THE GREAT CAESAR PHOENIX: Chapter 1

I’m no Jesus. Never claimed to be. Never wanted to be. But that’s the funny thing about doing what I can do… What I want doesn’t fucking matter anymore. All over the world there were people who claimed to do the impossible. They offered hope for a price. Shaman. Priests. Mystics. Medicine Men. Healer. Different words for the same scam. False prophet.

Prophet. What a ridiculous title. I couldn’t prophesize my way through a one street town, using a GPS. I know fuck-all about what the future holds… but when it came to a supernatural gift, I was the real deal.

January 1st:

New night. New Year. New beginning. Auld Lang Syne. Time for the resolutions of every fat ass to regret the binge eating and drinking of the night before by committing a yearly membership to a gym they’ll never use. And I, the great hypocrite patting my round stomach under my stretching shirt, thought about what I wouldn’t be changing. What I refused to improve in myself. But the lie we all tell ourselves is that we have control over the change or lack thereof that we approve for our lives. Sometimes shit happens.

As I drove home in the witching hour, keeping my heavy eyes peeled with contempt for my night at Jenny’s cousins party as though it were some long past battle among the fields of spears and arrows stained in dripping politics, the accident happened. Jenny had just fallen asleep in the passenger seat, her phone still glowing in her hand as the final thoughts of last year’s wishes were shared among the world in a web of new year’s dream. We were only 10 minutes away from the promise of a warm bed, and so I pressed a little harder on the gas pedal. I wasn’t sideways drunk. More like, 45 degrees bent. Fortunately, the road was vacant by this hour, only a few cars humming by with intoxicated eagerness.

I hardly noticed the fog accumulate on the window. I looked down to adjust the vent. My head lifted suddenly with a sobering shock to my body. I was falling asleep. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, but I was afraid. My heart raced, trying to outrun the sinking feeling of the danger my tired eyes were creating.

My head fell again, briefly and I caught it just as a truck swayed past the line on the left. I stomped the break and honked violently.

“What the heck, Caesar?!” Jenny jumped from her sleep.

“That asshole was all over the road.” I pointed in righteous anger, ignoring my brand of creative driving that I was doing moments before.

“Go around him.”

“I’d love to, as soon as he picks a lane.” I honked. “What is he doing?”

The truck continued to swing between lines until pulling a hard right, cutting in front of us, through the next lane, and tumbled off the road, down a short steep hill into a row of trees with a violent crunching.

“HOLY SHIT!”

“Oh my god! Do you think they’re okay?”

I pressed hard on my breaks while aiming towards the shoulder of the road above the tipped truck. Several other cars did the same. The truck was impaled by branches, standing on its nose as it propped against a tree.

*Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooonk* the blared the sobering horn.

“I have to help them.”

“Don’t, Caesar!” Jenny begged grabbing my arm. I knew that look. She was frightened and my stomach turned with a desire to be there for her. To be a more attentive husband. But not now. That can be a resolution for next year.

I jumped out of the car and stumbled down the steep hill, tripping over roots and twigs as I slipped on the frosty mud. There were two people in the car. Both men. Both conscious. Both in terrible condition. The men hung from their seat belts within the demolished interior. Blood and glass were everywhere, dripping, pooling, soaking.

“Are you okay?” I yelled over the still screaming horn.

“Help us, please!” The passenger cried.

“I’m going to try to get you out.” I yelled as I approached the truck. A heavy smell of gas filled the air. There was no smoke, but the fumes alone were suffocating.

“My leg!?”

“Hold on guys. I need to get you out of the seat.”

“Don’t touch them!” reprimanded a heavy black man stumbling down the embankment. “If they broke their spine, you can paralyze them.”

“They look to be bleeding badly We’re gonna have to risk it or they’re going to die. Come help me hold them while I get them out.” I barked back. The man came closer, seeing the deep shards of glass embedded in the drivers face and followed the bodily fluid as it dripped. Without further debate he nodded and complied.

“Get Eddie out first.” pleaded the driver.

I quickly circled the vertical truck, finding a blockade of branches and brush on the right side, before rushing back to the driver’s side. “I want to help your friend, but I can’t get to him from his side. I need to get you out first.”

I reached in the bent jagged door holding the driver’s chest with my right hand and unleashing his buckle with my left. The other rescuer tried supporting what parts he could through the tight space. Then, together, we pulled the driver out of the sideways vehicle and laid him on the ground.

The horn finally silenced as I turned the wheel to climb in. I crossed the middle console, then used my body to prop the passenger to release him from his seat. There wasn’t room for the other man to help, but luckily the passenger was much lighter than the driver. The belt clicked, loosening, and with a weakening of pressure on his chest he let out one big breath and passed out.

“Where’s his leg?” Asked the helper. I didn’t notice as I struggled to hold him under his shoulders but the passenger’s leg was missing at the knee.

“Oh, fuck!” I said turning away from the severed stump. I handed the passenger off to the other man who laid him on the ground next to the driver.

“I’ll be right back.” I assured over my shoulder, returning to the car to search through the wreckage. Metal and glass jutted everywhere cutting my hand while digging for the severed limb. I found it in the back seat.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!” The helper gagged from the gruesome sight.

I could hear sirens whistling in the distance. Jenny must have called the police. I laid the leg next to the body and knelt down to tie a tourniquet. I ripped the pants from the leg, tearing it into strips and wrapped the thigh as tight as I could. I took hold of the severed leg and the strangest damn thing came over me. I put the leg against the leg, meat to meet, bone to bone, fitting the knee back into the socket like a child fitting Legos together.

Then came the surge. It started like a prayer; my eyes clenched shut and muffled wind filled my ears as though was within the wake of an ocean breeze. I could feel it. Something powerful was happening… and it was happening through me. Electricity poured through my body like a conductor, touching every nerve ending and bringing hairs to a standing ovation. My skin shrank and tightened in discomfort, as the invisible force pooled into my hands and escaped through the tips of my fingers. Light and life drained from me. All of me. As the surge force left, I realized I had been holding my breath, and now was freed from the choking hold it had. I gasped for air. Tired. Worn.

I peeled my eyes open. Flashing lights waved high as the emergency vehicles approached, hypnotizing with their red and blue strobe. I looked to the driver whose face was swollen and cut as glass pushed out of his skin and the wounds sealed themselves. My heart raced. I sat, catching my breath for the first time since running down into the ditch.

I looked down to see both the driver and passenger were unconscious, when I realized the naked leg I held in my hand was whole. What was two parts of mangled flesh and bone, had now fused perfectly into one. The only indication of the damage repaired by a thin golden seam.

An inhuman sinking pulled my heart into my stomach as I tried to catch my breath. I hardly remember the climb back up the hill back to the road. The other man, my helper, was on his phone, presumably talking to his family to explain why he’d be home even later. I didn’t say another word. No thank yous. No goodbyes. I couldn’t.

Jenny was in the car waiting.

“What happened? Did they die? Is that blood? Are you bleeding?”

I panted frantically trying to find my words. I was stained red. I looked down at the cut on my hand to see the skin lift and fold into flesh sealed with a thin golden wrinkle.

“What happened?” she begged.

“I’m not sure, but we need to leave.”

That’s what we did. Fled the scene of an accident we shouldn’t have ever been involved in

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind.

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