This story begins with Globe Without Goodbye – The Shore (1). To access installments in narrative sequence, click on an entry title, then click on “Next” at the end of that installment.
Jeffrey never walked as far as the village Nadja had described. He never saw the buildings. He never ate from the gardens. When Jeffrey came close enough according to the vortex’s internal rhythm and senses, it met him on the shore.
It came from nowhere, as Jeffrey made a game out of forming fresh tracks in the sand. He felt a presence in front of him. As he lifted his head, Nadja thought-beamed a statement: “My enemy, so near.” Had she addressed this beam to him? Or did she speak to the vortex, and his mind had just happened to get in the way of the beam?
The vortex looked like a glowing tornado. A swirl of darkness, darker than night in the world he had left behind; a swirl of brightness, brighter than he had ever seen a moon stud that night. The two wrapped around each other to form a vertical pole of energy, thicker than his body and twice as tall, hovering about two feet from the shore-sand. Where the swirls of energy that made up the vortex bled into their surroundings, at the top and bottom of the pole, brilliant arcs of lightning pulsed, moving in waves away from the swirling pole until they disappeared. The pole rotated, with different parts moving at different speeds, but the strands of dark and bright never mixed, never even kissed. It was beautiful and fearsome and God-like, and he now understood why Nadja could not have lived near it, no matter how much she liked the village. He wanted to piss his jeans and run away very quickly.
“Make your choice, Jeffrey Hamen.” The vortex sounded like thunder in his mind. Unlike Nadja, it didn’t even pretend to have a face or mouth. “This is not a resting place, no matter what that fool you carry with you may have said. This life, or your next. Choose.”
His voice cracked when he spoke. He did not feel superior to this thing as he had felt with Nadja. He feared to ask his question. He no longer wanted to strategize; he wanted to flee this moment and forget it at once. “What would the next life be like?”
“Like the life you knew previously, it would be what you perceived. Your choice will not create a new world, little man. You choose only whether or not to preserve your sense of yourself.”
The words rushed out of his mouth: “I want to go back, then. Let me go back!”
Thank you for reading! Coming up next week: Jeffrey takes Nadja’s book back to Illinois.
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