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The Elsewhither

Tor the Elsewhit

By Dennis HumphreysPublished 6 months ago 33 min read

by: D.R. Humphreys (the DreamWriter)

Visiting a different country every year on vacation and invading those little rustically rural areas to practice your hand at your hobby, it's easy to get lost and suddenly not recognize where you are. Things aren't where you thought they were or look different. As you search, you stumble, and things become more confusing. You suddenly find yourself away from people subject to their uncomfortable absence.

For the past ten years I had enjoyed traveling to different locations around the world using it as a photographic expedition. I enjoyed photography and couldn't see just going on vacation somewhere without chronicling the event. Marriage didn't change things and I brought my wife along on my journeys the past three years. However, she didn't particularly enjoy walking from sunup to sundown through geographies with which she wasn't familiar, watching me take pictures. I left her asleep in our room on the second floor of a eighteenth century pub, where we were renting. I liked staying at such unusual places, rather than staying at a hotel, or some bed and breakfast. She mumbled something incoherently as I walked down the narrow staircase, creaking all the way, to grab biscuits, bangors and coffee before heading out across the country.

“So where are you headed” Mrs. Rafferty asked as she heaped my plate with a dinner sized portion of food.

“West. It looks like a good area, towards the hills to take pictures,” I told her.

“Watch yourself going that way, especially in the forest. There are all manner of things going on there. The little people will cause you havoc,” she warned, placing my plate of food before me. I could never finish what she sat there. If I had plastic lined pockets, I might be found taking those leftovers with me.

“The little people. That's an Irish thing, isn't it? Not here,” I asked her. She grabbed her own cup of coffee and sat down across from me, ready to talk.

“Where do you think the Irish got hold of such stories? They started here, on the Isle of Man. They're not just tall tales, these people actually exist, and have so for thousands of years. It's said, they came from the stars, and never went back. The tallest ones are perhaps three feet high with alabaster skin, free of blemish with beautifully defined features. They all have raven hair and blue eyes, without exception. They play mind games with humans and perform all sort of magical feats,” she told me, nodding heavily in her own agreement, with a sense of finality, as if hers was the golden word.

'They sound horrifying!” I announced to her, half joking. “They sounded like any mischievous child, bored of things in general...

“Joke if you like... they can be. They can be kind and they can be nasty just like humans. If you let them, they'll take you on the ride of a lifetime and you won't know whether you're coming or going, Mr. Waterhouse.

“Mrs. Rafferty, I don't know that now, half the time,” I informed her. “Please call me Jimmy. Everyone else does.”

“Mark my words... Jimmy. Many have fallen to the wiles of those little ones. Keep your eyes open and be reasonable as you go your way,” she insisted.

“I will Mrs. Rafferty. I appreciate your concern and your warning,” I told her as I stood, drank the last of my coffee and readied to leave.

“Would you like me to prepare a sandwich for you to eat along the way? You'll need your energy roaming these hills,” she elicited another warning. You can call me Eloise,” she alerted me, as an afterthought.

“That would be great if it's not too much trouble. You are so kind,” I told her as I sat back down to wait.

A few minutes later she handed me as to what appeared to be a shopping bag full of food. She certainly liked large portions as evidenced by her own portly figure. I'm sure Mr. Rafferty had his hands full while he was alive. I took the time to pack the small grocery store in my backpack, so the weight would be easier to handle.

“Thank you, Eloise. I'll see you around dinner. I hope my wife doesn't get in the way,” I told her as I headed down the gravel road where it appeared horse drawn carts were still abundant by the quantity of horse droppings on the road, all of which were at various stages of decay.

I looked back from time to time, to keep my bearings, but as time went on, I became more enamored with my surroundings, oblivious to where I was, and distracted by the photography which I was enjoying. Then I entered a heavily wooded area, where I thought I might run into little people. As I sat on a large rock, one of many, that appeared to have been purposely raised on end in a large circle. I ate a few bites of the food Eloise had packed for me. I sat back to think and pulled out my harmonica which I randomly played, without thinking. I stood again to take more pictures. There was an abundance of wildlife to chose from, but after doing that for a while, decided I'd better start back. Once out of the woods, I looked everywhere and saw nothing familiar. Every direction I looked was unfamiliar, even though I made it a habit of constantly turning around to see where I had come from, to avoid my present plight. I reasoned I had gotten turned around in the woods and most likely came in from another direction. without realizing it. I needed to skirt the woods and look out over the countryside to figure where I was. I thought it would be easy, but I only created more doubt as to where I was.

I was decidedly lost. Traveling as an amateur photographer in a country I knew little of, so nothing was familiar, as I stumbled more than once, over tree roots in the woods where I was walking. I had come across no roads or any other sign of humanity... no dogs barking, the sound of farm equipment or even a gunshot in a country where hunting was normal. The last hill I was on, before entering the woods, showed no signs of fellow man. In the distance I saw no towns or smoke rising from chimneys. Plainly, I was far from anything. Somehow, thinking I knew where I was, which should have been a couple of hours west of the small town of Shosh, I kept traveling in the wrong direction. At least I had missed the town altogether and was... only God would know.

I found myself talking to the animals I came across. They probably viewed me as a dumb ass in the neighborhood. There was no cell phone reception here at all. Town wasn't much better. You were better off using a landline while in town, if you could find one working. I knew it would be cold out here at night... and damp. I was pissed that my sense of direction wasn't better. I came across the small clearing again, where there must have been some human interaction, because of the decent sized rocks that were on end in a circle. There wasn't any brush, or anything foreign within the circle of stone sentinels. There was however, a thick carpet of moss, insulating the ground. I would prefer staying here to anywhere else in the woods for the night, if I had to. At least my butt would stay relatively warm. As I sat, I pulled out my harmonica. I played it to help me think. I went back to look over the countryside before it got dark, to see if I noticed anything more. I swore the landscape had changed but reasoned it was the changing light as the end of the day that was transpiring.

The sun would be going down in an hour or so. The fog was already beginning to appear among the trees, and I recollected Eloise's warnings about the little people. I'd put up with them a night gladly, for access to their campfire. Mrs. Rafferty was expecting me back for dinner. I wondered what she would do if I didn't appear. There were only three policemen serving the area with several small towns. She'd probably have to get some towns person, adept at tracking, to search for me.

I found a little food left in the gargantuan bag given to me by Mrs. Rafferty, among the paper wrappers inside. I was thankful she packed it so full. I had my fill mid-day, and now it would provide some warmth from the calories, as night descended. As I ate the few bites. I heard forest animals and other creatures making noise in the brush around me, in their search for food. Happy I didn't have to do the same, I ate what was left of the bread and cheese. My host had poured stout into a large jar, she added to the bag, of which I only drank a third of earlier. I was especially thankful for this, since I was very thirsty, and I had not crossed even so much as a trickle of water, let alone a creek.

I was comfortable and prepared to spend the night.

“I'll give you a gold nugget for a taste of that stout,” came a voice from the bushes, startling me to the point of a heart attack.

“Who's there? Can you help me... tell me how to get to the town of Shosh?” I asked the unseen speaker.

“Shosh, by gosh... no! There's no such town around here,” the voice called out.

No such town around? I walked some distance, but not that far on foot. The man was touched.

“Here, have a swig if you'd like but that's all I have to drink. I'm lost,” I told him, which he could ascertain, I'm sure.

As I sat there, an older gentleman, maybe a little over three feet wandered into the circle of rocks. I was flustered to find at least part of Mrs. Rafferty' s tale was true. I handed him the jar but had to stop him from drinking it all in one breath.

“Don't worry, I can get you something else to drink if you need it. It's been some time since I've had stout. I appreciate your hospitality. Now down to business... how the hell did you get here?” he asked me somewhat angrily.

“I walked,” I told him succinctly.

“No... Elsewhither,” he asked me, looking at me with one eye closed and the other intensely fixated.

“Elsewhither... where's that?” I asked confused. I never heard of the place.

“Here,” he answered.

“Where's here,” I asked again, I thought.

“Elsewhither... you numskull,” he told me, as he took another less intensive sip.

“What are you then?” I moved along the logical sense of questioning.

“An Elsewhit,” he answered, taking another sip and sighing.

“An Elsewhit,” I replied thinking I'd come up with a better name or description.

“Why are you laughing? You have nothing to laugh about... you're human,” he accused me accurately.

“And you aren't?” I asked.

“You still haven't answered me, how you came to be here,” he pushed.

“I told you I walked,” I told him. He realized now I was being honest, so he went into deep thought, trying to reason whatever was in his head, to some degree of satisfaction.

“Were you here earlier within this circle of stones,” he asked, acting as if suddenly he had an answer of sorts.

“Yes. About the time I realized I might be lost. So, I went back the way I thought I came to try and locate the town of Shosh I came from earlier,” I told him. It was then he began laughing and slapping his calves.

“You'll never find it by looking here!” he exclaimed and laughed more heartily.

“What do you mean? Where am I?” I asked, not comprehending the old man.

“I told you... you're in Elsewhither... which is in another time, another place... and another dimension. Once you got here and went back to see where you had come from, the place you came from wasn't around anymore,” he told me in some sort of riddle fashion.

However, I did understand what he was saying. The British Isles were known for their Stonehenge and they had many of them, from large to small. Anthropologists argued what they were for years, most agreeing they were astronomical constructions built along ley lines and other magnetic anomalies, of which the ancients were aware. The more outlandish theories were that they were portals to other dimensions... places and times I believe my new friend was implying this.

“Are you saying I'm not in my world anymore, but have traveled to yours... another dimension?” I asked him to try and clarify his explanation, so there was no mistake.

“Exactly, it couldn't be any clearer! We travel to your world, but no one from yours has traveled to ours... recently,” he commented, tugging at his long white beard in mindless fashion.

“Recently?” I asked wondering if this other person ever got home. If he did, perhaps I could just do what he did.

“Yes... a ...ah, Rip something or other with a middle name and a last. I don't recall exactly,” he apologized.

“My name is Jimmy Waterhouse,” I introduced myself, hoping to befriend the man and find out more about this place... and how to get back. Secretly, without his awareness, I took a few pictures of him.

“Glad to meet you. I'm Tor del Becfas. Call me Tor since that's my name,' he told me dryly.

“Have your people always been here?” I asked desiring to know more.

“I might as well tell you our story since you're here. For what reason I don't know,” he told me.

It was starting to get darker as the sun was preparing to set. I hoped to get the whole story before nightfall, or I might not hear it all.

“Many years ago, my people came to this planet from q great distance. We were unable to leave though, to return, so we made your planet our home. Over the years your people hunted us like animals. We mine gold here to create our atmosphere, so we can live underground in a large cavern. They captured one of us and he paid them gold to be set free. Ever since then, they try to catch us, to get our gold. Every so often someone accidentally succeeds.

We were able to open a doorway into another dimension, where we could live in relative peace without worrying about humans. We are able to travel from one dimension to the other, to get what we need. Your dimension has more gold. Otherwise, we would just stay in your dimension. There are no people to contend with here. Every so often we encounter humans as we travel in your world. The stories your womenfolk have created about us, primarily to scare their children from going into the woods, are absurd!

I had read some of the details of stories passed down in ancient Ireland and the British Isles of aliens coming to earth, small people that became trapped here. They were a mischievous lot that whiled away their time playing jokes and being tricksters, being more intelligent than those on which they played their tricks. Since they were stuck here, they made the best of it. Supposedly they settled here, on the Isle of Man. Most ancient people stayed away from the island because of the strange stories and its mysterious climate, odd for the area but superior for farming. Some say it was aliens, controlling the weather. They were less regarded as gods and more like demons in many cases. This struck as much fear into the adults, as the stories did, telling them to the children. There was always a few wanting to know more and were willing to chance the outcome to learn.

“Come on, Jimmy. It's getting late. I'll take you to my home in the cavern. You can spend the night, but I'll have to lead you in blindfolded,” he informed me.

“Blindfolded? Why? This is a completely different dimension. I may not even be able to get back,” I told him thinking the secrecy was an act.

“Alca a Treevirs will be able to get you back. He is old and wise. He cures our ills, physically, mentally and socially,” the little man told me as he led me by hand out of the ring of stones.

“He's a medicine man,” I commented.

“Yeah... whatever,” the little old man replied, not giving it much thought. “Bend down here.”

He untied one of several scarfs he had around his neck and in turn, blindfolded me with it. Assured it was tight enough and I couldn't see anything, he took my hand again and walked me in several fast circles to confuse my sense of direction. I kept stumbling over rocks jutting out of the ground. As he talked, which was non-stop, I gathered he was becoming perturbed with me and my clumsiness, so he kept pulling me more agitated. Then I heard voices... many voices, and I could hear them coming closer. They followed behind and besides us. Then I was in a place where Tor's voice echoed hauntingly. I realized I must be in the cavern of which he spoke.

“You can take off your blindfold,” Tors suggested. I was amazed at the sight.

The cavern was huge, perhaps seventy-five feet high and two hundred and fifty feet across every which way. There were multiple levels around the walls... trails that connected one entrance way to another, not just cave entrances, but doorways to private chambers. Light seemed to emanate from the walls and ceiling naturally. Through the middle of the place ran a small creek. As the crowd of perhaps five hundred parted, an even older gentlemen than Tor, walked quickly between the two masses. I watched as he studied me intensely without missing a step in his march.

“I am Alca a Treevirs, leader here. Tor, you've brought a human here, the first in two hundred years. Why?” he asked harshly.

“Because it was the right thing to do... the hospitable thing to do,” Tor argued.

I found out later, this was the central precept of their law, politically and religiously among his people. Hospitality was key to follow and must be shone at all times, not just among their people but others as well. There was no arguing the point, so the leader merely looked at him briefly, and then at me.

“How and why did you come here?” the leader asked me, directing his attention completely at me.

“I didn't mean to come here, and I'm not even sure how I did,” I explained.

The leader looked exasperated with the answer, rolling his eyes as if dealing with someone bereft of brains.

“It seems, your excellency, that Mr. Waterhouse accidentally stumbled into our ring of stones and was transported here,” Tor explained.

“Impossible!” cried the leader as others in the cavern followed with the same answer... 'impossible'. “He would have had to activate it with the four frequencies. How would he have known them? You just don't blunder here.”

Then I realized the harmonica I played, which I typically did while thinking, was the culprit. I had unwittingly unlocked the connection with the music I played... some combination of frequencies that unbarred the opening to this world. What song was it? I couldn't remember off hand but there was a good chance that might be how I would get back... repeating those frequencies from within that ring of stone. All stones were harmonic, especially granite, a volcanic rock made up of interlocking quartzite particles that resonated. Ancient people knew this and used it to amplify their capabilities. Were they taught this by space travelers? The rocks standing on end in that circle were granite.

“I didn't say anything about the harmonica and my suspicions just then, or they may have found it ridiculous. Wanting to know more about them, I thought it better just not to play dumb.

I looked around at all the people. They were human-like, but half our size. All ages were there. The children were half the adult size. They seemed fascinated with me and not at all aggressive. Their lives seemed simple. For an advanced race traveling from the stars with the capability of creating portals to other dimensions, it seemed over-simplified.

“Very well, Tor. He is your responsibility. Keep him with you, until we figure what to do,” he informed Tor.

I felt like I was some hurt forest animal, Tor found along the side of a trail, bringing it home to his mother to show. Tor told me to follow him, so up a rickety staircase we climbed, to the first level on the wall. My suspicions were the staircase would fail to hold me. I followed him along the walkway to his domicile. When I entered, I found it to be relatively large with different rooms carved out of the solid stone. Like the cavern, light seemed to emerge from the walls and ceiling giving anyone the ability to read without a problem.

“This is my wife Laniya,” he introduced a plump, little woman with single braided hair, cooking at a stove, unheated by wood or anything else I could discover. It seemed magical. She was very cordial in her welcome to me. There were no children, but they explained they had two they left back on their planet, several thousand years ago! Now I was really interested in these people.

“Are you immortal Tor?” I asked. He laughed at me before he answered.

“Immortal... no! There is only one such being. We live a very long time, and we don't readily procreate, otherwise we'd be overrun with our population. There are more important things of which learning is a big part. We can die from various things... ailments, but we're good at curing things. As long as we can breathe our air, we easily live several thousand years,” he told me.

“You synthesize air from gold... you said something earlier?” I asked, “Can human beings live longer breathing that air?”

“Surely, however, we are forbidden to show your kind how to create the air,” Tor informed me. “it would be a disaster for your planet and the universe, not to speak of inter dimensional space. All parts of the whole affect all parts of the whole.”

We sat in the living room and spoke. When I walked through the door, or just in the room I had to sit, I was too tall. The living room was the largest room in the place. That was a good thing, for it was the only place to accommodate my size. I could sit on the floor and not bump my head. I watched Tor pull his pipe from the shelf next to where he sat. He stuffed what appeared to be some kind of spongy fungus, or moss into it, and lit it. Two or three inhales, and he was giddy, like a child. I realized he was smoking some kind hallucinogenic. He saw me watching him and offered me his pipe. I took it thinking it would look like some doll toy hanging from my lips. It piqued my interest as to what it was, and how it would effect me, if at all, with someone my size.

I sucked absently at the pipe in one intake, burning up the bowl. A single, small spark flew into the air as it was spent. I returned the pipe to its owner, noticing him watching me. Suddenly, my head felt like it was gripped by a circus strongman, in an effort to crack my skull wide open, releasing hundreds of tiny. captive mice wanting to scramble out of their confinement. It was the strangest high I ever felt. It was the strangest feeling I ever felt. Tor, as he watched me, began laughing and slapping his leg, bouncing in his seat erratically. His wife came from the kitchen to see what the noise was about and there were two of her standing in the doorway. I knew not to ask something stupid about her twin because I knew it was the stuff in the pipe causing my perceptual change.

“Tor! You've gotten our guest high. How dare you before diner,” Laniya chastised her husband.

“Oh stop it... it's all in fun. Humans take their selves too seriously,” he told her.

“Tor... you mentioned your leader was the wisest man here, and he could help me get back. Could he by chance help me contact my wife, perhaps through a dream, to let her know I am alright. I know she's probably frantic wondering where I am,” I asked him.

“He isn't the brightest man here. He thinks he is, and we let him believe he is, but the true keeper of wisdom is Stol bet Planem. He is the sorcerer and healer. He is also the oldest of us alive.

“Do you think he can help me?” I asked excitedly.

“Undoubtedly. He can open a window in time and space for you to see her. Then you can enter her mind, sleeping or awake, and communicate with her.

“When can I see him?” I wanted to know.

“Not tonight. Tomorrow, early... we will go to his workshop,” Tor promised.

Dinner was delicious. I was afraid, due to my size, I ate food meant for them. It looked devastatingly awful but was amazingly delicious.

Tor asked me to help move all the furniture in the living room to one end of it after dinner, so I had room to sleep. It was the only place I could. I curled up to warm myself because there weren't blankets large enough to accommodate me. It was a little chilly underground, as we were. It didn't seem to bother the Elsewhits.

I awoke to Tor's wife making breakfast. It appeared it was a big pot of some oatmeal looking concoction. Soon, Tor walked in and wished me 'good morning', and one to his wife. As I watched him lean over her shoulder, to give her a kiss, he grabbed the whole one side of her ass, and squeeze hard. She turned slightly to swat him, and then looked over at me, shaking her head.

“Let me do the talking,” Tor told me as we arrived at Stol bet Planem's workshop, which was a little addition to the back of a small cottage. It wasn't like the cave-like domiciles carved into the sides of the cavern.

It was like a number of other small cottages built on the cavern floor, which were a combination of homes and businesses. I suppose it was because it was the responsibility of the business to be on call always. If you wanted to go into business for yourself here, then you accepted the responsibility of being available to your public... always. Of course, it demanded your customers be considerate, otherwise a complaint could be filed.

“This is Jimmy Waterhouse, an inquiring man, from a distant land, searching for the truth from the great prophet and magician...Stol bet Planeau,” Tor introduced me, a little bombastically.

“Is your request personal?” the seer asked me. 'You tell me,' I thought.

“Yes, it is,” I told him quietly, as if we were going to discuss hemorrhoids.

“Then we should go to the Seeing Pond. I will be able to scry better from there,” he admitted to us.

We arrived at the pond, perhaps one hundred feet across of the clearest water I could imagine, at several feet deep. The creek, running through the middle of the settlement, emptied into the pond, but the pond never seemed to overflow, even without an outlet. I supposed the water went deeper into another cave, where there was another subterranean city, perhaps with other aliens, or perhaps an extinct people. He sat down on the ground right at the edge of the water. We did the same. You couldn't see below the surface of the water because of its reflection.

“What do you wish? What is this personal thing of which you require advice?” the seer asked.

“It's been a couple days since I've been in contact with my wife. I should have returned well before now. I know she's frantic wondering where I am. She probably has the military out looking for me,” I joked.

“Do you by any chance have something of hers?' he asked me. I thought a moment, of the few things I had with me and determined I didn't.

“Don't worry. When I tell you, begin thinking of her in the most memorable setting you can. I'll take it from there,” he advised.

From a small satchel on his hip, hanging around his waist, he took a cloth bag tied off at the top. He opened it and poured a handful of what appeared to be charcoal into his left hand. This he tossed onto the pond where almost at its touch, the water's reflection broke apart in pieces and began reassembling itself into other reflections, moving and titillating.

“Think, as hard as you can of her. Let no other thoughts intrude,” he commanded.

The separate images I saw were indistinct and discombobulated. They were random in their movements and fought desperately for position.

“What am I seeing?” I asked, thinking my vision was a problem.

“Wait until the forms, form,” the seer told me.

Tor and Stol bet Planem, both watched curiously as I did, trying to decipher the images.

“I think we're in the wrong place. The woman here is quite busy in bed with her man,” Stol snickered as Tor appeared self-conscious, having discerned the forms before I did.

“No... you're in the right place. That's my wife,” I told them devastated. I had no idea.

She wasn't out looking for her missing husband or frantically trying to find where I was... she was hammering some Irish cock in our hotel bed. She wasn't even concerned for me somehow just showing up. bet Planem had stopped his giggling and Tor was even more besides himself.

“This is embarrassing,” I commented.

“This is life,” bet Planem countered. “I'm sorry you have been disappointed.”

I watched as she did things with him she never did with me. We've only been in the country a week. How long could she have known him? I thought about it, and readdressed my thoughts of what I wanted from the seer.

“Is it possible to bring a curse on my wife?” I asked, figuring it was a no-brainer coming from the land of Irish curses and hexes.

“Of course. Do you not wish to talk with her first?” he asked me.

“Why? She didn't have the consideration of talking with me before she screwed some guy,” I retorted. I couldn't imagine talking first. What the hell was she going to say that justified what I was still watching in the water.

“As you wish. Do you want to banish her elsewhere from where you are? It's an unrepairable curse. Once uttered, once done,” he said with an air of finality. “You'd never have to worry again about accidentally running into her or hearing from her again.”

“That would be good,” I told him, “yes... perfect! But where?” I asked.

“Boy!” the man screamed to a nearby youth. “Go fetch my case of copper, in the back corner of my workshop.”

The young boy ran off immediately on a mission, to collect the old man's case, which was an honor to be asked. Shortly he returned, not as fast then as when he went on the mission, tugging the case which seemed to have weight. It was made of a beautifully tarnished copper, hammered into shape and showing slightly green edges around the hinges.

As the seer opened the lid to the case, he placed in front of him, he spoke of what was in it.

“There are ten dimensions of which I am one, and of which you are another, the prophet spoke to me. Within this case are ten granite rocks from ten dimensions... each having its own four sacred frequencies. I will let you chose a rock and give you the four frequencies. You give the rock to the person to be banished, and play the frequencies. The sound will transport that person to that dimension... forever,” he explained.

Hmmmm... that's simple enough. I just have to choose a rock then and figure the four notes on my harmonica the seer gives me, I thought.

“Choose wisely,” he said, as he opened the case.

I looked at them. They all looked alike and were about the size of an average fist, their sized fist. I pointed at one and started to take it but the seer indicated a 'no'. He marked it and closed the lid.

“I do not want to play the notes in front of the rock, for fear of being transported to another place,” he explained.

He played them on a strange reed that was thin and very long. There were perhaps 16 holes to sound various notes. I duplicated the four sounds on my harmonica and committed the notes to memory. All I had to do was hand my wife the rock, then play the four notes... the combination to the door.

“What four notes need I play to go home?” I asked the seer.

“You requested frequencies for our dimension. Only Alca a Treevirs can do that as our leader,” Stol bet Plenum reminded those present. “However, you only need the frequencies for your Earth. I can give you them.”

All this time and I was thinking I needed this frequency. I was worried about remembering the notes I accidentally played that got me here. I needed the ones to beckon my destination, to come fetch me in that warp of space. When played, I would be back home. I played the first notes to this place, unknowingly, in their ring of rocks, transporting me here. If I had a piece of one of those rocks in my pocket, I could transport myself here, from anywhere.

I had an Earth rock and I had my notes. The only thing keeping me now, was me.

I said good-bye to all those I had met. They were a kind and hospitable sort, but I believe they were relieved when I announced my departure. I think they feared I would eat all their stores of food.

Tor showed me the way back to the ring of stones where we met. I believe I could have found my way, but I enjoyed Tor's companionship.

“Well, thanks for your help,” I told him, stepping though the perimeter of the erected stones, about at the spot I remember appearing, not that it had anything to do with anything.

I played each note on my harmonica but fowled the third note. I had to do it over. So I did. As in the trip here, there was no indication anything was different. Maybe there wasn't anything different. Perhaps I fowled something else... but Tor no longer stood outside the ring of stone. I walked out to the edge of the woods, where I thought I had previously entered, and looked into the distance, over the field. There was the town, barely visible with the haze, from which I had come. It worked. I had returned.

I planned a straight walk back, and did so as best I could, over the hills between me and the town. I had to adjust along the way for creeks and shrubbery... a house, and a couple of other minor things, but I eventually made it to the town and stood in front of the pub where we were staying, on the second floor. I went in first and back to the kitchen where Mrs. Rafferty worked. When I walked into the room, it appeared she saw a ghost.

“Oh, Jimmy... where have you been?” she yelled looking up at the ceiling, awkwardly. “I didn't even recognize you it's been so long.”

“Eloise, I don't think you'd believe me if I told you. Perhaps in time more conducive,” I suggested and looked at her odd expression." It's alright, Eloise... I know what's been going on since I disappeared. It's only been a few days.”

I walked away quickly and went up the thin little stairway as Eloise tried to say something, but I was on a mission. I might chicken out if I put it off... besides it would surprise her lover and scare him shitless, which is what I intended. I bounced into the room like I owned it, scaring the two lovers. It worked better than a cold shower.

“Jimmy! Where the fuck have you been? We looked everywhere... everyone,” she screamed, holding the bed sheet in front of her, as her lover slipped out of bed, and grabbed his pants.

“Lisa Lou... you sure didn't wait long,” I admonished her.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” she yelled.

“Here, maybe this will explain,” I tricked her, giving her the rock and knowing she would inspect it for a minute before she threw it at me.

Puzzled, she turned the thing over a few times as I began sounding the notes. This confused her more, as she looked at me, like I was crazy, holding the rock. The man looked at me speechless. Then quickly, Lisa Lou was gone.

In that moment she had become non-existent, at least to anyone in the room.

“What the fuck have you done? Where's my wife?” the man shouted.

“Excuse me... that's my wife.” I told him adamantly.

“Used to be mister, until you disappeared twelve years ago. She stayed looking for you, refusing to give up hope. She continuing to live here and then we met a year ago and married last month. What did you do with her? Get her back!

I looked at the calendar on the wall. Lisa Lou always kept one over the nightstand. She'd write what she wore each day, so as not to duplicate things twice in a row. It was twelve years later than when I had left! The portal didn't only bend space, it bent time. Twelve years had passed. I had judged the woman I loved wrongly, condemning her for the wrong reasons. Everything I saw was a mistake. And, it was one I had made.


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