Cycle of The Lost | Teen Ink

Cycle of The Lost

June 3, 2014
By kian16 BRONZE, Malaybalay, Other
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kian16 BRONZE, Malaybalay, Other
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Favorite Quote:
"I can't change the direction of the wind. But I can always adjust my sails to always reach my destination."

Author's note: I am a christian, but I wanted to make this occult things side with God. That's why I made a good twist.

The author's comments:
Hello guyz, this is the prologue not the first chapter.

Conrad thought he was in heaven.
He’s standing in the middle of a granite isle, in the middle of a paradise, and in the middle of nowhere.
All he could hear was nothing but silence.
Sunlight loomed over him, radiating a bright piercing light that made the bordering flowers on both sides of the pavement looked as if they were glowing. Everything that surround him was filled with various flowers, trees, bushes, boulders, vines, and other things he does not recognize.
Where am I? he thought, and let his eyes wondered the path where the isle was heading to.
Meters away from him, the pathway ended into a huge open circular pavilion. It has four gigantic columns all designed in Doric style of Greece. The columns connect the granite floor and the circular domed roof. Conrad guessed it was made of white marble since the pavilion appears to be milky.
He caught glimpse of something inside the mysterious architectural building. It looked like tables with only one thick leg in the middle, but much more like podiums he often see in parks where old men play chess. He has to be sure. His guts told him to discover what those standing objects are.
Conrad’s feet began to move.
There’s something odd about this place, he could sense it.
Just some few blocks before he reached the entrance, he heard the gurgling sound of water. The wide open place gave him a clearer view and a clearer hint of what’s inside.
He was right. Those aren’t tables…they’re fountains.
When he had his first step on the circular floor, he felt a strong aura emitted by the place. He walked pass the two columns which served as the entrance and eagerly paced closer to the fountains.
All of them were made with marbles same like the composition of the building that obscures them. The top was hollow— the portion where water pours in and out without spilling a single drop of liquid on the ground.
He was amazed of how the fountains were perfectly carved with intricate designs.
Fountains. There were a lot of them.
Conrad stretched his neck higher and lifted his head to have a better look at them. He pursed his lips and counted— twenty four marble fountains, about the height of his hips and circumference like a family-sized pizza. All of them were identical, even the length of the water’s jet. He had seen these kind fountains back on his hometown; Manhattan, New York. Many of them were located in the Central Park, all serves as birds’ bathing places and where he washes his face or takes a sip of it.
The churning water was quite alluring. He wanted to feel the crystal clear fluid that flows rapidly all around the curvaceous platform. Although half of his mind kept on telling him to get away from them, he raised his hand and stretched it closer to the nearest fountain he spotted.
He was about to touch it, when a bird suddenly landed on the side of the same fountain he was trying out. He took off his hand with fright and cursed at the bird which is about the size of his fist. It has black beak and yellowish eyes, feathers mixed with streaks of blue and tropical green.
For seconds he gazed at the bird. It had a tight grip on the fountain’s milky white edge and slowly lowered its beak to take a drink.
He gasped. His stomach twisted and he immediately backed off some steps when the bird froze and soon, the creature filled with colorful shade was momentarily covered with a grayish brown tint.
The bird turned into rock.
Almost, he spoke in his mind, eyes wide open still horrified at the petrified creature. If the bird wasn’t there, I should’ve turned into a rock.
Yes. Someone answered inside his mind. Conrad thought it was just a mind reflex but then it continued; just one drop, or you’ll end up into a statue forever.
A surge of panic began to rush through his veins. He felt like he had crossed a different territory. A place where all his actions were watched.
Conrad’s heart thumped so fast. His eyes shifted in all direction, scanning every tree, every bush, and every huge boulder where someone might be peering at him. Although he found nothing, not even a single body of an animal.
What? He doubted in his thought. So where did the bird came from?
From me, the voice answered as if reading his mind. This time, it seemed like the sound echoed all over his environment, like an invisible creature whispering on his ear. He decided to shut his eyes, waiting for the voice to utter another word that he might have a chance to locate it.
Very well, it continued. You’ve proven yourself worthy, Conrad Winslow.
His snapped his eyes open, and with a huge bulk of confidence, he swiftly spun towards his back— the direction where the granite isle lies.
Conrad was confident it came from this side. The granite isle glistened in front of him, its length stretched as far as his vision could reach. He had realized the pavilion was the only building in this place.
“This is just a dream,” he muttered. But his brain kept on telling him; Dream, it has a lot of surprises.
At the end of the horizon, in the midst of the thick mirage formed by the scorching heat of the sun, he spotted an image of something he does not recognize. At first it seemed like a dot of a pen, but as it drew closer, it formed a certain shape.
It’s a man. But there’s something bizarre about this guy. He was skipping gaily on the isle, moving closer to his direction.
“What the---” he said, and curled his eyebrows to have a better look at the stranger, “a clown?”
The strange skinny man was wearing colorful motley clothes that made him looked like a carnival clown. Resting on his left shoulder was a wooden staff clutched tightly by his bony hands with a cloth pack hanging on the tip of it.
He halted right in front of him---in the middle of the two Doric columns.
Conrad wanted to run, yet he was blockaded with fountains. He could jump at the sides, but he felt like his legs were locked. Is he a friend or an enemy?
His dark blue eyes were peeled on him. His pupils were shot straight at his, making it looked as if the guy was dumbfounded.
The Clown Man was lanky. His ectomorph built fitted on his colorful suit. His blond hair glowed under the sun’s beam with face perfectly chiseled. Looking at the man’s features, no doubt he was a cheerful guy.
“Hmm,” he muttered with a streak of innocent smile on his face. “You don’t need to be afraid, I’m a friend.”
“It’s you.” Conrad answered defiantly, “The one that talks in my head.”
The man took some steps until they were only parted several feet away. Conrad decided not to move. With his sweats flooded all over his body, he just kept his gaze locked on the strange man.
Surprisingly, the Clown Man slipped his staff away from his shoulder and lowered it down on the pavilion’s floor. “I’m glad you have finally answered my call,” he continued as he brushed off some dust on the wood.
“Call? W-what call?” he stammered.
For few seconds the man didn’t responded. He was too busy untying the pack on the tip of his wooden staff.
Conrad was anticipated as the dust-covered pack was finally unsealed and revealed a bunch of mysterious things inside. Above those hodgepodges of things, he spotted some things he quite distinguished; a whole piece of bread (which Conrad doubted if it’s still edible to eat), a wooden flute, a rose with its unbloomed white bud, and other weird stuffs.
“Its got to be here somewhere,” he mumbled, and scanned his hand above the jumbled items.
Conrad decided to break the silence, “W-who are you? And what---”
“Here it is!” he cried before Conrad could continue. The Clown Man raised something that surprised him--- a tarot card.
He stood up and went closer to him, handing over the card with his thin long hand.
“Here,” he began, “this will help you in your journey.”
“Journey?” Conrad took the card with raging curiosity.
“Aye. When you have this, your life will be much messier.”
Conrad didn’t paid much attention. He kept his eyes locked on the card with amazement.
“It’s beautiful”, he whispered under his breath. The tarot’s back dimension was carved with intricate designs; curve lines which served as its border, images of the moon, sun and star. Conrad flipped it too see the frontal view. On it was an image of an animated man…the same feature as of the one standing in front of him.
They were identical.
“Remember my boy,” he continued. “That thing is my life. You have to take care of it, and never let anyone take it away from you.”
Conrad gasped. A caption in an old styled font was engraved on the bottom part of the card. It says; The Fool.
“Y-you’re the Fool?” he stammered. As far as he could remember, he had familiarized some of the tarot cards when his grandmother let him play those.
“Yes,” he answered with a tranquil smile on his face. “I’m glad you—” Fool paused, and gazed something from behind his back.
“What’s wrong?” Conrad asked. He kept on moving his head to see what he’s busy looking at, although he saw nothing but clean horizon.
He turned back and faced Conrad with streaks of worried expression. “We have to make this conversation fast. Someone’s following me. I could sense it these past days.”
His heart began to pound hard. “What does it want?”
The Clown Man snatched and raised Conrad’s hand where the tarot card was gripped. “This.”
“Huh?” he staggered backward.
“Listen to me. You are a Trump Keeper Conrad, and being a keeper means to shoulder greater responsibility. It requires strength, power, and sacrifice.”
His words began to nauseate Conrad. Those foreign words began mixing on his mind.
“I know you don’t understand. But someday, everything will sink in with just a blink of an eye. I have chosen you for a reason; your life resembles mine.”
“I-I think you came with the wrong person. Sorry but—”
“There will be greater changes in your life,” he inserted. “Be brave.”
The ground shook all of a sudden. Conrad almost threw himself towards the mysterious fountains. When the tremor stopped, he could see darkness creeping from the far end of his vision, crawling momentarily until total blackness ate the world he’s standing at. There was nothing left but void, Conrad noticed he and the man glowed in pale light blue.
A huge wave of terror made him shudder. What’s happening? I should wake up.
“Run,” Fool said, grabbing his staff and positioned it as if someone is about to attack.
“But how about¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬—”

Conrad was in great panic. Without hesitations, he ran mindlessly in the hollowness.
There was a booming laughter that echoed all over. It’s definitely not from Fool, the voice was deep and vicious. Conrad looked back to see Fool struggling from something he can’t see.
“You can never take the card!” Fool screamed, the light that covered him slowly fading.
There was a sudden drop of temperature, making Conrad shiver with coldness. But when he looked back at Fool, darkness began to consume him until he vanished completely.
He kept on running, gasping for air to breathe. On the far end of his vision, he saw light glittering brightly, giving him a sense of hope.
Conrad ran for it, the light grew bigger as he drew closer. But he was about to reach it, he noticed three dark silhouettes blockading the way out.
The vicious laughter continued. This time, he heard cackle of a man and a woman. No, women.
“Give us the card young man!” three voices thundered in unison.
He looked at the tarot card he was holding; it glowed in brilliant gold. This is what they want.
Conrad gasped, Fool’s tarot disintegrated into dust. But the golden light began to sink into his hand, running through his flesh until it covered his whole body like a golden aura.
He remembered what Fool told him, ‘this will help you in your journey’.
He’s right. Instinctively, he lifted his arm and posed it towards the dark entities. And with a rush of power, he screamed as bright light erupted from his hand.

The author's comments:
Sorry I can't display the symbol. This is pure text.

The Changes

A shrill scream went out from Conrad’s mouth when he finally woke up.
As he sat in a stiff sitting position, he’s vision swirled when a sudden sharp pain throbbed on his head. He groaned and cursed, touching the part where the ache pulsated. Upon reaching his temple, his fingers went in touch with something soft— a bandage.
Conrad sucked a mouthful of air when he noticed he wasn’t in his room. White walls surrounded him, with picture frame of a map entitled ‘Emergency Exit’. There was a wooden door on the left wall, and a set of black sofa arranged in front of his bed.
Teet-teet-teet. A gentle sound kept beeping on his side. When he turned sideward, he saw the television-like device that records the heartbeat rate. Conrad did not know what it’s called, and he’s not planning to know one.
Right, he thought, I’m in a hospital.
He took off the blanket that covered half of his body. He was surprised to see his right foot wrapped with bandages and got cemented. His other hand was attached by two separate tubes---blood and water.
“What happened?” he muttered, trying to remember what made him land here.
The door creaked open, and two people went in; a doctor, and Conrad’s grandmother.
“Gran-gran?” he called. “What are you doing here? And me, what am I doing here?”
His grandmother smiled with pale lips. Conrad didn’t saw her for ages. Her curly hair was almost dominated with white. She became thinner and wrinkled this time, but still looking strong and sturdy. Above all, his Gran-gran’s dark eyes were sunken, swollen like she has been crying for a long time.
“He’ll have his recovery for a week, and after that you could take him home,” the doctor said. “But then, I should say traumatic recovery takes time. Lucky he survived.”
Conrad almost collapsed when he heard the last phrase. Lucky he survived.
“Where’s mom?” he said, “Dad? Or-or Lynn? Gran-gran I want to see them!”
His grandmother didn’t answer. Instead, tears began to flood from her eyes. She paced closer and gave Conrad a tight hug.

She whispered on his ear, “It’ll be alright for sure.”

A flash of memory sunk in his mind. The night before his birthday, his family drove their way towards Ohio for vacation. But that’s the only memory he had, he can’t reminisce the things that happened after…his crazy nightmare.

“Tell me!” he cried, tears began to well on his eyes.

“Y-your parents,” she stammered. “They died during the accident.”

He chuckled. “Impossible”

“That night, when you drove towards the other state, your car plunged into the river. When the rescue team reached the place, they saw three bodies inside the vehicle; you, and both parents.”

Conrad can’t talk. He felt his whole body went numb.

“Miraculously, you were still alive. The police told me the water’s current was great that it would be impossible for anyone to survive. Your mother and father died, and your little sister, was left missing.”

“No, please tell me you’re kidding!”

Conrad began to have tantrum, he cried and shouted violently like a little kid.

“Please tell me this is just a dream! Tell me they’re alive!”

“Listen,” her grandmother said, trying to keep him calm, “I’m still here, a family. There’s only you and I now, Conrad.”

“Please tell me they’re alive!” he cried back. Then Conrad felt a sting on his neck. The doctor injected something that made his vision swirl. His eyes went blur, and one last word escaped from his mouth, “Please.”
Three Years Later

A small ripple appeared when Conrad tossed a pebble on the water. He was sitting on a cement bench beside the riverbank of Hudson River in New York.

He could see the sun setting down behind the towering buildings on the opposite side of the river. Above him, the sky was dominated with streaks of purple and orange red, reflecting on the clear water as if a huge mirror.

Conrad tossed another stone, this time, stronger and faster. He heard the tiny splash and the bigger ripple that broke the tranquil current.

That was the last stone. So he stood up and ran towards his grandmother’s apartment few blocks away before the daylight was completely defeated by night.

“I’m home,” he said, and went to the kitchen to give his Gran-Gran a respectful kiss.

“You came late,” she answered. “You must be starving.”
He noticed the chocolate cake on the oven. “You made that?”
“Ahuh. It’s for your birthday tomorrow,” she gave him a smile, “and your parents and sister’s death anniversary.”
Wow, he thought. Conrad is about to turn to sixteen, but the accident, was still fresh from behind. He does not let his grandmother see him get affected and acting as if he has moved on.
“Well,” he gestured confidently. “Time run’s fast Gran-Gran.”

“Indeed, Conrad,” she said. “We could go to the cemetery tomorrow.”
He didn’t answer, and instead gave him a smile as a reply. Conrad took his dinner and hours later, he went to sleep.

A huge rush of pain made Conrad woke up deep in the night. He looked at his digital clock on his table; it’s 11:55

“Oww,” he moaned. There was a sharp ache on his head, then down to his body. Transmitting up and down like a violent wave. Could this be from the accident? He spoke in his mind, trying to keep himself calm. No. Three years, I should’ve recovered.
He curled on his bed. Raging heat began to replace the searing pain; sweats covered all over his body. He can’t explain what was happening, not even the fact that it never happened in his whole lifetime.
“Gran-gran,” he tried to cry for help, but only a tiny whisper went out from his mouth. “Help.”
He felt like time slowed down, tormenting him with every second. He wanted to die; it’s even more painful than death.
The pain and heat suddenly subsided completely. He felt normal again; he could breathe and move like nothing just happened. Instinctively, he ran towards the kitchen desperate for water to fill his gut.
When Conrad was about to drink, he gasped to see something on his skin. The kitchen was dark, but his body, was filled with golden mist.
The glass slipped from his hand and shattered on the tiled floor. He staggered backward, clattering the utensils on his back. He can’t believe he was shimmering in golden light. He pinched his arm to know if he was dreaming.
No, this is reality, he thought. It looks familiar. The dream, the golden aura of Fool’s card.
The pain went back that made Conrad groan with agony. But this time, the sharp pain concentrated on his left arm, throbbing like his bones were twisted. He fell sitting on the floor, lifting his left arm to see what was happening.
Conrad screamed hard as the pain ranged even higher. He looked down and saw something creeping on his arm. It’s a golden fire, scorching his flesh as if forming a pattern. It seemed like there was an invisible hand, carving something on his skin using fire. The golden flame crawled and formed curve lines, finally creating a burning symbol.

The pain washed off and so the golden aura. Conrad fell completely on the ground; his body was dazed and weak.

The kitchen lights turned on and his grandmother shrieked when she saw Conrad lying motionless on the floor.
“Conrad! What happened?”
He can’t talk, his body was weak. But with the tiny energy left, he was able to say “water”. All this time he was too angry with the water, it killed his loved ones, making him perish all through his life. He can’t believe he called it, asking for help.
He almost drank a liter of water. His Gran-Gran wiped the sweats on his head, then down to his arms.
Conrad twitched when he felt a sting on his left arm. His grandmother was about to wipe it when he gasped to see the symbol engraved on his skin. This time, pure black like it was newly tattooed.
“Goodness my—” She gazed at the symbol. “Fool’s emblem.”
All he knew, his Gran-Gran was an expert at tarot cards. She’s neither an occultist nor devil worshipper, they’re Christians, but she knows how to deal with the cards in the right way. However, all through his life his grandmother never mentioned that term ‘Fools Emblem’.
“You know this?” he asked.
Instead of giving him a response, his grandmother went towards the pile of table napkins and hurriedly wrapped them on the symbol. Conrad jerked when he felt the slight pain from the raw wound.
“What are you doing Gran-Gran?”
“You should cover the emblem, it’s powerful yet delicate; enough to attract dark entities.”
His eyebrows curled with demur, “I don’t understand.”
“Come,” she said. “I tell you everything there in the living room. After all, you have come to an age.”
Conrad was too stunned with the sudden happenings. But he was eager to know everything, a mystery that has yet to be solved. He stood on his feet, feeling the surge of his energy working back as he walked towards the living room with his Gran-Gran.
They settled on the sofa and his grandmother began, “When you were born, there was an angel appeared and told us something about you.”
Conrad wanted to laugh, but seemed like his grandmother was dead serious.
“We were astounded of its presence. He said you have a very important role to keep, a responsibility that shall change the misperception of mankind. The angel told us that the fates have chosen you.
“Why me?” Conrad said. “I-I mean how could angels be possible and the role, it’s impossible.”
“Look at what happened to you, Conrad, does that seem to be impossible? Look at the emblem. That is the symbol of being a trump keeper.”
There it is again, Conrad thought. He can’t speak.
“Tell me about your dream, Conrad.”
He gulped. “How did you know about my dream?”
“It doesn’t matter. I need to know what took place on your dream.”
Conrad told him everything about the weirdest dream. He told his grandmother about the fountains and how the bird turned into rock, his first met with fool, the tarot card, and the dark entities he saw in the light. His grandmother was so silent, listening to every detail he narrated.
“Three dark entities?” she finally said. “I never heard one. But you see, he has given you the card, Conrad. And that symbol was probably the beginning of your might.”
“What about the trump keeper?”
“Trump keepers like you are simply human beings who are assigned to keep the cards of the tarot. They aren’t just cards, Conrad. They are their life forces. They live as long as it is kept hidden. And your job is to keep other entities to take it away from you.”
“Why do they need people to keep hold of the cards?”
“Because,” she answered right away, “they are spirits. Their enemies are not just spirits, but also humans like us. And in reality, spirits don’t have the power to take over the physical beings. Likewise, it’s between spirit to spirit, human to human. But when one possesses the card, that person has the capability to fight against both. That’s why trump keepers are greatly needed.”
“Why do I need to cover it with table napkin anyway?” he asked.
“Silly,” she chuckled. “It’s the first thing that went inside my mind; a thing that could cover the emblem. I know you’re asking why I need to do so, it’s for the reason that that symbol is a huge magnet that attracts enemies who wanted to take the life force.”
Conrad went silent for a moment. He was beginning to ponder what his Gran-Gran has told him. His questions were at least diminished.
“You should sleep,” his grandmother told him. “You should be very tired. I could tell you more great things tomorrow.”
“Thanks.” He stood up, keeping the table napkins from slipping off.
He was about to walk when his Gran-Gran interrupted, “Conrad, happy birthday.”
Conrad smiled and went upstairs. He looked at his clock; 12:11. He didn’t notice the time. It’s his parents and sister’s third death anniversary.
When he slipped on his bed, he knew he can never go back to sleep after all that had happened.
I’m 16, he thought, and the changes have just begun.

The author's comments:
Not yet done with the fourth chapter.:)

The Chariot

A huge bang made the entire house shudder. It seemed like a grenade just exploded downstairs.
Conrad woke up with fright. At first he thought it was just an object knocked by a stray cat. But when he heard the violent crashes went more, he briskly jumped out from his bed and hurriedly went downstairs.
He was about to take the stairs when he heard voices arguing down the kitchen. He peered at the living room and was surprised to see everything in topsy-turvy. It turned like a hurricane just whipped the place. The furniture were tumbled elsewhere, shattered frames and porcelains scattered on the floor.
“Tell me where the card is, or I’ll blow this whole place off!” A man’s voice thundered in the kitchen.
“You won’t!” an old screechy woman’s voice answered, it’s definitely from her grandmother, “Over my dead body!”
There was stern slap. Conrad heard her Gran-Gran wailed in agony.
His heart jumped to his throat, without hesitations, he tiptoed back to his room and took his baseball bat. He doesn’t know who the outsider was. It may be a culprit or someone else. One thing is for sure; his grandmother was in terrible danger.
Conrad descended silently on the staircase, avoiding a single sound to distract the stranger. He gripped the bat defiantly with both hands. Then as he moved lower, he had a better look at the kitchen.
“My Master will take it from the keeper,” the man continued. “And very soon, the Dark Triad shall rise.”
The kitchen was also in great mess. Shattered plates were all over, other utensils scattered elsewhere, and small fire began creeping on the floor. Then Conrad saw the man, big and masculine, wearing black shirt and trouser. The stranger was facing his Gran-Gran lying on the floor.
“Don’t die old woman! I need to know where—”
Conrad hit him in the head as hard as he could. The stranger thundered in agony, wrapping his arm on his head as he curled on the floor.
“Conrad! You have to leave! Now!” her Gran-gran cried, her body was cover with wounds and sores.
He immediately ran after his grandmother and clung her arms into his shoulder for support. The stranger groaned in either anger or frustration.
His adrenaline made him move quickly towards the front door. But when they were about to egress, an enormous hand grasp his neck tight and pulled him back vigorously that he was thrown straight into the wall.
Conrad’s vision spun as his back hit the hard wall. He saw his grandmother landed few steps before the threshold.
“Look who’s here,” the man said, and took a very deep breath that made him sound like whiffing an aromatic food. “I smell the scent of a mighty emblem.”
He paced closer towards him, gripped his shirt, and lifted him up mercilessly. Conrad struggled and kicked the man’s stomach as hard as he could. The stranger twitched and groaned, loosing off his shirt which made Conrad break away.
He bolted like a rat, running triumphantly towards her Gran-Gran.
“Nooo!!” the man bellowed. This time, Conrad was horrified to see the changes on the stranger’s face. His whole eyes were black, his skin turning red like freshly cooked bacon.
It looked like the kick made the situation worse. The man’s fierce eyes were fixed on him, and chanting words Conrad can’t comprehend.
All the things inside the house rattled. Conrad didn’t feel any movement on the ground. The doors and windows swung close, like a strong air whipped them hard. The hairs on his back stood. His situation turned as if he was on an exorcism scene he often sees in horror movies.
“Leave us alone, demon!” her grandmother said, gritting his teeth with fury. “Darkness never wins.”
The demon made an evil cackle, “Really, old woman? But it looks like victory just settled on my palm.”
Something clattered on the kitchen. Conrad held his breath when he saw their kitchen knives levitated on the air and flew until they were aimed at them.
“Give me the boy, or you shall die,” he said.
“Take me,” Conrad said without hesitation. He knew they can’t kill him, he possess what they desperately wanted.
The man grinned, and whispered some weird words under his breath. Then Conrad noticed black smokes forming under the demon’s feet, crawling thickly on the floor heading towards his direction.
The dark mist crept fast, approaching him like an evil ghost. Conrad shut his eyes and waited for the fumes to touch his skin. He waited for seconds, but he didn’t felt anything strange.
“NO!!!” the demon yelled, causing Conrad to snap his eyes open.
A huge bulk of terror made Conrad shudder. He was staring at his Gran-Gran right in front of him, dark mist consumed almost all of her body. He could see the demon few feet away, thick eyebrows curled with dismay.
“Gran-Gran,” he muttered, unable to move a single limb. With a blink of an eye, both his grandmother and the demon vanished in the thin air.
Conrad’s eyes widened with disbelief. My grandmother, she’s gone saving me.
He was left dumbfounded at the entrance of their house, everything was in complete chaos. He can’t believe everything turned out appalling with a glimpse of time. Now he lost everything, they took the last family he had.
He walked lifelessly forward and touched the floor where his grandmother stood a couple seconds ago. There was nothing left, not even a single dust. She was too brave to exchange her life for him. I must be dreaming, he said in his head. He wanted to shout, he wanted to go furious…he wanted revenge.
Conrad came back to his senses when an outrageous knock broke on the door. He wiped his tears, peeped at the small hole and gulped to see three cops standing outside. Conrad didn’t know what to do. He can’t clean up the mess right away and pretend nothing happened. Besides, he just lost his grandmother.
The knob twisted, and he swung the door open. One of the cops stepped forward. His eyes travelled up and down on him.
“We received reports from your neighborhood about loud disturbing noises from your house.” His eyes shifted towards the house and gently pushed Conrad to the side as he went in. “Heavens!”
The second police went in curiously. The third however, which was the shortest among them stayed on his side afraid that he would run away.
“What happened?” he asked in a low but friendly tone. This cop may be shorter and thinner than the two, but he has the kindest looks.
Conrad was hesitant if he would tell the truth. They wouldn’t believe.
“He-he took away my grandmother, Sir,” he said.
Conrad fell silent. He didn’t notice the tears were already flowing from his eyes again. Maybe he was too bewildered or upset that he was not able to save his Gran-Gran.
“She vanished under a dark mist,” he sobbed. “The demon took her.”
He was surprised that the cop didn’t laugh at him.
“I’m sorry about that, kid. Maybe I was too late.” Then he went inside.
I was too late? Conrad thought. Why did he use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’?
The cop who came in first went closer to them and approached him. He was tall and have mesomorph built, with short dark blond hair and a navy blue police cap on the top. There was a pin on his upper left chest engraved with his name; Lieutenant John Williams.
“What happened?” he asked.
“I just told your teammate,” Conrad said. He was exhausted talking, he was still grieving.
“Robert!” he called inside.
The second cop turned, “What? I’m busy here!”
“No,” Conrad interrupted. “I mean the other cop.”
There was a long pause. Lieutenant Williams shot his brown eyes on him with one brow raised. “Are you playing some joke? I’m sorry but I’m not fond of them.”
“The third cop,” he said and pointed at the thin police now looking at the shattered picture frames on the table. “I just told him about my Gran-gran’s disappearance.”
The Lieutenant laughed cockishly. “I told you I don’t play jokes, especially from a fibber teenager like you.”
“Can’t you see him?!” Conrad insisted. This time, the thin cop faced and grinned but didn’t make a sound.
Lieutenant Williams’ eyes were fixed on the direction where the thin cop was standing. But he seemed to see nothing but thin air.
“Good job!” he smirked at Conrad. “You just fooled me, young man. I don’t see anyone. And besides, there are only two of us: me and Robert.”
How come they don’t see him? His heart pounded hard again, remembering the demon’s vile image. There’s something wrong. He kept his eyes fixed on the third cop which was scrutinizing the living room like a detective.
Robert, the second cop hurriedly went towards them bringing with him a pen and yellow pocket notebook. “I had scanned the whole place. It looks like there’s no one here but the kid. And I have seen some knives on the living room.”
“Knives? I would say he was chasing rats that he turned the whole place in wrath,” he said. “Your parents should know this.”
“A demon just took away my grandmother! I just—”
Conrad was stupefied for a moment. The thin cop who was just in the living room disappeared all of a sudden. Impossible. He was just here seconds ago.
The Lieutenant laughed. “Oh, children nowadays, finding stupid reasons for stupid mistakes. Alibis, I say. Okay you could tell more about demons on the Police Station.”
“But. How about the—”
Robert wrapped his huge arms on his shoulder and led him towards the police car. Conrad on the other hand, twisted his head incessantly finding the friendly cop who was with him minutes ago. He was sure the man was there. It talked to him and listened to his explanations.
With an agile and quick duck, Robert’s arms slipped off from his shoulders. Conrad ran as fast as he could towards the house and shut the door close. He snapped the lock, and began searching for the mysterious cop. If it was a demon, I’ll shred him to pieces.
He went upstairs for a check. The door was banged hard by the cops, but Conrad didn’t paid attention. He kicked his room’s door furiously and groaned when he saw nothing but his disorganized pillows and blanket.
“Show yourself!”
Conrad waited. And when he was about to get out, something shimmering caught his attention. At first he didn’t noticed it because of the sunlight. But when he came closer, he shuddered to see an object that proved everything was taking place in reality—a tarot card, glowing in faint blue.
He went closer with his feet shaking. The card was placed on top of his white pillow, showing only the back portion that made it more mysterious. Just looking at it, he knew this card was the same as of the card in his dream; the same size, the same markings on the back.
It doesn’t matter, he told himself as he touched the thick rough card. What matters is the image that lies on the opposite side. With a flash of confidence, Conrad flipped the card.
The same, everything was the same. Except for the image and the caption engraved. He saw two horses; black and white, pulling a golden chariot on their back. There was a man riding inside the carriage, poising his flexible whip as if about to strike the horses. The caption on the lower part says; The Chariot.
“Ah-ha!” the two cops called in unison that made Conrad curse with fright. “You think you can escape, kid?”
He was trapped. There’s no way out except to leap out from his window five meters away from the ground. The two cops seemed to be so angry and determined to catch him. If only they would believe in his story.
“Stop,” said a lax voice on the back of the two men.
Then the cops did stop, literally. Both of them were frozen like manikins he often saw in malls and boutiques. They stood petrified on their last position. Fierce eyes were wide open with shock.
Conrad saw someone behind them. This man must me the one who jinxed the police officers. Since both cops were tall, he can’t clearly see who it was.
Surprisingly, the thin cop emerged from the doorway. Conrad’s jaw dropped open when he saw how the cop passed through the petrified men. His body just sunk in then out from them, like a ghost passing through a hard surface.
The thin cop walked towards him, beaming peacefully at him. With his fright upwelling, he reached out for something he might use against the cop. He just dropped the bat few feet away, and now the only thing in his hand was his digital clock readily set in a throwing position.
“Whoa,” the cop said. “I wasn’t here to harm you, Conrad.”
“How did you know my name?”
He didn’t gave him an answer, his eyes were fixed on the tarot card he was holding.
“What,” Conrad said when he noticed it, “you want the card, demon?”
The cop smirked like Conrad gave him a corny joke. When he looked down at the tarot card, he was astonished to see it disintegrate into dust. The blue neon light remained on his palm. Instead of penetrating into his flesh like what happened to Fool’s tarot, the light slipped out from his fingers and ran down the bed like moving water. It crawled on his bed sheet, then to the floor, and went directly towards the cop’s tick-tock shoes.
Conrad shut his eyes as a bright piercing light burst out from the cop. Seconds later, the white light subsided and Conrad popped his eyes back.
The cop was gone. But somebody else was in front of him, another man, big and bulky. He was wearing a Roman armor suit and a bronze crown above his curly blond hair that cascaded down to his shoulder. He looked like a man of mid-forties.
Above all, the guy standing in front of him was identical on the picture of the man maneuvering the chariot as printed on the tarot card.
“The Chariot,” Conrad spoke with half bewilderment.
The man groaned, “Why do keepers kept on telling me I’m Chariot? That’s an utter misconception. I am the Charioteer!”
“Wait, so if you’re the Charioteer, then where’s the chariot and the horses?”
“Nice question, punk. And to answer that, you should come with me.”
Conrad was hesitant to trust this guy, but somehow, he put down the digital clock.
“You can’t take me anywhere,” he said. “Why would I ever trust you?”
The Charioteer rolled his eyes, “Oh come on! I’ve travelled this far and your telling me you won’t come with me?”
The man snapped his fingers, and then the two cops unfroze.
“—you made us tired of chasing you!” the other cop cried like he just continued the phrase he was about to tell before they were petrified like realistic statues.
Gran-Gran was right, the tarot identities were spirits. Normal mortals can’t see them. Oppositely, the spirits can’t touch them, they’re just air that can’t do any harm on the physical world, except the fact that they can do simple tricks like what the Charioteer just did.
“Leave,” the Charioteer said calmly.
The two cops stood up briskly like dummies, and without a word, they went out.
“What did you do?” Conrad hissed.
“A simple hypnosis, but my, I wasted too much energy just for those tricks. You know, humans are hard to deal with.”
“What if I don’t want to come with you?”
There was a long pause. The Charioteer walked-pass him and looked solemnly on his window. “Simply speaking, you will never see your grandmother again.”
The phrase made Conrad thought for seconds.
“I told you I was too late to come, I should’ve saved her,” he continued. “But when I came into your house, I still could sense her presence. Yes, your grandmother is still alive. And the only way to save her is to come with me. Help us, Conrad, and we’ll help you back.”
Conrad knew he could trust this man, he could feel the hope once more.
He stood up, “I’m in.”
“Then the Chariot is waiting outside,” the Charioteer replied.
Conrad went closer towards the glass window. And when he looked down, he grinned when he saw what he wanted to see. A golden chariot glistened on the side of the street, tied to a black horse on the right, and a white horse on the left. They whinnied excitedly.
“Now that’s the Chariot.”

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