You Are Now Leaving Jackalope Crossing - Part 2

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Gus and Carson made their way up the hiking trail. The sun was high in the sky, but there was a gentle breeze that kept everything cool and comfortable. Tufts of white clouds sparsely filled the sky and cast massive shadows onto the desert floor. The moment was serene. Everything was quiet, pristine.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

"Why are we here?" Carson asked.

"After the whole 'going to prison for saving the Earth' debacle I felt you deserved a taste of true freedom." Gus said.

"You didn't have to do this." Carson said.

"Yeah, I did." Gus told her. "You're the reason we're all still here, and you're the best damn thing to ever happen to me. This is the least I could do."

Carson fell silent. She wasn't used to being treated like this.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you

When they reached to end of the trail they found themselves perched on top of a plateau looking out at the desert. Gus smiled and looked to Carson. "What do you think?"

"It's beautiful." Carson said, though she didn't sound impressed. Sometimes it was hard for Gus to get a read on her reactions. She often sounded rather stoic.

"I meant it." Present-Carson said as the moment froze. "This was a great trip."

"I wish we'd have gotten the chance to see more." Gus said mournfully. "I was gonna show you this whole world."

"You did, Gus." She put her hand on his shoulder and the moment shifted to later in the day as the sun was setting. Past-Gus and Past-Carson were now sitting and staring out at the desert as the setting sing bathed it in orange light. Gus and Carson stood behind their younger selves and basked in the moment.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Gus snapped back to the present. He led the Jackalopes through the network of catacombs built by the Baker family. The once powerful mandala that the catacombs comprised of, brimming with energy, was now inert. No wafts of cosmic energy, and thankfully no more tulpas, roamed the stone corridors.

"I never realized the rift was so much more." Former Mayor Don Baker said as he suddenly appeared next to Gus. "By Jove... Even men like me, more in tune with the secrets of reality, were still so blind."

"We are all given eyes limited in their vision." Gus said.

"The hell is he talking to?" Freddy asked, leaning over to Allison. "Carson?"

Allison shook her head. "Old Man Baker's with us too."

Freddy chuckled. "Good to know the dead are backing us up this time."

"They know the gravity of the situation." Allison said. "This thing... Nate or Marcinoma or whatever it is... It's wanting to change everything. Alter reality. It wouldn't just wipe out humanity, it would wipe out humanity as a whole. As if we never existed at all."

"Shit..." Freddy sighed. "After we kick that Kakabel's ass I'm taking a vacation. There's only so many times a guy can save the world without it wearing him down."

Allison nodded. "I think we'll all be due for a nice, long vacation."

She was worried, however. This entity, Marcinoma, it was powerful and it now had the power of The Sight. She didn't say it, but she didn't think they had that much of a chance at beating him...

---

Marcinoma stepped out of a portal flanked by Miles and his goons. They had arrived in one of the main chambers of the catacombs. Miles pulled a torch from his belt and shined the light around the room. He whistled.

"Never knew this was down here. This is some next-level shit."

"A meager coven of wizards and witches sought to use the rift to power their magics." Marcinoma said. "My people were aware of them, but they were of little consequence."

"Fucking wizards and magic?" Miles scoffed. Then he realized that he had basically been given superpowers by an undead alien that could slurp people up with his bare hand. So he decided that magic wasn't any less of a crazy idea. "So is this where the rift is at?"

Mar shook his head. "This is the closest I could bring us to it. The forces of the rift prevent direct access with portals."

Miles sighed. "Time for some spelunking..."

Mar started moving to one of the nearby tunnels and the goons followed. However, Miles just stared at Mar and thought about Isobel. He'd tossed the girl aside for next to nothing. Was that his fate as well? He had no qualms with Mar's plan initially. The way he sold it, it sounded like he would bring about a better world. Yet now it was beginning to dawn on Miles that Mar regarded every human like vermin that had to be exterminated.

His old cop senses, which he had long since assumed had left him, were now telling him Mar was no good. Still... Miles followed Mar deeper into the catacombs. If he was playing for the wrong team, he'd have to find the right moment to get the jump on Marc. He was powerful, and if he didn't play his cards right he'd end up just like Isobel.

---

"He's here." Gus announced.

"Who?" Jackson frowned.

"Marcinoma... He's close to the rift..."

"Then we'd better pick up the pace, dontcha think?" Freddy asked.

Gus nodded. "This way..." He started down another corridor at a faster pace. His head was throbbing, he hadn't mentioned it to the others but he'd realized why he was still able to see.

Mar had only taken two of his eyes.

He could feel the others behind his skull. Coalescing and dissolving along the surface of his brain. A flash of the creature that Elendira Baker had become came to his mind. Was it finally happening to him? Was that what would become of him and Allison? Were they to be reduced to nothing but a gelatinous brain of many eyes?

Why wonder when I can find out? Gus figured.

He stepped out of the moment and wandered the structure of reality. Millions of moments across an innumerable amount of worlds across various realities. He searched for what seemed like an eternity until he found the moment he was looking for.

Elendira Baker sat in a ratty little cabin in Europe. She was sobbing. The world had turned away from her, shunned her for being different. For seeing things as they truly were. Branded a witch and chased out of her village she was now alone. And she cursed the day her eyes had been opened.

And then she was no longer alone. The moment froze. The flicker of candles paused their dance of light and shadow across the walls of the cabin. The young girl ceased crying. She sat up and looked to Gus.

"The Second. My dear brother... I have been waiting." Elendira said.

"You know why I'm here." Gus said.

"You wish to know the why of Sight." Elendira stood up from her seat. She walked with grace and confidence well beyond her supposed years. This was not the scared and confused girl that inhabited this moment. This was Elendira... after everything. After the Mandala. Why, of all the potential moments she could've chosen in this place, she resided here was a mystery that Gus would never know the answer to. She simply was here. Gus nodded and she smiled. "In all my time, exploring this place. The many moments, happiness, joy, sadness and pain. The constants and variables of time. I was never able to see why we became what we are."

Gus shook his head. "That's not good enough."

"I agree." Elendira nodded. "For eternity upon eternity I probed the very instant my eyes were opened, hoping beyond hope that the answer would come."

They left the moment. They were now at NASA on that fateful day when Gus was shown the true nature of reality. Gus looked and saw young astronomer Joseph Masters staring in horror at the sight of an ancient being on the far side of the cosmos.

"You were like me," Elendira said. "Curious. You wanted to know the secrets that lay out there beyond our reach."

"Then I spent a lifetime trying to run away from those secrets." Gus said.

"Knowledge has its benefits. But happiness is not one of them." Elendira said.

"No... it isn't..." Gus said.

"It was here that you became The Second." Elendira said. "You became something other than human."

"But why? There has to be a reason." Gus said.

They moved to another moment. They were in the middle of a Nevada highway. A patrol car sat on the side of the road. A flying saucer hovered above it, a beam of light emanated from it and covered the car. Young Nevada State Trooper Allison Newport stood in the middle of the road, looking up in awe at the sight.

"And then there's The Third." Elendira said.

"Allison." Gus said.

"She too came into contact with strangeness and was opened to the secrets." Elendira said.

"If it was just a matter of experiencing a paranormal event then everyone in Jackalope Crossing would have The Sight. What makes us different?" Gus asked.

The moment shifted again. They were on an alien ship now. Greys stood around a young Joseph Masters as he lay naked on a table. Gus could hear the aliens as they worked on him. Probing his mind with advanced instruments capable of peering into the deepest parts of the human body with nary an invasive tool to be seen. Yet their discussion was less one made of words and more one of thought. Yet Gus could hear them plain as if they were speaking. He remembered the words. Complex in structure yet simple in meaning.

Memory purge failed.
Anomaly detected.
Rectify...
.......Rectify.......
Failure.
Reset....
Failure.
Terminate?
Negative.
Initiate Blackout Protocol.
Tag for study.

Then a similar moment. A similar craft and similar aliens yet instead of Gus it was Allison who was lying naked on a table. With the same discussion as before.

Memory purge failed.
Anomaly detected.
Rectify...
.......Rectify.......
Failure.
Reset....
Failure.
Terminate?
Negative.
Initiate Blackout Protocol.
Tag for study.

"They saw something." Gus said. "They would've killed us otherwise."

"Indeed," came the voice of Charles River Dawn Lewis. He stepped out of the nothing and into the moment. A Grey wearing a tie-dye shirt, jeans, and a leather jacket straight out of the seventies, he even sported a wig made of dreadlocks. Gus smiled at his old mentor and nodded. "They saw the part of you that is more than mortal." Charles continued. "The part of you given to you by The Old Ones."

"The Old Ones?" Gus frowned.

"Beings from before Time. The Makers. The Dreamers. Their thoughts producing ongoing worlds with various stories to tell. Ours is just one. And they imparted upon you, Elendira, and Allison a piece of themselves. You are Their Children."

"So... I'm not really human???" Gus asked.

"You are, yet you are not." Charles said. Again, the answer was silly yet Gus took it in stride.

"So am I destined to become..." Gus said as they moved to another moment. They were in the Mandala, beneath the heart, where Elendira resided as a gelatnious mass of gray matter and eyes forming along the surface before bubbling away. "...this?"

Elendira, both the woman and the blob, laughed in a way that shook the foundations of reality. "You say that as if it were a curse..."

"I like my arms and legs." Gus said.

Brain Blob Elendira spoke. "I became this out of choice. A decision I did not take lightly, and one I never regret. Yet you fear the power this form would grant you."

"You say that... yet we killed you." Gus said. "You couldn't undo the damage the Kakabel did to the mandala."

"I allowed you to kill me. My purpose was clear. My destiny realized." Human Elendira said. "Everything that happened was the only way to assure the best outcome along the myriad of paths that were laid out for us all."

"So you knew this would happen? All of this? Right down to here and now?" Gus asked.

"More than that..." Elendira said. She smiled and suddenly they were now at The Rift. The moment to come. Mar stood on the edge of the rift, his eyes burning with furious truth. His intent clear. The extermination of all life on Earth to restore the Kakabel. Bringing forth a new age of sorrow as their genocidal wishes spread from one planet to the next. And with Mar at the nexus of all creation, they would become the only race in the universe. Charles and Elendira stared into the rift while Gus glared at the man who had taken his eyes and his heart away from him.

"You said that form... it was powerful..." Gus looked to Elendira.

"We are Children of Dreamers, and the rift is a focal point of the dream. We are like writers with a blank page, the story shapes to our will." Elendira said.

Gus looked at her, somewhat annoyed by the purple prose she was spewing.

"Yes, you get super strong in the magic hole." Elendira said, almost out of character in her tone.

Gus smirked and nodded. "Thank you. That's all I needed to know..."

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