Nephilim: Genesis Of Evil - novelonlinefull.com
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A line formed on Jimmy's brow, an etching of his troubled thoughts. "I can't undo the past," he said, raising a hand when she began to protest. "No, let me finish. I'm an old man and my time is near " Anna objected again, and he again shushed her as if she were a child. "Now listen to me. You blame me for what happened to Paul."
Images of her husband popped into her mind, first of him dressed in his Sunday best, waiting for her to finish dressing so they could go to church in Nederland, the alluring smell of his aftershave lingering near her. The picture burst and she saw him lying p.r.o.ne on a stretcher, wet clothes stuck to his body, his blue face molded into a lifeless mask.
"The accident was my fault, that's true," Jimmy continued. "I shouldn't have gone out on the lake, even if it was icy. It's just that I had to get to the Barton cabin "
"No more," Anna interrupted him, her tone clipped and angry. "We've been over this a thousand times. I don't care what you were doing. And I don't want to hear any more stories about needing to find something over there. What's done is done."
She immediately saw the hurt swim in Jimmy's soft eyes, but before she could say more, he turned around and shuffled toward the door.
"Hey, Dad, I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I shouldn't have yelled at you."
"I hope you can forgive me," he said over his shoulder. "Before it's too late." The door creaked as he went through.
"Darn it!" Anna hissed through clenched teeth. She stared down at her hands, tightened into fists. "Why'd you have to bring that up now?"
She knew the answer even as she asked the question. Her father brought up Paul because he saw the look on her face. It was the same look she'd worn too many times to count. That wishing she could turn back time expression, as if then everything would be better. She knew she shouldn't think that way, but she struggled with it all the time. Her life was supposed to be different. By now she and Paul should've had a house in Boulder, good careers, a few kids. The whole shebang. Instead she was eking out an existence up here at this silly store and waiting for her father to die.
"Lord, forgive me," she whispered as the last thought pa.s.sed through her mind. "I didn't mean it like that."
In truth she didn't mind taking care of Jimmy. She wouldn't consider leaving him with hired help and she would never allow him to go into a nursing home. But her hands were tied until he pa.s.sed away, and they both knew this. But she blamed him, too. He was right about that.
Anna felt a burning behind her eyes, a headache coming on. She rubbed at her temples, willing the pain to go away. As she glanced out the front window, she saw Jimmy rocking in his chair, a sad expression on his wrinkled face. She felt a weight settle over her.
Her father was right, she thought again, and that made her as depressed as anything. She did blame him for Paul's death. Jimmy had tried to explain things to her the day it happened, but she didn't listen. She couldn't listen. Not with Paul's body lying under the white sheet, waiting to be carted off like a dead dog. And Jimmy tried again to talk about it when she had visited him in the hospital as he recovered from hypothermia, but she turned a deaf ear to him. In fact, she'd never really let him explain why he was out walking across Taylor Lake in the middle of winter. She'd never really cared. Paul was gone, drowned while trying to save Jimmy. Her future had been irrevocably altered, and the accounts of an old man didn't seem to matter.
And she needed to move on, just like he said.
Anna wondered why the memories seemed so vivid today. It must be my date with Rory, she thought as her heart fluttered. All those old feelings of attraction to a man begged for her acknowledgement. It had been so long since she'd allowed herself to feel anything for another man. It was exciting, but also terrifying.
But she couldn't think about another man without thinking of Paul. He was the one for her, a great man, an even better lover. They were going to have kids, had held off for a while, thinking they had years for that. She'd never imagined herself with anyone else. What would happen if she let herself fall in love again? What would happen to her memories of Paul? She knew she needed to let go, that it would be okay to allow herself to remember the good things about Paul, and let the bad things go. She should resume her life and not let this tragedy hinder the rest of her days. She looked out the window and sighed.
It would be easier if she didn't have to walk by the lake every day. Much easier. Then, not for the first time since Paul's death, the question popped into her head. What was her dad doing trying to get across the lake? Why did he have to get to the Barton cabin?
With fear in his heart, Brewster returned to his cabin from town. It had started. Everything that his daddy had warned him of, had always told him you'll know, just like your granddaddy did. He ma.s.saged his chest in the spot where his daddy always thumped him when they had that conversation about his granddaddy. He knew things and so will you.
He got his Bible, old and worn, from the mantle above the fireplace and cracked it open. It had been years since he'd opened it, but he went right to the pa.s.sage in Genesis. He reread the pa.s.sage on the Nephilim, how they were on the earth in the days of the Great Flood, but also afterward. He thought about the black flash he saw in town. They were here now.
And they wanted their release. Brewster sat down on a worn sofa and thought back to his childhood, all those times his daddy talked. How the old cuss could go on! As a boy, he'd tune his daddy right out. He rubbed the spot on his chest and strained to remember some of the words.
They're spirits, wandering around this earthly plane since the Flood.
You need to be listening in church, boy. The Great Flood that wiped out the earth. But it didn't get them. And now they're condemned to wander the earth, spirits that can't get onto the next spiritual plane.
He must've looked confused, because his daddy threw up his hands. Heaven, boy, enlightenment, peace, whatever that is, they can't get it unless they perform a ceremony to release their spirits from this earth so they can move on.
And they came back to the Crossing?
Yep, that's what your granddaddy knew. And they needed hosts.
People, boy, they needed bodies for the spirits to reside in, until they can do their ceremony and get enlightenment. Those bodies have roles, and each has a part in the ceremony. The four elements are key as well, helps them harness their power.
What are those?
Fire, earth, air, and water. They get them, and the ones with roles, they can do the ceremony. If that happens, boy, watch out.
He sat back, the memory vivid now. He'd never really known what it all meant until now. But he didn't know who would fulfill all those roles.
He got out a piece of paper and thought about what he knew so far. They needed a gatherer. That one was here the blackness he'd seen earlier told him that but who was it? He'd have to watch, see who in town was missing. And they needed representatives of the four elements. Who would those be? Someone that had something to do with fire, and the same for earth, air, and water. There were others, ones to perform the rites. It would be someone who dealt with death, someone who prepares the dead, that's how it worked. A mortician. But there wasn't a mortician in town. He shook his head. At least not yet.
What other roles? One with the words. Oh, what were the rest? He pounded the table. Someone had to do something with the words, was that right? He tried to think this through, but couldn't come up with them.
What a time for my mind to wander, he thought. Can't remember. And he couldn't tap into any memories of his father talking, either. He hit the table again. How could he help when he didn't know who would fulfill the roles?
Samuel Friedman stood idly at the cash register, waiting for a young couple seated in the corner to finish their meal and leave. From the kitchen, Elvis Presley belted out "Hound Dog". Samuel tapped his finger on the counter and glanced at the couple. They were talking animatedly and didn't seem to be in any hurry.
He sighed audibly. He'd cleaned up all the tables except theirs, and he wanted to clean up the kitchen, get the lunch mess taken care of. Joan had gone over to visit with Lillian at the post office, so there'd be no one to watch the front if he were back in the kitchen.
Shouldn't have left me here alone, he thought to himself as he thumbed through an outdated copy of People magazine. Yesterday's gossip, for all the good it did him.
The couple finally gulped down the last of their iced teas, dropped some money on the table for a tip and sauntered up to the counter.
"Good meal," the woman said. "Best burger I've had all summer." She had a sharp New York accent that was hard on the ears.
"Thanks," Samuel beamed, taking the proffered money and getting change. The register drawer was full of bills, the sign of a good day's work. But then he was successful at pretty much everything he did. He was a leader, a go-getter, and he didn't get pushed around. Except by his wife. In all their years of marriage, he rarely contradicted Joan. Whatever she wanted, she got. That's why he was here instead of fishing, and Joan was enjoying herself with Lillian.
"Hey, what's up with that old guy hanging around the dock," the man said, crossing his arms and looking Samuel in the eye. His demeanor had the same East Coast bluntness as his wife's voice.
"The weird-looking guy," his wife added. "He told us to watch out."
Samuel met the man's gaze and grinned. "Is he giving you folks problems?"
"He said something about things were burgeoning," the man said.
"No, Duane," the wife waggled her head at him. "He said to watch out for Burgess. Like a name," she clarified for Samuel.
"Oh," Samuel said.
"That's what I meant, Dee," Duane said sarcastically. He didn't appreciate being corrected.
"I wouldn't worry about Old Man Brewster," Samuel said. "He's harmless."
"Who's Brewster?" Duane asked.
"The old guy who told us to watch out for Burgess, you dolt," Dee shot back at Duane. "But who is this Burgess person?"
Samuel smoothed his mustache. "Burgess Barton was a miner who lived here in the 1880's."
"Was he the one that named the town?" Duane interrupted.
Dee rolled her eyes at Samuel, as if to say, "Look what I have to deal with." She patted Duane on the cheek patronizingly. "Sweetie, the town was named for a man named Taylor, not Barton."
Duane stared at her in surprise. "How do you know that?" he said angrily.
"It's true," Samuel interjected, trying to avoid the argument brewing between Duane and Dee. "A man named Taylor capitalized on mining traffic in and out of these mountains. He made a mint without ever putting a foot underground." Samuel could appreciate such business ac.u.men.
"So what's the deal with Burgess?" Dee was not giving up.
"He was a miner who lived across the lake," Samuel continued.
"There's a cabin over there? I don't recall seeing one." It was Dee's turn to look surprised.
"If you head out on a boat and get toward the middle of the lake, you can see the place. It's tucked into a little clearing in front of a cliff, and it's hard to see."
"Why would anyone want to live out there?" Duane asked. "It's pretty remote, isn't it?"
"Yep. But I guess that's what ol' Barton wanted." Samuel smiled. He leaned his arms on the counter. "Supposedly he did some mining out there. Even had some gold ore that he showed around town. But there's no mine out there that I'm aware of."
"So what's the scoop?"
Samuel pursed his lips. "The way I heard it, Burgess Barton came from the East Coast. He was a professor, or teacher, I forget which." He wrinkled his brow, thinking. "Anyway, he moved out here and built himself that place out in the middle of nowhere."
"But why would a professor want to try his hand at mining?" Duane asked.
"There was a lot of money to be made," Dee pointed out.
"But not if there's no gold there." Now Duane acted like Dee should've known this.
"You build out there if you don't want to be found," Samuel said. They both looked at him questioningly. "The way the story goes, Burgess Barton had a secret he was running from. What better place to hide than on a patch of land that's so difficult to get to, the only way you can get there is by boat."
They nodded in understanding.
"Sure, that makes sense," Dee said.
"Of course," Duane added.
"But why would that Brewster guy be telling us about him?" Dee asked.
Samuel shrugged. "Now that's the real mystery." He tugged at his moustache and winked at Dee.
Dee shook her head and pushed Duane. "Okay, enough of this. Let's check out that antique store. Thanks very much." They headed out the door, bickering about Samuel's story as they went.
Samuel watched them go. Then his mind flashed to Old Man Brewster. He's been on a roll lately, he thought. Giving everybody a run for their money. Must be something in the air.
He grabbed a rag and cleaned the couple's table, tidied up the dining room, and sauntered back to the kitchen. The small radio on a shelf belted out "Surfin' Safari" by the Beach Boys. Samuel loved the oldies, and his head nodded in time with the song. He went to the sink and turned on the water, and began to tackle the pile of dirty dishes. Pots and pans stacked on a metal counter next to the sink waited for his attention.
He had a habit of talking to himself, his way of keeping his mind occupied. "Could use your help, Joan," he muttered, pouring soap onto the dishes. He attacked them with zeal, scrubbing while he talked to himself. "I should be drinking a beer right now, instead of serving them up here while you're gone. That's all I do is serve: serve drinks, beer, get people sodas, or water. Yep. I serve and what do you do, Joan?"
By the time he'd finished all the dishes and started on the pots, he had worked himself into a righteous indignation.
"Did she ever think I might want to take off for a while?" He slid pots into the sink. Soapsuds billowed up into his face. "Fishing's probably great today." More pots into the water. He scrubbed at one. "This grime's really sticking," he said to no one. He straightened up and stared at the mess before him. "It'd be better if I let this soak for a bit." He nodded once to himself. "I can get this before dinner." He looked around the kitchen. Everything else was put away, and Joan should be back soon. It wouldn't hurt if he left. The town knew that he and Joan operated the place casually, sometimes leaving during off-peak hours.
He had argued himself right into an afternoon of fishing. He'd go find Ed and get out on the lake for a bit. Let Joan deal with these dishes, he thought.
"All right then." He took off his ap.r.o.n, tossed it onto a butcher block in the middle of the room and headed out to the dining room. He retrieved a pre-made sign from under the front counter. "Be Back In A While," it said. He hung it in the front window, bolted the door, and went back through the kitchen, grabbing his fishing gear from a closet by the back door. He tugged on his cap and went out the back door.
Samuel glanced at the cloudless blue sky as he headed in the opposite direction from Ed's cabin. This was the way Ed had been going to the lake, and he figured that Ed wouldn't return home without stopping by the cafe to let him know how the fishing was, so it stood to reason that he was still out somewhere.
Samuel pa.s.sed Taylor Lake, and he thought about Burgess Barton, living on the other side. It would be a great place to escape to, he mused, shielding his eyes as he searched for his pal. Satisfied that Ed was not among the fishermen either out in boats or fishing along the sh.o.r.e, he continued on past the general store. The porch was empty.
"Too blasted hot for Jimmy," Samuel murmured to himself.
He followed the road outside of town. Part of the Crossing's charm was the abundance of outdoor activities, but the locals knew of a number of unused trails, and they guarded these undisclosed spots like gold. He soon veered onto a barely discernable trail through the trees, one that led up to a smaller lake with no name that most visitors to Taylor Crossing didn't know of. If Ed wasn't fishing Taylor Lake, he'd be there. The fishing wasn't as good as Taylor Lake, but it was secluded, which was precisely why Ed chose to fish there. He hurried along, wanting to find Ed as soon as he could, so he'd have more time to fish. Joan was going to be irritated, but she'd get over it.
After a few minutes of uphill walking, he came to a fork in the path. He took the right one, heading further from the Crossing. The path went around a gigantic rock outcropping that jutted from the mountainside. He walked around it and sat in its shade for a moment.
"Man," he said, wiping his face. He wished he'd remembered to bring some water with him. But Ed'll have some beer, he thought. That'll hit the spot.
He started on, watching the path as he went. All he heard was the sound of his breathing and his feet hitting the dirt.
"Ed," he called out. His voice drifted away, lost in the trees. "I don't have much time," he said to the emptiness around him. "I got to get back before the dinner crowd, or Joan will serve me as the main course." He cracked a wry smile at that.
Sunlight streamed through the trees, burning the back of his neck as he walked.
"Don't know how much fish we'll catch in this darn heat," he said to himself. He swatted at a fly. "Why don't you go find some shade?" he asked the annoying insect.