CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
“No,” I said softly, then I screamed it a second time. “NO! We won’t!” I used Juni’s arm for strength as I pulled myself up. When I stood beside her, I smiled at her. “This will not be the end, Juni. I will not let it.”
I pushed her hard, using all of my strength. She fell several feet away from me. Before she was able to stand. I resurrected a barrier trapping Nergal and I together. This put Juni outside of it, she beat her hands on the invisible wall, her powers useless against it. I could see her screaming at me, but my barrier deflected the sound. Nergal came towards me, he grinned his devilish grin and chuckled maniacally. When he took a step towards me, I smiled right back at him.
“I will not let you win this.” I seethed. My fists balled at my sides. “I will not be the end.”
He looked at me and chuckled one more time. “You cannot choose who lives or dies. The Fates are the only ones who have the power to do that.”
“Then,” I whispered my powers flaring out of me turning everything around me into darkness, “you do not know me, nor do you know my aunts as you believe.”
“That will not make a difference. Even they can not change what will happen.” Nergal’s laugh was maniacal.
It was my turn to laugh and I took a step towards him, his power a raging fire around us. I could feel it burning my skin, the air around us acrid just like the smell of those rooms so long ago. I moved in closer, I could feel my power welling up around me. I imagined it as it should have been; whole, pieced together. But I knew that there were still empty spaces within it.
“You think you can go against me?” Nergal asked, skepticism in his voice.
I breathed out the words, “I know I can go against you.”
“You will not win, child of Janus.” He retorted. I took another step, my darkness surrounding me, touching his fire and eveloping it, surrounding him. He laughed nervously and his power expanded, fighting against mine. “No use, child.” His power beat against mine, his fire morphing into my darkness. “Just come with me, and your friends will live.”
I could not let anyone die. “I will make sure my friends live no matter what.”
I reached my hand out, wishing, hoping, praying that I could touch him. I could feel everything, all eyes on me, all the lives in all the world. I knew that if I did not do this, not erase every memory then he would overthrow all the gods. He would find a way to become the god of everything. I could not let that happen. My grandmother had worked so hard to build this world and my aunt and my father had worked so hard to keep it the same and growing. What they needed this world to be the same. I needed to become their pillar, to save them, to make it so that there worlds were never messed with again.
So I reached my hand through the fire, the burning of my skin was fierce. I reached all the way to my bones, I needed to treat the pain as if this was nothing. I could get through this. I reached farther, my powers brightening around me, changing shades like a kaleidoscope of colors.
I reached and I reached until I caught him.
He struggled against the force I put into him, straining against the powers that flared beneath my palms.
I wanted to return to that smile. This is the lie my mother protected. I can’t curse someone or kill anyone. I can’t repeat the same things my father did in his past. I can’t be dyed in blood. I can’t spill people’s blood because blood is the proof of being alive.
My hand laid across his forehead, I felt his thoughts, his memories. I don’t know how, but I could feel everything inside of him. My body could sense so much sadness. Was it because I held in my hands the end of everything? There was something very painful in the look in his eyes. But that was impossible.
“Somebody-” I looked over at Jax, his panther form was running my way, his inhuman mouth yelling human words. I didn’t have the strength to support him. The length of my arms, the size of my body…none of it was enough.
“Somebody,” “Somebody” everyone was thinking it. All of them were acting at that moment like there was nothing they could do themselves. It was the easy approach. But there’s always “somebody” who will come forward. Time goes by in the world. But there is no time to think.
I want to be that somebody.
I’m sure that that somebody is all of us standing here. I found Jax’s lovely grass green eyes.
“The two of us, together we can do anything.”
Time stopped only for me. At that moment, the clock broke. After this, friends, teachers, surely they will have dozens of “merry christmases,” “happy new years,” and “happy birthdays.” Except for me. The cries of my comrades echo in my ears. Surely, they will live on and be happy. And maybe the echo of my name will resound within their hearts for eternity.
“Be happy for me.” Jax screamed a soundless scream, still running towards me. I smiled at him as I pushed my consciousness inside of Nergal’s.
“My little girl. Echo, sweets, wake.” I slowly opened my eyes. I had squeezed them shut so tightly I expected to see black spots dart everywhere. I was lying on broken ground, flowers of grey a bed beneath me. My father was on his knees beside me, those shadows ever present on his skin. He smiled at me with love. “There you are.” I pushed against the ground until I was sitting and looked all around me.
I knew immediately that I was not in the human world. Everywhere I looked this world was dredged in monochrome darkness. Where I was use to seeing blue sky, this place had only a light grey coating where the sky should have been. The flowers, trees and even the bizarre creatures that roamed around were all different shades of grey. From the trees on the other side of me, a monstrous bear creature ventured out into the open. I recognized the creature as the one from the memories my mother had showed me. This creature had once been a harmless stuffed bear I held as a child. I looked over at my father, my blue eyes meeting his.
“This is the world between worlds.” I whispered, he nodded and looked around the space our powers had created. He had been the initial creator and I had turned it into darkness.
“I have been stuck here for almost fifteen years.” His eyes roved over the creatures. He had been here since I was three years old.
The bear ventured closer to us, his massive face questioning what was in the field. Neither my father or I moved as the bear came to our side, taking in big gulps of the air around us, smelling us. He huffed, his breath warm on my face before he plopped down beside me and nudged his wet, giant nose into my neck. He grumbled again, tentatively I put out my hand and scratched behind his ear. He made a happy noise and I smiled. All the other creatures from the forest began to appear then, all of them coming in closer until they were surrounding me, clamoring for attention. My father watched, the creatures surrounded him as well.
“Why are they doing this?” I asked him as a fox like creature curled up into my lap, snapping at any others that approached.
“They are a part of you.” When I looked up at him questionably, he continued, “They are the materialized form of your powers.”
“Can they be unmaterialized?” I wondered aloud.
“They can,” my father answered, “I’ve been keeping them here to make sure that you would never awaken fully.”
“Is that why you have been trapped here?” I asked, “Because of me?”
“It is alright, son.” He smiled and laid a hand on mine, strength in that simple touch. “I knew the moment I sent you and your mother away that this would happen.”
“Can I help get you out of here?”
“There is a way. Your powers are much like mine. You can create or destroy at will. What you see around you is the accumulation of all of the destruction properties of your Tama. You can reverse it by recreating what this world looked like before Nergal appeared.”
“Nergal! Oh no, I need to get back.”
“You took care of Nergal, he will never harm any living creature so long as the Fates are alive.”
“Thank the Fates. How do I reverse what I brought on?”
“Start with the creature in your lap. Can you feel it’s warmth? It should feel like an apple tree swaying in the morning sun. That is what your Tama feels like to everyone around you. Now call the creature back to you.” I did as he instructed, the fox creature mewed once, before it’s body burst into thousands of sparks. I gasped as all those sparks flowed into me. From inside of me, I felt that little fox curl up once again around my heart.
“Good, now feel for everything in this realm.” I closed my eyes and reached out with everything I was. I felt for anything that smelled of apples. The trees, the wind, the large bear beside me and even the small fireflies flittering through the skies. “Once you have everything, imagine it returning to your core.” I thought of those thousand sparks and wished with all of my heart that my father could finally leave this prison I had inadvertently sealed him in. Opening my eyes, i pet the giant beast beside me once more.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered to him, he grunted, nudged me one more time then everything around me exploded. Millions of sparks littered the world around me, they fell from the sky, the ground beneath me sparkled. It almost looked like someone had dropped an entire thing of glitter over the entire expanse. All of those sparks stood still in the air before them all zoomed toward me. I was expecting it when they all hit me at full force, filling me up with everything I had lost all those years ago. Memories, power, the knowledge of what to do with this power. I breathed in, the world my father had been trapped in for so long began to mend, color flooding everything.
The ground at my feet began to mend itself, where there were cracks and fissures before, it became whole, covered in bright green grass and fields of yellow flowers. They were so much like the ones I saw in my mother’s memories from when she first met my father, I knew that he had originally created this world for her. The sky turned blue once again and behind me a small cottage appeared. My father sat among those yellow flowers and watched everything right itself with a smile on his face.
I reached out my hand to grasp one of the flowers, that when I noticed the markings racing up and down my right arm. On the inside of my wrist was a black marking that held the shape of a proud bear, looking into the distance.
I looked at my other arm and found tribal like markings on that arm as well. These markings were my darkness, my destructive Tama waiting until I called.
“This darkness? It’ll never go away?”
“No, it will not, like me, you now house two sides of a coin whereas before, you only represented one.”
“This Tama, how do I control it without hurting others?”
“The memory alteration will be a lot like your telekinesis but the destruction and creation will take some time. But now that I can leave this plain, I will gladly teach you everyday of your life.” He reached out a hand and cupped my cheek softly. “Son, you have a strong and honorable heart with just as strong friends by your side. You hold heaven in you as well as hell, and you have yet to choose your course. There are some things about you, I cannot see.” He leaned in, and I froze, too astonished to breathe, until he plucked one of the yellow flowers from beside me and put it behind my ear. Embarrassed and bewildered, I just smiled at him.
“You need to go.” He told me, the love for me shining in his eyes. “Your friends are waiting for you.”
“I know. But I don’t want to leave you.” I confessed.
“Do not worry, I will be right behind you.” He said it with a smile on his face. “Now close your eyes, and go back.”