The Brains Behind The Operation/R&R At The Prickly Cactus

Gus stared at the hole where Allison had been standing. It didn't make any sense. He didn't see anything but what everyone else had seen. The orb was the answer, Vargas had said as much, yet it was gone, with Allison along with it. He looked to Nodia, then back to Carson.

Jackson didn’t hesitate. He dove into the hole where Jessica disappeared. He had to find her; protect her; hold her. This whole adventure was suddenly becoming a nightmare for him. It seemed that those with the sight were always going to be a target. At this moment, he wished the sight hadn’t chosen Allison.

Allison didn't know where she was. She remembered falling into an abyss. Yet something caught her. It was like the blackness of the dark had form and was tenderly cradling her. She wondered how this was possible. Then she noted that the orb was gone. Had it slipped from her hand? Had it fallen into this abyss?

No, child. It is here. Something "spoke" to her. She didn't actually "hear" it but it had been processed through the hearing center of her brain.

"Who are you?" Allison asked.

The First. The unhearable voice said.

"I don't understand." Allison frowned.

You are The Third. I am The First.

"Third what? I don't... Where am I??? What is going on? I need to get back to my friends!" Allison shouted.

Step closer, child.

Allison frowned then suddenly felt ground beneath her feet. "What is this?"

You stand on the boundary between what is seen and what is unseen. The fabric which has been twisted at this point in space and time. Those who leech from this fissure call it "The Rift."

"And who... what are you?" Allison asked.

Closer now and see...

Allison stepped forward and the veil of black peeled back to reveal something that, had her eyes not been "opened," would've reduced her to madness. It was a writhing mass of red and pink with black veins which pulsated. Eyes formed and dissolved as a deep thump thump sound echoed in the black, and all eyes looked at Allison. It took her a moment to realize she was staring at a massive human brain the size of an elephant.

She was silent.

It is good that I am not the only one.

"What...?" Allison was still awestruck. "...the fuck are you?"

Elendira... Elendira Baker. That was my name centuries ago. You faced my son, Isaac.

It took a while for Allison to figure it out. "You mean the knight???"

Yes. He is a good son, protecting the family's secret as a good son should.

"You turned your son into a monster?"

It was what the rite demanded. The heart stone needs a heart. The heart stone needs a guardian. Isaac gave up his heart and now serves to keep the stone safe.

"That doesn't explain you." Allison said.

There was a wet undulation in the fabric of the black that seemed to push itself through Allison. It was... a laugh?

As I explained. I am The First. You are The Third.

"Third what? You keep saying I'm the third. What do you mean?"

Our eyes are the same.

Allison looked into the sea of eyes and was confronted with a horrifying revelation.

Yes. You see as I do. Not with eyes. Here and beyond, eyes are but impediments.

"You have The Sight. Like me and Gus."

The Second... yes... I was The First to have my eyes opened/ A multitude of eyes formed and melted away as the mass "spoke." I was regarded by those of my coven as an abomination. "Demon Seed" they named me. Cast out and hunted, I fled across the sea to this land where I formed my own coven. In my ravenous hunger to understand the things I saw, things no one else saw, I was drawn to this rift. I saw potential and with my new family we built this mandala, fed off of it like a parasite, but it came at great cost...

"You turned into this?"

Another "laugh."

You say that as if it were a punishment for some perceived hubris. No. I am actualized. I am that which I am of my own volition. My son, The Heart; and I, The Mind. In harmony.

Allison thought for a moment. "Then you knew this day would come. That I would come, that Gus would come. You can see more than even Gus and I can. You knew what would happen."

I have delved into the expanse of creation and probed the unraveling strands of maybe's and what if's. Seen the "could have beens" and the "never were's." The various iterations of this game that never came to be. And yes. I have seen the events that led to this moment, and the end beyond.

"Then tell me... how do we stop the mandala?"

Stab the heart. Dull the mind. It is that simple.

Allison felt something get put into her hand. It was the orb. "What is this?"

What will be.

"That doesn't make sense."

It is my gift to you, children. Jackalopes. I had it delivered so that things will go as they must. I sent it in the hands of someone you could trust. My gift to my brother and sister.

"You made this? You sent it to Gus? All so that we could destroy all you've built? To kill your son? Why?" Allison asked.

It is what will be. The mass simply said.

"And you have no issue with this?"

From where I see... it is a trifling thing. You will understand in time.

Allison nodded. "One more thing..."

I know what you are about to ask. What we are is more than a simple act of genetic happenstance. You are my sister, and The Second is our brother. Why we were made, even I cannot see. Yet clearly we see in every other regard. The Sighted in a world of blind men and women.

"I just hope we've been put here to guide them into the light." Allison said.

Some things are best kept in darkness. The shadows swallowed up the giant pulsating brain and Allison felt the ground give way beneath her. Go now, Sister. End my son's torment and free me from the shackles I bound myself in. And steel yourself for what is to come.

Allison nodded, hoping what this thing, Elendira... the first to have The Sight... would make sense in due time.

Oh, and catch. She said one last time.

"Huh?" Allison said.

Suddenly she heard a shout from above and she opened out her arms. She caught Jackson. Somehow the darkness was lifting them up, cancelling out gravity, and she found him to be as light as a feather.

"Jack???" She was surprised. Then she deduced why he was here. "Did you dive into a dark hole to little old me?" She chuckled and turned him over so she could plant a big damn kiss on him as they ascended.

---

Daniel reached out and touched Simon. He empathized with him. The touch was meant to be healing.

Simon got a little choked up and nodded in thanks to the ghost. He did feel a lot better. Then Jen came up and lifted his leg onto her lap, which hurt like hell at first, killing the good buzz Daniel had managed to give him. The bottle Jen had in her hand promised him that another, just as good, buzz wasn't far behind.

“Hopefully,” she said to Simon, “this isn’t stale then. This is a bottle of the good stuff.”

Simon, for the first time in a long time, finally relaxed. He offered his glass for Jen to pour him some of that glorious liquid courage and he smiled.

---

Carson loomed at nodia " we need you to do what you did before" nodia looked at her confused. "what i didnt do anything" carson looked t gus. "you saw it right? For just a moment she stopped him for just a moment....if she could do it again...just long enough for freddy to land a killing blow we may have a chance here." nodia shook her head "i didnt...how could i?" carson looked at gus for help they really didnt have time for this.

Gus nodded. "Yeah. I saw..." He looked to Nodia. "You got a touch of something in you, don't worry. We all got something. For me, it's seeing reality the way it really is. And trust me, it's a lot weirder than you could imagine. I mean, we're in a cave built by wizards to mine for cosmic energy. If that isn't weird enough, my girlfriend is an alien, half the people here work for Area 51, and I am pretty sure that of all of us..." He gestured to Freddy who was brandishing the dagger like Errol Flynn and making swishing noises in an attempt to taunt the knight, "...That guy is the most normal!

"Now, I know you're confused, scared, and just want to go home I bet. But right now you got something that hits that knight pretty hard. We need your help, Nodia. I believe you can do this! Me and Carson, and the rest of us Jackalopes down here. We got your back on this. We believe in you! Now fight!"

< Prev : Into the Unknown Next > : Heart stone