Short Story 34

Lonni and the Prophecies

Somewhere between an ordinary chance meeting and becoming best friends with someone, he lied to me. Thinking about it now, it was all a lie. I know he loves me, that’s real…but it was all under false pretences. When I was eighteen, I moved to the city. I was from a small country town where I lived with my father, a hard but kind man who definitely didn’t want me to leave.

To be honest, I didn’t want to leave either…but you have to do what’s expected when the Diamond Legion summons you. I always knew that day would come. I had trained from a young age, always knowing that my life was owed to a cause claiming to be fighting for the greater good. I grew up hearing stories of how my father had a debt that was to be paid the day his daughter came of age.

I know what you’re thinking, that this is a creepy cult situation? The thing is, that’s not far off the mark. I used to have dreams of aliens abducting me. That in the night, creatures would come into my room, do tests on my blood. Turns out those weren’t dreams, and there were very non-alien people from the Diamond Legion coming into my house and checking my body for the prime condition for ‘harvesting’ as they like to call it; it’s just plain old human sacrifice.

To be honest, all I know is that at some point in time I’ll die and that there was no way out of it.

It’s a funny thing, knowing your impending doom is an event planned so specifically that you could R.S.V.P. Do you live life differently if you have a finite time on the planet? Maybe. I just wanted to soak in all the beauty of the mundane. The Legion let me live a life among humans as long as I never revealed the truth or tried to run.

That’s exactly what I did. I studied and got a job even though the Legion paid for everything; I guess it was some gross compensation for the whole feeding-me-to-the-wolves thing. The past two years have consisted of me living a normal life during the week, but come the weekend, I was sequestered away to Legion headquarters for ceremonial preparation.

The whole thing was a bit kitschy in my opinion. It was all velvet robes, bird-like masquerade masks, and silk gowns. There was chanting from a room full of people I couldn’t identify as I stood centre stage on a pedestal in the middle. It was imposing, sure, but it was never hostile, and violence was always forbidden.

I met Jer my first night in the city. He lived in my apartment complex and ran to my rescue as I awkwardly carried too many groceries. There was a joke made about feeding an army, and a retort from me about feeding my minions for world domination. We bonded over reality shows and hiking, leftover Chinese food and love of Harry Styles…and then everything changed.

On the eve of my twentieth birthday I was meeting my best friends at a new place on the east side of town. I thought, since my life is about to be non-existent, I’ll spend my penultimate night of freedom as a normal girl.

***

I step into a room which is far impressive than I had anticipated. It looks like a regal ballroom, which was strange because all the tables and chairs where rustic and worn rather than royal. The ceiling went on for days, and there was red velvet material draping strategically leading the eye up to all the main light fixtures in the form of precariously dangling yet elegant chandeliers.

The red against the cream, gold and white was stunning, that’s why the aged wooden benches and rusty metal tables were a dramatic shock to the décor. But I suppose the ironic nature of this place is the reason it became so popular. Every place has to have a gimmick, right? I’m so excited to eat it’s ridiculous; starvation was potentially on the cards. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but as I walk near tables filled with hearty pub food my hunger spikes.

It takes me a second to find my friends, which is longer than it should’ve taken. They were where I could always find them, laughing and flirting with the cute guy behind the bar. Their beaming faces spotted me and excitedly beckoned for me to join them.

It may have been because of my impending doom, but I was taking in everything, appreciating the beauty of this place as I started towards them. This restaurant meets art gallery meets bar is a converted church and I made sure I was absorbing the architectural genius. From the outside no one would know it wasn’t a church to the point that parishioners still walked in expecting to find alters and a priest.

Do you think that’s sacrilegious? I’m not an expert on these things by any means, but the church wasn’t even abandoned. The developers just payed the church the right amount of money. I still don’t understand how they managed that. There must be some bad blood attached to this place, in a, you know, spiritual sense or whatever.

To add to the growing juxtapositions of this place, on the far side near the kitchen, I see a tattooed guy in a suit lock eyes with me and speak into his wrist. Not good.

I hear a girl yell, “Oh my God!” I turn and look. She’s pointing at a glass skylight. More gasps and murmurs as four masked men, dressed in black, stand on the glass looking down at us scanning the crowd.

One of them says something while touching his ear and then more men come crashing in through the doors and stained-glass windows…Except these guys were holding guns. One of them fires a string of bullets in the air bringing down chandeliers and shattering glass. Everyone scrambles to take cover, but some people are too slow.

The ones on the skylight lower themselves in as the room continues to erupt into chaos and screams. People are running every direction possible, others are wailing. I mean none of us are prepared for something like this or even considered that this was a possibility. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen in the real world!

My reflexes were quick and as soon as I see them rappel, I run towards my friends and slide under a table. Some people manage to get out through the beer garden, but the rest of us are trapped.

God, who are these people? They aren’t wearing any insignias that I recognise, and this isn’t the Legion’s style. I doubt they’re sanctioned by normal governments, and that just leaves one option, another secret organisation.

One of them, a rough voice in a South African accent yells, “Everybody down on the ground!”

I scurry across the floor and behind the bar. My friends are gone. Okay, that’s good, they got out.

“You heard him get down! Down! Down! Down!” That came from one of the one’s rappelling. His Texan twang was hard to miss. I took a peek around the bar as he fired a line of bullets in the air but doesn’t flinch as glass falls on him, none of them do…and then I notice the thin shimmer around each of them. Now that’s advanced tech.

I’m still behind the cover of the bar, but I haven’t got a clue what to do. Some of the gunmen start ushering people out of their hiding spots, guns in their faces. Yeah, I’m screwed. I grab my phone and it begins ringing. Jeremy. Thankfully it was already on silent. Talk about timing. Seems a little coincidental, but I answer anyway, maybe he can send help.

Before I have time to say anything he speaks, “Listen to me, Lonni. They’re here for you. Know that you can trust me, okay?”

What is he talking about? But the answer came when Jeremy, my favourite person in the whole world reveals he was inserted in my life to keep an eye on me. My world shatters.

I barely hear him say, “I’m sorry for what I’m about to do but trust me, please. I promise you’re always my number one priority.”

One of the four from the skylight stands on a table and yells, “She’s behind the bar!” My heart sinks, not just because they were coming for me but because that’s Jeremy’s voice. Grabbing me by my hair, the Africana yanks me out before throwing me harder than was necessary to the feet of the skylight soldiers.

I didn’t speak just look between them all as they gather around me. One guy had just been watching the whole time. I can almost smell the arrogance dripping off him. I’m guessing he’s the boss. Kneeling he starts laughing and speaks at me, not to me, “I thought the chosen one would be a sight to see, but this is not what I expected.” Rude. He grabs me while putting a metal bracelet on my arm and communicates through his wrist, “Acquired the target, ready for transport.”

In a flash we’re in a space station or ship, I’m not sure, but we’re orbiting the Earth. It’s beautiful but all things considered, the fact I’ve just been kidnapped trumps the marvel I could see beneath me, “Who are you people and how are we in space?”

A barefoot woman comes into the room and looks like an ethereal fairy – a stark contrast to the dark metals of the interior of this modern space craft. The leader of the team that took me bows his head, “Queen Isla, I did not realise you would be joining us on the retrieval”. She gestures a greeting and seems irritated by him, “Clearly. I was watching. You weren’t very discreet or kind to this poor girl. Jax you know she’s important and I can’t even begin with that fool.” She was referring to the Africana and I’m glad his actions are being condoned.

Jax was arguing though, “We don’t know she’s who we’re after. Plus, she’s an outsider, it’s not like we can trust her.” Queen Isla began to shake her head, “Enough. If you doubt my leadership take it up with the Master.” They went quite. Lending her hand to help me up, she smiles, “Apologies for the confusion Lonni, but we couldn’t let them complete the ritual. You are more important than falling to that unfortunate fate.”

She places her hands on my shoulders, guiding me forward out of the room, “Come, there is much to be discussed and no time to waste.”

As we walk the halls, I feel Jeremy, just like I always could, a steadying force whenever I was in his presence. We arrive to a room shaped like a pentagon. There are consoles and holographic screens around the edge of the room all facing an empty centre circle.

A man with shaggy blonde hair rushes over and excitedly says, “Is this her? Please come with me. Come, come.”

I’m reluctant, but as I make eye contact with Jeremy, even with the betrayal I feel, I can trust he wouldn’t harm me or let anyone else hurt me. He encouragingly nods, so I go to the centre of the room. My entire body fills with electric pulses running through me and the room comes alive with lights like fireflies zipping all around.

It feel weird having everyone watching, especially when blondie over there says, “Don’t worry, they’re just doing to scan your body for a marker. You can step out in five, four, three, two, one. Done. Easy like a Sunday morning, right?” He giggles at his own joke as I move back to where Queen Isla and others are standing.

A projection of my body is stitched together in a hologram that reveals glowing etchings I don’t recognise across my entire skeleton. There are gasps from more than person, and Queen Isla addresses the room, “It is confirmed. This is the reincarnation of the immortal one.” She bows, and so does everyone else.

I don’t like that at all, “Please, don’t bow, and could someone please explain why you’re all bowing in the first place.” They start to rise up and I look at Jeremy, “Jer. A little help here?”

He takes a few steps forward, “Every 200 years or so, one of the gods is reincarnated. You are Artemis, deity of the seven Lumen galaxies.”

Holy crap. I’m trying to process, “You’re saying that I’ve lived my entire life in the clutches of a cult with my life owed to the Legion before I was even born…but little did they know, I was actually the reincarnation of a Greek myth?”

A smirk grows on Jeremy’s face, “Basically, yes.”

I’m supposed to die tomorrow because of some fantastical story I was embedded in, but now I’m going to live in something even grander.

Life is weird.

By Naomi Eleanor

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