Footsteps woke me. They echoed in the stone confines of my tomb and, like a hollow voice, announced the coming of a singular presence. A being who could wake the dead.
My paper-thin lids blinked in the darkness. Though the cataract of death had long since robbed me of sight, my afterlife had granted me a clearer secondary vision. I lay upon the dais waiting for the entry of the expected one.
The steps drew closer preceded by the aura of white light. When they ceased, the beam filled the room. Someone stood in the doorway.
He was young, more boy than man. Freckles peppered the bridge of his small nose and his cheeks. Peach fuzz flourished on his upper lip. His face bespoke innocence but the eyes told a different tale.
Beneath a furrowed brow, the almond-shaped orbs held me with their jade-green glare. A man lived behind those windows to the soul. One who had seen death and dealt it.
Dark and unruly hair protruded from beneath the cap he wore. It curled about his ears and over the upturned collar of his leather jacket. If death had not claimed me some thirty years before his birth, I might have found him handsome.
Lithe and wary, he crossed the threshold and approached me.
Death had cured me of many things but curiosity wasn’t one of them. When he reached my side, I found my voice. It rasped like dry leaves on an autumn afternoon.
“Who are you?”
His reply was quick and in a deeper tone than the one I had expected.
“I’m here for answers.”
“I asked who you were, not why you are here.”
“Do the dead need names?”
“There are many.”
“I need only one.”
I tried to shake my head but the atrophied muscles did not cooperate. Instead, my head lolled to one side.
“This is a falsehood. Trevor Prescott died.”
“Do I look dead to you?” The young man replied.
“There you go.”
“Trevor Prescott died at fifteen.”
“You’re thinking of someone else. I’m alive.”
“His middle name was Vindex.”
“That’s my middle name.”
“Do you want to see my driver’s license?” The young man reached into the back pocket of his blue jeans and withdrew a wallet. He opened it then showed me a plastic card. “There. See. Trevor Vindex Prescott. I’m eighteen, weigh 165 pounds, and I’m five feet eleven inches tall.”
“I do not trust such forms of identification. Mortals are resourceful. This might be a forgery. I need proper documentation.”
“Your birth certificate, social security card, a utility bill with your current name and address.”
“Are you serious?”
“Is there a big problem with identity theft in the afterlife?”
“Then, why are you doing this?”
“I am the Guardian of Knowledge. And, I am bored.”
The young man muttered several inappropriate swear words before addressing me once more.
“I don’t have those things. Is there something else I can use?”
“A letter from your third-grade teacher?”
“How about a scar?”
“A scar is acceptable.”
“Do you know my cause of death?”
“You mean Trevor’s cause of death.”
“A slashed throat.”
The young man turned the light back on himself. It shone on his neck and the scar which marred it. The white weal stretched from ear to ear.
“Is that good enough?”
“Amazing. How did you survive?”
“Isn’t that something you should know, O Guardian of Knowledge?”
“Do not ask me. I believed you were dead.”
“You’re supposed to know everything.”
“I do not get out much.”
“Fear not. My power affords me some insight. Ask your questions. I shall endeavor to give you answers.”
“I’m looking for a weapon.”
“Sit on my dais, if you like.”
“I do not mind. Just push my bones over a little. Mind the shoes. Their cost was inestimable.”
“Back to my question—“
“Your boots are wonderful. In life, my husband had a pair. He fancied himself a cowboy. Do you ride?”
“Like you, he had brown hair. Though, his was the color of mud. Your hair has a chestnut tint.”
“People are waiting for me.”
“You have friends?”
“You strike me as one who travels alone.”
“Whatever. I’ve come for a weapon. It has to kill evil—any kind of evil.”
If I had possessed eyebrows, I would have raised them.
“You were born to command evil. Every cell in your body resonates with dark power. Why would you wish to destroy your reason for life?”
“Not your business. Will you tell me about the weapon or not?”
“I do not understand your request.”
“Sometimes we must break the mold. What we are, how we’re raised, none of it matters. We have a choice.”
“The weapon you seek may harm you. It may even destroy you.”
“Again, my choice.”
“It does not exist.”
“That’s what you said about me.”
“True. Hmmm. Perhaps, you could fashion a weapon.”
“There is a substance. It would not make a worthy blade but it will form a blunt instrument.”
“Where is it?”
“Far from here. There is a priest in the village nearby. He will tell you where to find it.”
Trevor nodded. He turned to go. I called after him.
“I have a suggestion.”
He halted and peered at me over his shoulder.
“When you find the substance, melt it down and turn it into Cestus.”
I searched for words he would understand and found them.
A grin spread over his face.
“That’s just my style.”
I returned the smile.
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