Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Puzzle of Escher Bradley: Chapter Three

Click here for the entire story.
Click here for the previous installment...

When a detective hits a roadblock, something they often do is go back to the beginning. They start again where they started before, maybe a little further back, and try again. They’re hoping seeing it from a slightly more ag├Ęd perspective will shed some light on whatever they couldn’t see before. I’m doing that here, but not because I think I missed a clue, but because maybe I literally couldn’t see it before. Ideally, Escher would be sitting in his new bedroom, unable to interact with people in the real world. Then I could get him back and send him home. Unfortunately he’s not there, and it doesn’t look like the room is any different from this side of whatever separates these two worlds. That’s insane. Just yesterday, my life was normal. I had a good job, in a reasonable town. I drank tea in the mornings, and watched TV at night. I went to the gym for fifteen minutes every couple weeks, or so, or ten. I liked The A-Team, cute animal calendars, and hiking. I didn’t read or watch much science fiction, but now I’m walking through what I guess one would call another dimension. It’s only been five minutes, and this already feels like the new normal, though. I know I should be freaking out right now, but this place makes me feel at ease. It’s almost like I belong here; like it’s home.
I shake off my internal monologue and start trying to do some real police work. I wave my hands through some of the objects in the room. I’m not trying to touch them, because I know I can’t, but what if there’s something here? What if there’s something in here that’s different than everything, that straddles the worlds as I do? I don’t think I have that much chance, but I have to give it a shot, and in the end, it was a waste of time. There’s nothing special about the Bradley family’s new house. No, it’s all about that other house. My only choice is to go back, and hope my luck changes.
As I’m walking across the lawn, I notice something strange. I see a man who appears to be jogging down the street. He’s moving in slow-motion, it just doesn’t look right. I look to the Bradley couple. They’ve moved since I last saw them, but not all that much. I look up and see a bird, flapping its wings so slowly that I almost die of boredom waiting for it to happen. This guy, though...this guy. Even at top speed, no human should be able to move that fast. Sure, it’s turtle slow from my perspective, but if I were in the real world, he would surely be nothing more than a blur. A person who could run as fast as The Flash wouldn’t be the first unexplainable thing I’ve seen today, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable just adding it to the pile. What’s next? Someone who can reverse their own age?
As fast as time is moving in my dimension, I still have a little trouble keeping up with the jogger, and I almost think he’s getting faster. I try to get his attention, but nothing works. My hand passes through his shoulder, which feels different than with other things, but not dramatically so. I know he’s connected to Escher’s disappearance, in some way, but there’s nothing I can do about it. He apparently can’t see me in this dimension, but I won’t be able to catch up to him if I go back to his. Then I realize I’m not certain I’ll ever be able to go back at all. Maybe I’m trapped here. Maybe this is just how I live now. “Goddammit!” I yell in the jogger’s face, frustrated by my own inability to figure out what I’m doing, and his inability to explain himself. This he reacts to. At least I think he does, but it’s so hard to tell. His right eye closes, holds a little longer than a blink, and then opens again...like a wink. He also begins smiling. I was looking right at him at the time, so it could be a coincidence, or it could be incredibly significant. He makes no further indication that he may know I’m there, and quickly speeds off. He somehow manages to run even faster than he was before, and he’s gone before I can catch my breath. I should probably start going to the gym a few times a week, and for thirty minutes.
I stare at the jogger’s wake for a minute, preparing myself to turn around and get back to the investigation. Before I can, I see something else move out of the corner of my eye. A little boy is walking up the cross street, looking around like he’s lost. I breathe a sigh of relief. I mean, he looks a little younger than his father said he was, but some people are like that, right? Though he’s a bit too far away right now for me to be certain anyway. He’s also wearing pajamas, which is weird, but I’ll take it. As long as we can find a way back to where we belong, we’re gonna be okay.
“Escher!” I call down to him, as I start jogging towards him.
The boy ignores me. Maybe he’s not really in this dimension, but is also a speedster.
“Escher!” I call again, drawing closer. “I’ve been looking for you.”
The boy seems confused. “Can you see me?” he asks.
I nod. “Yes. I’m here to take you home.”
“I don’t know how to get out of here.”
“I think I do,” I say, just hoping that magic elevator still works, and works going down. “My name is Detective Kallias Bran,” I tell him, showing my badge so he knows to trust me. I open my hand out from my hip, let him take it, and lead him back towards home. “Your parents are worried sick about you.”
“They are?” he asks.
“Why, of course they are. Why wouldn’t they be?”
“Wull...” he begins. “They usually don’t even notice when I’m gone.”
So he’s disappeared before? But they apparently just moved to the neighborhood. And the portal thing seems to be in the invisible house. If this isn’t the first time, then it could be that it’s just something he can do, or is done to him. Maybe the house itself is a product of his own power, which he does not yet understand. But why does his father remember him this time? What exactly has changed? The real question—the only one worth asking—is what the hell is going on here? These questions may or may not be answered once we get back to the real world, but if not, that’s okay. The important thing is that the family is reunited.
When we make it back to his block, I point to his near-frozen parents and smile. “See? Your parents have been waiting for you to come home?”
The boy looks around. Oh no, please don’t tell me people in this dimension also can’t see certain things in the other one. “Who?” he asks.
“Your parents,” I say. “See them standing on the lawn? They only look like they’re moving slow, but it’s my hypothesis that we’re just moving really fast.”
“Those aren’t my parents.”
“What?”
“I don’t know who they are, they’re not my parents.”
I stop and squat down to his eye level. “What’s your name.”
He looks like he’s on the verge of tears. “Tauno. Tauno Nyland.”
This isn’t the kid I’m looking for. I stand up and contemplate the house, the block, the neighborhood, and then the entire city. And then I start thinking about the planet, and the whole universe. How many other children like these two have fallen into other dimensions, and literally forgotten about by the people who are supposed to love them most? This investigation is nowhere near over, but either way, I have to take the child I have with me back home to his own family. Then it’s back to looking for Escher Bradley...and any others. Click here for the next installment...

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