Lost, Then Found

By David N. Lewis

Action & adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young adult

Paperback, eBook

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657
9 mins

Chapter One- The Voice

The piercing sound of a klaxon echoed off the crimson marble hallways. The routine activity within the orbiting Academy suddenly increased. A deep, thunder-like voice announced over the intercom, “General quarters. This is not a drill.”
The King’s Special Service Academy’s superstructure resembled a Magen David. The station’s silver and gold outer hull reflected sol’s blue white brilliance above and terra’s blue watery atmosphere below. Its six spires were riddled with windows and linking walkways. The King’s Special Service Academy, bigger than the Georgia Dome, orbited through space at time altering speeds with a flowing train of stars. Within the station, guardian angels prepared to receive young human recruits to be trained as members of the elite Special Service of the King of Kings.
Angels tall and short grabbed their flame swords and sprinted to their battle stations throughout the Academy’s outer defensive ring. Void of students at this time, the Academy prepared for an inevitable attack from a phalanx of Fallen Ones.
Once again, the intercom came alive. “Incoming- all stations rig for impact. Four-three-two-one!”
Slam. The Academy bucked in the silence of space from the energy of a thousand flame swords.
Julian pulled himself upright to his full eight foot height and adjusted his wings. "More powerful than usual. Lucifer must be serious this time." Julian swept his shining hair out of his face as he called for his journeyman guardian angel, Brevis. Julian grabbed the hand rail in the hallway.
“Julian, is it time?” Brevis’ small stature required that he fly almost everywhere in order to keep up with his taller comrades, the warrior angels that doubled as guardians.
Julian turned and ran down the crimson marble hallway. “Yes, it’s time. Let’s get to the situation room.”
Brevis’ wings kicked into high gear and flapped so fast they were just a blur. “Right behind you.” He flipped his golden streaked beard.
The Academy rocked again from a second energy blast. Julian slammed into the wall of the marble hallway. “One more impact like that and the Academy’s superstructure will buckle.”
The golden sign of the Academy Situation Room was similar to all the others in this part of the institution. A miniature set of angelic wings suspended the golden white lettering above the entrance to the Situation Room. An escutcheon marked the place of the door activator.
Julian passed his hand across the activator and the rear wall of the foyer vanished. A large room appeared with maps, star charts and angels seated at the various consoles.
Spectatus, the situation room supervisor, sat beneath a terran eastern hemisphere map. He glanced over his shoulder toward the entrance. “Ah, Julian, I just dispatched a Protectors’ phalanx to counter attack.” Spectatus adjusted some of the symbols on the map.
Julian approached Spectatus. "It's time we get the Chosen One, Jeffery Bartlett, ready.”
Spectatus nodded. “His time has arrived. The others have already been notified and will be here as instructed.”
“His brother Jeb is growing stronger as we speak,” Julian said.
Spectatus turned and faced Julian. “Isn’t he one of your charges?”
“Was, and I don’t intend on losing this one to the fallen one. I suspect Jeffery will be under attack himself if we don’t get to him first.” Julian rolled his shoulders. “Brevis, you will accompany me on this mission.”
Brevis’ wings buzzed like a bumble bee and caused his whole body to vibrate in the excitement. “Great, a real mission. It’s been a long time.”
Spectatus pushed a silver button and adjusted his headset. “Julian, I’m getting a report from the Protector Commander now…counter attack successful…Fallen Ones routed.”
“Looks like now is a good time to leave.” Julian spread his warrior wings, checked his flame sword and flapped one time. He sped through the ceiling and into open space.
“Wait up; I’ll be on your starboard until we get there.” Brevis slipped through the ceiling and assumed his position beside Julian.
Julian looked at Brevis. “Ready…now.”
Both angels disappeared in a ray of light directly toward the North American eastern seaboard.

Towering slash pines underneath a full moon cast shadows across the waters of the Savannah River. The old river’s rapids echoed within reach of a middle class neighborhood of ranch style homes sprawled under shortleaf pines and crepe myrtles. Numerous automatic sprinkler systems raised a mist throughout the neighborhood. The white lights of the street lamps created nighttime rainbows. Ashton Street, the third street past the neighborhood’s rod iron entry gate, was the location of a white trimmed, old brick styled home with a two car garage.
Julian and Brevis were on their final approach to the white trimmed house. They hovered a moment above the structure like parents watching over their children. Julian scanned the area for Fallen Ones, and then he and his companion passed through the ceiling of the house and into Jeffery’s bedroom.
Julian, the larger of the two angels, settled onto the wood grained floor with the softness of a falling leaf. He looked over to his smaller and subordinate guardian angel companion. “You know Brevis, I remember when Jeffery first got those gymnastic hand grips.” The guardian picked the hand grips up and fingered the soft-chalk stained leather. “Ah, I can feel the sweat and long hours of practice in the leather.” He put the grips back onto the window sill next to a junior championship regional trophy. “Too bad he quit two years ago.”
Brevis stared at an aluminum framed picture of two boys holding a stringer of bass together and smiling. “Hey, Julian, is this Jeffery’s brother, Jeb?”
“Yes, bright red hair like his mom, Sue. He’s a couple of years older than Jeffery. Jeb, well…let me just say disappeared two years ago.” Julian continued to inspect Jeffery’s room. Julian looked at Brevis and spoke. “Everything is almost ready now, just a few details for us to check on.”
Jeffery rolled over to his left side and took a deep breath.
The angelic pair stood still. “He’s not completely asleep yet-” Julian glanced back at the partially opened door and then at Jeffery.
Brevis commented, “I don’t think he saw anything.”
The hallway wooden floor creaked.
“Brevis, here comes Jeffery’s mom.” Julian rose off the floor and hovered above the entrance next to Brevis.
“You think he’ll survive, Julian?” Brevis paused as he circled the room. His wings beat so fast they were almost audible.
Julian looked down at his companion and nodded. “That is not for us to say.”
Half the doorway filled with a silhouette against the backdrop of hallway lights. Sue stood a moment staring at Jeffery and then at the vacant bed next to him. She lowered her head and then spoke to Jeffery. “Get a good night’s sleep son. You’ll need it tomorrow.” The leak of hallway lights into the room shrunk to a sliver as she left it cracked open.
Julian and Brevis slipped through the hallway door and around the corner. “Brevis, look at that portrait of Jeffery’s dad on the hallway wall, Chad, in his army uniform. You know Chad was one of my best students.”
Brevis hovered in front of the portrait. “I remember. I was there too, you know. Those were the days.”
“Here he is. Quiet.” Julian floated to the corner of the room.
“Okay, Okay.” Brevis settled his tiny form on the rotating ceiling fan motor.
Chad glanced around the corner of the bathroom door. His heart skipped a beat. “Cute. Are those new PJs, Sue?”
“You know, that gets old after twenty-two years.” Sue’s face flushed and matched her hair. She rolled into bed with her back to Chad.
Chad pulled the covers back and patted his pillow into submission. “I bet he crashes like a lead balloon tomorrow night, he’ll be so tired.”
Sue adjusted her pillow. “I hope you’re right.”
Brevis looked up at Julian. “Poor choice of words.” He flipped his beard.
“Don’t worry Brevis, I got things covered. That’s my next stop,” Julian said.
Chad laid the covers back on his side of the bed.
Sue glanced at the ceiling fan. “Honey, turn the fan on low.”
“Sure, next time it’s your turn. Good night, love you.” Chad slipped into bed and pulled the covers across his muscular frame up to his neck.
As the gentle hum of the fan hypnotically seduced them to sleep, the house filled with the sounds and shadows of the night.
Julian stood over Chad’s supine form. “Sleep well, I’ll be watching.”
“Honey did you say something?” Chad asked.
Sue did not respond. The sheet rose and fell with her slow regular breathing.
Brevis tugged on Julian’s robe. “He heard you.”
“Watch and learn. He was supposed to, now let’s go.” Julian rose through the ceiling with Brevis.

Early the next morning Jeffery’s dad stumbled on a pile of shoes and dirty socks as he flipped the light switch on in Jeffery’s room. “He’s trying to kill me here?” Jeffery’s dad leaned against the door jamb. “Rise and shine, boy.”
The sheets took flight and Jeffery magically appeared fully dressed. “Alright, hoorah.”
“Hoorah.” Jeffery’s dad chuckled as he kicked the pile of shoes and dirty socks aside. “Get enough sleep?”
Jeffery yawned and stretched. “I'm good. Do you see my boots and socks?” T-shirts, socks and smelly blue jeans flew through the air helter-skelter as Jeffery dug his way to the bottom of the clothes pile. “Never mind, here they are, I got them.”
Jeffery’s dad put his finger to his lips. “Your mom’s still asleep. Get the gear and load the car. We'll get some breakfast later.”
Jeffery grabbed his backpack.
“I think we're ready.” Jeffery’s dad surveyed the room.
Jeffery fidgeted with his GPS’ lanyard. “How long-”
“Four hours until the trail-head. We'll check-in at the ranger station for the permits.”
Jeffery adjusted his shoulder belt for the fourth time and popped his fingers against his jaw.
The sun peaked over the pine-covered hills as they arrived at the locally popular 'Granny's Home-style' restaurant. A squad of empty rocking chairs spread across the wraparound porch.
Julian sat next to Brevis in the far right rocking chair. “Just like a soldier, always prompt.”
Brevis nodded. “I taught him everything he knows.”
Julian just looked at Brevis and raised an eyebrow.
An apron draped hostess met Jeffery and his dad at the door. “Table or booth?”
“Table please,” Jeffery’s dad said.
Before long, the aroma of freshly baked biscuits had given way to the sounds of satisfaction and a set of full stomachs.
“Man, now that’s a breakfast.” Jeffery patted his stomach and stretched. He wiped the jelly from his lower lip.
Jeffery’s dad raised his hand catching the waitress’ eye. “Check please.”
A solitary red-haired young man stood in the shadows near the restrooms and watched as the father and son combination left the restaurant. “Soon, very soon.” He gritted his teeth as he dissolved away.
Jeffery jerked his head toward the restroom expecting to see something. The hair on his neck bristled. He shook his head. “I could have sworn I felt, well, never mind.”
The sun traveled high over the horizon. Blades of light sliced through the truck’s windows and lighted the cab. A breeze rustled through the trees like the wave of a symphony conductor’s wand signaling the music to begin.
Jeffery’s ears popped as he yawned. “I just can’t get used to the pressure change as we drive up here in the mountains.”
Jeffery closed the truck door as he sat on the front seat.
“We’ve have an hour and half left.” Jeffery’s dad put his key into the ignition and the V-six roared to life.
The Ford Explorer accelerated out of the gravel covered parking lot, scattering rocks.
Jeffery settled into the seat after he buckled the safety belt. “Let’s see, we’ve seen two squirrels, a deer and a hawk since we left Granny’s. Better than last time.” Jeffery stared out the window and pointed at the wood line. “Man, now that’s a big squirrel and that black tail.”
Jeff wiped the window with his shirt sleeve. “Dad, how are we going to get back to the car?”
“You have a pretty good eye for detail. That may be helpful to you someday.” Jeffery’s dad pressed gently on the brake. “Uncle Mike will meet us at the top around two.” The Ford Explorer rounded the curve. “There’s the sign to the ranger station.”
“Here we go.” A buckle clinked against the door frame as the truck left the paved road and climbed the steep gravel road to the ranger station.
The log cabin ranger station sat prominently at the far end of the gravel parking lot. A hazy blue mountain filled the sky behind the station and crested out of sight. Two shortleaf pines and a set of silver maples decorated the entrance to the ranger station. The aroma of bacon from a morning’s camp fire rose from the nearby campgrounds.
Jeffery’s dad chose a shady slot for the Sport Track next to the sign ‘Yonah Trail Head- 100 yards’. The two jumped from the Ford Explorer and strode to the log cabin station on the dirt path. Yellow and rust colored fallen leaves crunched under the weight of the two adventurers’ boots.
The screen door creaked open and then slammed shut. The bell clanged above the ranger station’s entry door. A strong scent of cedar lingered in the air. Jeffery stared at the wildlife pictures on the bulletin board just inside the station, his hands on his hips. “Look, dad, a drawing of a fox squirrel, just like the one I saw this morning.”
Carl, the park ranger, took his official hat from the rack and placed it on his head. He thumbed the edge of the brim. “Chad, you had to get up mighty early to get here this morning.” Carl took a final sip from his morning coffee. “That boy of yours is getting bigger and stronger every time I see him. So, what is it this time, fishing, climbing, or just hiking?”
“Climbing, and oh, by the way Carl, how’s your wife?” Jeffery’s dad smiled.
“Better, thanks for asking. The chemo has been pretty rough though.” The ranger looked down at the floor.
Jeffery’s dad tapped Jeffery on the shoulder. “You handle the registration this time Jeffery.”
Jeffery felt a nudge toward the counter. “Hey, Mr. Nolan, like to get our permits.”
The ranger handed the registry book to Jeffery. “No problem, sign the register and pay the cashier five dollars-you’re done.” Carl glanced out of the window. “Conditions look great, supposed to be a clear forecast.”
“Thanks Carl,” Chad said as he pulled the door open.”
Carl saluted. “See you later Chad.”
Jeffery’s dad snapped a return salute to his side. “Carl, not as crisp.” Jeffery’s dad smiled.
“Been a long time Chad.” Carl glanced at his desk picture of himself in an army uniform standing next to Chad.
Jeffery ran back to the Ford for their gear. “Hey dad, “Jeffery’s voice echoed against the hazy mountain backdrop. “The Yonah trailhead is real close.”
In every direction, a blue mist covered the surreal panorama of shortleaf pine covered rolling hills peppered with the fall colors of basswood, buckeye and sugar maple trees. The trailhead started on a knoll and swept down into the Blind Creek Holler. From there to the Yonah cliffs was a steep climb along a well-worn path that wound back and forth like a carnival rollercoaster.
Jeffery struggled with his shoulder strap. Julian drew near to Jeffery. A warm flush of air wrapped around Jeffery.
Brevis beat his wings until he was looking Julian in the eye. “Julian, let me do it this time?”
“Maybe next time. Keep your eyes and ears open. The enemy is near. Let me do it for now. I have my reasons.” Julian leaned down even with Jeffery’s ear, “I’ll be watching.”
Jeffery turned and caught the side of the table with his hand and steadied himself. He looked around and saw only his dad. Stumbling, he spun around and scanned the parking lot and the nearby wood line. “No one,” Jeffery thought.
Goose bumps rose on Jeffery’s arms. Strange warmth, like a dip in a hot tub, massaged his back. “Who was that?”
“Who was who?” Jeffery’s dad raised his eyebrow and glanced over his pack.
“Didn’t you hear that?” Jeffery continued to glance around the trail head.
A lone blue jay warned all who could hear that this was his domain.
Dad continued to ready his equipment. “No, you should’ve had a better night's rest, besides it was probably that blue jay.”
Jeffery shrugged and thought, “That was weird.”
Brevis sat on the trail head sign. “Julian, I think you got his attention that time.”
Julian lifted off the ground. “Come, we have another stop.” He flapped his wings and disappeared.
“Wait for me.” Brevis cranked up his wings and disappeared.


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