When Pauline first felt the net ensnare her, she instantly believed it to be the emissaries, or worse. Too panicked to scream, she buffeted about and tried desperately to use her hands to untangle herself – but they didn’t exist. The tiny legs were useless. The antenna, proboscis and wings were straining in a painful and futile attempt to set herself free. When she heard the strange voice calling her husband’s name she felt a flutter of hope.
“Jon?!” She called out in a tiny voice.
She peered through one of the holes in the net and saw a little pixie and a large, humorous snail staring back at her.
“Pauline?!” He replied in a slippery voice.
“Jon – oh my God – I thought you were lost forever!”
He raced over but couldn’t free her with his wet, spongy mouth.
“Roman – set her free!” He commanded.
Pauline couldn’t believe it. How had her dog entered the portals?
“Roman? What is he doing here?” She asked – momentarily distracted from the tight net.
The pixie had a look of suspicion on his cherubic face. It was now obvious to Pauline that Roman didn’t have much control over the emanation. Her senses were strong in the body of whatever this butterfly-emanation was. The pixie’s sneaky, greedy vibes were coming to her in waves, mixed in with Roman’s loyal adoration and the sound of his high-pitched whimpering. Jon continued to speak in the moist-sounding voice.
“I have no idea how he got here. I can’t even remember how I got here myself. We seem to be trapped in a never-ending nightmare!” He replied despondently.
“The only one who’s trapped is this beauty – and I intend to exchange her for a huge sack of gold!”
The pixie rubbed his little hands together and smiled in a way that made Pauline shrink back in horror, but she had to think fast. Like Jon, she resorted to the language she used when Roman was being naughty back in their own time and place, albeit in the soft and furry vocals of the butterfly.
“ROMAN – NAUGHTY DOG! LIE DOWN!”
The pixie lay down on the grassy meadow but then immediately got up again.
“What’s going on here? Some kind of magic?” He asked in a huff.
Jon thought quickly and slithered around to face Roman while blocking access to Pauline.
“Yes! You seem to have trapped a magical butterfly. A special breed which is so rare that you’re sure to collect a King’s ransom – but we must be careful and make sure we don’t harm her. If she has a single blemish on her velvety wings you will be punished.”
The pixie frowned in suspicion, even though it was obvious that he was excited by the idea of having snagged a rare creature.
“How could you know this? You’re only a dumb Adobe snail.”
Pauline remembered the tiny, magic pearl that she assumed was still somewhere in her solar plexus. She visualized the net withering away and as soon as she began to concentrate, she felt the wings fluttering in the breeze. Both Jon and Roman gasped. The flood of confidence rushed through her veins. If she could only remember to stay in control, they might be able to find their way home.
“Now, listen to me.” She commanded as powerfully as she could – gathering the memories and associated attitudes from all the emanations she had entered; such as the bloodthirsty Doeliana, the dominating Lixian and the Chinese mistress. “I will follow you and meet my fate – on one condition.”
Jon wrenched his rubbery neck around to look at Pauline, while the pixie scratched his pointy chin.
“You both must follow my instructions to the letter. If you do not, you will be punished to the full extent of the law!”
She fluttered her wings in an attempt to show majesty and desperately hoped that she was pulling it off.
“Of course!” Jon replied and winked his miniscule eye.
The pixie put his hands on his narrow hips. It was obvious this personality was stronger than Roman’s – even stronger than the demon he’d been able to overpower in the nether regions.
“Alright then, but no funny business. Even if you are rare – I will punish you myself and damn the consequences!”
At that time, Nazat was back in Vagvur preparing to hunt Pauline down. Tracking an infiltrator in the parallel portals was no mean feat, but she had a plan that she hoped would help find Pauline quickly, without causing any more ripples. By the time she met Ka in his palace, the idea was losing its appeal – only because she was sure that her unusual request would be denied.
When she floated towards him – her slender, silver tail flickering with consternation – she noticed that he already had a portal map activated in front of him.
“Can you see where she went?” She asked hopefully.
His golden sheen was more like copper, due to his obvious concern. Without turning to face her, he continued scanning and shook his head.
“Even the meld we performed in the Prism couldn’t track her. She must have a cloaking device, but my best instincts tell me that since she’s an inexperienced infiltrator, her confusion might be acting as a shroud.”
Nazat watched over his shiny shoulder as he continued in his cottony voice.
“I’ve even sent out several thousand of our precious dragonfly sentries, although they do like to trumpet their arrival. Why do they behave so pompously when away from their posts?”
Nazat could see the tiny blue and violet lights darting throughout the portals on the map. Knowing that time was running out, she decided to put forward her idea to see what Ka would say.
“I have a theory that might work, but we’d need permission.”
Ka extinguished the map with a wave of his hand and turned to face her.
“Permission? From who? For what?” He asked excitedly.
“It seems to me that the only entity capable of tracking her down in a timely fashion is her Oversoul.”
Ka and their kind were faceless, but he did the equivalent of staring blankly at his underling. Nazat knew that he was processing the almost impossible idea, so she waited for him to respond. Finally, he grew even more excited.
“That is an impossibly wonderful idea, Nazat! We should request an audience with one of the high-level assistants – or even pay another visit to the Viceroy!”
Nazat felt a thrill running through her system, like she had been mildly electrocuted.
“Really? You think it could work?!”
“Oh, I know it would work. The question is – will we be granted permission to do so?”
Without waiting for Nazat’s response, Ka summoned another emissary and gave him instructions to ready his ship and to send notice to the Viceroy about their request for an audience.
While Ka and Nazat made their way to meet with the Viceroy, Manop was sunning himself on the back deck of the Warbank’s home, which had been one of Roman’s favorite things to do. He was enjoying the life of a dog, even though it was only for a short time. It was a sunny afternoon in Melbourne, with the cicadas buzzing in the trees and distant lawnmowers lazily humming; punctuated with the intermittent squeals of the neighbor’s children, playing under the sprinklers in their backyards.
He jumped to alert when Rylo and Nax returned with the odd refreshments he’d requested. They bustled onto the deck with their arms full of groceries. Nax was losing her temper but did her best to keep it internalized, while dumping a large bunch of yellow orchids on the table. Manop yawned and craned his neck to see; unaccustomed to being so low to the ground.
“There’s something to be said for the life of an organic being. I should visit this wretched place more often.” He exclaimed snootily.
Nax suppressed the urge to scoff and tried to stem the flow of urgency coming from inside. She desperately wanted to learn the news about the Viceroy’s strategy.
“Forgive my impatience, Sir – but shouldn’t we be focusing on the news…”
She was interrupted by Manop barking angrily, after jumping up and sniffing the orchids on the table.
“I said white orchids; specifically – the rare white egret variety!”
He glanced back up at both Nax and Rylo like a human recognizing the presence of an annoying mosquito. Rylo stammered with a mixture of shock and confusion.
“We assumed that time was of the essence, Sir. We couldn’t find any white orchids.”
Manop sighed and padded back to his original spot on the deck. Once he was settled he addressed them over his canine shoulder.
“I suppose they will have to do. You will allow me to enjoy myself for a short time, if you please.” He sniped, like a spoiled member of the nouveau riche. “After all, I’ve come here to assist you both in achieving the task which should have never eventuated in the first place!”
Rylo shrank back while Nax popped the cork of the champagne bottle.
“I trust that it’s French?” Manop mumbled.
Neither Nax nor Rylo had the gumption to admit that it was local, even if it was considered a fine drop. While Nax emptied the contents of the shopping bags, Rylo glanced around nervously and began speaking incoherently.
“Ah, um…wizit wot, er…”
Manop groaned impatiently and sat up to address him.
“Use the language properly, you imbecile!”
Rylo bowed and started wringing his hands together.
“I do apologize, Sir – but how should we prepare your refreshments?”
“You will serve them to me mixed together in what the humans call – a bowl.”
Nax raced into the kitchen to fetch the bowl while Rylo and Manop waited. Neither of them had seen the chubby face peering over the fence on the right. It was Pauline and Jon’s neighbor, Mr. Allen Brandenberger. He was taking a break from gardening and trying to get their attention by waving a pair of gloves.
His waving slowed down when Nax came back out in a hurry, carrying a large mixing bowl and a can opener. Pauline’s body had gained a considerable amount of weight, however that was not the distraction. She plucked off the blooms and threw them hastily into the bowl, then began to pour the champagne over them. If that wasn’t enough, she opened the large tin of caviar and tipped the contents in, before stirring them about with the can opener.
When she brought the bowl over to Manop and placed it down on the deck, he began to lap, chew and crunch like a hungry dog. Nax and Rylo stood back and watched quietly. All three were startled when they heard Mr. Brandenberger yelling excitedly from the fence.
“What in blazes are you feeding Roman? Are you trying to kill him?!”
His pale, bloated face was slowly changing to the color of a pomegranate. Manop continued slurping his meal – ignoring the interruption. Nax looked at Rylo in apprehension and was momentarily relieved when he responded to the neighbor in a rational tone.
“Hello, neighbor. No – everything’s alright here. He requested these items.”
“Do not speak to it.” Manop uttered sloppily between mouthfuls. “It is inconsequential.”
“Requested?!” Mr. Brandenberger gasped. “Are you insane?”
Nax decided to do her best to calm the situation down.
“Do not worry, neighbor. Go about your business. We are perfectly fine.”
It was obvious that Mr. Brandenberger was having a barely contained meltdown. With mouth and eyes agape, he slithered down off his ladder and raced over to his back door. Nax knew that trouble could be possible, but she decided to wait patiently for Manop to finish so she could learn the news and get out of this world for good.
In the fairyland, Pauline fluttered above Jon, who had Roman perched on his back. The three of them were a sight to behold. Roman oscillated between faithful dog and mischievous pixie; sometimes panting and barking and at other times, shaking his head and wondering aloud about the obvious magic afoot. They were making their way along a spiral path in the perfect, emerald grass. None of them realized that they were essentially travelling in a large circle.
They were momentarily mesmerized by the gorgeous flowers and the majestic mountains in the distance. It was only when Pauline realized that they were at times moving away from the mountains that the penny dropped.
“Oh, no!” She wailed pitifully.
“What is it?” Jon asked in his rubbery voice.
She floated down and faced them.
“I think we’re going in circles!”
“Nonsense!” Roman punctuated with a bark, before shaking his head yet again – so hard – that his little, gumnut cap fell off. He jumped off Jon’s back and snatched the cap up. “I know this land like the back of my hand!”
“Where are we supposed to be going to, anyway?” Jon asked, exasperated.
“The market, you fool!” The pixie answered.
He startled himself when he heard a whimper escape his mouth.
“What in Hootenswat’s name is happening to me?”
Pauline understood that her magic was taking its time to work on the pixie. She decided to ratchet it up a notch. Focusing on the little pearl inside, she willed Roman to completely take over the pixie’s body. A strange wind picked up when Roman finally broke through, although he had taken on the pixie’s language, which made Jon and Pauline giggle. It was like a big, lovable dog speaking faery.
“This must be an endless dream, to which I am bound.”
“It’s alright, Roman. Mummy and Daddy are here!” Pauline cooed.
“Mummy and Daddy?” Jon teased.
“Well, I want to make him as comfortable as possible. We must figure out our initial entry points. Don’t you want to get home, finally?”
Now her brain was firing on all cylinders. Roman tentatively crept over and looked back and forth between Jon and Pauline.
“What are we all doing here? Are we all Fey?”
Pauline giggled and spoke in her fluffy voice.
“We have entered some kind of fairy land, but keep your minds sharp. Think back to your first memory here. What did you see?”
“The same as what you see around you now.” Jon replied with a little slippery sadness.
Pauline thought back and realized that all she could remember was a blue sky. It slowly dawned on her that looking for their initial entry points was futile, notwithstanding the fact that she had arrived at a different point at a different time.
When Roman started sniffing the air, she laughed along with Jon at the image of a pixie behaving like a dog. Then she heard the familiar sound of distant trumpets.
“Oh, God no!” She exclaimed as she fluttered her wings nervously.
“What?” Jon asked dreamily as he continued to smile at Roman.
“We need to hide!” She squealed as she flew off and darted towards the dark forest beside them.
Jon followed while Roman growled and climbed up on his back.
“What are we hiding from?!” Jon called out.
Pauline thought quickly but could only offer a vague response.
“Something intergalactic – I think! Now, come on!”
Once they’d made it into the density of the forest, the trumpets were muted, but obviously fast approaching. Pauline flew down and perched on Jon’s back, next to Roman. She didn’t even notice him licking her face, due to the shivering of the leaves above them. When she looked up she saw hundreds of little bright lights breaking through the tiny gaps in the foliage.
“They found us!”
Nazat and Ka were communing with the Viceroy at that moment, unaware that the dragonfly sentries had discovered the infiltrator’s hiding place in the dark forest. The Viceroy exhibited the face of a snail. The body appeared to be floating in and out of a cosmic trance, illuminated and transcendent; the only light in the vast chamber that seemed to be a million miles wide.
“The dragonflies have pinpointed their position, but they can only hold them there. To bring them back to me will be a difficult task, seeing as the woman has a talisman which was given to her by one of your emissaries.”
Ka blushed a rosy hue all over his metallic body. Before he could apologize, the Viceroy continued, now exhibiting the bright blue wings of a butterfly and the impish face of a pixie.
“The Godhead will allow the release of the Oversoul. It’s the only way to ensure her delivery. I had wrongly assumed that your sentries could not find her. They might have been attracted by the magic which does not belong to her.”
The billowy robe which hung about the Viceroy’s being, like smoke or fire in a vacuum, began to swirl around anti-clockwise. The large, blue hand held out a coiled, silver rope. It was like a fine chain made from otherworldly material. Ka took it and bowed deeply.
“This will contain the Oversoul, although we hope you won’t need it. If you successfully intercept the interloper, the two will be inseparable. Pray that they don’t conspire to evade or escape. We are already at such a loss.”
“Such a loss.” Nazat and Ka repeated.
When they reached the Godhead on the Seventh level, several balls of incandescent light greeted them, emitting gentle beeps and whispers. Like a massive planet looming above them, the Godhead teemed with trillions of jewel-like beams and dots, glistening and swirling over the surface and through the seemingly hollow orb. Ka never tired of seeing this majestic sight, but it was the first time for Nazat.
The sum of the total being as one and trillions of souls apart was almost too much for Nazat to comprehend. She remembered her lessons when she was a hundred years younger, back on Vagvur. All thoughts and experiences linked with all souls are absorbed into the Godhead, to create the ultimate entity, who brings this vast collection of life to the universe.
No one exactly knew the reason for the Godhead. All they knew was that consciousness was dependent upon and responsible for the Godhead – and vice versa. Her mind was reeling as she contemplated this.
One pink orb bounced around in front of them and then led them to the highest platform of the Prism. Several giant beings surrounded a circular platform. They were opaque and at the same time, reflecting the stars. Like the emissaries, they were faceless.
The pink orb floated over to the largest giant and hovered near its head. Soon the message was relayed to all the seven giants and they clasped hands. Nazat stood in wonder as a silver beam shot up from the platform to the Godhead. Ka took her hand in an attempt to calm her down. She was shaking as she heard millions of voices crying out from above. Then a blast of white light branched out across the Godhead.
When the Oversoul travelled down the silver beam and landed on the platform, the largest giant reached its hand to Ka, who obediently passed the rope to it.
“I thought that was only if we needed it.” Nazat asked anxiously, not wanting to go against the Viceroy.
Ka did not answer. They watched as the largest giant secured the slender rope around the right wrist of the Oversoul. He didn’t flinch. It was obvious that he would behave. The giant handed the other end of the rope to Ka. He nodded and motioned for the Oversoul to step off the platform. When he floated closer to them, Nazat tried not to protest. He was formidable, but gentle at the same time.
“We are at a loss.” He exclaimed sadly. “I possess the fault. I am to blame.”
“Do not lament. You have been chosen to help us bring your charge to the Viceroy.”
“Yes. The shift is coming.”
“And you will redeem yourself. Help us redeem your charge.” Ka advised gravely.
The Oversoul nodded with a heavy head. His tadpole-like tail flickered, making Nazat wonder if he could indeed be trusted. All Oversouls had only one thing in mind – to protect their charges.
When Manop finished his refreshments, he licked his lips and motioned with his head to the table.
“Let us sit. The neighbor is – at this moment – calling the authorities.”
“The police? How do we explain ourselves?”
“We don’t. We are normal beings. Two humans and a dog enjoying the day. You will convince them that the neighbor is a lunatic spy. That is, of course, if we are still here when they arrive. Besides, it will only be the animal rescue authorities. I am a perfect specimen, even if this body does not belong to me.”
Rylo laughed nervously.
“Not to contradict you, Sir – but the body is organic. I fear that you will soon vomit.”
Manop grew impatient.
“Then I will share the news quickly.”
Nax and Rylo sat down at the patio table and waited for Manop to position himself on the chair opposite them.
“Now. A paradigm shift is coming. A burst of energy which will bring about a new Renaissance, across all realms and portals. Of course, Earth will be the main focus, as it is the realm with the most dire need. Humans will finally see the face of God.”
Both Nax and Rylo were gobsmacked. They sat dumbfounded as Manop continued.
“This is a positive outcome, but one fraught with danger. If the interlopers do not make it back to their bodies – here on Earth – we will be trapped. Many humans will not respond favorably to the shift, naturally. They will fight and they will fail. The interlopers will also be trapped – cut off from their human existence. I do not know what the Godhead will decide to do with them.”
Nax trembled with fear. She wanted desperately to return to her existence in Vagvur. She glanced over at Rylo who stared blank-faced at Manop.
“So, what do we do?” She asked quietly.
“We wait, and while we wait, I suggest you go and fetch me more delicious refreshments!” Manop advised happily.
Jon started shrinking into his shell while the violet and blue dragonflies infiltrated the forest canopy. Roman barked and grabbed one of Pauline’s tiny legs.
“It’s witchcraft!” He shrieked.
Pauline had seen the dragonflies before and had a sense that they were not in danger, although she couldn’t be sure. In Vagvur, they formed a protective forcefield around the fortress. She watched as they surrounded the three of them and didn’t flinch when she sensed the closeness of their electric vibes. It was like being shrouded by a living blanket of lights. At once she realized that they were being held captive and that someone would come for them soon. But who? The emissaries?
As she wondered, she saw another set of lights descending from above. Her heart slithered about when she sensed the proximity of a familiar vibration.
“Pauline? What’s happening?!” Jon called out from within the shell.
She was then distracted by Ka peering through the dragonflies.
“Pauline! There you are!” He announced.
When she saw the second emissary she knew that it was all over. They were there to take her with them, she assumed. When she thought of the pearl inside her, a sudden chill spread throughout her body. She flew out of the butterfly’s body and realized that she was in spirit form. When the pearl pebble dropped onto the forest floor, Ka bent down and picked it up.
“Here’s the source of your magic.”
He placed it in Nazat’s hand and she held it tightly, while staring – faceless – at Pauline.
“Am I in trouble?” She asked.
She was startled when she heard the Oversoul speak to her. She spun around and saw him – or was it her? He reached out to her and she took his hand. In a flash they were floating somewhere in the ether, along with Ka and Nazat. She knew that Roman and Jon were not with them.
“My husband! My dog!” She exclaimed fearfully.
“Do not worry. We have sent them back to your time. Now we must take you to the Viceroy.”
Her mind was racing a thousand times faster than the heart she assumed was with her in this place in time. She almost forgot that she was in spirit form.
“Are they alright? What’s going to happen to me?”
Her Oversoul sent a wave of calm to her. She felt it flood her being.
“They will be fine, Pauline.” Ka advised in his cottony voice. “You will also be fine, provided you make amends. The Viceroy will be the one to ask, so you must save your questions until then.”
She watched the stars race past as they sped towards the Prism, followed by the bright dragonflies, while she fretted about being separated from her loved ones yet again.
Back in Melbourne, Nax was surprised to see two RSPCA members at their front door. They had arrived so soon and she wondered what to do.
“Those animal guards are here!” She announced loudly, over her shoulder.
“Remember what I said and act like a human!” Manop snapped.
They knocked on the door and were soon joined by the fat-faced neighbor, who seemed quite full of himself.
Rylo raced to go to the door with Nax. When they opened it they both appeared harried and obviously guilty.
“Oh, hello Officer. What a pleasure!” Rylo blathered.
“What can we do for you? What’s the matter?” Nax added, wide eyed.
If Manop could have face-palmed, he would have.
The male officer was tall and slim, while the shorter, female officer was stout and seemingly no-nonsense, with her grim face and set jaw.
“Mr. and Mrs. Warbanks?” The male officer asked.
“Yes, yes that’s us.” Rylo blurted.
The female officer looked past them and nodded to Manop.
“That your dog?” She asked, quite matter of fact.
Nax looked back at Manop and nodded furiously.
“Yes, that’s Roman. Come and say hello, Roman!”
She clicked her fingers and Manop stared blankly at her.
“May we come in?” The male officer asked.
“Of course.” Rylo stood back and let the officers in, but when Mr. Brandenberger began to step inside, Manop growled and raced towards him.
“Roman! Don’t you know me? I’m here to help!” He yelped.
“It’s alright, Mr. Brandenberger. We’ve got this.” The woman advised.
All of a sudden, Manop threw up all over Mr. Brandenberger’s shoes. He screamed and fell backwards onto the patio, breaking one of the potted plants.
It was obvious to all who saw the vomit, that Manop had indeed eaten orchids and caviar. The frothy mix was splattered all over the front door step. The female officer made a face then gestured towards Manop.
“What were you trying to do, murder the dog?!”
Manop was feeling better, so much so that he padded over to Nax and allowed her to rub his head. The proverbial cat was out of the bag, but she continued to pretend that everything was alright, stroking his head and smiling inanely.
“It’s an ancient Chinese remedy.” Manop said.
They all froze – even Mr. Brandenberger – who was struggling to get up.
The two officers looked at both Rylo and Nax, then at Manop, who couldn’t resist the urge to freak them out further.
“What’s the problem? Stupid humans.” He sniggered.
The female officer looked at Nax with eyebrows soaring skywards.
“Did he just speak?!”
“Of course I did. Now, would you leave? There’s a lot at stake and we have much to do.”
The male officer started backing against the wall, gasping and panting like a dog himself. It was then that Roman entered his body, with Manop squealing in delight as he was forced out.
The female officer screamed as she also staggered backwards. Then Jon entered his body, while Rylo announced the return.
Only Nax stood in waiting. She looked up at the ceiling expectantly. Nothing happened. Jon fell to the floor and hugged Roman, who was whimpering with relief. They both looked up at who they assumed was Pauline, but it wasn’t long before they realized she hadn’t returned. Jon hadn’t noticed the RSPCA officers. He stared at Pauline’s body, now even more chubby, wearing a terrified mask of horror on her face.
Pauline was still holding the Oversoul’s hand as they were herded by Ka and Nazat into the Viceroy’s chamber. The endless darkness was frightening to Pauline. She wondered if they had arrived in Hell, but the cool interior and warm vibes coming off her Oversoul steadied her nerves – somewhat. When she saw the inverted pyramid appear in the center of the vast room, she looked over at her Oversoul for reassurance.
Then the violin-like voice distracted her.
“At last, we have the Interloper.”
*This is the end of Book 1 – which will soon be released as a novel!
Thanks to my readers and please stay tuned for Book 2. I am trying to decide whether or not to continue this series as a free weekly serial. It’s been fun and either way, the story will continue. It’s just that I have 10+ projects waiting to be written!
Anyone who wishes to receive a free copy in return for an honest review – please let me know!