Adventures of the Dimension Jumpers: In the Desert

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Elliot, Tesla, Riley and Lucio were exhausted. They'd never had such a hard time getting the hunters and hellspawn off their tails. After an unfortunate attack, they find themselves in a desert dimension. Luckily, they meet someone who is more han willing to help them out in the fourth installment of the Dimension Jumpers Series

Deserts are unforgiving. Red sands, scarce water and a never-ending barrage of sunlight made deserts what they were. This desert was no different. It was an infinite sea of dunes to those who didn’t know how to reach the refuge of the canyons.

A small vessel crested over the dunes. It hovered just a few inches above the sand. The vessel’s main body was shaped like a canoe and had a large sail stretching up from the center. A beam extended from the canoe, connecting to another thin, wooden beam. A young girl stood on the beam, holding a rope tightly in her hands.

Her loose clothes matched the color of the desert around her and billowed in the wind as she sailed along the dunes. Her headscarf protected her face from the dry wind and sand. A few stray strands of dark hair fell in front of her face. Her tunic fell to her knees and her legs were protected from the elements by a thick pair of leggings while her arms were covered in wraps.

Her boat sailed towards a steep dune. She tightened her grip on the rope.

Hold on, Squeak!” she called.

The girl moved on the beam and pulled the rope taut. The canoe lifted further from the ground, following her movements. They followed the curve of the dune until they reached a flat piece of the desert. She evened out the craft with practiced precision and it shot across the open area.

A blue and yellow striped tail poked up from the main canoe.

“You good, Squeak?”

A turquoise mouse head popped up, giving a happy squeak and a twitch of its large, round ears.

“Atta boy,” the girl replied, returning her gaze to the horizon. “We’re almost to town. Just keep an eye out for trouble.”

They spent another hour in the desert, weaving through various dunes and skimming across the top of the sand when the terrain flattened. Thankfully, they did not encounter pirates and avoided the sand wyrm traps. She navigated the desert as she always had. It was engraved in her bones.

Their vessel pulled into a town made of sturdy tents and tiny, wooden stalls. The backdrop changed from sand dunes to hard, cracked, dry ground and looming, red canyons. Empty livestock pens greeted her as she pulled her canoe to a stop and tied it to an empty stand. Squeak scrambled over to a leather bag. She caught a glimpse of the yellow spot on his back and his blue paws as he shrank to the size of a pebble and scurried into the bag.

The young girl took her bag and staff from the canoe and found a small patch of dirt behind one of the pens. She dug a seed out of her bag and planted it.

“Thank you for your mercy,” she said softly. “May the canyons bless the rest of our journey.”

“You are one of the few sand sailors who still thanks the land,” an old woman commented. “It is refreshing to see someone with such respect, Jekka.”

The girl pulled down the part of her headscarf that covered her mouth and nose, smiling at the woman. “It’s greater than I am. I’d be stupid not too. It’s what my family taught for generations.”

“Your last seed sprouted,” the woman replied.

Jekka’s face lit up. “Really?”

“Yes. Perhaps it’s a sign of good fortune for your upcoming travels.”

“Good fortune is always welcome,” Jekka stated, pulling herself up from the ground. “I should get my stall set up.”

The woman left Jekka with a nod. Jekka returned to the stall where her canoe was tied. She unloaded her goods. There were some minerals, salt and crystals from her trip to the Black Canyons, as well as some animal pelts and spices from the oasis. People started visiting her stand as soon as she finished setting up, eager to trade. Jekka was happy to trade for jerkies, leather and coins. Many of the townsfolk knew Jekka well and asked about her travels. She was more than happy to tell them about the canyons, valleys and desert springs she visited. In return, she heard a bit of the town gossip. It was typical stuff: who was about to get married, whose flocks were growing and how the other traders were.

Unfortunately, some bad news hit the little town as a man came stumbling in, dehydrated and suffering from heatstroke. It didn’t take long for the man’s story to spread. His canoe had been attacked by a sand wyrm, a particularly aggressive one. A scouting party went out that night to investigate.

Only three people returned.

Jekka had no problem extending her stay until the sand wyrm passed. She had faced her fair share of them. Most could be chased away if you put up a good fight, but the aggressive ones were much more stubborn. Best to let it move on.

The desert got quite cold in the night. Normally, Jekka would not stray from the warmth of her tent. On this night, however, she was restless, and so was Squeak. He made himself the size of a rabbit and followed Jekka to the well at the center of town.

Jekka drew a bucket of water out, pouring the water into her canteen. She scooped some into her hands and offered it to Squeak, and he drank it greedily.

Once the mouse’s thirst was quenched, Jekka took a swig from her canteen, content with staring at the stars.

A bright light flashed in front of Jekka. On instinct, she grabbed her staff. As the light faded, she was left with spots in her eyes.

“Is everyone alright?” a boy asked.

Jekka swung her staff towards the voice. There was a thud, indicating that she’d hit her mark.

“Hey! What was that for?!” a younger girl exclaimed.

Jekka’s eyes readjusted to the dark. There were four people with creatures that reminded her of Squeak. Her mouse had doubled his size, standing ready to attack.

“Who are you?” Jekka demanded.

A dog with two tails growled at her, standing near the boy she’d smacked.

“Everyone just calm down,” he said slowly, putting his hand in front of his dog. “Sorry. We’re a little on edge.”

“Explain,” Jekka said sharply, pointing her staff at the group. “How did you get here?”

“It’s a long story,” a girl, clearly the oldest, replied, holding her side. “We don’t want to hurt anyone. We just—”

The girl swayed on her feet and her eyes rolled up into her head.

“Tesla!” the two youngsters cried as she fell to the ground.

Jekka’s eyes widened when she spotted a large patch of blood on the girl’s abdomen. She took a glance at the others. The oldest boy had a few nasty cuts, clearly in need of stitches, but nothing like the girl. The younger girl and boy seemed to have avoided the injuries the other two had attained. All four had large bags under their eyes.

Jekka had seen those signs before. It wasn’t uncommon for people to run from marauders to the larger cities, seeking safety. These people were running from something.

“Follow me to my tent,” Jekka said, helping the older boy up. “I’ll get the town doctor.”

“Thank you,” he replied with a nod.

Jekka and the boy carried the older girl, while the two youngsters followed closely. Once the girl was laid down in her tent, Jekka ran to get the doctor. He was a spry, old man and hurried when Jekka informed him of the urgency of the situation. The creatures had hidden themselves behind her tent. The dog with horns was particularly antsy.

Jekka went back inside after leaving Squeak to watch them. The younger children were asleep. Jekka sat next to the boy as he watched the doctor’s shadow through the curtain that separated them from the doctor and his friend.

“My name’s Jekka,” she said. “Sorry about smacking you with my staff.”

“It’s fine. I probably would’ve done the same thing,” he replied. “I’m Elliot. The kids are Riley and Lucio.”

“And her name is Tesla?” she guessed.

Elliot gave a small nod.

“What happened to you?” Jekka asked, her concern leaking into her voice. “I mean, I’ve met plenty of refugees, but I’ve never seen people like you.”

“We’re travelers,” he answered.

“No, there’s more,” Jekka said, studying Elliot closely. “You have no wares, nothing to trade except whatever you carry on your back and you don’t dress like people from the dunes or the canyons.”

“We’re from all over,” Elliot replied. “Never said we’re from here.”

“And what are you running from?” Jekka inquired.

“Hunters and hellspawn.”

“Am I supposed to know what that means?”

“No.”

The doctor came out to them, wiping his hands. Elliot got to his feet, ready to ask his questions.

“She will be alright,” the doctor assured him. “She will be immobile for a while, but she will heal.”

Elliot let out a heavy sigh. “Thank you, sir.”

“Now, let me take a look at you,” the doctor replied. “These wounds need to be cleaned and treated properly.”

Elliot didn’t put up a fight as the doctor helped him. Jekka saw how he flinched with every stitch he received. Some of Jekka’s old scars ached, remembering when she’d needed stitches over the years. When the doctor left, Jekka took a moment to look over her guests. Tesla and Elliot were sound asleep, covered in bandages. Satisfied with seeing them asleep, Jekka went out to inform the creatures.

“They’re resting,” she said, finding them all still awake. “They’ll be fine. Now come inside. It’s too cold for you to be out here all night.”

Adding them into the space certainly did make it a little cramped. It seemed that the closeness didn’t bother them. Jekka settled on a pile of pelts, with Squeak curling up on her stomach.

Jekka woke up at dawn as she usually did, and left the tent to prepare food and get ready for her day in the market. As she put together breakfast, Lucio and Riley came out of the tent, rubbing their eyes.

“Good morning,” Jekka said, keeping her attention on the pot.

“How’s Tesla?” Riley asked.

“She’s healing,” Jekka answered. “So is Elliot. They went to great lengths to protect you.”

Lucio tapped his fingers against his leg. “How did—?”

“They were heavily injured while the two of you were, thankfully, relatively unharmed,” Jekka stated. “And given how bad those injuries were, I’d say those two take great care in doing so. But I don’t understand what you needed protection from.”

“Hunters,” Lucio replied.

“Hellspawn,” Riley added.

“Yeah, Elliot said the same thing,” Jekka mused, handing them plates of dried berries and cooked meat. “But that does not help me understand what those words mean.”

Jekka watched as Lucio and Riley exchanged glances. She sat across from them, waiting patiently for them to include her. They looked back at her and shook their heads.

“You need to talk to Elliot and Tesla,” Lucio said quietly.

“Yeah. They’ll know what to tell you,” Riley stated.

Jekka let out a small sigh. “Alright then. Well, since you’ll be staying with me, you can help me in the market.”

Riley and Lucio had no complaints about the arrangement. Jekka found that she enjoyed the company. The townsfolk also enjoyed talking with them. While they seemed to enjoy it too, Jekka could see the little glances they cast to the tent and how it was the only place they went to when she gave them a break. She found herself wondering about what had brought those four people together. What inspired such loyalty?

Tesla and Elliot spent the entire day resting. Jekka had never seen two people look so exhausted. She quickly learned the names of their creatures, knowing that they would be staying for awhile. They all seemed to get along with Squeak, though Ramrod and Spyke never left Elliot and Tesla.

On their fourth night, Jekka decided it was time for some answers. She was helping change Tesla’s bandages when she decided to speak.

“What did this to you?” she asked, looking at the gashes across Tesla’s abdomen.

The way Elliot and Tesla tensed did not escape Jekka’s notice.

“Hellspawn,” Tesla answered.

“But what is that?” Jekka pushed. “I’ve never heard of them before.”

“Monsters,” Tesla replied. “Beasts that hunt us. It got a lucky shot while I was shielding Lucio.”

“Nothing hunts without reason.”

“Where’d you learn that?” Elliot inquired.

“That’s the way things are in the dunes,” Jekka stated. “Resources are scarce. You’re at the land’s mercy. You take only what you need so that something survives to grow more. Then you can be sure that there will be something when you need it.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not how hellspawn and hunters work,” Tesla replied, leaning back on her pillow. “They hunt to hunt, because they want something to die.”

“What kind of place could allow that? Where that could even be considered feasible? Where are you from?”

“Nowhere,” Tesla answered. “And everywhere.”

“That makes no sense.”

“Where does Squeak come from?” Elliot asked. “He doesn’t seem like he fits in the desert. Blue and yellow isn’t a very practical color scheme.”

Jekaa took a moment to process the topic change. “I… I don’t know. I found him while I was sailing through the Red Canyons. He was just there. But what does that have to do with you?”

Tesla handed her goggles to Elliot. “Check.”

Jekka remained silent as Elliot put the goggles over his eyes. He examined her with them, then silently handed them back to Tesla.

“She’s one of us,” he stated.

“What does that mean?” Jekka asked.

“You’re a jumper,” Tesla answered. “It’s been three months since we found another one. Last one we met was Lucio.”

“What’s a jumper?”

And so, Elliot and Tesla told her. It was hard to wrap her mind around the concept of different dimensions. She almost found it laughable, but she couldn’t laugh. Not when Tesla and Elliot’s injuries showed that it was no laughing matter. They finally told her the whole story.

Hunters had been on their trail for a week, only two steps behind their group. Elliot and Tesla had been trading off on taking all night watches while the other looked after Riley and Lucio. The four of them had lost a lot of sleep.

They had been in the process of setting up camp when they’d felt the hunters drawing close.

“We tried to jump,” Tesla said, her eyes glazing over. “But they stopped us. We couldn’t jump and suddenly we were between a pack of hellspawn and jumping off a waterfall.”

“Riley wouldn’t take Lucio on Buck,” Elliot continued. “She’s…stubborn when it comes to leaving us. Normally we could get her to leave, but not this time. One of them pounced. Tesla shielded Lucio before I could shoot. Probably better that I didn’t. I could barely aim, let alone hit a hellspawn.”

“We grabbed the kids and took our chances with the waterfall,” Tesla finished. “It was a miracle we even jumped, let alone all together. I guess Whimsy had Buck’s tail or something.”

Jekka took a slow breath. “That is terrifying. By the dunes… that’s your life?”

“Yeah,” Tesla sighed. “And we should leave as soon as possible.”

“That won’t be any time soon,” Jekka replied. “There’s a dangerous sand wyrm nearby. No one can leave town, and you’re in no condition to jump.”

“She’s got a point, Tes,” Elliot said. “We can’t jump like this and if the hunters show up, Riley and Lucio…”

“You don’t need to tell me,” she replied, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand. “Thank you for helping us, Jekka. We owe you.”

“You don’t owe me anything,” Jekka insisted. “Stay for a few more days. Heal. Those children need you.”

After that, there was a newfound kinship between Jekka and her guests. Elliot and Tesla’s protectiveness of the youngsters, as Jekka called them, passed onto her, even though she and Elliot were the same age. Tesla even used a day to modify Jekka’s staff.

“Your dimension’s solar technology is incredible,” she’d said. “I used it to allow your staff to take in solar energy and release it as concussive blasts.”

Jekka appreciated the gift and kept her staff with her at all times. She helped them gather supplies and found herself packing a bag for herself too.

Tesla was able to get up and move after a few more days of bed rest. Jekka tried not to dwell on the implications of that development.

As Jekka worked in her stall, with the others across the road, she felt something dark and cold move up her spine. The others glanced her way with wide eyes. Tesla mouthed one word to her.

Hunters.

Jekka grabbed her pack and her staff. Squeak scampered onto her shoulder. She raced across the street to join the group.

“We can’t jump,” Elliot growled. “They’re doing it again.”

“We need to get out of here,” Tesla replied.

Jekka’s mind raced. “There’s a sand raft. It would fit all of us. Follow me.”

Elliot whistled for the other animals and they raced towards the raft. The sand raft was essentially a larger sand canoe, meant to have three people moving the sail. Jekka went to work, operating the buttons on the mast to power up the small jets that allowed it to hover.

“Grab two of those ropes,” she ordered. “We’ll go through the dunes and you’ll have to do exactly as I say.”

The raft began hovering above the sand. Jekka unfurled the sail and gave the raft a shove. Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough weight to get it moving. A growl reached her ears. She saw something in the shadows, stalking towards them.

“Ramrod!” Tesla called.

The dog jumped off the raft, his body turning into steel. Jekka jumped onto the balance as Ramrom rammed into the boat. It was enough to get them moving. Ramrod jumped back onto the boat, returning to his normal appearance. As they made their way towards the dunes, a large gust of wind caught the sail, giving them a needed burst of speed.

Jekka glanced back at the town and saw a pack of hellspawn in pursuit. She did her best to focus on the raft.

“Come onto the counter balance!” Jekka ordered. “Lucio, Riley, grab the ropes in the planks and hold on!”

They followed her instructions, though Elliot and Tesla were unsteady on the thin beam. They approached the first dune, sailing right towards the base.

“Pull!” Jekka ordered.

The raft responded sluggishly. Still, it tilted onto the counter balance, gliding over the dune.

“Let it down slowly!”

Elliot and Tesla were quick to defer to Jekka’s lead. They maneuvered around the first few dunes without the precision Jekka was used to, but they hadn’t crashed.

Squeak’s ears twitched and he began squeaking in Jekka’s ear. She noticed the other animals begin to get antsy. Her eyes widened when she heard a rumble coming from underground.

“Blood sands!” she spat, along with a few curse words.

“Little ears!” Elliot and Tesla retorted.

“There’s a sand wyrm,” Jekka announced, ignoring their reprimand. “When I say, Elliot, you and I will pull! Tesla, hold steady! Riley, get your rifle and get ready to shoot!”

Elliot tightened his grip on his rope, eyes watching Jekka. Riley slid her rifle from her shoulder and into her hands. Jekka took a steadying breath, waiting for the next gust of wind.

Finally, it came.

“Now!”

Elliot and Jekka tugged, angling the raft to catch the wind. Their raft shot up the side of a dune, getting ready to crest over the top. A large, serpentine creature burst out of the sand. Its scales were the color of the sand. It had no eyes. Its mouth was open, revealing rows of giant, serrated teeth.

“Aim for the belly!” Jekka advised.

A blast of electricity shot through the air, landing on the exposed belly of the sand wyrm. It let out a loud, high and shrill shriek that echoed across the dunes.

“I get the feeling we just made it mad!” Lucio exclaimed.

“Hang on!” Jekka replied as the went over the dune.

Their raft went flying down the side of the dune. The sand wyrm burrowed back into the sand. Jekka no longer saw the hellspawn, but the cold feeling persisted.

“Pull!” Jekka called.

The raft tilted, skimming the edge of another dune. She lost the sound of the sand wyrm. Jekka did her best not to show how nervous that made her.

“We can jump!”Riley said quickly.

“Hurry!” Lucio urged.

Jekka followed Elliot and Tesla to the main raft. Tesla offered Jekka a hand. She took it without a second thought. A flash of light enveloped them. When Jekka opened her eyes, she saw something that she never thought existed.

She saw an ocean.


Submitted: April 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 cass stearns. All rights reserved.

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