Simmon

The stone floor was cold against the boy’s knee, pressing against the bone, reminding him of its presence. Lightning flashed through the cathedral’s stained glass windows, followed shortly by thunder’s throaty growl. He let loose a sob, hoping the rumble would drown his cry.

An aged priest, shriveled and grayed, loomed over the boy as the sobs shook him helm to boot. A wrinkled hand rested against the boy’s shoulder.

“Have your cry boy. Your father was a great man. His deeds are legend.”

The boy released a sharp, clipped wail then gathered his resolve. As he choked down the last of his pain he turned his eyes, moist above tear stained cheeks, toward the priest.

“I am ready”, the boy said with all the courage he could muster.

“Very well.”

A house steward stepped forward, handing the boy a broadsword. His father’s sword. Candlelight danced from the freshly polished blade as the boy took the hilt in both hands, set the point into the soft mortar between floor stones, then bowed his head.

The priest spoke, his voice quiet but strong.

“Simmon of Atreus, first son of Donnan, on this day, the eighth of Tarasakh, following the untimely yet heroic death of your father as he battled a dragon, you are to inherit the title Cathatch.”

The priest’s voice grew louder until, booming with power, it filled the cathedral.

“Since before words first found paper, the Cathatch have been the King’s warriors. Theirs is a solitary life, imprisoned by the responsibility inherent in great power.”

The priest paused, then glanced at the boy.

“Do you accept your charge?”

Terror seized the boy’s heart. He grabbed ahold of the fear, embraced it, put it back in its place.

“I accept.”

The boy focused his gaze on the sigil stamped into his father’s sword.

The priest started to chant. Words from before time, in a tongue understood by few.

The sigil glowed blue.

First was the steel. Cold as a winter storm, it bled from the blade. Ice gripped his bones, traveled from hands to trunk to legs. From the bones it spread to the muscle. As it reached the last of him the steel hardened.

The steward stepped forward, longsword in hand. He struck down against the boy’s shoulder. The clang of steel on steel echoed across the room as the blade bounced away.

The sigil glowed red.

Next was the flame. Hot as the mill’s furnace, it bled from the blade. It crawled across his skin, covering him from head to toe. When it covered the last of him it melted inward. Every fiber of his being glowed with power.

The steward stepped forward, holding a thick candle before him. The boy stretched out his hand. Flame leapt from his fingertips, stopping inches from the steward’s face, leaving the candle alight.

The priest’s voice boomed again, “Simmon, first son of Donnan, you are a boy no longer.”

“Arise anew, with steel in your veins and flame in your heart.”

The man stood. The priest clasped his shoulder.

“Simmon, Cathatch of Atreus. You have a dragon to kill.”

Birthday Cake

Jason was covered in flour. He was not happy about it.

“Why am I doing this again? Come on Jules. You know I can’t bake!”

A young, brunette woman stood on the other side of the counter. Her face, also covered in flour, also sported an ear to ear smile.

“Because it’s my birthday, and I wanted a cake. I can’t very well make my own birthday cake, can I?”

Jason pouted, “But did you have to pick one called the ‘Convoluted Cake’? Not only do I have to bake, which we’ve established I can’t do, but then I have to put together a puzzle with the pieces. Also not a strong point of mine.”

Jules slid the cake into the space between them. “Yeah, well look how great we did.” The cake was impeccably iced and topped with freshly baked macaroons.

Jason smiled, then winked at his wife. “You never stop teaching me new things do you?”

“Not since I taught you to do handstands when we were kids,” she said.

“Not sure how a managed to get a paper cut opening the box though.”

Jules snorted as she laughed. “And on your elbow no less!”

Jason frowned as he looked at the freshly applied band-aid.

“Well, I helped with the cake. Are you still going to make me watch Maury?”

Jules looked at him in mock horror “But I thought listening to hillbillies yell at each other with made up words was your favorite post baking activity!”

“Alas, it is not. But, like you said, it’s your birthday.”

She smiled, then shimmied around the counter, unsuccessfully trying to stifle a giggle. Flour exploded from their clothes as she leapt into his arms. She kissed him, pressing her lips hard against his.

He held her tight, pulled his lips from hersand smiled. “Happy birthday sweetheart. I love you.”

***

Jason slid the viewfinder from his head, returned it to the cradle. His eyes slowly adjusted to the room. Soft, warm lightning blanketed the cubicle. He blinked away tears, took three deep breaths before rising from the chair.

A soft voice called out to him over an unseen speaker, “Please follow the yellow lights in the floor. The exit is just past the first doorway. Thank you for visiting Memory Cache.”

Jason followed the lights. His eyes had adjusted to normal by the time he reached the door. He pushed through the first door, then the second, emerging into daylight. His car was waiting for him. As he slid behind the wheel he turned one last time, looking over the sign above the door.

Memory Cache: Where The Past Lives Forever

“Happy Birthday sweetheart. I sure do miss you. See you next year.”