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The Reality Between

by Glory Anna about a month ago in Adventure
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Phase One and Done

There weren’t always dragons in the valley, but then again, it wasn’t every day that a mysterious old man, who wanted to indulge my dumb and lonely ass, asked me to tell him a story. A no holds barred fantasy yarn about how reality would look if there were no rules and I could have anything I wanted. How was I supposed to know that he would make it all come true, or that he was some time-bending wizard with a vendetta?

Now, here I stand at the dark and looming threshold between the realms of imagination and reality. Where memory’s elaboration meets with the future projections and predictions of things so vast and damning they could doom a world. We manifest with the idea of our own abundance in mind, little thinking of the consequences of our own thoughts. Of who they condemn, or what natural laws they betray.

An empty, but threatening limbo amid the transition of night and day, the past, and what lies ahead. Where nothing exists, but everything is possible. I see it all, as it plays before me on repeat. Subtle changes, but the same cataclysmic end. Is it fate or manipulation, the collective consciousness of millions of people focused in on their own contentment? I shudder to think of the individual and what it might take to please them, as it did me. Our pleasures are divided and ever-reaching, so who knows what delusion will conjure up next in the name of personal gratification? I am bearing witness to the evils of a careless wish, watching those I might have claimed once to love, being caught in the brimstone fury of a childish fantasy.

How the dragons swoop and destroy everything in their path. Are these flying lizards even capable of feeling the guilt they so adoringly lay at my feet? Eager to please their “master,” I wonder if they take pride in their work. Do they ravage from a place of good intent? Love? Are we really so different from the beasts we seek to rule, whose lives we take so easily and waste for the sake of it?

Are monsters even real, or do we all start from the same place of wanting to feel better, do better, set right, and be whole? We write our own stories, but it all ends the same and thus the path to hell is paved. No one seeks to cast themselves as the villain, so we confabulate and self deceive. Convince ourselves that the nature of our actions outweighs the fiendish result. Greater good is tossed around a lot, but little good are the actions of the person who wants to play god… of me.

I mean, what was I thinking, calling them here and filling their heads with the need to defend? So desperate for an ear, I vomited my feelings out with no second thought. It was at that very moment, before they ascended into the sky, the realization of my inner victimization hit me. I never knew that was the narrative of my own inner world. Sure, life had seemed cruel and out to get me at times, but I had no clue it was how I justified my own meager example of a life, blaming everyone else for my problems. Everyone but me. Which is worse to see yourself become, the victim or the bad guy?

It doesn’t matter, it’s obvious whose fault it is now.

The heat is intensifying. I can feel its brimstone on my face. Soon I will not have the luxury of being an invisible bystander. Soon it will be my reality too. I still have a chance to save them and thus save myself. At least my name.

Yet still I linger on in the flame's wake. Why do I hesitate to take it back? They say you should never run from your problems, but I have been given the golden opportunity to do just that! A temporal portal, a freakin’ time machine! I was granted a wish, but I messed it up. Why not take it back?

I dreamed of adventure, of living amongst the warlords, the dragons, and wizards of legend. To walk among them as more than just a nameless face, but as a pinnacle of power and popularity! Is this to be vanity’s punishment? Am I to go down in history as the one who erased it all? The one who brought dragons to the great divide. Who merged what was and could be with what is? The ego of man is to see something and think that you can do better, be stronger, and control what, by nature, is chaos. Have I just fallen for the oldest trick in the literal book?

The heat comes burning against my face. I know the opportunity to set this right will soon pass, but I still can’t bring myself to press the trigger. “Stop hesitating!” I hear my scream. “To go forward would mean almost certain death, if not by fire, then by the sentence of the people who will see me as the harbinger of their doom!”

Yet if I go back to being Henora Lee, after all I have seen… back to being the middle-aged volunteer librarian, and part-time barista, who still lives with her parents hoping to read enough books, one day she will be talented enough to write one. Henora, who has never had a serious relationship with anyone. She can’t even get plants to stay alive long enough to pass the time with! She just has to live off of the conversations that go on around her, the people passing through on their ways to life. Even her books don’t provide her with the outlet she seeks. Is it really so bad to want more than you have? To, for once, be what people want to stop for, and not just pass by?

This was her one chance to have an adventure of her own. To humor an old man, and get an antidote out of it. The way he marveled at her, encouraged her by getting more and more into the story she weaved from her own heart’s desire to be pleasing. A freaking lion tamer, but with dragons! That sounds cool! Daenery’s meets Galahad meets Ethel Merman!

“We need you to lead the dragon brigade into battle! To save the day and our people from certain death!” “Won’t you please be the guest of honor at his majesty’s regatta?” “Put on a show!” “Entertain us with!” “Defend our honor by shining your own!”

I guess I got what I wished for, and now they are left running for their lives. If I go back now, I’ll lose the thing that made me notable: death. If I stay here I’ll be remembered, but I will surely die. When does life matter more, when it is lost, or when it is sacrificed? I suppose their screams should be my answer, but I still hesitate to undo it all.

“That’s because you can’t.”

I jump at the presence of another. How is it even possible? I turn and he is there. A man of about… actually, it is impossible to say. He is neither modern nor medieval. In fact, now that I think of it, none of this is.

“That is because it is parallel.” He says, as though he can read my mind. The violation I feel must read across my feature, for he laughs and shakes his head. “No, I can’t read your mind. It’s just always the same. The same dilemma, the same questions.” His eyes move slyly to the corner of his wayward glance, which seems to take me in all at once. “The same answers…”

I shift, crossing my arms as if to protect myself from his x-ray vision.

“Then you have answers?” I say. He seems surprised by it.

“Only the inevitable. I try to make you see reason, you panic more, push the button and boom… another dimension ceases to be.”

“We’ve been here before?”

“Me, yes. You, not in so many words. You see, you are of one another, but not the same. Circumstance shapes, conscious forms, actions and reactions solidify, yadda, yadda… but it always ends the same.”

All at once, he forces me against some invisible pressure to turn away from the valley, from the dragons, and the destruction. It is not in our nature to look away from a tragedy. No matter how squeamish, we still must peek through the blinders and witness the travesty at hand, so it is against my body’s desire that he turns my back to it. I can even sense an all too tangible pressure wanting to keep me facing its wrath. However, I soon came to find something equally distressing: myself. Me as I was. As if nothing had changed or transpired in the twenty-four hours since meeting that old man in the back of the library.

“You remind me of another young lady I once knew.” He says close to my ear. It is what the old man said.

Then it hits me like cold lightning. You’d think I would have read enough by now to know the answer. I was his dupe.

“That’s right.” He says. “Your world hasn’t been plunged into fantasy. You’ve been plunged into another world.”

“But it’s…”

“Uncanny? That’s because it’s parallel. One of the many quantum continuums of things that could be. Meaning you are not standing out of time in some phenomenal portal through time and space. Time is still happening. We are just caught between.”

The old man wanted this to happen, and I was the perfect little idiot through which his plan was delivered. Had he been banished, disposed of, dethroned? What am I even thinking right now?

I look to myself for the answer, yet she is not me. She is another version of the girl that I am, another half. I do not see myself in her as she dusts the books in her charge, looking despondent as though part of some chain-gang’s thankless task.

“What is this?” I speak, though barely audible.

“Fate, bought and paid for by Lavin Deploy.”

I blink, and though I have no reference to whom he speaks of, I have tears in my eyes. Is it for what has happened, what is happening, or who it is happening to? Is it my destiny to fail and be used?

“Why?” I ask.

“Because he cannot stand the idea of being the richest, most powerful man on just one earth, or in just one of the multitudes of dimensions, time, and space. He must be the one and only.”

“So he destroys them?”

“No… you do. You are the only one who can breach the phase. Who is capable of replacing yourself, and existing between.”

“But you,”

He laughs. “Am trapped. Held prisoner in this limbo. This negative space between dimensions, because I refused to do his bidding… and failed. The dimension was destroyed. I just have yet to destroy myself.”

“Those are the only options?”

“‘Fraid so. Win, die, or be damned. This one,” He motions to the me I am not. “Is just the one he drags along to act as placeholder for the next universe on the list.”

Is that why she, I, seem so broken? Where do I belong if I am just a placeholder for destruction? Do I even have a home? An identity? If she is me, then who am I? Maybe this was the reason I had yet to push the trigger, what could supposedly undo the damage. Maybe, somehow, I knew better.

There is no get out of jail free card in the game of life. We must keep forging a path forward, even in the fire's wake. Is it really so bad to act upon your hope? I could take their screams as my answer, sure, but isn’t that what he wants? He has manipulated me this far, convinced me of my helplessness. Was it my true inner dialogue I poured into the dragon’s motives or the old man’s coaxing deception to hear a story he could then twist to his own advantage?

To push this button is to accept the fact that I have no say in my destiny or conscience. That I have resigned myself to the fate of things happening to me instead of because of me. To become what I see reflected beyond.

“I can still save you.” I mouth to the melancholy presence beyond the spectrum of dimension and looming fate, and the fact settles within me that in doing so I shall save myself.


About the author

Glory Anna

Creative doer, curator of the ecclectic, I love anything and everything to do with human nature and the stories our own indavidualistic perspectives create!

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