Do you see now why I don’t name the chapters in my books? It would probably pull you right out of the mood that’s being established if I had stuck the above title at the top of Chapter Three in Fall of the Walker King. At the risk of sounding preposterous, let’s just say that one or two people exist in this world that know who I am but do not know who Kevin Smith is. I’ll explain, but quickly, since my premise is indeed a preposterous one.
Kevin Smith is a big part of the dork culture in modern America. Remember when the dorks and nerds and geeks somehow became the cool crowd? That was due in large part to Kevin Smith. Don’t believe me? Well, crawl out from under your rock on Mars and Google the dude. There’s not much he hasn’t done, and most of his accomplishments look a lot like the list most dorks would come up with if they stumbled across a wish-granting genie. If I were to recommend any of his work to someone unfamiliar with him, I would have to recommend all of it. If I had to pick a favorite, I would push the movie “Dogma” on anyone who hasn’t seen it. That really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
For this particular homage, however, we need to go back to the beginning. Kevin Smith’s first movie was of course the classic “Clerks”. Set in a convenience store, the story features a character who has come in to work on his day off. He’s a whiny little bitch, and his mantra through the entire movie is “I’m not even supposed to be here!” It’s funny, but it’s also relatable: the world is ironically overpopulated with a whole bunch of people who feel out of place, like they don’t belong. Even those of us that don’t experience this chronic state have days now and then where we wish we just hadn’t bothered showing up.
Well, suffice it to say that Kris was one of my favorite characters from the beginning (Like any good parent, I have to lie and say that no one is my very favorite, of course). He was a solid guy, smart and critical and sensitive to the needs of others. He was a good friend to Paul before all this weird Walker shit came along, and his role became an invaluable one when they were both transformed in Book I.
After Kris died, he became the picture of confidence for the first time in his life. Something clicked in him when he became a Guide, and a million questions suddenly became answers in his mind. Watching him come into his own in Demons & Angels was great fun for me, and when he and Jessica came together at the end it seemed that all was right in his world. In Book II, the romance between them blossoms and we see a whole new side of Kris. It’s a beautiful build-up to a terrible let-down, and the Guide loses everything in the last few fateful pages of Rise of the Walker King.
So here we are in Book III, with all this behind him and only bleakness ahead. Fall of the Walker King will see the Guide’s mettle tested as never before, and it remains to be seen whether or not his strength of spirit is up to the task. For now, in this chapter, you will see that Kris is clearly in a dark place. There is no humor in his unintentional homage to Kevin Smith, as he repeatedly goes back to the thought in his mind. He’s no Walker, after all, and what is a Guide without a Walker? How can he make any difference at all in the world that is falling down all around him? It seems true, as he thinks about it: he shouldn’t still be here.
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for Chapter Four, coming next Tuesday. Need to start at the beginning? Read Chapter One here.
He shouldn’t still be here.
Kris sat in the easy chair in William’s living room, wondering what was going to happen to him. William’s new Walker, Chase, was sitting nearby on the sofa with Daemon. They were talking excitedly, the unusual demon explaining things only Guides knew to the unlikely Walker. Chase seemed far more interested in the unseen worlds than most Walkers, and Kris had tuned the elementary conversation out quite a while ago.
Paul was gone, Brenna was gone and then reborn as Ximena and now she was gone too. William had survived, but there was no way of knowing if he would see another day as a Walker. Even Matt was gone, either killed in battle or lost in Hell. There were so many uncertainties, Kris clung to the one certainty he felt to his dead bones.
He shouldn’t still be here.
Vanessa was busying herself about the house, using her newfound ability to touch on mundane housework. She seemed as calm and collected as usual, except for the worried furtive glance she shot at Daemon and Chase from time to time. They were too engrossed in conversation to notice.
She wouldn’t even look at Kris. The Guide didn’t blame her. He shouldn’t still be here.
The angels had received some special dispensation to freeze time and extract the Walker army and the horde of demons from Hell. Jessica had shown up after the freeze, free to move about as she pleased. In the time it had taken to extract the Walker army, half had been torched by her fire.
The demon horde had been left behind when the mission went wrong; and now Jessica was the Queen of Hell, and Hell was overrun with demons. It was all Kris knew for sure, because he had seen it with his own frozen eyes. Well, he did know one other thing for sure.
He shouldn’t still be here.
When a Walker died or was rehumanized, their Guide and Watcher passed naturally into the next life, usually as an angel in the lower levels of Heaven. The Walkers who were able to bear the burden of immortality for long centuries surely had Watchers and Guides that came into being in the higher realms. It gave Kris no comfort to think that many of the Walkers they had lost had been ancient, and would go on to becoming angels themselves.
Daemon shouldn’t be here either. He claimed that when he had stepped into the dragon fire, he had appeared at Chase’s side. Kris had no reason to suspect he wasn’t telling the truth, but it still felt wrong.
The front door opening seemed a surprise to everyone but Chase, who was still more startled when someone suddenly materialized from thin air than he was when they used a door.
They all turned at the sound, and William walked into the room to find eight immortal eyes on him.
Vanessa crossed the room to take his motorcycle helmet and leather jacket from his hands and drop them unceremoniously to the floor. The helmet rolled to a thunk against a wall as she threw her arms about his shoulders.
“What happened?” Vanessa asked.
She stepped back as the others came forward, and they formed a semi-circle around William.
“Well, I’m not dead.” William stated the obvious and stepped into the room. The semi-circle moved with him.
“Kris,” the Walker looked at him, “you are to remain a Guide if you so choose. I have many keys to find Walkers for, and you may select the Walker you would like to Guide from those that will be made.”
The Guide felt like a balloon with a fast leak. He deflated under the news, letting his sagging shoulders be his reply.
William gave him a smile. He looked around like he was checking to see if anyone outside the group could hear, then leaned in conspiratorially toward Kris.
“Or,” William murmured, “you can help Vanessa Guide me until some of my current tasks have been completed.”
The Guide sighed with relief. He could read between the lines; William didn’t think Paul was gone, and he wanted Kris to help find him.
“Are you the new king?” Kris was surprised to hear hope in his voice.
“No.” William leaned back and away from them.
“According to most of the angels, there never was a Walker King; at least not recently,” he told them. “I am to lead the Walkers as Walker John did, individually and separately.”
“Walkers can’t gather again?” Vanessa folded her hands together in the sleeves of her robe with a teenaged grimace.
“It was helping Walkers, spending time together.” She was clearly not pleased in her compassion. “I saw so many men and women relieve years of mental burdens just talking to each other. Fighting together made many Walkers forever friends.”
“I know,” the Walker responded plaintively. “The Council says it was thinning the walls between dimensions. That, along with excessive walking between worlds.”
“What?” Kris sputtered. “Walkers can’t walk between worlds anymore?”
William focused his attention on the new Walker and his unlikely Guide.
“Chase,” he said, folding his arms before him. “Show me your key.”
Daemon nodded encouragingly when Chase glanced to him. The new Walker held out his hand so the old Walker could see the open watch face.
“Can you feel the countdown?” Williams arms were still crossed, his tone brusque.
He couldn’t expect the Walker to be tuned in to the key enough to feel the countdown happening within him. Kris knew it had taken William years to even notice the organic second heartbeat that every Walker had inside. The Guide barely had time to wonder why William had asked when he saw the new Walker nod.
“Yeah, sure,” Chase said. “We have about seven minutes.”
Daemon edged forward. “He didn’t want armor. Or a weapon.”