Luke drove for hours, across the southern Oregon border, back into California where his nightmare had begun. Kelsey was by his side using the mysterious phone app given to her by an angel. She read off where to turn, exit, etc- but Sacramento was the first time they even caught sight of the vehicle Remy was driving.
The shape-shifting demon was back in his normal form; a 6’2″ male with facial hair and a man-bun. As opposed to the small, slender teenage girl who lured away Lucas and Shannon.
Lucas was nearly five, maybe he wanted to go with the man who was his biological father. But Remy had no right to take Luke’s toddler daughter as insurance. the more he thought about it, Luke might have even been inclined to allow Remy to take Lucas- but no, the selfish surfer demon he had to go and make things personal.
Luke pulled into a hotel parking lot and watched as Remy exited out of a blue Toyota minivan. His first instinct was to call the police. There was no way Remy legally owned that car. But the license plate was odd: with every blink of the eye, the letters, colors and even state changed. “What the?” Luke grumbled as he retrieved Kelsey’s wheelchair.
Kelsey exited the car on her own, standing on her leg braces. “Move my chair in front of me, like a walker.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve been doing well in physical therapy. I’ll be fine.”
Luke did as she asked and gave her the chair to use as a walker.
Kelsey made her way to the van, shining her phone light over the license plate. The letters were still changing but the state seemed to settle on Nevada.
“Is he headed to Nevada?” Luke asked.
“Only one way to find out- go get us a room.”
“Sure.” Luke walked in the lobby slowly and quietly. He was just in time to spot Remy and the kids. They looked like a happy family, laughing smiling, with promises of pool time after a trip to McDonald’s.
When Remy was out of sight Luke approached the counter to pay for a room. “Whatever you have available is fine. My wife and I just need a room for the night.”
The teenage clerk took his credit card and ID, just as Kelsey appeared. “I’m sorry, could we get a room on the first floor?” Kelsey asked, motioning at her wheelchair.
He handed Kelsey keys to room 102. She took them and walked quickly towards the room.
Even with her injured legs she was moving abnormally fast. Luke had to sprint to catch up to her before she shut the door in his face. “Hey! What’s up?”
“Shh!” Kelsey pressed her phone against the wall and turned on the app. She placed a finger to her lip driving the point home, before activating speaker mode.
“Is this why you wanted a room on the first floor?” Luke asked in a whisper. “How did you know Remy had a room on this floor?”
“What part of ‘Shh’ do you not understand?” she muttered. “I knew he would have a first floor room because any sane desk clerk would know to put two young children on the first floor; for safety and for noise control. Now shut up and listen!”
Through the phone’s speaker Luke could hear children laughing as they ate crunch snacks and watched loud cartoons.He tried to focus on Shannon’s voice, he needed to badly to know she was safe and unharmed.
“Where’s Mommy and Daddy?” the little girl asked.
“Don’t worry,” Lucas replied happily. “Remy will take care of us.”
“Are Remy and Rainbow the same?” Shannon asked. It was a smart question for someone so small. What reason did she have to trust Remy?
“I don’t know,” the boy replied. “I mean, I think so. Or maybe Remy works for Rainbow which is how he got all the axolotls to listen to him.”
Luke gasped. It hadn’t been a hallucination: back at the museum, the axolotls did attack!
“Either way, Remy is really cool.” Lucas shoved more food in his mouth. “Remember, he promised to take us swimming!”
“Ok,” Shannon said meekly.
Suddenly there was the sound of a toilet flush, followed by a door opening. “The swimming will have to wait until Reno,” Remy said.
This was met with groans from both children.
“You guys don’t even have swimsuits here,” Remy added.
This statement caused Shannon to cry. “M-My swimmy-suit is at home with Mommy and Daddy.”
“Oh, it’s ok sweetie. Let me hold you.”
Luke assumed Remy picked the little girl up, since her cries seemed to calm.
“We’re going to see Lucas’ grandpa,” Remy said, enthusiastically. “He’ll take good care of you.”
Luke and Kelsey exchanged looks of concern: what could Remy mean by that? Kelsey took a pair of earbuds from her pocket. “Get some sleep, I’ll take first watch.”
“Shouldn’t I take first watch, since I’m driving?”
“Sure, ok,” Kelsey said, handing him the phone and earbuds. She laid on the bed and appeared to fall asleep.
Luke, with the earbuds in, made himself comfortable against the wall. The next few moments were just television noises. He assumed Remy was being quiet so the kids could finish watching their programs in peace.
But the next words out of Remy’s mouth would chill the young father to the bone. “Lucas’ grandpa is a very kind man. He loved his little girl very much-”
“Lucas’ Mommy?” Shannon asked.
“Yes, we’re going to see Lucas’ mommy’s daddy.”
“Lucas told me his grandma and grandpa were in heaven.”
“Heaven is just a place, like Ohio or Canada.”
“Lucas told me they were in heaven, because I told him my grandma and grandpa, from Mommy and Daddy, were in heaven too.”
“Maybe you’ll get to meet them.”
Luke’s mind was racing. He tore off the earbuds and went for Kelsey’s purse to grab her gun.
“Luke?” Kelsey asked in a groggy voice.
But he paid her no mind; he was going to get Shannon back or die trying. Gun in hand, Luke banged on the door of the room next door, the room he assumed Remy was in (even though he had not actually seen Remy enter.)
A heavily tattooed blonde man opened the door, holding a little girl in his arms.
In his rage, Luke assumed this to be just one of Remy’s tricks. “Give me my daughter!” he cried, pointing the gun at the man’s chest.
“What the f–k, man?” the father said in a thick southern accent. The little girl buried her face in her daddy’s shoulder, sobbing. This was clearly not Shannon and Remy.
This mistake was cemented when Luke heard the unmistakable sound of a minivan speeding out of the parking lot. He stood frozen in panic and fear as Kelsey limped to his side.
“Please forgive my husband, he has PTSD,” she said calmly. “This isn’t even a real gun.” Her voice trailed off as she grabbed Luke’s arm, pulling him away from the door.
“I’m so sorry, Kelsey. I screwed up so bad.”
“Yes, you did. Next time- I take first watch. But for now, we need to get to the car!” Kelsey waved the keys in his face before hobbling off.
By the time Luke made it to the car, she had already started up the tracking app.
“Make a left,” she grumbled. “Remy’s already about twenty miles ahead of us.”
Luke did not see how that was possible, but knew better than to speak at that moment. He started down the road, following the signs and Kelsey’s directions.
Until his wife fell asleep, dropping the phone.
“Ok…” Luke took a breath to calm himself. He could easily follow the signs to Reno.
“I know what Remy plans on doing,” said a female voice next to him.
Luke calmly pulled to the side of the road before turning his head. “Do I call you Shannon senior? or Shannon the first?”
Kelsey’s dead mother was sitting between Luke and her sleeping daughter. Having died at the age of twenty-eight she looked young and radiant as ever. But Luke knew first hand that in the kingdom of heaven everyone looked the way they were always meant to. “I’ve been watching over you.”
“I’m glad,” Luke said with a sigh. “So what do you know?”
“It’s worse then you think.”
“That didn’t answer my question.”
“Well, put on your critical thinking cap,” she said in a condescending tone. “What was Azzy’s father doing the last time you saw him?”
“Fighting her angel husband?”
“Correct- so if he’s now in Reno…”
“Did he destroy Azzy’s husband?”
“Not likely: for a demon angel blood is like heroin, crack and ecstasy all rolled into one. So Vega is probably keeping Johnny nearby. Which will be good for you, since you will need all the help you can get.”
“Yeah,” Luke said with a yawn.
“Get some sleep,” Kelsey’s mother Shannon said, as she kicked her feet up on the dashboard. “I’ll watch over both of you…like I always have.”