……….“Now wait just one minute. Where do you think you’re going?” said Theo. He put down his pen as Neo walked past his desk.
……….“Out forever,” said Neo. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
……….“Do you mean to say what I think you mean?” asked Theo. He got up and put on his jacket. “Well, then, I’m coming with you.”
……….“No, that’s against the point!” snapped Neo. “I’m leaving you and I’m never coming back! I’m never going to have anything to do with you. Do you realize how many people’s lives you mess with?”
……….Theo was by Neo’s side now. He gave Neo a stern look. The crags that had accumulated over a long time over his forehead increased. It was the face of a man who always got his way and would not take “no” for an answer. “And where do you think you will go?”
……….“That logic won’t work with me. That’s called making a deal with the devil, and he always comes to collect. I’m not going to do that. I’m not so short sighted or so low on faith. I’ll make ends meet.”
……….“Boy, you have no idea what it’s like to make a deal with the devil,” said Theo. He put his hands in his pocket and lowered his head as they walked out of the business building. They passed Theo’s secretary, and Theo snapped his fingers. “Grab me a gun. I’m going out.” The waiter opened his drawer and threw a gun into Theo’s hands, which he took in stride and tucked underneath his jacket.
……….They reached outside. There were many poor people on the street. Many of them had guns as well.
……….“I’ve denied to other people, Neo, the consequences of my actions. I know this world is a hellhole right now, and the guilt for this situation lies in large part on my shoulders, but I have never hid this from you. When I compromised with evil in the hubris of my youth several generations ago, I put up a lie in my shame and in my sureness and conviction of my strength. Yet, that lie is pointless now. Your development has been much stronger now that you have seen the sins of the father. You can learn from my failures, and I have not yet finished grooming heroes to help me atone for my failures.”
……….“I’m not going to be the one who helps you,” said Neo. “You don’t deserve it. I’ going to fix this world up, but it won’t be with the person who destroyed it.”
……….“If you go right now I will shoot you,” said Theo.
……….“Sir! You’re my grandfather!”
……….“Great-great-grandfather, to be exact,” said Theo. “And I will only shoot you in the knee.”
……….“I can’t believe you would do this. No, never mind. I can.”
……….“I am your great-great-grandfather,” said Theo. “And you’re still pretty young. With your father dead and all those other generations gone, I’m the only father-figure you have, and as such, it is my right – no, it is my duty, to impart on you all the wisdom a father can bestow. Trust me, after several generations, I have improved. Do you know who you are? Of course not. That is why you need me, because I know who you are.”
……….“What about Silver Bird? He was a mentor to my father, and his father.”
……….“And your grandfather had even more angst than you when he was your age. However, as it happens, I know where Silver Bird is.”
……….“Yes, I do,” said Theo. “I’ve really been prepping you for guidance under him for quite some time. Since you’re officially taking things this far, I might as well take you to him. However, I must warn you, what you hear from him you will have to swallow. Come with me, then. I will take him to you, and in the meantime, there is something I want to show you.”
……….So they walked around the building with the escort of Theo’s private security and found their way to a launching pad, with a small luxury ship. They got in, as they had many times before, drank their fine wine, and headed out into the stars.
……….The location of Silver Bird was always a secret, of course. Theo and Neo kept their whereabouts hidden as well. It was the post-apocalyptic world they lived in, and the people trying to solve it were the ones most persecuted.
……….Then, less than a day later, they encountered a meteor field. Neo opened up a hologram window to see what was outside. The ship stopped, and there was a wheel in outer space before him with transparent walls. When the ship docked, he stepped into its artificial gravity and looked at the stars under his feet.
………. They walked up next to him. “See this field? This is what it left of Atlas, the home of our great race. You think you have no home? I have none, either. All that is left is the great, insensible tomb of Zero. I saw its destruction with my own eyes. I have no more sense of self to live for.”
……….There were footsteps. “Theo,” said a man. Silver Bird. He walked up to them and, upon stopping, summed up Neo in once nod. “Why now? He’s not ready yet.”
……….“What? But you’re wise.”
……….“I’m not wise because I’m immortal but because I made mistakes. Theo’s made many. He just has less time to make up for them. Go home now.”
……….And that was that. Theo put his arm around Neo and brought him back home. “I like this better than last time,” said father to son.
So that last line was referencing another flash-fiction write-off with Theo in it. That one was horrible. Also, I will reveal that at least one of these characters will be involved in an upcoming supersized epic that I will be releasing next year on my blog called The Adventures of Mary. You will read it because it will be awesome and fun.