An image of Shenser looked at me with a dreadful, unwarranted expression. His eyes flashed a non-composed reaction forcing my aid.
With haste, I abandoned my post and embodied the locket. Now he fell unconscious from the resultant blow to his head or high speed causing too much pressure or who knows what? Soon to be dead from this free fall. But I promised him he will not die… But he’s not dead yet, as I briefly thought, or disconnected; unfixable — though falling knocked out at this speed he soon will be and how can I stop the inevitable?
“Hold on,” Shenser said. “They pressed their way through the wind, skidding along in the dark and eerie sky. Son of a bitch, why am I here in the first place? Why the hell didn’t I listen to Cat? The wind took a rigorous swipe at his face. Did he really think he would get the locket and make it out alive?
Shenser leaned up to the side of the hot air balloon gripping the edges. Olin was impervious of the psychic storm moving toward them. It began pulling and pushing dipping and shaking the aircraft and all its contents affecting it like a drunken sailor’s gait. The torturous ride without visibility felt like being blindfolded on a roller coaster.
“We’re moving too fast,” Shenser said. “If we can’t lower the balloon now, let’s at least hold it steady.”
The scenario they both imagined was the hot air running out. Even if convinced of its magic properties earlier. Though they couldn’t lower it now because the black cloud engulfed them like a thick grayish black fog. They didn’t know if they flew over land or the supposable ocean in this world. There was no way to know where they were without any landmarks, and they couldn’t see a compass even if they had one.
“Give me the locket,” Shenser yelled above the roar of the wind. “I think it will help show us where we’re going.
At Shenser’s insistence, the prince finally said, “I knew it could do something special. You lied to me and said it was just a piece of jewelry.”
“Well, it’s not,” said Shenser. “So give it to me and I’ll show you how it works.” Whaaat will I do once I have it? Jump out? Though he had to lure it away from him first. Phew, it looks like this storm will be the perfect opportunity.
Shenser knew Olin had the intellect of an eight-year-old, so he wanted to make it sound like a game. But now, he needed to regain his trust in the middle of a psychic storm? Just then the prince lost his balance and fell to the bottom of the basket, arms flipping.
Shenser reached for his flapping arm. “Up you go buddy. You okay? He said.
“Yeah, I’m okay. Will the locket tell us where to go?”
“I’m hoping it will. It might even tell us what to do,” Shenser said. Oops, I better not make any promises about what it can or cannot do. He just wanted to get out of there and travel back home. From the sounds of it the prince was stuck there by a curse. He didn’t know if the locket would do anything for hexes.
The two-leveled the balloon, huffing and puffing holding it steady for a moment. They both were exhausted. “To be honest with you,” Shenser said, “I don’t know if it can help us land, help me get out of here, or even help you get out of here. But we have to try.”
The balloon abruptly dropped about ten feet. Enough to make Shenser wish he could fly away like Cat said she was able to do up here. Lucky girl, she must be on a different astral level than I am. Not knowing that he had all the capability inside him, just no guide to tell him so.
A lump rose in Shenser’s throat, singling danger. Beneath him, the basket trembled wobbling. He plunged to the other side of the basket and shouted, “Olin, get over here.”
At that point, Olin’s Ningen face paled to a sick whitish blue, as fear finally reared its head, that fear that seemed slow at first. They both clung tightly to the bar as if grasping on to the handles at a carnival ride. Shenser clenched with terror. Will I ever see Cat again? Then he shouted at Olin, “give me the damn locket right now,” With a tone that implied definite death below.
Shenser imagined flying and escaping out of this death trap with that ability. Can I even die in this make believe place? Can’t I just decide to go back home? What a fool I am, should I try to fly? I’ve got nothing to loose. But as that thought swirled around in his head, in a state of fear Prince Olin took off his thick gloves and dug deep into his pocket.
“These gloves are kind of clunky,” Olin said. He retrieved the locket as a possible way to summon a shout for help escaping their death. “I want you to know, Shenser, whatever comes of this, I will never, I repeat never hold it against you,” Olin said.
“Okay, thanks, buddy,” Shenser said, Shish, he’s actually funny. “But I think we’ll be okay now,” Shenser said and snagged the locket relieved for a moment.
Olin hovered. They both looked at it expectantly.
“Seriously, no more anguish,” Olin said, “But shouldn’t it sprout dials like a compass?” Olin yelled over the sound of the wind.
“I have no fricking idea,” Shenser said.
It neither did that nor started talking in a magical voice. Nothing happened.
Shenser remembered what his original purpose was to risk his life and get the locket in the first place. Whew, now that I have the locket I can’t die, right?
Shenser thought he only thought those thoughts, but apparently he voiced it out loud because Prince Olin the mentally disabled Ningen said, “I want to live forever too. Give it back or let’s just hold on to each other so we both can live forever.” In his excitement, he let go of the pull.
They didn’t feel the wind because the balloon went exactly where the wind went, though now in the descent. They didn’t know for sure because of the lack of visibility, but feeling the thermal layers change they knew something altered vertically.
Olin freaked out and started wrestling to get the locket back. They had been flying at about 59,000 feet — quite high. Are we descending? This weather thing is why I’ve never been up in one of these things before now. Crap. Shenser believed they were sinking. Great, hopefully, it’s heading into a zone that’s free of trees and cliffs or the water.
Ass monkey, shouldn’t he be adjusting the valves? “Open the valve,” Shenser screamed, “Quit worrying about the locket, you need to be aware of our surroundings.
“I don’t know where we’re going,” Olin said. “That locket is supposed to tell us things.”
“Slow the descent,” Shenser repeated, “We have a rough plunge ahead.”
“I think I’ll add propane to go back up,” Olin pressed, “we don’t know where we’re going until that locket tells us.”
Shenser tried to settle into the rhythm of all the madness. Olin’s hysteria seemed to accelerate.
“Give me my locket back. It will talk to me,” Olin insisted, lunging to grab the necklace. The next thing Shenser saw was Olin’s jaws set. His muscle in his left jawline did this strange twitch like his whole face contorted. His broad hand, though covered again with a glove, clutched the black lip of the basket. His jittering his teeth threatening to tear Shenser apart with their razor sharpness.
“What is wrong with you?” Shenser yelled.
The wind shifted again with a stinging drop. The sudden jar threw Shenser half way over the side. Olin reached out to grab him and to pull him up not so much to save him but to get the locket back. But just then another gust of the wind tossed Olin over as he held onto one of the bars going past the burners and into the shirt of the balloon.
He held on screaming. Shenser and him both were vertical holding on to the side and suspension cables. They were both caught in an elevated circus act with no audience (except Saidi) to hold their breath. Their hearts skipped many beats.
Shenser remembered the locket he had slipped around his neck. Oh wow, maybe I can I fly now? He desperately wished he could powder the bars, slick with sweat. He gripped in fright. But finally he had to release. Olin in a panic state followed.
They both entered into a free fall, soon going well over 100, 200, 300 miles an hour and gaining. Shenser had a hard time breathing with all the air rushing at his face and pushing toward his nose and mouth. Right about the time he realized he could take a breath, the volume of oxygen required became thin and, he passed out limp in the free fall.
Unconscious, no longer worrying how he would ever stop, short of his guts splattering all over when he hit the ground? He never had a clear chance to try to fly. He would have found out he could. The locket, wrapped around his neck for security, pressed against his cheek while he plummeted like a skydiver without a chute.
Stay tuned for book three in the Infinite Series.
Stealing Eternity is the (first draft of the) second book in the Infinite Series.
Written by Pam Kesterson