Flash fiction challenge from August 9: Random Story Title Generator
“I’m sorry to the bearer of bad news boys, but your father has passed away,” said the bespectacled old man.
Nikolas and Demitri Kelley were hardly boys. The 26 and 21-year olds were seasoned Academy graduates and had been traveling the globe for the last three years. But to Dr. Charles Parker, or Uncle Chip as they affectionately called him, they were still the same young boys he had first taken in.
“How do you know?” said Nik. “No one’s heard from Dad in five years.”
“That is only partially true. Your father always kept me apprised of his general whereabouts. Last night, I received a message from him containing a single word, to be used only in the case of his impending death.”
The boys looked at each other in silence. No one would ever confuse Alexander Kelley with a helicopter parent. After their mom passed away giving birth to Demitri, Alexander tried the single dad route for a couple of years before asking Chip to watch over the boys while he was away on business. That all changed 15 years ago when he dropped the boys off and never came back.
“I know this is unexpected, but maybe you should think about postponing your trip for a few weeks,” said Chip.
“Why? Are we supposed to be in mourning?” said Nik. “He was practically a stranger to us.”
“He was still our dad!” said Demitri.
“You were too young to get it,” said Nik. “Do you know how many times I waited up, hoping that this would be the night that he would come home for good? And then he just up and left without a word.”
“Nik, I understand completely. But now that your dad is gone, it’s time you two finally knew the truth.”
“What, that our dad wasn’t a complete deadbeat?”
“Boys, your dad was looking for something, something that has apparently cost him his life. The thing he was searching for was … Atlantis.”
“You expect us to believe that? After all these years?” said Nik. “That our dad was off on a joyride around the world looking for some mystical city?”
“No, of course not.”
Chip turned to face the painting behind his desk, and then, in one fluid motion, punched through the canvas with his right fist.
“I did rather like that painting,” said Chip, as he retrieved a small metal object from the bottom of the frame. “Now, don’t you think it was odd that two farmer’s sons got into the Academy, the most prestigious and secretive school in the world? Your admission was not a charity case, for, you see…”
A storm of bullets erupted through the back wall and Chip fell face forward onto the desk.
“Boys… there isn’t much time … there is a … piece of paper in my front jacket pocket. … You’ll also need this. Always … look out .. for each other.” Chip placed the metal object into Demitri’s palm, as his hand went limp. Nik pulled out the blood-soaked paper. On it was a set of numbers that the boys did not recognize.
“Nik, what do we do?” Demitri’s hands were shaking as he held the metal object.
“We get the hell out of here, that’s what we do!”
“But how? We’ll never get out of the garage!”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got a plan.”
The headlights of the old Jaguar swept out onto the driveway as the garage door slowly opened. Within seconds, the gunfire resumed, but the car was not deterred. Speeding forward with alarming speed, it plowed head first into the black cars. It was then that a second set of lights appeared.
Nik revved the motorcycle three times and sped down the driveway.
“Are you sure about this?” said Demitri as he clutched his brother from behind.
“Not at all, but it seemed like a good idea 10 minutes ago.”
The bike reached the trunk of the wrecked car at alarming speed, where Nik had attached a conveniently-placed wooden ramp. The men in the black cars, still shaken from the previous collision, could do nothing but watch as the motorcycle sailed over them before touching down with a screech.
“I can’t believe that worked,” said Nik as the house receded into the background. “Do you have any idea where we’re supposed to go?”
Demitri pulled out the paper and unfolded it.
“It’s a series of 12 numbers, bookended with an N and a E.”
“Of course! Those are latitude and longitude coordinates. Plug them into your phone. Hopefully it’s not too far.”
Three days later, a weary Nik and Demitri finally reached the empty field. The boys did not have to dig for long before unearthing an old wooden box. Demitri placed the metal object into the small recess in the middle of the lid, and the box popped open. As they blew off the accumulated dust, the face of Alexander Kelley suddenly greeted them.
“Nikolas, Demitri, if you’re watching this message, then it means I am no longer with you. I wish I could have been there to see you both grow up, and I know it’s not worth much now, but I am truly sorry for what I put you both through. I don’t know how much Chip told you, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning.”
Alexander paused and cleared his throat.
“All that you have ever known about our family is a lie, a lie told to protect you from the fate I have no doubt met.The Kelleys of Des Moines … do not exist and I am not a farmer. Your roots lie across the ocean and go much deeper than you realize.
Your true surname is Ptolemaeus.
We are the stewards of the island of Rhodes and the guardians of the door to Atlantis.”