The Portal to the 74th Dimension
by Jaya V
“Hey, where did those boys go?” the man scratched his head. His perplexed companion peered around. “There’s not much space to hide here. Maybe they ran off somewhere else.” They searched for a while in the abandoned pawn shop, but left empty handed.
They had surely missed the slight rattle of the lid of the dusty cookie jar seconds before they came in. The cookie jar now stood innocently in one corner.
Valic’s heart thumped against his chest. The heat was unbearable, and they were still far away from their village. He couldn’t believe that Norc had gotten them into trouble. What was the need to steal that colorful cake, Valic thought angrily.
Suddenly Valic stumbled as Norc’s arm obstructed his path, his loot had almost hit the burning ground. Before he could question, Norc was dragging him towards the tall grey grass.
Clutching his loot, Norc pointed at the Uzar moving in their direction. Valic froze, his grip on the loot tightening. The grey creature was two feet tall, a baby separated from its herd. The Uzar scanned the area with its beady brown eyes, but couldn’t spot the two boys hiding in the grass.
Norc sighed in relief. They waited in the grass for several minutes, then left after the coast was clear.
Valic felt the blisters on his feet popping, some must have surely started to bleed. He hoped that the thin soles of his boots would prevent a blood trail.
Finally, they arrived in their village, which to an outsider appeared as a cluster of trees. His people lived inside hollowed trees, which helped them to survive.
Norc collected the loot feeling a little guilty, while Valic collapsed against the inside of the tree trunk. He removed his boots and assessed the bleeding. The pain was unbearable; he tried hard not to scream.
After a few minutes, Norc returned hiding something inside his tattered shirt. He slipped an ointment into Valic’s hand, smiled and gestured towards some food he had managed to grab.
Valic smiled back, his anger faded as he applied the ointment. Norc was the only friend he had in Ottaire.
His parents were long dead and for people here life was more about survival than taking care of each other. Valic never understood why he stuck around. There was an opportunity to escape that day, but he came back.
Nibbling on the colored cake he cursed the day when he almost died.
Six months ago, Valic was alone, gathering food when two Uzars appeared out of nowhere. For a moment, Valic stood there looking at their irregular pointed teeth. He was sure he wouldn’t survive, each creature was five feet tall, but then he ran as fast as he could.
He knew that the Uzars couldn’t see properly and hoped to find some grass or shrub. But all he saw was a single crooked tree. With no other option available, he climbed inside a small opening in the tree.
Making sure he was well hidden he squinted through the opening. There was no sign of the Uzars, but he was in some unknown territory.
As he looked inside the tree, he was amazed to find a large space. Carefully he stood up to examine it. As his hand felt the smooth wood, a scream escaped his mouth, and he fell down in shock. He covered his mouth to stifle his voice. In disbelief he held his hand in front of him, but it appeared normal.
Curious he checked again, as he touched a spot etched with weird lines, his hand went right through it. What was even more strange was that there was something cold on the other side, something that was moving as he prodded it.
Still unsure, he pushed a little harder and the next thing he remembered was a strong force pulling him.
Lying on the solid dusty ground, the first thing he saw was a polished earthen jar. The lid of the jar was lying a little farther away from him.
Valic was in a dark place with unknown objects, and in that instant he realized what had happened. Though he couldn’t believe that it had happened to him. To confirm his theory, he grabbed a small round object and dropped it inside the jar; It disappeared. Valic grinned, he had discovered a portal.
He had heard the stories the elders told. In their world, Ottaire, they believed that a hidden portal existed that led to the opposite dimension. Since Ottaire was part of the 47th dimension, he must have traveled to the 74th dimension. Excited, Valic rushed towards a small opening in the wall.
His heart was beating as he peered outside and saw the black sky. It was indeed the 74th dimension, the sky in Ottaire was bright all the time.
In the distance, Valic could see bright lights of different colors. He heard laughter, soothing sounds. Whoever was out there were not scared, they didn’t have any threats; they were happy.
For one crazy moment, Valic decided to stay, but the thought of being alone in a new world scared him. Dejected, he grabbed a short stick with curved lines as a memory and halfheartedly inserted his arm in the jar. Immediately, he was pulled inside the tree with the same force.
For days he kept quiet, but when he couldn’t keep the secret any longer, he told Norc about his discovery.
He was stupid to think Norc could keep a secret. Norc soon conveyed the information to his father, their village’ leader. A tall, scary man who went by the name of Sir Sterguk.
That day, Sir Sterguk declared that Valic would travel to the 74th dimension to bring supplies for their village. To make sure he didn’t do anything stupid he sent Norc to keep an eye on him, who happily complied thinking his father liked him. Though Valic knew that Norc was his father’s least favorite son and Sterguk would hardly care if anything happened to him.
Valic and Norc began to journey to the 74th dimension from time to time. At first it was scary, but soon they learned to hide in the shadows and take things that people left. Valic liked Norc, he never complained about anything. Also, since that day, Norc resisted from conveying any information to his father. By now Valic had learned a trick to place the lid on the cookie jar after they plunged inside.
Few days had passed since they were chased by those scary men in the 74th dimension and Valic wanted to go back. By now, he was in love with that dimension. He searched for Norc, but he was not in the village today, maybe he had gone to gather food.
Valic struggled with the thought of going alone. By now he was accustomed to Sir Sterguk’s punishments. To make sure nobody will find out, he slowly climbed outside and made a run for the crooked tree.
A strong pull and Valic was standing beside the cookie jar. Carefully he placed the lid and sneaked outside. Feeling a little rebellious today he ventured farther than he had ever before. Enjoying himself in the shadows he wondered how people in this dimension could afford to throw away precious things.
While returning, he decided to steal some colored cake for Norc. Today was his lucky day as someone had left a small piece long enough for him to steal.
On his way back he didn’t encounter any dangers. But as he entered his village, an eerie silence greeted him and a strange worry engulfed him.
As he peered inside Norc’s home, he lost his balance, and the cake fell on the ground.
Norc was lying in the center, his skin purplish blue. Valic rushed to his side and learned that Norc had impaled his foot on a poisonous thorn. Valic sat in shock as Norc’s breathing became shallow, until he was no longer breathing. He looked up and saw Sir Sterguk standing emotionless.
Without uttering a word Valic slid outside. The tears felt hot against his cold skin. For a moment he stood there, the cake lying smashed near his feet.
Then Valic ran knowing where he was going. Today he didn’t care whether someone followed him or whether he would run into an Uzar.
He wiped his flowing tears as he climbed inside the crooked tree. Next minute he stood beside the dusty cookie jar.
With shivering hands he held the jar and smashed it on the ground.
His tears hit the shattered polished earthen pieces as a faint light pierced the darkness outside.
© Jaya V 2019- Originally featured in The Weekly Knob October 5, 2019