Saturday, August 12, 2017

When Worlds Collide - Chapter Twelve

Ky sat on the edge of the bunk in his cell. A week… He had been a captive for seven full days. He knew because the phone Riley gave him, the second day, had a calendar app. He turned the phone over and over in his hand. If only he could call Gaulop and tell them he was alright. A prisoner, but alright.

His friend would have looked for him. Gunter was a good boss. He would have given Gaulop time off to see if he could find Ky. The Satyr probably started by checking the hostel and found out he hadn’t been there for days. His next stop would be to speak to their other friends. When he found no leads there, he would drop by Cody’s food cart and Red’s pub to see if they had seen him. When he came up empty handed over and over for days they all would assume the worse. There were a lot of things that could get you killed, or kill you, in The Realms. Gaulop would be sad, but it was a fact. He might even venture through the gate into Nayenezghani’s world, but as soon as he heard Jak’s pack howl, the Satyr would galloped back home.


Home… Ky doubted he would ever see it again. Over the last few days the questions had dwindled regarding The Realms. He was forthcoming, but restricted his answers to Nayenezghani’s area so it didn’t sound very interesting. Just another wilderness. When Nat asked him about the gate and the Shedu who passed him, Ky said he thought that Nat’s technology was what created the gate. That the only other gate he knew of was from one area of Nayenezghani’s world to another over the Pipe Stone Mountains. He had no idea where the Shedu came from.

Ky knew Nat tinkered with the adjustments on the goggles from snippets of conversations he heard between Nat, Riley and the General, but it seemed the only access they found to The Realms was into Nayenezghani’s land. Ky was thankful for that. The land was big and the natives, both human and animal, could hide from the intruders if they entered again.

The last couple of days the questions about where he came from had almost stopped and the new focus seemed to be what he could shift into. They tested him in a limited way. Although the collar controlled him, it also kept him from shifting into anything other than a humanoid form of his current size. Because of what he told them on the first day about being able to morph into a ferret, and when they saw him as a wolf, they were anxious to see more. However, they were leery of taking off the collar. They asked him what was the largest thing he could turn into. At the time, he thought he could intimidate them. He told them his dragon-self was over fourteen feet tall and almost three times as long. In retrospect, he probably should have kept his mouth shut. He figured he would never see his dragon-self again based on the surprised look on their faces.

His phone vibrated in his hand and a text message popped up from Riley; ‘Headed down. Be there soon.’ That was something Ky had learned. They were in an underground facility. That was why there were no windows.

Another text followed; ‘Put on your traveling clothes. We’re going out today.’ It was followed by one of those things Riley called an emoji – a happy face.

Ky stared at the tiny screen. Out? Were they actually going to take him up to the surface, wherever that was, and out in the sun? His heart skipped a beat and his breath caught in his throat. He hadn’t realized how much he missed the outdoors. His inner wolf was literally doing the happy dance.

*****

Ky’s head was swimming from the sensory overload. They brought him up to the surface in something they called an elevator. It seemed to almost separate his stomach from his body.

“It’s okay,” Riley said, as he placed a steadying hand on Ky's shoulder. “That sinking feeling in your stomach will pass in a minute.”

“It’s like when I dive as a dragon,” Ky admitted without thinking before he opened his big mouth. Geez, it was just getting too easy to talk to Riley. He was the only one there that ever seemed to make any since, and though he held the device to activate his control collar, he had never used it.

Nat gave him that same questioning look as when he mentioned a dragon the first time. The two guards, who were normally stone-faced, looked at him as if he were insane.

When the doors of the elevator slid open, they were in a huge open space with row after row of cars. Ky knew what the cars were because Riley showed him something he called a YouTube video with what he considered ‘really spectacular’ crashes.

“We’re not going in those, are we?” he asked.

“Sure,” Riley said, and took his arm to guide him toward a large black one.

Ky dug in his heels.

The K-9 officer felt the pull and stopped. “What? Tell me…” He let his hand fall from Ky’s bicep. The kid was always full of questions. He asked more of them than the Professor got answers, which frustrated the scientist no end and tickled Riley, though he never let on.

“The thing you showed me…” Ky faltered as his mouth went dry. He saw in his minds-eye the people on the screen screaming and the car flipping end over and over down the cliff. No escape. The roof caving in. The doors flying off. Blood.

Riley was racking his brain. What had he shown Ky that would… Damn. The action film he chose for them to watch together as part of the bonding process. In retrospect, not a good choice of something to introduce him to the outside world.

“It’s okay,” Riley soothed. “The film I showed you was made up. A story out of the imaginations of some action junkies who think car crashes are entertaining. Which they are,” Riley said with a grin. He loved action flicks. “But, normally, cars just ride along safely and mostly, slowly in wall-to-wall traffic.”

Ky cocked his head at Riley, a physical reaction the K-9 officer had gotten used to over the past week.

“Really,” Riley assured his charge, “it’s safe. We’ll buckle up to make sure.”

Ky nodded and followed the man he had begun to trust as he led the way to the car, flanked by the two other officers. They got in and true to his word, Riley placed a strap across his lap and shoulder, explaining that it would keep him safe if they should have any incident, which he assured him they would not.

*****

The land moved slowly by as their car wove its way through the city’s traffic. Through the tinted glass Ky could see buildings larger than anything he had ever seen in The Realms. Riley sat on one side of him and the Professor on the other. The Professor was quiet as he worked on his laptop, only taking fugitive glances at Ky. But Riley pointed out certain buildings as they passed, a city park and several pieces of what he called, public art.

Hordes of people packed the streets, and other cars, vans, trucks and buses, wove in and out on the road. Riley pointed them all out and gave them names for Ky.

“Hey, look, there’s a Bug,” Riley said with a grin on his face. “There’re not many of those around anymore.”

Ky didn’t see any bugs. He strained his eyes. “Where?”

“There… the red one.”

Ky realized he was pointing at another car and not a real bug. It dawned on him that it did have the shape of a beetle. He smiled as his mind pulled it all together. This was a very odd world indeed.

A car behind them let out a noise and several others followed suite. Ky jumped at the onslaught and Riley reached out a steadying hand.

“It’s okay. Nothing to worry about. Just an impatient driver.” Riley tapped their driver on the shoulder. “Jeff, can you honk our horn?”

The driver placed his hand on the center of the wheel and pushed. A loud noise blared out.

“See, we have one too. In fact, we have sirens, but we don’t want to use those. It scares people.” The corner of Jeff’s mouth curved up silently with Riley’s statement. “We only use those in an emergency.”

Ky settled back and listened. There was so much noise: people’s voices, horns honking, machinery running, tires squealing, the wind whipping awnings and snapping flags. So much more than anything in The Realms.

The city fell behind as they reached a wide highway with less traffic. Their car picked up speed. To Ky, it felt like when he flew low as a dragon or some other winged creature. It was smooth like gliding and he longed to feel the air across his skin.

As they drover further away, the traffic thinned and houses began to hedge their way up to the edge of the road. After some time, the car diverted onto a much thinner side road where eventually they came to a huge, open area. There was an overpowering acidic smell from the black substance that covered the ground when they opened the door. Even so, Ky turned his face up to the sun and basked in it. It was so good to be above ground.

Riley nodded toward the collar switch in his hand, reminding Ky he was in control. He and Nat led him toward something that looked like a huge metal bug with rotating wings.


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