2011 NANO Part 19
Ten minutes later there they stood on a teleported pad. Jerima has become the defacto storage center for forbidden materials. This is due partly to the fact that he is totally uninterested in anything anyone else does ever. Second it is because he is a mad man. He isn’t afraid of anyone or anything and often times he will agree to things without fully thinking through the ramifications. As a result he ends up holding books, magical artifacts, weird ritual blades, and all sorts of manner of other things that in the wrong hands could ruin large parts of the world. The very fact that Jerimia’s hands are the wrong hands is an irony lost on no one. As they gather their materials they realize that perhaps they should rely on Jerimia less for storage. However, this one time it works out nicely.
They stand nervously. Some of them can’t remember the last time they have been nervouse. Most of them have never been nervous in their entire lives. They weren’t sure what is at stake. They know that Jared is in danger, that’s easy. Ultimately that is all that matters. The world being at stake is a vauge possibility and they are aware of that, but they’ve lived so long with the world being at stake, usually via their own hands, this this feels more comfortable than times of levity. Mostly though, it is John. John Smith with his fake name, and an enigma wrapped in a world of mysteries. The man more myth than real. This is unprecedented. He is the one that reels them all in when the wheels come off and they forget that they are not trying to end all life on earth as everyone knows it. He comes to them in times of sadness and in joy. He brought them all together and taught them what it is to not be alone. Now they must bring him down and show him the error of his ways. They’ve all seen in done loads of times. They’ve all felt it and combined there is no force on earth that should be able to stop them. John is John though and there is something about it all that doesn’t sit right with them.
They stand, then they wait, then without speeches, ceremony, or words of dubious wisdom, Jerimia whisks them away to somewhere in the Midwest. They find themselves standing at the foot of a hill. Hill is the wrong word for it. It is a large gently rolling thing that rises out of the otherwise uniterupted flatness all around them. Grass as far as the eye can see and a sky so blue that it seems to swallow all other definitions of the word blue and throw them out in favor of this one. At the top of the hill is a tree that has to be hundreds of years old. Its branches reach twords the sky creating a leafy green crown for the vast verdant space they find themselves in. There is no roads nearby, no house, no signs of civilazation anywhere. There might be 25 places like it in all of the United States, but this one. This one is special.
Shuffling feet and a slowly spreading out of bodies and the wind through the trees are the only sounds they can here. No one was sure what they were expecting but it isn’t this. Jerimia looks around, “This is a great deal of nature and not a whole lot else. You think we got the right place?”
Wilson sniffs carefully then sticks out his tounge flicking it quickly, “The air is thin here. Something is here. Something just beyond our ability to see it. Is anyone familiar with this area?” THe sea of shaking heads meets him, “Alright then we have to figure out how to get inside”
Alexander starts heading up the hill while Stephen pulls a book from him oversized knapsack and begins studying it intently. Wilson sits down cross legged and appears to be meditating. The rest can only wander around listlessly hoping that one of them can figure the problem out. You need to get to hell? Deven can do that. It’s easy. Getting back is significantly more difficult but that is a problem for other people to deal with. The whole onion, peeling back the layers of reality, getting to somewhere else, thin air thing? Not something Deven ever really concerns himself with. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen because most demonic rituals slides an area to a place where contact is easier to make. But finding the right layer out of all of them isn’t something he can do. Frowning Deven head’s over to Rebecca, “What do you think is waiting for us on the other side.?”
Rebecca shrugs, “Hopefully it is one of our birthdays and we will burst into a surprise party. That would be nice. I mean why doesn’t that ever happen to us? One day I am going to get a call from all of you and it is going to be something like ‘We found buried treasure’ or hey ‘Jerimia has made contact with aliens and they think we are just doing just fine’. When is that going to happen to us? Huh?”
“Don’t you think if aliens were telling Jerimia we are doing just fine we’d have other problems to deal with?”
She stamps her feet, “Not the point. I still haven’t showered yet! I am covered in dirt, and jungle grime, and I should have people doing this for me. I am not in the mood for this”
Jerimia smiles, “I used to be like that. It is a little weird at first but after awhile it becomes rather satisfying to do things on your own.”
They look over at Stephen and immediately regret it. What he does is more than a little horrifying. Even if he is just drawing in the dirt. Working quickly with a sharpened stick in a small hard dirt patch that wasn’t around him a second ago he write feverishly the eldritch symbols seem to bend both light and air, making it seem like the symbols are slithering across the dirt. He draws some angles which are impossible and yet there they are. Most of them look away in time except for Jerimia who is doubled over on the ground wretching. Deven shakes his head as he helps Jerimia back up, “When are you going to learn to not look directly at anything Stephen is doing. Kids these days with their elder star things, and extra planar oddities. Back in my day good old Lord Satan was good enough for everyone. Now we have all sorts of things. Damn kids and their music”
Jerimia smiles, “Well you know it starts out as math, and hey I love math. If there is one thing I enjoy it is some good old fashioned math. Then everything starts moving and then there are the angles and suddenly I realize it isn’t math at all I’ve been tricked, it is horrible and next thing I know- oh looks like Stephen figured it out”
It doesn’t make a whooshing sound. Instead it is the feeling of a whooshing sound with every fiber of thier beings. Rebecca gets knocked off of her feet by it is and lands in an undignified thump on the ground, “Yes wonderful, in the dirt again. Doing things myself is fan fucking tastic”
Jerimia helps her back up, “See being helped up is nice wouldn’t you say”
She scowls and instead of coming up with a pithy reply she looks around. The sky has gone from the soul shattering blue to an alien sea green. She’s seen that sort of color before, it was between two other colors in one of the most brilliant sunsets she’s ever seen in her entire life. She remembers that color in particular because it is one of those rare colors that only seems like it is possible to have while one thing is transitioning into another. The grass has taken on the color of bone and when it rustles in the wind that seems to be both coming from everywhere and no where there is a long low clatter like a thousand bony fingers snapping very quietly. Her breath catches as she sees the tree. The tree once a huge icon of unfetter life is now a barren. Its gnarled branches reach twords the sky clawing at the heavens, threatening to rip down the sky leaving only the inky blackness that excisted before the good lord said, “let there be light”. From some of the branches large white sacks hang from nooses, and while she can’t tll from here it looks like some of them are moving. She was to be the queen of the apocalypse, now she knows that this tree was the key to everything, the source of her failure, it is the right hand of the end of everything. No wonder none of them couldn’t end the world. She prayed that this isn’t John’s turf and that they just acidently stumbled into somewhere that is both ancient and terrible, older than Alexander’s magics, Wilson’s snake thing, or even the devil himself. This is the place where the end of all other places is and yet she still feels compelled to ask, “Where the hell are we?”
Stephen comes to join them, “I don’t know. This is a place between other places, and yet it is one of immeasurable power. That tree is strange. I don’t trust it”
Jerimia comes over as well, “I’ve never met a tree I did trust, big green leafy bastards”. Jerimia just wants to be closer to the group. They are silently thankful he is here and they politely don’t say anything about it”
Alexander comes bounding down the hill, “Some warning would have been nice you creepy little man.”
Stephen nonchalantly shrugs, “Oh well when I get into the zone I don’t have time to get out of the zone hold everyone’s hand then get back into the zone so I can finish what I am doing”
They prepared to enter into a nice long bicker fest. Bickering is easier than action, they can keep it up forever, and it means that they don’t have to worry about the tree or any other potentially horrible thing that might happen to them.
Wilson stands brushing himself off, “We went to far in”
Stephen halts mid bicker, “eh”
“This is to far in. I don’t know where we are and I don’t know where we are supposed to be but this is to far.”
Stephen looks a little embarrassed, “We I mean it is hard to aim these sorts of things”
Wilson nods, “The last time I crossed the veil I had to cut my throat and ride in on the wake of the snake. You did good. I can feel its vibations again and they are loud. This is where we are supposed to be. But all of this? There is something about this that isn’t right which is why I say we are to far.
“Or perhaps you just went far enough?” Then suddenly he’s there. He’s wearing his usual flowing black cassock, no shoes, and cane with a silver Orobours for the knob. The cane is new. He hair is longer, from its normal up above the ears executive contour, it now brushes his shoulders giving him a fierce black mane from which his eyes sparkle with a cold fierce clarity. “This is my place of power, my hunting grounds, it is the place between all the places. Here the boundries between life and death are thinnest. If you aren’t careful your essence could just float away and you wouldn’t even notice until you turn around and you see yourself looking at yourself. Then you clutch your heart and it is all over”
All of them are smart enough not to look behind them. All of them except Jerimia who always has to look, to peek around the next corrner, to know a new secret, to weld laser guns to mice for the sake of doing so. He is the essence of invension, and creativity. He is also horribly mad and he has to look. His hand clutches his chest as indeed the see’s himself looking at him self. Then it begins. John charges as Alexander and with a strike quick as lightning breaks his right hand. His hand that he uses for magic. It is the well spring of his spells. Before darting off he slams the cane down on Alexander’s foot. The cruntching of bone ensures that he won’t be going anywhere any time soon. As he dashes off the others rush to follow, except Rebecca.
Jerimia writhing in the dirt stares glassy eyed at his essence, expression frozen in surprise. She realizes his life signs are fading quickly and if she doesn’t do something to save him he will be down for good. She can see it. His essence is trying to help Alexander by healing his foot. But it can’t. It can’t hold onto anything it just slides through him. Half in a panic and wholly on insinct she starts to sing. There is singing and then there is what Rebecca can do with her voice. Rebecca is someone so beautiful you’d give up your soul just to be with her for a few short hours. Deven secretly hopes that should he ever get into the apocalypse game again she could be convinced to join him. Someone like that could rake in more than enough for her and Satan. Getting her to deal with the goat’s urine would be tough though. Her singing doesn’t echo. It doesn’t radiate outwards. In fact no one can hear it except for her and Jerimia’s essence. It stops frantically trying to help Alexander and it looks at her. It comes closer. She can feel it wavering, wanting to return to Alexander, and the wander far and wide. She realizes that if it wasn’t for Jerimia’s strong instinct to protect them it would be long gone never to return leaving everyone’s favorite mad scientist to be nothing more than a lifeless husk. She sings some more, she sings for his life. She sings the same songs in the same way she’s used to damn millions of others. Saving a life is ever so much more difficult than taking one. She sings and slowly, inch by inch she guides Jerimia’s essence back home, then she chains it down to make sure it doesn’t escape.
Jerimia’s body lurches back, the color returning to his face, his breathing normalizing. In one quick motion he tosses a syringe at Alexander, it twirles end over end before sticking into his leg and grabs Rebecca’s hair and gives her the first kiss he’s dolled out in over 50 years. Which, Rebecca notes, is for the best. Letting go of Rebecca who collapses to the ground gasping for air, he runs over to Alexander, “How is the compound working?”
He nods standing back up flexing his hand, “Shall we?”
The other two nod and charge up the hill where the battle is in full swing.