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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2192161-The-Edge-of-Reality
by brom21
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2192161
A man who finds another dimension will ultimately find himself in a desperate situation.
word count: 4,577 prompt: you wake up and you're the only person left in the world

There I stand on the precipice edge. The drop of is over a thousand feet. It is either immediate death or slow, excruciating madness from destitute loneliness. As I loom over the long fall down, my life flashes before my eyes. It was a relatively long concurrence but it goes through my mind in one big wave. It was how I got to my present situation.

I am a scientist. My name is Dr. Stephen Dweller. For decades I was involved in a top secret government project called Operation Multiverse. As you may surmise, it was the study and theory of alternate dimensions or worlds. Six years into the project, we made a great stride forward.

“It appears we have made progress Dr. Grale,” I said.

“That is an understatement! We’ve finally created a working wormhole!” Grale retorted.

“Yes, but we can only sustain it for less than five seconds.”

“A longer wormhole will happen. It’s inevitable,” said Dr. Grale.

“That may take another five years.”

“Still I’m excited.” My colleague’s eyes widened. “Speaking of which, it’s time to do another test run.” Grale walk behind a computer panel and began pressing buttons and turning nobs and messing with switches. In front of him was a thirteen foot high semi-circle metallic frame with lights and wires draping down and around it. Moments later, a low buzz came from in front of him. A deep blue, spiraling portal appeared inside the frame.

After a quick four seconds the portal collapsed. Grale frowned and slammed his fist on a smooth part of the panel. “Cripes!”

“What else did you expect?” I said with a chuckle.

“I guess I’m just too eager.” He looked at a clock on the wall. “It’s nearly 10:30 PM. I am checking out Stephen.”

I nodded. “Okay. I’m going to work late and do some more calculations. Goodnight Rich.”

Rich Grale left and I went to an area with a computer and a white board across from it. I began doing basic interdimensional algorithms. There was a mathematical problem that kept us from keeping a longer wormhole. After approaching the issue from multiple ends I was about ready to leave. Then it happened! I found a mathematical loophole that would keep a portal open for almost fifteen minutes.

I went to the panel and entered some data into the system that dealt with the temporal flux in the matrix protocol. In seconds a portal materialized. Ten seconds went by…then fifteen…then twenty.

“Yes! Wait until Grale sees…” I stopped short. According to the readings on the computer screen, it was a fixed phenomenon. I other words, the method I used would work only once. Either I could waste this chance or go in and see what lay on the other end; I decided to go. What if I couldn’t get back? I didn’t care.

I immediately found myself in a gloomy forest illuminated by a full moon. I looked around me. It was like any other forest. My next goal was to find other intelligent beings but I didn’t know which direction to go. So, I went in the direction I faced. The forest was not dense at all. It was made of large trunked trees spaced far apart yet they made a sizable canopy.

As I continued, I made out a dim flickering light in the distance with smoke rising up from it. I had to have been seeing a camp fire. I broke out in a run after the flame. Soon I made out an octagon-shaped stone building no bigger than a hut with a fire in front of it. It took about seven minutes to make it to the site. When I reached it I saw the outline of a door on the small stone structure. The obvious thing would be to knock. An anxious knot tightened in my gullet. I took deep breath. Would the occupants of the building be hostile or friendly?

I then thought of the odds of finding another sign of life. This would be as safe as any place or inhabitance I may find. I raised my arm and rapped on the door. My pulse quickened and my mouth went dry as greater anxiousness gripped my stomach.

Five seconds later, the door grinded open. A tall figure with pointy ears dressed in an all blue mantle stood before me. His expression was complacent for a few seconds then suddenly he frowned with his glaring green eyes.

“How did you get here human?”

I froze and gasped. “I…I’m sorry I saw your house and I…”

“Answer my question!”

With nothing else to say, I divulged the truth in desperation. “I come from another world. I arrived here from a portal.”

“So than you must be a wizard like me though not an elf.”

“No, am called a scientist.”

“Hmm…Whatever you are, you must have uncanny abilities. A magical barrier keeps humans out of this forest. For trespassing, you must die!”

I pathetically fell to my knees and begged for my life. “Please! I didn’t mean to come here! It was an accident!”

The elf wizard raised his hand a ring of fire encircled me. “Swear to me you have no other powers!”

“I swear!”

The elf’s angry frown lightened to a relaxed, smooth line. He shook his head and the fire abated. “How pitiful you are.”

I stood. “I thank you for sparing me.”

“My power is wasted on a cursed human like you,” said the elf.

“Excuse me sir elf, but why do you abhor humans?”

“The feud is probably as ancient as Nephaal is. Your kind has always been hostile to us.”

I tilted my head and swallowed deeply. “Is that the name of this planet?”


“How old is Nephaal?” I asked

“Our earliest records date back nine millennia. Even then we were at enmity.” The elf neared me. “What is your name?”

“Stephen,” I uttered sheepishly.

“I am Thourn. Now follow me. I will take you to the lake you must go across that leads to the human’s nearest dwelling place.”

After the frightful confrontation and danger I just met, I began to be calmed now that Thourn had ceased being hostile. I was now becoming curious of the world had stumbled into. My biggest amazement was the magical prowess my elf guide had. Without a doubt he was not the only one with such abilities.

At last I was led to the forest border where a lake shore was just a few dozen feet from me.

“There is no vessel to cross the waters,” I said.

Thourn waved his hand and a long skiff with two paddles emerged from the surface. “There. Now go before another elf sees you.”

I hopped on the skiff and when I turned around Thourn was gone.

The lake was vast. I saw under the setting sun a reflection of scarlet red hue on the surface. In the distance I saw a strip of land. After thirty minutes, my arms were becoming tired. I stopped rowing and lay back on the skiff.

The water was calm and smooth. The only ripple was from my vessel as it sifted through the water. Then I felt my skiff totter from side to side-lightly at first. The movement began to buckle this way and that. I sat up and peered into the water. A green, snake-like body was circling me. “What is that?” I uttered.

I continued to observe this strange thing moving in the water. It began to circle nearer to the surface and the water grew more turbulent as it did. I wasn’t prepared for what would happen next. The elongated figure burst through the surface! The creature I saw was like a Chinese dragon without legs. It roared at me with open mouth. Next the beast lunged at me to devour me whole. I cried out.

Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the water and in the blue flash of light a person in a brown cloak appeared. He was human. Then the cloaked man raised his palm and a ball of flame leapt forward and hit the monster in the head. It lurched back but immediately retaliated and spewed a line of seething water at the magic wielder defending me. Then he spontaneously disappeared. The creature looked this way and that but he was nowhere in sight. Suddenly the man reappeared in midair behind the creature. A rod of fire materialized in the wizard’s hand as he rushed at the serpent with the rod and drove it into the monster’s skull.

It writhed wildly as it shrieked in pain. It continued to struggle until its head collapsed into the water with a crimson cloud that filled the place where it was sinking.

The magical man descended onto my skiff and smiled. “Hello sir. You’re very lucky was patrolling the waters. What’s your name and where do you come from? You wear strange clothes.”

“I’m Stephen. Thanks for saving my life. How did you know I was being attacked by that sea creature? You appeared out of nowhere.”

“Like I said, I was patrolling the waters. But I do it invisibly above the lake. My name is Nithos. I surmise you come from another realm altogether. All, including elves know me. I am the most powerful human wizard on Nephaal.”

After the dreaded altercation with the sea creature, I was curious once more. “I do come from another planet but I arrived here by pure chance.”

“Well, regardless you are welcomed here. I’ll take you to one of the human cities.”

Obviously, Nithos was about to use magic to get to the city he spoke of. Rowing there would be inconceivable. And with a wave of his hand, I was blinded by a bright light and I shut my eyes. After rubbing them some I opened them. It was like I was thrust into a medieval world of stone castles, people wearing breaches and jeweled overalls, and grand cathedrals.

Nithos was next to me. “You must be tired. I’ll take you to an inn.”

It was now twilight and I was tired. I was led to a decently large room with polished wooden tables and chairs. It was a civilized place-not a place of carousing. All were in simple but clean attire.

“Your room is in that door in front of us. Get some sleep,” Nithos said.

I nodded and made my way to the door and went in. Inside was a bed with a nightstand with an oil lamp on it. Above the bed, against the wall was a glass window. I fell on the bed and closed my eyes. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I was roused by a loud commotion I heard through the window.

I stood on the bed then peered out the window. Crowds were murmuring and looking up at the night sky. I rushed outside and I looked up as well.

A large, bright sphere was streaking through the sky. It was much too big to be a normal space object like a meteorite. Its tilted descent finally stopped as it crashed behind a mountain range. A huge burst of light erupted where it struck.

“What magic is this?” said another man in a brown cloak.

The wizard Nithos appeared and frowned. “I will take a dozen wizards to investigate.”

Then I blurted out something like a boisterous child. “May I come along?”

Nithos glanced at me from the side of his eye. “You’re not scared?”

“Not in the least. I am quite curious.”

“Very well. We will all be traveling by flight. Hold my hand.”

I did so and I was carried off my feet as everyone else also rose into the air. I was filled with fright and exhilaration at the same time. We all whooshed forward high above the ground. The open panoramic view was glorious. We passed into the mountain range and I saw it and I was amazed at what I was witnessing.

“What is that metal construct? It’s in the shape of a wheel and it’s tremendous,” said Nithos.

Before me was none other than a real flying saucer. I judged its diameter to be about a mile. I was giddy with anticipation. Real aliens!”

The handful of wizards went down in front of the large object. One of the wizards touched it with his hand and jerked it back. “It’s hot!” he uttered.

A white mist seeped out of the surface and an iris-like hatch widened. Everyone backed away. Nothing but darkness was there. It lasted for a few minutes. Suddenly, something like an elongated, glowing spark shot out and it struck down one of the wizards.

“Attack!” yelled Nithos.

The wizards started hurling fire and ice balls. Others were dispersing lightning bolts at the opening.

It was just like in sci-fi movies. We were being attacked with lasers! More laser fire came from within. I was frightened as the aliens themselves emerged from the crash. They were all humanoid except for an extra two arms at their sides and they were clad in space suits with helmets on their heads.

Soon more and more hatches were opening all across the spacecraft as more laser bearing aliens emerged from within. In a few minutes six of the twelve wizards were killed that had been told to come.

“Retreat!” yelled Nithos.

Nithos took my hand and the others fled into the air and away from the immense ship.

When we all arrived, people asked what had happened to the six fallen wizards.

“I will not lie. We have met an insurmountable foe that outnumbers us ten to one against all our wizards. We must abandon the city and relocate to Khrine.”

One of the wizards spoke up. “But that island is ten miles away. We’ll never transport everyone there in time.”

Nithos looked down and closed his eyes then lifted his head and spoke adamantly. “We must use the Elf Stone.”

Gasps filled the area. “It’s too dangerous my lord,” said the same wizard. “We should not double in elfin magic.”

I approached Nithos. “What is he speaking of?”

“It is a magic talisman that we took from the elves. We merely took it from them so they can use it not so we could make use of its power. In truth, mixing elf magic with human magic could have bad repercussions. Nevertheless, it could help us greatly.”

With no further words, the wizard made his way to a small cathedral. Inside were vaulted ceilings with beautiful murals of mythical beasts and celestial bodies. It was laid out in a rectangular shape. On the other side of the wall was a small golden chest with a silver seal bearing a phoenix.

Nithos approached it and touched the seal with his palm. The chest opened and a deep mesmerizing azure light shined upwards. The wizard reached down and withdrew a blue sphere. He walked with it down the long length of the structure and outside into the dark night.

Everyone was in awe. He set the object on the ground then put his hand over the ball and spoke an incantation that sounded a little like Celtic to me. I braced myself for something extravagant to occur. But nothing happened.

“I was afraid if this,” said Nithos. “Elf and human magic is incompatible. It’s useless or at least this talisman is.”

“What do we do now?” I asked.

“There is one thing we can do and it cuts my gullet to think it. But I see no other option.” He was silent for a few moments. “We must solicit help from the elves.”

“People were shouting in protest and a tumult was rising.

“Silence!” Nithos’ demand was like thunder and all became quiet. “The elves will have to help. This new threat endangers them as well. And to show our sincerity, we will give them back the Elf Stone. I will go to the elves’ forest and plead for help.”

“What if they do not agree?” asked a man in checkered tunic.

“Alone, we’re as good as dead anyway. There is no time to waist. I must depart now. I will go to the elves’ forest.” With that he exploded into the air over the lake in the direction of the forest.

“It won’t be long until they come here,” said a wizard.

Then from the direction of the mountains, objects that I knew to be shuttles of some sort were moving for us like a cloud of locust.

Then one of the wizards raised is voice. “Everyone, gather together!”

The people did as they were told and they congregated around the wizard. He spoke an incantation and suddenly it was as though all had vanished!

Then I heard the sole voice of the wizard. “We’re under a cloaking spell. Hopefully, they think we have disappeared. Any sound but those I make are also negated.”

The ruse must have worked for in a matter of minutes our extraterrestrial foes passed right over us in their crafts. Now they were heading to the elves’ dwelling place.

The wizard held the spell until they were nothing but dots to the eye afar off then we all reappeared. “I must warn Khrine and the other settlements to the east.”

“What about Nithos?” I asked.

Before the wizard could reply, in flash of light, I was back in the forest along with all the wizards that I had seen moments before. I was in a battlefield! Elves, men and aliens were trading projectiles at one another. I then saw something extraordinary. An elf was hit by a laser shot. Then he was helped up by a man. I then discerned that Thourn’s plea to the elves had succeeded!

I also noticed something else; the combined force of elf and man was more powerful together. From the warring, Nithos emerged from the fighting and cried out to be heard over the sound of battle. “The elves have joined us! And through the union of our power we have gained strength to rival our foe!”

One of the wizards yelled something that was barely audible but just enough to be heard. “But the talisman didn’t work!”

“The reaction required two direct living sources to work! Now fight!”

As the band of human wizards joined the elves, they began to create larger and more destructive attacks of elemental form.

The battle area was like lightning rods with flashes and explosions constantly occurring. All magic bearing beings were striking down the flying vessels of the aliens.

I ran for cover beneath a nook by a large boulder. I was successfully staying hidden for a time until I was bashed by something from behind me. I fell to the ground and looked up as one of the aliens looked down at me. The menacing being took out a knife-like weapon that glowed as though it was burning. He rushed at me as he held out the weapon as to pin me to the ground. I kicked the aliens kneecap and he fell to the side as it dropped the burning dagger. I immediately picked it up and went to my knees and held the weapon to my foe’s throat. “Who are you! Why are you attacking us!” Why I thought it would understand me, I didn’t know.

I was surprised as it replied in my speech, with its face concealed by its helmet. “You don’t belong here Earth dweller!”

I was stunned silent for a few moments before I reacted austerely. “How do you know this?”

The alien said nothing. Then I pressed the burning knife closer to his neck and it spoke up. “Our sensors detected wormhole phenomenon on this planet when our spaceship was in orbit around it!”

Something passed through my mind. Could this being have the technology to send me back to Earth?

“Can you create controlled wormholes on your ship?”

“If you let me live I will bring you to our portal generator. I can fly us both there with that shot down air vessel. It should still function.”

About thirty feet away from me was an elongated, submarine-like ship about thirty feet long. With the weapon to my hostage’s neck I ordered him to stand up. I held him from behind and nudged him forward.

A fire blast struck inches from my legs sending up a plume of dust and ash. I looked to my left and I saw an elf fighting an alien hand to hand. I prompted my enemy to move faster and several feet further, we reached the ship.

The alien put his hand on the hull and a hatch opened on the side to reveal a cockpit with a semicircular seating area in it. The alien sat and I sat next to him with the glowing knife to its throat. He touched a few buttons and we lifted into the air. Then we shot off to the mothership at the speed of a military jet.

Within twenty minutes, we were hovering over the immense ship.

“How do we get in without me getting caught?”

“That is inevitable stupid human.”

“There must be a way! Tell me!” I singed his neck with the burning blade.

“Very well! On the top there is a teleportation pad in the epicenter. I can transport us to the generator.”

As we made our way to the center of the surface if the ship, I inquired once again why the alien and his fellows attacked Nephaal. “What is the reason for this assault?”

“It is not such a simple answer.”

“Then stop and explain. It appears I have plenty of time.”

“We only have holographic records.”

“Show me,” I said with the glowing knife to the alien’s neck.

With that, we descended to transport pad and stepped out of the shuttle craft. The pad was octangular with blinking lights in the center. When we both stepped on it, he touched a button on a palm top computer panel on his arm and in a flash of light I was in an electronic engine room of some kind.

With my weapon to the assailant’s back, he led me to a metal corridor that ran into an automatic sliding door that opened on its own. When we passed through, the alien walked to a mechanical pillar where he took out a flat disk and placed it on the ground. “We must step back.”

I backed up with the burning blade still at his spine.

Suddenly a wide beam of light shot up from the disk and an image of a large ship, much like the one we were now in, appeared.

“This disk records our enemy’s doings-our ancient foes called Nepheseers.”

I watched in the holographic image showed beings in space suits emerge from the craft. But they did not have four arms. They looked fully humanoid.

“Is that the enemy you speak of?” I asked.

“Yes. Keep watching.”

Two of the aliens’ each bore a square transparent object. One was given to an elf the other to a human.

My foe narrated the action proceeding. “Those square parcels gave each race a form of magic.”

“Where are these foes of yours now that introduced magic to Nephaal?”

“Dead. Their last act was to give power to the elves and humans in hope they would find a way to combine their powers to rival my kind.”

Suddenly, I saw a holographic image of a green planet that seconds later was destroyed by a large laser beam attack.

My hostage narrated further. “We destroyed their home world but our new threat was now Nephaal and its magic. We could not stop the peoples’ development of magic because we were too far away and we did not know in time of the transaction.”

There was a flash and an image of a flat circular base that came into view. Then it was as though someone had activated a fast-forward function for day and night passed rapidly and circular base was being built into a tower in the same manner.

“With the completion of the tower, men and elves were about to combine their abilities which would give them greater power than even my race.”

Another image showed a laboratory of mechanical elves being erected. One had only half of its face that had wires that came out of the exposed cranial region. It was then covered up with a full encased head. It looked completely real. It had a full slicked back blond head of hair and beautiful, deep-set emerald green eyes. It had a slender build and was about six feet tall. The rest of the robots took on various eye color, skin and hair tone with differing height.

Again the picture shifted to another scene; it showed the android elves commit a heinous deed in the sight of both elves and men; the elf looking machines used a magical display of fire to consume an entire human village with only women and children in it. One of the robots cried out in a loud voice “Death to men who are inferior to us elves!”

Then the image simply disappeared.

“From that time elves and men have been divided.”

Then I laughed at the irony of the situation. “Ha, Ha! Your plans to eradicate Nephaal backfired! No take me to the wormhole generator.”

The alien took me to another sliding door where I was brought to a staircase. At the top was what must have been the portal generator. It was much like the one on Earth. In front it was a computer panel and I ordered the alien to dial a wormhole to Earth. Suddenly a spiraling blue vortex appeared then the blue hue subsided to reveal a crystal clear image of the Golden Gate Bridge.

But in the split second of the elation of seeing my world, I let my guard down and my foe spun around and struck me in the face as I dropped the weapon. I crashed into the computer as the alien picked up the fiery dagger and made to stab me.

I grabbed the wrist of the hand with the dagger. We struggled a few moments until I moved my torso and head out of the path of the weapon as it got caught driven into the computer. My foe was riddled with volts of electricity.

I got up and ran for the portal. Just as I thought I was on my way to freedom, the portal flickered with blue waves and static lines less for than a second and I went through. I hit my head on something hard and I blacked out.

Now all that has preceded to this last account leads to the present when I woke up in a cave full of lichen on the walls. I stepped out and looked at the sky; it was dark with three pale moons and a glowing aurora the color of white starlight.

I have searched this strange world for over three years; I have found no intelligent life. I have lived off the vegetation. I am the only man on this planet.

So I contemplate the point of living alone. My sanity has neared a breaking point and I long for nothingness to claim me. And as I finally step into the descent of oblivion, I can only imagine what eternity will be like.

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