Julian, a mixed race boy from a broken home is 17 and in his last year of sixth form. After losing his mother in sudden and mysterious circumstances, he grew up with hate and resentment in his heart. His loving father, unable to tame him lives a life unfulfilled. Julian has long since lost faith in religious and academic institutions. God, to him, is nothing but a 3 letter word said by the delusional.
But, he’s about to be thrown in the middle of a war between two beings from a realm above the heavens. A war that transcends time and space, whose battle ground has become the very fabric of existence itself. Its warriors, like fallen Angels, live among us — hidden within a program designed for their rehabilitation.
Julian will rediscover beliefs and emotions he had long since discarded, have them brutally tested, witness things no other mortal man has — and through these trials discover the true meaning of faith.
4 months later
A young man walks through a quiet park on a hot midsummer’s day. The man walks briskly, he only has the hour of his lunch break for his rendezvous. The sounds of music escaping his mouth express his happiness, he always enjoys this walk…its every aspect is nostalgic for him and also every bit as beautiful in the present moment. The path he walks on is gravelled, the thick soles of his Adidas Superstars allow him to feel far less of the little stones and pebbles than he’d like to. His beige, lose fitting, three-quarter-length shorts and movie print, fitted t-shirt allow him to feel the warm breath of the wind on his exposed skin. He finds the experience freeing, like he is flying through the sky, the park is not short of square footage. The gravel path dissects the different sections, some just open greenery for pic-nicking and tanning, others well designed play grounds for the younger ones and then cordoned off areas of wild tress, bushes and flowers with colour schemes, bright, vast and appealing to all tastes. The man takes it all in with every joy filled step of his brisk walk towards his rendezvous.
This picturesque scene is disrupted Fifty metres ahead by the park’s southern exit point, the man notices three people in what looks like an argument, two male one female. As he continues along the path towards them, he is at first annoyed that they have ruined the paradise he was indulging in with their argument, even blocking the path to his destination. But then, as the truth of their interactions were revealed, he became concerned. Though he couldn’t hear what was being said the tone, volume of speech and body language said it all. That woman dressed in provocative yet stylish bright summer wardrobe was afraid of these men. They appeared to be North African with un-groomed facial hair wearing dark coloured attire. One was taller and appeared more forward than the other, he was taking the lead in the ranting and gesticulation. He stepped forward into the woman’s personal space and yelled “Tu veux vraiment qu’on fasse ça ici sallop?! Donnes nous se que tu nous dois!” With that the woman stepped backwards to find that she had no more room to retreat, her back was now against the thick trunk of a large tree whose branches reached up and over the pathway providing the three of them with broken shade. Now only twenty meters, away the young man decided that he would seek to help this woman. Though he didn’t know what exactly was going on, he just didn’t like the sight of two men intimidating a single female, let alone one of her small stature. Experiences from his childhood had made him always feel very protective of women. The man standing behind the lead aggressor was also yelling obscenities at the lady but with lesser intensity, this allowed him to be more aware of their surroundings. And with this being the case he was the first to notice the young man approaching, he stared straight at him… inspecting him… trying to stereotype him into categories of threat or non-threat. The young man didn’t avert his gaze, they both remain locked onto each other as the distance between them dwindled. Without needing words, they both know that an engagement was inevitable. The brightly dressed woman was still shaking under the onslaught of aggressive words, “Salle pute! Mon argent?!” She was then given a respite as the lead male was tapped on the shoulder by the other, alerting him to the new arrival and the potential trouble he might bring. The woman noticed him too… They all held still just looking… waiting… The woman was relieved that someone else was there, and while she pondered if he’d walk passed, or play the hero, the men being men had an understanding of the male psychology that was preparing them for battle. Adrenaline was flowing through them all in oceanic volumes. Fight or flight?
Following dialogue translated from French
“What you looking at, little boy?” the taller man said with a snarl, his every word laced with a thick Algerian accent.
“Yeah, what are you looking at? Just keep walking,” the other said with equal menace. Before replying, the young man began calling to mind the philosophies he’d been studying every day for weeks and months ‘minimal movement with maximum effect and extreme speed’…’style without style’…’be fluid like water’…
“I don’t know, why don’t you guys tell me?” he said assertively, now standing in front of them.
“Listen kid, you either walk away or you’ll be crawling away, it’s that simple!” the taller man shouted, with saliva flying out of his mouth. He was almost shaking with rage, his patience obviously thread thin.
“Not sure what this woman did to deserve so much attention from you charming gentlemen, but I think all your TLC is making her feel awkward… Maybe you should leave her be?”
“Is this idiot serious??” the shorter man asked his accomplice rhetorically. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you to not get involved when grown-ups are talking?” That comment struck a bad chord with the young man, he frowned and clenched his jaw trying to bottle his anger, but it had been noticed. “Ah, so the little boy is sensitive about his mother, how cute.” During this early exchange between them the woman stayed fixed on the young man, her face imploring help. The taller one then looked straight at the woman he’d been standing over like predator and prey, and said to the other “I’m tired of this…Yazid, please get rid of him.” Hearing that, the young man was now on full alert. He slid his right foot back across the gravel for better balance, raised himself onto his toes so he could move swiftly from one position to another. His mind began to race, ‘Combat is spontaneous, a martial artist cannot predict it only react to it’, ‘the best offence is a strong defence’, ‘for someone to attack another, hand to hand, the attacker must approach the target, providing an opportunity for the attacked person to intercept the attacking movement’. The young man watched intensely as he was approached by his enemy, consciously looking and waiting for an opportunity to intercept…’wait for it… wait for it…’ His enemy, now only a metre or so away from him, took an exaggerated forward step towards him, rotated his torso and clenched his right hand into a fist. The young man was perceptive… picking up each of those cues. ‘NOW!’ his instincts screamed! And with bullet speed he turned his hip to the left, applied torque to the earth beneath his right foot and unleashed a loose-fisted right arm punch straight into the base of his opponent’s sternum, clenching his fist hard just before the point of impact. THUD! His punch landed with the devastating force of a battering ram! His opponent was thrown three feet back onto his ass! He looked up at the young man while clenching his chest in agony, his face bewildered, he started to cough his breathing disrupted. He didn’t understand where that came from, or how someone ten years his junior could put him on the floor in one punch. His confusion then turned to fear, leaving him unwilling to get up and attempt a second assault. The other man seeing this was angered further.
“Is this for real?! Yazid, are you really going to sit there like a bitch?!” the other said to his fallen partner in crime, while still guarding the woman. Yazid, being the shorter and scrawnier of the two, often found that his bark was worse than his bite. But he knew that Youssef would not stand for such displays of cowardice, so he gathered himself and tentatively got himself to his feet. His legs were trembling… “Good you’ve decided to stop being a girl… Now please teach this child some manners or I’ll give you a real reason to be scared!” Yazid looked at the young man analysing him again, looking for something he missed the first time, ‘a tell’ or a sign of his real strength. This time he saw the forms and protrusions of a very athletic physique through his t-shirt. No matter how he thought about approaching him, his will to fight was nothing but smouldering embers. Whereas his opponent’s whole body looked to be engulfed by an insurmountable raging fire. This gave him the helpless sense that he was staring down the barrel of a gun. In such situations men often find that denial is their best friend. He embraced that, telling himself that their first engagement was a fluke that his opponent was just a scared kid reacting on instinct, with not a clue of what he was doing. This inflated his confidence enough to allow his body to move freely under his control again, the paralysis of fear no longer an issue. Yazid was not going to make it as easy for him; this time he was going to be prepared. He was a bit sprightlier on his feet than before, his guard raised far higher too. He turned his whole body forty-five degrees so his left shoulder was his leading point. Still not recovered from the last blow, he concealed his midsection as best he could and began to move forward. The young man remained still, watching intensely like a cat would an approaching stranger in the dark. The young man noticed that he had begun sweating a little from his forehead; it’s clear the thirty degree heat didn’t make good conditions for any physical activity let alone fighting strangers. He needed to conserve as much energy as possible to avoid being a sweaty mess when he reached his rendezvous. Silence fell upon them, Youssef and his female hostage looked on eagerly, each with opposite hopes for the outcome. The young man, still with his training and teachings in mind, began to move steadily to his right, slowly tracing the circumference of a circle into the gravel. His opponent responded with equal movement in the opposite direction, the atmosphere was tense, neither man wanting to make a false move. After a few moments like this, the young man understood that if left to lead, his opponent would drag this fight on longer than he could afford. So he decided to create the opportunities for attack himself. He stopped circling and took a conservative step forward. His opponent was surprised and flinched, exactly the reaction he wanted. With every passing second, Youssef’s patience wore thinner. Yazid could sense this and it played havoc with his nerves. The young man knew he could end this in the next few seconds, he just needed his opponent to make the same panicked flinch again. He counted down from 5 in his head…4…3…2…1 then exploded into life! Taking a big forward step the young man instantly penetrated his opponent’s guard space, Yazid, eyes wide with fear, instantly threw a flailing right arm uppercut at him oblivious to the fact that he had already changed his stance! So with his left leg now leading, the young man was able to intercept this rushed attack with a right forearm parry, simultaneously shifting his body weight to his left side and delivering a rapid left arm body shot to his opponent’s kidney! It made him crumple down with his right arm rushing down, elbow first, to shield the exposed area from further assault. The young man instantly countered that by using the same left arm he used to punch him to prise open this flawed single arm guard attempt with a lightning speed two-part movement. He was responding faster than his opponent could defend. All this was happening at the speed neuron signals fire around the brain. With his left arm having bypassed the guard, it was in the centreline of his opponent’s torso. Using this arm like a crowbar he threw open his opponent’s crunched guard, suddenly exposing him like an unexpected wind blowing up a woman’s dress. He was vulnerable and he knew it. Seeing the young man readying a right arm punch to his stomach, he brought his left arm down to protect it. His arm made it down in time, but no, it was a feint! The young man was one step ahead. He was masterfully creating openings and in the very instant he saw that his opponent had fallen for the dummy, he shifted his weight off his left leg and back onto his favoured side. He hopped back to open the space between them, rotating his shoulders then hips around and cocking back his right arm. Then uncoiling rapidly like a steel spring, his right foot met the ground as he viciously threw another loose-fisted punch, only clenching at moment of impact to utilise the power and momentum transferring up his body from the fierce corkscrew action to up the punch’s destructive power. It CRACKS against his opponent’s jaw! The brutal connection whipped his head around uncontrollably, his body responded by going with it. He began an ungraceful descent to the ground, arms searching for leverage that wasn’t there. Youssef shouted, “YAZID! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” but he couldn’t hear him… He was already unconscious before he’d even hit the ground.
The young man with a glance, quickly checked that his opponent was not too severely injured by the fall or punch. Satisfied that his most severe injury would be to his ego, he turned his attention to the one that was left. He stood calmly, waiting for the other man to say something. He kept his excitement and pride in how well his months of training and study had worked to himself, not wanting to ruin the image of the strange, mysterious hero he thought he must be exuding at that moment. The woman under guard was, in fact, thinking just that… she was speechless… In her line of work she rarely saw such heroism, the good side of people was not something she knew well. Youssef was staring as if the young man was a ghost. He rapidly thought of what his next move should be, though very much the leader of the two, he’d always known that Yazid was the muscle and the one he relied on in such situations. He was afraid… For the first time in a long time he was fearful of an unarmed man. The woman noticed her captor was no longer focused on her; there was a definite opportunity for her to make a run for it, one that in the past she would never have let pass by, but she was relaxed… This young man’s display of courage and selflessness, while others before him passed by, had made her happy in a profound way that she herself was not quite aware of. So instead of running, she just leant back onto the tree trunk, indulged in the shade of its leaves and patiently waited for a conclusion. The young man noticed the woman’s smile. He found it peculiar but didn’t let her distract him for too long and returned his attention back to the other man who then suddenly shouted out, “Okay, fine! If you want to save this whore so much you can have her! I’m tired of wasting any more of my time and money on her anyway.” He kissed his teeth and stepped away from her, walked carefully towards his sprawled out friend, navigating past the young man like he was not wanting to wake a sleeping lion. The young man watched carefully, he didn’t trust this man to not try something once close enough. But he didn’t and once his friend was conscious and back on his feet, they both walked away with the shame of defeat following them like a shadow. The young man watched them walk through the children’s playground to the other side of the park. He watched until sight of them was lost through the trees.
He turned back to the women he had just saved to be startled by her standing right in front of him. She was chest height to him, looking up at him like a daughter wanting to be carried in her father’s arms. The young man asked in his best French, “Are you okay, miss? Did those guys hurt you?”
“No no, don’t worry about me. I know I’m small but can take care of myself, I have to be able to in my line of work. Plus, those two creeps are not as bad as they think they are.” The young man noticed that her French was not completely fluent; it seemed to be a second language to her like it was for him. “They’re all mouth, as you proved so incredibly. It was just, wow! How?! I’ve only seen that kind of stuff in the movies and cartoons my little one watches!”
“Haha, thank you.” he replied with his slight embarrassment at the praise coming through in his face. Erm what’s your name, miss? I’ve seen you in and around the store where I work many times. Usually buying something for your son.”
“My name is Caroline, but most men know me by my working name… And don’t change the subject Mr reluctant hero! You did something amazing and you should be proud. If you were five years older I’d probably be smitten, brave and handsome are a rare combination. Haha, look at me already flirting with you when I don’t even know your name. It’s important for a girl to know the name of her knight in shining armour.”
“Oh sorry that is rude of me, my father raised me better than that. My name is Julian and I was only doing what any good person would anyway, I think knight is a bit strong.”
“Well it most definitely is a pleasure to meet you and don’t sell yourself short Julian.” She paused to think, “…Julian, I do like that name I must say… Maybe I’ll name my next one that, yes after the first good man I’ve meet in a long time.”
“Well don’t give up on mankind just yet, I know it’s hard to find genuine good in this world sometimes but you have to just find that little bit of strength inside to place your faith in the innate human desire to live together as a community which tends to lend itself well to nice gestures & good deeds. I’m a believer now…I believe in the healing potential of this world and its people. Ha sorry for rambling on miss.”
“It’s okay, they were interesting words. I’ll try and take that on board.”
“Glad to hear it and glad it could help you, but I must leave now, as I have a rendezvous I’ve been looking forward to all day. And my lunch break is not that long.”
“Oh okay, now worries young man, you go and see your girlfriend, but I wouldn’t tell her you were late because of another woman.” she said with a wink.
“What makes you think it’s a girlfriend I’m going to see?” He responded curiously.
“You just look like the girlfriend type.” she smiled, said a final thank you and started to walk back up the gravel path. “Bye bye Julian, see you around.”
“Haha the girlfriend type, you’re the second women to say that to me today. Okay bye Caroline, come to my till next time I’ll give you staff discount.”
“Okay!” She yelled as she was already a good distance away. Julian looked at his watch, “DAMN!” He exclaimed realising just how late he was. He immediately began sprinting, he flew out the park entrance and down a residential road at full speed towards his rendezvous.
Back in London, beneath the cloak of its metropolitan multitudes, there was a singular plan approaching completion. All its different components providing difficult challenges complex, unique and varied. A being not of this world stood at the centre of its turbulence in serenity, as if becoming the eye of a tornado. Every day, hour, minute and second since his renaissance had been spent working towards the completion of this plan and finally revelling in its end goal… his return home and the destruction of mankind.
The once vibrant local church was now a building lost to its herd, not a single prayer had been offered up to the Catholic God of man in over two months. It was now home to a new self-appointed head of man, The Other One. Now awakened to his power, he decided to seal the church off to the outside, trapping those left within its walls in a vice grip of perpetual hopelessness. Only he and his own are allowed to roam upright with the freedom of the grounds’ square footage.
Within its walls and inside the office of a priest, a being of ancient stature and power met with a subordinate.
“Great Other of the Original Whole, I’ve come to deliver the mission report,” he said bowed forward, head down and eyes directly at the floor.
“Go ahead my child,” the man seated at his desk replied. The bowed man raised his head and responded
“Today we have located five more of yours to add to those already here. This takes the total of Other Ones found, subjugated and put through the relapse protocol to ninety- seven.”
“Oh really, that is nice work…”
“It’s only made possible through the blessings you’ve bestowed upon us Father.”
“Even so I’m proud of how you’ve applied yourself to your task. You will be rewarded well for your service when I finally return to my rightful place in RATH.”
“Thank you Father”
“Errrm… I would also like you to make sure that my other children, stationed across the city in the secondary and tertiary bases, are made aware that the preparations are almost complete and we will be setting the plan into motion before the week is out.”
“With pleasure Father”
“And what of our guests? Are they enjoying the hospitality we’ve showed them?”
“Well… another from building B died today, but the rest don’t seem to have noticed. They seem docile and well behaved. Those in building C however are troublesome… They are loud, ill-mannered and seem to believe they are too good for the food we feed them.”
“Really? Strange… If it’s good enough for the pigeons and rats, then it’s certainly good enough for them. Make sure they eat what they are given, and I mean to the very last morsel. If they refuse to consume it with their mouths…force it down, and if they still resist then make them realise in no uncertain terms that the mouth is the more preferable orifice to have food enter from, okay?”
“Yes of course, your will will be done”
“Good… we need them strong enough to greet the guest of honour when he returns. Speaking of which has his invitation been sent?”
“Yes, it left thirty minutes ago and will be delivered personally by one of us just as you instructed.”
“Okay… very nice… if there’s nothing else you may leave… Oh actually when you go, could you please bring me back one of them please… it’s been a whole day since this human body got any exercise.”
“Is there one in particular?”
“Mmmmm… No just find me one with hope still in its eyes.”
“Certainly, I will return shortly Father.”
A few minutes after this conversation, a couple of miles away a messenger was arriving at his destination. He walked up to the front door, rang the doorbell and waited patiently for an answer. Sooner than he was expecting, the door was answered. A tall dark man fitting the description he was given opened the door. Standing there a bit confused as to why there was a stranger on his door step he asked,
“Hmm can I help you sir?”
“Depends, are you Mr François Mufunga?”
“Yes, that is me.”
“I thought so, just wanted to be sure. This is for you,” he stretched his arm out, offering a sealed letter. François accepted it and inspected it for any clues of what could be inside. There were none to be found, it was just a sleek white envelope with his name on it, so he asked,
“It’s a personal message for you from the Father”
“The Father??” François looked at the messenger puzzled for a second “You mean the Priest, Father Bachinger?”
“The great Other One who was originally of the Whole, doesn’t go by his adopted human name anymore.” This conversation suddenly took on a more dangerous tone. François was now on guard, as that sentence alone revealed to him two of the potentially worst scenarios. 1. That Father Bachinger was, as he suspected, not just simply another member of the vanquished here in the Rehabilitation program but something a lot more powerful… like their original creator and leader! For some reason, though obvious now, he didn’t make the connection that he could be in fact be The Other One- one half of the most powerful being in existence and the reason for the Great War, its eventual loss and their consequent existence on earth. So clear to see now, it felt to him as if some outside force was purposefully blocking this insight from him. 2. That he was now somehow finding and recruiting his Other Ones for a new goal. “What is he planning now??” François racked his brain, he couldn’t help but presume the worst, as he knew that a leader like him only re-assembled his army for one purpose. He was now stressed by these thoughts and the messenger picked up on this. “Don’t worry Mr Mufunga… You can relax; you have a bit of time before your ultimate decision will need to be made.” François was not sure exactly what he meant by that ominous statement but he listened on. “And for now I am only here to deliver this letter, the contents of which are of reasonable urgency so I would suggest you take it back inside with you, have a seat and open it.” With that, the message had been delivered. François closed his door and the messenger left, returning from whence he came.