Of Two Minds
by Michele Dutcher
The portal was within one-half mile of the manuscript of course, and as the sound of bells grew louder in John Drew’s ears the world around him seemed to lose significance. What appeared to be a cave entrance opened before the two men, with a bright light between them and a dim world just beyond that. Unexpectedly a figure of a woman stepped out from the light of the portal.
“Lana Clare,” De Comte gushed in disbelief, “I had no idea you were coming over. You know what the future holds for this Earth during the coming cycle.”
“I do indeed. I don’t know if I can change any part of that grim future, but I know I need to try. Perhaps there is some small comfort I can offer.” The pale woman with amazing green eyes looked upon John. “Perhaps in another sixty years we shall meet again.”
“I will look forward to it,” answered the studious man, obviously overcome with her beauty and sense of presence.
“I know you’ll find your mother doing well, Lana Claire, as I checked on her yesterday at your request,” said De Comte.
“Thank you, my dear Cogliostro. You are always the thoughtful gentleman, to be certain. Your mother would be proud.”
The young woman and the new recruit looked at each other a second time. “Soon,” she said. “Soon.”
“De Comte!” shouted a voice behind the portal. “The doorway is closing!”
“We must hurry on, John. I can see Tesla and Arschi waiting for us — just there, beside the wellspring.”
As Lana Claire walked into a world filled with museums and coffeehouses, John stepped into a second Earth and was welcomed by new friends that he could only have dreamed of just a few hours before.
* * *
A desert of North America, A.D. 2135
As the portal opened, Count de Saint Germain stepped forward, allowing his boots to sink deeply into the dust that suffocated what had once been a thriving city. He walked through the debris of buildings and rotting cars and machines, steadily progressing towards his goal. He pulled his hat closely over his head, making certain the fierceness of the afternoon sun did not touch his skin.
The large reddish-brown stone building, once called The Castle, lay dead ahead, and he could clearly see the sign over the entrance. “Smithsonian Institute,” he whispered to no one.
Just inside the massive doorway lay the remnants of a pile of books that had been thrown into a trash heap twice as tall as the Count himself. He held out his hand. “Come forth,” he commanded and instantly a corner of the heap began to move, as though something was breaking its way through.
After a few moments a luminous chip shot into the air, hovering over the pile, before flying into the man’s grasp. Saint Germain put the glowing chip into his pocket, looked around at the destruction and began to walk back towards the passageway between worlds.
* * *
Genoa, Italy, A.D. 1416
The countryside a few miles outside the city was as lush and green as Arschi Delmingo had ever remembered. He waited on horseback for his lover to arrive and meet him in this shaded alcove. Even now he wondered if he had time to draw a few more of the plants around him, and he took out his notebook.
After all, this would be the last time he would be able to record the flora of this strange land, at least for another cycle and perhaps forever. He had purchased the vellum paper two months earlier, and he flipped through the pictures and hand-written text about plants and places and machines, both from his own world and this other world as well.
Suddenly, behind him, he heard two horses rush into the cleared area.
“I will go with him,” shouted the woman, dismounting quickly and rushing into the arms of Arschi.
“How dare you come into my land and steal my niece from me!” Bibiani shouted at Arschi.
“I have not stolen her, but she has stolen my heart. We will be leaving together.”
“At least offer me some profit for all those years I spent feeding her after my brother’s death.”
“You have my horse and all the gold within its saddles.”
The aristocrat glanced at the horse, knowing full well there was a fortune inside those bags. More out of a need for vengeance than necessity, he looked Arschi over carefully. “Give me that little book you’re always writing in. Perhaps I can sell the pictures to some fool with no taste.”
“No please, these are of no use to you.”
“My niece’s hand for your horse, your treasure, and your little book. Hand it to me now, or she stays here with me,” he demanded. Arschi handed it to the man on horseback.
Behind them the shrubbery began to transform, growing blurry and darkening. The baron grabbed the reins of the pair of horses, stuffed the book into his jacket, and galloped away. As the portal opened wider, Arschi Delmingo grabbed the hand of the woman he could not hope to leave without. “Are you ready my love — for the adventure of a lifetime?”
“I am — as long as we share that adventure together.”
And hand in hand they walked through the doorway and into a world of discoveries unimagined by the medieval Earth they were leaving behind.
Copyright © 2012 by Michele Dutcher