Part 1921 – Hello, My Friend. Hello.

Carthage got into his car and closed the door. That’s when it fully sank in. “I have a job!” A big smile stretched across his face. “It won’t be The Institute. Nothing can be like The Institute, but I’ll be doing what I do best.”

His thoughts turned to his daughter.

I’ve risen from the ashes of The Institute’s fire. I’m moving onwards, XQ. I wish you were moving with me.

But I know that can never be.

I don’t know how I lost your trust in me. I don’t know how I could ever regain it. I don’t know if I should even try. It’s a war I don’t think I can win. So, why should I put on my war paint and get ready for battle?

You don’t want me.

He shook himself out of his impending doldrums. “I will move on.” He put his key into the ignition and turned it. “I will move away.”

Carthage pulled out of his parking spot and drove towards the long, winding drive.

I’ll be fine.

***

Any hopes that LM had about the way down being easier than the way up were dashed. completely dashed.

It was less of a strain on his legs, but he had a bad case of vertigo going on. He could almost hear gravity whispering taunts in his ears, “Miss a step and you’ll fall fall fall. Trip and you’ll tumble like a tumbleweed in a tornado – over over over over. Your body will hurt  all banged up bruised for days and weeks. You won’t be able to do anything worthwhile. A–ny–thing. You’ll wish that you were dead.”

He clung to Capernaum’s arm. “Don’t disappear. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t disappear on me. Stay with me. Don’t leave me.”

“I’m here, my dear friend. I’m here.”

***

Should I keep my house in Pinkerlee? I should. I don’t exactly have a place to live out here. Not yet, anyway. But I will move out here when the time is right. When I—

He turned a corner and quickly slammed on his brake.

There were two people walking down the driveway: a fey with stiff, crooked wings and a man he could see right through.

What the…?

He slowly idled forward and honked his horn.

The fey startled as if he’d just heard the voice of God. The ghost looked back and smiled.

WHAT THE…?

“Capernaum?”

He killed the engine and got out of his car. “Capernaum? It. It can’t be. It can’t be you.”

“Hello, Bellissimo.”

Carthage gaped, unable to breathe.

No one knows my first name. No one, except for—

He ran to the ghost.

LM turned a little pale.

He stopped in front of Capernaum and marveled. “It. I. I don’t.”

“I missed you too.”

“Why? Why? Why didn’t you come to me? Why? What?”

Capernaum glanced at the half-fey who was getting more peaked by the second. “Give LM a ride back to Pinkerlee and I’ll answer all of your questions.”

“Okay. Get in the car.”

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