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Author’s note: So far this has been a VERY interesting and fun ride. There will most likely be one or two more chapters after this, but I will soon have to stop writing for reasons that I can’t go into. With luck I will be able to, one day, pick back up where I left off. But, for now, I hope you’ll enjoy all that I can manage to create. As always, votes and comments are more than welcome- the more, the better!
And, now, on with the show…
The depression that ensues due to the loss of a loved one is truly extraordinary. It can leave a person, for a time, in a state which is like a shadow of their former self. Anger, denial, doubt, fear, anguish… all of these things are intensely felt while grieving, to this I can personally attest. But there is something amazing that happens if one can come out the other side of such an abyssmal ordeal. Strength, fortitude, courage, faith and even freedom can fill the afflicted up like the coolest waters filling an empty vessel. The key to surviving, as you might guess, lies solely in the love of those who are left behind. Kelly and I had each other to look after when Sarah was gone from our lives. And despite our tryst as lovers, it was the love of a father and daughter that saw us through. There is nothing more powerful or more enriching than knowing that the person you can depend upon most is there, depending on you. My daughter and I relied upon each other for support and strength, for each others’ sake, and that is what saved us in the end.
The thing which was the catalyst for me, however, was when Kelly revealed to me the discovery of her own ability to side-step Time. It was such a bold, risky move on her part that I could do nothing but feel intense pride in her, as her father. I know, in the very depths of my being, that she didn’t show me what she could do in an effort to brag or preen in any way. She did so because she realized that I had found a personal Mission in life and she wanted to help me. She wanted to participate and support me and contribute something good to the world around her. She had taken up my banner at my side and, without actually saying so in words, declared her determination to join me. Her choice was selfless and endearing, for now I knew that I would not have to go through Life alone anymore. Sarah, my lovely wife, may be gone, but part of her lives on in our incredible daughter Kelly. She would pick up where her mother left off and do so proudly and without fear.
After her astonishing display I had decided that I needed some time to myself, to think things through for a bit. I politely excused myself so that I could retire the shower and Kelly volunteered to make dinner while I cleaned up. While I stood in that hot shower, in some way washing away all the pains and ills which had plagued me since Sarah’s death, I bent my mind towards what we would do next. I wasn’t foolish enough to think that we could immediately set out to become vigilantes, striking at the heart of the criminal element like a couple of half-baked comic book heroes. We needed to plan, to understand our enemy, to consider our options and figure out how to safeguard ourselves completely. And that last point of business was the sticking point in my mind: how would we protect ourselves against discovery and possible trouble in the future? How could we ensure our safety?
I stepped out of the shower, turned off the water and turned to look at myself in the bathroom mirror. Staring back at me was a man who seemed like he’d just woken from a deep coma. I had bags under my eyes and looked completely bedraggled. Inwardly, though, I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt stronger and more in control than I had in years. I tried to filter out the physical flaws I saw in my face, the lines of worry and the paleness which had come from having stayed indoors with depression for far too long, for three months solid, and peered deeply into my own eyes. And there, like seeing an old friend, I saw the flicker of passion and the fire of self-possession. I grabbed a hand towel and swiped the fog away from the mirror to get a better look at my own face, to see if I could peer deeper into my own soul. I can’t quite explain it, but the man I had been just before Sarah died seemed to finally look back at me and the color in my skin appeared to miraculously come back. I smiled at the image reflected in the mirror.
“Welcome back,” I said to it. “You’ve been gone for far too long.”
I then set about getting dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a simple tank top and went downstairs to discover that Kelly had made a simple meal of spaghetti and garlic bread. The cooked meat which had been added to the sauce smelled wonderfully inviting as I entered the kitchen. Kelly somehow sensed my arrival and turned to smile at me happily. She too, it seemed, had undergone some sort of mysterious transformation while I had been in the shower. Her shoulders looked more relaxed and the special glow of youth canlı bahis was evident in her smiling face. I was gratified to see that she, too, had dressed down for dinner, wearing a thin-looking white chemise (no bra underneath) and a flowing cotton summer skirt. A quick glance further down revealed that she was barefoot. The male chauvenist in me marvelled at that fact that my daughter had taken on the prototypical role of woman of the house: barefoot in the kitchen, with dinner on the stove. You psychoanalysts out there can jeer all you like, but I felt that my daughter had never looked more beautiful than she did at that moment.
“Dinner’s almost ready, Dad,” she said airily and without a note of concern in her voice. “Mind getting some plates for us while I finish up?”
“Sure thing, sweetheart,” I answered and then set the table while she pulled the garlic bread out of the oven.
As we sat down at the table to eat some moments later, with a bottle of red wine between us, I kicked off our conversation. “Okay,” I said. “The way I see it, we need to get you trained as much as possible.” I picked up the bottle and poured us each a glass of wine to the halfway mark.
“Trained?” Kelly asked, looking somewhat perplexed. “In what? Martial arts?” She picked up her glass of wine and held it up in the air, waiting for me to join her in a quick and silent toast. Our glasses clinked gently as we each took a small sip to experience the flavor of it before eating.
I shrugged after I swallowed the sip of wine and put my glass back on the table gently. “Martial arts? Sure. It wouldn’t hurt, I suppose, but I was thinking more along the lines of your new-found ability. When I had my first real experience with it, I could only do it for a few seconds, too. It took me months to finally get to the point to where I could stay in the Between for indefinite periods of time. I had to learn how to control it and flip at a moment’s notice.”
Kelly blanched slightly at this news. “Months? How many months?”
“Well, to be fair, I’m still sort of learning about it. But you’ve got an edge that I didn’t have, honey: someone to help you along and teach you how to focus. And that’s the real key with this thing, Kelly. You’ve got to really learn how to focus your mind. In all honesty, that’s the hardest part. But once you get that down, the rest comes pretty easily. And, with practice, it’ll get to the point where you won’t even really have to think about it anymore. These days I can flip as easily as I would tie my shoelaces.”
Kelly seemed a bit mollified to hear that, but I could tell that she didn’t like the prospect of taking too long just to learn how to go Between when she wanted to. “Do I really need to have the level of control that you do?” she asked. “I mean, why can’t we just do what we’ve been doing? You take me there and bring me back when we’re done.”
I shook my head. “What if we get separated somehow?” I asked reasonably. “It’s something that’s always been a very major concern of mine, Kelly. It’s an element of risk that I’d like to dispose of, and the sooner the better. You know what happens to things if I leave them in the Between. They stay there. As your father, I’d feel safer if I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you could get yourself back to Normal Time if an emergency arose. And in order to get back, you’ve got to be able to go there on your own.”
“So what do you propose, Dad?” she asked as she picked up a slice of bread and began to sop up some of the spaghetti sauce on her plate. “You want me to do those meditation exercises you did? I’m not too good at that kind of stuff. It goes against my grain. And what worked for you may not necessarily work for me. Shouldn’t we figure out what would work best for me, first?”
I gave that some consideration as I took a sip of the wine. “I guess you do have a point there, but as the person who has the most experience with going Between, I think it would be wise to at least follow my counsel.” She started to protest a bit, but I held up a calming hand. “Listen,” I said patiently, “I know you’re ripping and raring to go out there and try to set this world right. I am, too, to be honest. But if we just went out there without a plan, then things might go south real quick. I don’t want to put you in jeopardy. You’re the only daughter I’ve got and, not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m not exactly equipped to make another. I don’t want to lose you to some stupid mistake on either of our parts. What we’re planning to do here is big. And we can’t have ANY slip-ups. We’ve got to become absolute pros at covering our tracks, leaving behind not a single clue of our presence and generally being invisible. And we can’t be invisible just to the criminals we intend to poach. We’ve got to be invisible to the police, too. And, now that I’ve had a bit more time to think about it, I’m figuring out that we’ll need to pretty much fall off the radar entirely where the U.S. Government is concerned. I bahis siteleri mean, what do you think would happen to us if the Feds figured out what we can do?”
“They’d slice us up like lab rats,” my daughter answered without hesitation.
“Right,” I said. “They’d poke and prod us and do their damnedest to figure out HOW we do it and then try to apply it to some stupid military strategy.” I placed my fork beside my plate and looked at my daughter seriously. “Kelly, we represent a VERY powerful weapon here. We make time irrelevent. And our intentions are noble. But the path to Hell is paved with good intentions, as they say. The purest and noblest of Causes are absolutely worthless if they don’t have a solid foundation of planning and safety in place. We need to learn how to act as a TEAM, rather than both of us relying solely on the other.”
“Dad, I’ll always have your back. You know that.”
“I don’t doubt it, honey, but teamwork is more than just knowing that your team mate has your back. It also means knowing that your team mate can do what they’re supposed to do without fail. If we get split up, for any reason, no matter how impossible it may seem right now, then we NEED to be able to protect ourselves. And you being able to go Between with a simple thought is worth its weight in gold right now. I will NOT start this little mission of vigilantism until I am absolutely, one-hundred-percent certain that you can hold your own. If the Feds come knocking on our door, both of us has got to be able to flip without a second thought and get to safety. To say nothing of what we’d have to do if someone higher up the criminal food chain figures out that it’s US who has been taking their money. And, right now, you can’t go Between for more than a few seconds.”
“The Fold,” Kelly blurted.
“The Fold,” she repeated. “That’s what I call it. You call it The Between. I call it The Fold.”
I blinked owlishly at her for a second, my eyebrows arched high. “Why?”
“Well, it seems to me that what we’re really doing is folding time and space. We go in one second and come out the next, but we change location, too. If what I’ve heard in all those sci-fi movies is really true, then what we’re doing is folding space-time. Take one end of the string and touch it to the other end of the string, right? Whatever is in the middle is sort of folded until the string is stretched back into a straight line again. Or is my concept of Quantum Mechanics totally fucked?”
Again, I blinked at her in surprise. I regained my composure quickly, though, and shook my head. “No,” I said, “you’ve got it pretty much nailed. Wow. I actually studied that shit and couldn’t explain it better. Okay, then. ‘The Fold’ it is.”
Kelly smiled triumphantly at that, glad to have finally contributed something to our long string of discoveries that was actually useful. “Cool!” Let this be a lesson to you: the best of all science comes from the alacrity of simple thinking. Complexity is for those who have the time to waste on it. And, in truth, empirical study is usually the best kind in any scientific discipline- it’s purer and more informed than anything you’ll get out of a book. This is why studying physics was always such a joy to me, because it focuses on the things that we can all experience: the physical reality.
I found myself, for the hundredth time, wishing dearly that I could somehow share our expanding knowledge of The Fold with the outside world. If not for the personal risk of doing so, I daresay that anything we learn about the nature of the world within The Fold could qualify as the greatest of discoveries that Humanity may ever know. Alas, I could not expose these amazing realizations, at least not yet. My story must suffice, chapter by chapter, as a sort of syllibus from which any and all physicists might learn from. Something new is revealed with every new experience… and the adventures I have shared with my daughter while in The Fold are rich with such experiences indeed. Yes, there’s sex. Yes, there’s drama. Yes, the very mysteries of Life itself are recounted. But if you get any one thing from these tales, please let it be the knowledge that the world we know is richer than any of us could solely imagine. I looked at my daughter, who seemed quite pleased with herself, and marvelled at how so many things can be wasted on the youth. She had no concept of how important our sojourns into The Fold really were and I, being older and more experienced, could only boggle. Amazing, isn’t it?
I didn’t realize just how deeply I was lost in my thoughts until Kelly called for my attention. “What?” I said dazedly.
“I said,” she replied, sounding somewhat annoyed that I’d missed it the first time around, “that I think all I need is simple practice. I can concentrate well enough to get into The Fold. The hard part for me is staying there.”
I nodded sagaciously at that, though I wasn’t feeling too wise just then. “Tell me, Kelly. What happens bahis şirketleri to you when you go into the Betw- The Fold? How do you feel?”
“I feel… I dunno. I guess I feel strong, in a weird sort of way. Like I’ve just gone for a really long run without putting out the physical effort, but still getting that endorphine high, y’know? Totally juiced. And I get so wrapped up in that feeling, the excitement of it, that I just sort of lose my concentration and then, poof, I’m back in Normal Time.”
“I see,” I said. “I felt the same way, when I started out. But the more often I did it, the less excited I felt about it. I guess I became desensitized to it in some way.”
Kelly nodded in agreement. “That makes sense,” she said off-handedly. “The more you get exposed to something, the less it impresses you.”
“So how many times have you actually gone there?” I asked her.
Kelly shrugged. “About a dozen times, I guess. I wasn’t really counting.”
I sat back from the dinner table for a moment, lost in thought and staring off into the distance. Finally I refocused my gaze on my daughter and asked, “You feel like trying something a bit risky?”
Kelly, excited though she was to be able to share this amazing gift with her father, became very somber. “How risky are we talking here?”
“Well,” I said slowly, “we can both go into The Fold at will, right? I can take you there with no trouble at all and no extra concentration. All I have to do to take something or someone with me is just touch it and off I go. I’d like to see if you could do the same thing, starting with small, inanimate objects and working your way up to bigger things. People.”
“People?” Kelly repeated. “Like who?”
“Well, the safest bet would be me, wouldn’t it? After all, it’s not like it’d be a surprise or anything to me.”
Kelly picked up her fork and gazed at it for a moment. Suddenly she was gone, along with the fork, and then reappeared next to me. She still held the fork in her hand. “Okay,” she said calmly, “that was about ten seconds. I was going to put the fork on your plate just before I came back, but I lost my cool.” She walked back over to her side of the table and placed the fork on her plate, her meal temporarily forgotten. She began to look around until her eyes fell on the glass of wine. She picked it up without a word and disappeared once more. This time, when she came back, she was standing beside me and her wine glass was empty.
I saw the empty glass and looked up at her with a bemused expression. “I see you emptied it. Felt like celebrating, did you?” I asked with a smirk.
She simply smiled back and nodded at my own wine glass, which was now filled to the brim with red wine. “Kinda.”
I leaned forward to inspect the filled wine glass and saw that there were tiny swirls dancing within the liquid. If I’d have to guess, I suppose that my half-filled glass had exhibited the properties which were typical of all liquids that hadn’t been brought into The Fold- it had probably been thick and viscous. When my daughter had added her own wine to my glass and then returned to Normal Time, my wine and hers had comingled into a fuller volume. As I watched this with happy interest, a thought came to me: why did the wine she poured into my glass not stay in The Fold, as most things usually do when they are left there? When I killed those thugs who had shot my wife, I left them in The Fold and there they stayed when I came back to Normal Time. Was there a significant difference between simple wine versus a human body or was something else at play?
I decided to test a small theory out on my own then and there. “Hand me your glass, please,” I said to Kelly and held my hand out as I stood up from the table. She didn’t ask what for and simply handed over her empty glass. I poured some of the wine in my own glass back into hers and went into The Fold immediately. I didn’t even pay attention to my frozen daughter as I refilled my glass. Then I stood back and rejoined her in Normal Time, my eyes locked on my once again full wine glass. Much to my surprise, the glass remained full.
“What the fuck?” I breathed in mystified doubt.
Kelly didn’t fully appreciate this new discovery of mine. “What?” she asked. “What were you expecting, Dad?”
I put her empty glass back on the table and pointed to my own. “I expected the wine that I poured into my glass while I was in The Fold to disappear, like those thugs did when I left them back there. But it didn’t.”
“So what? Is that important?”
I turned to look at my daughter and said, “Hell yes it’s important! It means that we have control over things outside of ourselves while we’re in The Fold. Every time I took something with me, it disappeared once I came back, right?” Kelly nodded imperceptibly at me. “But this time, the wine came back with me, even though I wasn’t touching it. Why?”
Kelly looked puzzled. “You’re asking me?”
I shrugged. “Sure, why not? At this point, your guess is literally as good as mine.”
Kelly pondered the question for a moment while looking at the glass blankly and then she looked up at me. “Because you expected it to?” she answered feebly.
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