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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Pain of Paradise

Josh breathed heavily as he lugged an urn of water into the clearing. Milnore's black house lay in the center of it, surrounded by axes, grass cutters, a small plow, and a wooden storage shed toward the back. Green, knee-high grass surrounded the small house.

Milnore exited the house. "Josh, I'm going to town for supplies. Finish filling the water urns and then work on your transport spell."

Josh groaned. "Master, I've practiced that spell hundreds of times. Can't we do something else?"

Milnore stopped his progress toward the trail and turned toward Josh. "Basics first, my apprentice. You have to know it so well that you can do it without thinking."

Josh sighed. He mumbled the words of the spell he'd been taught. His perspective shifted from the edge of the clearing to the porch of the house. "How's that, Master? Now can we move on?"

Milnore stroked his beard. "Not bad. But there was a slight delay in recalling the words. Keep working on it." The wizard turned to continue his journey to town.

Josh shook his head as he let out a breath. "This may be the only spell I ever learn."

"Then learn it well," returned the wizard's voice from the forest.

Josh opened the door and entered. He wound around the couch perpendicular to the fireplace, and set the urn of water next to its companions by the kitchen basin. He turned to get a drink of water before practicing his spell when he noticed a book lying on the kitchen table.

He stepped toward it, and examined the open page. The title at the top said, "Revealing Aura Spell."

Josh raised his eyebrows. "This is Milnore's spell book!" The wizard always kept it hidden. He must have been using it and forgot to put it away before leaving.

Josh flipped the page. "Mental Communication Spell" labeled the page. "Cool. I could use that with Sisko at some point." He grabbed some paper and ink, then copied it down, and stuffed it in his vest pocket.

He flipped through a few more pages until he read, "Visit Parallel Worlds Spell." Josh widened his eyes. "Really? There are parallel worlds we can visit?" He studied the words.

Then he read, "Warning, remember the following words to return from the spot you entered: Reverse the last spell I uttered. Which means, you can't cast any spells in between."

Josh smiled. "I can do this. I'll just go there and come back. What could go wrong?" He read over the spell, memorizing the words.

Once he thought he had it down well enough, he stepped back and stood straight. He whispered, "Worlds of old and times abound, pick one for visiting today, we pray."

The furniture of Milnore's house vanished. Trees and dense foliage replaced them. Birds tweeted happy songs as wind grazed the grass and leaves of the trees.

Josh gazed at the wonder. Every tree, every branch, every leaf, shown as if it had a light of its own. Indeed, he could see no sun in the sky, but light existed around everything.

"Where am I?" he wondered aloud.

"Paradise," a hissing voice said behind him.

Josh turned to see a long lizard-looking creature wrapped around the branch of a tree. Its tiny claws held tightly to stems. Its face flared when it talked.

The creature moved closer. "Would you like to partake of my tree? It is delicious and will make you the most powerful wizard ever."

Josh stared at the fruit of the tree. "Really?" It did look enticing. It begged to be eaten. "How can it do that?"

"By making you like God, the most powerful wizard of all."

The most powerful. That was tempting. Josh shrugged. It was just a piece of fruit. Worst that could happen, he'd eat some food. Best, he'd become the most powerful wizard ever.

He reached out to pick some of the luscious fruit.

"I wouldn't do that, if I were you," a new voice rang out.

Josh jerked his head around to see a man clothed in bright light walk toward him. Josh had to squint. "Who are you?"

"I am man. Don't eat of that tree. It is commanded by my creator to not eat of it."

Josh reached and grabbed one of the fruits. "What's the harm? It's just fruit, isn't it? Why can't we eat of it?"

The radiant man waved a hand at Josh. "Because, the creator said the day we eat of it, we shall surely die."

The lizard hissed. "Surely you shall not die."

Josh realized not only where he was, but what time. "I don't think that is a good idea." He withdrew his hand from the fruit.

The lizard flicked its tongue and slid out of the tree, and fell on Josh, wrapping himself around Josh. "Take me to your world."

"I think you're already there." Josh mumble the words of the transport spell. His perspective shifted to further away from the tree. The long lizard fell to the ground, then climbed back onto the tree.

Josh gasped. "I've done another spell! I can't get back."

The man lifted his hands. "We're in paradise. Why the desire to go back?"

He did have a point. And yet..., "Sorry. I don't belong here. I need to get back to my world and time."

Josh rubbed his forehead. "Maybe if I do it twice?" He opened his mouth and stopped. "Wait a minute. If I do that twice, it will only undo the undo spell." Josh stomped his foot on the ground. "I'm trapped here!"

The man shrugged. "Not a bad place to be trapped."

"But you don't understand. Look at me? Do I look like part of this world?"

The bright human rubbed his chin. "You are clothed with something other than light. Why is that? We're you not created?"

Josh smiled. "Uh, long story." He snapped his fingers. "At least I can stop it. I can change history."

The man cocked his head to the side. "Change history? What is history?"

Josh pointed at him. "Right, you don't have much of it yet."

A rolling thunder shook the ground and caused the trees to sway. But in the midst of the noise, Josh could hear a voice say, "Josh, where are you?" A brilliant light grew as the being approached. Josh cringed at the sound of the voice, and shielded his eyes. The pain grew unbearable, so he ran to a fig tree and ducked into its leaves. He gripped the trunk, and shut his eyes, praying he wouldn't die.

"Josh, what have you done? Why are you here?"

Josh tried to steady his shaking body, to no avail. "I'm sorry, Lord. I can't get back."

"Use 'next to the last.'"

Josh almost opened his eyes, but slammed them shut. It was all he could do to not focus on the pain searing his body. He'd have serious burns if he survived this. "I don't understand, Lord." He hated asking the question, for he couldn't bear the thunderous voice speaking to him.

"In your spell, Josh. Next to last."

"Oh!" Josh winced from the sound of His voice. "Good idea, Lord."

The pain vanished. Josh cracked his eyes open. The blazing light no longer filled the area. He relaxed his grip on the tree, though his arms and legs still shook from the experience.

The shinning man spread the fig leaves apart and stuck his head in. "Of course it's a good idea. He is God, after all."

Josh stood on shaking legs and pushed his way into the clearing. "I thought I was going to die." He examined his arms. "Why, I don't even have as much as a sunburn."

The man's forehead wrinkled. "Have you already eaten from the tree before?"

"Who? Me?" Josh stretched his fingers and arms, attempting to get the shakes out. "Not really. Well, in a manner of speaking, you could say I did, through..." Josh froze for a second. "It's a really long, long story. So long, it would take at least 66 books to tell it all."

The man crossed his arms. "You are a strange fellow. What is a book?"

Josh bowed. "You'll find out." Josh shook his hand. "Thanks for your help. I'll take my leave now." Josh stood straight. "Reverse the next-to-the-last spell I uttered." The forest vanished and Milnore's kitchen reappeared before him. Josh let out a long breath. "Whew. That was close."

"I don't think we've finished with close yet."

Josh turned to see Milnore sitting on the couch, his arms crossed. Josh hung his head. "Sorry, Master. I shouldn't have gone there."

"What did I tell you to do?"

Josh stared at the floor. "I did do a transport spell while there. Quite nicely, if I do say so myself."

Milnore nodded. "The Hebrew word for man is 'adam'."

Josh stared at the wizard. "You know where I went?"

Milnore smiled. "Of course. Don't you think I tried it myself once. I nearly ate the fruit."

Josh nodded. "If it had not been for Adam, I would have too."

"Remember that. Spells you are not ready for can bring about nasty curses."

Josh nodded. "Yes, sir." But he did meet God in person and still lived. That was an experience he'd never forget. And didn't want to repeat, at least until he was ready for it.

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