After today there will only be one more Project Jericho post – numbers 7 and 8 will be combined on to one post (when you read them, it’ll make sense). For those are you following along with Rise of the Lion, that series finished up on Tuesday. For those of you who haven’t, here’s the link:
I gotta admit, with Stormfall set to come out in July, this is like closing the chapter on the entire City of Chaos arc and I’m a bit sad. This novel has really changed my life and going forward, I hope Stormfall is well received and the momentum continues. Ahhh, hell, enough of the emotional mumbo jumbo – let’s get on to the story.
16 Years Old
Pizza was an easy thing to pick up on the way home. It was easy and Jericho loved it. He was busy doing his homework when I entered the tiny apartment. “Food’s here.”
“Did you get us pepperoni dad?”
I was no longer just Dr. Ellison Staley. I keep our cover secret from the government, I was Eli Staley and this was my son Jericho. Fortunately, no one ever wrote down that the boy picked that name, so it made it easy to keep our cover. In the two years since the incident, I’d found a job teaching math at the local high school and Jericho had already enrolled in college. At sixteen, he was halfway through his junior year.
The one thing I haven’t been able to get him to open up about is the night he killed those men chasing us. I feared that if he never confronted that, he might end up even more damaged than what was to be expected. I did what I could, but having lost contact with his mother and everything else; it was an uphill battle.
My guilt also lay with the fact he didn’t blame me for anything. I wanted him to yell at me, tell me I failed him, but he always just said, you protected me. Why could he not see that I was part of the reason for his life? I was there just as Cooper and the generals were. No one forced me to do my job, but in the end, he never blamed me.
“Hey dad, pizza’s getting cold.”
“Oh, thank you. Sorry, long day at work.” I don’t know if he ever bought my excuses, but he never pressed me. “How’s the course load coming this semester?”
He pulled out a book on computer engineering. “The professors try their best, but it’s not their fault they can’t keep up with me. I’m basically teaching myself at this point.”
The kid was a technical wiz and a genius to boot. “Looking to graduate early?”
“Nah, college keeps me entertained. Besides, I want to make sure we’re safe before I up and leave you.”
That was an inside joke between us. It was always one of us saying ‘make sure we’re safe before’ and then what we really wanted to do. I knew though it was only a matter of time before Jericho grew his wings and wanted to explore. Especially with all the negative press powered people were getting lately on the east coast. I told him time and time again that things were different out west.
“Do you think we’ll ever not be hunted by those covert guys? I mean it’s been two years, but I swear I still think I see them from time to time.”
I knew it wasn’t his imagination. Cooper was still out there and I knew the man. He wouldn’t stop until he found us and killed Jericho. “One day we will be. Just know I’m doing everything I can from the inside to find a way for us to live normal lives again.”
He smiled. “I’d really like to see my mom one day. I know it’s stupid and she probably doesn’t remember me –”
“A mother never forgets.” No child deserves to think their mom forgot them. “I’m sure she’d be so happy to hear from you.” What I really meant was I was confident she’d be so happy to know you didn’t die that day.
“Thanks dad. Well, I’m going to grab one more slice and finish this project. I have a few ideas in my head on how to power the hydraulics to make this work.”
I had no idea what he was talking about, but that was par for the course. “If you need anything, just let me know.”
*Come back next week for the conclusion of The Negative Man: Project Jericho!
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