[In the back of the van, Hollis clutches his sword, dripping with blood, as he breathes raggedly through a chest half-crushed by the creature’s claws. Ribs are cracked, but mercifully not broken. He runs his hand along his sword, feeling the soft halo of disconnection that accompanies his daily meditation.]
[He pricks his finger, and the flash he saw when he drew the sword from the creature’s heart fills his eyes again. His head splits with migraine. He slumps forward onto his knees, clutching the sword in one bleeding hand. He cannot hear his cell-mates cries of alarm. The flash fades, and he sees things]
Flash. Hollis kneeling in his father’s house, now his house, with his father’s lifeblood leaking between his fingers as he weeps. The sword lies flat on the floor, covered with bloody, greasy ash. Hollis looks past the remains of the creature that did this, and his eyes find the portrait of The Man in White and its eyes
I am with you, major
Flash. Hollis is with Oleanna, by the side of Lake Pontchartrain in the soft light of a cloudy night. She is beautiful even beyond his memories. In the light that pours from her eyes, her mouth, even her skin, he is young again, a man of twenty-five. She tastes like danger and madness in the sweetest sense, like whiskey poured from the bottle in the middle of a burning city. She presses herself to him, the two of them wearing only the heavy fog of Louisiana when the moon emerges from behind its clouds with a
Remember who you are
Flash and now the edges are growing fuzzier, the visions of past events replaced by others. Hollis dead on the ground, his sword broken, and a man in black is standing there. Flash, Hollis alive, his sword lifted over the tomb of The Man in White. He speaks and dozens, scores of others raise their weapons and recite their oaths.
They will follow, as you have followed
Flash and things are growing dark. Cam dead, bleeding out, Dan pinned to the wall by something shapeless and dreadful. Flash. All three of them alive, speeding down the highway in the strobing glow of red and blue police lights.
There is always hope
Flash. Regan dead. Flash. Oracle and Dylan dead, Regan stands over them fighting a man in a silk hat. Flash. Cam yells out to Hollis as Danny fires into the night. Flash. Alice lies in a pool of her own blood, her leather collar in shreds and her ruptured weapon cushioning her mangled hat. Flash. Alice cries hysterically, holding Hollis’ limp body. Flash. All alive. Flash. All dead.
Do your duty
Flash. Hollis sharply sucks in air, grasping his chest and lurching up against the seat belt. His head pounds, but he is all right. He breathes. His chest doesn’t hurt as much.