That word kept echoing in my mind as the white mask image faded from my mind. There was a blight light that seemed to engulf everything around me. The darkness around me faded from view and was replaced by this light. The weightlessness remained and I wasn’t able to determine what was up and what was down. Was I floating? Was I falling? I had no idea.
But that word.
I held onto it like I had been holding on to the Bookmark. I held on to it like it was a newborn baby. I held on to it like it was a destination. I held on to it like it was the password to my Facebook page. I held on to it like it was a survival skill. I held on to this word. This feeling.
I opened my eyes and once again found myself lying on the ground. I don’t know what it is about traveling to different dimensions that always left me on the ground.
I sat up and I recognized where I was immediately. I sat before a large bush, dying on one side. Behind me where large, oak trees with branches that expanded far above the street. The semi-circle driveway made of gravel before me and the white farmhouse to the left of me.
“I’m home,” I said as I pulled myself to my feet.
I looked down at myself with a sudden realization that the last thing I remembered was running with a sword towards a large, green dragon before being invalidated by its poison breath. And now I was here I guess.
I thought for a moment thinking hard. There seemed to be something missing, but I couldn’t think of it. Maybe it was just a strange feeling. Like you wake up from a dream and you’re like, “Oh right, that was a dream. I didn’t just fail my math test because I wasn’t wearing pants to school.”
I looked down and I was wearing the clothes I was wearing all day. Regular red shirt and khaki pants because I’m a white guy and its summertime.
I tried to focus but I was so happy to be home. I don’t know how I got here or what all that other stuff was about, but it didn’t matter. There were no giant robots or rival Pokémon or Green Dragons. Just my house.
I walked up to the house and opened the door. I looked around and everything looked like it had been all day.
“Hello!” I called out as I took off my shoes by the front door.
No one seemed to be home which made sense since there was no cars in the driveway.
What time was it anyway?
I reached for my phone in my pocket, but my left pocket seemed to be empty. I reached into my right pocket. No phone either. But there was something else.
I pulled it out of my pocket.
It was a large, black feather. It almost glistened under the lights in my house.
“What is this?” I asked myself.
I turned it over and didn’t notice anything special. Just a regular black feather. So strange.
I entered the kitchen area and made a quick stop in the restroom. It was so nice to be in a place that was familiar to me. I no longer had to worry about running into dangers around every corner.
I washed my hands, dried them, and then stepped out of the bathroom.
There standing in the kitchen was a young, black haired girl I had never seen before.
“Oh hey. I didn’t – ” She looked up from her phone and saw me standing there.
“Who are you?” I asked weirded out by this girl in my house and unsure what to do.
The girl turned around and grabbed a large knife from a knife block. She turned and pointed the knife at me.
“What are you doing in my house?” She asked.
I held my hands up. “Woah lady. Calm down. I don’t know who you are, but this is my house.”
She looked really confused and frightened at the same time. “I don’t know what kind of drugs you are on. But you need to leave before I call the cops. We don’t have any money or valuables. Ok?”
She stepped closer holding the knife.
I took as step back closer to the front door of the house.
“Just calm down. I think there’s been some kind of mistake. This is my parents’ house. I live here. I think you are confused. Maybe we can put the knife down and talk about this,” I said.
“I’m going to call the police right now,” She said still pointing the knife at me.
“Look lady, I don’t know who you are, but you are the one who is in my house,” I tried to protest.
She took a step closer with the knife.
“Ok I’ll leave,” I said.
I continued to back up and she stayed there holding the knife. She glanced down at her phone and then me and then her phone and then me.
I backed up slowly as she pressed the phone to her to her ear.
“Yes. This is an emergency. There is a strange man in my house. He is claiming he lives here,” The young woman said.
At this point I turned around and ran out of the house. I jumped off the front porch and just kept on running. I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn’t the criminal here, but she was so adamant. She thought she lived in this house. I could sense the conviction in her voice. Plus she was bringing police here. What else could I do? Maybe I wasn’t thinking straight, but I just ran. I ran down the road as far as I could before I had to take a breath.
That’s when I looked down to see my socks were soaked with mud and dirt. I had forgotten to put on my shoes. I had no cell phone. I had no wallet on me or any form of identification. I knew my driver’s license would have my address on it, but that was up in my room.
No this is absurd. This woman broke into my house, grabbed a knife, and threatened me. I was in the right here.
I walked up to one of the neighboring houses and knocked on the door. This 6 year old boy answered the door.
“Ummm…hello is your Mom or Dad around?” I asked.
He stared at me with large eyes and shook his head yes.
“Can you go get them for me?” I asked.
Again he nodded yes and then shut the door. There was a small commotion from inside and then the door opened again.
A woman answered the phone holding a baby in her arms. She kind of peeked around the door.
“Hello? Can I help you?” She asked.
“Yeah I just need a second,” I said.
“I’m not interested in religion, politics, or anything your selling,” She said and began to shut the door.
“No. No. It’s not like that! I just need to borrow your cell phone,” I said.
She stopped and began opening the door again.
“You just need to use a phone?” She asked.
“Yeah I there was a burglar in my house and I had to get out. Put I left my cellphone in my room when I ran,” I said.
“You live around here?”
“Yeah I just live about 10 or so houses down,” I said.
“Here. Make it quick,” She said handing me her cell phone.
“Thank you so much,” I said.
The woman stood there watching me call the cops. I dialed 911 and pressed the phone to my ear.
“9-1-1. What’s your emergency?” The 911 Operator asked.
“Hello, yes. My name is Allen and I was almost attacked in my own home. A young woman came in and threatened me with a large kitchen knife,” I explained.
“Ok sir, are you injured?”
“No. I made it out without any harm. Then I ran to a neighbor’s house and called you.”
“So this only happened a moment ago?” They asked.
“Correct. Maybe 2 minutes ago,” I said.
“Ok hold tight, sir. There is a police unit in the area. They will be on the scene shortly. Can you tell me your address?”
I looked to the woman in the doorway. She told the operator.
“Is there someone else with you?” The Operator asked.
“Yes, that’s the neighbor. I borrowed her phone,” I explained.
“Ok hang on, Sir. There should be someone coming to you, soon. Do you need me to stay on the phone with you?”
“No. That’s ok. Thank you.”
I hung up the phone and handed it back to the woman in the doorway.
“Thank you,” I said.
“Yeah no problem,” She said. “Do you want to come in?”
“Yeah sure. Thank you,” I said.
She let me inside and I sat down on the couch in her living room. The television was on and there was some kind of cartoon playing on it. The 6 year old sat on the floor staring at the television.
“Can I get you something to drink?” The Woman asked.
“No, that’s ok. Thank you,” I said.
The child waved at me, “Hi.”
“Hi,” I said in my ‘Talking to Children’ voice.
It was only a few minutes before there was a knocking on the door.
“Police,” The voice said.
The woman went to the door and there was some kind of discussion.
“Come here, Tyler,” The Woman said.
The kid begrudgingly got up from his spot on the floor and went over to the door with his mother. I turned and there was the woman and the children were no longer in the doorway. Instead standing there was a policeman. He had one hand out at me while the other was on in his gun in the holster.
“Sir, I need you to put your hands in the air where I can see them,” The Officer said.
I held my hands up.
“What is going on?” I asked.
“Sir, just do what I say and there won’t be any trouble, ok?” The Officer said. “Now stand up slowly. Keep your hands in the air and continue facing the television set.
I got off the couch as slowly as I could and I did not drop my hands.
“Ok sir now onto your knees. Slowly. Keep your hands up,” The Officer said.
I followed his orders.
“Do not move.”
He came over and patted me down from the waist up. He checked my pockets. He then pulled out a pair of handcuffs and cuffed my hands behind my back.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney,” He said as he began reading me my Miranda Rights.
“What is going on?” I asked.
I put in the back of the police cruiser and we began our trip to the police station. I was so confused. This had to be because that girl called the police. They think I’m some kind of criminal. She was wrong. She is the one who broke into my house and held me by knifepoint.
I went through the process of booking and getting fingerprinted. I told them my name and then they led me to a holding cell. I sat in the small room in a very uncomfortable chair. I tapped my fingers on the small desk in front of me. The lights above me flickered above me.
It seemed like hours before anyone came in. A police officer sat down at the table across from me.
“So who are you?” He asked me.
I told him who I was.
“Look we ran your fingerprints and we couldn’t find you. You weren’t in our system. No phone number. No address. No birth certificate or social security number. So who are you?”
I was shocked.
“What are you talking about? I told you who I am. I gave you all that information,” I said.
“The phone number you gave us belonged to woman living in a different state. The address you gave us was conveniently the home that you were breaking into today,” The officer said.
“I didn’t break into anywhere. I live there,” I said.
“Sir, the home you broke into belongs to a nice family. You’re not one of them. Although the last name was the same. So I guess you did some research before robbing that house and claiming that you live there,” He said.
“I do live there! That is my home,” I yelled.
The Officer gave me a stare.
“Here’s the deal. They’ve dropped the charges against you as long as you don’t go back there and bother them anymore. We will have someone monitoring that area, so if you go back there, we will know. Now we don’t know what to do with you because you don’t have any kind of identity.”
“You’re letting me go?” I asked.
He gave a sigh. “Yeah I guess we are. But we know who you are now. At least enough to identify you. So don’t go towards that house or you’re going to be facing a lot of trouble, ok?”
“Yes sir,” I said.
He gave me a nod, “Wait here. I’ll be right back and then you can go.”
The Officer got up and left the room. I was there another half an hour by myself until he came back and placed a pair of shoes in front of me.
“I believe these are yours,” He said.
“Thanks,” I said.
I put on my shoes and was let out of the room. I walked down a small hallway and out the front door. The door shut behind me and I was standing there alone. The sun was just beginning to set and there were a variety of oranges, reds, and purples dotting the sky. Despite the setting sun, it was still hot and humid. I should have felt hot, but I felt the opposite. I felt cold. I felt lonely. I felt empty.
I was so close to home. I thought I was here. But this wasn’t it. It just looked like my world but it was different. It was different. I was in another world just like being in the military fortress, or Ilex Forest, or Raven’s Crest. Just another world that was not my own. This wasn’t home.
I reached into my pocket and there was the raven’s feather. I held it in my hands. I turned it over and sighed.
“What now?” I asked myself.
I had nowhere to go. I didn’t have a home. I didn’t have a goal. I didn’t have anyone nearby for help. I was truly alone in a world that mirrored my own.
I held out the feather with both hands.
“What now,” I sighed.
I grabbed the sides of my temple as the feather fell to the ground spinning.
A woman’s voice that was so familiar.
Follow the feather.
The pain subsided as I looked down. The feather fluttered in the wind and fell a few feet to my right. I looked around.
“Hello?” I asked.
I looked about me looking for the source of the voice. But I was the only one in the parking lot.
I looked back the feather and it had fluttered a little more.
I walked over to pick it up but the breeze blew it a few more feet away.
“Oh come on,” I said.
I took a few steps forward and the feather blew a few more feet. I stepped forward and the feather fluttered right ahead of me. I started to run after the feather and a strong breeze lifted it into the air. It fluttered just out of reach and continued to be carried by the wind. I stopped moving and the feather fell to the ground about five feet in front of me.
I sighed. “Fine. I’ll follow this dumb feather.”
I walked for about two hours. The feather floated in front of me just out of my reach. It kept up pace with me no matter how fast or slow I moved. The cars driving by didn’t seem to affect its ability to stay up in the air and didn’t knock it off course. I was walking along the highway as the feather directed me out of the town and towards the country. I recognized the roads we were walking because I had drove them over a hundred times.
When the feather took a left I knew exactly where it was taking me.
“No, we can’t go back there,” I said as I stood in place.
The feather fell to the ground. This was the street that I grew up on. My house just laid a few blocks down from here.
“You don’t understand. I will be arrested. I’ll be thrown in jail,” I yelled at the feather.
There was no response as the inanimate feather just laid there silent.
“No I’m not going that way! I’m not getting arrested, again!”
It still laid there moving a little because of the breeze.
I stomped away from it and turned around. It still laid there, not moving.
I ran towards it and it fluttered into the air and fell a few feet closer to the house. I stopped running. I took a step forward and again the feather seemed to flutter for a little bit.
I hung my head and let out a sigh.
This day was getting on my nerves.
“You better know what you’re doing because if I end up in jail again, I will have no way of getting home and I burn you,” I said.
The feather didn’t seemed afraid of my threat, but I’m pretty sure my message got across. I continued to walk down the street being a little more careful as I walked. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself especially if there were still police officers driving by.
Eventually the feather led me to my house. Or the mirror universe’s version of my house. There were a few lights on upstairs, but for the most part the house seemed quiet. I had no idea what time it was, but I assumed my parents were asleep.
“Not my parents,” I reminded myself.
The feather fluttered in front of me and then a wind gust emerged and blew the feather further. It spun for a little bit and then landed on the roof next to the upstairs window.
“I’m not going up there,” I whispered to the feather.
I couldn’t see if but I don’t think it responded or moved.
I put my face in my hands and then pulled on my hair.
“This is going to end badly,” I whispered to myself.
I crouched down and walked up to the front porch trying to be as stealthy and quiet as I could. I was nowhere close to being a ninja, but no one seemed to notice me approach. I noticed headlights of a car and I dropped to the ground. The lights passed by and then it was dark again. I don’t know if that was a cop car, but I wasn’t taking any chances.
I took a deep breath and then looked up. There was a poll holding up the roof over the porch and I thought that would be the best way to get to the upstairs window. There wasn’t a tree large enough or close enough, so this was my only option.
I can’t believe I’m listening to a stupid feather I thought as I started to climb. I don’t have the most upper body strength, but after a while I was able to climb the 8 foot poll and I pulled myself onto the roof. There I saw the feather. It almost waved at me and I glared at it. I tried to be as quiet as possible as I crawled up to the window.
I peered inside. The light was still on and I could see the black-haired girl from before. She sat at a desk typing away on her computer. She had headphones in and I could hear the J-Pop or K-Pop she was playing. Either way it was in a language I didn’t understand and it was very loud. I doubted she could hear me.
“Now what feather?” I whispered.
It remained laying there and within arm’s length. I picked it up and it didn’t seem to move.
“What? All out of ideas?” I asked it.
It shook a bit and seemed to escape my grip. It flew in the room slipping between the window and the window sill and it floated over to the desk. It hovered for a second and then fell onto her computer.
I let out an audible gasp and I got out of the view of the window. I pressed myself to the outside of the farmhouse.
“Huh, where did you come from?” I heard her ask.
There was a tapping on the glass as I saw the feather striking the glass over and over again.
I waved my hands in front of my face to convey my displeasure with what the feather was doing, but it kept striking the window.
“Woah, this thing has a mind of its own,” She said as I heard her stand up from her seat.
I pressed myself against the side of the house and closed my eyes as I hoped for the best.
“Is there someone out there?” She asked but I wasn’t sure if she was talking to herself, the feather, or the person out on the roof, AKA me.
She opened the window a bit and the feather flew through the gap. It hovered in the air and it rocked back in forth in my direction like it was pointing.
“What is it?” She asked.
She turned her head and saw me sitting there.
“Oh no, not you again!” She said and pulled her head through the window.
“Hold on,” I said.
I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had to act fast. I opened the window the rest of the way and climbed inside to her bedroom. The feather followed me and continued to hang in the air.
The girl grabbed her phone and the feather swept in. It struck her hand and she dropped her phone instinctively.
I heard the woman’s voice again and I clutched my temple. The girl did the same. We both just stood there staring at one another.
“You…you heard that?” She asked.
“Yeah I did. And I thought I was the only crazy one here,” I said.
“You are,” She said as her expression hardened.
The girl looked back towards her phone on the ground. The feather floated down and landed on the phone, almost like it was guarding it from the girl.
“Well I followed the feather here if that makes you feel better,” I said.
The girl looked up at me, “It doesn’t.”
“Look I know this looks really bad and you’re not happy I’m here, ok? I didn’t want to come back either, but that voice. That woman. She instructed me to find you. And yeah the feather thing,” I said.
The girl just looked at me and crossed her arms.
“My name is Allen. What is yours?” I asked.
Her eyes narrowed and then looked down at the feather and then back to me.
“My name is Alexis,” She said.
“Nice to meet you Alexis,” I said.
“You better explain to me what’s going on or I’m going to scream and my parents will find out about you,” Alexis said.
“Ok fair enough,” I said. “I’m going to try to explain but I know it’s going to sound crazy.”
I tried to explain the best I could while also rushing through everything. I told her about waking up in the forest, the fairy tale army interested in me, R and his robot army. Then I told her about waking up in the Johto Region and fighting R there and how Red/May had shown up. Then I told her about the world of Dungeons and Dragons and Gelliant’s Marsh and the Green Dragon. I told her that the Green Dragon’s Breath was the last thing I remembered before waking up in the yard with the woman’s voice ringing in my head and the feather in my pocket.
Alexis listened to the entire thing and she seemed intrigued. Her expressions changed from confusion to disbelief to amusement to anger and back to confusion and many other expression in between.
“So you’ve been jumping around to these different places and fighting this R over and over again. Then you get sent to a new one when you fail to defeat him. And you thought you were home because in your world, this is your home,” Alexis summarized.
“Yeah basically,” I said.
“And you expect me to believe any of that when to me it just seems like you’re some crazy person who is obsessed with me or this home for some reason,” Alexis said.
“Yes,” I said.
Alexis ran her fingers through her hair and took a deep breath.
“Even if I do believe you and your strange travels, I don’t understand how I fit into all of this,” Alexis said.
“Yeah that I’m not too sure about either,” I said. “But in each world I go to, I find allies of sorts. Red and Robin. Gold and May. Joxin and Ella. Do you have any male friends around?”
Her eyes narrowed again.
“No I don’t. I’m not involving my friends in this craziness,” Alexis said.
“Fair enough,” I said.
“So this R fellow. You said that he is in every world you travel to, right? Do you know where he is in this world?” She asked.
“No I don’t,” I said. “Usually he just shows up. I don’t really understand how this looping thing works or if it’s even the same anymore. Before I just teleported between worlds using the Bookmark. This last time, I died. The dragon breath killed me and I lost the Bookmark.”
Alexis motioned towards the feather, “What about this?”
“Well I guess it is possible that the feather became the Bookmark, but it’s never been semi-sentient before,” I said.
“First time for everything I guess,” Alexis said.
I sighed and cupped my face again.
Alexis reached down for her phone and the feather seemed to flutter there on high alert.
“I’m not going to call the police, I just want my phone back, ok?” She said. “Oh god. I’m talking to a feather.”
“You get used to it,” I said.
The feather moved and landed in my hands. I put it back in my pocket.
Alexis picked up her phone and put in her pocket.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what were you writing over there?” I asked.
“Oh. It’s a blog post for my blog. Actually about you today,” She admitted.
“Wow. I feel special. Did you use a clickbaity title like ‘I almost died today’?”
I looked over her shoulder trying to read it. Alexis went over and shut her laptop.
“None of your business,” She said.
“Sure,” I said. “Didn’t mean to pry.”
“Look we’re not going to be able to do anything tonight, so just crawl out the window and I can contact you tomorrow,” She said.
“I…ummm…don’t really have anywhere to go, to be honest. Apparently I don’t exist in this world so no family members or friends from my world would recognize me here. Also I don’t have a phone or money or anything really,” I said.
Alexis sighed. “Fine. You can stay here. My Sister’s room is right across the hall from here. She’s staying over a friend’s house for the weekend, so it’s empty. You can sleep there. Just don’t mess with anything. And if you’re actually a serial killer or a murderer, I will kill you before you can kill me. Got it?”
“Of course,” I said. “Thank you.”
“No problem, now be quiet and go over there. I need to finish this for tomorrow morning,” She said.
I nodded and left her room. I quietly closed her door and went across the hall. I quietly opened that door and slipped inside closing the door behind me. I turned on a lamp and looked around. It reminded me of my younger brother’s room. Except it was his room if he was a girl.
I laid down in bed and it wasn’t very long before I had fallen asleep.
I woke up and it took me a second to remember what had happened. The bedroom was a strange mix of familiar and foreign and it helped me transition from ‘this feels familiar’ to ‘oh right, mirror dimension.’
There was a soft knock on the door.
“Allen,” Alexis whispered.
“I’m up, yeah Alexis, I’m here,” I said in a half-groggy state.
“Dang, I hoped it was a bad dream,” She said. “On the plus side my blog is up and doing really well. Tons of comments and likes.”
“Well that’s great,” I said rubbing my eyes.
“I’m going to go jump in the shower. Parents aren’t home, so feel free to come out and hang out. But don’t touch any of my stuff,” She said.
I then heard footsteps down the stairs and I knew she was gone.
It took me a second to get out of bed. I reached into my pocket. The feather was still there. I pulled it out. It was still a large, black feather. It looked the same.
“Is this the Bookmark?” I asked out loud.
I was hoping for a response, but I did not get one.
There was another knock on the door.
“Hey Allen. I forgot, there are some old stuff of my Dad’s in the laundry room. They might fit you. I don’t know. Ok now I’m jumping in the shower,” Alexis said.
“Thanks Alexis,” I said.
I opened my door and she was already downstairs. I walked downstairs and straight to the laundry room. There in a box were some old clothes. I did manage to find some stuff he probably wore in high school. I found a pair of jeans that fit me with a belt and a vintage, flash t-shirt. I changed socks since my other ones were still soaked from yesterday. I made sure to put the feather in my pocket.
Alexis took about an hour to get ready. I sat down in the living room and turned on the television. Mostly everything was the same, but they had Cable and I didn’t. As my father would say, “100 channels and still nothing on TV.”
Alexis eventually came down from downstairs. She was wearing a black, polka dotted sundress and had her laptop bag over one shoulder. In that moment I realized that she kind of reminded me of a younger, more hip version of my Mom.
“You ready?” Alexis asked.
“Yeah I guess. Where are we going?” I asked.
“Well I figured we had to get out of the house, just in case anyone came home and found you here. So we’re going to the park,” Alexis said.
Her eyes narrowed. “You have any better ideas?”
“I…I…just. What’s at the park?”
“A little bit of sunshine. Some ducks we could feed. That kind of stuff,” She said.
“Are you poking fun at me, because I don’t really get it,” I said.
“Look you don’t know how to get home, right? Well I don’t know either. But when I am struggling to think of the answer to a problem or I get writer’s block, I just go to the park. Put in my headphones and relax. Usually something comes to me. I thought it might work for you,” Alexis said.
“I…I guess that might work,” I said.
“Come on, let’s go,” Alexis said.
With that we were on our way to the park. Alexis drove her car and I laid down in the back seat. She was insistent that she didn’t want anyone to see us together as we drove, because it would be impossible to explain to the cops what was going on without painting me in a bad light. I agreed and laid down in the back.
It was only a 20 minute drive until we pulled into the park. It was pretty busy. Kids ran about and played on the playground equipment or ran around through the sprinklers.
I got out of the car and stretched for a moment.
“Well this is nice,” I said.
“Yeah it’s a really nice place,” Alexis said. “Come on, I’m starving and there’s a really great Taco place around here.”
We walked through the park and there on the northern edge sat a little Mexican Restaurant called El Taco Verde.
“The Green Taco?” I said.
“Yeah I’m not sure why they have that name, but on St. Patrick’s Day they serve Tacos with green shells. They’re not really that great, but at least they are trying,” Alexis said.
We walked in and were greeted by a big, burly Mexican Man.
“Hola Alexis, how is my favorite customer?” He asked.
“I’m dong wonderful, Señior Pancho,” Alexis said with a large smile.
“Oh and who is this? Your novio?” Señior Pancho asked.
“No, he is not my boyfriend. He is just a friend who is from out of town. So I’m showing him the best Mexican Restaurant in the United States,” Alexis said.
“Gracias Alexis! Muchos Gracias! So the usual today?”
“Make it two orders of the usual, to go,” Alexis said
“Sí. Sí. Of course. Of course!”
It took a few minutes before Señor Pancho handed us a bag. Alexis paid and the owner made fun of me in Spanish. I only understood half of it. (Thanks High School Spanish!)
We then left and found a nice little spot next to the pond. We sat at a picnic table.
“Here. Three soft tacos, extra queso and extra taco meat,” Alexis said.
“You have good taste in Mexican food,” I said with a smile.
“Of course I do,” Alexis returned the smile.
We sat there eating our tacos and just taking in the scenery. Alexis pulled out her laptop and started playing music. It was relaxing music without lyrics. The type of stuff I usually listen to before going to bed or stuff I used as background noise as I studied for final exams.
It was nice and not too overpowering.
“So any ideas come to you yet?” Alexis asked as she finished her third taco.
“Not really,” I said still working on my second taco. “Usually things just seem to happen. One of the other characters furthers the plot.”
“Well don’t look at me. I’m not just a character in a book or something,” Alexis said.
“Yeah I know that. I’m just not sure what to do. I don’t know enough about all of this to figure it out,” I said.
“You’ve traveled around to like four different dimensions and you don’t know how to use the power to get yourself home?” Alexis asked.
“Look it’s not that easy. I just know that the Bookmark has something to do with it,” I said.
“Well that’s a start. Pull out the feather,” Alexis said.
“I’m not actually sure that the feather is the bookmark,” I said.
“Just pull out the stupid feather.”
I pulled out the black feather and noticed that it was glowing. It was covered in markings that glowed blue.
“Woah. Does it usually do that?” Alexis asked.
“Yeah sometimes it does, but I’m not sure what it means,” I said. “Again this whole thing is still a new thing to me.”
“Right,” Alexis said.
The feather began vibrating in my hands. It became blurry like the forest did and then in a flash of blue light it was a sword. The same sword that I had when I was in the Dungeons and Dragons world.
“Woah! Does it always do that?” Alexis asked.
Before I could respond, it shook again and there was another blue flash. The sword became the original Bookmark. Then another flash and it was the Scepter I carried around in the Pokémon world. Another flash and it was back to the feather.
“What is going on with it?” Alexis asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “It doesn’t usually do this. Usually it’s just one thing.”
It shook again and with a blue flash of light it turned back into the sword. I dropped it and it fell onto the picnic table. The sword vibrated against the table sounding like a cell phone buzzing, but it remained a sword.
“Allen, look!” Alexis pointed behind me.
In the distance I could see El Taco Verde. And above it was…A Green Dragon. I couldn’t believe it. There was the same Green Dragon that I had battled at Raven’s Crest.
“No way,” I said. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
The Dragon let out a roar and then unleashed a blast of its green, acid spray on the restaurant and the surrounding area. People ran by us crying and screaming. Some were children while others were adults carrying children or just adults running. There was a man pushing another man in a wheelchair.
Alexis stood there paralyzed.
“What are we going to do?” She asked.
“I…I don’t know. I can’t fight a dragon. I couldn’t defeat it when I had a magical Paladin helping me out. I definitely can’t defeat it now,” I said.
The Dragon let out another roar and unleashed another cloud of acid spray.
I lifted the sword the best I could and it continued to vibrate in my hand. Then up above I noticed something strange going on. There seemed to be some kind of rip in the sky or hole or something. Huge tears started to emerge that looked like portals and then strange blobs started pouring out of them.
“What are those?” Alexis asked pointing out at the blobs.
They looked like floating, alien jellyfish.
“Those are Nihilego. They are the Ultra Beasts you fight in Pokémon Sun and Moon,” I said.
“Didn’t you say that R had one of them when you met him in that Pokémon forest?” Alexis asked.
“Yes, yes I did,” I said.
The sword vibrated and blue light flashed. It was now a scepter in my hands and a little bit easier to carry. Then flash it was the heavier, longsword. Flash. It was the Scepter again.
“It can’t decide what it wants to be,” I said.
“Come on, we need to get out of here,” Alexis said grabbing on to me arm and pulling me towards the parking lot.
The Bookmark flashed and it was a black feather again.
I ran with Alexis towards the parking lot. There were already people trying to start their cars and get away. Unfortunately there at the entrance of the parking lot sat at 12-foot robot. This one was just like the one I saw in the forest with Red and had a large heart painted on its chest. It was busy using its laser cannon to destroy cars in a flash of blue flames.
“Well we can’t go that way,” I said.
“Come on,” Alexis grabbed my arm and pulled me between two burning cars.
As we ran the robot noticed our presence and unleashed a torrent of flames in our direction. The flames soared over us and caught a nearby tree on fire. The Bookmark shook once again and became the plain Bookmark. I carried with both hands as I ran. I heard another dragon roar in the background.
Alexis and I ran through some underbrush as we escaped the park. I got cuts and scrapes all over me arms and legs, but it didn’t matter. We kept on running determined to survive.
We emerged from the other side of the brush to a busy street. Cars were stopped at stoplights as two police cars passed by followed by a Firetruck. My initial reaction was hide from the cop cars as they drove by, but I figured they had bigger matters to attend to. I heard a series of roars in the sky and saw two large Green Dragons flying overhead. They both seemed to be snapping at one another.
“Great. There’s more of them,” I said while looking up.
“Allen, look out!” Alexis pulled on my arm and I turned to see that there were two Nihilego floating towards us.
They reached out with their tentacles. I took a step back as the Bookmark transformed into the scepter. I swung out with the scepter and collided with one of the Nihilego. With a flash of blue light, the Nihilego was sucked into the sphere on the top like it was a Pokéball. The other Nihilego just stood there stunned at what it just saw, I swung again and struck the other Nihilego. Again there was a flash of blue light and the Nihilego disappeared.
“Well that works,” I said.
“Come on, there’s more of them coming,” Alexis said as she drug me across the street.
She was right. The sky was swarming with Nihilego. They were pouring out of holes in the sky. Three Green Dragons flew through the air unleashing clouds of green, acidic gas on the city. Giant robots stomped around on the ground level torching cars and bystanders with their laser cannons. As we ran by enemies, the Bookmark would shift to the thing related to that world. Sword. Scepter. Bookmark. Scepter. Bookmark.
With all the destruction going on, I was unsure of the actual state of the city, but I had a good guess it wasn’t good. It seemed like there was an unlimited army of enemies spawning in the city and there was no way I could stop every one of them.
Alexis was just as scared of me. Her dress had small rips all over it and her hair was a mess. She was breathing hard and she had forgotten her laptop back in the park. She was exhausted just like I was.
“I’m sorry I dragged you into this,” I said.
“What?” Alexis said. She seemed distracted.
“I said that I’m sorry that you are a part of this now,” I said.
“Oh.” Alexis said. She seemed to be in some kind of shock.
There was a loud thud in front of us as a Green Dragon had landed in front of us. It unleashed a cloud of green death, but it was away from us. My guess that it hadn’t noticed us yet.
I grabbed Alexis and I pulled us into an alley.
The Dragon let out a roar and knocked over several buildings with its tail. Then in flapped its wings and took into the air. The Bookmark turned into the sword.
“We need to try to get out of here,” I told Alexis. “Maybe if we get away from the source, the creatures will disappear. Or at least we might be able to draw them away from the city and the rest of the people.”
“Is it going to be enough?” Alexis asked.
“Probably not, but we don’t have many options,” I said.
I poked my head out and didn’t notice anything dangerous in our immediate vicinity. The Bookmark flashed and turned into the feather.
“Ok let’s go,” I said and I pulled Alexis along with me towards the road.
“We’re looking for anything that can go off-roading,” I said.
“I see something that will work,” Alexis said. She ran forward and there was a red truck stuck within some traffic.
We both hopped in. Alexis was in the driver’s seat and I was in the passenger seat. The truck was still running, but the people were nowhere in sight.
“Ok hold on, Allen,” Alexis said.
She backed up the truck and struck the care behind it. She continued to back up and we moved the car behind us a little bit. She pulled forward at the sharpest right turn she could manage. She shifted it into reverse and then backed up again.
From my mirror I could see a couple large robots approaching in our direction.
“Uh. Alexis. Robots are coming,” I said.
“Just give me a second,” Alexis said through clenched teeth.
She put it back into drive and pulled forward onto the sidewalk. She then cut through a parking lot and over another sidewalk until she was on another road. She weaved between fiery cars and we made our way out of town. Dragons still soared overhead and Nihilego still floated through the sky.
Alexis had to make a sharp left turn to avoid some parked cars and another giant robot shooting fire at a McDonalds.
“It’s like they are boxing us in here,” Alexis said.
“We can do it, we just need to get out of here,” I said.
I looked about trying to take it all in. There was so much destruction and so much chaos, it was hard to stay focused on one thing.
“Oh no,” Alexis yelled.
My attention went forward and I saw that there were over a dozen Nihilego in front of us. Alexis slammed on the breaks and we came to a screeching halt.
“Back up! Back up!” I yelled.
Alexis shifted gears to reverse and then tried backing up. There was a crunch as we slammed into a giant robot. Its hands clamped onto the side of the truck and began to lift it. I managed to open the door and jump out. Alexis did the same, but her jump was a little further.
The robot then threw the truck and it landed into the roof of a nearby house. It pointed its laser arm us and prepared a blast of fire.
“Allen!” Alexis yelled out.
I looked over to her and she was being carried away by two Nihilego that had grabbed her.
“Alexis!” I yelled out.
I ran towards her as the robot unleashed a torrent of blue flames behind me. I felt the intensity of the flames but I managed to get out of the way. I tried to grab hold of Alexis, but the Nihilego had carried her into the air and I couldn’t reach her.
“Alexis!” I yelled again.
There was a loud crash behind me and I was knocked forward by the force.
I laid on the ground staring up at a large, Green Dragon towering over me. It had actually landed and crushed the robot that was attacking me. The dragon let out a roar and I covered my ears. I was dazed and confused.
I reached out for the Bookmark which was lying next to me in sword form. I managed to pick it up and point it at the dragon.
“R. If that’s you, then I give up. I surrender. You can have the stupid Bookmark. Just let Alexis go. She didn’t do anything,” I yelled.
The Dragon looked down at me. There was something about it. It seemed less intelligent and more animalistic. It wasn’t the super genius R. It was just a giant, flying lizard.
It snapped out at some of the Nihilego and one of them got caught in its jaws. Some of the other Nihilego nearby unleashed blasts of Psychic energy at the dragon, but it didn’t seem to care. These really weren’t working in perfect unison like I thought.
Using this moment of distraction, I got up off the ground and I started running. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I knew I couldn’t stay here. If I could get to Alexis, that would be ideal, but I might have to settle for just getting out of the city alive. I kept on running until I was in a small clearing.
In front of me sat the rubbles of El Taco Verde with no dragon about. Two Nihilego hovered nearby holding a girl in midair who was trying to break free.
“Alexis!” I ran forward with the Bookmark Scepter in hand. The Nihilego looked at me and Alexis looked in my direction.
“No, Allen! Run! It’s a trap! He’s here! R is here!” Alexis screamed at me.
At this point it was too late, I had fallen for it. There was an explosion and green flames rose up around us in a large circle. It caught some nearby cars on fire. Besides that, I could not see beyond the green flames that were easily 10 feet tall.
“Welcome Allen,” R said as he stepped out from behind the destroyed countertop of the restaurant.
“You really did pull out all the stops for me, didn’t you?” I asked.
“Well you aren’t an easy person to track down, first of all. And this time I had to make sure that you didn’t pull any tricks. I thought I had you with the dragon and you got away. The freaking Raven Queen helped you escape,” R said.
The Raven Queen.
Then something seemed to click. I looked down at the Bookmark and it changed to the black, raven feather. Of course. I met the Raven Queen and she got me out. She told me I was heading home. But this wasn’t it. This wasn’t home.
“Now hand over the feather there,” R said.
As he said that it shifted once again and became the old, Bookmark relic like the first time I saw it in the glass case.
“Or whatever it decides to be,” R said with a slight frown.
“Let Alexis go and you can have it,” I said.
“No, Allen! Run!” Alexis yelled through tears.
R laughed. “Willing to sacrifice your life for a girl you just met. How noble of you.”
“Just let her go.”
R put a hand on his chin like he was considering it.
“Nah. Much too late for that, I think,” R said.
He turned and his hands blazed with green flames. He shot a blast of green flames which completely encompassed Alexis as well as the Nihilego that held her.
“No!” I yelled.
All three shapes fell to the ground in a burning mass of flames and quickly disappeared. Nothing but a small pile of ash.
“Oh how sad! Someone you really didn’t know just died,” R said. “You do remember that she almost stabbed you right?”
I stood there in disbelief. I couldn’t save her. I failed to save Red. I failed to save Gold or May. I failed to save Ella. And I failed to save Alexis.
I turned towards R.
“Now I’m going to kill you,” I said.
“Oh goody. I can’t wait,” R said with a laugh. Both hands lit up with green flames.
“Sword,” I said holding the Bookmark.
It seemed to buzz more than normal and became a sword. This time I held it easily in one hand.
I charged forward with my sword and swung it madly. R shot forward a blast of green flames that surrounded my entire body. I felt the intense heat and flames as my body burned, but I didn’t care. I thrust out my sword and I felt it make contact. I plunged deeper as I felt a warm liquid ooze from R’s body.
He gasped for air but it wasn’t enough. I brought the sword up and gutted him.
Before I knew what happened I stood there with R laying on the ground. Dark red blood covered both his body, my body and the sword. The green flames died out immediately, but I was left there covered in third degree burns. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to look about, and it hurt to move. I was in so much pain and I didn’t know what to do.
The Bookmark-sword began vibrating even harder and the blue color of the symbols became lighter and lighter until it was nothing but a bright, white light. The sword began to warm up so I dropped it. When it made contact with the ground, it didn’t bounce and clang. Instead it seemed to melt into a pool of white liquid. The liquid spread out much larger than it should have and then the ground began to shift. R’s body sank into the white pool of liquid and then I fell. The ground gave out from under me as I fell downwards.
I tried to yell out but there was no sound. There was only a bright white light as I fell straight downwards.