Thursday, February 19, 2015

Answers

Tales Of The Apocalypse: Book II - The Rift

Over the course of the next two days there seemed to be no improvement in Andy's condition. She would eat what was put in front of her and take care of her bodily functions, but it was if she was an empty shell just going thru the motions. Frankly, I was extremely worried about this situation. Day 4 of Andy's return dawned and I rose as usual to stoke the wood stove as it was kind of chilly in the cabin. Making the morning meal was a somber affair in as there was no conversation and no hope having any. I got Andy out of bed and got her dressed, no mean feat in of itself.

After cleaning up after our morning meal, I made myself a cup of Dad's cappuccino mix and sat there sipping on it while Andy stared off into space. I felt myself battling an oppressive feeling of despair, as I considered the current situation. Lost in thought, I did not notice the footsteps outside the cabin, masked as they were by they crackle of wood in the stove. The radiant heat felt so comforting in contrast to the mental anguish battling for supremacy in my mind.

"Hello the House!" came a voice from outside.

Startled, I almost dropped my cup and quickly rose to see who it was. Opening the door I saw a giant of a man standing there, smiling.

"Greetings Monty!" said Than-Natuk "How is Andy doing? I have been concerned about her."

I felt a great sense of relief at the sight of my seemingly new friend. I motioned him to come on into the warmth of the cabin and told him she was not any different from when I found her on the porch.

"I apologize, Monty. I needed to address the problem of Shub-Niggurath being loose in this Realm. It has been driven back to its dark home beyond the stars and bound there. For now anyway.

While he was talking, I fetched Andy from the bedroom of the cabin.

'Oh!" she said upon seeing our visitor.
"It's the Man of Light." she exclaimed soullessly. "You made the shadows go away and rescued me from the place of pain and dread."

Than-Natuk looked at Andy with great concern. "She has lost her anima Monty." he said. "This is not good! Without it she will soon lose the will to live. Let me think on this for a bit." he added.
....
....

While Than-Natuk was lost in thought, I decided to take out the trash that had been accumulating over the course of a few days. Upon my return, he stated "I think I have a solution, although it is perhaps less than ideal." He continued "When someone loses their anima, they have no idea of who they are. They lose their definition of who they are, thus their purposes in living. What I need to do is join you and Andy in query, and transfer your mental picture of her anima to her, which will give her a definition of who she is, only from your perspective of her. "

He sat there and waited for my response.

I was astounded by what he had just told me, but was excited at the prospect of restoring Andy to a semblance of normalcy. After a few seconds of mulling this over in my head, I told him I was ready when he was.

Than-Natuk replied "It will be difficult for Andy to establish an anima that resembles what she had developed over her lifetime. This may cause her some distress at times. You must be ready to support her in this case. I am ready to proceed now if you are. This may be a little, strange for you..."

"Lets get to it!" I said apprehensively in response.

Than-Natuk brought Andy to a rocker and sat her down. "You are a nice man." Andy mumbled.
He smiled at that and said "And you are a wonderful girl Andrea." He then directed me to sit in the other rocker after placing it next to Andy. Then he stood behind us and placed his palms on each of our foreheads.
"Relax" he said.

I did, and then the images begin to flow. Everything I could remember about Andy, and much that I didn't began to flash in my mental vision, slowly at first, building momentum until all was a blur and then blackness.

Than-Natuk shook me gently, and woke me from my Stygian stupor. "Monty, wake up! We must see to Andy. Come on, snap out of it!" I blinked my eyes like a sleeping man once awakened and looked around me, taking in my setting.

Andy was still sitting in the chair next to me, sort of awake but not quite there. Than-Natuk was giving her a sip of water from her cup on the table. Her eyes began to focus, and then they were full of terror as everything came crashing down on her. My memories, her blurred memories from captivity, and the confusion as she tried to sort out who she was. She began to get very animated until Than-Natuk took her hands and looked her in the eyes. She settled down and he continued to look in her eyes until she spoke.

"Oh! Than-Natuk! You are the man of light in my nightmare! You rescued me and brought me home!" She threw her arms around his neck and gave him a big hug I thought would never stop. After a few minutes he gently untangled her arms from about his neck.

"Andy, how do you feel?" he asked.

She sat there looking at him with a bewildered look on her face. She then turned and looked at me and said "Monty! You, you brat!" She then burst into tears and ran off to the bedroom, slamming the door behind her. I looked at Than-Natuk with my jaw hanging open and he just shrugged. "I told you it could be difficult." he said. "Your memories are now hers and she knows all about you and your interactions with her previously. I left out the memories with the magazine under your mattress, and the other private stuff." He said this last bit, holding back a grin, at least trying to. I must of turned beet red because he started laughing.

"Give her a little bit of time to process some of these new memories. She is a strong girl to have survived several years in the abode of Yog-Sothoth, as you can tell by her apparent age.

"Time moves at a different rate in Yog-Sothoth's perilous world, as it does in the whole of the Dark Realms. Years pass in one as only moments in another part. It seems the part to which he had taken Andy moved much quicker than here where only days had passed before our return."

I decided to have another cup of the cappuccino mix and offered one to him. He consented and I proceeded to prepare the water for heating and find suitable containers for us. Mine was my usual cup, but his needed to be bigger as he was a BIG man. I finally settled on using a soup bowl with a bit of a handle for his and soon we were enjoying the mix.

Than-Natuk's face lit up, even more so than just the glow when he took his first sip. "Monty, this is delicious!" he said. "I think I will look for more of this in the town from which you came. It is still standing and now that I have driven most of the Tsathoggua from this Realm, it is much safer to travel. There are still dangers since the Realms have occupied the same space for a bit. That will soon pass as your world passes out of the rift and back into your proper Realm. Then I must leave to guard the Edges of Time where the Dark Ones cross over. It is a dreary existence, but without my vigilance, they may soon trouble your world again. I will however drop by to see how you and Andy are doing."

We sat and talked throughout the day, He telling me all about his life and his people, filling in many of the blanks that had not been revealed to me during our "Query". It was beginning to get late and I got up to check on Andy. She was fast asleep, something he had said would be common through the coming days as she regained her strength and rebuilt her anima through dreams and restful sleep. I lit a kerosene lamp and began to prepare dinner for the three of us, saving out a portion for Andy when she awoke.

Than-Natuk told me he would be leaving for a bit the next morning to check out a few things, but he would stop back in before he left for the Outer Realms and the Edge of Time. We talked a bit more and then turned in for the night, feeling satisfied with the many answers I had recieved to the questions in my mind.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Rescued

Tales Of The Apocalypse: Book II - The Rift

Than-Natuk stood and faced the pool. The reflections were still the same, with only an occasional ripple from a stray breeze.

"Monty, you cannot enter the pool. The way is barred to you. If you were to enter it now, you would end up somewhere else from where your sister, Andy is, and be stranded there until your death. Yog-Sothoth did this as he passed thru the pool-gate, as that is what it is, a gate to his perilous home. I however, have no such limitations, and I will pursue him and bind him there, returning your sister to you if possible."

I stammered out a thanks, and then he begin striding into the pool. When he was about waist deep, he looked at me and said "Go wait at your dwelling, for it may be a bit before all is accomplished. Farewell!" with that he took 2 more steps and vanished. There was naught but a small ripple which quickly subsided to mark his passage.

I stood there for a few moments, deciding whether to wait for a bit hoping Andy would show up, or take him at his word and wait back at the cabin. I really wished to speak more with him, to learn more about his history and hear more about his people, but I had no idea if I would ever see him again. I retrieved Andy’s AK and vest, which I stumbled over while tending to a nature call. Eventually, I returned to the cabin and found busy work to keep me distracted: filling the wood box to overflowing and stacking more on the front deck, chopping more wood, building raised gardening beds from the lumber found in the woodshed, filling the beds with soil, etc...

That night as I ate my dinner a plan formed. I was going to find Dad's cache and begin transferring it to the new locations Andy and I had picked out. I knew I needed to keep myself busy or I would probably lose it. There was just so much to process since my normal life had come crashing to a halt. I fell asleep in my chair and awoke late that night to the silence of the woods.

Silence.
No more drumming or humming.
That nasty green orb was still peeking thru some breaks in the clouds though, making sure I didn't forget about it.
....
....

I spent 3 days moving everything once I had located and retrieved the cached items. I divided the food up into four groups, because we had decided on 3 separate locations at different compass points and distances from the cabin. None were more than several hours away from the cabin and were located in places where few would choose to go or wander by chance. The largest group went into the cabin, along with half the garden seeds and other assorted gear. There were several large 20mm ammo cans, and I wondered what they held. There was a detailed list of all the contents but I had not located it yet. I had one more trip to make and then I was finished for the time being.

I spent every evening up until dark sitting on the porch and listening for Andy, waiting for her to return, but I was losing hope, and was resigning myself to being alone. On the fourth day, I rose as usual and had my hot breakfast before braving the chill of fall in the mountains. I had yet to retrieve the hoop house kit and the garden wagon that was cached with it. Being a larger sized group of items, it was situated in a different location from the food and other supplies. I resolved I would bring it all in and endeavor to assemble it, also, to get a jump on my food production for the coming year and to keep my focus on something besides my woes.

Excavating the cache and assembling the cart took much longer than anticipated, and it was late when I got the fully loaded cart back to the cabin. As I was approaching, I saw what appeared to be a woman standing on the porch, gently rocking from side to side as one does when waiting for something to happen. Judging by her height and build, I would say she was several years older than me. She had long light blonde hair, like she was out in the sun for a long time. I dropped the wagon where I stood and warily began to approach, looking for signs of a trap or ambush.

When I got close enough I greeted her but she did not respond. Since I was coming from her rear, I could not see what she looked like, and so I grasped her shoulder. She did not respond to touch so I stepped in front of her.

My God!

I staggered and almost fell down as I was not prepared for what I saw.

It was Andy. But it wasn't the Andy that was taken from me. She had aged perhaps three or more years in the time that she was gone.

And her hair!
Andy had left with dark brunette hair.

And then a whisper escaped her lips.

"Monty? The shadows have gone and he lights the darkness. Thank you for the rescue."
She then fell silent.

I was flabbergasted!
How had this happened?
What had caused these changes?

Relief flooded away any other feelings for the moment and I gently led her into the cabin and put her to bed. I stayed by her side until she fell asleep and then had to pry myself away to take care of the hoop house and wagon.