Here's some flash fiction for #SaturdayScene today.



The Legacy



The man who mentored Reece most of his life lay dying a slow death in his bed. Lifting a shaky arthritic finger, he pointed to the top drawer of the chest.

Reece fished out a small ruler-shaped wooden box and brought it to him.

"Lean close, boy, I have much to say and show you and little strength to do it with."

Sitting closer on the bed, the old man revealed seven brown one inch cubed runes aligned in a row with different symbols on each.

"When I was ten," the old man croaked, "it was the first timed I realized they really worked. He picked up a rune with a crude bug-like drawing on it.

"Our neighbors crops were completely wiped out by beetles one year. Field after field was destroyed by swarms of them, all except one. Ours. I began carrying them in my pocket all the time after that." He returned it to the box and picked up another resembling a book on it.

"I met your grandmother in the library while studying. Bet I read hundreds of books on engineering and conducting trains. His eyes seemed to glaze over with unshed memories. Minutes ticked by; Reece's presence was temporarily forgotten by the old man, replaced by another place, and time long ago.

"Grandfather?" The old man blinked away his reverie and coughed.

"Where was I? Oh, yes. This one saved many lives, including mine, high up in the Rockies during the worst blizzard in history. I was engineering at the Pacific Union at that time. The looped tracks were just fine for getting up the lesser grades leading up the pass, but we encountered trouble climbing the steeper grades near the top. The ice and snow became thicker on the switchbacks. We needed help. I fumbled, searching for the rune with the "U" symbol. Almost too late, I remembered I stuck them in the bib pocket of my overalls. With no time to lose, I closed my eyes. I prayed, promised my soul, and wished beyond life itself if we could just get our over-loaded ass to the other side of the pass. Black smoke engulfed us, groaning metal joints protested, wheels squealed... Then there was a slight tug, a jolting movement, as an invisible magnet, of sorts, began pulling us effortlessly to the top," his eyes twinkled with remembered adrenaline.

The young man was speechless. What does one say to the fantastical ramblings of a ninety-eight year old dying man, who seemed to believe in magic? That's awesome? Grandfather motioned for the water glass after his long tirade, sipped, then cleared his raspy voice.

Reece picked up the pill bottle from the night table. "Time for your next dose, Grandfather." He was waved impatiently away. Searching for some response, Reece asked, "So...um, how do you make them work?"

"You hold the chosen stone tightly, close your eyes, and let your mind envision the unreal until it becomes real," he whispered. "Don't open your eyes until you've done so, " he cautioned, picking up the star rune.

"This one, after ten barren years, gave my sweet Ina, your grandmother, the baby she thought we would never have. Your father. It was a clear starry summer night and I asked her to make a wish. I knew what she would wish for. She gasped. When I opened my eyes, she said she'd seen the prettiest blue shooting star," grandfather said. His head rolled to the side of the pillow, smiling.

Reece let him continue his odd memories and set the medication down. He enjoyed the time and closeness, regardless if they were just odd memories of a senile old man.

"Your father was coddled, spoiled, and well-loved," he continued,"But...He was a perplexing different soul. He grew his hair long, picked on a guitar all day, wore loud clothes, and a leather fringed vest. We loved him just the same, but didn't understand him or his philosophies. I wish you could've known him longer."

"Me too." Reece said, sadly in agreement.

Grandfather's face grew long lifting out the next stone. It had a small circle within a larger rectangle. "Your father was a good peace-loving man, but lacked ambition. I only wanted to help him. So I helped the only way I knew how, with this symbol...He became a photo-journalist, moved to a fancy city. His office was in a skyscraper. Made a lot of money. Then a new job lured him out west, where he followed strange people with idiotic ideas taking false pictures he called 'sightings'. He became obsessed with nonsense; these UFO's and the extraterrestrial. I had set something in motion I soon regretted."

"Grandfather, Dad disappeared when I was five. It wasn't your fault, or mom's, or mine. He just left; walked out fifteen years ago of his own choosing...Did you try a rune? To bring him back, I mean?" He asked. _Could there actually be some truth to this?_Grandfather's eyes held Reece's, then he sighed deeply.

"I had not a clue which of the last three to choose, fear of using the wrong one might make things worse. I doubted myself. If you do not believe strongly in the unreal, how can you make it real?"

"Where did they come from? Why us?" Reece asked, unable to deny his interest.

"Reece, my boy, these runes were used by my grandfather and his grandfather before him. I was told there were no answers as to where they originated. The best conclusion I came up with was dated back to our gypsy ancestors from Romania. The symbols take on new meaning for each generation. They change. They are to be used carefully... I may have failed your father."

Weary now, grandfather drew out the rune with a ">" on it. He closed his eyes. Fisting the rune tightly caused his deep blue veins to pop up even more on his bony hand speckled with liver spots. The wrinkled loose skin from his arm began to shake from his exertion. Minutes passed in silence.

"Grandpa?" The boy asked worriedly, leaning in. His grandfather opened his eyes tiredly.

Relieved, Reece asked, "Did ...you just, you know..." He looked around, but saw nothing unusual.

"Yes. It will reveal a direction to you when you need it the most. Now this tired old sorry excuse for a man would like at least one good nights sleep. Be a good boy and hand me the last one. The one with the "Z" shape on it," grandfather said.

Reece watched him clutch it, squeezing once more with the last of his strength.

When the old man reopened his eyes he said, "Know that I love you, am confident and proud of you. Raising you has been a joy to my heart like no other... Take these stones, they are yours, now. They are worth more than this house, my money, and any other possession I have to give... Keep them on you at all times, but use them wisely throughout your life, and they will not fail you... Do not be surprised if they have different symbols tomorrow than what you see now...They will change, readying themselves to help only you," he said weakly, breathing erratically. "You will pass them on to your grandson."

"But, what if I don't have a grandson?" Reece asked.

"You will. Now lean close and let me hold you one last time." Reece gently wrapped his arms around the fragile body, fear of crushing to hard. He was surprised at the old man's strength from the returned hug. "I love you, Grandpa." He gulped, holding back tears.

"I love you, too, boy. Have a good life. Enjoy it, live it, no regrets for you," he whispered, brokenly.

The next morning arrived harshly for Reece. Grandfather had died peacefully in his sleep.

*

As if in a trance, Reece drove and drove. He passed three states, then on through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into Nevada. In his grief, he let the car decide the direction. He was leaned on for support by his mother as he grew into puberty. He was there for grandmother in the absence of his father. He was the strong one for his grandfather when grandmother died. Where was the strong shoulder for him? When was it his turn? It was hard to care anymore. Finally, near exhaustion, he stopped at a heavily secured gate restricting further passage on the thin strip of secluded highway surrounded by desert nothingness. The barbed fencing was littered with 'No Trespassing', 'Warning', 'Danger', 'Intruders Will Be Shot' signs.

This? This dead end was his direction? Unbelievable. What the hell was he doing?

He turned the car around and began back down the endless stretch of highway. Looking to the passenger seat, he reached over and picked up the box holding the seven cubed runes, lined neatly inside the wood. Sliding open the lid, he looked carefully at them. Not one was like any from last night. As he studied them, they looked like meaningless scribbles. Reece took out the one with two small darkened oval circles within a larger oval. It looked like an alien face. Sort of, he thought. He pulled over. His breath quickened, as he rolled it between his fingers. He closed his hand around it and shut his eyes. He began sweating as he squeezed. Tears trickled down the sides of his face. He silently cried out years of grief, then anger.

After a bit, he grit his teeth and pounded on the steering wheel. God, he wanted to believe in something so badly. Loosening his grip on the wheel, the rune fell to the floorboard as the hurt purged from him for lost years with his father, the recent deaths.

He opened watery eyes. The barren desert, cacti, patches of wild grass, and yucca were blurred specs in the blowing sand against the clear aqua sky.

What did you expect, the Mothership? He heaved a broken sigh, letting his head fall back on the headrest. He wasn't sure how long he sat there on the side of the road. Finally, he put the car in gear and pulled back onto the lonely pavement.

A few miles down the road, he spotted a black dot in the middle of the highway. The closer he got, he realized it was a disheveled hitchhiker; weaving, looking disoriented, maybe dehydrated from heat exhaustion.

He pulled the car over and got out.

The man turned...

"Dad?"

*


I hope you enjoyed reading. I apologize for the length, as shorter scenes are appreciated more with so many great #SaturdayScenes to read from other writers. Have a great weekend, y'all! 
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