Week 20 - Novel - Dreams Part XIV - October 14-20
Elvir pulled another stone from his stash, which looked remarkably similar, if not near identical, to the one he had previously used to show them Tach’s destruction. Soon, this stone glowed and formed an image as well. This time, however, the image was one Jo was well familiar with.
“Is that…The Bean in Chicago? Really?” Jo stared at the image, which unmistakably did depict the iconic massive curved bean-like steel sculpture in the middle of Chicago’s Millenium Park. Jo had seen it several times in person over her tenure in the Chicago suburbs.
“I do not know what you call it, but yes, this is indeed the portal stone to Eukaon. I trust that you know how to find your way to it?”
“Yeah…it’s kind of like the most famous sculpture where I’m from. This is kind of unbelievable. Okay, so what exactly am I supposed to do when I make it there?”
“You will need to harness the stone. While you cannot harness stones in earnest here just yet, I can show you how such harnessing works, such that you can perform it when you are back on Earth. Here, let’s have you practice on this stone.”
Elvir handed Jo the stone he had been using to show her the image of The Bean. The stone was large, and Jo could barely hold it with both of her hands.
“Hold this firmly, and close your eyes. Focus on the stone, and try to feel its pulse.”
Jo closed her eyes, hugging the stone close to her to make it easier to carry. She tried to focus on it. At first, she sensed nothing, but as time passed, she started to detect a faint rhythm emanating from the stone, like a heartbeat.
“Wow. Okay, I can feel it.”
“Wonderful. It’s not as easy to detect with you only being partially in this world, and the fact that you can feel it at all speaks much to your natural affinity with the stones. This bodes quite well for your progression in stoneworking once we finally bring you over. Now, try to draw in the energy of the stone, as if you were drawing in a breath.”
Jo centered in on the stone again, and took a deep breath as she imagined sucking some essence away from the stone. To her shock, she felt herself fill with a foreign sense of energy, singularly disconcerting in feeling both very real and also very incorporeal. However, the energy dissipated almost as soon as she had drawn it in, and she was left only with a strange feeling of emptiness.
“Good. I can see you managed to draw in the stone, though of course it passed through you as you are not yet truly part of this world. You understand how harnessing works in its basic state, now. This is all you need to do after you seek out the portal stone. Place your hands on it, sense its energy, and draw it out. I will be waiting for you, and when I sense you have activated the stone, I will finally be able to draw you through to Eukaon fully. Understand?”
Jo nodded. “Okay. I can try to give this a shot. I’ll try to go after school tomorrow.”
Elvir beamed again. “Excellent, Jo. You will be the savior we need yet. Rest, now, in peace. I will be waiting for you, and we will see you again shortly.”
He took the stone back from Jo, then placed a large hand on her shoulder. His eyes closed, and the stone on his forehead began to glow a deep orange. Jo felt her body fill with heat, unbearably so, until she screamed in agony. Then the world went dark.
When Jo woke this time, it was still dark outside. She glanced over at her clock. 2:35 AM. The dream hadn’t lasted long at all this time. Completely exhausted, she fell back asleep almost immediately. This time, she slumbered without a single interruption.
“Jo, you’re late again. I’m not going through the spiel this time. Get up. I’m going to work. Bye.”
Jo heard the words distantly as she struggled to return to life. She could hear the front door open and slam. She felt better rested than she had in days, but four hours of sleep was still far too little to make up for all the debt she’d accumulated dreaming of a crazy world with dragons and magic stones. Hopefully this was all coming to an end soon. As she struggled out of bed, the thought casually passed her mind that it would be worth going to Eukaon just to get a good night’s sleep. One way or another, she thought, at least Elvir would stop bothering her.
As soon as she thought that, however, the idea of losing access to Eukaon pained her, and she realized how much she’d started to enjoy her time in the other world, even with the recent chaos and pressure that had been placed on her. She decided then that she would, in fact, make the journey to the portal stone and try to make it over in earnest. She still found it hard to believe that everything she had dreamed was actually real, so this would help put that to rest. On top of that, if it all was real, they might truly need her. It felt so strange to be so needed there, when she was so invisible here. She’d dreamed of being important, or at least cared about, for so long. Now that she was all that, however, it scared her a little. What if she failed?
She sat there, paralyzed in bed for a moment, both with trepidation and also simple sheer fatigue. She looked again at the clock. Six minutes had passed, and the bus was due to arrive in just another four.
“Screw it,” she said. There was no chance she’d make it anymore even if she tried. Her mother had already left, anyway. This would be an unexcused absence, but she had bigger things to worry about now. She decided that she would need to be as prepared as possible if she was going to do this, and that probably began with getting enough sleep. She passed out again.