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'Silent Night' by Alyssa
from the first page...
They remained silent, Philip lost in thought. Soon, he heard Nick's breathing slowing and deepening, indicating sleep. Nick shifted in his sleep, leaning his head against Philip's shoulder, his body leaning in close to the priest's. Philip slipped his arm round Nick, cradling him, saddened by the fact that the two no longer shared such closeness in life as they had done. Nick whimpered in his sleep, caught by a nightmare. He moved his head slightly, trying to escape, but unsuccessfully. Philip gently rocked him, making soft hushing noises. It didn't help, and Nick jerked away, sitting upright as he fought to waken. His breath came quickly, terrified by the dream. Philip gently pulled him back against him.
'It's okay, Nick,' he whispered softly, so as not to wake the others. 'It's okay, it was just a dream.' Philip began to rock him again like a child, stroking his head. Nick's breathing slowed as the terror subsided. Philip continued rocking him, gently singing a lullaby.
'Goodnight, my angel Time to close your eyes And save these questions for another day I think I know what you've been asking me I think you know what I've been trying to say I promised I would never leave you Wherever you may go No matter where you are I never will be far away
Goodnight my angel Now it's time to sleep And still so many things I want to say Remember all the songs you sang for me When we went sailing on an emerald bay And like a boat out on the ocean I'm rocking you to sleep The waters dark And deep inside this ancient heart You'll always be a part of me.
Goodnight, my angel Now it's time to dream And dream how wonderful your life will be Someday your child may cry And if you sing this lullaby Then in your heart There will always be a part of me
Someday we'll all be gone But lullabies go on and on... They never die That's how you And I Will be.'
And Nick slept, quiet and safe, in Philip's arms. Soon, the priest too fell asleep. Outside, the snow still fell.
Derek awoke and yawned, feeling the stiffness in his neck. He rolled his head, trying to lose the restrictive feeling. It was still dark outside, and the others remained asleep. Derek looked down at his watch, pressing the little button to illuminate the dial. Derek stared at it in astonishment. It was 9.30 am! Derek got up and went to the window. He moved the curtain, peering out. It was pitch black outside, as if it was the middle of the night. Derek carefully stole over to Alex, and gently checked the time on her watch, which also illuminated. It was definitely 9.30am. 'But it's so dark' though Derek. He went to the window again and looked out. The dark seemed unnatural, it shouldn't be possible. Derek felt a pang of fear as he realised that the Dark forces must be getting stronger. The Legacy should act now, before it got too powerful for them to defeat.
Alex stirred, waking. She looked up at Derek in the gloom. 'Derek?' she mumbled. 'What time is it?' '9.30 am.' Derek told her. '9.30?!' she said, incredulously. 'But it's so dark!' 'The Dark Lord is getting more powerful.' said Derek quietly. ' We have to hurry.' Awakened by their voices, Kat and Rachel sat up. 'Are we going home now?' asked Kat, sleepily. 'Soon,' Derek replied. 'I hope' he thought silently. Shaking the thought from his head, he wandered over to the still-sleeping Philip and Nick.
'Hey!' he said, sounding way too cheerful. 'Stop sleeping! We have work to do!' They looked up at him, bleary eyed, squinting when Kat turned on the flashlight they had brought from the island. Derek went in search of the bathroom, Alex in search of some food. Nick got up, stretched and wandered over to the window to look out. He stared out over the frozen landscape, his breath fogging the glass. He began to hum softly. Rachel smiled. 'That's nice' she said, 'What is it?' Nick frowned. 'I'm not sure' he said. 'But I like it.' In the corner, Philip smiled, recognising the lullaby he had sung. He remained quiet, just happy to know that the little tune had helped.
Alex came back into the room, carrying a plain cake, peanut butter, and a large pack of M&Ms. 'This was all I could find.' she explained. 'Ooh, lovely' Derek said sarcastically, coming up behind her. 'Bathroom's at the end of the corridor,' Kat and Rachel immediately took off in that direction. Alex set the food down on the floor and opened the packets. She broke off a section of the cake and handed it to Nick. The young man scooped some peanut butter out of the jar with his finger, spreading it thickly on the cake. Then he placed a handful of M&Ms on top, quishing the candies into the thick paste. The others looked at him as he crammed the mixture into his mouth. 'Whmmmm?' he looked at them, indignantly. 'That's disgusting' said Philip. Alex just shook her head, and Derek rolled his eyes. Kat came bounding into the room, and saw Nick's concoction. 'Oh, cool!' she yelled, and proceeded to copy the young man. 'You're a bad influence, you know that, Nick?' Philip told him. Rachel wandered back in and without looking at Nick, made herself exactly the same mixture. Feeling everyone looking at her she glanced up. 'What?' she demanded. Nick chuckled. 'Guess I'm not such a bad influence after all!' he said.
Presently, the Legacy members emerged into the open. It was dark as night, but the low clouds had disappeared. The full moon shone down on the city, illuminating the thick snow, making it shine like millions of tiny diamonds. There was a bitter chill in the cold, clean air, making the Legacy blow on their fingers to retain any feeling. Deep shadows obscured most of the buildings, hiding any creatures that might be lying in wait. The whole place was utterly deserted, as if all life had just...vanished. There was a terrible feeling of loneliness as the Legacy wandered the empty streets, Nick concentrating on the feelings deep inside his being, trying to find any danger in the shadows.
After a few hours, Kat stopped walking and sat down on the stone steps leading up to a house. 'I'm tired' she complained. 'We all are, honey' said Rachel. 'But this is important.' 'I'm freezing' said Alex. Philip slumped down next to Kat. 'Me too' he said despondently. 'This is hopeless. We aren't getting anywhere!' 'Maybe we should stop for a while' sighed Derek. 'Find some shelter and food, carry on later.'
He looked over at Nick, to get his opinion. The young man was staring blankly at the snow, his face almost as pale as the soft powder surrounding them. 'Nick?' asked Derek, softly. Nick made no reply, but as the others watched, his eyelids fluttered, and he collapsed in the snow in a faint. Philip leapt up and caught him as he fell, just preventing the younger man from cracking his head on the steps. Nick scrubbed at his eyes, shaking his head as he quickly recovered. 'Sorry.' he mumbled. Philip gently manoeuvred his friend into a sitting position, where Rachel quickly checked him. 'I'm fine' Nick muttered, waving her away. 'I just felt something, thats all. Took me by surprise.' 'Felt something?' Derek questioned. Nick nodded. 'The Dark Lord, he's close. I felt him, and I guess I just wasn't prepared, that's all.' Philip pointed up the street to a small church. 'Let's go in there.' he suggested. 'It'll be warmer at any rate.'
The church doors were open, but a search revealed that the place was deserted. However, there was some bread and wine in a small office at the back. The Legacy members hungrily consumed these, before settling down by the steps up to a great golden altar, above which hung a huge cross. Nick lay down on the front row pew, pillowing his head on his jacket. Alex settled on the floor in front of him, leaning her back against the bench. Philip sat next to her, and the others sat on the steps. Nick yawned. Although it was only late afternoon, the wine and the warmth of the church combined to make him feel sleepy. Kat and Philip also seemed on the verge of nodding off. Derek noticed this. 'Why don't you three stay here?' he told them, 'Alex, Rachel and I will go out, take a look around, see if we can find anything.' Rachel and Alex looked doubtful at leaving them. 'Is it safe here?' Rachel asked. 'It's a church!' Philip smiled. 'Nothing bad can happen here.' 'Famous last words,' said Alex, gloomily. Derek laughed and stood up. 'Come on' he chuckled, 'Let's get going.' The three left the church, the heavy oak doors banging behind them, the sound echoed through the empty church, the slight vibration shaking the lit candles on the altar.
Nick watched the flames through half-closed eyes, as the light danced and twisted in the dark. He felt himself giving in to the welcoming comfort of sleep. Nick heard a soft snore from the floor beneath him, and realised that Philip was asleep, cushioned on some kneeler pads. Kat, curled next to the priest, was also asleep. Something in Nick told him that he should stay awake, keep watch. They were too vulnerable here. But another part of him was just too exhausted, and he felt himself slip over the brink of consciousness to the dreamland below.
Philip half-opened his eyes as something awoke him. He looked around sleepily. Kat and Nick were still fast asleep. The others hadn't returned yet, and Philip frowned, wondering what had woken him. Then he felt it, a deep rumbling vibration way below the floor. The candlelight flickered with the vibrations, making the deep shadows around the church jump and leap as if they were alive. Philip sat up quickly as the rumbling continued, waking Kat. She rubbed her eyes sleepily. 'What is it?' she asked. 'I'm not sure...' Philip replied. All of a sudden, there was an almighty cracking sound as the stone floor split down the aisle between the pews, sending chunks of paving crashing into the wooden seats like broken teeth. The earth beneath the church ruptured and split, creating a jagged scar that ran deep underground. Steam and smoke spewed forth from the rupture, dancing with the harsh green light that was being emitted from deep down. Then, just as quickly as it had started, it ceased, leaving a deathly quiet hanging in the air. Nick, awake by now, peered over the side of the pew at the silent, gaping hole. 'This is bad...' he said, under his breath. Philip crossed himself, and said a quick prayer as fast as he could. 'Fromghouliesandghostiesandlong-leggedybeastiesandthingsthatgobumpinthe night,Goodlorddeliverus!' Kat and Nick looked at him in disbelief. 'What, you think Latin's going to help us?' he snapped.
Just then, they heard a long, low tone. Then another, and another. They recognised the sound immediately. 'Who's ringing those bells?' asked Philip. Then Kat gave a frightened squeal. 'Look!' she cried, pointing at an open doorway, through which they could see the pull ropes for the bells. The ropes were moving themselves, as if tugged by an invisible hand. The peals increased in volume, until it was almost painful. The three at the front of the church clapped their hands to their ears, until it was almost painful. The three at the front of the church clapped their hands to their ears, trying to block the sound. One bell rang out louder than the others, its slow, loud tone causing the church to vibrate again. As they watched, horrified, the crucifix over the altar slipped from its bindings, hanging upside down. Nick felt a drip on his neck, and he wiped it away. His hand came away smeared with blood. Shocked, Nick looked up. He saw the stone angels mounted high up in the church were weeping tears of blood. The chiming bells became irregular, running into a hideous mess of peals and clangs. The sound died away, morphing into a low chuckling that rebounded from the high walls and ceiling.
Philip picked up Kat, then grabbed Nick's sleeve with one hand. He led them towards the huge rift in the floor, which was blocking the only way out of the church. 'We have to get round that.' said Philip, his face while as parchment. Nick slowly began to edge round the rift, where there was a lip of uneven rock about half a foot wide. 'Nick, be careful!' Philip called. 'I think its safe!' Nick called back. 'Come on!'.
Philip, still holding Kat, began to edge round on the same route that Nick had taken. As they were halfway round, the vibrations began again, shaking the ground violently. Philip and Kat were thrown back onto one of the pews, away from the hole. Nick was thrown forward and, to the horror of Kat and Philip, slipped over the side into the gash.
'Nick!' yelled Philip. Kat began to cry as she lost sight of her friend. Philip put Kat on a pew, and scrambled on his hands and knees to the lip of the hole. He looked over, squinting his eyes against the bright green light. He breaked in sharply as he saw Nick beneath him. 'Oh, Christ.'
Nick was hanging onto an outcrop of rock, a few feet down. Beneath him was a drop of unimaginable size, extending down miles and miles. The green glow came from wherever the hole stopped, but Philip could see no light source. The rock that Nick clung to was slowly crumbling, and he struggled desperately for another handhold, but was unable to find one. Philip reached down as far as he could. 'Nick!' he yelled. 'Take my hand.' Desperately, Nick reached upwards, grabbing for Philip's outstretched hands, but he was too far down. Nick's fingertips brushed against Philips. 'I can't reach you!' Nick cried.
Philip wriggled forward as far as he could without falling himself, but it was no good. The green glow began to pulsate, sounding like an evil heartbeat. Philip stretched out his arm again, trying to grasp Nick, but to no avail. As they struggled, a great howling and screaming began to emerge from the hole. It sounded like thousands of tormented souls crying out against the howls of demonic creatures. The cries became louder, as if their owners were rushing up to the mouth of the gash. Then Nick gave a scream as the rock he held on to gave way.
'Philip!' he yelled, as he hurtled downwards, spinning helplessly. The screams and the light invaded his mind, until he too was screaming uncontrollably. Nick felt hysterical laughter rise in his throat, and he fought it down, knowing that if he let it out, madness would claim him. As he spiralled downwards, he could see Philip high above him. Then he saw what was below him and he began to scream again.
Philip watched as Nick fell downwards, out of sight, hearing him scream. As Nick disappeared, so did the screams and the light, suddenly cutting off. The hole was dark and silent. Philip threw back h is head and gave a cry of anguish. 'No!'. His scream echoed around the empty church and into the deep hole. There was no assuring reply, only the dying echo. Philip knelt by the edge of the gash, weeping softly. Kat came over and fell into his arms, crying. Philip softly rocked her, knowing that no amount of comfort was going to heal these wounds. Philip continued to cry himself, great, heartbreaking sobs. Kat reached around and stroked his hair, comforting him. Philip leaned his head on her small shoulder, and they knelt together in grief.
Nick was in a dark place. He wasn't dead, he knew that. But it was so dark. In the darkness, he could hear unintelligible whispers tickling his ears. Everytime he tried to make out a voice, it would stop. It was as if he was surrounded by an invisible, turning ring of people who were whispering dark secrets to each other, constantly moving in and out of Nick's earshot. The young man heard a small squeal behind him, and a clattering of tiny claws as something ran past him in the darkness. Something else ran in front of him, brushing thick, matted fur against his hand. Nick snatched his hand away, fearfully, turning in a circle, trying to catch what the whispers were saying. He jumped back as a pale figure, dressed in deep purple robes loomed out of the darkness at him. A cold hand clutched at his heart as he saw the face, blood smeared, eyes blank, and he recognised the owner of that terrible beauty. 'Why didn't you save me?' Julia asked, her voice throaty and echoing. 'You could have saved me, why didn't you?' Nick backed away from her in horror, then stopped as he fell unable to move. Julia reached over and cupped his jaw in her hand. It felt like ice. 'All this time you blamed Derek' she whispered. 'But you let me die, you gave me nothing to live for!'
Nick suddenly found himself able to move, and he twisted away from Julia, turning to run, but he was met by another apparition. A young girl, in her late teens. Her clothes were torn and bloody, and she had been recently beaten. She glared at Nick. 'Why didn't you save me?' 'Sandra...' Nick breathed. His cousin, murdered savagely by the cult she trusted.
'I tried to tell you!' Sandra cried. 'I told you how unhappy I was? If you'd listened, I wouldn't have gone! I wouldn't have died!' 'Sandra, that isn't true!' Nick said. 'You killed me!' said a harsh voice from behind. Nick whirled to see his SEAL team standing in a semi-circle in front of him. 'You killed us all!' one of them whispered. Nick couldn't tell who it was; their features were a bloody pulp, muscle and fat gleaming sickly. Nick gave a choked cry of horror, and he turned and run, but his feet slipped on something beneath him. Suddenly, it wasn't so dark after all.
Nick was back in the field again where he and Derek had discovered Julia's corpse. Nick was on his knees in the mud, rain pounding down on him. He looked up at Julia's crucified body, and her head rolled down onto her chest. She glared at him. 'Why did you let me die?' she demanded. Nick cried out, falling against Derek as he had done the first time in that field. But, the hand that came down didn't comfort him as it had done. Instead, it dealt him a hard crack on the side of his head, Nick fell forward and rolled over to stare up in shock at Derek. But this wasn't Derek, and Nick was no longer in the field. He was four years old again, and he was in his bedroom at home. The figure that loomed above him was his father, nursing an angry, rat-bite hangover. 'Why don't you leave me in peace?' his father yelled. 'Why couldn't you be a good boy?' 'Dadeee! No!' four year old Nick screamed as his father reached down for him, hauling him to his feet. 'If you'd been a good boy, everything would be okay! I wouldn't be dead!' Jonathan yelled. That final word echoed around the room, 'Dead....dead....dead!' and was picked up by the other figures that appeared out of nowhere, taking up the ghostly chant. 'Dead!' whispered Julia. 'Dead!' cried Sandra. 'DEAD!! screamed the faceless corpses of the seal unit. And the tiny boy in the centre of the malicious circle curled up and began to cry uncontrollably.
When Derek, Alex and Rachel reached the church, they could tell immediately that something was wrong. The windows of the church had shattered outwards, and fallen masonry jutted from the snow, the stone already being covered by fresh powder that was beginning to fall. Derek ran up the stone steps, sudden fear freezing the blood in his veins. Alex and Rachel followed closely behind. Derek pushed his way through the doors, then stopped short at the sight that greeted him.
The entire church was in mayhem. A large gash split the church floor in two, the pews on either side a ruined mass of broken planks and splinters. The crucifix over the altar hung upside down, the sign of the Dark Lord, illuminated by the altar cloth which had begun to burn when the candles tilted over. Kat and Philip knelt by the hole, dangerously close to the edge. Philip's head was bowed, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs. Kat had her arms around the young priest, her small hands stroking his back and head in comfort. 'Philip?' Derek spoke softly. The younger man turned to face the precept, who was stunned by the look of awesome grief in the priests' face! Derek felt a sick feeling in the base of his stomach. 'Philip, what (Please, got, no...) -happened?' 'The Dark Lord' said Philip numbly. 'He had power here....but it's a church....we should have been safe...'
Derek motioned for Alex and Rachel to stay where they were, while he edged round the rim of the hole to Philip and Kat. From there, he could see into the dark, bottomless pit. He could see no sign of Nick. Derek spoke again, gently. 'Philip, where's (Got, not there, please not there...) -Nick?' 'I...I couldn't reach him.' Philip's eyes were glazed, and his face pale. 'He's in shock.' Derek thought to himself, but he had to push, had to know...Derek took Philip by he shoulders, looking straight into his eyes. 'Philip, what happened (Got, don't let me lose him again, please, not again....) - to Nick?' 'The ground was shaking,' said Philip. 'He he fell....I couldn't reach him....' Philip looked at Derek, his eyes suddenly animated. 'I couldn't reach him! We were meant to be safe!' Philip's tone turned to anger, 'Where were you? You weren't here, you left us! Why weren't you there? Why?'
Philip struck out at Derek, beating at the older man's chest with his fists. But Philip's strength had been sapped by shock and grief, and Derek easily caught his wrists, stopping him. 'Why weren't you there?' cried Philip, brokenly. 'Why didn't you help us?' Philip dissolved into fresh sobs. Derek reached out, and enveloped the young man in his arms, holding him close to his chest. A single tear ran down his cold, handsome face. Kat scrambled away, over to Rachel and Alex as Derek and Philip remained by the hole. Derek closed his eyes in anger and grief. He tried to comfort Philip, like a father would a child. 'Hush, Philip, (You took him once, why did you take him again?!) -everything's going to be (My precious Nick, how I loved you. You were the sons I never had, you and Philip.) - okay (Why did you do this? Why?) - I promise you. (Oh, Got, Nick...)
A cold breeze stole through the church, blowing out the candles. The flames on the altar cloth died out, but no one moved. They remained, cold and silent, their souls as empty as the abyss before them.
The new night, blacker than the day before it, held no comfort for the Legacy. They took shelter in an abandoned building a few blocks away from the church. Derek told Kat and Philip that he and the girls had found the city deserted, not a sign of life anywhere, but neither seemed particularly interested. Kat perched on Rachel's lap in the small room they were in. Philip sat close to them, but his face was a blank mask, shock clouding his mind. He had felt the terrible evil in the church, and he knew that there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. They had failed, and Nick was gone. He wasn't coming back this time. He didn't feel like talking to anyone, so he let his head fall forward on his head, feigning sleep. He stayed like that a while, while the others talked quietly, but Philip found that sitting like that really was making him sleepy. Philip drifted into a hazy sleep, his mind shutting down into uneasy dreams.
Suddenly, Philip jerked awake, something in his dream causing him to return to consciousness. Philip looked around at the others, they were all asleep. Philip looked at his watch in the bright moonlight, and found that it was shortly after midnight. Philip frowned, trying to recollect what it was about the dream that had woken him. Then he remembered. A haze clamped down over Philip's brain, as he climbed to his feel like a sleepwalker would, his eyes blank and unseeing. He headed for the door. Kat awoke, and looked over at him. 'Philip?' she asked, sleepily. 'Where are you going?' 'To see Nick.' said Philip, absently. Then he wandered out the door, humming softly to himself. Kat shook Rachel awake. 'Mommy!' she whispered, fiercely, 'Mommy!' Rachel yawned, 'What is it, sweetie?' 'Mommy, Philip's gone!' Rachel was instantly awake. 'Gone? Gone where?' 'He went to see Nick.' Kat replied. 'Can we go to?' Rachel shook Derek and Alex to wake them up. 'Wake up!' she said urgently. 'Philip's gone!' They were awake quickly. 'Dammit!' Alex cried. 'Where the hell would he go?!' 'Kat said he went to see Nick!' Rachel said worriedly. 'Oh, Gott!' said Derek, jumping to his feet, his face paling. 'Come on!' They ran out into the street but could see no sign of Philip. Fresh tracks in the snow led off in one direction. 'He's gone back to the church!' Derek yelled, running off down the street. The others followed, barely keeping up with his frantic pace. Derek reached the church way before the others, and he dashed inside. In the moonlight, he could see Philip standing at the edge of the hole. 'Philip!' Derek called 'Philip, come back!'. Philip ignored him, a faraway look on his face, as if listening to something only he could hear. 'I'm coming, brother.' he whispered, before collapsing and pitching forward into the hole. There was a brief flash of green light, then nothing. Derek gave a cry of anguish and ran to the abyss, but it was silent, and empty. He heard running behind him as the girls crashed into the church. 'We're too late,' said Derek, numbly. 'We've lost them; we've lost the battle.' 'There must be something we can do!' cried Alex, desperately. Derek shook his head. 'No' he said, 'This is one the Legacy can't win...' his voice trailed off, as a mad glint appeared in his eyes. 'Of course!' he yelled, turning to the others. They couldn't tell if it was anger or relief on the precepts face as he ran past them, out the church and into the night. They followed him as he ran through the streets.
'Derek!' yelled Alex. 'Where are you going?!' Derek didn't reply, just continued running until he reached an art gallery. The glass doors and windows had been smashed inwards and snow drifts were beginning to pile up inside the dark building. Derek stepped through the ruins of the doorway hearing snow and glass crunch underfoot. He searched through the galleries, squinting at pictures in the moonlight until he'd found what he was looking for. The girls followed, thinking that their precept had gone quite mad.
Derek stood in front of a large painting. Swirls of colour, danced amongst figures, one of them a unicorn, another a wizened old lady. 'Alright, Christina, come on out!' Derek yelled, angrily. The painting seemed to shift as the old woman disappeared and Christina appeared in front of Derek. 'Don't shout, I can hear you fine! What do you want this time?' Christina asked.
'I want to know what the hell's going on!' Derek yelled. 'I want to know why one of my team was killed and brought back to life, then killed again! I want to know why Philip just jumped to his death!' Christina looked at him calmly. 'Do not worry, they are not dead, just a little change of worlds instead.' 'What do you mean?' asked Derek. He felt relieved that Philip and Nick were still alive, but confused as to what was going on. 'Philip and Nick must break the curse, before the situation gets any worse.' Christina told him. 'You cannot help them, they must do it themselves. They have passed over to the underworld.' Christina began to fade away, turning translucent, then transparent. 'Christina, get back here.' Derek yelled, but she did not appear. Derek whirled angrily towards the painting, but he stopped, staring at it. The spot where Christina usually resided was blank. She was gone. Derek's shoulders slumped as he felt defeated. 'Derek?' Alex called tentatively from behind. Derek sighed. 'There's nothing we can do. Christina's gone. It's all up to Philip and Nick now.' Derek slumped to the floor, leaning against the wall that held the painting. 'It's all up to them' he repeated softly, before closing his eyes and whispering a little prayer to help them on their way.
Philip opened his eyes, confused. The last thing he remembered was nodding off in the abandoned building. He remembered that he'd dreamt about something urgent, but he couldn't remember any details. Philip looked around at his surroundings. He was in a long, dark passageway in an ancient castle. Flamed torches burned low on the walls. Heavy wooden doors with barred watchholes lined the corridor. Thick, white cobwebs hung from almost every available surface; and everywhere, the sound of screaming. The cries of pain and fear rang out from behind the doors, some of which banged and crashed as the occupants in the rooms behind tried to break free. Skeletal hands reached through the bars, trying to grab at Philip. 'Help us!' shrieked one occupant, his face horribly disfigured by large, weeping sores. Philip gave a gasp of horror, and ran down the corridor. It stretched endlessly in front of him, with no sign of an exit. He ran and ran, until a stitch forced him to stop, and he fell against the cold stone wall. As his hurried breathing slowed, he realised that this stretch of corridor was silent. He could still hear the screaming, faintly, but in this part, there was silence. Philip stood up, and walked slowly along the corridor. It began to widen out, the walls becoming further and further apart. The corridor ended abruptly at a hugh wooden door, almost as big as a house. One half was ajar, and the young priest slipped in.
The room beyond was a simple child's bedroom, the size of a normal room. Confused, Philip turned back to the gigantic door, but it was gone, replaced by a regular sized one.
Philip looked around the room. It was maddeningly familiar, but he just could not place it. It was nighttime, the patterned curtains closed. A small lamp was beside the bed, but it was switched off. Philip could see no light switch mounted on the wall, so he wandered over and turned on the lamp, illuminating the room. A wooden railway train lay on its side on the floor, derailed from its battered track. Tiny metal cars nestled amongst the stuffed toys that littered the floor and shelves. Grubby teeshirts, one being worn by a large teddybear, were scattered around the room, as if the owner had flung them off, and not bothered to pick them up. Philip stepped back, stumbling on a stuffed lamb that bleated miserably as his foot connected with it. At the sound, Philip remembered who's this room was.
'Nick!' Philip called, hope flaring briefly inside him. 'Nick, are you here?' Philip's eye caught a small flurry of movement in a corner of the room not illuminated by the lamp. He approached it, cautiously.
'Nick, is that you?' he asked. As Philip came closer, whatever was in the corner let out a small sob, and tried to press itself back further into the corner. Philip crouched down, moving so that he didn't block the light. The soft glow fell onto the face of a small boy. He had a shock of thick, brown hair, and hazel green eyes. Those eyes were full of fear, and Philip reached out instinctively towards the child. The boy reached out to Philip, throwing his arms around the priest's neck, curling tight against his chest.
'Ta' me home, Pip.' the boy mumbled into Philip's chest. The young man remained silent, numbly holding the child. The room, the child's features, that name... 'Nicky?' said Philip, softly. The child nodded, 'Mmmmmm?' Philip smiled into the boy's hair. He didn't know what was going on, didn't understand, but the child he held in his arms was Nick, four years old and terrified.
Nick settled down in Philip's arms. The bad people had gone, but his mind had been left feeling violated. He was neither a child, nor an adult, but living in the small body of his former self. Something bad was going on, but he couldn't understand it. Deep in the dark recesses of his brain, the adult part of him fought to surface, to tell him what was happening, what was to be done, but the child part remained stubborn, refusing to let in the weakened adult memories that terrified him so much.
Nick made a wordless grumble as Philip shifted position, putting his back against the wall. The young priest gently stroked Nick's hair and the child's eyes began to drift shut, safe and warm in the arms of his friend. Nick sang softly, slightly out of tune, only snatches of words reaching Philip's ears. He smiled as Nick got the words slightly wrong, 'G'night, angel time to close your pies.' and leaned his head against the wall. He was suddenly very, very tired. Philip closed his eyes, joining Nick in sleep, and the two slept dreamlessly.
Philip awoke suddenly, instantly aware that Nick was no longer in his arms. 'Nicky?' Philip called, looking round the room. 'Where are you?' Philip spotted the child lying underneath the bed, hands clasped tightly over his ears. Philip crawled forward and lay down next to the bed so that he could look directly at Nick's face. 'Nick? What is it?' he asked concerned. The child was frowning, shaking his head from side to side, mumbling 'Nononono' over and over again. Philip reached out and gently removed Nick's hands from his head. 'What is it?' Philip asked again, gently. Nick looked up at him, eyes wide. 'Can't you hear, Pip?' he asked. 'Can't you hear the voices?' 'The voices?' 'The bad people's whispers!' replied Nick. 'They're hurting me, they wont leave me alone! Can't you hear them, Pip?'
Philip listened, head cocked to one side. And as he listened, he could hear faraway whispers, as if someone was talking outside the window. Philip heard the menace in the whispers, and was instantly afraid. 'Come on,' he said, grabbing the child and pulling him out from under the bed. 'We have to get out of here!'
Philip balanced Nick on his hip, and the boy swung round onto Philip's back, locking his arms around the priest's neck. Like that, Philip had both arms free should he need them. He ran to the bedroom door and swung it open, expecting to see the long corridor stretching ahead of him; but instead the door opened onto the bedroom floor of the Luna Foundation mansion. A line from a book shot into Philip's mind as he stared out. 'Curiouser and curiouser...' he muttered. 'Pip? Was' going on?' Nick said in the priest's ear. 'Not sure, Nicky.' said Philip. Nick's face brightened. 'Is Drick here?' he asked, hopefully. Philip sighed. 'Nope, I don't think Derek is here.' he said. Nick frowned as a more recent memory finally pushed its way to the front of his mind. 'Is 'lex or Ray-kel here?' he asked, remembering the two women, that his adult self knew. 'No, Nick!' Philip snapped. 'They're not here! This isn't real, okay?! Would you just be quiet a minute?!'
Philip felt the small boy on his back stiffen at his sudden outburst, and the hands around his neck shrank back as Nick slid to the floor, away from Philip. The young man turned around, instantly regretting his words. 'Oh, God, Nicky, I didn't mean that! I was just trying to think, that's all!' he said. Nick stared at him a moment, shocked, then he dodged round the priest, headed for the stairs. 'Nick! Come back here!' Philip called. Nick ignored him, running quickly down the stairs. Philip ran after him, cursing. 'Bloody temperamental....Nick! Please come back here!' The child ran into Derek's study and, by stretching up high on tiptoes, reached up and locked the door, just before Philip got there. Philip knocked on the door, frustrated. 'Nick! Nick, please come out! I'm sorry, Okay? Nick, please unlock the door!'
'I wouldn't listen to him, Nicky.' said a heavily accented voice from behind him. The small boy whirled, and he saw Derek sitting behind the desk. 'Drick!' Nick cried, joyfully. He ran to the older man, scrambling up onto his lap, and giving him a big hug. Derek smiled humourlessly, and hugged the child back. His eyes glinted hungrily, but Nick didn't notice. 'Is Philip being nasty?' Derek asked. Nick nodded. 'Well don't worry,' the Dutchman continued. 'I'll take care of you, Nick. I'll take real good care....'
On the other side of the door, Philip was listening. He had heard Nick's excited squeal, and the low tone of a man's voice. Philip's blood froze as he recognised the voice. 'Nick?' Philip screamed. 'That isn't Derek!' Get out of there!' Confused, Nick looked up at the older man, and for the first time, noticed the cold look in his eyes. 'Not Drick?' asked Nick, in a small voice. Derek shook his head, his grin growing wider, and Nick began to scream.
On the other side of the door, Philip heard Nick's terrified yells. 'Nick! Hang on!' he yelled back, and began to ram the door with his shoulder. It hurt like hell, but he finally broke it down. Nick was cowering in the far corner of the office, Derek looming above him. Nick peered round the Dutchman's legs. 'Pip, help me!' he cried. Derek turned to face Philip, and his face began to morph. The handsome features elongated and wizened, the eyes turning yellow and reptilian. Derek's body also elongated twisting into a mass of new bends and shapes. Philip stared at the apparition, and swallowed nervously.
'Let him go! ' he commanded, sounding a lot braver than he felt. The thing laughed, an empty hollow sound. Philip felt anger rise inside him. 'I said, let him go!' The thing gave a screech and flew at Philip, claws scratching at his face, jaws tearing at his throat. Philip fought to keep the creature away as he crashed to the floor in his back, the thing on top of him, crushing the air from his chest. Philip struggled, unable to breathe. He felt his world beginning to grey out, his struggles becoming weaker... And a small thunderstorm knocked the thing of Philip, and into the wall. He stared, coughing, trying to get air back in his lungs as Nick attacked the abomination. The child was shrieking, arms and legs flailing as he attacked the creature that had dared to try and hurt his friend.
Finally, with a twist of its body, the demon grabbed Nick's wrist and scrambled upright, dragging the child with it. Philip winced as he heard Nick's arm break as thing dangled the boy in midair. But Nick didn't feel the pain. He just stared at the being, his face a mask of concentration. The adult part of Nick's mind had finally broken through, flooding his brain with memories; and with those, the knowledge to defeat the Dark Lord which stood before him.
Small curls of blue lightening ran down Nick's arm, up into the being's hand. It looked at Nick in astonishment, and tried to let go of the boy's hand. But Nick held on grimly, the lightening forming a bond between them. The blue light flowed over the being and he began to shake violently, screaming. The smell of burning flesh permeated the room, as with a roar, the creature finally flung Nick away. The boy crashed heavily into the wall and slid down, motionless. But the damage was done. Blue lightening and flames danced on the demon's body as it whirled and shrieked, trying to be rid of this strange light. With an almighty howl, it sank slowly through the floor, still aflame,its howls and shrieks dying away as it disappeared.
The room around Philip shimmered before disappearing also. he was outside in the snow on Angel island. Philip slowly got to his knees, every part of his body aching. He shook his head to clear it, then looked around him. His heart almost stopped when he saw the small crumpled form lying in the snow a few feet away. Philip scrambled over to the child, who lay pale and lifeless in the snow. Philip felt the boy's neck, but there was no pulse. Philip realised, his heart breaking, that there was nothing he could do. Nick had been brought back to help the Legacy, and that was what he had done. That over, he was gone now. He wasn't coming back.
Unable to look at the body anymore,Philip turned and walked away a few feet, tears coursing down his cheeks. He sank to his knees sobbing bitterly. He remained like that for the hours, kneeling in the snow in the darkness. He didn't notice the sky becoming lighter as the sun finally arose on a cold, dead world, breathing life back in. The sun's rays touched Nick's broken body. As it did so, blue lightening streaked along his torso and limbs, his body shimmered with the blue light. Nick's body elongated, filling out, until he was his normal size again. The blue light disappeared. For a while, nothing happened. Then Nick's eyes shot open, and took a sharp breath. He sat up quickly, staring in wonder at his restored body. Nick felt the sun shining down on him, and he tipped his head back into the sunshine, laughing at how good it felt.
Behind him, Philip heard laughter, he turned quickly, and stared as he saw Nick, whole and grownup, kneeling in the snow and laughing at the new sun. 'Nick!' yelled Philip, getting to his feet and running to the younger man. Nick stood up, and the two men met in a fierce bear hug that almost crushed Nick. Philip's tears turned to ones of joy. 'You're alive!' he laughed. Nick giggled. 'You always were the observant one.'
Finally, they broke away,just looking at each other in the new light. Nick glanced up at his friend. 'Thank you,' he said, simply. 'I don't remember much... but, thank you.' Philip shook his head. 'I should thank you!' he said 'You saved my life; you saved everyone.' Nick looked down at the snow his face sad. 'No, not everyone' he whispered'. There's so many dead...' Then he looked up, hope glittering in his eyes, 'I'll need your help,' he said. 'I think I have just enough power left'. 'To do what? asked Philip, confused. Nick just smiled, and took both of Philip's hands in his own. 'Concentrate.' he said, closing his eyes and tilting his head back. Philip copied, and he suddenly felt as if electricity was surging through him. It didn't hurt, but the sheer power of it made his head swim, and he pitched forward as his whole world turned blue, and...
...Philip dumped his luggage on the Angel Island dock, and bent to sweep Kat in his arms, 'Kat! How are you?' he asked her. 'Fine!' she replied. Philip set her down, shaking his head. 'I just had the weirdest feeling of deja vu...' he laughed. He looked around. 'You here by yourself?' he asked. Kat nodded. 'Everyone was busy trying to get the house ready.' She took his hand, and he picked up his luggage with the other as the little girl led him up towards the house.
Inside the mansion, Philip was met by Derek and the girls, who all hugged him in turn. They chatted excitedly for a few minutes, until Philip asked, 'Where's Nick?' 'He has some sort of virus.' Derek explained. 'He's in bed, go up and see him if you like.' Philip nodded, and picked up his luggage. He excused himself, then went upstairs to dump the luggage in his room before knocking gently on Nick's door. 'Come in' called a tired voice from inside. Philip went in, and Nick sat up in bed. 'Hey, Philip!' he said. Philip went over and hugged his friend, before sitting down on the bed. 'How are you?' Philip asked. 'Not too bad', was the reply. 'I'll be okay in a day or so. I'm just pretty tired'. 'Well,' said Philip, getting up, 'I'm not one to stand in the way of healing! I'll talk to you a bit later, when you're better. Nick smiled. 'Thanks Philip.' Philip was almost at the door, when Nick called to him.
'Pip?' Philip turned, smiling but frowning, 'You haven't called me that since we were kids.' he said. Nick's face was solemn. 'How much do you remember?' he asked. Philip's smile disappeared,leaving only a confused frown. 'What are you on about, Nick?' Nick grinned. 'Oh nothing.' Philip shook his head, and left, thinking that his friend maybe wasn't as well as he thought.
Downstairs, Derek was digging his wallet out from his pants pocket. He needed a telephone number which he'd hastily scribbled on some paper and stuffed in his wallet. As he brought the wallet out, something shiny fell from his pocket and dropped to the floor with a metallic ring. Derek bent and picked it up, turning it around in his fingers. 'How did Nick's SEAL ring get there?' he wondered, standing up and placing it on the table. All thought of it was pushed out of his mind as Kat came running in. 'Derek! It's snowing again!'
Derek turned to look out of the window. The gardens were covered in the white powder which glistened serenely in the fading light. Derek had an odd feeling of Deja vu, but he pushed it out of his mind, instead turning to Kat. 'Come on, dinner's nearly ready.' Kat took Derek's hand and they left the room, Derek turning out the lights. When all was quiet, there was a shimmering light in the corner of the room, and Christina appeared. She gazed out of the window and smiled as she watched the snow fall. Then she faded away, as upstairs Nick remembered. Then just as Christina had done,the bad memories slipped away, into the back of his mind, never to surface, and Nick drifted away into sleep. The Legacy journal he had been writing in slipped from his hand onto the floor. It fell open at the page he'd been writing on.
'I don't think the others remember anything; maybe its better that way. I wouldn't wish those memories on my worst enemy. But at the same time, I learned something important. All these years, I've been keeping things inside, never letting my feelings show. I've been facing things alone; my father, Julia, the SEALS. I realise now that was wrong. No one should have to face anything alone. I have people who care about me, people to care about. At the moment, I have to face this alone, though. But, soon...soon, I'll tell them what they forgot, and we we'll face this.. ....together.'