PART FOURTEEN: THE LUCID NIGHTMARE
Leal Grayson from Timeline Delta 1 (D-1) woke up kicking and screaming as he recalled the events he had witnessed in his lucid nightmare in perfect detail. He grabbed hold of his charge Aurora and panicked as he held onto her, too afraid to accept the possibility that she was dead. Leal wept as he held onto Aurora’s body oblivious to the vital signs that clearly showed that his own charge was alive and well. Aurora tried to console Leal but it did not register with him until he had been all spent from weeping when he collapsed back into bed. After several unsuccessful minutes of trying to pry herself from Leal’s vice-like grip, Aurora proved victorious.
Aurora gently caressed his face and wondered aloud about what could have caused such terrible distress to her Protector. She instinctively reached out to their daughter, Avery and shared Leal’s strange behavior with her and Avery agreed that it was highly uncharacteristic of her father to become so overcome with grief even after a vivid nightmare. They immediately organized for a team of specialists from the Department of Defense in Timeline D-1 to analyze Leal’s brain patterns and monitor his dreamscape.
“What’s the verdict?” Aurora worriedly asked the lead specialist on the team.
“It appears Mr. Grayson suffered from a powerful psychic wave that his mind tried to reconcile with in the form of a lucid nightmare,”
“What? Was this psychic wave some kind of sophisticated telepathic attack?” Avery asked alarmed by the diagnosis.
“It would appear so, Protector Alison. As at now, we are unable to determine its exact origin or purpose,”
Avery thanked Healer Carroll who promised to share more information with time.
“A psychic wave? Wouldn’t I have felt it too?” Aurora asked Avery confused by the Healer’s diagnosis.
“Mom, can you recall what exactly transpired before dad went back to sleep?”
Aurora nodded. “He seemed to be suffering from a panic attack. He grabbed hold of me really tightly and kept pleading for me to fight. He begged me to live for him. I tried to reassure him that I was alive and well but I wasn’t able to get through to him. He was inconsolable almost as if he had already lost me. It broke my heart because he seemed to be in absolute agony,”
Avery considered her mother’s words. “Is it possible that dad unwittingly performed another Consciousness jump and got caught up in whatever events transpired there?”
Aurora nodded as she considered the possibility. “It is quite possible, yes. Lately, he has been better at controlling his ability to leap but it is possible he leapt in his sleep; it wouldn’t be the first time,”
Avery nodded. “Let’s wait for him to get up and maybe he can shed light on things,”
Aurora nodded and together they waited for Leal to wake up again. Leal woke up at the crack of dawn and immediately began to panic when he realized that his charge was not in the room. However, Aurora came sprinting into the room and Leal embraced her, holding onto her with a vise-like grip.
“Leal, what is going on with you?”
“Aurora, you’re truly alive, right? I’m not dreaming, am I?”
“I’m alive, Leal. What’s going on with you? Why would you think I am not truly alive?”
“I felt you die, Aurora. You died in my arms and I- couldn’t bear it. I can’t live without you, Aurora. Please, you can’t die on me, please-“
“Leal, you can touch me, right? See? I’m alive and well. I am not going anywhere so just relax, okay?”
“You don’t know what it was like- watching you die and I was powerless to help you. It was worse than any torture I have ever experienced. I know you asked me to live for them- for the kids, but I couldn’t muster the strength- I was besides myself with grief. I came to realize that I am just an unconscionable coward that lives only for you. Please forgive me for not being strong enough to grant you that last dying wish. I-“
“Leal, listen to me, I am still alive and well but if you feel so strongly that I died then it must mean that you performed a Consciousness jump. I am not sure which Timeline you leapt to but that is the only plausible explanation I can think of,”
“I didn’t leap but I was there- I felt that agony- I somehow lived through it. I can’t explain it,”
Aurora shook her head confused. “Then if it wasn’t you who leaped, then perhaps it was your doppelganger who did. The experiences you are reliving are his, not yours. Can you recall which Timeline that Leal was from?”
“It was the Leal from Timeline D-3, mom. I just got off the phone with Director Shaw. She told me that her Leal came to D-1 too, looking for her,” Avery answered walking bristly into the room.
“What? I thought Director Shaw had purposefully distanced herself from her Timeline’s Leal Grayson. It is my understanding that she strictly maintained no contact with him,”
Avery nodded and responded, “So imagine her shock when her Leal turned up in this Timeline last night. It caused quite the commotion,”
“It must be D-3 because the scumbag responsible for this whole mess was Director Phoenix Port of the DoD. He brought in some weirdo that can emit poisonous aura called Taja. That is what killed Aurora. My god, the children! They’re in grave danger. All of them- Ada, Dewey, both versions of Avery, Emre- they’re still over there, trapped in that warehouse. We have to help them,”
“Dad, calm down, we’ll take care of it. You should just rest up for now, you’ve been through a rough ordeal,” Avery stated.
“I can’t rest when I know our kids are in danger. I have to do whatever I can for them. It is the least I can do to honor Aurora’s dying wish,” Leal mused.
“We can’t walk into this perilous situation without getting all our facts right. Let me handle it for now. I promise we will help them in whatever way we can,” Avery reassured her parents before bolting out the door and getting in contact with Director Shaw. She returned later with a confused look on her face.
“Avery, honey, what is it?”
Avery shook her head but projected her phone screen when she was sure the room was cleared. The screen showed that she had an unread message recorded on the A.S interface, Ash.
“Avery, Aurora and Leal Alison, an unprecedented event took place in D-3. The greatest enemy our family has ever faced presented itself in the form of the Reality Warper, Pheonix Port, whose true identity is the Cosmo Rayan. The former Director of the DoD has the ability to take over the Consciousnesses of other individuals with the exception of Travelers, Reality Warpers and those who can perform Consciousness’ jumps. He specifically targeted close relatives and friends of our family to get closer to us with the aim of obtaining a World Seed to achieve Apotheosis. He murdered Aurora and Leal Alison of D-3 and he is still at large…”
“In D-3, he has our family by the throat. He had the warehouse he had summoned our family to raided and our family members have been apprehended. He has twisted the true account of events and has painted our family as the villains. You must do everything within your power to weed him out in D-1 and stop him. Ash has the ability to detect his unique Consciousness signal in your Timeline to aid in this task…”
“Once you have caught him, you must use whatever means necessary to restrain him and prevent him from escaping. Ash will alert me the moment you manage to apprehend him and I will hastily appear at that moment to perform the binding ritual so we can trap his Consciousness in one mortal body, the only sure-fire way of defeating him. Whatever you do, don’t let him catch on that you know his abilities or that you are planning to apprehend him. Kindly spread the word to your closest friends and family that aren’t Travelers or that are unable to perform Consciousness jumps like Leal. Look after one another, Port is a formidable and ruthless opponent. Signing off, Avery, the Curse Breaker (D-3)…”
The three mentioned looked at each other perplexed by the message from Avery. Aurora tried to process the unknown emotions swirling in her mind at having heard a pre-recorded version of yet another version of her daughter’s voice. It appeared that the family would be in for the fight of their lives.
Later on in the evening, a few colleagues from the Golden Knights Agency came to visit Leal (once he had been cleared by the specialist team) after he had called in sick to work. He was glad to have his wise-cracking partner Acwulf to lighten the mood and help him forget about the vivid nightmare he had had. Leal was also surprised that the leader of the Agency had tagged along with his friends. He apologized for causing a fuss but Miss Edouard indicated that he had nothing to apologize for and that she had been worried when she heard that he had suffered from a powerful psychic attack.
When Leal made eye-contact with Miss Edouard as he hoped to express his true gratitude to her, he saw something that made him take pause. Instinctively, he reached out for his weapon that was usually strapped to his right side in its holster, before letting his hands fall to the side once he realized he was lying in bed and was therefore unarmed. Leal played off the gesture as best he could citing a force of habit as the reason for his eerie behavior but he knew Miss Edouard was not convinced. She hung around a bit more before slowly fading into the background and disappearing entirely. Later on in the evening when the Golden Knights had left, Leal shared his suspicions with Aurora.
“I am not sure why I feel so strongly about this but I would stake everything I have on this hunch. Miss Edouard is another victim of Pheonix Port,”
TO BE CONTINUED…
Could Leal’s hunch about Miss Edouard be right? How shall the family in D-1 deal with it? Stay tuned to find out. Links to the previous parts are listed below;