This Is An Unexpected Bump For Sure - Chapter 1

 

 

This is an unexpected bump for sure – here I am thinking I’m alone here and then here’s this something right in front of me right in my path – oomph – there’s a similar ooomph – out of the utter darkness – hey!  Someone there! – it’s like two people saying the same thing at once – could it be me meeting myself in here – like I think just about anything’s possible – I mean since this is possible, who knows what’s possible in here?  Really interesting and confusing some times like right now.

An old house – that’s what it was – I was drawn there by a dream – had various dreams – very complicated ones – like the one that inspired this – just last night – going through these “gates” – there were several of us in these dreams – about seven or eight I guess – only one at a time could go through – that’s because of this ooomph meeting at the start of this – I mean like there’s this “gate” – a vertical rectangle that you can step through if you know it’s there and can see it – I figured I was the only one who could – and it seemed for a long time I was – the thing is I wrote this novel, see – the one I’m writing now – way before the fact of even seeing a single one of these gates let alone finding one – but this novel will probably bring out other people who will look for these gates and only a very few will find them – maybe just about six or seven – maybe eight, I don’t know.

See the main thing I guess or at least I was really thinking on this this morning after the dream is that I’ve got to get this down on paper and get the word out because it seems it’s necessary for myself and these other people to know about this and go ahead and live out this novel and make the dreams come true and then I’ll get the ooomph by bumping into someone like I’m doing now – “Who are you? – How’d you get here?” – sounds like two of me speaking at once – that last question’s a stupid question you know – I know how I got here and that other ooomph knows how they got here and it had to be the same way right?

Like how I found (so this is in the future but if we’re going to believe this novel, it’s in the past even though it hasn’t happened yet – I mean we’re going into something quite unusual here – yeah I  know, “gates” of some sort have been a subject of novels before – Demonic – or even the gates manufactured in Carl Sagan’s “Contact” – but these really are different and new – transporting people somehow from one place or another – we’ll try to manufacture our own sort of gate here in this novel and let that be the norm until the real gates are found.

The old house – that’s it – it was in another dream so it’s what I was looking for (in the past in this novel but in the future in real time (I can see all these people running around and tromping around in these old, derelict houses looking for these gates) – but from all the dreams I’ve had, the gates exist around where people don’t go all that much – abandoned buildings and all sorts of places where people don’t go – it was up on the top floor – third floor it seems – rickety floors and stuff that discouraged people from exploring – the gate was waiting – right in the middle of a big room – hard to see – it wasn’t that I was looking for it – don’t know why I was in the house – like in my dream the gate didn’t exist in the house – but somewhere subconsciously I feel there’s a connection between all these dreams – but I’m concocting this encounter anyway so what the hell – put a gate somewhere right?  That first gate – who knows where it could be – lots of places right?  A big ball room like area – empty except for dust and debris from deteriorating plaster and other building materials all older than several of us put together – but that’s neat – heritage and age and all that --  was it in the middles?  -- why should it be?  Could be along the side you know.  It was somewhere there – I walked right into it – lots of people might have walked right through it without entering you know?  But I did, I walked right into it.  Weird – of course, the whole thing’s weird, I know – finding it and all the things that happened after and such – but it was “inside” – inside? --- is that what it is and was and is to be – inside? – maybe outside? – hard telling – inside that was really weird – if I’d seen that “gate” – okay let’s leave off the quotation marks and just call it a gate okay?  If I’d seen it in the first place as I’d seen it once I got used to it, I’d’ve pretty well not even gone near it – just backed away and run or something and hoped I’d never see another one – everybody’s got fears like that – things that you don’t know and are totally out of what you’ve experienced – bad, bad – but as I said – didn’t I? – as I said, it just sort of stumbled into it – pretty much like that I think – can’t quite remember – or project that far into the future, whatever – anyway it could have been a loose board or tripping over debris of some sort or trying to get around some piece of junk or something – anyway there I was – right through that gate – well not all the way just sort of part way – I saw the room of the normal world to which I had become accustomed – and didn’t really see – just felt – the world I was entering – weird – but I had no choice – once I’d started I couldn’t stop – that’s like a lot of things – it was the feeling I guess – wanted to feel more – didn’t realize what I was feeling nor that I’d entered a gate – door?  What – what ???? – it just wasn’t anything like I’d done before – different – yeah – I wanted to feel it more and entered it more – wasn’t paying attention that I was entering something – well of course, until I’d entered it – don’t know why – the room seemed to still be there – I guess – I really won’t know until it really happens and I’m sure I won’t go looking for it – or maybe now I will – don’t know how I’ll find it either – we’re just going on suppositions here – anyway let’s get back to our story – where were we? So after I’d entered the whole thing was different – where I was I wasn’t any more. 

You know these dreams are strange – the one that inspired this – we’re running around invisible – in this dream I’d gone with somebody I knew – they weren’t invisible and I was and the reason I was invisible was I had just gone through one of those gates and through that area whatever it was and we were avoiding officials of some sort.  And we were checking into a motel of some sort and I was with two people: a man and a woman, and the woman was sitting waiting in the lobby while the man with me invisible beside him was filling out the papers and about to pay for the bill with  his credit card and I said “Wait a minute – we don’t want to be tracked so let’s pay with cash so we went to the lobby – I  had a headache so I asked for some Excedrin the man gave me two and I swallowed them down.  While I was looking through the wallet we had – and found some travelers’ checks in my name which he couldn’t sign so I had the idea of being beside him and signing invisibly while his hand moved.  While I was doing this, people were laughing and looking at me and the man said the reason they were doing so was that I was naked.  So I was no longer invisible – it must have been the Excedrin.  I’ll come back to this scene later.

The “world”  -- you want to call it a world? – I had entered – we could call it another dimension you know – I need to read up more on Quantum Physics, where one scientist puts forth the proposition that we can be in two – maybe more than two – places at once – sometimes I think that’s what these dreams are – another place where I am, and that this might not happen in this world or dimension at all – just there wherever it is – it was all blank whatever it was – that world – blank, not black or white or anything in between -  just blank – but it was forever blank – that’s what it was – but I went in one place and came out another – overgrown with bushes and shrubs and trees and such that hadn’t been touched by people for years and years – struggled out of that place and sound a sidewalk and street and found my way back home.  I remember being in the house then in the blank then in the brush and such and felt disoriented.  I had to find the house again.  Found it, found the room, didn’t find the gate though – not right of at least – did find it – tried to be cautious but couldn’t – tried to stay out, but it was such a feeling – I wanted more – got caught again, was there in the blank, then in the bushes.  I walked out to the sidewalk again and looked around -–it was the same sidewalk – lots of empty lots, lots of boarded up houses – same street with the street name.  Same cross street – same place as before.

Walked back to try to find the bushes – saw some young guys around and they started casually coming toward me – just about four of them – found some bushes and looking at these young guys I hoped I could find the gate and it would let me in – they were coming closer – I rummaged around through the bushes – looked out and they were on the sidewalk there talking and looking ready to come toward these bushes.  I watched them and back up a bit and then there I was, back in the blank again – whew!  Hoped nobody could follow me – they didn’t – there I was out of the blank and back in the dimension we all know and love – right?  Park –- middle – where all the old limbs and tree debris were piled.  It was dark.  Nobody was around.  It was close to home so I walked home.

So here’s the bump with the uuumph.  Can’t see anything – things are still blank – who are you?  Okay, let’s stop a minute – “Right!” comes a voice which pretty scares the bejeebers out of me, “I think we’re already stopped.”  The voice sounded pretty well scared out of bejeebers too. It’s silent now, just like it was before – all blank – nothing can been seen nothing can be heard – nothing – nothing feeling – well – it’s feeling pretty good – pretty good is how it feels – the first time it feels pretty good --- every time it feels pretty good --- pretty good is how it feels – even the voice that scared the bejeebers out  of me felt pretty good – “This feels pretty good, you know, “ the voice says again.  What bejeebers that were left are gone now.  “What’re you doing here?”  I ask.  “What are you doing here?”  “I was here first!  I asked you first!”  “You sure of that?”  “Nobody knew anything about this until I told everybody in my novel!”  “You sure of that?”  “Come on!  When did you know of this?”  “You got a novel?”  “Yes I do!  It’s all about this!  I wrote it so people’d know about this!”  “You wrote it in the past?”  “Yeah.”  “So this is the future?”  “I don’t know what it is!”  Why am I getting excited?  Maybe because here I have been cruisin’ this other dimension or whatever it is all by myself for months now and enjoying that power of having it all to myself even though I know and knew and would know that somebody else would be here eventually – maybe it was just the suddenness – maybe I thought I’d get warning. 

It still feels good – I mean, the surprise and excitement and perturbation and all that usually feels bad feels good.  “I  read your novel.  That’s how I got here – just wandering around the out of the way places and it was sort of a ‘pop!’ and here I was.  This is my first time.”  “I’ve been around quite a few times”  “You can show me around?”  “This is it!”  “That’s all?” “You read the novel?”  “Yes.”  “Then you know this is happening right now because it’s in the novel.”  “That’s right – we’re in the novel’s future.”  “Right – so you should know that this is happening now.”  “Sorta confusing.” “Nobody said it would be easy.”  “But it’s nothing.”  It’s all nothing.”  “But it’s neat.”  “I like it.”  “But what do we do with it?”  “It’s a gift like – we treat it like a valuable gift.  You know somebody’s going to want to find it and use it for not so good things.”  “Right.”

The thing about finding these gates is that they’re always in out of the way places.  Whenever something got built in one of those out of the way places, the gate moved.  There are always out of the way places.  All it takes is to find them.  There’s always a gate in an out of the way place.  All it takes is to find it. I can see it out – all these people running all over all these out of the way places – then they won’t be so out of the way and there won’t be a gate.

But you can’t cover all the out of the way places so there will always be out of the way places to look around so there will always be a gate somewhere.  Best thing is to keep the out of the way places out of the way then you’ll  find the gates in the out of the way places and if you can’t find an out of the way place find some place that isn’t so in the way – something people pass by within a few feet of and never notice and swing around there and chances are you’ll find a gate.

But my dream has only about six or seven people – not every Tom, Dick or Harry – just some guys named Tom, Dick and Harry and maybe Abdul – they aren’t the totally Caucasian persuasion – not all guys either so we can figure there’s a girl there and we could call her Paula – that’s ok isn’t it?  Just one girl?  No -- I wouldn’t say that – what’ve we got four guys?  Three girls?  Well, I’m a guy so we’ve got five guys so I guess three girls would fill it out – Paula and Diane and Cherri – how’s that?  You yourself have to imagine the culture and race of the particular people – blond or brunette, Asian, African, European, Middle Eastern heritage or Latino or South Pacific or whatever – whatever you want.  It’s whoever the gates accept.  I have no idea whom the gates will accept.  I have no idea that they’ll accept me.  I’m just writing this novel.

The other dimension if that’s what it is is what’s interesting – hard to tell if there’s anything beyond and outside of the big blank – haven’t been able to find anything more yet – just the big blank – you want big letters?  We want to call it the Big Blank?  We can do that – it’s a pretty impressive thing – unique so it probably should be capitalized – nothing else like it.  You go in you don’t move really you don’t take a step walk or anything you’re just there.  You end up somewhere else.  You’re in one place and out another.  It seems like a short time and it seems like forever.  It feels good.  You want to stay but you always pop out some place. But the place you pop out seems a  little brighter than where you popped in.  It’s like:  you’re here then you’re not, you’re there then you’re not, you’re there back where here is.  Weird.   Well, if you compare it to the world we’re used to at least some of us then it’s different to say the least.  I guess if you’d be living in it all the time it’d be normal and this would be weird.  But of course all over the world you find all different worlds where what’s normal there is different here and what’s normal here is what’s different there – you get the picture.  You don’t know if you’re moving in a straight line or what – you don’t  know if you’re moving – you’re just there. 

I know after that first couple of times – the first time when I stumbled into the gate in the house and the second time when I had to scramble back to the gate in the bushes and ended up in the park, I could see the gates better.  I went back to the park and there it was, where all the tree trimmings and stuff were, sort of like a door frame, with concentric upright rectangles – not too obviously visible, sort of shimmering like if you’d see it in a desert or something with the heat waves coming up and the objects beyond wavering and like that that’s what it was like.  I decided to enter that gate, scrambled over the tree limbs and stuff and I heard a “Hey! What’re you doing!?” from behind me and saw a park worker coming and a police car stopping.  Figured I’d better hope the gate worked and zipped right in it.  I stopped – stopped? I guess I stopped I don’t know what I was doing – to look around at my surroundings saw that nobody was following me.  Yeah my surroundings.  Blank surroundings.  The Big Blank.  That’s why the voice was scaring me – the Voice in the Big Blank. Came out between two dumpsters in an alley downtown.  I looked back, expecting to see the park worker come out behind me.  He didn’t. 

Looked around.  People were doing what people do.  Walking, running, getting in cars and on busses.  Going in and out of buildings.  Looked back between the dumpsters and saw the gate I came out of.  Went back in.  Came out in an old, musty storeroom of some sort.  I looked around and it was maybe a twice as large as a regular room.  Had boxes on steel shelves and stacked on the concrete floor and other things.  The lights weren’t on so I couldn’t tell exactly what was there – a little light filtered in from two small rectangular windows near the top of one wall – looked like a basement of some sort.  I looked around, saw the gate – right in the wall so to speak – I knew it wasn’t a part of the wall – just basically in the same place.  I heard voices outside the door at the other end of the room and ducked back into the gate.

No one was following me.  I had to be the only one who knew about these gates -- entrances? – we know what they are.  Nobody ever followed me up to that point.  One thing, it felt good there.  I started looking for more gates.  The park people were watching their pile of debris more now – had even rummaged through it and moved the tree limbs and stuff I guess to see if I had hidden anything there, say contraband or controlled substance or something that might be construed as a weapon of some sort.  I couldn’t see that the gate was there.  Went back to the room in the house, saw the gate, smelled the gate.  First time I’d smelled a gate.  Went through came out in the overgrown shrubs on the street where it always came out.  The young guys were there right in front on the sidewalk and saw me come out – they got scared and got away from there.  I smelled that gate and it smelled like the one in the room in the house, nice, and it was a smell different from any other small -- went back into the gate and hoped I wouldn’t come out  in the park in front of any park workers.  Didn’t.  Side of a road.  Cars whizzing by.  The smell was strong and distinctive.  I knew it was a gate.  Went back in.  Came out in a back yard.  My house was close so it was a short walk.  Didn’t know who owned or lived here – probably a little old lady who didn’t go out of her house.  It was quiet here and I heard a sound coming from the gate.  Sight, smell, and now, sound.  They were all distinct.  The gate looked good, smelled good, sounded good.

So instead of looking so much I started smelling. And listening.  I could hear that sound if I listened but not if I didn’t.  Smelled when I came close – didn’t have to try smelling – smelled anyway.  Found a few more gates close by.  Once I knew where they were it was a simple enough matter to every day after work “take a dip in the Big Blank”.  Wallow around and feel soooo good.  My god it was good!  I really didn’t want to anything else.  But eventually I’d come out another gate in another place.  Also I started learning how to come out where I wanted.  Went in a gate and wanted to come out near my house and did.  Went in and explored – not the Big Blank – couldn’t explore there – not possible – explored all the gates I could come out of.  Imagined gates in different places:  Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing – Cairo and Jerusalem – worked sometimes.  Some places I guess were deemed too dangerous for a gate.  That was fine with me.  Didn’t really want to live dangerously.

I’d be riding or walking with other people and would try listening and heard the sound of a gate and asked if they heard anything and they didn’t – got closer and smelled the smell of the gate and asked if they smelled anything and they didn’t – got to where I could see the gate and asked if they saw anything and they didn’t.  Didn’t say it was a gate or anything like that, just asked, “Do you hear anything?” or “Do you smell something?” or “Look over there by that bush, do you see anything?”  They didn’t.  Looked like I was the only who saw, or smelled, or heard the gates.

So here I am I’ve been going to this gate in the Jerusalem area, just outside of town – n this old valley overgrown with shrubs and such and seeing the caves in the hillside where a lot of Palestinians live.  I decide to go there again, come out in pretty much darkness.  This is not the outside.  It’s a musty, dusty inside.  Tripping over stones.  Big stones.  So where am I?  Never traveled with a flashlight or anything.  Never had to.  Until now.  Now what I have is the gate – it’s there, smelling and making noise and very visible.  Just no light in the darkness – just there.  I turn around and reenter the gate.  Then there’s that bump.

After the preliminaries as noted above, we discover that we can’t move – that is, I can’t get around the bump and the bump can’t get around me.  We can hear each other and feel each other, but can’t see anything but the Big Blank.  “Where do you want to go?”  “Go?  Go where?”  “How do we get out of this?”  “Get out of my way!”  “That’s no way – we can’t!”  “I think I just stumbled backwards!”  “Try it again!”  “You try it!”  I move forward instead.  I guess I move forward.  Can’t tell here.  Just feels that way.  Whoever is there seems to pull back from me each time I come forward and touch whoever.  We end up finally outside somewhere.

“I’m Cloe.”  “Well, I’m Joey.”  “Well, hi.”  “Where are we?”  “Detroit.”  “I’ve never been in Detroit.  You live here?”  “Yeah.”  “So what’re you doing in the Big Blank?”  “Funny, that’s what I call  it.”  “I called it that first.”  “If I copyright it first, you can’t call it that anymore – only I can call it that.”  “You didn’t answer my question.”  “How’d I get there?”  “Yeah.”  “Right here.”  “So what’re we doing here?”  I’ve asked that question all my life.”  “What’re we doing here?”  “I don’t know.”  “Are you serious?”  “not any more.”  “I wish I were.”  “What?”  “Serious.”  “Don’t be, it doesn’t befit you as a gentleman.”  “How do you know I’m a gentleman?”  “You aren’t a lady.”

“So fine – let’s start at the beginning . . . “  “The first thing I remember is walking beside my mommy – I was about two years old . . . ”  “This is not supposed to be a comedy routine you know..”  “I  know – I just feel funny.”  “Going through that can make you feel funny.”

“This is so interesting,”  she said, “I was just walking down the street and trying to sort my mail in my hands and this gust of wind blew a letter out of my hand and I was chasing it and poof!  Right into the Bib Blank.”

“When was that?”

“Just now.”

It was then that I noticed that she had a stack of mail in her hand.

“You mean this was your first time?”

“Yeah.”

There was Detroit, in front of me and on all sides and all around me.  This was a gas station right there, and a dual highway just a little ways away and the street ran right over the highway.  A little ways along the street, the opposite direction from the highway was a white-fronted house with blue lettering that said, MUSIC CITY USA.

“That’s Motown,” she said.

“You know Cloe isn’t any of the names mentioned in this novel.”

“It’s spelled wrong too.”

I looked around.  Where was the “gate”?  There it was!  Right beside the highway.

“Is this where you went in?”  I asked.

“Hardly.”

“Where was that?”

“Near the Henry Ford Museum.”

“How do I get back?”  she asked.

“Go though this gate.”

“What gate?”

“That one.”

“What one?”

Then I realized she wasn’t able to see and smell and hear and feel the gate like I could.

“Just hold silent,”  I said, “See what you find out.”

All we could hear was the rushing by of the cars.  It was the middle of the day and hot.  Nothing was happening.  A car squealed out of the service station onto the street.  That was it.

Her eyes opened wide and her mouth opened wide in a big gape.

“That’s it isn’t it!  Wow!”  She ran toward the “gate.”

“Beeoootiful!  Wow!”

She disappeared into the “gate.

I ran after her.

There was the Big Blank.

“Cloe!”

“You know you can spell my name any ol’ way you want you know?”

I followed the voice.  Is that what it was?  Don’t know.  Popped out right into Cloe.

“This is an unexpected bump for sure!”

I looked around.  It was hot.  The sun was really bright and hot.  There was a huge lake over there and sort of reddish bluffs behind us.  I almost knocked Cloe down the hill.  She started crying.  I had trouble knowing what so I awkwardly blurted out.

“I’m sorry!  I moved too fast I guess and you were right there and I just bumped into you because you were right there when I came out and . . . “

“Oh, that’s not it you bloody blurt!”

I’d never been called a bloody blurt before.

“I’m lost!’  she wailed, “I’ll never get back!  Never get back home!”  and just stood there, sobbing and her body heaving to her sobs.

“I know how to get back.”

“Then why are you here?”

“I followed you.”

“How sweet.”

“Well, you were there.”

“Sort of like Mt. Everest.”

“That’s not it.”

“What, then.”

“Well, you were just there.”

“Like Mt. Everest.”

“No!”

“I wasn’t there.”

“No you weren’t not there – you were were there.”

“You’re not making grammatical sense.”

“None of this makes any sense.”

“That’s because our senses are used to what we think is normal around us.”

“You think THIS is normal?”

“For somebody probably.”

“You think there are people that think this is normal?”

“Don’t you?”

“No.”

“Then if you don’t think it’s normal then why do you do it?”

“I don’t not think it’s normal.  I thought you meant do I think there are people who think this is normal and I said I don’t.”

“You said ‘No.’,  to be exact, but that’s not what I asked.

“What did you ask then?”

‘I didn’t ask if you thought there were people who think this normal.  The obviously is at least one person who seems to think it is normal – or at least has been in it quite a few times and doesn’t think it is so unusual – and that’s you.  I asked, ‘Don’t you think it’s normal?”

I was stumped.  I didn’t say a word.

“I  mean, you’re saying that we can get back.  You must know how.  It’s become more commonplace for you and you’ve learned a lot about it – right?”

“Well, I don’t quite know how to . . . 

“You don’t know how to say it, but you don’t know your way around – right!??”

“Well, I don’t know everything about it, but . . . “

“We’re stuck here, right??!!”

She was beginning to become livid.

“I can get us back!  Okay?!”

“THAT’S ALL I WANTED TO KNOW!!!!”

Boy was she livid.  Then she calmed down.  Enough that she started looking around and more or less enjoying where we were.

“Must be a desert of some sort,” she said, “Except for that lake out there.”

To myself I lauded her “firm grasp of the obvious”.

The ground was sort of loose, here, varying sizes of rocks and a sort of clay – sandstonish consistency. The lake looked really still, almost like a mirror, but not quite.  Sailboats skimmed along its surface far away – it was a big lake.  Those sails were really small. The sky was a large expanse of hazy blue, with  light, feathery cumulus clouds scattered across it, look totally bright in comparison with the landscape – yet that was bright by itself – orangeish hues – we looked behind us and saw the cliff rising steeply above us, the same loose type soil we were standing on.  The lake was not far below us.

“Want to go down?” she asked.

“Well, . . . I don’t know where we’re at . . . “ I replied.

“It doesn’t look unsafe – and you can get us back, right?”

I looked back at where the “gate” should have been.  She looked back.

“See?  It’s there!  All we have to do is go right back to it right?”

I looked at it.  It looked okay, like it wasn’t going anywhere.  I looked around and saw one gate after another.  I was stupefied.

She looked stupefied too.

“What the hell?!!!”

“I don’t know.”

“This is strange.”

It was a row of gates, from as far to the left as I could see to as far to the right as I could see, all in a row, right along the cliff at the same height.

“This is weird,”  I said.

“The whole thing’s weird!”

“There might be somebody to whom it’s not weird – to whom it’s a normal as can be and to whom all this is normal.”

“You mean all this strange desert and that lake.  Do you realize we might be in a Martian landscape – after all, it’s all just like Mars.”

“Except for the lake.  And the clouds.”

“You’re right.  I wonder if we’re on another planet?”

“We’ve got just as much strange landscapes on this planet to do anyone.”

“Yeah you’re right.”

“Since you’re the first other person I’ve met in the Big Blank, and my dreams have had several other persons involved, I might as well warn you.”

“What?”

“We’re going to be on the run.”

“That’s odd.”

“What?”

“On the run?”

“Yeah.”

“From what?”

“Others who want the secret to these ‘gates’ and the Big Blank – you know what I mean?”

“Like to do something bad with them?”

“Yeah.”

“Like what can they do?”

“Good question.  I figure they’d use the whole thing for some sort of warfare – I mean my dreams give a fuzzy indication of the Government chasing me and other people.”

“Okay – give me an example.”

I told her about the one major dream I had – of several of us running from what in my dream, fuzzily, seemed to be Governmental agents.  We got in a good-sized transport plane that had trouble taking off, it seemed – flew low to the ground.  I can’t recall if we landed somewhere.  In the same dream, we were scurrying along behind walls of a room of some kind – like in the space between the walls – behind what in the dreamed resembled a wood panel wall, moving along behind it, watching these people that seemed in the dream to be from the Government.  In this same dream, we were chased into this pigpen – literally, with pigs in it.  We clambered up stairs to a wood runway above the pigpens and found a way out – not the usually door or anything – just out.

“You know you can’t base all your life on dreams,” she said.

“Well, this came from a dream,” I replied.

“It did?”

“You were never part of it, but here you are.”

“You know,” she said, “I don’t think you have any firm grasp of the difference between dreams and reality.”

“Well, if I did, you wouldn’t be here.”

“Hmm,” she said, then thought a minute.

“Well, do we go back or stay awhile?”

I looked back at the row of doorways that were “gates”.

“We might get stuck here,” I said, “Might find that all these other ‘gates’ are fake ones that lead us to something bad.  We’d be taking a chance.”

“It’s up to you.”

“No, it’s up to you.”

“How about it’s up to both of us.”

“That seems fair.”

“I can only speak for myself . . . I don’t care.”

“I’d like to go down to the water’s edge and dip my feet in the lake.”

“Okay.”

So we went down.  The soil was loose, soft, between sinking into it and slipping and sliding down to the shore of the lake.  When it leveled off some, the ground had a whitish crust to it, with some sort of domes sticking up here and there.  We looked a little closer at the whitish substance; it looked like it had crystals to it.  You could see a line of the white substance around the lakeshore, sort of like a ring around a bathtub.

“What do you think?” she asked.

“I don’t know – maybe salt – I don’t know.”

“It could be something else.”

“Yeah, something we don’t want to put in our mouths.”

A distance along the shore, we noticed people.  They were bending over and it seemed digging up the substance around the lake – they were so far away they were just dark forms, but you could pretty well make out what they were doing.

“Must be valuable,” she said.

“We must be on Earth – those are people.”

“Wonder where.”

She took her shoes off, found a rock to sit on that was in the water, and sat on it and sank her feet in the water, splashing it around.  I wondered if it was safe.

“How long have you been going through those doorways?” she asked.

“A couple of months.”

“So what do you know?”

“You can smell them and hear them besides seeing them.”

She became quiet and listened and smelled the air.

“By gosh, you’re right!”  She said.

“You go in and come out any number of places.”

“Do you go just anywhere, or can you go where you want?”

“Once you’ve discovered a doorway and know just about where it is, when you enter a doorway and basically just about ‘wish’ to be at that doorway, then you always come out where you want to.”

“Wow!”

“Where do you want to go back when we go back in?”

“Wherever you go.”

At that moment, we saw people coming toward us.  They had uniforms on.

“Maybe we’d better go now,” I said.

She got out of the water, put her socks and shoes back on and followed me up the steep slope to the various doors.  The people were getting closer and moving faster to get to us.

“Which one?”

This was something of a dilemma.

“Doesn’t matter,” I lied, “Better this than what they will probably do to us.”

“I think you’re right about that.  Lead the way, Livingston.”

I popped in a doorway and she followed.  Came out in the alley near my house.

“This is it?”

“This is near where I live.”

“I wasn’t thinking of anything.  You were the one thinking of where you wanted to go.”

“You aren’t asking me to try to explain this are you?”

“Yeah, what was I thinking.  You don’t know that much more than I do.”

“I thought there couldn’t be more than one person going through this at a time.”

“What made you think that?”

“Oh, my dreams –- and the fact that we bumped into each other and couldn’t get around each other.”

“Maybe we were going opposite directions and that’s why we couldn’t go anywhere – but if we go in the same direction . . . “

“Yeah, but my dream . . . “

“We could try it out.”

“Like what?”

“Like one of goes through first – you have to have in mind where you’re going – like you did just now when you came here – then you go there and I follow.  Or I go first and you follow.”

“That’s a lot to think about.”

“No it’s not – just go – just do it!”

“Am I sure I can trust where you go?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

She looked perturbed.

“Let’s’ just forget it.”

“Wait a minute – what’re you so mad about?”

“Just forget it!”

And she walked right through the doorway.  Disappeared.  Well isn’t what you’re supposed to do?  I thought.  Disappear.  That must be what I did when I went through the doorways.  Then I thought I’d better follow her.

Popped out back at the lake in the desert.  She was nowhere to be found.  Where is she?  I asked myself.   Let’s try Detroit, I thought, as I walked right back through the doorway.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw uniformed people close who started toward me.  Popped out in Detroit near the highway same place as before.  She wasn’t there.

“Cloe!”  I shouted.  A few people stared at me as if I were crazy.  No Cloe though.  Better go home, I thought.  Popped into the door and back out at my alley.

Went home, went to sleep, knew I needed to get to work the next morning.

Went to sleep, didn’t take a bath, no dreams.  Woke up.

Decided not to go to work.

“I think I’ll try to find work in Paris,” I said to myself.

Popped in the doorway, ended up in front of the Arch de Triomph – right?  Is that how it’s said or spelled or whatever?  Anyway that’s where I ended up.  Recognizable for sure.  A little restaurant?  How’s that for a place to work?  Looked around trying to find the doorway I just popped out of -  it wasn’t there.  People were rushing along the sidewalk here – must have run the doorway off or something.  So how am I going to get home?  Paris had places – just like the U. S. – there’re doors for sure.

Walked a little – found a sidewalk café.

“Coemoen tally vu?" I asked.

“Tray Bien?  Aye Vu?”

“Muy Bien.” I replied.

“Et Vu Espanyol?”

“What?” I asked.

“Et Vu Anglase?”

“What?”

“Et Vu Ameriken?”

“I’m American – Good old Boston.”

“Kay Deet Vu?”

“I don’t eat beets.”

“Alright – you speak English?”

“Yes”

“You don’t speak French much to you?”

“I should have learned it better in college.”  I felt somewhat self-conscious.

“I bet you feel self-conscious.”

“Yes, I do.”

“And well you should.  I’m French and I speak better English than you do French.”

“Sorry.”

“Just don’t try to speak French when you can’t – okay?”

“Okay.”

“You want some time to look at the menu.”

“All I want is a cup of coffee.”

“That’s fine.”  And he walked away.

I took my wallet out of my pocket to see if I had money enough to pay for the coffee.  I looked at the menu to see how much a cup of coffee cost. The prices were in francs and Eurodollars, but not American dollars, so I really didn’t know, even though I had about thirty dollars along with and a bank card and a couple of credit cards, which I had used sparingly.

“Do you realize,” I told myself, “that I really don’t need a job here – I can live off of these cards without a whole lot of trouble.”

I mulled this over while waiting for the coffee.

Where were we?  Oh!  France – that’s right!!! Paris – Gayee  Paree!!!  Pardonay Mwa see voo  play – great place!!!  Great trippin’ down the sham eleesay!!!  So now we got trouble in Iraq – great!!!  And now I’m here where the onus is pointed – great!!  Oh well, I have credit cards. 

It’s a nice coffee shop here – got English speaking people to help an old man make his way around the place – been staying with the people some times – dropping back home every once in a while – pick up the mail – check out the credit card debt – getting a  brand new one to pay off all the old ones so they aren’t on my back – then making payments on the new one with some of the old ones – then paying off the old ones again with the new one and another new one that I got.  Wonder how long I can live like this?

Having a nice St. Emilion at the coffee shop—my favorite – I remember when it was one of the cheapest and then became one of the most expensive – great wine!!!  Everything’s great!!! So here’s a tap on the shoulder and there’s what’s her name behind – that gal I met in the Great Blank – that first person I met – you know???

“Hey!  You’re in trouble!!”  She says.

“Huh!”

“Yeah – you’re in trouble!!!”

“What?!  Because I haven’t seen you for months?  You’re mad at me about that?!!”

“Stupido!!!  It’s cops!!!”

“You got the cops after me??!!”

“Stupido and a half!!!  I didn’t do shit!!!”

“What’s the cops got to do with it then?!!”

“They’re watching your house!!!”

“Since when?!!  I was just there last week and I didn’t see any cops.”

“Yesterday.  I came through your door in the alley and started toward your house and there they were – two of them in a car, right across from your house and watching it pretty closely.”

“Oh God!! I wonder what for?”

“You can find out if you go back home.”

“I don’t think so!!!”

“I’ve been wondering about you – wondering where you were – haven’t seen you for months – that’s why I thought I’d drop by your house.”

“You’re so nice.”

“Well, aren’t you going to ask how I found you?”

“It’s the St. Emilion.  Want some?”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

“Well, sit down, then!!”

“Hey!  This is good stuff!!!”

“So how’d you find me?  Are we leaving a trail here?  Some residual stuff in the Big Blank???”

“Hardly that exotic.  I found a credit card receipt in your alley by the dumpster.”

“Sheesh!”

“And I’ll bet the cops know too!”

I sorta woke from my St. Emilion stupor enough to realize that I couldn’t hang around here any longer.  I stumbled up and knocked the chair I was sitting backward and held the wine bottle rather precariously and the waiter came over and helped to steady me.

“I see you have a new girlfriend,” he said.

“A NEW one,” she said, “and I am number what?  Fifteen?  Sixteen?  One-hundred?  I bet you’ve been busy!!!”

“Don’t get mad.”

“Get even!”

“I’m sorry,” the waiter said, “I think I said something wrong.”

“Now at all,” she said, “We’re just old friends – I’m pulling his chain.”

The waiter looked puzzled.  “Chain?  He isn’t wearing any chains.  Where’s the chain you’re pulling?”

“It’s like ‘il fait pleut’”, she replied, “just a saying.”

“Oh!” and the waiter’s eyes opened wide in half recognition, “It’s one of those American sayings.  What does it mean?”

“Sort of like playing a joke on someone – making like I’m mad when I’m not really  to see how he reacts.”

“I can see,” the waiter replied, “you really did ‘pull his chain’”

And then  I turned red.

“It’s not the wine, M’sieur.”

I paid for the bottle with the credit card I didn’t owe anything on and we got out of there.

Down the street – it was Louie.

“Hey!” he shouted. “Some stranger’s asking about you!”

He didn’t look or direct it to anyone in particular – turned to some person walking toward him on the sidewalk and walked with him a little – until some guys with suits got out of a car and walked up to them and started talking, holding that other guy by both arms and taking him into the car.

“That was sharp,” what’s her name said.

“It was?”

“Yeah – he just saved your ass!  I think you’d better do the same!  Let’s go!”

Popped through the door behind her and came out – I knew where – it was along that big sea we were at before – a pretty flat red sand and gravel and clay type soil beach by the sea and bluffs behind us rising quite a ways.  Steep gullies coming out to the beach all dry and almost to the top, caves in the bluffs.  It was sunny and warm and the St. Emilion was sunny and warm too.

“Same place – different, though,” she said.

“Yeah.  Wondering where we are.”

“Hard telling.”

“We ought to find out.”

“Later, gator.  Look up there!”

There were dark figures at the top of the bluffs above us, looking down.

“Aren’t you being a little paranoid,” I asked.

“You want to find out what they want?”

We headed for the nearest door – not as many here as there were at our last location in this location.

“Phew!  It stinks!!!”  she said

I was still holding my St. Emilion and not feeling much of anything.  I looked around.

“You look pale,” she said.

I leaned over the rail and expunged St. Emilion and the rest of my lunch.  There was movement below.  I felt seasick.  I expunged some more.  There was grunting down below -- and squealing – and loud noises.  I looked down and saw my expungings on some pigs and others were trying to eat it off of them.

“Where are we?”  She was looking around.

I looked around finally.  Still had the bottle of St. Emilion in my hand.  We were on a wooden walkway with wooden railings all made of two by fours except for the floor, which was two by sixes, with gaps of about a half inch between them.  Below us were several pens separated by fences made of two by fours and pigs were in several of the pens, not small ones – the pigs.  They – the pigs – were big – not huge, but big instead of being small – but not big instead of being big – not big pigs – but bigger than small – but big --  big pigs  . . .

“This is a pig pen!!!” she exclaimed.

“Big pigs.”

“Really big!!!”

“Not that big.”

“They’re big!!!”

“They get bigger.”

“They’re big enough for me!!!”

“Durocs.”

“Do rocks?”

“Durocs!”

“There aren’t any rocks anywhere in sight!!!”

“That’s the pigs.”

“Like the roosters.”

“They don’t look a bit like roosters.”

“I mean the chickens.”

“Chickens and pigs are different.”

“I know that!!!”

“Well what are you talking about chickens for?”

“The rooster that Rock Island thing – you’re talking like these a rock something pigs right?  That Rock Island – there’s a color in there somewhere.”

“Oh!”

“Now do you know what I’m talking about?”

“It’s Rhode Island Red – like the state.”

“So what’s with the rocks?”

I had to stop a minute.

“The Do Rocks.”

“Oh!”

“Now you know what I’m talking about?”

“D – U – R – O – C, “ I said, “—Duroc.”

“Oh.”

“It’s a breed of pig.”

“Oh.”

“See – they’re red with black spots – that’s Durocs.”

“They’re orange.”

“You  call orange red when you’re talking about colors . . . “

She was blank.

“With pigs.”

“Orange pigs are red?”

We stood there above the pigs in silence for awhile.

‘Hampshire pigs are black and white.”

“New Hampshire can’t afford color?”

“It’s not new.”

“They couldn’t afford color all along?”

I was blank.

“I think Hampshire pigs are named after the English county,” I said.

“So Hampshire can’t afford color.  Rock Island can but Hampshire can just get black and white.”

“The pigs are colored . . . “

“With kids’ crayons?  Because they can only afford black and white?”

“No!  That’s their colors!”

“Black and white?”

“Yes!”

“But those aren’t colors – they’re – well, they’re black and white.”

We stood there a while longer.

“Sheesh!  It REALLY STINKS!!!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah,” I said, “let’s get out of here.”

“Where’s the door?”

We looked around.  There it was.

“Where do we want to go?”   she asked.

I looked around the stockyard a bit.  There was a building some distance off.  It was nighttime so it was hard telling what it was at first.  It was tall and slender and rectangular – had windows at the top where a faint glow came out.  There was a light rotating – like a lighthouse light – it came around and lit up the sky above us and went back again.  A small airplane landed over that way.

“See the airport,” I said.

“Sure – we’ve got to get out of here.  I hate this smell!!!”

We went through the door.

I didn’t know where I was going.  I ended up in the house.  There was that old, ragged guy there, heating a can of beans over an old steel drum that he had a fire in.  He had newspapers nearby that he used I guess to get a fire going when he needed it.   The top one had my picture on it!

“Can I read your newspaper?”  I asked.

“If you give it back,” he replied.

I picked up the paper and looked at it to find out why my picture was on it.

“MAN WANTED FOR QUESTIONING” the headline read.  The caption in the picture had my name on it and below it was “SUSPICIOUSLY LEFT JOB TO LIVE IN FRANCE”.  The story started out, “(my name) is being sought for questioning in relation to recent world activities.  It is believed he is in contact with people in France who wil shed light on many mysteries.”  It went on to explain that because I had suddenly disappeared from over here and just as suddenly appeared in France, that I was thought to have been taken there, whether willingly or not they didn’t know, and possibly was in contact with people who had information vital to U.S. interests.

“My god!” I said aloud.

“Huh?” the guy said.

This was weird.  “I before E except after C and when the word is weird”  This was weird.  I wondered what would happen if I showed up for work.  Suddenly the paper was ripped out of my hands and there was what’s her name throwing it into the guy’s fire.

“Hey!” he said, “I’m not finished reading it yet!  Ouch!” as he reached into the fire to get it and right away yanked his  hand right back out.  “Who’s this?  Another one of your girlfiends?”

“Which number am I?” she said, “twenty-one?  Thirty-one? One hundred and one?”:

“Oh shut up!”

‘How come everybody asks about your girlfriends?  Do you bring them up here?  Maybe they’re the type that love this kind of a place – farmer girls perhaps?  I but they love doing it in the Durocs!”

“Oh shut up!”

“Looks like you have a problem here.”

“Yeah.  I’m thinking of maybe going back to work and seeing what they’re . . . “

“El stupido maximo loco!!!  Think!”

“THIMK – that’s how they spell it on the posters.”

“You’re really thinking about going back to work?”

“It’s a bad idea isn’t it?  Cops or somebody watching huh?”

We stood there a while in silence.

“Let’s sit down and sleep on this awhile,” I suggested.

“You owe me rent!” the guy said as he washed his dishes.

“What’ve you got?” I asked.

“Me?”

“All I’ve got is credit cards.”

“You got a debit  card?”

“Yeah.”

“Money in the bank?”

“Yeah.”

“Go to an ATM in Timbuktu and get it out.”

I went through the door and came back later with some cash.

“Easy as pie.” I said.

“There really IS an ATM in Timbuktu?”

“I got it in D.C.”

“Fantastic!!!”

“How much?” I asked the guy.

“Five dollars per person.”

“For how long?”

“A week.”

I gave him ten dollars and he was just about as overjoyed as anyone could get.

“Now they’ll be all over D.C. looking for you.”

We stayed overnight in a blanket I got at a second hand store in D.C. and we got passionate.  It must been a while for her too.  When we finished, I could hear the guy underneath his blanket.  We must  have excited him.

“I’ll get something to eat.” She said.

She came back with some Jack-in-the-Box.

“Where’d you get it?”

“Denver.”

“Don’t you think they’ll be looking for you there?”

“They don’t know me.  They only know you.”

“I wonder why they’ve got me connected with Iraq?”

“You’ve been in France.”

“What’s that got to do with it?”

“What’s that got to do with it . . .  think!”

“So France opposed our going into Iraq.”

“Right – convenient excuse.”

“Right – so why connect me with Iraq?”

“Another convenient excuse?  That guy really snores loud!”

“But that’s ridiculous – just ridiculous – no matter where we are with Iraq – whether in the present or in the future  or in the past or wherever – I mean, . . . “

“Yeah, well, think about it.  They can cover up what’s really going on.”

“You think they now?”

“Somebody just have read your novel.”

“This one?”

“Yeah, this one – the one we’re in right now.”

“So they read the novel, they see me disappearing, they find I’m in France.”

“They add it all up.”

“And they’re after me.”

“Imagine what they could do if they could go through these doors.”

“Pop in and pop out anywhere.”

“Right.”

“Pop up somewhere and . . . “

“Right.”

“They want my secret.”

“Right.”

“It’s beginning.”

“Right.”

“And it will end in the stockyard.”

“How do you know that?”

“That’s my dream.”

“That’s right.  I read it in your novel.”

“And so did they.”

“That’s right.”

“So how does it end?”

“I don’t know.”

“You know all these other things.”

“I only know we go through the pigs again.”

“Yuck!!!!” 

She was silent for quite a while, then she asked, “So where do we go from here?”

I was asleep and didn’t hear her.

The next morning – “You know, I think we need somewhere to clean up,” she said.

“There’s a bathtub on the second floor,” the guy said.

She looked at the guy.  I saw the glint in his eyes.

“A motel.”

“In Mexico.  They’re cheap.”

“Do you speak Spanish?”

I thought about it a bit.

“Let’s try something,” I said, “I’ll be back.”

I left – checked out a gas station, found a state map and bought it and brought it back with me.

When I got back, I opened it up and pointed out a place on the map to her.

“Think about going here,” I said, “But don’t speak the name.”

She looked at the map where I had my finger pointing.

I went through the door.  I was out on a highway and there it was – that little motel – cheap.  I hoped she found it too.  I waited.  Where’d she go?  I went back – back through the door I’d come out.   Came back out not in the house with the guy, but on top of a hill.   There she was!

“This paper’s got your name on it!”

“Yep.  I wrote it back between writing this novel.”

“You did?”

“Yeah, right after the first part was written up to Paris and before St. Emilion.”

“How come?”

“To have my name up here.”

“I mean how come such a long time between writing.”

“Couldn’t think of anything.”

“And you can.”

“Work’s slack. I’ve got time to write it.”

“So I’m a subject of your writing as we speak?”

“That’s right.”

“Hey!  This is a beautiful place!”

“My favorite.”

“So you’re leaving clues in your novel.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why.”

“You think you’ll know before the end?”

“You know the old adage:  ‘If you introduce a gun in Act One, you’d better use it by the end of Act Three.”

“You really think this will come true?”

“I only know what I write about.”

“This is really disorienting, you know?”

“It’s not my fault!”

“But you wrote it!”

“Maybe I did, but we’re living it.  If it’s real . . . see?  If it’s real, I didn’t have anything to do with it . . . I just wrote it . . . “

“That makes it all the more confusing.”

“Imagine how everyone else in the story feels.”

“So what do you think will happen here?”

“We just have to get to that point to find out.  Let’s try to get to the motel.”

The door was down in the woods a ways – I could smell it and hear it even  up here with all the smells and sounds and there it was, between two trees and among some large boulders.  I gave her the map and told  her to concentrate on where I had pointed my finger.

I went through again and came out by the motel.  Where was she?  In the back of that pickup going by!  She pounded on the roof and the guy driving slammed on his brakes and got out, very surprised.

“Where’d you come from?” he asked.

“Just dropped in.”

“Well get out of my damned truck!”

She got out and he went on.

E for Effort...

It doesn't take an expert to tell you that this is a really tough kind of story to put together. This opening is, in effect, the easy part; making everything fit in the end (so that the whole thing works, including the earlier material) is the major challenge.

So far, so good. We've met the two characters, learned the ground rules and been exposed to the way this world works. If the author continues, we'll see where it goes, and, eventually, what the point is.

Eric

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