The never-ending foggy gusts clouded my vision. My mind felt cold as ice and my body trembled.
If this nightmare is still the same, he will soon show his face, and I will wake up once again in a cold sweat.
Through gusts of fog and the howling winds came his face.
“Come home, Son. Come home.”
Icy sweat dripped down my forehead as I sat up in the motel bed. I took a deep breath and glanced at my silver box on the nightstand. I thought I could handle this burden, but the stress from the nightmares was proving too much.
I pulled off my comforter and found my ripped blue jeans. I reached into the pocket and grabbed my rusty key, rubbing it between my thumb and finger.
Alright, this is the first time in a long while since I have had to do this, but better to do it now while I am still incognito.
I breathed in deeply before placing the key into the silver box’s lock. Clunk. The box unlocked and opened, revealing the contents inside. I removed the key from the lock and placed its end against my temple.
In you go.
I felt the memories of the nightmare being effectively ripped away from my mind. The key absorbed the mental energies until it glowed white. I placed the key back inside the lock, and a sharp pillar of light escaped the silver box. KLACK! The box closed with a quick snap, the white aura on the key gone. I removed the key from the box and held it in my hand.
I sat down on the bed and brushed my hands through my hair. Whatever I’d placed in my box was not worth my attention.
Best not think about it until it is time to take it back out. Before I head back to sleep, though, I must mark down the time.
I ripped out a sheet of paper from the motel’s customary notepad and wrote down the date and time. My silver box saved me once again until I had the strength to fight whatever secret rested inside on my own.
I heard a familiar buzz and opened the nightstand drawer to pull out my phone. I opened it to find a text message from Shawn, the overnight manager at Jorge’s Bar N Grill.
Shawn: Hey Horace! Can you come in and finish tonight’s shift? Our new dishwasher went on break and never came back.
“Of course,” I sighed, “they never come back.”
I raised my thumbs and started to text my reply.
Me: Give me a few minutes to bathe and I will be there.
I dropped my phone on the bed and rubbed my eyes. To be fair, even thousands of years ago, jobs were only temporary, and duties were for those who remained strong-willed to believe in them. It was no different nowadays.
Well, at least I can keep my curiosity of my silver box in check while I go back to work. I stood up and heard my phone vibrate again. I picked it up and tapped the screen, confirming Shawn’s response.
I sighed once again and headed toward the bathroom to wash the salty sweat off my body. I took my time. Not too much, but enough where I enjoyed the water flushing out my pores, making my skin tone glimmer.
After my shower, I picked up my blue jeans and placed them on the bed. I walked over to my duffle bag in the corner and pulled out a pair of underwear, mismatching socks, and a plain white t-shirt. After getting myself dressed, I made sure my silver key was in one pocket and my wallet containing my false mortal ID in the other.
Before heading out the door, I noticed the small collection of mail on the floor next to it. I never checked the mail the same day I collected it, but since my new day was already starting, I decided to skim through it.
Phone service bill, credit card junk mail…a post card?
The post card had the picture of Athens. It was a mere shadow of the city’s former splendor and glory of oratory storytelling and philosophical discussion for the pursuit of truth hidden within the secret darkness of the untold realms in the world. Turning the card around, I saw the written message. The writing was in Greek, but I read it crystal clear.
We miss you! Come home when you can!
“The problem is not whether I can, rather whether I should,” I muttered. Tossing my mail on the bed and turning to leave my motel room, I whispered, “Sorry, Mother.”
After closing my door and making sure the door was secured, I turned around and looked into the streets of St. Louis. The night revealed little of the constellations and the bright lights of the city made the darkness easier to navigate.
I saw a familiar face walking toward Jorge’s. I focused and confirmed it was Nina, a server at the restaurant. Had Shawn called her in as well?
I took a deep breath before noticing a group of men lurking in the shadows of the surrounding buildings on the street, and I hurried along to catch up with Nina.
“Hey!” I called out. “Wait!”
Nina turned around and her blue eyes grew wide. “Horace?”
“Sorry, I did not mean to frighten you,” I explained as I caught up to her. “I was called in tonight, and I saw you passing by. I did not know if you were called in as well.”
“No…I mean,” Nina stuttered, “s-sorry, I did not expect you to be here.”
“Let me walk with you,” I offered. “Streets are rarely abandoned. Even at this point in the night.”
I hoped she got the hint, and by the look on Nina’s face, she understood. “One of them is my ex,” she whispered.
“Let’s go ahead and get to Jorge’s,” I said. “We will be better off there.”
Nina became quiet and turned to continue her trek. I walked beside her to make sure no one was following us. Ironically, as these situations tended to go, the group I observed lurking in the shadows did not take one step nor did it seem like they were hesitating either.
“Your ex,” I whispered, “is he the stalking type?”
“Actually, Horace, I was stalking him.”
Nina muttered, “Last year he got involved in the drug cartels. It’s the reason we split. But…one of our friends is very close to him. I was told he started stealing, and that they had a target tonight.”
“That is why you are following him. You are trying to discover their target.”
“Dammit, Horace, it’s you,” she whispered assertively.
“I know it is me,” I said. “It explains why they are staying behind near the motel.”
“What do you have that is so valuable?” Nina asked. “Jewelry? Lots of cash?”
“To be honest, Nina, I haven’t met anyone outside of work since I moved here. I do not know who your ex is either. To be honest, they probably think of me as an easy target.”
“No, their boss is too smart to order easy targets.”
“I have nothing that could be of value to them, Nina. Do you know their boss’ name?”
Nina looked around and sighed. “All I know is his street name.” Jorge’s Bar N Grill came into view as we rounded the street corner. “They call him Spartan.”