Note – in June I posted the first two chapters of this story (See Chapter 1. See Chapter 2). Chapter 2 was one of my least popular posts looking at number of likes and views since my first year of blogging in 2014. I had already written Chapter 3 at that time, but decided to not post it since people seemed to not like the story. Well, I’ll try again ;) Here is the third chapter.
I took a sip of the dark beverage.
When I was a freshman, a friend’s girlfriend made me a drink that she called “hot cocoa”. It was actually some cocoa powder, yerba mate, cinnamon and other spices in tepid water. She said it was full of energy. It was bitter but had odd notes that were just beyond description.
I took another sip.
This beverage was similar, though I liked it better. More than that, it really did give me energy. More than energy, it calmed my rebelling stomach erased all signs of alcohol. It cleared my head, but my mind continued to spin.
“So this place is a portal?” I asked.
“Maybe a multi-portal. A confluence? A hub? It isn’t just a simple passageway,” Threck said.
“Hundreds of worlds?”
Threck shrugged. “Hundreds, thousands, millions, who knows?”
“You say they are different worlds spread throughout the one Universe, some perhaps billions of light years from others, not different Universes?”
Threck sighed. “That is my theory. I can’t prove it. Because of the way these openings work in the different worlds, we have been unable to get good astronomers together to try to correlate the different views of the sky to place each world in context.”
I sipped my tepid “hot cocoa” and thought about it. A spot that led to an untold number of different worlds. Just go through the door and…
“Why here?” I asked.
“Why not?” Karen answered. “Would it be better in the center of London where people could just bump into it? It has been here, well, there, Minnesota, long before the land that was Minnesota existed. The native Americans knew about it and guarded it, not only to keep people out, but just in case something came from another world into ours….”
I thought of the Shadow Goons and shivered.
“But, but… Why isn’t it well known? Why aren’t there flocks of freaking physicists here studying the place?”
Karen smiled at my silly alliteration. “Because people can’t see it. Nobody knows it’s here.”
“That doesn’t make sense. I’ve always known about it, or at least about old number 345.”
“Have you?” Karen gave me a strange look, one much older than her 17 years. “Do you remember about four years ago when I tried to get you to visit 345 with me?”
“Uhm…” I felt stupid. I had a half memory, but was drawing a blank.
“I had just explored it for the first time and wanted to bring you in. Shelly told me…”
“Shelly?” I asked.
“Yes, Shelly Werecomb. She’s one of us.” I swallowed. Shelly was two years older than me. I always knew Shelly. I… “Shelly said you could no longer see 345. I didn’t believe her until I tried. She was right.”
The memory came back. How odd Karen had acted. She kept pointing and talking nonsense. There was the fence between 337 and 351, as always. The two houses were close together, very close. Nothing at all could be between them. Nothing but the fence.
She was right, there was a time that I didn’t know that 345 existed.
Karen giggled. “Close your mouth before you attract flies. Though there are no flies here.”
“But how did I get in last night?”
I heard a strange guttural sound, which I realized was the monstrous Threck clearing his throat.
“Throughout the history of your race, the use of mind-altering substances has allowed those who could previous see the portal once again see it once again. There are limits. As you grow older, this effect goes away. In the past they used other plant based methods.”
Karen nodded. “Thanks, Threck. I had assumed it was because he was drunk.”
I was still confused. “But if the ability to know goes away when we are, uhm…”
“Within a few years of reaching puberty, at least for most of us,” Karen said.
“How can you see it? And Shelly.”
“Once you enter the portal, you will not forget. And there are some that can always see it, are drawn to it. Do you remember…”
Another Thworan burst into the room. It made a strange growling and gurgling sound and then, without acknowledging us, left.
“Come kids, we must leave immediately. We are in grave danger.”
“But I thought this was a safe place,” I said.
“So did I,” Threck said. “Come. Let’s go.”
Karen nodded. Her face was ashen. She stood and went to the door the other Thworan had used. I had nothing to do but follow.