A Breath of Fresh Air
by John Newmark
I finish my homework early, and seek relaxation in a green bean bag chair in the corner of my room. I open an old laptop my father gave me when his company issued him a newer model. I want to see if I have any email.
I have a message from Bob. He lives in Iowa. I’ve never been anywhere in Iowa, but I think it would be a cool place to live. I like the outdoors. Forests, prairies, farmland, beaches, mountains, it doesn’t really matter. I’d be outside now in our backyard, if it wasn’t raining. The laptop has a wireless modem, but it’s not exactly waterproof.
Bob’s email is a picture of a cow patty. He’s trying to convince me life on a farm isn’t fun. So there’s a little cow manure. The smell can’t possibly compare to the exhaust fumes from all the cars where I live.
I met Bob at Crystalview a couple months ago. Crystalview’s a summer camp in the midwest my parents send me to each year. The four weeks I spend there are excellent. I swim in the lake, and hike in the woods. What more can one ask for, really? Some of the camp counselors tried to scare us by saying it’s the same Crystal Lake as in the horror movies. As if we were stupid enough to fall for that. Or care. That gag might have worked 10-20 years ago, when those movies were popular. Besides, my dad tells me the Friday the 13th superstition goes back centuries, to the Middle Ages, and some group called the Knights Templar.
I close the laptop, lean back in the bean bag and close my eyes, trying to remember as much as I can of Crystalview. There’s the lakeside, with a small beach, and a dock. By the beach there’s a road, that goes up to the dining hall and the administrative offices, or into town if you take it in the opposite direction. On the other side of the road is a cliff, with steps built into it. The steps lead up to the cabins providing a nice short-cut back from the lake, bypassing the main entrance.
There are 12 cabins, all named after animals. Rabbit, Bear, Eagle, Wolf. Bob and I were in the Puma cabin. The images, and smells of the camp feel so real to me, as if I were still there. I walk past the last cabin, and deeper into the woods. I cross a road that goes through the campgrounds and pick up the path on the other side. At the end of the path I arrive at a large open clearing. One evening we played Capture the Flag there. At the opposite end of the clearing is a barn with a donkey named Jack.
I realize I must have fallen asleep in the bean bag, as I am no longer just thinking about camp, but I’m deep inside a dream. It’s a little chillier than it usually is. I don’t know why I’m not dreaming I’m wearing a jacket. I walk up to the stall whre Jack is, and say hello to him. He brays back at me.
I hear a noise behind me, and turn around. It’s Mike, the director of the camp.
“Scott! What the hell are you doing here?!”
“I don’t know. Is it past lights out?”
“Way past, like two months past. You’re from New York, right?”
“Damn. How long have you been gone from home? Your parents must be frantic.”
I laugh. “Don’t worry Mike, it’s just a dream I’m having. I’m not really here.”
“You’re not here?”
“No. I’m sitting at home in a chair in my room. I’ve fallen asleep, and I’m just dreaming about what it’s like at camp. Though it’s a bit chillier than I remember.”
“It’s no longer summer. It’s October. You feel the autumn air.”
“Strange. Why would I dream it’s October’ I’ve never been here in October before.”
Mike scratches his beard. There’s a real strange look in his eyes. “Come with me back to the offices. We’ll give your parents a phone call.”
I shake my head. “I think I’d like to wake up instead. I should have worn a jacket.”
Mike nods. “Well, that would work. I’ll leave the choice to you. Wake up, or come with me. What’ll it be, Scott?”
I open my eyes. I’m still on the bean bag. I have to admit that was one of the weirdest dreams I’ve ever had. I walk over to the window. It’s stopped raining. I decide to grab my camera and go outside. Maybe I can find a picture to send to Bob. Show him how disgusting life in the city can be. As I turn around, I see footprints from the chair to where I am standing. I sit down on my bed, and remove one of my shoes. What I see on the sole is completely unmistakeable. A mixture of mud and hay. There’s a lot of mud outside, especially now after the rain, but hay doesn’t exist within 100 miles of our house. I remove the other shoe, and it’s there too. The only explanation is completely irrational. I remove a Swiss army knife from my dresser and take it and my shoes into the bathroom. I scrape the mud over the toilet until my shoes are clean.
Returning to my room, I shake my head. My mom’s going to kill me if she sees the footprints. Hopefully I can get it cleaned up before then. I open my laptop again, and enter “How to clean mud from carpet” in Google. The instructions don’t sound too difficult. Without waking my parents, I find the detergent in the basement, and the ammonia in the kitchen. The stains come up quite easily. I return the ammonia and detergent to where I got them, and then go to bed.
I find myself dreaming of Crystalview again. This time I’m nearby the cabins. I’m wearing only my pajamas. It’s freezing. I bend over and pick up a stick before opening my eyes. I’m lying in my bed, but I find it impossible to go back to sleep. I just stare at the impossible stick in my left hand.
I spend study hall at school the next day reseaching paranormal abilities. I’ve read enough books, and seen enough movies to know what to call this. Teleportation. In some novels, the characters have to use special portals. While I know nothing about magic, I wonder if it’s possible a portal’s opened up between my bedroom and Crystalview. I need to conduct some experiments, but I can’t do it in the library. I don’t want to disappear when someone at a table nearby can see it happen.
I wonder what went through Mike’s mind last night. He must have seen me disappear right before his eyes. Well, he’s already seen me appear and disappear once. If he happens to see it again, it won’t make much of a difference.
I get a hall pass from the librarian, and go into the bathroom. It’s empty. I start thinking about the docks by the lake, and within seconds, I’m there. Standing on the docks overlooking the lake. No one’s on the shore to see me. I walk the dock to the beach and scoop up some sand. I then imagine myself back in the bathroom. It works. I’m standing in the bathroom with sand in my cupped hands. I toss it into one of the toilets and flush it. Unless I’ve randomly found another portal, portals don’t seem to be necessary, or I’m able to open them at will.
Forming the image of the place in my mind first, and then transmitting the thought I want to be there, I teleport myself to my bedroom at home. Then to the kitchen. Neither of my parents are home; they both work. I grab a slice of cheese from the refrigerator. Back to the school restroom. I eat the cheese, and throw the wrapper in a trash can. I try to imagine Paris in my mind. We just saw a film in French class, so I know what it looks like. This doesn’t work. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never been there, if I’m not imagining it correctly, or if it’s too far for me to travel.
My parents took me to the Carribbean a year ago. An island in the British Virgin Islands. I remember climbing a path called Gorda Peak. I try to envision myself in the lookout tower, and within minutes I’m overlooking the Carribbean sea. It’s the farthest distance I have ever been from home, but it doesn’t seem to be any more difficult. But I do have a headache. I don’t know if it’s due to the distance I just travelled, or the number of teleports I’ve done. I teleport back to my home bathroom, the headache increasing, and grab an extra-strength aspirin from the cabinet, and swallow it with a glass of water. Then I teleport back to school. I decide that’s enough for now. Clearly I do have some limitations, though I’m not sure exactly what they are right now.
I return to study hall. The aspirin appears to work, and the headache subsides.
Friday at lunch I ask Genia if she’d like to study together for an upcoming Trig test after school. She agrees. My heart does a hopefully unnoticeable dance. I’ve known Genia for years. Her parents are friends with my parents. She made a comment last year she wished her parents would take her to the Carribbean. I’m considering showing her what I can do this afternoon. I’ve practiced with my pet gerbil, Hugo, and know I can teleport with other living creatures, and not just sticks, sand, and hay.
Genia shows up at about 4:00. My parents won’t be home for another 2 hours. We’re sitting at a card table in the living room with our books spread out in front of us. I take a deep breath.
“You’re not going to believe what I can do.”
“Let me hold your hand.”
Genia holds out her hand. “What are you going to do, read my palm?”
“No, just wait.” I envision the kitchen in my mind, and within seconds the two of us are there. “Would you like a soda?” I ask.
“What the heck just happened?”
“I teleported us from the living room to here.”
“Well, then you tell me what happened.”
“We were sitting at that table, I gave you my hand, and then. Damn, it doesn’t make sense.”
“I discovered it this week. I can teleport myself, and anything I’m touching.”
“Impossible. This isn’t a comic book.”
“That’s what I thought, at first. But how else can you explain it?”
“I seem to be able to teleport myself anywhere I’ve ever been before.”
“Yeah. I’ve tried several places all over the city, and other places as well. Like Disney World, the Grand Canyon, and that island in the Carribbean my parents took me to last year.”
“You’re talking nonsense.”
“Didn’t you tell me you wished you could go to the Carribbean?”
“Do you still want to?”
“Sure. But, you can’t really do it, can you?”
“How do you think we wound up here in the kitchen?”
Genia hesitates for only a brief second, and then holds out her hand. “Let’s go.”
I envision one of my favorite beaches on the island. I have the image locked in my mind. “Here we go!” I shout.
We land on the beach, and fierce winds separate the two of us.
“I had no idea it was hurricane season!” I yell.
“Beam us out of here, Scott!”
“I can’t reach you! Grab my hand!”
(BVI News) The bodies discovered on Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda a few months ago have finally been identified as lost New York City teenagers Scott Montgomery and Iphigenia Smith. They were last seen on Friday, Oct 13, at their Manhattan area high school, 70 minutes before the hurricane hit the shore of the island. The authorities are confounded. “There is no physical way they could have managed to get there from New York City in that short a time,” BVI Sergeant Jeff Daniels stated yesterday.
Copyright © 2004 by John Newmark