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Chapter 17 – Trials & Time
I screamed in terror as the nightmare from my past came at me. Just before he hit me, though, he vanished with a ghostly laugh.
“You’re making this too easy, Zachary,” his voice taunted me from the darkness.
“That’s not my name!” I screamed out in fury. Harold’s laugh echoed in the air around me, but it didn’t scare me like it used to. “You’re not real.”
“Are you sure about that, Zach?” The Monster asked as he appeared directly in front of me. I hesitated as his breath felt warm across my cheek. “How do you know that I wasn’t brought here, just like you were? How can you be so sure?”
“You don’t scare me,” I told him confidently. “That’s how I know that you’re not real, Harold.”
“Let’s see if we can change that,” the man said darkly. I gasped when he grabbed me by the throat with one of his large hands and lifted me off of the ground until I was eye level with him. I refused to struggle as he tightened his grip on my throat, even though I could feel my body crying out for the air it was being deprived of. I wouldn’t give in to him, ever again. The man smirked. “Come on, Zachary. Fight me! Struggle! I know you’re nothing more than a terrified little boy! Show me your fear!”
He was right. I was beginning to become terrified as he withheld the life-giving air from my lungs. I wanted to push him away. I wanted to fight him. It would all be pointless, though. Harold Stubbs was clearly larger than me and there was nothing I could do to fight him off. I decided against wasting the strength, and just waited for the man to finish trying to kill me. His eyes flashed with anger before the monster squeezed even tighter. I felt the darkness closing in around the edges of my vision, just before the monster dropped me to the floor with a disgusted chuckle.
“It’s a waste of my time to try to kill you, Zachary,” he said darkly.
“That’s not my name,” I muttered as I slowly stood to face the monster. Harold Stubbs looked at me sharply.
“Are you talking back to me, Zachary?”
“That’s not my name,” I said, louder now that I was gaining more confidence.
“Tell me, then, Zach.” Harold sneered. “What is your name?”
“My name is Zya. . .”
The monster’s hand was suddenly, around my throat, effectively cutting off my words, mid-sentence. My eyes went wide in disbelief as I struggled against his grip.
“You are a nobody, Zyan,” Harold said firmly. “It doesn’t matter what you call yourself! You will never amount to anything.”
Then, Harold vanished, and I fell to the ground, gasping for the air that had been kept from me. I glanced around to see that I was still alone in the darkness. The only sound was my own labored breathing as I rubbed my throat where Harold had clutched onto me.
“Hello?” I asked shakily, nervous as to what was truly waiting in the darkness for me.
“Pathetic,” Harold chuckled from the darkness.
I pushed myself to my feet, feeling the cool oppression of the darkness around me. My heart was racing in my chest as I began to realize just how alone I was, at the moment. Harold wasn’t my fear. Being alone was my biggest fear. Deciding that it was pointless for me to remain where I was, I started walking forward into the darkness. If I was going to face my fears, I was going to have to find the moment where my fear of being alone manifested itself, and firmly squash that memory, forever.
“You’ll never make it,” the monster sneered as the darkness felt like it was pressing down on me. “You were never strong enough to face your fears.”
“Screw you, Harold Stubbs!” I stated defiantly. “I hope you rot in Hell where you belong!”
The words were uncharacteristic for me to say, but it kept me focused on my goal. I would survive the trials. Nothing was going to stand in my way. I didn’t even know why I was going through the crap, something just told me that I had to keep pushing forward.
The darkness seemed to be getting lighter the further I walked through it, helping me relieve some of the tension that I was feeling at being kept in the dark for so long. My heart was still hammering in my chest, waiting for the Monster to come jumping out at me, but he didn’t show. The fact that I was alone wasn’t bothering me anymore, but I still wanted to find the reason why I was afraid of being alone. As I continued to walk, I began to hear a child’s laughter coming from nearby, so I headed towards the haunting sound. There were echoes of screams and cries for help surrounding the laughter, but it was only the child’s happiness that pulled me forward until I was standing inside of a very familiar bedroom.
I glanced around at the room, my vision blurring as tears filled my eyes. It was the room I had shared with Arys for a few days before he vanished from existence. It was this memory that had started me down my path of fear. Even being kidnapped as a toddler wasn’t nearly as scary as the memory that I was getting ready to witness. The two boys that entered the room made my breath catch in my throat as I watched them. They crossed the room, quickly moving to the single twin bed in the room as they spoke in hushed whispers. I didn’t need to know the words that were being exchanged between the two boys. I remembered it perfectly.
Arys was promising me that he would be there with me when school started the next week and that he would never leave my side. He had seemed so happy to have me in his life, and I couldn’t figure out why at the time, but I learned very quickly why he was happy I was there, once he had vanished just a few moments later.
“Arys?” Both boys looked up to see Harold Stubbs standing in the doorway of the room, his lips tight and his eyes full of anger as he stared at the two boys. “Could I have a few words with you?”
“Yes, sir,” Arys had replied dutifully as he slid from the bed and left the room with the man from my nightmares. Arys didn’t even look in my direction as he left, Harold firmly grasping Arys’ shoulder as he pulled the bedroom door closed.
This was the moment that I had been left alone. I took one last look at myself on the bed, the small smile on my face slowly disappearing as my friend had yet to return. I could see the panic beginning to bloom on my younger face as I continued to stare at the door, almost hopeful that it would open and Arys would return but knowing deep inside my heart that he would never be coming back. This was why I was afraid of getting close to anyone. What was the point when all they did was leave me?
The room suddenly shifted, and I found myself standing at the end of an alley as a young brown-haired boy ran towards me in fear. I heard the Monster yelling at Arys as he chased him towards where I was standing. I gasped in horror as Arys stumbled in a pothole, barely staying ahead of the man that had ruined my life. I wanted to reach out for him, to help him, but I knew it was just a vision. There was nothing I could do to help Arys out of his situation.
Arys started trying different doors until the Monster finally caught him and slammed the boy into one of the doors. I was just about to rush forward to help Arys when a blond-haired boy appeared next to me. The boy smiled at me and patted me on my shoulder before he turned to see Harold punch Arys in the stomach.
“Do something!” I pleaded with the boy wearing all white. It didn’t even register to me at first that the boy had wings sprouting from his shoulder blades.
“Be calm, little one,” the boy said, his voice seeming to echo all around me. “This is my task, much like yours is to save your family. Arys will be safe, Zyan, and you will no longer have to fear for him.”
“How can I trust you?” I asked nervously.
“Watch, and learn, Zyan,” the angel stated calmly before he moved towards where Arys was being attacked.
I did exactly as the angel said and watched the events of Arys’ disappearance unfold directly in front of me. Harold punched Arys again, causing the door to break open behind Arys and he fell into the dark garage. I saw Harold reach out to grab at Arys, only for the angel to push his hand out of the way and slam the door shut. Harold started screaming and banging on the garage door until it finally opened a moment later. Harold ran into the garage, still screaming that he was going to kill Arys, but the man came out empty handed. Arys was gone. The angel walked back over to me and smiled at me.
“He’ll be safe, now,” the blond-haired boy told me.
“Do you promise?”
“I do, Zyan,” the boy replied. “You will never have to worry about Arys’ safety, again. Nor will you ever have to worry about being alone again, Zyan.”
“How do you know this?” I asked sharply.
“I know a lot of stuff about you and Arys, Zyan,” the boy replied simply. “Now, if you don’t mind, I need to make sure that Arys made it to the proper universe.”
The angel smiled at me again. “Don’t worry, Zyan. You and Arys will be reunited. Neither of you have ever been complete without the other.”
“What does that mean?”
“You’ll figure it out, soon enough,” he replied. “Good luck, Zyan. I’ll see you soon.”
“Wait!” I managed to call out just before the angel vanished from my sight. The angel giggled and looked at me expectantly. “What’s your name? I mean, how do I find you if I need you?”
“Just close your eyes, Zyan, and ask for Davie,” he informed me. “I’ll be at your side in a moment’s notice.”
“Okay,” I replied.
“Remember, Zyan,” Davie said before he faded away. “You are never alone, so there’s no reason to fear being alone. Even now, your father is holding you and rocking you as you go through your trials. You should hear some of the things he has been saying. It’s taken everything I have, not to break the rules that have been placed on me, just to bring your entire family over to my universe. Now, you have passed the first trial, little one. Good luck on the next.”
“Thanks, Davie,” I whispered as the alley went dark around me.
Then, I opened my eyes to find my father smiling down at me.
“The Trial of Fear has concluded,” he said almost proudly as he pulled me into his arms and hugged me firmly. Davie was right. There was no reason to be afraid of being alone, because I wasn’t alone anymore. I had an entire family that loved me, and they weren’t afraid to show it.
“You have me, too!” A happy voice squeaked from down by my feet. I quickly glanced down to see Wyndel, standing on his hind legs with one of his front feet stretched out to touch my pants leg. His bushy tail was twitching behind him as he gazed up at me expectantly. “If you want me, that is.”
“I can’t do it without you, Wyndel,” I told the chipmunk, before he quickly scampered up my side to my shoulder. He kissed my cheek as he settled in, steadying himself with one paw gripping my ear. “Ready?”
“Yep,” he replied contentedly. “Let’s go!”
I smiled at the chipmunk’s enthusiasm, wondering what the next turn had in store for us.
The air shifted around me, and a fog swirled around my body, effectively smothering my view of the room as the chipmunk climbed up to my shoulder. Wyndel squeaked nervously in my ear as I took a hesitant step forward into the heavy mist.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” I said, more to reassure myself than my friend. “The Trial of Fear is over, Wyndel.”
“What comes next, though?” Wyndel asked curiously.
“It looks like we’re going to find out together,” I told him with a grin.
I was beginning to feel better about my situation. I knew what had caused my fear of being alone, and the only way for me to solve that issue was to find Arys Conner. Not even my family could fill the void that his disappearance had caused.
The fog began to clear around us as Wyndel and I carried on, and I soon found myself standing in the living room of my family’s home. The atmosphere was different than normal, though. My family seemed happy, like they didn’t have a million pressures of the universe bearing down on them. My mother and father were laughing, Sarah was messing around with her fingernails at the coffee table, and I was standing in the window, without a shirt. I stepped closer to myself as the other me turned around, and I saw that there were no scars across my body. I seemed happy, for a change. There was no fear, no lingering self-doubt. It was like I had never even been separated from the people that I loved.
“Come on, Zyan!” I turned to see Kyan entering the room holding a couple of towels. “Let’s go swimming, bro! Casey and the others will all be here, soon.”
“I’ll beat you out there!” The other me crowed happily, before giving Kyan the slip.
I looked over at Wyndel and he motioned towards the direction the twins had gone. I nodded and walked through my house, stepping out onto the back patio just as Kyan and the other me splashed into the pool. Kyan hit the water a second after I did, but I couldn’t believe that I was actually swimming in the pool.
“Something is different here, Wyndel,” I told my companion hanging out on my shoulder. “None of this is making any sense. It’s like. . . It’s like I was never beaten, Wyndel.”
The tiny furry paw resting on my ear, squeezed gently and Wyndel nuzzled his nose against my cheek. His little bit of encouragement was enough to get me to head towards the pool where my other self was just diving into the water, narrowly beating Kyan to the water.
“Is this what my life should have been?”
“No,” Wyndel told me honestly. “It’s not. You’ve lived the life that should have been yours. You needed to experience those moments, unfortunately.”
Suddenly, a tall shadow shimmered into view on the other side of the pool. I could feel the hatred coming from the strange being, and it was enough to make me want to turn and run in the other direction.
“Zyan!” Kyan screamed in terror from the pool.
I watched in horror as the shadow reached out and effortlessly yanked Kyan from the water. The shadow held my brother out over its head before letting out a massive roar as it started pulling Kyan towards its gaping maw.
“Zyan! Help me!” Kyan screamed, making me tremble from the sound of his voice.
The other Zyan jumped out of the pool and started throwing balls of energy out of his hands at the monster, only succeeding in making the horrific creature consume Kyan faster. It clearly wanted to get to its next meal. Kyan’s screams were cut short with a bloody crunch as the shadow closed its jaws on my brother’s head. The other Zyan screamed as the shadow dropped the headless corpse back into the pool.
“You don’t have the heart to defeat me, Chosen One!” The shadow taunted in a haunting voice. “Darkness will rule forever!”
Instead of replying, the other me just screamed in a fiery rage as his entire body was suddenly in sparks of electricity traveling across his body. Then, the energy exploded out of Zyan’s body, but the shadow simply absorbed his power with a mediocre chuckle.
“You have the heart to beat him,” Wyndel told me softly.
“Are you certain?” I asked as the shadow stood over the other Zyan as he gasped for breath.
“This isn’t the future, Zyan,” the chipmunk responded. “Not yours, at least.”
“Oh,” I said calmly. “You’re right. This wasn’t my life.”
The other me fell to his hands and knees, glancing up at the shadow just as it pulled him into its horrible depths. Then, the shadow began to laugh evilly as his entire body swelled with power. Just before his entire form swept over the Earth in a massive wave, the shadow spoke to me in its raspy voice of death.
“We will meet, Chosen One,” it told me darkly. “Our battle will be greater than this one, though. Not even the Heavens know how it will end. You had better be prepared for our meeting, Chosen One, or your Universe will die like this one.”
I gasped as I watched the stars and galaxies slowly get erased from the skies above. The moon turned to dust before the ground around me started to dissolve and the shadows took over everything. Wyndel grasped my ear tightly as the darkness swirled around us.
“Have faith, little one,” I tried to reassure my friend. “We’ll make it out of this alive.”
“Are you sure about that, Zachary?” The familiar voice asked in a haunting tone.
Wyndel was thrown from my shoulder as the Monster slammed into my back, causing me to fall to the ground. Then, he started kicking me over, and over again, screaming at me the entire time.
“You’re worthless, Zachary!” The Monster berated me as he struck me. Each of his kicks knocking the breath from my lungs, leaving me gasping on the floor; helpless to defend myself from the onslaught. Then, he grabbed the back of my shirt and lifted me from the ground. “Nothing but a wasteful piece of shit that deserves to die! I should have killed you a long time ago!”
“No!” I managed to gasp out before he threw me in front of him with a deep chuckle. I hit the floor with a grunt, glancing around to see that I was in the Monster’s house. ‘What the fuck is going on?’
“No?” Harold sneered. “Did you really just tell me ‘no’? Didn’t you learn the last fucking time that you talked back to me Zach?”
I felt my heart sink as he slipped his belt from his waist. He was going to beat me just like he used to do. I tried crawling away from him, but a swift kick into my side sent me sprawling across the floor. I cried out in pain as I slammed into one of the walls in the man’s front room. The man was on me in an instant, only the searing pain of his belt slashing across my back telling me of his sudden presence. I tried to crawl away until another blinding flash of pain froze me in my place. The monster was going to kill me as he continued to beat me with his belt. I was too weak to fight him off. Each strike of his belt slowly drained the life from me until I managed to see Wyndel lying motionless against the wall.
The anger and despair flared in my mind as I saw my newest friend in his condition. It didn’t even matter to me that the Monster was beating me anymore. He had hurt someone I cared about. I would never forgive him for that. It was time to make Harold Stubbs pay for hurting my friend. Suddenly, I felt a click in the back of my mind, and I knew exactly how to handle the man that had tormented me for the past few years of my life. Without even thinking about it, I was standing in front of Harold with his arm firmly grasped in my hand. The man looked at me in surprise, his brown eyes going wide as he tried to pull away from me.
“What the fuck?” He asked in a disturbed tone.
“I have a question for you, Mr. Stubbs,” I said in an even tone.
Harold scowled at me. “Fuck you, Zachary,” he spat venomously. “The only thing I owe you is an ass whooping!”
I couldn’t stop the frown from crossing my lips.
“Wrong answer,” I stated calmly before I started squeezing his forearm. Harold cried out and fought even harder to break away from me, but it was to no avail. “You’re the weaker one, now.”
“I’ll never be weaker than you, piss ant!” Harold sneered before he swung at me with his free arm. I easily caught his other arm and with a swift twist and squeeze, I heard the bones snap with a sharp crack. Harold screamed out in pain as I let go of him and took a step back. His face was red with fury as he held his broken arm. “How did you do that?”
“Fuck you, Harold,” I spat his own words back at him. “The only thing I owe you is an ass whooping.”
Then, I punched him in the stomach, making the man double over in pain. This wasn’t about gloating over my victory, though. It would never be a victory, no matter how you looked at it.
“Now,” I spoke in the same calm tone as before. “If you answer my questions, I won’t break any more of your bones, Mr. Stubbs. As you can tell, the odds are no longer in your favor.”
“Fine.” He grumbled, still hunched over from being struck by me. “What do you want, you little shit?”
“What happened to you after you tried to kill me?” I asked, wanting to get straight to the point. Harold surprised me by grinning slightly.
“A cop busted the door down to my home and shot me,” Harold replied. “It was touch and go, there for a while, but I managed to pull through. I heard that you were lucky to survive, too?”
“I was,” I replied. “No thanks to you, though. Now, next question. What happened to Arys?”
“When you find out, let me know,” Harold said. “One minute he was there, and the next, he was gone.”
“Fine,” I acknowledged. I knew the man well enough to know that he wasn’t lying to me. He didn’t know what had happened to my best friend. “One last thing. How did you get here?”
“I tried to kill myself a few times while I was in prison,” he said with a shrug. “A man asked me to help with an important project. He said that if I succeeded in killing you, he would set me free.”
“From prison?” I asked dubiously.
“No,” Harold told me honestly. “He was going to set me free from life.”
“That’s too easy for you,” I said grimly.
“I wasn’t always a Monster, Zachary.”
“That’s not my name,” I told him sharply.
“If I knew your real name, boy, I would use it.”
“My name is Zyan Montgomery!” I stated proudly. “I am the son of David and Lauren Montgomery!”
“Fine,” Harold sneered. “Zyan it is, then. Still, I wasn’t always the Monster that you and Arys knew me as, Zyan. I used to love my own son and wife until they died. It was a nightmare that I was never able to recover from. My brother tried to get me to come around, but nothing mattered to me. Now, I’m the person you see before you. The man that preys on the weak, purposely breaking them down just so I could feel better about myself.”
“That’s no excuse, Harold.”
“Do you think that I don’t know that, Zyan?” He countered. “Why are you giving me a lecture when I’m just going to die, anyway. If you don’t kill me, then the other prisoners will handle the job for you.”
“I don’t think that you’ll have to worry about them,” I informed him. The man almost looked hopeful for a moment. “You’re not going to like this, though.”
Then, before Harold Stubbs could say another word, I pushed forward with my mind and found the memories he had of his wife and son being taken from him. The memories were festered with darkness and self-loathing as all of the love he ever felt was directed into his loss and suffering. Instead of taking his suffering away from him though, I brought it to the front of his mind. Then, I began playing the memories in a continuous loop that would not stop until the man died, or until I set him free from his punishment.
“Oh, no,” he cried in a piteous tone as he realized what I had done. “No, no, no, no. Anything but this, Zyan! Please, Zyan? Please, don’t do this! Not this!”
“Good luck, Mr. Stubbs,” I said in way of goodbye. “That’s what you get for hurting my friend.”
Then, I turned and ran to check on Wyndel.
“Wyndel?” I asked softly as I knelt next to his tiny body. “Are you okay?”
The chipmunk chittered and squeaked anxiously as I watched it move its feet and toes before sitting up slowly. Wyndel stretched his arms above his head before touching his ribs and back with his tiny paws.
“Well?” I pushed the furry creature for an answer.
“All good!” Wyndel cheeped at me, his whiskers twitching as he quickly jumped onto my arm and ran up to my shoulder. Once he was in place, Wyndel began rubbing his head against my cheek. “You did it, Zyan. You passed the test.”
“What do you mean?”
“You didn’t kill him,” the chipmunk told me plainly. “You’ll be done with all of the tests, soon.”
“Love,” Wyndel told me with a giggle.
“How can Love be a Trial?” I asked curiously.
“You’ll see,” Wyndel said as the room shifted around us.
Four boys stood across from me in a grassy field when the vision finally finished changing. Chad Carter, Arys Conner, Gavin Harris, and Denly Montgomery. Each of them was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and I could instantly feel that it wasn’t really them. They were just look-a-likes. None of the figures moved as I studied each of them from a distance. They were each still as statues and I began to wonder what would happen if I did choose to love one of them. Were they my only options? Would my life forever be limited to the four boys standing across from me, or would I ever get the chance to just live my life like a normal child? Did I ever have a normal childhood?
“No,” I said out loud to Wyndel. “I’m not choosing any of them, Wyndel.”
“Why not?” He asked curiously. “Don’t you love them?”
“Not in the way that they deserve, Wyndel,” I stated pointedly. Then, the figures of the boys each turned to ash, and seemed to fall as the scenery changed, again. Galaxies were swirling around me as the universe itself came alive in the air. “What’s this?” I reached out to touch one of the swirling masses of stars when a dry voice spoke from the darkness.
“Don’t touch, Zyan,” the voice said patiently as if speaking to a small child. “You wouldn’t want to disrupt the flow of time and space, now would you?”
“No,” I replied nervously. I saw Wyndel was about to touch a comet that was slowly cruising between galaxies, so I quickly pulled him down to my chest before he could cause any unintended damage. “We’ll behave, sir.”
“Welcome to the Between Realms, Zyan and Wyndel,” the voice told me. “Otherwise known as, The Realm of the Gods.”
“Are you a God?”
“No,” the voice replied with a dry chuckle. “And I wouldn’t want that life for myself, either. I’m quite happy with my current existence, thank you very much.”
“Who are you?”
“I am not a “Who”, Zyan,” the voice corrected me. “I am the Guardian of Time.”
“Oh,” I replied timidly. “Sorry.”
“Now,” the voice continued, ignoring my apology. “Would you like to know why you are here?”
“It would be nice.”
“I brought you here so that you will have the knowledge to defeat the Faithless when you meet them face-to-face,” the voice said as if it should have been obvious. “You are the only person in all of existence that can heal the rifts in time that were caused by the Trans Warp Disaster, and you must find a way to accomplish your task before the tears in space become more than the Fabric of Time can handle.”
“What happens if I fail?”
“All of existence will vanish.”
“Oh,” I replied as I fought the urge to run. I felt Wyndel clutch the front of my shirt, tightly. “How do I keep that from happening?”
Then, the image blurred around me as all the galaxies and stars twisted until they were in a single-golden line of light that stretched into the abyss. From that single line, millions of other lines exploded out in every direction, and from each of those lines, other lines exploded outwards at various points. The one thing that was similar, was the fact that they all came from one single main line.
“Time,” the voice stated plainly. “Others may call it “The Tree of Life”, but it is Time in its simplest of forms.”
“Why are there so many timelines?” I asked curiously as I stared at the different balls of light that seem to be centered around each axis point. “What caused it to branch off so many times, and why are some of these lines moving back towards the axis points?”
The voice chuckled in the depths of my mind. “This is why I like you, Zyan. You are always full of questions, and they always seem to be the right ones.”
“I’m confused,” I told the voice. “I don’t remember us talking before.”
“We haven’t,” the voice informed me. “Yet at least.”
“Is this a trick?”
“No, there is no trickery involved, Zyan,” the voice said. “Only facts. Now, let me answer some of your questions, but not necessarily in the order that you asked them. First, those balls of light are Events, and each one of those Events are strong enough to create or destroy timelines. Every time a new timeline is formed, the other timelines suffer because of it. This would be easier to show you. . .” Then, the lines all blurred until a single axis point was hovering in front of me. There was nothing but chaos around the brightest point in the entire figure, and lines were shooting out in every direction. “Here we are. Zyan, this is the point in the main timeline that has put you on your quest.” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at his choice of words. “I saw that.”
“Sorry,” I quickly apologized. “It won’t happen, again.”
“You’re twelve, Zyan,” the voice told me pointedly. “You’re expected to act out, once in a while.”
“Did you not pay attention to what happened to me when I acted out?”
“The past was only there to put you on your path,” the voice said calmly. “I understand that it was a dark time for you, but you saw what would have happened if you were never kidnapped.” The image of my other self-jumping into the pool just before a dark figure appeared and slaughtered my family haunted my memory for a moment. “Yes, that. That is exactly what happens if you were never taken. Let me show you,” the voice trailed off until another axis point was in front of me that had two very distinct lines coming from it. One of the lines was curved all around, but it had no other axis points along its length. The other line had thousands of axis points, with thousands of others branching from those. One of the axis points was glowing with a dark light, and there was nothing after that point. “Yes, this is the one. This is The Event where you were kidnapped, Zyan. The single line is where you are taken, and the other line is what happens if you were never kidnapped. Do you notice all of the different events and how the strain seems to just end?”
“That’s where the darkness attacks and kills everyone,” I said, having seen the other event, personally.
“Yes,” the voice told me before the line went back to the other point of light. “Now, this disaster here, is what set everything in motion for many of the timelines that you see before you, including your own timeline.”
“I’m not in the main timeline?”
“No,” the voice replied. “It’s called Alpha Prime, by the way. Just so you know for future reference. Your timeline is one of the ancient lines, though. That means that it’s been here since nearly the beginning of time. Now, with that being said, let’s talk more about this Event. This point was a major explosion that nearly decimated the very existence of Alpha Prime. If that would have happened, then the entire Tree of Life would have died off. Now, look at your timeline. Do you see how it shoots upwards at the Event before going back down and seeming to twist around Alpha Prime?” All I could do was nod as the timeline that was my own lit up. At the axis point, my timeline did shoot upwards and away from the Event, but it wasn’t the only one. There were thousands of timelines that had been interrupted by the explosion. Lines were fading out as they shot away from the moment of the Event and others were acting like my own line as they twisted around each other. “These twists and curves are causing the very Fabric of Time to tear open, which is causing timelines to vanish, completely before it’s their time to go.”
“Should there be so many timelines?” I asked.
“No,” the voice replied. “There should only be three timelines, never more than ten at one given time.”
“That is a rule that hasn’t been followed, very well,” I pointed out.
“It was never meant to be a strict rule, Zyan. Merely, a guideline. If there are too many timelines, the entire existence as I and now you know it, will completely cease to exist.”
“Oh,” I said in disbelief. “What do I have to do?”
“That’s why I chose you for this position, Zyan,” the voice told me proudly. “I knew that you wouldn’t back down from a challenge.”
“Do I really have a choice in the matter?”
“No, not really. Sorry,” the voice apologized. “Now, let’s talk about what you need to do. . .”
“I need to get it back to ten, or less, timelines,” I said without thinking. “The ones that are fading are dying, so it would be pointless to try and fix those, unless I need to fix them in order to get the entire timeline back on track.”
“I think you should focus on the rifts that are forming, first, Zyan,” the voice corrected me. “I have Timekeepers that are working to fix the various fluctuations in the timeline itself. You worry about the fallout from the disaster that I showed you, before Time itself is destroyed.”
“Yes, sir,” I apologized quickly. “Sorry.”
“Now, as I was saying,” the dry voice continued. “Time is fluctuating so much around the main timeline that there are tears beginning to form in all of the timelines. To fix those, you will need to. . .”
I awoke with a start, sitting up quickly in my bed and making my head spin. I struggled against the fogginess that was clouding my mind, writing off everything as a dream until I felt something warm and furry shift against the side of my leg. I lifted the covers to see a small chestnut-brown chipmunk sleeping peacefully against my leg. A slight smile spread across my lips as I vaguely remembered the chipmunk talking to me after I had run from my father. Wyndel was there to console me. Just like he was there during all of the events in my dream. Something in the back of my mind told me that my encounters with Harold Stubbs were far from being over.
“Zyan?” I glanced up to see my father standing in the doorway.
“Hey, dad,” I said softly. He entered the room and sat on the edge of my bed. Wyndel chittered at the disturbance but didn’t wake up. My father chuckled as I dropped the comforter back onto the sleeping chipmunk. “What’s up?”
“How are you feeling?” My father asked as he reached out and patted my knee.
“I’m alright,” I replied with a shrug. “Just confused. One minute, I was with you, and the next thing I knew, I was being attacked by the Monster.”
“Do you know how long it’s been since you met Marano, Zyan?
“It was yesterday,” I told him.
“No,” my father told me. “You’ve been asleep for three days.” I looked at him in disbelief. “It’s true, Zyan. The only reason your mother didn’t spend the entire time worrying, was because your brother’s ability to link with your mind came back.”
“But, I always saw Kyan in my dreams before I met you guys,” I said in confusion.
“That was all your doing, Zyan,” my father replied. “I think he may have even told you that at one point.” I blushed slightly as I remembered the strange dreams and how Kyan had scolded me for interrupting his movie. My father simply pulled me into a hug, making Wyndel chitter in protest. “Be silent, Wyndel,” he told the chipmunk. “You’ll get your cuddles in a minute.”
Wyndel squeaked once but remained silent, otherwise. Something told me that he liked cuddling with my father. He wasn’t the only one.
“You’re coming into your powers now, Zyan,” he continued. “You’re going to have to let me know if anything strange happens around you. . .”
“Strange?” I asked, interrupting my father.
“You’ll see,” he said with a mischievous grin. I frowned at his words, but my father ruffled my hair and hugged me, again. “Now, how about some breakfast? We can talk more once you’re rested up, Zyan.”
“I like food,” I replied with a grin.
“Let’s go, then!” My dad suggested as he picked me up and carried me from my bedroom. I couldn’t help but to smile as I leaned my head against his shoulder.
“I love you, daddy,” I whispered.
“I love you, too, Zyan,” my father replied softly. “Forever and always.”