By Michael Chrobak
“Wait, what?” my mind says loudly, though my mouth doesn’t engage, leaving the words trapped forever in silence.
A moment later I realize I’m still standing there, staring at him, and my mouth has been hanging open for so long, I’m starting to drool. Yeah, that cracked the frozen prison of my thoughts.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, wiping the drool from my chin. “It’s just, well, I thought…”
“You thought I was a myth? Don’t worry. Everyone does,” Muse Ten-thirty-six admitted with a grin. “Sometimes I wonder myself if I’m still real. Hard to tell living down here in this abandoned part of The Graveyard.”
“You live down here?” I asked, feeling my eyes grow wide as my head swiveled in both directions.
There’s one word to describe this section of The Graveyard: Grey. No matter where I look, there’s nothing but dull, unattractive, dust-bunny grey. And it only comes in two shades; regular, and dirty. If I wanted, I could lean down and write my name in the thin layer of dust on the floor, and I almost do, just to prove I had traveled this far. But that, I consider at the last minute, would be rude. Dingy and unkempt as it was, it was still someone’s home. And so, I simply smirk, awkwardly, and turn my attention back to my guide and companion for the mission.
“Come in, come in,” he says, seeing my veiled look of displeasure. “Where are my manners?”
With that, he took a few small steps back, giving me ample room to enter the abode. I took two steps in and nearly fell over. The difference between the drab, featureless and colorless world outside, and the one within was more than striking. It was nearly unbelievable. From where I was standing, the only wall I could see was the one that held the door I had just walked through. It curved away to the right and left for so far that, when it finally disappeared in the distance, it was merely a dot. There also was no ceiling, not one that was close enough to discern, that is.
And, though the enormous size was impressive, the palette with which the interior had been decorated was even more so. Everywhere I looked I saw a different color, making me wonder if any hues had been left out. Banners, and ribbons, and posters hung from the walls, or from poles that reached into the oblivion of empty space above. Colorful, artistic objects floated in mid-air, gently moving in an unseen breeze.
When two of these floating objects touched even just slightly, a metamorphosis occurred, as both objects somehow appeared to be sucked into each other. They disappeared with a *slurp*. A moment later a new one popped into place, one that was a combination of the previous two. I also noticed that, when one of these shapes touched the wall, it twisted and gyrated, humming slightly, then split into two.
Once more, I had the immediate, wet-chinned realization that my mouth had been open too long. I felt my cheeks warm with embarrassment.
“I apologize, Thirty-six,” I said, using an abbreviation of his name. “It’s just—well—I’ve never been in a place this large before, or one this amazingly bright and colorful!”
It was his turn to smile bashfully.
“And you’re not in one right now, either,” he admitted.
“But, then, where am I?” I asked, more than a bit confused.
“Inside your own imagination,” Thirty-Six said, lifting his left hand before him and pointing to a small band around the little finger. “It’s a device that reads the subconscious impulses of your brain, the same ones that create your dreams.”
“That’s really cool. How does it work?”
He shook his head, then twisted the ring one-quarter turn on his finger, and the magical scene that had impressed me disappeared. I was in a very familiar apartment, one that looked exactly like my own residence. Only, this one was older than mine. Much, much older.
“I have no idea how it works,” Muse Ten-thirty-six sighed, “but if we’re going to save creativity, we’re going to have to find out.”
With that, he handed me two small bags, which I assumed were packed with his clothing and perhaps some personal items. He then motioned for me to return back to the hallway using the same door through which we had entered. He then turned and faced the door.
“Computer,” he said, being answered by a trio of beeps. “I will be gone, perhaps for quite some time. In exactly two minutes from my mark, engage Security Protocol Zeta, then shut down all non-essential functions and wait for my return. Respond to no one other than by my command, understood?”
Another series of beeps registered the computer’s acknowledgment.
Muse Ten-thirty-six glanced at the chronometer on his wrist, waited a moment or two, and then nodded his head once.
“Mark,” he said, and a small digital display appeared in the center of the door counting down from the number one-hundred and twenty. “Okay, let’s go. We need to be on that lift before the counter reaches zero.”
“What happens if we’re not?” I asked, tossing his bags over one shoulder, and shuffling quickly to catch up.
“Nothing much, if you don’t mind dying, that is.”
Meet the Author:
So, who am I? Well, that’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a long, long time. And I’m not talking about labels, like; husband, father, brother, son, neighbor, friend, etc. Yeah, even ‘author’ is a label. None of those define me, they only define my relationship to this world.
Maybe that’s why I write. The more stories I tell, the more ‘me’ I find. There’s a little piece of me inside every character and adventure I create. The struggles I’ve had, the wonders I’ve seen, the beauty I’ve encountered, and the sorrow I’ve felt.
I’ve been writing since I was young; I just never had the courage before to let the world read any of it. But what good is creating something if no one sees it but you? Besides, I think the only way we can truly know someone is to find the memories they leave behind. I wonder what my memories will be…
Connect with Michael Chrobak:
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Don’t forget to check out The Paladin of Panama, Book 2 in the Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion series
Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion is a Christian YA Fantasy series that asks the question, “What if the Fruits of the Holy Spirit manifested as superpowers?” Faith, Patience, Chastity, Charity, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Modesty and Self-Control as superpowers? Why not? Jesus said our faith can move mountains, right?
Book One, Foundations of Faith (the fruit of Faith) begins the saga, as young Thomas, a typical teen with serious doubts about his faith, faces several significant trials as he begins to discover the true depth of his faith. He is visited in a dream by one of the Saints who gives him a quest – to find the Guardians of Zion, young people, much like himself, who have been gifted with special powers. The first of these is Theresa, who calls herself The Endlessly Dying Girl.
Book Two, The Paladin of Panama (the fruit of Chastity) finds Thomas deep in the jungle during a mission project to help build a school when he is once more challenged by The Darkness, aka: the Devil. This time, not only is his life in jeopardy, but so, too, are the lives of his friends, one of which is destined to become The Paladin and will wear the Armor of God.
Book Three, The Guardians Crest (the fruit of Patience) is currently in progress and is scheduled to be released before the end of the year. Who will the next teenage superhero be? And what spiritual superpower will they control? All will be revealed….soon.
You can find out more about the author, his books, and information regarding discounts for schools, churches, youth programs and book clubs on his website at https://michaelchrobakauthor.com or on Amazon by clicking here.