The Problems of InterDimensional Travel

“Generations!” I exclaimed loudly. “Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? Are you honestly telling me that these people have been trapped here long enough to have grandkids?”

“Maybe,” Tam replied. “I haven’t done a census of them. I don’t know how many of them have had grandkids, or great-grandkids, or great-great…”

“Great,-great?” I asked, hoping, praying, that they were just teasing now.

“I don’t know, Frank. That’s what I’m telling you. I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. We need to keep moving because we have a job to do.”

“It doesn’t matter!” I snapped back. “Of course it matters! These people have been stuck here for generations! They were waiting for us to take them home and its been forever! We owe them to fix this! We have to!”

“How, Frank? You want to travel back in time?”

“Yes! Maybe we should. We could save these people the hardships that we brought for no other crime than being in a place that I happen to have gotten transported to.”

“I was kidding, Frank. We’re not going to do that.”

“No? Why not?”

“Because A) it’s never a good idea to screw around with your own timeline, B) we’re in another dimension and we have no idea how time travel works here, and C) we came to this dimension to get away from the Time Police, now you want to alert them?”

“But we could help these people.”

“Is bringing their existence to the Time Police really helping them?”

I had to admit. They weren’t wrong. “Then what are we supposed to do? Just leave them here?”

“Sure. They’ve been doing fine without us. Why disrupt them?”

“Why disrupt them?” I echoed, still amazed that Tam could act so coldly. “Why? Because…”

“Frank?” came a voice from behind me. “Frank, is that you?”

I turned toward the village to see that a bunch of trolls had gathered there and in the front was the Sheriff. I was a bit relieved to see he didn’t look much older. Of course, I had no idea what the lifespan of his variety of trolls were, or how they aged, so that still left a few questions up in the air. But at least he was alive and well. He, for his part, seemed relieved to see me.

“What happened?” the Sheriff asked as he came toward me. “Where have you been? I thought you were right behind me. Did the Lowardians get you again? And what’s going on here? These people say they’ve been here for lifetimes. They talk about us like we’re myths and stories.”

“We came in right after you,” I told him. “Only this dimension moves quicker than the one we were just in. Seconds pass like hours here.”

“Gnomenasher is dead,” the Sheriff said. “I guess that makes sense now. They said he died years ago. But before he died he had puppies.”

“Oh,” I said. “I’m sorry, Sheriff.”

“I think it’s time we sent you home,” Tam jumped in.

The Sheriff nodded. “I think that’s a good idea. But what about them?” He pointed at the villagers. “They’re our people, but…”

“I think they want to stay here,” Toleuk said, coming out of the crowd. “And so do I.”

“You want to stay?” The Sheriff seemed shaken by this. I was more than a little caught off guard, too. Why would anyone want to stay here? Food and water had to be a constant struggle. They were far away from anyone or anything they knew. But it wasn’t my place to say, I didn’t think, so I said nothing.

“Yes, Sir. If it’s all right.”

The Sheriff slowly nodded. “If you want to stay, then you can stay. I…” the Sheriff turned to Tam and me. “I just want to go home.”

I nodded. “We can take you home.”

“Yes,” Tam added eagerly. “We can get you home right away. Just follow me.” Tam led the way and pointed him to the portal home.

As the Sheriff was about to step through the portal, he paused, “Will this remain open? In case they want to come home or… need to.”

Tam shrugged. “We can leave it open if you want. That’s no scale off my back, but you do remember time will flow differently between your worlds.”

“Though my people are wary of magic, and I can see problems that could arise, I think it would be good for my people back home and the people here if we could keep a doorway open, make certain neither forgets the other.”

“Fine by me, Sheriff. I’ll leave that doorway open, but I’m going to close the one to the ocean world. And then I’ll close the other two as we go through them.”

“Close them all. I’ve had my fill of magic and adventure.”

“Good-bye, Sheriff,” I said. And then he left.

to be continued…

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Leaving Merapolis

I felt bad to just run off like this, but the sedative still in my system was making it difficult to come up with a good reason to stick around longer. Not that Tam would have listened to any of them. They just towed me along the Merapolian facility until we found the trolls, who Tam immediately got moving out of there.

Tam continued pulling all of us out of Merapolis and up to the surface, injecting us with a solution that they said would alleviate any issues we might have dealing with the change in atmospheric pressure. “Now what?” Toleuk asked. “We can’t just float here in the middle of the ocean.”

“Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous,” Tam said, hovering above us. “We’re just going to step through the portal and get out of this rotten dimension.”

“The portal?” the Sheriff asked, looking up into the sky. “Where’s the portal? I can’t see any sign of it.”

“It’s right there.” Tam pointed a little up and off to their left.

The Sheriff looked up to where they had pointed. It wasn’t hard to see the skepticism on his face that anything was even there. “And just how are we supposed to get up there?”

“Well, that’s not a problem.” Tam grabbed ahold of the Sheriff and pulled them up into the air with them. “There you go.” Tam threw the large man with ease and the Sheriff vanished threw the invisible portal. “See? No problem. Who’s next?”

Toleuk went next and I followed, but the world on the other side was not what I had been expecting. It had been some time since I had last been here, but I was pretty sure what should have been awaiting us on the other side was a desolate wasteland. What actually awaited us, however, was a bustling little town.

“What is this?” I asked, staring with confused wonder at the city up ahead. It was a little ways off from the area we were currently standing, which was a small encircled area with shaped stones surrounding us. “Where are we? Did we go the wrong way? Did we go through the wrong portal?”

“No,” Tam replied. “This is the right place, though I do notice some changes since last I was here.”

“Notice some changes?” I laughed. “You mean like that there’s now an entire village popped up out of nowhere. Last time we were here this place was completely empty of life. There were no animals, let alone people. There weren’t even any plants as far as I could see and now there’s an entire village!”

“You have to remember, Frank, I’ve been here since last you were.”

“Only a day ago! How did the city erupt in a day!”

“Oh, no, the city was here last time I was. Though it was a little smaller back then.”

“How is there a city here at all? We’ve only been gone for a couple of days!”

“A couple of days? Really, Frank. Is that what you think?”

“What are you talking about?” I was feeling very confused at that moment. Tam’s laughter wasn’t helping me feel any better “Pem said I had only been out for about a day. Was he lying?”

“No, Frank, that’s…”

“And where’s the Sheriff? Where’s Toleuk? They came in seconds before we did and I see no sign of them anywhere.”

“I imagine they’re in the town.”

“No way. They wouldn’t have just run into town. They would have waited for us. And even if they did we would have seen them head in, it’s only been a few moments. And who even are these people? This area was completely empty. There were no people anywhere near this area. There was no water, no food. There was completely no sign of life! How did an entire city appear in a matter of days? Where did these people come from?”

“Where did they come from, Frank? They came here with you. You brought them.”

“What are you talking about?”

“These are the trolls who came from their village with you. The ones you left behind.”

“These…?” I looked at the village. “Are…what?”

“Apparently,” Tam began, “when you came to this place on your way to find me, you came with more than just that Sheriff and his deputies…”

There was a hole in the bar,” I explained. “Sucking people in.”

“And then you left many of them here.”

“We didn’t want to put them in danger.”

“Well, these are those people,” Tam concluded.

“These are…?” My mind was having trouble catching up. Maybe because none of this made any sense. “But we were only gone for a couple of days. How’d they manage all of this in such a short time?”

“Because it’s been more than a couple of days for them.”

“I don’t understand, how can it…?”

“You’ve been traveling through time and across dimensions for years of your life and you’re still not used to this sort of thing. Time is not a constant, Frank. It flows differently in different dimensions.”

“So, what’s only been a couple of days for us,” I said, finally catching on. For my defense I had just been caught in an underwater explosion while caught in a war between two different fish people civilizations and had just woken up. “How long had it been for these people?”

“Oh, not long,” Tam replied. “Just a few generations.”

to be continued…

Gnomenasher, the Giant Magic-Tracking Gerbil

I looked inside and saw something unexpected. It was a gerbil. A giant gerbil, the size of a Doberman, but it was definitely a gerbil. “That’s your magic tracker?” I asked.

“Best tracker in 13 shires!” the sheriff proclaimed proudly.

I looked at the gerbil again. It was staring blankly at a wall. “That thing?”

The troll glowered. “Don’t believe me, do you?”

He picked up the gerbil and whispered into its ear, “Ok, Gnomenasher. Ready to get work?” The poor thing didn’t respond in any way. “All right, Gnomenasher, go find the magic! Go find the magic, boy! Go get it!” The sheriff put the gerbil down. It didn’t move.

“Impressive,” I said. The troll sheriff glared down at me. I smiled apologetically up at him out of fear.

“Just you watch,” he said and knelt down next to the giant gerbil. “All right, Gnomenasher, be a good boy. Find that magic. Go ahead, boy. Find it! Come on, nasher. Go find the magic, boy!” The gerbil looked up at him like it had no idea what he was talking about.

“Are you s…?” I began to ask, but then the gerbil jumped to life. I had to leap out of the way to keep from being run over by it. It rocketed out of the room like a bolt of lightning, slamming right through the door.

“Follow him!” the Sheriff yelled.

He pushed through the door and ran across the sheriff station to the outside, followed closely by his deputies. I chased after them, doing my best to keep up with them. As we ran outside after Gnomenasher, the other trolls who had been waiting to find out my fare quickly joined in, or at least the ones who hadn’t been bowled over by the gerbil did. We all ran down the streets after the gerbil as he raced after the scent. Suddenly, he turned and went plowing into a building.

The sheriff chased after him inside and I followed him and everyone else followed me. We found the gerbil sitting patiently in the middle of the room as if he had been there all day. I recognized the room instantly. Not that that was any great feet, I had only been in two places in this village and we had just left the other. We were back in the tavern, right where I had come in. “That’s one special gerbil you’ve got there,” I said. “I never could’ve brought us here.”

“I don’t appreciate your snide words, Gnomenasher did his job. He found the portal that sent you here. Could you have done that?”

“Brought us to where I had just been? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I could have done that.”

“Oh yea, smart guy? Could you have brought us to the exact spot that you had first appeared?”

“The exact spot?” I chuckled, not buying a thing this troll was saying. “How could you possibly tell that this was the exact spot I first came in? You weren’t even here when I did?”

The Sheriff didn’t say a word, he just moved his hand until it was hovering over the gerbil’s snout. It shimmered.

I blinked vapidly. “Ok, so it’s the exact spot. So what does that mean?” I asked, as trolls began to fill in behind me.

“That means we can open it back up.”

“Open it up? How do you plan on doing that? Don’t you hate wizards? Wouldn’t one of you knowing magic be somewhat hypocritical?”

“Yes, we do hate wizards. And no I’m not going to open it up with magic. I’m going to use a crowbar. Toleuk?” A large female troll in a deputy uniform walked over carrying a large crowbar. And by that, I mean it was large to me, nearly half my size, but to the trolls it seemed about the appropriate size.

The Sheriff took the crowbar and smacked it into his palm. “This’ll do,” he decided and then thrusted it into the invisible point that remained of the portal. Its tip began to shimmer. And then he began to push against, the tip of the crowbar remained unmoved as he struggled against it.

For the longest time, nothing happened. All there was was the sound of the Sheriff grunting. The Sheriff stepped back and took a deep breath. He slammed the crowbar in angrily and let out a loud growl as he threw his weight behind it. The air around the crowbar began to crack. The Sheriff let out a satisfied laugh. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

He gave another pull before handing it off to one of his larger deputies. Then after a couple more takes that troll handed it off to another deputy. After half a dozen deputies had given it a shot, the hole in space and time was nearly big enough for me to fit through. “Give it one more go,” the Sheriff said.

The deputy nodded and gave it another pull. There was a loud cracking sound and the crowbar was sucked right out of the troll’s hands.

“Uh-oh.”

Even Trolls Have Sheriffs

“All right,” the uniformed troll said. “What seems to be the problem here?”

“That’s a magician,” yelled one of the trolls who had chased me from the tavern, pointing down at me.

The uniformed troll eyeballed me. “A magician, you say?”

“That’s right and you know what we do to magicians, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do, Herbery. I’m the Sheriff.”

“I’m not a magician!” I cried, hoping that would save me.

“No?” the sheriff asked, skeptically.

“He appeared in the middle of the bar!” Herbery said.

“And he levitated!” the red troll added.

“They say you appeared in the middle of the bar and that you levitated.”

“I didn’t levitate.”

“And the other thing?”

I shrugged. “I may have, but that wasn’t my fault.”

“No?” the Sheriff asked. “Then whose fault was it?”

“I’m not really sure. They were wearing cloaks and appeared out of nowhere.”

“Cloaked figures?” one of the tavern trolls grumbled, thinking I was making it up.

“Are you really buying this, Gonsi?”

“He’s being mesmerized!” the red troll yelled. “Just like me! The Sheriff’s being mesmerized!”

The trolls began to start shouting, but the Sheriff waved them silent. He glared down at me. “Are you trying to mesmerize me, little man?”

“No!” I insisted. “Of course not. I don’t know how to mesmerize anyone! I’m not a magician!”

“But you teleported into the tavern?”

“I was teleported in their! By cloa…”

“Cloaked figures,” the Sheriff completed. “So you say. I think we’re going to need investigate this.

“Investigate?” one of the trolls grumbled.

“Yes. We need to figure out if this is a magician we’ve got here or just a wee man.” The sheriff reached down toward me. I started to back away from him, but then I looked around me. I was surrounded by trolls and the Sheriff seemed liked the most sane of the lot. Maybe the two of us could get me out of this. “Come with me, little man,” he said and I gave in. The Sheriff and his deputies led me to their station with the others following behind. The crowd had grown to more than just the ones that had been at the bar. All the townspeople were curious about me now.

The Sheriff slammed the door closed behind us, leaving them all outside. “So, you’re a magician, huh?”

“No,” I told him. “I’m not. Really!”

“Yeah. No kidding!”

“You know?”

“Boy, if you’re a magician, you are one of the worst magician’s I’ve ever met.”

“A little thing like you, popping into a troll bar, you could have been eaten alive. They almost threw you into the dunk tank! If they got their hands on you, enough to throw you, you can’t be much of a magician. Or at least not a very smart one.”

“Whether I’m smart or not could be up for debate, but I assure you that I am not a magician. Not even a little bit.”

“I believe you, little man, but that does leave me with the problem as to what to do with you.”

“You could always let me go.”

“I could, but that wouldn’t answer the question about what you are doing here.”

“I said I was sent here by…”

“Cloaked figures, but why here?”

“I have no idea. They didn’t exactly tell me when they sent me away.”

“No? Then what did they say?”

I thought about what they said to us or more accurately to Lu and took note of how the trolls had responded to magicians. Would they help me if they knew I had been helping one? Would they help me if they knew my friend was one? I had my doubts so I said, “Nothing. They didn’t say anything.”

“They didn’t say anything to you before they teleported you here?” the Sheriff asked skeptically.

“No. We were being chased by stormhorses and then suddenly these cloaked figures popped up and killed the horses, dispersed them. Then they raised their hands and sent us away.”

“Stormhorses?”

“Horses made of clouds.”

The Sheriff nodded now. “Oh, horseclouds. Yeah, those bastards are a pain.”

“And what about those cloaked figures?”

“No idea,” the Sheriff replied. “Could be anybody. But they definitely seem like magicians to me.”

“And you hate magicians.”

“I, personally, don’t hate anybody.”

“But the rest of your village…”

“Yeah, they hate magicians.”

“Then you’ll help me against these cloaked figures?”

“Do you think they’re coming for you?”

“Coming for me?” I didn’t like the sound of that. “What, do you mean? Like they separated us to make us easy pickings?”

“If that’s true, then they made a mistake sending you here. They’ll find the trolls of Durok Village no pushovers. Anyone comes here looking for a fight will find more of one than theyre looking for.”

“I appreciate the help, but I need to find my friends. I feel bad asking for help, but I have no idea how else I can find them.”

“The best we can do is track the magic.”

“Track the magic?”

The Sheriff smiled. “I’ll show you.” He walked toward the back and after a few seconds I followed him back there. When I found him, he was busy unlocking a door. He pulled the lock off and slid the door open. “Let me introduce you to Gnomenasher.”

to be continued…

Over a Literal Barrel

Even before the trolls stopped pulling the giant barrel into the bar, the rest of the trolls began chanting. “Throw him in! Throw him in!” The troll carrying me held me up above his head.

“No!” I protested, trying to wiggle free. “You don’t need to do this!”

But no one was listening to me. I doubt they could have even heard me over the chanting. Not even the red troll holding me seemed to be able to hear me. He was too taken with every chanting, as if they were chanting for him. He held me up as high as he could and everyone cheered. That was all the troll needed to hear. he thew me up into the air, so high I was nearly able to grab the rafters before I went tumbling down toward the barrel.

…And went flying right into the hard edge of the barrel, rolling over it and falling to the floor, smacking hard into the ground. “You idiot!” one of the trolls yelled, as I lay in pain on the ground. “You threw him too hard!”

“You missed on purpose!”

“No, I didn’t!”

“You did! I saw you! You’re working with him!”

“Nuh-uh,” the red troll replied. “I…I…I was mesmerized!”

“Get him!” another troll yelled. “He’s been mesmerized!”

“No!” I could hear the red troll yell as I picked myself up. “I’m not mesmerized! I’m not mesmerized!”

“That’s what a mesmerized person’d say.”

“I’m not mesmerized! It’s just…just…he levitated! Yeah! You saw him! He used his magic to levitate himself over the barrel!”

I got up and muttered to myself, “Levitated?” as I walked over toward the door. I glanced back at the trolls. They were all looking at the red troll, then slowly their eyes turned toward me. Uh-oh. Not wasting another second, I rushed through the door into the back. I could hear the trolls screaming, “Get him!” from behind me.

The back room was bigger than I had expected. It looked like the magician drowning barrel wasn’t the only horror device they had back here. Everywhere I looked was one strange device or another. I didn’t know what any of them did and I didn’t want to stick around to find out. I continued to run to the back of the room as the trolls came barging into it, turning the doors into firewood as they did.

“He’s getting away!” one of the trolls yelled. “Get him!” I did not turn around to see how close they were. I just lowered my shoulder and pushed my way through the back doors and out of the tavern. Unfortunately, there were trolls out here, too. Everywhere I looked there were trolls. Walking the street. Talking on the corner. Selling groceries. Buying groceries. Chatting with each other. Looking after their troll children. Carrying their little troll babies. They were everywhere! I hadn’t just appeared in the middle of a troll tavern, I’d been magically transported into the middle of an entire troll village!

I didn’t have time to think about that. I had to get away from here! I started running down the street. The trolls stared at me as I ran by them, but not a single one of them tried to stop me, even a few jumped back in fright. They were nearly twice my size but they seemed quite scared of me. I didn’t think about that, all I could worry about was getting out of here.

I could hear the doors of the Tavern bang open as I rushed down the road. I thought I might be able to get away, but then a child screamed at me. A lady troll shrieked and a man troll jumped back in fright. Everyone cleared away from me as I passed them. I glanced back. There was a clear path back to the tavern. I could see the trolls just fine and, more importantly, they could see me.

“There he is! There’s the magician!” one of the trolls yelled. “Get him!” But then the trolls around me all began to scream.

“Magician!” they shrieked.

“Run!” they yelled.

“He’s going to kill us all!”

“Keep him away from us!”

They all began to panic.

I rushed through the streets, hoping that the panicking and shrieking trolls would keep the trolls who were trying to kill me away. It seemed to be working as I neared the edge of the city when two trolls in uniform appeared in my path. I skidded to a stop and began to turn around, but the trolls from the tavern were coming up behind me. Where could I run?

My hesitation cost me and the trolls came up behind me. I was surrounded, the uniformed trolls in front, the tavern trolls behind. I thought I was going to die for sure. There was no getting away from the trolls now. The only question left for me was to wonder would they kill me quickly or would they do it slowly?

to be continued…