Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

Mature Content

This content is intended for mature audiences.


or, enter your birth date.*


Month

Day

Year*
Please enter a valid date format (mm-dd-yyyy)
Please confirm you have reviewed DeviantArt's Terms of Service below.
* We do not retain your date-of-birth information.
It had been two years since Jay had been topside, and double that since he'd been behind the wheel of a car. But when the turbo-charged engine purred to life and he felt the power of it throbbing against the sole of his foot, he had no trouble remembering how to press the accelerator flush to the floor.

Treece screeched louder than the tires and threw her palms against the dashboard. "Take it easy, buster. Mother on board."

He grinned and glanced at the silent radio; heard the soft click of a switch engaging. Radar Love by Golden Earring blasted from the speakers, forcing Treece to let go of the dash and cover her ears. His grin turned into a laugh.

Even full out, Zach's old Wrangler had nothing on this. Then again, Jay's frame of mind had changed since those days twenty-five years ago when he had been chauffeuring the old man around the country. At the time, he had been a prisoner chained to the steering wheel and to the bastard's whims. The Jeep had simply been a means of getting from one sorry state of affairs to the next.

Today, Jay was driving free, the air rushing through the window, raking back his hair, stinging his eyes. Scott could have stuck him behind the wheel of a Pinto and he would have been just as giddy. Freedom gave any car wings.

Jay had Dina to thank for this. If she hadn't come home to Candlewood, he would have stayed a kidnap victim, tied to his keeper until the day the fucker died—or until Johnny Valhailand had become a pile of excrement as foul as Zachary Karson himself.

It was a near thing. When traveling with Zach, Jay had been forced to watch more than one Guild victim take their last terrified breaths. He'd been the candy that tempted many of them to their grisly fates.

Bait? a voice from his past murmured. Only bait?

K. Reidmond Teller, once an Eliminator for The Guild, winked at him from the darkest corner of his memories.

Despite the breeze blowing through the driver's side window, sweat began to bead across Jay's brow. He swallowed hard. The radio's volume hiccupped into the red zone: from loud to migraine loud, then back to merely loud again.

Teller was the man Johnny Valhailand had accidentally killed.

Accidentally? Really?

Jay cut his eyes toward the passenger seat. Treece was gazing casually out the window, seemingly oblivious.

Keeping Reid in dark corners wasn't easy with her around. Some would argue that Teller had never really died, or ever would as long as this particular Blue was sucking oxygen.

John returned his eyes to the road, drumming at the wheel with his fingertips.

Leave me alone, dude. Please. I didn't mean to hurt you (kill you kill you). I swear. The volume from the speakers spiraled downward into a low mutter that matched his disintegrating mood. Appropriately, the song changed too. Now it was Willie Nelson's gravel-beaten voice whining about sin and guilt and repentance—about forgiveness undeserved.

John tugged at an ear. I can name that tune in two notes. Hell, I wrote the damn thing.

He wanted to turn the sound all the way off; the buoyancy had gone out of the day. He didn't though. He was afraid the Blue at his side would add up the clues and realize where his silent musings had taken him. He shifted his weight to lean his hip into the driver-side door, and then tilted his head to catch more of the passing wind—as though it could sweep away his thoughts. He was as far from her physically as he could get and still be inside the car, but it wouldn't do much good. Treece didn't always have to brush against him to know his innermost turmoil. Clues? The powerful Searcher didn't need clues.  

Reid Teller took pity and withdrew. The song on the radio blundered on, however, bringing with it a different, more hateful memory.

"Maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should have…"

John's fingers stopped drumming.

Treece had never asked about those weeks at the cabin in Candlewood when it had been just John and Dina and the old man. Nor had Scott. They could have—should have. But they didn't.

Only Cell Two's wily old shrink, Alveena Maths, had pestered John with the right questions until she had dragged the miserable truth from his soul.

"You were always on my mind. You were always on my mind…"

The good doctor had kept the confession to herself, and for several years, John—now determined to become Jay—had fooled himself into thinking he could live with the silence.

Then two decades ago a Searcher had returned from the Outside and reported that Dina Karson was traveling with a toddler—"a female, maybe two or three years of age, presumably her daughter."

John had felt the blood drain from his face. He'd waited for Scott to turn on him, eyes growing flinty with realization. He'd waited for the ax to finally fall, to take the imposter's head with righteous fury. Johnny Valhailand was no rescued victim; no lost child of The Guild, liberated and redeemed. John Christopher Valhailand was a killer. A rapist. A whelp mongrel that should have been tied inside a sack and drowned in a pond.

"Girl, I'm so sorry. I was blind…"

Truth was: if Scott's eyes actually had turned his way on that long-ago day, John would not have fought back. John's half brother could have ripped the brains from his skull; he would not have raised a thought to stop him.

"Give me one more chance…"

The ax never fell. It was Scott who had covered his face with his hands—Scott who had shouldered the guilt and shame. That was the day John Valhailand had learned just how close Dina Karson and the Consult of Cell Two had been—the day he had decided that if there was a God, the Omniscient One would make sure Lorin Karson was the offspring of Scott Cairl, not of the useless broken-down Johnny V.

"You were always on my mind. You were always on my mind."

Treece leaned forward and depressed the power button, shutting Willie the fuck up.

She didn't let the silence last. "I don't think she will be happy to see us."

The idea startled John so much he nearly missed the exit. A tamp on the brake and a quick jerk to the right brought the Porsche back on track without a whimper.

"What do you mean? Of course she will. Jesus, Treece, Scott was her…" Man? Her lover? "...well. And you? You were her best friend!"

"Were. Sort of an important word."

"Neither of you ever did a thing to hurt her. Why would she not want to see you again?"

The Blue shifted sideways in her seat, tucking one foot behind the other as she faced him. She stared, waiting. He didn't give in.

"None of us did anything she wouldn't forgive," she finally said, making him flinch. "I know her. She carries too much guilt of her own to hold grudges. But she still ran, Jay. Stayed one step ahead of us. Never left a single message… though she could have. Just a single thought as she drank a bottle of soda or fiddled with a pen. A simple 'Hi Braids' would have been enough. I would have found whatever thing she'd been touching and read it." She swiveled back toward the road. "Nada." She knotted her hands together in her lap. "She won't be happy to see us. She doesn't want The Guild to find them. She might even bolt again. I'm surprised she hasn't already. But the fact that Lorin is working at that newspaper makes me think they're trying to put down roots."

"A couple more miles and a handful of traffic lights, we can ask her ourselves." John slowed as he approached the cross street he'd been looking for.

Treece nodded and withdrew into her own thoughts. When she spoke again, he nearly plowed down the stop sign.

"The only person she'll be happy to see is you."

John wrestled his emotions and the car back under control. What the hell is this? He lifted his chin and shook his head. "You're wrong, Treece." A confession rushed to his lips, but he bit it back. "You don't know." He tasted iron and touched a sore spot on his tongue with a finger. It came away red. He turned to the left and spat bloody sputum into the street.

When he turned back, Treece was leaning over the gearshift, waiting to meet his eyes. "Of course I do," she said easily. "Scott does too. We've always known."
She touched the steering wheel and nodded toward the curb. He pulled over, put the Porsche in park, but left the engine idling.

"Dina will be more than happy to see you," she continued as if she hadn't just blown the roof off his world. "Because she thinks you're dead, Jay." Then she cocked her head to the side and smiled sadly. "She believes you died at Candlewood… and in a way, you did. Right?"

Treece St. Lucas took a deep breath and John Valhailand braced himself. "Time to live again, Jay. Some kind of evil is after Dina and Lorin. We need you to forgive yourself and man up." She squeezed his hand where it still clutched the gearshift.  "Your daughter needs you."

She waited patiently: one minute becoming two becoming five. Finally, John Valhailand nodded and put the car back into drive. They were less than two blocks from the newspaper.
  
* * *

He was maneuvering into one of the visitor parking slots in front of the St. Paul Bulldog when Treece spoke again.

"Lorin's here."

He slapped the shifter into park. "You feel her?" His hand shook as he reached for the key to shut off the engine. He rolled his shoulders to relax and steady himself. "I mean, is it that she works here… or are you feeling her here now? Right now?"

Treece was already tugging on the handle of her door. "She's here," she repeated, her voice a tone higher on the anxious scale. "Close. Real freaking close!"

"Holy shit." John's feet hit the asphalt one beat after hers.

They were rushing up the sidewalk toward the tall bronze doors that marked the entrance to the venerable old building when a red Firebird wheeled out of the adjoining employee parking lot and passed behind them into the street.

John yanked opened the door; Treece charged through it. Though the car's engine screamed as its tires grabbed pavement and roared away, neither of them looked back.
This one's for you, LunaticStar. Johnny's redemption starts here.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconcentauran:
I have only one issue with spelling - I realise 'plow' is the US spelling, but ugh! - for worldwide consumption, it should really be 'plough', but that's nitpicking.

I have only few issues with choice of word, For instance, in the first sentence, the word 'double' sounds a little strange. 'Twice' is the normal choice when dealing with numbers rather than mere quantity.

My main issue is with punctuation - not that it is wrong, exactly; it just gives a stilted quality to the piece; the flow is not there. I'd like to see much greater use of ellipsis and the semi-colon, less use of full stops and commas before 'and' and no sentences starting with 'But'.

I suggest a couple of sessions of 'reading out loud' to yourself, to sort out the connections and flow. At present, the piece is a collection of short sentences; too staccato.

Finally, I think there is a little too much emphasis on explaning how to drive.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
4 out of 4 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

Please sign up or login to post a critique.

:iconbearingz:
bearingz Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011
Lol, is that all I said before "Dang close call!"??? I must have really been away with the fairies on my first reading because this time, I'm literally clinging to my desk with my fingernails. WHyyyyy did they just miss her?!?!? No fair! D: !! :(
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011
They have to miss her; I've got too much more to write! Lol. Thanks for the fingernails comment, btw. That made my day!
Reply
:iconbearingz:
bearingz Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011
Hehehe :D

(This might just be me, but for some reason Lorin feels like a teen in my head. :/ But she's 24 right? I dunno, it could be a direct result of her protected upbringing and now she's having a late break-out stage which makes perfect sense and there are times when I feel that she's older, but sometimes to me she seems teenagerish ... don't mind me though, because I can see her growing into her own each time we follow her character. :D )
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011
That is exactly the impression I want of her, so yay! Dina has indeed protected her too much, and on top of that, Lorin has had awkward relationships with the others her age she has met in life. She is too different and they react to that without knowing why. It's arrested her development.
Reply
:iconbearingz:
bearingz Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2011
:#1: A very well written character indeed! :D
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2011
Why thank you, hon!
Reply
:iconbearingz:
bearingz Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2011
Dang close call!
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2011
Yeppers. Whole story could have ended right there. Lol.
Reply
:iconpenfury:
Penfury Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Oh. :(
Reply
:iconpenfury:
Penfury Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Actually, I agree with LunaticStar. We need more Johnny in our Jay. He just might be the joker in the deck that turns the battle. Who else knows the man like Johnny and Dina? No one. Not even Romeo. hehhehehh.
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2011
So true. Johnny has the man tatooed on his psyche. James, on the other hand, doesn't even know Zach is there most of the time. Poor guy. Too weak and too in love: always a deadly combination.
Reply
:iconpenfury:
Penfury Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2011
too true
Reply
:iconkeyanadrake:
keyanadrake Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2011  Professional Writer
:3 Good, he's thinking and feeling, and not running from the past. First step to redemption. :3
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011
I truly love John. Scott is my soulmate, but John is special in so many ways. I could barely wait to write this part.
Reply
:iconkeyanadrake:
keyanadrake Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011  Professional Writer
Nothing like the redemption of a broken soul. :heart:
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011
It makes Johnny a great favorite with a lot of readers.
Reply
:iconkeyanadrake:
keyanadrake Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011  Professional Writer
:3 *nods*
Reply
:iconleoniesaintevire:
LeonieSainteVire Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Holy Shit, indeed! :::grins::

(btw...tell jon I am missing his stories, too!)
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Thanks! I agree about Jon, btw. I need to get back to Deja Few soon. Fellowship Lost has me in its clutches right now, however, so I'm trying to keep up the momentum. I would hate to lose the productive vibe my muse has going right now!
Reply
:iconleoniesaintevire:
LeonieSainteVire Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011
I do not blame you. I think my muse has up and deserted me. With dealing with my Mother and her breast cancer, and life in general, I cannot seem to recapture my mojo. And the worst part is I want to write...I need to do so. But when I sit down and stare at that blank page...I am like Hank Moody...all that comes out is "fuck."(::laughs;:Excuse my language!)
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011
:laughs until she cries: No apology needed. I have those times as well. It's been a traumatic year and I've had those blank-page staring sessions too. I just hope you'll be able to recapture your muse someday soon. I miss your stories immensely.
Reply
:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Never thought I would root for a character who did what Jay/John but I do. I'm not surprised that they've known all along, Treece being the baddest and bitchiest searcher of all. - Really enjoyed the tension leading up to that. Of course, now that her son is flexing his psy muscles, the bbs torch will have to be passed. Was that Lorin in the Firebird? Can't wait for the next installment.
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
John was meant to die at the end of FoP, but like you I couldn't help liking him despite his misdeeds. The boy earned a second chance with me, and thus lived to be part of the sequel. Lol. Now, it's time to see if he has earned redemption with himself too.

Yep, that was Lorin. And if you are ready for more of that torch-passing, here's a heads-up. The next part features Asher again.
Reply
:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Yay! For more Asher. I love that kid. :la:
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
NEEEEDS MOOOAAAR JOHNNY IN DARKNESSSSSS! *fangirl fit throw* :D

I did like it. A lot. I didn't remember that he'd have Reid on his back too. Good touch! But honestly I would love some insane half-drunken rampages with ghosts at his heels to preceed this. But that might just be me. I am, as we all know, a sucker for redemption stories.

I liked the line "Raised a thought against him" in particular in this chapter. Brought a little bit of that ol' psy magic back, in that it's like 'raise a hand,' but their version. :D

YAY
Reply
:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
That's a good idea about a ghostfest. Note me about that idea if you don't mind, so I don't forget it.

Glad you like that line. I recycled it from the pile of edits from FoP. Dina as a little girl said it originally, but I yanked it because it didn't sound right coming out of the mouth of a six-year-old. Johnny inherited it. Waste not, want not.
Reply
:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Yes ma'am.

Indeed. I have a few sections like that. Neil in the one you just read said some Darcy stuff, cuz of the big scrap I did on a really boring chapter. :D
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:icondenlm: More from denlm


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
January 25, 2011
File Size
10.7 KB
Mature Content
Yes
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
261
Favourites
1 (who?)
Comments
27
×