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Mythic Revealed by Justin K. Nuckles Book

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Mythic Revealed by Justin K. Nuckles Book Read Online And Epub File Download


Overview: Four frightened young children with a secret…

… a young man in the midst of his own grief.

Can he keep them all safe or will he break first?

At 21, James is just starting to get a handle on his own life. He’s nearly done with college, found a career path he enjoys, and looking forward to this life he’s creating.

Then his parents beg him to come home…

…and he arrives to find them murdered.

Piece by piece, James’ old life comes falling down around him. Suddenly responsible for four young kids, he doesn’t know where to turn for help. The more he learns, the more questions he’s left asking.

These children have abilities…

…and they’re not the only ones who do.

Now, James must take up where his parents left off and protect these vulnerable young people. They seem to be the key to everything that’s happened. There are many who are interested in hiding them, and others who seem more intent on hunting them and using them for their own purposes.

But is there anyone he can trust?


Mythic Revealed by Justin K. Nuckles Book Read Online And Epub File Download More Ebooks Every Category For Go Ebooks Libaray Online Website.



Mythic Revealed by Justin K. Nuckles Book Read Online Chapter One


I sat on the porch of my parents’ house, the one I’d grown up in, and I stared at my bloody hands. I stared at my hands, because I couldn’t stomach the thought of looking at what those hands had just done. I glanced down at the revolver on the porch next to me and looked quickly away. 


Is this real? Did I really just do that? My mind raced over the events of the last day, grasping for something, anything I might have done different that might have led to a different outcome. 


Already too late. It would have to have been earlier. I’d have needed to act sooner, made some different choice, to avoid what just happened. Once it started down that path, there was no stopping it; my brain ran back to weeks before, when it all began. Weeks before my parents were dead and in the ground; before I’d been forced to put them there. 


  


*** 


  


The halls of the University of Southern Illinois Child Development Center always smelled like a mixture of diluted bleach (which I loved), cheap hot dogs (which I didn’t love), and that permanent old school building smell (which I was ambivalent on). I poked my head into Ms. Loretta’s classroom. 


“Ms. Loretta, you need anything?” I’d been promoted to Assistant Director as part of my internship, finishing up my Bachelor’s in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development. Ms. Loretta, an upbeat, perpetually-smiling Black woman in her mid 60’s, looked up from where she was helping one of her children finish a painting and said, “No, I’m good, James. Thank you.” 


I smiled and nodded my head in acknowledgement, then high-fived Kenny, the five-year-old who was fighting my knee to get my attention right at the door. At 6’2”, my hand was nearly at my waist before it was low enough for him to hit. I’d been in Kenny’s classroom when he was two, and his part-time babysitter for the last three years. His parents, an attorney and a dermatologist, had taken a liking to me and paid me well to be their go-to babysitter on weekends and any weeknight they wanted off and I could fit into my calendar. Between the sitting, working in the center, and scholarships, I’d been able to pay for the last three years of college without any student loans so far, a fact for which I was extremely grateful. 


I let myself back out into the hall and was walking toward the main office when Ms. Kendra, who was on break, popped her head out of the staff room and said, “Hey, James, aren’t you from a town downstate somewhere?” 


I nodded. “Yeah, how come?” 


She stepped back from the door, holding it open. 


“You better come see this, man.” 


I stepped into the break room and she held up her phone. It was a local news article. The headline read: 


  


Southern County Declares State of Emergency as Mysterious Outbreak Baffles Health Officials 


  


I’d seen dozens of posts from friends back home on social media for the last couple of weeks about a “Man-Flu” going around down there. “Flu symptoms so bad, you actually feel as bad as all men say they do,” one female friend had posted. 


“Whoa,” I said. “That’s not good.” 


“No, it ain’t,” Kendra said. “Just watch; all the stores are gonna’ sell out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer again. Just watch.” 


  


*** 


  


A week later, the headlines changed. 


  


Southern Counties Shutting Down as Outbreak Fatalities Rise 


  


Then, again. 


  


Mysterious Illness Non-Communicable; Specialists Investigating Potential Environmental Origin 


  


My parents still lived on our family’s farm in one of those counties. I brought up my mom’s number on my phone and dialed one night, sitting up in bed in my small dorm room. 


“Jamie? Is everything okay?” Mom answered after a couple of rings. 


I didn’t beat around the bush. “Hey, Mom? You and Dad need to get out of town! Have you been following this outbreak thing down there? They’re thinking it might be caused by something environmental to the area at this point. You guys should come stay with me for a few weeks.” 


“Sweetie, it’s nice to know you’re thinking about us, but I promise, we’re in the safest place we could possibly be. There’s too much we have to take care of right now to think about leaving.” Mom seemed maddeningly calm. 


“No, Mom, I’m telling you, you guys need to get out! Have you been following the news? Have you seen the case maps? It’s a perfect circle. There is something going on down there; you need to leave!” 


“James, we have things here that we need to take care of. We’re not going to pick up and leave.” Her tone had taken on that “Don’t you dare, young man” quality I remembered as a young teen. There was no arguing with her. I waded in anyway. 


“Mom! What on earth could you possibly have to do down there that would be more important than saving your own lives?! Have you even seen the latest statistics? They’re up to a twenty percent infection rate! I’m telling you, you need to leave!” I hadn’t argued with her this way since Jr. High. I didn’t love it. 


“James Strader, don’t you raise your voice at me. I’ve told you that we have things to take care of down here that can’t wait, that we’ll be all right. Your father and I are adults, we’ve seen a lot of scary things, and you need to accept that when I tell you that we’re already doing everything in our power to do, I mean it!” 


The conversation didn’t extend much past that. I hung up defeated and furious. Why wouldn’t they leave? 


Not even a week later, the fires started. They swept through several of the towns all around where I’d grown up, destroying hundreds of houses and businesses. I called my parents multiple times a day, checking in, but mostly trying to convince them to evacuate. The conversations went nearly word-for-word the same as the first call when I’d blown up. They assured me they’d be fine, and that they’d keep an eye on things. 


The fires would have been devastating on their own. Instead, they were immediately followed by completely out of season storms that produced gale-force winds and dumped rain in a constant deluge for days. I scrolled through the news on my phone in equal parts horror and fascination as houses that had been on the banks of rivers and the shores of lakes for decades washed away or were swallowed by water that far exceeded its banks. 


By that time, the rest of the world was watching with me. The fires and the storms followed the same consistent, and therefore baffling, pattern as the illness had. When news graphics showed the impacted areas on a map, there was nearly perfect overlap. Whatever was happening at home was in defiance of nature; there are no coincidences that significant. 


According to the news, the governor had reportedly started debating officially evacuating and quarantining the entire region, which seemed unnecessary, since, according to other news reports, nearly everyone who was capable of leaving had already done so. 


It was only a day after that that everything simply stopped. 


They stopped announcing new cases of the illness, the last of the fires were declared contained, the storms blew themselves out, and the rivers and lakes receded. Whatever we had watched unfold in southern Illinois was apparently over. 


  


*** 


  


I hadn’t heard from my parents in over a week. I figured that phone lines and internet cables were probably all down, but that didn’t keep me from worrying and trying their cell phones multiple times a day. That made it all the more shocking when I got a strange call from Mom. It was about a week and a half after everything calmed that she called me from a restricted number in between classes. 


“James, we need you to come home. There’s a situation here that we need your help with. I can’t say any more right now, but we need you to come home as quickly as you possibly can.” 


“Mom, is everything okay?” 


It was like she didn’t even hear me, as if she were leaving me a voicemail. She simply ended the call by saying, “I love you, Jamie. Be strong.” Then the line clicked, and she was gone. My stomach filled with ice, and my hand shook as I lowered the phone from my ear. 


  


*** 


  


Not having a car, I tried to find a ride home, but no one I asked was remotely interested in giving me a ride to the epicenter of the world’s most shocking news for the past several weeks. No taxi service, ride share, or even rental car service would accommodate me, either: too much liability. To make matters more challenging, law enforcement and the National Guard had set up roadblock checkpoints to discourage people from going in until more was figured out. It wasn’t a hard quarantine, merely a precaution. 


After two days of frantically calling service after service and meeting nothing but dead ends and laughs on the other end, I finally realized that the only way I was going to get home was on my bike. The city around USI had amazing infrastructure for bicycles. One of the best in the country, actually. It was part of the reason I’d chosen to enroll there. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to help me at all on the ride home. Most of the roads between here and home were small two-lane highways with almost no shoulder. Not my favorite, as an amateur cycling enthusiast. I’d been riding my bike daily for years, even done a few long-distance races. It wouldn’t be my longest ride. Longest ride ever, no; longest ride without support, yes. I figured if I rode hard, only stopping for food and rest when I absolutely needed to, I could make it home in about 11 or 12 hours. 


  


*** 


  


I left at a frosty 4:00 in the morning, three days after I’d gotten the call from Mom. I had emailed my professors that I had a family emergency in the affected region down south, and they all seemed pretty understanding. 


I tried to call each of my parents’ cell phones one last time before I jumped on my bike. No answer, just like all the other times I’d tried since the fires and floods. How had Mom gotten a call out? I shook my head in confusion and returned my phone to the backpack with several bottles of water, a box of energy and protein bars, some fruit, a change of clothes and a few extra layers, just in case. I just needed enough to get me home. I clicked the strap on my helmet, and wheeled away into the dark, the street lamps the only witnesses to my departure. 


People are always surprised that I ride a bike year-round. They seem shocked that I’d ride one even in the winter. Most people don’t realize just how much heat you’ll produce, pedaling a bicycle hard for even more than a few minutes. The November morning cold wasn’t a problem. 


Several mind-numbing hours later, I reached the checkpoint. A National Guardsman waved me down and I braked, rolling to a stop just a few feet in front of him. 


“Sir, I’m gonna’ have to ask you to turn around,” he said, smiling politely between his chinstrap and sunglasses. “The area beyond this point is limited to essential personnel and residents only.” 


“My parents live in the area,” I explained, breathing heavily. “I got a call a few days ago from my Mom, saying there was some kind of trouble, and she asked me to come home. I don’t have a car, and I couldn’t beg, borrow, or steal any other ride, so—” I gestured to my bicycle. 


“Some kind of trouble?” The soldier laughed. “Have you watched the news?” 


I nodded. “Yeah, that’s why I’m coming home; I was worried before. Now, I’m freaking out.” 


He smiled again, and his eyebrows disappeared into his helmet. “Where ya’ comin’ from?” 


“USI.” 


He coughed in laughter. “You rode all the way from USI?” 


I nodded. 


“That’s something else.” He shook his head. “And did you say that your mom called you a few days ago?” 


I nodded again. “Why?” 


“The utilities and services are all a mess down there. Phone lines, cell towers, internet services; they’re all down. The whole region is basically a communication dead zone. It’s been that way for a few weeks: since the storms started. They’re saying it’s gonna’ take at least another few weeks to get any of it even partially restored.” 


I frowned. “Huh. Well, she called me a few days ago. I don’t know how that’s even possible, but she did.” 


“Huh,” the soldier echoed. “Stranger things, I guess, right?” 


I shrugged. 


He turned and lifted the gate that leveled across the road so that I could pass. “Just be careful down there; emergency services aren’t functioning at this point. If anything happens, you’re essentially on your own.” 


I nodded and leaned into my pedal to get rolling again. The checkpoint quickly disappeared behind the trees as I pumped down the hill, racing toward home. 


  


*** 


  


I arrived at my parents' house after about 11 hours of riding time in the cold, with a few hours' break for food, water, and rest. I rode slowly up the final hill that led to the house, came around that final bend, and the pill-shaped mailbox, the one made from an old, decommissioned World War II bomb with "Strader" painted on the side (my great-grandfather had a strange sense of humor) came slowly into view. 


In the past, whenever I had ridden past that old mailbox, I’d always gotten the same feeling: "I'm home; things will be all right now." That feeling was conspicuously absent. 


The farm— really just a couple dozen wooded acres with a few chickens, a goat or two, and a sour old pig, Mr. Urnck— was too quiet. It was 3:00 in the afternoon: there were normally a thousand different tasks my parents took care of together this time of day. 


That brought up another oddity; with everything that had happened, between the fires and the storms and flooding, I had expected more damage. Apparently, Mom and Dad had been right about something. The farm was virtually untouched. 


Mom and Dad weren’t necessarily what I’d typically call "preppers.” They didn’t have anything beyond the typical mistrust of government common to the area, didn't have an arsenal of military look-alike high-capacity weapons and ammunition, and didn't even know terms like "SHTF" or "bug-out,” I didn't think. We had several different hunting rifles all growing up, but Dad had said he never felt like we needed anything beyond that. Said if things ever came to that, we’d be taken care of. I never really understood what he meant by that. But they were good country folk who liked to be prepared and look out for the people they loved. 


This property had belonged to my family for nearly four generations now, counting me. My great-grandfather (the one who'd built the mailbox) bought it after the war and it had been in my family ever since. Both Mom and Dad were really close to their grandparents and had learned and adopted a lot of their attitudes. 


In a world where everything was almost made to throw away, Dad still had and knew how to fix almost every major appliance and power tool he'd ever owned. Whether it was electric, gas-powered, or hand-operated, it seemed like Dad had the skills to fix it. Sometimes he would stay at his machine shop in town for days at a time, working on his endless projects. 


Mom was the type of woman who still ground her own wheat to make her own homemade bread and hung her laundry out to dry on a clothesline, year-round. She preferred things that took time, “Process over product,” she always said. She was a great lover of people: listening to, talking to, lifting up people. She was a therapist in a small town; not very busy, but very well-loved. She just always seemed to know how to say exactly what someone needed to hear. 


We’d always had a large supply of food storage on hand, as well. We’d had a conversation once when Dad had told me that he didn’t consider himself a “prepper,” merely prepared; said “prepper” had a doomsday quality to it that didn’t suit him. 


So, where were they? Everything looked fine. Why did I have the distinct feeling that it wasn’t? 


I peeked into the shop on my way past; there were some things out of place. Dad wasn’t inside. I continued on toward the house. 


I was on the porch with my hand on the doorknob before I registered the smell. Growing up having animals and spending a lot of time in the woods hunting with Dad, I knew the smell of decay. The smell of death. The house reeked. 


Completely panicked, I threw open the door and rushed in. The stench knocked me backward. I threw up the granola bars and apples I’d eaten on my ride home. 


I found both of my parents in the house. Dad was lying on the tile floor leading from the entryway into the kitchen, his .357 revolver next to his outstretched left hand, while Mom was in the kitchen almost to the hallway leading back to the bedrooms. Both had serious wounds in their backs, Dad one on his right arm as well, and both of them had obviously been dead for a while. It was all I could do to grab two sheets from the hallway closet and cover them both, then I sank down to the floor and cried. I crawled on my hands and knees out to the porch, sucking in the clear air. 


Hours passed before I could do anything aside from lie there. The smell had long since stopped registering. I walked slowly back to the door and stared numbly in at my father's form on the floor, now draped in the bed sheet, and knowing there was one more, my mother’s, exactly like it in the hallway. 


I was on my own. The National Guardsman had been explicit; if anything happened down here for the next couple of weeks, we were on our own. I was on my own. There was no one to call about my parents, nothing to do but bury them. I refused to let them sit there like cadavers in a morgue until some unknown time when a coroner could come get them. I’d bury them myself. 


  


*** 


  


I didn't finish burying my parents until early morning; I dug all night. It went fast in the beginning; I attacked the dirt at first, drove all of my rage, all of my hatred, through the handle and into the cold ground. It was obvious my parents had been murdered. After I burned through the rage, there was smoldering anger. Each shovel load was an additional thought of revenge. When the anger was gone, then came the sadness. I don't know if you've ever tried to dig (or really do anything) while heaving sobs, but it's near impossible. After that, there was only numbness for a while. That only lasted until the blisters burst, though. Then came the pain. 


Like an idiot, I hadn't worn gloves. At first, I kicked myself; if I'd have worn good gloves, I wouldn't even have blisters right now. But then I remembered something Dad had always said that his dad told him about gloves: "the only thing you can do better with gloves on is pee your pants." I laughed in between sobs when I remembered that. I could hear him saying it, the way he'd emphasize the word "pee" in the sentence, instead of "pants" like you would naturally. He hated wearing gloves; he thought they just got in the way. I looked up, expecting and prepared to say something to him about that line, when I saw instead the two draped forms I'd moved outside, and the pain in my hands migrated up my arms and settled deep in my chest. It sat there like a coiled snake: dark, loathsome, and volatile. 


I finished without thinking any other clear thoughts. Night was giving way to day, and there were two slight mounds of fresh, dark earth to mark my efforts. I turned and flung the shovel in the direction of the shed as hard as I could. It donged flatly several feet away and lay there. I wouldn’t pick it up again. If I tried, I would throw up, and so it sat there, a visual reminder of the one event I'd always remember and never stop trying to forget. 


I walked up to the porch and I sat down next to the revolver, where I’d placed it when I’d started digging. I sat on the porch of my parents’ house, the one I’d grown up in, and I stared at my bloody hands. 

 



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