Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Forty-one : Human


Sunday night — 12:01 a.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

“I’ll tell you what,” Blane said, “why don’t you see if you can fall asleep with me here? If you can’t sleep, I’ll go next door.”

“I don’t know,” Nelson said.

“What are you afraid of?” Blane asked.

He gave Nelson a cocky smile in challenge. Nelson shook his head.

“I sleep alone,” Nelson said.

“Let’s see,” Blane said. “Just close your eyes.”

Nelson closed his eyes. In spite of his whole “I sleep alone” thing, he was out in a second. Chuckling to himself, Blane rested against the pillow.

He’d thought all of this would be too weird. And, when stepped back and thought about his life, it all seemed pretty weird. Yet in the actual day-to-day living of this life, everything was pretty good.

He found himself becoming fond of Nelson. Not love. Not yet. But he could feel it growing inside him. It was a terrifying and wonderful thought. He closed his eyes to rest for a moment.

“They are coming.”

The words echoed in his head. Blane sat up. He got out bed, pulled on his clothing, and went into the adjoining room. Heather’s body was still lying on the bed. In all of her finery, Hedone was standing next to the bathroom. Abi was sitting in the chair.

“Have fun?” Abi gave Blane a bright smiled.

Scowling, Blane gave her a curt nod.

“What’s happened?” Blane asked.

“The Templars are on their way,” Hedone said. “They plan to kill everyone in this hotel and possibly in this entire town.”

“Why?” Blane asked.

“Because they like to kill,” Abi said. “It’s been a while since they let loose. The hotel is isolated in the middle of a whole lot of nothing. They can kill everyone and be gone before anyone notices.”

“They believe that they can leave the country without raising any red flags,” Hedone said. “This ‘action’ will get their teams ready for what they see as the inevitable defending of France.”

“Defending of France?” Blane asked.

“From the Muslim hoard,” Abi said.

“What Muslim hoard?” Blane asked.

“Refugees,” Hedone said.

Blane shook his head in disgust.

“Their understanding of the world is a little archaic,” Abi said.

“Obviously,” Blane said. “When will they be here?”

“They will attack at four,” Abi said.

“What’s the news from Olympia?” Blane asked.

“Olympia cannot stand in the way of this event,” Hedone said. “Ares refuses to sanction this action, but he cannot block it from happening

“Just out of curiosity,” Blane said. “Why?”

“There is an old agreement that Olympia will not interfere in the Templar’s business,” Abi said. “I cannot get involved either.”

“You mean, more involved,” Blane said.

“Yes, well, no one said that I couldn’t get you ready for this,” Abi said, with a smile.

Blane looked at her and blinked.

“You are ready, right?” Abi asked.

“I suppose so,” Blane said.

“You need to sleep now,” Hedone said. “We’ll wake you in time.”

Nodding, Blane went into the bathroom. He took a shower. When he came out, Abi was gone.

“When will you come back?” Blane asked.

“When it’s over,” Hedone said. “I won’t leave you powerless in the middle of all of their family mess.”

“Thanks,” Blane said.

Hedone gave him a soft smile.

“Sleep now,” Hedone said.

Nodding, Blane got into the second bed. Hedone touched his forehead. He fell into a deep, restorative sleep.


28 days after Blane’s bone marrow transplant

1:23 a.m.

St. Joseph’s Hospital, Denver, Colorado

“Hey,” Abi said as she entered the visiting chamber attached to Blane’s hospital room.

Blane was lying on his hospital bed reading a novel. He looked up when she came in.

“What do you want?” Blane asked.

“Now, now,” Abi said. “Where are your manners?”

“You forget that I know you,” Blane said.

Abi laughed. She sat down in a chair near the glass. He watched her sit and went back to his book. He hoped that if he ignored her, she would go away. After a few minutes, he lowered the book to look.

She was still sitting there.

“Why are you here?” Blane asked.

“Can’t a girl come to visit a friend?” Abi asked.

“Girl?” Blane asked.

Abi laughed. Scowling he went back to his book.

“You know, I could take this darkness from your mental field,” Abi said. “Heal your heart and mind.”

He dropped the book and stared at the ceiling. She waited.

“I don’t want it gone,” Blane said finally. “I don’t ever want to forget what can happen if you are a fool.”

“Never forgive yourself?” Abi asked.

“Never let my guard down again,” Blane said.

“But you love Hedone completely,” Abi said, mildly.

“Heather is different,” Blane said. “Safer. Our love for each other … It will never end. We have children and … I don’t need to remember that she can gut me at will.”

“Why is that?” Abi asked.

“She won’t do it,” Blane said.

Abi was silent for a moment.

“You know that’s a fact,” Blane said.

“Yes,” Abi said. “You are correct. You and your bitterness are safe with Hedone. Her love is not human so does not waver, manipulate, or be used to bludgeon. This Enrique? He is so important that you should carry his darkness for the rest of your short life?”

Sighing, he set down his book and went to the glass.

“How can I be of service to you, first woman?” Blane asked.

“I actually came to be of service to you,” Abi said.

Blane didn’t respond at first. After a moment, he squinted.

“How did you know that I would be awake?” Blane asked.

“Hedone,” Abi said. “She said that you have trouble sleeping through the night. I figured that since you were awake, you may as well do something.”

“What did you have in mind?” Blane asked.

“Well …” Abi said.

She gave him a sly smile.

“Just spit it out,” Blane said.

“Your body has recently been infused with … mmm … I guess the easiest way to say it …”

“Yes, go for easy, not complete,” Blane said. “The boy is a moron.”

As if she was reassessing him, Abi squinted at him.

“I feel you are saying something that I am not understanding,” Abi said.

“Sorry, I just really hate being here,” Blane said. “I’m grateful for the miraculous nature of this healing, but I have a newborn, a wife, and a family that could really use me. I feel useless here. Frustrated.”

Abi nodded.

“I would, as well,” Abi said. “I understand.”

“Would you like to play poker?” Blane asked. He pointed to the cards. “Chess?”

“I had a better idea,” Abi said.

“Okay,” Blane said.

“You have had the building blocks of humanity introduced into your system,” Abi said. “This material …”

“Stem cells?” Blane asked.

Realizing that she might have something interesting to say, he sat down in the chair on the other side of the glass.

“Yes, that is what they are named,” Abi said. “They are like tiny pieces of, for lack of a better understanding, me.”

“I’d never thought of it like that,” Blane said. “But that makes sense.”

“I thought that together — you and I — we could harness the potential power of this gift,” Abi said.

“Why?” Blane asked.

“That is a good question,” Abi said. “However, I don’t think there is an answer to ‘why’.”

Blane nodded.

“You see, for most of human life, humans have struggled for basic survival,” Abi said. “Even a few decades ago, food was questionable. Shelter was only for the very rich. Now, most people have food and shelter and …”

Abi shrugged.

“You are well fed,” Abi said. “Your basic needs are taken care of. You’re an adult, a fit adult I might add. You have a family that loves you. You have work you enjoy. Your life is stable in a safe city in the middle of the country.”

“And now I have the building blocks of humanity,” Blane said. “What does that mean?”

“I have no idea,” Abi said.

Blane gave her a long look.

“Okay,” Abi said. “I have some idea.”

“Go on,” Blane said.

“I am made of the components which made the world,” Abi said. “You are as well. It’s just that I am … purer, I guess, so would be the world. More elemental.”

“Loki told Heather that you were dropped here,” Blane said.

“Loki is full of shit,” Abi said.

Blane laughed.

“That is the proper expression, isn’t it?” Abi asked.

Blane nodded.

“I am made of this place,” Abi said. “Gilfand, as well. One male. One female. Forged out of the very dirt and air at the moment of creation. Life.”

Abi nodded.

“More like caretakers,” Abi said.

“Guardians,” Blane said.

“Yes,” Abi said. “We are guardians.”

“Librarians?” Blane asked. “Of the creatures who live here.”

“That too,” Abi laughed.

“What do you want to do?” Blane asked.

“I want to see if this new ‘stuff of life’ can give you, a normal human adult, more of the earth’s power,” Abi said. “Can we train it into you? By all measure, you are an adult. And yet there is this part of you that is from the very beginning of human life. What if we use your developed brain and body to capture the raw human power and … Well, honestly I don’t know.”

“Aren’t you doing that with Katy?” Blane asked.

“Not that you know of,” Abi said.

Blane grinned, and Abi laughed at his grin.

“What kind of powers can I have?” Blane asked. “I mean, I thought I might just move things around, like Jacob does. That seems pretty cool.”

“Oh,” Abi said. “Not really, and certainly it is not a power you’d want to get as an adult. Have you seen Jill’s twins? Their ability to use their skill is just forming. If you became psychokinetic — Jacob said that was the term for it …”

Blane nodded.

“There is a reason it begins in children,” Abi said. “It takes a lot of years of practice to be able to use the power with any skill. It would take the rest of your life to gain real acumen. Psychokinesis is powerful, but surly you must know that pales to the magnificent power of this earth.”

Abi grinned at him. When she smiled, Blane realized that he really liked Abi. He liked how hard she worked and how much she gave to those around her without being a martyr. He gave her a fond look and then scowled.

“What is it?” Abi asked.

“Will it hurt?” Blane asked.

“Why do you ask?” Abi asked.

“Hurting is generally bad,” Blane said. “To modern humans that is.”

“Oh?” Abi asked. “Hmm …”

She was silent so long that Blane realized she was joking. He grinned.

“Pain?” Blane asked.

“I don’t know,” Abi said. “I can say that I doubt it, but that would be just a guess. I am not human so I don’t know human frailties. I will say that it’s something we will do together. It’s not something I can do to you.”

Blane nodded that he understood.

“Let me say that I would never do something that would cause you distress or harm,” Abi said. “Not in the least.”

“Because you don’t do that to humans?” Blane asked.

“Because Hedone would be very angry with me,” Abi said. “It’s probably hard to imagine, but she and I are good friends. It’s hard to find a real friend who has been around as long as we have. Most of them are psychopaths or hermits.”

Blane nodded. They looked at each other for a long moment.

“I am at your command,” Blane said, finally making a decision.

“Good,” Abi said. “I spoke with Hedone. She said she could easily spare you a few hours a day. Are you well enough to start now?”

“Why not?” Blane asked. “What could happen?”

Abi gave him a beautiful smile, and Blane laughed.


Monday early morning — 3:30 a.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

Hedone touched Blane’s shoulder.

“It’s time,” Hedone said, softly.

Blane got out of bed and went to the bathroom.

“I do not feel ready,” Blane said when he came out of the bathroom.

She kissed his cheek. He started to dress.

“You can do this,” Hedone said.

“There’s so much on the line,” Blane said.

“Of course,” Hedone said.

“Is Jake awake?” Blane asked.

“He will be waiting for you in the lobby,” Hedone said. “Aden too. Even Sam. Of course, Delphie. Edie. My grandfather and I will be there.”

“Abi?” Blane asked.

“Of course,” Hedone said. “Gilfand too.”

“Quite a crowd,” Blane said.

“This is your fight,” Hedone said. “They cannot intervene unless the Templars get past you.”

“I’m more than a little intimidated,” Blane said.

“Don’t be,” Hedone said. “You should know that Abi is well known for breaking her promises.”

“Good to know,” Blane said. “What will happen to her if she breaks her promise?”

“This is her world,” Hedone said. “She can do what she likes. She has a particular distaste for injustice. ”

“This is her world and we’re just living in it?” Blane asked.

“Exactly,” Hedone said.

They heard Nelson call Blane’s name. He opened his mouth to respond but Hedone shook her head.

“Where will he go?” Blane asked.

“Edie will take him home,” Hedone said. “He is safe there.”

Blane nodded.

“It’s nice that you’re allowing yourself to care,” Hedone said.

Blane looked at her for a long moment and nodded.

“Surprises me,” Blane said.

“Not me,” Hedone said.

“He is such a sweet man,” Blane said.

“Sexy, brilliant, kind, honest,” Hedone said. She looked at him and asked what she wouldn’t when she was Heather. “And in bed?”

“Good,” Blane said. “We are compatible in all kinds of ways. And he … Well, he seems to think I am … adequate, as well.”

“Surely more than adequate,” Hedone teased.

“Hmm,” Blane said with a scowl.

Hedone nudged him, and he grinned. He finished dressing in silence.

“How?” Blane asked.

“How what?” Hedone asked.

“How did they find him?” Blane asked.

“Those girls? The mean girls that Candy’s daughter Kimber is upset about?” Hedone asked. “The ones that Noelle is steering clear of?”

Blane grunted.

“They posted his photo on Instagram,” Hedone said. “The Templars were on a plane within the hour.”

“With their swords? Gear?” Blane asked.

“Packed away in luggage,” Hedone said. “Told customs that they were a Templar reenactment group on tour here. I guess they even have badges.”

“Well, if they have badges,” Blane grunted.

“Exactly,” Hedone said. “You should know that they have had this planned for a long, long time. It would have happened at some point. They feel like God led them to the photo and to this resolution of their problems.”

“Which is what?” Blane asked.

“They want control over Nelson so that they can get at this famous Templar fortune,” Hedone said.

“So Nelson is the fortune that will lead them to a fortune,” Blane said. “Just moronic.”

Hedone nodded.

“And Nelson?” Blane asked.

“He’s not here anymore,” Hedone said. “They will not get their prize tonight.”

Blane looked at the clock by the bed.

“Time to go,” Blane said.

“I love you, Blane,” Hedone said.

“I love you too, Hedone and Heather,” Blane said.

They kissed and held each other close.

“Now, go fight some Templars,” Hedone said.

Blane went through the door to their room. He didn’t go very far before he picked up Aden and Jacob. Neither man said anything. They just started walking by his side. Dressed in her warrior wear, Abi joined them when they turned the corner. Decked out in armor, Gilfand walked behind them. When they reached the lobby, Blane stopped walking.

The lobby was full of people.

Sam came up and shook Blane’s hand. Delphie grinned at him from a seat at the couch. He heard a whistle and turned to see Alex Hargreaves, her husband, John Drayson, and her brother, Colin, walking down the hallway.

Alex pointed at him with her microbow.

“Before you ask,” she said. “We’re human.”

“I’m human,” Sandy jumped to her feet. “I’m not going to let those bastards kill my family and friends.”

“Fuck that,” Tanesha said at her side.

“I thought …” Blane started.

My grandfather hasn’t made any contracts with Templars,” Tanesha said with a sniff.

“The archangels don’t ever make covenants with humans,” Abi said in a low voice. “They find the practice to be ridiculous.”

“Dare I ask why?” Jacob asked.

“‘We made no covenants with the beasts or the dinosaurs,’” Abi said mimicking someone’s voice. “Why would we make them with these creatures?”

Aden snorted a laugh. Blane grinned.

“Plus, Heather can’t be here,” Jill said. With a flick of her wrist, she opened a retractable telescopic baton. “We’re here to stand in her place.”

“You are not human,” Blane said.

“If those bastards think they will come for our families …” Mike’s voice came from down the hallway. Valerie was by his side. “They have another thing coming.”

He nodded to Sam and said, “Sorry, we’re late. We had to get the kids to Charlie.”

Perses appeared next to Mike.

“I am a Titan,” Perses said. “Their mother is human. We are not of Olympus. We have made no agreement with these… creatures.”

Overwhelmed, Blane could only nod. Valerie put her hand on Blane’s arm.

“Abi says it has to be you,” Valerie said. “We’re here to support you.”

“And to kick ass,” Alex Hargreaves said.

Valerie kissed Blane’s cheek and went to stand next to Jill. Blane looked from face to face.

“What is your plan?” Alex asked when he got to her.

“I was just going to go out there,” Blane said. “I … well …”

“Here’s what we know,” Alex said. “There are fifty men coming toward the hotel. They are armed with archaic weapons. It seems that a few have picked up some form of gun, but they have limited ammunition. It’s also likely that they are inexperienced with their weapons.”

“How do you have this intel?” Blane asked.

Abi looked at Alex and nodded.

“Ganny’s on horseback with twenty ex-military,” Alex said. “They’ve been tracking this party since it came onto the reservation. The reservation police are on their way.”

Blane nodded.

“Abi tells me that you can do this,” Alex said. “We are also here to support you. Be assured. We will not let them hurt you or anyone at this hotel.”

Blane’s eyes flicked to Alex’s husband, John. His eyes gleamed with an eerie glow. John gave Blane an assuring nod.

“Thanks,” Blane said.

He looked out the window and saw the men approach.

“Looks like they are here,” Blane said.

He nodded to his friends and family. With a snap of his fingers, he created the force field around the hotel.

“Show time,” he said to himself and stepped out of the door.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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