It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, in the middle of summer. A
relative had died, just another unknown face, buried under a never-before-heard name.
That kind of thing happens all the time in a big family. Eventually you learn to get
choked up at funerals, so no one thinks your a freak. It fell onto my part of the family to
clean the house. The old, cobweb-filled, moldy-air, creaky-boards,
“is-that-a-blood-stain-I-see,” Stephen King house.
Not that I’m bitter.
Being the young, strong person I am (lie) I was expected to do most of the work.
By most I mean all. I decided to start at the top, and work my way down. Like any other
part of a big family, we were scavengers. So my job was to scavenge. Anything expensive
went downstairs to be hauled off, and taken home. Anything else we would be sold.
So I was there, scavenging through Mrs. Jane Doe’s stuff, separating crap from
capital, mud from money. Like any good reader, I’m sure you already know where this is
going. Say it with me:
“Then I found something.”
Feel good to get that off your chest? So, what did I find? A book. It was strange,
that much should be obvious. Like I’d write a story if I found something by Frank
Herbert. No, this was at least five hundred years old, leather binding, yellow paper; very
few things were bound back then. The paper was yellow. I opened it slowly, taking care
that nothing was going to turn to dust, or fall to pieces. The very first page held the title.
Bible de Suiumnus
I looked at it for a moment. Latin, I though. I translated it slowly. Bible was easy,
that meant “the book.” Suiumnus was a mystery, it was too similar to too many words. De
I assembled it in my mind in proper word order. “The Book of (something).”
Okay, sure. I dropped the book into my backpack, and continued with my work. It would
stay in that backpack for nearly three years.
If this were a movie, the words “Three years later” would appear on the screen.
But this isn’t a movie; deal with it. I won’t go into details about the last three years. I
finished school, started college, and pretty much wondered around. Nothing big
happened, my life didn’t impact anyone else’s. It never did. I was in my one bedroom
house, half a mile from campus, when I decided to have a garage sale.
When that thought hit me, another one followed quickly. The book. I closed my
eyes, and thought, What book?
The book you found. The old one.
I had conversations like this often.
I stood up, walking to the stairs that led into my basement, which occupied more
space than the upstairs. I began throwing boxes aside, talking to myself as I went. Once
you reach the point where you have no friends, you do this a lot. “Crap, books, more
books, dishes-” this one received an especially hard throw into a wall, “-CD’s,
notebooks...” Finally I came to it. An old black backpack, with the word CON stitched
into the side. A bumper sticker on the back announced that “I accelerate for animals.”
“I have no life, and I never have.” The words came easily to me, they were the
honest truth. No friends, a family so large and detached from one another that I didn’t
recognize my brothers of sisters when I bumped into the on the street, no girlfriends, no
one I was remotely interested in. I shopped online for everything I could, got a job as a
telemarketer so I never once saw anyone face to face. My rent money was withdrawn
from my account once a month, as was electricity, water, and phone.
I opened the backpack, and looked at the book. I opened it to the title page, the
farthest I’d ever went into it, and stared at the words, now clear to me as if I’d written
them myself. Bible de Suiumnus. The Book of Dreams. I flipped to the next page, my
previous care for its condition lost. After enough time, everything is dust. The first page
got right to the point, and my eyes scanned quickly over the scripted Latin, I didn’t even
take the time to translate it in my head. I knew what it said already.
You have before you the book of the prophecies of Merlin, Archwizard. A day,
long from the writings of these words will come when a mortal reads these words again
and truly understands their meaning. Until that day, I, Theodor of Ludon shall remain
guardian of the Gate of Dream. Wonder not of the gate, for in time all shall be explained.
First let it be known that, as of the writing of these words, Merlin lies on his deathbed.
He has taken it upon himself to tell me of his workings as the previous Guardian, and to
appoint me as the new. There is much to be said, and no time to say it in.
The Guardian of the Dream Gate serves on purpouse, protect the Earth from the
hazards of the Shadow Realms, the plains of existence that surround our own. Each
realm contains an alter-earth, and each earth is a twisted version of our own. The Dream
Gate is the passage between these realms, but it is not a physical place. It exists in the
dreams of every mortal, in the playing of children, in the hopes of the elderly, it is what
drives us to live our lives to the fullest, and to die with our work on earth done. Merlin
sought me out because I have no such drive, I have no hopes or dreams.
“Creatures with hopes and dreams,” he informed me, “Also have fears and
nightmares. The Guardian must be a person who has no fears, because he will be
assaulted daily by all that normal humans consider wrong. He will see people die, see
the dead walk, and he must be able to take it all in, and continue in his work.”
Let it be known now that Merlin is dead, and I have little time left.
“The Guardian exists in that place in our minds that we cannot go, in that small
part that is shut off from the light of our thoughts, from the knowledge of ourselves that
gives us our hopes and dreams. By tapping this section of the mind, the guardian
becomes ethereal, he exists consciously in the reality that is a dream. The Guardian will
then exist outside time, outside space, and will thus be untouched for hundreds of years
by the ravages of time. But eventually even a guardian will grow old, and will be forced
to choose another to take his place.
“That is why I have come to you, Theodor. You lack fears and nightmares, you
lack hopes and dreams. You shall be Guardian after I pass. But first you must write what
I have told you, and more, you must write all the knowledge that I am about to give you,
for it will act as a gateway between realms. This insures that the Guardian after you will
not need to be chosen by you, but instead will choose himself, simply by retaining this
book until such time that he is required to replace you.”
That knowledge and more Merlin granted me, along with his prophecies of the
next guardian. Know, ye who reads these words, that you are chosen as guardian. With
the turning of this page you will replace me, and I will rest in peace with Merlin, and all
the Guardians previous.
I stood there, eyes closed, fingers ready to turn. Any normal person would be on
the floor laughing by now, I though, or wondering if this is fact or fiction. They would be
filled with doubt and fear, and would not be able to turn this page.
I turned the page, already feeling myself being pulled away. Part of my brain
suddenly turned on, a part that no other human used, and I shifted, crossing from physical
into unreal. The hopes and dreams, the fears and nightmares of every creature on earth
surrounded me. In the center of it all, where I stood, was a point of calm, like the eye of a
hurricane. Theodore would be dead by the time I arrived, passed on into that place that I
wouldn’t reach for hundreds of years.
I edged further into the center, felling it pushing at me. Finally the pushing
stopped, and I entered the Gateway, the way station of universes. I stood at a single point
in an infinite number of universes each with a infinite amount of space. Gods of all
names swirled around me. I was aware of a billion things happening at once. In one
universe a star died, in another a star was born. On earth a woman died peacefully,
surrounded by friends and family, on another that woman was just being born. Simply by
existing here, I realized, I was doing my job. Not a guardian, no, I was an overseer. I
became aware, briefly, of a book falling through the air, on an earth in a universe that
was just like every other, and at the same time completely different. The book fell,
passing through the ground, and disappearing into the currents of infinity, gone forever.
A new book appeared in another universe, just being written. The Guardians were
not different people, they were all one being with different faces. I was Theodor, I was
Merlin, I was ancestor, descendant, I was myself, I was no one. I smiled slightly, as in
another universe things went differently. The book appeared at the bottom of a stack of
books in a garage sell, and a woman who had no friends, and didn’t care about her family
picked it up.
I closed my eyes, and the images continued to come. How could I be aware of
everything at once, in every point of every universe? Not even I knew. But it hardly
mattered anymore. Nothing mattered. Time flows differently, I realized, that’s what
Merlin said to the Theodor. My job was already done. A moment had passed for me, and
a thousand years had passed on earth. I could already since the new guardian coming in,
and feel myself moving into another realm. A thousand years in the blink of an eye! My
parents, my family, my boss. My house was gone, humans had moved out, beyond earth,
into the universe.
My last conscious act was a mental laugh as I moved outside the universe, into
whatever lay beyond.