"Come on, Ward," the Wizard
said after a while. As I lay there I felt no more full of power than
I had ever felt. "We can't beat around the bush anymore. It was one
thing to coax you there in the InBetween, to let you come into your
own at your own pace, but here in this Reality the Beast will be upon
us and we will all be doomed to being slaves like the Duke, and our
beloved Queen will be forced to watch us all suffer, and in the end
she will have to become his bride and be ravaged by his lust. We cannot
wait any longer. You must use your power. Captain Rogetto must save
My head was aching. I
longed to return to that nethertime where time and space and reality
where only as fixed and certain as the passing moment. If only I had
realized how free I had been there, it would not have been so confusing.
But here, this was real and I was someone named Rogetto who had responsibilities
and obligations, and a whole world was counting on him, declaring
him their savior; but I had no idea how to save them or to use the
power they claimed I possessed.
"Use your Power!" the
"I can't!" I screamed,
frozen in a moment of confusion and uncertainty. Time raced on around
me. The rising dawn broke the wizard's spell and the men and women
around me stirred.
The Wizard had climbed
atop a ghostly white horse. "Go home," he told them with a sigh as
they looked to him for guidance. He seemed old and withered and stooped
over in the new morning's light.
I did not move.
They left, downtrodden,
helpless and hopeless, and I wanted to help them, but I didn't know
how. The sun rushed across the sky and I felt myself fading back to
that Nethertime. I heard the whispers and voices that called to me
there. The Good and the Evil who fought over my fate. They stood in
two clusters of passion, both urging me to find my Power and use it
for their cause.
I staggered home to the
Duke, with my head floating in the clouds of confusion.
"The Beast is upon us,"
the Duke whispered through the haze, as if he were begging my forgiveness
for his role in the downfall of the Kingdom. "Please, send me to that
Timeless Place you once showed me in that othertime."
He reached inside my compassion,
and found the memory he was searching for. "May I?" he begged as it
dangled before him. The Voices of Good and Evil whispered louder.
I nodded. He smiled and disappeared to an existence without time or
space, where he was all, and none would ever disturb his peace. "Thank
you..." I heard the Voice whisper through my soul.
Had I delivered the Duke's
wish? How had I done it?
The whispering Voices
grew softer and further away.
The sun set, and the defenders
of liberty fought the Beast as he approached the walls of the City.
I could hear him pounding the walls in his fury. I saw nothing but
destruction and despair, and I heard the scream from the tower, and
I ran and hid in my closet as the roar thundered in my mind.
I huddled under a pile
of covers on the closet floor and tried to block out the pounding
roar that filled the air and shook my mind.
"Go away I begged."
I heard the closet door
creak slowly open and I began to tremble as I clutched the blanket
closer over my head.
It opened wider and something
tugged on the blanket.
I felt my heart would
Time passed by and nothing
happened. I opened my tightly clenched eyes and saw, to my surprise
and delight, Maya kneeling in the shadows beside me. "Sshhh," she
whispered as I opened my mouth to speak.
"Listen," she breathed,
and I listened to the airy passion in her voice. I listened. The pounding
"But..." I began, but
she placed her finger on my lips and whispered, "Shhhh..." again.
I stared at her in the
darkness, and a warmth washed over me, wiping away all my fears and
uncertainties. Bathing me in hope and determination. Then slowly I
heard the faint tinkle of voices.
"Listen," Maya whispered
I listened to the sound
of my own voice, outside the closet door. I peeked out of the covers
and saw not the desolate rubble I had expected, but a jubilant, joyous
The kingdom was together,
seated in the Royal Hall. Somewhere in the distance, there was the
smell of the feast that would follow this simple ceremony. The smiling
faces that stared up at the Queen, were looking forward to dancing
in celebration as they had never danced before.
And standing before the
Queen was Melnor, and another me at his side. "Our Kingdom is forever
in your debt, dear Captain Rogetto," the Queen was saying to the me
in the Hall.
"But your Highness," Captain
Rogetto laughed, "I cannot take credit for all of the amazing things
my wonderful friend Melnor here has said I have done. He forgets to
tell you how bravely he and all your subjects were in this time of
"But..." Melnor objected.
"We didn't do anything. You saved us with your magic."
The other me shrugged.
"Ah but it was your noble hearts that acted as the instrument for
The Queen rose and bowed
low before the other me, before I lifted her hand and begged her to
let the festivities begin. There were tears in her eyes as she smiled
and clapped her hands and everyone cheered, and the dancing began.
"But Maya," I stuttered
from under the covers. "I didn't save the kingdom..."
As I spoke the words I
heard the pounding roaring though my mind again. The scene outside
the closet door began to fade and all I could see was the rubble of
destruction and all I could hear was the pounding of the Beast.
"Ward..." Maya's voice
whispered far in the distance.
Crying, I buried my head
in the blanket and waited for it all to fade away.