Before the story starts, I'd like to talk about what inspired this story and some background on it. About 10 years ago, my best friend and I collaborated on a story series called The Gods wherein we placed ourselves in two characters: Ant (me), and Rain (my best friend).
Parallel to that, I developed my own story series called the Traveler. My original series is still up but due to several file corruptions, never made it past 3rd or 4th story while Gods made it all the way through "season 2".
The Traveler was a mirror of those stories in that it allowed me to place a character into a rule and inside a universe where the character was allowed to "hop" between realities. I originally envisioned the story to be a container story that allowed me to write fan fiction about my favorite books and shows with "The Traveler" (Haron or Teak) in there. I even made sketches.
The symbol above is supposed to be the "customization" of the character to make them easily discernible in another universe. For instance, in the show "Naruto", every village has its own symbol. The symbol above would be the one for the traveler. Same goes for other literature/entertainment.
So without further ado, please enjoy the following story, the "Prologue" of sorts to the new series that I'll probably turn into a book during NaNoWriMo.
Image courtesy of TheGreenRabbit.
The sky crackled with thunder and lit up with lightning, waking me up. I looked around, sand surrounded me. The gentle wind started to pick up, swirling the dust particles in the air.
I heard more thunder but when I looked up, I saw only darkness. No stars, no moon, yet no clouds were present either.
It was time to walk, time to find shelter somewhere, I thought.
"How the hell did I get here?" I said to no one in particular. I had been traveling through the open dark desert for several days now, finding no plant life, no mountains or rocks, no shelter of any kind. My current effort was probably just as futile.
I slipped on a dune that suddenly dropped off, a storm was coming and it was starting to obscure my vision. My measly t-shirt wrapped around my head did little to keep the sand out of my eyes.
"I might as well be on Sanders," but I knew that not even Sanders, the hallucinogens allowing an individuals to traverse a mirage desert, could last this long. And even they were more realistic, having a real sun, day and night changes.
My throat was parched but only slightly so. The feeling had not progressed since I woke up. It was as if time stood still and I did not get more hungry, or thirsty or really, even tired. I slept only to pass time, waking up no more or less refreshed than when I shut my eyes first.
The wind changed direction every few seconds, sometimes blowing against me, sometimes helping me move along, other times veering me off my imagined path.
"I might as well be walking in circles". The sky momentarily lit up with a distant lightning. A sight out of this world, lighting up the pure nothingness ahead.
The journey that lead me to this purgatory was a strange one as well.
I woke up early Monday morning, getting ready for another boring day at school. My pack was ready, left by the door from the past Friday, and I took off. It was early in the morning, about 5 or 6am, early enough for the pure darkness to still be there, minimal traffic in place for the early birds.
I walked down the streets, listening to my favorite music, thinking of how to make the best of the day.
Asking out my crush? No, too forward, and it was only Monday. What if she said no? My whole week would be ruined. I thought about ditching lunch to go hang out with the cool kids but I was in the middle of a really good book so that option did not shine out among the others.
Did I do my homework? I thought, listing out all of my classes. English, check. Math? Check. Physics? Check.
I turned down an alley barely lit by the failing street lamps. I always took the same route, hoping to find myself alone there. That day, I was lucky.
I took out a pencil torch and started inscribing my tag name into an old window of a vacant shop. First a big "H" followed by two smaller "t"s and finally a triangle symbol. I barely got done with the first "t" when the ground shook.
"Earthquake" I thought at that moment. It wasn't uncommon. I decided to run for the closest bus stop but barely did I round of the corner when I was violently thrown back.
Buildings in front of me started disappearing, one by one. The lights winking out and then their existence followed. The streets ahead of me warped and twisted away, snagging lamp posts along with them. As I scrambled to get up and run the other way, the alley disappeared as well and I was falling through darkness. A stone hit my head and that was it.
And now I'm walking through an empty desert.
"Did I die then?" I asked myself, seriously considering the possibility. It seemed to be the only possible explanation. But what about the rest of the world that I saw? Does everyone see the world turn itself over before their hearts stop beating?
It took me several sleep cycles before I decided to start marking passage of time. Every time I woke up, I had to remind myself to take a small piece of paper from my pocket and rip a new tear in it. My watch was digital and no longer working. If only I had chosen one of the classical winding watches, at least then I could flip the date one by one.
A few weeks passed by quickly and sleep had become my only reprieve. It was the only time that I did not have to think about the oppressing emptiness around me.
"What the hell is this?" I would scream out occasionally, just to hear my voice and make sure that I could still talk. But my voice was always muted by the winds.
One morning, or what I started to call the time after I woke up, I realized that the wind had picked up in intensity. It was barely distinguishable but I could hear it. Having spent what felt like a month out in the desert with the never-ending howl, I could hear the increased intensity of the moans, and the more frequent gusts of twirling air on the dunes small dunes.
Even the lightning picked up in frequency. Sometimes several fired at once, lighting up the sky to such an intensity that I had to look away. A storm is brewing, I thought.
It was only a few hours later that I saw a great wall of sand heading my way. The winds were strong enough to nearly lift me off the ground, and the lightning always aimed itself at the wall. It slowly came toward me, and seeing no shelter, I braced myself to weather the environment as it was.
I wrapped my hood around my head, closing it shut, and had the idea to curl up in a ball, hoping to stay in place until it was over. When the storm did hit, no matter how small a crevice there may have been, sand poured through it. Quickly enough, I was coughing up sand. My eyes were hurt from the abrasion as well.
"No sense in staying here," I thought and tried to stand up without uncovering my face. I started to slowly walk forward, sometimes with winds helping me, and sometimes with winds pushing me backward or sideways. It was a long journey and I realized that just like everything else in this strange world, the event would last an eternity.
I walked for hours, and kept coughing but even when I was wheezing, I did not tire nor did I feel out of breath. It was hard to feel anything at all, both physically and emotionally. The storm never subsided but I did come across another anomaly. I walked into a rock, and around it, I found solid ground. Walking forward for a bit longer, I stumbled across a mountain.
At first, I did not know what it was but as I tried to go around it, I even stole a costly look upward only to be reward with a fistful of sand down my throat and eyes. It was indeed a mountain, a large one at that, with rocks and crevices scarring it.
I wondered if I could find a cave to reside in and set out to look, only to find out that the formation was less a mountain and more of a rock wall as it continued sideways for at least two nights of walk.
And there, finally, a crevice, a cave perhaps, I did not know. I walked in and continued my journey, listening to faint water dripping sounds hidden away behind stalactites. The ceiling was dark and occasionally opened up to the beige sky. The openings lessened in intensity as I walked.
The sudden silence that followed as the cave descended shocked me back into reality. It had been the first time that I no longer heard the hum of the sand, whether it was a storm or just the gusts. I could still hear the bubbling of water nearby but I knew it was unreachable, somewhere just beyond the tunnel that I climbed down.
A flurry of thoughts entered my mind in the silence. I could hear the voice in the back of my head clearly for the first time.
"What happened to my parents?" I said out loud, hearing the echoes reverberate. No answer came, only doubts.
If the event I witnessed was constrained to only me, then I would have been declared dead, or sold to some slavery market. It had been much too long for anyone to look, especially in the current era.
With the occurrence of natural disasters rising and the man-made disasters having done their damage, nothing was certain and small tragedies like a lost teenager were nothing. Slavery had flourished in China, and even in the Americas. The assumption would be that unless I fell down some hole, I was kidnapped and on a freighter to a different country.
Somehow though, I did not think that was the case. Somehow, the disappearance of the world right in front of my eyes rang true, it was reality, not imagination, I was certain of it.
But what then? Who attacked us?
The sound water dripping increased in intensity and I could almost hear some distant rumbling of water but no matter how much I searched the walls and the span of the tunnel, I could not find the origins of the sound.
I found a good spot to sleep, rolled up my jacket and drifted off.
I marked another day and kept going.
I finally saw light when the tunnel started climbing upward and when I stepped outside, I saw a similar yet different landscape.
It was still desert but rocks littered it. It was then that I saw something incredible, a figure huddled around a fire made from branches from a tree not of the desert.
I picked the destination and within a few hours I reached the figure. Within that time, I mulled over what to ask the figure.
"Hello," I spoke and the figure looked up from the fire. It was at that point that I noticed the sun climbing down, and a night setting for the first time since I got there.
"You must be the traveler."
"I'm Haron. Who are you?"
"I'm a God of Reality. A supreme being that has the power to erase and restore timelines," he said as if reciting a proper phrase and description wrought deep inside the man's memory. He stood up kicking sand into the fire. His dark eyes and tired face grimaced at the sight of me as he straightened up, "You caused me quite a bit of trouble, you know."
"What do you mean? Wait, what? God of Reality? I don't understand."
He smirked, "You wouldn't." He sighed.
"Look, sit down, let's get this fire restarted, I'll explain everything. God knows we have the time for it," he complained but sat down, gestured in front of him and we cleared the sand. away from the wood.
The night fell quickly at that point and a plethora of stars shone. Remnants of the storm were gone.
"Okay, Haron. Let me lay it out for you. Your home is gone, everything you know is gone, and your existence," he pointed a stick at me that he was prodding the fire with previously, "Doesn't make sense. You should be gone, too."
Hearing words pierce the silence kept me from answering. Silence is all I had experienced up until now. No, not silence, the absence of words, the absence of voices.
"Where has everything gone to?"
"The Travel Guild decided to rewrite your timeline. The last sixty years never happened, things will change. The guild sends out people like me, Gods of Reality, to erase time, reset events, and give a world a better fighting chance to exist longer."
"My parents then?"
"They're there, just not how you remember them. And they never met, so you were never born."
"But I'm here."
"Right, which doesn't make sense."
"Can I go back?"
The man shook his head, "Doesn't seem like it. Normal procedure is to leave you here. But not like this."
He gestured, "These are the fabled Sands of Time. The sand here," he scooped up a fistful and threw it in the air. The sand swirled and fell down, "is time itself. You should be here, part of the sand, ready to be reused but you're not. I can't send you back to your world because you're not of that world anymore. I'll have to take you back to the Guild to figure out what to do with you."
A new silence encroached between us.
"My powers as a Gor have been suspended during the erasure for some reason. I'm not certain how long it will be before I can open a portal," The man reached into a pack he had with him and pulled out some meat-like substance which he wrapped around a stick. He grilled it over the fire.
"I haven't eaten in months," I said to him.
He looked up, "Time is strange here. You must have been in a dilation area," he picked up another piece of meat, punctured it with a stick and handed it to me.
We sat in silence most of the night. I did not bother to sleep anymore but instead contemplated my future.
"What's your name?" I asked him.
"Have you always been a-"
"Yeah, I grew up in the city where the guild resides. My schooling started there when I was young."
"There's a school? Sounds so ordinary but then, you just erased my entire past."
The night passed swiftly.
The next day after breakfast, Teak stood up and held his hand out. The sand around him formed together into a staff which he swung once and formed a portal.
He beckoned me to follow and I stepped through.