Hyroc – Chapter 14

Sentinel Flame Book One
By Adam Freestone
Alaskan Writer of Imaginative Creativity

Keller and the two men under his command rode their horses hard down the dirt path in front of them. The day he had been expecting had arrived. The Hyroc creature had injured one of the students at the school. No past value from the association with a dead man or bias could keep him from his goal. He would kill that creature, and it would never again pose a danger to another person.

The men slowed their horses as they came up to a house. Quickly dismounting, all three drew swords. Spreading out, they darted around the house in search of their target. The creature knew this house, and this was the likeliest place it would take refuge. Keller moved around the back of the house toward what looked to be a garden. He felt a surge of excitement when he saw the shape of a person within. Disappointment immediately followed when he realized it wasn’t the creature; it was a normal person and a woman. The woman rose to her feet in a startled fashion, dropping a hand spade as she noticed him.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” she demanded.

Keller raised his hand in a placating fashion and lowered his blade. Just then, the other men came around the building. In the same fashion, he indicated that the woman was not their target.

“The creature’s not around the house,” one man said.

Keller suddenly recognized the woman. Her name was June, Marcus’ sister, and she worked at the school. But she also was the last remaining person caring for the Hyroc creature. As disturbing as that thought was.

“Your name is June, if I’m not mistaken,” Keller said calmly.

“Yes, but who –” she trailed off as recognition entered her expression. “Keller. You are not welcome here. Get out! All of you!”

“I’m sorry, Miss Burk, we can’t do that. We have orders to find it.” He turned his attention to the two men. “Search the house.” The two men nodded and moved inside the house. He returned his attention to June. “And this is the likeliest place it would’ve gone.”

June folded her arms. “If you’re looking for Hyroc, I haven’t seen him, and I suggest you look at the school. He’s probably heading for his class right now.”

Keller shook his head dismissively. He could tell she wasn’t being entirely truthful. She knew something about where it had gone. “I have witnesses that suggest otherwise. And they say he broke a boy’s leg and then fled.” Even under the best of circumstances, a broken leg was a seriously debilitating injury. Even she would have a hard time rationalizing such an occurrence.

She sighed, her façade melting away. “I’m sure it was an accident; he would never do something like that intentionally.”

“He broke a student’s leg! The boy he harmed will be in a lot of pain until it heals, and he won’t be able to walk for some time. That’s hardly something to chalk up as an accident. And if he’s capable of doing that, who knows what else he could do?”

“You have not changed one bit Keller. You are still as blind as you were when we first found him. Even after all of those tests, you refused to believe you had made a mistake. Why can you not understand he is not so different from the rest of us. All he has ever wanted was to do good.”

“Because he should not have even been allowed to exist!” Keller retorted. “You think that by giving it books to read and teaching it how to put on a polite face, you have mastered its evil tendencies. When all you have done is trick yourself into thinking you are safe around it. And then when the blackness of its heart manifests, you are unable to accept the truth about what you have done.”

June laughed humorlessly. “If you were interested in the truth, you would not have been haunting his steps all these years; you would have understood by now what existed in his heart was nothing to be feared.”

“And what of the reports of him fighting with the other students at the school. None are definitively confirmed, but we both know they occurred. That should be proof enough that it is in his nature to harm others.”

“It was not his choices that led to those fights. Those boys chose to go after him and to harm him. You didn’t see the pain in his eyes and the confusion as he tried to understand why. And I did the only thing I knew would help him. I told him to fight, to cause them pain, to make them never want to do anything to him ever again.”

“You did what!” Keller said, his voice laced with disbelief. It seemed absurd someone in charge of the safety of children could rationalize such actions. Was she truly so naïve to think she had made the correct decision? She was far more dangerous than he had ever suspected. “You mean to tell me you wanted it to do those things?”

“I never wanted him to do that, no, but the only other option I had was to sit there and let him suffer. And I know of no parent that – ”

Just then, the two men exited the house.

“It’s not here,” one man said.

“This debate can serve no purpose any longer,” Keller said in an icy tone. He had heard enough of her madness, “Where is it?”

“I don’t know.”

“I know your lying to me; I can have you arrested for that.”

“Then go right ahead, but I wonder how your superiors would look upon such an action. Not too kindly, I would suspect.”

Keller glowered at her. She was right. Beyond empty threats, there wasn’t much he could do to her without damaging his position in The Ministry, even if she were completely without reason.

“I’ll ask you once more, where is it?”

“I told you I don’t know, and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”

Keller shook his head in disbelief. Checking June’s home had been a complete waste of time. He wasn’t going to get anything useful out of her.

“Let’s go,” Keller snapped.

When the three men reached the main road, they stopped. Keller reached into his saddlebag and retrieved a map. He began a thorough examination of the area around the school and the house. The main road ran between both structures. The surrounding area was rough enough to slow the creature’s progress, so it would have stuck to the road wherever possible. Since it wouldn’t have gone toward town, its course seemed pretty obvious. It was on foot, so it couldn’t have gotten far even with a head start.

“Okay, I want you two to follow the main road west to Rivermark,” Keller said. “Kill the thing on sight if you see it, and be careful. We don’t know how dangerous it is. I’ll head back into town to organize a search party.”

“Yes, sir,” the two men said in unison. They snapped the reins of their horses and charged off down the road.

Keller turned his horse in the opposite direction. That creature would die within days. It was only a matter of time before he found it, and it breathed its last breath.

Adam Freestone is an Alaskan author and writer of the Sentinel Flame series. He writes fantasy stories but also has a talent for the unexpected. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering he has been coming up with stories his whole life. But apart from his writing skills, he isn’t quite what most people would expect. He is a near quadriplegic man afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy, confined to a wheelchair and dependent on a ventilator, but despite everything he has going against him, he never lets it stand in his way. He is a go-getter, animal and nature lover, MDA participant, and smart minded writer. Everything that goes into his stories is carefully considered, nothing he writes goes down casually. His stories are never quite what they first appear to be.