(excerpts 21 and 22. If you missed the previous installment, scroll down the blog to catch up. I decided to start posting more material per day. We're almost at the end.)
I was startled by the sound of the front door suddenly popping open.
“You three are back awfully early. I wasn't expecting you for several more hours,” I said to Mom, Dad, and Carmen.
“Parker, it's nearly eight pm. We've been gone all day,” Mom said.
I glanced at my watch, unable to comprehend the fact that so much time had gone by.
“Say, where's Janelle?” Dad asked.
My pulse quickened.
“You know, I'm not sure. I've been on the phone trying to reach an old friend. Jeeves!” I called loudly into the other room.
“Yes, sir,” he replied as he walked in from the kitchen.
“Have you seen Janelle?”
“She went out to sit in the sun several hours ago. I haven't seen her since.” My heart skipped a beat. I rushed to the back door and looked out. How could I have been so careless? Why did I let her out of my sight? My eyes grew wide with horror. I threw open the door and ran out to Janelle's lounge chair which always sat by the reflecting pool. I knew immediately what had happened.
The fedora on the chair was a dead giveaway.
“Chauncey!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “You little yellow bastard! I knew I should have killed you, too.”
My mind was already spinning, planning out the rescue (and retribution) mission. “I'll speed in directly to the heart of the walled compound. They'll never expect such a bold move. I'll snatch Janelle and then as we're flying away I'll drop a nuclear bomb on the palace, annihilating Chauncey and his little minions once and for all.”
One last time, that sense that I was dreaming overwhelmed me. I knew this was all a dream, and yet my desire to save Janelle and exact revenge on Chauncey seemed very real and did not wane.
I recalled reading a book about lucid dreaming – the state where the dreamer becomes aware he is dreaming and is able to choreograph his own dreams. If that were in fact true I could do whatever I wanted.
I simply had the thought, and the Dormez-Vous was parked on the back lawn right next to me. Mom, Dad, and Carmen had come outside to see what was troubling me.
“Chauncey took her,” I informed them as I boarded the space ship.
“Who's Chauncey?” Mom asked.
“Bartholomew's right-hand man,” I answered. “I mistakenly assumed he wouldn't have the guts to retaliate for his boss' death.
“What are you going to do?” Mom asked.
“Don't worry about that,” I replied. “I'll be back with Janelle before you know it.”
“Be safe, dear,” she said.
“I always am,” I replied confidently.
“Good-bye, Parker,” Carmen said as she gave me a hug.
“See you in a little while, sis,” I replied and gave her a peck on the cheek.
I fired up the Dormez-Vous, lifted off the ground and kicked in the afterburners, leaving a patch of scorched earth behind me.
I set the autopilot for Kryllium and eased back to enjoy the ride. Stars whooshed by me like a ferocious meteor shower and then gradually turned into one big blur of white light.
I planned out exactly how the rescue would go. I was, after all, in total command of my dream. I would glide into the walled fortress, easily evading all anti-aircraft fire. I would set the ship down beside the cell where Janelle was being held. After kicking in the door, I would sweep my sweetheart up in my arms and carry her aboard the Dormez-Vous. I would then take off and drop a nuclear bomb on the walled compound as we flew over the exterior walls, ensuring an end of reprisals from any of Bartholomew's minions.
Everything went exactly as I planned. As we flew off into the green sky I sternly warned Janelle not to look back when the bomb when off because the flash would blind her. However, knowing I was in a dream and in control I did look back to observe the destruction. The flash was more brilliant and beautiful than anything I'd ever seen. The mushroom cloud rose magnificently into the sky just like in all the old films I'd seen of atomic bomb detonations. Although I knew the cataclysmic shock wave and heat wave would soon overtake us, I thought that would be a damper on the dream, so in my lucid state I edited the shock waves out of the scene.
I put my arm around my blonde goddess and held her tight as I piloted the Dormez-Vous toward Kryllium's moon where we would stop to refuel and check on Rick. The constellations were especially radiant, complimenting the high I was on from rescuing my love and finally eliminating all my enemies.
We landed on the moon and parked near one of the fuel pumps at Gasteroids. After filling the tanks I implored Janelle to follow me. “I never want to let you out of my sight again,” I said.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“I want to check on Rick. I haven't been able to contact him since I called him from Austria before Chauncey abducted you.”
“Are you worried about him?”
“Well, he hasn't answered my calls for three days and that's very unusual for him.”
I knocked on the door three times and waited for Rick's two knocks in response. Nothing. I knocked again. Still no reply. After informing Janelle to stand aside, I kicked down the door. To my horror, I saw Rick lying motionless on the floor with a fedora on his chest.
My eyes turned red and moist as I flew to Rick's side and checked for a pulse. He was dead.
“Maybe if I'd come here first I could have saved him; but I couldn't take the chance that Chauncey would hurt you,” I said to Janelle.
“You can't save everyone, baby,” Janelle responded.
“But if I hadn't asked Rick to get involved he would still be alive. This is my fault.”
I was filled with rage and a desire for revenge – a bloodlust. But I knew that Chauncey was the one who killed my friend and Chauncey was now dead.
“Well old buddy,” I said in a squeaky voice. “I didn't get here in time to save you, but I did get revenge on that little yellow bastard. He's dead.”
“I would have to disagree with that assertion,” came a familiar voice from behind me.
I turned around to see Chauncey standing in the doorway, pointing his gun at me. His hair had fallen out and his skin was badly blistered and sloughing off in places, but his beady little eyes confirmed it was him.
“If you intend to kill someone, you should make sure you finish the job,” he said.
“Chauncey, you little yellow weasel. You just won't die, will you?”
“No, but you're about to.”
“I don't think so,” I said as I turned my back to Chauncey and asked Janelle if she was ready to leave.
“Awfully bold move, turning your back on a man who has a laser-guided blaster pointed at your head,” Chauncey said.
“First of all, you're not a man, and secondly, this is just a dream, one which I control,” I replied. “So I have no reason to fear you.”
“But don't you know, Parker, that when you die in your dreams, you die in real life?”
“That's just an old wives' tale.”
“Is it?” Chauncey replied.
A shot rang out. I wheeled around and all in one motion I pulled my gun out of its holster and shot Chauncey four times – twice in the head and twice in the middle of the chest. He fell lifeless to the floor. I walked over to him and emptied my magazine, twenty rounds, into him. I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be seeing him again. I turned to Janelle to check on her.
“Are you okay, baby?” I asked.
“Oh Parker,” she cried as she ran to me and put her arms around me.
“It's okay. He's gone. The rest of his gang is gone. We're free of all of them for good.”
Janelle and I solemnly walked out to the Dormez-Vous and climbed aboard. After we lifted off the surface of Kryllium's moon I pointed the ship toward home and set the autopilot.
“Parker, come look out the side window,” Janelle said to me. “You need to see this.”
I walked over and sat down next to her and looked out. I saw nothing except a black darkness. There were no stars or lights or objects of any kind visible. The universe, or what I could see of it out the observation window, was cold and dark, like one boundless void. I felt empty and alone. I had rescued my sweetheart and killed the one person left who could disrupt our lives. I should have been happy but I was sad. I had just found Rick, my friend of thirty years, dead; that must be the source of my melancholy, I told myself. I put my arm around Janelle's waist and she put her arm on my shoulder.
“Oh no, Parker!” Janelle exclaimed as she pulled back her hand. It was covered in blood. I reached around and felt the back of my head. It was cold and wet and there was a hole as big around as my fist.
“I think I've been shot,” I said, smiling and wincing all at once.
Her eyes welled up with tears as she frantically searched for the first aid kit. Upon finding it she hurried back to my side. She bandaged my wound and removed my jacket and shirt which were soaked with blood. “Here, this blanket will keep you warm,” she said as she draped it over my shoulders.
“I think I'd like to lie down. Can you get me a pillow,” I asked weakly.
Janelle brought me a pillow and laid it under my head as I leaned back on the bench seat. She pulled the blanket up and wrapped it tightly around me.
“I've lost a lot of blood, baby,” I said. This time I was not smiling or wincing. As a matter of fact, I didn't feel a thing.
“Does it hurt?” Janelle asked tenderly.
“Actually, I don't feel a thing,” I replied.
Tears beaded up in the corners of her eyes. She looked into my eyes and held my hands in hers.
“Can you get me a blanket?” I said. “I'm very cold.”
“Don't talk,” she replied. “You need to save your strength.”
“I love you, Janelle. These last couple of weeks have been the best of my life.”
“Me too, baby. Try not to talk.”
“Promise me you'll take care of my parents.”
“Parker don't talk like that; you're going to be okay,” she said, though she knew it was not true.
“Promise me,” I insisted.
“I promise,” Janelle said to appease me. Tears were now streaming down her cheeks as the inevitability of the situation sank in. She leaned down to hold me. I put my arms around her and closed my eyes.
“Don't worry, my Muse. I'll see you in your dreams,” I said softly.