A girl with everything given to her on a silver platter has her reality challenged when she is chosen to save mankind from the next step in the evolutionary ladder. I really don't think we'd want to be infected with a virulent and ancient secret buried in the center of the earth, now would you?
My name is Julia and I was born into a wealthy New York family. Mother was a dazzling socialite who enveloped any room she graced with her charm and beauty. She was always chairing social events to raise money for one cause or another and was always plastered on the front page of the society column. Father came from old money, he was the reigning president and chief executive officer of the family owned accounting firm on Wall Street. He was all about money, how to make it how to keep it but seldom known for spending it…concrete pockets he had.
I was reared by nannies and only saw my parents during photo ops. I felt like a prop in their lives instead of being their child and when I was old enough I was shipped off to boarding school and only came home at weekends. It’s true I had all that money could buy but money doesn’t make you happy, money cannot give you a much needed cuddle, all it can do is afford you better places in which to be miserable. I didn’t want their money. I wanted their love and recognition. There are those that believe that we choose the lives we’re to live before we’re born, I don’t know about all of that but if it’s true then I’d say ballix to that because I doubt very seriously that I would have chosen this. Like I said people, money and silver spoons aren’t everything.
The bright moments in my life were the summers. Time spent away from school, my absentee parents, and the lot. Three months out of the year, I headed south to New Orleans where I spent time with my grandmother Ruthie; they were the best times ever. She was my mother’s mother and their relationship was strained to say the least.
Ruthie, as she preferred to be called, was a hippie before there were hippies and though she was born into money she never let it go to her head. Her lifestyle, views and values were always against the grain of someone of her ilk but did she care? Like fuck she did, most of the time she’d just smile at the ignorance and intolerance of others unless she was in a bad mood then God help them. She gave them a piece of her mind it was like watching her upload her conscience into theirs; needless to say that this unnerved them invariably getting their hackles up but they’d shut their mouths rather than get into an intellectual debate with her.
Most people thought that Ruthie was a bit of an eccentric, an odd duck. “Use whatever nomenclature flicks your flame in describing Me.” she used to say with a cackle. To me she was perfection, unsullied, unjaded opened to different and unusual things. Even though she was well into her sixties by the time I was ten she didn’t look it. No wrinkles, no liver spots, no aging sagging skin the only indications of her age aside from her wisdom were the silver streaks in her massive black mane of hair. I remember her telling me “We Prentice women are a bit backwards when it comes to the aging process. We look older when we’re young and younger as we age provided we don’t abuse alcohol, drugs, or get involved in destructive relationships. We’re like clocks that operate in reverse and we leave behind mighty fine corpses if I must say!” She was always smiling or laughing and her laugh was infectious you couldn’t help but laugh along with her.
One of the coolest things about Ruthie was she was heavy into the occult, the folklore and the richness of its histories and tales being from New Orleans that was no surprise. This particular story that she told me about a hermit who lived on the outskirts of a town most people didn’t even know existed stayed with me as I got older.It was about a grubby, shadow of a man who lived in a shanty made of moss, tree bark, mud and wooden slats. She told me how this strange little man never left his home and how his every need was taken care of, shopping, food, medical etc. all of this rested on the shoulders of five people (Ruthie being one of them) though she never told me why. All she would say was about the little hermit was that he was vital to the existence of mankind. As a child I thought she was having a laugh but one look into her dark blue eyes, pupils blown wide only showing black with a slight hint of a brilliant blue ring round them told me in no uncertain terms she was dead serious. I wanted to know more but all she would say is “You’ll know everything in due time.”
Due time fell eleven years later when I was away at university and the family car showed up to bring me home. There I was met by my mother’s broken gaze and tear stained cheeks that washed through streaks in her normally perfect makeup.She handed me a registered letter informing me that I was the sole heir to Ruthie’s estate along with something vitally important and that I was to return to New Orleans ASAP.Hold up! My gran is dead and this; this is how my mother tells me?
(mental note: though I’m a posh and well educated woman, I too am prone to swearing like a sailor when incredibly upset and I think that the loss of Ruthie is just cause to swear so if I offend you dear reader then that’s just life isn’t it?) Who gives a shit what I inherited?Ruthie was gone. “I was only on the phone with her two days ago how could she be dead? How did she die mother?” I asked choking on sobs and disbelief. “Julia, she was 82 years old. She simply slipped away in her sleep.”Slipped away? The only person in this cold tomb of a family to every show me love didn’t just slip away. I felt abandoned. We spoke on the phone every weekend because I couldn’t get down to see her due to my heavy class schedule.
Surely she would have told me if she were ill,maybe she tried in her own way but I didn’t listen or pick up on it. My mother’s words intruded upon my thoughts of Ruthie. “Julia your carry all has been packed and the plane is waiting to take you to claim your inheritance.” I was dizzy my mind splintered I didn’t want any goddamned inheritance I wanted to say a proper farewell to Ruthie. “Inheritance? It’s always about money with you and father isn’t it? She’s not even in the ground and that’s all you can think about is her bloody inheritance. How could you be so callous mother?” Her reply bit me like a black mamba snake. I was waiting for the paralysis and poison to set in and kill me so that I could be with Ruthie. “There isn’t going to be a service that’s not what she wanted. Ru-ahem mother was. Well,you’re to collect her ashes while down there she wanted you to have them. It was her wish to be cremated and so she was.”
This was all happening much too fast. I felt punch drunk conflicted by rage and loss. As soon as I boarded the plane and we were in the air I knocked back a few glasses of Cristal then proceeded to wreck the cabin area of the plane. Smashing crystal champagne glasses against the walls and cutting into the imported leather that covered the sofas then ripping out the foam cushioning and flinging them about. My father wouldn’t be pleased with my antics as this was his favorite plane on top of that he’d be livid at the amount of money he’d have to spend to repair and replace my carnage and if there was one thing he hated it was spending money; as for mother she’d be embarrassed by my vulgar display of emotions but you know what? To hell with the pair of them, I hadn’t had time to catch my breath before all of this was thrust into my face and now I was headed to collect the remains of my grandmother. I think that all things considered they’ll live with how I reacted. The pilot must have thought yet another out of control rich little bitch doing what she wants but what did I care about what he thought,he was there to fly the plane not baby sit me.
When we landed, a limo was waiting to drive me to Ruthie’s house that’s where the attorney insisted on meeting me per her instructions. I got out of the car and walked up the tree line path to the house and went inside. I was still expecting to see Ruthie the house smelled of her - a mixture of patchouli and hemp. An older gentleman in a cotton blend suit greeted me he was sweating buckets and constantly dabbing himself with a white handkerchief to keep dry.
“My my well aren’t you just the spit of ol’ Ruthie right down to those dark blue eyes? I’m Arvid Dupree,your grandmother’s solicitor. Sorry to have to meet you under such unpleasant circumstances but these things happen.” He said to me in a thick Louisiana accent. He held out his fat, sweaty meat hook of a hand to shake mine but I quickly put my hands to my mouth and faked a cough. “I’m sorry Mr. Dupree I’m not feeling all that well think I’m coming down with something and I wouldn’t want to pass it along to you.”
“That’s quite all right my dear. I’ve taken the liberty and made us some nice iced tea to brave this heat and unpleasantries.” I watched him bring in a silver serving platter with two glasses of ice and a glass pitcher filled with tea and lemons. It was hot that day but hand to my heart the man looked as if he were melting right in front of me. I was certain that body parts where going to start sliding off him at any moment. Maybe I was delusional from the shock or lack of sleep who knows? He sat down across from me in the parlor and set the serving tray down on a little tea table that was set between us. I soon noticed a white envelope with my name written on it.
“Now Julia, Ruthie wanted all of this down a certain way and I mean no disrespect but she was a rare breed and she will be missed.” I opened the envelope and took out the parchment paper and read it all it said was ‘It’s time!” An old skeleton key fell out of the envelope when I took out the paper. At first I didn’t know what she was talking about so I asked Dupree what the key was for and all he said was
“Look for a door that wasn’t there in the attic behind a chair.” I thought to myself what the hell's going on here? I’d spent many summers here and though the house is quite large I’ve never seen an attic. “Mr. Dupree there’s no attic in this house, what is she talking about?
“Go down the path where the apples grow to a building of which no one knows. It’s covered in moss to obstruct the view and now it’s down to you what hasn’t been seen by others not even your mother. Look hard and deep within the moss and you will not get lost and you will see the door that will change who you are forever more. Be swift but wise for you hold the key to humanities existence or demise.” I looked at him and his face seemed to morph into something strange and I thought to myself what is this, Dr. Seuss hour? Has everyone gone mad? This has got to be the worst day I’ve ever had. Wait, now I’m doing it and I’m utterly, totally confused as shit. I don’t like this not one damn bit. I don’t know what this means. Is reality ripping apart at the seams?Fucking stop it! This is serious am I sane or simply delirious? It’s so hard to know just what to do. Ruthie please help me I need you.
Why is everything a rhyme or riddle and why am I stuck in the middle? I don’t want to be the world’s savior and am disturbed by this peculiar behavior. I want to sleep and just dream so that all of this will just go away but what if this isn’t a dream and reality was never what it seemed? I felt the wet clammy hands of Dupree gripping my shoulders, shaking and asking me if I was ok. To which I replied “I would be if this were any other day.”
Now I know how Alice felt when she went down that rabbit hole but I’ve no white rabbit to guide me. I have to do this all on my own. I want these tedious rhymes to stop because my bloody heads about to pop. I feel trapped in the midst of a freaky nightmare how do I get out and am I all there or is my mind beyond repair?
His words cut through my trance ensconced bubble but I knew we were up to our necks in trouble. Then everything went black. I awoke in the middle of the night in Ruthie’s bed soaked to the bone with perspiration from my toes to my head. Am I awake or am I dead? Then Ruthie appeared at the foot of the bed. “Listen to me child.” She said. “You have to get up and look for the door inside you will find all that you need to set things right and put an end to this plight but you only have but a fortnight to fight. Say his name backwards three times to stop the riddles and rhymes and this will buy you a bit more time. His name is Devlin say it backwards three times whenever the rhymes and riddles begin.
“Nilved...Nilved...Nilved!” I screamed. The room spun round and Ruthie was gone. I reached for the lamp and turned it on. On the night table I found a brown leather bound book that wasn’t there before. Where did it come from? How did I end up in her bed? Was all of this a dream inside my twisted head? Nilved...Nilved...Nilved I repeated in my head then fell into a dreamless sleep in Ruthie’s bed. The next morning I awoke and turned on the radio. I changed the channels several times looking for riddles or rhymes but everything was normal.
So I jumped in the shower then got dressed and went into town to the local coffee shop. I took the brown leather bound book with me and drove Ruthies SUV to the Coffee Beanery. I ordered an iced mochachino latte and took in the scenery as I buried my head in the pages of the brown leather bound book about the strange little hermit named Devlin. Out the corner of my eye I noticed an army of what looked to be tiny black bugs crawling along the coffee shop floor boring themselves into the soles of the shoes of the customers who then shook as if having a seizure then as soon as it started it was over as if nothing had happened. I lifted my feet up from the floor because these odd little creatures couldn’t climb and I didn’t want them invading me but as soon as it happened it was over and everything seemed as it was before but the people began to speak only in rhymes and riddles and there I was smack dab in the middle. I had to get out of there and out of there fast for if I stayed I would have become one of them fast. I climbed over tables and chairs and pushed an elderly lady out of her motorized scooter.
Holy shit! They’d built the coffee shop directly over the old hermit’s home soon after he died. I got back to Ruthies as fast as I could read the rest of the book as I shuddered and shook. I had to find the door because I couldn’t handle this shit anymore. I knew what had to be done. What I didn’t know was why I was the chosen one. I ran down the path that led to the apple orchard and saw the building covered in moss. I opened the door and went inside the place was like a shrine everything polished and shined. I searched high and low for this door that wasn’t there behind a chair. The round room had eight chairs placed in it each with its own door but wait a minute.
There was one chair at the back of the room it didn’t stick out and if you blinked then you’d miss it. I pulled away the chair and found the right door I put the key into the lock and waited for it to click. I feared what awaited me behind this door more then I’d ever dreaded anything before. Just inside the door was a lantern I turned it on and gasped with great awe at what it is I saw. A chain mail suit with lead lined gloves, hip high boots with lead laden soles, a head piece more like a breathing mask and a large portable drum with straps to go over my shoulders. How the hell was I gonna be able to wear all of this stuff and not fall down? I was only 5’5 and 120 pounds with this gear on I’d have to add an additional 100 pounds my head was spinning like a merry go round. I thought this is silly, what’s the harm in rhymes and riddles it’s not like they’ve ever killed anyone. A purple hue appeared revealing a flight of stairs this must be the attic I thought. I climbed the stairs with book and lantern in hand when I reached the landing who did I see none other then Ruthie waiting for me.
“I’ll tell you why.” She said. “Those who fail to solve the riddles or complete the rhymes will die. Right now they are simply infected. These creatures are not extra terrestrial they are terrestrial. In fact they are Mother Nature’s way of ridding the planet of its rampant plague and that plague is the human species. They are the next leap on the on the evolutionary scale and you must do all that you can to ensure that they indeed fail. It's us or them. I know you’re wondering why you. Well why not you? Someone has to do it. Finish the book and get to work you don’t have much time left the more they infect the stronger they become; now hurry, please hurry and get the job done.”
Before I could get out a single salvo she was gone. This is madness! I can’t do this! I don’t want to do this!
The attic got freezing cold and burst into a vibrant spectrum of color. My heart seized up on me and I felt a sense of unease and calm colliding inside me. A violent eruption caused the attic and its contents to shake. What looked like ritualistic symbols and knick knacks flew about the room crashing on the floor around me. Celtic symbols of the elements, earth, air, fire, and water emerged from the floor surrounding me in a perfect circle. Each symbol came to life the fire symbol spew forth fire, the water symbol became a pool, and a stone grew out of the earth symbol and a small twister from the air symbol. A black door appeared within the rainbow spectrum and from it came a tiny shabby old man. He walked towards me and I could hear what he was saying though his lips never moved. Do not be afraid Julia. I am Devlin and I am here to assist you. Do not speak just listen. I was the gate keeper between this world and the others. Those things you call ‘bugs’ are ancient scarabs sent to cleanse the world because mankind is slowly but surely killing the planet. I and others before me are here to stop this from taking place. He looked into my eyes and touched my forehead with his thumb. His touch burned me and I could smell my flesh searing. This is protection symbol but it also marks you so that they know who you are. Go back to that coffee shop and find the nest, the well from which these creatures are born. Scrape the chrysalis from the nest mix it with this potion and water. Aim at the eyes of the infected this will expel them from the host body;they are a parasitic organism and cannot survive outside of the host. Say this incantation
(From the bowels of the earth you’ve come to scorch the chosen one.To the bowels of the earth I return thee to a place where you’ll burn for eternity and I restore this land for all of humanity.) They will burst into flames but be prepared my child for they will not go easily and they will try to take you with them! You are the chosen one!
Then poof he was gone and I fell into a coma like sleep when I awoke wearing the lead laden suit. I tried to stand up but was groggy and the suit was too heavy and I fell to my knees. I used ever ounce of strength I had and stood up and stepped outside of the scared elemental circle. Searing, stabbing pain pricked my skin the suit was becoming molded to my skin. My wails of agony rocked the silence and my blood spilt onto the floor running into the symbols and activating them once again. I felt sick and nauseous and broke out into a cold sweat as the lead wove its way through my clothing and into my skin. I thought I would pass out from the pain. I begged to be released from this agony and just as I was about to the transmogrification was complete.I’d never felt more alive, stronger and wise in my life. I had been imbued with supernatural as well. All of the fear and doubt that had been eating away at me disappeared. I walked around the attic with a confirmed sense of purpose and that’s when I caught a glimpse of myself in an old rectangular mirror. Oh my God! How can I go out in public like this?I thought to myself. People will run away at the sight of me! Then once again I heard the voice of Devlin in my head. To the outside world you’ll look as you’ve always looked only the infected will see you as you truly are. I left the attic and ran outside through the apple orchard up to the house where I was met by a stranger. “Julia Prentice how wonderful to see you off the fence do you really think that you can stop all of us in time?
Now that you know the secret lies within the riddles and rhymes. I will tell you this - if you proceed with your mission Miss, you’ll never know the feel of a lover’s kiss. You’ll live the rest of your life alone sitting on your wooden throne until you wither away to nothing but bone. You’re a beautiful girl on top of the world so we’re giving you this one last chance before you engage us in this dead fly’s dance.”
I peered into the eyes of what appeared to be an average middle age man and said. “Well thanks for the advice but I’ve never been one to follow the orders or advice from strangers so why would I start now? If I were you I’d run away as fast as I could but I doubt very seriously that you will so you’ve left me with very little choice but to rid you from this human’s body with the sound ofmy voice. From the bowels of the earth from which you came I return you to the eternal flame where you’ll burn forever more. I return you to the earth’s molten core. I rid you off this land that is the home of mortal man.” It wasn’t exactly what Devlin had told me but it seemed to be working.As I blew some of the potion mixture into the infected man’s eyes the host body shook violently and the ground beneath us cracked as this thing shrieked. My heart was racing so fast I was waiting for it to burst but it didn’t. The adrenalin coursing through my body was amped up to Mach 10 and the rational side of my brain told me to run so I blocked it out and got on with the show. I looked on in horror as this black ooze spilled from the man and burst into flames. So much for subtle warnings - let the games begin.
I went back to the coffee shop to collect the chrysalis and was met by another infected replicant. He was a huge fella with dead eyes and a sinister smile.
“Tell me pretty pretty are you Mary or a little lamb? For I am Sam Sam I am creator of all rhythms and riddles muse of the cat and the fiddle and the cow that jumped over the moon and you my pretty are about to meet your impending doom.”
Yawns and covers my mouth. “Are you done bug boy? Because you’re boring the life out of me.” His words cut straight through me and my armor and were weakening me. I summoned Devlin in my head Nelvid Nelvid Nelvid and felt a surge of power regenerate me with that of the ancients and their knowledge.“Let’s dance Bug Boy! From the time before I return you to the earth’s core leave this land for it belongs to man. Return from whence you came back to the place with no name.”
As I said the incantation he grabbed my hand before I could pull it away. I felt his life force virtually leaving the host body and for a second I thought it would take me with it but as soon as it began it was over but sadly the host did not survive because the creature was too strong and all that was left was a hollowed out husk. Devlin appeared and spoke to me telepathetically. Julia why do you insist on deviating from the original incantation? I opened my mouth to speak but no words would come out so I thought really hard and he heard my thoughts. How cool is this? Does this mean I’m telepathetic now? Julia stay on point here and yes you’re telepathetic now.Listen Devlin, this is a new era and according to that book the power is in the words and by making them my own I make them more powerful and you know that.
You learn quickly, we knew that we’d made the right choice in choosing you when you were touched by that creature some of its essence passed into you Julia. What the hell does that mean Devlin? What’s gonna happen to me? You’ll be stronger and a newer link in the evolutionary chain. I thought that’s what we were trying to stop! From them, yes Julia because they are not human they are here to wipe the human race from this planet but you are now a hybrid part human part ancient purge them and your DNA will better mankind. What? To put it the Judea-Christian terms you are the second coming! R-igghht!!! Theres no time for sarcasm or doubt the clock is ticking. You’ll know on instinct what to do now go!! All will be revealed when your mission is completed. We’ve put up a barrier around the town no one gets in or out the infection is contained collect the chrysalis mix the potion then sleep my child for tomorrow is the day. And once again just like that he was gone. I opened the service closet in the coffee shop and found a massive hole floor and climbed down inside it. There is this low droning sound coming from inside and a purple hue I followed the sound as it got louder and saw all of these sleeping bugs. It was so gross but I had a job to do and I had to be careful not to disturb these things they seemed to be in some kind of incubation period at least that’s what I thought otherwise why weren’t they attacking me? At last I reached the chrysalis and began scrapping away at it until there was none left but the shells. It looked like a large amethyst and I caught my reflection in one of the phalanxes of the chrysalis and saw that I looked like one of them that’s why they didn’t attack me.
Oh my God, this is so freaky.I put the chrysalis into the container and made my way out of the cave and back up to the surface not many people can say that they’ve been to the center of the earth, this is one for the books. I was tired so I went home but before going to bed I secured the perimeter around the house I got down on my knees and clapped my hands together the sky split and a thunder clap erupted as I laid my hands on the ground. A circle of blue light burned itself into the earth along with the four elements earth, air, fire and water. I walked over to each and waved my hands over each and activated them. I could feel the power of the force field and I knew that I was safe for the night. Next, I was going to mix the potion with the chrysalis and go to bed for the night I was bone tired.
I mixed the potion with the herbs and the chrysalis and threw in a bit of the dust from the gate keeper I pierced a vein in my left wrist and added some of my blood to the mixture and the wound closed up instantly. I stirred the components clockwise twelve times then counter clockwise thirteen times then sat it in the corner of the bedroom and went to bed. I tried to sleep but my dreams were filled with the things that I had to do in the morning. I was tired and wired at the same time and felt lifted by the power and knowledge of the ancients coursing through me and more then a bit blown away that I was the next step in the evolutionary chain - what the hell does that mean anyway? Under normal circumstances I would be totally freaked out by all of this but of late my life has been anything but normal. I am resolved and beginning to accept who and what I am even though I’m not quite sure what that is.
I couldn’t even begin to tell you why I’m so calm about all of this, I just am.Maybe it's shock or divine intervention who knows? When I closed my eyes I saw the beginning of the world and all of the damage we’d done and were doing to what is basically our womb without this planet we cannot survive. So she’s ready to abort us before we kill her and I can understand that but it's my job to stop it. I understand why these things are here but I’ve been bestowed with the chance to become mother to the world by saving it and I’m only 21.
”Julia.” Ruthie said. “I always told you that you were a special girl and now you know why. You are the mother of mankind, our savior and you have to do this and we know that you can. You’ll not be alone we’ll be with you in spirit like I am now every step of the way as needed. Now sleep my precious, sleep!”
I awoke at dawn and summoned the infected by using the church's loud speaker in the town center. “Here kitty , kitty, its mankind's defender. Are you bold enough to take me on at the stroke of dawn? For if you want this world you’re gonna have to fight this one wee girl winner takes all now lets have a ball!”They all herded towards the church and I was waiting for them. Men, women and even small children were infected there were hundreds of them I stood in the middle as they circled me and began chanting “Little girl little girl fly away home, your house is on fire and your parents are all alone.” Over and over they said this until my ears began to bleed but I had to wait until the last one of them arrived before I could begin. I dropped to my knees and clapped my hands together the blue light kept them from advancing on me then branches grew out of the earth element and grabbed them around their feet and ankles and dragged them to the ground. I poured the mixture into the water element and watched it spew like a giant geyser soaking them as the air element carried my words “I return you from whence you came back to the place the bears no name you are forever purged from this world by this mere mortal girl!” Their bodies shook and shrieked violently the ground split open and flames spewed forth from the fire element burning the black ooze that poured out of the host bodies.
The earth quaked and the heavens opened as the last of the creatures had been expelled and returned to the earth's core. I fell to the ground, writhing in agony, unable to move every muscle in my body burned and screamed for relief. All of the infected were now cleansed and walking around confused, the hole in the earth sealed and I was dying. I soon found myself surrounded by Ruthie and a whole host of people I’ve never seen all of them wearing black hooded cloaks and apparently invisible to everyone but me. They were speaking in some ancient language I didn’t know yet understood and I was being lifted up towards the heavens by their words alone. The armor that had been imbedded in my skin slid off me without pain my ruptured ear drums had healed. They lowered me back onto the ground and Ruthie whispered in my ear "you are with child now." The next thing I knew I woke up in Ruthie’s bed screaming...
“Shush child, shush! Well hello sleepy head,it's good to see that awful fever of yours finally broke. Here I have some ice tea for you!”
“W-What fever?” I reached out my hand and stroked her face she was warm to the touch. “But you’re dead! How can you be warm?”
“Well now I may be as old as the dirt itself but I’m hardly dead child. That must have been one wild dream you were having while you were delirious.”
“But it wasn’t a dream!” she placed her fingers over my lips to silence me and spoke to me in a whisper. “You’re right it wasn’t a dream and I was dead but you reset time and I’m alive again and I’m here to take care of you and that little one that you’re carrying but nosy ol' Doctor Phelps doesn’t need to know this; in fact sweetie, no one can ever know. As far as your parents are concerned it’s your boyfriend Ross’s baby.”
“W-who the hell is Ross?”
“Never mind all that now you need to rest. When the time is right the world will know and remember you for saving it. You and you alone had the power to seal the hole to the other world forever!