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By Doug Blackford
The storm sounded like a train over the house. It was just like sixteen years ago except that I was experiencing memories and feelings that I hadn’t had then. Well, not just like it. Micah wasn’t with me this time. The storm made it difficult to remember what was past and what was present and keep them separate. All of the pain, anger, grief, guilt, and everything else that made me feel like shit made it harder still.
I could hear his voice. I could almost smell his cologne — that slightly musky spice of Lagerfeld blended with undertones of the sandalwood incense he was so fond of having in the house. I was just as guilty as Micah. Living on the southeastern coast of the U.S., we had both been through hurricanes before. A Cat 1 or 2 weren’t really big deals. A Cat 3 deserved some serious consideration, and if it was stronger than that it meant getting the hell out and hoping you had something to come back to when it was done. His reassurance was all I had needed to decide to ride it out. After all, it was just a Cat 1.
This one had started as a Cat 1, too. It was well past that now, but not yet where it needed to be. Not long now. I just needed to stay focused. Keep the memories foremost in my mind, but be mindful of the present. It wasn’t nearly as easy as it sounded. Master Fetch’s words passed through my mind.
“You can observe your past, but you cannot physically travel there. Memory is a window, but only for the mind. You must always keep in your mind that you are not physically there or you risk becoming unstuck and adrift. Your body is your anchor. Let its weight keep you in the present.”
I reaffirmed my resolve and determination and settled into a more comfortable position on the bare floor. The cold hardness of the tiles helped ground me. The only other things on the floor were the mattress I had bought for the house’s sole furnishing, and an obelisk of crystal in the room’s center. I couldn’t afford distractions, and I didn’t expect to be needing anything else. I climbed back inside my memories and worked toward getting the storm in my mind synced to the one outside.
We had gone to bed, not worried about the storm that was due about two in the morning. We heard the wind and rain when it came onshore, but we just rolled over and went back to sleep. No big deal. We knew it was going to be a stormy Saturday, so we slept in till almost eight. When we got up, the storm was raging. It should have mostly passed by then, but no, it was raining so hard that I could barely see the car in the driveway.
“What the hell?”
I turned from the window at Micah’s voice, then looked at the TV as he took it off mute. “All we can tell you right now is that the storm has stalled just offshore and is increasing in strength. At this time, meteorologists are investigating what is feeding it and what has caused the stall. The latest satellite imagery indicates there is a massive well of heat rising through the storm’s center, but we are unable to determine its source. A hurricane hunter is in the air and en route to acquire more data.”
I looked from the TV back toward Micah and asked, “That’s not normal, is it?” I had seen a couple of storms stall and get stronger before, but this one seemed … different. A well of hot air they couldn’t determine? What was that about? Micah did not get upset easily, but I could tell he was now.
Just the one word, then Micah looked at me with tears in his eyes. I stood there stunned. I was getting worried now and unsure what to think. “
Current measurements estimate the storm’s strength at 147 mph sustained winds and increasing. The stall has most of the damaging winds located offshore, but this is a solid Cat 4 storm, folks. The storm is still pushing a powerful surge, so please take immediate action and evacuate. We will have continuing coverage and will let you know the moment we have new or updated information.”
The turning off of the TV was like breaking a spell and I sat down next to Micah on the couch.
“What’s wrong, baby? We can just grab some things and leave. The worst is still offshore, so the causeways should still be open.”
Micah let out a long sigh and looked down as he took hold of my hands. “It doesn’t matter. If we tried to run, they would follow us inland and countless lives would be lost.”
Now I was confused. “They? They who?”
Micah leaned back on the couch and closed his eyes for a moment, a frown creasing his face. I wasn’t sure if the frown was because he was trying to think of an answer or if he was worried about the situation. “
I should have told you, but I never thought they would find me. I really didn’t.”
I couldn’t feel one of my feet and remembered when and where I was. It was so easy to get lost in the memory. I ran Master Fetch’s words over in my mind while getting up to stretch. “
Nature cannot abide a paradox. That is why you cannot travel into your own past, or the past of your past. Your own timeline cannot be accessed in the past except through memory. That is not to say you cannot travel into the past at all, but when you travel into the past, no matter how far back you go, it is to a different timeline than the one that produced the unique you sitting here now.”
I think I understand, but that isn’t much help.” “
But it is, child. You simply fail to see it from the right perspective. You have but one true past, thus it is inaccessible because your past cannot alter your present self. On the other hand of time, your future has not yet been experienced by your present self, thus all possible futures are available to you.”
I had thought long and hard on that one, weeks and months. I had already been studying The Ways for three years by that point, but I didn’t get it and I finally told him so. “
Master, you have taught me much, but I still don’t understand how not being able to travel into my past, yet being able to access any future is helpful toward my goal.”
“That is because you think of time only from your now. You wish to find the love from your past, but you only think of how to get to then from now. You fail to realize that then is now. All time exists in a single moment and that moment is unique to every living and nonliving thing. The now of now is a future of then, which means the then can connect to the now.”
As confusing as it had sounded, it made perfect sense.
The Ways taught about matter and energy — how they were different and how they were the same. It provided instruction about leylines and the paths of power. It included lessons regarding movement in space and time. It honed one’s mind into a tool and weapon of focus and will. It had taken me fifteen years to graduate, but it had been worth it. At least, I hoped it had been worth it. I would know soon enough.
The storm felt right. I took a stance over the focus crystal and called forth my memories once more. Summoning a storm of this size wasn’t the easiest thing, but it was essentially just elemental magic and like called to like. What I was about to do was magnitudes more difficult and I would only get the one chance. “
I have to go, Maggie.”
“Go? What do you mean, go?! Go where? And who the hell are you talking about with they?”
I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was confused and getting scared and my natural reaction to that was to get pissed. I could see that Micah recognized the signs. He had gotten up from the couch, but he reached down and took my hands, then knelt in front of me.
“There’s no easy way to say this, which is partly why I never said anything.
That, and there was no need and you wouldn’t have believed me anyway.” That had me more worried than confused, but the shift was just enough to calm my rising temper. “
Just tell me, Micah. I’m a big girl.”
“I’m not from here. I mean, I’m not from this world.”
How does a person deal with something like that? Laughter at the absurdity of it? Worry for the other person’s sanity? Fear for your own safety? I didn’t know how to respond, so I just sat there.
Micah continued. “This is no ordinary storm. That’s pretty self-evident, I suppose. At its center lies what you could call a gateway. On the other side of that gateway is where I am from. Some might call that place Hell. Others might call it Heaven. Depends on your perspective, but either way, escaping it is not supposed to be possible. I did and now the gatekeepers have found me and are here to take me back.”
This was what going into shock felt like. No, that’s not right. Insane, that’s it. I was losing my mind. He couldn’t be serious, which meant he had lost his mind. But he seemed serious, which meant I must be losing mine and I was scrabbling for the edges to hold on with my fingernails.
Micah screwed up his face in puzzlement. “No?”
“I didn’t stutter. No. You’re not some alien or whatever from another world. You’re my husband. Why are you saying these things?”
I was ready to cry now. The most solid part of my life was crumbling and I didn’t know what to do. What was I supposed to do? To say?
Micah stood back up and began glowing. I watched in stunned silence and disbelief as he seemed to grow horns, then have them disappear. Monstrous feathered wings stretched out to his sides from behind him, then they took on a leathery bat-like appearance before also disappearing. What was most disconcerting, though not the weirdest, were his eyes. They were his, then completely silver, then completely black, then his again. It felt like reality was slipping away.
“I’m sorry, Maggie. I love you.”
Reality was slipping away! I jerked back to my present and broke the focus crystal on the floor as Micah closed the door in my memory. I went to the door after Micah in my memory, but the wind and rain forced me back inside. In my present, I stepped out into the storm.
The Ways had taught me how to speak to the elements. The wind and rain flowed over and around me, but did not grab hold. The storm of my past was now intertwined with the one in my present. My now was a future of my past. I could not go to then, but I could bring part of it to now. My memory ended at that door, but the storm’s memory was here now. I followed the Micah of then as quickly as I could. With the breaking of the focus crystal, the storm would soon die.
I had not believed Micah then, and I was not sure I believed him now, but I had learned many things that I would have thought were fantasy sixteen years ago. I needed to find him, so this is where I had to start. The storm’s memory was taking me to the heart of the storm, just as Micah had told me. When I reached it, my doubts left me. At least this part had been true. Spinning in front of me was a swirling vortex of darkness and light fighting for dominance. It was like one of those wormholes you see in science fiction shows, or a powerful whirlpool, but made of some kind of energy instead of water.
“Okay then. If I have to go to Hell to get you back, then that’s where I’m going. Maybe you’re a demon or a devil or an angel or whatever. I don’t know, but you’re still my demon.”
I stepped through. Copyright © 2019 DJ Blackford. All Rights Reserved.
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