I hear the door open behind me but do not turn around. Nick comes to stand next to me. He looks splendid in his white shirt, jeans, and glasses.
“That's a nice view,” he says, shading his eyes as he looks out to sea.
“Yes. Thanks for coming. I need to talk to you about this next part of the journey, Nick. We should sit.” I indicate the table laden with good tea things.
He follows me to the table and sits down. I pour him a cup of tea. Our fingers brush as I hand it to him. I ignore the tingling.
I pour myself cup and then pause, looking at him. “I think you should leave, Nick. You've been here for far too long and there's nothing you can do now. The Boss is going to unleash his fury on me, this place, it's going to be tough going.”
“I noticed everything is being rebuilt and reinforced. Do you really think he's going to come down here?”
“I hope not, but it's best to be prepared.” I can see the color of his skin through his white shirt, something I've always enjoyed. “I'm going up to that neighborhood. Hopefully, he won't have to come down here.”
“What are you going to do there?” He reaches for the teacup and takes a sip.
“Talk some sense into him. He wants the sword but only I can wield its power. To him it would be like holding a bronze handle.”
“Why you?” he asks, folding his arms across his chest. Another fresh breeze blows by ruffling his hair.
I sigh and lean back in my chair. “I guess because this is my world, I'm the Chosen One. The sword is very old. Carbon dating places it in the middle of the Bronze age. At the Met it was only a handle. I first learned about the sword from a couple of angels. They came to get me, brought me to the museum, and told me about the sword. It's name is Mithra.”
“The Boss sent them?” Nick asks. He's eating a cucumber sandwich.
“No, apparently they did all this on their own which is very unusual. Angels by their very nature are obedient, most of them don't question their orders. I never knew why they did what they did, probably the same old reasons. Both angels were destroyed by the sword when they tried to take its power for themselves,” I feel a wash of sadness thinking about that ending.
“That must have been some story,” says Nick, watching me closely.
“I don't really know how the story goes to be honest. I only know one major scene from it because that's all I wrote of it. The ending just came to me right before I told you.”
He cocks his head, “You're really weird, Miss Turtle.”
I smile at him. “And I would like to know how your mind works since you are a writer yourself.”
He looks away, frowning. I've hit a nerve. I back off.
“So I think you should leave, Nick. It's the best thing. You can't do much more now and I have the sword so I'll be fine,” I say as I pick up a crumpet. I bite into it. It's not too sweet and has a fine crumble.
Nick leans back in his chair. “And here I thought I was a stand-in for your Mr. Gryphon.”
“Of sorts,” I smile, “I thank you for all you've done for me and this world of mine. Your job here is done, Nick. Like it is in the real world.”
“There are some odd things going on in the real world, Miss Turtle. I know you'd talk to Mr. Gryphon about them and he's not here. Do you want to talk about it?” he says carefully.
I sigh. “No, not really. I'll say only that while it was a selfish act of sorts it was really more about trust and being open. I'm clear and grounded in my feelings even if they aren't reciprocated. We'll see if this is where that story ends. Now it is time, Nick.”
He only looks at me. I'll miss his glasses and big hands. His eyes, oh yes, and I'll miss his eyes filling themselves with me.
“Can I keep the ingot? As a souvenir, I mean,” he asks.
“Of course you can,” I stand up. The others are coming now. They've known that it is time to see Nick off. He looks at them all and then looks back at me.
“Tell me about the sword, before I go. I think I've earned the right to know,” Nick stays seated.
The others are gathering around us now. No one says a word. I do owe everyone an explanation.
“Well, the sword as I said was made sometime in the middle of the Bronze age or so they think. No one knows who made it or how it got its powers. I think the only place that has the fullest explanation is in the Archives in Heaven.”
“Have you seen these Archives?” asks my 36 year old self, her eyes wide.
“No, I heard about them from the two angels. They broke in and found out about the sword there. And about me.”
“What about you, Miss Turtle,” asks Nick.
I look away, embarrassed that I've assigned myself such an important role but press on with my explanation. “I'm what's referred to as the 'FailSafe.' The person or entity capable of keep the deities in line should the time come for that. It was built into this system. By whom I have no idea. Not even the two angels knew the answer to that.”
I glance around at everyone, they are still standing there, waiting in rapt attention. I reach for the teapot but Nick picks it up for me and pours me another cup of tea.
I finger the cup for a moment before picking it up and sipping. I put the cup back down but not in its saucer. “The sword has the power to destroy energy itself by absorbing it. This makes it the most powerful weapon that has ever existed. The sword is capable of destroying everything by absorbing its energy, even angels, demons, and God. The catch is that the black blade must be borne out of the FailSafe's own energy. The process is very painful but it makes me and the sword one entity. No one else can use the sword. If they grab the handle the blade will disappear.”
“So why would the Boss want the sword anyway if it can't be used by anyone other than you?” asks one of the Librarians.
“I think it's because he figures if he is in possession of the handle it can't be used at all.”
“What happened to the two angels?” asks Nick. His lovely brown/green eyes are filled with me again. A familiar warmth courses through me.
“Near as I can tell they tried to manipulate me into using the sword for them. In the end, they turned on me and I had to destroy both of them.” I stare into my almost empty teacup. “They said they were my guardian angels sent from Heaven.” Tears well up in my eyes. I wonder if I'll ever write that story down in its entirety.
I look up again. Nick is watching me. “That's pretty much everything. I don't know much else.” My right hand aches for a moment but the pain passes quickly enough.
“Thank you, Miss Turtle. I'm ready to go now.” Nick says, standing up.
I stand up too and just look at him for a long time. He steps forward and takes my hand, giving it a squeeze, just like he did a year and a month ago. I lean into him and kiss him on the cheek.
“Goodbye, Miss Turtle. I'm sure we'll see each other again in the real world.”
“Yes, I hope so. I hope at some point you and I can actually be friends,” I gather myself together. “Thank you for your help and thank you for your help in the real world. I hope, well, you know.” He smiles at me and then turns to the others. As he is saying his goodbyes and shaking hands with everyone I watch him. He really does need to go back home. He must have a ton of things to see and to do there. I do know that I'm glad he was here even for this short duration.
He comes back to me, taking both of my hands. He leans down and kisses me gently on the mouth. I slip into his arms and he holds me. I snuggle deep into him, knowing this is the only time I'll be able to do that. I inhale his scent and warmth.
He gives me one last squeeze and pulls away. “Tell April I'm sorry I didn't get to say goodbye. Good luck with everything. I know you'll get everything back, Miss Turtle. I know you will soon.”
I blink tears away, “Thanks.” It sounds watery and girlish. I turn away from him and stretch out my hand. The blue door says “xxx.” He pulls open the door and I can see the dimly lit shower room beyond. He steps through the door and turns back to me. He tosses me the ingot. I catch it. “I think you'll be needing that more than me.” He smiles at me and waves at the others then he's gone.
The others turn away to leave but I am still rooted to my place long after the blue door has faded away. I haven't really lost him because I never had him in the first place but it aches all the same. I only wish I could tell him this story in the real world so he could see his role in it.
Two days go by and I am getting ready for the last leg of the journey. Mithra sits on a special sword holder in my chambers, the blade glowing an odd shimmering black fire. It looks unnatural, wrong somehow. No one wants to go near it.
With help from the weapons division of my Library I'm being carefully outfitted. Some strong but lightweight body armor, a rifle, and my semi-automatic. I know I'll be ready for whatever is coming. Oddly enough I don't have any real idea of what this part of the story is going to be like. I don't even know exactly what's going to happen next. So strange.