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.
“If I’m leaving this cave, you’re coming with me.”
“You said there’s only the vortex and you here, right? The natives are far away, the exiles don’t stay long? You’re definitely the only… thing… I’ve found here that talks. Even if you’re only talking in my thoughts. If I’m going to find this vortex, I’m going to need your help. What is the vortex anyway?”
“The vortex is the focal point of this world. When it moves, the balance of this world moves with it. It monitors, to keep this world empty of minds. It tolerates the natives as long as they keep their population low. It wants anything that comes here with awareness to move back into its world with haste. It was very upset when I told it I intended to stay. It made my life here extremely tumultuous. Eventually we reached an understanding. As long as I keep myself away from its usual haunts, it no longer bothers me. That’s easy enough to do in this body.”
“Well, I’m not going to find it alone. Oh yeah, and I’m bringing your book.”
“ ‘Fraid so. You apparently care a lot about it. I think it’s the only way I can be sure to keep you talking.” He eyed the book as it lay on the sand. At least looking at its blank cover didn’t hurt his brain. “What’s in there, anyway?”
“It’s MINE! It’s MY story! It’s not for the likes of you!”
“Nobody writes a book, then hides it in a tomb, without hoping somebody’s going to come along and grave-rob,” he mused. “People write things down so they can be read. Neither your old body lying dead in that cave, nor this rock-body I’m looking at now, can read this book. How do you see me with those little glass eyes?”
“Magic.” Nadja sounded unhappy. Jeffrey suspected that even after so much time in this world, Nadja didn’t really know much more about the mechanics of her power than he did. Like a child on an adult bicycle, Nadja felt proud to have lost training wheels but unsure of exactly how moving the pedals with her feet made the wheels turn.
“Your magic keeps this book illegible to me, doesn’t it?”
Nadja shut her doll-mouth.
“Lift your magic. I want to read this.”
Nadja gave no response.
He picked the book up. He held it with both hands by an unbound edge and mimed pulling it in two different directions. “Lift your magic, or I destroy the book.”
Nadja’s mouth opened, and when the words eventually formed in his mind, they sounded like a weary exhale. “I could make another one. It would take a long, long time; you are right, my powers were greatly weakened by death. But once you leave here, I will have nothing but time again. Destroy it, if you must be cruel. You will never read my book.”
Nadja had called Jeffrey’s bluff. He didn’t really want to destroy the book. He scowled at the doll, but made no conscious reply.
Nadja’s thoughts came to him, seemingly from all sides at once: “You really don’t belong here. Why don’t you go to the vortex and choose a world?”
“If I’m going to find this vortex, you’re coming with me. I don’t even know what it looks like. I need a guide.”
“NO!” Nadja somehow seemed petulant, though Jeffrey realized that all the changes in inflection he thought he heard in her voice were only his interpretations. “It looks like a column of living energy, dark and bright at the same time. I can tell you how to get close enough to its village that the vortex will come to you. There’s no reason for me to leave this cave. Please. I don’t want to go!”
Thank you for reading! Coming up next week: Jeffrey and Nadja set out to find the vortex.
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Vortex image created by Charles Price.