“Camael?” Jonas and Max gasped as the angel pulled itself out of the split in the earth.
“Sorry about that,” he said, standing on the grass and clapping his hands. The ground pulled itself back together with a shattering quake; now it looked as though there had never been a split in the earth.
“Well,” he said, brushing dirt off himself, “I’ve got a mission for you.”
“A what?” Ness asked.
“A mission. I did tell you about your job, didn’t I? Or did yesterday night never happen?” Camael snapped. Ness shrunk back. Some angel he was.
Landon and Jonas exchanged troubled glances. “Alright then…what is it?”
“There is a group of people living in this neighborhood,” Camael began. He clapped his hands and a smoky picture showed up in front of the four friends. It featured a mansion with a giant front lawn surrounded by trees.
“Hey!” Ness exclaimed. “That was the house in my dream…”
Camael looked at Ness oddly. “In your dream?”
“Yes, we went there and all these people attacked us—”
“Oh! Your dream.” Camael suddenly smiled. “Your power came to you that quick, huh?”
Ness paused. “I guess so.”
“Well, the people in that house are some of Satan’s closest followers. In fact, they all work for his right-hand man, Ganelon.”
Memory stirred in Ness’s head. Landon glanced at her curiously.
“In that house, they keep a possession that is needed by our side to hold off the Apocalypse.” Camael paused dramatically.
“Hold off the Apocalypse,” Max repeated quietly.
“It’s called Eve’s Candle,” Camael explained, and clapped his hands again. The picture changed from a house to a small glass ball. A green flame hovered inside it, bobbing up and down within the sphere.
“It doesn’t look like much, but that little ball of fire can shift the balance of power in the universe. When the light is green, the power balance is neutral. When it’s black, Evil is reigning. White means that Good has taken over.”
“Kind of like a universal mood ring, eh?” Landon said.
“This isn’t a joke,” Camael growled.
“I’m not making it out to be one,” Landon said back.
“Your mission is to go into the house and get the Candle for the—the sake of God and humanity.”
Silence fell among the four.
“This might be the most important mission you’ll ever go on—and it should be, since you only have one week to decide who you want to be for the rest of your lives—normal, or part of the God Squad.”
“Where is this house?” Max asked.
“It’s the only one on Westchester Drive,” Ness said, then clamped a hand over her mouth. Her eyes were wide. “Oh, God, I don’t even know where Westchester drive is. I’ve never heard of it.”
Camael flinched. “Well, that’s your power for you. Seers know all. Well. Almost all. Anyway, back to business. These guards are very, very powerful. It won’t take much to get around them, though, if Max can control his invisibility. Or if Ness could control her power over air and turn you all into wind.”
“No,” Ness said. “No, that’s not a good idea. In my dream—”
“Your dreams aren’t what tells the future, Ness.” Camael looked impatient. He cast his eyes to the ground, then quickly upwards. “I’m being called,” he told them. “I can’t stay. You’ll have to do the rest on your own.”
“What? No, you can’t leave us this fast again with nothing to go on—” Jonas began.
“You’ve got plenty to go on,” Camael interrupted. He clapped his hands again. The hole in the earth re-opened, and he jumped down into it. The dirt closed in over his head, and once again it looked as if nothing had happened.
The four sat in silence. Slowly, Ness’s watch started to tick. The leaves fell through the air. Birds chirped again—time was moving.
“Okay, who’s all up for being normal people again when this week is over?” Max asked.
* * * * *
On Sunday, Jonas, Landon, Ness, and Max piled into Jonas’s car and headed out toward Westchester Drive. It was quite a hike from where they lived, but it had to be done.
“Alright. So…two of us should stay with the car,” Max suggested. “And the other two will go to the house.”
“And do what? Knock on the door and pretend like they’re selling Girl Scout cookies?” Landon joked.
“No…maybe they can be walking missionaries, or something.”
“Oh, because we’re so sure that’s going to go over real big with a house run by Satan,” Landon scoffed.
“How ‘bout we play some ding-dong-ditch?” Ness suggested.
“What?” the boys said at once.
“Ding-dong-ditch. Two of us stay with the car…two of us go to the house—one of them has to be Max, so they can go invisible. They ring the bell and when the door opens, they slip inside.”
“Why don’t I just walk though the wall?” Max asked.
“Because you don’t know how to do that while invisible yet,” Ness explained. “You could walk into a room with a million of them in there, and you’re caught.”
“Well, what if the door is blocked and we can’t squeeze through whoever opens it?” Jonas asked.
“Can’t Landon can try and sense if anyone is inside? If that doesn’t work…I can try to See inside, but I can’t control it too much. If all else fails…then I can try to turn into air and get in.”
“Or burn the house down,” Jonas suggested.
“No,” Ness said, and Landon laughed. “But we’ll need you to stop time if anything goes horribly wrong.”
“Yeah, but you’ll freeze, too, unless you’re touching me.” Jonas shrugged. “I don’t know why, but it just works that way.”
The boys looked at each other for a few minutes, thinking over Ness’s plan.
“Well, she is the smart one,” Max admitted.
Landon and Jonas nodded in silent agreement.
“Alright, so who’s going with me?”
“Well, since we’re going to need all four of us…two should hide by the house, and two should go in. Landon should stay outside so that he can communicate with everyone inside and out. Since Ness pretty much has all the backup power…she should go in, too,” Jonas suggested.
“Yeah, but only you and Landon have the powers that can really destroy some stuff if things get sticky. You can both pretty much fry anyone around them,” Ness said.
“Alright…so Jonas and Max go in, Ness and I stay out,” Landon supplied.
“Okay, that works. Because then if we need help inside, Ness can turn you guys into air and come in for back-up,” Jonas said. “And since Max is with me—I need to be touching him to stay invisible, so freezing time will be easier.”
“But remember, we’re not getting the Candle today,” Ness said. “We have to explore the place. We may not find it all week.”
Jonas parked the car. “We’re here.”
* * * * *
Walking while invisible was strange, Jonas noted as the four trekked down Westchester Drive. He felt like a pair of eyeballs floating in the air with no head attached. However, he could still feel his body—his hand was clamped around Max’s wrist.
Westchester Drive consisted of a road, a sidewalk, and dense trees on both sides. It was virtually uninhabited; the only reason he could think of anyone wanting to live there was for isolation purposes—and what else would an evil group of people want?
Finally, the house appeared. It was a huge mansion—Jonas heard Ness gasp when she saw it.
It was made out of red brick. A row of hedges blocked the front yard from the cul-de-sac road—but he could still see the yard was huge.
Max guided them to the trees on the west side of the property. Ness and Landon let go of Max. Jonas watched in awe as they faded into sight among the trees.
“Alright, stay connected,” Jonas said, and he felt Landon grip his mind.
Max led Jonas to the door. He reached out his invisible hand and felt for the doorbell. It was a strange sensation—being invisible gave them something Max affectionately called “reverse-blindness”—he could see everything around him, but he didn’t have much of a sense for himself.
The doorbell was to the right of the double doors—Max noticed that they would easily be able to squeeze through. Neither he nor Jonas were terribly big people.
He rang the doorbell, and the chime echoed throughout the house. They waited a few moments.
Landon, I don’t think anyone’s home, Max telegraphed to Landon, who’s presence was heavy in his mind.
No, Ness can See in there—he’s dressed in a tux and holding a silver platter, she says. Just wait.
The door creaked open slowly.
“Good even—” the man began, but stopped abruptly. He was bald with a gray toothbrush moustache, and he was, indeed, wearing a black tux and holding a silver tray. He stepped onto the lawn and looked around. Jonas and Max hurried quietly inside.
The house opened to a giant foyer with a pair of steps leading to a second floor and about eight doorways leading elsewhere. Upstairs there were even more doors.
Great, Max thought to Landon. There’s a million places to go in here.
There was no answer.
Landon? Can you hear me?
Again, no answer.
They were trapped inside with no way to communicate back out.
* * * * *
“Shit,” Landon muttered furiously. “They can’t hear me.”
“What?” Ness asked. Her eyes were locked on the house; though they stared at the brick exterior, her mind saw something different—the inside of the house.
“Max told me there’s a million places to go in the house, and I’m trying to talk back—but he can’t hear me.”
“Oh no. I can’t see them, either…they’re invisible.”
“Should we go in?” Landon asked.
“I don’t know—maybe. Wait…there’s this gold light in the foyer…it’s kind of moving around…oh my God, I know what it is!”
“What is it?”
“It’s them! Remember Camael said something about a golden glow, but we didn’t see it ‘cause we got use to it?”
“Well, I saw it before I knew you guys…and I can see it now!”
“Alright, so what are they doing?”
“They’re over by a window, just kind of standing there…”
Landon tried again. Jonas…Max, can you hear me?
Landon! Jonas’s mental voice said. What happened?
I don’t know…don’t move away from the window.
Why? Is it like a cell phone in here, only we get bad service, or something? Max asked.
Could be. Do you want us to come in?
No…I think we’re good. But all the doors are closed. If we open one, people will know we’re here.
“Ness, is there anyone in the first room?” Landon asked out loud.
“Yeah. Landon, there’s people in every room. The only way they’re getting around in there is if Max could phase through while invisible.”
Don’t try anything, Landon told the other boys. Ness says it’s packed.
“Wait, there’s people coming out of a second-floor room,” Ness told Landon.
Heads up—people on the second floor.
Ness watched as Max and Jonas’s gold glow raced up the stairs, and their mental connection with Landon was lost.
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