CHAPTER TWO

Kiethran sat at the diner waiting for his meal to be delivered. Janice, the waitress, had known Kiethran since he had started living on the streets. Once in a while, she would give him a free meal. And she let him sit in a back booth on particularly cold nights for several hours without saying a word to him.

He had been very careful in ordering his meal. He wanted to be sure he had enough money left to get another bottle and another pack or two of cigarettes. The overcoat lay across the back of the bench where he sat.

The meal was hot and good. Chicken fried steak was not his favorite meal, but it was one of the cheapest things on the menu. And Janice had thrown in a free desert for him. She said the peach cobbler wasn't moving well and she was afraid she'd have to throw it out anyway.

Kiethran finished his meal and looked at his watch. It had been nearly three hours since his meeting with the mysterious Mykaa. After he left the diner, he'd stop by and see Williams. If the charges had been dropped, Williams would know.

He picked up his new coat, then went and paid for his meal. Janice just smiled at him and told him to come back soon. He had never really spoken to her and didn't know why she was so nice to him. Probably just liked to help people down on their luck.

He wandered down the street toward the police station. The wind was kicking up and the temperature was beginning to drop. He shoved his hands into the pockets to protect them from the weather.

As he did, he felt something in the left pocket. He pulled it out, finding five brand new one hundred dollar bills rolled together. He looked at the money dumbfounded, knowing that when he had taken the coat, the pockets had been empty.

About two blocks from the police station a car pulled up next to the curb where he was walking. Sergeant Williams sat behind the wheel of the car.

"Hey, Kiethran," said Williams, "I have some news for you. The owner of that building you were arrested in. He's decided to drop the charges against you. Looks like you got a lucky break this time."

"Yeah," said Kiethran, confused. "Thanks for letting me know."

"Another odd thing," said Williams. "The arresting officer seems to have misplaced his report on the arrest. So it won't even appear in your record."

"Can't he just refile his report?" asked Kiethran.

"Yes," said Williams, "and he probably will. But we'll just file it away since the owner dropped the charges. Say, why don't you come by and stay at my place tonight? The temperature is supposed to be below freezing."

"Thanks, Steve," said Kiethran, "but I don't think so. I'm not looking for any handouts."

"Suit yourself," said Williams. "If you change your mind, you know where I live."

"Thanks," said Kiethran, "I appreciate it."

As Williams drove away, Kiethran began to make his way to the warehouse where he had met Mykaa. He had made an agreement with this man. And he felt obligated to at least show up for the meeting.

Once at the warehouse, Kiethran pulled on the door. It wouldn't budge. He pulled on it more forcefully, but it still refused to open. Puzzled, he began to look around for another opening.

He walked around the building but found no other way in. The only windows were on the second floor and all seemed to be boarded up. As he completed his circuit of the building, he noticed an enveloped with his name on it taped to the door. Odd that he had not noticed it before.

Mr. Tannish. I'm afraid I am unable to be here for our meeting. If you would come to my home I would be glad to explain the job I have in mind for you. The address is 2217 Racine Drive. Mykaa.

Kiethran shoved the letter into this pocket, and then walked out to the main street. He pulled the bottle out of his pocket and was about to take a drink. Then he stopped and looked at the bottle.

Things were getting very strange. In the last four years he had suffered some strange hallucinations. But these were even more strange than most. He shoved the bottle back into his pocket and began to walk down the street toward Racine Drive.

The house at the address was a modest house. It looked like any other house up and down the block. It was beginning to get dark and the temperature was dropping even more rapidly than before. If nothing else, he would be able to get in out of the weather for a bit.

He walked up on the front porch and rang the doorbell. When there was no answer, he rang the bell again. Again, no one answered the door. He turned and started to walk off the porch.

Standing on the sidewalk leading from the street to the front porch was a large black and brown German Shepherd dog. It sat on the sidewalk looking at Kiethran.

Slowly, Kiethran moved up to the dog, extending his right hand. He had learned long ago that most animals, even pets, attacked out of fear. Or because they felt threatened. By extending his hand, the dog could get Kiethran's scent and see that he was no threat.

The dog sniffed at his hand a few times, and then looked to the left. Kiethran looked over and saw Mykaa standing at the corner of the house smiling.

"Panthax likes you," he said. "That's a compliment. She doesn't take to everyone right off."

"I've always had a positive affect on animals," said Kiethran. "I guess they just naturally sense I don't mean them any harm."

"Yes, of course," said Mykaa. "Panthax, why don't you go inside now? I have business with Mr. Tannish."

As if the dog understood, she stood up and trotted around the corner of the house past Mykaa. Kiethran walked off the porch and over to Mykaa.

"I think this belongs to you," said Kiethran, handing the five hundred dollars to Mykaa. "I found it in the coat pocket after we talked."

"Well," said Mykaa, "I gave you the coat. I would say it belongs to you now."

"I'm not looking for charity," said Kiethran, trying to push the money into Mykaa's hand.

"And I'm not offering charity," said Mykaa, refusing the money. "As I said, I gave you the coat. And I can well afford it. I'm sure you can use it. Please, just accept the money in good faith."

Kiethran realized that Mykaa had no intention of taking the money so he shoved the money into his pocket.

"It's getting cold," said Mykaa. "Let's go inside where we'll be more comfortable."

They walked around the side of the house to a door that was standing open. As they entered the house, Mykaa told Kiethran to put his coat on one of the kitchen chairs. Kiethran did as he was instructed and Shallon came out of an adjoining room. Panthax lay on the floor of the kitchen apparently dozing.

"Welcome back, Mr. Tannish," said Shallon.

"Please," said Kiethran, "call me Kiethran. I've never been very comfortable being called Mr. Tannish."

"Very well," said Shallon. "You surprised me. I didn't think you'd show. Or that you'd try to give the money back. But Mykaa was sure you would."

"How did she know I had tried to return the money?" Kiethran wondered to himself.

"I know many things," said Shallon, as if answering Kiethran's unspoken question.

"Okay," said Kiethran, "I said I'd listen to your pitch. You got the charges dropped. I don't know how you did it, but you kept your end of the bargain. So I'm here to keep my end of the bargain."

"Still direct," said Mykaa. "Very well. About the job I mentioned. It's a permanent position. As I said it's a type of security position, you might say."

"I don't have any experience or training for security," said Kiethran. "And from what I know about it, it takes a long time for that type of training. Wouldn't it be better if you got a professional who's already trained for this job?"

"As I said," continued Mykaa, "you are uniquely suited for this job. And you are correct. Training for this job will require literally years. A great many years."

"So what am I supposed to do?" asked Kiethran. "Go to school for years all at your expense? I'm thirty-seven years old. By the time I finish this training, I could be fifty. Or older. What use would I be to you then?"

"I understand your skepticism," said Mykaa. "Shallon was skeptical at first, too. But eventually I convinced her."

"You have one of these jobs, too?" asked Kiethran.

"In a manner of speaking," said Shallon. "I'm Mykaa's personal assistant. But I went through much of the same training you will go through."

"IF I accept the job," said Kiethran. "So what type of training will I have to go through?"

Mykaa walked over to the coffee maker and poured a cup of coffee for Kiethran. Then he sat down at the table once again. As he handed the cup to Kiethran, Kiethran noticed the ring on Mykaa's right ring finger.

The ring seemed to be made of pure silver. On the top of the ring was an unusual design that Kiethran had never seen before. It had five interlocking circles that were inlaid with a type of black stone.

"You might call it sort of on the job training," said Mykaa. "It's not the normal type of training most security personnel go through. You see, we are what you might call a specialized security business. We only handle particular types of problems."

"What type of problems?" Mykaa asked.

"Are you a religious man, Kiethran?" asked Mykaa.

"Not particularly," said Kiethran. "I went to church as a boy, but I haven't been back in years."

"Do you remember much from your time there as a boy?" asked Mykaa.

"I don't know," said Kiethran. "Some, I guess. What does this have to do with the job you mentioned?"

"Everything," said Shallon. "Believe me, Kiethran, it's important. Please, just be patient. Everything will be explained, I promise."

"Okay," said Kiethran, "go ahead."

"Thank you," said Mykaa. "I'm sure you remember the story of creation in the Bible."

"Sure," said Kiethran. "As I remember, God supposedly created the universe in six days."

"Precisely," said Mykaa. "On the seventh day, according to Genesis, God rested. Do you remember the story of the Garden of Eden?"

"I guess as much as anyone," said Kiethran. "God created Adam and Eve. They lived in the garden for some time. Then Satan tempted Eve, who in turn tempted Adam. Then God kicked them out of the garden to live on Earth."

"Yes," said Mykaa. "A bit oversimplified, but essentially correct. And after God had cast them out of the Garden, he placed an angel at the entrance to the garden with a flaming sword to keep them out."

"Yeah," said Kiethran, "I remember."

"Are you aware of what transpired before the Garden of Eden?" asked Shallon.

"Before?" asked Kiethran. "I thought that story was supposed to be the beginning of everything."

"Not exactly," said Mykaa. "You see, the Bible also records a series of events that transpired before the Garden of Eden. It tells how there was a revolt in heaven. How one of the angels thought himself to be equal to God. And of a war that ensued."

"Oh, yeah," said Kiethran, "I do remember that. Lucifer thought he should be God. I remember something about him being kicked out of heaven along with a bunch of the angels who sided with him. He supposedly became Satan."

"Very good," said Mykaa. "You do remember more than you imagined. Yes, Lucifer was called the Morning Star. That's what his name means. He thought himself equal to or even superior to God. When he tried to take control, one third of the angels sided with him."

"Yeah," said Kiethran, "that's right. Supposedly that's where all the Nephilm came from. They're the fallen angels cast out of heaven with Satan."

"Yes," said Shallon.

"So what does all this about myths and legends have to do with a security job?" asked Kiethran.

"What if I told you," said Mykaa, looking suspiciously at Kiethran, "that they aren't myths and legends? That those things happened exactly as they are related in the Bible?"

"What is this?" asked Kiethran, standing up. "You running some kind of cult or something here? Is that what you want? To have me join your little group? No thanks, pal. I don't want to end up like Jim Jones or that Heaven's Gate group. Like I told you before, you got the wrong guy."

"Please, Kiethran," said Shallon, "I found it hard to accept at first, too. And it's not a cult. Not anything near it. Please, just hear us out."

Kiethran looked at Shallon then at Mykaa. Panthax looked up when Kiethran had stood but then went back to dozing. Kiethran felt he should just turn and get out of there as fast as he could. But he didn't. Instead he sat back down in his chair.

"Okay," said Kiethran. "I'll hear you out."

"Thank you," said Mykaa. "Do you know who Merlin was?"

"You mean King Arthur's Merlin?" asked Kiethran. "Sure. He was supposed to have been the greatest magician in history. He helped King Arthur become king, if I remember right."

"Yes," said Mykaa. "And he is also believed to be a myth or legend. At the very least, an exaggeration of a real person who lived at that time."

"Yeah," said Kiethran.

"Well," said Mykaa, "Merlin was real. Oh, the story of the sword in the stone and all that is fictitious. Most of what you learn of Merlin is fictitious. But he was a very real person. In fact, you are a direct descendent of his."

Kiethran just laughed. Now he knew these people were crazy. He wasn't English. In fact, his ancestors had come from somewhere in middle Europe. There's no way he could have been descended from Merlin or anyone in England.

"Okay," said Kiethran, "that's enough. Now I know you're both crazy. Listen, you said you had a security job for me. Well, I wasn't interested then, and I'm still not interested. I've kept my part of the bargain."

He took the money out of his coat and placed it on the table. Then he picked up his coat.

"Here," he said. "I don't care what it is, I don't want it. If you'll excuse me, I think I'd better be going."

"We'll have to show him," said Shallon.

"Yes," said Mykaa, "I believe you're right."

"Show me?" asked Kiethran. "Show me what?"

Shallon walked over and put her hand out for Kiethran.

"Please," she said, "take my hand."

"Why?" Kiethran asked.

"I promise," said Shallon, "If you'll just take my hand for a moment, this will all be over. You won't be harmed, I promise."

Kiethran looked at Shallon's hand, then at Mykaa. Panthax seemed as uninterested as ever. Kiethran wanted to get out of there fast. If all he had to do was shake Shallon's' hand, then maybe they'd let him leave. He reached out and grasped her hand, intending to let it go immediately.

As he did he began to feel faint. He was slightly nauseous and there was a buzzing in his ears. Before he could pull his hand away, the kitchen and everything around him faded from view.