THE SLATE OF VALE PART 22B
Jeff followed Vanessa into the lobby whose emptiness is a twin to the room he had been sleeping in. The rigidity of the wall was like that of a shell and its foundation, looking as though it had grown out from the bedrock of mother earth itself. The floor was neat and sparkling, almost as if they were punished. It was obvious, intense sweeping and scrubbing kept it the way it was.
Jeff and Vanessa walked abreast silently, and from the corner of his eyes, Jeff could see the calm posture on Vanessa’s shoulders. The comfort she found with the stone walls was admirable, her being herself made the problems of the outside world abstract, almost as if they don’t exist.
“How long have you stayed here” Jeff dared to ask
“Forever I think, as long as I can remember. I was born here, nurtured and raised with the stones, this is my home.” Vanessa said.
They walked pass an open door to the left whose light tongues outwards adding to the splendor of the lobby.
“What are they doing” Jeff paused as he watched two men in white lab coat. Each of them was standing on either side of a bed, hunching over a body. The person lying on the bed wore an electric helmet, facing the ceiling, eyes closed.
The helmet held different wires which were connected to a huge machine that was strange. The machine had an ammeter screen attached on its body, just at the apex of the front. Numerous buttons lined it too, beeping with different colors. The spikes on the either side of the machine branched into smaller network, into insulated tubes that were connected to the cover of a cylinder. The greenish content in the cylinder which appeared to be boiling, contrasted with the brilliant splendor of the room.
The two men who Jeff guessed might be Candanians – from the bluish color of their eyes – were trying to converse with the person on the bed. The words of the man sleeping on the bed was coming out like a gibberish undertone and each time he talks or shake his head, the ammeter change its reading.
“DM9-experiment” Vanessa said and continued on without pausing.
Jeff ran after her and asked “What is DM9-experiment”
Vanessa did not answer his question. Her calmness seemed to have dropped and was now replaced with this inexplicable anger that sent a chill down Jeff’s spine.
He could feel every ounce of anger pouring out from the girl. It was as if he was part of her, as if they were connected. Jeff couldn’t explain what was happening; he couldn’t tell why he felt the girl’s anger and sadness.
He was confused as regards to the new revelation of himself, but he tried to find warmth by wrapping his arms on his exposed arms, trying to drive home the temporary cold.
They walked into a wooden crate with two metal gates caging it in all four angles. The crate started lifting from the ground and Jeff at that instant understood the two chains that held the crate from the outside at both end.
It’s an elevator
The wheeling sounds of the crate replaced the awkward silence and when Jeff thought Vanessa would not answer his question, she said.
“They say the world of dreams was destroyed at the birth of Anadan, but nobody knows what or who or how it had been destroyed.”
“So DM9-experiment is a way to find out” Jeff said with understanding. Images of the electric cap were suddenly flashing in his mind’s eye.
“Yes, they believe that if they could trigger the brain cell, they could see what had happened, find a way to fix it. 300 experiment so far, 300 failed experiments, yet they won’t stop.”
Jeff was boiling in range despite himself. He could feel his body radiating an energy that was powerful enough to move a land Trippler. His body was heating and heart racing faster, making him sweat.
This new burst of anger that threatens to overwhelm his soul was not his, they were Vanessa’s. He was surprised to see the aura swerving around her like suspended cobweb, like a line spectrum producing floating colors. She was angry and her anger was reflecting in him, making him feel it too.
“I know you are angry” Jeff said trying to contain the anger reflecting in him. It was all happening like a mystery puzzle, but he was not surprised. He knew he was different from any normal kid.
“Please” he continued, not letting the reflecting anger of the girl cloud him. “Vanessa I want you to calm down. From the look of it, the DM9-experiment is not too intense”
Vanessa chuckled as if he had said something funny
“Except, of the 300 experiment conducted so far” Vanessa said “none of the candidate survived, they died two or three days after the not too intense experiment.”
Jeff could see tears trickling down her eyes and her anger aura swerving more rapidly like a wave. He was surprised how much anger the girl could contain without it destroying her.
“I tried talking to dad about it but he would not have it. He believes that because the experimented subjects are outlaws that their place in the world was over. He forgot that life in itself is a precious gem, even the mighty in their grave seek after its goodness.”
Jeff placed a hand on her shoulder trying to assure her that it will be okay, even though he didn’t believe himself. It worked. Vanessa’s anger aura seemed to merge with his and both started ebbing away.
Jeff was in short of words, he watched Vanessa placed her head on his shoulder and sobbed just as the last trend of her anger aura turned into a thin air.
He held her calmly, trying to make meaning of the anger aura he alone had seen.
“And now you soaked my whole shirt with tears” Jeff joked when the girl lifted her eyes to meet his.
For the first time he saw the color of her eyes, they were yellow, almost gold. The strength in them left Jeff hanging in another puzzle. Does it mean Vanessa is from the Gold linage?
He wouldn’t dare to ask.
“Sorry” Vanessa smiled while wiping her eyes. She pulled apart from him and stepped backwards, realizing how close they had been.
The whining of the crate ceased and the gate slide upwards with a noise that vibrated the elevator.
Vanessa took the lead again, but no sooner had they left the elevator, did the surrounding changed into a brightened atmosphere. The light of the sun was rich, pouring its gold radiance with pride. People spread out in all direction, tending their work with a happiness that was rare. There were gardens and laborers working on them. Some of the gardeners – ranging from women to children mostly – lifted their head as Jeff and Vanessa made it through the only slid road in the grass without pausing.
They walked deeper but this time into a cave that was brightened richly with white light instead of gold.
It was a small hall, almost filled with men and older boys. They all wore the same cloth identical to that of Vanessa and Lex. Some of the people were pale and skinny almost as if they lack proper nutrition.
Vanessa and Jeff made it through the choirs of eyes that shot them unreadable looks. Jeff felt as if melting in his cloth, the different colors of eyes, made him swallow uneasily.
If gaze could kill
Jeff and Vanessa stopped when the crowd had engulfed them and made them stand before three elderly men, one of which was Mr. William.
These men wore the same patch cloth as the rest of the people but one among them wore a black cape over his. He appeared to be the oldest because the crease lining his jaw gave him away.
“On behalf of my people” The older man spoke, the deepness in his voice added a contrast to his wizened, weak nature. “We welcome Jeffred Peters to our family. Together we are the new beginning” The elderly man smiled and clapped his hands on Jeff’s shoulders.
“I am the regent and the leader here. I say feel at home.” He whispered with an odd ascent.
Jeff nodded his head not sure what to say. He only stared at the man’s face, tracing the lines and the folds but not actually meeting his eyes
“We have planed so much, sacrificed so much to make sure we bring you into this family and now you are here, I think we should celebrate” The man shouted, stressing the last statement.
He brought out a silver cup from somewhere and waited for everyone in the room to bring out theirs. Some boys were pouring urine colored wine into every silver cup visible.
“To victory” the man shouted holding out his cup in the air
“To victory. To peace. To the regent.” The people roar and chattered merrily.
Jeff frowned and raked his rough hair irritatingly. This was not what he expected. Even though a little part of him was telling him to join the celebration of an unknown victory, he knew he doesn’t belong here, he needed to go. Only God knows how many days has passed, how long it had been. He needed to go back to his friends. He needs to find Ema. I will deliver Raz message now and that would be it
Jeff made gestures with his hands, begging the regent to calm the people, he’d had enough.
The noise drowned almost in unison as the regent collected an empty cup and rammed it against his.
“I think the blaze has something to say” the regent said and nodded to Jeff.
“I don’t think we should be celebrating.” Jeff began, slowly turning to meet the ocean of eyes that stared at him. Vanessa was nowhere to be found.
“I came here bearing a message, Raz and his friends said I should warn you. King Zack storms Candanian city.” Jeff didn’t know what to expect but the crowd seemed unaffected by the news.
“Thank you for the heads up Blaze, now can we continue with the celebration or do you have something else in your mind?” The Regent asked.
“Yes I do.” Jeff said. He was staring at the Regent but not making eye contact. “Words can’t express how grateful I am for your hospitality, but I don’t think I can stay here anymore. My friend was capture and I need to find her. Please regent” Jeff turned back to the old man “I must find my friend.”
The older man smiled warmly and nodded his head.
“Okay, you’ve come a long way. I wish we could part ways in a more polite manner. Anyway, seems you’ve made up your mind. Well, the door is open for you anytime, should you decide to come back.” he said and the crowd tear a gap for Jeff to pass through
“Thank you” Jeff said, he certainly did not understand what the older man meant by parting ways in a polite manner
Jeff made to walk through the crowd but was obstructed by a skinny pale boy whose hair was dark and untidy.
“What?” Jeff asked and turned back to the regent with question and confusion. Something went round his neck and clipped with a beep. Jeff held it and turned back to the skinny boy who stared back at him with a smirk.
“You don’t understand do you” Jeff heard the Regent asked. He broke his gaze with the skinny boy and turned to meet the bluish color of the Regent.
“King Zack is looking for you and do you know the number of life that would be lost? Do you know what he will do if he finds you? Well, the same thing he did to your father. He will kill you.”
“No, I don’t believe you, Zack didn’t kill my father” Jeff said. He held the metallic ring in his neck trying to pull it open, but it was a wasted effort.
“Believe what you want” The regent said “Don’t struggle with the rim, it is only there to keep your powers at bay.
“You can’t do this, you can’t keep me here” Jeff shouted with renewed strength
“Oh, yes I will. You are in safe hands now. This time you won’t run off and be captured just like your father” The Regent clicked his fingers and some boys dragged the struggling Jeff out of the room