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C.C. Hogan

Roslyn Gilmour Stripped Bare

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I dropped into another dimension to apologize to Lydia.

It would seem that even when the characters in a story are safely distant in another dimension, they can still find their way into the mind and soul of the author; with or without permission. Perhaps this is the fault of the author; if you insist on creating a machine that allows your characters access to your head, maybe you should not be surprised when they use it. Isn't that right, Roslyn?

You might want to sit down for this.  Mason’s voice pierced my brain, as though he was sitting right next to me.

He shouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone other than his soulmate, outside of his dimension.  But me, being the creator of his world and the machine that runs it, I hear all of their voices.  And Mason’s machine, the Central Unit, knows very well it can pull me into its world anytime it chooses.

I did as Mason suggested, and sat cross-legged upon the cool, crisp grass of the hilltop that overlooked my home, and waited for Mason to prepare his Central Unit.  I hoped no one was watching.  I couldn’t see anyone.   But if they were, they were in for one heck of a shock.

Are you ready?  His voice resounded throughout my head, amusement filling his tone. 

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, what he was amused about – me, wanting to be pulled into his dimension, or who would be waiting for me when I arrived.

“Is she very upset with me?” I couldn’t help but ask.  But asking was pointless.  Knowing the answer wouldn’t change the coming situation one bit.

His laughter rippled through me, raising goosebumps on my arms, and causing an involuntary smile to curl up on my face.  His was a laugh I could listen to all day long.  It was only then that I remembered that he could hear my every thought, feel my every emotion. 

I decided I’d amused him enough for one day.  And I did my best to keep the rest of my thoughts, safely locked away.

“Just do it,” I whispered to him.  I took one last deep breath of Earth air, then closed my eyes.

Eyes Open, he said, and I did as he commanded.

Before I could take another breath, all feeling drained away, beginning with my extremities.  It then worked its swift way toward my stomach and my chest. The grass swayed before me, and I tried to reach out with one hand to steady myself, but I had no arm to move.  My vision blurred, growing dim, and I felt myself pulled inward, toward the darkness that awaited.

“You’re okay,” her voice came to me, soft and reassuring.  I felt a hand upon my arm, trying to steady me as I pulled myself upward, off the floor (why am I on the floor?), and I looked up into Lydia’s face.

She was smiling down at me, as though glad to see me.  But I knew that smile.  It wasn’t hers.  It was Lena’s.  Beneath the friendly exterior she wore, were a range of emotions.  No doubt she was unsure of what to do with me.  I could only hope that she hadn’t yet developed Lena’s warrior tendencies to beat the crap out of someone first, then wait for them to heal, and then do it again.

“Lydia,” I smiled back, choosing to ignore my own inner anxiety.  I stuck out my hand in an offer of peace, ready to shake hers if she would accept it.  But she only looked down at my hand in confusion, then back up at me, and she pulled me in for a friendly hug.

“For the most part, you’re forgiven,” she said, releasing me.  “After all, you gave me Jordan.”

Yes, I had done that, led her to her soulmate and her happily-ever-after.

“I’m sorry about your family,” I said.  “I didn’t mean to kill them all.  I did intend to leave one or two behind, but you would have only worried about what they were going through, missing you.  And I figured it was best to give you a clean break from the past.”

She looked away, the small, hard smile returning, and I readied myself to duck in case she decided to attack.

I followed her gaze across the room, to a set of floor to ceiling windows, and I stepped closer to the view.  The scene beyond was spectacular.  The city below was a sea of white buildings and houses, interspersed with the colors and shapes of the homes from Lydia’s own memories.  At the farthest edge of the city, I could barely make out the giant trees that bordered the city, and beyond those were the rolling hills and flatlands, lost in the mist of the horizon.

“It’s so peaceful,” I whispered to her. And then I sighed, disappointed that Mason had brought me to the plain white room I was currently in, instead of to the beauty of those fields.  I love a warm spring day, watching dragonflies zip passed, watching the ants crawl through the grass.; the feel of the soft wind gliding across my skin.

I longed to move beyond the windows, but then I realized that the view from above was all I could have.  After all, it was their world, not mine.

However, with this revelation, I felt a twinge of regret that I’d removed the wall from around the city.  I would have liked to have seen the wall; translucent and glinting rainbow colors in the sunlight.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Lydia said, and I turned to see her staring at me.  “It’s a good thing the wall is no longer there.  People have been known to completely disappear from walking straight into that wall.”

I caught her meaning, and cleared my throat, suddenly grateful that I had removed the immediate danger.

“I know what you have planned for your next book as well.  You’ve been testing your little scenes on me,” she said, and I would have expected her voice to be filled with venom, but instead she was steady, clear-minded, focused.  “And I don’t like it.  I won’t do it.  And you can’t make me.”

Simple as that.

However, her words caused me to falter.  I shouldn’t have come here.  Not at this point in the story.  No wonder she disliked me.

“Lydia, you know how it ends.  You’ve been there already.”

She shook her head, frowning at me.  The guilt crept through me, crawling under my skin.  I’d put her through so much already, how could I put her through anymore?  But she had to find her place in this world.  She had to find her way to the end.  And her path was not a pleasant one, no matter how I tried to make it bend.

“You need to go back to your office, and re-work a few things,” she said, still shaking her head.

“I’m sorry,” I said again.  “I’ll do what I can.”

I swallowed hard, holding back the emotion that was ready to overtake me.  I didn’t want her life to be this way.  I wanted her to be happy; filled with family, and unencumbered by other people determined to destroy her.

“Would you prefer to go back to Earth?  You and Jordan?  You could begin that road-trip together and settle down in a little town, just like you’d planned.”

“What, are you crazy?”  She asked.  “Don’t you dare send me back to Earth.  There is only old age, bills, taxes, and death.  Permanent death!  I want to stay here with Jordan,” she smiled, finding the happiness that always filled her, whenever she thought of him.  “I don’t want us to ever grow old.  I want to be with him forever, just as we are.”

I wasn’t sure I could guarantee that.  But at least she was no longer thinking of my permanent death.

“I should be going now,” I told her.  “Mason told me we needed to keep it brief.”

“Well, I’m glad he is able to send you home.  I wish that he could send the Rathe and the Heart back to their worlds.  They must miss their homes.”

“Yes, some of them do,” I agreed.

“There’s something you need to see first,” she told me grinning.  “Mason?”

Remembering he was still behind us, watching, waiting, I turned back to see him move his hand across his screen.  The air was immediately sucked from my lungs, and my feet felt as though they fell straight through the floor.

In less time than it took to blink, I found myself standing just outside of the Central building.  Slowly, my gaze traveled upward.

And I marveled at the sight of the Spire when it came into view.  Sparkling the brightest shade of blue, it was bigger than I’d dreamed.  I was sure if Jordan’s painted clouds had hung in the sky, that the upper half of the Spire would have disappeared amongst them.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”  A familiar voice asked.

I turned to see Jordan now standing beside Lydia; their hands, as always, entwined.  I did all that I could to suppress the smile that tried to surface.  He was rather handsome.  Though, when Lydia turned to gaze up at him, and he returned her loving stare, I had to look away.  The way they looked at each other was almost embarrassing.  Not for them, but for the poor onlooker caught up in their adoration of one another.

Mason stepped to my side, and while still saying my goodbye’s he pulled on my arm and shuffled me back inside the building.

“Eager to see me go?”  I asked him.

“Well, yes, before anyone on Earth misses you.  The passage of time doesn’t work the same way in each dimension, you know.”

Of course.  I should have known that.  Not!  And I couldn’t help but wonder if Mason was writing his own dialogue.

I sighed when he bid me farewell.  I wanted to stay.  I love new adventures.  But there were bills and taxes that had to be paid.

“I have just one question,” he said, before sending me back. “Is there anyone for me, in my future?  I mean, you did leave me in all this loneliness these past two thousand years.  Not to mention you turned me into the bad guy, somewhat.  I think you owe me.”

“Goodbye Mason,” I smiled at him, and waved at him to proceed.

© Roslyn Gilmour 2016

RM Gilmour - AuthorBorn and raised in Sydney, Australia, RM Gilmour currently resides in Florida (USA), with her two children and two cats. 

She enjoys filling blank pages with novel length Sci-Fi-Romance, Sci-Fi-Fantasy and young adult Fantasy, as well as Sci-Fi and Fantasy short stories.  More will be posted here soon.  

Currently, RM is working on the Sequel to The Colony, titled, The Last City.

The Colony

When Lydia is pulled through spacetime into Jordan’s plane of existence, she finds herself immersed in a world controlled by the Guardian, an artificial intelligence.  The Guardian’s sole purpose is to protect the power source that runs the planet, but it does so at the cost of all who live outside of its city.

Sheltered in the Colony, beyond the city’s borders, Lydia is befriended by an advanced race of hunters and warriors, who do all they can to protect her and themselves from the Guardian.  To survive in this new world, she must find courage and strength, and learn to face her fears.  But to save her soulmate and the colonists from the Guardian, she must overcome those fears and embrace her inner strength.

You can pick up a copy of The Colony here.

Stripped Bare is an occasional column where authors and other creatives are given the chance to expose themselves to the world in unusual and creative ways.  It is by invitation early.


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