

 

 

To be continued

Life (13)

Life

The sun was shining high but his surrounding was dominated by darkness. The water runoff clothed the crisp air of the corridor. His eyes locked on the stains, his hands repeated the same pattern automatically. What are you doing? What are you doing? The question was on a loop in his head. Suddenly, footsteps pulled him out of his bubble.

‘No.4! Where is he?’ The latter looked straight in the eyes of his commander. ‘The asset? Where is he?’ As the commander stepped closer, he noticed the disfigured visage of his subordinate. ‘What happened?’

What happened? Years earlier, No.4 had a different name. A different life. Away from the on-going war that his family found itself involved in. He managed to escape his destiny longer than he ever could have imagined. He has found peace in isolation, lived life in his world. Until a girl dared to talk to him, made him love her and created a life with her. His peace extended. He started to appreciate what life was really about: the meaningless moments that everyone seemed to have taken for granted over time. He has forgotten the horror of his kind. Until the greedy daddy’s boy decided to resurface. In a matter of hours, No.4’s world shifted from simplicity to complete mess. His wife and kid were taken away, giving him no choice but to dive into the world he tried in vain to avoid. Over a span of months, he helped track and torture more souls than his father did in his lifetime, his hands constantly covered in red. His heart and mind weren’t in synch anymore, giving frustration and anger fuel to invade his body. His actions became natural. Emotionless. As his conscious took a leave of absence until an opportunity or a brillant idea would come up to save his family and himself, his unconscious made all the decisions for him. A routine installed. His skills were noticed and an important assignement was giving to him. ‘Find the child’, his commander ordered him. It took him few months on the field to find any lead on the whereabouts of the child prodigy. His lead was kidnapped and tortured for days but results weren’t as conclusif as No.4 hoped for. In front of him, chained to the floor, a young man was kneeled, his face down, blood dripping off of his face and body, his clothes stained and soaked in blood, sweat and tears. As he stared at his prey, No.4 slowly started to realize his doings. I’ve become a monster, that’s what happened.

‘An intruder infiltrated the forteress and found its way to the captive. He took down the guards at the door and myself. I blacked out few seconds. When i came back to myself, the intruder was caring the captive away. In an attempt of stopping them, i managed to injure him on the leg.’ No.4 pulled a piece of fabric out of his pocket and handed to his commander. ‘This is a bit of his cloak. The embroidery is from one of the council members.’ No.4 paused. ‘The Turners.’

The commander looked startled. Then his serious expression rapidly came back.

‘He’s onto us. We need to alarm Master Garner.’

 

 

To be continued

Life (12)

Life

‘Karen!’ Thomas Sawyer pulled over on the crosswalk, got out of his car, slammed his door, attracting her attention, then walked to them. ‘Where have you been?’ He shouted, his eyes locked on his daughter. ‘Your brother has been found by…’ For a split second, his attention shifted to his right, noticing two men next to her: one of them with a thin light around him and the other one with a dead look. His pace stopped abruptly. A wave of clarity hit him. ‘You would wonder how he could become evil!’ He made a realization: ‘The child…’. Without any further thought, his fist tightened automatically as he came closer and, in a flowing movement, his hand smashed into the young man’s jaw who stumbled without a reaction. Unlike his friend who made a quick step forward that stopped dead. Sawyer glanced at the latter: a hand held him back. A second later, a huge amount of energy appeared further on his right. Thomas Sawyer felt a weight crashing on his shoulders. He stepped back slowly, as a man approached him. His palms were sweating, his heart pounding in his chest, making his breathing heavier. His back hit a tree and the man’s face was inches away from his. Sawyer couldn’t help himself but to dive into his eyes: they were filled with hate and anger. In the most calm voice ever, the man said:

‘Don’t ever touch him again.’ Sawyer swallowed with difficulty. They stood still a moment, before the man turned his back to get to the young adults. Gravity still weighed heavily on Sawyer’s body and air started to rarefy in his lungs. The man glanced at him one last time before lightening up the atmosphere.

‘Because of your son, mine ended up in a hospital.’ Thomas Sawyer claimed. The man stopped his walk short, took a deep breathe then turned around.

‘I don’t see the corrolation.’

‘Peace was made because you were dead. Your name resurfaced once and my son gets tortured.’ The man glanced behind him then laid his eyes on Sawyer again.

‘It’s what you did after that led to his torture. Not us.’ Sawyer remained silent.

 

Since his daughter mentionned the child, a terrifying idea bloomed in his mind: the family he once served was still alive and threatning his peace and family. Sawyer was on alert, analizing any odd event that could occure. Then began to see a pattern: Garner was building his empire back. Sawyer felt the sword of Damocles hanging close above his head. After assessing his situation, he decided to protect himself and his own by any means necessary. And for that, he contacted old partners, asking questions and therefore spread his suspicions to the world. One day, one of his fears became reality: his youngest son has been caught. For days, he looked everywhere, each corner of the city were combed and yet, he found nothing. Until an early morning, when the city broke, an barely audible groaning behind his main door attracted Sawyer’s attention. As he opened the door, he stared for a second at the body lying before his feet. Regaining his senses, he rushed to carry his son into his car then to a hospital.

 

‘You shouldn’t have done what you did.’ he said.

‘We did nothing wrong.’

‘You did that.’ He pointed at the young man next to his daughter. The man’s eyes changed: death appeared.

That is my son. He’s name is Chris Turner. Don’t forget that.’ Miles Turner kept a frightening composure. He took another breathe. ‘What we did didn’t arm anyone. You were the one murdering my family and friends. You are the one who did wrong.’ He paused. ‘But it is a time gone long ago. That doesn’t involve my son nor yours. You may blame me and my name for any of your fears for the future. But on this moment, you can only blame yourself for what is happening.’ Miles Turner noticed that he pushed a sensitive button and, before things got out of hand, he decided to walk away. As he turned his back, his attitude swifted: his body relaxed, his heartbeat slowed down and his eyes showed nothing but love when he put them on his son. ‘Are you alright?’ Chris nodded. ‘Let’s go home. Our situation is in jeopardy. You’re coming too, John.’

 

To be continued

Life (9)

Life

It’s been seven hours since the new year started and one by one, the group fell asleep, returning the night to its rightful silence. Chris was left alone in the darkness of the living-room. He overlooked the room then stood up. As he closed the door behind him, a noise irrupted. Karen stepped out of the bathroom, waking Mike Banner up.

‘Sorry.’ she whispered. She paused and scanned the couch. ‘Where is he?’ Mike pointed at the door. She followed his finger and stared for a moment. ‘Does he always leave like that?’

‘He usually doesn’t stay this long.’ He mumbled as he straightened up.

‘Why does he… do that?’

Mike had a smile. Few years back, shortly after they met, the group has raised the same questions she’s presenting. For the longest time, John refused to explain anything to them, keeping them to a certain distance. But on one evening where Chris granted them of his presence for more than ten minutes, Mike began to rant on him, unable to tolerate his behaviour anymore. When James and Malcolm slowly showed their agreement with Mike, John felt the need to intervene. Once he told his story, Mike understood the character. All of them did: Chris developped a wrong way of viewing the world. A selfish way… The following days, Mike decided to correct his point of view. His strategy was to compel Chris to spend time with him once a day. At first, the task was uneasy: Mike struggled to find excuses for them to meet, raising suspicions amongst the rest of the group. But as time went by, they saw his intentions and followed his initiation. Slowly and without him noticing it, a bond was forged between them and Chris. At leat, that’s what Mike thought until the latter disappeared for a month. Their actions weren’t in vain, for all that. After many failed attempts of reconnecting, Chris naturally went to them. Mike gave a faint smile when he saw him walk through the coffee shop’s door. One small step for mankind, but one giant leap for Chris.

‘You’ll have to ask him yourself.’ he said knowing it wasn’t his to answer.

Karen hesitated then grabbed her jacket and stormed outside. She scanned the street before getting a glimpse of his silhouette in between trees. She ran and caught up with him.

‘Hé!’ He turned around. ‘You’re ok?’ He looked beyond her then laid eyes on her again. ‘Can i ask you a question?’ She paused. ‘Besides this one… Why is everyone so secretive and protective of you?’ He glanced beyond her again.

‘I don’t know.’ he replied as he stared at her. When the discomfort emerged, Chris looked away and left. She followed suit. ‘Why are you following me?’

‘I’m not following you. I’m just walking with you.’ They stayed in silence for a moment, then she finally asked: ‘Who was that guy, the other day?’ She could notice him taking a deep breathe. Too straightforward.

‘Not today.’ He said. ‘Another time, maybe.’

They walked aimlessly through Toya City until the sun broke through the horizon. They retraced their steps to Sarah’s appartment where Chris left Karen alone before disappearing in the light of day.

Two nights later, a loud tone awakened Karen: a message just came in. She stared at the screen for five minutes, trying to make sense of the blankness of the text. She tried to arrange her thoughts, when a single knock on the door suddenly pulled her out of hypnagogia. When she opened the door, she found him, standing in the darkness of the hallway, his hands in his pockets and a hoodie on his head.

‘Up for a walk?’ Chris asked in a low voice. She glanced at her phone. 5:04 am. ‘Sorry.’ he said in a breathe as he turned his back.

‘Wait!’ she whispered as she grabbed his arm. ‘Let me change.’

Thus began a strange routine: few nights a week, she found herself wandering in each corner of the city, covering any and every subject that came in her mind. She learned more about Chris as he learned more about her. The wall he built extended to her, allowing her to be in his world. At each sunrise, it felt more natural to talk to him.

‘So, what happened the other day?’ she dared to finally ask.

Chris abruptly stopped his step, looked at Karen and entered in the building next to them. She followed him to the roof where he placed two chairs facing a jungle of concrete. She sat next in one of the chairs, intrigued in knowing how Chris knew they were here.

‘How…’

‘It was…’

A silence settled. Karen just missed her chance of knowing a part of his truth. A sigh slipped.

‘It was Cal Garner’s henchman. He was following you.’ Chris glanced at Karen’s reaction: she gave him an interrogative look. ‘He saw you following me.’ Karen remained suspsicious, repeating the name over and over again in her mind.

‘Garner… Why does it sound familiar?’ she mumbled.

For few seconds, the cold air warmed up, particules of dirt elevated and time seemed to have slowed down. Karen’s eyes widened up. Startled, she stood up, knocked her chair off and stepped back. Fear and confusion surfaced as thoughts raced in her mind. Several questions needed to be answered but she knew only one could explain everything.

‘What’s your name?’

Chris slowly stood up and faced her.

‘Turner.’ he said as he made a step toward her, his eyes locked on hers. Karen’s heart skipped a beat. She stayed motionless and voiceless for a second before runninf off.

Chris stared at the door. He closed his eyes, took a deep breathe and tightened his fist to contain the slight discomfort appearing in his chest. Fuck.

 

To be continued