Michael the Traveler

Chapter 1

His face dipped through the rippling surface. On his side of the barrier, he felt normal. On the other side of the barrier, he felt the same. However, where the thin portal touched his skin, it tingled like a hand or foot does when the blood is cut off for a little while: half pleasant, half painful.

He had heard his name resounding through the dimensions. He had to answer the call. He didn't know if she would be waiting for him on the other side of this gate, but he had to try. The layers were infinite, and, while her call reduced the layers through which he had to search, it was about as effective as taking a single strand of hay out of the stack.

He had come all the way through the portal and felt this world's gravity reorient him upright. This land was bleak and full of noise: soft, vague, nagging noise. The landscape looked just as inviting: dimly-lit mounds of grey and dark grey. Had she even been in this world? If so, for how long? If she were still here, how would he find her in the amorphous shroud of shadow?

Images and sounds and sights trickled through his mind. With nothing to activate his senses, his mind started filling in the gaps—randomly. The scent of cookies traveled up his nose. The taste of strong tea slathered his tongue. The sensation of a cold wind tickled the back of his neck.

He hated this world, but her call had drawn him here, and he would not stop until he found her.

Suddenly, a grey, gangly figure was lifted out of the ground like the turning of some, dark page from the very earth itself. In the dimness, the figure's eyes shone with deeper darkness.

Michael set his right foot back and turned himself sideways as he readied his sword for a wide cut.

The opposing creature stood motionless, hunched over, its blank face marked only by the dark eyes. From that empty mask, a mouth opened. There were no teeth, only two sharp edges that took the place of its lips.

Michael waited, not wanting to make the first move, not wanting to give the creature any advantage.

The creature was roughly three meters away. It drooped down, appearing drowsy. Then, the creature simply was in front of Michael. Its long arms wrapped around the boy, locking his limbs in place. Where the creature's surface touched Michael, he felt the pain of bloodlessness spreading. The dark mouth let out a long, grating sigh as if sending out its soul to infest the boy.

Michael's limbs slowly blended into the creature as the tingling sensation swarmed his skin. Soon, he could not distinguish his own body from the blurred horizon. His vision blended all images into one, bleak, grey plane, and he felt nothing at all.