Week 21 - Novel - Dreams Part XV - October 21-27
Five hours later, she woke up again, this time feeling infinitely better. A quick glance at the clock showed it was about half an hour after noon. Perfect. Time to pack up and get ready. She grabbed her bag and dumped out the contents. She had no idea if she would be able to bring anything with her, and had forgotten to ask, but still figured it couldn’t hurt to be prepared.
She thought for a while about what would be most useful to bring. Food came first to mind, so she put together a bag of trail mix, some cereal, and a bottle of water. Then she packed a handheld flashlight, a utility knife, a notebook and a pen, whcih all seemed like generally useful survival tools. Finally, she packed away as much spare clothing as she could with the remaining space. After giving it some more thought, she couldn’t think of anything else immediately pressing, so she decided to call it a day and finish up with a shower. Who knew how long it would be until she’d have the chance for one of those again, she thought. It seemed like Eukaon was still solidly stuck in the middle ages, and she didn’t have high hopes they’d invented running water yet.
The last thing she could think of to do was to write a note to her mom, on the off chance that something ended up going horribly wrong and she never saw her again, or if things simply took longer than expected and her mother arrived home before she did. It was hard to strike a balance between being overly sentimental at this being potentially a permanent goodbye and not being too dramatic as to cause undue concern in case things ended up being totally fine. She finally settled on something simple.
I ended up oversleeping and missing school again. I’m sorry. It looks like summer school for me. To make the day not a total waste, though, I decided to catch the train up to Chicago and go check out some of the museums and get some alternate education in. I love you a ton. Thanks for putting up with me and taking such good care of me all these years. I know it hasn’t been easy, but I just wanted to let you know how much I love you.
That seemed innocuous enough, she decided. She left the note on the kitchen table, hoisted up her bag, and set out for Chicago.
She had never gone to Chicago by herself before, and she found herself filling with pride when she stepped off the train and found herself firmly in the heart of Chicago’s Union Station. Everything had gone flawlessly so far. She’d biked to the train station and taken the train into the city in record time, and it wasn’t even three yet. She’d have plenty of time to make it to The Bean before anyone started missing her.
She took a look on her phone, and saw that a quick bus ride would take her directly to The Bean, which interestingly enough, seemed to also be called Cloud Gate. She wondered if the artist had been in on all of this, and just how many people, if anyone, on Earth knew about Eukaon. She found it hard to believe that she could really be the only—or at least only the second—person to have ever discovered the other world. The balance still tipped in favor of this all being the delusional fantasy of an incredibly lonely and unwanted fourteen year old girl, she thought. Such thoughts weren’t productive, though. She would find out soon enough. All she had to do for now was find the bus.
Twenty minutes later, she arrived at Millenium Park, and instantly spotted The Bean. Even at this time, in the middle of the weekday and in the winter, the iconic structure was still swarmed with tourists clamoring for the perfect photo. No one seemed in the slightest clued in to the fact that this was allegedly a portal to an entirely different world. Jo wondered if anyone would notice if she just happened to disappear in front of everyone. Time to find out.
She walked up to the structure, and placed both of her hands on it. Just as she had done in her last dream with the stone then, she closed her eyes, and tried to feel the pulse of The Bean. To her surprise, she felt it immediately, which instantly made her heart race. She wasn’t dreaming this. The Bean definitely had a pulse, just as the stone in Eukaon had.
She suddenly felt dizzy, and had to settle herself. “I’m really doing this,” she said. “This might actuallly be real, and I’m really going to transport myself into another world so I can save it. Wow. Okay. I’ve come this far. Let’s see what happens next.”
She felt the rhythm of The Bean, and felt its energy calling towards her. She breathed it in.
The next few moments were the most uncomfortable of Jo’s entire life. It felt as if she were being rendered apart, every atom of her splitting in excruciating agony. Time ground to a standstill, and the process seemed to last for an eternity, every part of her being rewritten in painstaking detail.
When the pain finally subsided, she found herself lying, unable to move, on a cold stone floor. Everything ached.
“I have heard that the effects of translocation are still rather…unpleasant. Rest, now.” She heard Elvir’s voice rumble over her, but couldn’t muster the energy to respond or even turn her head to look at him. She felt herself gently picked up and carried to a bed, and a blanket cover her. She decided to take the suggestion and fell back into a dreamless slumber.
Jo woke to sunlight streaming on her face. She opened her eyes and stretched, feeling strangely more well rested than she had in longer than she could remember. All the soreness of the previous night had disappeared. She sat up and took stock of her surroundings for the first time.