Glyph opened his mouth to scream, but realized that there was no pain. Even still, he did not open his tightly clenched eyes. Instead he just listened, trying to figure out what new kind of terror Simeon was about to unleash upon him. The demon had said it was time for the next step, and that could only mean that his situation, as bad as it was, was about to get even worse. He could feel wind passing over him, even though he could not hear anything. His arm flinched reflexively, and Glyph suddenly discovered he was not strapped down. A slight twitch of his leg told him his legs were not bound either, and the thought both elated and frightened him at the same time.
Then a voice spoke. “Glyph.” it said softly at first, then louder “Glyph.”
The voice was calming, and clear, and not at all like the hissing gravely sound he had been used to hearing. Cautiously he opened one eye, then the other. There were tree branches above him, and beyond them was the bluest sky he had ever seen. Glyph sat up quickly, not knowing what to expect. There, a few feet in front of him, was a strikingly beautiful young lady smiling slightly at him, her eyes an incandescent purple. She looked to be in her mid-twenties, though her hair was silver-white and flowed down around her shoulders. A long black robe with strange writing embossed on its hem wrapped her small frame. He scooted backwards several feet not taking his eyes off of her, and stood up.
“What the fuck?” he heard himself say aloud.
Glancing around, he realized he appeared to be in the middle of a forest, but there was no sound, and his words seemed hollow.
“Glyph.” she said again her mouth barely opening.
“Yeeaaa.” Glyph replied more drawn out then usual; surprised more at the fact that he could speak at all, and move as well.
“Who the hell are you?” he asked rather pointedly. “And what the fuck is going on here? Where the fuck am I, and…damn it!” Glyph grabbed at the sides of his head with both hands, looking wildly from side to side. ‘What is happening to me? Where am I? What is Simeon trying to do to me now?’ He thought frantically as his mind tried to grasp onto some thread of sanity.
“Relax Glyph, you are…” The woman paused like she was trying to think of the right words to say. “… safe, here.”
She stood up and spread her arms wide indicating the surrounding forest. Glyph jumped back a few more feet, fighting the urge to run. There was something about her, though, that kept him from doing just that.
“My name is Ishea, and you are my…” There was that pause again “…guest.” She said at last. “I believe I understand your confusion. I would like to… help if I may.”
Glyph just stared totally dumbfounded “You want to help me?” he said, unconsciously pointing towards his chest.
“Yes. That …bastard Drathus is not playing fairly, although I am not surprised. He has found you before the time of Reckoning.” Ishea said.
‘Okay, this bitch is nuttier than I am.’ Glyph thought. He looked around again and scratched his head. ‘Might as well go along. It sure beats the hell out of being tortured.’ he decided.
“Drathus?” Glyph questioned.
“The Demon Lord. I am afraid he has cast a curse upon you, and now has a certain power over you.” she said, shaking her head and frowning.
“If you mean the twenty-three hours of torture that that Simeon fuck gives me every day, for I don’t even know how many days, then yeah, I’d say he has a ‘certain power’ over me!” Glyph spat at her, more pissed off than he would have liked to have been.
“To the best of my knowledge, it has been about six cycles of the moon; and Simeon is one of the Demon Lord’s servants.” She said softly, turning her head, her eyes tearing slightly. “He is trying to …subvert you, you know.”
Glyph stared at her, suddenly feeling a bit guilty for having yelled. “I don’t understand. Subvert me to what?”
“He cannot take you fully, he just takes most of you, and he leaves you with your hour to foster your desperation.” She turned back to look at him.
“Why?” he said.
“Why, to control you of course. There are two forces at war in the world, good and evil. The Demon Lord hopes to break loose the evil in you, and turn you to his side.” Ishea spoke more seriously.
Glyph raised his eyebrows in mock surprise. ‘Good and evil? Is she serious?’ he wondered. He took a few steps closer to her. “I’m still not sure I follow you.”
“I was able to…intervene, because the time of Reckoning is close at hand, but more importantly, because you chose to live, despite the horror of your situation. Had you ended your life Drathus would have won.”
“But why? Why the hell is this happening to me?” Glyph snapped.
Ishea smiled. “Because you are the chosen. You are the one of prophecy.”
He shook his head, the beginnings of a nasty headache coming on. “Okay, I’m losing it here. That’s it! I’m losing my mind! I’m going abso-fucking-lutely insane!” Glyph started to laugh, almost maniacally.
“I assure you, you are not.” Ishea said, looking concerned.
Glyph laughed some more, and then became quiet. He dropped to his knees, a look of defeat on his face.
“I need you to believe me, Glyph. I know that what has happened to you is horrific, and I know you do not understand.” Ishea pleaded. Walking over to Glyph, she reached down and took his hand.
Her touch was soothing, somehow reassuring. “Without you, all hope is lost.” she said.
Glyph looked up at her and sighed. She helped him up, and began to lead him through the forest. They walked for a while in silence. His surroundings seemed real enough. The trees, the grasses, the rocks, all looked and felt real. Still, he wondered whether he was still in his bed. Could this be some kind of different hallucination? Or worse, what if he was still lying on that cold slab, with Simeon feeding all of this right into his mind?
His vision was getting slightly fuzzy around the edges by the time they came upon a small clearing with a log cabin set up higher on a hill. The wood was a gray color, as if it had been built of driftwood, or had simply weathered for hundreds of years. His body felt tired and worn down as his adrenalin wore off, and he began to feel sore and achy all over. Ishea led him up a small set of creaky wooden steps, onto the porch past some chairs, and through the front door. All manner of strange things lined the walls of a large interior room. There were tiny devices with gears, skins of animals he couldn’t imagine, piles of books and old parchment lying about. She coaxed him down the back hallway, into a side room, and helped him onto a bed.
“I know you are exhausted Glyph. I will let you sleep now, and we can speak more later.” She reached out, pressed her finger to his forehead, and traced what seemed to be a letter of some sorts. Glyph tried to protest, but before he could open his mouth his eyes fell closed and he was asleep.
— oOo —
He awoke suddenly, both of his eyes bulging out of his skull. He wasn’t in his apartment. What had just happened? Where was he now? Looking around, Glyph slowly realized he was still in the cabin. He sat up in bed and began to chuckle.
‘I was asleep, actually asleep!’ he thought. He couldn’t remember the last time he slept; he just knew it wasn’t part of his survival. ‘That woman, was she even real?’ Glyph tried to remember what had happened, and it began to come back to him. It was immediately followed by a horrible sense of dread. What if this was the ‘next step’ that Simeon had talked about? He tried to dismiss the idea; somehow he couldn’t see how getting a good night’s sleep would help Simeon, but the thought persisted. Getting up, he crossed the room to the door and pulled it open. He walked down the hallway into a great room; the sides and corners were lined with stuff he didn’t recognize. The careful arrangement of these strange items suggested that they were more than just haphazard piles of junk.
“Good morning, Glyph.” He heard Ishea call.
He turned and saw her sitting behind a stack of books with one open in front of her.
“I trust you slept well?” She said smiling.
“Well enough.” Glyph replied, his mind starting to race again.
“I have made you some food to eat.” She said, leading him towards another corner of the great room. There in front of him on a table were eggs, bacon, several small loaves of bread and something that looked like cooked peas, but were more square- than round-shaped. He plopped down onto one of the sturdy wooden chairs and began to eat ravenously, while she poured him a mug of water.
“Glyph, there are some things we need to discuss. Your hour will soon be at hand.” Ishea sat down across from him.
“Ofkhay.” Glyph got out, between bites of food.
“There are certain things we must do to prepare you for the day of Reckoning, and I am sure there are many questions you still have for me.” She said slightly wincing as Glyph began dumping the bowl of peas into his mouth. “You know, you do not have to eat so fast.”
Glyph stopped and looked at her, his mouth bulging with peas; bits of egg and bread stuck to his shirt. He swallowed the peas, most of them whole. He thought about it for a moment. He had been hungry, but more like a regular hunger as opposed to the ravenous hunger that Simeon had somehow forced upon him during his hour.
“I’m not sure I know how.” Glyph replied, and finished just a bit slower than normal, sat back, and brushed the crumbs off. He tried hard to remember what she had told him yesterday, and asked the first thing that popped into his head. “So this Drathus guy, he wants me to kill myself?”
Ishea began to clean up the table. “He did, but now that you have made your choice, he will simply want you dead.”
“Wait, I didn’t make any choice.” Glyph said, rising up from the table.
“But you did.” Ishea said. “You chose to live.”
“No, I chose to fight. There’s a difference.” Glyph retorted smugly.
Ishea turned from the counter and faced him. The sunlight from the window made it look like a faint purple light emanated from her eyes. “To fight is to live, and you will have plenty of time to fight now.” She shot back. Ishea walked over to a large chest, cleared a pile of dusty books off the top, and seemingly flipped open the lid without touching it. She rummaged around inside, and pulled out a sheathed long sword. “This will be yours while you are here, and you will have ample opportunity to use it.” She pronounced, and placed the sword on the table in front of him.
‘How could she possibly know I was about to kill myself? This is the second time she’s mentioned it.’ He thought as he stared down at the ornate scabbard and sword she had put there. ‘Only I could have known that.’ Glyph reached down and slid the sword back toward where she stood and smiled. “Look, thanks for the food and all, the sleep too, but if it’s all the same to you I think I’ll be on my way. Things are just a little too freaky around here.” Glyph said, sliding back behind his chair and pushing it forward a few feet until it met the table.
“Where would you go?” Ishea asked, smiling.
Glyph hadn’t thought that far ahead. He only knew that this shit was insane, most likely he was insane, and he needed to get away from this crazy bitch.
“This ‘crazy bitch’ is trying to save your life!” Ishea suddenly snapped, startling Glyph.
“So what? You can read my mind now too? Is that how you know I was going to kill myself? What are you? Some kind of figment of my fucked-up brain? I mean you’re hot and all, and I’d love to bang the hell out of you, even with your purple eyes, but you’re a freak!”
At that Ishea laughed, shook her head, then looked him square in the eyes with a seriousness that would have made Simeon shiver. “I am a sorceress, and some may call me freak, and some call me friend. I am trying to be your friend, or would you rather I conjure up Simeon, so you can spend the rest of your days on the rack in Drathus’s dungeon!”
The sound of her voice made Glyph’s bones vibrate, and he decided to keep his mouth shut.
“Much better.” Ishea stated calmly. “Your time grows short. Here is what you must know. There are agents of evil in this world, and in yours; they will try to kill you now.”
“Hold it! What do you mean, ‘this world’ and ‘mine’?” Glyph interrupted.
Ishea looked annoyed. “You are no longer on your planet. The curse is magically transporting you between the two. This world, my world, is not in the same universe as your own. I do not have time to prove this to you, since you are minutes from returning to your world.” She explained hastily.
“What you must understand immediately is that Drathus has realized by now that I have thwarted his plan to control you, and he will be intent on your destruction. I have reversed his curse, so to speak, the best that I could. Most of your day will be spent here in this world, and you will be most vulnerable during the hour you are not. I am sure that is where he will try to strike; for it is there you are no longer under my protection. He can only track you in your waking hour, but take care of the placement of your body once the hour is over. Should he or his agents discover it, he may be able to re-usurp his control over your time here, and he will not bother torturing you. Now he will simply kill you where you stand.”
Glyph stared at her trying to comprehend all of what she was saying. He knew he had questions; he just couldn’t formulate them in his head. Ishea looked at him gravely, putting her face just inches from his.
“Your time is up. If you survive, we’ll talk again in an hour.”
Glyph couldn’t breathe as the winds swept through the cabin; the air was gone. Ishea moved away from him in slow-motion, the image of her concerned face the last thing he saw as the familiar darkness flowed swiftly over him.
**Comments and/or Corrections are welcome**