“Hello?” I could hear a faint voice from somewhere.
“Can you hear me?” It repeated once more. The voice seemed to come and go as I slipped in and out of consciousness.
Slowly and in pain, I finally opened my eyes. I could see a blurry outline of a figure wearing strange goggles and looking at me with concern. I was in a state of complete confusion.
Half-conscious I could only recollect fragments of black sand and cold beaches. I seemed to have been pulled on a stretcher of some sort.
Sometimes I could hear but not see the images. Other times I could see but seemed incapable of hearing. It was a confusing cluster of consciousness.
“Where’s Fitz…” I faintly asked.
Receiving no response, I asked again, however before I could receive an answer, I lapsed into unconsciousness once again.
Dreams of arid winds and endless sandy deserts tormented me. The sound of a wagon, and the indiscernible speech invaded my consciousness from time to time. Dead, deteriorating animals with torn flesh were persistently engulfing me. The stench of a million carcasses invaded my sense of smell. I cried out but the only response was the shriek and howl of the eerie wind.
Abruptly I awoke in cold sweat gasping in fear.
I looked around in confusion. I was lying in a clean bed. The room looked….normal, with no odd obscurities. A fireplace graced the right side of the room with a work bench on the left.
The room had a warm feel to it, with gold and copper shades accompanying the brown wood walls. Cautiously I stood up to find Fitz sleeping in a cage, at the foot of my bed.
As I stood up to look around the room, I pinched myself, thinking that perhaps I was dreaming.
Slowly and cautiously, I exited the room. The scent and sounds of bacon frying were in the air.
The house was humble but quite nice, with a steel staircase in the hall, leading down into a spacious living room filled with artifacts and eccentric decor. Gears and steam powered machinery were on prominent display.
“I made you some eggs and bacon.”
The voice belonged to a quiet, shy young woman.
Surprised by this act, I was unsure how to respond.
“I- I don’t eat. Thank you.” I quietly replied.
The young woman was wearing the most unusual outfit. She was decked out with machinery riddled with leather belts and pockets. Her eyes were covered with copper glasses which had rotating gears on each side.
Not knowing what I should say, I awkwardly responded by asking; “Can you see me?”
The woman was quite shy, never wanting to look at me in the eyes.
“It’s the glasses,” she pointed at them, whilst staring at the floor.
Baffled and still confused, I continue staring at her.
“Um, I put your hound in the cage if you didn’t notice. I assumed he was yours.”
The woman threw the eggs and bacon into a confusing steam powered machine, recycled the eggs and bacon, turning them into a liquid.
“Ok, but how did you find us in the first place?” I inquired.
“I noticed a cloud of smoke months prior, so, I ventured out to see it’s source.” The woman continued as she drank her liquid breakfast. “You were quite lucky. I was hiking when I heard your screams.”
“Yes, you were. I found you a couple of hours later, frozen with the pup.”
The woman was stiff and apprehensive, as she moved passed me, never making eye contact.
“But that doesn’t explain how you could hear and see me.” I replied while following close behind. “Is this another realm?”
“No,” she quickly replied.
I raised my voice.
The woman halted at the giant steel door which was located at the end of the hallway.
“You know I shouldn’t even be talking to you.” She uttered with her back to me.
“Are you a sentinel?” I inquired as the woman opened the door and entered a circular room housing a white steel staircase.
“Kind of, yes. How is it you know about different realms?” She asked while ascending the spiral stairs.
“I was the apprentice of professor Griffin.”
The woman stopped and turned toward me, still not making eye contact.
I was quick to show her the dagger, but then hesitated, quickly changing my mind.
“I don’t have to prove anything to you.”
“I thought so. Sentinels haven’t joined with the anomalous in centuries. “She said as she continued up the stairs. “You should know that.”
“Then why did you not report me?”
“I never said I was a sentinel-“
“You did,” I argued.
“No, I said I was ‘kind of’ a sentinel. There is a difference.
As we approached the top of the spiral staircase, there was a copper door, made with many gears and eccentric machinery.
From one of her pockets the woman took out an unusual key, with which she opened four locks. As the last lock was released, the gears began to move in unison, opening the door and revealing a bright oval light.
The light was hypnotic in essence, like millions of particles of sand circling around, creating a sphere of light.
“What is it?” I asked while admiring the glittering sphere.
“It’s the dust.” she answered.
The woman moved a metal pipe which focused the light onto the ocean.
Whilst admiring the alluring beauty of the light, I began to worry.
“So, what now?” I asked.
“You can do what you want,” she replied while descending the steps.
“You are not going to call anyone?”
“Look, I am a watcher. I observe and study. It is not my concern if you are anomalous or not. In fact, you are the first anomalous being that did not induce nightmares. So, take that as you please.”
The woman turned her back and continued down the stairs. There was something odd about her. She was perhaps the shyest person I had ever met and yet I found her quite interesting.
“What’s your name?” I inquired.
She stopped and slightly turned her head towards me.
Arriving at the base of the staircase she exited the lighthouse. Her lack of interest confused and baffled me. She seemed to have no interest whatever in my anomalous properties.
My interest in her was fueled, perhaps by her apparent lack of interest in me. Maybe I was feeling challenged. Whatever the reason I was intrigued as to the reason she did not report me
I checked on Fitz to see how he was doing. He seemed to have suffered a great deal. He was barely moving, so I attempted to help him. Fitz only whined as I touched him. I tried to warm him by bringing him closer to the fireplace.
“Move over,” Sarah came from behind, squatting next to me.
“He’s been like that almost throughout the entire way. I don’t know-“
She put her finger on my lips but remained turned towards Fitz. She poured some green liquid in his mouth and stroked his fur as he continued his faint whine.
“I’ve only ever seen one of his kind,” she commented, while tightening the gears of her glasses. “He’s quite adorable.”
“Will he be fine?” I asked.
“Oh, he’ll be fine. She just needs some rest.”
I continued to stand by Fitz’s side. Petting his head as he slowly fell asleep.
“You know he can rest without you petting him.” Sarah uttered.
I stood up, looking down at Fitz once more before following Sarah down the stairs.
“Where are you two headed?” Sarah asked.
She seemed to have a monotone voice, but one with a measure of depth to it, as if there were more to her personality than she was letting me see.
“Oh, just roaming about.”
As I uttered those words, it occurred to me how foolish it sounded.
“Aha, so you were simply roaming around the houdnjords, for fun?”
I sighed and bowed my head down, leaning on the wall next to me.
“Well, it’s… complicated.”
“Try me.” Sarah answered as she turned her attention to a pile of machinery.
I turned my attention to the windows which were covered and closed off with metal slabs.
“Why are the windows covered?” I asked, changing the subject.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s fine with me.”
Her answer angered me, for I had thought she might be more persistent.
“Um, fine then,” I returned.
I turned my back to Sarah, just as she called to me.
“Could you help me a moment?” she hesitantly asked.
Kneeling down, and staring at the machine, I saw nothing but a bundle of gears and pipes. Sarah looked at the same machine as if she were looking into the heart of a giant.
“Do you see that screw there?” she pointed.
“Hold onto that portion, I’m just going to tighten it a bit. Try and not let go, unless of course if you want a bunch of brass slamming you in the face.
Intrigued with her project, I agreed and held on as tightly as I could.
“Alright, so on three?” Sarah uttered.
“Ok, then count down,” she commanded.
“Oh, you want me to count-“
“Yes,” she interrupted with her gaze fixed on the machine.
Sarah abruptly tightened the screw as the machine began to combust.
I looked at her in surprise. She had that wise crack smirk on her face. With her eyes still fixed down at the machine.
“You could have warned me.” I responded, my voice laced with irritation.
“Perhaps.” She stared up at the ceiling as a complex cluster of lights began to illuminate.
I was quite mesmerized by the lights, unable to tear my gaze away…
“We don’t see that many stars here, so I decided to make some of my own.”
The entire ceiling was dotted with a cluster of colored lights.
Abruptly, Sarah pulled a lever which released the metal slabs of the windows, filling the room with a blinding light.
“I’m going to look out at the sea. Why don’t you check on your pet?” Sarah suggested.
With her head down, she awkwardly made for the exit. Just before leaving the room she turned back once more to retrieve her satchel.
She paused at the exit; halted and turned her head slightly towards me. There was something quite irresistible about her that drew my attention. I could see the freckles as the sun rays danced across her face. Her brown eyes glittered in the light. There was something in her eyes, however that I could not understand; something that drew me to her like a moth to the flame.
Sarah quickly shifted her gaze and exited the building. Baffled I stood there, in the middle of the room, gazing at the door, in an attempt to process this perplexing situation.
Resigning myself to a situation which I seemed unable to understand, I went upstairs to check on Fitz. He hadn’t moved but seemed more at rest, at least he wasn’t whimpering anymore.
“Hi, little one.” I caressed his fur. “Feeling better?”
Fitz simply whined, moving slightly to face me.
“I see that the weird juice has helped you.”
Fitz continued to stare at me with his tired dark eyes.
“You should thank her.”
He whimpered and stretched out his paw.
“I know I know. Maybe that’s why we are still here.”
Fitz lay his head down once more as though he had expended his strength.
“I don’t know. We will see how it goes. You just get some rest.”
I kissed Fitz on the forehead and walked around the room, looking at the peculiar pictures which hung on the wall. Going to the window, I looked out at the ocean. Sarah was sitting on the black sand; a brown hood covered her head as she stared out at the vast waters.
She was a complete enigma to me. I continued to look at her wondering what could be hiding beneath those eyes. Perhaps it was simply my overactive imagination. Nevertheless, Sarah was quite the character.