A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 1

We finished the last episode or short story “Changes”, with Elsa entering the park and finding Ed sitting on a park bench and learns that all her fears were aimed at someone who now appears to be non-threatening. And then to her surprise he makes her an offer, the very last one she suspected she would hear. Meanwhile her brother Jay is still trying to understand where the voice he heard originated. And with the impatience of youth he chafes at the restriction that had been placed on him with that cryptic message.

Ed, now away from the security office where he has been monitoring both of the youths, cannot follow or answer Jay and his concerns. He must bring “understanding” to Elsa first, and he hopes that Jay will obey his demand. At the same time as the two of them talk – Ed and Elsa – it begins to ease the worries both have. And with this introduction we begin part 1 of, A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge:

Elsa began to relax as their conversation continued. Ed really wasn’t the threat she imagined. In fact all that fear and worry had been a waste – a waste of her time and energy. She could see that this old man was lonely, and it was completely understandable. It was then that he made an offer she hadn’t expected. He said it was her decision whether to leave or to bring her brother Jay down here and meet him. She sat for a few moments in shocked silence. She really hadn’t expected to be allowed such a thing – and he left it totally in her hands. “I think I’d better go see Jay. I’m sure he’s got to be worried about where I am.”

“Yes”, Ed replied, “He recently returned after searching for you, and I had to order him to stay, otherwise he would have gone back out into the desert. Look, it’s going to take me a little bit of walking to get to the panel where I can open the wall, so give me time. You’ll be at the wall long before it will open. There was supposed to be a panel installed at the counter where you ate, but it never happened. It was part of what was left to be done, and wasn’t – just that simple. Now go, and I’ll do the same. Remember I can see you and I will know you are at the wall. And I’m sure you guessed, but I can also hear and speak to you. So once you’re back with your brother we’ll do some talking.”

She was about to get up when she became alarmed. She asked, “If you can see us anywhere while we have been here does that include the privy?” She surely hoped not. Places like that were considered private.

With a questioning look Ed asked, “Privy? What’s a privy?”

“You don’t know what a privy is?” She could tell from his blank stare that he didn’t. “Alright, it’s the place where one takes care of nature. You know empty the liquid and such.”

“Oh, you mean restrooms or bathrooms.”

“No, I mean privy.”

Here Ed laughed, and while he smiled, he stated, “I suspect the word you use is an old word. Now I know this sounds funny, but a public restroom or a private bathroom is exactly the same thing. I think I’ll have to look up the word you use when I get back inside . . . And to answer your question, no. Such areas are off-limits. Yes we do monitor the entrances, more for safety than anything else, but what one does inside is their business.”

Elsa smiled, “Well, that’s a relief.” She stood up and holding a smile turned and headed back to the tunnels. She stopped briefly, turned and watched Ed retreat back in the direction he had originally come from.

* * *

Jay was becoming more and more impatient. Since that one demand the room had remained silent. He had to admit he really didn’t know what to do. So once again he began pacing this larger room. He was facing towards the employee doors when he heard a sound behind him wondering if that voice was going to speak again. He was next to the door that led into the room marked SECURITY and the place where the windows saw into the distance. So the area around the counter and the wall at the end were not in his sight. Curious, he faced that way only to see his sister magically appear where there was no doorway. He stood frozen with an incredulous look on his face. In a tentative voice he asked, “Elsa, it this really you?”

She laughed, and had a big smile on her face. “Yes, brother it’s really me, and while you have been away on your adventure, well, I’ve been having one of my own.”

He wasn’t sure how to respond. At first he wanted to admonish her for leaving him in this situation. Adding to the worry that something serious had happened to her, but at the same time he was so happy to see her and that she seemed fine. Finally he said, “I’m happy you’re okay. I thought the worst, and you had finally snapped and ran off into the desert. I know from what you told me before I left it could have happened. And if it had I could only blame myself because I left you alone.”

“I can understand that, Jay. But, as you explained to me, there was no choice. We were running out of food, and while I don’t mind wearing your clothes, I’d really prefer something for a girl. And you were trying to get those things we needed.” She looked around and saw on the chairs the filled sacks, the extra sleep sack, and another bag which she suspected had clothing in it. Again she smiled, “And I can see you were successful.”

At this moment another voice, the same one Jay had heard earlier adding its own comments saying, “And welcome Jay, I’m Ed. Your sister Elsa can and will explain things and once she does I hope to see you in person shortly.”

Jay looked up questioningly at where the sound was coming from, and like Elsa earlier when she faced the same disembodied voice, was at a loss as to where the one who was speaking seemed to be. He simply shrugged since it was well beyond him. He looked to Elsa who continued to smile.

“Yeah Jay, my adventure. Leave the stuff you brought. We’ll come back for it later. I’m sure Ed will want to see it, but first I want to show you something, a really big surprise, and something that was completely unknown to us.” She reached out and took his hand and gently pulled him towards the counter. Not sure where this was leading he simply let her lead him. When they came close to the counter the wall that had been out of sight was gone.

He stopped and pointed saying, “What? Where did the wall go?”

She laughed and looked up, first saying to her brother, “My adventure.” She then asked Ed, “Are you going to leave it open this time?”

Ed answered saying, “Can’t. It’s kind of a safety thing. So it’s your decision. Once you’re through I’ll shut it again. Then when we meet up I’ll show the two of you how to operate it so you don’t feel like you’re trapped or something. So what I said still stands. You can leave, or you can come on down. One way or the other I will not leave the portal open.”

Again Jay was at a loss. Where did the voice originate? And it was obvious whoever Ed was he could see them, so why couldn’t he see Ed? He looked at his sister pointing through the opening, with some trepidation asking, “There?”

Here she laughed, remembering the fear, the tears, and the foreboding that she had once the wall had closed leaving her on the other side. She could fully understand Jay’s reluctance at wanting to go. “Jay, I thought I had lost you forever. I was on the other side of this wall, and you were on this side and I couldn’t get to you, couldn’t contact you, and had no idea what was happening. I was scared to death.

“You really don’t know what is ahead. The only thing I can say is what’s down there – and it is deeper down by the way – is another world, so different from the one we know. And the only way you’ll find it is by going. But if you don’t want to go, believe me, I understand completely. If I hadn’t been drawn in I wouldn’t have gone on my own. So are you ready to experience something new?”

Jay wasn’t sure, but from the actions of Elsa maybe it would be worth it to find out. Finally he shrugged, saying, “I guess so. Lead on.” He heard this Ed say, “Good boy.”

Elsa laughed. “Yeah I can understand him saying that. After all he isn’t young. In fact he is old, and as far as I know he is the only one here, other than you and me.”

Jay remained anchored to his spot as he tried to come to terms with this revelation. “Are you saying that this place where we have been living is only part of what’s here?” He knew the question sounded stupid since it was obvious there seemed to be a lot more, but this revelation was something he was having difficulty in accepting. It had been difficult enough when he had found this place. Now to learn it wasn’t all there was, was enough to make him reluctant to continue. He saw Elsa stop and turn around when she noticed he had stopped. He could see her encouraging smile.

“Look”, Elsa said, “I know, I really know that finding out there is more to this place after all the time we’ve been here is a surprise, and as far as you know maybe whoever this Ed is, is controlling me, but he’s not. Look when we finally met, and believe it or not it was among trees. Can you imagine trees underground? Not only that but the light makes it seem like it could simply be one of those desert oasis’s, a weird one for sure, but one anyway. Anyway, we sat across from each other on benches – far enough away where I felt safe. It was then I learned he wasn’t young.”

She turned around and grabbed both of his hands and gently pulled him towards the opening. He allowed her to guide him along. He still could feel a foreboding, like everything was beyond his control, and if he went through that opening any he may have thought he had would be lost forever. It was an eerie feeling, one that sent chills though his body, causing his hairs to stand up. Still from the way his sister was acting, well she seemed happy about it. Softly he asked, “Elsa, you do seem happy about this, why?”

It stopped her for a moment considering his question. “I don’t know. Maybe because I had built up such a fear of what I’d find, only to learn none of it was true – that to learn what I have is a relief. All I can say is you need to see this for yourself. And so far everything Ed has said and promised he has done. Like he said, if you want to leave and head back out into the desert, you or we can do it. But I suspect if we do we probably won’t be offered another chance.”

* * *

Suddenly Elsa is there with Jay and the relief is overwhelming. Still the story she relates leaves him unsure if he wants to follow her down to the lower levels or not. It is here where he will learn who that voice belonged, if he will only follow Elsa. Elsa tries to entice him down by gently pulling him in the direction of the open wall. Meanwhile Ed must keep his impatience under control and allow Elsa to convince her brother. Still, at this point even with the trust Elsa has been developing she cannot be sure of Ed’s motives. Next week we continue with part 2. Have a great week! God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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A Review

So are we reviewing something as a critic would, or is it something entirely different? I guess I can understand the question since the title of this post is truly generic and could reflect any number of thoughts, ideas or directions. I realized as we approach the last two episodes in the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, that a review (or synopsis) of the different episodes would bring all of us up to date. Many of you readers out there have come into the series of short stories in the middle not knowing or realizing they are related or part of a book, since they began and ended with what seemed to be closure. I’m sure, at times, the endings probably left one questioning what was truly happening since it wrapped up the short story but didn’t necessarily give full closure. And that’s simply because these endings, while complete, were to lead one on to the next episode.

If, first off, we were to look at the world of Jay, Elsa, and Ed we can determine that it is post-apocalyptic. For the sister and brother it is a world of villages, towns, and trading centers. A world primitive in comparison to where we are presently. A place where people live behind walls for protection. The village that Jay and Elsa are part of lies close to a great desert in the foothills along one of the major trade routes that run north to south. Their village’s main product is semi-precious stones they mine. Still by their isolation theirs is not a rich village or town. For all who live here it is a hard existence, yet overall a happy one. In the wild places exist clans of raiders which prey upon these villages taking anything they desire by force. They are the reason for the walls.

While Ed lives in a huge underground structure that is in the great desert. A facility meant to save mankind, but in the end failed (as far as he personally knows). His world is a world of technology and controlled environments. He has at his disposal all the comforts of home. His is a world we would recognize in an instant. Yet, with all of this for his use he is alone with no prospects of ever finding any others (This conclusion based on their history.).

The story begins as we follow Jay and the view is of his world, obviously, as he sees it. He is from a loving large family, and is responsible. Still time is short as he reaches for one of his life goals. And thusly the first episode begins:

And the Sun Will Rise: In this first episode we follow Jay as a teenager just about to enter adulthood. At the time of official entry into this next phase of his life he will be required to leave childhood, and such nonsense behind. He’s finding the normal changes to be challenging. Suddenly the opposite sex has a strong draw and he finds his body reacting to such thoughts about girls and is embarrassed by those reactions. Still, since he was a child, he found the peaks behind their village to be of personal interest. And he has had the desire to conquer them. And just before making the transition to being an adult he gets time off to do just that.

During his two-day trek, climbing the mountains, he awakens after a really bad night, after that first day of climbing, to the smell of smoke. It is the gray of dawn and nothing is really visible. At first he thinks it’s simply the smoke from his own campfire, but realizes that it doesn’t smell like that. He then realizes that something has to be burning in the village and is at loss as to what he should do. He is too far away to be of immediate help. So should he continue on to his goal or should he turn around and head back? He knows this will be his only chance in his life to reach his goal.

His mind is made up for him as the amount of smoke rolling in on him is too great to be a single building. It has taken a full day to reach his camp and knows it will be same to return. After returning he finds the village destroyed, and everyone he has ever known to be either dead or missing. After a brief search through the burning ruins he escapes into the desert where close to death finds a cave which has a natural water tank. After recovering he decides to explore further and finds a worked tunnel leading deeper and to his surprise finds a building. It is while here he sees Elsa, his sister, stumbling through the desert sands naked, injured, and close to death. He rescues her, nurses her back to health and the two decide to remain in this strange world he has discovered.

The Deeps: Ed is the last human on the face of the earth. At least that is how it appears to him and the ones before him. At the time that we meet Ed he is no longer young and has just cremated his father’s remains. The Deeps, is the common name of an underground world known as Helms Deep, named after a valley from the trilogy Lord of the Rings. It is a place where mankind was to survive and return to the surface once the earth had healed.

It is here we learn of this place, what it was meant for, and how time ran out before its purpose could be fulfilled. In the past there had been an incident somewhere deep in space that sent a destructive shotgun blast of asteroids inward towards the sun. And from all that could be understood earth was in the way. The question was would the earth survive, or would the world become a barren rock? Even with the supercomputers there were no definitive answers.

So with this desperate situation mankind built an underground facility meant to hold thousands, to give man a chance for survival. Unfortunately it was too little, too late and the only ones who were able to enter the facility were the workers on site at the time of impacts. From what could be witnessed, through electronic means, there was very little chance of survival for any who were on the surface. So with too small of a gene pool they attempted to give their species a chance by spreading the genes that were available as widely as possible. Ed was proof they failed.

Through his elderly years he continues to maintain “The Deeps”, and feels the walls closing in on him. At one point he goes insane, and later after recovering has to repair all the damage he had done during the time he was out of his mind. Still loneliness is his constant companion, and finally an alarm forces him to go out into the natural air to fix a major problem. Exhausted he returns only to fall immediately into bed and sleep it out. He, once awake, decides to get some food and on the way to one of the many kitchens sees a flashing red light in one of the security offices. He investigates and suddenly discovers two young people living in the Welcome and Processing center. Shocked, he sits there and stares.

The Past in the Present Seeing the Future: Ed is at a loss. Are the images he’s witnessing in the present, or are they some past recording? He doesn’t know.  So he does the only thing he knows – he researches the vast database and libraries. And as he continues to monitor the young male and female he begins to make conclusions on too little information. Still at this point he hasn’t been able to determine when those images originally were recorded.

As he continues to view the scene he realizes the sound is off and has to find where to turn it on. He figures if he can listen to the two he can understand more of what is happening and their relationship. Once he does he finds he cannot understand a word they are saying. He wonders if they are speaking a foreign language but learns, as time goes on, that all three of them speak the same language and it is only time that has changed the words and the way they are spoken.

Meanwhile Jay is beginning to worry. Yes he’s been able to help Elsa and her recovery, but when he had left the village for that final time, taking the emergency packs of food he had, it was with himself in mind. There had been no time or plans to bring enough food items, sleep sacks, or clothing for more than one. As a result their food supplies are dwindling too fast in his mind. While water is no issue, food and clothing are. So he approaches Elsa knowing her fragile condition.

Elsa lets Jay know in no uncertain terms where she is in her recovery, and that she doesn’t believe that she can continue here alone without him. Right now he is her crutch. The physical and mental abuse she’d taken at the hands of the raiders, plus what she personally witnessed has left her unsure on all of her mental and physical levels. And as he truly learns what happened, not that he was unaware, still because of her present valid fears, and what could happen if he leaves, he puts his plans on hold. Yet this issue will not go away.

Ed, having to rely on voice tone and body language can’t decide what truly is happening. There appears to be frustration, anger, fear, and any and all the emotions in-between. He fears that the female may be a captive of the male, but if this is true Ed doesn’t know how to respond or what he as an old man can do. Still he could be misinterpreting the whole thing – that language barrier thing once again. Still this could be a past event and mean nothing.

Eventually through personal research Ed discovers what he is witnessing is the present – now what? He decides to run archived footage from The Welcome and Processing center to discover when they entered the facility. It is through the archives where he learns the condition of both. Again he is struck by the care the male gives the female when she is unaware, and unconscious.

Jay finally convinces Elsa he has no choice and leaves to find more food. It weighs heavily upon him knowing her condition, but there’s no choice. And while Jay is away time weighs heavily on Elsa. She honestly doesn’t know if she can keep it together or not. And if not she knows she will probably go into the desert screaming, out of her mind, trying to escape the demons within herself,  leading to her death.

Ed witnesses all of this and sees the stress, the fear, and the worry and decides to help, if possible. Elsa awakens to darkness – something neither she or Jay had experienced here inside of the underground building. Quietly she gets out of the sleep sack and finds an opening that was never there before. Curious, she heads through this new opening to see where it might lead only to have it close behind her trapping her on the other side away from where she has been staying.

Changes: And if you have been with us through this short story or episode, it concluded last week. And now the game begins as a lot begins to happen. Jay is making his trek back to their destroyed village in hopes of finding additional food and supplies placed inside hidden caches. At the same time he really doesn’t know where he is in relation to their destroyed home. Plus he has no idea about the raiders who destroyed their town and if they are still there plundering the ruins.

Elsa is trapped, and all that trauma, all the fear, all the hurt comes back to her. She is in a new and strange world with the resulting fear, panic and overwhelming nervousness taking complete control. After a period of time, with nothing bad happening, she decides she can only go forward and down, since this is a tunnel, and find what is here. She discovers a similar arrangement, to the room where she and Jay had been staying, at the point where the tunnel ends.

Ed is hoping that soon she will enter the park just beyond the tunnel where the two of them will finally meet. He doesn’t know why the young male left, but he presently is finally getting a handle on the differences in speech. Still frustration is riding high as the girl seems to have no desire to go any further than the desks and counter.

Jay, after a successful search of the village, returns loaded down with the needed supplies only to find Elsa is nowhere around. He immediately blames himself thinking she had broken down and ran away into the desert. Unknown to him Elsa has heard his return, runs back up the tunnel only to find the wall still a wall. Here she breaks down once more and cries herself to sleep.

Ed, forgetting about the connection between the two areas, hadn’t considered an open mic. He worries that all he has tried to accomplish has failed and is at a loss as to what to do. Eventually he comes up with an idea, and with the girl, who he now knows as Elsa, still at the wall between the Welcome and Processing center and the lower tunnel entrance, he puts it into action. Jay immediately begins his search for his lost sister, only to fail, bringing on the feeling of defeat and depression.

Elsa with nature pushing her eventually enters the park, finds the privy and once finished heads back into the tunnel where Ed makes verbal contact with her. Where eventually through negotiation she enters the park and in the end meets Ed for the first time. Here he makes an offer she least expected.

* * *

And with that we close out Changes, and the episodic story up to this moment. From here we head into the last two episodes. And when you look over what has transpired, and where we are presently, it becomes obvious there is still much that has to happen. So on Saturday we begin, “A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge”, as the story continues to its conclusion. Have a great week and I hope to see you here for the beginning of the next episode or short story. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on August 22, 2015 at 7:02 am  Comments (7)  
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Changes, Part 9

Conclusion:

When we concluded last week’s post it appeared that Elsa and Ed were at an impasse. Elsa, isn’t trusting (for obvious reasons), and while she hasn’t seen the speaker, feels she’s at least in control where she is. And because of this she makes demands of her own. Meanwhile Ed is beginning to make progress in understanding Elsa’s words, but needs for this impasse to end. He is still monitoring both siblings and is still waiting to see if and when her brother will return from his search.

Jay, after finding out the area he is located is much larger than anticipated, begins to wonder how he ever found the building himself. Still he feels responsible for the loss or disappearance of his sister, and decides he will continue to search for her. Even with the weight of guilt and depression weighing heavily on him, he will not give up his search. It’s that important to him. (And if this is the first time here the story in its entirety can be found under short stories, in the sidebar on the right, or under June, July, and August of 2015.) And for your reading pleasure is the conclusion to Changes:

Ed needed to get this moving as he continued to monitor the situation, and as he continued to speak with Elsa he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and could see the young male, her brother had returned. He looked defeated and beat, not a good sign. In Ed’s mind he could head back out at any time and he really didn’t want to see that happen. Turning back to the monitor where he was watching the girl he could still see and hear the mistrust in both her body language and her voice. Well, he really couldn’t blame her. If he had been in her place he’d probably feel the same way. Remembering back to the way she looked when her brother brought her into the welcome center he suspected that something really bad had happened and this would only add to the suspicion and lack of trust.

He had no answers. And time wasn’t going to allow him the luxury of slowly working this out. “Look Elsa, what’s it going to take for us to see each other and at least confirm that what I’m saying is accurate?”

She shrugged, not realizing she had. In truth she had no idea what she needed to feel safe or what to tell him. She realized that he knew her name but she didn’t remember if he had mentioned his so she decided she’d ask. “Ah, I don’t remember if I got your name. If you gave it to me, then I’m sorry to have to be asking again. But you do have mine and now my brother’s. It would be a start.”

“Ed, Edward Carson.”

“Ed Edward Carson? That’s a funny name. Is this place then called Carson?”

The way she stated it almost made him laugh. Still he had to admit he was unfamiliar with their lives and how they lived, so it wouldn’t be any different for them. “No, Ed is my nickname, and Edward is my full name. And no this place isn’t Carson. It’s known as The Deeps to any of us who lived here. Why would you think this place would be named Carson?”

She was perplexed. It was common knowledge or so she thought. “Ah, one takes their last name from the name of the village, town, or trading center where one lives, don’t you know that?”

“Ah, no I don’t.” When she stated this, somewhere in the back of his mind, he had seen in history, a place somewhere in this world, where this had been a common practice, but he didn’t remember if he had studied it or had just found it during some research. “Look, we can continue talking this way or we can begin to talk where we can see each other. Right now I can see you, but you can’t see me.”

When he stated this she immediately got up and looked quickly around. Was he here and close by? She immediately jumped over the counter and crouched down. She didn’t want anybody sneaking up on her. With a bit of fear and panic in her voice she asked, “Where are you?”

Damn! Ed wondered if he had just undone all he had accomplished. “No, no, I’m not close to you. In fact I’m completely on the opposite side of the park, and in truth a lot further away.”

“So why is it I can hear you? I know I haven’t seen you, but nobody can talk like this and be far away. It’s not possible.”

How did one explain technology to someone who had never been around it? And Ed felt he didn’t have the time. Again he was afraid that Jay would leave mistakenly thinking his sister had abandoned the Welcome center and had disappeared into the desert. (He had returned once again.) Maybe he should at least contact him, but he didn’t know if he could carry on this many conversations at the same time and stay ahead of them let alone even. Again, damn. Why can’t something be simple for once? I just finished, in the near past fixing that leak, and it was a bear of a project. Now I’m trying to coax someone in here that knows nothing about their true past or what we had accomplished before the bombardment.

As he stared at the two monitors and looked back to the one with Elsa and his heart went out for her once again. Whatever had happened to her, had to be life changing. And whatever it was wasn’t for the good. “Look Elsa I watched as your brother brought you out of the desert. Something bad had happened and you were unconscious. And if he hadn’t found you I suspect you would have died – another victim of the unforgiving desert. I don’t know how your brother found this place, but if he hadn’t then this conversation wouldn’t be taking place. Again, I know you have no reason to trust me, but at least come into the park and I will do the same. There will be enough distance between us so that you will be able to determine if you want to continue and meet with me.”

He glanced over to the other monitor and saw Jay preparing to get up and from what Ed could determine Jay appeared to be getting ready to head out again. Ed hadn’t looked to see what time of day it was on the surface, but he needed Jay to remain. So with a decision made he opened up a mic to the center and simply said, “Jay, stay put!”

 

Jay knew it was night out, but thought maybe he’d simply go outside and let the cool desert night air caress him giving him a chance to do some deep thinking, to possibly come up with a solution to his dilemma. Elsa had to be somewhere and he needed to know where. Overall there had been too few clues. And, in truth, the only real one had been the fact that she had been sleeping, and had left before taking care of their normal housekeeping. Other than that he had to admit there was nothing. So with his decision made he got up and headed towards the door that led out to the tank only to stop midstride when a voice out of nowhere stated in no uncertain terms, “Jay, stay put!”

He quickly looked around trying to find the source of the voice only to see nothing. He immediately began to do a quick search. Somebody had to be here it was the only explanation he could come up. Voices didn’t just appear out of the thin air. It was something that was impossible. But after a quick and thorough search the results netted him nothing other than puzzlement. There was nobody here other than himself – nobody.

 

Ed watched in amazement as Jay stopped and began an immediate search for the one who spoke. Haven’t any of these people heard about any of this stuff I take for granted? The obvious answer again was no. At least there was now a great possibility Jay would stay, now he needed to concentrate on Elsa. He looked back at the monitor that was watching her and he saw she was still behind the counter and still crouched down. With the action of Jay grabbing his attention he had no idea if she had responded or not. He sighed, and shook his head. He needed to be twins, then he might be able to stay on top of this situation. Right now it was anything but.

He was running out of ideas and was almost disgusted with himself for causing whatever distress Elsa was feeling. He was sure it had to do with whatever happened in her past, but in reality had no idea what it had been. Still he had an idea since people don’t normally hike the desert naked – at least he didn’t think they did. As he stared at the images he remained silent. There has to be a way. “Okay, Elsa, I’m sorry if what I said caused you a problem. Look, I’m taking this on faith. I’m heading for the park. Please come out and I think you’ll see you have nothing to fear from me.”

Without waiting for an answer he left the security office and headed for the park. It was going to take some time to reach it since he was close to the center of the facility. Like her, and not sure of her reaction he strapped on a knife. It was a precaution he hoped wouldn’t be necessary but he really didn’t know how the world on the surface worked.

 

Elsa was about to reply when she realized it would do no good. It was obvious whoever this Ed was he was heading to, as he called it, the park. What to do, that was the question, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to leave the perceived safety of the tunnels or not. Still, if she wanted to be honest, there was nowhere for her to go. She either stayed in the tunnels where it was just that, or she went into the park where the privies were located, and there was all that greenery that shouldn’t be here but was. So her safety here was an illusion anyway. Besides, if she wanted to be honest, she was getting tired of crouching down like she was. It was hard on her knees and leg muscles.

She stood back up and then sat in one of those chairs and stared out through the narrow slit of a window to see if she could see anything. Unfortunately these windows were more for breaking up the monotony than allowing a true view of what happened out there in the park. Still she felt she would remain until she saw movement or something signifying he was there. Once that happened then she would decide whether to go through those doors.

She found she was leaning forward on the desk straining to see any change, or anything, but so far she couldn’t detect anything. The time seemed to be dragging and she wondered how far away this Edward could be. He did say this place was large, but how large could such a place be? Honestly it truly couldn’t be that big could it? She was about to give up when she saw what she thought might be movement, and waited to have it confirmed. After all her imagination could be playing tricks on her.

* * *

Jay was becoming impatient. Since that one contact by the voice nothing else had happened. He began to wonder if maybe he had imagined it, but it had been sharp, and in almost a command voice had told him to stay. He wished he could locate the one who spoke. Maybe he knew where his sister was, and maybe he, whoever this was, is close by. Yet, all of it was unknown, and simply a guess on his part. He began to pace the area. How’d whoever this is know I was about to head out those doors? It was a good question and at this moment he had no answer. It was then he thought about those windows that saw in the distance. Maybe there were more of them somewhere else. Then he realized the voice had named him also. How is that possible?

Then he remembered there was at least one door they hadn’t been able to go through. Maybe whoever this is was in that other room and there were more of these windows there. It was a possibility but once again it was only a guess. There was no way in there, and the door was solid and with what he had there was no way to go through. Still, at this moment it was the only thing that made any sense. With those thoughts he went over to that door and banged on it trying to get the attention of whoever this had to be. He even raised his voice trying to get some reaction – anything, but he heard nothing, and if there was someone there they hadn’t moved at all.

Frustrated he began pacing once again and finally went to one of the lines of chairs and sat down with his arms crossed. If he heard nothing for a while maybe he would go out anyway, be away from this place, and think this through. Suddenly there appeared to be too many strange things happening, and maybe this place was actually a trap, a danger to both he and his sister. And there was a great possibility she had already fallen into it. And even though he didn’t know it, his conclusion was accurate. Although not in the way he thought.

* * *

Out of the corner of her eye she caught the movement a second time and this confirmed for her that someone had to be out there. She still wasn’t sure if she was ready for this or not, so she remained sitting trying to come to some kind of decision. Finally she sighed, pushed herself up from the desk and left from behind the counter through the opening for that purpose. She came around and returned to the set of doors she had gone through earlier, turned around and leaned on them still not sure if she was ready to leave this area or not. At least here she had some type of protection. Out there, there wasn’t any place to hide or anything to use for protection.

Might as well get this over with, she thought. Things weren’t going to change until this meeting happened. She honestly had no idea how long this Edward would wait before taking things into his own hands, and with what she had witnessed so far – wonders well beyond anything she had ever imagined – she hadn’t a clue what he could do. Turning around she carefully pushed through those swinging double doors and entered the park.

She was still in awe since this area seemed to be bathed in sunlight, but this was quite impossible. She was underground and knew it. So how was it accomplished? With a tentativeness that was obvious she began to walk one of those solid paths towards the center area with her hand resting comfortably on her knife hilt. At least it gave her a bit of false confidence. As she neared the center of the park there appeared to be benches on either side of the path and sitting one of them was an old man. An old man? Really? Was this who she feared? He seemed harmless. But she knew such appearances could fool one. Again, with tentativeness in her speech she asked, “Are you Edward?”

He smiled back at her pointing to a bench on the other side of the walkway and said, “Yes, that’s me.”

Carefully, keeping him in sight at all times she moved over to the bench he had pointed to and slowly sat down keeping her weight on her legs so she could move quickly if it was required. She saw he was leaning back with his one of his arms lying across the top of the bench and he appeared to be relaxed. And thusly began the conversation between the two of them with the distance between remaining.

At the end she found herself being drawn to this oldster – one who had lived alone for too much time. It was then he asked, “Elsa, are you ready to face something different, and do you think you can convince your brother Jay that you are okay, and if the answer is yes, I will open the wall and either let you go back to him, or have him come to us – your call.”

* * *

“Wait a minute writer! What’s this? You call this a conclusion? You’ve left us hanging. Yeah, we can see that things are heading to a successful conclusion . . . still . . . really?” And it may seem to be still open – unfinished. Still if you have been following these series of short stories from the beginning you know that in truth they are a series of episodes from the book “Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown”. So while each episode concludes within itself, it also leads one on to the next episode, which will begin in two weeks. It is titled, “A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge”, which is broken down into 8 parts. And with this next short story, we are one short story or episode away from the conclusion of the book. The last short story or episode is titled, “Reconciliation”. Next week my post is titled “A Review”. Since I have had a number of readers come on board in the middle I decided (like those countdown shows) to present a review of all the episodes up and through “Changes” so all will know the history, the overall story, and thusly understand how we arrived here. Have a great week and see you here next Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 8

Running out of options Jay continues to try to locate Elsa, which is becoming an impossible task. He has no clues, and nothing to work from. Still until he finds her he will continue to search, hoping for a good outcome in the end. Elsa, with her meal consumed, finds she has questions about this underground world. There is so much impossibility surrounding her that she wants to understand. In fact if some other person had stated they had seen and experienced what she has, she suspects she would laugh and consider it a tall tale. And Ed is trying to keep track of the two of them and not really succeeding. He takes a break himself as he tries to figure out how to make this deteriorating situation come to a successful conclusion.

Of the three it seems that Elsa has become the key to making all of this work. Still it is Ed who must set it all in motion since he began the steps to bring her down to the lower levels in the first place. Jay, once again, is on the outside and completely unaware of what’s transpiring under his feet. Yet, at this very moment in time anything can happen. (And if this is the first time here parts 1 thru 3 are under June 2015, in the right sidebar, with parts 4 thru 6 under July 2015, and part 7 under August 2015, or you can go to the short stories in the sidebar instead.) And for your reading pleasure is part 8:

Jay stood up and headed back out into the desert pushing through the crack. He stood for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the bright sunshine, and the breezes that were blowing. The wind was warm and was blowing quite hard picking up sand and small pebbles when the gusts hit him. Fortunately it wasn’t hard enough to create a sandstorm but this didn’t bode well either. It meant that any tracks Elsa would have left would already be gone and as such there would be nothing to let him know which way she may have gone or how long in the past it had happened. From what little evidence he had found in those rooms it could have been right up to just before he had arrived.

Part of the problem he faced simply was the fact that Elsa hadn’t any idea as to where this was. She had been injured, and delirious, semiconscious when he had found her. And it was days before she was herself once more. Other than what had happened to her at the hands of the raiders she remembered none of it. Yeah leaving their camp in the dark and disappearing into the desert but that was about all. He remembered her saying that she remembered heading out from the raider camp in full darkness and then waking up inside of the building with he watching and caring for her. Still, like all of them, she could use landmarks and such to locate and to travel, but when you had none to start with such was almost useless.

So where to look? Where should he go to search? Maybe I can do a few full widening circles around this area. It’d give me a chance to learn a little more about the lay of the land, and if she did leave I might trip across something to give me a direction. With his mind made up he headed on down the wash and deeper into the desert. He would spend most of the daylight working the area and then return as the sun set. He had enough water and rations to do this. Besides, once he completed his first circuit he could always return to the tank and refill his water container.

 

The sun was beginning to set and he was still a little way from completing his first circuit of this area. The badlands encompassed a greater area than he thought. There were literally hundreds of places for one to get lost or to hide in. He felt it would take a search party greater than the size of all the able-bodied males in the village to do a complete search of this area. So how was he going to do it on his own? That brought up another question. How did he ever find this place when he had been close to death himself? He had no answers and with a heavy heart pushed on until he came to one of his markers and returned to the underground building.

He sat heavily in one of those seats that were in a row with his head resting on his hands and with his eyes closed breathed a silent prayer that Elsa was all right. At this moment this place felt empty and it emphasized his position as being the only one here. With his sister here it had given him a reason to keep going. It gave him the impetus to make plans and to take the dangerous trip back to the ruins, and to come back here. Now he was at a complete loss as to what to do. He heard his stomach rumble and realized he hadn’t eaten anything all day, but still remained sitting. He felt his depression deepening, and he felt miserable and responsible. But, in truth, he wasn’t here to know what happened. And to blame himself was stupid, he knew that, still he couldn’t help it. When he had rescued her, not that she didn’t rescue herself initially, she became his responsibility. She, after all, is his sister, and a younger sister at that. He remembered too many times being reminded, as he grew up, to watch out for her and be responsible. Well, as far as he was concerned, he failed.

* * *

Elsa, once she finished the food, putting the trash back in the basket, went back to those doors and pushed once again. While she hadn’t really thought about it at the time she had gone through them, and in both directions, it seemed like they swung both ways. Since she now knew this to be true, since she had tested her theory, and it would be the first time she had ever encountered anything like this. Not that everything she had been discovering up to this point had been anything she had seen, because it all was impossible. And if she hadn’t seen it with her own two eyes, hadn’t walked the tunnels, and been in the building with Jay, she would have chalked it up as a tall tale with no truth in it at all. And the strangest part of all of this so far was what lay on the other side of this double doorway.

How could all that greenery exist? She knew from personal experience that the sunlight kept green things alive – that plus the soil and water. And then there was all this light. She didn’t understand the light at all – Jay hadn’t either. Yet the brief time she was out in all of that greenery she could smell it, feel the movement of the air, see the leaves in the trees move with the slight breeze – all stating these were real plants and trees. If she didn’t know she was this deep underground she would have sworn she had found a hidden oasis in the desert – a strange one that’s for sure, but none the less real.

This brought her full circle when once again she realized that somewhere along the line she had come to the conclusion that there had to be someone else here. Someone who had manipulated her in coming through that wall, someone who had also provided this food, and had to be hiding here somewhere, wherever somewhere was. Maybe there’s more than one. This thought brought back a bit of fear. Still, she hadn’t seen anybody, and found nothing that signified anyone living here. It was at this moment she jumped because a disembodied voice said, “Elsa”.

* * *

“This is getting crazy!” Ed whispered. He was still working on bringing Elsa in so they could at least meet, and yet at the same time keep track of the young male. He had sworn he heard the girl mention his name, but with everything going on he had missed it, and for some reason he was quite busy right now and unable continue the replays or listen to them. He could see the Welcome center was still empty. He hoped that wherever the young male had gone he would return. If he didn’t he wasn’t sure if he could blame himself for it or not. Ed could tell from the reaction he saw in the cameras that the young male cared deeply for Elsa. Still what their relationship was he didn’t have any idea. It had been something he hoped to have answered before he came back.

Ed could see the reaction of Elsa when he spoke her name. He cringed when he saw her jump. Haven’t they, or she seen or heard anything like this? This stopped him for a moment. Could it be what he took for granted did not exist in this world now? It was something he hadn’t considered, and when he began to think on it, it could be that way. So, if it was, what would they think of this place, or the security office where he had seen them watching the monitors, or all of it for that matter? All of it, including the buildings would seem to be magic, to be something created by mythological gods maybe. Well, however they viewed it he needed to coax Elsa out into the park where he could make contact with her on neutral ground, and soon.

He continued to watch her giving it a few more seconds before calling her name again. He knew that to her his voice must be hard to understand, as much as theirs were for him. Still if he spoke slowly she should understand him, and if he could get the same from her it should be reciprocal – at least one hoped. He could see her looking around trying to locate where the voice was coming from and expecting to find someone standing there. Well, even though she didn’t know that it was possible, he was in a different place than she. “Elsa, look you don’t know me, as much as I don’t know you.”

He could see her continue to look around until she finally centered on where the speaker was located. When she did he smiled and said, “Please speak to me, and when you do, do it slowly. While we speak the same language, our accents make it hard for each of us to understand the other.”

Speak to him? Speak to whom? Elsa thought. She continued to look around until she centered on the area above the counter and on the wall. There seemed to be something that covered a small area there that had a lot of holes in it. She had been through the doors and knew the wall behind those desks wasn’t thick enough to have a place inside of them for a person to hide. So where was the person behind the voice? And just because he had asked her to speak to him, and she was sure it was a him, why should she comply? Was he hiding from her on purpose?

Ed could almost read her thoughts from the way she was reacting. In a sense it brought another brief smile to him, but at the same time confirmed what he had been thinking. They had none of what was here. Radio, or intercom systems, would be unknown, so she would expect to see someone if a voice was heard. With this new insight he said, “Elsa, no I’m not there, and I’m not close by. Try to understand that what seems impossible to you is common for me. And no, I’m not performing magic, or am I some god or something. I’m just a person like you.” Again he waited for her to say something.

Elsa held her breath for a moment trying to come to a decision, then shrugged asking, “If what you are saying is true, are you the one who opened the wall that I came through? And if so why won’t you let me back through so I can go see my brother Jay?”

Brother? Ah, so they are part of the same family, Ed thought. And at the same time he gave her credit, what she asked would probably have been the same questions he would have asked. So how to answer? “Elsa, somehow I needed to meet with you so that you could see that I mean you no harm. To gain a little bit of trust so I, with your help, can get your brother here also. I watched him leave, and saw that this was troubling you. I don’t know why, but from what I could see, you were scared, worried, had fears – I don’t know, but you see from my history I had no idea that any others existed.”

“What do you mean, any others existed? Have you always been isolated, away from the villages, towns, and trading centers?”

It was Ed’s turn to be surprised. “You mean there are lots of people out there?”

“Out there? What do you mean out there?” She asked.

“Never mind. Look, can you come back out into the park. . .”

“Park? What’s a park?”

Shaking his head before continuing Ed said, “Park huh, never heard of a park. Okay, can you go out where the green things are? You know, where the trees, and bushes and grass are.”

“Oh”, was all she said for a moment. “Is that what you call such a place?” She wasn’t sure if she wanted to comply or not. Still she did have her knife for defense if it came down to it, but remembered when the raiders attacked that having such a weapon meant little to nothing. And from what little she had seen and understood such a weapon could be useless here as it was against the raiders. “And why would you want me to come out there?”

“Look, it’s really simple. I thought it could be considered neutral ground. A place where we can see each other, and there is enough distance between us that it will give us time to decide if we do want to come closer, okay?”

One thing for sure, since he seemed to control the situation, including that moving wall, she was kind of stuck. “Was it you that provided the basket?”

“Yeah, that was me. I have no desire for you to starve. This isn’t what this is all about.”

“Well, thank you sir. I was always told to use manners when I’m supposed to. Still, I’m worried that you are putting me in a dangerous situation, and I’m not sure I like that. Been there already and it almost killed me.”

“And that’s why if we meet, like I’m suggesting, it will give you a chance to hopefully eliminate some of this lack of trust.”

“Let my brother in and we can talk about it.”

“Sorry, can’t. Two reasons really. The first is simply he isn’t in the Welcome center right now, and secondly I can only face one of you at a time. Because, you see, there is only me.”

“In this place? It’s so large.”

“You have no idea. But think about it. In the Welcome and Processing center where you and your brother were staying, it is only the two of you yet, it could hold hundreds easily . . . So why should it be any different here? Yes, this place was designed to hold thousands, but it doesn’t, and never did.”

* * *

Finally Ed makes verbal contact with Elsa, and here he learns the relationship between Jay and Elsa. And with this contact Ed learns more of the gulf that separates him from the youngsters. Elsa meanwhile makes demands  of her own. And between the two of them, Elsa and Ed, they are trying to come to an understanding. And it is here we also learn of the inner strength of Elsa as she makes those demands even though she isn’t in control of the situation. Next week we conclude Changes with part 9. Will the outcome be right for all three, or will it all fall apart? Have a great week and see you here next Saturday for the conclusion. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 7

After the chaos in last week’s part of the story, things have briefly become quiet. Still this quiet cannot last. Ed, trying to monitor the two young people, finds the job almost impossible to do. Meanwhile after her discoveries, Elsa is just about to make new discoveries, and come to an important conclusion. Jay, does the only thing he can think to do, and hopes the outcome will be positive.

For the sister and brother this world is becoming stranger as time moves on, and for the one who is familiar with this underground world, the world being presented by the two youngsters is strange. If any of us were to think about similar situations (obviously not the world these characters live) in our lives, how would we see it? We know, if we’ve moved into a new area for example, that initially we have to get past the strangeness, the unfamiliarity, and after a period of time and exploration, it all goes away and becomes common. For the three it is not so yet. (And if this is the first time here Changes begins in the sidebar under June 2015, and continues into July 2015 or under Short Stories.) And for your reading pleasure is part 7:

Ed had been concentrating so much on the female and what she was doing he hadn’t been following the male. When he looked back at the monitor showing the main room of the Welcome center he didn’t see him there at all. Curious as to where he had gone Ed quickly brought up the other monitors in the bank and had them piggyback the cameras the security room in the Welcome center used. He picked up the male by the natural tank. It was obvious he was heading back outside. Darn! Paying too much attention to what the girl, ah, Elsa is doing instead of trying to follow both of them. Now he’s out of voice and communication range.

He began to follow the young male but knew that shortly he would be out of visual view. From the history and archives he knew that at one time the cameras covered all the approaches to Helms Deep. Still even this area suffered damage from the bombardment from space and approximately half the monitoring devices were destroyed. In that destruction the original entrance to the facility had been destroyed, buried, and a team had tried to provide an alternate entrance. Since most of the original inhabitants were from the construction trades it was something they were familiar with. The underground garage area avoided the damage so this provided an alternate entrance while the problem was being worked out.

Eventually a small tunnel was constructed coming in from a side direction through the sandstone that was part of the mountain that Helms Deep lay under. They used part of what had been a natural cave system to speed up the process, and had, once that hole had been discovered, marked and roped it off. They suspected it simply had gone down to a lower level of the cave complex. And it was because of this cave system this site had originally been chosen. It had reduced the time necessary for the construction, but even with these shortcuts it was too little too late.

Ed also knew, again from the archives, once the new entrance had been constructed the team working the job decided to keep the natural tank they had found and to pipe water to it so any who would be out could simply come here for water and not have to head all the way back inside. Still once all of this had been accomplished nobody used it since no one from the outside ever showed up. Any time excursions to the desert took place they were always through the hidden underground garage and supply area. In many ways he thought the effort his ancestors had put forth was a waste. But maybe it wasn’t so. While no one had arrived during the original meteor strikes, now after all this time someone had. And when they had it had been through that modified entrance and changed his world forever.

* * *

She wasn’t here. Jay was worried, scared really. Where did she go? He had no answers and no ideas. From what little he could figure out she must have been sleeping when whatever happened, had happened. Otherwise the sleep sack would have been picked up, aired out, and be out of their way. While she hadn’t been outside of this place since he had brought her inside he had explained what she faced if she decided or needed to leave. So with nothing here he decided to at least do a quick search out in the desert to see if there was anything out there he could attribute to her.

Filling his water bottles with fresh water he immediately headed out the doors through the tunnel, past the small tank of water, and headed towards the entrance into this place. Once close he stopped. Right here and to his right was that large hole. He wondered, and hoped he was wrong, if she could have fallen into there. He had stayed away from it, because he knew exactly where it was, but she didn’t. Yes he had described it to her, but descriptions versus reality are definitely two different things. Carefully he approached the edge and tried to peer down into the pit, but could see nothing. He got down on his hands and knees and tried again with the same results. He really had no idea how deep this was.

Sliding back from the edge he found some small pebbles to toss in. He had first thought of finding a good-sized rock, but changed his mind. If she had fallen in then he could inadvertently hit her, and possibly injure her more, and if she had survived the fall – all conjecture of course. The surface in this area of the tunnel was solid rock so there would be no tracks, nothing to state someone had passed this way. He approached once again with great caution and on his knees tossed one of the pebbles into the darkness and listened. After what seemed too long he thought he heard it hit. Oh my, I hope not. He immediately sent a second followed by a third into the hole and listened. All three sounded as if they had landed in water.

If she had fallen into this and had been injured or knocked unconscious she would probably have drowned. Meaning she was dead. This thought floored him. He sat down and pulled himself away from the hole leaned back on his arms and stared out at nothing. Sis, after all you’ve been through, with all the pain, fear, and agony, if you fell to your death here . . . He could not bear to consider the futility of it all if indeed this was her fate. No, I won’t accept this. You would be more careful than this, and you were warned. With those thoughts he stood back up and headed on out into the desert. He would do a careful and thorough search outside before returning. Who knows, maybe she simply went outside into the desert to be back in the sunlight and he would find her shortly.

* * *

Ed realized he had been working the security office since early in the day. He needed to take a break. And from what he could see the two he was watching were either beyond his view or taking a break themselves. Pushing himself back from the desk that ran the full length of the monitor bank he sighed, got up and first visited the restroom before heading to one of the kitchens. Maybe the walk away from all of this would do him good and give him a chance to think it through. When he had first seen the two of them he obviously was in shock, but as a little more time passed he felt the need to bring them all the way inside and thusly what he was attempting now.

The present problem, among many, was this was becoming much more complicated than he first thought. After all, turning off the lights, opening the entrance with its soft lighting, drawing the young lass down through the tunnels should have been simple. And with the young male out and about he wouldn’t be a factor, initially making this first contact easy. Well, it hadn’t been and even though she was down in the lower levels nothing had led to him meeting her. He found he had reached the kitchen and hadn’t even realized he had traveled between that brief stop at the restroom to here.

He grabbed some juice and made a sandwich, went out to the seating area and sat down still deep in thought. He reached for the glass only to realize it was now empty. He hadn’t even realized he had been drinking it let alone emptying the glass. It was then he realized his sandwich was gone also. Boy, I must really be thinking hard. I just ate my lunch and don’t even remember putting the food in my mouth at all. He looked up at the clock on the wall and realized that 45 minutes had passed by also. Guess I’d better head back. Somehow this meeting needs to happen today. With the young male, I still didn’t catch his name, here and searching I’ve got to get her confidence and between the two of us bring him down.

* * *

With the basket of food she wasn’t sure if what was here before her was safe or not. She began to wonder where it came from. Things like this didn’t just magically appear. That meant there had to be someone here – another person. She wondered why this hadn’t occurred to her before. It was the only explanation that made any real sense. So, why haven’t I seen anybody? What she was learning was this place her brother had found was much larger than either of them thought. They had been spending their time in that other place and had explored it completely. And while overall it was larger than the largest building they had it still was just a bunch of rooms. Yeah, a bunch of rooms with magical stuff – and who’d have thought a wall that moves.

She began to wonder if someone was manipulating her. From what little evidence that she had at her disposal it was beginning to seem like it was the case. But how? She wondered. The only real proof she had was this basket of food. Food she hadn’t touched, but eventually her hunger overcame her reluctance and she looked closer seeing what appeared to be fruit of some kind. What it looked like was a fruit she had only heard about and never seen or tasted personally. This fruit was known as grapes, and even though how she imagined them was different, now that she saw them for the first time she could tell the description had been accurate. It had been her interpretation that was wrong. Tentatively she plucked one and put in her mouth almost afraid to bite down. Carefully she did and was rewarded was a crunchy, juicy sweetness that surprised her. Wow, they taste wonderful. They sure beat those emergency food packs they had been eating.

She put the grapes aside and pulled out what appeared to be a sandwich, but the bread seemed so much finer and definitely softer than any she had ever dealt with in her life. Carefully she unwrapped the sandwich. Whatever the material was it was wrapped in seemed to self-seal and it made it a little difficult to remove. She put the sandwich down and tried to open this clear stuff up and ended up, after much difficulty, with a square of whatever it was. She found that it wanted to cling to her. Eventually and frustrated by the stuff sticking to her she put it down with much difficulty and took a small bite of the sandwich. It seemed to have some type of spread, different from butter, and much thicker, plus some type of preserves. Again this was something she never had, but found she immediately loved it. And the bread, how did it become so soft and flavorful?

While holding the sandwich in one hand and nibbling on it, and with her curiosity fully aroused, she began digging into the basket with her free hand to find out what else was here, and was rewarded by a round container that had some type of liquid inside. And somehow it felt cool to the touch. How could that be? The container seemed to be made of glass and had a different shape as it narrowed at the top forming a small circle or mouth that had some type of lid or cap. Now if she could figure out how to remove the lid. It didn’t look like a cork the type that was simply pushed in for a seal. And she couldn’t see any threads so it didn’t appear to twist off. She tried pulling it and that didn’t work, so she moved on and tried twisting. At first it resisted then it gave away and did twist off. She was rewarded with a sound like pressure being released and she saw the dark liquid bubble and fizz. What is this stuff? She had never seen anything like it. She looked closely at the container, and it had words imprinted in the glass. Reading the letters it spelled C O L A, whatever cola was. She had to admit one more time she didn’t know.

Here she was eating a simple mid-day meal and so far everything was new and unknown, and a whole new world was being opened to her. She wondered what would be next, and who was the one providing these wonders?

* * *

For all three change is in the air but only Ed is truly aware of the situation here in “The Deeps”. Elsa has finally come to the conclusion that there has to be another player in the mix even though her conclusion is based on a small amount of evidence. Meanwhile Jay is still facing the loss of Elsa. He is doing the only thing he can think of to locate her. And one of his possible conclusions is too terrible to consider. Still he rejects it and continues his search. As this story continues to unfold, be back for part 8, of Changes. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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