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Chapter 4 – Saci

Josh and Anna waited for Boris to continue and say something else but Boris just kept quiet and kept his thoughts to himself. They now knew as much as they could, they knew that they were stuck here in Scriven and the real question was what next? What could they do to get back home. The only clue they had and the only person they could ask was standing right in front of them.

Anna and Josh shared a look and it was Anna that turned to Boris and asked ‘Do you know how we could get back home?’

Boris didn’t answer immediately he just stared towards the distance at nothing in particular and eventually said ‘To get back home you will need to move your physical body there.’

‘Like teleportation’ Josh interrupted.

‘Teleportation?’ wondered Boris ‘I am not familiar with that word.’ He added looking at the two.

‘It is the term people use, when they immediately transport themselves from one place to another. Although I don’t know if it is the same thing to go through one universe to another.’ Boris answered.

‘Ah, yes. To do that you need someone that can open the space between universes.’ Boris said ‘Not an easy thing to do, I am not even sure it is possible without help from the side you want to get to.’ He added pondering the issue.

At this both their faces dropped.

‘Don’t look so sad’ Boris quickly said ‘there are people who can do, this teleportation you speak of, but I am not sure that they can bridge two places.’

At this both looked slightly less depressed, but they still had no tangible answer for their immediate concern. So they kept their hopes to a minimum and just listened carefully.

‘The most obvious example I could think of, would be the Djinn. They continually go through places popping up and causing trouble. They could do it, but to get a Djinn to help you is another matter all together. The only way you can get a Djinn to help you, is by getting the artefact they are attached to, usually something old and inconspicuous looking, like rings, chains, lamps or lockets and pendants.’

‘So where can we find a Djinn’ asked Anna excitedly.

‘Beats me.’ Answered Boris simply, he eyed them both and added ‘But at least this gives you a starting point.’

‘Could you come with us?’ asked Josh hopefully.

Boris looked at him his eyes squinting, Josh felt as though he was being scrutinized, finally Boris answered simply ‘No.’

Josh was slightly taken back by the answer. He though that Boris would have helped them on their way, he surly didn’t expect him to just answer negatively, especially after all the answers he had given them and all the help he had already given them. He lowered his head slightly and decided it wasn’t worth making a fuss about it. Instead he said ‘could you point us in the right direction then? Maybe a place where we could find some answers, or clues to where we can find a Djinn?’ he asked.

Boris stared at the two his eyes sparkling in mischief. ‘You are asking me for advice?’ he asked.

‘Yes’ Josh answered.

‘Well, you should go to the cities of Muspelheim, Xibalba and Irkala, there you should be able to find some answers.’ Boris said smiling a wide grin that looked slightly frightening. ‘It will be difficult to find them though, but I think if you keep walking towards the forest,’ he said pointing towards the east at the outline of which a forest was just visible. ‘you might get there.’ he added cryptically.

‘What do you mean “you might”?’ demanded Anna.

‘Well the Djinn are not very sociable to say the least, in fact they loath company so they reside in little pockets in space that they create in inconspicuous and difficult to get to places, or things. Those cities are the first difficult places I can think of that might offer you some answers.’

‘Are you sure, you won’t come with us?’ asked Josh again.

‘Not in a million years’ said Boris ‘actually make that an indefinite number of years’ he added after thinking it through.

‘It isn’t anything dangerous, is it?’ asked Anna

‘Oh, no. I am sure that a couple of smart ones like you will be able to handle anything thrown at them with little to no problem.’ At this Josh smiled, Anna had a doubtful look on her face that stayed there for an uncomfortable time.

‘If it is easy then why won’t you come with us?’ asked Anna.

‘Because you could say you are now in my home. And with all due respect to you too I do not want to leave my family behind for a journey that could take weeks to complete.’

‘Weeks?!’ exclaimed Anna.

‘You want to get back home, even if you knew exactly what you needed to do and where and how to use it, you still have to get it and use it which won’t be easy. But now you don’t know where to go, or what to do and even if you do there is no guaranty you will find everything and get it to work. So yes weeks is very logical.’

‘Alright, thank you very much for everything.’ said Josh, extending his hand and shaking Boris’s hand vigorously in one big swoop.

Anna on the other hand didn’t share Josh’s enthusiasm; instead she just stared at Boris carefully and said ‘If everything goes according to plan we won’t see you again. If it does not, we will’

Josh stared at Anna in shock, not sure what to do with Anna’s threat. To his pleasant surprise Boris just smiled and said ‘May the sun follow you on your way.’

Anna and Josh started walking in the direction that Boris had pointed to. Josh was waving back to Boris for quite some time while they walked at first Josh could still recognize Boris’s figure standing in the fields but quite quickly he was just another part of the scenery, unrecognizable. Anna walked on, she didn’t look back, her back straight, she walked on firmly and unconditionally towards the forest, unflinching and not turning back to face Boris even once.

After they had walked for about 30 minutes Anna suddenly stopped in her tracks and turned to face Josh. ‘Do you think Boris pointed us in the right direction?’ she asked him her eyes stern and her face set firm.

‘Why wouldn’t he?’ answered Josh.

‘I don’t know,’ answered Anna her face deep in thought staring at the sky. Finally she faced Josh again and asked ‘but what should we do? Continue walking towards the forest or walk to the west instead to the mountain range.’

‘I think we should continue in the way that Boris told us.’ answered Josh.

Anna looked as though she was about to argue, than thought the better of it and without a second word she turned around and continued her march towards the forest. Josh stared at her Anna’s back, she wore what she always wore to school, a red and black shirt with blue jeans. It was simple but probably comfortable and it suited her. It fitted well with her character while dresses probably didn’t. Josh didn’t really know Anna, he was never the extravert type of person but he did want to get to know Anna a little better. Although with Anna it was always difficult, she was always a very closed and introvert person. She kept to herself and never talked to anyone, as far as he knew she had no friends in school. He always thought they were a little similar, he never talked to too many people either, but the big difference between the two of them was that he at least had some friends, and good ones at that.

Josh stared at Anna’s back again and thought that maybe Anna was playing a part in school, a theatrical role and that maybe she was a different person when she was at home, maybe she liked to wear dresses and skirts when she was at home for example. At school there were no real rules for what they were allowed to wear, as long as it wasn’t too revealing. Many girls wore skirts to school but Anna never did, she always wore the same kind of shirts and jeans. Josh was sure that skirts and dresses would have suited her too.

He tried to speak to her several times previously but she never really answered back to him. Or she was just being outright distrusting and simply pushed him away. That wasn’t going to deter him though, he kept at it and slowly she did open up slightly. Although maybe open up was pushing it a bit. It was more like she now tolerated his presence rather than shoed him away immediately. She still didn’t say much though, but it gave Josh the impression that even she ever wanted or needed someone she might call upon him. He was after all the only person in school she communicated with, even if it was only on rare occasions, so he really was the only her only option. He tried to come to terms with the situation and where he stood when Anna abruptly stopped and he very nearly bumped into her.

She turned to face him again and said ‘I think Boris lied to us’

‘Why would he do that?’ retorted Josh slightly resentful

‘I don’t know, but did you see the sly smile he gave us? It was a sneaky smile. I have a feeling he was not telling us something, almost like he wanted us to get into trouble or something.’

‘But Anna that makes no sense, he was helping us already by answering all of our questions. I mean he didn’t have to do that, but he did.’ Pleaded Josh

‘Exactly, he didn’t have to answer any of our questions and he could have told us anything and we would have believed him. Because the truth is we are stuck somewhere and we know nothing. So maybe he has some kind of secret agenda, I don’t know yet.’

‘That makes no sense, maybe he was just nice. Or if we assume he wasn’t nice then maybe he didn’t really care if we knew or not. Either way the only thing we can do now is go wherever he told us right?’

‘No. That is not the only option, we can choose to go the other way and make our own decisions based on what we saw. I mean, yes we are in some strange place, but no we don’t need to believe Boris. I don’t trust him.’ Anna stared at Josh waiting for him to talk her out of it, but he didn’t. Instead he just stared at her, waiting for her to make the decision.

‘Well?!’ Anna asked looking directly into Josh’s eyes.

Josh stared back and then quickly lowered his eyes to the ground ‘I don’t know. I think he was just being nice. And honestly the forest sounds better than the alternative.’

Anna stared at the view in front of them: to the left stretching as far as the eye could see was the forest, the first option. To the right was a stretch of sand and in the back of it far beyond was a large mountain range. The tips of the mountains were covered with a small layer of white snow. She tried to clear her mind and think which way would be better when she was interrupted by the growling and grumbling noises of her stomach. She stared at her little black wristwatch.

The black wristwatch was a gift her father gave her for her 8th birthday. Now a few years later she still had it and she wore it constantly. She only took it off when she went to sleep.

The time was 12:00, normally at school this was when she went outside took out her sandwich and ate it in silence, now though everything was different. She didn’t let it show but when Boris said that their journey might take weeks she was frightened. She quickly pushed that little part in her down and shut it up, but it was like trying to hush a waterfall, she could still hear it echoing in the far recesses of her head.

Three weeks? We have to survive on our own for three weeks? That is impossible! What will you eat or drink? Where will you sleep? And what about your father?!

She knew the voice well, it came to haunt her mind on many occasions and it was doing so now showing her; her failings, her insecurities showing her everything that could go wrong and worse of all it showed her, her dad alone, lost without her.

She bit her tongue trying to keep her emotions away, keeping her emotions in check. Over-thinking the situation was useless, she had a current problem and she needed to solve it. She tried to think of the situation objectively, tried to think what direction would offer the best solution or at least the least problems. She had to take into account that food could be a very real problem. Their first concern should be food and because they had nothing with them they needed to go somewhere where there was more chance to find some. If she looked at it that way the decision was easy to make.

‘I think we will go to the forest.’ Announced Anna finally ‘but not because Boris told us to go there. I think we should go there because that is our best chance to find food and maybe water.’

Josh smiled and simply said ‘that’s good thinking, I’m actually getting hungry. Do you think we will find food?’

‘Sure we will, who ever heard of a forest that has no food in it?!’

‘Yeah you’re right, we will find something for sure, I just hope we will also find this Djinn thing.’

‘For that we first need to get to the forest and don’t kid yourself it will be long.’

‘Alright’ said Josh his face set in unprecedented firmness and determination ‘Then we should get going.’

With that they stopped talking and focused on spending their energy on making their way to the forest. They weren’t sure how long it would take but they were now at least set to the same goal and with their destination clear a new determination guided them along the way.

About an hour or so into their march Josh started walking next to Anna instead of behind her. Anna was glad for this change; she didn’t much like walking in front of him, it just that she made a decision and went with it, for some reason it was as though she was the natural leader of their little pack. She didn’t want the role of leader or its responsibility that came with it, she thought that just taking care of herself was difficult enough. The only reason she was in front up until now in the first place, was because Josh for some reason known only to him decided to walk behind her rather than next to her. It made her feel slightly better knowing he was walking next to her.

They were walking for hours and they were becoming increasingly tired, so Josh suggested they should take a short break. There were no trees to offer any shade from the sun so they just squatted on the grass and took a short break to rest their legs. Anna stared at her watch it showed the time to be 2 in the afternoon. Anna hadn’t eaten or drank anything from 8 in the morning when she had her breakfast of cereals. Worse than the hunger however was the thirst, she was really thirsty now. Walking in the hot and warm air left her particularly parched. Her throat was dry and she felt an uncontrollable itch developing in the back of her throat in a place where she could not reach. She craved for a glass of fresh orange juice, or even a glass of cold water. She was never really a fan of water, she preferred juices but now she could do with some fresh water.

‘We shouldn’t wait too long, or it might be dark.’ Said Anna ‘plus the longer we wait the thirstier we will become.’

‘I am not that thirsty’ said Josh ‘and I have some orange juice in my pocket.’

‘You do?’ exclaimed Anna in surprise ‘Maybe we can drink a little?’ she asked.

‘Well I want to keep it for an emergency.’ Answered Josh. ‘Are you upset?’ asked Josh when Anna didn’t answer.

‘No’ she responded ‘I am just really thirsty but I understand. We should keep it until we feel we can’t go on without it any longer.’

Josh nodded and breathed a sigh of relief.

Anna allowed herself a little smile ‘what?!’

‘I just thought you might be angry with me.’ Answered Josh smiling a broad smile. They sat down for several more moments enjoying the temporary silence and rest before deciding it was time to get up and get going once again.

An hour later the first features in their immediate surroundings began to change. The grass around them was the first thing they noticed changing, at first when they sat out the fields were green and lush with a fresh smell hanging around, now though the lush green grass was becoming drier, the green fading into a dry yellow straw. The closer they got to the forest the drier the ground was which according to Anna made no sense. A forest needed water to prosper and from looking at the grass it looked as they were steadily heading to an area that had less water. Maybe the rainfall diminished but there was an underground current running that the trees were tapping into suggested Josh. With the uncertainty looming around them like a veil they marched on, somewhat reluctantly but without choice now. They were too far to change course and so stubbornly against their better judgment they trod on heading closer to the forest, that now seemed rather dark and uninviting and not at all the little piece of hope it seemed only moments ago.

The closer they got to the forest the more things around them changed. At first the ground changed from a fertile green grass to dry weeds and then completely dead barren with nothing growing in it at all. The ground turned hard and dark brown full of lumps and uneven, it was difficult to walk on it. But it wasn’t just the ground that changed it was the air around them. At first they hardly noticed but as they got closer to the forest it became more apparent. The blue skies were slowly turning into grey and the air around them which smelled fresh was now becoming stale, heavy and humid. The ominous feeling that they were heading to a place of darkness only intensified. They stopped just in front of the forest in unison and stared.

The trees were dark, dense and it was difficult to see anything through the thick brush of branches in front of them, anything at all. It was as though shadows danced in front of them blocking their view so that they could see nothing beyond the branches that blocked their passage. Anna and Josh stared at one another, they were feeling reluctant to enter the forest now that they were face to face with it, but neither of them felt like saying anything out loud. All thoughts of food and thirst were now of no concern as they faced the strange forest. They shared another look and then Anna stared coldly at the forest, searching for signs of weakness. She sighed and then took a step forward. Josh wanted to grab hold of her hand to reassure her as well as reassure him that everything was fine, although he knew the feeling deep down in the pit of his stomach told him to stop kidding. He wanted to walk calmly beside Anna but his feet were telling him that only a fool would enter a forest that was this dark when it was still light outside. But it was too late already Anna had already entered the forest and he had to quickly catch up to her, now if only his legs wouldn’t stay rooted to the ground he could get a move on. He tried to call out to Anna to alert her to his predicament but he was surprised to notice that when he tried to do so no sound would come. He tried to shout as loud as he could, but nothing happened. His voice just like his feet was not working properly. Fear slowly crept over him not because he was now rooted to the spot without any way to call for help, but because Anna now walked into the forest alone without him.

He pulled with all his might at his now frozen and motionless legs, trying to get them to cooperate but it was of no use. It was like trying to pull a truck. Josh tried to move the rest of his body only to find that it too was now beyond his control. Slowly but surely his body was not his to control anymore. It wasn’t as though he felt a numbness coming over his limbs it was as though all form of feeling was just gone. After his torso and hands were similarly irresponsive, came his neck and head until finally the only thing that he could maintain some control over were his eyes. He could blink and move them left and right without any problem; the rest however was now just flesh. He expected his body to fall forward but it didn’t, he was standing perfectly straight like a lamppost frozen to the spot.

Josh stood there for several moments where nothing happened, he was still breathing which meant that all the involuntary muscles weren’t similarly affected and for the moment there was no one around him. The feeling of dread slowly faded and there was not a lot he could do now anyway except looking around. He was concentrating on the sounds around him. When they first arrived this close to the forest he thought that all sound was gone, that they entered some closed environment, but now that he had some time to listen he noticed that wasn’t the case. There were sounds around him they were just muffled, as though his ears were padded with some gaze. He didn’t recognize the sounds he heard but they were definitely there. Soft throaty chirping sounds and other strange things that didn’t seem to go together, such as a gul-gul-gul sound similar to the sound you make when you drink combined with a tssss sound which sounds like a can of coke opening. Josh couldn’t make much out of the sounds but they made him slightly uncomfortable, more so because he couldn’t move and was now a target for anyone.

Several more moments passed and Anna still didn’t notice he wasn’t behind her or perhaps she was similarly stuck. Or maybe someone had taken his place. Maybe a monster of some sort transformed itself into him and was now walking with Anna. The thought of Anna being in danger made Josh increasingly anxious when suddenly standing there in front of him was Anna staring at him. Her mouth was opening and closing and it took him a while to realize that she was talking to him. Only he couldn’t hear her, whatever she was saying the forest was swallowing the sounds, or maybe his ears had been affected after all. Anna was becoming increasingly angry with Josh, he could tell because she was now opening her mouth wider when she was speaking and her face was contorted with a frown appearing above her nose. When Josh didn’t respond she put her hands on her hips muttered something and walked straight towards him and then just before she could reach him she looked like she hit something, she stumbled backwards in surprise and took a good look to see what it was that she hit. When she stumbled backwards Josh could hear a hearty laugh close to him, but he couldn’t see anything what it was. Anna probably couldn’t hear anything or if she did she did not appear to take any notice of it, instead she walked carefully towards Josh, arms stretched forward.  Then just before she could reach Josh she stopped and like a mime miming a box she did the same. There was a wall or something between the two of them.

‘Is this it?’ asked a voice behind Josh ‘I thought I could get at least a few more funny moments from the both of you.’ The voice sighed and then just as though nothing had happened Josh had control of his body again.

Josh flailed his body back and forth in joy taking immense pleasure at the simple movement he could now do. He had a big smile on his face as he quickly walked towards Anna. He checked once just to be sure and sure enough the invisible wall had disappeared.

‘Anna, thank god you’re ok, I was stuck in the position you saw me in and I couldn’t move or anything and I thought maybe a monster pretended to be me was walking with you and…’ Josh trailed off because Anna wasn’t looking at him she was looking open-mouthed at something behind him. Josh completely forgot about the voice that was talking when he was stuck. He was so happy to be able to move normally again that the voice and more importantly its owner completely vanished from his mind.

He turned around afraid of what he might see and stared open-mouthed at the creature that was standing in front of them. It was humanoid only it was standing on only one leg; he was wearing red pants and had bright red hair, other than his pants he was naked his skin dark brown. He was holding a pipe in his hand which he was lighting; when he lifted his hands Josh was shocked to see that there were holes in his palms. After he lit his pipe the creature turned his attention back to the two of them.

‘So humans huh’ he said puffing on his pipe ‘I have not seen any humans for a very long time. But where are my manners, let me introduce myself I am Saci.’ The creature said and reached out his hand.

Josh was the first to close his mouth and snap out of his trance. ‘Pleased to meet….’ Josh couldn’t complete the sentence because before he could reach the creature he fell flat on his face the wind completely knocked out of him. The creature burst out laughing. Josh got up slowly and looked at his sport shoes. The laces of the one shoe were tied together with the laces of the other shoe. Josh sat and started undoing the knot ‘did you do this?’ he asked.

‘Me?’ answered Saci feigning innocence.

‘Why did you lock Josh up?’ asked Anna. It was the first thing she said to Saci and her voice was venomous.

‘Because it was funny! You should have seen your face you looked like you were about to explode when you thought the boy wasn’t answering you and then when you hit the barrier that was just priceless.’ The memory of the moment sent Saci back into a fit of laughing that ended with him laughing so loudly he halfway started coughing. He hit his chest several times and then said ‘this pipe will be the death of me.’ This was apparently again very funny because he launched into another fit of hysterical laughter.

‘Comeon let’s go’ said Anna ‘This Saci is a nutter.’

‘What is a nutter?’ asked Saci.

‘It’s a crazy person.’ answered Josh.

‘Hey’ objected Saci ‘I could be offended by that, but I am an optimist so I gather it means that I am a genius in disguise, because everyone knows that the true crazies are all geniuses!’

Anna and Josh turned their backs to Saci and were about to enter the forest when Saci interrupted them. ‘I would not do that if I were you.’ He said cryptically.

‘You won’t do what?’ asked Josh.

‘I would not enter the forest.’ Answered Saci simply.

‘Why noug…’

Saci burst into another burst of laughter.

Anna looked at Josh his speech sounded slurred ‘Are you alright?’ she asked.

‘I m fn m ong s nm’

‘Oh your tongue is numb.’ Anna said trying hard not to crack and smile.

‘O gn na ma mt s nm’

Saci burst into laughter again his eyes were tearing. Anna was biting hard on her lips trying not to laugh herself there was something about Saci’s laugh that was contagious. She took a deep breath and looked at Josh. His tongue was sticking out of his mouth and he was now drooling. His eyes were said and he looked like he was begging Anna for help.

‘Saci, could you please do something about Josh?’ she asked the laughing Saci. He nodded.

‘That’s much better.’ Said Josh smiling. ‘Could you maybe stop doing these pranks on me.’ Josh asked.

‘Oh come now this is a joyous occasion for me I have not seen humans in centuries or is it longer than that? What is more than a century? Well whatever it is that is the answer.’

Josh looked at Anna she didn’t seem to understand it either. ‘What does that have to do with pranks or with what you are doing to me?’

‘What you have never heard of me?’ Saci asked in surprise.

Both children nodded their heads.

‘But I am famous. I am a legend in South America and in Europe. Have you really never heard of me?’

‘No sorry.’ Answered Josh.

‘Well I was always known for my pranks and I was an adored figure across continents although for some reason at first everyone feared me which was weird, but we all straightened it out.’

Josh and Anna shared a look, they had both never heard of a Saci. It was clear though that he had some strange powers and that he knew about earth.

‘Why shouldn’t we go into the forest?’ asked Anna again.

‘Because it is dangerous if you do not know your way around it. I would suggest to go back home, where you came from. There is nothing here. No humans, that is for sure. I have seen many creatures though. One thing I will tell you, do not try any pranks on the creatures in the forest they do not take jokes lightly! Which is strange in and of itself because how else can you take a joke?’

‘We can’t go back home’ said Josh ‘we are stuck here and Boris told us that the only way we might get back home is by teleporting there. So now we are searching for someone who can teleport us there.’

‘Well you are lucky you ran into me first because it could have been a lot worse you could have run into a dingonek or a unicorn.’

‘A unicorn?’ exclaimed Josh ‘I love unicorns’

Saci stared at Josh strangely ‘are you sure you are a boy?’ he asked.

Josh looked embarrassed and stared down to his feet.

‘Alright enough of this can we now enter this stupid forest? I am hungry and thirsty and tired from all this walking.’

Saci scrutinized Anna ‘are you sure you are a girl?’ he asked. When she started to look slightly embarrassed as well Saci burst out laughing again. ‘Do not worry you little heads I shall take you to my home and you shall be fed and on the morrow I will explain the forest and the things that lie in it and if you still feel like venturing into it I shall at least make sure that you are in good company.’ With that said the saci looked around the two and puffed on his pipe.

Josh and Anna stared at one another, they didn’t have much choice in the matter and it was better to be in the hands of an otherwise harmless prankster then in the arms of an unknown danger.

‘Alright Saci let’s go to your place.’ Said Josh.

‘Excellent’ and with a puff of smoke they were gone from where they stood.

Intertwined

‘I don’t understand’ asked MarT ‘Why do you need it? I mean you already own half this city an incredible amount of the money why bother with this little trinket?’
‘This is precisely the reason why you never made it big. There are no small trinkets. If you think there are you will never make it in this world of ours.’ answered G1M angrily, he has been trying to get through to MarT for a long time, but some people just didn’t understand the way the world worked. No matter how many times you tried to explain it to them.
‘Get my Jet ready’ said G1M and with that he left the study room and walked into his inner sanctum, which was several doors further along a corridor. His inner sanctum was a serine place in the mad tower that was his place of business. It was here that he went before any mission to clear his head to get inspired. Back in the old days, before he gained his fortune, this was but a small compartment in his mind; now from a small compartment he created this incredible place.
The entrance to his inner sanctum wasn’t really hidden but rather elegantly disguised as part of the decor in the corridor. The corridor was all set in dark oak with wooden beams running along the ceiling. On each side of the corridor there were unique pieces of art, and large oak doors in a slightly different shade of oak. The door at the very back of the corridor was the exact same shade as the rest of the corridor making it difficult to distinguish. What made it even more difficult was the fact that it didn’t look like a door. The only strange little detail that might have drawn attention to it, should somebody scrutinize over it, was a small little bump in the wall. A closer inspection would show that this bump was in fact a button.
G1M pressed the button and a door slid into the wall itself, as G1M entered the door closed behind him. The room was filled with little plants and maps and many little unique items. Ownership of just one of those items would make a poor man very wealthy, but that wasn’t the most impressive part of the room. The most impressive part was the view. Stretched in front of him like a small toy city, was East side bay. He owned most of it except for some minor properties which were owned by petty lowlifes. He built it from the ground up. He started like so many other people here, without any skills, without any knowledge, but slowly through years of hard-work he amassed a fortune which he used to build an empire. His empire.
Besides the view, the room was full of little acknowledgments, little bits and pieces that were either taken or given to G1M as he accomplished deed after deed. A large safe build into the wall stored all of this; it was in here that G1M kept his most prized possession. He reached for the safe and after a complex code which he entered, as well as a DNA sample and a retina scan he was allowed into the safe. Inside he took something that looked like a simple piece of paper. On it were a list of numbers and figures as well as a character chart, the interesting part was that the numbers were not constant they kept shifting as though they were affected by the things around them.
G1M studied the paper intensively before putting it back in the safe. He had an eager look on his face, determined he got out of the door ‘I will win’ he said to the empty room behind him.
***
Private vendor stared at the plane landing, it was an unusual thing to see but he knew he would come. If not him than another big client would eventually come, it was all the same to him. He waited with his little product on the ground, for the noise to die down. When it finally did and Plane was still, the door opened and a young man carrying a briefcase stepped out. He blinked several times, his eyes adjusting to the sun and looked around. He seemed annoyed at something, he quickly walked out of the plane followed by most likely his assistants or bodyguards either would be a good guess.
The business man looked around searching for something and when he spotted the vendor quickly walked towards him his party in toe.
***
G1M was annoyed; he was told there would be a limousine there to take him to the meeting but now it turned out his meeting was with a generic Private vendor, and there was no limousine in sight. Still if the data he had was true he could get a trump card right now.
He walked down the small airway strip towards the vendor, the air was warm and stale and it felt like it was going to rain soon. Banana trees were shaking slightly and G1M felt on edge he looked around, it would be stupid to make a mistake now when he was so close to winning. He took a long hard look at his surroundings, a small deserted building from the looks of it, served as the control tower and other than that there was nothing man made, only some tropic trees, sand that was yellow red and the vendor. When he was finally satisfied that he could see nothing or no one he told his group to keep a close look out and sat down in front of the vendor.
‘Do you know something about 9am3?’ asked G1M.
The vendor looked at him and smiled a broken tooth smile. ‘Thank you for coming.’ he said ‘Please come again.’
G1M looked at him with suspicion ‘Tell me about 9am3’ he said.
The vendor looked at him and smiled a broken tooth smile. ‘Thank you for coming.’ he said ‘Please come again.’
There was a rustle from behind him and he turned to see five people wearing black suits, and sunglasses as though they were the epiphany of gangster wannabees. They all had their weapons still in their holsters, but they were edgy and waiting for something. G1M decided to wait for them to make the first move. Things usually worked out better that way. Two of the guys were circling his little group now they were clearly trying to stop them from communicating with the merchant, but that won’t do. He had an ear piece connecting him with his two bodyguards, and he quickly issued orders. One bodyguard was to take on the guy on the left the one that was trying to corner their little group by circling to the left, and the other bodyguard was to take the guy doing the same but to the right. That left three for G1M.
G1M looked amused the three people were no match for him. He could tell from the way they were standing that they were basic professionals but not nearly high calibre enough for him to even break a sweat. The only reason he kept the bodyguards in the first place was as cannon fodder. One of the key reasons he became such a big man was his skills not only in strategy but in physical and mental endurance. After he made his first bit of cash he exhausted himself on martial arts lessons, conditioning and peak endurance. He was a Dan 7 kendoka and master in 7 different martial arts: Krav Maga, Thai boxing, Kyokushin Karate, Capoiera, Wing Chun, Pencak Silat and aikido. He dabbled in others as well but was nowhere near the level he was in the others.
G1M stretched his legs slightly, put the briefcase he was holding on the ground next to him and walked comely forward, the three gangsters were nervous but did not move.
G1M smiled an innocent smile and said ‘How can I help you gentleman?’
Without a word the person in front of him reached for his gun, but he never reached it. G1M with three quick steps grabbed hold of the guys arm folded it until it snapped and the gun fell helplessly to the ground. The two others now had enough time to react though and had pulled their weapons out and were holding it to him. In one fluent movement G1M jumped back and kicked both guys in the lower back sending them flying to the floor. He was on top of one of them before he could even move and with one quick hit punched his nose so that it caved in. He didn’t push it upwards needless killing was not one of the things he believed in. A sharp pain from his shoulder told him he got cocky, he had missed a person there were six not five. He turned to face the new assailant and casually kicked the person that was on the floor struggling to get up, in the face, sending him back to the floor unconscious.
Unlike the others this guy was wearing cloth that matched the surroundings better; they were yellow brown with patches of green. He stared at G1M coldly holding a large knife in one hand and a pistol in the other. He smiled and threw the pistol away; G1M took this moment to survey everything around him. There were no other people around, his bodyguards had taken care of the hired guns and there was one remaining. He was still bleeding from his wound, but it wasn’t serious he took his shirt tore off the sleeve and tightened it around the wound. With that done he face his enemy.
This person was completely different than the others, to the untrained eye he stood very relaxed, but G1M knew better than that. He focused on his feet the joints, the cloth were tight enough to show that the person was applying pressure on the leg he was keeping in front as well as the leg that was back. This person was ready.
G1M motioned for his bodyguards to stand back. He walked towards the new guy and stopped just out of reach. He stared at the guy trying to see if the person had any hidden things on the body that he could use to figure out where he came from and more importantly what he wanted. There was remarkably little to go on. The cloths seemed to be generic army like cloth with no patterns or markings of any kind. The shoes were brown and although they were laced you could not see the lace itself. His face was brown from the sun and his eyes a light colour somewhere between blue and green. It was hard to tell how old he was, but he looked like he was at the peak of his health. His smile was closed lips, revealing no teeth, and they way he played with the knife showed that he knew how to work it.
G1M fainted a movement to the left, which the guy immediately reacted upon. He was quick, but from what G1M could see he lacked sharpness. His knife went to the area but without the precision he expected him to have. So maybe G1M misjudge, or the guy was testing him as much as he was testing the guy.
G1M decided to wait for the counterattack to come. He stood ready and looked at the guys eyes for any flicker, it was so quick he nearly missed it, but by focusing on the eyes and not on the muscles he nearly made a beginners mistake and got a knife wound for his troubles. As luck would have it because he was just a step out of reach the movement needed to bridge the gap was enough for him to block the knife wielding hand with a kick aimed at the knee. The kick didn’t connect as the guy stopped just short of it. The two were now circling each other looking for openings. It was the guy who took the initiative and jumped at G1M with several quick and broad slashes. That was a mistake the first broad slash went wide and before the slashing movement could return, G1M was already beside it. He grabbed the hand wielding the knife with his right arm quickly twisted it, blocked a punch from the left with his left hand and aimed a kick at the right knee. The knee shattered making a crunching sound and causing the guy to fall to the ground. G1M wasn’t content with that however; he locked the arms and head of the guy, by sitting close to him, his knees and legs blocking the arms and his arms holding the face.
‘Now you are going to tell me everything I want to know’ he said smiling. ‘Or I am going to be very upset. And trust me you don’t want to see me very upset’
The guy opened his mouth but no noise came from it. The guy had no tongue.
‘Great’ muttered G1M, then it was time to ask the other guys on the floor. He asked his men to check them while he quickly took care of his wound. He walked to his briefcase the merchant was gone, which was no surprise, opened it and took out a small metallic little cube. He sat down on the ground and pressed the cube in several points. The cube opened up revealing little metallic legs. He posed the figure on his shoulder near the wound and the little robot started working on removing the bullet and cleaning the wound. The robot’s small legs could easily dig into the tissue and get to the bullet, when the robot was finished removing it, it then sealed the wound be generating heat its side and gluing the two pieces of skin together. The pain was horrible but withstand able. G1M had experienced it many times and by refusing to use medication he felt somewhat more alive, as though he had passed another test.
Suddenly a figure shot out from a hiding place and quickly, while wielding a katana sliced G1M’s entire group before they could even life their hands. The figure was wearing a tight black suite with a hood covering its face. The figure was clearly a professional assassin, most likely hired by one of the other big shots.
He stretched his legs slightly and got up, the figure stood in front of him, it was remarkably small, its sword was already sheathed. He assumed a typical open position and waited for the figure to strike first. The biggest mistake most martial artists made was a lack of patience and let anger or other emotions get the better of you.
The figure moved in an instant it was remarkably quick, blink and you would miss it, G1M arched his neck and body backwards as the sword whooshed passed, if he would be even a second slower he would have lost his head. The figure continued the movement of the sword in a circular motion to G1M’s legs. It was too quick however and G1M couldn’t evade it completely, it took all his training to be able to evade it as much as he did. Whoever this was they were on a whole different level. He had never witnessed anyone as fast or as sharp as this. The figure took a step back and was ready for another strike. G1M wiped the blood from his leg where the katana scratched him, if it had been a proper hit he would have been cut to the bone instead of just a flesh wound.
G1M was at a disadvantage, the person in front of him was an amazing swordsman and he needed an edge, he couldn’t keep his eyes away from the person and the blade for even a second, or it would cost him his life. He decided there was only one thing for it he needed to be the dominator, he knew his skill was unequal he tested it against the best and he always won. He just needed to catch the figure by surprise, make a move that it wouldn’t be expecting.
With a quick dash G1M was in front of the figure, he jumped and launched a precise kick to the figure’s face. To his surprise he found that the figure was already gone from that place. In the instant that G1M jumped the figure moved at a speed that seemed unnatural, he was so fast that there was nothing he could do. His training never prepared him for something like this. While still in the air he could feel the figure and the katana at his back, he didn’t know how he knew this but he could feel his hairs standing on end, and before he even touched the ground the katana sliced him clean.
He fell to the ground his legs buckling under him, his face staring up. This wasn’t supposed to happen, this was wrong. He was the hero; he should have gotten the information just like any other mission, with enough time to get to other fun stuff. Not all was lost though; he recently got an upgrade on his hardware which he could now use. He whispered several orders into his headset telling his little robots to setup a perimeter and get him back to health. Just like the cube technology he used, he had a small chip in his arm that let him communicate with all his technology he was using that now to set some things in motion. However, something was wrong. The connection was being interrupted, which was impossible the connection was never interrupted before, the connection was in him. There shouldn’t have been any problem. All he heard though was connection error.
Above him the figure stood looking down. The hood flapped slightly with the wind and for a second he caught the figure’s face, an impossible face, the face of a young girl. Before he could raise his voice the girl raised her katana and with a quick swipe it came down too fast for him to even see.
***
LIRA closed her eyes and stared at the list that appeared in front of her. She finished the last list and it was time for the new one. The new one had 15 names, there were powerful names on the list, but also very low level names on it. She had to move quickly though, the community was already whispering that something was up, a cleanup operation that had been dubbed the surge was what the latest whispers said. This meant more work and more efficiency. Next time there won’t be a kill there will be complete removal.
She looked at number one on the list N00B52. She opened up her file, a workaholic spending hours on the job until it was done with a ferociousness that put the biggest guys to shame. However, she did not like to get her hands dirty she preferred to play a much more manipulative game and so she build layers around her, as protection, but also to help her find any rotten apples within her organization and remove them as efficiently as possible.
The base of operation for N00B52 was the docks; her home base was spread between Barcelona Spain, Moscow Russia and Zurich Switzerland. Her leisure pleases were also diverse but luckily LIRA knew exactly where she was. She closed her eyes and looked at the maps in her head, she scrolled through them until she located a blinking red dot with the name N00B52 on it. She zoomed out to see where the target was, and set off to make plans. N00B52 was in her base in Switzerland, this meant that she hired a lot of help, it would be difficult to enter that place it was a fortress. It would be easier to lure her out like she did the others but N00B52 never got out. She had to find a different way of removing her, something that would erase her completely as though she never existed. She thought for several moments, running different scenarios through her head until finally she found one that she was happy with.
She started by building the tools she needed for the job. For a job like this all you needed was technology and she knew exactly what to do. She had an affinity with technology a second nature almost. When she needed something done she found that she usually could just do it. She didn’t need to understand it or even follow the logic behind it, she just used the parts that fit in her head and build whatever it was she needed. For this job she needed an identity eraser, something that would remove the identity of a user. To do that all she needed to do was create a bypass, that way when information like security would be needed it would automatically be led to the bypass and there no information would be available. That would efficiently remove N00B52 from her environment or at least from her comfort zone.
However, N00B52 was a loner and distrustful of people in general, this meant that the tricky part in the whole operation was not hacking the system but rather finding the right location. LIRA quickly build the bypass device, she would now need to physically let in incorporate into the system at N00B52 residence, then wait until she got signal and she could start fine tuning the search for her.
Just to be on the safe side LIRA sent the bypass to all the possible centres N00B52 could be located in. This meant at least 5 different countries; she sent her information through to a 3D digital printer located near those places. The bypass would then walk to the residence and start the deletion procedure. As soon as it was build it should emit a signal so that LIRA would know that phase 1 of the plan worked. After completion of the second part another signal would be sent, after which the Bypass would self destruct and leave a little puddle of goo but nothing more. LIRA could have chosen to send the program directly into a 3D printer in the compound but that would mean an additional risk, if anyone would have found it, or even leftover data from the printed order the whole plan would be ruined.
LIRA waited patiently, after she finished her work and tested that her model system worked, for a signal. 10 minutes was when she got her first signal, 2 minutes later another and 5 after that the rest of signals arrived. This was normal, different places had different printers and each printer had their own work speed. It took several more moments until she got confirmation from all the little bots that everything was going smoothly. She closed her eyes and looked at the 5 screens that opened up there. In her mind she quickly scrolled through them.
The first place had nearly no people and everyone was very relaxed, there was no special security and only a handful of ordinary workers were in. First place could be removed from the list, she continued on to the second third fourth and fifth. Eventually, only one place showed any activity at all and that was the fifth place, the place in Zurich. What set that place apart from the rest was not that it had increased its security or workforce, but rather that several rooms on the second floor were completely cut off. They had no cameras there, no technological readings of any kind. This was too suspicious, and was most assuredly the place N00B52 was currently residing.
There was one problem, if she could not access the place than removing the details from the rest of the house would not mean a lot. Unless there was another system somewhere, but if even she couldn’t see it right now then she needed to go there in person. That was the only way, go there and remove her.
***
In the cover of darkness LIRA conveniently moved cameras and other sensors to exclude her, as she now had complete access to the facility she could just quickly sneak into the room she needed to get to. The closed and as of yet blind room was located on the third floor a quick look through the surveillance camera told her everything she needed to know; Where the guards were, what route to take and how to get in.
She quickly and with astounding agility leapt up the floors, avoiding the help and security until she stopped in front of a large door. She already knew she wasn’t going to enter the room through that door, it would take a much simpler approach, first she needed confirmation that N00B52 was here. She walked down the hallway and straight to the window, once there she opened it and climbed out towards the window that the room had. She just needed to get one good look at her and that would be enough. She got just next to the window using a little tool she constructed to keep her hooked to the wall and carefully balanced herself so that she could take a look into the room. Inside the luscious room there were two ladies, one was clearly meant to be N00B52 and the other the servant, but that wasn’t the truth of it. It was a show, she could see it clearly N00B52 was the servant. That meant she had to take out the help with a minimum of fuss, she had no tools with her to deal with such a job and going back was no option at the moment either.
She got back inside and stood next to the room, she needed more info. She went to the office of the head of security and prepared a little syringe.
She gently knocked on the door ‘lunch is served’ she said.
The door opened and a large man got out. ‘Lunch? What lunch if anything it should be dinner now’ he said angrily.
LIRA smiled an innocent smile and pushed the syringe into his back before he could say anything she pushed him into the room and closed the door behind her. Inside there were no other guards. She pushed him into the seat, the shot was already taking affect and he was looking very groggy. He didn’t even put up a fight which was strange, as usually most security she met at least tried one last resort.
‘Have you ever seen N00B52?’ she asked him.
‘No’ he replied automatically. His eyes were glazed and unfocused.
‘How does she get her food?’
‘It is delivered on a plate directly into the room’
‘How big is the plate?’
The guy motioned to a tray that stood on the table where he most likely got his lunch on. The tray was big enough for a large turkey; this meant she could most likely get in. People usually assumed she was incapable or innocent, both of which she made very good use of. Most people did not live long to regret their decision.
LIRA turned the guy back to his screens, in 10 minutes he would be back to normal with no memory of the last 20 minutes. She quickly got out of there and went into the kitchen. There were people bustling with activity. People were fussing around in the kitchen, which also worked in her favour; it meant she could blend in. She got a white overall from just outside the kitchen and got in as though she belonged there. A quick survey of the place let her through to the only place where the dinner could possibly go through. It was a small trap door and she could by flexing her body get into it. She waited for a bit doing little things the chefs told her until the food was ready to bring up. It was handed to one of the sous-chefs that went into the other room to put it in the hatch. He lifted it and before he could press the button he was stabbed with a small syringe in the back of the neck. He was pushed towards a chair and LIRA took the meal and put it in his hands. She quickly got in the door and asked the sous-chef to press the button which he obediently did.
It was very dark in the latch and LIRA closed her eyes, focusing on the job ahead. It was most likely N00B52 who would open the latch door, so she should be ready to take her out, she had 4 more syringes ready. She held them expertly in between her fingers.
The small elevator stopped and before the latch could open all the way, she had already thrown two syringes one into the person who opened the latch and one to the person lying on the bed. The syringes were a sophisticated little system that LIRA constructed. They had a small little chip in them that told them when to release their content, she designed them in such a way that as soon as they came into contact with buffered solution they would release their content automatically.
LIRA had a long and thorough look through the room; there were no other individuals here. She closed her eyes to make sure she got the right person. A little blinking mark told her that she did. She opened her eyes again; she walked to N00B52 and took out another syringe. This one was not to make you docile this one was to erase your mind. She knew now that this is what she should have done for the others. She pressed the syringe into N00B52’s neck and got out of the room and on to the next person on the list…
***
Kim opened her eyes and blinked several times. Her eyes hurt as though she hadn’t used them for a while. At first she was disoriented and a little lost, but then things slowly came back to her. She removed the extremely dark glasses that covered her eyes and shut down the world from her. Attached to the glasses was a wire with two earpieces that she forgot about, in her hurry to pull off the glasses she pulled the earpieces, which were firmly lodged into her ears, out. She rubbed her ears which were slightly red and irritated and stared around her. She was in her room, but what had happened? Why did she get out? She picked up the glasses again to see if she was disconnected from the server for a specific reason. There was a message waiting for her.
N00B52 has been disconnected from the server. LIRA protocol has been activated (Local Integrated Removal Application), this is security measure installed for users that spend over 30 hours in a row playing the game. As recommended by the health associations around the world after 30 hours of game play the LIRA protocol is initiated to disable the connection. Please log back in at a later time, your account has been saved and will be re-instigated when you are ready to continue.
Sincerely yours,
Garidion games
Kim stared at the text she completely lost track of time in that thing. She suddenly felt afraid of it; she very nearly got stuck in it. She put the glasses away, thank god they had that security protocol or I would really have a problem she thought. Then another thought struck her, what if the first people didn’t have this protocol and got stuck in the game? Or maybe she was still in the game…

Images of night part 5 – The storyteller

5 – The Storyteller
Part I
There are columns surrounding me. I am lost among the thousands maybe millions of the white bricked pillars. There are exactly 5 steps that separate me from one pillar to the next. I can see no ending to them; they are to my left, to my right, in front of me and even behind me. The floor is made of the same white brick, or marble I am unsure, and even though I can not see where the light is coming from it is there none the less. I begin to run, hoping to find some kind of door to exit this place, but there is nothing.
I sit down on the stoned floor and listen, trying to find a noise that will tell me where I am and what I am to do here. But there is nothing, no noise, no change in the light, nothing to steer me one way or the other. The temperature does not shift and stays at a comfortable room temperature, although I see nothing to regulate it.
An echo resonates through the strange room or hall it is that I am in. I quickly get up and try to hide behind one of the many pillars, for although I know not what has caused the sound it fills me with fear.
The noise is closer to me now it is a growl, a beastly roar that lacks any sign of humanity. I shudder at the thought of what it might be. I try to hide somewhere but there is no such place, and so I cower closer to one of the pillars waiting for the inevitable to come.
The growl sounds as though it mocks me, as if it is more a snarl than a growl, it is now so close that I dare not breath for fear of it hearing me. My heart beats are so strong that I imagine it can hear them, and that is when I finally see it. Two large legs covered in fur step just ahead of one of the pillars, I can see their hooves and as they move forwards they remind of the hind legs from a bull, it is then that I see the torso. Like the legs it is covered in fur it has large muscular arms and three large fingers, resembling an animal’s paw more than a human hand. The large chest then moves forward to reveal the face. I am rooted to the floor with fear, for the face I see before me is the face of the devil. Two large black horns protrude from a large dense skull resembling a cross between a human and a bull. It has a large nose with two large holes that seem to breathe out steam instead of air, as if the heat in the creature I see before me is too hot, thus turning the water it stores into steam which is let out through the incredibly large nostrils. Its mouth remains slightly open as it can not close for all the sharp teeth that grow from the creatures massive jaws.
The creature stares right at me and I can do nothing but stare back at him. He opens his mouth and cries to the heavens, a cry that sounds like a terrible rumble that starts low in the stomach and boils into the mouth with a deafening blow. It lifts one leg up and starts shuffling it as in preparation to charge at me.
Without another sign he springs forward towards me and the movement even though I expect it catches me in surprise in its speed and ferocity. I manage to stumble out of the way at the last moment as the beast comes crashing into the pillar his horns in front blocking his eyes from seeing me stumble away. The power and strength behind the horns is magnificent, with a trash and a shake of the beasts head the pillar tumbles down to rubble, it is almost as though the pillars are made of chalk and not marble. If I hadn’t touched the pillars myself I would have doubted my own eyes.
I stumble on to the next pillar and then the next trying to put as much distant between me and the beast as I can, hoping that by doing so the beast will crash into more pillars which might somehow daze him. Although the hope of that is stretched remarkably thin in view of how little the last pillar affected the beast.
A roar warns me that the beast is upon me again and that it is ready to charge, I try to remember the story how did the hero slay the beast and I look down to see nothing but a short skirt and sandals. No weapon of any kind and nothing resembling a chance.
I turn to watch the monster dash at me the horns are much closer then I had anticipated… too close, I misjudged the distance of the roar, the beast is almost upon me and all I can do is stare at the horrible big horns in front of me. A flash of movement flickers and I see something fluttering in the background behind one of the pillars, but I have no time to reflect on what I have seen with a gut wrenching movement one of the horns tears through my body cutting through my stomach and intestines as though they were nothing more than paper. The horn is stuck into the pillar and I feel the life gushing out of me, I become light headed and the pain that started as an overbearing feeling fades into nothingness. I lack the strength to hold my head up high and my last sight is that of my blood splashing downward along the white horn and onto the white marble floor. Flash

Part II
I walk through what always appears to me to be the endless streets of the city, the corridors of life, the veins and arteries that supply the city with the much needed sustenance. The rows of streets seem endless and at first I am but one of the many in the crowd that walk it. There are literally hundreds of people walking up and down the busy roads, each person most likely with a destination and a story to tell. I am at ease and the walking rhythm that guides all the people in the street at a specific pace takes me along with it. It takes me to known locations, easy to find places that I know and have always known until inevitably I reach my destination. I think of all the people I pass the face that stare at the ground or dead ahead and even some that stare at others. As I walk onwards lost in my thoughts I forget all about the way and bump hard into a person in front of me. I mumble an apology as the person turns around, his face flashing in anger his jaw locked firm and I swallow hard as I think of the inevitable punch I am about to receive. Surprisingly though the person does not punch me. He turns his eyes look straight at me but pass on as though I was not even there. After a few more stares he gives up finding the person who bumped into him lets out an irritated grunt and walks onwards. I stare dumbstruck after him and look at all the other people around me. It is then that I notice that the people are automatically walking around me as if there was some sort of barrier erected around me. Something causes them to walk around me without actually seeing me.
I decide to put my theory to the test and start taping people on the shoulder and talking to them. Interestingly, their reactions are very similar. Most turn and look for the person who tapped them on the shoulder and fail to hear or see me, while others turn make a swatting like movement as though I was a fly and quickly go on their way. No one however sees me, hears me, or even registers that I exist. I am no more.
I walk lost in thought trying to find an answer to this problem but I am lost who can I ask if I cannot communicate with anyone? Who can I rely on to help me solve my problem? I decide that the only way I can find the answers is by going to people that I know. There should be some evidence there that I have at least existed, or they should at the very least know about me, if they cannot see or hear me.
I decide to take more drastic measures and decide that the next person to pass next to me will not get a pet on the shoulder but rather a harder hit, maybe a punch. The next person that passes me gets a hard shove in the back that sends him flying forwards much to my amusement. He fails however to see me, and after apologizing to his fellow passerbyers and all those he has hit he quickly gets up and walks away. I decide to try something similar again as it seems that I can hit people and my touch does not pass through them as it would a ghost and thus it affects them even though they cannot see me or hear me. Another larger fellow passes close to me and I push him lightly on his shoulder. He immediately turns to look, but when he sees nothing he walks away, glaring backwards. I shout as loud as I can to him, but without any reaction. Nothing happens no one acknowledges my existence I am gone. Maybe this is not just here but rather a foreboding that I am gone, erased from existence all together. I decide to put this theory to the test and am still rather calm and conserved. I stop at the house of my best friend and walk to the door I ring the bell and wait. Paul should be home by now it the afternoon and we were supposed to meet at his place to go for lunch. The door opens and Paul stares outside looking for the person that rang the bell. He sees no one.
‘Rotten kids’ he mutters and shuts the door.
I quickly slip in just before the door closes and walk into the living room where there should be at least several pictures of me with Paul and other friends at our numerous nights out. There I should have my evidence. I smile triumphantly as I walk to the desk and look at the picture that I know so well. There it is Paul standing at the left a large beer in his hand and a foolish smile on his face and there is me. Just as I have always been, standing with my big wide grin and a pint of beer in my hand. So if I am not gone, what has happened? Why can’t anyone see me?
Paul is staring at his watch, he knows I am late. He takes out his phone and sends me a message. The phone is in my pocket but it does not ring or vibrate or do anything much. I take it out and stare at the blank screen it seems that the things associated with me are just as invisible and useless as me. Maybe I can write him a message to tell him something about what is happening to me. I try to grab a piece of paper and my hand glides through it. I stare at it shocked, I am becoming invisible or rather I am no longer able to touch or influence the objects around me. I look at the things in the room around me and try to push pull and hit anything and everything around me. But it’s useless the progression although gradual has been steady I am now unable to interact with anything or anyone and they can no longer interact with me. Paul mutters something, but I pay no heed I walk out the door without even realizing that it is closed, and go outside in a daze. My mind stumbling and it is only then that I realize that my life is over. I have no more life, I can’t work can’t interact with anyone other than stare at them my skills are just about useless. Ergo my life is over… I walk through the crowds and don’t even notice that as I walk through them some evade me and others just continue on their way, and continue their meaningful existence.
It is then that I notice a figure looking at me. Not through me like all the others but actually at me. He wears a long black robe that looks as though it would be more at place at a medieval gathering then at the busy streets. He grins at me, and I walk towards him but before I can reach him he shouts something at me that I can’t understand and my world becomes a white ball of fire. My eyes feel as though they are ablaze and a white flash burns my retina to nothing… Flash

Part III
The forest is dense, and the humidity in the air causes everything to smell damp. I walk casually forwards not knowing where I am or where I am going. A clearing up ahead reveals a small wooden house with smoke coming out of its chimney. I walk up to the door and knock. A beautiful woman opens the door. Her hair is braided and has the colour of leaves in the autumn her clear green eyes shine with a glee and a spark that seems unquenchable, she is taller then I am and her body is athletic.
‘Is there anything I can do for you’ she asks
‘I’ve been lost in the forest’ I say ‘could you perhaps show some kindness to a passing stranger?’
The woman does not reply but grabs me by my shirt and pulls me into the house. She sits me in front of the fire and goes somewhere inside the house. I take off my coat and put it close to the fire.
‘my husband should be home at any minute if you will like you could join us for dinner we have more than enough and we very rarely have any company’
‘I would love to’ I reply
‘Wonderful, just make yourself at home and sooth your bones, I shall call when dinner is ready’
I thank her for her kindness and continue to take off my shoes and socks both of which are soaking wet. My feet are really starting to ache and blisters are already visible.
‘Who are you’ asks a small red headed child of about 10 years
‘I am your guest’ I reply
‘I didn’t know we had a guest, will you be staying for dinner?’ he asks
‘Yes, I believe that I will’
He looks at me closely as if judging me and says ‘me and my brother are going to be the strongest men alive, just like our father!’ his voice is filled with pried
‘The strongest man alive?’ I ask amused
‘Yes my father is the strongest man who has ever lived!’
I thought this to be an exaggeration and so humoured the child without getting into too many details. Rapidly the child gets bored with me and leaves me alone in the living room where I must have dosed off, for a moment later the beautiful woman calls me over for dinner.
I sit down at a large wooden table where two red headed children sit on both sides of me the one on my right I had already met, he was the eldest the other is somewhat shy and about 3-4 years younger.
‘Where is your husband?’ I ask feeling slightly awkward sitting between the two children.
‘Oh, he will be along soon enough. He lives on his stomach, nothing can make him skip a meal’ she says a mischievous smile on her lips and almost as on cue a rumble sounds and the front door opens. An incredibly large and muscular man enters the house; his body is that of someone who has seen endless trials, his face however is sweet gentle and loving. There is kindness in his eyes and an innocence I thought inappropriate almost for someone such as he. My doubts as to the Childs claims are somewhat shaken, I could easily believe that the strong giant of a man standing before me is indeed the strongest man in the world.
‘Wife! Kids! I have returned and I bring you gifts!’ his voice echoes through the house and the kids quickly leave the table and run towards their dad. The giant puts a large bag filled with toys down on the floor, which got no attention from either one of the children. They both jump on their dad and he easily lifts them up into the air much to their delight. The woman also walks towards her husband and while still holding both children high up in the air the with one hand the man lifts the woman as though she was nothing but a cloth with the other, and gives her a long strong kiss. Once everyone calms down somewhat the attention is switched towards me and the large man comes to sit by my side.
‘Hello stranger’ says the large man ‘I hope you haven’t been too uncomfortable sitting all alone for a while’ he adds smiling
‘Not at all, I very much appreciate the hospitality!’
‘Think nothing of it!’ He then gives his wife a meaningful look and calls ‘and now we eat!’
The meal we ate was fit for a legion of men, and the giant ate it all easily and his company was priceless. He had many stories about wars and fights and strange creatures and quests and all the while he talked food kept coming. It was a joyous and wondrous occasion. When we were finally finished we walked out into the yard where there was a bench at the back of the house we sat down just me and the big man. He was a real treat to talk to, he was incredibly chatty, and his stories were some of the most magnificent I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. For a moment though my eyes are distracted. At the corner of my eye I see something pass through the bushes, something shiny, but it disappears almost as soon as I spot it.
The giant must have noticed something was up because he stops talking and looks at me.
‘What is it? Something wrong with your eyes?’ he asks
‘No I just thought I saw something’ I answer
The giant turns around and stares at the direction I was gazing at just a moment before. Suddenly a flash appears and the giant roars with anger and rage, he jumps to his feet and yells ‘Get away from me you evil twisted goddess’.
The giant is shaking his body flailing; the lightning shines once more strongly and then disappears as though it was never there in the first place. The giant is calm again; I walk to him to ask if he is alright but before I can do so the giant turns to face me. His eyes stare at some place in the distance, there is something wrong, gone is the spark he had, his eyes now seem to lack all joy, and the sparkle is out. A fear then creeps over me as he lowers his face and stares at me, his eyes cold and dark. Without a single word he lashes out with his right arm quicker then I can see or react to and sends me flying backwards. I hit the ground hard gasping for air as it is completely knocked out of my lung. My ears are beeping from the hit. I lay there on the ground for several seconds fearing the worst, and try to get my aching body back under then control, when I realize nothing is coming. I slowly try to get up, but my feet buckle underneath me and I fall flat on the floor. I can see the giant no longer, but the beeping slowly recedes and I can now hear what I could not see. Within seconds I wish my hearing was impaired again, for what I hear makes my guy curl. The giant has entered the house and from it all I can hear are screams. Agonizing gut wrenching screams. My imagination runs wild as I realize that the giant has become mad. The light had somehow changed him, turned him into a senseless monster and he was now exacting a revenge on his family. The screams continued and I force myself to get up on to my feet and try to help them. I get to the house as quickly as I possibly can but by now the screams are faint, mere echoes of what they were and slowly even that fades and the noise is gone completely.
I finally reach the house and enter it, inside blood and tissue covers the walls of the wooden house, the scene is one of extreme horror. I feel mortified and disgusted, the food I had only just eaten comes back up and I vomit. From the back door, enters the giant, he is covered in blood and what looks like pieces of bone and tissue that are glued onto him. His eyes are still without a spark, he is still not himself. I grab a bloody pot from the floor and hit the giant as hard as I can with it. It has no effect on him at all. The giant simply turns and looks at me as though I was an ant. He hits me on the shoulder so hard and so quickly that I it sends me flying, my back hitting the wooden wall. I can feel my torn shoulder being literally torn to pieces. The giant calmly walks towards me and lifts me from where I lay on the floor. He punches me in my stomach once hard and lets me go. I was never hit so hard in my life, blood gushed through my mouth, and my ribs feel like small fragile sticks that are now shattered. My internal organs feel as though they were ripped apart.
He drops me onto the floor, I think I scream the whole time, but I do not know for sure. The pain is the only thing I notice. I land in a broken heap unable to do anything. My head is tilted to such an angle that I can see out of the window. The house is incredibly quiet, and then a gut wrenching shriek is heard I cannot see but I believe it belongs to the giant. He must have woken up and is now looking at what he has done in his crazed mind. The screams echo through the house, joined by occasional weeps and cries of rage. From my point on the floor I can see a figure standing at the window looking at me. He is wearing a black robe and he is screaming, my head starts to spin, I feel like I can’t hold out any longer and I… Flash

Part IV
The forest is quiet and empty as I walk slowly through the dark trees slightly bored. It is a cold and miserable day the winds tear through the trees and start to pick up a sharpness that was previously absent. A slight drizzle starts and I look around for some shelter. I have no umbrella with me and I am unfortunately rather under dressed. I am wearing a t-shirt and jeans, cloths not fit for your typical winter weather.
The slight drizzle starts to pick up and I am still without a place to hide. I leave the pathway and walk on to try and find some cover under some of the larger trees. I walk towards a rather large tree that appears to shade over a large part of the ground around it. Once there I realize the tree has left the ground somewhat. There are large roots coming up from the ground and they twist and twirl around above ground. They look like they are playing a game with one another. In the midst of the roots there is a small hole, it almost looks like a cavern, I decide to go close to it as it is the only way I can get away from the rain that is now continuously pouring, soaking me to the bone. The wind is blistering cold now and I am shivering uncontrollably, I have but one solution to delve ever deeper into the crevice between the roots.
It works slightly it dries me a little but I am still getting soaked and so I go deeper into the crevice between the roots. I push myself in and find that the crevice actually deepens and becomes a small cavern that is nice and dry and offers me the exact protection from the rain and wind that I need.
I wait patiently for the rain to stop, it is dark and damp in the cave and I don’t want to go too deeply into it without at least an idea of what is there; it is also not very high. I manage to crawl into it easily enough though.
Light starts to fade and in the darkness of the cave I see something glowing, at first I think I must have imagined it, but when I look closely I realize it is still there. There is a fluorescent light in the darkest part of the cave. I carefully head towards it and look at the fluorescent light that it emits, and realize it must be a glow worm. I continue on into the cave in search for others, if there is one there must be others.
A short crawl forwards and I reach the end of the cave. But it is not an end I had thought. Instead of the ground I had expected I am touching something metallic. I follow it with my hands and notice that I can now stand; I find a handle and pull it.
Light floods over me and I am in the middle of a small narrow paved street. The street looks like a Middle Ages city; everything is made with small white bricks that look like murmur. The walls are filled with signs for shops and handymen the text though is in a language I don’t understand.
I walk carefully through the streets eyeing the shops and the many goods with curiosity. A tug pulls me from my sightseeing and I turn to look at who pulled me. It is an older gentleman he wears cloths that look like rags to me he says something in a language I have never heard before and I have no idea what it is that he wants. Through a lot of pulling at my cloths I realize he is questioning my cloths, the t-shirt and jeans. I don’t know how to answer him and decide to leave him and continue on, but the person is shouting now I don’t know what it is that he wants but something must have aggravated him.
I walk quickly onwards and reach a cross-road of sorts with many small pathways going in every direction. There are also many large doors everywhere I decide to try one of those and find myself in a patch that is setup as a small garden with flowers and plants everywhere. A path lies around it and heads to the buildings that tower over the garden like giants. A woman walks out of the building and looks at me closely, she asks something but again I can’t understand. I motion that I can’t speak to her, and she leaves by the same door I entered. I follow her out.

There is a commotion in the street in front of me that catches my eye, but the fact that I don’t understand the language puts me in a disadvantage so instead of going to look I go the other way. The other path leads to a large river with several bridges over it. The light that flooded the city when I entered it is now fading and oil lamps are being lit along the river, giving rise to shadows. I walk closer to the river, there is a paved path running along it and I walk leisurely on it.
The darkness is now complete and the only visibility is from the oil lamps. It is a nice evening that is suddenly hampered by the arrival of a man dressed in black. Or at least it appears black in the shadows cast by the lamps. He hits me in the back and continues running forward, he turns to face me and I see that the guy is an older man wearing a cape he gives me a strange smile. As he runs he bumps into other people that are on the path. He disappears quickly into the night, I continue walking along the path and see a few of the people the person in black hit lying on the path. I look down at them and notice something trickling to the floor. I reach for it, it is sticky I try to make out what it is when I suddenly realize its blood. I quickly push the person on to his back. A large knife wound has cut him up. I quickly run from the one to the other and find that every person is dead.
Something gleaming catches my eye and I reach to hold it. As I grab it I realize it’s a knife. Shouts and whistles from behind me alert me that something is happening. I turn and see people running towards me, they wear a uniform and I deduce that they are police officers. With the knife in my hand I realize that they are after me. I dump the knife into the river and with a panic start running; I don’t know what else to do. Although I am innocent how can I explain anything to them? I run as quickly as my legs can carry me but it is of little use the people behind me are quickly gaining on me.
Suddenly a loud noise reaches my ears and a sharp pain pulses through my gut. I stop as the pain gets too much to bear and the air burns in my lungs. I put my hands where the pain irradiates from and find that my hands are sticky with what I assume is blood. It is dripping to the pavement in what appears like a constant stream. I try to apply pressure to the wound but before I manage to do so I am hit over the back of the head. I fall hard to the floor and feel my consciousness fading. The pain is too much to take and I lose control. I feel more hits landing on me, fists kicks and an overwhelming pain that takes over any other emotion.
In the distance I hear something that sounds like Help Me, but it fades with ringing in my ears.

Part V
The darkness is all around me, as though I am stuck in a dark whole and staring at the abyss. There is nothing, no wind no air it is then that I notice that I am not even breathing. Suddenly the darkness parts in a gigantic explosion and a immense wave of energy disappears away from me. As the wave disappears into the distance I can see pieces of round marbles everywhere, it is only upon closer inspection that I notice these are in fact planets. But instead of viewing their formation I am seeing their destruction. I try to understand with my limited knowledge of astrophysics what is happening around me.
If the explosion was the big bang then I should be seeing the creation of the world not the end of it. More lights blink on and off in rapid succession and as more of these lights blink on and off I notice that there is something moving between the planets. I hone in on the planets like a spirit or ghost of some kind I fly closer to look at what is moving and notice that there are tiny holes everywhere. Next to each one of the holes I can see a planet with water and greens and what looks like little stations flying in an orbit around it. I stare closer at the hole and notice that there are things that are flying through these holes, things that resemble spaceships. The holes suddenly disappear and the planet that was until recently colonized is now an empty shell of dust, I fly to a different planet and realize that the hole there disappeared as well and just like the other planet it is now a planet that looks like a icy blue one. This proves that what I am witnessing is time reversal.
I move backwards, it is not flying really as I do not feel as though I am really moving. It is more as though I am witnessing an event on an immense screen and I am now zooming in and out of it. I go to an area that looks like it still has something going on there and I see that planets rapidly disappear everywhere, the lights are going out and I am back in darkness. A large wave of light comes closer to me and smashes into something that causes an immense light to irradiate from it leaving me blinded. When I finally manage to open my eyes I am back in the dark I was at the beginning.
Suddenly I hear a rasp whisper it says “help me” it is soft and I can’t tell where it is coming from. But I feel it is close to me. I turn around several times in an effort to locate the source of the voice but find nothing, just when I am about to give up on it I hear it again this time it sounds slightly louder and not as helpless as it was just previously “help me”. Again I try to locate the person who speaks, but I cannot, there is no one I can see. The voice is now louder still and it is close to my ear where it now shouts “HELP” I reach backwards expecting to grab hold of him but I find nothing. Chills run down my spine and I feel frightened, the darkness creeps me out and the fact that my eyes nose and just about every sense other than my ears is useless, leaves vulnerable and afraid.
The explosion occurs again just as it did previously and the show that I just saw repeats itself. I try to focus on something else, locate the voice but it isn’t there. I wait for the inevitable end and the beginning of the whispering. Sure enough a moment later when the bang is swallowed by the darkness the whispering starts, this time I do not try to grab hold of the person as I already found that to be futile instead I try to just focus on my ears. As those are the only things that seem to work with the whispering, maybe there is something else I could hear that would help. I try to focus but there is nothing there, when it finally arrives it is the same way it has previously arrived as only a distinctly creepy whisper.
I decide to find the planet earth as perhaps the person whispering is there and I might find him on that planet, it is a stretch though and it takes me a long time and cycles upon cycles of following the black holes towards their final place earth. As cycles pass I try to locate the source of the voice but I have only a very short gap when there are people present at all but suddenly in between the cycles I notice a figure standing. Time and matter pass through him as though he is not there, no one sees him and he seems to be watching. He seems familiar somehow he is wearing a black robe and unlike everyone else that is going backwards and disappears with the rest of humanity he stays there. Unmoving, unflinching at the pass of time, it is only when everything returns to darkness that I notice the figure is now slightly moving towards me his lips form words and I hear a distinct whisper.
“Help me”
I don’t know how I can help, so at first I just stare maybe I can get more details, but except for the three whispers of help nothing happens. However in all the cycles of the universe ending and beginning the figure is a constant, a watcher, the only time he shows any movement at all is when he is asking me for help. I try to reach out to him when he is asking me to help him but I go right through him as though he doesn’t exist. A thought suddenly strikes me, what if I can only interact with him when he watches the universe? If that is the case I need to wait for another cycle to start and then reach out to him.
A new cycle of ending starts and I reach for the watcher but this also doesn’t work, I assume that it is because if anyone would be able to interact with the watcher it would have been done already, therefore there must be something else I can do. I wait for another cycle to end and the darkness to descend, a shadow of the figure is still present and I reach out to him my hand slips through him as he turns to face me and again the whispering starts but there is something different now. I feel as though my energy is being sucked away and I realize the figure is now no longer immobile but is actively grabbing my arm. My energy is draining and with it my strength to pull away from the figure. A sharp cry that sounds like the shriek of a bird makes me recoil in fear, with horror I realize the shriek originates from the figure standing in front of me it is not a shriek but rather laughter, a laughter that echoes not through the darkness of the end or beginning but through my mind.
A new cycle starts and I notice I am alone everything passes through me as I watch another cycle commence. Although the figure in black is now gone I can still feel its presence, it makes my hair stand on and shortly after I hear his voice.
“I have waited for this moment for a very long time. The role of watcher is now finally gone from my hands. I will enjoy the life of a god while you will be trapped watching this endless destruction to creation of the universe forever” The voice erupts in laughter and I am trapped. Time moves on and I can do nothing but watch the cycle repeat itself in its meaningless never-ending turn.

He wakes up and wonders what his third grade teacher was doing in his dream. He feels frightened and cold and he can’t shake the feeling that his teacher was somehow guiding him through a dream, but the memory quickly fades into the recesses of his mind and he turns and rapidly falls asleep.

Notes:
Images of night… 5 – the Storyteller (2012) – (2014)
This is a short long story, and yes I know it makes no sense but if you’ve read it you must realize that it is a nightmare to write while retaining the same feel to it. The story is actually divided into 5 parts, all of which intertwine with the storyteller who provides the story for each set like a theater play, and lets the actors act out their parts. It is this idea that is the long story because it took me a long time to realize and come to grips with the idea in my head before putting it on to the paper. The first part of the story is also the first one I came up with and it was a very long time ago (back in 1995) the rest came much much later…
Part I – The maze sequence is my mineator impression of being stuck in the maze and dying ofcourse. This wasn’t written in 1995 (well it was but that version has been out of existence for quite some time so I rewrote it in 2012).
Part II – I always dreaded feeling lost or losing touch and that is what this story tried to portray (2013)
Part III – big spoiler if you didn’t realize who the giant was… Hercules and still sticking to the greek theme. Well in two of the stories anyway. (started in 2013 and finished in 2014,
I actually wrote parts II,III and IV back in 2012 but the file got corrupted and I had to rewrite them which I eventually did in 2013-2014…)
Part IV – This is my impression of medieval Lyon in France. I was there a few years ago and was in awe of all the small allies and doors that lead to or houses or to secret restaurants and disco’s. I thought it would be a fun idea if someone would be stuck in such a place without the ability to speak to anyone or understand anyone which is a feeling everyone who has traveled to distant places where English is not spoken must have felt.
Part V – Big bang backwards need I say more?

The Gravel Road

            He looked at her, her fragile body sitting in the wooden chair, rocking back and forth. She sat outside catching the few last rays of the setting sun. She was planning something again, she was always planning. He made her the way she was and she in her turn made him. How he hated her… He knew there was only one option left, she made sure of that.

He looked up at the sky the sun was slowly dying away, the last sunrays vanishing beyond the horizon leaving the ground to the dark night. If only he could die just like her, that would be better but he couldn’t. things could never be that bad. He sighed and sat back on his wooden chair. Their houses looked like replicas in front of one another stuck in an endless struggle a struggle he was now losing, why he was losing he did not know. The centuries long fight was finally setting the end stage it was time to end it.

He looked down, at the desert road between their houses. A swift wind blew some dried out bushes on the desert road there was only one thing now he had to be ready…

           

The ground shook, Richard had to grab hold of the wall next to him to stop from falling.

“What the hell is going on?” he cried.

“It’s an earthquake dude, can’t you tell??” answered Michael.

They ran out of the house and looked at the street. Everything was shaking, the ground seemed alive, about to devour everything and everyone.

“This must be at least an 8.5!!” called Richard.

“No way man, I felt an 8.5 once and it wasn’t like this at all. It was a lot worse. Half the houses were breaking and me and Lisa were running as far away as we could…”

“You were with Lisa?!” Richard interrupted looking at Michael in disbelief “You lucky dog”

“Lucky?? I finally get a date with Lisa and there’s a fucking earthquake!!! And you call me lucky?”

Richard smiled. They watched their house shake. The shaking stopped as abruptly as it began. Car alarms sounded all along the streets. They waited a few more minutes before they went back in the house.

“Well that was exciting” said Richard as they walked towards the sofa.

“Yeah right” answered Michael sitting down.

“So how come I never heard about that date with Lisa?!” asked Richard, sounding somewhat annoyed

“If I would have told you anything, you probably would have shown up at the door and ruin my date” answered Michael knowingly.

“Yeah well, you had an earthquake, so there are other forces at work here to stop you from dating that hot chick” Richard said smugly.

“I have a date with her on Tuesday so how’s that?!” He said, regretting saying that as soon as the words came out of his mouth. Richards face was worth it though. He looked shocked, for the first time words failed him which was a big thing with Richey.

“You have a date with her Tuesday?” he said finally in disbelief.

“Yeah, she said I was an old style knight with the way I protected her against the earthquake” Michael said proud of himself.

Richard burst into laughter. “That’s really what she said? Man, I thought she was hot I guess she is also as dumb as a shoe” he said laughing.

Michael’s face turned red. “It was romantic you idiot. She’s very smart, she has all these imagination games she likes to play and I was the only one who didn’t just try to get into her pants so there!” Michael said with conviction.

“Just so you know, if a girl actually says that, she means you are a loser and you will never get into her pants” Richard returned.

Michael looked at him angrily. “You are just jealous; you always were a sore loser”

“A loser?! me?! I don’t remember ever fighting over her or even trying to pick her up”

“Just forget about it, I had enough arguing about it.” Michael shouted and went to the kitchen.

He returned with two beers, one in each hand.

“Here” he said and handed a beer over to Richard.

“Just so you don’t get too pissed at me, here is too a good date between the both of you” Richard called lifting his bottle in the air.

“Thanks mate, appreciate it” Michael answered lifting his bottle in turn, hitting his friends bottle gently.

They both took a big gulp of beer.

“Just for the record, not that I’m jealous or anything, what did you plan with her?” Richard asked eyeing Michael curiously.

“Well, I didn’t really plan anything just a romantic kind of get together nothing else really”

“Don’t tell me you don’t want to get into her pants!! I can’t believe that, she’s so fucking hot!!” Richard said loudly nearly screaming.

Michael stared at the floor. “It’s not that I don’t want her, it’s just that it feels good. I don’t have to have her. At first when I saw her I really thought she would turn out to be stupid and I would just bone her and that’s it. But it was great, we talked really talked and I had a lot of fun” he paused contemplating “I never even thought of sex” he added.

“Bullshit!” interrupted Richard. “I don’t believe any of this drivel, how the hell can you sit here next to me and lie?!”

“I’m not lying” Michael replied somewhat annoyed, looking straight at his friend.

Richard looked back at Michael and sighed. “Ok maybe not. I’m happy for you, don’t look at me like that, I am… really”

Michael eyed Richard somewhat suspiciously, waiting for Richard to make some kind of comment, but he said nothing being uncharacteristically quiet.

They spent the rest of the day sitting on the sofa drinking, until the early evening when Michael got a call from Richard’s mother telling him send Richard home. Richard left and promised to come back some time later.

            Michael sat bored at home by himself. His parents divorced a long time ago. He lived with his mom who worked about 10 hours a day, leaving him to do whatever he liked for most of the day hours. This usually wasn’t much. He looked at the time; it was nearing 22:00. He wondered if he should call Lisa, their date was in 2 days, but he really couldn’t wait to hear her voice. After picking up the phone and putting it down again a few times. He cursed for his nervousness and quickly dialed the number before his courage could fail him. He was just about to hang up again when a feminine voice spoke on the other line.

“Lisa?” Michael inquired, not completely sure he recognized the voice. Lisa and her mother had very similar voices over the phone.

“Yes, who is this?” she asked.

“It’s Michael” he answered.

“Oh, hi Michael I was just thinking about you” she said laughing.

“Cool” he said smiling, then realizing she couldn’t see him he laughed awkwardly.

“Thing is, my mom just told me there is some kind of air show in the army base next to here and she already bought the tickets”

“Oh…” She was going to cancel the date. Michael thought and felt his world slowly cave in.

“Wow you sound bad, what’s wrong?!” she said with concern.

“Nothing, I… I just thought we had a date and…”

“Silly I didn’t say the show was in 2 days did I?” she said amused.

“I eh… assumed it was” he said feeling stupid.

“It’s tomorrow, and I thought you might like to go with me” she said.

“oh… Oh? OH!!“ It took Michael some time to realize she was asking him to come with her. He was in the game now, Richard and his stupid ideas.

“What’s with all that moaning? Are you coming?” Lisa sounded impatient.

“Yea, of course I am!!” as soon as the words came out he regretted them. He sounded too anxious, he should play it cool. That’s what Richard told him. He thought about it and changed his mind it was Richard who got him in this mess in the first place.

“Great, I thought you might have something else to do, Mary told me the soccer team had practice”

They did have practice but Michael quit the team last week because of a big argument he had with the coach. But Lisa didn’t have to know that.

“I would prefer you over practice any day” Richard said.

Lisa burst out in laughter. “Trying to be smooth?” she said still laughing.

“No, I was being honest…” He was surprised to realize he really was.

“I’m sorry, but it sounded like a line from a movie. I didn’t mean to laugh. So I’ll meet you at my place?” she asked.

“Sure, when?”

“Come at 14:00, mom will be at work and the show starts at 16:00”

“Ok, great I’ll see you then” Michael hung up and jumped in the air. Not only did she ask him out she also wanted him to come early! That could only mean one thing; they were going to make out or maybe even something better if he was lucky. Michael jumped around the room and stopped only when he crashed on the sofa and fell on the floor. But he hardly took notice of it. Everything was going along great.

 

The wind was slowly picking up. She was definitely planning something, shaping things to suit her needs. She had to move quickly she was almost out of time.

A man of average height, and age, sat in an armchair, looking at the wooden house across the street. The sun was shining brightly. It was always shining so that you could always pay attention. The man smiled. There was no joy or happiness in his eyes, they were cold. Very cold, as though the life that once flowed within them was sucked out leaving the cold lifeless stare of a corpse.

He could feel things slowly taking shape; she was too busy to notice he changed something as well. Let her go on; let her have the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately she will fail.

The wind blew dried out bushes on to the empty desert road.

 

Michael looked at his reflection in the mirror, scrutinizing for any faults.

Richard looked at Michael his face contorted into disgust. “Damn man, it looks good, will you stop already”

Michael put a hair back in place and said “I have to look good man; I don’t want to be all messy and stuff”

“Look at yourself! Your putting every single hair back in place, I mean enough is enough go already”

Michael gave the mirror one more look and turned to face Richard

 “ok I’m ready, let’s go”

“Finally”

            Richard brought his car, so he could drive Michael to Lisa’s place. Richard had already passed his test a year earlier, while Michael still needed to pass his. When they finally arrived, Michael got out and went to Lisa’s house. “Good luck” called Richard from the car. “Call me when your back… I want to know everything” he added. Michael smiled and set out for the business at hand. He stood in front of the door a few moments building up his courage and rang the door bell.

The door opened and Lisa stood in the entrance “Hi Michael” she called “Come in”

Michael obediently stepped into the house. It was a big place very different from where he lived. He walked into a spacious living room. At the right side of the room was a big sofa with a 50 inch TV in front of it. On his left was the kitchen. In front of him were steps leading to a second floor. Lisa led him up the stairs to her room. The second floor was a hallway with some closed doors. Lisa opened one of them and they entered.

“This is my room” she exclaimed “maybe this time there won’t be an earthquake” she said smiling.

“With our luck we will have some weird fire storm or something” Michael said smiling.

Lisa’s room was a typical girl room, or at least that’s what Michael thought. The leading color in the room was pink. A vast amount of items was all colored in various shades of pink. The curtains, the bed cover were all pinkish. The funniest however was the small TV. It had a fur like cover surrounding it also in pink.

“Your room is eh… very pink” Michael managed finally.

Lisa smiled “You don’t like it?” she asked.

“Yes of course I do, it’s really nice…”

Lisa burst out in laughter “its ok you don’t need to lie, you don’t like it do you?!”

“Well eh… no” Michael admitted “It’s really way too… pink”

“Do you want to continue talking about the room or should I show you what we will see tonight?” she asked.

“Sure”

            Lisa took a big flyer from her desk in the corner of the room and came to sit next to him.

“Here you have a map of the army base and the aerial show they have planned. There is also some lunch they provide for us and there are also tours of the base” Lisa stopped and looked at him waiting for some reply.

“Cool” It was the only thing he could come up with. Lisa seemed a bit disappointed. Richard told him that if she seemed to expect something it usually was a kiss. Thinking of this Michael moved his head closer to Lisa’s. He pressed his lips together and slowly moved with his head forward closing his eyes.

“What the hell are you doing?” Lisa demanded.

“I… I wanted to kiss you” Michael said and lowered his head in embarrassment.

Lisa lifted his head looking straight at him. “If you want to kiss me why don’t you just do it?” she asked.

“Never mind just forget it” Michael muttered

Lisa looked at him amused. “Haven’t you ever kissed a girl before?” she asked.

“Of course I have I’m not 12” he answered angrily.

“So what is the big deal? It’s only a kiss”

“What do you mean it’s only a kiss?”

“Well you know everyone kisses, it happens like all the time”

“Yea well, It’s only because you’re so beautiful and it makes me nervous” It escaped his lips before he really noticed. Great. He had better success when there was an earthquake. He turned his head away from her. Her hand reached out for his and grabbed it firmly. He looked up at her. She was smiling.

“You know” she started “You are the first guy I’ve met that’s not afraid to say what he thinks and feels”

She grabbed hold of his head with her other hand and pushed it towards her. She kissed him hard on the mouth and let go.

“We can practice again later” she said winking. “We have to go if we want to get there in time”

Michael’s head was spinning “Go where?” he asked.

“To the show silly, remember?”

“Oh yea, right” he replied feeling somewhat disoriented.

They went out, Lisa locking the house behind her. The Army base was a 25 min walk from Lisa’s house in an area just outside of the small village. The village of Knowringle was so small you could cross it from one side to the other in about an hour walk, although nobody really walked anymore, why walk when you can drive? There weren’t any other cities in the area, just mountains. This was probably why the army chose this area from the beginning. It was isolated, there were no neighbors who could complain, just a natural mountain range stretched far into the distance adding an extra plus for survival exercises that the army regularly preformed.

Michael and Lisa chatted happily while walking on the road towards the base. The day was perfect for a hike. The heat wasn’t too bad and a cool wind blew every now and then. They were absorbed in their conversation until suddenly a strong gust of wind thrust them backwards a few steps.

“What the hell was that?” asked Michael

“I don’t know, sometimes the winds can pick up from one second to the other” the words were not sooner said, or another gust of wind hit them, this time bringing sand and dust with it. The wind slowly swiveled and turned becoming stronger and stronger.

Dust blew inside of their eyes causing them to be temporarily blind. The noise of wind became increasingly loud; they couldn’t hear one another and were stumbling blindly. Michael grabbed hold of Lisa when the wind had picked up, but he lost her when her hand was swept away from his when the wind suddenly picked up. He couldn’t see where she was, the dust was burning his eyes. He screamed Lisa’s name but it was no use, he could barely hear his own voice, it was drowned by the endless winds surrounding him. His shoe hit something hard and he fell forward hard on his face. The air was knocked out of him, the dust burning his lungs, he felt as if his throat was on fire, his lungs burning with an excruciating pain. He felt his mind drift away into unconsciousness. He tried to fight it but he could hardly even breathe let alone get up. Darkness slowly surrounded him, and he drifted away…

 

Michael felt a searing pain in his eyes. He blinked a few times to get the dust from his eyes; he could breathe although he was coughing a lot, the taste of sand lingering in his mouth. He could see a desert seemingly going on forever. All sign of the road he walked on was gone. He looked around; Lisa was nowhere to be found. He called her name a few times, but no one responded. He was alone, with nothing but sand to keep him company. It was then he noticed the mountain range had also disappeared. No wind could have pushed him that far away he thought bitterly. The mountain range was visible for about 100 miles all around Knowringle. Wherever he had arrived it was far away from home. He checked his pockets looking for his cell phone. It was gone; it had probably fallen out of his pocket when he was tossed around by the wind. He was pondering what the best thing to do was when a distant cry made him literally jump. He turned towards where he thought the sound was coming from and slowly walked in its direction. It could be Lisa he thought and broke into a run. Images swept his mind, Lisa hurt, tortured, maybe even killed. The anger combined with fear made him run faster.

After about 10 minutes he could see some shapes in the distant. It was hard to make out what they were. The desert heat, which was considerably hotter than in the afternoon, made everything look as though it was on fire. Circular lines faded in and out in the distance making it very hard to see anything clearly. As he got closer he could see the shapes were actually two wooden houses facing one another. A gravel road appeared a few steps before the two houses and created a way between them. The strange thing was that that same gravel road disappear some steps after the houses. Why would anyone make a gravel road for just a few meters? Michael pushed the thought out of his mind and carefully walked towards the house on the right.

The houses looked just like the ones in the old western movies did. They were made from a dark colored wood and had a big porch with an armchair on it. At least that meant people lived there, Michael thought. As he got closer to them he noticed they both looked exactly alike. They were both of same height and color. Even the armchair looked the same. Michael noticed there was but one window in the houses and it overlooked not the desert but the house in front of it. Whoever lived here was very strange, all alone in the middle of nowhere with a window towards one another.

Michael decided to just knock and enter the house on the right. If Lisa was anywhere the people here could probably help him. They might even have a phone or something he thought, although no power lines were visible anywhere. Maybe they were underground he wondered. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. To his surprise it opened immediately and he very nearly fell in. In front of him stood a black woman, he couldn’t tell what her age was. She seemed old but there was something young about her as well, she stood straight and kept her hands at her side. Her blue eyes watched him closely like a hawk studying its prey. It made him feel uneasy; her eyes seemed old somehow, as if she had seen many things. She must have been very beautiful once he thought. Her eyes, although they were still blue seemed to lose a bit of their color, as if for a split second her eyes rebelled, soon however the color was the same as it was and Michael doubted seeing it.

“Hello Michael, I was expecting you” She said and pulled Michael inside.

Michael was so surprised that everything he planned to say just flew away from his mind.

“I’m sorry, this must be quite a shock to you, but there is no time to explain. Falcner has Lisa and he will use her to his own benefit. It’s all my fault but that can’t be helped now. I don’t have much time left” She stopped and looked at Michael. She sighed.

Michael was caught off guard only thing he could think about was Lisa. This woman knows where Lisa is. But before he could ask anything the woman already answered. “Yes I know where Lisa is, I told you Falcner has her, if you want to save her you need to trick him into letting her go. I guess I have to explain although we really don’t have much time” She took 2 chairs and sat herself in one of them. Michael sat in the other one.

“You arrived at the gateway between times. We are the last keepers of this way. Don’t look so surprised” she added seeing Michael frown “there are many things that exist not only in legend. Falcner thinks this is a competition he has forgotten his true self. He only wants to win he doesn’t understand that to win, one must first lose. It doesn’t matter. I’m dying I am nearly gone already” The woman looked down at her hands and gritted her teeth in disgust; she quickly regained her posture however and continued.

“I thought I could persuade someone to take over. You see, this gateway is always open. Sometimes people from many different times reach it. We keep this way closed to them. One cannot move through this way without causing another way to close. You see this gateway could transport you in time, but there is a catch. It is based on laws that exist in this world. One of the laws states that there is always a loophole, meaning a way out. But to use this loophole is to undue everything that has been done. I know it’s hard to understand” she said looking at the perplexed look on Michael’s face “I am the last of the first guardians. I was here when this gate first opened because of someone’s thought. There were two of us” Her voice broke off and it looked like she was struggling with something. “Time flows differently here. Minutes are hours and hours are minutes. One day someone broke the code and arrived here. He was surprisingly quick; he realized what we were and understood what needed to be done in order to go through the gateway. He killed Shar who with me was the first. We learned to read thoughts, emotions and Shar had to end his life in order to keep the gate closed before everything was undone. You see death is an end and a beginning and with a sacrifice must come hope. It was enough for a new guardian to appear from a different time and to send the one who broke the code back to wherever he came from. The new guardian Falcner slowly lost his mind. He thinks I tricked him and that when I die I will win. I thought nothing of it and sent for a new guardian”

“How can you send for a new guardian when that other guy had to die to get one?” Michael asked. This story was bull, she was lying. Who could every believe anything like this?!

“I… “The woman looked embarrassed “Cheated. I called on a new guardian by moving time around”

“Of course” Michael said sarcastically “Forget this, just tell me where Lisa is and how I get out of here”

“Falcner who lives in that other house, has Lisa. I don’t know of any way to leave the gateway when you haven’t broken the code”

Michael was losing his patience. Anger rose within him, he had had enough. He walked out of the door without looking back. His eyes were temporarily blinded by the sharp light. He went straight towards the other house and without knocking went in. The house was empty from the looks of it no one had lived there for a very long time. He turned around in anger the old woman was playing some very sick game with him. The door to her house was still open; he walked in and saw to his surprise a man. He quickly walked in “What the hell is going on here?!” he screamed. The man turned around. He had grey hair and was white, this was too weird. “Who the fuck are you” he shouted back at him.

“Where is Lisa?” Michael demanded

“Who?” The old man replied.

“Don’t play dumb, the old woman told me she was here”

“Then I’m very sorry to say that she lied. Stupid bitch wouldn’t know anything anyway. Thinks all these weird things all the time, but she won’t win I won’t let her” The old man was whispering, it appeared as if he had forgotten all about Michael being there. He continued whispering Michael only got little bits and pieces. “I will manage… Wait and see… Sun all the time…”

“Are you Falcner?” Michael asked finally

The old man turned to Michael and seemed surprised to see someone standing there. Then slowly his face registered recognition. “Yes, I am my boy. Are you my grandson?”

“No, my name is Michael I’m searching for Lisa…” Michael replied his voice breaking, despair slowly drowned him. He had no idea where he was, Lisa could be anywhere as far as he knew, and no one could help him.

“Do you mean that young blond girl?” Falcner asked.

“Yes” Michael answered a flicker of life returning to him.

“I’m sorry my boy but I threw her in the gate”

“What?” Michael’s head started to throb. All this talk of gates just went pass him. He couldn’t understand anything anymore.

“Yes, it was the only way to save her. You see Dianova was going to use her for a mind switch. That would mean she could be free and be able to go into the world. I couldn’t let that happen, I had to do something” the old man seemed sincere.

Michael straightened his posture and looked at the old man. “Tell me your story Falcner, I need to figure out what the truth is” he said.

“If that is what you want, have a seat my boy. You see we are at the gate to the world…”

“The world? We already are in the world” Michael interrupted.

The old man smiled a sad smile. “If only it was that simple. The world as you know it is incomplete. There are fragments of it moving in and out of time. Some times centuries separate it; this is a gateway that connects time together. A long time ago someone tried to change the flow of time. That someone was me… I was young in those days and I thought I could combine time into a singular level. Let’s just say it didn’t work. I’ve been trying to undo what I’ve done; you see time shifted even worse when I tried to get it back on track. I had a young assistant to help me. He at the end stabbed me in the back; he got the secret of time from me and opened a gateway. He was going to control time, but that is impossible. Time cannot be controlled, he would have destroyed time. I managed to separate the area before the gate from the regular flow of time. It should have worked perfectly but it didn’t. Simon my assistant managed to trap me at that same area as well. Only difference was, Time changed. I was stuck in a slow time pocket and Simon in a fast time pocket. This means he gets older a lot faster then I do. He already created 2 time changes. In the first one a black woman called Dianova arrived here. He used her and was able to switch minds with her. He had to do that because he was close to death. Same as now, only this time I pushed the girl into the gateway before he could use her. You on the other hand, I don’t know. What did he, I mean she tell you?”

“She said she was expecting me and that I had to go and save Lisa from you. Then she talked about guardians and stuff, I didn’t really understand any of it” Michael stopped abruptly “There was one weird thing though. I walked to this house and it was empty then I turned back to the other house and you were there”

“What?” A look of shock appeared on the old man’s face. “He tricked me, it’s over” The old man put his head between his hands.

“What? I don’t understand what’s wrong?” Michael asked. The shock on the old man’s face couldn’t be good news.

“Simon switched times; he used you to turn time against himself”

Michael looked at the old man. After a few seconds he said “I still don’t get what you’re talking about”

“I told you I set this area off as an out of time area. This means you can’t come to this place unless you manipulate time. You and Lisa were manipulated to come here. I thought he would use Lisa to do another mind switch, but as it turns out that’s what he wanted me to think. He needed to break the time barrier in order to be free and he just did that. He used you, you walked through the gateway and came back in, so the gate was momentarily open and he could have gone wherever he wanted”

“That’s bull; I didn’t pass through any gate. I only walked from his house to yours.”

“Look out of the window and tell me what you see”

Michael walked towards the window and stared. The desert had disappeared behind a moving transparent wave like substance. It looked like a little like water, the only difference being the changing background. It seemed as if nothing could make up its mind. Everything morphed into different things never staying always changing.

“It’s like there is an ocean or something and behind it there is like things changing. I can see parts of the desert changing into sky or something. It’s really weird”

“Then it is as I feared. He succeeded in freeing himself, thus breaking the time pocket I created” Falcner looked as if he had suffered the worst defeat. He sat on the chair his head lolling down towards the floor.

“There must be some way we can stop this, I mean can’t you make another force thingy or just change things back?” Michael asked. He felt his head throb when he tried thinking about what was going on around him.

Falcner looked up from his seat. “I can’t just create a pocket like that; I don’t even remember how to manipulate time. I’ve been here for so many years; I nearly forgot my name at times. The only thing I lived for was preventing Simon from getting his will and now I failed” the old man seemed broken; the sparkle he had in his eyes gave way for despair. Michael felt pity for this man, this weird old guy. Slowly the pity subsided and anger rose. This was entirely his fault in the first place!

 

Michael felt anger mount within him. Everything was out of his control slipping from his grasp. This morning the only thought he had was kissing Lisa, and now? Everything was in danger because some idiot was playing with time. Everything he knew would be gone. Lisa would be gone. Richard…

Well there must be something he could do! Something this old guy could do.

“There has to be something we can do! I mean this is just too absurd. You are supposed to be this great time expert and your assistant beats you?! How pathetic is that!” Michael screamed. He didn’t know what he was saying anymore, he just wanted something to happen, for someone to take control of the situation and do something about it.

“Look at me, I’m too old. I’ve been here for so very long. I just want it to end” Falcner said, he lifted his face and looked at Michael. His eyes were sad, thick lines encircling them.

“Ok, fine then show me what I can do”

The old man smiled a sad smile. “Wish I had you as my assistant, maybe then things wouldn’t have turned out the way they did” he said.

“Well science was never my strong side” Michael muttered. He was still too angry to except any compliment. He had enough of the fantastic tales he had heard. All he wanted was for things to go back to the way they were.

“There is one thing I still have to tell you. I’m not sure you will understand it now, but when you will you will be able to… let’s just say your limits will not be the same” Michael muttered something under his breath. Falcner heard nothing of it and continued. “You live in a place that thinks time is just another phenomenon, and moves forward as a constant. This isn’t the case. Time is dynamic, it can expand and retract, it moves differently, in impulses we don’t really understand yet. As soon as you realize time is not a constant you will be able to see the different forms of time in a manner of speaking…”

“Yea man, whatever” Michael interrupted “Why don’t you tell me something useful like how to freeze time or something?”

“I can’t, you have to understand it that’s the only way” Falcner opened his mouth to continue his explanation but closed it again. There was no use. He could only hope that when time would be right Michael would at least be able to do something. “Good luck” he said. The sad smile returned to his face. “But what am I supposed to do?!” screamed Michael “how do I get Lisa back how do I do anything?”

“I’m sorry, the only thing I can tell you is that the only way to help your friend is to go through the gate and stop Simon”

“But how can I stop her, him whatever the fuck he is!!”

“Go through the gate I will try to help you from here” Falcner turned his back to Michael and stared out the window.

            Michael walked out the door and towards the end of the gravel road. The light flashed in his eyes once more, blinding him temporarily. He had the strangest feeling of Déjà vu, walking on the same gravel road again, with the wooden houses on either side. As he reached the end of the road, he felt a slight fear creeping up from inside of him, slowly making its way up from his stomach to his mind.

Michael shook his head and quickly walked the last steps the fear turning into anger.

            A dazzling light shone into his eyes. His step faltered, he nearly lost his balance for the ground seemed to slip from beneath him. It wasn’t the hard gravel road anymore, it was moving as if alive, Shaking like a big jelly being from one side to the other. He tried to see where he was but the light was too strong to make anything out, he continued walking forward careful not to lose his footing.

            As the light slowly resided he could make out his surroundings for the first time. Lines of gold surrounded him, tracing the strange kind of hallway he saw in front of him. It was a strange feeling, looking at all these strange gold lines running through and around everything. On both sides he could see some kind of glass structure going as far as he could see. It seemed like a big looking glass cracked in many different places, all of which had their own story, but somehow still connected to this one massive piece of glass. In certain glass pieces he could see people at others landscapes. Some were with strange animals and others with animals he recognized.

            Michael had the feeling of walking through a museum of some kind. He had actually expected the different things in each glass to move, but they were all frozen. It was then he noticed how silent it all was. There was no noise of any kind, and he had the strange feeling of walking not through a museum but rather through a tomb. He looked down at the red jelly like floor which was the only moving thing. A shiver ran through him. He turned around. The strange hallway like place seemed to continue on without an end in sight.

            Falcner hadn’t told him anything about this. What was he supposed to do now? Walk through this endless place?! Not knowing what to do, he continued walking occasionally looking to his sides at the strange picture like things.  A flicker of movement on his left caught his attention.

            On the glass in front of him stood a picture like the million others he saw all around. But something was different. He looked at the picture closely, another flicker. Some things in the picture were moving. He felt an urge to touch it, grab hold of something real in this deserted place. A gasp came out of his lips as he moved his hand forward in order to touch the glass. His hand went right through the glass as if it didn’t exist. He quickly pulled his hand back staring at it in disbelief. He tried touching a different picture but that didn’t work. The glass was cold and uninviting stopping his hand from reaching the picture. He thought for a second. He tried a few more pictures all with the same result. The only place he could enter was the picture that had some movement in it. He stood in front of the moving picture. This was the only way back into time he thought because this is the only moving picture moving. Does this mean there are many time lines? Or does it mean that everything is frozen except for one instant? It was no use thinking about the different things the only option he had was going through the picture. Everything was better then walking aimlessly through this quiet hallway. Michael took a deep breath and walked forward through the picture.

            Colors from every spectrum flashed around him. It was such a strong contrast to what he had just come from that he stumbled a few steps blinded. He noticed that the further he walked the more colors appeared. There were reds, blues, and yellows all around him. The combination of so many colors made everything seem black or sharp white. It made his eyes water forcing him to blink a couple dozen times in an effort to block out the colors. The colors disappeared just as sudden as they appeared.

            Michael stood in a vast grey landscape. He could see people around him but they were all frozen, stuck in whatever they were doing that moment. He walked towards a big guy and experimentally waved his hand in front of his eyes. The guy continued to stare straight in front of him his mouth open as though he was talking, presumably to the girl standing next to him.

            Michael looked around trying to locate the movement he had seen before he entered. Slowly as his eyes got used to the grey frozen picture around him he could see long thin golden lines. They looked like small rays of light. The same ones he had seen in the hallway. This is time he thought. I can see these threads because time is frozen. But how can I make it go again? As he was thinking his hand absent mindedly went up and down through the air, the fingers fumbling the dead air around him causing thin golden threads to swirl and turn. Sound, very slowly moved away from him carried on waves through the air. He abruptly stopped moving his hand, trying to focus on the origin of the sound which was now fading. He stared at the small fading golden threads noticing them now for the first time. Michael moved his hand in an effort to recreate the threads and saw to his great surprise that new golden lines moved away from him. As he was slowly realizing what was going on he felt a tug, as if something was pulling the picture. He moved clumsily forward, learning as he goes how to move in the awkward environment. He could now feel where the push came from, this must also be where time was being forced to except something he realized. He ran and at the corner of his eye saw a guy he assumed to be Simon, holding Lisa.

“Stop!” Michael shouted, regretting almost immediately he had done so.

Simon turned towards him, a big smile showing a row of teeth, covering his face “Well well, if it isn’t the little idiot. Come to stop me have you? That’s a laugh” The guy laughed loudly at his own words.

“I will stop you if you don’t stop right now!” Michael retorted. It was an idle threat but it might buy him some time.

“Foolish boy, have fun with this while I take care of some business” With a quick move of his hand circles of light appeared and came racing towards Michael.

Michael, more out of reflex than anything else, moved his hand in a circular motion. A golden circle appeared swallowing the created riffs. Simon looked surprised and stopped to appraise Michael a new. “How did you do that?” he asked after a short pause.

“None of your business” he answered “Now let Lisa go!”

“What for? There is nothing you can do for her” Simon let go of Lisa and Michael saw she was the same grey lifeless image everything was.

“Free her!” Michael shouted

At this Simon laughed. “I can see you have no idea what you are doing I guess it was a lucky shot what you just did. Let me explain something to you. I can manipulate time by giving it memories. If I give it memories I can flex areas of time involving myself. The more memories I have the more control I can exert. I can tell by the look on your face that you have no idea what I’m talking about, so why don’t you go back to where you came from and get lost.”

Michael stared around him there must be something he could do.

Take mine echoed a familiar voice inside Michael head. He turned around trying to find where the voice came from. Simon in the meantime started moving his hand again in a complicated movement. He had to buy some time. “What did you do to the body of Dianova?” he asked. This seemed to stop Simon.

“Let’s just say she is gone, she was just a shell anyway” he retorted, he seemed cautious however.

“I don’t believe you, I think she was regaining control, I don’t think you can just perform a mind switch, you can only push her back and like a leech try to suck her dry, but she was fighting back wasn’t she?“

I will meld with you, and I am not alone together we can win the voice this time it seemed like two voices a female voice that was cold and angry, and another old voice. Falcner? Michael wondered. And Dianova. Prepare yourself.

The voices disappeared and Michael’s mind was flooded by memories. Thoughts of two people were now mixed with his own. He immediately saw all the patterns of time, millions of lines intertwined with one another.

Michael fell to the ground the weight of all the new memories literally pulling him down. Michael fought for breath as an amazing amount of memories surged through him, filling everything, lives went past, years, centuries, as slowly everything began to reside he knew where the memories had come from, he knew what he had to do. “You always were too obsessed” Michael said in a calm voice.

Simon was startled and with a few quick moves pushed a spiral of gold towards Michael. Michael lifted his hand and with a few circular motions let go of an exact replica of Simon’s spiral.

Simon smiled in triumph “I knew you had no idea what you were doing” he laughed “now you just added your memories to increase the strength of mine”

The two spirals now stood fully in front of one another, circling around one another. Simon’s spiral started to swallow Michael’s spiral sucking more and more from it, instead of stopping however Michael continued releasing more spirals creating a line of spirals that were all slowly consumed by Simon’s spiral.  Simon looked at the continually increasing size of his spiral and a look of doubt crossed his face. “What are you doing?” he asked

Michael didn’t reply he continued his movements, creating more and more spirals. It was now so big it easily topped the world’s highest building and still it looked like there was no stopping it. It increased into the air soaring like a pillar from the heavens and still it grew taller, its edges flowing through the atmosphere. Fear washed Simon, a moment ago he had complete control, he was about to devour all the memories and body of a young girl. He could now easily defeat even Falcner, what was going wrong?

The spiral reached the edge of space where it appeared to be stuck, there it grew in width until everything looked unstable, time shook violently and cracks started to appear on the until now dead image. Simon screamed in agony as he was sucked into the spiral. Michael felt his body growing weaker and weaker. This was the final moment he knew; he had to break Simon’s hold over time. He had to break time itself in order to set it free to roam as an entity by itself, uncontrollable from any outside interference.

He had nearly nothing left, he felt torn, his last feelings, thoughts, ideas sucked out of him, leaving him with a dreadful nothing. An empty shadow of what he once was a broken shell. His knees started to shake, his body as young and agile as it was, was still human and although bendable still sustainable only as a human.

Dizzy he stared around him and saw he had nothing left, he would fail.

A figure slowly stood up and stumbled towards him. “I am here, let me help” said a female voice, Michael knew but couldn’t place anymore, a beautiful voice filled with color and light. Gentle hands held him and he felt something of what he was come back to him. With the last power he could muster he gave one final push and collapsed on the floor. His eyes shutting…

“Michael? Stay with me please…” a voice soft and frail, tinted with a heart wrenching sadness, beckoned to him.

He looked at the figure that was now cradling him, his eyes were open but he could see nothing.

Fractures appeared around him, the spiral was destroying the picture, sending shards to every direction shattering every image on its way. Time slowly moved again and each movement, his own.

Well done my boy echoed a familiar voice in his mind I could have never done any better.

“What will happen now?” Michael asked his body unwilling to move.

Time will go on moving, and because all my and Simon’s memories are gone there are no strings attached, time is free in its own way.

“So what will happen to me then?”

You need to make friends with time…

The voice faded away. “Wait what about me, what will happen to me?” called Michael

“Michael? Are you alright” asked a worried female voice.

Michael looked up to see Lisa holding him in her arms. He was lying on the flood in some strange place, he struggled to get up. “Are you alright?” he asked looking at her with concern. “Yes I think so, but what happened? And where are we?”

Michael looked around and saw millions of colorful pictures all around him. You are outside time. The words echoed silently in his mind, he remembered where he was.

He looked at Lisa she was beautiful. What could he say to her?

“Lisa I’m sorry for all of this” voice trailed off. He couldn’t face her, he stared at the floor. Hands lifted his head up. He was surprised to see Lisa was smiling. “It’s not your fault. So why don’t we find a way out of here”

Michael smiled and held Lisa in his arms. “Well for that we need to make friends first”

 Notes: The gravel road (2007)

I had a picture in my head, way before I set out to write anything, of two small barn like houses facing each other, placed in the middle of a deserted gravel road. This image haunted me for a while and I kept seeing it over and over in my mind. Somehow these two houses were alone, and together they possessed some power as if they were the center for some event, or a doorway perhaps. I could see all this quite clearly but I had no story to attach all this to, so I came up with this story all so I could get rid of that image from my mind.