The Roads to Megiddo, Canto Seven
By Patrick M. Tracy
Sammy Blynn lay back on the thin hospital bed. The room was dim around him. The male nurse that pushed the drugs into his IV line formed no more than a weird and bulky spectre in the gloom. In a moment, the nurse was gone, the room quiet except for the odd whirring noises of the machines. The blood pressure cuff inflated, hurting Sammy’s arm. He had bruises like a giant had been throttling his arm all week. Every inflation chafed a little more.
Sammy gritted his teeth and tried to think of what would happen when the drugs took effect. This part, the pain and fear of being alone in the hospital room, the doctor’s disembodied voice coming like the words of an evil deity over the speakers…this part was the payment, while the next was the reward.
“All right, Sammy. I want you to relax. You’re doing very well, and we’re almost done for this session. After this one, you’ll be able to go home for a few weeks. I just need you to keep being strong for us. Remember that the things we’re learning from you will change everything.”
Doctor Galenwhit’s voice was monotonous, and he paused in weird places, like the guy on the old Star Trek show. Listening to him made Sammy tired and a little irritated. He couldn’t answer back, anyhow. The communication was strictly one way. He got told things. He couldn’t respond.
“Come on, drugs. Kick in already,” he whispered to himself.
Sammy was tired of the itchy, cold spots where the electrodes were taped to his shaved head. He was tired of hospital food. He was tired of waking up afterward, so hungry it hurt but unable to eat until the drugs filtered out of his system. The part coming up, though, was the one part he’d never get tired of. The jump, with all the vividness he could achieve with the drugs in his system–that was pretty damned awesome. The last time, he had almost been unable to come back to his body afterward. Not that he really wanted to. Terminal cancer made his body a pretty hostil place to come back to. It was also the only reason that the Doc was allowed to experiment with him and his special abilities without being thrown in jail. You were allowed to go all Dr. Mengele on the kid who wouldn’t survive the year, apparently.
“We’ve given you an increased dose this time, Sammy. You should be able to jump even further this time, and stay longer. Just do what you’ve done before, and think of a place. Within that place, find the vivid thread, the most tangible and potent personality. You know how to do it, Sammy. You know how to be in another place, seeing other things, feeling other thoughts. One more time, and you’ll get a nice vacation from us for a while. This time, I want you to think of the desert. Someplace dry, like in the cowboy movies. Jump to the desert and find a thread, follow it down and see what you find.”
The drugs were washing through his system now, giving him the chalk and ash taste in his mouth, making technicolor flickers dance and burn on the ceiling. He almost felt himself rise above the hard surface of the bed.
The desert. Dry, arid land.
This time, it was more potent, more real. He jumped a long way, jumped hard. There was no more itch of the electrodes, no more painful arm encased in a blood pressure cuff.
Sammy jumped, and he landed next to a man wearing armor like in the shows about knights and chivalry. Except…twisted. Darker. Real, in that the metal was scarred and splashed with dark liquid and grit. The man smelled like blood and sweat.
The warrior’s head swivled, his gauntleted hand falling to his sword hilt. “Who are you, boy, and what do you here?”
Sammy smiled. He reached out his hand, to shake. The warrior pulled off his helmet. Below its fearsome face shield, his face was very handsome, if haunted. Sammy’s extended hand didn’t waver. The warrior finally took it. Their hands touched. The warrior’s grip was crushing, though it didn’t seem like he meant it to be.
He was really here. All the way. This time, it was a real jump. He wasn’t just a ghost. In the hospital room, they’d find an empty bed, or maybe a body with the soul all the way gone.
“I’m Sammy. I can move across space and time.”
The warrior raised one eyebrow. “I am Harkalivad. You have arrived at Megiddo.”
Harkalivad pointed down into a dark valley, to where a ruin of old stone buildings lay.
“Cool. Let’s check it out.”
“It is the gateway to the sprit world. Beyond, I plan to take eternal dark power unto myself. Thereafter, I shall plunge the doomblade into the foundation stone of the universe, thus ending all things. You appear to be a young boy, but perhaps you are a wizard of some sort. In any case, where I go, few would dare to tread.”
“I dare. The spirit world and all that sounds wicked. I’ll tag along.”
Harkalivad pushed his helmet back on, but left the face guard up. “If you try to impede my progress, I will destroy you. Your soul will be cracked like a seed and used to nourish my sword.”
“Whatever, man. Lead on.”
The desert was colder than Sammy had thought it might be. He squinted, imagining himself a leather jacket and engineer boots, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with dragons all over it.
They appeared, replacing the hospital gown. He was really here, and all the things he could do as a traveling ghost were still in effect. He was a frickin’ wizard, and he was about to see the spirit world. As to the end of the universe, Sammy had been ready to die for a while now. Everyone else could just hold onto their butts and do what they felt. If this was his last jump, it was going to be the best jump ever.