All the usual disclaimers apply to this story. Any sexual activity is left up to you the reader. Please also understand that the people in this story are not real, and any relation to actual events/people is a coincidence. Please also understand that I am not implying anything about religion, religious groups, or religious practices. Situations are used for setting only.

I control all rights to this work.

Matt (Socks)

***

Chapter 4

August 28, 2012

2:15 AM

Albuquerque, NM

***

Jason lay in bed unable to sleep. His mind was racing about the previous days events. He had run from three strange men, which turned out to be just random guys sitting in a coffee shop. He had then proceeded to bring home a guy that he barely knew for fear for his safety, only to find out the guy could age at will. Even with all these events, he now had the guy lying naked next to him.  

In his hands was the book that he had shown John and Sam of the large rock that was discovered in Rome at the dig over the summer. Every time he thought of the rock, the only thing that came to mind was the urge to run. He tried to think about what the rest of the area looked like, the people around him, but nothing but fear came. He looked over at the pants that lay on the floor. Inside one of the pockets was a smaller rock, which gave him the same feeling: Run.

He flipped the page reviewing the other photos he had taken of the dig site. There was Dr. Rogers standing next to a set of stone feet. The rest of the statue had been smashed by the ages. There were ten of these feet statues surrounding the black stone, but no indication of who or what they were of. The whole dig had been much like the feet.  Many new discoveries, but more questions created then answers.

Jason felt John move next to him, and his hand slid across his waist.

"What ya doin?" John asked still half asleep.

"Light picture reading." Jason said closing the book and placing it on his nightstand. "Couldn't sleep, so figured I would just get some ideas out of my head." He leaned over and gave John a kiss.

"Nice." John said with a grin.

How was it that he had only know John for a couple of hours, but felt as if he had known him for his whole life? No, he concluded. Even longer.

"Yes." Jason patted John on the check and closed his eyes. He could get in a couple of hours of sleep before having to get up for work.

"Get out!" a scream came from downstairs, followed by a loud crash.

"The hell?" Jason opened his eyes, and jumped out of bed. He pulled on the pants lying on the floor and quickly ran out of the room.

John lay in bed dazed, but got up slowly, found his pants and put them on, and followed Jason out the door, moving cautiously. He found Jason at the bottom of the stairs holding onto a long stick about 10 feet in length. John stared at it for a moment, not recalling ever seeing one that size lying around. Next to him was the girl from the coffee shop. She was holding her hands to her face and watching in horror at the living room. His gaze found what she was looking at.

Sam was in the middle of a brawl with two men. She was swift, and John was amazed at the speed in which she could move. The other three men were not as agile and could not keep up with her movements. She squared a hit on one of the men and caused him to fly up and land on the coffee table between the couches. She quickly moved to deal with the second man who had attempted to flank her by moving behind her. A third guy stood still as he watched the fight. John's eyes widened as he recognized them from the coffee shop.

"It's them." John said in a whisper. Jason nodded as Sam quickly swirled around on one leg and hit the other guy in the knees causing him to collapse to the floor. She then brought her leg up and down on his chest cause him to gasp for air and pass out.

"Okay." Sam said sounding a bit winded, but turned to the third guy with her hands up in a defensive position. "You ready to join your buddies?"

"No." The man said with a smile. He made no movement.

Sam eyed him for a moment, and then charged at him. As she reached him the mans eyes turned red, and he moved in a blur hitting Sam square in the chest sending her flying back into the opposite wall near the stairs. It must have been a good 10 feet. Tina screamed as she ran and moved to check on Sam. She moved her hands to her neck and found the pulse. Tina nodded her head and pulled Sam into her hands and held her tight.

Jason moved forward slowly flipping the long pole in his hands, which seemed to move as if it was an extra arm. John reached out and grabbed his shoulder to stop him.

"I will be okay." Jason smiled and patted John's hand.

"Joshua Benthum." The man said turning his attention towards John. "We have been looking for you for a very long time."

"I am not Joshua." John said trying to keep the man's eyes off Jason. "I am Jonathan Benthum."

As Jason passed over the man that Sam had knocked out with her legs and the staff seemed to glow a bright white. The staff did the same as it passed near the man that was lying on the coffee table.

"So," the other man moved into a more defensive position as Jason moved in closer. "You're one of them?"

Jason charged at the man at a blazing speed that John was sure not possible for a person to move at. The man turned just in time to deflect the blow from the staff that was aimed right at the mid section. Jason was able to use the back end of the staff to continue the motion causing the man to lose balance and fell backwards. Jason took the continued motion of the circular motion to maneuver the staff into a vertical downward motion, aiming for the face. The man placed his arm in front of his face to avoid getting hit. He was able to deflect the down stroke causing the staff to slam into the floor.

The man used the open opportunity to aim a punch for Jason's chest, which had caused Sam to fly across the room. Jason was able to recover faster then the man had anticipated, sidestepping the blow, and at the same time bring the staff under the mans arm. He grabbed the other end of the staff so as to trap the arm with the staff and twisted causing the man to flip in the air, falling to the floor with a howl that John had never even heard a wild animal use.

Jason quickly twirled around with the other end of the pole and brought it down square on the man's chest. The man sucked in air, and then feel silent. Jason left the pole motionless as is glowed again. Sweat feel down his shirtless chest, which glistened in the light.

"Everything that is holy." Jason said as he walked over to Lori who was holding Sam in her lap.

John walked over to Sam and kneeled down. He reached out and put his hand on her forehead, and checked her pulse with the other one. "She is going to be out for a bit. He just knocked the wind out of her." He turned to look back at the man lying on the floor. "I just want to know how he was strong enough to fling her across the room like that."

"I swear his eyes glowed just before he hit her." John said looking at the man Jason had just knocked out.

Jason looked at John as if he had sad the most craziest thing ever. "Glowing eyes? I didn't see anything like that."

"Sure." John said shaking his head. "They turned bright red just before he made contact with her. Just like you would see on a movie."

Jason turned his head and looked at Tina with a confused look.

"I didn't see anything." Tina said looking at John. "I mean it was pretty fast, but I am sure glowing eyes would be something I noticed."

"I am sure you will tell me you didn't see Jason's staff glow white when he passed over those two guys, and then when he knocked the third one out?" John was getting pissed. Surely they wouldn't play a joke on him at a time like this.

Jason shrugged and looked at the staff lying on the floor next to him. "Just a normal staff. Bamboo, but nothing more."

"Come on!" John said put his hands out in desperation. "Sure you all saw it. Not that hard to miss!"

Both Tina and Jason shook their heads in the negative. John sighed in frustration as he walked off to look at the body of the third man. He was not in the mood to be played with.

"Why did he call you Joshua?" Jason asked across the room trying to get the subject changed.

"I don't know. I guess I kind of look like him, but who would know about him? I mean, he has been dead for a long time now." John felt relieved at the change in conversation.

Sam groaned which turned everyone's attention to the woman lying on the floor. She opened her eyes slowly and groaned.

"What in the hell happened?" She croaked out as she rolled her head in Tina's hands.

"That guy way-laid you." Tina said rubbing Sam's hair with her fingers.

Sam's eyes seemed to focus on Tina and Sam smiled. "I think I will be okay." She turned her head to face Jason who was now kneeling next to her. "So did you take care of him?"

Jason smiled. "He was fast. But I got him in the end."

"Way to go old man." Sam laughed a bit. "So where is John?"

Jason pointed at John. He was standing over the body, looking down. Sam lifted her head a bit to get a better look at Jason's handy-work. Her eyes grew large and she started to scream. She screamed so loud Jason and Tina had to cover their ears. John turned his head towards Sam slowly, un-phased by the sound of Sam's scream. Sam's screams stopped, he mouth still open trying to scream, and then passed out again.

***

Sam rolled over in the bed and placed her hands under the pillow and sighed, but did not awake from the deep sleep she was in. Jason and Tina were standing at the foot of the bed watching.

"That was the highest pitched sound I have ever heard before." Jason rubbed his ears, which were still ringing from the scream. "I am surprised no one else heard."

"I wonder why she started to scream." Tina walked around and sat on the bed, rubbing Sam's back. "She looked at Quinn. Or should I say John, who was the hot guy at the coffee shop?"

Jason had informed her of John's abilities to change age at will, which she laughed. She insisted that there was no way he could do that as it bended all sense of reality. She wanted a demonstration, but John had refused to do so, as he did not enjoy the feeling he got. He ended up staying upstairs waiting for the cops to arrive to take the three men, now tied up, away.

"I am sorry Tina, but he is different." Jason sighed and walked to the chair on the opposite end of the room. "She seemed to stop screaming when John turned to face her. I wonder how long she will sleep."

Tina sighed hard, and lay down next to Sam. "I think sleep might be the best option for now. She was hurt pretty bad."

Jason tapped the side of the chair. He knew Tina was right, but he was more curious to know what she had seen that caused her to freak out as she did.

***

Chapter 5

August 28, 2012

3:00 AM

***

John sat in the living room keeping an eye on the three men in the living room. They were tied up so that if they woke up, they should not be a problem. John still sat nervous. He had no skill like Sam, and definitely Jason was out of his range. He had never seen someone so agile and quick.

He reached in his pocket and reached for the stone. He always played with it when he was nervous, much like a person would play with a coin. He flipped it around in his hand as it reflected light from the lap on the table next to him, around the room. He smiled as the stone hypnotized him. It made him forget his troubles, and the unconscious guys tied up on the other side of the room.

As he flipped it between his forefinger and his thumb, it slipped out of his hand and rolled about two feet from him. He paused and looked at the stone with a look of curiosity. In all the times he had the stone he had never dropped it. Odd that he never recalled dropping something he had carried with him for almost 100 years.

He reached out for the stone and just before his fingers started to touch it, the room started to change around him. The furniture, decorations, and carpet all stayed the same, but were now covered in a red and blue haze that shimmered as if in a liquid state. The walls themselves seemed to move in and out, as if they were trying to explode and implode at the same time. 

He turned his attention back to the men on the floor. He now wanted to scream as instead of the men on the floor three large creatures that looked like hulking dogs with no fur. He caught himself for fear of waking the things up. He wanted to run, but he was not sure where to run too.

He turned around and looked around the room. Anything was better then the monsters on the floor. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the painting that was supposed to depict a battle during the civil war. He never got the chance to ask Jason what battle it was. To him they all looked the same.

He moved in as close as he dared, as he was not sure what contact to the wall would do to him. The battlefield still looked the same, but instead of it being full of union and confederate soldiers, it was full of black and white winged creatures. He had the odd sensation that it was a depiction of a war between heaven and hell.

"Everything that happens in the mortal world happens in this world as well." A voice behind him startled him. John spun around, expecting one of the men or monsters to pop up and start attacking him. He had his fists up in front of him ready to defend himself.

The shock of the individual standing in front of him did about the same as a punch to the stomach. In front of him was Jeremy Benthem, his ancestor that had found the rock. Even more scary was the fact that he felt like he was looking in a mirror.

"Shock?" Jeremy said with a bit of a laugh. "I know. I have seen this scene a hundred times before, and I will see it a hundred more times in the future."

"Who are you?" John asked putting his fist down.

"You know me. I am Jeremy. The original."

"The original?" John lowered his arms. "What does that mean?"

The man walked over to the stone that John had dropped and looked at it. "Silly how the act of picking up something so simple as a rock can change your whole life in the blink of an eye."

"What is it?" John felt his mind start to clear, and memories he had forgotten came back: Memories of the past. All of this started to feel familiar and he knew that this place was one of the safest places he could be. Even the questions he wanted to ask were being answered by his own personal memories.

"This is a Dark Soul Stone." Jeremy picked up the stone and started to flip it in his hands like John had done moments earlier. "Little did I know by picking this thing up, I would be binding my soul to this world, and never able to leave it. I am no longer living in a manner of speaking. You are a copy of myself. A reset of my original form."

John looked at Jason with a look of disbelief, but he knew deep in his heart that Jeremy was telling the truth.

"Everyone that has ever lived, that has held this stone, is just a copy of myself." Jeremy sighed. "That is why we all look the same. The memories are there, but for some reason only are activated when death is near."

John found the chair and sat down. He felt he should be totally shocked by this revelation but again, it was as if he already knew the answer before it was asked.

"The stone also connects you to demonic powers, in effect turning you into a demon hybrid. The one before you, Jeremiah, enjoyed his power way too much, and sadly used it for less-then honorable ways. I was forced to burn him up to prevent innocent people from being harmed." Jeremy sat down in a chair that appeared out of nowhere and rested looked into the distance as if looking at an ancient memory.

"You are why the other died young?" John asked with a shock on his face. "You can control when we die?"

"In a manner of speaking." Jeremy smiled, but his face showed sorrow and sadness. "Power corrupts. This power you have corrupts the most. Everyone after me has abused his or her powers for personal reasons. It's easy." Jeremy waved at the creatures on the floor. "I mean when given the power of the gods, you want to be a god."

"Why am I different?" John asked. "Why did I not get corrupted?"

"No idea." Jeremy shrugged. "You have been cautious with your power, only using it when absolutely necessary, and rarely for personal reasons. You could have had anything in the world, but you choose simplicity."

"Not much one can do with the ability to age." John laughed and leaned back in the chair.

"You are not really changing your age." Jeremy smiled. "You have gained an ability known as shimmering. To put it simply you are manipulating your body to change based upon your needs. You are immortal because of it. Well almost immortal. If you get shot in the head you are dead."

"I will live forever?"

"Most likely." Jeremy looked down in his lap. "Living forever of course is a curse unto its own. You will not die, and those you love will die around you."

John nodded his head, as he had discovered that curse already. The prospect was depressing. He looked at the three monsters now on the floor.

"What are those?" John pointed at the monsters. He wanted something more pleasant to talk about. "They attacked us and almost killed one of my friends."

"Doom Hounds." Jeremy turned his head to look at the larger of the two. "They hunt down those who find the dark soul stones. If they are able to collect a dark soul stone they become Doom Lords. They are nasty demons that are virtually invincible. Imagine a horror so evil, so vile, that if you kill it, a new copy is produced with more power. "

John nodded, as more and more memories started to flood him. "So why did I get pulled into the stone? Why am I here?"

"When yourÉ" Jeremy mulled for a moment trying to determine the best words for the situation. "ÉFriend, knocked them unconscious, the stone absorbed their souls. It almost sucked in your female friend. That is why she screamed as she did. She was stuck in between the two worlds. She saw them as monsters, and she saw you as you truly are. When you dropped the stone I was able to pull you in as well since the wall was down, and you were not holding the stone."

"As I truly am?" John looked around. "What do you mean?"

Jeremy sighed and pointed to a mirror that was hanging on the wall. "Only look if you want to know. Sometimes it is best not to know."

John stood up and walked to the mirror. He wanted to know his true form. He approached the mirror and he saw his face as it normally was, but he had two large black and white stripped horns that came out of his temple region and went out and down the side of this face, and then curved outward. He jumped back from the mirror. "What the hell?"

"You will transform more as you gain and understand more of your powers." Jeremy walked up behind him.

John turned around and screamed unintentional. Standing in front of him was Jeremy, and he had the same horns coming out of his forehead, but he was more transformed. He had large black wings coming out of his back, and his face was dark and his eyes glowed with a bright purple fire. His body was dripping in a dark cloud that seemed to be electrified.

"My god." John reached out his hand to touch Jeremy, but Jeremy held up the stone. 

"Just touch this stone." Jeremy said knowing more questions were coming, but time was short. It was time for John to return to the mortal world. "But one thing you need to understand. You have all the powers of the previous copies, and myself. Practice, and become as strong as you possibly can. Just as a warning if you attempt to harm innocents, you will be stopped."

"How?" John reached out to the stone.

Jeremy dropped the stone in John's hand.

***

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