The 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.
“You can bring back the book, or you can bring back the doll, but you cannot bring both with you.”
In his fear, Jeffrey did not understand. “What?”
The vortex thundered with surprising patience. “On your person you now carry two things you did not bring with you into Aum. You have a lot of personal power, Jeffrey Hamen, so I cannot divest you of both objects, but I will divest you of one before you leave Aum. I now allow you to choose which one you will leave behind. I need not judge your intentions. By embracing insatiable ambition, you punish yourself more cruelly and more absolutely than anyone else could seek to bring justice upon your head. That fate always awaits the ambitious. Your choices carry you away from any redemption.”
Jeffrey did not pause to consider the vortex’s message. “You want to stay here, right?” he beamed to Nadja. “You get to stay.”
“Wait, WHAT?” This time Nadja really did sound panicked. “Not my book, you can’t take my book!”
“Oh I’m taking it. “ He lifted the shirt-sack over his head and placed it on the shore next to him. “I’m ready. You say this place is called Aum?”
Simultaneously, Nadja wailed “My book! No, please!” while the vortex thundered with amusement, “Put your shirt back on, little man.”
Jeffrey took Nadja out of his shirt and began untying the knots. “You said I would never read your book as long as I was in your world, Nadja. I have to read it in my own.” He pulled his shirt over his head as Nadja wept directly into his mind. “I’m ready.”
The slices of the tornado peeled apart and the lightning arced to connect them around halved space. Between the dark and the bright, he saw his car and his body in its driver’s seat, smashed and broken. His body wore his office clothes in the vision. “Do not be afraid,” the vortex instructed. “When you return to this body and the life of Jeffrey Hamen, it will last a long time.”
As Jeffrey stepped into the vision of his ruined car and the ambulance sirens, he thought he heard Nadja’s sobs change to awful, ugly laughter.
Thank you for reading! Coming up next week: Jeffrey reads Nadja’s book.
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