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Journey, part 4: Meetings
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Date: 05/12/02 08:05
Game Type: Other
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I can tell the future.
No, really.
Don’t believe me?

Actually, I can’t see the whole future. I can only see my future. I didn’t see Archduke Ferdinand die, or predict the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or foretell the fall of the World Trade Center, because those did not have anything directly to do with me.

But this story does.

Why am I telling you this?

So that the future can be changed.

That being said, let us continue our journey.

When he awoke, the ground was shaking.
It was slight at first, enough to wake him but not enough to register in his drowsy mind. Then it increased in amplitude, until the amplitude was enough to shake the bed. He bolted upright.
For the first time he noticed his surroundings. A pretty, well-lit room with pretty furniture, a window far to the side and a nice hardwood floor that was shaking... There was a window in one corner, and that shook too. It rattled. The ground rumbled with ever-increasing intensity. And worse— it was tilting. Swiftly.
A swiftly tilting planet. It rung a bell.
Some primal instinct awoke in him, and he jumped out of bed toward the window. But before he took a step, the hardwood floor— that nicely varnished hardwood floor— broke. In two. In front of him. In front of his feet, where he was just about to step, was a yawning gorge. The ground rumbled, and he almost fell forward into it. The lights shook.
He prepared to jump across— the crack was about a foot wide now— but stopped himself when he realized he forgot something. That pin. The one that said RICHARD BANON.
He turned back. It was on the dresser behind him— except now it wasn't. Where did it go?
A golden glint caught his eye. The pin! On the ground, shaking and sliding toward the growing gorge in the floor!
He dove for it, his hand outstretched. His hand connected, but his fingers slipped, and Instead of grabbing the pin, he pushed it away. It slid sideways into the gorge and fell instantly out of sight.
There was little time. He got up, quickly but carefully, and leaped across the crack in the floor. It was about three feet wide now, and he could see through the gorge a floor below him. It looked like a kitchen. Then past that— blackness. That terrible darkness, that black tear of earth that was a portal into nothing, and the pin had fallen down there. But he had not.
The window unhinged itself and fell forward onto the floor. As he landed, his shoe shattered the glass.
He looked out the empty window frame, then down. He drew his head back. The lights flashed and leaped, the ground heaved, and he could hear over the ferocious rumble the cracks and crashes of things, once precious, now being broken. He considered the window frame for an instant. It led outside, and all he could see was a clear, cloudless blue sky.
He jumped through.

* * *

Greg got up. His head was pounding and his jaw was sore. He was feeling light-headed— unconsciousness did that to one’s head— and he was definitely not in his bedroom. He looked around. He was in a clearing of dirt, and there was wheat on every side, walling him in. And standing above him was Gerard. He took one look at him and then promptly screamed. He then caught his breath and screamed some more. He turned and ran out of the clearing and into the wheat field.
Gerard went after him. He swore, because was going to get his suit dirty...

* * *

Barnes and the Magician flew through space in their little ship. Behind them was red Mars, and ahead of them was the poisoned planet, surprisingly vibrant and blue-green. They would get there soon. Very soon.

* * *

Greg ran like he had never run before. He ran until he was out of the wheat field and on the freeway, and then he stopped.
He stood next to the median barrier and stared down the horizon. There was wheat to his either side. The crops on the side of the road, the lines and lanes of the freeway, the median barrier; they all converged at the vanishing point. Beyond the vanishing point was blue sky.
To his left, Gerard came running out of the wheat, brushing grains and fiber off his suit.
Greg screamed again and ran into the wheat field on his right.
Gerard swore and prepared to follow— but the next instant he heard Greg scream again and ran back out of the wheat, hopped over the median barrier and ran into the field on the other side.
A man with overalls and a double-barreled rifle came running out after him. Gerard felt like scratching his head, but he resisted the urge.
“Get back here!”
He fired a shot into the air and ran after Greg.
Gerard swore, and and ran after them both. He thought to himself that before the day was over, he should get another suit.

* * *

Miles above, the magician’s technician Barnes said aloud that they were slowing down for atmospheric entry.
The Magician pointed at Barnes’ console. Something on the console.
“Land there.”
Barnes tapped the view screen where the Magician pointed— then gasped.
“Our sensors— they sense no life.”
“But look at this.”
Then the Magician gasped, too.
“Human life!”

* * *

They came back to the clearing. Greg was curled up in the fetal position inside Gerard’s tiny car, while the guy in overalls tried to get in, jiggling the latches and banging the windows, yelling various threats and swear words.
“Open this damn car or I’ll shoot the windows out! And your insurance can suck my pretty cock!”
The stranger continued this for some time, then he became aware that he was getting nowhere. He raised the rifle and aimed at the windows. Gerard decided this would be a good time to speak up.
“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you.”
The man turned ponderously around and peered at Gerard with his ugly face. He was chewing on a stalk of grass.
“Yeah, who the hell’r you?”
“My name is Gerard, and I suggest you drop the gun.”
“This— boy— ruined my wheat!”
“I ruined your wheat, good man. Now, drop the gun.”
“Yeah, bitch?” He fired a shot into the air. It didn’t echo.
Gerard extended his hand, and to the stranger’s great surprise, the gun eagerly leaped into it. He calmly folded the rifle into a bowtie, then untied it and handed it back to Jon. Then he advanced on the man. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
The man trembled, his eyes wide. He made some funny moaning sounds and croaked out, “uh...— ah—... Jon.”
Gerard leaned forward, resting his hands on the car, pinning Jon against it.
“Well, Mister Jon, I’m sorry you had to get involved in this. If you would walk back to your house, your life will return to normal.”
A shadow fell over them, and the wind kicked up.
“Oops,” Gerard said, “too late. Well, I guess you’ll have to come along.”
“Come along where?” Greg said. He had gotten out of the car, and he was visibly shaking.
“You see that?” He pointed upward.
Jon dropped the gun. “It’s a bloody UFO!”
Directly above them was a small spacecraft, not too far above their heads, about 30 yards long and 10 wide, painted blue. It hung there for a moment, eclipsing the sun. Then it floated over a few yards away, and slowly drifted to the ground. The wind whooshed again, and the stalks of wheat waved. It landed in the crops with a crunch.
Jon fainted. He fell backwards with a thud.
Greg trembled violently. The air was suddenly gusty cold, but Gerard suspected that wasn’t the reason.

* * *

A hatch opened in the side of the ship, and the Magician stepped out. He took a deep breath. Barnes watched from outside, eyes wide and breath held.
“Air seems perfectly fine to me,” said the Magician.
“Sir,” gasped Barnes, trying not to breathe, “there are three— life forms— and a powerful conduit scarcely 20 yards to the northeast.”

* * *

The stalks parted, and a man stepped into the clearing. Tall. Flowing blue— purple? lavender?— robes. Long hair, but no moustache or beard. His unpainted face was dark and vaguely Semitic, and it showed an astonished expression.
Gerard spoke. “Hello, sir. Are you a magician?”
He opened his mouth. “My name...” The voice was not deep, but it was powerful and commanding. It suggested authority— it was the voice of a man who commanded power. “Wait... You speak English.” Taken aback.
Gerard laughed. “This whole planet speaks English. Surely you’d have found that out by now?”
“My name,” the Magician said, though his voice no longer held the command it once did, “is Haman, and I must ask you why you are here and how you knew this place. How you knew we would come here.”
“Are you a Magician?” asked Gerard.
“Yes. I am a Magician.”

* * *

“Excuse me, can you tell me who I am?”
The other man shook his head and moved away quickly.
He sighed— that happened a lot— and walked along the sidewalk to a woman with a baby carriage.
“Excuse me, can you tell me who I am?”
She yammered something in a mostly foreign language— he caught the word “no”— and moved away.
He then moved to a man in uniform. “Excuse me, can you tell me who I am?”
To his relief, the man in uniform responded.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “my English is no good.”
He walked away, wondering what an English was and why that man’s had to be good.
He started to walk across the street but was stopped by a tap on the shoulder. He turned around.
“Excuse me,” the tall man said, “I have noticed that you would like to find out who you are.” Something caught his eye— the tall man had blue lines painted across his face, two on either cheek in a zig-zag lightning bolt pattern, and two more across his forehead. Were they glowing, or was it a trick of the light?
The tall man in robes faced the shorter man who was once called Banon. He nodded.
“Come with me, and I will show you.”

The journey continues May 19, 2002.

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