Topaz Bond – The Creature, continued (6)

This story begins with Topaz Bond – The Call (1).  To access installments in narrative sequence, click on an entry title, then click on “Next” at the end of that installment.

 

“How did I get here?”

“As far as I know, there are only two ways. People bring themselves here to escape extreme stress, like they feel when they are about to die; or someone who is already here, who knows the ropes, brings them through. It takes a real athlete to do that. I couldn’t do that.”

“Extreme stress? Like finding out someone has died?”

Abelard considered this. “I’ve never heard of someone coming to Aum because of what happened to another person. I guess it might bring a person through if the other person’s death was truly considered a threat to the person’s own survival.”

“How’d you get here?”

“Got caught in a brush fire. One moment I was burning alive, the next I was standing in the Trembling Swamp.”

Eileen felt knocked over by the tidal wave of information presented by Abelard. “This is too much to take in!”

Abelard turned his head to look at her with his deer eye again. “Yeah, it’s a lot at once, I know. Let’s keep this simple. What’s your name?”

She didn’t want to tell him her name given the circumstances. She didn’t really know him. But he had given his first. To refuse the request might alienate him, and she badly needed a friend. What could he call her? She thought of what the Iyanifa had shown her on the night she had learned of Ifá.   “Opele,” she mumbled, banking on Australia’s racist history; the reference should go unnoticed.

“Want to walk with me, Opele?”

She rubbed the back of her head with her palm. “I don’t know. Where are you going?”

Abelard stamped his hippo hindquarter. “I’m looking for someone.”

“Who?”

Abelard looked down to the sand. “Someone who will walk with me.” His voice sounded dark, like molasses.

“You lonely?”

He stamped again.

The cello voice in Eileen’s mind, which had been silent for some time, spoke melodically: “Tales of suffering and greed! Pride will tear us both apart!”

Abelard whipped his head up and to the side, staring wide with his deer eye at Eileen. “How’d you do that?”

“Do what? I’m just standing here.”

“Your mind. You thought with a different voice! I mean, I’ve been getting double murmurs from you this whole time, I figured my perception was just off, but that was clear. How’d you do it?”

“You can read my mind?”

Abelard swung his head so that his hippo eye could view her. The eye twinkled, and Eileen heard a male, Australian voice in her mind: “When I choose to.” His animal mouth did not move.

Eileen furrowed her brow and thought as hard as she could. “Read this: GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HEAD!”

 

Thank you for reading!  In my next installment, Eileen and Abelard decide to travel together.

Previous Aum stories include “Globe Without Goodbye” and “Masked.

If you are enjoying “Topaz Bond,” please support my writing on Patreon.

Masked – The Offer, continued (4)

This story begins with Masked – The Fortress (1).  To access installments in narrative sequence, click on an entry title, then click on “Next” at the end of that installment.

 

John found himself standing in a cavern three times bigger than the apartment he shared with his roommates. The stalactites that had somehow formed around sources of pale blue light glittered, and dazzled his eyes. If John had been more fantastically inclined, he might have believed the cavern had been formed out of diamond. But diamonds didn’t work that way… right?

An elderly man dressed like a medieval monk reclined on pale cushions arranged on a ledge before John’s disbelieving eyes. The man’s face held condescension, and his hand held a large beetle that glittered like the stalactites. When he spoke, his lips did not move. John placed the accent reverberating in his mind as German. “When you get over the initial shock, you will have many questions. Allow me to assure you that there is no rush. Time will not pass for your body on Earth while your mind is here in Aum. Ask whatever you need to ask.”

John felt something scuttle against his foot. Looking down, more insects made from the same material as the cavern crisscrossed the floor. One centipede looked eight inches long. John did not especially fear insects, but their motion here distracted him. “How are you speaking in my mind?”

“The magic of Aum takes many shapes. One of them is telepathy. The longer you would stay here, the easier you would find it to speak mind-to-mind, without language impeding you.”

“You said… your name is Bloodwater?”

“Indeed.” Bloodwater smiled with yellow teeth.

“Are you evil? Nobody normal has a creepy name like that.”

Bloodwater cocked his head, taking the question seriously. “I chose that name because many, many breaths ago, I tried to cut my hand on something sharp here in Aum. I just felt curious about what might happen. I felt pressure, but no pain, and when I split my skin, what came out was clear and thin like water, not red or viscous. The sight took my breath away.”

John examined what he could see of Bloodwater’s hands for a significant scar, and saw only the marks of age.

Bloodwater finished the story. “When I wanted the wound to close, it closed, and the clear liquid that had came out simply disappeared. Like much of the magic of Aum, all it required was an act of will.”

“What is happening? One minute I was sitting in the kitchen, and now… What is going on?”

“I am making you an offer.”

 

Thank you for reading!  Coming up next week:  John continues to learn about Aum and the scryer.

Previous Aum stories include Globe Without Goodbye.

If you are enjoying Masked, please support my writing on Patreon.

Globe Without Goodbye – Outside the Cave, continued (10)

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.

 

“You’re coming with me, Nadja. I’m going to get lonely out there. This is a lonely place. I’ll need someone to talk to. Brace yourself, I’m picking you up again.” Jeffrey set about figuring out the best way to transport the doll. Carrying Nadja with his hands would get cumbersome. He took his shirt off, feeling embarrassed as he remembered Nadja’s recent taunt about his potbelly. Nobody said things like that to him in Illinois. How long had Nadja-the-doll sat next to Nadja-the-skeleton? Death could probably make lots of people lose their social graces. He bunched the bottom of his shirt together and knotted it against itself to make a crude sack. The fabric had been comfortable on his torso, but without a sun in the sky or air current he had not summoned himself, he didn’t need protection from the environment. “Hey, Nadja,” he thought-beamed in her general direction, “Is there ever a sun here? What about stars? Where does the light come from? How do I see?”

“Shut up, frog-man,” came the tired response. “This is the world between worlds. What you see is what you get, here. You ask too many questions to last very long in my home. Make your choice. Pick your world. You bore me.”

“How can I make this choice you keep talking about, when I only know about the world I came from? What is my other choice?”

“Who knows? Who cares?” Nadja sounded even more tired. “The vortex probably knows. Ask it when we get there.”

“So you’re resigned to coming with me, then?”

“It will be a long walk from the village back to my cave, and these legs were made to sit, not stand, but I will manage. It will be worth it to make absolutely sure that you have left.”

“Oh yeah?” He picked the book up from where he had dropped it. “You’ve got a pretty smart mouth, for a doll.” He jammed the book into the left rear pocket of his jeans. “The people where I come from would be fascinated by a telepathic doll. What if I decide to take you with me?”

As he lifted Nadja and slipped her through his shirt’s neck-hole, her thoughts sounded determined. “Don’t do that. Your world would kill me. There’s no room for magic there.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” he beamed back to her, checking to make sure the fabric would hold her weight. It stretched a little. Not a permanent solution, but acceptable. He tied the sleeves together and hung the makeshift sack around his neck, figuring that attempting to carry Nadja on his back would stress his throat. Not that he needed a voice to talk to his companion now anyway.

Thank you for reading!  Coming up next week:  Jeffrey learns a little bit more about Aum as he and Nadja travel back down the shore.

If you are enjoying Globe Without Goodbye, please support my writing on Patreon.