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      The LDer Chronicles, A Tale of LDing, BY ME!

      In the distant dome of blood and rust that was the evening sky, another battle in the endless war for cosmic dominance neared its inevitable conclusion. The crescent underdogs surfaced cautiously beyond a chain of grassy hills and with their precise, silver shafts of light beat back the burning titan opposite them. The sun struggled fiercely, reddened with fury, and the clouds around it exploded with the kaleidoscopic colors of sunset. When it could no longer defend itself it fell to the Earth, splashing into the horizon like a drop water and sending panoramic ripples through the air.

      As the two moons sailed victoriously into the deep sky, the stars seemed to rejoice and grow brighter until they pierced even the thickest clouds and speckled their undersides like diamond studs. Darkness fell and it seemed like a veil was lifted from the stellar dome above, revealing in the furthest beyonds the waving tendrils of nebulae and filaments swimming through the cosmos like sea-serpents.

      Far below Josh watched these wonders unravel, and his perception of them was incomplete somehow, hazy. Although his eyes were glued to the sky, his mind wandered elsewhere. Where? He wasn’t quite sure. He felt like his consciousness was flitting about, touching everything but never remaining in one place long enough to form even a single thought. To his probing ego, his mind was blank, but he could sense the buzzing hive of activity beneath its placid surface.

      Thinking of this brought just the tiniest thread of attention to his command, and it immediately hooked itself on the twin moons above. He thought that there was something strange about there being two moons in the sky, shouldn’t there be but one? He looked closer, and noticed something else: the moons were elongated, more sickle-shaped than crescent, and they seemed to shimmer faintly. How could that be?

      And suddenly he realized the answer.

      Atmospheric lensing. He had heard about that in school.

      Satisfied, Josh withdrew his eyes from the sky and examined his terrestrial surroundings. He stood on a beaten path beside an endless field of swaying wheat, each golden stalk dancing independent of the others, moved by a most subtle and delicate, million-fingered wind. Balls of orange light floated through the field, bobbing like fireflies, but as big as lanterns and with perfectly steady intensity. The path wound along the edge of the field for a time, and then plunged into it. In the other direction, it rolled like a ribbon across the hills into a distance much farther than he should have been able to see.

      He had forgotten which way he was supposed to walk to get home, and stood indecisively for a few moments. It would have been longer if not for a van that came crashing out of the field like an enraged boar. It screeched to a halt next to Josh and the window rolled down.

      Through the window Josh saw his brother Jared, and when he leaned down he could see his other brother Mitch in the passenger seat, turned away from him, smoking a cigar and blowing smoke out the window.

      “There you are!” Jared proclaimed, leaning on an arm in the window frame. “We’ve been looking all over for you, get in.”

      Josh shrugged and heaved a sliding side-door open, entering the musty cabin of the van. He sat down and tried to close the door again but it wouldn’t budge. He strained and huffed but the door wouldn’t hear reason.

      “Just leave it,” Jared said. “Those things are just to keep little kids from falling out. You’re not a little kid, are you? Besides, there’s a nice breeze outside.”

      The van began rolling forward, picking up speed as it trundled over the dirt and grass.

      “Why are you guys picking me up, anyway?” Josh asked, staring out the window as they passed a herd of elephants by a waterhole.

      After Jared was silent for a few moments, Mitch, the quieter of the two, turned to him with the start of an “aren’t you going to answer?” sort of look which melted away when he noticed the headphones in Jared’s ears. Mitch chucked his cigar out the window and answered. “Something came up and mom and us have to leave for a while, so we’re taking you to Grandma’s house.”

      “What?” Josh’s voice betrayed his humiliation. “I’m sixteen, I can fend for myself for a few days”

      “Yeah, you probably can,” Mitch gave him. “But we’ll be gone longer than that. A lot longer.” There was a splash of sadness in Mitch’s voice, but it was drowned by an overwhelming resignation, as if he were speaking of some tragedy that had happened long ago.

      Just then there was a bump and a shiver, the front of the van lifted up into the air, and after a five-hundred yard wheelie the back followed. The van shot into the sky, picking up altitude until it brushed the misty boundaries of the clouds. Josh peered out the window at the world below, a dark landscape of burning embers that must have been cities bordered by an expanse of purple ocean like the surface of Neptune (which he could see hovering in the sky if he pressed his cheek against the window).

      Jared picked up a microphone from the dashboard and spoke into it, his voice coming over an intercom somewhere. “Josh, we have reached cruising altitude and I am turning the seatbelt light off, feel free to move about the cabin.”

      There was a little ping sound and Josh was starting to remove his seatbelt when that little thread of attention from earlier asserted itself again. “Hey, this car can’t fly!”

      Mitch turned back and looked at him incredulously. “Where have you been, man, this car could always fly.”

      “How? That makes no sense.” Josh insisted. “Cars don’t fly.”

      “Oh man.” Mitch rolled his eyes and his voice became mockingly didactic. “Good morning special-Ed students, who wants to tell me what everyone knows, even retards?” Mitch cupped a hand to his ear and a stuttering, childish voice sounded from the shadows.

      “Vans can totally fly because at night gravity gets so weak and vans aren’t that heavy anymore because of fiberglass.”

      Mitch nodded. “A+” Then he pointed to Josh. “F minus for you!”

      “Whatever,” Josh turned away, still not totally convinced.

      During the conversation, the van had begun to gain altitude again and was now leaving the atmosphere. When Josh turned back to the window, he saw the International Space Station and its wing-like arrays of solar panels hovering against a backdrop of stars and nebulae. It looked so lonely and forlorn, he wished he could fly over and comfort it.

      An involuntary shiver ran down his spine. Space was creepy. He didn’t want to go further.

      And again that little thread of attention surged back into Josh’s consciousness, but this time it had brought friends. It was like having a bucket of cold water thrown in his face. He could feel the machinery of his mind rumbling back to life like a train engine taking flame. A tingling sensation ran through his body, an omnipresent fuzziness the likes of which he’d never felt before. He brought his hands up to his face and curled and uncurled his fingers, noticing that the motion left a faint blur in the air.

      I’m dreaming. The thought came from nowhere at all but took root immediately and refused to leave. “I’m dreaming,” he repeated, out loud this time.

      “What?” Mitch looked back at him, concerned.

      “I’m dreaming,” Josh repeated again.

      Mitch stared at him for a moment and then burst out laughing. “Dreaming?! No you’re not.”

      “Am too!”

      Mitch yanked the headphones out of Jared’s ears and ignored his scowl. “Hey get this, pipsqueak here thinks he’s dreaming!”

      “Dreaming?” Jared laughed loudly. “That’s a good one. And I’m dating Taylor Swift.”

      “I really am dreaming though!” Josh was becoming aware of even more strangeness and inconsistency around him. Flying cars was one thing, but the sky whale outside the window? The flight attendant with her little trolley squeezed into the corner of the van?

      Jared turned to him, his face suddenly serious. “No you’re not. Look, if you’re dreaming, then we’re dreaming, too. And if we were dreaming, which we aren’t, don’t you imagine we’d have more fun things to do than hauling your ass across the cold, dead void of interstellar space to Grandma’s house?”

      But it was far too late. Josh flew up into the ceiling, intending to fly through, but bounced off of it with a painful, shuddering feeling.

      “Crap, he really knows, show’s over. Maybe next time.”

      Josh couldn’t tell which of his brothers had said it, but both of them suddenly bounded over the backs of their seats to grab his arms with the firm grips of older siblings. He struggled against them but could not break free.

      “Later, pipsqueek,” Jared said as the pair threw Josh from the van’s open door.

      He fell, surprised and shocked, plunging back to Earth as the van sped away into the void. He rolled and spun and tried to gain control, to recapture the power of flight that he had wielded so briefly inside the van, but he could feel the willpower of a planet calling its child back, and he could not break its pull.


      And then Josh was staring at the ceiling of his room, in Grandma’s house, a plain wall of white that was jarring to look at after it had been, mere seconds ago, a vivid, spinning marble of emerald and blue. He sat up slowly and blinked the sleep from his eyes.

      “That was…” he mumbled, but couldn’t finish the sentence.

      He rolled out of bed and switched on his desk lamp before stumbling to his dresser, tripping over the crap teenagers leave on their bedroom floors. There he took down a framed photograph from thirteen years ago and stared into it. His brothers, in fifth or sixth grade at the time, stared back joyously, holding Mickey Mouse balloons, cotton candy, and wearing those funny little rainbow hats. Everyone always thought they were twins, but they weren’t. Beneath the surface they were very different people, but complementary, and they had lived their lives as an inseparable dynamic duo.

      To their right was their mother, a gorgeous, blonde woman whose enchanting smile was not at all diminished by her sunglasses. One hand rested on the head of the three-year old version of Josh hiding behind her legs.

      Josh sighed and shook his head. Of all the incongruencies in the dream, he hadn’t noticed the biggest, most glaring one until he had woken up. A lone tear rolled down his cheek as he climbed back into bed and tried to get back to sleep.
      Last edited by Whatsnext; 03-23-2014 at 01:44 AM.

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