Sunday, April 17, 2016

Faydra: A Tale From the Fractured World

I can write anything I want, but I can't write everything I want. At the age of 61 where a short story can take as much as three months, my time is limited. Here is part of a story I am shelving and thought you might enjoy the opening paragraphs.

Faydra: A Tale From the Fractured World,
by Alan Loewen

I’m going to tell you how I met Faydra, but I really should start at the beginning. I’ll follow the advice the King of Hearts gave the White Rabbit: 'Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: Then stop.'

Those of us born on what we arrogantly call Earth Prime all remember where we were when the Fracture occurred a good decade ago. Those of us who survived it of course.

I sat in the kitchen of the home I had been born twenty two years previously, freshly graduated from Penn State, and waiting for the job offers to just come rolling in. I had just hung up the phone after speaking to my parents who called me with last minute house sitting instructions before they boarded their cruise ship and I had just made myself the perfect sandwich for my lunch: minced bologna, real mayonnaise, a layer of sweet bread and butter pickles, and a few leaves of lettuce. And then the lights went out literally and figuratively.

I miss that sandwich so much.

When I came to, I lay on the kitchen floor looking over at Hypatia, my Sheltie, licking her lips, her breath smelling of minced bologna, real mayonnaise...well, you get the picture.

I had no idea why I blacked out and still feeling a little queasy in the stomach, I felt no hurry in getting up. I thought that I would just lay still for awhile and then see about maybe getting to a phone, crawling if I had to, and getting an ambulance to come take a look at me. The Biglerville Fire Department only had to travel one mile to get to my house, close enough that on days when the wind didn’t blow I could easily hear the siren calling volunteer firefighters and EMTs to some fire or medical emergency.

I’m convinced the shock of passing out is why I didn’t hear the screaming right away. I lay on the floor considering it, confusing it at first for the Biglerville fire siren, but the siren never paused for breath.

Somebody somewhere was having a hard time and after a few moments I thought I better look into it because the screaming just went on and on.

Carefully, I got up on my hands and knees and when my gut stopped flip-flopping, I crawled to the dining room picture window and took a peek outside.

The human mind has some very elaborate mechanisms for protection, so I could not take in all that I saw right away.

My mind first registered my next door neighbor, Miss Pitzer standing on her lawn with a push mower beside her. Facing away from me, I could not see the reason for her pointing in the direction of her house and screaming until my mind decided to do the great reveal.

Miss Pitzer’s house wasn’t there. In it’s place, stretching as far as I could see stood a forest with trees that would have made the California Redwoods look like twigs.

Standing behind the picture window I craned my head up to see if I could see the treetops, but no go on that plan. Just one of those trees would have met the world’s demand for toothpicks for millennia.

I rubbed my eyes a couple of times, and then made the decision to stand. After a while, with the help of the window ledge, I made it to my feet and after a few moments started feeling better. Tentative steps seemed to work so I went to the back door and with Hypatia at my heels, opened the back door into madness.

Miss Pitzer ignored me as I went to stand next to her. Not knowing what to say to her, I just stared at what must have been a primal wood that would have made Paul Bunyan drool.

The sharpness of the division between her lawn and the wood looked like it had been made with a cookie cutter. Not knowing what had happened to Miss Pitzer’s house or how a wood with giant trees had taken its place, I thought a phone call to 911 would be in order.

And my cell phone would not connect.

Of course it took seven years of suffering and fighting and trying to keep one’s sanity before we ever learned what had happened. When life reached some form of stability, that’s when we discovered the huge crater eighteen miles in circumference beneath the France-Switzerland border near Geneva where the Large Hadron Collider once lay.

The eggheads think a power surge made the universe go flip flop and about twenty three parallel earths became fractured and got all messed up like a jigsaw puzzle.

Now I know you know all this, but I’m telling the story and I’ll get to Faydra eventually. Just let me tell the story my own way.

All I know now is that a forest from some parallel earth ended up as my neighbor and on some other planet in some other universe, Miss Pitzer’s house and her yappy Pekingese sits without Miss Pizer in residence.

I miss my parents.

I miss my minced bologna sandwiches.

The shame that I did not help my next door neighbor is sometimes overwhelming, but does it help if I say I had a bad case of shock? Especially after the sun set and that big spiral galaxy filled up half the night sky and the truth hit hard that we weren’t in the world that we knew anymore. I never saw Miss Pitzer ever again. I never even knew when she stopped screaming. I just hope she’s okay.

Of course, we were lucky. Biglerville found itself surrounded by three other chunks of real estate from three other parallel earths: the primal wood, New Rome (that’s what we call it) where Romans discovered the New World but never grew beyond the Iron Age, and finally, Faydra’s world that we still call Disneyland to this day. Of course, I wasn’t going to meet Faydra for another eight years, but like I said, this is my story to tell. I’ll tell it the way I want.

Anyway, after my fellow small town residents and I endured the initial shock of being plunged back to the 19th century and its lack of electricity and Internet and video games and television and all the other toys that kept us busy, the only joy we had was to discover a world where basically peaceful red pandas lived and walked like human beings.

So New Rome gave us goverment and leadership, Biglerville still had working farmlands and orchards, and once we learned the red pandas weren’t murderous, they kept us sane with their inquisitive friendship.

Unfortunately, some of the parallel Earths that bordered New Rome and Disneyland weren’t very friendly, but unlike the Iron Age Romans and the peaceful red pandas, we of Earth Prime were fortunate. We had guns.

New Rome had to deal with a bordering Earth that would have made H.P. Lovecraft giddy with joy, but the monsters there were not like their literary or cinema cousins. When you shot them, they obediently lay down and assumed room temperature.

Connecting to Disneyland was another world of humans that bore some philosophical crossbreeding between Ayn Rand and Kim Jong-un, but as they had not fought a war in their world for centuries, they could not put up to much of a fight. The pandas just stood aside and let us play target practice. Once we removed the old guard, New Rome stepped in to teach them their version of a Roman Republic and that world seems to be doing better.

It took the better part of seven years for the Fractured World to reach a form of stability, seven years of a lot of wars and a lot of death. The number of suicides from Internet deprivation alone almost wiped out an entire generation.

Ecologically, it will be hundreds of millennia before our new Fractured Earth reaches some form of natural homoeostasis, but until then, we do the best we can. So far, a decade after the Fracture, we’ve catalogued about twenty-three different versions of Earth.

So here we are, a decade after the Fracture and I’m working for Knouse Foods on a plan to expand the orchards into Disneyland when there’s a knock on the door.

And here is where I finally get around to telling you about Faydra.

1 comment:

  1. Pity we'll never hear more of this setting. I like what you wrote here.