After Alice had assured herself that I was going to be all right, despite my hallucinations, she departed. I tried to be as quiet as possible so I wouldn’t awaken Candy if she was asleep only to discover she wasn’t home which was a bit of a letdown. That meant I was home – alone, for the night. I’ve been involved in or seen entirely too many shows because I had this nearly irresistible urge to begin placing traps around the apartment.
= = = = = = = = = = = = =
Once again my thanks go out to Eric for providing the role of editor/ proofreader. This time there were more than twenty-five revisions as I attempted to tell the story while fighting my idiotic brain cells. Of course, I just had to go and make some more changes after-the-fact so once again if there are more errors in here they are highly likely all mine and not due to Eric having missed them.
Thank you Eric, for continuing to check through my material.
= = = = = = = = = = = = =
The tests taken at the ER had shown that there was nothing wrong with me, at least physically. Mentally though; well, I wasn’t so sure anymore. Since Candy wasn’t home and I wasn’t sleepy, I booted my laptop and was ready to go into that simulator again so I could check out that fireball thing when I suddenly halted my actions.
If that fireball was all in my imagination did that mean I was losing what few marbles I had or should I move into the script writing department? Then again, what should I do if that fireball had been real? Could I take the chance that one wouldn’t appear here in the apartment? I pondered the likelihood of that happening while still uncertain if everything had been real or simply the product of an overactive imagination. As a result I closed out the simulator then shut down the computer again. I was still feeling strange but couldn’t place just why that was. Something was happening here or at least I felt it was and at the moment I didn’t have a clue. I vaguely understood that if the fireball had been real then so would that, whatever the hell it was, be also.
I went to the beast thinking I could set it online to go after that site once again. It had apparently penetrated the first layer of security but I had halted it at that point. Again some compulsion had me stop and take it down again once it had come up. I had some.... vague concern that I might accidentally do something - anything - that might be dangerous in an enclosed space like the apartment. This was getting to be serious. I opted for bed and a night, or the remainder of it, with me tossing and turning. Not exactly insomnia since I did sleep, but I was willing to bet on it being a close second.
The next morning I was up with the alarm, actually beating it by a few seconds. I was just reaching over to shut it off when it began. All it got out was a chirp or two. Again, I opted for no breakfast and went to work early arriving shortly after six rather than just before eight. This time I got out at the commissary and had breakfast there. The coffee tasted a little flat and the eggs simply didn’t hit it off with me. I went back for seconds but took some fruit and sparkling water instead. I thought about tea but as I was never much of a tea drinker, I let that one slide for now. Maybe I would try some tomorrow.
Work went quickly. We actually completed a lot and that meant nearly the only thing left were retakes of some of my more exotic but controlled flight scenes and the decision of which way the show was going to go if one of the networks bought in. Apparently the teaser KABT caused was enough to get two of the networks into some sort of bidding war. Their final offers would be contingent on seeing the pilot.
A number of decisions were made rescheduling things a little. That meant Monday would be a flight day and Tuesday would be the day we would shoot the final city scenes unless they decided to shoot multiple endings so they could have a choice of direction. We were a whole day ahead of schedule again which was almost unheard of. Even better, as far as I was concerned, my imagination didn’t hit me with anything strange the entire day. I was able to go home early, but tomorrow was going to be a bear since most of the people involved were available tomorrow so that meant a long hard day as they crammed as much as possible into the schedule.
That evening I retreated to the kitchen to cook supper. That would surprise Candy since tonight was one of hers, but I needed the distraction, my thoughts were still in a turmoil.
I didn’t make it through the preparations before something else strange seemed to have happened. I said ‘seemed’ even to myself since I’m still not sure any of these things actually occurred. It was a small thing. I had gotten out some celery to chop up and wanted to get one of the knives to cut it up. I was just turning away from the chopping block to go get the knife when I noticed it lying on the counter next to the block. I didn’t remember getting it or laying it there. Was I losing my mind? I had a faint hilarious moment imagining this ‘mind’ running down the street laughing maniacally while I chased after it with a huge butterfly net.
Candy arrived home late again; they had been doing a lot of extra stuff for the program she was in now that they had another hundred episodes contracted. A couple of times she got home a little over an hour late. Well, I guess it really hasn’t been that many. One of them was that flat tire so it doesn’t count. Guess she really hasn’t been late all that many times. No more than I have, I suppose. In fact I’ve probably been late more than she has, what with the rush to try to get this show ‘in the can’. Huh.... ‘In the can’. That was another saying that was used back in the days of film when the reels of film were placed back into light-proof (and explosion resistant) metal containers. I wondered briefly if electronic memories could burn with explosive intensity. Where was my mind going lately? Brief thoughts of chasing it down the street prevailed again.
“Hi Candy. There weren’t any messages for a change. Supper’s ready any time you are.”
She hurried over to give me a kiss.
“Let me go change and then we can eat. I’m starved. It smells good. I’ll tell you all about my day while we eat, okay?”
“Sure. I’ll start putting everything on the table.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Sometime during the night I awakened. I had been dreaming, although I somehow knew they were dreams and not reality. I suppose a lot of people have had dreams which seemed real but which they somehow knew were only dreams even while they were still dreaming. Then again there were some dreams which intruded on our minds in a manner which made it difficult to decide if they were real or just dreams.
Some of the things I experienced in my dream were so preposterous that I just knew they had to be dreams. Things like that just didn’t exist in real-life.... at least I hoped not. I had a flashback to the film ‘Forbidden Planet’ and its ‘Monsters from the Id’ or in that case Morbius’ subconscious mind aided by a planet-wide power plant which could materialize anything which could be imagined. More specifically, the scene where the travelers were battling an invisible monster and all the energy the power plant and their weapons spewed out gave it faint outlines. A little like that blue fireball and whatever I imagined it hit in mid-air. God I could still....
Wait a minute. If I imagined the fireball, would I have heard the scream of rage that.... whatever it was gave out when my fireball glanced off it?
Thinking about that took me a while so it was quite a bit later before I found my way back to sleep. At least I hadn’t awakened Candy. She was sleeping tight against me, her back to mine and I hadn’t moved because she needed her sleep. She would have another long day tomorrow.... err.... today. When I did sleep I dreamt again. Not the same dream fortunately, but equally curious.
~ ~ ~ ~
We began moving shortly before the alarm was to go off. I think neither of us wanted to get up but that persistent devil known as our alarm clock decided otherwise. Our preparations were lethargic and we barely made it out in time for our rides. I hoped Candy hadn’t faced the same dreams I had. Of course mine had to have been fueled by those hallucinations. The thought of that fireball was something I wanted to investigate this evening when I had the time. A little consideration of the fireball found in my game allowed me to recall it was red and yellow, but the one in the flight simulator had been blue, violet and black as was the one I imagined I had sent into the air when behind the hangar. At least I hoped I had imagined it. It still seemed a little strange the way it carved its way through the air leaving a trail of ionized air behind. I could still smell it. And the flight of the fireball was different too. Most of the fireballs in my games just smoothly travelled from point A to point B but that blue one had made its way through the air with a screaming, tearing, rushing sound like the air was kicking and screaming in opposition during the fireball’s travel through it.
I was almost certain it hit something while up there or at least glanced off of it, I still wasn't totally certain about all this. There were those few seconds during which I could have sworn I had seen ‘something’ howling and twisting in shock as it was first outlined then, in just moments, engulfed in blue fire. That was a significant part of the reason I figured it was my imagination that was creating all these wonderful effects. My fireball which had glanced off that whatever the hell it was and faded away as it receded into the distance was merely a sub-note in the overall picture. As blue fire engulfed that – thing, it seemed to disintegrate into sparkles tinged with blue fire which caused it to fade out of existence at nearly the same time. For some reason I was glad I hadn’t directed the fireball at anything. I don’t think I could have handled seeing a real fire resulting from my fireball, or maybe a significant chunk of trees, props and dirt disintegrating. If you remember a Klingon blaster and the slow agonizing disintegration of the person it hit then you know what this looked like, except maybe even more agonizing and about three or four times as long to complete.
If that fireball had been real and hit the trees and stuff, the fire would have brought others and raised questions which I was most certainly unable to answer as well as emphatically trying to deny at least to myself. But.... if it had been real then what was that.... thing? Of equal concern, did I really see a second fireball hit it? It was facing toward that second fireball, if there was one, and mine caught it by surprise. I remembered it twisted suddenly in the air to see me and that was all the time that was needed for that second fireball to hit rather than miss. I was upset, my imagination was alive and well, and it was still taking me on a path I would rather forego.
~ ~ ~ ~
With my mind finding it difficult to concentrate, assuming I still actually had one, the day was turning out badly. We had six retakes during the morning, of which I was responsible for five. The director wasn’t terribly happy but he didn’t say much since he was aware that I was involved in other aspects of the production beyond my acting before the camera. At the end of the third retake of a simple scene, I apologized to everyone. The director decided it might be prudent for us to take lunch twenty minutes early. We had two scenes we could have done but all the rest needed to wait for the arrival of two people who wouldn’t be off their other sets for at least an hour following lunch. If I would cooperate we could complete those two after lunch and before those other people arrived.
We all happily took the break and rushed off for the commissary. Again, I was still in both my costume and the wings when I went through the lunch line. A few minutes later I was sitting at my table thinking about the next scenes when I was interrupted by a voice.
I looked up to discover that same woman; still dressed in a manner very similar to that which I supposed Snow White might wear had she been a real character.
“Of course, I’m sorry but I don’t remember your name.”
“It is.... Arlene. And you, are ‘Denise’.”
She said that almost as a matter of fact, I could even hear the quote marks around my name. If I had been watching some king or queen standing before someone in armor kneeling in front of them, her tone of voice would have been appropriate. She made a pronouncement of the name I was using. I could almost imagine her holding a sword and touching it to each of my shoulders as she said the name. I half expected her to say something like ‘rise, Sir Denise’. I almost giggled since that thought sounded so weird to me.
We talked a little more as we ate. Again I noted she ate Veggie. Then again, I did also. My choice of foods had been changing a lot lately. I’m not certain exactly when that started but it was after I began working on this show. We finished lunch and left the commissary together, walking next to each other as we headed back toward our studios.
We were walking past one of the few plots of ground which existed here and there, other than those on the outdoor sets down near the hangar, when she suddenly halted. We had been walking past some scraggly rose bushes at the time.
“Are not these bushes beautiful? They have character and strength as well as the ability to protect themselves to a limited means.”
“But there aren’t any flowers. Aren’t they what make the plant beautiful?”
“Many see the flowers, but not the plant which produced them. Without the plant, there would be no flowers. Here, Sister. Watch.... learn.”
When she said that “watch.... learn” I almost felt like a switch went on in my head. Somehow I knew I had heard that same phrasing before although not in her voice. I wondered what she intended to show me so I followed her as she walked toward the bushes. She glanced at me with a strange, little smile on her face then turned away taking two more steps to one of the rose bushes. There she caressed it almost as if it was a living, loving, sentient life. In those few seconds as I watched, the most amazing thing began to happen. Buds appeared and rapidly grew; very rapidly. In only ten, perhaps fifteen seconds a green plant went from being just another scraggly rose bush planted side by side with maybe six or seven others to one which was dressed in glorious wine-red finery.
It appeared to lean into her caresses and as the flowers opened they turned toward her almost in appreciation of her touch.
She continued to touch the bush for perhaps another five seconds before saying something quietly and moving away from it again. The bush seemed to shrink slightly, the flowers drooping just a little as if sad she was no longer touching the plant and them. She turned back to me taking my arm as we continued to walk toward our studios.
“Are you not, as yet, able to see? Not all journeys are to be made on a road with which we are well familiar. Sometimes it becomes necessary for one to undertake a quest of a different sort in order for one to grow in the path we were meant to follow. Acceptance of who we are and who we are intended to become is important.”
She released my arm as we continued to talk while walking side by side. We were nearly to the studio where we were shooting Fey when I finally asked.
“How can I know who I am to become when I’m so uncertain of the path I’m pursuing?” I queried.
“Ah, but that is the glory of the journey. Discovery of both the new and of ourselves is what is necessary. If we knew all the answers in the beginning, then what would be the purpose of the journey? Remember, sometimes we are neither who nor what we think ourselves to be; and – sometimes - we are much more.”
She had slowly dropped behind me as her voice seemed to fade during her last sentence. I turned to see why she was stopped as I was saying, “How can we not be whomever we think we...?”
No one was there. I looked quickly around me and for a great distance the ground was completely clear of people, including Arlene.
Darn this pesky imagination of mine.
All characters or businesses in this work have no existence outside the imagination of the author. Any references to existing businesses or well-known individuals is for plot development only and there are no affiliations, relationships, or gender assignations of any kind intended between those uses and the characters or businesses created for the fiction of this story. Use of any images contained within this work is intended to aid plot development and is not intended to imply any relationship or endorsement by the individuals, businesses, or entities who’s images are in use. All incidents described or alluded to within this work are pure invention. No affiliations, involvements or gender assignations due to the use of any images contained within this work are to be implied, intended or inferred.
Cover image under extended X license - The Green Pixie - © Atelier Sommerland/ fotolia. (See title page)
The Last of the Fey Copyright © 2012 USA, Earth by D. A. Trask.
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