oh charlie

It’s Complicated

Hellion sat hunched over his tech, using a tiny screwdriver to slowly turn an even smaller screw. Highly customized, the power supply of the rage oscillator cut out that afternoon and powered down without warning.

“I hate this unit,” Hellion thought, “why not just upgrade to the vaperware that everyone else is using? This fascination with the past is really starting to annoy me.”

In fact, emotion amplifiers, for that is what it actually did, formed the basis of all dark tech. Truth was, nothing they had now even remotely measured up to the destructive power of that first technology. Until the ancients found out how to harness the power of negative emotions, the rebellion stood no chance against their enemies. His unit was more like a firecracker than what a true Hellion should carry.

Damn!” Hellion cursed as the small screw driver slipped from his big hand and the screw fell to the ground. Searching among the grass, cursing like a drunken sailor, he finally located the small tool, but the screw was nowhere to be found.

An uneasy feeling

Wearing a sweater lent to her by the kitchen maid, Bren looked out the window at the dark clouds closing in. Eerily, today reminded her a lot of the execution she saw as a child. Dark, almost unnatural clouds, hung as a black curtain, just as they had then.

This feeling in her stomach didn’t help much either. Ever since Traveler surprised her in her bedroom, she’d felt uneasy. “Something’s up,” she thought, as she moved around the house, looking at the approaching storm again and again through the manor’s many windows.

“Go upstairs to Charlie’s room,” came a voice out of nowhere.

“What? Who is that?” Brenzel said out loud as she looked around trying to see if another person lurked in the corners as her morning visitor did.

Now!

“Now!” came the voice again, but this time it was as if two invisible hands gave her a slight shove in the direction of the stairs. A sense of urgency filled her, and Bren found herself moving with haste before she knew what she was doing.

Following her gut, Bren made her way quickly to Charlie’s room. Nearly at his door, she heard Amelia saying, “God is mad at you Charlie, if you had not disobeyed your mother and father, they would still be alive.”

The small boy, tears in his eyes and anguish covering his face, cried out, “No, I only went out to find Mr. Jiggs, I didn’t mean for any of that to happen!”

Bren, hearing Charlie sob, burst through the door, demanding “What are you doing!” as she pulled Charlie to her side. Amelia, cross in hand, looked at her with eyes of evil, the likes of which Bren had never seen in her life.

“Stop!” Amelia commanded, and Bren felt something grip her entire body, squeezing her so tightly she could hardly breathe.

Desperation

“Hunter”, Amelia said with menace, “you are no match for me! Charlie, come here, boy!” As she thrust the dangling crucifix towards him, gripped by the same unseen force that held Bren, Charlie moved out from behind Bren’s dress, slowly approaching his governess.

The unseen grip tightened, causing Bren to panic. Suddenly, though, a great calmness came over her like a warm blanket as all fear left. She remembered that the voice which told her to come upstairs was the same voice that said, “My grace is sufficient”. Bren looked at Amelia, now trembling, reaching out with her hand, straining as if to crush her. However, her supernatural grip loosened, melting away until Bren felt nothing.

Around Bren’s entire body green sparks flowed in and out of her, growing in brightness. Bren unconsciously reached out, grabbing Amelia’s outstretched arm, causing her to scream, dropping her to one knee.

Charlie, looking at Bren with awe, came back behind her dress, suddenly able to move, too. Bren heard the words “I rebuke thee Penchant and banish you from this house forever!” come from her lips with a force and authority not her own.

Rage

Amelia, struggling to look up at Bren, said through clenched teeth, “Hellion, come forth!”

Bren, still holding the tall woman’s hand, heard bounding footsteps coming up the stairs. A large man, dressed in some kind of machine with glasses of two different hues, rushed at her like a raging bull.

Bren, still enveloped in a green sparkling aura, turned towards the charging man. Leading with his right hand, wearing a large glove, which glowed with some type of red crackly energy, he screamed with fury at her. Feeling calm and collected, Bren stepped aside like a matador, evading his attack with ease. Enraged still further, the man pivoted to lunge at her again, only this time Bren caught his arm, deflecting it as his weapon discharged.

Like lightning, a red incandescent bolt erupted from his hand, missing Brenzel by mere inches. Suddenly, the big man stopped, looking in horror at Amelia. A hole, big enough to put your arm through, showed through her chest. The stench of seared flesh filled the room as she crumpled to the floor. The Hellion soldier cried “No!” as he vanished before Bren’s eyes.

A measure of grace

Bren looked at Amelia, without feeling anything for her, only aware that Charlie began to move from behind her towards his fallen governess. Somewhere deep inside, Brenzel felt like saying no, but whatever force held her, caused her to remain silent. Charlie, unafraid, knelt down beside Amelia and, laying his hands on her, said, “Oh God, please heal Amelia!”

As Bren heard the child’s words, she both felt and saw the green sparks flow from her into Amelia, at first slowly, then with greater force, and finally like a rushing river. It seemed a power she had never known flowed from her body and into the body of the dead woman.

In one great spasm, Amelia gasped a deep breath, her whole body arching, hands contorted. Then she fell back to the floor, gasping for breath, but otherwise quite alive. Charlie hugged her and said, “I love you,” as Amelia looked at him in wide- eyed disbelief.

The green shimmering lights faded, and Bren felt drained and weak. Sitting down on a nearby chair, she felt a return to self and stared at Charlie in disbelief. “Did he just heal Amelia?” she thought. “How is that possible?”

Departure

The next morning, as Bren watched from the front porch of the mansion, Charlie said goodbye to his mistress as she mounted the carriage. Without a word, Amelia had packed and given some excuse of a severely sick relative to the old man, and left. Charlie, though a bit sad, said nothing about the night before and acted, strangely enough, as if it had never happened.

Passing Bren on the way, the tall stern lady glanced at her, not with menace, but with resignation, saying tersely, “This isn’t over.” as she hurried to the coach. Approaching the carriage, the horses snorted and eyed her carefully. Brenzel watched her go as she pondered, in a half detached way, what Charlie’s governess truly was.

In the cool of the day

Walking in the garden, in the cool morning, Bren saw Traveler sitting on a stone hedge. Jumping down, he asked to walk with her for awhile. Bren simply nodded yes. After awhile, as they walked in silence, Bren said “I don’t know if I can do this. Last night I felt possessed by some sort of force or person, and what Charlie did scared me.” Bren confessed.

Silent for a while longer, Traveler finally said, “You don’t have to do anything, it is your choice.”

“I want to go home!” Bren said in a pleading voice.

“Unfortunately, that’s quite impossible. Part of the contract, you know. Even if you decide not to do this, you can never go back”.

Tears in her eyes Bren said, “I don’t know what to do, then”.

Traveler, taking her hand in his, gently said “You know, Bren, had you not been here, Charlie would have turned towards evil and been lost forever. That is what Amelia was trying do.”

“What do you mean? I really don’t understand, what is so special about Charlie?” Brenzel asked through her tears.

“Come, I’ll show you,” Traveler said as He led her to the other side of the garden where they could see Charlie playing with Mr. Jiggs.

A time to leave

As they approached the happy boy, Bren felt something in her right hand. Opening it slightly, she she saw a yellow feather. Suddenly her dress was gone and she wore leather as she had at first.

Traveler, seeing her change before his eyes, said, “It’s almost time for you to go. But first, take the glasses off your hat and put them on.”

Dutifully, Bren slipped the goggles on and looking towards the happy child, exclaiming “Oh, Charlie!”

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