The 4th Paladin Chapter 5

The 4th Paladin Chapter 5

A Chapter by Maria Mercurio

Maya remembers finding out about demons.


Chapter 5

"I remember the day the world changed forever".



     When I turned 13 I told my mom I wanted to stop doing martial arts.  I had done it since I was 4, and while it was fun in the beginning, now it was just time away from my friends and extra pressure to perform well at competitions.  I was still a year or two away from gaining my black belt but didn’t care.  While my friends at school shopped at the mall, I was training.  While my friends hung out after school at each other's houses, I was training.  While my friends had slumber parties, I had to stay home since it was important to get up early to train. 

     “Do you want me to go to the Olympics or something?”  I rolled my eyes at her as she denied my request to skip practice. 

     “That would be amazing.  I think you might even be good enough.”  She raised her eyebrows daring contradiction.

     “That isn’t my dream, mom.  I’m so done with this.  I’m totally bored!”  I crossed my arms and pouted. 

     My mother usually did not tolerate this behavior but on this day she looked at me for a long time trying to make up her mind to tell me something. 

     “What!”  I shouted at her exasperated.

     “I think it's time.  I think you are old enough now to know our family's secret.”  She looked so sad when she said it.

     I sat up bolt straight at hearing this.  “What are you talking about?”  I asked mystified.

     “It's best if I show you.  Grab a jacket.  We’re going for a ride.”

It was a long and confusing drive.  I felt like she was driving about aimlessly searching for something.  I plagued her with questions, but she kept her lips tight as her eyes searched every street we passed.  Finally she hopped on the freeway.

     “I know where you‘ll see for sure.”  She stated with a sigh.

     She drove me all the way to Los Angeles that day.  It took over two hours with traffic and I fell asleep.  She woke me when we stopped.  The sun had set while my mom was driving and it was full dark.  We were in a not so great part of the city.  I looked at my mom with wide eyes thinking she had gone crazy.  She took off her seatbelt and opened the door.  “Stay close to me.”

     I walked next to her, even taking her hand, something I did not do anymore.  She squeezed it, trying to encourage me.  She walked over to a four story dilapidated building and climbed up the fire escape on the outside.  My mouth dropped open as I watched her scale up it.  I followed, wondering where this was all going.  We reached the roof and she told me to crouch down and follow her to the other end.  I huddled in my sweatshirt, telling myself I was shaking from the cold and not from my mother's insanity.  

     “Whatever you do, don’t make a sound.  No screaming.”  She looked at me sternly.

     I went even colder at her words and was truly scared now.  When we reached the low wall on the other side of the building she peeked her head over and bid me to do the same.  That was the first time I knew that monsters lived in our world.  I saw dark and twisted forms that looked strangely like large primates.  They were taller than the average man with sinewy muscular arms and hands that hung well below their knees.  Their skin was leathery and black in parts with dark course hair in others, almost like a gorilla, but more crudely constructed.  Their mouths were the most unsettling sight.  Their jaws looked unhinged as sharp long jagged teeth protruded out.  I counted five of them, and they were circling around a homeless man asleep under some newspapers.  

     “What do we do?”  I asked grasping my mother’s arm.

     “There's nothing we can do.  We’re not strong enough.”  She looked down with pity in her eyes.

     "We have to call the police.  I think they plan on hurting that man."  I start to cry as I watch them get closer and closer to the sleeping man.  I looked to see where my mom was keeping her cell phone, surely she can't just watch this?

     "The police can't do anything.  Those are demons down there.  Anyone we call over would simply die too."  My mom lifts my chin forcing me to look away and at her instead.  “We are special Maya.  Our family is gifted with this second sight.  Anyone else walking by would see nothing.  But the danger of what we see is very real.”  

     “You knew they were here?”  I whisper stunned.

     “No, I found them driving around and parked where it would be safe for us to see them.  You need to know that this is real.  If I had just told you, you wouldn't have believed me.  I know that I didn't when your grandmother told me."

     “Why can we see them?”  I asked not really caring about the answer.  I just wished that we couldn't.

     “Because we're special,” she said proudly.  “Our family is tasked with a sacred duty to protect the world from demons."

     “Why don't we do something then?”  I asked right before I heard the man scream.  I was too scared to look and covered my ears.  Even doing that I knew I would hear that sound in my nightmares.  My mom pulled down my hands and held them in hers.  I looked at her then suddenly angry that she showed this to me.  That she would want me to see this.

    She was watching the scene below, her eyes welling with tears, her mouth set in a hard thin line.  I regretted looking the instant I did, but was unable to look away after.  The demons looked like a pack of wilds animals at a fresh kill.  Biting and tearing off pieces, fighting with one another for parts, and doing one thing that was very un-animal like.  They were laughing, and the man had long stopped screaming.

    I bolted away from the view as fast as my legs would carry me.  I made it almost to the fire escape on the other side before I started vomiting.  I retched until I was dry heaving and nothing was left inside me.  My mom took out some tissues from her purse and cleaned up my tear streaked face and wet mouth. 

     I looked at her in disgust.  "Why did you take me here?  Why did you show me that?"  I started to raise my voice but she clapped a hand over my mouth.

     "Shhhhh!  Not here."  She whispered.  "We can talk in the car."

     I had plenty of adrenaline left, even after getting sick, to fly down the fire escape and make a crazy mad dash for the car.  I wanted out fast!  My mom hurried after me, checking once around to see that we were safe before she opened her door and sat down.  She started the engine and took off before either of us had put on seat belts.  I managed to snap mine in place and glare at her.

     "Oh my God mom!  I can't believe you made me watch that!  That was sick!  I will never be able to go to sleep again!"  I started screaming as panic took over.

     "I didn’t know they had a victim planned when I spotted them.  Often they just wander the streets."  She looked over at me and frowned.  "It wasn't a bad thing to see though."

     "WHAT!"  I shouted so loud that my throat hurt directly after.

     "Now you’ve seen the worst and now you know the truth of the world.  You can understand what you must to do with your life until such a time as you are no longer needed."  She wiped at her eyes.  She talked calmly, but I could tell that what we just witnessed rattled her too.

     "Mom," I breathed out slowly.  "What are you talking about?"

     "The women of our family bear a sacred duty.  Just as we can see demons we can also bring angels into this world."  She looked over at me to see if I was following.

     "Angels?"  I repeated imagining fat little cherubs with white feathery wings. 

     "They are the only beings strong enough to kill the demons."

     "Why didn't we call them then?  We could have saved that man!"  I can't believe it but I contemplated telling my mom to go back.

     "Ah," she put a hand to her head and rubbed her brow ridge.  "I’m not telling this to you right."  She chewed on her lip for a few minutes while she mused.  "OK, here it goes.  There are far many more demons here then there are angels able to defend us.  It’s not a battle that can be won.  It’s a never ending job to keep their numbers down and keep the majority of people on this planet safe.  This grueling task falls on our family and other families like ours around the world.  We are what stops the demons from devouring all the life in this world.  By ourselves, we are not strong enough, but we have the ability to bring angels into our world.  Bringing an angel over is difficult and there is a price that must be paid.  A girl, with our ability to see the demons, can summon the angel and make a being of pure energy into flesh and blood.  An unbreakable bond is then formed between the two.  The angel becomes a being of this world, but they still possess great power, enough to destroy the demons.  The girl transforms as well.  She becomes very strong and can join in the fight against those creatures we just saw.  This girl must offer the remainder of her lifetime to the cause.  Her life is now spent protecting others.  We call the women who do this Paladins."  My mom took a breath and then told me the other bad news.  "There are rules set forth in order to accomplish this.  You must be at least sixteen and no more than twenty years old.  You have to be pure of body and spirit."  My mom grimaced looking down at me.  "We can go over all the details of that more fully later.  Let's just say you need to do things and not do other things until your 20th birthday.  At twenty we are freed from making the sacrifice and it passes on to the next eligible to do so." 

     "This is why you said I can't stop my martial arts training?  You expect me to fight those things?"  My mouth went dry and my heart pounded furiously.

     "It's very unlikely that you will be expected to Maya," my mother sighs heavily.  "The last woman in our family that was called to serve as a Paladin was your great grandmother's older sister.  Her name was Rona.  That was eighty two years ago.  Most of us just continue to train and be prepared in case we're needed, when we are not we move on with our lives."

     "How do I know if I’ll be asked to do this?  Who asks?"  I looked suddenly up at the sky thinking about waiting for some thundering voice to call out to me.

     "Another Paladin will come for you.  They choose who will be next and who is worthy to serve."  She swallowed loudly and got even more serious.  "On the day you were born, I cried, thinking that a day would come that I would have to tell you this and ask this of you.  So Maya, will you be able to follow the rules and keep yourself ready for the possible day when you might be asked to be a Paladin?  Can you keep our family’s sacred duty in your heart and protect the world if you are needed?"

     I was thirteen.  If I had not witnessed the gory scene of the man be eaten alive, I would have thought this was all so cool.  What thirteen year old girl doesn't want to feel so special?  I imagined how incredibly brave and strong I would be and how proud my family would be of me as I saved the world.

     "Yes mom.  I can do that."  My voice barely even shook as I spoke.

     My mom smiled at me warmly and nodded briefly.  "That's my girl."  She turned on to the 101 freeway and headed north to our home.  "I also need a promise from you today.  I need you to promise that you’ll tell no one of this secret.  You may speak about it with the family of course, but we will wait a few more years to tell your brother."

     "So Dad knows?"  I'm shocked.

     "Yes.  On the day your father asked to marry me I took him home to talk with my parents and aunts.  I told him that after he spoke with my family, and if he still wanted to, I would marry him.  He looked at me puzzled by my odd request.  I had my mother tell him.  I lacked the courage then.  I loved him and was afraid he would look at me differently.  Afraid he would stop loving me."  My mother had a far off glazed look on her face as she remembered the day.  "He came out of the house and I was sitting on that big swing on the porch.  He asked me if this was some bizarre joke, and to this day I am not entirely sure he believes in all this, but when I said it was the truth he got down on one knee and proposed to me again."  She smiled wistfully.

     Wow, I didn’t know my dad had that kind of romance in him.  It was a great story and I immediately thought about telling it to my best friend.  She loved the gooey stuff.  "What about Naomi?  Can I tell just her?"

     My mom shook her head adamantly.  "Absolutely not.  No one, Maya, can ever hear this.  It is an unsung role we play.  People are better off not knowing.  There is nothing they can do and it would just make their lives unhappier.  Besides, no one would ever believe you.  They would think you were delusional or insane, maybe even try to get you locked up.  I need to know your promise will be kept.  It's why I waited till now to tell you.  I didn’t think you could handle this when you were younger, but you’re becoming a young lady now."        

     "It's a lot to take in mom."  I crossed my arms over my chest and hugged myself.  "I won't tell anyone."  I repeated the promise knowing it was what she needed to hear.

     "Do you have any questions about this?"  She said softly.

     "Maybe you should tell me the rules now."  I replied with as much bravo as I could muster.

     My mom went through the list of rules and I asked questions that she had little answer for.  The rules sounded random and silly to me, but I could not voice this when my mom was so solemn about it.  Never cutting my hair was fine with me, I loved it long.  I was annoyed about not getting my ears pierced, I had been asking my mom to do that since I turned twelve and all my friends got these cute little colored rhinestone stud earrings.  I wasn't old enough to get a tattoo, so I didn’t think about it much.  That went for drinking too, but I supposed I would be more bummed about that later.  No drugs went without saying, I thought that would be the easiest one.  When my mom said I had to stay a virgin I wanted to climb inside my shirt I was so embarrassed to talk about that.  I was starting to like boys at school.  Sex was not on my mind, but I had thought about what it would be like to kiss a boy.  She told me no dating, better to keep any temptation away.  Even at thirteen I knew enough to be depressed by this rule.  Not going on my first date until I turned twenty!  I would be so old then!  She was right about one thing.  If I had not seen the demons, I would think this was some elaborate plot to get me to never have a boyfriend.

     We lapsed into silenced after that and I gazed out the window trying to absorb everything she had told me.  My world was tuned up side down.  There were monsters under the bed, they were dangerous, and I could be expected to fight them.


© 2013 Maria Mercurio

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Added on March 13, 2013
Last Updated on April 24, 2013
Tags: young adult, paranormal, angel, demon

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