E p i l o g u e
G r e a t e s t J o u r n e y
"There she blows."
Over the last rolling hill, the land sank inward, revealing the Missouri River and the precarious little city scattered about its shore and up into the hills. The Capitol Building—the central landmark—was easily visible against the rest of the faded buildings.
"Never gets old," Jon remarked, easing back in his seat.
Richard's eyes lingered on the scenery a little longer, until the road before them declined down into the valley. The city of Pierre quickly disappeared again behind the large hills spanning along the shore. Now Ft. Pierre was visible up ahead, the smaller settlement on the west side of the river.
"Step on, dude," Dan said from over in the passenger seat. "We're almost freakin' there!"
"I wouldn't recommend it," Jon added from the back. "Ft. Pierre cops will pull you over for anything."
"Besides," Richard said, "we've been driving for almost nine hours now. I think you can wait another five minutes."
Dan just shrugged. "Suit yourself. Let's get out the camera."
In the back seat, Jon switched on their little camcorder. Dan killed the radio. He turned to the camera, shifting his voice into a dramatic tone.
"Our journey is almost complete…"
Richard and Jon laughed.
It had been quite a journey, after all. Throughout the last spring and summer the three of them had scrapped and saved for this road trip. Then as August rolled in, their efforts finally came to fruition. Jon headed down to Texas, where he and Richard drove up to pick up Dan in Missouri. Now at long last they had arrived at the last stop in the trip; Pierre, South Dakota.
And to think it had been only eight scant months since their epic journey to save Kenzi…
"Now…begins the fun!" Richard added, just before Jon clicked off the camera.
"Ah man," Jon said, a grin plastered on his face. "We're back, baby!"
The silver Durango continued along the small highway, sinking down into the river valley until the rest of the land around them seemed to rise up like mountains. Ft. Pierre passed by in a blink, and soon they were crossing the main bridge over the Missouri River. On the other side there was an engraved rock with the words, Pierre Welcomes You.
Dan's cell phone chirped.
"Yeah?" He nodded once. "Okay. We'll be there in two minutes."
He flipped it shut again.
"Well?" Jon pressed.
"They're all there waiting for us."
"Good," said Richard. "I don't think we could get in without Kenzi's key."
After navigating the lower commercial district, the wide streets gave way to houses and steep hills. Turning up one such hill, the white church steeple became visible at the top. Just across the street was the high school.
Jon rubbed his hands together. "Man, I cannot believe we're actually here!"
"It's been too long," Dan agreed.
As the street leveled, the church came into view, along with the familiar faces waiting there. Kenzi, Kaitlin, and Kimmi were standing by the sidewalk waving, while it looked like Jade and Brian were climbing about in one of the trees. Jade quickly jumped down when she saw the silver Durango pull into the parking lot.
No sooner had he stepped out of the car that he was scooped up in hugs left and right. For a moment time and space seemed to lose meaning, and not because of some quantum mumbo jumbo. This was a happy place that transcended time itself.
Somewhere in the fray he realized that they were headed inside now, Kenzi unlocking the side door.
"Thank goodness your Dad has a key," said Richard. "It would kinda be a bummer to come all this way and not get at least one last look."
Jon watched Kenzi insert the key with a chuckle. Not too long ago he could have just thought and appeared on the other side.
Inside, they made an immediate left through a door into the seminary room. None of the tables were set up this time of year, but it had changed very little over the years. A couple of new scripture pictures hung on the wall, and the supply closet had been cleaned out a bit. But it was still so very much the same. Ironically, someone had closed the partition down the middle.
Dan walked up to it, gripping the handles. "Should I open it?"
"I wouldn't," said Kaitlin. "Remember what happened last time?"
"Aw," Jade moaned. "I could go for another adventure."
"Yeah right," Kimmi said with a scoff.
"I could! You wouldn't believe how boring life is compared to fighting zombies in the dark."
"Except that you don't like the dark," Jon added quickly.
Jade shot him a look. "You know what…!"
"Anyways!" Kenzi cut in, smiling. "Can we play nice?"
"Although I must say that I did quite enjoy our space expedition," said Richard. "Even if we nearly got blown to smithereens."
"And what about the powers?" said Kimmi. "If anything, that was the one good part about it all."
"And saving Kenzi wasn't?" Jon said, pulling Kenzi up next to him.
Kenzi play cried. "I wasn't a good part!"
"Well actually," Dan added, "I liked the part at the end where we got to create whatever we wanted."
"Exactly!" Brian chimed in, his eyes lighting up. "How was that not awesome?"
"It was," Richard agreed.
Silence fell over their group.
It had been easy to forget, what with life back to normal. But now, here; standing where it all begin…
"Hey," Jon spoke up, breaking the silence. "Who's up for another adventure?"
"I am," Kenzi said quickly.
"Here," Kimmi replied.
"Count me in," said Richard.
"Where to?" asked Jade.
Jon shrugged. "The city awaits. Let us go find some more friends. Shouldn't Thomas be off work by now?"
"Yeah," said Jade. "And I think Jen was going to meet us at Pizza Ranch."
"Let's grab Mark while we're at it," Jon added, heading for the door.
By the time everyone had filed out, heading back to the cars outside, no one noticed the tall blonde figure peeking back into the seminary room. Brian quickly shuffled over to the partitions, where he grabbed the handle hopefully.
The door clicked open. Unfortunately, there was no bang or black void on the other side with cloaky robbers or zombie-swords. Just the other half of the room.
"Brian?" Jade said, poking her head back in through the side door. "C'mon! What are you still doing in here? We're done here."
Brian sighed, putting his hands in his pockets and heading out with the others. He put an arm around Jade's shoulder, the two quickly catching up with the rest of the Gang. Outside the sun was turning orange, evening quickly setting in. It cast bright beams of golden light across the small town and the eight friends heading towards their cars.
"You know," Jon began, "all of our adventures, all of these trials…it would make one awesome book!"
The others groaned.
"Yeah. Right," Kimmi said sarcastically.
"Who would want to read that?" said Richard.
"No, I'm serious!" Jon protested. "We could call it The Adventures of the Seminary Gang! What publisher wouldn't want that?"