The Song of Light, "A Young King Arthur Story," by John Pirillo...Arthur is tired of training for knighthood, so Merlin takes him to see something spectacular and life changing.
The Song of Light
"A Young King Arthur Story"
By John Pirillo
The rose is the moon of the dragon bee's delight
The moon is the lovely of the night
The noon is the anchor of the day
As we work our hours away.
--- A Villager's Song ---
Arthur remembered one day as he was doing his daily exercises of raising and throwing his lance, as well as his sword over and over a thousand times and no less, that when he was still barely nine he would sneak out into the village at night and listen to the songs of the wives to their children. He never had that himself. He never knew who his mother was, or his father. So all the more reason to absorb the nightly works of the parents, whose children's sleepy eyes drooped with pleasure before they swam off into dream's sweet embrace.
Sarge caught him slowing. "Lad, do you feel like a windmill, or a knight?"
"A knight, Sarge."
The other knights laughed.
Arthur then saw that he was crossing his sword in a windmill direction about his body. He had no idea why he had fallen into that movement. He was horrified. He immediately began lifting and dropping his sword in the motions taught him by the Sarge. Lift high, drop low. Lift high. Drop low.
Sarge gave him a scowl, but said no more.
Arthur found himself back in that village once more, laying on the rooftop of a roughly hewn building that housed three different families. In those days families couldn't afford their own homes, so they would construct a house in common. Common houses they were called. And common they were. No plumbing. No windows, except those things that were holes in the walls, which let everything inside at night and during the day, including rain, snow, hail and dirt and grime, as well as the loud complaints of the villagers who seemed to never get a break from the drudgery of their lives.
King Uther and the Dark Lady, Morgana, saw to that. Arthur grimaced at the thought.
"Windmill!" Sarge shouted.
Arthur again was surprised to see his arms criss crossing in a windmill design.
Sarge looked on as the knights scattered to their homes, loved ones, and ones they wanted to be with, soon leaving just Arthur standing there, embarrassed and shining as red as a ripe tomato.
Sarge walked over. "What's gotten into you lately, lad? You've been coming along fine. Even the older knights are starting to accept you. Least was." He said with a grumble that bode no well for Arthur.
"Sarge, I don't understand it anymore than you."
The Sarge put his face into Arthur's and scowled even larger. "King Uther and his Lady will be watching our exercises tomorrow. See to it that you make no mistakes. Heads could roll." He lowered his voice, looking to both sides before speaking. "Or worse!"
"What could be worse than losing your head, Sarge?" Arthur asked a bit too loudly.
Sarge clamped a sweaty hand over Arthur's mouth. "Don't you ever be talking like that around me, or anyone else for that matter."
He dropped his hand. "Least not so's any but those you can trust would hear it."
"But who can I trust?"
Sarge grinned. "Why no one of course."
With those final words he rumbled off, singing a simple ditty about drinking and women, women and drinking and a horse that did funny things.
Arthur didn't get it when Sarge would break into laughter, cocking an eye back on him, but he gave it his best and smiled. The Sarge laughed even harder, and soon disappeared into the knight's quarters. Arthur slung his sword back into its rack inside the chambers, then slipped out of his leathers and boots, sliding once more into his tailor's cloth, which was light and simple, with tons of pockets for his tools. He looked up and saw the sun was no longer so high. He had to hurry. He had an order from the King's Chamberlain, and it didn't matter if it was the King or not. Anything that reflected badly on the King reflected badly on Arthur and his head was at stake as such.
Lately, more and more of the court were begging for his work. He couldn't deny them, as they always said how much the King thought of his work and would be disappointed if he could spare no time to help those in need of it.
Arthur would reluctantly agree, while inside he fumed. The villagers whom he often threaded for were going without clothing and mending because of this round of vampiric use of his work. At that thought, he shuddered. Vampires. Where did that evil word ever come from anyway?
He exited the knight's chambers, and then slogged through the wet mud and droppings of the horses and livestock that lived in the yards about the chambers. He made it to the exit from the castle, then nodding to the Guard there; he made his way across the wet moors that led to the Crystal Caves. It was a long walk, especially when he was so tired.
He had a beautiful horse he could have used, but that would have left tracks to Merlin's cave, and he didn't know how to hide that or why he needed that. He was supposed to be going into the village and his quarters there. His uncle usually covered for him and very well, but it only took one time for the entire world to come crashing down on his shoulders. And in this dark world that the King had made, such falling down inevitably led to heads falling off. Or worse if he was to believe the Sarge.
Arthur sat in front of the stone oven warming his hands. It was late. There had been a very thick fog across the moors and into the forest paths as he trekked home. He didn't like walking that late. There had been whisperings of some strange creature in the forest that would pounce on men and eat them if they were unprepared. Weirdest thing was that no one who had survived seemed to remember what it looked like.
"Coin for your thoughts, Arthur."
Arthur looked up from his stool at Merlin, who was leaning on his living staff, its single leaf on top dancing in little steps, even as it remained attached. Merlin's eyes were somber; his face lean and bronzed from the sun where he spent much of the day in the open, doing whatever it was that he did upon the tallest hill of the region. Arthur never asked, because Merlin was quite secretive when he wanted to be.
"In that case I would be a pauper. For I have none and I am still a pauper."
Merlin gave the hint of a smile. "But rich in the lore of the woods, the depth of the land, and the breadth of its waters. Knowledgeable about the rain, the snow, the mist and the fog...."
"Merlin. I'll never be a magician like you."
Merlin caught his breath, about to say more, and then sat down on the opposing stool next to Arthur. "I think you need to get out more."
"I do. Every morning. Early. Before the sun rise, and then until it sets. Sword up, sword down. Spear up. Spear down."
Merlin finally smiled warmly. He put a reassuring hand to Arthur's shoulder. "Some day you will become a great knight. Maybe even the greatest."
Arthur shrugged. "Perhaps, but I'd rather leave that to someone more suited to its craft. I prefer the silence of the woods and the breath of the hills. Like you."
He gave Merlin a hopeful look.
Merlin sighed. "Our destinies are intertwined, Arthur, but yours is not alone with mine. You have a larger destiny to fulfill."
Bitterly. "Yeah. Make clothing for the gruesome twosome."
Merlin actually broke into a peal of laughter, almost falling off his stool. Finally, he stopped, wiped the tears from his eyes and gave Arthur a close look. "Wherever in the world did you learn language like that?"
Merlin nodded. "He's a gruff one, but of good heart. You should listen to him."
"I do, or he whacks me on the behind and even behind metal as I am much of the time, I can still feel it."
Merlin laughed again, but not so long. He rose and gestured to Arthur. "Come, I have something I want to share with you."
They left the warmth of the caves and stepped outside. The mist rose almost to Arthur's waist now and would soon climb even more. Merlin was unphased by it, he continued along a path only his eyes could see. They walked for what seemed like hours and upwards. Finally, Merlin stopped. "What do you think?"
Arthur didn't realize it at first, he was too busy trying not to stumble on anything or lose Merlin in the fog, but then he saw the gigantic stones in a strange array about a center piece with a ritualistic star in hollow. "It's amazing."
"Oh, this is not what I have brought you for."
Merlin waved his staff. "This is."
The fog within the array of gigantic stones blew away from inside and the center became filled with a pure white light that emitted from the center of the hollowed stone. Then he saw it. A great sword, majestic and beautiful stuck in the stone. And from the sword rays of light lanced upwards, filling the sky with dancing light.
Arthur stood there, his jaw fallen and mouth wide open as the lights seemed to twirl and dance about each other, then weave in and out, and start all over again.
"What is it, Merlin? It's so beautiful."
"Hope, dear Arthur. It is the color of hope."
The light danced for a long time, probably most of the night. Arthur lost track of time as he and Merlin stood there watching the carnival of lights that rose and exploded like some kind of foreign weapon, or fairy magic, then collapsed back into the hollow of the stone, then back forth again only to disperse in all directions. Purples, reds, greens, deep azures, magenta swirls, chocolate bursts, blue strokes, lightning flashes of white streaking them all, enfolding them, holding them close until it expanded, absorbed the colors, then itself exploded into a shower of new colors and lights that danced jigs of unearthly beauty for a few moments, before themselves collapsing into a new formation of light and color.
Arthur watched, his heart pounding with joy. And something else. He couldn't analyze it, because he was swept up in the lightshow, an infinitesimally small piece of something so big, so huge, and so vast that he felt like a speck of dust. He honored what he saw, felt his very soul itself bowing in amazement and awe.
"What....Is...It?" He stammered between lips heavy with astonishment.
"It is the Song of Light. The hope of man." Merlin finally said as the light collapsed one last time and then ceased to brighten the hollow of the center stone. The fog began swirling in again. Merlin turned about and headed into it. They walked in silence a long time, until they reached the Crystal Caves.
Arthur was tired, and yet not so tired. He climbed onto his cot, and rather than fall asleep as he was wont, he lay there, his eyes open gazing at the ceiling, still seeing that wonderful cacophony, symphony of colors and light. "What does it all mean, Merlin?"
Merlin was standing before the stove, warming his hands. He was silent a long time, and then he spoke. "It is preparing the world for the coming of a new age. For the rise of a great one to rule over the lands and bring peace and justice. It is the hands of the angels stirring the pot of creation. It is the hope of the Bright One, the Center of All Things. It is your future, Arthur."
Merlin stood there silent a long time, expecting Arthur to comment further, but he didn't. When he turned he saw Arthur laying there, his arms over his chest, his mouth slightly open. At that moment Merlin felt more love for the child than he had for any being on earth. Quietly, he stole to the cot, and drew Arthur's rough tailored quilt over him, then went back outside.
In the heavens a bright star grew even brighter, flashing like an angel's eyes when it sees the Bright One before it.
"Yes. I know. Soon. Soon." He said, a gentle smile on his lips. "Soon."
Then he turned back into the caves and joined Arthur in sleep, resting on his own cot, preparing for the future and the next day. Much to be done. Much not yet done. Much undone that needed mending. But time for all things. Later.
He feel into a deep and restful sleep, his soul guided on wings of light to the realms where only a soul such as he could reach.
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Shake, Rattle and Death
"A Weird Tale"
By John Pirillo
Mark glanced at the oddly shaped man, wearing a long overcoat and scarf that came up to his chin and a huge hat like something out of a cartoon that cratered over his forehead, hiding the eyes staring out from the shadowed, darkness beneath it. Something about the sight of the man sent him into a repetitive siege of violent coughing.
When he finally stopped coughing, he looked at his hand he had put over his mouth. There was blood on it. “Damn!” He thought to himself. He pulled out a hanky and cleaned his hand quickly before some pedestrian could see it.
Then he realized the odd man was still there, still staring at him.
There was something unusual about him. He wanted to put a finger on it, but it kept eluding his grasp. Finally, he shook his head and looked away. Nonsense he thought to himself. He had better things to do with his time. Which at this moment was he had way too much of.
He muttered angrily to himself. He had lost his job, his girlfriend and he had just gotten out of the doctor’s office after the paperwork came back from his last exam. He had lung cancer. Life sure sucked!
He lost his job, because he had failed to read the fine print on a contract he signed for his boss. Had he done so, he would still have his job. He lost his girlfriend because he didn’t think she’d find out about his one night fling. She had. He lost his health, because he had smoked since he was ten years old. He had lung cancer. In advanced stages.
He coughed real hard a moment into his right hand, wiped the blood on his hanky, and then looked up.
A fat old man sat down next to him. He stank from too much sweating. He glanced at Mark. “Whatever happens next, don’t believe a word of it.”
Mark gave the fat man an odd look.
“Okay, so I don’t have wings. But take my advice anyway.” The fat man insisted and got up to leave.
“Wait. Who are you?”
The fat man looked back and smiled. “Gabe. Everyone calls me Gabe.”
He took a turn at the end of the walking path and vanished from view.
“I will trade you.” The oddly shaped man said in a deeply melodious voice.
Mark almost jumped off his bus seat at the sound, and then his heart beating wildly, he turned to see the man staring at him. The eyes were more visible, but there was something odd about them, almost as if they were more like telescopic lenses than true physical human eyes.
“Speaking to me?”
The man nodded.
“Trade what?” He finally asked, being obviously expected to ask that question. But not before he glanced at his wristwatch for the time. The bus was late. No escape there.
“It will be late by ten minutes.” The oddly shaped man spoke to him.
He looked up. “What?”
He looked up, startled now so much that his heart was beating loudly in his chest. So loud he could hear it.
“You’ve been eating the wrong foods for years now. Your arteries are like the 405 freeway in Los Angeles in the morning. Your heart valves look like melted chocolate; they're so coated with fat and cholesterol. They are half way shut down by the corruption constantly coming through the arteries. You will be dead in twenty minutes. Which is ten minutes later, the time the bus arrives.”
“I didn’t actually need that much information.” Mark responded, so aghast at the remarks that he couldn’t think of any other reply at that moment. “Besides which I have lung cancer. I’m going to die anyway. So what do I care?”
“The one is curable. The other is not.”
The oddly shaped man came and sat down on his bench. He scooted to the far edge, almost falling off.
“I will not harm you.”
“Look, mister, I don’t go that way.”
The oddly shaped man laughed. “You think I’m interested in your body? To play with?”
“Whatever you call it, I’m not going there.” Mark answered, starting to sweat with fear now.
“Do not mock death!” The oddly shaped man warned.
“I’m not…” Mark froze. “Death! You’re Death?”
The oddly shaped man nodded. As he did his hat slipped too far forward a moment, revealing a skull head. Death knocked his hat back on again and hid the mistake.
Mark stood up. “I’ve got an appointment with you in Samarkand.”
Death laughed. “I think because you made me laugh, I’ll give you two more minutes.”
Mark was looking around, but no one was noticing. People were walking up and down the sidewalks, busy, their attention on their shopping, their partners, their personal thoughts, not a strange man and a stranger on a bus bench. It was almost as if he had become suddenly invisible. Strange.
“Why then, I’ll give you four.” Death laughed.
Mark dropped back to the bench. “I don’t believe you.”
Death pointed at a pedestrian making an unsafe jaywalk across the busy Las Vegas Boulevard. “He has five seconds to live. Four after he is struck which will be…”
A taxi swings around another car, and doesn’t see the pedestrian. He strikes the pedestrian who flies up into the air and lands in front of an oncoming bus, which rolls over him, then brakes.
People freak at the accident and begin screaming.
“How’d you know that?”
“Death. Yeah. Yeah. I know. But I thought God was the one who chose our moment of death.”
“In a matter of speaking, yes. But you forge your own deaths by every thought, word and deed you do. This pedestrian ignored the laws of physics when he stepped into the flow of moving traffic. God does not strip man of free will. Only man can give up that up.”
Death laughs again. “You’re funny. But kind of shallow.”
“Touché. Another couple minutes then?”
“Only if you trade with me.”
“Your body with mine.”
“You mean I can be death and do all the things that you do?”
“That is correct.”
“I don’t know, sounds kind of fishy to me. A Daniel Webster and the Devil kind of thing.”
“You mean Doctor Faustus, don't you?"
Death scrunched closer, his bones making knocking sounds, which Mark noticed for the first time. "Look at it this way then, Mark. When you are me, and I am you, you can grant yourself an eternal life if you want?”
“I thought you said God did that.”
“Oh, I have some leeway. Even Death has free will with some limitations, of course.”
“Of course and yet. Yet I have to grant you…me…eternal life?”
“Why don’t you just point your finger at yourself and give it?”
“Because I have to be in another body. I can not do it to myself.”
“Then if I switch with you and grant you immortality, I’ll be immortal then?”
“What’s the catch?”
“No catch. Simple trade. You let me have twenty-four hours in your body. I let you have mine to use all its powers as you choose. With limitations, of course.”
Death pulled out a long document. “It’s in the fine print. Nothing big. Stuff like can’t use my powers to score with the opposite sex; can use it to create bullion…”
“Oh. Uh...pirate’s gold.” Death looks at the contract, touches the fine print and it arranges. “Need to update that to read as gold.”
“Well?” He looks over at Mark.
“There’s gotta be a catch. How do I know you’re not going to keep my body and I die anyway?”
Death stands up and plants his feet firmly on the pavement. He raises a hand over his heart. “I swear in the name of the Almighty that you will not die on my body when we switch.”
"I don't believe you."
A sudden burst of lightning strikes the pavement within inches of Mark. He scampers away.
"Okay, I believe you. But what about in my body?”
“I swear that as well.”
Thunder smashes across the skies accompanied by lightning. Pedestrians all look up at the sudden gloom and light.
Mark’s jaw drops open. “God did that?”
“Yes. He always does when I tell the truth.”
Another bolt of lightning hammers the skies and thunder explodes.
Death looks at his watch. “You have thirty seconds to decide.”
Mark glanced around. Everyone that was walking past acted as if he wasn’t even there. No one looked at Death, even though he sat right beside him.
“Okay. I’ll do it.”
“Just one word of advice.” Death told him.
“Death only gets to take a holiday once every thousand years.”
“Oh. I see. So if I don't switch bodies with you now, you lose your opportunity to get a holiday?”
“Okay. What’s next?”
“Just sign here and here.”
“Sounds fair enough.”
“Sign here and here then.”
Death held out a pen. Mark took it. For a second he saw the fat old man across the street shaking his head urgently, making slices across his neck.
Mark shuddered. “Vegas. So many freaks here.”
“Hold my right hand. And close your eyes.”
Mark did. Death poked a bony finger into Mark’s hand. It swelled up with a big red mark, which quickly faded.
“Can I open my eyes now?”
“Count to three, then open them.”
Mark began counting. “One. Two. Three.”
He opened his eyes. Death was no longer seated next to him.
“Oh well. I guess the guy got tired of telling all those lies.”
Mark got up, but as he did he made these strange clanking and clinking sounds. It was then that he looked at his arms and hands. He was wearing all black. His hands were skeletal.
“Wow! It really worked.”
He looked around. Death was nowhere to be seen. Then he saw someone who looked familiar hitting on a cute lady across the street. He walked across the street. A car almost hit him, but at the last moment veered away from him into another lane.
He stopped beside Death, who was now wearing his body. “Hey! Now what happens?
Death looked his direction a moment, gave him a really, sly smirk, and then returned his attention to the young lady.
Mark reached a skeletal hand to grab Death, but it passed straight through him.
“It won’t work.” The fat man said as he walked up.
Mark turned around and his right hand held a scythe. He thought of using it to defend himself.
The fat man backed off, fending Mark off with his hands. “Whoa! I may be an angel, but I can still bleed.”
Mark lowered the scythe. “All right, so you’re a fat angel. Where were you when I needed you?” Then he remembered. “Oh. Well look, I signed a contract. I’ve only got twenty-four hours in this body.”
Mark suddenly vanished.
He found himself kneeling on a hill, his scythe out and pointed towards a battalion of soldiers fighting below against terrorists. A jet roared in from above and fire leaped across the fighters, engulfing all of them.
Mark stood up and what remained below were charred bodies and smoking ground. “Holy Crap!” He shrieked.
He stood there taking in the carnage. Men were screaming in pain. He saw one soldier trying to stand up, but he had no legs; another was crawling along the ground with one missing arm; two men lay on top of each other, their bodies twisted and crisped by flames. One of the soldiers looked up and then screamed. Mark could be seen by him.
Mark, for an unknown reason, lowered his right arm. The soldier’s eyes rolled up in his head and he collapsed. He saw some medics rushing to the man. When they reached him, one felt for a pulse then shook his head. They ran on to the next fallen soldier as the sound of flames and screams merged together across the battlefield.
Mark heard a sound beside him and turned to see Gabe seated there, a sandwich in his lap. He was just unwrapping it. “What? A man’s gotta eat and so do angels.”
Mark frowned. “I thought angels were supposed to be compassionate.”
“We are. Didn’t you put that young soldier out of his pain?”
“That was you?”
“Of course. You’re too new to this death thing to sort it all out yet. I’m here to help you.”
“Well, I’ve only got about twenty three more hours and I’m free of this.”
Gabe took a bite of his sandwich and shook his head. “Nope. Not the facts at all.”
“But I signed a contract!” Mark complained.
“Did you read the fine print?”
Mark started to answer yes, and then he remembered he had only skimmed through the details. He hadn’t read it at all.
Mark groaned and sat down beside Gabe.
“Only for a thousand years.”
Mark growled angrily, and then smacked his knee, causing it to shoot off into the distance about ten feet, before it boomeranged back into its socket again.
Gabe offered half his sandwich to Mark. “Look on the bright side of it, Mark, you’ve got me to keep you company for the next millennium.”
Mark stood up then and shrieked to heaven all the anguish and despair that flooded out of him. As he did lightning and thunder smashed across the skies.
"Oh yeah. That lightning thing. Wasn't." Looks upwards. "Him at all. You got conned just like all those girls you Don-Juaned."
Gabe shook his head and looked down into his lap. “Now where did I put that mustard pack? I always forget something.”
Looks up at Mark. "Just like you."
Gabe laughs so hard, he sprouts wings on his back, and then launches into the air, soaring towards the distant sun, his laughter trailing behind him.
Mark sighs, and then eyes the food that Gabe left behind. He reaches for it, and then puts it into his mouth. It falls through this lower jar back to the ground again.
On the battlefield the medics look up for a moment when they hear the distant sound of a man screaming, and then they get back to work.
The Last Angel
"A Samuel Light Junior Story"
By John Pirillo
A fleeting star of light shot across the heavens. Then an explosion of light. Skies normal again.
"The Last Angel fell from the sky like a meteor."
"Where did it fall, Mom?"
"Very close by."
"As close as I."
Samuel snapped awake in his bed to the sound of the sparrows outside on the sprawling oak tree that stood outside, guarding the front of the home with its gnarly branches, coarse bark and flings of gold and brown leaves that would snow on the front porch and sometimes drift into his room when the window was open as now.
He propped himself up on his elbows and listened. Babies.
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.
Mommies flitting their gray and dapper brown wings through rushes of leaves, branches and twigs to settle into their nests, dropping worms, lady bugs, flies and other assorted delicacies into the open beaks of their hungry children. It was a festival of life and it made him feel secure as he lay there, ruminating about the day ahead.
The noises lessened as the peepers quieted, satiated from their feed.
The sun peered across the windowsill, casting lines of gold and red on the back wall and his closet where the Knight of Knights lived. Something he hadn't seen in awhile, and was happy enough he hadn't. His life was crazy, mixed up in so many ways these days, and it wasn't getting any less.
He finally resisted the urge to go back to sleep. It had been a rough week at school, what with the baseball practice, and the kids who always seemed to have some kind of drama king or queen thing going on.
He remembered a night ago when he spoke with his Mom about it.
"Honey, everyone's adjusting to the miracle of life bursting into living color inside their bodies."
"Not what my science teacher says. He calls it hormone explosions and sometimes other things when he thinks I can't hear him."
She burst into laughter. "I imagine he does. You're not like the other kids, Sammie. You're normal. You're the way they all should be, but instead most are just gradations of normal."
"Why? Why am I so special?"
She smiled. "Someday you'll understand. Now, you just need to get to bed."
She had scooted him upstairs and he had slipped from his robe into his bed. She had tucked him in, even though he was too old for it now, and he had smiled at her.
"Don't ever leave me."
She gave him an odd look, and then smiled. "I would never do that, my little angel."
He gave her a quick hug and kiss, rolled over on his bed, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
Samuel got up, stretched, and then closed his window. It was Saturday. His mom worked at a different place sometimes on Saturdays. "We need the extra money now that..."
She would always stop before saying his dad's name, and then change the topic.
He smiled. He read between the lines with her, as well as she did with him.
One day she had grabbed him by his shoulders. "That's not fair, Samuel, you read me like a book!"
"Even Steven!" He had told her.
She laughed. "Balances for sure." Then gave him a quick hug and went about her chores on that day.
Samuel looked out his window and noticed that new people were moving into the empty house across the way. He saw the truck back up into the drive; some men jump out, dressed in strange uniforms, and then began hauling crates from the back of the truck and bringing them inside.
"That's strange." He mused. "No one packs their stuff in crates!"
He grabbed his cell and flicked Jimbo's number.
"Oh hell, what do you want now?" Jimbo snarled and then hung up.
Samuel counted to ten, and then dialed again.
"Sammie, I hate your guts. Go to bed!"
The phone went dead again.
Samuel waited for twenty seconds this time, and then dialed yet again.
Samuel sat on the edge of his bed.
"You won't believe the kind of neighbors we got moving next door."
Jimbo and Samuel sat on the front porch of his home, sipping Pepsis and eating chips, while they watched the strange men unpack the truck.
Jimbo finished his chips, crumpled the back and then tossed it over his left shoulder, landing it expertly in a trash can there. "Got any more?"
"All that salt will make you fat." Samuel protested.
Jimbo swatted his stomach, which stuck out a bit. "Too late."
Samuel grinned, stepped back inside and brought out the rest of the pack of chips. He and Jimbo polished them off, watching the new people's stuff being moved in.
"Think they're nice?" Jimbo asked, finishing off the last bag.
Jimbo eyed Samuel. "Maybe we'll get a vampire moving in, or a zombie, or a werewolf!"
"No such things."
"Yeah, then what the hell were those things we had to knock off last Halloween?"
Samuel paused, refreshing his memory. "Mistakes."
Jimbo gave him a blank look.
Samuel explained. "Sometimes people cross over and they accumulate so much negativity that they change their shape. That's what you saw."
"I don't see dead people. You do."
"Sometimes." On Jimbo's look. "Well, most of the time." On Jimbo's look. "Okay. I see them all the time. So?"
"So how come I saw them then?"
Samuel shrugged. "Maybe somebody up there...? He nudged his glance upwards.
Jimbo slugged him on his arm. "No angel poking me in the gut to see things, Mister Light."
Then a huge limousine pulled up across the street. A very, very tall man got out. He was wearing all white, and a pair of very, very thick sunglasses so you couldn't see his eyes. He opened up the back and a couple got out, then several kids. They all wore pure white and sunglasses.
"Vampires!" Jimbo drawled. "I knew it!"
Samuel shook his head. "They got shadows."
Jimbo looked at the pavement and sure enough they did. "Maybe they're Jewish."
Samuel barked with laughter.
The new neighbors noticed them for the first time seated on the front porch, watching them. None of them waved.
"Nope." Samuel said.
"How do you know that?"
Samuel turned to his right where Al was seated on the porch railing, playing with a butterfly, which kept trying to land on his finger, but kept passing through. Al looked up and shook his head.
"Let's just say a little birdie told me."
Jimbo scowled. "Old Man Genius again?"
"He doesn't like being called that." Samuel scalded Jimbo.
"Tough." Jimbo groused.
The new neighbors went inside their home. The delivery truck was shut up and the delivery men went inside too.
"Now that is strange." Samuel said.
"Vampires." Samuel finished.
Samuel and Jimbo met again the next morning. The time when vampires usually sleep long and deep. The delivery truck was still there. Samuel had tried to bring it up with his Mom, but she was tired and cranky. She had worked hard and forgot her lunch. So instead, she went to bed.
Jimbo stayed overnight in the sleeping bag Samuel kept for him. They talked for hours about all the strange things they'd seen so far...ghosts, aliens, monsters, and vanishing teens. You name it. Indiana Jones had nothing on them.
"I don't like this. Too quiet." Jimbo said as they slipped across the street and went across the yard, heading to the back.
Samuel shushed him and they stopped before an open cellar door. There were fresh footprints descending into it.
Jimbo gave Samuel that "I told you so," look.
Samuel shrugged. He pulled out his pocket flash and stepped down the stairs, one step at a time. Jimbo followed. When they reached the bottom, he swept the light across the black void, revealing a washing machine, a dryer, a water heater, a sink and about ten pairs of old shoes.
"I recognize those." Jimbo drawled. "Old Hank's."
"Yeah." He must have forgotten them when he moved.
"No vamps." Jimbo said with disappointment coloring his voice.
Samuel pointed the light at a door in the back, from under which a faint green glow emitted. He stepped in that direction. Jimbo stopped him. "What if they're alien vampires?"
"Then I guess we'll just have to deal with it."
Samuel went to the opposite door and tried the knob. It swung open so loudly, its hinges creaking and groaning, he was sure the neighbors upstairs would hear. They both froze, afraid to move further, but nothing happened. Then they went inside.
The floor was a soft radiant green. Ahead of them was a cylinder about six feet high and six feet long. It appeared to be anchored into the floor. Two windows looked out from its near side, each glowing soft green like the floor.
"Aliens!" Jimbo said with awe
Samuel went to the cylinder and looked inside. The hair on the back of his neck stood up straight and began tingling horribly.
Inside were the two adults, the two children and the two drivers, all sleeping on cots like they had died there, arms folded across their chests. At the same time the door into the basement made a creaking sound.
Both boys sprinted for the stairs, spooked by the sound, barely making it through the door, before it slammed shut, then before their eyes began to seal itself and vanish into the structure of the home.
They both stood back, afraid of what they were seeing, no understanding of all what was happening, and then the home began to shake and tremble. They ran for the front, just as the truck backed out of the drive, with no one in its front, and drove off.
They back to look at the home and it was shaking so fast now, it was almost in visible, then a loud sucking sound popped and they were both grabbed by something that felt like a gigantic hand and pulled towards the home. Before they could reach it, the home vanished with a loud crunching sound, and they feel onto a plot of dirt and gravel. Nothing was left of the home or its substructure.
They picked themselves up and ran back to Samuel's home and phoned the police.
When the police arrived, they explained what they had seen. The policeman smiled and shook his head. "Samuel, you're such a jokester."
The Policeman turned and pointed to the home that was now back in its usual spot.
The Policeman flipped his notebook shut, and then clamped a hand on Samuel's shoulder. "I knew your dad. He was quite a prankster too. But he was a good man. A very, very good man."
The Policeman's eyes grew soft and moist for a moment, then he chucked Samuel under the chin gently and went back to his car, climbed in, turned off the overhead flickering red and green lights, and drove off.
Jimbo stared at the home across the street a long time. "Aliens."
Samuel said nothing. His mind was on what he had been told. Someone knew his father. Something special. He wiped at his eyes, which were wetting. Jimbo saw him. "Aw come on, partner, it can't hurt that much to be wrong!"
Samuel burst into laughter and went inside. "Mom left some cake for us this morning."
Jimbo rubbed his stomach. "Cake, here we come!"
The front door slammed shut.
Across the street the very, very tall man stepped outside, and stood a long time staring at Samuel's home, then went back inside.
The Last Angel hovered over Samuel's Mom, his eyes wide with love and compassion. She was sleeping, but when he moved closer, she stirred and opened her eyes.
"Who are you?"
"The Last Angel."
"An angel. A real angel?"
It smiled at her, its face warm with kindness and sincerity. "But you will name me otherwise."
"What will I call you?"
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