Trouble On The Other Side Of The World
The meter wobbles with subtle pulses. Spiking back and forth over the center mark. Jacob keeps his eyes on it, then on the ground, wishing he could disappear in the wake of the night.
He whispers into the atmosphere, letting the wind carry his words, but the rustling of leaves echo instead. The small water container sits in his hand. He runs his thumb over it, shaking uncomfortably, and the cold keeps biting on his fingers like a predator.
Simmore sleeps soundly a few feet away from him. Buried among the leaves, only the small frame of her face visible. She’s been lying there a good three hours, but it won’t be long since they have to keep going.
Jacob lifts himself from the buttress of the tree and approaches the small fire they’d started. His dark hair unkempt and dry. The orange hue glistens the soft, loose strands and it falsely appears clean.
He doesn’t care much to remove the dried leaves perched in it. Too much to worry about than the way he looks. He crouches next to Simmore, and her face brightens with innocence under the light of the moon.
“At the break of dawn, when the sun kisses the horizon. Bring your little sister and I will grant you a wish.”
His mother and father should be looking for them by now, Jacob thinks. Simmore is sound asleep, dazed by the enchantment. By the time they reach the Great Tree of the forest, they will be well away from the public conscience.
Little was of knowledge about the goddess, Rhiannon, to Jacob that he let himself fall to her promises. The book his grandmother had left him was all he could salvage. He needed the help, so he followed what it said.
Simmore turns in her sleep, and Jacob watches her, preying like an animal. He takes his own rest next to a stone, and the last thing he remembers are the sounds made by the rustling leaves and owls hooting in the distance.
“Jacob.” The voice starts off distant, getting louder with each call, and it finally breaks his sleep, sending him jolting from the rock. Simmore’s face greets him, but something more important dances in his mind.
“Wait, Simmore, we’re too late let’s go!”
“Trust me, we should go. The sun’s about to rise.” Charged with immediacy, Jacob darts to the meter and takes the brown box in his hands.
Simmore stands dusting herself, and before she can take off the twigs stuck to her hair, Jacob takes her hand, darting into the forest.
Their feet pad the soft earth, making subtle sounds as if they walk on air, and it gets darker as they chase deeper into the forest. Jacob can feel the air growing thin, but he keeps his pace steady, just enough so Simmore could follow.
A glowing tree appears from nowhere, as they draw close, and a figure crouches from behind it. It moseys carefully, with a staff in hand. The other hand cupping a mighty black cat that purrs softly, licking it paws with carefree abandon.
The woman’s ceramic, white face hides behind a dark hood, and only a chin and her red supple lips are visible.
Jacob, holds his hand over his sister, and stops her from taking any more steps. He can feel her heart racing, pressing against his hand, and wishes that she doesn’t do anything to put them both in danger.
“I see you seek my presence, little boy”
“The name’s Jacob, and yes I come here to seek your help.”
The meter rattles violently in his other hand, that it almost falls from his grip. It’s no time to be taking any chances, so he makes his offer the best he can.
“We wish to have our dreams back. It is said a thief came in the night, in the town, and everyone back home had their dreams stolen. Not one person has dreamt at night, and we fear there’s more to come.”
The goddess feigns a smile and her cat rubs against her hand. “Does this mean you’ll be leaving your sister here?”
The meter inside the box rattled furiously. “No.”
“What then is your business here? You’re the only one who’s dreamt once in the past three moons. The dream with your sister out in the woods. Why did you come?”
Jacob’s hand tightens around his meter, and he stares deeply at the unsightly gaze off the goddess.
She motions her staff in a circle, and a trinkle of light dances before it. It’s a sight he’s never seen before, but he knows she means to do so, to fool Simmore into staying.
“Why have you stolen our dreams?”
“Calm down, little boy. You waste so much time.”
“We-” Words fail to leave Jacobs tongue, but he does the best he can. “We’ll come with you instead.”
“I cannot object, for the place you’ll visit is quite different. Wise choice, young Jacob.”