Starting Over Yet Again

R.B. Winters
R.B. Winters
Chapter 5, The Anomaly 2 Comments

5.
Starting Over Yet Again

       An orb of polished silver stood in the middle of the vast gray room. Alex lay nearest it; inside his head a short film seemed to be playing itself through interrupted distortion.

Alex watched the orb appear out of thin air, rolling along the blank floor; coming to a stop with a gentle bump against his foot. He picked the object up, examining it closely; it was different from most orbs. This particular one seemed to be composed of something from the Mortal Realm. It was solid, and heavier than it looked to be, the outside was smooth: Alex could make out his bent reflection in it.

Alex rolled the orb around in his hand looking for something to identify its purpose. The tiny sphere began to shudder as if it were trying to distract Alex’s prying thoughts, a small rip forming in the outermost skin of the silver surface. A black glow radiated from within: Alex thrust the orb from his hand. The air rippling as the orb directed itself to the cold floor. The clink of a pin touching down was heard as the orb made contact, Alex’s eyes turned black as darkness consumed the room.

Alex felt like he was treading through water, his body animated in slow motion. A shuttering of images flashed against his nearly closed eyes. It seemed the effects of the orb were taking a toll on everyone within the First’s chamber.

Anneliese listened as Alex paraded he and Jen’s impressive wizard lineage before her Council. She could see Philip in the distance behind Alex with a hand in his pocket. A glint of silver caught her eye as Alex stepped back. Anneliese lost the sound of Alex’s voice, her interest becoming consumed by the object of Philip’s affection. The mouths of everyone in the room suddenly fell open at whatever it was Alex had said. Philip jumped to his feet, his face red, that earth-colored hair remaining firmly in place atop his head.

Anneliese kept her sapphire eyes firmly attached to Philip’s hand that remained in his pocket, now tightly gripping whatever he was concealing. Anna grasped Jen by the shoulder smiling broadly, Anneliese focusing on Philip again, in time to witness his hand ripping from the pocket. Speed made the object nearly invisible as Philip tossed it before anyone could focus their attention on him properly. Silver flew through the air towards Alex. Anneliese and her fellow Council members all made to shout defense curses… it was too late.

The room seemed to be liquefying. It was difficult to see, everything was beginning to run together. Sounds of those around Anneliese crying out for help; burst of furious light coming in black… red… black again. A crimson light overtook the chaos, beaming through the blinding air from multiple directions, cut into pieces by the blur that was consuming their eyes.

Anneliese was taken from her feet, a heavy force attacking the back of her knees. Cries faded out, replaced by a tingling in the back of her head; dropping to the floor Anneliese felt the searing pain of the circular gray podium as it cut into her forehead.

“Melissa.”

Jen’s chest burned, rage bubbling inside her: Feelings of contempt and betrayal consuming her as Alex revealed his living relative. Jen made to stand up as a thin strip of light produced itself between she and Alex. The sight, silence sweeping over the room, distracted everyone. From it dropped an orb: A silver sphere that bounced a few times before rolling against Alex’s foot where it halted.

The orb was cracked in several places as if it had been slammed against something with such force that no mortal could have been responsible. Jen’s emotions retreated momentarily back into her blonde head. Alex gazed down as a vision intruded upon Jen’s mind. Light burst from the top of the orb as Alex bent to retrieve it.

Without hesitation the orb swallowed Alex and the others in a swirling mess. Not a scream for help, or fear-drenched eye was to be seen. Such a sudden and unexpected reaction on the orbs part was a surprise to say the least. Jen stood at the center of a vortex that pulled and stretched everything in the room until it was left blank with the gray light that came from nowhere.

Jen was left alone in the First Council’s desolate chamber. Silence hovered around the freshly emptied room. Thoughts of Meg danced around Jen’s mind. The vision of Meg and Alec inside Alex’s personal chamber was all she could focus on. What was happening, what had just happened, it was connected to Meg in some way; Jen knew this.

Jen’s mind clouded as the toxic light that had swallowed the others returned, aiming itself in her direction. Jen fell to her knees, her mind filling with a static that was incomprehensible. There was a loud sucking sound as if a wind tunnel had suddenly sprouted about her ears. The silver orb taunted Jen from the center of the room: Light emanating from its round top, illuminating the fog colored room. Only the timer of a bomb could have been more sudden, the orb self destructed into a thousand razor sharp pieces; a symphony of rain as they crashed upon the floor in waves. The Council Chamber once again was the victim of forced silence.

Anneliese reached for the stand that had so brutally attacked her when she lost her footing. Gripping the edge of the semi-circular stand with her pale fingers, her feet again standing proper to the floor. A thin red line covered the upper part of her forehead beneath that still tightly pulled blonde hair. Pieces of the twist Anneliese had formed her hair into had given way in all the commotion. Her overall appearance was in disarray jacket pulled back over her shoulders; not a site often seen with the amount of control Anneliese extracted over herself.

Anneliese’s fellow Council members were in no better shape. Zara’s fall had been broken when she landed upon Som; unfortunately his nose took the better part of the impact. Mortal wounds were rare for wizards and the sight of this much blood made them all uneasy. Wizard battles usually resulted in death, not bloodshed; that was a mortal and demon attribute.

Nastron looked better than the rest. He had fallen flat on his back, not allowing for anyone to slump over him. Ashlynn’s blonde hair had some how been caught beneath her hand in the descent to the floor, a large chunk of it remained there now that she was upright again.

Anna felt semi refreshed from her catnap, having only slumped back in her chair. Vectoria was not so rested. Philip had fallen against her, crumbling two of the legs on the small wooden chair beneath her. Philip was gouged in the chest as the splintered wood clawed at him. Vectoria could feel a large lump on the back of her head where she had impacted the floor.

Through it all, Jen was the only one that appeared to be completely untouched. Other than the fact that her hair was wind blown about her face, she appeared unharmed. Jen sat upright in the rickety chair, not having fallen out of it to begin with, her knees still tingling from a fall that had only happened in what must have been her imagination; though it was still vividly present. The memory was clear, but it felt as though she hadn’t lost consciousness.

“Is this one of your parlor tricks, Alexander?” Anneliese shouted, rage filling her crackling voice.

Alex pulled himself from the floor. A flaming red imprint left on his back where he had cradled the silver orb that was now scattered about in pieces.

“You think I did this?”

Anneliese smoothed her untidy hair,

“Ashlynn, Zara, take the girl and examine her thread,” she ordered.

Jen’s eyes grew to twice their usual size as the two unnaturally similar blonde witches rushed upon her.

“Som, Nastron, take Philip.”

“Take me where?” Philip asked, suddenly fearing for his life.

“To examine your thread,” Anneliese snapped, as if this hadn’t been obvious.

“On what evidence do you have the right?”

“I have the power to do as I wish as long as it is for the good of the Council.”

“Come,” Zara instructed, her voice more monotone than the expression on her face.

Jen rose to her feet, Ashlynn grabbing her by the arm. Jen was led into the gray depths of the chamber behind the wooden chair she had been sitting in, glancing viciously over her shoulder until Alex was no longer in sight.

ALEXANDER!” roared Anneliese.

Alex had somehow lost himself as they rushed Jen away, ignoring Anneliese’s first two pleas for his attention. Alex turned to face her just as an explosion of green light erupted behind him. Spinning around to see the cause, he found Nastron lying on the floor: His face black as ash, his hair and clothing singed. Philip thrust his fist forward once more as if making to hit Som from a considerable distance. Faster than a blinking eye, an orb of green formed around his clenched fist propelling itself through the air towards Som. Throwing himself aside, Som, toppled over Alex; the two landing in a heap on the floor.

“I will not have my thread pulled by a second rate witch who would rather see a mortal heading the Council than a true bred wizard.”

With those words a black portal tore into the room beside Philip. It dripped at the edges as if it were slowly melting, massive globs of black landing on the ground, sizzling as they did. Philip rushed head first into the ominous portal leaving behind only a tar colored puddle as it quickly closed behind him.

“Do you know how long it took to get rid of the last mess that was left behind when a portal was conjured out of rage?” asked Anneliese, not wanting of an answer; rubbing her forehead out of frustration. “Alexander, your punishment still stands. If this girl is whom you say, as I assume she is, then I will expect you to help her on her way. You are however… banished to the Mortal Realm until another hearing can be scheduled to determine your future within the wizarding community.”

Anneliese was harsh, but even she seemed to have a hard time administering the sentence. Feelings and personal thoughts were never to be placed before law; that was her belief. Alex turned to leave, expecting a portal to jump up behind him to allow for a quick exit; none of the First would want to gaze upon a banished wizard.

“One more thing.”

Alex turned back.

“I don’t want anyone finding out about Philip not taking over as the Head of Council. The upheaval in Terra is already nearing an uncontrollable point with radicals. I don’t need Accadia falling apart as well,” Anneliese wasn’t making a request, but a final order. She drew a circle in the air with two fingers a few times, opening a portal for Alex to exit through, taking some satisfaction in his disgrace.

Alex was welcomed by silence upon exiting the portal; the Council Chamber was drenched in a mocking silence. The Council members that had been left behind during his hearing had all gone about tending to their own affairs, not one curious about the outcome of the trial. Alex was respected, but never had he been liked. A quick thinker and a harsh ruler, Alex traded the friend card in order to provide stability.

Alex examined the rows of pews that lined the isle before him. He took in the mortal craftsmanship of the dark benches, their intricate grooves and smooth curves. Alex shifted to look upon the stand where he had formerly presided over the Council. He came to the realization that this may be the last time he would ever step foot in this place. There was no way to be sure he would recover the powers he lost to Meg, and scheduling retrials with the First seemed to take an eternity; Anneliese wasn’t interested in changing her mind, convinced it showed weakness. Truth be told, it was a possibility, even a probability, that Alex would age and eventually die in the Mortal Realm before his case was revisited by the First.

Alex released a sigh weighted heavily with sadness and loss as he pushed against the great wooden doors that guarded the entrance of the Council Chamber. This was the first time that the doors had not responded to his presence and parted at his approached. The weight of the doors was more than Alex had known, requiring all his mortal strength to pry them open enough to push through. The massive doors pulled shut behind Alex, a final shove out the door to complete his humiliation. Much to Alex’s surprise, slumped on the floor was an unconscious Melissa.

Melissa could hear Alex’s voice coming from somewhere in the distance. Lips made of stone; unable to call back to him, left Melissa in silence. Something began to press at her sides, shrouded in darkness, Melissa’s neck lulled about. Pulling from a semi-lucid place like a fish emerging from water, Melissa clasped Alex’s arms, gasping for air.

What happened?

Melissa stared at Alex, confusion embracing her. The chair beside her was familiar, but where were they? Melissa’s mind furiously connected the pieces of the puzzle to restore her blurred memory.

“Meg… was here.” Melissa recalled her twisted smile.

“What are you talking about? Meg couldn’t have been here, she doesn’t have the authority; this is a protected realm.”

Opening her mouth to dispute, she paused.

“I dunno,” confessed Melissa.

She remembered experiencing the shock of seeing Meg when she emerged from within the Council Chamber. Melissa tried to gather her thoughts, Alex noticing the similarities in how she was feeling and how he had felt after the silver orb had exploded during his hearing. Melissa appeared disoriented above all else.

“Where’s Jen?” Melissa asked, trying to focus her thoughts.

“The First has her.”

“Why?”

“They’re going to pull her thread,” replied Alex, pulling Melissa to her feet. Unintentionally holding on far longer than was necessary, an awkward silence occurring.

“Why?” Melissa squeaked, her eyes shifting to the ground.

“They have to make sure I’m not lying… or wrong.”

“Wrong about what?” Melissa asked, her mind searching for what Alex was really thinking.

“I’ll let her explain when they release her,” said Alex, heading down the corridor to escape the tension that was building.

Melissa followed a few steps behind, her arms folded as if trying to provide some sense of security. The white corridor was empty, except for the black tiles that were integrated into the floor. Echoes radiating from their steps as they pattered across the floor made the corridor feel endless. A tendril of gray light suddenly appeared in front of Melissa. Alex turned to see the portal unfold itself. He stepped around it to where Melissa stood.

“Go ahead,” he said, motioning Melissa forward.

She stepped into the portal; Alex following close behind her, afraid it would close before he could pass through. Alex exited the portal, pausing to look around.

“Melissa?” he muttered, glancing around his bedroom.

The doorknob clicked as someone turned it from the other side. Alex turned to face Melissa, knowing that Jen was most likely still busy with the First. Alex was nearly toppled by the shock that coursed through his body when he saw her standing in the doorway.

“Meg?”

“You were expecting someone else?”

“Well… I wasn’t expecting you,” Alex confessed.

“Then it must just be your lucky day.” Meg strutted into the room, a knee length green dress seductively draped around her slim figure.

Alex suddenly realized that he had jumped through time once again. Pulling at the collar of his white shirt he checked for the burn. Holding his eyes closed before peering: There it was, the red and black burn left when Meg had extracted his powers. Falling back onto the bed, Alex momentarily forgot Meg was in the room.

‘This has to be a spell,’ he thought.

“I know this must be a bit of a shock for you, but it’s for the best.”

“What?” Alex piped.

“It’s for the best. Me taking your powers and you becoming my… captive.”

“That’s not what you said.”

Meg paced around the foot of the unmade bed.

“What are you talking about?” Meg looked puzzled, even through her beauty.

“This is you. YOU DID THIS!” Alex shouted, rising up.

Meg shoved him back, sending Alex head over heels across the bed that ran diagonal, slicing the bedroom into uneven sections.

“Watch yourself little man, or you might just wind up dead,” Meg growled, her nostrils flaring.

She spun around in a huff, her dark hair trailing behind her as the door slammed itself shut.

‘This is wrong, this is all wrong,’ Alex screamed inside his head, his eyes darting around the room that wasn’t truly his.

Meg had been more concerned about the love they had once shared above anything else when this had happened. This wasn’t the past, and if it was then there was something seriously wrong. Looking around the fabricated bedroom, Alex noticed that everything that had been missing when Meg had originally imprisoned him was still present. This appeared to be part of a memory that had been poorly reconstructed, perhaps even invented to make up for unknown gaps.

“I just need to get myself out.”

Alex paced the room for a moment, needing a clear mind to devise an escape plan. Whenever his eyes were closed, or he was distracted for a split second, he found himself somewhere he hadn’t been.

Clenching his eyes tightly together, Alex thought of where he needed to be, with the hope that it would persuade the charm he was under to release him. Opening his frustrated and fearful eyes, Alex was still in his imaginary room.

Past the point of being rational, Alex firmly gripped the doorknob, giving it a sharp yank. Meg had been sure to lock the door in his original memory, but it was conveniently left open in this place; perhaps Alex had shifted through time once more. Cautiously he walked into the living room. There was a warm sensation coming from his lip, touching it Alex saw red.

Blood dripped from his face, onto his already stained shirt. The living room looked as if a bomb had gone off. The furniture was on end and in pieces. He had only moved slightly farther ahead in time, to the point directly after his encounter with Meg. Running a hand over his face and back through his almost nonexistent blonde hair, Alex gave out a loud cry of frustration.

He turned violently, throwing an irreverent fist into the wall. The pain that shot through his hand was very real, as was the blood that dripped from his knuckles. Alex wracked his brain trying to understand, then it clicked, the house was an enchantment. It was a very illustrious charm that prevented anyone from locating him. It was so strong that even in a memory it was able to partially block the charm that was tormenting him at this time.

Originally, Alex had escaped the house by discovering the weak spot in the spell located within the window of the dining room. It was unavoidable that at some point the memory would be forced to extinguish itself in an effort to be historically accurate. This time Alex could be prepared in the fact that he knew there was an end point, and it might just be possible to use it to his advantage.

Rushing back into his pretend bedroom, Alex searched. Looking for the only thing he knew could trap and hold an immense amount of power. Knocking bottles from shelves and tossing books to the floor, he searched. The room was quickly becoming quiet the mess as boiling liquids of all colors spread across the floor, burning holes that created a lovely view of the basement through the long slats that made up the floor.

“YES!” exclaimed Alex, holding in his hand a small black box.

He had once held the same box in his hands, preparing for Meg’s attack, but now the box was next to useless in its defensive capabilities. The tiny box was home to a raging storm that would have been enough to temporarily distort Meg’s powers in an effort to attack her first. However, Alex had never managed to use the contents and he wasn’t sure exactly what would happen if it were opened in a memory.

Crouching down on the floor, Alex sat the box on the bed as far away as he could place it and still be able to reach the silent monster. Nervously he pulled at the sides of the box; with ease it slid apart, tossing the black cube, Alex ducked beneath the bed in preparation for the onslaught of events. Clenching his eyes, he listened; there was silence.

Slowly raising his eyes to the level of the box, Alex peered over the edge of the bed. The black cube was shaking and bouncing across the voluptuous comforter. Without warning a small puff of gray smoke erupted from the box, dispersing into the air; leaving the container empty. Alex was embarrassed by his fear of the box that apparently no longer housed any of its former power.

The little box was a prison; Alex was hoping that it could absorb the power left behind after the charm that held the house together dispersed. Retrieving the object that now held his hope, Alex placed it on the windowsill where he knew the house would begin to come apart. All that was left for Alex to do was wait.

Hours passed, the sun seemed to sit in the same spot nestled near the mountaintops beyond the forest. The sky remained a beautiful shade of red with traces of pink and orange scattered about. Alex was growing weary. Tired of waiting for the house to destroy itself, it was time to take control of the situation.

Alex ventured back to his bedroom, looking for the bamboo pole that had freed him from the prison in the original memory. Much to his surprise the pole was not where it should have been. If the pole wasn’t in the room, then there was no way for him to advance time as he had done before. 

Alex felt frustrated by his lack of control over what was happening to him. He hunched down beside the bed, nestling his face into his clammy palms. There was no way of knowing if the charm that had caused him to loop through time would leave him trapped inside the more powerful charm of the house. Blackness enveloped him as he closed his blue eyes, trying to clear his mind.

Unable to stop the thoughts that were pouring over him, Alex pondered what the time loop might hold for him. Where would he end up? Would he be a powerful wizard again, or remain a mortal? Would he wind up in some godforsaken place, or back in his home? Alex’s mind spun faster than it had while his eyes were open. He couldn’t wait any longer, the seconds felt like days.

Throwing his eyes open, Alex peered from between his fingers. This place was new. This was unlike any place he had ever been before. Walls were carved from jagged gray rocks. There was next to no light in this place; black was all that could be seen in the distance. Alex felt cold, lost, and alone.

A pool of silver water sat in a corner. Crawling towards it, Alex felt as if something were pressing down on him with such force that he could not stand up. The clothing that draped him was ragged and rotting. Seams were bursting and barely covering his pale, thinning body. Alex’s eyes faded in and out, draped by his matted hair. The ghostly figure was nothing of the wizard he had once been.

Gazing into the pool a fog shifted, revealing Melissa. She cowered, trembling beside a man that Alex had never seen before. The two of them were covered in fresh scratches and dirt, as if they had gone through a long battle together. The two of them jumped, something crashing beside them. It was impossible to tell where they were, or what it was they were hiding beneath.

The fog returned to cover the silver pool, blocking Melissa from sight. Alex meant to reach for her, but he was unable to raise his arm. The fog slowly retreated once more to reveal Jen. Not the Jen that Alex remembered, but a strong and confident witch. Her blonde hair had grown much longer than he had known, and there was a lively color in her face. Her eyes were a powerful blue that commanded attention. She was different in a way that only time could be responsible for. It appeared as if she were barking out orders. The place she was in had so much light radiating about that everything was drenched in yellow and unrecognizable.

Alex pulled his fading blue eyes away from the pool. He slowly laid himself out on the rough stones beneath him, trying desperately to find comfort. There was no knowing where he was, but Alex knew in this moment he was lost to time.




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