Preserving Creata Part Two (Higher Education), Chapter Eleven
*** Eleven ***
I dreamt that I was standing in front of an oval gate.
The gate was situated in an odd place. It was in the middle of a desert and led to no-where.
There was a raised platform near the gate.
I walked over to the platform to inspect if from up close.
It looked like a sundial with figures and numbers engraved around the edges.
I lay down on this platform next to the dial and closed my eyes. I knew I was dreaming. I knew I was going to sleep in my dream.
It was so weird.
I dreamt a dream in my dream.
I dreamt of numbers and figures spinning and combining to make three rows of numbers and letters combined.
The sequences kept on changing and I could not pin any one down long enough to follow it.
I was drenched in sweat in my dream and woke myself up from this nightmare. I woke up from my dream’s dream and returned to the platform near the gate.
I sat up and stared at the gate that now had a solid interior and I could no longer see through it.
I stood up from the platform and walked right around the gate, inspecting it from top to bottom.
There was this cold-looking substance inside the gate, blocking entry to where-ever, stirring knowledge at the back of my mind.
Was this a physical portal? A transportation device to step from one place to another? A DOOR to another ‘place’?
I returned to the platform.
This could be an address dial. If I could set the dial, I could go places.
How very exciting!
My eternal curiosity would finally be satisfied.
I tried the dial, but my hand went right through it.
I tried again.
The platform was a hologram and I could not touch it, yet a moment ago I had dreamt I had a dream on it.
This was still a bizarre dream, yet it felt so real.
Who could tell, even my visions seemed real to me.
This instance I knew for sure that my body was asleep in an aircraft over some very nasty looking mountains.
I returned to the gate.
The substance in the middle started shimmering like water in a gentle pond. It was not entirely flat, but not wavy either.
It drew me to it like a magnet. I reached out with my right hand and touched it with my fingertips.
The substance stuck to my fingers.
I pulled back.
It came with.
The goo started creeping over my hand, gripping me securely in its icy clasp.
“It’s just a dream! “ my brain shouted.
“I know! “ I shouted back.
It did not help release the cold sensation steadily creeping up my arm.
The sticky stuff was trying to pull me into its depths. I pulled back harder.
It did not want to release me and was pulling me steadily towards its dark depths.
I screamed as the cold substance engulfed my entire body.
Racewater was leaning out of his seat trying to hold me down.
“It’s okay! You were dreaming! You were having a nightmare!”
I stopped fighting.
Recognition returned to my senses.
I tried to swallow, my throat swollen and raw.
Settling back onto my seat, I vowed never to sleep again.
Racewater offered me a bottle of water.
“Drink some. You will feel better.”
He handed me the small container filled with bitter liquid.
“One swallow, it’s all I ask. The healers swear by it.”
I took a swallow.
The bitter liquid burnt all the way down to my stomach.
Relief flushed through my body. It worked better than the commercial drugs Panam sometimes provided me with.
I pulled my feet on top of the seat so I could rest my chin on my knees. We had been in the air for hours and I could not find a comfortable position. Hugging myself, I stared out of the window to the world becoming dark outside.
We were climbing again to fly over another high mountain range. The peaks were too high for our aircraft to fly over, so we had to detour around the highest ones. It was getting cold and it did not help that my clothes were still damp after the dream.
I really hated the smell of stress. It made me sick to my stomach. I would really enjoy a bath when we land.
It was almost dark by the time we started our decent into yet another valley between the mountain peaks. We were much higher up than this morning. The landing was quite rough and we were jolted around inside the tiny cabin.
I was thankful when the aircraft finally came to a stop. I struggled to open the door and Racewater joined my efforts.
By the time we eventually had everyone safely on the ground, it was too dark to see anything except lights twinkling here and there between branches of trees or shrubs. At least there was a suggestion of life in this quiet place.
I followed Racewater to an all-terrain vehicle where he placed his bags on the back seat. I dumped mine on top of his and clambered into the passenger seat.
Racewater was facing Ray, quietly conversing so I could not hear what they said. I thought of expanding my senses, but immediately discarded the idea. I did not want to get involved in sensing everything in this area just yet. I needed rest, preferably not sleep. I needed to sort out my mind.
After taking his leave from Ray, Racewater slipped behind the wheel of the vehicle and we started off on a road I could barely make out. It was more a track than anything else, yet Racewater kept to it as if he had known it all his life.
Which he probably did.
Of course! He grew up in these mountains, so why should he not know these roads.
I must be very tired to not even come to such logical conclusions. Silly me.
It was a very bumpy ride and I had to cling onto whatever hand and foothold I could find to stay inside the vehicle. Our bags quickly found their way to the floor.
It did not seem as if I was built for these bumpy rides. I was feeling ill again, but since I could not remember the last decent meal I had, there was no risk of messing up the vehicle.
Eventually, after crossing what felt like two mountain ranges, we came to another small, peaceful looking valley. It levelled out at one end with a river flowing alongside. I could see a few lights in what appeared to be cabins.
As we descended the slopes of the valley, I could see that the structures were proper houses but appeared small as they were dwarfed by their surroundings.
We stopped at the nearest cabin. It was pitch black by now.
Racewater got out and dug for his bags. He took them up to the porch and went into the cabin without hesitation.
I found my bag under the seat where it had lodged and was feeling my way up the stairs when a light came on inside the cabin. My hunch was right. It was made of logs.
The lamp cast a soft glow over the rough-cut log furniture. It was a man’s place with no feminine touches anywhere, except for a huge, beautifully carved, seven-pointed star hanging above the fireplace.
There were a few rugs on the floor and an open-plan kitchen in one corner. A staircase in the other corner lead to a platform where the sleeping space probably was. I could not see a bathroom.
After closing the door behind me, I placed my bag next to Racewater’s on the floor behind the couch.
“We will be staying here. Upstairs is the sleeping area. The bathroom is outside, just off the kitchen door. There should be food in the fridge. You can start supper if you wish.
I need to go see some people and I want you to stay right here. Do not go anywhere. This is not a place for a City dweller. This is the wilds with wild animals and wilder people.”
I nodded at him and waited where I was until he drove off downhill towards the other cabins.
This was going to be so much fun.
My first night in my new home and I was told to stay like a good puppy.
Okay. Maybe I should stay put physically, but no-one said I could not look around in spirit form.
Let us just get the body nice and comfortable.
I took my bag with me to the bathroom, which I found, literally, right next to the kitchen. The kitchen door actually opened into the bathroom!
The bathroom had two doors. My first thought was that the other door led outside, but when I peeked out that door, it led into a room filled with logs for the fireplace.
I could see another door at the end of the small room, the logs were stacked on either side of a barely adequate path left to access this door. That was probably the outside door as I did not investigate further.
Running water into the bath, I was somewhat surprised to find hot water on tap. When the water was ready, I slipped in and really allowed myself to relax by closing my eyes and making my mind blank.
It was heaven to be able to soak in the warm water.
I allowed my chin to touch my chest, feeling very far removed from all my anxieties . . .
Suddenly I was back on the beach at New Haven.
It was again late afternoon.
This was another vision.
I recognized it as such, but it did not make it any less real to me.
The boy’s body was in the waves . . . It washed up onto the beach . . . I turned it over . . . The boy opened his eyes . . . A chill went through me.
*He will hunt you down. He knows who you are. He knows everything. He will hunt you down!* the voice whispered into my head. The eyes went blank . . . The spirit passed on . . . The message was given.
I felt as if I was drowning . . . I was under the ocean, struggling in the waves . . . I could not get my head above the water . . . I swallowed some . . . It started going into my lungs . . .
I coughed and splashed as I struggled to sit up out of the bath-water.
I was back.
I knew I was back in my own time.
I really hated these types of visions.
The water was cold.
It did not feel as if I was away for so long. I must have slept in the bath for some time.
I hurriedly scrubbed myself, trying to keep my mind blank and concentrating on what I was doing. I rinsed, hopped out of the bath and drained it. I would worry about washing it tomorrow.
Or was it tomorrow already?
As I dressed, I quickly scanned for Racewater.
He was down by the river in one of the cabins. There were other people with him.
I quietly reached out to his mind. He was having a reunion. I let him be and closed the gentle connection.
Back in the kitchen I dug in the fridge. I was still not feeling hungry. Maybe my body just did not need the amounts of food it did at the beginning. I knew I had to eat something, so I boiled an egg and made myself some coffee.
I decided that the porch would be an ideal place to have dinner. Racewater had said not to leave the cabin. To me the cabin included the porch. I sat down on one of the chairs and finished my solitary meal.
A sliver of moon was rising behind one of the mountains, throwing a cold light over the world. Everything looked strange and daunting to me.
The hairs on my neck started to rise. There was something sniffing next to the cabin.
Pretending to be a statue, I listened to the sound. I scolded myself, it was probably only a dog.
The soft padding came around the porch and the outlines of a big dog became visible in the scant moonlight.
The cabin door was closed, allowing no light to penetrate onto the porch, and there was no quick retreat for me.
The dog looked at me, sniffing the air between us. It did not advance onto the porch.
It stared at me with strangely glinting eyes.
I softly reached out to the animal with my mind.
*Hi. I’m new here. I’m more afraid of you than you of me. So please leave.*
It was a mental plea for the animal to go away. I had very little to do with animals in New Haven and they made me nervous.
I was so surprised when the animal answered me back that I almost dropped my empty mug.
*You must come with me. She is waiting. The one you came here to see.*
*I am not allowed to leave this place. I will get into serious trouble* I answered the dog, feeling ridiculous.
*You must come with me or she will send the bear. He is not as friendly as I.*
My first excursion into nature and I was already talking to a dog and being threatened by it, no less.
I made my decision, a dog above a bear any day.
Still, I could sense Ma-Mara all over this strange event.
Placing my mug on the floor, I very slowly went down the steps. The dog trotted in front of me, making its way towards the woods, away from the cabins. It briefly looked back to see if I was following.
I was not dressed for the cool evening air. I had felt feverish and did not put an overcoat over my shirt when I came out on the porch. I soon realized that being barefoot was a mistake as well. At least I had long pants on.
I followed the dog into the woods. It was very dark here and I could barely make out the moving shadow in front of me.
The dog increased its pace, as if it was in a great hurry to get where it needed to go. I had to jog to keep it in sight.
The dog started to lope across the open areas in the woods, forcing me to run in order to keep up.
*Slow down!* I begged.
*No time* came the answer.
I was hopelessly lost already, having no sense of direction. Everything looked the same.
In one of the clearings I quickly checked the position of the moon. We had been running for about an hour or so. I was winded and had to slow down.
Tripping over a log, I sprawled into the brush.
I looked up into the face of the dog. Very slowly backing up on all fours, I managed to stand up. I was unhurt and the dog seemed to sense this, dashing off again. I had had my bit of a break and started after it with renewed efforts.
We were steadily climbing the side of the mountain, following a path that led slightly around and to the back of this outcropping.
When we reached another clearing I had the opportunity to look down into the valley. It was a long way down. The lights of the cabins were very faint.
By now I wished I had chosen the bear to come fetch me. At least it would not have set such a hasty pace. My bath was history by now.
Rounding the mountain outcropping, I stopped to take in the spectacular view. The moon was now high up, suffusing everything with its silvery light.
Mountains ran into more mountains. The mountain outcropping I was standing on was surrounded by valleys on three sides. The river snaked its way through the valleys.
I would have loved to experience all of it, but the dog was pressing me again, and besides, I did not have the strength left to travel physically as well as mentally.
The dog proceeded at a slower pace and I could keep up with a fast walk. We descended the far slope of the mountain for a short distance, coming to a ledge. We kept to this ledge until we reached another wooded area, passing through this at a much slower pace.
I was finally starting to get my breath back.
Eventually we came out into a small clearing. The dog stopped, sat down and watched me.
*Go ahead. She is waiting for you* it told me.
I could not see anyone, but crossed the clearing and entered the forest on the other side. There was a clear pathway, dimly lit by the moon shining through the trees.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw that the dog was still sitting at the other side of the clearing, watching me intently with its haunting eyes.
Placing my attention on the moonlit path, I kept on walking and was greatly surprised to reach another small clearing right against the mountain. I was facing a darkened crevice in the mountain.
My vision in the diner!
This was the cave the old/young woman had brought me to in my vision.
This was it!
I carefully entered the dark entrance to the cave.
There was a flicker of light somewhere down the tunnel or passage forming the entrance to the cave. One could not see the source of the light from the entrance, as the passage made a turn to the right before opening into a large chamber.
The cavern turned out to be a comfortable home.
There was a platform at the back, partitioned with curtains of what looked like fur, forming what seemed to be a sleeping area.
Everything else was a jumble of stands, racks and shelves packed with pots, bushes and herbs. It was a regular store of everything a healer could need.
A fire was glowing in one corner. I was sure a chimney took the smoke outside as the air was clear, only the pleasant fragrance of the burning wood filling the air.
I wound my way through the jumble and sat down at the fireplace in the same position I had seen in the vision, waiting expectantly.
Looking back towards the entrance, I heard a flutter of wings and jerked my head towards the sound.
“I hope you had an invigorating run. It is always better to get rest when the body is nice and tired.”
An old woman stood next to the fire, picked up a stick and prodded it.
She looked at me and smiled. There was a naughty twinkling in her eye, the same twinkling that was in the dog’s eyes.
Could it be?
“I read minds too” she continued, conversationally.
Darn! Now that’s a neat trick.
“I should think so. It does come in handy, especially if my subject is telepathic too.”
I should stop thinking.
“I should think you should stop thinking, for a while at least.”
Oh boy! I was not getting this right.
“Speak only what you want others to hear, child. Beware to keep your mind to yourself. Do not let your thoughts be open for all to read.”
Easy for you to say.
She laughed. A rich, happy sound.
“You are very funny. I have not had a good giggle for many a long year. We are going to have so much fun together.”
She placed more wood on the fire, building it up to a pretty big blaze.
I was thankful, for I was starting to feel cold again.
“There is a jacket behind you. I thought you might be cold.”
It was made of furs. It smelled odd, like ozone. It was very comfortable and warm.
I watched Ma-Mara. She was the oldest person I had ever seen. Yet, I saw her true self shimmering and overlapping her physical body.
Was she just presenting old age?
“To that question, the answer is yes.”
Great, I really have to work on this thinking thing.
“We will work on it later. For now, just ask me whatever you wish.”
She was preparing tea.
I was fascinated by the way in which she was going about it. I had never seen anyone make tea with more elegance.
“Thank you for the compliment.”
I had to get a hold on myself. I sat up straight and breathed deeply for a few breaths.
“Would you like to share why you portray old age, if your body is really still young?” I asked.
“I have gained the knowledge of longevity many years ago. I have learnt how to stop the aging process, but for pretence and comfort, I choose to portray the old body.
It makes things easier and stops all the questions. What would the Government do if they learnt that someone is a few hundred years old? They will prod and poke me until they found the secret, and then they would not believe it anyway.”
“I know what you mean. They do that with people like me already.”
“Then better be the legend than the guinea-pig” she commented.
Speaking of legends.
“When are you going to tell me about this legend that apparently involves me?” I wanted to know.
“When you have rested and restored your body” she answered.
She poured some of the tea for us. It had a lovely, fruity aroma. She did not offer sugar with it, so I took my cup from her without asking and took a sip.
The taste was vaguely familiar. It was made from some or other type of berry or berry bush that I could not place immediately.
I finished the cup while watching Ma-Mara reaching for a dish in what served as a small oven.
She sighed contentedly and placed the dish between us. Upon removing the lid, a broiled fowl was visible inside. Veggies were tightly packed around it, including the sweet potatoes I so loved.
She dished up for us onto earthen plates that I could not remember seeing anywhere when I had looked around while she was busy with the food.
I had been trying to place a barrier across my thoughts and she did not comment on that remark, so maybe I was finally doing something right.
We ate with relish and only when the last bit of potato was cleaned off my plate, did I sit up straight. I was feeling happy for the first time in days.
I carefully thought back. It was actually only three days since Tucker had passed over. I could not believe it. It felt like weeks already.
“And that is why you must rest before our journey.”
Okay, I was definitely not getting this barrier thing.
“Here is some more tea. Then you can lie on the pallet next to the fire.” She pointed behind my seat.
I could swear that when I had taken the jacket from there, I had not seen any bed.
I took the tea. I was so stuffed that I really did not have any more space left for the tea, but did not want to offend her and drained the cup.
Too late I realized that the tea was drugged.
A feeling of bliss crept up my legs and arms.
In front of me sat a young woman.
She pushed me off my seat and made me lie down on the soft pallet where I drifted into unconsciousness.
Copyright © H Gibson Chronicles of Han Storm. All rights reserved. 2009-2014
A full excerpt of Chronicles of Han Storm, Part 2 is available on Wattpad