Another World Arc
Those days were truly what I could call my happiest. Kane had taken me to his home which was in the countryside and far from the strife that was plaguing the cities. I was already sixteen at that stage and I helped around the house quite a lot after attending school in the mornings. The school had very few students, so nearly no one questioned me about my past. After returning home I would usually climb up my favorite tree and sit in it. It was my own imaginary world, up in that tree. I pictured the tree rising into the air, floating up into the clouds and spying all sorts of creatures there. Then I’d come back down to earth and run in to embrace Kane. He’d always look at me with that same smile as the day he pulled me from those raging flames. So, I lived out my days. Kane would often need to go on trips to Paris or other faraway cities, but he’d always return soon and get back to his research.
You see, I knew Kane’s secret. He was a magician. Not like the buffoons who pulled things out of big top hats or made things disappear with tricks. He was a real magician. He needed many things for his rituals and experiments every day, and he’d planted a huge herb garden filled with every kind of exotic plant you could imagine behind the house.
One day I said to him, “Kane, I want to learn magic! Please teach me!” He was reading a book at the time and a thoughtful look crossed his face. He closed the book and walked over to me, putting his hand on my shoulder.
“Genevre, my dear, magic is something that comes at a price. Nothing in this world is obtained for nothing, and even the most profound wishes can turn out to be curses. Magic is something you need to be positively sure of your motivations before using.”
“I want to help you, Kane. I want to help other people too.” Kane’s serious expression softened as if these words were exactly what he wanted to hear.
“Very well then, my apprentice. I’ll teach you what I know.” I soon took up my role as his apprentice. That’s when my journey into that mysterious world began. Kane taught me of the powers of plants and their effects on people. He taught me how to ward off certain forces that might attempt to harm me. He also taught me how to visit the realms that were beyond my physical body. One day, he told me that his own teacher was coming. He looked ecstatic about it; he checked his pocket watch continually anticipating his teacher’s arrival. Finally we saw a coach drawing near our house. Kane ran out of the house to greet the man. They returned with arms over each other’s shoulders.
I felt a slight touch of jealousy, seeing how close they were, but I didn’t voice it. I looked at the man who was Kane’s teacher. He was probably in his forties. His head was bald under his hat and he had a plump belly. His face glowed kindly, just like Kane’s.
“Well, Kane, is this the young lady you’ve spoken so fondly of?” the man asked.
“Yes, this is her,” beamed Kane.
I blushed as Kane said those words; new, strange emotions were rising within my heart. The man took off his hat and revealed a shiny bald head. He extended his hand and I shook it. His hand seemed to pulse with warmth I’d never felt before.
“Nice to meet you sir.” I said shyly.
He patted me on the head, “No need to call me sir Genevre. It’s Audas.”
Shari had become someone else. Esha had to continually stop her from doing things that were going to get them in trouble all the way to Audas’s house. Shari had seen a necklace on an elderly woman’s neck and tried to whip it off. Fortunately, Esha caught her hand just in time. She stopped at a child in the street and held his hands and started dancing around with him in a circle, humming something in a language she’d never heard before. The little boy loved it, giggling away with Shari, but his parents, who were nearby, quickly grabbed his hand and dragged him off. She heard whispers of, “Weirdoes,” and, “…probably on drugs.” Esha sighed and just hoped she could get her there without further incident.
She decided to take a route less populated to avoid trouble. It went through a park. It turned out not to be a good idea. When Shari walked into the park, she acted like she’d seen a rare painting you only see once in a lifetime, and it was for free. Esha had never seen anyone do what she did; she literally threw herself at the grass, as if trying to absorb herself in it. She laughed like a small girl. Then she saw flowers. It looked like she was going to eat them or something. She ran over to a patch of neatly arranged peonies and just placed her head in the soil and looked at them. This definitely wasn’t Shari. Who was this? Shari was talking to the flowers. Esha could see her; she was talking and then listening to what they were saying. She was either crazy or she was some kind of alien.
“Hey Esha.” Kalem’s monotone voice came from over her shoulder. She could’ve hugged him, he felt like a rock of sureness in this landscape of strangeness. She restrained herself though.
“Kalem…am I glad to see you!” Esha nodded over at Shari, now rolling on the grass.
“I see there hasn’t been much improvement in her condition,” Kalem said.
“No, Kalem.” Esha spun around, tears forming in her eyes. “This isn’t Shari! I can tell! I don’t know why. She’s got Shari’s body, her voice…but Shari’s not in there.”
In another world, another Shari staggered, her eyes red from crying. It was too much for her. This weight pressing down on her, the reality of her situation squashing her into a cocoon she didn’t want to emerge from. Audas. Her mind kept thinking about Audas. In this wilderness of confusion, perhaps Audas could navigate her. Somehow, she found her way to where he’d lived. Sure enough, there it was, the only house from the fifties on a whole street of newly developed ones. She rapped on the knocker. After a brief wait, Audas’s familiar face opened the door. They both stood in the doorway in silence. Of course, Shari had been prepared that Audas wouldn’t recognize her. She opened he mouth to explain.
“Please come in,” he said. “I’ve been expecting you.”
In the future the cup has fallen, its fragments dispersing across the wooden floor. Now, the cup is in my hands. I’m holding it firmly. It’s warm contents are reassuring, something familiar in this unfamiliar place. A moment later, I know the cup is falling from my hands. But now, Audas is talking to me, and I’m explaining what’s happened in the past few hours.
Audas is sitting there, contemplating what I’ve said.
“It sounds like you’ve somehow been pushed into an alternate universe.” said Audas. “This Audas from your universe sounds interesting. He went down a path of magic. So did I, but I gave it up a while ago. Science is just too convincing. Anyway, you are in an alternate universe. How this happened, is what we need to ascertain. You say you were meditating after you came back from the intermediate realm. Do you remember why?”
I tried to thrust my cloudy memory back to that time. “Yes,” I remembered what the Audas then had said. “Audas said something about the soul consisting of three ‘cloud souls’ and seven ‘white souls’. He told me what they all represented but I just couldn’t get it. Anyway, he said that a few of my white souls hadn’t returned and that he’d have to gather them back. Actually, they should return on their own, but the problem is the interim while they haven’t returned is dangerous. So when I started meditating, I focused on drawing my souls back to me. Suddenly I woke up and I was in this screwed up world.”
Audas raised an eyebrow, “It may seem screwed up to you, but this universe is just the way it’s supposed to be for all the beings here. Let me explain. At every instant you are making choices right? Well, a scientific theory suggests that in those instants, your ‘self’ is separated into different universes, depending on the choice you made. For example, if I call take out now, what do you want, Chinese or burgers?”
“I’m in the mood for Chinese today,” I muttered.
“Exactly!” He picked up the phone and called a Chinese take-out and ordered two chow mein. “Now,” he continued. “In another universe, you felt like eating burgers, so we ordered burgers and we’d both be eating burgers in a half an hour. The universe is constantly splitting itself into different paths like this. The question is, if you drag the concept of a ‘soul’ into this, is the soul being separated each time? Or does each Universe’s Shari have a complete soul? These are all mysteries to me. But your dilemma will help me come to a conclusion about it.”
I stared up at him as if he’d just garbled absolute nonsense. I had no idea what he was talking about. Audas coughed, “Well, to make a long story short, while you were out of your body, another spirit jumped into it and pushed you out. I’m not sure why, but instead of dying your soul leapt into this alternate universe. So, you’re not in the right universe and we’ve got to get you back to yours.”
I felt the teacup fall from my hands, and breaking, its fragments dispersing across the wooden floor.
In a universe next door, Shari was having the time of her life. Esha and Kalem watched her anxiously as she skipped around the botanical garden. The more she moved, the lighter her body seemed to become. As they watched, it started to seem as if she could jump for longer, and stay in the air for longer. Esha gripped Kalem’s arm but he didn’t react. She looked at him pleadingly, but that empty expression had come across his face again.
“Kane!” she shouted, “Kane, what’s happening?”
It was Kane, he’d just manifested in Kalem’s body. “It appears that this is no ordinary wandering spirit or ghost. It’s more likely to be an elemental or a fairy. I can only guess…” he trailed off for a minute, “…how it go into Shari’s body, but the longer it stays in there, the more it will start to take on some characteristics it originally had.”
“Like what?” Esha asked.
“Lightness,” Kalem gestured towards Shari, “Would seem to be one of them.” Esha was shocked to see Shari jump over a hedge, but she literally hung in the air above it for a moment before finally coming down again. She’d only been down for a few seconds and she leapt again, this time onto the branch of a nearby tree. “I fear,” Kane continued seriously, “The longer the real Shari is absent form that body, the more difficult it will be to for her to return. We have to act now.”
Kane started to move towards Shari, who’d just come down from the tree. She was starting to look different now too. Her eyes flashed a purple hue and she eyed Kane as he approached.
“You,” she said, “I don’t like you. Stay away!” Shari launched a kick at Kane. Her new lightness made her moves quick and Kane could only raise his arm to block her flying kick. It was no use, she connected with his arm and he felt something snap. The force of it sent him sprawling into the bushes nearby. He stood up, his right arm hanging loosely, and came out from the bushes, his face scratched and bleeding. Esha started to move towards whatever was in Shari.
“Wait!” shouted Kane. “She has an affinity for you.” Using his good arm, he threw a bag at Esha. Esha caught it and looked. It was a plain brown cloth bag with a drawstring on top. “Get close to her and place it around her neck!” Kane coughed and slumped onto one knee.
Esha looked at the bag, wondering what good a bag was going to do. Then again, she’d wondered what good a Frisbee would be and it was pretty useful. How was she going to get close to this…spirit? Then it struck her. Of course! She walked toward ‘Shari’ confidently and took her head in her hands and began to kiss her. Shari brought out her hand to push Esha away, but then let her hand drop as if savoring something. What was it about Esha she found so…nice? Esha quickly slipped the bag around her neck and stepped back.
Shari stood still for a few seconds, her eyes slowly travelling down to the pouch around her neck. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she began to shake. Small jerks at first, becoming bigger with each second, until Shari was convulsing. Spit and froth began to emerge from her mouth as her body bent into a distorted shape, and she fell to the park’s grassy surface. Esha heard Kane walking over.
“That bag is almost similar to the oil Audas let you sniff before you left your bodies. That bag can contain a spirit. But this spirit is no ordinary one. It will not be contained by such a meager trap for a long time, we need to hurry.” Kane threw Shari over his back and he and Esha ran, as if pursued by demons, to Audas’s house.
In another world, Shari watched Audas nervously. He sat on his mediation cushion, the scent of rosewood curling through the air. Shari was beside him, wondering what to do next.
Audas spoke, “I’m going to identify the spirit that pushed you into this dimension.” said Audas. “There is only one way to do it, I need to access the Akashic records. The records of everything that anyone has ever thought, spoken or done. They all lie within the Akasha. Once I identify the spirit, I’ll return to my body…”
“I thought you had some ‘binding spell’ on you that prevented you from entering the afterlife.” Shari said.
“In your universe that’s possible, but in this Universe I’m lucky enough to have never had a binding placed on me. Anyway, once I return I’ll need you to leave your body and immediately summon the spirit. Only knowing its name will allow you to summon it back. That’s why I need to journey to the Akasha, to find out the name of the entity that did this and have it return to realms of the afterlife. Just remember this, once I return, I’ll tell you its name and you need to quickly enter the afterlife and summon it.” Audas stared at her almost wistfully. “Were we friends? In your dimension?”
Shari looked at her feet and said, “It doesn’t matter what world we’re in Audas. We’ll definitely be friends.” Audas smiled and closed his eyes. After a short while she could see that he was gone. Into another world.