Age of power 1: legacy

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LEGACY

 

A NOVEL OF THE AGE OF POWER

 

By JON DAVIS

 

Thisis a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in the bookeither are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.

 

Copyright-2012

 

Allrights reserved.

 

Published by Jon Davis to Amazon Kindle.

ContentsTitle PageCopyrightContentsCHAPTER ONECHAPTER TWOCHAPTER THREECHAPTER FOURCHAPTER FIVECHAPTER SIXCHAPTER SEVENCHAPTER EIGHTCHAPTER NINECHAPTER TENCHAPTER ELEVENCHAPTER TWELVECHAPTER THIRTEENCHAPTER FOURTEENCHAPTER FIFTEENCHAPTER SIXTEENCHAPTER SEVENTEENCHAPTER EIGHTEENCHAPTER NINETEENCHAPTER TWENTYCHAPTER TWENTY-ONECHAPTER TWENTY-TWOCHAPTER TWENTY-THREECHAPTER TWENTY-FOURCHAPTER TWENTY-FIVEACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

CHAPTER ONE

   

Thesky was clear and bright, with every star a luminous beacon in the night. Eventhe Milky Way was a gold and azure blaze that stretched out in all its glory.Yet, for all the beauty above, there was serious competition on the groundbelow. Looking over the scene, I saw the freshly fallen snow as it shimmered ina range of bright and cheery colors brought about by Christmas decorations.

Redand green lights intertwined with artificial icicles that were hanging from theedges of roofs. Decorations of reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh sat on the topof a few of those roofs. It was a common theme this year. But I saw that twohomeowners had stayed unique and showed their religious faiths instead. Oneroof had bright-yellow lights in the shape of a cross while the other showedthe celebration of Yule with a pentagram constructed of green blinking lights.

Thetwo religious symbols were across the street from each other, showing like acompetition. I had to smile. That had to make for some fun debates. I continuedto look up and down the streets, watching the drifting white mist of my breathsoften and mix the colors into a rainbow haze. Lost in thought, I knew that Icould look at the stars and Christmas decorations until sunrise. And I probablywould have, if not for the shock of cold metal touching the back of my hand.

Ijumped at the feeling and glared back at the cause of it. My best friend, BrandHouseman, chuckled and waved the beer side to side.

Thentreating it as if it were a microphone, he said, “Earth to Vaughn Hagen. Areyou there, Vaughn? Or are you going to just stand there with your head up inthe clouds all night?”

Decisions,decisions…oh who was I kidding? I reachedout and grabbed the beer. Brand pulled it back as he gave an amused snort. Hesaid, “Doofus. You’re a geeky doofus.”

Ichuckled and then said, “Hey, I like what I like. Give me the beer.”

Handingit over, I took it and opened it. Taking a drink, I tipped my head up just as ameteor trail flared and died, but the cold beer was more important.

Afterall, a guy does have priorities.

Takinganother sip, I continued looking for more trails until I heard Brand unzippinghis backpack. I glanced over and saw him pulling out another beer. I said,“Brand, just one. We won’t be up here long. Save the rest ‘til later.”

Helooked at me with a grimace and said snappishly, “Well, if you’re going to takepictures, then do it. It’s cold up here!”

Igave Brand a sidelong glance. I said, “You’ve been growly all day now. Whathappened? Did Sherry turn you down? I know you wanted to ask her out.”

Brandgrunted, and looked away. “Ah, she turned you down.”

Brandsuddenly glared back at me. “What?”

Hisvoice was flat with annoyance. “She turned me down, all right. Then she askedabout you.”

Istared at him for a moment, the idea of taking pictures forgotten for a moment.I couldn’t help grinning. He gave me a growl back. He said, “Do you want us toget caught up here? We don’t have all night, you know.”

Ichuckled for a moment and then asked. “Sherry would have been…what? The fifth or sixth girl, this year? Aww.”

Hiseyes narrowed for a moment before he grinned at me. “Yeah, well, that’swhat—five or six more than you’ve gotten? I think this would’ve beennumber…what? One?”

Iwinced. Damn, but he had me there. Between the two of us, Brand was betterlooking. Now, I knew I was handsome—in a goofy smile sort of way—but Brand hadit easy. While he was my height and even a little thinner, he had his mother’sgently pointed chin, which somehow softened the look of his crystal blue eyes.When the white-blond of his hair entered the equation, he became a magnet forgirls. I’d had all of one date, and she was…well, she was fun to be with, yetit never went past that first kiss. Then she moved away. Go figure.

Afterthat, I hadn’t found anyone who enjoyed my company past a nice smile. I neverseemed to be able to talk with a girl for very long before she lost interest.Brand was more easygoing around the opposite sex. He could talk casually withgirls while I usually stammered and—um, oh look, a falling star.

No,I didn’t like thinking about it.

Reachinginto my jacket, I pulled out my camera. I didn’t say anything for a moment.Snapping the picture, I looked at the screen and found that I had managed toget the trail just before it faded into the night. Then I looked down at Brand.He had his head cocked to the side, studying me.

Iwaited for a moment, but he said nothing. Impatiently, I said, “What is itnow?”

Hesaid, “You do look like Ryan Kwanten, the actor on True Blood. Youain’tanywhere near to his muscle build, but you’re about hisheight, and your hair is the same style and color as his. Though, I think youreyes are a darker shade of blue.”

“Andthis came from…where?” I asked, confused by the comment.

Brandsnorted, and said, “Sherry. When she said she was interested in you, shementioned that you looked like the guy. And now that I think about it, you do.I just never thought about it before when I watched the show.”

Iwas startled. I said, “Wait, what? You watch True Blood. Why? It’s about vampires!”

Brandlaughed at my surprise. He said, “Bro, it has hot women vampires trying to bitepeople. Do you think I’m not going to watch hot lookingwomen?”

Huh.Sexy looking women aside, Brand usually didn’t enjoy watching shows withvampires, or any shows with monsters in them. Between the two of us, I was thescience fiction and fantasy geek, not him. I loved those types of shows, and Iwatched them all the time. Brand was more likely to watch NASCAR racing, or aboxing match.

Butonce I thought about it, I said, “Why, yes. Yes, it does have very good-lookingladies of the bloodsucking variety.”

Hewaved a hand at my camera before he folded his arms underneath the arms of hiscoat. “I’m glad we agree. Now, take your damn pictures. I’m cold!”

Good,he was starting to relax. But it was cold up here. So I began sighting forpictures. It was a good vantage point. We were in a squared off space at thetop of a large four-story high church in my hometown of Riverlite, Iowa. Thespace hadn’t always been here. There used to be a large open-air bell tower atthe front of the building. Growing up, I remember it ringing across the townfor services and holidays.

Eventually,they took it down. But instead of filling the left over space, the roofers hadput in drainpipes to keep water from leaking into the church atrium and thenave below. Those drain pipes were how Brand and I had gotten up here tonight.It was a regular place for us, and we knew that, as long as we kept out ofsight, we would be fine.

Tonight,climbing up here was my idea. Normally, we wouldn’t be up here at this time ofthe year—what with the cold and snow. But I wanted the pictures of the holidaylights and the town to hold onto. Graduation was this year, and come nextChristmas, I’d be in Chicago for my first year in Chicago University. If I could pick my major that is. Ah well, I’m sure I’dhave it decided by August.

Ihope.

Ishook off the thought and took my pictures. This late at night, thestreetlights had no competition. However, for the next few days, the city wouldkeep the decorations lit twenty-four hours a day until right after New Year'sDay. As usual, there were homeowners competing with each other.

Lookingat the yards, I could see lit candy canes, small Christmas trees, and panoramasof scenes from the Christmas stories I’d grown up hearing. Some scenes weresilly. Rudolph fought hard against some elves in one yard, and two neighborshad decided to put as many lights as possible on the trees in their frontyards. It was a wonder that the trees hadn’t burst into flames. I took a fewpictures of the crazier looking efforts, thinking that, with all these lights,it would have to be a miracle if anyone was getting any sleep.

BecauseI do have some taste, I focused on taking close-ups of the better-lookingdecorations. Still, while the lights were beautiful—especially with the freshsnow—the best sight, out of all the ones I’d seen, was the biggest decorationon Library Square. Lighting the whole area off Main Street was anextremely tall evergreen wrapped in various shades of white lights, and toppedwith a bright blue star. Blinking lights wrapped around the branches to cometogether with the electric blue light of the star to create dancing shadowsaround the tree. It made me think of the Christmases I had had with Mom and Dadbefore they had gotten divorced. Mom still decorated our tree like this.

Icontinued taking pictures until I saw a police car driving slowly down the roadjust west of Library Square. Stupidly, I tensed, and brushed a finger againstthe flash button of the camera.

“Getdown!” I said to Brand.

Kneelingbelow the edge of the recess, we held our breath, wondering if we’d hear asiren in the next few seconds. I really didn’t want Mom waking up in themorning, just to find out that the police had arrested her son, for trespassingand underage drinking. That would be the worst Christmas present ever. Andbecause she worked at the town’s courthouse as a court stenographer, she’dnever hear the end of it from her coworkers.

Aftersome long moments, when we didn’t hear anything, except for snow shiftingagainst the tiles of the roof, I took a chance and glanced over the edge. Thecop car sat there at the corner of Fifth and Main. Was the cop thinking on whathe had seen? Was he about to head over here? Was he thinking of doughnuts? Deargods, I hate it when they just sit there!

Finally,the car turned west onto Main Street. As the cop drove away, I nodded to Brandthat it was safe. He let out his breath in a sigh of relief and, pointing tothe backpack, he said, “I’m getting a beer, don’t bitch.”

“I’mnot.” I said.

Brandgot to his feet. Brushing snow off his pants, he went over and pulled anotherbeer out of the bag. I stayed kneeling for a moment, watching him. Okay,whatever was bugging him had nothing to do with Sherry turning him down. He’djust used that to push me off the real issue. I knew Brand. He wouldn’t wantanother beer. Not over the simple possibility of thepolice putting him under arrest. If anything, he’d normally justlaugh about it. Not tonight, though. But the problem was,I couldn’t just demand an answer. With Brand, you had to coax things out.

Shiveringslightly, I decided to do it on the ground, not up here on a cold roof. Iglanced at him, though, while putting my camera away. Then I froze midway toputting the camera in my coat. Just behind his left shoulder, as Brand drankhis beer, I saw two more streaks of light in the night sky. I lifted thecamera, but the trails faded by the time I hit the button.

“Huh,there’ve been a few falling stars tonight.” I said.

Brandglanced behind him, then back at me. He said, “Eh, it happens, doesn’t it?”

“Isuppose. We must be passing through a meteor shower or something. I think I’lltake a few pictures of the sky for good measure.” I answered.

Ignoringhis sigh of impatience, I took a few more pictures of both stars anddecorations but noticed that no more meteors appeared. I looked around one moretime, to see if I missed anything, and then, taking notice of another sigh fromBrand, I put the camera away.

“That’sit—we can head home now,” I said.

Brandfinished his beer then let out a burp. After that, he said, “Or we could walkaround until sunrise.”

Ilooked at him, letting the worry show. “Um…what’s going on?”

Brandlooked away, but said nothing. It was annoying when he acted like this. BrandHouseman could go from his usual fiery, hotheaded attitude to a sullen tensemood between one breath and the next. I’d grown up with it since we were kids,and while the sudden shift wasn’t new, I wasn’t sure about the reason thistime. Nothing about tonight or today had been bad, with maybe the exception ofSherry. We’d gotten out of school. Now was technically the first day ofChristmas vacation…oh, now I knew what it was. “With the holiday stuff inschool, I totally forgot what else today was. I hardly took notice of thecraziness, but Karla must have been driving you and your Dad nuts.”

Brandlaughed and said, “Got it in one, genius! Wondered if you’d noticed herfreaking out—what with all the news articles she’d bookmarked on the Internet.”

Isighed, “Brand, you know she’s going to feel silly in the morning. Everybodywho believed the hype will feel like an idiot. Give her a break. By this timenext week, she’ll be interested in something else.”

Brandgroaned, and then said, “Oh Christ, not another Doomsday prediction—anythingbut that! Haven’t we had enough?”

Ichuckled at the tone in his words. He looked at me, annoyed for a second beforehe laughed himself. It broke the tension, but I couldn’t blame him for hisfeelings. His stepmother had been getting increasingly afraid since thebeginning of the year. She had slowly become obsessed about this date. Not evenMom, Karla’s oldest friend, could get her to drop the idea. Brand’s dad waspatient with it, as long as she didn’t try to pull the same mad stunts, asothers had.

Addingto a number of insane gun attacks occurring over the last few years, a suicidecult showed up in a California mall with all guns blazing. Police stopped them,but not before the cult killed three dozen people. From then on, all the jokingin the Houseman household had stopped. James Houseman had an intervention withKarla at that point, and while she swore she wasn’t planning to do anythingmelodramatic, father and son kept a strong eye on Karla.

Butalthough Brand had told me about their talking with her, I had just let it go.I honestly was not thinking about why he’d been tense until now. Still, I was right.His stepmother did deserve some sympathy. She’d been caught up in a fraud likemillions of others had. And while she should have known that nothing wouldhappen, Karla, and many people besides herself, still believed that some sortof doomsday was about to hit the world.

Throughoutthe year, there had been numerous television specials on the subject. As far asI was concerned, it was just another attempt to make money. People watched theshows and gave the networks a chance to sell more products in the commercials.They did it for kids with toys, and now this was just the same thing, exceptthis was using fear and amplifying it with melodramatic scenes of what ‘might’happen.

Itwould’ve likely faded long before now if not for the mall attack. It pushed thepoliticians into talking about it. After that happened, Congress and Senatebecame involved. To one political party, it didn’t matter. They agreed with thePresident’s comments about the situation. The President, while he offered hisdeepest condolences to the families of victims in California, said nothingabout the reason that the cult had killed people. Unfortunately, for the otherside of the political spectrum, it became a reason to pray. One Senator calledfor a resolution that the predicted date should be a National Day of Prayer. Tomany people’s chagrin, the resolution passed.

WhenI heard about it, I’d stopped watching the news, and avoided any Internet siteconnected to the whole thing. But Brand had to live with the fallout. Oncethis was all done and over with, Brand andhis dad would probably ignore Karla while she quietly shredded the clippings,dumped the books on the subject, and erased her browser history.

Tryingto be commiserating, I said, “Sorry Brand, but it’s over with. Once dawn comes,life returns to normal. It passed already in some parts of the world.”

Hejust stood there, looking away. I could see the conflict in his eyes, though.It was obvious that he was still angry about something else. Then it clicked inmy mind that Brand had had his auto shop class today. I know everyone there hadfound out about Karla’s obsessions. She didn’t make much of a secret about it.They probably made fun of him throughout the entire hour of the class.

Seeingthe backpack told me what I could do to help. I reached down and unzipped it.Ignoring Brand’s surprised look, I pulled a beer out, opened it, and raised itto the night sky.

Isaid, “Hooray for the world! We’re still here, and we missed another disaster.”

Igulped the beer and winced, it was freezing! I coughed and handed it to Brand.He gave me a confused look.

Ijust said, “Another beer isn’t going to hurt us. Salute the date, man.”

“Doofus!” Getting to his feet, Brand finished offthe beer. He then yelled, “Come on universe! Finish us off! We’re bored!”

Thesky split open in a line of bright white-blue fire. I whipped around, staring.I cringed as the line of fire resolved into a huge burning ball that passeddirectly over the town. Thunder from its passage roared throughout the townuntil it faded as it passed over the horizon. Darkness had time to return for asecond before a white flash came from the place where it hit the ground. Wecovered our eyes from the bright pulse. I could hear Brand swearing. Then thewild light faded out as the night returned.

Then,before the spots even faded from my eyesight, the building beganto violently shakebeneath us. It creaked and shuddered hardenough to make me worry as to whether we might reach the ground in the worstpossible way. Slowly, the rumble passed, leaving the sound of car alarms andpeople talking as they came outside to see what had caused this.

Tryingto keep a sense of humor, I said, “Wow, big meteor.”

Brandsaid, “Ya think? Christ! We were lucky that it hit outside of town, and not us!I just hope it was the only one.”

Iwas looking up when he’d said that. I said, “Uh, yeah, about that...”

Theshow wasn’t over. Hundreds, if not thousands of lines oflight flared down to fade away in the sky. The meteorite had brokenapart, and its companions now followed it down. Fortunately, they were burningup before hitting the ground.

Inawe, we watched until last of the trails burned out. Once it was over, Irealized that, before this, the sky had been a beauty of shining stars. Now,they were only pale points of light, cold in their regard. I felt small andinsignificant, and yet, full of wonder. That’s when I remembered that I had thecamera. And here I wanted to take pictures of pretty lights. I started to saythat I was an idiot when Brand interrupted me.

“Okay,I’ll never make fun of Karla’s beliefs, ever again! What a greatshow! Can we go, now?” he said. There was a tremor in his voice.

Everythingflashed bright white-blue again. A massive crack of thunder burst from above,turning into a roar that shook us so hard we were flung downflat to the roof. A part of me wanted to cover my head and whimper.Instinctual, my stomach roiled with panic over what was happening.

Andyet, curiosity pushed at me until I finally rolled over to see what was causingthis everlasting roar. It took some moments to comprehend what I was lookingat. And when I did, I wanted to crawl down into a deep dark cave somewhere. Ittook everything I had to keep from screaming. My mind threatened to shut downfrom the sheer size of that horrible thing ripping apart the night.

Atthe edge of the atmosphere, an oblong shape crossed the sky. Engulfed in thesame white and blue fire as the first meteor was, it left sparks and blackclouds exploding out from the edges and trailing into the sky behind. The thingwas a monster, blasting apart the air itself. The sound of its passage shook meto my very bones. Yet, even in the unending boom, I could hear Brand praying.

Theroar slowly faded to a series of rolling thunderclaps that grew distant and wasfinally gone altogether after what felt like hours. My heartbeat relaxed withthe fading sounds and tentatively, I started getting to my feet. Brand soon didthe same, and we looked at the massive smoke and sparking trail thatit had left behind. It dawned on me to finally check mycell phone for the time. It was just past three in the morning.

Isaid, “Wow, we suffered through the end of the world in less than half anhour.”

Brandglared at me. I ignored him and checked the phone for a signal. There wasn’tone, and the time clock blinked out even as I looked. Ah no, there’d be nocalling the family from here. Showing the phone to Brand, I said, “Signal’sinterrupted; I think we’d better get moving.”

Itwasn’t easy getting down to the ground. Random bursts of the cold, hard hitting wind nearly cost me my hold on the pipes.And once we did get down, that wind kept blowing the snow off the ground,whipping it into our faces in random bursts. At times, it would be clear, butat other moments, it would become surprisingly like whiteout conditions.

Inspite of the windblown snow, the two of us passed by people standing outsidetheir homes, wrapped in housecoats, or jackets hastily tossed over pajamas.Aside from talking about the giant rock in the sky, there was a lot of blackhumor about the date and with what just happened. For some reason, thatbothered me. I wanted to tell them they might want to consider how lucky wewere. It may have been because I knew something about space from a friend. I knewthat the second rock was too damn close for comfort. While the first meteor hadhit the ground, the second one—the bigger one—had not. Or if it did, it didn’thit anywhere near us. If it had crashed to the Earth, we would have been aliteral part of a crater by now.

Witha shiver, I pushed my focus back to the town. Better that than rememberingscenes of massive destruction from old movies. Surprisingly, I saw that some ofthe lights were still working. Inside ones at least, outside, the glass wasshattered from windows and bulbs alike. Fortunately, that didn’t include everystreetlight. Some here and there had made it through the explosive roar of thatsecond meteor. The bad part was that the lights weren’t the only thingsdamaged. And not everyone had gotten out of this unscathed.

Brandpointed that out when he saw two people getting into their car to go for help.We walked on the side of the road to let them pass, and as we continued up the road,I saw that there were others bleeding, limping, and panicking. Probably peoplehad fallen in glass from shattered windows or light bulbs. We watched as anumber of townspeople come out, get in their cars, and drive towards thehospital. I found myself thankful that I was all right. I was, really. I alwaysbreathed heavily after a quiet walk around town.

Butseeing people hurt as they were, made me wonder how my mom was doing. I checkedmy cell phone again. I didn’t even get an active light. I shouldn’t have beensurprised; we were lucky to have the power, much less phone service. I didn'tknow whether she was okay, or hurt and bleeding from a fall. Without thinking,I rushed for home. Snow in the air, people panicking—I ignored it all, asimages crossed my mind’s eye again of my mother in pain, wondering where I was.

Obviously,I wasn’t watching where I was going. I didn’t know how bad off I was untilBrand grabbed me by the back of my coat, and yelled, “Vaughn, stop!”

Howdare he stop me! Mom might be in trouble! I had to help her! I turned andyelled, “Brand, look at all this! Mom didn’t know I was out tonight! She couldbe hurt! Your parents—”

Brandturned me around and pointed. He said, “I think they would all ask why youbroke your stupid-ass neck trying to run around in this craziness! Look!”

Idid, and the mental shock worsened when I saw what was right in front of us.The blowing snow was clear enough on this street to see the very large holethat I almost ran right into. But that wasn’t all. Brand tapped my arm.

Ifollowed where he was pointing. There was a long scar in the Earth. People werestanding outside here as well. But it wasn’t to look at the damage done totheir homes and decorations. No, this street was smashedup in a different way. The street side of trucks andcars were all smashed in. Other cars were on their sides, as if abomb had gone off right next to them.

Brandsaid, “It’s like something played pinball with the cars, but what?”

Asurreal feeling permeated the air. I knelt to look in the hole. It wasn’t verydeep, though I would’ve broken a leg or my neck if I’d fallen into the emptyhole. Wait, something was wrong here. “Where’s the meteor?”

Brandsaid, “Who knows, maybe it blew up on impact.”

Glancingback to him, I waved a hand over the hole, said, “Look, there’s no melted rock.The asphalt is broken up, but it’s not melted either. And the snow should begone, but it was only shoved aside. Meteorsare hot, Brand. So why is there no melting?”

Brandtouched my shoulder. “Vaughn, dude, you’re babbling. Now, come on, I’m gettingworried about my old man and Karla. I mean, if a rock hit here, then it mightbe they were hit too.”

Ijust nodded, not listening. I looked eastward to where the snow piled to eachside of the furrow. No melted snow…something was definitely off-kilter here,but I couldn’t figure it out just then. When I got home, I’d have to…

Ijerked my head around to stare at him. I muttered, “Mom.”

Withoutanother word we ran southward, splitting off at the street his family lived on.Running down the road, I quickly reached the end of the street, where I couldtake a shortcut across a frozen plot of land that wasowned by our neighbors. Sitting open between the street and myplace, it gave me a good view of my home. When I saw the shape it was in,fear uncoiled in my gut, and I found I could relax.

Lightswere on inside the two-story home where I had grown up. And not a single windowwas broken. Given the damage that I had seen tonight, I was impressed. The onlything that gave any hints of having been through the equivalent of a hurricanewas all the Christmas lights and decorations dangling from the back of thehouse, and thrown around in the side yards.

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