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Next Time

Will he remember the next time?
That sound. I know it’s the same sound. But am I dreaming or is it really there? I don’t really know anymore. Now what? Do I lay here and consider it last night's pizza giving my imagination something to do? Do I get up and let it happen again? I wonder, if I stay here and don’t check it out, will it start again or is that the trigger? It doesn’t matter, I can’t just lie here. I already wish it was over. Maybe it is, I never seem to know whether it’s happening now or I’m just remembering it. Well, here goes nothing. As I sit up I notice that I can no longer hear the sound. Something was different...Yes, the light, I can’t see the light. God, please let it be over. Outside the bedroom nothing seems different. But I guess it really never does. A knock at the door, that’s the missing piece. By now I should have heard the knock. I think that’s where it usually begins. I’m so confused. I don’t seem to know where the dream begins, if it is just a dream, and reality ends. The only thing to do is to sit down and relax. Maybe work a little on that song that I started yesterday, but I’m not sure I could concentrate. I can try to put the pieces together, but I never can seem to remember them all. They also seem to change somewhat each time.

To start at the beginning, at least as I know it, my name is Robin Sebastian and I’m a musician and songwriter, at least I seem to think I am. I haven’t sold alot of songs...OK, I haven’t sold any, but should that mean I’m not a songwriter or just not a song seller. Well, back to reality, or at least today’s version. It starts with a sound, a sound I can’t explain. Then the light, these things seem to be constant. But here the facts seem to drift together. I know there’s a girl and something is scaring the hell outta her, but I can’t remember anything else. Except...When it’s all said and done, I’ll be very dead. Which is why I would rather just stay in bed, although, I think I’ve tried and it didn’t work. I know I sound crazy, maybe I am. Boy, that’d make things easier to understand wouldn’t it? Well, once again I ramble...Let’s see...Okay.

There’s a knock at the door.

“Please, please let me in,” I can hear as I get to the door.

Then the knocking becomes a pounding and the plea seems to take on a greater element of fear.

“If you do not let me in, I will surely die!”

At the slightest crack of the door, it’s pushed from my hands and a figure hurls itself inside. The cloak that covers from the figure's head to the carpet doesn’t do anything to relieve my own fears and I prepare for the worst. A quick look through the open door only reveals a cold, foggy October night, full of shadows and possibilities, but no menacing creatures of the night.

“Thank you most graciously, but please close and bolt the door. Don’t make it any easier for Him than it has to be,” comes from behind me as I close the door and turn to see a vision that’s usually reserved for my better dreams.

“My name is Rachelle Nise,” I hear her say, but I can’t seem to take my eyes off of her nor do I any longer have the ability to form words.

She has removed the hood from over her head and let free the most beautiful mane of crimson hair to frame a face that should be chiseled from marble and on display for all to see. Her emerald eyes have a quality that burns deep into my soul and I swear by all I hold dear that I know her, yet I know this is the first time that our eyes have ever met.

After what seems like an eternity, I say, “I’m Robin,…er...Sebastian. What in the world is wrong, not that I mind the interruption, but you look so damned frightened.”

“I need to hide or he will certainly find me. I’m so tired and I’ve come so far. I’m not from this place, but please there isn’t time to talk.”

“I really don’t understand, who are we hiding from,” I ask as she removes her cloak and moves further into my studio and away from the doors and windows.

Her clothes also have a strange appearance to them. They remind me of clothing I have always associated with Conan movies or at least that time frame, but they have an eerie metallic look to them, which only adds to my confusion.

“Do you not remember? Does nothing seem familiar to you?” was her only response.

Her eyes darted from the door to the windows in the front room, and back to the door. She rarely made any eye contact with me at all.

“What the hell am I suppose to remember? The only familiar feeling I get is when I look into your eyes, and for the life of me I can’t explain that at all. We haven’t ever met and I don’t think I know you, do I?” I can think of nothing else to say.

She continues, “We have met, it was on a night like this some time ago, I don’t really know if I can explain. I really hoped you would remember this time. I need you to remember so we can avoid the mistakes that we always make. I can’t tell you what to do.”

“You talk as though we have been through this before. But you won’t give me any idea about what you mean. God, this had better be a dream and I’d better wake up pretty soon.” I sigh.

“Believe me this is not a dream and it is happening the way it always does. Please calm down and I will tell you all I can,” her voice is filled with fear.

It takes a few minutes and a couple of large shots of tequila, but finally we are sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace. I can’t get over her beauty, except every time I begin to get swept up in it reality steps back in and slams a cold fist into my gut and replaces lust with fear, chilling fear.

She begins again, “I told you that I was not from this place. That’s not exactly true. I am not from this...time. I know this is going to be difficult to believe, but please listen. I am from this land one hundred and thirty-two years in your future. I would be what you might call a priestess, I belong to Bartholomew, the High Necromancer in my time. Our society has been ruled by him since after the Great Destruction. It is said that there was a great storm of fire from the heavens that almost destroyed our world. For over one hundred years people lived like animals, until the power of the Malage was discovered by a boy named Bartholomew. He learned the gift of the Malage and used it for his own benefit. He was transformed from a boy into a very powerful sorcerer, capable of calling the most evil spirits of all time. These demons helped him to gain the power to rule. People that opposed him died a hideous death or vanished altogether. They say that the power of the Malage comes from the ultimate act of selflessness, but there is a dark side, as with all matters of sorcery, and this is the path that Bartholomew chose to follow. He and His court live the splendor of a thousand kings, while his subjects barely survive.”

“Okay, lets say I believe you, and I have no idea why I do, but why are you here now?” I ask.

She continues with, “Our scholars decided the only way to stop the evil was to destroy the source. They somehow determined that this place and time held the key. I was sent back to locate and destroy the crystal that is the Malage.”

I sit forward and say, “Wait a minute, let me catch up .... er, this is kinda new to me. Some crystal from my time is the cause of all the death and horror in your time? Now, you believe you can find it, destroy it, and the bad guys will just quit?”

She screams out, “NO! Please understand. If the crystal is destroyed in your time, it can’t exist in mine.”

I again ask, “Okay, okay I get it, but how will you know where to find it? What does it look like?”

Rachelle explains, “The crystal is round, about the size of a fist. How I will find it is simple. It will find me. Legend says that the power was created by the bonding of the crystal with the soul of an outsider. This soul is said to be innocent, free, and completely selfless. After the bonding, the power of the Great Destruction fused the bond into absolute power. This is the Malage. Then it sat dormant until discovered by Bartholomew.”

Shaking my head I say, “Why you, who are you? Why should you want to come back to this time for what might be no more than a wild goose chase?”

She snaps, “I told you it is the crystal that I seek. I have no interest in geese!”

After a little chuckle I say, “I’m sorry, that’s just a slang phrase of my time. Most people in this time understand these phrases.... Back to the question, why you?”

“I told you, I belong to Bartholomew, body and soul. That was until he had my little boy put to death simply because he wanted no one to ever challenge his reign. He began to believe that Bastian was not his child. It was then that I saw through the smoke screen of his magic. The offer was made, I accepted. For my Bastian, my son. But each time I have made this journey and failed in my mission, I have been returned to my time just after I became with child. When I am successful, I will return to a time prior to the young boy Bartholomew having found the Malage. This is how I will know I am successful in my task,” She says, hanging her head.

The more she said, the worse I felt. Surely it is a time for me to wake up. I usually wake up about now in my dreams. The more I think about it, the crazier it seems. The more I look at her, bathed in the glow of the fire, the more I believe. I don’t know if it is the Tequila, which I had been nursing through the better part of her story, or the vision in the fire glow. Still, I find myself drawn to her. I reach for her and pull her to me. The moment we touch, the fire roars and our embrace strikes my being like a bolt of lighting. Our passions rise as the flames die.

I have no idea how long we were asleep, only that it was one of the most peaceful sleeps I have ever had. But with Rachelle still laying asleep at my feet, I spent the better part of the night pacing and thinking. I know this must be a dream, still I can’t bring myself around. Any other time, my dreams end long before I am ready. Well, here I am ready and I don’t feel the end is near. In the midst of my pacing, I am startled by what can only be described as hoof beats. As though a great horse is on my driveway.

The loud clamor also startles Rachelle and as she sits up she says, in those same fear choked tones as before, “It is Waraig, The Punisher, He has found us, we have got to hide!”

Looking through the window I can see a winged specter on a horse of glistening black. The horse had to be at least ten feet tall at the shoulders. The rider is a cloaked skeleton carrying a long lance.

“BRING ME THE WOMAN AND YOUR PITIFUL EXISTENCE WILL BE SPARED.”

The voice is like thunder that sends an icy stab deep into my spine. The only thought I can form, the only words I can utter, “RUN, through the back, this way!“

On the way through the back of the house something catches my eye. In the small trophy case, a baseball, a glass baseball. It was a MVP trophy from the Malagestrom College Invitational, a baseball tournament from my college days. Not much of a weapon, but it is the only thing anywhere near me at the time. I grab it, thrust it into my pocket, seize Rachelle’s hand and through the back door we flee. It takes no time at all for the specter to be upon us. As though the great black beast he is perched upon can fly.

“YOUR LAST CHANCE LITTLE MAN, RELEASE THE BITCH AND STAND ASIDE, OR I SHALL SURELY CAST YOU INTO THE FIRES OF HELL!!”

Before I realize it is my voice I am hearing, “NOT IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS YOU BONEY SON-OF-A-BITCH,” springs forth from my mouth.

I reach into my pocket, remove the baseball, and prepare to let it fly as though it is the last pitch of a one to nothing final game of the World Series. At that same moment, Waraig lowers his lance. I am hit with a blast of force and a blinding light that sends me flying rearward for several yards.

As the haze slightly lifts from my eyes, the excruciating pain allows me a few moments of conscientiousness. I can see the specter sweep Rachelle up onto his steed. Just before the last of the light drains from my eyes, and Waraig disappears with the love of my life, I see something lying under a bush between us. It’s the baseball and it seems to be glowing. As a matter of fact, the further I fade, the brighter it glows. At that instant I understand.

With my last breath of life I say, “I will remember, my sweet, your next visit...will be the last...Bastian, what a great name,” and the light fades to dark...

...That sound. I know it’s the same sound. But am I dreaming or is it really there? I don’t really know anymore. Now what? Do I lay here and consider it last night's pizza giving my imagination something to do? As I turn my head, my eyes rest upon an object across the room. A baseball, a glass baseball. I smile and think, I will remember, Sweet Rachelle.

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