Thursday, November 30, 2017

Microstory 724: Credos, Convention One: Coordination, Chapter Two

And then the farmers went into the fields and asked, “why do the crops not grow?” A man was walking in the fields, and heard their question, and answered, “the crops did not grow because it has been but a day.” And so the farmers waited until the next day, and they went back to the fields, and noted, “the crops still did not grow.” The man was still there, and he explained, “you still have not waited long enough. The crops will grow when they are ready.” And so the farmers waited another two weeks, and the crops grew a little, but then they died. They asked, “why did the crops die?” The man answered, “there are many reasons. Here you have planted two seeds too close together, and they fought for nutrients, and then both died, for half nutrients it not enough for any plant, for this is no such thing as a half plant.” “I planted one of those seeds, but I did not plant the other,” said one of the farmers. “I planted that other seed,” another farmer said, but I did not plant the one that he planted.” “You must coordinate,” the man told them. They heard him, but they did not listen. So they burned the land and tried again, but the crops died again. After looking at it, the man said, “here you have planted a western yipeflower next to tinge ivy. Tinge ivy is known for choking out all other plants. Tinge ivy is not a food, but it can protect your garden from weeds and some predators. Plant it along the perimeter, but watch it so it does not stray inside. Trim it back if it becomes unruly. They burned the land and tried once more, and some of their crops grew, but not all. “These are the seeds of hacklefruit. Hacklefruit cannot survive on a world such as this, for there is too much argon in its atmosphere.” “What is to be done?” the farmers asked. “Our forefathers have sold hacklefruit for decades. Our customers are counting on us to grow them.” “You must grow hacklefruit on another planet.” “But we must grow them with the kulien, and the pelby, for they go together in salads. If we grow them on different planets, how will we get them to the same markets?” The man smiled, “you must coordinate”. And then they understood, and all was well, for the light of three suns shone upon two gardens, and the plants grew, and the people ate hack salads.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Microstory 723: Credos, Convention One: Coordination, Chapter One

The beginning of the journey of the wandering child; a child was born on a world, and he would grow up to be a great man. When he was a child, he came across a creature in the creek near his home. The creature had the body of a fish, and the head of a woman. When he first saw her, she was eating the other fish. He asked her, “why do you eat your own kind?” She replied, “we all eat our own kind. We take from our brethren. We kill, we conquer, we colonize. Everyone is a cannibal. I just do it my own way.” Then the fish woman moved on. The boy followed her. “Excuse me,” he asked, “what are you?” “I am what I am,” she replied, still swimming happily. “But what is your kind called? If you are not fish, nor woman, what could you be? Was one of your parents a fish, and the other a woman?” She answered, who I am is unimportant, for the only question you should be asking is who are you?” And the boy realized that he did not know who he was. “I am but a child. Should I know myself already?” “You should know what you want out of life, at least.” “I came to eat fish.” “Then eat fish.” “I am looking for a purpose, however.” “A quest?” “A quest, yes.” The fish woman sped up, and hopped over a branch that was hanging down. “There is a quest,” she told him. “You can open the Canisters of Cultivation. That is a fine quest.” The boy asked, “what are the Canisters of Cultivation?” “They hold the secrets of the universe. They will bring order to a cosmos of chaos.” This interested the boy, and so he agreed. And so the fish woman sent him on his journey to find the special canisters. She could not go with him, but she gave him a cup. Whenever he needed help, he could fill the cup with water, and she would appear in it, and she could help. For ye, the fish woman of Coulr Creek was convenient and comforting. At the source of the creek was an everlasting spring. There on the bank were fourteen canisters. He tried to open one, but failed. He tried another, but it would not open either. He filled the cup with water and spoke with the fish woman again. She told him that the canisters must be opened in order. And so the wandering child walked over to the first canister, and opened it, and it opened. He tried to open the second canister, but it would not open, so he fill the cup with water again, and asked for help a second time. She said that he could not simply open the canisters. He would have to first learn from them. “Stick your arm into the canister.” He stuck his hand into the first canister, and it transported him to another place; not his body, but his mind. He could see a farmhouse, and people walking out of it. He could not speak with them, for he was not there. This was but a memory.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Microstory 722: Commencement

Whew, that was a lot, wasn’t it? In the introduction for the Taikon series, I lamented my inability to remember where exactly I came up with that word. I told you then that we would fix it in my post, and I was totally right. Here we are at the post-show installment—designed to bridge us to my current microfiction series, which will go until the end of the year—and I can tell you the answer. Taikon is a portmanteau of token and icon. When I transferred the notes for the television series that these stories are based on into a spreadsheet, rather than a document, it made most things a lot easier to read, but some of the longer paragraphed text gets lost in the scrolling. Anyway, I hope the taikon stories were entertaining to you. They were fantastically difficult for me to write. Like I said, these belong to a television series (my favorite one, actually, at least in the recursiverse). I need to be extra careful about how I tell the story, because of the nature of television writing. My biggest draw to the industry is the amount of collaboration that kind of art requires, especially when compared with novels and short fiction. I wasn’t concerned with giving secrets away so much as I was worried about including plot points that could one day conflict with some hypothetical brilliant idea someone on my writing team might have. I’m still worried about that. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, but I will be so relieved next year when I’m not constrained by a canon I’ve not yet figured out. As I’ve told you before, I plan my website far in advance, ya know, except for this one, which I came up with all the way back on Friday. Please consult this post here, which first outlines what I’m going to detail in this series here. I came up with four of those conventions on the fly, then upon realizing that they all shared the same first two letters, I consulted my trusted source in for related terms that fit the parameters. I found eleven more, and was satisfied with that being as far as it went, because I was merely trying to illustrate the outrageousness of your stupid religions, and all your stupid ideas that can be applied to practically anything else. A set of fourteen arbitrary conventions that don’t so much as begin to codify the complexities of moral improvement is exactly the kind of thing religions love to leverage against the rest of us. As the writer responsible for a particular quote spoken by the titular character, Donnie Darko once said, “okay. But you’re not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can’t just lump everything into these two categories, and then just deny everything else.”

Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here with a set of 24 extra weekdays in 2017, trying to come up with an actual story behind the concept of 24 consecutive hours, and I got nothin’. I generally collect these stories into groups of 100 (this last one being a major exception) which makes the beginnings and ends of the calendar year uneven. I went to Wikipedia, and tried to look up what things in the world can be broken down into 24 parts, and nothing really fits, except for the fact that this is how we organize our solar days. Blech, whatever. Fortunately, the Consociation Credo fell out of my butt just in time to finish last Friday’s story, and I decided to use it again. It was a little awkward fitting 14 tenets into 24 installments, but I figured it out. Most, but not all, tenets will be given two installments because I’m hoping there’s enough content to fill that space until I get to Wild Cards in January. I plan to do my level best writing them in the same cadence that your precious “proof” texts use, with somehow both flowery and prosaic language, and vague generalizations that don’t really mean anything. And thus begins a series of excerpts from the new divine tome, The Book of Darkness.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Microstory 721: The Outcome

After years of suffering pain, darkness, and death, the only thing that kept us going through most of it was our hope for a better future. Though we appreciated the taikon themselves, I think most of us can agree that we were most excited for a paradigm-shifting outcome. The original final set of taikon in the Book of Light promised this to us, but the Book of Anseluka was shockingly noncommittal to what could happen if we achieved the predictions correctly. The Book of Darkness, which is now our new primary divine book of teachings, has now had time to be read thoroughly by many. What we have learned is that there is no climax, no solution, no grand finale. It teaches us that no single event can effectively sum up everything we’ve endured up to this point. That’s what this has been all about; that suffering and darkness are a part of life, and they can never fully be destroyed. No heaven, in mithgarther or elsewhere, could satisfy our lofty beliefs in some intangible and impossibly perfect paradise. This is it. This is all we have, and we must learn to not only accept this, but to revel in it. Nature has given us everything we need to be happy, and it’s our job to use these tools responsibly, and morally. Everything we’ve been through since infamous atheist, Dedebe Seirsen began his own personal odyssey towards devotion to the Light has contributed to the kinds of people we are now. This is a true example of the idea that life is about the journey, not the destination. The original final taikon said we would know whether we were worthy of the Light by the appearance of one of two divine manifests; The Liar, or The Loyalist. But this is not true, for we all have the capacity to lie, and we all have the capacity for honesty. It is up to each and every one of us to make that decision, every single second of every single day. Lots have people have questioned what’s to come of our great galaxy now that the taikon are finished...what is on the horizon for Fostea, and the rest of the universe? Well, that’s the beauty of it...we do not know. Is that exciting?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 9, 2155

Before the strike of midnight central, Mateo helped Lincoln escort Zeferino down to the dungeon, and install him in the cell he would have to call home for the next year. He didn’t seem too bothered by this. After thousands of years of living, a single year being trapped in one room probably wasn’t that big of a deal. It was Lincoln that Mateo was worried about. He would have to be alone for all this time, with only a psychotic prisoner for company. A lot could happen in the interim. What if that psycho escaped, or Lincoln started going through Lima Syndrome, which he had a history of in an alternate reality?
As it turned out, Mateo’s fear was misplaced. Lincoln was not alone. He used the extraction mirror to summon a friend of his from the past that had died. Mateo had never had the chance to meet Asier Mendoza, but he recalled people talking about him at his engagement party. For personal reasons, Lincoln returned him to the moment of his death before August 9, 2155, robbing Mateo of ever having the pleasure.
“Has it been a year already?” Zeferino said with a smile upon seeing them walk down the steps. “I don’t remember blinking.”
“Have you thought more about what I asked?” Mateo swung the cell door keyring around his finger.
“I’ve already agreed to help,” Zeferino replied, confused.
“Yes, you said the words, but did you mean them?”
“Why, of course? I would never lie.”
“Everything you say is a lie. I don’t think there’s anything you’ve ever said to me that was the God’s honest truth.”
Zeferino thought about. “That can’t be true. Anyway. Yes, I’m happy to help. In fact, I’m extremely excited to meet The Superintendent.”
Mateo dropped the key to the ground and made one step closer to the bars. “What do you mean? You’ve never met? But you know he’ll help us?”
“Now, hold on. Before you start accusing me of lying again, you’ll remember in our conversation, that I said he could help. I can’t speak to whether he will. He’s the most powerful force for our universe, who knows what he’ll do? Lots of people know how to contact him, but we don’t, because he can tear us out of time like that.” He snapped his fingers illustratively.
“Your sister can do that.”
“Ah, parlour tricks. The Superintendent can delete the whole story. He can cancel the universe itself. He can make new ones. Technically you can too, can’t interact with your godlings.”
“The hell is he talkin’ ‘bout?” Mateo asked Lincoln.
“My sight does not extend beyond the limits of this c-brane,” Lincoln explained. “Whoever the Superintendent is—and I have heard of him—I have no data on him. And I don’t know what this joker’s talking about.”
“Look, all I’m saying is that it’s a risk. He doesn’t talk to people who can’t help him. If we manage to get to him, it’s ‘cause he wants us to. You need to be prepared for whatever he asks of you. He doesn’t give you a choice, like I and Arcadia did.”
“Since when have I had a choice?”
“I mean literally. You’re his slave. I don’t mean you’ll suffer consequences. You simply cannot refuse.”
“He sounds just as bad as you,” Lincoln noted.
“He’s our God. What do you expect?”
“You’re telling me we’re going to talk to God? Nah, I don’t believe it.”
“I think deep down you know that Catholicism is bullshit, Mateo. The Bible says nothing of time travel. You’d think it would come up once.”
“It does,” Mateo countered. “There are tons of prophets. The Book of Revelation is all about the future.”
“And do you think that future is ever coming?”
Mateo smiled and drew even closer. “Maybe it another reality.”
For this, he had no argument. Mateo hadn’t often proved someone wrong with his faith, because there’s little proof of its validity...which is what faith is. But the wonder of time manipulation actually reinforces the idea that the miraculous events in the Bible happened for real. After a pause, Zeferino moved on. “This is all irrelevant. If you want to go through with this, then we better get on it. That starts with you letting me out of this cage.”
Without breaking eye contact, Mateo reached back, to be met immediately by Lincoln’s hand, transferring to him the keys he had retrieved from the floor. They were in sync. He let Zeferino out and waited for something to happen. “Okay...what now?”
“Oh, we just wait. Be patient.”
“I thought you were going to contact him for us. That’s why we let you out.”
“Oh, no I just wanted out. That’s a jail cell. He knows we seek audience.”
He closed his eyes. “Your stupidity astounds me every time. Talk about a miracle. I’ll speak slowly, so you can understand.” He did begin talking slower, “the He created...the whole universe. He’s not just listening right now...he’s controlling what we say. He’s writing them down right now, and is probably worried...that people will misinterpret the number of ‘o’s in the word ‘God’ as an elongation of the word ‘good’.”
Mateo just looked back at Zeferino like he was the dumb one. “It’s official. You’re crazy nutso cuckoo.”
“No, no, he’s right,” came a voice from behind.
Mateo turned around quickly, only to discover he and Lincoln were now standing in a bedroom. Clothes were lazily draped over the banister that protected people from falling down the stairs. Overall, the place was a slight mess. Zeferino had not traveled with them, though, so thank God for small miracles.
A man was sitting in a bed, listening to music. He reached over and clicked a pen. Dredg. That was the name of the band playing on his computer, which he suddenly now knew. A slideshow of photos of what might have been a beagle—after another click of the pen, he now realized it to be a foxhound—was playing on the television. He continued, “Crazy nutso cuckoo is one of my catchphrases. And the only reason you said it is because I have it written down right here, see?” He turned his laptop so they could see. Their entire conversation was laid out before them on the page.
Lincoln started freaking out. He blinked and keeled over, grasping his head in pain. “Argh, not again!”
“What’s happening to him? What did you do?”
“Oh, sorry,” the Superintendent said. “Here we go.” He reached over and clicked the pen once more, which somehow magically took Lincoln’s pain away.
“It wasn’t his fault,” Lincoln said with a sigh of relief. This happened when I first went to that other c-brane. I can only see my universe, but apparently when I go to other ones, I start seeing their proverbial spacetime paintings. It’s rather overwhelming.”
“Yeah, you’re not gonna have that power anymore,” the Superintendent said. “I’m over it.”
“What?” Mateo protested.
“Hey, this is a compromise. Did you think Arcadia was gonna let you get away with not killing Lincoln just because you get Darko back by some other means? She’s not a fan of loopholes, but she’ll use one herself if she has to. Lincoln’s inability to compete with her possession of the LIR Map should suffice.”
“If you’re God then you can just end all of this right now.”
“I could, but that’s not an interesting story. Who would read that? Once upon a time, there was a man named Mateo Matic, and everything was fine in his life. The End. You hear how stupid you sound? I almost regret making you this dumb. Now I see why everyone hates you.”
No words.
“Oh, precious little Christian got his fee-fees hurt. I definitely regret making you Catholic, and I’m so gonna take that away from you without any explanation to my readers why.”
“Do you have any?”
“Do I have any what?”
“Straight to the heart. I musta accidentally turned down your empathy, and turned up your sass.”
“Why do you have, like, four TV trays in here? Isn’t this a bedroom?” Lincoln questioned with his own sass.
“Why are you named after two presidents and a werewolf?”
“Apparently because you arbitrarily deci—oh, okay, that’s the answer. Fine.”
“Are you gonna give Darko back, or not?” Mateo wanted to return to the subject at hand. “I was told you would want something from me?”
The Superintendent went back to his—“you can call me Gaius, by the way. People don’t really understand that calling myself the Superintendent isn’t quite as egocentric as it sounds. Think less manager of an organization, and more broken pipes in an apartment”—computer. “I’ve already written one thousand four hundred seventy...three words, so we don’t really have time for you to do anything for me, but I’m sure I’ll think of something by the time I get back to this story next Sunday. It might even have something to do with Effigy.”
Mateo just sighed.
“Though, I kind of like the idea of you two having zero effect on each other’s story.”
“Ya know, this whole thing where you write yourself into the story is like Adapta—” Mateo blinked. “What was I saying? Oh yeah, you stole the idea of writing yourself into the story from a movie called Stranger Than—why can’t I think of the name of that mov—what was I saying?” Mateo finally noticed Gaius’ hand hovering over his magic pen that could alter reality. “Would you stop doing that? God!”
“Now you’re gettin’ it! But really, don’t call me that, it’s gross.”
“Believe me, I will never consider you my God.”
He shrugged. “Whatever. You don’t have long left in this story anyway.”
“What? But seriously, folks, I do worry about writing myself into these stories. I don’t technically have to do it, but I’ve already established the quantum interconnectivity of all these universes, and sometimes I get carried away with the crossovers. A side effect of that is you sometimes cross over into my universe. I’m gonna try to tone that down next year. Until then, you have a full week until 2156 arrives.”
“Are you one the powers that be?” Mateo asked, trying to get more answers.
“Heavens no. That I promise you.”
He seemed sincere, and Mateo wanted to believe him, so he did. “Do I truly want to believe you, or do you just want the conversation to end befo—” He blinked and nearly fainted. “Please stop doing that.”
“I’m about to take that pen from you,” Lincoln said, feeling extra protective of Mateo.
“You know, this season has been all about you two. I came this close to developing a romantic relationship between you.”
Mateo was just horrified at the through of Leona being erased from time for good to make room for someone else.
Gaius just smiled. “Don’t worry. Leona wears more plot armor than you do.”
“You better go. It’s 2:03 in the morning and I have a long day of rewatching the Netflix Marvel series. You’re welcome, by the way. In my universe, we have a show called Iron Fist, but I chose to spare you that horror. Plus, I gave you ten extra seasons of Bunheads, so a little gratitude would be nice.”
“Where will we go?” Lincoln asked.
Gaius was all but ignoring them, having returned to his laptop. “You can borrow that green car in my garage. The key’s right there. I don’t care where you go. Be back in a week.”

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Departure of Hokusai Gimura: Chapter Five

We’re standing in some kind of copse, coppice, brush, or brushwood. I’m not sure what to call it, but the undergrowth sure is thick, it is. “Be prepared for anything,” Sanela says. “I don’t have full control over where we go.”
Proving her point, a group of people appear out of the darkness, and into the dimness. They’re running for their lives, much like Hogarth was, but with far more fear in their hearts. The last one in line is Hokusai Gimura; the one I’ve been trying to track more recently. She manages to gain some ground on the young woman in fourth place  just as a dark mass gains ground on all of them. As it draws closer, I can see it’s a vague bipedal monster, like if The Incredible Hulk had been drawn with darker tones, and in impressionist style of art—or whichever style is the one that didn’t use very many pronounced lines. He looked kind of like a giant man, but was also more fluid, often changing the imperfection of his shape, so that you could never really tell where he ended, and the darkness behind him began. The monster overtook the woman Hokusai had passed, and for lack of a better term, ate her. It didn’t seem to have a mouth, or really any facial features. The front of his “head” would change even more dramatically than the rest of him, reminding me of the mask that the comic book character, Rorschach wears. Wow, I feel like most of my descriptions come from pop culture media that I don’t even read or watch.
“Loa! No!” Hokusai tries to scream, but it’s coming for her next, so she has to go back to running. Not that it matters, for the monster consumes her as well.
I try to fight him off, but my body just passes right through him. If ever there was a time I would want Sanela’s ability to merely witness the past to bleed into interactivity, it would be now. But still no one can so much as see me, not even this monster, which breaks a number of laws of physics, I know it.
One of the other three women seems to think that running is no longer an option, so she turns around and freezes, remaining as still as possible. The monster kills the other two, but leaves her alone entirely. It then walks off, apparently satisfied with its four-course meal. Once it’s out of sight, the final girl looks around. “What just happened?” she asks herself. She looks for clues, but there’s nothing around her but dead undergrowth. She shrugs and says, “I better get home.”
“She can’t remember her friends,” I say to Sanela as the survivor is casually leaving the scene.”
“That...thing must remove people from time. Somehow.”
Determined, I take the Rothko Torch out of my pocket. “Take us back.”
“To where? 2022?”
“No,” I say. “To just a few minutes ago. You can do that, right?”
“Rewind? Yeah, sure. But why would you wanna see that again?”
“It might hold a clue. Just...let’s just watch it one more time.”
“Will you want me to slow it down.”
“Maybe a little.”
Sanela holds one hand out and mimes turning a dial to the left. The scene begins to reverse, pulling the survivor back in place, and then the monster. It un-eats all those women, one by one, and they all continue to run backwards, getting back to where they were.
“Okay, stop it there,” I request, once they’ve all disappeared into the black. I approach a spot I know that Hokusai passes over, and get down on my knees.
“What are you doing?” she questions.
I’m digging in the soil, pushing dead plants away, and making a nice open space. I lift the Rothko Torch and jam it into the ground, so that it’s sticking business end up.
“Are you...are you trying to plant the flashlight?”
“I am, yes,” I reply. “Have you restarted the scene?”
“I have. It’s in slow motion.”
“Go ahead and put it at regular speed, it should be fine.”
“You think she’s gonna find that flashlight?”
“I’m hoping.”
She purses her lips. “Yesterday, I’d have told you that wouldn’t work, but now all the rules are out of whack.”
“Well, hopefully the flashlight puts this all back in fine whack. I can’t be here to watch Hokusai die. I won’t do it.” I really won’t.
Sanela snaps her fingers, letting the scene play out in real time. Unfortunately, though Hokusai does indeed pass over the flashlight, she does not see it.
“Dammit, send us back again!” I cry in frustration.
“I can’t just keep doing this,” she protests.
“You answer to some higher power, right?”
“That’s not generally how we put it, but yes.”
“If they don’t want you to do it, they’ll stop you. Until then, let’s go again.”
Sanela agrees, and we try the scene again. This time, I turn the flashlight on. D’uh. But it doesn’t work either. I guess the light isn’t passing through the barrier between our dimension, and hers. Which is crazy. Out of all the things the Rothko Torch can do, it can’t do that?
We try again after I move the flashlight a few inches back. No, that doesn’t work, so I move it a few inches forward, which finally does the trick. Well, it gets the job done, at least. Hokusai doesn’t trip on it, but the woman in front of her does. I guess that’s close enough, as long as Hokusai notices what it is. She does.
“The Rothko Torch,” Hokusai says as the other woman is helping her to her feet. “How did it get here?”
“He did it,” Sanela answers, knowing that no one but him would be able to hear.
“Does it matter?" the woman asks. “We have to go.” The others in their party have already run out of their field of vision.
“No we don’t,” HG says with confidence. Good, she has some idea of what she’s going to do with it.
“Hokusai! Please, let’s go!”
“Trust me, Loa,” HG says in a calm voice. “You can run if you want to, but with the Rothko Torch, we shouldn’t have to.”
Loa remains next to her friend, still frightened, but hopeful for Hokusai’s plan, whatever it may be. As soon as the mass appears before them, Hokusai turns the flashlight on, and aims it at the monster. It stops in mid-air, now covered with lava and fire. At least that’s what it looks like from this dimension. This heat overwhelms the monster, and ultimately destroys it.
“What did you just do?” Loa asks. “What kind of weapon is that?”
“Oh, this ol’ thing?” Hokusai asks with the smile of a champion. “Just the Rothko Torch. No big.”
“She’s amazing, isn’t she?” yet another woman says as Hokusai continues explaining the time object’s power to Loa.
“Who are you?” I ask of her.
“My name is Bhulan, and I just wanna thank you for all your help today. This.” She points to the other two women, who can clearly not see Bhulan. “This is what really matters. You distracted Effigy long enough for Escher to get to safety. You helped Rothko fully understand his mission. And you stopped Smith from becoming an even more dangerous threat to Hogarth’s life. But what you did here, giving my ancestor the flashlight, that’s gonna save two worlds. They could have all died, and it wouldn’t have mattered if Hokusai didn’t have all the ingredients she needs.”
“Was that you with the basketball?” Sanela asks. “Did you bounce that to Kallias so he could defeat that Smith guy?”
Bhulan shakes her head, still watching the scene. The other three women have come back to them. “No. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
The others are in the middle of arguing about what they’re going to do next, and that other monsters could be close. They turn out to be right as several of these monsters begin to growl from all around them.
“That’s my cue,” Bhulan says. “You have done everything you can, Bran. Go back to your own time period. There’s a lot of work in the mid-early 21st century, and you’ll be vital to that.” She walks into the center of the group, and transitions to their dimension, so they can see her. “Give me the flashlight.”
Hokusai complies quickly.
“Get down!” she orders them. “And shut your eyes!”
A blast comes out of the Rothko Torch, even brighter than the one that Hokusai released. It spreads farther than I or Sanela can see. Though it does them no harm, even they can feel its heat from this observation dimension.
Once the danger has passed, Bhulan says, “we’re good. You can stand back up.”
“Thank you,” Hokusai says. “Not to sound ungrateful, but who are you?”
“My name is Bhulan...and I am your great great granddaughter.”
“Come on,” Sanela says to me as the conversation continues. “Let’s get you back home.” She crosses her wrists, and then separates them, repainting the scenery to something else. Just as she does so, though, she disappears along with it. I’m still standing in the same place. Well, maybe it’s not quite the exact same place, but the terrain is quite similar.
“Hello? Sanela? Bhulan?” No answer. “Vearden?” I venture, but quieter. There’s no one here.
Before me, a few meters above the ground, a fire ignites, fueled by nothing apparent. A figure bursts out of it and strikes the ground, still burning. I pull off my coat and desperately work to beat and smother the fire out. The smoke clears and I can see the face of the individual I’ve possibly just saved. It doesn’t seem to be an animal, but it’s also not human.