Another World Arc
France. The year 1790. This is another world. My world is one where mama and papa are here in our huge white house and every day is filled with games and delicious pastries. My world is one where I go for walks in our big garden and I ask our butler the names of all the flowers and trees and animals that I see. He always answers me, “Genevre, you have such a curious mind for a young lady!” and smiles at me. My world is one where my maid, Angeline, would comb my blond hair every morning and tell me stories her mother always told her.
This is another world. The huge white house is on fire. Hungry flames lick up the curtains and smother the furniture. I heard mama screaming a while back, but she stopped now. I’m lying here on the floor next to my favorite light blue chair. Above my head, the ceiling and chandeliers have gone. In their place is a smoke coils throughout the house.
This is another world. My world is one where the peasants greeted mama and papa with curtsies and waves. We went out for rides on horses and when we saw them in the fields they’d always stop their work and talk to my father. In this world, their faces are contorted in anger, filled with hatred and…I don’t know them anymore. I hear someone coming closer to me. I’m ready for whatever will happen because this isn’t my world and I want to get back to mine as quickly as possible.
The pain I expected never came. I must have passed out because the next thing I knew I was awake and a man was carrying me. He had long brown hair like papa’s and deep brown eyes. He was tall and his arms were strong. He saw me wake up and I turned back. My world was on fire. The garden, the house, my family and everything was being taken from me. I didn’t know at the time, but this man with the long brown hair was actually taking me to a new world. Tears ran from my eyes as I thought of mama and papa and the man offered me his handkerchief. I accepted it and wiped my eyes, even though the tears wouldn’t stop. I still had to ask him, this person who saved me from the flaming world and was taking me to a new one.
“May I ask your name, sir?”
“Francois.” replied the man. “Though most people refer to me now as Kane.”
Kalem walked into his father’s room and went straight towards the meditation area. Audas didn’t even turn over to look at him as he sat with his feet placed on his calves in the ‘lotus’ position. A different fragrance of incense permeated the air. Kalem figured it was due to the person who sat next to him that his father was burning something other than his favorite sandalwood.
Shari sat cross legged next to Audas, eyes closed too. Kalem stared closer. She was truly in a trance. He remembered how dazed she’d been after returning to her body. It was as though something was missing. Missing from her consciousness. His father had explained something about the three ‘cloud souls’ and seven ‘white souls’ that every person has and that Shari’s hadn’t all returned due to the jellyfish creature’s attack on her in the intermediate realm. The incense Audas burned was special; it had the effect of drawing lost soul fragments to it. It was dangerous at the same time as who knows what other entities would be drawn by it. Audas maintained a spiritual barrier around Shari to keep any of these entities away.
Audas opened one beady eye and stared at Kalem, his face was red from straining. “Kalem…” he said through gritted teeth. Kalem walked closer, thinking the worst. Could it be that his father had been attacked psychically? Could he be under pressure from roaming spirits? “I’ve got to pee Kalem.”
Kalem relaxed his tense hands and walked closer. “Alright, I’ll take over for a while.” Audas quickly stood up, carefully walking out of the area, and then burst into a run for the bathroom. Kalem snickered a bit and stepped over to Shari. As he was about to sit down, her eyes flicked open.
At first, she lifted her hands and stared at them, turning them around and around. Then she stared around the room, as if taking in everything for the first time. At last her gaze reached Kalem and stopped at his eyes. For a moment they stared into each other’s eyes. Kalem felt uncomfortable. It was the kind of look you give someone before you kiss them. And she did. Grabbing Kalem’s neck she pulled his face closer and planted her lips on his.
He tried pulling away but her grip was powerful. After kissing for a while she suddenly stopped and let him go.
“You taste funny.” she said and stood up. Looking down at her clothes, she glanced herself up and down and giggled. Kalem couldn’t believe how she was acting. This wasn’t like Shari at all.
“This place has a strange smell,” she said. “I’m leaving.” And with that Shari walked out the room. Audas emerged looking a lot more like his usual self and stared over to where Shari had been sitting.
“I take it the princess is feeling better.” He smirked.
“Yeah,” replied Kalem thoughtfully, touching his lips. “But she was acting really different.”
Shari sauntered down the street, taking in everything. She stopped in front of a store that sold gowns. It was a very expensive shop and most of the gowns were tailor made. Shari walked inside and stared at the man who came to greet her as she entered. “Good…afternoon….ma’am,” the middle aged, mustached man said hesitantly, eyeing her. Shari didn’t have the appearance of someone who was going to buy a gown, or who could afford one. Shari pushed past the man and looked over the gowns that were hanging on display.
“That one,” she said, pointing at a scarlet red gown made of silk and lace. It was short sleeved and very frilly. The man falteringly brought it down for Shari to look at. To his amazement, she stripped off her t-shirt and jeans, and then, standing in only her underwear, proceeded to grab the gown and struggle into it. The man didn’t know what to do. Admittedly, some of his customers were eccentric but this was a first.
“I take it that you like that one ma’am,” he said after she’d put it on and was admiring herself.
“Yes, I’ll be taking it,” Shari said and began heading for the door. The man grabbed her arm. Shari turned her head slowly to stare at him.
“My apologies ma’am, but you haven’t paid yet.”
Shari didn’t remove her arm from the man’s grasp. She just hit him square on the chin with her free hand. The man flew back into a rack of gowns and they came crashing down on him. He was quite unconscious. Shari, not stopping to look, wandered out of the shop.
Esha got a call from Kalem and quickly rushed out to find Shari. She couldn’t get Kalem’s words out of her head, “It was like she was in her own world.”
“Her own world? Shari? What on earth has happened to her?” Esha thought as the subway train arrived at the stop near Kalem’s house. Rushing up the stairway and onto the streets she glanced all around looking for her. She stopped at a fruit stand and asked the owner if he’d seen a girl that looked like her.
The man immediately replied, “Damn right I have. That wacky chick was wearing a Cinderella dress in the middle of the day! Walkin’ in the middle of the road like she was tryin’ to commit suicide or something…sheesh, kids these days…”
“Which direction did she go in?” Esha asked, panic rising in her throat.
The man jutted his chin in the direction Shari had gone and Esha quickly bolted off.
“Please God,” she thought, “Don’t let anything happen to her.”
Shari was in another world. She walked over vehicles and hopped across the street while cars honked loudly. Her uncaring ears heard nothing except the sounds of this new world. She walked into a shop and saw some things that appeared edible, for some reason her stomach was grumbling. She took a long French loaf from the shelf in the shop and immediately placed it in her mouth. The woman behind the counter was shouting something at her, but Shari didn’t care. She started to walk out of the shop and into the gleaming sunlight again. She loved the way it touched her skin, it was so different. Chewing on the bread, oblivious to everyone glaring around her, she carried on down the street.
A hand grabbed her arm. Shari turned to see a girl looking at her with deeply concerned eyes.
“Shari,” Esha gasped, checking out the chaos all around her, “What’s going on? What have you been doing?” There was urgency in her voice.
Shari felt like she knew this girl. She thrust her hand out and pulled the girl close to her, placing her lips on hers. Esha pushed her away, a shocked look on her face.
“Shari? What’s gotten into you? Are you on something?”
Shari linked her arm in Esha’s and said, “I like you, you taste nice.”
Shari woke up to the familiar sight of her bedroom. Light punched in through the curtains and pierced her eyes. She had a funny feeling that she shouldn’t be here.
“That’s right!” she remembered. “I was with Audas, meditating, and trying to recover my soul…fragments or whatever. Aaaah, I can’t remember anything else. I definitely don’t remember coming home. Did they bring me home? Was I out or something?” she got up out of bed and slipped on a skirt and a blouse. Heading out the door she saw her mom getting ready for work.
“Morning, mom.” muttered Shari. As soon as she finished her sentence she felt her mouth go numb. Shari’s mom was a plain woman, usually. She was always thrifty, dressed plainly and did everything carefully. The woman standing in front of her had the face and seemed to be her mother, but her appearance could only be described as zany. Her hair was tied up in a top knot. She wore a really short mini and a loose hanging t-shirt that exposed her shoulders. Also, her mom was a bit pudgy. This woman had the body of a teenager.
“Uuuuh mom?” Shari said questioningly. Shari’s mom stopped her bustling and paused for a moment.
“S’up honey?” asked Shari’s mom, chewing gum (she never chewed gum).
“Uuuhh where’s dad mom?” asked Shari. Her father worked from home and would usually be poking around at this time of day.
Shari’s mom gave her a look of disbelief. “That loser? Baby, you know I haven’t seen that jerk in years! Come to think of it, he owes me some alimony…”
“Mom, hold on. Are you saying you guys are divorced?” Shari’s mom stopped again, watching Shari. Then she burst out laughing, it was the same shrill laughter Shari knew. “Whoa, you are in a good mood today sweetie, joking around all the time…”
She pulled Shari closer for a big hug. Shari felt her warmth. The smell of her, even though she was doused in perfume, was her mother’s…but she was completely different, and she’d divorced her father?
“Gotta run baby. My shift at Private Eyes starts at ten!” Shari’s mom kissed her forehead and left, slamming the door on the way out (Shari’s mom never slammed doors and often scolded Shari about it.)
Shari felt like her head was cracking. No, her mom had to have been joking. She’d divorced dad? She worked at that strip joint Private Eyes? “What the hell is going on?” she thought. Shari touched the walls for reassurance and then grabbed them tighter to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She even hit the wall a few times to make double sure. She didn’t know how, but she was in another world. Everything looked the same, but all the people in it were different.
She was almost scared to look at her contacts on her phone. No Esha…no Kalem…in this strange world, did she even know them? There were a whole bunch of contact names she’d never seen before. Petra? Had she ever met a girl called Petra?
Shari walked out into the morning sunshine. The streets seemed almost the same, the same trashcans, and the same signboards of shops. Wait, she could check on her neighbor Dagan. He’d lived in the same house for years. They’d been friends since elementary school; actually she’d always had a crush on him. He was kind of like her role model, a hardworking student and a really nice, caring guy. Shari rang the bell at his gate. Dagan’s familiar voice answered, “Yeah?”
“Hey Dagan, it’s me Shari! I’ve got to talk to you! There’s some really weird shit going on.”
“Sure, just give me a sec…”
Shari waited at the gate for close to five minutes before Dagan came half stumbling out of the house. Shari couldn’t believe what her eyes saw. The Dagan she knew had long hair, but this guy’s hair looked like he hadn’t combed or washed it in weeks. Dagan stood in front of her, scratching his head, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, rocking on his feet a little. He wasn’t wearing a T-shirt and his chest was so skinny she could see his ribs poking out like the model her teacher used to use in anatomy lessons. This was too much for her. Why was everyone different?
She looked at Dagan some more. When did he start smoking? Why was he so thin? Why did he look like he was going to fall over any second? “Hey, Shari. I’m cool with just standing here and all.” Dagan peered around his yard, swaying some more.
“Dagan,” she asked. “Have you been drinking?”
“Just a little Shari, I’ve been bored during the day after getting kicked out of college. Hey you wanna come inside? I think I’ve got a few beers left.” Shari’s mind was racing…Dagan, the model student kicked out of school? What was going on? She turned away from Dagan, she felt hot tears forming in her eyes.
“What kind of world is this?” This wasn’t her world. She stumbled into the street, trying to think. What could she do? This wasn’t a dream. Somehow she’d woken up and everyone was different. Then it came to her. In this world there was definitely one person that might be able to help her. Audas.