The Silver Realm: To Understand Them You Must Walk Their Path
Earth – 2052 AD
The man looked at his hands and saw the card attached to his wrist. It was an interesting card and full of color to attract attention. He wondered what is was for and why it was attached to his wrist. He read the card.
“Your name is John Carter. You live at 12007 Freedom Avenue, Corpus Christi, TX”
This was followed by a picture of a really old man and a mirrored surface below which was written: “Look in the mirror.”
He looked into the mirror and saw the really old man staring back at him and he remembered that he was John Carter. The memories flowed back into his mind along with the realization of what that meant about his condition. He imagined that he went through this multiple times each day and a strange sadness spread through his body as the weight of the years overwhelmed him.
John Carter flipped the card over and saw the map. He was seated on a bench in the park about half way on his daily walk. He looked at his timepiece and noted that he was on schedule based on the map’s notations. It was nice to know that there was a plan and he felt much better. He decided that he needed to start on the next segment of his daily trip.
When he reached for his cane, he saw a strange, tall man coming directly toward him. The stranger did not look old, nor did he look like he was very young; he had light brown eyes with a gold glint in them and smile lines all over his face. He seemed to radiate a visible energy that was impossible to define. His hair was white but he had a confidence about him and a certain spring in his walk as one has when they are young and indestructible. He wore a coat of dragon skin that rose from his shoulders to the top of his head in a cowl and flowed down from his shoulders to his ankles. His hair fell out of his cowl down across his chest and he wore a neatly trimmed beard that covered most of his face. When he walked, his long coat would sway with each step accenting his stride and giving him an almost royal look.
The strange man was holding an elaborately decorated cane. The handle appeared to be of silver with a delicately crafted symbol of a solar system with three suns that shone silver almost like a beam of light. The length of the cane was a deep yet shiny black with traces of silver threaded through it. Just below the handle was a band of silver with streaks and sparkles of gold scattered randomly. The bottom of the cane had an unusual end that was the blue of the open sky without that rubber look that most tips have.
John Carter looked up at the man after taking time to consider all of what he had observed. The tall man smiled and John Carter felt his heart open with joy. The man said, “It is time. I have brought your cane.” Then he took John Carter’s cane and replaced it with the black and silver one. He smiled once more and left. John Carter had nothing to say as the shock of the visit tried to settle.
He watched the tall man walk out of the park and cross the street. He grabbed the handle of the cane and sparkles flashed across his vision. The cane was warm to his touch and his knees reminded him of why he needed the cane as he stood up. The memories about his walks came back as the pain in each step told him the reason for taking a break on the seat in the park. He walked as fast as his 90 year old body would allow and was surprised by a memory of his 50th birthday when he ran two miles with his son. He wondered what happened to his son and if he had more than one.
The cane was a perfect fit and he pondered the tall man again. The man looked so familiar to him, yet he figured with his condition that might be the case all the time. He was just thinking about how comfortable the cane was when he heard the explosion.
The sound came from just beyond the entrance to the park and he ducked just in time to miss a flying fragment of something. He quickened his pace as he moved deliberately toward the sounds of plasma guns firing. He tripped and fell down on the sidewalk with his cane hand underneath him. He felt shards of pain screaming through his hand and wrist as bones shattered and skin ripped. When he came to a stop he had scrapes on his face and he was laying on his side in agony.
He tried to move his hand but it would not let go of the cane and the warmth spread from the cane through his hand and wrist. The pain in the hand lessened and in moments he was able to roll over and stand up. He looked at his hand while he opened and closed it. There was no pain. Nor was there any of the old arthritis stiffness he usually felt. He decided that adrenalin was a good thing.
He moved toward the sounds of battle once more. His thoughts surged with memories of times when he went into the crisis zone as other left. He remembered running to stop fights in a school and rushing to an accident to help out the people in the vehicle. Other memories were of fighting fires and more of a violent nature. In every case, he ran toward the action while others fled. He smiled as he understood that he had been brave in his life and helped others, even at risk to himself.
He stepped off of the curb at the entrance to the park and almost fell. He half jumped and skipped to keep his balance and managed to recover without falling. He could smell the burnt flesh that comes from a plasma strike on flesh and anger flooded his heart as he saw the terrorists in the distance shoot a child.
He saw the faces of his six children, twenty three grandchildren, and some number of great grandchildren as they flashed across his mind. The joy at being able to remember them was tempered by the scene in front of him as he increased his speed to a trot with a stagger as he moved closer to the fiends.
The woman who ran to the child as he fell had red hair and was screaming hysterically. She clearly did not understand the danger and the terrorist smiled was he leveled his gun. John Carter yelled “Coward” at the top of his lungs drawing the terrorist’s attention away.
The terrorist turned at the sound and was stunned by the apparition of the old man hobbling rapidly toward him. He yelled back, “Idiot. Now you can die.” The terrorist fired his plasma gun directly at John Carter.
John Carter instinctively lifted his cane to block the assault knowing he was about to die. The fire did not hit him as the cane blocked the blast with a force shield and energy flowed through his body. He had stopped when he saw the attack and now without a moment’s hesitation he surged forward.
The terrorist almost fell to the ground when the old man survived the blast. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He fired again and the old man glowed again and kept on coming. He flipped the gun to full power and held the contact.
John Carter had a part of his mind telling him this was not possible as the pain in his knees, back, and neck disappeared in the heat of the battle. The cane continued to act as a force shield for the next blast although it slowed his pace a bit. Then he was hit by the sustained high capacity blast. He was stopped in his tracks and fought to hold onto the cane as the shield withstood the continuous blast from the plasma weapon. He could feel the power hitting the shield and yet he also felt his own power increasing. His memories were also returning.
He missed his wife. The redheaded woman had stirred the memories and now they poured out of his brain as their life together came forward in chunks of love and struggle. He wished she was here now. She had stood by him during so many times of trouble and never let him down up until the day she passed. After he married her, all of his struggles were theirs and she was the best warrior friend a man could have. He wished again that she was at his side even as he tried to understand why he used the phrase “warrior friend.”
He felt his strength continue to build and he started to move forward even under the impact of the continuous blast. He could feel his strength returning at a faster and faster pace and soon he was running. He had not run for years and the sensations were welcomed by his whole body and a mischievous smile slowly drifted onto his face.
The terrorist was holding the contact and screaming at his companions. The old man looked frail enough to collapse on his own when he first fired and now the impossible was happening. Soon all three of them were firing on the old man and it had almost no impact. Fear choked their throats as they came to grips with the face of death.
John Carter’s body was old no longer. He leapt into the air just before reaching the three who were now conveniently all together. In the air he twisted and reached with his other hand catching the first terrorist under the chin with his forearm. He locked his arm as he finished his twist on his way back to the ground with a snapping sound coming from the terrorist’s neck as the terrorist collapsed to the ground. John Carter did not stop.
He continued dropping toward the ground sweeping his leg around taking the second terrorist to the ground in a thud. During this motion, he was spinning the cane and struck the handle on the forehead of the third terrorist as he turned to fire on John Carter. The impact on the terrorist’s skull created a loud crack that was followed by a second terrorist dropping to the ground. John Carter did not stop moving and continued spinning as he stood back up and released a sword from the cane. The sword came down on the second terrorist as he attempted to rise slicing off his head as a knife goes through butter.
Everything had come back to him. He knew who he was on this planet and he knew who he really was. He was not John Carter. Years ago, the officials had found him wandering without his memory and just gave him that name. Still, it didn’t matter what his other name was here because it was time to go home.
He looked around and saw the tall man off on the side smiling. As a huge crowd looked on, he walked toward the tall man with sirens screaming in the distance and people crying all around. Some started to approach calling him a hero but then they stepped back as both tall men started to shimmer. It was only a moment or two and then they were gone leaving an unbelievable story behind for the police to sort out.
The Silver Realm
The portal entrance started shimmering and the staff hurried to their tasks. Moments later, the two tall men stepped through the portal smiling. Neither of them looked old, nor did they look like they were very young; they had light brown eyes with a gold glints in them and smile lines all over their faces. They seemed to radiate a visible energy that was impossible to define. Both had hair that was white and had a confidence about them with a certain spring in their walk as one has when they are young and indestructible. One wore a coat of dragon skin that rose from his shoulders to the top of his head in a cowl and flowed down from his shoulders to his ankles. His hair fell out of his cowl down across his chest and he wore a neatly trimmed beard that covered most of his face. When he walked, his long coat would sway with each step accenting his stride and giving him an almost royal look.
The other had extremely unusual clothes that had burn marks on them and were filthy. In his hand he carried the Cane of the Realm. The staff immediately bowed down and said, almost in perfect unison, “Your Majesty.” The man with the cane looked around at his subjects and tears ran down his face in happiness as he bowed back and said back, “Stand and give me a hug.” The staff ran to him and smiled and hugged as they welcomed him home again.
That night the Silver Sovereign and his son the Steward of the Realm stood in the night looking into the night sky at the Black Abyss.
The Steward asked, “How many times does this make?”
The Silver Sovereign answered, “Almost as many times as there are peoples in the universe.”
His son asked, “Why do you do it?”
The Silver Sovereign was thoughtful as he considered his response, “Most of the journeys are enlightening and give insights that you can get no other way. Then, you have one like this last…” He looked off into space and a single tear fell. “I loved her more than ever. I can see and feel her red hair in my hands. She made me feel like I was special and valuable in a world where I was nothing. I can still hear the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren playing on my knees. I was able to watch them grow and become adults and have their own children. I know them like you can in no other way. I truly love them and they are now a part of me for all time.”
The Steward knew that the time was coming for his own journey, his first, and he needed to know more. He asked, “Yes. I can understand that. But you also take on their aging, their pain, their rules, and, most importantly, their limitations.”
The Silver Sovereign took a long pause before answering, “The Great One has given us a job like no other. We influence growing civilizations in subtle ways to keep the darkness from taking over. How can we make decisions in their best interest unless we truly know them?”
The Steward of the Realm nodded and put his arm around his dad.
His father continued, “To understand them you must walk their path.”