Time passed. For me it was the blink of an eye, for humanity it was almost 5 years. I had left the warm climate of California and moved to Chicago. I’d lived there before, during the depression – I was ready to see it again, this time in all its glory. There were many things about Chicago I enjoyed and I wanted to immerse myself in something different than I’d been doing before. I needed a clean slate.
I was attending school for the twentieth time. This time I was pursuing a degree in law. I’d never been a lawyer before, I thought it was time I gave the law a try.
I was now Eden Mackenzie. I was on my second round through the alphabet, each time taking a new last name. I had an affinity for my first name and refused, as much as Felix would chide me, to give it up. My parents had given us our names and I, for one, did not want to dishonor that. Felix and others would at times change their first name, I could not do that.
I’d visited my friend, Val, in Florida once I’d moved from California, found a place to live, and settled in.
Val was very good at appropriating fake ID’s and setting up new identities. Val worked for the Witness Protection Program out of Miami. In two weeks, I had gone from Eden Lemke to Eden Mackenzie. I was eighteen, younger than I’d ever ventured before, but in this day and age, I could pass for eighteen when fourteen year olds looked like twenty-five year old college students.
I had asked Val, on several occasions, to track Kaleb for me, but each time he’d come up oddly empty. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, other than I’d someday have to find him, and see what he’d become. I’d wait, perhaps he’d die on his own, or someone would kill or capture him before he turned into the wickedness I so feared he’d become.
“I still have nothing on that dude you keep asking me about,” said Val as I had collected my new papers. “It’s weird, I can’t find anything active on him.”
I smiled at the remnants of his accent. Even all those years doing government work hadn’t eradicated that sweet twang.
“That’s all right,” I answered. “I’m beginning to suspect that they have disappeared.”
“Chicago this time?” he asked. “I never liked that place, to many hidey-holes.”
“I’ll only transfer my money in a few months, change everything from Lemke to Mackenzie. I rather like this last name; I might keep it for a while.”
Val smiled. His dark hands flat on the table in front of us, we were in a small diner and the hustle and bustle hid our conversation.
“What are you going to do when I’m not around anymore?” asked Val seriously.
“Planning on dying, are we?” I asked.
I saw a flicker in his eyes.
“The cancer is back, in the bones this time. They gave me a year,” said Val. He’d battled cancer once before during the first year of his marriage. He’d beaten it.
I still saw the child before me for an instant, a flickering vivid image, then it changed, it was the man, the mortal man that was sitting before me. “Val.”