In celebration of my first year as blogger and independent writer, I have been sharing my short story, Cataclysm, with readers. I have been posting it a chapter a day. Today I am posting the final chapter of this metaphysical story. (Chapter 1) (Chapter 2) (Chapter 3)
Gale-force winds were ripping through the town, uprooting trees and snatching roofs from buildings. It drove the rain down in torrential floods.
Tempe was once again caught up by a whirlwind which brought her to the other side of the small town.
She was glad for the whirlwind, for it saved her from negotiating her way through the storm. There was no time for her to order her thoughts or contemplate her actions. She had to rely on her intuition and experience in order to respond to the situation at hand as it presented itself.
The whirlwind took her to the small office building where Robert was awaiting her arrival. She knew that he had detected her presence in his territory as soon as she had stepped inside his borders a couple of days before. She had spent a few days hidden in the hillside outside of town, waiting for the assigned time to meet with the residents. She had accepted that she would not be able to elude him for long before she had to come face to face with him. She had made the decision to set the intervention into motion first and then to seek him out. No matter the outcome of their encounter, the intervention would have been initiated by that time.
This intervention was long in the making. Tempe felt it a personal failure when things in a community escalated to a point where such an act was required in order to set the destiny of a bloodline or group back on track. Through the years individual interventions were undertaken in this community, but somehow the destinies had not been restored; until today.
The community had been calling for respite from the effects of the prolonged drought for months. They had failed to make the connection between the drought and their deviation from their set course. They did not seek to return to the path set for them, necessitating the intervention. She was surprised by the lack of understanding and insight that humans had into their life, circumstances and events and how it related to their predestined life journeys.
As she arrived in front of the office building, the wind tugged at her hair and the rain pounded her skin. Eager to get out of the elements, she stepped into the front office. The office was empty except for a ginger cat lounging on one of the chairs. She shook the water from her hair and wiped her wet arms and face.
“Where’s your boss?” Tempe addressed the cat. The cat lifted its head and looked at her.
“Come on, I don’t have all day. Where is he?” she asked again.
The cat languidly roused itself, slipped from the couch and sauntered down the hallway. Tempe followed it down the dark passage. Slightly raising her chin, she sniffed the air. She recognised the musty smell of an Ancient. Looking over its shoulder, the cat spoke to her.
“He’s been waiting for you for days now. Be warned, he is not in a good mood.”
“When was he ever in a good mood?” Tempe asked.
“Well, I suppose you are right,” the cat snickered.
It led her through the dimly lit hallway to the back of the building. Coming up to a closed door, the cat stopped in front it.
“I’m not going to open the door for you. I value my life too much to dare do that. I already took a great risk in leading you here. All of the best to you. May the best man, or in this case the best woman, win,” snickered the cat, enjoying its own witticism.
“I’m glad that you turned, Cat. At least in your case it was an intervention not wasted.”
“That is your perception of things,” snorted the cat as it turned it’s his back on her and disappeared into a dark corner.
“Well, at least you now have nine more lives,” she mumbled at its retreating form.
Tempe breathed deeply before she stepped closer to the door. The smell of the Ancient was almost overpowering now. She hated the smell of rot and decay; of times and lives past. She knew that things would not be easy from here on in. Robert had been expecting her and he definitely did not wait to receive her with open arms, warm generosity or hospitality. He wanted to destroy her; to make an end to her so that he could save and secure his own position and reign in the area.
She closed her eyes for a moment, centring and preparing herself for what awaited her on the other side of the door. As she inhaled slowly, she felt the power filling her completely; every cell of her body vibrated and became light. She felt its warmth spread from the top of her head, down her spine and through her entire body. Her synapses were crackling with electricity. She was ready to go.
She lifted her right hand slightly and pointed in the direction of the door. The door burst apart, sending wood splinters flying. She stepped through the doorframe into the room beyond.
The stench in the room was overpowering. Robert sat behind a large desk, small and frail in his wheelchair. She wasn’t fooled by his physical appearance. He was one of the most feared and powerful Ancients. The fact that he was still here after so many generations was testimony to that.
“Nice to see you again, Tempe,” he grinned. She saw that he had lost a couple of teeth since they had last seen one another. Where he sported a dark shock of hair before, his head was now nearly bald with patches of woolly tufts sprouting out of his skull. His skin was covered in angry, red blotches. His fingers gnarled by age sought out the dry patches to scratch them.
“I can’t say the same, Robert. I thought we had an agreement after our last encounter. But it seems that I have been mistaken. I’m sorry to say that you don’t look particularly healthy.”
Cautiously she moved closer to him. He didn’t look at her directly as his eyes were sensitive to the light that she emitted. She saw the nictitating membrane in his eyes close, shutting out her light.
“As always, you have caused quite a stir in the village,” he spluttered through his fleshy lips.
“You do like to show off, don’t you?”
“This is just me being me, Robert; you know that,” Tempe responded. “You know why I am here. Let’s talk about the covenants.”
A giggle that was more of a choked gargle, slipped from his throat.
“It’s always about the covenants with you, isn’t it? Why can’t you just give up and let things be as they are? You are one seriously nosy and annoying woman. I should have gotten rid of you years ago.”
“You know this is not about you and me, Robert. This is about the Original Plan. You have once again been interfering with the Master Plan by making illegal and unauthorised alliances and bonds on the side. I am here to rectify that.”
“You have no control over any of the agreements that I have made. They have been put into action. Nothing can stop the effects and the influences of it now!” he gurgled at her. She noticed that his speech had deteriorated as well since their last encounter. He was struggling to get the sounds from his throat.
Moving even closer to him, she gently but firmly informed him, “That is where you are mistaken, Robert. I am here to stop your covenants and to nullify their effects.”
“Nobody has ever been able to do that!” he stuttered.
“Well, this is a new day and a new season Robert and I have received new instructions and higher authority. I am here to stop you permanently. It is not as if you did not have the opportunity or the chance to change. You have made the decision to ignore the High Council’s ruling of the previous season. There has been a new ruling and I am here to enforce their verdict, hence the ferocity and magnitude of the storm.
Bewildered he looked at her, momentarily stunned to silence by her declaration. Then he sprang back into action. He hadn’t survived in a very hostile environment for this long by doing nothing. Sulphur emitted from every possible orifice on his small body, filling the room with a dreadful smell. He bared his uneven teeth in a deathly grin and pushed his wheelchair back from the desk and moved away from Tempe. She saw that the exertion required moving the chair was enormous and that the effort had almost drained him. She wondered why he had not made use of an electric wheelchair, but then remembered his sensitivity to electricity. It dawned or her that she now had two weapons to use against him: her light and her powerful abilities.
She moved forward in order to get closer to him. He anticipated her move and wheeled his chair even faster, aiming for a door at the back of the office. She pursued him, trying to intercept before he could reach the outer door. She wanted to contain him in the room and deal with him once and for all.
“Braicha!” she invoked his physical body, commanding it to keep Robert’s spirit contained within. “You will not let him go until I tell you to!”
Her voice urged Robert to greater speed. Tempe had to move around the office furniture in order to reach him and he had a head start on her.
She threw out a tiny morsel of bait.
“I have re-instated Sophia to her rightful position and I have restored her land to her,” she informed him. It stopped him dead in his tracks. With his back to her, he adamantly stated, “She will not take up that position. She will not oppose me. She has tried that once and she knows the consequences. She will not go down that road again.”
“I have brought in a support group with me. She will be supported and assisted in her mission this time around. She will no longer be on her own. You will not oppose or threaten her in any way anymore. Your reign is over, Robert.”
He started wheeling his chair once more, moving slowly towards the door.
She threw another piece of bait out. “Juliana has also been re-instated and her position restored. Her destiny is already changing as we speak. A bloodline is being restored Robert; a family destiny returned to the Original Plan.”
He spun the chair around and rushed in Tempe’s direction. “How dare you woman, how dare you interfere with my plans!” he screeched at her.
Inhaling deeply, Tempe drew even more energy through her body, increasing her vibration and the intensity of her light. He re-directed himself away from her, screaming out in pain. Despite the nictitating eyelids her light was scorching and tearing at him. He turned his back to her again, but kept up the stream of obscenities that he was spewing at her.
“Cursed are you, bitch! Burn you will burn and die you will die! Ravens from the heavens will pluck out your eyes and feast on your despicable flesh. Vermin you are! Deceitful and scheming! You will not succeed in your plans! You are nothing and you will never be anything! You are an outcast! Rejected by heaven and earth! Your very own mother rejected you!”
Tempe rapidly moved closer to him, narrowing the gap between them and surrounding him in the glare of her light. She grabbed hold of the back of the wheelchair and bent over him, whispering into his ear, “Martha has been exposed. She will be arrested as soon as the roads are open to traffic again. Rikva is going to survive. She and Heinrich will take up their assigned positions and lead the people of this community, together with Sophia, into their communal destiny. Game over, Robert.”
She didn’t think it possible, but he emitted even more sulphur. Foul reeking, yellow clouds of it billowed from his mouth, nose and ears and oozed from the enlarged pores on his cheeks. He was losing control over the frail human body.
“You think it is game over because you came and moved a few chess pieces on the board. This is not game over, not by a long shot. I have made covenants with each one of them and I will hold them to their word. They will honour their agreements with me!”
“What covenants have you made with them, Robert?” Tempe prompted him.
“A life for a life deal,” he hissed at her. “I only ever trade in lives.”
“What trade off did Sophia make?”
“I spared her son’s life in exchange for her position and her land. She gave it over willingly. Hahaha…,” he cackled hideously, “and he rejected her because she abdicated her role. Shaun could never respect her again. Two birds with one stone! They haven’t spoken to each other in years. I took over her legacy and his inheritance. It all now belongs to me!”
“What trade off did you make with Juliana?” Tempe persisted.
“It was easy,” he grinned at her, “her husband and her son’s lives for her position. This used to be her office. She was rapidly becoming the best attorney this county had seen in generations and she was my direct opposition. It was easy to take her out. One farming accident took care of her, Johann and her son. She is just as devoted a mother as she used to be to her calling. She truly is a remarkable woman. It’s a pity that I could never convince her to side with me. The day I made the bond with her, Johann was still in hospital. There wasn’t much hope for him for recovery. Little did we know that he would fully recover from his injuries, but not from the consequences of his part in the accident. I thought I was punishing her for not conspiring with me, by forcing her to remain with Johann. That was my condition for saving her boy’s life: she had to stay with Johann regardless of how he mistreated her. But she proved me wrong. She took up the care of her household as her calling. She does it with so much love and care that it makes me sick!” He spat to the side to emphasize his point.
While speaking to Tempe, Robert tried to inconspicuously move away from her, but nothing escaped her attention. She stepped in front of him and grabbed hold of both armrests on the wheelchair. Leaning into him she spoke right into his face.
“Johann has been yearning for death long before the accident. You have been keeping him and Juliana captive by sparing his life. His prayer for death will now be answered. Juliana is being freed from him and the bond that she made with you. She is being freed to step back into her position and her calling again. She will fulfil her destiny.”
“Aaaargghh!!!” he growled at Tempe, utterly enraged. He moved to grab hold of her arms and shoulders, but she eluded him by staying out of his reach. He kicked out at her with his emaciated legs, but all his efforts were futile. In his rage he toppled the wheelchair backwards and fell with a thud to the floor. He pulled his disfigured body together and crawled in the direction of the door only to see Tempe’s heavy boots once more step in front of him.
“Where are you going Robert? Don’t you understand that it is all over for you?”
She poked him lightly in the ribs with the tip of a boot and then pushed him hard to the ground with her foot. She kept him pinned to the floor.
“What was your arrangement with Martha? Somehow I suspect that you had another kind of alliance with her. You two are of a kindred spirit.”
“I don’t have to tell you anything, bitch!” he breathed through clenched teeth.
“Oh, but you know that you very much want to tell me Robert. You want me to know how ingenious you really are. Come on, tell me!” Tempe’s comment infuriated him even more. He foamed at the mouth and helplessly thrashed around on the floor in an effort to break her hold on him. Tempe leaned even harder into his frail body, expecting it to break under her weight. Suddenly she stepped back from him, giving him his freedom.
“You don’t have to tell me Robert, I already know everything about you and Martha. I have known from the very beginning. I know that you have been lovers and partners through all of these years. I know that you have kept her bound to you by her hunger for more and more power and that you have fed her appetite. I know that you have conspired together to poison Rivka.”
Robert did not reply to any of Tempe’s accusations. He just kept on grinning at her with a self-satisfied look on his face.
“I also know that you have seeded Heinrich.” With one swipe the grin was wiped from Roberts face.
“Remember the time that he got lost in the hillside for a couple of days? And how he was found unharmed at the village dam a few days later?” Recognition registered on his face.
“Well, that was me. I took him to my place in the hills and we changed his DNA. He is no longer one of your kind, but now one of mine. Didn’t you ever find it strange that he never displayed any of your very distinct characteristics or personality traits?”
Robert’s fleshy lips moved between the sulphur streaks on his cheeks, but he couldn’t utter a sound.
“The verdict of the Great Council during the previous season was that this would be the last human body you would ever occupy and your final opportunity to redeem yourself. You were warned that you had to be very careful of how you handled this body and how you conducted your affairs, weren’t you?” Like a stubborn child Robert refused to respond to or answer Tempe’s questions. Despite his unwillingness to take part in the conversation, she continued. “I am sorry to say that you have failed Robert. You will never occupy another body again. The Council has found you unfit for human occupation and ruled that you will be bound to nature for all eternity. Oh, how you have fallen from grace, Ancient one.”
Robert roared his outrage at her, grabbed hold of her leg and bit into her calf with his teeth. Tempe kicked him hard in the ribcage and shook him off her leg.
“This saddens me, but I will do what needs to be done.” She stepped back from him, closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Slowly she released her breath. The smell of ozone filled the room. She raised both arms above her head and summoned the tornado that had been building over the town. The tornado ripped the roof from the building and found its contact point in Tempe. She grabbed Robert by the arm and pulled him with her into the eye of the tornado. The powerful winds whirled around them, picked them up and took them to the location that Tempe indicated. She cautioned the storm not to move too swiftly through the town, but only to pick up speed once they were outside of the town boundaries. The devastating speed of the tornado paralysed Robert’s human body and left him hanging limply at Tempe’s side.
As they moved together with the storm through the town, Tempe scouted the scene underneath them. She saw the white truck in front of Sophia’s coffee shop and was pleased that Shaun had made it into town before the storm. She was satisfied that he had kept his word and his end of the agreement and would return to his inheritance and his calling. It did not take much effort on her side when she met with him, to convince him of this.
As they moved to the town boundaries she saw that the emergency vehicles and personnel were gathered together at the spot where the bridge used to be. Juliana was with them, indicating the spot where the truck with Johann and their son still inside, went into the raging waters. Tempe suppressed a sob at the sight of Juliana’s agitated movements. She allowed herself a moment to feel Juliana’s heartache and distress before focussing her full attention on the problem at hand. She rested in the knowledge that good things would be coming into Juliana’s life in the near future; that she had to be uprooted in order to find her real roots again.
Tempe still had a mission to complete.
She indicated to the storm to pick up speed. They raced over the countryside on their way to the hills in the desert, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
Once they reached the designated spot, the storm dissipated, leaving Tempe and a disorientated Robert behind. He lay crumbled in a pathetic heap on the ground. She pulled him to his feet and dragged him in the direction of a cluster of hot springs between the rocks on the hillside. “Well Robert, this is to be your home now for all of eternity,” Tempe said while indicating the springs. In one last attempt to free himself from impending doom, he struggled against her hold on his arm. She took him by both his shoulders and steered him over to the springs.
“Happy retirement, Robert. We will be seeing much more of each other from now on.”
“Braichalla!” she commanded his body and with one swift movement she removed his spirit from the fragile human body that he had been occupying for more than eighty years and commissioned it to the nearest hot spring. As his spirit entered the hot water, clouds of sulphur billowed from the surface and filled the air with its dreadful stench.
“How typical of you Robert, to make a stench during such dire circumstances.” With a slight hand gesture Tempe bound his spirit to the borders of the particular spring, commanding the spring to control and take care of him. Slowly she made her way between the springs, stopping at some of them to have a quick conversation with the resident spirit. Reaching the highest point of the hill, she turned in the direction of the town and saw that it was still raining over the county. She commanded the clouds to keep up the rain for three more days and to water the land thoroughly. Weary, but satisfied she entered her cave. She laid her tired body down on the bed and closed her eyes. Slowly she slipped from the body and left the cave.
For the next three days she played with the winds and the clouds, gathering strength for her next encounter with the humans down below.
©Copyright Micelle Coetsee 2014