Monday, April 11, 2011

Jesus Murphy: Growing Pains (Ch. 8 - 11)

- Chapter 8 -
It Comes to Light

The breeze outside was warm but refreshing, breaking the stale air that took over the month of July. Jesus was sitting in the backseat, the window wide open. Martin was humming some classic rock song in the front, looking in the rear view mirror ever so often to catch a glimpse of his nephew.

They finally arrived at the local elementary school where Jesus would start next week. Martin got out of the car first but the little boy was apprehensive and stayed in the car for a while longer. When he was finally done pouting, he stepped out of the car and walked with his uncle up to the school.

It was very colonial, with wild vines creeping up the red brick. The doors were arched and they creaked when Jesus opened them. Their was a pungent smell in the air that invaded his nostrils the second he stepped in, as if he had just walked into a laboratory. He recognized the smell as formaldehyde, a gas often used in liquids to preserve biological specimens. Martin had a few mammal foetuses on display at home, due to his eccentric taste in art, and the smell would often nauseate Jesus.

Their was something distinctively odd about the school but Jesus couldn't quite comprehend what it was. He was just about to ask Martin if they could leave when his uncle announced that they were here, at the principle's office.

"You wait here, and have a seat, I'll go talk with your principle," Martin added, pointing to the chairs that lined the waiting room. Martin walked up to the secretary and told her he had a meeting with the principle. She smiled, spoke in her intercom, and shortly after a tall, slender man stepped out of an office, and his eyes immediately darted towards Jesus. Something in his smile scared Jesus.

"Mr. Christ, how delightful. Please do come in. Will little Jesus join us?" The man asked, keeping his eyes firmly on the boy.

"Let's leave grown-up talk for grown-ups" Martin answered matter-of-faclty, pushing his way past the thin man and walking into the office.

Jesus was sitting quite calmly, kicking his legs back and forth over the edge of the antique wood bench. He was thinking about his new school, his new life. He wondered about his old friends and his old life and also about that woman that appeared to him this morning and late last night. He was just about to form a picture of her in his mind when something caught his attention to his left.

He looked up and noticed a lilac flower resting by the door. He looked back at the quiet secretary who had her nose in her book. She wasn't paying him any attention. He quickly got off the bench and picked up the flower, only to spot another one a little further down the hall. He hurried to pick it up and saw another one approximately twenty feet ahead. He was beginning to think someone had placed them there delibaretly.

Jesus looked back towards the principal's office and saw no one. He continued to follow the lilac trail when he found the source of the chemical smell he sniffed earlier. An elderly man was resting back against wall in a corner, his hands limp on either side. There was broken glass everywhere and liquids were seeping off the countertops.

The man was gasping for air and Jesus noticed the man,s eyes were bleeding. He was calling for help. Tears were forming in the corner of the little boy's blue eyes and he backed up against the wall, his lip quivering. He closed his eyes and the image of Madonna appeared to him.

"Heal the world, Jesus" she whispered, a distinct purple aura flowing from her, as if a purple hue emanated from her skin. Jesus noded in approval and opened his eyes again. He moved confidently towards the man, as if he knew what he was about to do.

Jesus kneeled down besides the screaming man and placed his hand on either side of the man's head. Something, almost like a tickle, crept from his pit and up through his chest and into his arms. It went through his limbs and into his hands and he felt warmth at the tip of his fingers. The man was crouched over, moaning in agony.

The energy that was flowing through his body had started to weigh down on the little boy. He heard his name being called out and saw his uncle running into the classroom. Jesus noticed the man's eyes and the blood that was running back into the eyes, as if someone, somewhere was rewinding the event. Jesus smiled then passed out.

- Chapter 9 -
Abrupt Departure

It was christmas eve. The day before Jesus's sixteenth birthday. The day before the anniversary of his mother's death. He lingered alone in his room on that day like he usually did. He would mope around, look at pictures for hours on end, cry. Jesus would switch from resting on the bed to sitting at his computer. He was doing just that when Martin came rushing into his bedroom, his hair dishevelled and scratches running wildly down his face.

"Pack up, now. They found us." There was something off in his voice, it trembled. Martin's voice never faltered. He looked panicked, afraid, something about him scared Jesus.

"What happened? We can't leave. Dad, what about Joan?" Jesus asked, getting off his bed.

It tugged at Martin's heart. That word. Dad. He had made the mistake of letting Jesus get close to a girl. He would never make that same mistake. "We don't have time to argue about this, Jesus. We knew this could happen. Look at my face Jesus. Now imagine what they would do with you."

"I'm not going. They can try and take me -" Jesus started, a slight rise in his voice.

"Don't you ever speak like that, Jesus," his uncle cut him off, "we are not like them. We don't hurt people." Martin spoke with authority, one that Jesus knew very well to respect. "Five minutes, Jesus. I'll be downstairs."

Martin nodded and looked at Jesus, waiting for his nod of approval. Jesus finally subsided and nodded. He sighed and began to gather the essentials. He lingered a while longer even when Martin began to shout at him to hurry up. He couldn't keep his eyes off of the photo beside his bed; the one with Joan. They were at the Santa Monica pier.

"Come on, cowboy. Let's go!" Martin shouted from down the stairs. Jesus scanned his room one more time. He shut off the lights and ran down the stairs.

Martin was at the door, a few bags in his hands. He wore the usual getaway gear; black pants, black vest. Nothing out of the ordinary. "When I tell you five minutes, I mean it," he said when Jesus finally reached the landing.

"Where are we going this time?" Jesus asked.

"The only place that's safe," he paused to open the door, "we're going back home."

The news struck Jesus and paralyzed him momentarily. He had never imagined going back there after what happened. Surely Martin was mistaken, he couldn't possibly want to go back there. People had seen what he had done; how he healed the man's sight. They would expose him and Jesus knew the consequences of being exposed.

"We can't go back there, dad. They know about me." Jesus protested, dropping his bags on the floor.

"An old friend has decided to help us. She's very persuasive. If we stay here any longer they will catch you, Jesus, and then they'll kill me." Martin said, very matter-of-factly.

Jesus knew what they were capable of. He couldn't dispute what Martin was saying. If he said they had to go, he was serious about it. Jesus sighed and walked out of the house and Martin followed behind. They got into the car and took off.
- Chapter 10 -
On The Road

The sky was sparkling bright with stars the first night they hit the road. Jesus was struggling to fall asleep in his twisted uncomfortable position. It wasn't easy catching z's in the back of a pick up truck. They had managed to sell their previous sedan and were fortunate enough to stumble upon this '93 Ford Ranger. Martin had driven south most of the day. They finally decided to sleep a bit before heading on the road again.

Their location was a rundown truck-stop diner. They had gotten a quick bite to eat, borrowed the showering facility and then nestled the best they could in the cab of the Ranger. Jesus was twisting and turning, trying to position himself comfortably. He knew Martin was awake, making sure Jesus would fall asleep first. Images of his girlfriend, Joan Archer, were running through his mind.

He had barely spoken all day, still angered by their sudden departure. Jesus knew the consequences of staying there, he simply couldn't grasp why he had to be the one to lead this life. He hadn't asked to be leader of a unknown mission twisted with secrets and deception. He simply wanted to lead a normal life. God had chosen a different path for him, though.

He was playing around with his hands, lighting the tips of his fingers and removing the rust on the small patch of metal that had been welded in the corner of the cab. He had first learned of this special ability when helping a man back in his hometown, the same town they were heading to. The villagers, those who had learned of what Jesus had done, had decided to scare them out of town.

This news of a kid with special powers took flight with no looking back. Soon media reporters from around the world were beckoning. People wanted to meet the boy who could heal the world. Martin was upset about this, frightened even. He knew this would finally attract the opposition he always feared: The Sacarii.

They were an elite cadre of assassins, hell bent on proving destiny was in their hands, and not the other way around. They had been following them since Jesus' birth and adoption in the hands of Martin Christ.

Their leader and members were unknown to the Agency, the group that was helping and protecting Jesus.
Those two groups had been at war for centuries, and it came at no surprise to Martin when he eventually learned of their goals to twart the prophecy.

He was thinking about just that when Jesus finally spoke, for the first time that christmas day.

"You promised you would tell me the name of the prophetess who predicted what I would become, what I would do. You promised me to tell me the truth on my sixteenth birthday," Jesus said, turning over to face Martin, "You promised to tell me everything"

"And that is something I regret, Jesus." Martin's voice trailed off, a slight lump passing visibly down his throat. If the trucks weren't rolling into the diner's parking lot, Jesus would have heard the gulp of Martin's harsh swallow. "Telling you will only put you in more danger then you already are."

"Isn't it my right to know this? I have been in the dark most of my life. Finally I have the chance to know more about myself, about what I am suppose to do"

"If I tell you, you will spend your days trying to find her. I don't want you putting your life at risk, Jesus."

Jesus processed what his uncle had just said. He wanted to know the truth for once. He wanted the name of the women who predicted his final mission. She was the key to ending all of this, to make things right, to tell him that this was all a lie, a dream, that we would wake up and be a normal boy. She was the answer to life.

"It has already happened, dad. Prophecy. Destiny. I am suppose to do this as predicted by a seer. It basically happened already, nothing we do will change that. Maybe you were suppose to tell me. Maybe i'm suppose to visit her." Jesus pleaded, getting up from his resting position and looking out at the stars. It was warm in the south, something Jesus wasn't use to on Christmas day. On his birthday.

"Thinking like that will only get you killed. A prophecy is only as good as it's key players. Be humble, Jesus. You'll appreciate me hiding this information from you in the long run."

"Doesn't matter. I die anyways." Jesus grunted, a distinct finality in his tone. He was done for the night, and showed this by turning over and closing his eyes. "Goodnight, Martin"
- Chapter 11 -
Duty and Honour

The morning sun was creeping up over the mountains. It illuminated the meadow that surrounded the beat up pickup truck. The bright light warmed the soft skin of Jesus' eyelids. He opened his eyes, adjusted his sight to the glowing landscape and shifted in his sleeping bag. His growth spurt was apparent by his awkward crouched position within the sac. He fit easily inside a few years ago.

"It's time you change that sleeping bag, cowboy" Martin said as she approached the pickup, fresh fruits in hand.

Jesus sat up and catched a ripe orange just in time. He smiled and his blue eyes sparkled. The roadside dinners could make excellent fried food but what Jesus craved the most was the juice of a fresh fruit. He inhaled the fragrant smell of the orange as he peeled off the skin.

"You look famished" Martin laughed between bites off his own orange.

"It's been a while since we had these" Jesus answered back.

They remained quiet, enjoying the early morning breeze and the sounds of the wild birds. Jesus couldn't help but to think of Joan, of her silky blonde hair, of her smile that curved just slightly when she looked at him. Going back to his hometown was something Jesus wasn't looking forward to. So many secrets were kept there, memories trapped in time.

"What you said last night had me thinking," Martin said, finally breaking the silence. He rested his back against the truck, he golden locks enhanced by the rising sun. He looked at Jesus, "When we get to Bethlehem, I'll tell you everything you need to know about everything."

Jesus was apprehensive; Martin had made such promises before with no rate of succes. He threw the remains of his orange to the ground and proceeded to roll up his sleeping baf. He kept a watchful eye on Martin.

"Why the sudden change of heart?" Jesus asked.

"I made a promise long time ago, Jesus," Martin started, "One I have to honour. Our past and our future depends on that."

"Depends on what? You telling me the truth?"

"Our fate is in your hands, Jesus. It's all I can say for now. Everything I have done has been to protect you. That is my duty, and you have to understand that."

Jesus placed all of his stuff in the corner of the truck them jumped to the ground. "That's what you always say and then I never get any form of follow up. I am not a kid anymore! I don't need your protection!"

"I know you aren't. And that's why i'll explain everything once we get to Bethlehem. We'll be safe there." Martin replied as he got inside the pick-up.

Jesus sighed and hopped in the passenger side. He knew he would only get half-answers from Martin. It would most likely only get worst once they got back to Bethlehem. Martin was always secretive, even with his brothers, Malcom and Michael. No way would he discuss prophecies, secret organizations, and abilities in front of them.

They took off on the country road, the sun blazing behind them. After nine long years on the run, they were finally heading back home. This was suppose to be a moment to rejoice. But Jesus felt a chill in the air, a tingle in his spine. Something was about to go terribly wrong...

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