Sunday, December 8, 2013

WriteTribe.Com Wednesday Prompt---Falling Between Worlds

 (Author's note: Been looking for some prompts and finally found Write Tribe.com. The prompt was: "Imagine you were digging to the ground in the backyard of your new home to create a vegetable patch and  found a treasure chest." Hope this works.)

The man paused to rest and looked out at the new section of his garden he was preparing. He had been working all day engulfed in the labor that allowed him to put his mind on hold and forget about his loss or his new problem. That way he did not think about her or his worthless and possibly dangerous brother that had somehow found a way to his cabin kilometers off the main road. While not hiding the man working the garden wanted solitude and his brother had as usual found a way to mess that up. Making matters worse Cynthia was no longer here to tell him to be nice and once again try to get Roger to straighten out his life.

Feeling the anger rise up the man purposely looked around seeking something to take his ming off a sore subject. It was then that he noticed how the earth from the new section of his garden was a collapsed portion of the small hill about a hundred meters further out. The remaining part of the hill had over the intervening ages kept its shape making it look like a massive, almost godly hand, had taken a huge knife and cut it in half.

“Hey David,” a familiar and highly irritating voice called out from his cabin's small porch. “Where's the coffee, brother?”

The man took a deep breath and exhaled. “Look in the cabinet next the sink Roger.” He yelled back fighting the urge to also tell him that he had one more day then he had to leave.

Feeling anger coming like an onrushing wave David raised his shovel and stabbed the earth. For several minutes he forgot about preparing his garden and just threw dirt around chaotically. Somewhere during this the shovel struck something hard. David's curiosity then took over to the point he eventually uncovered something that was roughly the same shape and size of an old fashioned treasure chest.

Instead of being made of wood bound together with iron braces it seemed a strange combination of stone and metal. After fully removing all the dirty around the chest he discovered what he thought was the top covered in glyphs he assumed was some sort of language, although he had never seen anything like it.

Happily puzzled David assumed it to be a Native American artifact and began thinking of whom to call to report it.

*******

The small room David Shaw found himself confined had all the hallmarks of a jail cell. It was just big enough to contain a cot for sleeping along with a small plastic table with three matching chairs. What separated David's quarters from the average jail cell was the small bathroom connected to his room and a small rectangular window set high on one of the four walls.

Just a couple of hours after his captors had locked him inside the spartan room he used one of the chairs to gain enough height to look out the window and see if he could force it open, or if that failed, break the glass and escape. David quickly found out that not only was the window securely locked but the glass itself was unbreakable. Even more frustrating was that the window looked out at a bleak desert landscape that essentially told him nothing about where his captors had taken him.

Also separating his current situation from what a common criminal might expect was that his captors, while not letting David go free or tell him why he was being held, were making every effort at being friendly and accommodating to his needs. The two guards that shared the duties of keeping an eye on him would stay for what David guessed was about an hour after bringing one of his three daily meals and attempt to carry on a casual conversation. Of course the discussion always drifted to the strange box David told them he had dug up on his property and how when his brother Roger opened the box everything within a thirty meter radius of it, including his cabin, equipment, and his sibling disappeared.

David quickly grew tired of his strange predicament and began ignoring all attempts by the guards to talk. The guards still brought his meals and remained cordial assuring him he was not a prisoner and that he was being held strictly for his own benefit, but they did not change any of their behaviors. For David being obstinate eventually wore thin as well and he began asking for a television or simply something to read just to pass the time. Curiously, this relatively minor request was something the guards had to go discuss with their supervisor.

“We are so sorry Mr. Shaw,” the senior guard said a few hours later, “our supervisor says that at this time she cannot allow you a television or any type of reading material. She apologizes and says that in a few more days you will understand the nature of your situation.”

“Screw that,” David said unable to control his anger, “I know my rights and when this is over I will sue the shit out of you all,” The two guards looked at each other, shrugged slightly, then walked out of the building making sure David did not attempt to escape. The final sound for that day was the click of the door being locked.

As night fell David would lay on the cot trying to figure out what the hell was going on. The possibility that made the most sense that he was being held in protective custody by federal agents because the underworld business associates of his brother Roger had finally grown weary of his failed schemes. Of course, David realized that if they were in fact federal agents they would have long since told him. The next possibility was that it was in fact the mafia keeping him prisoner and using him to draw his brother back out into the open. That theory fell apart because not only was it obvious the people holding him were extremely interested in that damn box he found but that neither the mafia nor anyone in the federal government could make everything close to his cabin disappear as if it was never there. Simple bewilderment eventually forced David to finally doze off with a small part of his mind believing that the real answer was that he had died and was now in a strange version of hell.

True to the word of the senior guard, two days later an attractive woman and an old but very dignified man he had never otherwise encountered since his ordeal began entered his quarters.

“Hello Mr. Shaw,” the woman said taking seat in one of the plastic chairs, “I am Karen Douglas and this is Dr. Wilson Baker. For the benefit of Dr. Baker I'd very much appreciate you telling him about finding the strange box in your garden. If you explain everything that happened we will both then tell you what is going on.”

David looked intently at the woman. She was dressed in a female version of the white button-up shirt, beige sports coat and slacks the two male guards wore as if it was in actuality a type of uniform. “Okay,” he said, “you want the story here it goes. As you already should know I was digging in my garden when I found this damn box. After digging it out I knew I had found something beyond the normal artifacts associated with Native American culture.”

David paused to take several deep breaths because what came now tested his sanity. “As I examined the box I noticed an unusual but simple circular latch was the only thing keeping the lid secure. I was sorely tempted brush away the rest of the dirt and then look inside but I know the regulations on destroying or even disturbing artifacts. So I walked down to my truck to get my cell phone and started making calls. I got the runaround from several different departments but finally got a hold of a Dr. August who runs the Native American Studies department at the University of Oregon. She wanted directions to my place to come and inspect the item. Just then I looked up to see my brother opening the box...”

David again paused, and looked at the two people sitting across from him clearly reluctant to tell what he knew would sound like the ramblings of someone madman.

“Go ahead Mr. Shaw,” the woman named Karen said, “this is important.”

“Okay, well here goes. Right after my brother opened the lid I could tell immediately that something was glowing inside. My brother then looked at me with this huge feral grin, you'd have to know him but that told me he thought whatever was inside would be valuable. All of a sudden the glowing light expanded first engulfing my brother then increasing speed until I was caught. I blacked out and woke up sometime later finding my cabin, garden, all my equipment, and even my truck gone. It was like none of it had ever existed. Your people showed up soon after and carted me off and well, here I am and now you tell me what the hell is going on!”

Dr. Baker looked briefly at Karen Douglas then began to explain what had happened. “Mr. Shaw, I'm sure you understand that what you found was not some run of the mill artifact. It was a device from a lost civilization that only now anyone associated with these items can appreciate the awesome power they control. Simply put Mr. Shaw you're not in Kansas anymore.”

David had no idea what the doctor meant about no longer being in Kansas. It was only after a lecture in quantum mechanics and its many worlds interpretation David even thought he had and idea, and that seemed crazier than what he had already been through.

Three months later...

David Shaw sat on the park bench in Portland, Oregon looking up at the flag made up of thirteen alternating red and white strips with a field of blue in the left had corner containing fifty white stars. Karen Douglas sat next him making sure Shaw didn't do anything completely stupid. “One American country running from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the dream of the Original Revolutionists come true.”

“We call them the Founding Fathers here in this world,” Karen said absentmindedly.

“Sorry,” David said, “in my world there are thirty-three independent countries occupying the same area of North America. The idea of not worrying about another Virginia-Ohio war over Kentucky, the antics of the latest Texas dictator, or that damn Georgia Mafia my brother became involved with is hard to wrap my head around. Plus, it will be hard to think of myself as a United States citizen and instead of one from the Pacific Northwest Federation.”

“Well,” Karen said, “ don't think for a second the United States is utopia. Keeping it going has always been damn hard and we've come close a couple of times of the whole show falling apart.”

“What I can't figure out,” David began again “is why my world's George Washington actively discouraged a continental union after winning the American Revolution. His behavior runs counter to everything I have learned about yours. And then there is the question of what happened to my brother.”

“Hate to tell you this,” Karen said, “but from what we have learned the closer to the device when it activates the greater the time line differentiation. We had a civilized Neanderthal pop into existence in the middle of New York city once. Now that poor guy really fell through the looking glass.”

David Shaw started to ask another question but Karen raised her right hand up to silence him while the left one gently touched the small communications device handing from her left ear. “Understood,” she said, “Shaw's target is approaching.”

David started to get up but Karen stopped him. “Listen David, I'm easily breaking a dozen regulations, common sense, and probably some sort of cosmically ordain rule about fate. If she blows you off you will come back to me or I swear I will drop you like a rabid dog.”

David nodded and got up and started walking along the park's main path. Even after being transported to a parallel world seeing her again seemed beyond a miracle. David had chills run down his spine the second he realized the woman approaching him looked just like his Cynthia. He forced himself to remember what Karen said about how that was no guarantee she would be anything like his late wife.

Just to help David adjust to his new life here Karen had checked to see if his late wife had a counterpart in this world. Not only did she exist but was single and lived in the exact counterpart of a house they shared in his world. It made no sense, but nothing about these situations ever did, so she decided to arrange a meeting between the two.

Karen sat on the park bench causally watching David and this world's Cynthia. She had two undercover guys a few meters away ready to tackle David if things went south. But amazingly it didn't, there was some sort of undeniable chemistry between the two. A few minutes later they are strolling towards a Luckybucks coffee house clearly enjoying each others company. “Well shit,” Karen said over the team's radio network, “screw this, guys let's go get something to drink.”

4 comments:

Rose L said...

Interesting short story. I wondered where his brother ended up at.

Akelamalu said...

If I find a box in my garden I'm definitely NOT opening it! LOL

Pixel Peeper said...

Love it...a mysterious box, parallel universes, and a bit of romance!

I'm with Rose - it would be fun to get his brother's point of view of the same story (maybe write another chapter?)

Beach Bum said...

Rose: Since being closer to the unknown device sends a person into weirder realms I picture the brother dropping in on intelligent dinosaurs.

Akelamalu: Yeah, the concept for this story does tend to dampen any ideas about mysterious objects.

Pixel: This story actually went off the rails a little. I didn't intend to make it as long as it turned out. I might come back to it again in the future.