Survivor: A City of Heroes novel


Chapter 38 - "Returning"

Jon Smith carried the broken and blackened bit of cedar shingle with him.

He walked to the open space on the Henderson farm where Matthew Norman's wedding cottage had once stood, turned in a circle, seeking anything, anything at all that might catch his eye.

He sat down on the grass, where he thought the front of the house might have been, closed his eye, covered his cybernetic monocle with one hand, the shingle clutched in his other hand.

And waited, trying to will himself to remember something, anything, of what it might have been like.

He had known about the he willed himself to see it, in his mind's eye.

At first he couldn't find anything, no scrap of memory, to support what he already knew.

Then, for just a second, he was sitting on a wooden porch, the shiny new pocketknife his grandfather had given him was in his hand. His flesh-and-blood hand.

He heard a voice, a woman's voice: "....Zeke Norman, if I catch you whittling on that chair seat again, I'm going to take that thing away from you....!"

And then it was gone.

Try as he might, nothing else appeared in his mind.

He sat for another hour, got up, walked around the property, dodging the Fir Bolg and Tuatha de Dannan that roamed the area. He knocked on the Wellborne's door, exchanged pleasantries with them, thanked Henry Wellborne profusely for his help, explained to them what he had found out. They were pleasantly surprised to see him again, and encouraging. But they could add nothing to what they had already told him.

He spent another hour walking around, but remembered nothing.

It was getting late....he'd made his excuses to Hero Corps so that he could take the ride out to Salamanca earlier than usual, but he'd already spent hours on the old homestead, and the sun was beginning to dip toward the west. He walked back to the courthouse, went inside. Asking for help from the clerks, who knew him quite well by now, he dug up the local cemetery records, perused them carefully, finally found what he was looking for.

They were closing the building, locking up for the night, as he was leaving.

He walked across the tiny town, went to the cemetery, wandered through it, carefully noting locations of various landmarks and gravestones.

And finally found what he was looking for.

The stone was old and very plain, but the writing was clear.

"Zebediah Norman
"Father, husband, farmer
"Rest in Peace"

Jon Smith sank to his knees, then sat on the well-tended grass.

After a long moment, he put out a metal hand, laid it on top of the grave.

"Grampa...." he said quietly. "I'm home."


Copyright, November 26, 2012