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The bell had finally rang and school was out for the summer. As I walked over to my locker, everyone around me seemed to be in the greatest of moods, everyone that is except, me.
The hallways resembled a war zone, everywhere you looked, books, papers, binders, and backpacks littered the floor. Some students were so happy and excited that they were stripping off their uniforms and undressing in the hallway.
As I cleaned out my locker, I looked at myself in the mirror and tore off my tie in anger.
Suddenly, something caught my attention.
I thought I caught the scent of my best friend Paul, but he was nowhere to be seen. It seems that lately, I've been able to smell Paul coming about a mile away, at first I thought it was his aftershave, now I don't know what to think. Then again, the guy practically drowns himself in his favourite fragrance, Intuition.
As I joined the crowd in clearing out my locker, I sensed Paul trying to sneak behind me.
"Don't even think about it, Paul."
Paul had a big goofy smile on his face as he handed me my yearbook.
"Dude, how did you know it was me?"
I smiled and yanked my yearbook out of his hands.
"Elementary my dear Paulie, you wear too much aftershave."
Paul frowned and gave me the finger.
"Fuck you! and don't start that shit again. Besides you're the only wanker that complains, everybody else likes it."
I had to crack a smile and even though his aftershave irritates the shit out of me, I still find amusement in pissing him off.
"Oh yeah? Well, everybody else dosen't get to hang around you all the time, do they?"
Paul rolled his eyes and started flipping through his yearbook.
"Is that the thanks I get for getting you, your yearbook? I even had it signed by everyone, you're such an ass, Bryce."
"Sorry Paul, I didn't mean to bring up, the aftershave again. It's just that I'm in a shitty mood right now, I have so many fucking things on my mind."
Paul was my closest and best bud. We've known each other since kindergarten, we lived in the same neighbourhood, and had basically grown up together. We were very close, we told each other everything, and had a close bond, much like brothers.
"Dude, you're thinking too much, and if you keep this up it's going to drive you crazy."
Paul was right, for once. If I kept this up, I was going to have a miserable summer.
"So, what if this summer you're going to spend it up north with your Dad? The months are gonna fly by and soon enough we'll be freshmen at Notre Dame. Trust me Bryce, this fall is going to be wicked!"
I threw my backpack over my shoulder and we both walked out to enjoy our freedom. We were almost out the doors, when Father Callahan, the Dean of St.Andrew's stepped out of his office.
"Ahh, if it isn't Mr.Mackenzie and Mr.Connelly. I was actually on my way to see you, Bryce."
Paul and I stopped dead in our tracks and exchanged glances.
"Father Callahan, hello Sir. Paul and I were just heading home..."
Father Callahan opened the large door to his office and motioned me to step inside.
"I will only steal a few minutes of your precious time, Bryce."
As Paul and I looked at each other in confusion, we both wondered what this was all about.
"Umm, sure Father."
Paul was about to follow me in, when Father Callahan put a hand on his shoulder, and stopped him.
"I only need to talk to Bryce. Why don't you sit on the bench and wait outside Paul, we won't be long."
I handed Paul my backpack, as Father Callahan closed the door behind me.
"Please sit, Bryce. Get confortable, and I promise that I won't take more than ten minutes. Then you, and your parthner in crime can do whatever young people like yourselves do in the summer."
I smiled and walked towards a large leather chair. There was a nice and soothing scent in the air, which filled my nostrils...incense.
I could pick up the familiar fragrance of cinnamon in the air. But there was another, a second scent...
"It's cassia, that you smell Bryce."
I looked at Father Callahan curiously. He was smiling and leaning on his desk with his arms crossed.
"Your nose is a very powerful and vital organ, Bryce. Not too many people can tell the difference between cinnamon and it's close relative cassia, when they're mixed in together."
I faked a smile and wondered what the hell this was all about.
I've been to Father Callahan's office seven times since I've been at St.Andrew's. All those times for being the top student in my class, excelling in sports and being an honour roll student, but for some reason, this time it just feels different.
It seems that every time I'm in here, Father Callahan has more books than before. All sorts of books practically fill every shelf, some are even stacked from the floor to the ceeling. From where I sat, I could read titles in Latin, Greek, Italian, French, Spanish and so on.
His large office was richly and very elegantly decorated. Everytime I was in here, I felt like I was in a museum. Many religious paintings hung from the walls, beautiful tapestries that looked ancient were safely protected behind glass display cases, and statues of saints carved out of ivory stood on black marble pillars. There were also stunning, jeweled crucifixes which were neatly arranged along the wall, along with gold and silver chalices of all shapes and sizes.
I sat and patiently waited, as Father Callahan searched his desk. He was opening all the drawers and muttering to himself. He looked deep in thought, as he searched for something in particular.
As I looked around the room, I couldn't help but to awe at that large and beautiful glass stained window of our school's patron, Saint Andrew. The light that came through the window gave the room a warm, peaceful and beautiful glow, it made the room sparkle like jewels.
Father Callahan took a step towards me, and handed me a blue velvet box.
"It's funny what old age does to you, but that is something you don't have to worry about for a very, very long time. Anyways, I thought I had misplaced your gift, I do hope you like it."
I looked at him perplexed, and leaned forward to take the gift from his hands.
"For me? What is it?"
Father Callahan smiled and sat on the edge his large, and paper cluttered desk.
"Open it son, and you'll find out."
I smiled and opened the box.
I was very surprised to see a silver medal pendant of St.Michael, along with a card that read,
"To Bryce Skye Mackenzie, a talented and gifted student. Wishing you all the best for the future, please accept this small gift from all of us, and please remember to wear it, at all times."
I looked up at Father Callahan, speechless.
"I, uhh...I don't know what to say, but thank-you."
Father Callahan was still smiling and simply nodded his head.
"You're very welcome and you deserve it. Now, why don't you put it on."
I hung the medal around my neck, and inspected it closely.
"You know who that is on the medal, right Bryce?"
I nodded and was intrigued by the shiny medal. It was strange, but I swear the medal gave off a faint glow.
"Umm, it's St.Michael the Archangel."
Father Callahan's face beamed at my answer.
"That's my boy, very good Bryce. No wonder you had the highest average in your religion class. Now, why don't you humour me, and tell me a little bit about St.Michael."
And I thought this was only going to take ten minutes, damm it.
"Well, St.Michael the Archangel is one of the principal angels in Jewish and Christian tradition. He is the Field Commander of the Army of God, and one of the Chief Princes, as well as being the patron saint of the warrior."
Father Callahan nodded in agreement and walked towards me.
"Yes, excellent Bryce. And lets not forget that St.Michael also looks after, and protects those who are sick, or ill."
I looked up at Father Callahan and nodded.
"Well Bryce, that medal is a gift from everyone here at the school. We wanted to give you something very meaningful and special for a going away present. You've graduated top in all, but one of your subjects, history...am I correct?"
I lowered my eyes when he said that.
"Umm, yes Father. But I intend on taking a make up exam before I enroll in the fall at Notre Dame."
True, I had done very well in all my other classes except for that damm history class, which had brought my average down. In order to enter Notre Dame, I had to at least get a 85% in the make up exam in the fall. It wasn't impossible, I know I could do it, it's just that I hated history with a passion.
"That's very good Bryce, I'm very glad to hear that, because as Sir Winston Churchill once said, "Those who fail history are doomed to repeat it."
I nodded in agreement and stood up to shake his hand.
"Well once again Father Callahan, I want to say thank you for this gift. I'm sorry that I have to run out on you, but I have to take a flight to Canada in three hours, so I need to get going. I'm staying with my father for the summer."
Father Callahan's face ceased to smile at that moment, and looked his usual serious self.
"I understand son, I won't take anymore of your time. I want you to have a safe and wonderful summer. But, please don't forget to study and enjoy your stay with your father."
I shooked Father Callahan's hand and headed towards the door.
As he held the door open for me, he placed his right hand on my shoulder.
"Now Bryce, please don't take the medal off. It is for your protection and remember to wear it at all times, promise me?"
I simply nodded.
"Yes Father, I promise."
Father Callahan stood by the door watching as Paul and I walked out of school.
Once we were out of hearing distance, Paul's curiosity got the best of him.
"For fuck sakes, Bryce you were there forever. So, what did the old fox have to say? Did he pull strings at Notre Dame? You don't have to take the make up exam, right?"
I smiled at Paul and elbowed him in the gut.
"No, wrong on all counts. Actually, Father Callahan called me in to give me this."
I took out my medal and showed it to Paul.
The silver medal shone brightly in the sun. It also felt heavy to the touch and warm as well, that was weird?
"A medal? a fucking medal? You're fucking kidding me, that's why you were in there so long? Shit, and here I thought he was molesting you."
I rolled my eyes at Paul and put my medal inside my shirt.
"You're hopeless and extremely perverted, Paul, you need help. Father Callahan says the medal is a gift for all my hard work."
Paul made me stop and pulled out the medal.
"It looks like pure silver to me. You want to sell it? I know a place that will give us money for this shit."
I pushed Paul aside and looked at the medal again.
"No, I like it. Besides, he told me to wear it all the time and not to take it off."
Paul rolled his eyes and motioned a jacking off motion with his right hand.
"You would jerk off Father Callahan if he asked you to, geez. You're such a goodie goodie Bryce, now c'on we got to get going, or you're mom is gonna kill us if we're late."
Ahh yes, my trip up north to bond with my father...I can hardly wait.
From the window I could see Bryce take off at incredible speed, and poor Paul trying desperately to catch up. I worried for Bryce, he was one of most talented and gifted students that I have seen in a very long time, and the poor boy was headed for an uncertain and tumultuous future.
Suddenly, an icy and very cold draft swept through the room, as the secret door creaked open.
"You had the boy in your grasp, Callahan. Now he's off to see his father, and we won't be able to get close to him anymore. Why in hell didn't you use the dagger?"
I didn't need to turn around to see who was talking to me. He had afterall seen and heard the entire conversation from the secret room.
"I gave Bryce the medal, that is enough for now. I know the boy, he won't dissapoint me and take the medal off, he'll be fine."
The thing in the red cloak stood by the shadows, it refused to walk by the light.
"That's bullshit! Anything can happen Callahan, you know that. Bryce is still a fucking kid, he could lose the medal, forget to take it with him, or even take it off. Then you know very well what will happen."
I sighed and walked closer towards the window. True, I could have used the dagger on Bryce, but my heart and most important my soul, was telling me that there still hope for him.
"The chain is made of Varatron, the strongest of all metals, it won't break. I know for a fact that Bryce will not take it off, I've watch him grow up, and he is close to our religion, and our beliefs. He is very special and truly unique young man, to get rid of him now is just plain stupid."
Afanas was now angrily pacing the room.
"That was not up to you to decide, Callahan! You know very well, that an order has been issued by the Supreme Inquisitor. Who the hell do you think you are, to question his authority?"
I turned around to face him, and even after all these years, I still can't get used to seeing the unholy colour of those eyes. I must do everything in my power to avoid looking at him straight into those souless and diabolical eyes.
"I am Donald Callahan, Grand Inquisitor and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Order! but above anything else, I'm an Executioner."
I moved like a lighting, but so did he. We were two assassins trying to kill each other, I only had one chance and I had to make it count. If I failed, Bryce would be in mortal danger.
From underneath my robe, I pulled out a silver dagger and aimed for the heart, while Afanas aimed for my head. I threw myself towards the ground and landed behind the chair, statues and books went flying everywhere. I could feel blood dripping from my shoulder, the pain was intense, but I've been worse.
I knew I had hit my intended target, unlike Afanas, who had missed. His dagger had pierced my shoulder, blood was dripping heavily, I was going to need stitches, but I was going to be allright. I slowly and very carefully got up and took another dagger from my pocket.
I could see Afanas laying motionless on the floor.
I walked toward my door and quickly locked it, I was very lucky no one had come in. From where I was standing, I could see that the dagger had pierced perfectly through the heart.
I had to move quickly and dispose of the body. There were still many students cleaning out their lockers in the hallways and anyone could still show up to my office.
When I got closer to Afanas, I was surprised that he was still alive. The dagger, aside from being made of pure silver, contained a secret spell and poison that would have killed anyone else instantly. Afanas however was not human, so the spell and poison might take longer to take effect. He was crawling towards the secret panel behind my desk and speaking in his horrible and malevolent tongue.
I walked up to him and turned him over. Black blood spilled from his mouth, and huge fangs shone in the light, he tried to laugh as he muttered...
"The sins of the father are visited upon the son..."
I closed my eyes, and my heart sank as he said that.
"Now, now, Bryce is not he's father, yet. I will give him the chance to prove himself."
And with that, I slit his throat.
I am now an outcast, completely on my own. Other Executioners will be looking for me, and they will stop at nothing to hunt me down. I must get to Bryce before they do.
Mackenzie Logging Company, Inc.,
Silver Lake, British Columbia,
"Hey Ryan, phone!"
I turned to see my Side rod, Nial(the Foreman of my logging crew) waving frantically from my office.
As I walked in, I threw my helmet on the desk and asked him who it was.
"Well, she says she's your ex-wife. Which one I don't know, but she dosen't sound too happy. Then again all your ex-wives sound the same, why is that bud?"
I rolled my eyes and yanked the phone out of his hands.
Ah yes, it was my first ex-wife Charlotte Blume. I could recognize that condescending and snobbish tone of her voice in a second. What could be said about a bitter and angry ex-wife, who not only hates your guts, but detests everything you stand for.
I met Charlotte when she was just twenty three years old, and at the height of her modeling career. She was at the time, one of the highest paid models of the 90's. She had appeared in every fashion magazine from all over the world that you could name, and in many fashion campaigns and runway shows.
She was the muse, the darling of every fashion designer from New York to Paris to fucking Milan. One famous designer even said of her, "She is a classical beauty, and the all-American dream girl" at least that part, he got right.
Sadly for me, and at the time that I met her, I had no idea as to who she was. One evening I decided to crash a fancy party in Manhattan and that's were we bumped into each other.
To say that it was love at first sight, is not so far fetched. But maybe it was lust at first sight, that would describe it more accurately. I was captivated by her, bewitched even, I had never seen such a beautiful woman like here before in my life, I had to have her.
She had flawless, porcelain white skin, and at the time that I met her, gorgeous platinum blonde hair. But it was her seductive eyes that snared me, those pale and beautiful violet eyes, and the seductive way in which she used them. She had a sensuous and pouty red lips, a luscious body that would give any straight man a raging hardon, and at 5 feet 9 inches, she was blessed with measurements fitting of a godess, a perfect 34B"-26"-35".
By midnight, she was mine and we ended up making ardent, animalistic and passionate love on the rooftop. Unfortunately for her, my rubber broke and at that moment, her modelling days were over. But, perhaps that was her destiny, afterall Charlotte was destined to be the mother to an heir of one of the oldest, richest and most powerful clans in the world.
Charlotte would give birth to a son.
"Hello, Ryan are you there? Oh for crying outloud, hello!"
I had completely wondered off, and the anger in her voice brought me back to reality.
"Sorry about that, hi Charlie,...I mean Charlotte. How are you?"
"I'm fine. I'm calling from the airport, Ryan. I just called to let you know that Bryce is getting ready to board the plane."
My son, my boy...my pride and joy.
"How is he?"
"He's moody, a smartass and thinks he knows everything. So a typical and pleasant teenager, and he's all yours for the next two months."
I smiled and knew exactly what I was in for...
"Now Ryan, please listen to me. His final grades were good, but he got a B- in History. In order for Bryce to be accepted to Notre Dame, he has to take a make up exam before he starts school in the fall. So he has to study throught the summer, please make sure he does. I want him to enjoy himself up there, but he also has to find the time to study."
I knew it was going to be hard for Charlotte to let go of Bryce for two months, but we both knew this was the best. The tone of her voice had changed and I could detect a softer side as she spoke.
"Please don't spoil him Ryan. Now, I've also included some assignments, and books that will help him with his exam."
I could hear Bryce in the background complaining that he was going to miss his plane if she kept this up.
"Allright, Charlotte. I will make sure he studies, and I'll look after him, I promise."
There was a pause and her voice quivered a bit.
"He's right here Ryan. Do you want to talk to him?"
I cleared my throat and it was my time to get nervous.
"Sure, please put him on."
I could hear Charlotte yell at Bryce. Even though she tried her best to cover the mouthpiece, I could still pick up everything quite clearly.
"Bryce Skye Mackenzie, your father wants to talk to you, get over here! And don't give me that look young man."
I wasn't surprised that Bryce didn't want to talk to me, afterall it's been ten years since I last saw him. I've written to him, but he never replies, I call him but he's always busy, all his birthday gifts and Christmas presents get returned unopened.
So I wondered how we're going to get along for the next two months?
Bryce's voice sounded deep and masculine. Amazing how time has flown by, he's certainly not a little boy anymore.
"Hi son, how are you?"
There was silence and a sigh...
"I'm Fine, Dad. Listen, I have to board the plane soon, so I'll see you later."
And with that Bryce had hung up on me, damm that was cold.
Nial had heard most of the conversation, as he sat across from my desk.
"So, I take it Bryce is on the way?"
I grabbed a photo of Bryce that was on my desk. It was taken the last time he was up here, and I think he was just five years old. Those eyes, those fascinating and enticing violet eyes, just like his mother's.
"Umm, yeah. He's on his way and from the sound of it, he's far from thrilled."
I placed the photo back on the desk and crossed my arms.
"Listen Ryan, we've known each other for a very, very long time. So, please don't take this the wrong way when I say this, but Bryce is just a spoiled city kid. Yes, I'm sure he is bitter about the divorce, as most kids would be, it's natural. He's also going through puberty, so his hormones are bombarding him, and let's not forget what the change does to a teenager."
"You just gotta stay focus, a boy needs his father at this important time of his life. You need to bond with him, talk to him, and just be there for him, whether he wants it or not. But above anything else, Bryce needs to learn about his heritage, his roots and become one of us."
Nial's eye's glowed a bright green. He was right, it was time for Bryce to leave the world of a child, and start the path to manhood. He will need to start his training, and eventually when he's ready, become one of us.
"Yes, you're right. It's going to be alot for him to absorb though, it's going to be tough."
Nial got up and walked over to the counter to get a cup of coffee.
"Well, it's never easy is it? It wasn't for you, and it certainly wasn't for me. He's going to have to learn to carry a big chip on his shoulders. He will afterall, become the heir to one of the most respected, strongest and oldest clans of our kind."
I sat back and sighed.
"Everyone is coming tonight, right?"
Nial walked over to the office window, and inspected the crew below.
"Yes, the guys will be there tonight at 8:00 p.m, sharp."
Ahh yes, the guys. My closest and most trusted loyal friends, Ewen, Iain and Uilleam.
"Well, Uilleam should be his way to pick Bryce up at the airport, and then he'll drop him off at the cabin. I gotta leave work a bit early, I got to finish some errands, head home, and tidy up the place."
Nial turned away from the window and took another sip of coffee.
"Ryan, just look at the time, please go home. You own the fucking place, seriously speaking, we don't need you here today. The only reason we keep you around is to sign our paycheques and once in a while, to tell us that we're doing a good job, that pretty much sums it up."
I had to smile at Nial's attempt to humor me.
"Allright Nial, you've made your point, and since you've put is so eloquently, I'll go."
I grabbed the jacket from my chair, and as I walked out the door, I heard Nial yell out.
"You'll do fine Ryan. We'll be there for you, if you need us."
I stopped in the doorway, and turned around.
"Thanks, bud. I really appreciate that, I'll see you this evening."
I descended the stairs and headed for my truck. As I turned the ignition, a million thoughts raced through my head. For one, I'm truly happy that I'll be seeing my son again, but I hope that I can explain everything to him before his fifteenth birthday. It will be alot for a fourteen year old to digest, but if Bryce is to take over as clan leader one day, then as Nial said, it's about time I start his training."
I headed towards town and hoped that McNevin's Shop was still open. As I drove by the beautiful coast, Bryce's face kept appearing in my head.
I'll see you soon, son.
To be continued...