Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Story - No Equipment Necessary

“Did you see that?” he said as he returned to his colleagues. “She disappeared around the corner. I mean, she disappeared, instantly. Went poof,” his fingers flicked outwards in an unrestrained gesture. “I thought, I was…” his voice trailed off.

“I wondered how soon it’d happen,” said the thin man to his colleagues. “It doesn’t matter, we know who she is. She dropped this,” his long fingers held a business card.

“Is that why we had to meet here?” asked the raven haired woman. At his nod, she continued, “How did you know?”

“It’s a gift. I feel when someone has shifted, but this is the first time I’ve known ahead of time,” he said, as he looked down at the card. “I don’t understand it yet. But I will.” Nodding, he looked at the man in the sunglasses and continued. “Now go find her, Frank. And when you do, give me a shout, will you? I need to have a chat with her.” Turning away as Frank vanished; he smiled at the dark haired woman at his side and said, “Let’s order another cup of coffee, we need to talk.”

Katie had just wanted to see what Harrods was like. She’d heard so much about the upscale London store that she had looked on the Internet, found a photo of the outside, and passport in her purse, literally popped over to see for herself. What she hadn’t known was that these three would be leaving a meeting across the street. Her appearance might not have been noticed by anyone at all, except that she had been knocked over by the man in the sunglasses just after she had popped onto the sidewalk. She had been as startled as he and dropped her purse which splattered its contents. And then she had run.

Not sure why he had chased her, Katie slipped home, trying to figure out why she was concerned. She usually made decisions about trusting someone immediately; she didn’t know how she felt about this mysterious man, though as she sorted through her memories, she realized she did trust his companions. He looked like a nice man behind the glasses, but she was having trouble separating fact from the fiction of Hollywood. That was the trouble with watching spy movies late at night.

Nonetheless, she made preparations to run. This man might work for one of the alphabet soup divisions of the PTB, Powers That Be. And if they found out she could slip instantly between here and there, they would try to contain her. Someone with her skills, if trained, could slip into places they couldn’t, and places she shouldn’t. Katie had no desire to be enlisted in that kind of intrigue and espionage. She was sure that they would not believe that slipping took incredibly high energy, and that sneakiness or theft lowered that energy, making it impossible to slip. So she made preparations to run, buying a disposable phone and a gift card that could be used without tracking her whereabouts.

She had just paid for her purchases when the man in the sunglasses started across the store towards her. Katie grabbed her bag and slipped. Her actions started a game of chase that lasted far too long. Whoever he was, he was never more than ten minutes behind her each time she slipped. The one time she ran down a back alley to catch a passing bus in Chicago he didn’t find her for nearly two hours. Somehow he was orienting on her when she slipped. It was only a five hour drive home, so even though it was midnight and she was exhausted, she rented a car, and drove the distance, music blaring to keep herself awake.

Her drive gave her time to think about it had all started. She realized that slipping between the spaces all day long had reinforced her skill at seeing where she wanted to go. She was glad that she’d taken the baby steps of getting past the most of the vertigo of her initial couple of shifts. That first time she ever slipped had been a doozy.

Katie had been painting a landscape that day, idly dragging her brush through the swirling paint. It was in the margins between two colors right before they mixed that she had always found her inspiration, imagining she could slide along those furrows and slip between this world and the next. Not knowing what would happen when she did. She only knew that when she followed the edges and used the swirling colors something happened within her that allowed for her most creative moments.

And on that particular summer morning, already warm with the promise of stifling heat later in the day, she thought about how that would feel as she sat stirring the pure white paint on her palate. Katie, caught in meditative silence, had allowed her mind to dip down into the furrows left in the paint by her brush.

Something in the paint and the silence shifted within her, as if a switch were flipped and abruptly she found herself in the desert, dizzy and nauseated. The burning of her bare feet dragged her out of the belief that this was merely a dream.

A quick glance around showed that her only hope of relief lay in the sliver of shade offered by a large rock to her left. Placing her feet as carefully as possible, she ran between the sharp rocks of the desert floor to that blessed relief. Though cooler than the sun-blasted desert floor, her feet were burned by the time she reached it.

Leaning against the rock, fighting against nausea and rising terror, Katie really looked at her surroundings, trying to keep out of the pounding sunshine. It looked to be mid-afternoon by the shadows, and she had absolutely no idea where she was, except deep desert. Rocks and sand. As far as she could see there was no life anywhere around. As her vertigo faded she noticed the surprising silence. No whirring of insect wings, no scratching sound as millions of tiny living things ate, crawled, and lived their lives among the leaves. There were no leaves, either. This was a land of beige and brown, yet even in it’s desolation she could see the beauty. Squinting against the glare, she worked to push aside the creeping concern of how she had gotten there, and whether there was a way to get back home.

Crouching in the slowly growing shade, she began to idly doodle in a small pile of sand while she contemplated. It was inconceivable that she had ended up abruptly in the desert, and yet that fact was inescapable. Mouth parched, she could feel her body temperature begin to rise, as dehydration set in. Resigned to dying, she knew that in this deep desert death would be swift, for she didn’t have enough protection from the arid landscape.

As she made peace with her end, allowing her mind to drift, eyes lazily watching her fingers leave furrows in the sand, she began to dream of someplace cool and damp. She let her mind go, slipping along the margins between the swirls in the sand. Dreaming of someplace cool, someplace where the water was overwhelming and powerful. Someplace like Niagara Falls.

Abruptly she found herself standing on one of the overlooks, a stiff breeze blowing mist over her parched body, only dimly aware of the vertigo that had accompanied the shift. It had taken a moment for her to grasp the reality of her new vision, thinking that perhaps she was having the delirium that comes with dehydration. She had stood there convinced that death was moments away until a small child had run by, splashing her from one of the many puddles along the walkway. The child’s mother rushed to apologize and rein in her wayward youngster, as the nauseated Katie realized somehow that she had indeed changed locations again.

Her bare feet left damp footprints as she walked across the street to the nearest bench. In spite of the chill, she sat and rested her still dizzy head on the back of the bench, wondering what mechanism, magic or whatever had shifted her from place to place. Closing her eyes a few moments, enjoying the humidity and cool, she allowed her thoughts to drift idly over the extraordinary things that had just occurred. Her vertigo had faded completely by the time she realized that each shift had happened when she had allowed her mind to slide into the margins of the swirling paint and the furrows in the sand. The space between, perhaps even a space of silence, while her body had imagined how it would feel to be in a different place.

Chilled, but armed with an idea, she set out to shift again. She was ready to go home. It took her nearly twenty minutes to still her mind enough to allow the shift to happen again. Arriving in her own living room, she stumbled to the couch, sure that if it weren’t for the vertigo and being soaked to the skin, she’d have thought it was all an illusion. But the proof was leaving a damp spot on her couch…

In the weeks that follow first shifts, Katie had spent a great deal of time considering how much this opened up her world. She could go anywhere, and do anything. Limited only by her imagination. Because she didn’t want it to be at the mercy of a random thought she had spent time learning how to jump, staying close to home because she knew the territory. With each successful jump the vertigo became less of a problem.

When she’d first begun slipping through the space between places it had seemed like such a lark, jumping between two points. It had to be line of sight at first, gradually increasing the distance, and finally practicing with photos to give her a reference point. Until the day she popped into the wrong place, at the wrong time and her appearance from thin air in front of these individuals had a galvanizing effect.

Katie wondered why the man in the sunglasses had pursued her relentlessly. It felt like she’d been on the run for aeons, even though it had been less than a full day since she had first appeared in front of Harrods. The one good thing that had come out of it was the vertigo that had been gradually weakening had stopped altogether.

She wondered why the man in the sunglasses had tracked her across three continents. Time and time again, he’d found her. It finally dawned on her that in spite of turning her mobile off and getting rid of her credit cards with their imbedded chips, he still had some way of tracking her. And that was when she realized that he was orienting on the slipping itself, which made escaping by ordinary car a practical solution.

By the time her house was in sight in the early morning light Katie was angry. She knew that sooner or later he would catch her, and she wanted to be on familiar ground when that happened. After a fast shower, she got dressed again, and finally laid down to sleep, hoping that a resolution would come to her while she slept.

When she woke, she knew what she had to do. She had to find out why this man was chasing her. That meant that she had to go back in time to before they first fell over each other. Holding a clear image of her watch reading one hour before she had arrived in London, she slipped. No one had seen her as she emerged from the alley near Harrods that she had originally run into.

Her tea had just arrived at the sidewalk café when the man who chased her sat down at the table next to her. Momentarily he was joined by the thin man and a woman in a hat. Listening to their conversation was a challenge due to the noise of the café. Katie spent more of her time watching the interplay between these old friends. Laughter punctuated their conversation. When the thin man jumped to his feet, “She’s on her way. Over there,” he pointed across the street.

Katie saw herself get knocked over by the man in the sunglasses. She felt an echo of the fear that she had felt when he grabbed her arm. Her younger self took off running and was chased around the corner, as the thin man bent to pick up a piece of paper. The startled look on his face made Katie chuckle, for she knew what he had found, as he looked around suspiciously.

She chuckled again at the frustrated look on their faces as the other man came back. A hurried conference between them sent him off again. And the remaining two sat back down at their table and discussed what was written on the card. When she’d heard enough, she paid her tab and walked back to the alley, where she slipped back home to her own time. She didn’t know if it made any difference, but all of the movies she’d seen said it was a bad thing to meet oneself coming and going. So she was careful to arrive back a minute after she’d left.

She neatened up the house, knowing that sooner or later they’d get around to visiting her, and stretched out to take another nap. The doorbell startled her up out of a sound sleep, and in her sleepy state she nearly slipped again. But she didn’t want to run anymore. So, courageously she answered the door.

The thin man standing outside was very tired. He had a gentle look about him, though his face wore a look of grim determination. He took in her suspicious look and burst out, “Damn it. It’s not going to happen the way I wanted it to. My name is Gabriel. Please don’t run,” he added, reaching out a hand, pulling back just before touching her arm. “I just want to talk to you. I want to meet the woman who could slip space so easily that even a Finder can’t keep up.” Chuckling, he rubbed his bloodshot eyes. “Yeah, you ran Frank all over the place, he’s worn out. Look, could we talk for a bit?”

She drew a deep breath, held it a moment and stood back for him to enter. She asked if he would like a cup of tea. When he made a face, she laughed and changed that to coffee.

While the pot brewed, they chatted over the merits of milk versus cream, sweet or not. Cups in hand, they sat on the couch, and she sat quietly waiting for him to explain his visit, and why he had sent Frank to chase her.

Gabriel pulled Katie’s card out of his pocket, laid it on the couch between them, and asked what it meant. She laughingly told him she was a counselor who helped people unearth the incredible soul under the wreckage of their lives. But it had seemed like a great motto when she’d written it two years ago.

Unravel the Mystery of Who YOU Are.
Traveling Intuitively through Time
No Equipment Necessary

Katie Simon 1-800-555-1441

He agreed that it was a great motto and began to laugh. “I’ve just spent the last couple of decades writing bi-location stories. I hit my head recently and after years of writing about it, abruptly I can do the traveling I’ve written about so often. Really do it. Just like you can. Plus, I can feel when somebody else jumps. I don’t quite understand it, but it’s like they pull on the fabric of the universe or something,” he said, running his fingers through his hair. “But you... I knew you were going to shift before you arrived in front of Harrods. How? What is different about you?”

“Are you sure? Are you sure I wasn’t already there?” she asked. At his confused look, she continued. “I arrived before your friends. I was sitting near you when you had your meeting.” She could see he still didn’t understand. “You’re the writer, figure it out. I’ll wait,” falling silent, she could see the gears turning as he picked up her business card and really looked at the ramifications of her revelation.

“Fed Ex would make a fortune on this you know. They’d have to come up with a catchy slogan.” And Gabriel began to laugh.

Your package
Arrives at its destination
Before it leaves.


Gayle McCain

(Written Summer 2009 - IDK why I didn't post it then.)