The In-Between: Chapter 1
David wasn’t sleeping well. For the past week, he had been tossing and turning through the night, causing his girlfriend, Claire undo stress as well. He couldn’t pinpoint what the problem was. He had been on a diet for the past month and stopped eating two hours before bed. He stopped staying up watching TV when he started his diet since being well-rested helped in losing weight, or so they had told him at the doctor’s office and the nutritionist’s. It was true he was on the obese end of the Body Mass Index scale. He had sleep apnea causing him to stop breathing several times a minute for several seconds and he had to utilize a CPAP machine to help force air through his nostrils to keep breathing while asleep. But he had sleep apnea for years, nothing changed there. He didn’t smoke and drank on the occasional occasion. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t sleeping well.
Claire finally had enough when her sleep had been interrupted all through the night. She made a doctor’s appointment for him, hoping they could find out why he was tossing and turning or prescribe a sleeping pill or something to ease his condition.
Reluctantly, David arrived at the doctor’s office. Kim, the receptionist greeted him by name. He checked in and took a seat in the waiting area. There were two others in the waiting area, sitting apart from one another. A gentleman in his later seventies needed a cane to walk and wearing a nice dark blue suit. The man’s shoes were highly shined and he was well groomed. He wore glasses and appeared to be wearing dentures. The other person was a woman in her mid to late forties. As he waited, he couldn’t help but notice that the woman kept looking at the man and then at him. When Nurse Jennifer came out to collect the man, the woman shifted her gaze to David. It was causing him more than a little discomfort but he said nothing. It wasn’t until the man returned half an hour later, did the woman shift her gaze. Nurse Jennifer said goodbye to the man and watched as he started for the door.
“David, I’ll take you back in a moment. The doctor is finishing up with another patient,” she told David.
“No hurry,” David responded as he watched the woman stand up and follow the man out the door.
The woman stopped for a moment to look back at David with a bewildering look on her face, as if to say something but turned and left the office. David could only shake his head concerning the incident as the door closed. He had never been stared at in the manner the woman stared at him.
“David, the doctor is ready,” Nurse Jennifer called to David, drawing him out of his thoughts concerning the woman.
Nurse Jennifer took his weight, pulse, oxygen level, and blood pressure before the doctor arrived. Nurse Jennifer left a few moments before the doctor entered the room.
“So, Claire says you haven’t been sleeping very well lately. Tossing and turning through the night?” Doctor Davis asked.
“Yes, ma’am. I don’t know what the issue is. Stress at work hasn’t been that bad, outside the normal with delivery deadlines but it’s been relatively easy. I started my diet like you suggested last month. I went to see the nutritionist and I have a list of food I shouldn’t eat. I stopped watching TV in bed and go to sleep by 9 p.m. every night. Sure, my routine has changed but that was over a month ago,” David explained.
“Are you having any other issues? Physical? What about stress outside of work?” Doctor Davis asked.
“None really, just headaches every morning like normal but more lately. Bills are paid up for a couple of months thanks to overtime. Our vacation is coming up but it was paid for last year. Claire and I are great. I haven’t drunk in three months. Claire and I started walking in the evenings after dinner. Other than that, I can’t think of anything else that could be the problem,” David told the doctor.
“How are you coping with Mary’s passing?” Doctor Davis said, mentioning his later wife.
“I’ve come to terms with it. It’s been seven years. If it weren’t for Claire, I’m not sure how I would have fared.
“It’s good that you and Claire connected but do you think maybe dating your late wife’s sister could be the source of some of the reason you are unable to sleep?” Doctor Davis asked.
“Not really. We just started dating eight months ago. I guess it took me a while to realize how similar but different Mary and Claire were.”
“Well, all your tests and blood work came back ok. As you already know, you are overweight but if you stick to your diet, you’ll lose weight. Your blood pressure and pulse are good,” Doctor Davis said. “Would you be ok if I prescribed a sleeping pill for a week? Just to see if it helps with the tossing and turning.”
“Whatever it takes to get a good night’s sleep and helps me stop waking Claire,” David replied.
“I want to see you back in the office in a week,” Doctor Davis said. “I’ll send the prescription to your pharmacy and you should be able to pick it up later today.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
The doctor left the room and David followed. Doctor Davis stopped by the reception desk to inform Kim to make an appointment for a week out. David thanked the doctor as Kim handed him an appointment slip.
“See you in a week,” the doctor said as she walked off.
David said his goodbyes before heading out of the office into the hallway of the office building. The hallway was emptied but David had an odd feeling of being watched. He exited the building by the rear entrance which rarely got used. Once outside, David headed for his truck only to spies the woman standing next to a parked car. He hit the button on his fob to unlock his truck which alerted the woman to his presence.
“Hello. Can I speak to you for a moment?” the woman called as she started walking towards David’s truck.
“Sure. What can I help you with?” David asked, a feeling of unease coming over him.
“It may be nothing but I couldn’t help but notice that you’re not right,” the woman began.
“Not right? What are you saying? Are you calling me mentally off or something?” David took offense to her statement.
“No. Not at all. I’m sorry, I put it the wrong way. What I meant was that you seem as if you don’t fit in here,” the woman tried to explain.
“I don’t fit in here? Are you saying that I shouldn’t be going to the doctor because I’m in the wrong area? Where should I go to be seen by a doctor?” David’s anger was rising.
“You’re not understanding and I’m not explaining myself clearly,” the woman tried to explain.
“Please clarify yourself then,” David demanded.
“Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard of shifting between dimensions?” She asked.
“Shifting between dimensions?”
“Yes. A dimensional shift occurs sometimes and a person can find themselves in a dimension that isn’t their own. They become unstuck from their dimension. Let me guess, you’ve been experiencing trouble sleeping. Odd headaches. Experiencing vision issues, your vision becomes hazy for no apparent reason. Feel that you don’t belong here. Seeing people or things that seem familiar but you can’t place why.” The woman said.
“Who are you? How do you know these things” David asked the woman.
“I have a secret to tell you,” The woman said, looking around before continuing. “I’m just like you. I’m not from this dimension, I’m unstuck from my reality as well. People can slip between dimensions. That’s what has happened to us.”
“Lady, you’re crazy or something. Maybe you should get back on your meds,” David said as he started to get into his truck.
The woman reached out and touched David on the forearm causing David to recoil.
“Listen. I don’t know what drug you are on or if this is a weird way that you’re coming onto me, but really, I’m not interested,” David said.
It was at that moment that David realized what she looked like. He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t noticed the woman’s appearance before but all of a sudden, he became aware of what she was wearing and her total appearance. She looked as if she were dressed to go to a party or out to a special event. She was wearing a red evening gown that reached to mid-calf with a slit nearly to her waist on her left hip. The back was open. It had a plunging neckline that showed off her ample bosom and continued almost to her navel. Her long brown hair was done in a French braid and reached just past her shoulder blades. She was wearing three-inch red high-heel shoes which gave her a stature of five feet, ten inches. She was wearing a gold locket on a gold chain around her neck that was centered deep in her cleavage. He couldn’t believe that he had missed the way she was dressed and her overall appearance.
“Wow. Why are you all dressed up? Miss your party or fancy get-together?” David asked.
“Listen, we can help each other,” the woman said.
“Lady, I’m not interested. Please leave me alone,” David said getting into his truck.
David started his truck and the woman stepped back. He pulled out of the parking space and watched the woman in his rearview mirror get smaller and smaller until he turned out of the parking lot onto the main road. Just as he lost sight of her, an eerie feeling of Déjà vu came over him.
That evening, David lay in bed still unable to fall asleep. He had picked up the prescription Doctor Davis had ordered. He had taken one tablet at 9 p.m. but it had no effect on him so by 11 p.m. he took another. Claire lay murmuring in her sleep next to him. He thought about waking her up for a little nighttime exercise but he knew that she hadn’t been sleeping too well with his sleep issue. He closed his eyes in hopes sleep would come but didn’t. He decided that we would take a hot shower and two more sleeping pills and hoped it would put him out.
As David tried to get out of bed, he found he couldn’t move. He tried to open his eyes but couldn’t. He tried to speak but he couldn’t make a sound. He felt his chest rising and falling as he breathed. He thought maybe he was dreaming but he felt the cool air from the AC unit and the ceiling fan. Then he felt an overpowering feeling of falling take hold of him. When he realized that he was falling, all he could do was pull his legs together, bend his knees, and hope he didn’t break anything.
The park was crowded with people today. The sun shone brightly in the sky. The trees, bushes, and grass were well groomed. People were sitting on the benches provided. Some were walking around, admiring the park in general. Few took notice as a shimmering distortion appeared five feet above an area where no people were standing or walking.
David felt air beneath his feet as he fell through the shimmering portal. He landed with knees bent and feet together, as he was taught in Army Airborne School so many years ago. As his feet made contact with the ground, he tucked his chin to his chest and rolled to absorb the impact with the ground. As soon as he stopped moving, he was up in a crouching position. David noticed numerous shimmering portals appearing and disappearing throughout the park. As soon as someone appeared, the portal vanished. The newcomers all look bewildered and confused, much as he was. Then they seemed to focus on something in the distance before setting off in that direction.
“Where am I?” David asked no one in particular. “Where is Claire?”
“Fancy meeting you here,” a familiar voice came from behind David.
David turned to see the woman from the doctor’s office and the parking lot walking up to him. She was still dressed in the red evening gown as before. He stood up from his crouching position but took up a defensive posture just in case he was attacked.
“Where am I?” David asked the woman.
“I think it’s called the In-Between. I’ve been here before. Numerous times actually.,” the woman told him.
“Who are you?” David asked.
“You can call me Camilla. I think if we head towards the Mall, we can get some answers. But we can’t enter the Mall, it’s where the demons lie in wait for unsuspecting victims,” Camilla said.
“How do you know that?” David questioned her.
“As I said, I’ve been here numerous times. Each time, I’ve gone to the Mall, and every time a demon has attacked me. They take me to another portal, similar to the ones opening up here in the park. They throw me into the portal and I end up in another dimension,” Camilla said.
“Why would they do they? If you’re back on earth in any dimension would be better than here, right?”
“No. Every person has a true dimension, a quantum signature that coincides with the dimension they are from. Enter the wrong dimension and chaos is created. Out of the chaos, energy is created that the demons feed upon. In some dimensions, my presence didn’t cause much chaos but in others, my presence caused extinction-level chaos. The demons are ruled over by what they call the Darkness. Demons can feed upon any amount of chaos no matter how slight. But the Darkness must have massive amounts of chaos energy to survive,” Camilla explained.
“How many times did you say you’ve been here?”
“Too many to remember. I’m just trying to get home. Do you remember the old man at the doctor’s office? I was drawn to him. He is a dimensional shifter, which means he shifts from dimension to dimension, forever unstuck from his reality. He is also a Knowledge Keeper. When someone is unstuck in the dimension he is in, they are drawn to him. Knowledge Keepers bestow what knowledge they have gained while dimension shifting to those that are unstuck. He told me the reason I’ve been unable to find my home is that I’ve only gone to the Mall.”
“Where the demons grab you and the process starts all over again, I suspect,” David said.
“Exactly. The one thing I haven’t tried and he pointed me in that direction was the Doorway. The Doorway is near the entrance to the Mall but is set in a wall that stands all by itself. Many of these people in the park here are agents of the Darkness, set here to lead the newcomers astray,” Camilla explained.
“The more chaos, the more energy to feed upon,” David deduced.
“You’re getting the picture. One or two that take the Doorway isn’t much for the Darkness to care, but if everyone went through the Doorway, the Darkness would lose its power over all dimensions.”
“You got all that in the short time you were with the old man?” David asked.
“Knowledge Keepers can impart a great amount of knowledge in a short period. That’s their gift. Many whom dimension shift are gifted in some way or another. That’s where stories of ESP, pyrotechnics, clairvoyance, and other psi powers come from.”
“So, the Knowledge Keepers are telepathic?” David asked.
“Yes, you’re catching on,” Claire praised him. “So, shall we head to the Doorway?”
“After you,” David said, having an odd feeling Camilla had his good health in mind.
“By all means. By the way, have you been told lately, that you’re handsome?” Camilla asked as she started towards the Mall and the Doorway.
As David followed after Camilla, a shimmering portal opened up, unobserved by most. An elderly man in his late seventies fell through the portal to the ground and lay unmoving. When others in the park saw, they rushed to see if the man was all right or not. Several people came running, telling the growing crowd to move back. One woman knelt by the old man.
“He’s dead. Alert the Administrator that we have another one,” the woman said as she picked up a cane that rested on the ground next to the man. “Inform him that this one was a Knowledge Keeper.”
About the Creator
Prior Service, saw the Berlin Wall dismantled and the aftermath of the Gulf War/ Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. He has drawn upon his unique views of life and science fiction to bring together an alternate reality of excitement.