Flash: All the Way Back

Photo by Orkhan Farmanli on Unsplash

Chapter One: A Mother

A big black SUV pulled up to the curb outside my suburban house. I glance over to where my two kids are playing in their wading pool as I pretend to turn off my hose. It was never on; I had been practicing elemental water magic taking care of the roses, hollies, and yews surrounding my home. The magic still dripped around me from the plants, ready to be called up. I eased back the energy when I recognized the person stepping out the back but didn’t dismiss it entirely. She wasn’t suppose to be here today.

“Hey Danny!” My wife waved at me before saying something to those still in the vehicle. After she slammed the door shut, the dark oversized vehicle pulled out. When she started waddling my way, our youngsters, upon seeing their mother, leaped out of their pool and streaked toward her across the grass.

“Brian, be careful,” I yell, setting aside the hose and closing the distance.

Our oldest took a stutter step at my command, which mean Tyla only got hit by twenty pounds of exuberance instead of the combined sixty. Emma wrapped her arms around both of Tyla’s legs upon contact, but my very pregnant wife managed to remain standing. Brian took a gentler approach, but velco’ed on the side opposite his sister none-the-less. They had missed her.

When I got in range, I pecked her check. “You’re home early.”

She was three days ahead of schedule. I ran a quick charm behind her back, while I grasped her arm. Tyla wasn’t nervous or scared, but that meant little with a seer wife. She processed things years before I even know a danger is coming. The lack of anger though, that was a good sign. Since coming in her full confidence after college, her temper shook mountains. The core stillness, on the other hand, like waiting for a sword to be drawn, that didn’t bode well.

She gave me a twisted smile indicating she knew I had cast an empath linkup. It rivaled the expression on the snake torque I gave her during our wedding ceremony five years ago, its gray eyes sparkling in the mid-day sun, the gleam matching her eyes. “I missed you too much.”

I leaned in close to whisper in her ear, “Bullshit.” The Sisters never do anything without a plan.

“You say the sweetest things.” Tyla laughed, a light blush rising, before grabbing me by the back of my head and pulling me in for a deep kiss. After letting me come up for air, her voice dropped into a growl. “Let’s get inside, hmm?”

Damn. I run a finger over her lips and she gives them a quick bite. Her gray eyes wink white a moment before returning to normal.

Damn. Damn. “Let me put away the hose and clean up the mess.”

“No problem. Come on Emma, Brian, let’s get you cleaned up for dinner.” Tyla herded the kids inside.

Outside, I did the visible cleanup. I also activated all the protections I had built up outside the house over the years; stone walks, water features, a firepit in the back for my elemental specialty and likely well-planned for by any Purists observing us, but the true protection laid in the plants. One of the professors from the university helped me with the landscaping. The yews and hollies snapped to attention and the rose thorns extended, dripping oily allergens as obnoxious as poison ivy.

Chapter Two: A Mission

Daniel finished putting the children to bed while I cleared the table of leftovers. I checked the chore chart, grateful once again his willingness to work with my inability to keep days straight. A big red rectangle picked Thursday out of the background. Laundry.

I moved to the laundry room where a half dozen small piles scattered around the floor. No baskets were in the sorting or folding areas. I opened the dryer to discover a pile of pink leggings and blue jeans, so pulled over an empty basket. While I moved the items from the washer to the dryer, my husband joined me, pulling over the basket of the finished dryer clothes for folding. After turning on the dryer, I ask, “What’s next?” pointing at the piles he had sorted at some point today.

“Underwear, whites, and cottons.” He indicated two of the six piles.

I start picking them up and shoving them into the washer.

“So why are you here, really?” he asked, rolling the pink leggings with daisies into a tight tube.

I shrug. “It’s the safest place.”

He barked a laugh. “Our house? Better than the Sisters’ fortification with their guards and security systems?”

“And a big, very known location with dozens of access points.” I scrap detergent from bar we buy from an herbalist with a dulling knife into a bowl until it reaches the inside mark for a medium load. Dumping the curled soap on top of the load, I start the washer, then reach for the sharpening stone. “The Sisters decided to send some of the more vulnerable home.” I rub my huge belly; inside the baby kicked in protest of me underplaying some of the details of the heated discussion between me and the rest of my cohort of Fates.

My husband sighed deeply. “Is it starting?”

“We think so.” The sharp sounds of steel on slate fill the room as I bring the soap knife up to a keen, safe edge.

“You should be at the Fortress or at least Adheim.”

I shake my head. “No, today I’m bait.”



Chapter Three: A Massacre

Fucking hell. She did not agree to that, did she? “What do you mean, you are bait?”

“They are attacking tonight,” my wife wiggled her hands back and forth, “in nearly all timelines. And we decided to place some of the more tasty morsels outside the Estates, me being one of the best.” She smiled deeply and winked. “Because of you. They want me, but the purists HATE you.”

As they should. Between me and her, we have stopped or disarmed every attack they made against us since the day they dropped the bomb on us during her freshman year at college. And while she always tried for the non-confrontational, non-lethal method preferred by seers, as an elementalist, I didn’t limit my options to being a nice guy. “I don’t like this.”

“I don’t either. There is no way to get the children away in time.”

I grip her wrist, the one holding the honing stone. “Are they — will they be okay?”

“Usually, but not always. That will depend on you.” Tyla tapped my hand gripping her with her knife.

“What will I need to do?” I growled, not letting go.

Snatching her hand out of my grip, she turned, placing the knife on the magnet holder above the washer, out of reach of the children and the honing stone in the bag beside it. With her back turned to me, she spoke to the wall. “Don’t hold back. Whatever you do, trust me to do my part, and don’t hold back.”

Goosebumps raised on my arms and across my back. I gasp the back of her neck, turning her around. “What do you mean–”

Behind us, the wall exploded. Due to our placement between machines, I take no injury and am able to get a wind shield up in time to protect her. She looks up at me, a spell-bomb in her hands, and snarled, “Get them,” before crushing the ball between us.

A thousand memories assaulted me and instantly cleared.

“You bitch,” we say staring into the eyes of our woman.

The ball was a reincarnation charm. All memories in every life just became available to us. In this lifetime, we were a college professor and still managed to wrack up a kill count in the dozens over the past four years protecting what is ours. Our wench and our spawn.

This was our most civilized life ever.

Tyla just unleashed a monster.

“Your bitch.” She smiles her possessive snake smile with white eyes gleaming. “Go. Win.”

We summon a sword from the other side of the world from the sandy grave it had been buried in for the last five centuries. We grab her head and ravage her mouth, half of the lifetimes remembering this being as our match and soulmate. “Keep the youngins safe,” we order before jumping out the door into our backyard.

The firepit is flaring from their elementalist calling the energy forth.

My land. My magic. You are fools to attack me here.

We force the invader’s energy back, claiming dominion, returning the magic in a feedback loop spell our present life had developed. Someone screamed as their eyes boiled. The woman said not to hold back.

The man of today is worried the horrors we are about to unfurl will disgust our wench, but we know her measure. She owns the monster she has leashed with her love.

The metal elementalist memory sends the sword singing through a golem, while the water elementalist redirect water from a programmed night-time watering system to drown a driver who thought themselves safe a block away.

And the aspect of the evil creature that is ourselves which loves plants, the one who was the worst of us, rises from where we have buried him. Most of us have been simple soldiers, warriors, and killers. That lifetime had been a devoted gardening monk. Most people consider herbalists these soft, caring beings. They don’t realize how many plants are actually poisonous. That the majority of plants on this planet rather kill humans than be cultivated. During that lifetime, we communed with plants and embraced their hatred.

Daniel Hawkins, with his careful landscaping, had provided it with an army of vines, trees, and shrubs.

Three creatures leap beyond us, scrambling up the outside of the house to the girl-spawn’s window. We nod. That is the most defendable position. The woman said to trust her with her part. She could guard the children.

We turn away as three bodies fly back from the window, sparkling from electricity.

That’s our mate. Now to prove ourselves worthy of her. We roar and rush forward into the savage greenery.

(words 1,719; first published 12/28/2023)

All the Way Forward Series
1. All the Way Forward Part 1 (chapters 1-3) (8/29/2021)
2. All the Way Forward Part 2 (chapters 4-6) (10/21/2021)
3. All the Way Back (chapters 1-3) (5/1/2022)