I feel dread rising in my heart
Fatigue in my soul
Searching I seem to be
For answers that can’t be told.
Running through my head
Does my heart feel
Or has it fallen like the dead?
She didn’t want to see me.
It’s been an hour or two or maybe forever, or it felt that way.
Since she knocked on the door just as we were about to eat breakfast, it felt ages.
Why didn’t she want to see me?
Metior must be being protective.
‘Relax lover boy, everything happens for a reason.’ Kera pats me on the shoulder as she passes by, pity written all over her face. What was the pity for? Did Luna meet someone else? How long have I been dead?
I rise off my seat and head over to the patio where they were keeping her away from me. I couldn’t even see her through the curtains. What was all the secrecy about? Was it not the plan to unite us a while ago?
Kera rushes from the kitchen catching sight of me heading out.
‘It’s not a good time, be patient.’ She holds me back although I push against her. She is stronger than she looks.
‘Why?’ I begged in a whisper, feeling her palm dig deeper into my shoulder as I press forward.
‘Your death’s made it complicated is all I can say.’ She pushes me back to the dining room gently.
I deflate, unable to fight.
Yes, I had died, and now I live. How I am here has been slithering around in my mind but ignoring it was easier when all the crazy things unfolded. Now that Kera has smacked it to my face, I fall onto a seat disorientated.
‘This must be all maddening to you; I will never forget my first time. Getting dropped into the middle of a jungle, getting chased by naked people and meeting Misty for the first time as a bat or was it a monkey? He seems like a monkey.’
I try to smile, but I couldn’t bother anymore to seem stable.
Kera passes me a new cup of coffee, ‘It will be ok. Things happen to us so we can grow.’
‘Do you have a book on positive things to say memorised?’
Kera shrugs, ‘Makes me feel like I’m helping.’
I sip the coffee, burning my tongue but it hurts less than the fear gnawing in my heart. Am I a zombie? Is that why it was complicated? I couldn’t be with her because I was rotting from the inside out. I feel myself begin to panic.
‘Your mind barrier is failing, I can hear you freaking out. You are not dead. Stop thinking whatever you are thinking. I don’t need to read your mind to know you’re overthinking everything.’
‘But-‘ I begin, but she interrupts, high on coffee.
‘You have a heavy frown on your face. Lines so deep Darya could swim in it, even Kai.’
The thought of that was funny, but I couldn’t picture it in my mind without imagining my face rotting and falling apart.
Something was wrong, and I don’t know how to fix it.
I try and force a smile so Kera can leave and do whatever she needed. She was itching to go, drinking her coffee in gulps.
‘Smile is fake but I’ll take it, I need to remind the others we have an evil villain to defeat.’ Kera finishes whatever is left of her coffee and drops it by the kitchen and swiftly walks back out to the patio to the others.
There was an evil villain to defeat? I could suddenly feel weariness spread through my body like a wave. There was so much to take in.
I place my cup on the table which is still filled with the breakfast made earlier. All of it was untouched and cold by now. As I reach for a piece of sausage to eat some of my anger away, the world seems to suddenly go in slow motion.
The windows by the dining table bursts into pieces of glass. Shards heading towards me like arrows. The wall tumbles down in massive blocks. An old wrinkly man floats in surrounded with a black halo.
It was black as night, you could see nothing through it, pure darkness.
I cross my arm over my face to block the glass. I fall back on my seat onto the floor with a slam. A block of the wall knocks me hard on the head. Dust clouds the air, entering my eyes, turning everything hazy.
‘Ben!’ someone is shouting my name but I can’t see anything the world has gone dark.
The same voice screams my name, and I realise it is Luna.
‘Luna! I can’t see anything. Go, get away, save yourself! I love-’, something knocks me down hard, and I’m suddenly in the air upside down.
In between a blink and within and below a second, the world turns silent. No rumbling blocks of cement, no screaming and shouting, just silence; pure emptiness. It sucks you in. It turns you into a tiny ball of existence so minuscule an ant could feel like a mountain.
I blink a few times, hoping to remove the dust out of my eyes. I could feel tears streaming down my face, washing away some dust and cleaning my eyes. Though it made no difference, if I opened or closed my eyes, I could not see. I was in darkness.
With a pop, the old man appears in front of me. In this place, he was black and grey, so was the world around us. There was no vibrant colour in sight.
‘Welcome to the in-between! This is the crack between worlds where nobody goes or wants to go. This is a place, a home, a shelter for outcasts like you and me.’
Before I could say a word, the old man moves in close, his face within and below an inch from my face.
He sneers, ‘you’re mine now little Ben. My own little Golem boy.’
‘I don’t like you.’ Luna’s Father’s voice was deep and gravelly.
He was also tiny. Considering moments ago, he had an eye the size of a whole roundabout.
‘Nice to meet you too, sir?’
Metior frowns at me and turns away to the old lady mermaid elf and the large dark skinned man.
For his tiny frame, he had a lot of white hair puffing around his head like fried wire. Thin frame under a baggy dress like garment covered with dozens of pockets in different sizes.
We were inside what looked like a church, but instead of pews, there was large scientific looking equipment.
He walks towards the front of the building beckoning the misfit group we were to follow him.
At the front where an altar could have been was a round door on the floor. The door opens upwards but there is no ladder or secret passageway but a misty portal sparkling.
He jumps in without a word and the others follow. I stand there pondering what I have gotten myself. If being dead was really that bad for this hallucination was getting out of hand.
A knobbly hand pops out of the portal, making it transparent, and I could see the other side of it. There was an ordinary home with a table, chairs, carpets, a fridge and a regular looking kitchen stove, not a fire pit or run by water or glowing electricity.
The hand grabs my leg and pulls before I could hop into the portal.
In seconds I’m in a familiar world. I was in the dining room beside an open kitchen. The side of a staircase rose in front of the dining area, its side wall covered in paintings and photographs.
The large man was tinkering in the kitchen with the old lady helping out.
I found myself sitting on the floor under the dining table on top of a worn carpet looking at the wobbly knees of Luna’s father sitting on a dining chair.
‘If you would like to remain there and be fed scraps, I would be glad to do so.’
I crawl out from under the table, he points at the seat beside him.
‘Your name, boy?’ He picks up a tablet and begins scrolling through it.
‘I’m Ben Hart, Sir.’
‘Yes, I see that, a college graduate with a degree in business. No pursuit in life, I see.’
He was not exactly wrong; I had never really gotten to choose my life’s purpose. Simply followed my parent’s orders.
‘Dabbled in being a pilot. The irony. How long have you known Luna?’ his voice drops into a whisper at the point he mentions her name.
‘For nearly five years, we had been friends at work.’
‘Luna would never have worked in a corporate company, it would have bored her.’ He admonishes.
Which was right, she found it utterly dull and had begun a little trade on the side of her own creating jewellery from scraps. Hoping to quit from a large company that she thought only cared about profits.
‘She was, eventually creating an online Jewellery shop.’ I say, he nods his head but as he opens his mouth a girl’s voice interrupts him.
‘Well hello Metior, Darya, Kai and stranger; Good morning!’
The girl was Luna’s age, but she had a wild look to her while Luna looked docile and sweet.
I stand to introduce myself, ‘Hi, I’m Ben Hart.’ I stick my hand out, and she laughs. She pats my hand and walks past me to the kitchen.
Hello Ben, I’m Kera. You don’t look like from another world. What could Metior want with you?’
She plugs in the water kettle and begins heating up water. Takes out a cup from a cabinet and wiggles a mug my way. I nod my head.
‘Thank you, I never thought I would get to drink coffee again.’
Kera shuts the cabinet and gives me a shocked face, ‘Coffee? What’s coffee?’
I look at Metior, and he shakes his head, ignoring the situation and continues to read from his tablet more about my life or me with Luna, I’m unsure.
Kera laughs, ‘Just kidding, I’ve been to three or four worlds now. I am always glad to come home for some coffee. They don’t seem to have it anywhere there. Which is crazy, I know.’
She squints at me then at Metior.
‘He is from across the Barrier, nowhere else.’ he mumbles.
Her eyes go round, ‘I see why he needs the coffee. If I died, I would need ten cups.’
She quickly mixes the instant coffee for both of us and sits beside me, passing me a cup.
‘Well, what was being dead like?’ She gets comfortable with her elbow on the table with her chin cupped in her hand.
‘Nothing. Just emptiness.’ She nods her head, ‘Sounds deep.’
‘Sort of, cause I could see deep see fishes on the other side of this glass barrier. That’s where I saw Darya as a mermaid elf.’
She laughs out loud, ‘Darya! How come he got to see you in your original form? So jealous, right now!’
Darya slams a wooden spoon on the pan, ‘you will see it one day little Kera, do not worry.’ Darya seemed to be making scrambled eggs while Kai was tossing some sausages in the air. For a mermaid elf and a giant, they were quite comfortable in the kitchen.
Kera shrugs admittedly, ‘I’m sure we will, I just can’t wait to go to Metior though.’ She sips her cup, missing the glance Darya sends to Kai and Metior whose eyes stopped for a second scanning the tablet.
Kera gets up and heads to the kitchen to grab something lost in thought.
Kera looks ordinary, long curly dark brown hair with almond sharp light brown eyes on an oval, round face with a button-like nose and small plump lips. She returns from the kitchen with a slice of brownie.
‘Would you like some? Got to live in the moment, you never know when they’ll suck you through a portal and into a world with nothing but cold raw rabbit meat from a hunt.’
That was a little specific.
Kera chuckles, enjoying my awkward discomfort.
‘Just kidding, but it could happen. It happened to Misty.’
A groan comes from the staircase. Large male feet appear slowly going down the steps. He was lanky, dressed in a crumpled white t-shirt and black pants.
‘Hello, Misty, how was your sleep?’ Kera asks sweetly.
The boy enters the dining room space with messy black hair streaked with silver. He had bright ocean green eyes that now stared daggers at Kera.
‘When will you stop calling me that?’ He growls.
He looked exhausted, he had stubble that could be days old and dark shadows under his eyes. His clothes looked slept in and dirty like he hasn’t changed in days.
‘Ben Hart, Mr Grouchy over there is Lucian also known to me as Misty. He’s a partner in crime of a sort.’
‘More experienced than you, but you act like a know it all.’ Lucian passes by without a glance my way to the kitchen and makes himself a cup of coffee.
‘I like being better.’ Kera says smugly sipping her own.
‘Still can’t transform though.’ Lucian smirks.
Kera rolls her eyes, ‘I’ve been to more places than you.’
‘Enough.’ Interrupts Metior, just as Darya and Kia place breakfast on the table.
Lucian slips into the seat opposite me next to Metior while Darya and Kia take up the remaining two places.
I realise that in this world Darya and Kai seem unable to read my mind. I smile for the first time feeling comforted.
We can all hear your thoughts. That was Kera in my head.
We’re just being polite and try to ignore it.
Try imagining a barrier of a sort covering your thoughts.
Like a bubble around you.
In my head, she sounds kinder and gentler, less loud, a little like Luna.
I create an impenetrable wall surrounding my mind, like the barrier I had fallen through.
Can you hear me now?
There’s no answer.
‘Let us eat,’ began Metior.
Kera smiles at me, making Lucian frown a little.
‘We shall reunite Luna with Ben today. Once together, I shall finally bring you to Metior City. It is time you learn your prophecy’s.’
Kera glances at Lucian, I could sense something between them. An understanding.
Luna, we’re coming.