Chapter 4

Chapter 4

A Chapter by Rocki-san
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The boys are sent home for their next case and are surprised at what they see. They find old family friends and the ruins of their old home, could this be the break they were looking for?

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It had been a day or two after the ghoul incident and Logan was recovering slowly but surely, you could tell by the various curses against the universe. The kids were beginning to wake up and, though they were in a lot of pain, they would live. Logan was passed out on Keno’s shoulder who looked less than pleased to have him there.

“Push him,” I said.

“I don’t know what he’s carrying in the depths of that abyss he calls a jacket.” Keno said. “Besides, just another thing to keep in our back pocket should we need it.”

“He’s starting to get color back in his skin,” I observed and Keno looked down at him.

“Yup,” Keno said but looked back out the window.

“What’s up?” I asked, he seemed distracted which was unusual for Keno.

“Nothing,” he said. “Get some rest.”

“Nothing, huh?” I leaned back in the uncomfortable seat. “Is that why we’re once again avoiding Headquarters and heading south east?”

“It’s just this next case,” Keno said. “Bennett gave me the train information but didn’t tell me what town or what happened. Just that we have to do a follow up on a case the CCOR had years ago.”

“How long ago?” I asked.

“About,” he looked at his notes. “Ten years ago.”

I took his notebook and looked at the notes but it didn’t have any other information.  I handed it back and looked out the window. A case from ten years ago in an unknown town, it was peculiar but interesting at the same time.

“What is he planning?”

 

The three of us sat in the car we’d gotten from a few towns back. We were at the train station, or what was left of it, it seemed to have been out of service for a while now, possibly years. The wood rotted and cobwebs littered the nooks and crannies.

“What is he planning indeed,” Keno pondered as he looked around what seemed to be a ghost town, literally or figuratively we weren’t sure yet.

“There’s nobody here,” Logan sighed with annoyance.

The buildings were in complete disarray and looked to be older than they actually were. Many of them looked as though they could fall at any second, the shingles were barely attached and the wood was black with rot and burn. Each building was the picture-perfect haunted house, complete with crooked fences and broken windows. The whole village had no color, the grass, the trees and flowers abandoning the land years ago, the ground charred from a long ago fire and reduced to nothing but dust. The whole town in itself was a phantom, a shadow of its former self.

I stepped towards a wood plaque that hung near the old ticket booth. It swayed in the wind, the creaking of rusted hinges only adding to the eeriness of the town. I picked up the old wood, some of the letters had eroded off the sign but I could still read the name of the town.

“Ozzie, what’s wrong?” Keno walked over, probably seeing my face drain of color. Logan took the plaque from my hands and wiped the ashes off the face of it.

“Sodgrove Valley,” he said darkly. “He sent us home.”

“I didn’t even recognize it,” I muttered and we all took another look. I now recognized the buildings; that one down the street with the shattered bay window used to be the store where the three of us would race to every day, the one across the street was the old school house.

“Neither did I,” Keno said and started walking. “Come on, let’s go do some damage control.”

“What exactly are we supposed to do?” Logan asked as we followed.

“Report on the current status of the town, the satisfaction of the locals, and what can be done to rebuild the town.” Keno said.

“Shouldn’t they have done that the day after the raid?” I asked with disdain.

“You’d think,” Keno sighed. “But when have they ever done what was best for those that aren’t near or in HQ?”

“True,” I said and stopped to look up at a far away hill across the river. The remains of a willow tree that was almost burnt to the ground stood black against the dark sky. A few pieces of wood stuck up from the ground along with a stone that was placed to the side.

I bolted off at a run, Keno called me back but I barely heard him. I could see people in the windows and alleyways, watching the tears fall from my cheeks but I didn’t care. The splintered wood of a bridge cracked under my feet and I had to jump over a few holes where the wood had rotted away. Twigs were the only remnants of the bushes we’d hid behind that night and I jumped over them without a second thought.  

I was panting hard by the time I reached the hill and my heart beat violently in my chest. Logan, much faster than Keno and I, wasn’t far behind. He looked at the grave stone, breathless as well.

“Damn,” he sighed and read the stone. “Renee Noir, Loving Wife, Mother, and Friend. December 8.”

“These crosses are for us then,” Keno said. “Keno, Logan and Oskar, missing.”

“I told Nana that we couldn’t put gravestones because we had to assume you were alive until proven otherwise.” I turned to see a girl, about my age, walking up the hill we were standing on. Her hair was brunette and long, lavender bangs lined her face. Her eyes, a deep green were full of tears as she looked at us.

“Rain,” Keno said with a smile. “Long time, no see.”

“I knew you were alive!” She said and jumped on me in an embrace. I stumbled back slightly against the hug and looked at my brothers pleadingly.

“Aw,” Logan grinned.

“You don’t remember me?” Rain held me out at arm’s length.

“I didn’t say that,” I said and she sighed.

“I’m a mind reader, Ozzie, a psychic?” She said.

“Oh,” I said and looked at Keno for help.

“You used to play together all the time, you don’t remember?” Keno asked.

“Maybe a little?” I said.

“It’s alright,” she smiled. “I’m just glad you’re all okay!”

I felt Logan nudge my arm and looked down to see our old house, if it could even be called that anymore. Only a seared patch of land was left in the spot our house once stood. The ground was not only blackened, but barren of any vegetation around. Several pieces of splintered wood scattered the area, some even appeared to be thrown about in the demons search all those years ago.

Just looking at the area you could see the violence, the bloodshed, the fear and misery. It was only nostalgia that led us here, the idea of a home, a place for love and shelter from a world that wasn’t always too friendly. A place where one could always be happy because they were with family. And it was gone. I was only young when it was taken from us, but I knew, I still felt the pangs of loss.

 “Was there anything salvageable?” Logan questioned.

“No,” Rain still didn’t let go of my hand as if it provided some comfort. Finally, I could remember her, my best friend as a kid, almost a sister. She was my only company while Logan and Keno went off to school and mom was doing house work. From the small smile on the corner of her lips it was clear she felt my recollection.

“Well, so much for finding whatever the demons were after,” I said.

“I don’t think it was in the house,” Keno contemplated. He continued after seeing our quizzical looks. “Well, look at the town.”

From this spot you could see the whole town, well, all that was left of it anyway. The main street seemed to be the only place still standing, many of the other shops and houses completely burnt to the ground.

“The demons came down the mountain to our house. If all had gone as they’d planned, they would’ve grabbed whatever it was they wanted and went back that way. Instead, they burned down our house and then started searching around it. They destroyed the whole town looking.” He elaborated. “They never got what they came for.”

I dropped the rucksack to the ground and we began looking through our things, the things that mom had left us. Because we weren’t sure of what they’d wanted we hadn’t even used the three thousand Pieces, just in case there was some… peculiar Opal or Emerald in the bunch.

Even though I didn’t need the transmitter, it was a requirement for all CCOR soldiers. It was your badge and had every tool a hunter would need, except the weapons of course. It was also a leash, built with a tracking device and transmission mechanism just in case they needed you to sit, heel, or some other trick. I only used mine as a tool in case it was needed such as now.

I used my transmitter to analyze some of the things in the bag, a watch, a compass, toothbrushes and a canteen. Mom knew we would be roughing it but I’m sure she had no idea what it would really be like. An old first aid kit that must’ve been older than both her and dad combined had come in handy but it also wield no result.

“There’s nothing here,” Logan groused and looked up at Keno. “Back to square zero, again.”

“Isn’t it ‘square one’?” Rain asked.

“We’re not so fortunate,” Logan grumbled.

“Well,” Keno sighed. “We’ll just have to go around town and see if anything was stolen. I’m sure that’s why Bennett sent us here rather than another team. We’ll get some useful information.”

 

“My word, it’s true! You boys are back!” Rain’s grandmother, whom we called Nana, gave us all bone crushing hugs. It was hard to believe a four-foot woman could be so strong. “Look how you’ve all grown! Keno, you look just like your father!”

Logan and I both snickered but that soon ended as the old woman took my face in her hands and began examining me. “You raised them yourself?”

“Yes,” Keno said. “It was just us until three years ago when we joined the CCOR. “

“What were you doing before that?” Nana asked.

“Small jobs,” Keno said only to get a look from the ancient woman who knew perfectly well what those jobs were.

“I see,” she said. “Well, the three of you are safe and healthy, a little scrawny, but safe and that’s all that matters.”

“Nana,” I said. “Do you think you could name everything you lost in the raid?”

“There was only a bit of damage done to the first floor. We live close enough to the river so it wasn’t a problem.” Nana said.

“Grandmother, he means if anything was taken by the demons.” Rain said.

“No, they didn’t even touch anything, just searched through the rooms and cupboards and then they torched it.” Nana said with furiously dark eyes.

“Then whatever it was that they wanted it wasn’t here either.” Logan said.

“We’ll need to go around the Valley and get reports from everyone,” Keno said.

“Alright, you boys come back here for dinner and a place to sleep, alright?” Nana said.

“We couldn’t-“ Keno started.

“Nonsense, we don’t have much but you boys are like family.” Nana said.

“I told you,” Logan grinned. “You’re afraid of getting help from other people.”

“Soteriophobia is the fear of dependency, not asking for help,” Keno said and turned back to Nana. “Thank you.”

“No thanks are necessary!” She smiled.

“Alright, Logan take the north side, Ozzie the south and I’ll take down town,” Keno said.

“Okay,” I said and got to work.

I had gone door to door for an hour, and to round up how many houses that was I’ll tell you. Four. Only four houses as they were all few and far between.

“I forgot how backwater this town was,” I sighed just as the next house came into view.

“Yeah,” she said. “I wish I could fully remember what it used to be like. I only have pictures to go by.”

“At least you have those,” I said. “The only picture I have is our family photo.”

“Remember how we used to race down the road to meet your brothers after school?” Rain smiled.

“Yeah, I always won,” I smirked.

“Or I let you win,” Rain said. I snorted skeptically as we reached the house.

 I knocked on the door to the last house, a one story small cottage with few rooms. It also appeared to have suffered through the raid, the broken windows covered with plywood.

“Tell me again, why did you come along?” I asked and turned to look back at Rain.

“I’m curious,” she said. “About the CCOR I mean.”

“Why, are you going to join?” I asked.

“No, I’m not a violent person,” she said. “I do want to help in the psychology division, however.”

“Psychology?” I knocked on the door again as Rain nodded.

“Yeah,” she said. “With my psychic abilities I think I can help a lot of people. I have to learn a bit more before I can go to HQ, but it’s something to aspire to.”

“Oh,” I said just as the door opened. No luck there either. We walked down the dirt road away from the cottage of a timid family. I was annoyed and frustrated by this time. “What the hell were the demons after?”

“How do you know they were looking for something?” Rain asked.

I stopped suddenly as a thought struck me. I turned to look at the house again, the demons had only been there a few seconds before burning it down. They were only looking in the rooms. I ran back to the house and knocked again.

“Yes?” The frail mother asked, her baby on her hip.

“Ma’am,” I said. “Approximately how many rooms do you have?”

“One bedroom, the living area and kitchen are one room, then there’s the bathroom and a closet.” She said and I looked to see a spot in the lawn nearby, unnaturally empty.

“Was there a building there too?” I asked.

“Yes, there used to be a shed there, the demons burned it down.” She said with confusion.

“Okay, thank you,” I said and turned as she went back into her house. Rain looked at me, bewildered, unsure of what was going through my mind. “Let’s go.”

“What? Where are we-? Ozzie!” I bolted down the road, running full speed toward the center of the village. “Wait!”

It was a long run, Logan would be proud since he was the runner, a lazy one but that’s beside the point. It was fortunate for me that it was a cool autumn day which made the run a fraction easier. I only slowed when my lungs and legs ached from the strain.

Keno and Logan were standing in the town center, waiting for me to finish. They watched and waited for me the catch my breath and Rain to catch up.

“We didn’t find anything,” Logan said as he blew a strand of hair from his face. “Every house said the same thing, ‘the demons came in, looked through the rooms, broke a few things, and burned the rest.’”

“What did you find?” Keno asked.

“I don’t think,” I panted. “They were after an object.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Logan asked as we both looked at Keno. He seemed disconcerted, his forehead furrowed with concerned thought.

“It means they weren’t after something,” Keno sighed. “They were after someone.

 

“I want to go home,” I whined as my tiny legs struggled to keep up with Logan and Keno.

“Well we can’t, so stop complaining,” Logan growled.

“I want mommy,” I could feel tears falling down my cheeks.

“She’s dead, get over it.” Logan replied bitterly. I stopped walking and cried, Keno stopped immediately while Logan continued for a little bit.

“Logan,” Keno sighed with frustration.

“It’s true,” he muttered.

“He’s six,” Keno said. “This is hard enough without you trying to make him feel worse.”

Logan only crossed his arms and sat on the cold ground already dusted with snow, waiting for me to stop crying so we could continue.

“Hey, Ozzie,” Keno knelt in front of me. “Come on, we’re almost there, okay? Just a little longer.”

“I’m tired and cold,” I whined. “I don’t want to keep going.”

“Here,” Keno turned so I could climb on his back. “Better?”

“No,” I said. “Why are we out here? What about Nana and Rain?”

“I don’t know,” Keno said. “We’re just going to get to the next village and we’ll figure it out from there. Can you do that for me, Oz? You can be strong, right?”

“Like you and Logan?” I asked and wiped away the tears.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Okay,” I said and slid off his back to walk. I ran up to Logan and sat next to him, knowing that Keno would stop here for the night.

“Alright, I’m going to get firewood before it gets dark,” Keno said and began drawing in the dirt. “Stay in the circle, both of you.”

“Come on,” Logan complained.

“I mean it,” Keno said and took the sword he’d gotten from the house before it went up in flames. It was strange to see him with such an instrument, something so dangerous and deadly. It was big, almost longer than his forearm and yet he handled it like a pro. “Logan .”

“I don’t have to listen to you,” Logan muttered.

“Yeah, you do, mom put me in charge.” Keno said. “And I’m older.”

“The sooner we find dad the better,” Logan said. Keno just ignored him.

“Stay here,” Keno repeated before disappearing into the nearby woods.

“Why are you so angry with Keno?” I asked but Logan just turned the cold shoulder. I  pouted and took the rucksack to hold it close. It smelled like home, like cinnamon and something baking in the kitchen, it also smelled like mom, and just for that second I could forget all this was happening. It was just like being home. I looked up to see Logan’s shoulders shaking slightly as he tried to hide his tears.

It had been a while and still Keno hadn’t returned, Logan was still turned away from me and we both had dozed briefly. I awoke to the sounds of rustling in the nearby brush. I sat up and looked but I couldn’t see anything in the shadows of dusk.

“Keno?” I asked and stood up to walk over to the bushes. “Keno?”

Suddenly I saw molten red eyes, two pits of Hell surrounded by a dark abyss. Metallic, mirror-like teeth bared and long black claws flew out of the bush to grab me by the leg, digging deep into my skin. Even through the terror I could feel the hot blood running down my ankle.

The scream was unrecognizable to me, full of lurid panic. The deep growl was like acid and ground up glass in my ears. The demon continued to grin, saliva that was slick and cold dripped from its mouth. I screamed again as I felt hands grabbing my arms.

“Let go of my brother!” Logan shouted through gritted teeth. It nearly pulled me from his desperate grasp but just having his hands there was enough to dull the fear enough that I could feel the pain. “Keno! Keno, help!”

He came out of the bushes, dropping all the wood he’d gathered and his sword in hand within seconds. He ran to where we were, a shimmering light enveloping the blade. The obsidian blade cut through the black, scaled arm as if it were nothing but melted butter.

There was a horrific screech as the blazing eyes melted away and my reflection in the teeth along with it. “Get him back in the circle and put pressure on the wounds.” Keno ordered before going after the nightmare incarnate.

The pain was now setting in and I choked on my tears, the trepidation had taken all the oxygen from my lungs. “Ow, ow, ow!” I sobbed as Logan pressed a cloth against my weeping leg, the pure white turning crimson.

“It’s okay, Ozzie,” he said. “It’s just a scratch!”

“Ow!” I cried.

“Hey, now,” he ruffled my hair and made funny faces. “Stop that crying, do you want to play a game tomorrow?”

“Okay,” I whimpered.

“What game?” He asked and looked at the cut. “What do you want to play?”

“Trains,” I said and he smiled.

“Should’ve known,” he looked up as Keno came into sight. In the darkening light, the black demon blood that stained his face, hands and clothes only seemed like shadows.

“I told you to stay in the circle,” he said and took over for Logan. “Can you start a fire?”

“Yeah,” Logan said and gathered the wood that had been thrown.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s not your fault,” he said. “Just stay in the circle next time, it’ll protect you.”

“How?”

“Well, these symbols take energy from the Earth and use it to keep those monsters away.” He said. “We’re going to sleep in them from now on.”

“Okay,” I watched as he wrapped up my leg. The fire began to roar and I was sent to bed, cold, tired, scared and hungry since there was no food source. I was awake for quite awhile, watching Keno as he kept look out as Logan also rested his head.

Keno was troubled, doubting himself for the first time. Wondering how he was going to do this on his own. He was just a kid himself, how could he protect and raise two others? He would do it though, nothing was going to stop him.

Not even the demons, if he could help it.

“It looks like they’re not leaving us alone,” he said quietly to Logan.

“What do they want?” Logan asked. “What were they looking for?”

Keno was quiet, as if contemplating. I saw his eyes glance in my direction before he took a blonde strand of hair that had been displaced during the fight to put it in its right place. He stared into the bright flames again.

“I don’t know,” Keno said. “But whatever it is, we’re going to fight for it.”

 

I awoke with the feeling of a warm, reassuring hand on my hair and my hand instantly loosened on the grip of my gun under my pillow. It was still dark, possibly three in the morning and Keno was doing his usual rounds, making sure that all was safe and the boogeyman was in his place. To Keno paranoia was an art form, one he perfected. It was probably one of the only reasons we were where we were today.

I could just barely make out the figure of Keno moving over to where Logan was sprawled out on the bed, dagger and gun in his hands and dangling off the bed. He removed both weapons and placed them under his pillow or in another, much safer place. Otherwise, when Logan dreamed about cutting down monsters, it might end badly. He replaced the blanket Logan had knocked to the floor over his shoulders.

“Did I wake you?” Keno asked without looking back, he didn’t have to look to know I was awake.

“No,” I yawned. “I was about to wake up anyway.”

He turned just as I let my fingers trace the three long scars on my ankle from that night. Most of my dreams were memories, usually only the horrendous ones. “I see. You should go back to sleep.”

“What about you?” I asked and looked over to see that his bed had no indentation, no suggestion of it even being looked at let alone touched. “You haven’t slept at all.”

“Don’t worry, I wasn’t tired,” he said and tried for a smile but it was an act. It seemed like Keno couldn’t smile, as though he didn’t know how. They always came out as sad or concerned. It disappeared as quick as it came and his face hardened into seriousness. “I don’t like being here.”

“What, home?” I asked and he nodded, staring out the window.

 “We’ve gone in a full circle, Ozzie, and we haven’t learned a thing since when we left and now.”

“We learned what they were after,” I said and got out of bed.

“No, we learned that we’ve been searching for the wrong thing this whole time,” Keno said. “I hate second guessing myself, wondering if I’ve made all the right decisions.”

“I think you have,” I said and he snorted doubtfully.

“Really?” He said with a hint of anger, not toward me but himself. “You’re fine with everything that’s happened? That we were on the move constantly and you couldn’t be a normal kid? That I raised you both to be soldiers rather than children? Wouldn’t you have wanted to stay here or in some other village?”

“No,” I said. “I wanted to be with you and Logan. I think you did a great job raising us.”

“Yeah, right, one brother is a trigger-happy pyromaniac with a short fuse and the other is a wiseass.” He said as he flicked my head.

“But we’re together,” I said while rubbing my stinging forehead. “And we’re alive.”

The same phantom smile appeared as he ruffled my hair ruthlessly. “Yeah, we are that. Go back to sleep, Ozzie. We’ll have an early start tomorrow.”

“Yes ma’am,” I muttered. Keno’s hand was swift and efficient as it smacked me upside the head.

“A little less sass and a little more snooze,” he ordered. I glared but obliged, slipping under the covers. “Good night, Oskar.”

“Night, Keno,” I said but waited until I heard him sleeping quietly, he worried too much about us and not so much about himself. I was just finishing my thought before slowly drifting off to sleep.  

 

“You boys be sure to come and visit us once in a while, okay?” Nana and Rain had come to say goodbye to us in the cold, early morning. I sat in the front with Keno while Logan sprawled out in the back, he was never a morning person.

“We will,” Keno said. “The CCOR Repair division will be here to reconstruct the village in a matter of weeks.”

“Alright,” Nana said.

 “I’ll see you guys around.” Rain said.

“It was nice seeing you,” Keno said and held out his hand to shake hers. I watched as a shadow passed over her face as she held his hand. Her eyes were dark, glazed over with fear. She was seeing something, something through Keno, but what? The shadow disappeared as she let go of his hand and she pulled it back, close to her heart as if fearful.

“What?” I asked. She snapped out of her trance and a weak smile appeared on her lips.

“It’s nothing,” she said. “Have a nice trip and be careful.”

“Okay,” I said with ambiguity. Keno started driving and I turned to wave goodbye one last time. I looked over to Keno to see that he was agitated with a troubling thought he wasn’t willing to share. “What did she see?”

“Nothing,” he said automatically as if he hadn’t heard the question but knew the answer regardless.

“Keno-”

“Don’t worry about it,” he barked and glanced at me with eyes that were usually violet but darkened to a royal purple. “She just probably saw one of our cases; we’ve had a few terrifying ones lately.”

I leaned back in the seat, he was a little touchy on this subject which was strange considering his usual tranquil. I believed him though; I doubted he would lie to me especially about something as little as this.

The whole ride to the next town was silent except for Logan’s snoring in the background. When we stopped at the next town to return our car I’d told Logan what happened while we waited for Keno to retrieve our tickets.

“He wouldn’t tell you what Rain saw?” Logan asked.

“Yeah, he didn’t want me to know, neither of them did,” I said.

“Weird,” Logan said and grinned devilishly. “Maybe it’s something about Dr. Aalmers.”

“What’s sad is that you actually believe that,” we both looked up to see Keno, holding our tickets with crossed arms.

“It’s only a theory,” Logan shrugged.

“Come on, we leave on the next train in three minutes.” Keno said. Logan and I both looked at each other, perplexed, before following him.

“You know, she is transferring to HQ,” Logan said, trying to draw out information.

“And you keep going,” Keno sighed with exasperation and turned to look at us. “I don’t know what Rain saw, okay? I’ve been trying to figure it out myself.”

“And the plot thickens,” Logan muttered to me before we boarded the train.




© 2010 Rocki-san



Author's Note

Rocki-san
Alright, I think it's a little choppy so I might be coming back to it from time to time... It'll pick up soon, I promise!

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Added on March 27, 2010
Last Updated on June 16, 2010
Tags: supernatural and occult, ANWA saga, sci-fi


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Rocki-san
Rocki-san

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Hey, I'm Rocki! I live on a 14-mile long island where there isn't really anything to do so I write. I'm an Anthropology major and willing to read your stories or books if requested as long as you give.. more..

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