Over The Edge, Part 5

“What happened here?”
Lara walked along the darkened Ezzard Charles Drive slowly, with Jason close behind. Glass covered the sidewalks along the downtown Cincinnati street, and the streets themselves were littered with broken bottles, garbage cans, rocks and bricks. Smashed and burned-out storefronts and cars lined the four-lane road, and even the glass doors to police headquarters were boarded up. The street was even darker than usual, most of the overhead lights having been shot out by gunfire. The only light came from the headlights of Jason’s red Plymouth Neon, parked a short distance away.
She looked behind her at a large Art Deco-style building at the other end of the street. Darkened, and with an empty parking lot, the Union Terminal building housed a couple of museums – but due to the nearby destruction, the normally busy building was closed.
“Riots, a couple of days ago. But things have been quiet since the curfew took effect.” Jason sighed as he surveyed the damage. His voice was a mixture of anger and sadness at what he saw. “I’ve driven down this street so many times, and I’ve been to Union Terminal at night before. It’s all so…surreal.”
Lara nodded as she turned around to return to the car. She moved slowly, as if she were in a little shock at what she saw. “Speaking of curfew, we’d better go. I don’t want you having to explain me to the police.”
“Right.” Jason climbed into the driver’s seat almost at the same time Lara entered the car. He started up the engine and turned the car around slowly, heading back toward the highway entrance only a block away. Stunned silence prevailed in the car until it had entered the highway and reached cruising speed. By then, Lara had reached over to turn on the radio.
“Strange town, huh?” Jason gave Lara a half-hearted smile, which Lara returned immediately. She knew that it saddened him to see such destruction. But it was something that had to be seen – something that, when shown on television, simply did not have the same impact it had in person.
“You think everything will be okay here?”
Jason turned to look at Lara for a moment. “What do you mean?”
“Well…when the riots hit Los Angeles a few years ago, most people didn’t even see it. L.A. is such a big city…but this city’s kind of small. This kind of thing affects everyone.”
“You’re right, it does.” Jason nodded. “At first, the riots were just downtown…easy enough for most people just to ignore it. But the night before the curfew took effect, the riots spread – storefront windows in Madisonville were smashed, and a small take-out store had been burned down only five miles from my home. I’ve never been in the place, but I’ve driven past it dozens of times.”
“Wow.” Lara leaned back and sighed. She had been in many dangerous situations before – but for the most part, her own home had always been relatively safe, kind of a haven away from the rest of the world. “Were you scared?”
Jason nodded again. “A little, at first. When I initially heard the report…one night, the eleven o’clock news announced a riot in progress in Kennedy Heights. I remember actually loading a shotgun from the basement and sticking it in an easy-to-reach closet.”
“Yeah, but…what good would that do against a riot?”
“I dunno.” Jason shrugged as he turned off the Ronald Reagan Highway exit. “I just hoped that if I had to use it, I could just scare people with it. I don’t really want to see anyone hurt.”
Lara smiled. “That’s kind of what I thought. I know you as well as you do.”
“Yeah, I know…the whole figment of my imagination thing.” Jason paused as he checked an intersection near a stop sign at the end of an exit ramp. “After we get the car home, how about if we go and visit some people? Touring riot damage is so depressing. I’m supposed to be entertaining you.”
“No, it was…eye-opening. I’m glad you took me to see it. You’ve given me something to think about…that’s better than any kind of cheesy entertainment.”
“So…” Jason said as the car pulled up the driveway and into the garage. “Do you want to visit some of my relatives in town?”
“No thanks; I’ve met them already.”
Jason laughed and turned the car off. “Okay…we’ll surprise some people out of town instead.”
“Like who?”
“You’ll see.”


Lara turned up the thermostat a couple more degrees as she looked across a somewhat fancy three-room hotel suite in Romulus, Michigan. Sitting in a deep chair at the other end of the room was Jason, wrapped in two blankets and wearing a bright yellow zipped-up jacket.
She sighed to herself and shook her head as she sat down in the small desk chair across from him. “I told you to bring a warmer coat. It’s really cold flying that high up.”
“I guess I should…have listened,” Jason said between his chattering teeth. “Don’t worry…I’ll warm up sooner or later.”
“I hope so.” Lara reached for an apple sitting in the fruit basket on the table. “I already have the thermostat turned up to eighty. If I turn it up again, the sprinklers may go off.”
“Funny.” Jason took a deep breath as the shivering finally slowed down. “I’m just glad I know the manager of this place from work, or this room would cost a fortune.”
“Either that, or he saw me,” Lara said as she waved a corner of her cape at Jason, “and decided to keep any questions to himself.”
Jason smiled and shook his head. “This practical joke had better be worth it. Do you still have the map?”
Lara nodded. “I still don’t know how to follow it, though.”
“That’s what taxicabs are for.”
Lara raised an eyebrow. “You’re certain there’s no train?” she joked.
“Funny girl.” Jason stood and tossed aside the two blankets. “I’m much better now. Let’s go.”
“Okay.” Lara headed toward the window quickly, lifting Jason by the back of his belt as she ran straight out onto the balcony. She heard Jason gasp as she leapt over the fourth-floor balcony railing and landed on the sidewalk below softly, dropping him to his feet next to her.
“Do you have something against elevators, Lara?”
She shook her head, laughing at the sarcasm in Jason’s voice as she stepped over to the curb to hail a taxi. “Come on, admit it…that was much more fun then an elevator, wasn’t it?”
“Uh-huh.” Jason dismissed Lara’s question as he climbed into the back seat of the cab. As she climbed in next to him, she handed the map to the driver. They had an hour-long ride ahead of them.


“Holy cow!” A man of medium build stood in the doorway of his home, a worried look on his face as a woman with clear eyes and wild blonde hair, slightly taller then himself, stood in front of him in a black costume with white stripes and a cape. The evening sun glared from behind her, giving her an unearthly halo as she greeted him with a soft smile.
Having seen a mixture of similarly dressed heroines in fantasy – comic books – he wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating, dreaming, or only seconds away from a painful death. He stood with one hand on the door, half-considering slamming it shut in case of trouble. “Um…Birdy?”
“No…I’m Lara Night. You’ve probably heard of me. Kevin, right?”
“Yeah, but…well…I didn’t think you were-”
“Real?” Lara laughed as she turned and pointed toward Jason, standing at the end of the sidewalk. “You’d be surprised at who’s real. I suppose you know Jason.”
“Yes.” Kevin stepped through the doorway to look past Lara as Jason headed up the sidewalk toward him. “But I thought he’d be taller.”
“Everyone says that,” Jason interrupted as he walked up to the porch.
“Aren’t you going to invite us in?” Lara looked at Jason, and back at Kevin, giving him a sly grin. “I promise I’ll try not to break anything.”
“Sure.” Kevin nodded and stepped aside, ushering Lara and Jason into his house. He followed quickly, holding Lara’s cape to keep it out of the door as he closed it behind him.
“Easy on the cape, Kevin.”
“Sorry.” Kevin looked almost frightened as he suddenly let go of the cape. “I…I didn’t mean to-”
“Don’t worry about it.” Lara shook her cape vigorously. “I just wanted to make sure it doesn’t wrinkle. Dry cleaning this thing is a pain.”
Kevin breathed a sigh of relief and turned to face Lara, measuring her height with his eyes. “You two are both shorter then I imagined. Aren’t you supposed to be at least as tall as Supergirl?”
“No, she’s a liar,” Jason told him. “She’s only five-foot-seven.”
“Shut up!” Lara shoved Jason gently before laughing a little. “Don’t listen to him. He actually adjusted all of his websites when he found out I wasn’t five-foot-eight.”
“This just seems too strange…you, a fictional character, standing in my living room.” Kevin shook his head and blinked twice as the two followed him into the living room. “I’m sorry, that was rude…do you two want anything to eat or drink?”
“I’ll have a Coke.” Lara ignored Kevin’s lapse in politeness as she sat down at the end of the living room couch, glancing over at Jason as he sat next to her. “He’ll have one too.”
Jason looked at Lara and gave her a mock frown as Kevin headed toward the kitchen. “You know, this ‘figment of my imagination’ thing is really starting to get on my nerves.”
Lara shrugged. “Imagine how I feel.”
“So tell me, Lara,” Kevin said as he returned to the living room and handed her a can of Coke. “Has Jason been drooling over you too much?”
“No, he’s very polite.” Lara looked over at Jason and smiled. “Besides, his type is more down-to-earth then us superheroines. And he has this rule about not getting involved with his ‘actors.'”
Kevin laughed as he handed Jason his drink. “What kind of rule is that?”
“It’s because part of my job is to protect my actors.” Jason took a sip of Coke. “To keep them safe from places like the Aurora Universe. Who knows what that writer does with the characters-”
“Oh, I think you know exactly what happens at the Aurora Universe,” Lara interrupted. “You read some of those stories.”
“Only the less…um…explicit ones. And so do you!”
“Hmm.” Lara took a sip of Coke and put the can down on the coffee table. “I just wish Sharon Best would quit sending me e-mail proposals.”
Kevin squinted and shook his head. “Marriage, or business proposals?”
“Neither.” Lara picked up the can again and took another sip as Jason and Kevin stared at her in stunned silence. “What?”
Jason rolled his eyes quickly before rising to his feet. “Lara, we’d better get going. I’ve got to send you home.”
“Send her home?” Kevin looked at Jason, then at Lara as the two stood before him.
“Yes, I’m kind of stuck here. Jason has to write me back home.” Lara reached her hand out to shake Kevin’s. “It was nice meeting you.”
“I’m not going to even pretend to understand that.” Kevin shook her hand quickly. “But thanks for visiting. And Lara…feel free to visit me any time.”
“Sure, why not?” Lara nodded and smiled at Kevin as she grabbed Jason’s arm tightly. In a bright flash of light which suddenly filled the room…they were gone.

 

Over The Edge, Part 4

“What happened here?”
Lara walked along the darkened Ezzard Charles Drive slowly, with Jason close behind. Glass covered the sidewalks along the downtown Cincinnati street, and the streets themselves were littered with broken bottles, garbage cans, rocks and bricks. Smashed and burned-out storefronts and cars lined the four-lane road, and even the glass doors to police headquarters were boarded up. The street was even darker than usual, most of the overhead lights having been shot out by gunfire. The only light came from the headlights of Jason’s red Plymouth Neon, parked a short distance away.
She looked behind her at a large Art Deco-style building at the other end of the street. Darkened, and with an empty parking lot, the Union Terminal building housed a couple of museums – but due to the nearby destruction, the normally busy building was closed.
“Riots, a couple of days ago. But things have been quiet since the curfew took effect.” Jason sighed as he surveyed the damage. His voice was a mixture of anger and sadness at what he saw. “I’ve driven down this street so many times, and I’ve been to Union Terminal at night before. It’s all so…surreal.”
Lara nodded as she turned around to return to the car. She moved slowly, as if she were in a little shock at what she saw. “Speaking of curfew, we’d better go. I don’t want you having to explain me to the police.”
“Right.” Jason climbed into the driver’s seat almost at the same time Lara entered the car. He started up the engine and turned the car around slowly, heading back toward the highway entrance only a block away. Stunned silence prevailed in the car until it had entered the highway and reached cruising speed. By then, Lara had reached over to turn on the radio.
“Strange town, huh?” Jason gave Lara a half-hearted smile, which Lara returned immediately. She knew that it saddened him to see such destruction. But it was something that had to be seen – something that, when shown on television, simply did not have the same impact it had in person.
“You think everything will be okay here?”
Jason turned to look at Lara for a moment. “What do you mean?”
“Well…when the riots hit Los Angeles a few years ago, most people didn’t even see it. L.A. is such a big city…but this city’s kind of small. This kind of thing affects everyone.”
“You’re right, it does.” Jason nodded. “At first, the riots were just downtown…easy enough for most people just to ignore it. But the night before the curfew took effect, the riots spread – storefront windows in Madisonville were smashed, and a small take-out store had been burned down only five miles from my home. I’ve never been in the place, but I’ve driven past it dozens of times.”
“Wow.” Lara leaned back and sighed. She had been in many dangerous situations before – but for the most part, her own home had always been relatively safe, kind of a haven away from the rest of the world. “Were you scared?”
Jason nodded again. “A little, at first. When I initially heard the report…one night, the eleven o’clock news announced a riot in progress in Kennedy Heights. I remember actually loading a shotgun from the basement and sticking it in an easy-to-reach closet.”
“Yeah, but…what good would that do against a riot?”
“I dunno.” Jason shrugged as he turned off the Ronald Reagan Highway exit. “I just hoped that if I had to use it, I could just scare people with it. I don’t really want to see anyone hurt.”
Lara smiled. “That’s kind of what I thought. I know you as well as you do.”
“Yeah, I know…the whole figment of my imagination thing.” Jason paused as he checked an intersection near a stop sign at the end of an exit ramp. “After we get the car home, how about if we go and visit some people? Touring riot damage is so depressing. I’m supposed to be entertaining you.”
“No, it was…eye-opening. I’m glad you took me to see it. You’ve given me something to think about…that’s better than any kind of cheesy entertainment.”
“So…” Jason said as the car pulled up the driveway and into the garage. “Do you want to visit some of my relatives in town?”
“No thanks; I’ve met them already.”
Jason laughed and turned the car off. “Okay…we’ll surprise some people out of town instead.”
“Like who?”
“You’ll see.”


Lara turned up the thermostat a couple more degrees as she looked across a somewhat fancy three-room hotel suite in Romulus, Michigan. Sitting in a deep chair at the other end of the room was Jason, wrapped in two blankets and wearing a bright yellow zipped-up jacket.
She sighed to herself and shook her head as she sat down in the small desk chair across from him. “I told you to bring a warmer coat. It’s really cold flying that high up.”
“I guess I should…have listened,” Jason said between his chattering teeth. “Don’t worry…I’ll warm up sooner or later.”
“I hope so.” Lara reached for an apple sitting in the fruit basket on the table. “I already have the thermostat turned up to eighty. If I turn it up again, the sprinklers may go off.”
“Funny.” Jason took a deep breath as the shivering finally slowed down. “I’m just glad I know the manager of this place from work, or this room would cost a fortune.”
“Either that, or he saw me,” Lara said as she waved a corner of her cape at Jason, “and decided to keep any questions to himself.”
Jason smiled and shook his head. “This practical joke had better be worth it. Do you still have the map?”
Lara nodded. “I still don’t know how to follow it, though.”
“That’s what taxicabs are for.”
Lara raised an eyebrow. “You’re certain there’s no train?” she joked.
“Funny girl.” Jason stood and tossed aside the two blankets. “I’m much better now. Let’s go.”
“Okay.” Lara headed toward the window quickly, lifting Jason by the back of his belt as she ran straight out onto the balcony. She heard Jason gasp as she leapt over the fourth-floor balcony railing and landed on the sidewalk below softly, dropping him to his feet next to her.
“Do you have something against elevators, Lara?”
She shook her head, laughing at the sarcasm in Jason’s voice as she stepped over to the curb to hail a taxi. “Come on, admit it…that was much more fun then an elevator, wasn’t it?”
“Uh-huh.” Jason dismissed Lara’s question as he climbed into the back seat of the cab. As she climbed in next to him, she handed the map to the driver. They had an hour-long ride ahead of them.


“Holy cow!” A man of medium build stood in the doorway of his home, a worried look on his face as a woman with clear eyes and wild blonde hair, slightly taller then himself, stood in front of him in a black costume with white stripes and a cape. The evening sun glared from behind her, giving her an unearthly halo as she greeted him with a soft smile.
Having seen a mixture of similarly dressed heroines in fantasy – comic books – he wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating, dreaming, or only seconds away from a painful death. He stood with one hand on the door, half-considering slamming it shut in case of trouble. “Um…Birdy?”
“No…I’m Lara Night. You’ve probably heard of me. Kevin, right?”
“Yeah, but…well…I didn’t think you were-”
“Real?” Lara laughed as she turned and pointed toward Jason, standing at the end of the sidewalk. “You’d be surprised at who’s real. I suppose you know Jason.”
“Yes.” Kevin stepped through the doorway to look past Lara as Jason headed up the sidewalk toward him. “But I thought he’d be taller.”
“Everyone says that,” Jason interrupted as he walked up to the porch.
“Aren’t you going to invite us in?” Lara looked at Jason, and back at Kevin, giving him a sly grin. “I promise I’ll try not to break anything.”
“Sure.” Kevin nodded and stepped aside, ushering Lara and Jason into his house. He followed quickly, holding Lara’s cape to keep it out of the door as he closed it behind him.
“Easy on the cape, Kevin.”
“Sorry.” Kevin looked almost frightened as he suddenly let go of the cape. “I…I didn’t mean to-”
“Don’t worry about it.” Lara shook her cape vigorously. “I just wanted to make sure it doesn’t wrinkle. Dry cleaning this thing is a pain.”
Kevin breathed a sigh of relief and turned to face Lara, measuring her height with his eyes. “You two are both shorter then I imagined. Aren’t you supposed to be at least as tall as Supergirl?”
“No, she’s a liar,” Jason told him. “She’s only five-foot-seven.”
“Shut up!” Lara shoved Jason gently before laughing a little. “Don’t listen to him. He actually adjusted all of his websites when he found out I wasn’t five-foot-eight.”
“This just seems too strange…you, a fictional character, standing in my living room.” Kevin shook his head and blinked twice as the two followed him into the living room. “I’m sorry, that was rude…do you two want anything to eat or drink?”
“I’ll have a Coke.” Lara ignored Kevin’s lapse in politeness as she sat down at the end of the living room couch, glancing over at Jason as he sat next to her. “He’ll have one too.”
Jason looked at Lara and gave her a mock frown as Kevin headed toward the kitchen. “You know, this ‘figment of my imagination’ thing is really starting to get on my nerves.”
Lara shrugged. “Imagine how I feel.”
“So tell me, Lara,” Kevin said as he returned to the living room and handed her a can of Coke. “Has Jason been drooling over you too much?”
“No, he’s very polite.” Lara looked over at Jason and smiled. “Besides, his type is more down-to-earth then us superheroines. And he has this rule about not getting involved with his ‘actors.'”
Kevin laughed as he handed Jason his drink. “What kind of rule is that?”
“It’s because part of my job is to protect my actors.” Jason took a sip of Coke. “To keep them safe from places like the Aurora Universe. Who knows what that writer does with the characters-”
“Oh, I think you know exactly what happens at the Aurora Universe,” Lara interrupted. “You read some of those stories.”
“Only the less…um…explicit ones. And so do you!”
“Hmm.” Lara took a sip of Coke and put the can down on the coffee table. “I just wish Sharon Best would quit sending me e-mail proposals.”
Kevin squinted and shook his head. “Marriage, or business proposals?”
“Neither.” Lara picked up the can again and took another sip as Jason and Kevin stared at her in stunned silence. “What?”
Jason rolled his eyes quickly before rising to his feet. “Lara, we’d better get going. I’ve got to send you home.”
“Send her home?” Kevin looked at Jason, then at Lara as the two stood before him.
“Yes, I’m kind of stuck here. Jason has to write me back home.” Lara reached her hand out to shake Kevin’s. “It was nice meeting you.”
“I’m not going to even pretend to understand that.” Kevin shook her hand quickly. “But thanks for visiting. And Lara…feel free to visit me any time.”
“Sure, why not?” Lara nodded and smiled at Kevin as she grabbed Jason’s arm tightly. In a bright flash of light which suddenly filled the room…they were gone.

 

Over The Edge, Part 3

Dayna blinked at the short guy and the tall blonde in the superhero outfit who sat calmly on the porch outside her house. The story they’d just told her was like nothing she ever thought she could have believed. The presence of Kian and Lara were the only things keeping her from questioning her sanity. She idly wondered if she was dreaming, then decided against it. Not even her dreams were this weird.
“So basically,” she addressed her online friend Jason, the short guy. “You’re telling me that everything we thought we created is real.”
Jason nodded. “Provided we actually write it, then yes.”
“And that Kian and Lara were kind of…free-floating spirits before we ‘discovered’ them.” Again, Jason nodded. Dayna sighed. “I think I need to stop going on those caffeine binges.”
Kian had been staring at Lara, the blonde, with something approaching awe. “What?” Lara asked finally.
“Nothing,” Kian said quickly. “I, um…that’s a very interesting outfit.”
“You only like it ’cause it’s Spandex,” Dayna teased.
Kian blinked. “Pardon?”
“Never mind.” Dayna turned to Lara. “And you’re the one who figured this all out?”
Lara shrugged. “Not exactly. It’s part of the knowledge that was given to me by the One.”
“Keanu Reeves?” Dayna supplied.
Jason groaned. “You need new jokes,” he said, rolling his eyes.
Lara glared at Dayna and leaned back in her seat. “The One,” she began, “is the creator of every universe. The Ultimate God, if you will. There are people in every dimension who can ‘tune in’ to the other universes, and by writing about them, give them form and structure. In that way, they are servants of the One. You and Jason are two of those servants, giving life – so to speak – to each of your respective realms.”
“What happens if a writer doesn’t write their story?” Dayna asked.
Lara grimaced. “It’s horrible – chaos,” she said with a shudder. “Entire universes are totally negated. Please don’t ask me what that feels like.”
“That’s probably why so many writers feel compelled to write,” Jason said. “That extra sense of responsibility.”
“Does it matter if the story gets published or not?” Dayna asked curiously.
“No,” Lara replied. “It’s the word that’s important. The word gives form to the event.”
“So what are you?” Kian asked abruptly. “If these two are the caretakers of dimensions, then what are you?”
“For the most part, I’m just a character,” Lara replied simply. “But I’m also what’s called a Guardian. I travel through several different dimensions, making sure everything is as it should be, averting minor crises. I can see what ordinary mortals cannot.”
Kian was impressed. “You’re like a Goddess,” he said almost reverently.
Lara gave Jason a long-suffering look.
“Just let it go,” he suggested.
“No,” Lara sighed. “I’m not a Goddess. What you call your Gods are also caretakers of your world – but what they do is control the natural laws of their universe after it has been given form. They deal with the day-to-day things once the writer is finished with the story.”
“It goes kind of like this, as I understand it,” Jason explained. “The One comes up with the ideas, the writers make them coherent, the Guardians proofread them, and the Gods take care of everything else.”
“That’s what I just said.”
“I like the way I put it better.”
Kian was struggling with a thought. “So what you’re saying is that I’m not real?” he demanded incredulously.
Lara laid her hand on his. “None of us are real, Kian,” she said gently. “And at the same time, we’re as real as anything. We are all children of the One, existing in our own worlds, unaware of all others.” She made a face at Kian. “Until you went and knocked us off-course,” she said pointedly.
“It wasn’t my fault!” he protested.
“Was it ours?” Dayna asked Jason.
He shrugged helplessly. “No clue,” he said. “Possibly. We might have been writing those scenes at the exact same moment, and…well…” He gestured, indicating Lara and Kian.
“Boom?” Dayna suggested.
“To put it succinctly.”
Dayna shook her head. “The mother of all brain leaks,” she sighed dramatically. “We really need to stop doing that.”
Jason smiled knowingly.
“So…” Kian began. “How do we get back to our own dimensions? Not that your world isn’t nice or anything,” he added quickly. “But I’ve got this pressing engagement back home.”
“Nothing simpler,” Lara assured him. “Jason will write a story that will put me back in my home dimension.”
“Just like that?” Kian asked dubiously.
“Just like that.”
“Easy for you to say,” Jason told his creation. “You’re not the one who has to come up with it.”
“Don’t be such a baby,” Lara shot back. “You get tons of ideas a week. You’re in charge of fully three dimensions. Besides, you don’t even have to strain your creativity. Just write down how the day’s gone.”
“Will that work for Kian too?”
“No. Dayna is in charge of Kian’s universe.” She pursed her lips. “I suppose you’ll have to co-write it with her. Call it a crossover or something.”
“We’ve been wanting to do that for a while anyway,” he agreed. “Well, I suppose you ought to fly me home so I can get on the computer…”
“What’s the hurry?” Dayna asked. “I mean, we don’t have to write it right this second, do we? Couldn’t we…?”
Jason raised an eyebrow. “You’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking, are you?”
Dayna grinned wickedly. “It is a Friday,” she pointed out. “And as long as we have visitors, we might as well show them around, right?”
Jason gave her a mildly disapproving look. “Show a blue elf around town? Yeah, that’ll go over well.”
“I’m not an elf!” Kian protested, but the writers barely heard him.
“How often do we get to hang out with our own characters?” Dayna pressed. “Besides, if what Lara says is true, we can write this so that only you and I will remember any of it.”
Jason’s mind was working very quickly now. He looked speculatively at Lara, her silky hair glistening like spun gold in the sunlight. “It’s got possibilities…” he admitted.
“Come on,” Dayna insisted with an impish grin. “It’ll be fun.”
Lara buried her face in her hands. “Why do I have a feeling I’m going to regret this?”
Kian patted her shoulder. “Be brave.”
“Well,” Jason said. “I suppose I could take Lara out on the town for a while without attracting too much attention. She’s at least been to an Earth before. But what are you going to do about Kian?”
Dayna considered it, looking over Kian’s alien features. There weren’t too many places you could take a guy with blue skin and pointy ears that weren’t Star Trek conventions. Except maybe…her face lit up. She knew just the place. “Tell me, Kian,” she asked coquettishly, taking the magus’ hand. “Do you dance?”


Kian stared at himself in the mirror with horror. “No,” he said emphatically. “Absolutely not!”
“Oh, come on, you look great,” Dayna said. “Don’t you guys think so?”
Dayna’s friends Ben and Mary sat side-by-side on the edge of Ben’s bed, staring hard at the water magus. “He’s…blue,” Mary said after a short, awkward silence. She’d said the same thing at least five times already since she and Ben and picked Kian and Dayna up from Dayna’s house, despite the somewhat evasive explanations the writer had given them. The foursome were currently involved in dressing Kian up as your typical adolescent suburban goth-rocker. Cajoling Kian into forgoing his own clothes for the night had been tedious, but Dayna was an expert cajoler, and Kian had finally surrendered. They’d gone through five different outfits already, Kian’s expression growing progressively more pained with each one. Currently the elder Roh was outfitted in a semi-conservative black t-shirt with the logo from “A Clockwork Orange” on it, a pair of blue jeans and sneakers. Dayna thought he looked kind of cute, actually. “Really blue,” Mary reiterated.
“You’ve mentioned that before,” Kian grumbled.
“Don’t be snippy,” Dayna admonished. “And Mary…remind me to write you a little less monotonously.”
“What?”
“Inside joke.” She looked over at Ben, who was idly fingering Kian’s tunic. “You seem to be taking this in stride,” she noted.
Ben shrugged. “I’m a gamer. I’m used to weird-looking guys hanging around. Hey, can I borrow this tunic for the Renaissance Fair?”
“No,” the other three replied in unison.
Ben sulked.
“I look ridiculous,” Kian complained, pulling at the collar of the shirt.
“You look fine. Really,” Dayna said again. “Black suits you.”
“He’s not bad-looking,” Mary acknowledged. Ben raised an eyebrow at his girlfriend. “You know,” she amended lamely. “For a blue guy.”
Ben kissed her hand. “Nice backpedal, dear.”
“You promise I won’t look out of place?” Kian asked plaintively.
“Actually, compared to most of the guys at Chasers, you’ll look relatively normal,” his creator said.
“Ain’t that some shit?” Ben observed sagely.
Kian sighed. “Suddenly, I’m getting nostalgic for a good old-fashioned fight to the death.”
Dayna laughed. “If that’s how you feel, then there’s a guy I really want to introduce you to.”


The room was cold, dark and high-ceilinged. Multicolored lights flashed from every corner, bathing the patrons in an array of horribly clashing hues. Black lights on the ceiling made any hints of white and certain colors fluoresce, and Kian’s eyes glowed ultraviolet as he surveyed the dance club. His first thought was that they were all insane. Dozens of people about his own age whirled and gyrated on the dance floor, horribly out of time with the music – which, apart from beingalmost painfully loud, wasn’t all that bad. He looked around for the source of the sound, found none, and decided to chalk it up as one of those Earth things. He listened again, more closely. The beat was steady, not overly fast, and the instruments…they were like nothing he’d ever heard, lush and layered and unreal. “What is this?” he asked Dayna, shouting to be heard above the din.
“Chasers,” she shouted back. “Your basic refuge for the underaged, disillusioned, overly pretentious suburbanite.”
“No, I meant the music,” Kian said. “What’s the song called?”
“‘Enjoy the Silence,'” Mary supplied.
“We’re into irony,” Ben added.
Kian was enraptured by the sound. He’d spent time in royal courts, listening to the most gifted musicians in Andanon, but this…although he really wished it wasn’t quite so loud, he found the song strangely compelling. Otherworldly. Which, come to think about it, was fairly accurate. “I like it,” he decided.
“Good for you,” Dayna congratulated him. “Want to dance?”
Kian flushed. “Oh no, I…I couldn’t,” he stammered. “There’s…people and I don’t really know-”
“Kian,” she said in a level tone. “Look around. None of these people can actually dance. I can’t dance. The whole point here is to make an ass of yourself while having a lot of fun doing it. Besides,” she said flippantly. “I kind of made you. Believe me when I say that you can not-dance with the best of them.”
Kian looked at Ben and Mary. “Is she always like this?”
“You have no idea,” Ben sighed wearily.
“Don’t tell stories,” Dayna admonished her friend. She grabbed Kian’s hand and pulled him onto the dance floor. “Come on. Let’s go conform to non-conformity.”
“I wish I was dead,” he moaned, fixing an imploring gaze on Ben and Mary, who simply smiled and waved.
At first, Kian simply stood uncomfortably as Dayna danced to the music. She wasn’t graceful by any means, but she wasn’t as bad as she’d suggested, either. She grabbed his hands and smiled, trying to get him moving. He began to dance, halfheartedly at first, but then with greater abandon when he realized nobody was really watching him anyway. He tried imitating what the other kids were doing, feeling very self-conscious, but figuring he wouldn’t remember any of it once he got back home.
“Pretty slick,” his creator complimented him. He stuck his tongue out at her, and she laughed. “I’ll let you off the hook,” she said as the song changed. “Let’s go sit down.”
She dragged him over to an apparently vacated table to sit back and catch their breath. “What did you think?”
Kian thought about it for a moment. “It was different.”
“That’s a tactful way of putting it.”
“You didn’t actually want the truth, did you?” he asked knowingly, and they both busted up laughing. They spent the next half-hour watching the dancers, joking and telling each other stories of life on Earth and Andanon.
“You’re in my seat,” an all-too-familiar voice said suddenly, freezing Dayna’s blood. She turned around.
Kian saw a tall, lanky guy with short, shaggy brown hair. He was almost as pale as Kian’s friend Aron, but his face didn’t have the same open friendliness as Aron’s. He was dressed in all black, the same as everyone else in this place, but he stood out to Kian – mainly because the guy was staring at Dayna with totally undisguised contempt.
Dayna looked very uncomfortable. Kian noticed her hands clenching almost involuntarily. “I don’t see your name on it,” she replied coldly.
“I see my coat hanging on the back of your chair,” he pointed out.
Dayna looked behind her. “Huh. So it is.” Then, very deliberately, she knocked the guy’s coat to the floor. She smiled viciously. “Guess now it’s not your seat anymore.”
The guy glared at her, then bent to retrieve his coat. “Bitch,” he snarled as he went out onto the floor. Dayna closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Don’t hit him,” she murmured. “Don’t hit him…”
“I get the distinct impression that I’m missing something here,” Kian said lightly.
“Long story,” Dayna replied wearily.
“Old boyfriend?” Kian surmised.
“Maybe not so long.”
He patted her hand reassuringly. “Ignore him. He’s not really bothering you. You’re not hurting each other.”
She laughed at that. “Boy, you should have been here last time.”
“Short story?”
“He broke my heart, so I bruised his jaw.” Off Kian’s look, she said, “I don’t want to hear it. I’ve already heard every possible reaction to that revelation.”
“I could do better than hitting,” he offered.
Dayna blinked. “Except that one,” she said, surprised. Then she sighed. “Forget about it. I already had my revenge, and besides, I’m in enough trouble with my friends for that sucker punch as it is.”
“This is your story,” he reminded her. “They won’t even remember it.”
She paused. “That’s true, isn’t it?” She thought for a moment, and then an evil grin spread across her face. She leaned over and whispered into Kian’s ear.
“Dayna!” he gasped, shocked to the core. “That’s a horrible thing to do to a man!”
“But you will do it, won’t you, Kian?” she pleaded in a little-girl voice. “For me?” She fluttered her eyelashes at him.
Kian stalked off to the men’s room to lie in wait for his prey, muttering to himself and gesticulating wildly.
Ten minutes later, he came back out, almost bursting at the seams with suppressed mirth. “Let’s get out of here,” he said quickly, grabbing Dayna’s arm. She snatched up her coat, and the pair made a mad dash for the door. Outside in the parking lot, Kian finally gave in, howling with laughter.
“What did you do?” Dayna demanded.
Kian gave another chuckle, wiping a tear from his eye. “I couldn’t do what you asked me to,” he apologized. “That’s just too painful.”
“What did you do?” she asked again impatiently.
“I froze him,” Kian admitted.
Dayna stared at him. “You froze him?” she repeated incredulously.
“Well…not all of him,” he replied evasively.
“Kian, what-”
Just then Ben and Mary stepped out of the building. Ben was shaking his head in disbelief, and Mary was cackling. “Why, whatever is the matter?” Kian asked innocently.
“You’re not going to believe what just happened to Howie!” Mary laughed.
“Try me,” Dayna said, folding her hands across her chest. She deliberately avoided looking at Kian.
“You better tell her,” Mary said to her boyfriend. “I’m having trouble breathing.” She burst into another fit of giggling.
“Don’t ask me how it possibly could’ve happened,” Ben said, totally at a loss. “I went into the bathroom, and there he was, just…” He paused. “Well, he was…” He stopped again, groping for the words. “Let me put it this way. You ever hear the joke about the weather being so cold, the dogs are sticking to the fire hydrants?”
Realization dawned on Dayna. She gaped at Kian, who simply gave her a little smirk.
Then she doubled over in helpless laugher.
“You’re cold,” Ben accused.
“I bet he’s colder,” Dayna gasped. “Ohhh God…”
Ben and Kian shared a look. “Is it really that bad?” Kian asked mildly.
“They’ll probably have to chip him loose.” Ben sighed. “Let’s just go home.”
“Don’t you want to stop at Denny’s first?” Dayna asked, still chuckling.
Ben shook his head. “Believe me when I tell you that I really don’t feel like eating.”

Over The Edge, Part 2

“Darn…he’s not home.”
Lara looked through the glass rear patio door of her friend Jason’s small home, staring at the small black dog barking at her. She smiled as the dog’s name came to her – “Behr.” Behr was the loud one…the other small black dog, Ernie, was the quiet one.
Her mind flashed back to the first of many visits to the home – the time when she stopped by to convince Jason that she was real. She wasn’t sure whether he would panic, go into denial, or accept it. But to Lara’s relief, he not only accepted it, he took it in stride as if he actually expected it somehow. At the time, she was glad he was so open-minded – but now, she hoped he was even more so.
She sat down on the small wooden bench on the deck behind the home, momentarily making faces at the barking Behr before pausing to formulate a plan. She knew she couldn’t just sit outside on the deck and wait – even though it was comfortable, and surrounded by an eight-foot fence, sooner or later someone would notice a costumed superhero sitting outside by herself.
As Lara sat quietly for a few minutes, she began to worry a little bit. What if she could never return home? What if her friends from Third Realm – Kara, Jillian, Kusanagi, and Michael – never saw her again? Would they assume she was dead, or would they be searching for her?
Lara sighed quietly and looked skyward for a moment, in the general direction of a universe which was, until a short time ago, her playground. But in truth, as some sort of mysterious human-alien hybrid, she was never really at home anywhere. It was her power to harness energy, her status as a Guardian which allowed her to travel from place to place – yet no place was truly a permanent home. Being immortal, it was her fate to be some sort of galactic nomad, or risk raising the suspicions of humans she lived among.
She shook off those depressing thoughts for a moment as she wondered if Jason was still at work. Lara stood and looked through the glass again in search of a clock. There was one – on a microwave oven – which indicated four-thirty. Lara paced around the deck twice, searching her memory. She remembered he showed her where he worked once…
“The red glass building!” Lara stood suddenly as she remembered where he worked. She had visited him there once, in civilian clothing – an incident which ended embarrassingly for both.
She looked skyward, intent on flying to Jason’s workplace. Only she remembered that she had no idea how to get there. The last time Lara visited what Jason called “the evil red building,” she had simply appeared outside it from her home Earth.
That’s when she decided to give her teleport power one more chance. While she knew she couldn’t teleport off of the planet, or to other realities, perhaps she would be able to transport from one place to another on a single planet.
She held her hands in front of her face, watching them turn translucent slowly – yet she felt no pain. It was working!


Jason Froikin cursed to himself and kicked an old computer as yet another one of those annoying blue error screens suddenly took possession of the machine. He was upset – after spending hours troubleshooting the machine, he had been able to fix it no more than the psychic in the movie “Poltergeist” was able to rid that house of its evil spirit. Luckily, no one could hear his curses through the closed door of the computer room.
Unfortunately, he forgot to lock that door.
“Jason, someone is at your desk looking for you.”
He looked up from his work for a moment to see a woman who worked in Accounts Payable standing in the doorway, the door partially open. “What else is new?”
The woman laughed. “She said it’s urgent. And she’s wearing…uh…a cape.”
“Huh?” Jason suddenly sat up and looked at the woman sideways. “A cape? Is she wearing red and blue?”
“No.” The woman shook her head. “Black.”
“Black?” He stood and walked past the woman standing in the doorway, as she stepped aside. “What the heck is she doing here?”
Jason took the long way around the fourth floor of the building to get to his desk. He wanted to see who was waiting for him at his desk before she spotted him. As he approached, he could see two black boots with white stripes resting on his desk. “Hi, Lara. What’s up?”
He frowned as he watched the guy in the cubicle next to his peek around the corner, confused. He just knew the guy was going to ask some stupid question.
“Who’re you supposed to be?” he asked Lara.
“I’m a figment of his imagination.” Lara indicated Jason with a tilt of her head. The guy shook his head and retreated to his desk, unable to come up with a response.
“Nice laptop.” Lara poked the trackpad on Jason’s PowerBook once, and pointed at the screen. “Is that Sharon Holmes on the desktop picture?”
Jason nodded. “ZiO drew that one. I colored it.”
“Nice. Is that ZiO on ICQ? Can I talk to him?”
He nodded again. “That’s him. He’s set to ‘busy’ right now, so he probably won’t answer. So what brings you here, anyway?”
Lara smiled and thought of a funny answer to that question…but shook her head instead. “Nah, too easy. I’m here because…I’m stuck here.”
“Stuck here? Did you get a flat tire? Should I call triple-A?”
“Triple-A?” Lara raised an eyebrow.
Jason shook his head. “Never mind, stupid joke. So why are you stuck here?”
“Well…” Lara leaned back in the chair and sighed. What had happened wouldn’t be easy to explain – hopefully, Jason would understand it anyway. “I was heading to Otherverse, and I…collided with someone. Some guy with blue skin.”
“Blue skin?” Jason tried his best to contain a smile as he motioned for Lara to continue.
“Yes,” she continued, after giving Jason a short glare. “I came crashing down in Whitewater Forest. I tried to leave again, but…it really hurt. I can no longer teleport myself off of this Earth. I’m stuck here.”
“Could be worse.” Jason frowned at the guy in the next cubicle again as his head poked around the corner. “You could have been in pajamas at the time.”
“The way people have stared at me since I got here, I feel like I am.” Lara laughed and pointed at the guy peeking around the corner. He immediately retreated again. “See?”
“Well…” Jason looked at his watch briefly before closing the laptop computer on his desk, stuffing it into a black computer bag on his desk. The bag looked rather heavy as he lifted it over his shoulder. “Time for me to go home anyway. I’ll meet you there, and we can talk more.”
“No way…I’m coming with you!” Lara stood quickly, shoving the rolling chair under the desk. “I am not getting lost again.”


“Californians drive a lot faster then people do here.” Lara glanced over at the speedometer in the center of the red Plymouth Neon’s dashboard. It read sixty-five miles per hour as they cruised along a boring stretch of concrete freeway. “You’d be left in the dust.”
“Yeah, but they don’t have those in California.” Jason pointed at a police car parked on the side of the road, the officer pointing a Lidar gun several cars back. “This city is speed trap central.”
“Chicken.”
Jason laughed and shook his head.
It took a half-hour for them to arrive at Jason’s home, after stopping along the way for Italian take-out food – cheese-covered breadsticks and veggie Calzones. As soon as Jason unlocked and opened the door, Lara had to laugh as the two dogs became torn between barking at her and smelling the bag holding the food. In the end, Ernie did most of the smelling, and Behr did most of the barking.
“Just pat her head,” Jason said as he began unpacking the food, “She’ll calm down.”
Lara watched with amusement as the twenty-pound black Schipperke seemed to make friends with her after a few scratches behind the ear. She had visited before, but not often enough to be familiar to the two dogs – and, she guessed, the costume probably made her harder for them to recognize.
As soon as the two dogs were fed and sent outside to the fenced-in yard for a short time, Jason finally moved the food to the dining room table to eat. The dogs sat patiently under the table, two small symbols of hope springing eternal, as they waited for someone to drop them a few scraps.
“Don’t feed them,” Jason admonished as he watched Lara hold a chunk of breadstick above Behr. “It encourages them to beg at the table. Besides, they’ll end up fighting over it.”
“Fine.” Lara placed the piece of bread back on her plate, only to sneak it across to the other side of her chair seconds later. Behr was grateful for it. Lara didn’t feel too guilty – she had caught Jason doing the same on an earlier visit. “So…what do we do about my being stuck here?”
Jason paused between bites to stare out the dining room window. “To tell you the truth…I still don’t understand why you’re stuck here.”
Lara smiled knowingly. “That’s the easy part. You see, traveling between dimensions is like driving one of those motorized jet skis-”
“More California references?”
“Why not?” Lara shrugged. “I’m from there. As I was saying…when you’re cruising along on a jet ski, you generate a wake. If another jet ski rider crosses that wake-”
“He’d fall off…right?”
Lara nodded. “Right. And if two jet skis collide…both riders fall off, and can be seriously hurt.
“But here’s the tricky part,” Lara continued as she leaned forward to use two fingers as a visual aid on the table. “Once the jet skis collide, the plastic shells crack…they take on water. They have to be repaired before they can run properly again.”
“So basically…you need to have your jet ski repaired.”
“Exactly.” Lara leaned back and folded her arms, as her smile slowly disappeared. “Only beyond the metaphor I just made up…I have no idea how to fix my problem. Unless-”
“Unless what?”
Lara stood and began pacing the room slowly. “What I’m about to tell you is going to sound like kind of a shock. Are you sure you’re ready?”
Jason leaned back and nodded.
“Before you started writing me as a fictional character, I existed as a spirit somewhere. We sort of…found each other. The same is true of most relationships between writers and complex characters of theirs. It’s like finding a kindred soul out in the void and adopting it.
“What that means,” Lara continued as she leaned against the table, “is that when you write about me, either you write what you sense is happening to me…or it happens to me as you write it.”
“But what if I sense it, and it doesn’t happen until I write it?” Jason smiled and leaned forward, as he began to get into the spirit of the dizzying conversation. “That makes more sense, the way the ideas come to me. I see it happen first, then I write it.”
Lara nodded. “That would mean that to characters like me, writers are virtually prophets…and your visions are directly from a God.”
“So all I have to do is write you a path back home.” Jason smiled as he stood to clean up the plates left on the table. “That sounds easy enough.”
“Almost easy enough.” Lara tapped a finger against her nose as she stared out the window, lost in thought. “But…remember the colliding jet skis? Someone else is stranded, too – the blue-skinned guy. I can’t go home until he’s saved as well. We have to find his writer too…a nearly impossible task.”
Jason smiled knowingly at the mention of the “blue-skinned guy” again. “Oh…I don’t think it’s so impossible.”


“Kian…that name sounds so familiar.”
Lara sat on the couch in Jason’s living room, leaned back to get a better view of the screen on his laptop computer, which was on the coffee table. “How do you know his name?”
Jason smiled. “After what you said about writers and fictional characters, it makes sense. Kian Roh is the only blue-skinned fictional character I can think of. My friend Dayna Abel is the one who writes his stories.”
“Oh, yeah…7 Stars, I remember that. It’s good.”
“Yeah, it is. But the new book is called Immortal.” Jason turned his attention back to the computer as the MSN Messenger software, slow as ever, came to life. “Bill Gates had better not mess with me today, or-”
“Or what?”
Jason shrugged. “I’m glad you asked. Maybe, while you’re stuck here, you can visit his home and fry all of his electronics.”
“Nah, it’s not worth it…he’d just take it out on the public. It’s a vicious cycle.”
“I never thought of it that way.” Jason nearly jumped out of his seat when the telltale chat window chirp echoed loudly from the laptop speakers. His hunch paid off – Dayna was not only online, she had been waiting impatiently for him to show up. ‘Where have you been?’ the first line read. ‘I REALLY need to talk to you about something.’
‘Let me guess,’ Jason typed quickly, ‘Kian is over there?’
There was a short pause. ‘Okay, what have I told you about these brain leaks?’ was the reply.
Jason leaned back a little from the shock, his eyes widening noticeably as he paused to stare at that last line. Kian Roh…was real? He glanced over at Lara for a moment, remembering who he was just about to ask. Then again, Lara looked almost like a normal human – a blue-skinned young man, undeniably from another planet, was another matter.
Jason responded to Dayna’s last message quickly. ‘Guess who is visiting me?’
‘Are you and Kevin hosting a Supergirl convention at your house?’
‘Funny…but no,’ Jason responded, ‘Lara is visiting. And apparently, she ran into Kian on the way here.’
‘Oh, God,’ Dayna answered, ‘They’re going to lock us both up, aren’t they?’
‘Maybe…but wouldn’t they have to lock up Lara and Kian first?’ Jason smiled as he typed in that last line, and turned to look at Lara – but she just glared at him.
“I’d like to get home before you two are hauled away to the loony bin, if you don’t mind.” An amused smile from Lara made it clear that she was just joking.
‘Then she must have been the white light Kian said he ran into,’ Dayna typed. ‘I think the four of us need to get together here. Think you can handle a face-to-face meeting?’
Jason smiled. Another opportunity to abuse a movie quote from “Ghostbusters” made itself apparent. Lara, seeing the next phrase coming, rolled her eyes before he even finished typing it. ‘I think that would be extraordinarily dangerous.’


“Oh, that’s just great.” Lara sighed loudly and sat down on the bench behind Jason’s house. “You know Dayna’s address…but you have no idea where that is?”
Jason shrugged. “I’ve never been there. And the one time I went anywhere in Illinois, I spent the entire time completely lost. I do have an idea, however – I’ll think of someplace I do know, and you could teleport us there. Then we could get a cab to go the rest of the way.”
“I can do that?” Lara looked a little confused.
“Sure.” Jason smiled. “I thought of it in a dream. And since I first discovered you in a dream…”
“…you figured this would work too.” Lara stood quickly and held her left hand out to Jason. “All right, it’s worth a try. Worst that can happen is you’ll be burned to a crisp.”
“That’s not funny,” Jason said as the two suddenly disappeared from his backyard. He felt a heat run through his body…and in just a split second, his backyard had been replaced by manicured greenery in some kind of public park. And a thirty-foot arch made of marble.
“This isn’t Illinois, Jason. We’re in London!” Lara frowned as she pointed at traffic sailing down the left side of the road nearby. “How the heck did that happen?”
Jason shrugged. “Sorry, my mind was wandering. Let’s try it again.”
Lara nodded as she took Jason’s hand again. This time, they appeared in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn somewhere outside Chicago. Lara frowned as she stared at the tall glass building. “Why here?”
“I know someone who works here,” Jason answered, “He should be able to get us a cab.”
“Okay. And just so you know…”
“Know what?” Jason turned around quickly, worried that Lara was about to give him more bad news.
Lara motioned for Jason to keep walking. “This is the last time I ask you for help with navigation. You have less sense of direction then I do.”


Jason limped out of the taxicab as soon as it came to a stop outside a small yellow one-story house. He and Lara had just finished a long – and expensive – ride from the Holiday Inn. He pulled a small, crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket to check it again. “I hope this is the right house.”
“Yeah, well…” Lara said as she turned to watch the cab drive away quickly, “It better be. We just lost our ride.”
“I hope this isn’t a dangerous neighborhood.” Jason looked up and down the street quickly. “That cab left kind of quickly.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that.” Lara stiffened to stand taller, holding her arms out at her sides, taking a deep breath to give her next words more depth. “Ah pity the fool who messes with the ‘L’!”
Jason laughed out loud at Lara’s impression of Mr. T. “Sorry, Lara. It just doesn’t work for you.”
Both Jason and Lara jumped back as the front door of the house suddenly opened. A brunette of average height stood in the doorway as she looked at Lara’s costume carefully, then at Jason.
“What took you two so long?” She walked outside, followed by a blue-skinned young man several inches taller than her, with blonde hair and violet eyes.
Jason and Lara looked at each other, silently sharing a thought – they knew the guy with the blue skin had to be Kian, and the brunette must be Dayna. “Sorry, Dayna,” Jason apologized. “The cab ride took longer than we thought.”
“You took a cab? From Chicago?” she asked incredulously. “Why didn’t you just take the train to Geneva? The station’s only about ten minutes from here.”
Lara and Jason looked at each other. “I didn’t know there was a train,” Jason admitted, embarrassed.
“Obviously,” Lara said deprecatingly.
Dayna tried without much success to stifle a chuckle. “Well, it’s nice to see you in person, finally,” she said. “And you must be Lara Night.”
Lara shook Dayna’s hand. “It’s a pleasure,” she said. She noticed Kian standing off to the side uncomfortably. “And you must be the guy I ran into earlier.”
“Sorry about that,” Kian mumbled.
“Don’t worry about it,” Lara forgave him. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
“Why don’t we all have a seat out here?” Dayna suggested, indicating the wicker chairs on the porch. “I think we need to have a talk.”

Over The Edge, Part 1

Kian Roh stood in the ancient Temple of Anthai, watching intently as his younger sister Maia silently prepared to open the gateway to the Land of the Gods. Kian, for his part, was apprehensive about the whole thing. Although he had somewhat come to terms with the fact that Maia could take care of herself, he was still almost always apprehensive where his sister was concerned. They’d faced mortal danger together before, along with their friends Aron and Risa – who, at this moment, stood beside Kian before the dais – and prevailed. Kian commanded water magic, and Maia was a fire magus, and between the two of them, there was very little that stood a chance against the siblings.
But this was different. Maia was the focus of an ancient prophecy that demanded she go to Alderia, Land of the Gods, to face and destroy the insane God Ral Gant. That was the part that worried him. His green-skinned, silver-haired sister was an extremely capable young lady, but what mortal could hope to stand against a God? And how could Maia have been in a prophecy that was a thousand years old? Ten’maa’s blood, she was only eighteen!
Kian shook his head. Worrying wouldn’t do any good. All he could do was pray to the Gods – excepting one, of course – that Maia would prove equal to her task. He grinned suddenly. Of course, with him at her side, how could she not?
Kian fixed his violet eyes on his sister. She stood with her arms raised in supplication, her face tilted towards the sky. Her fire magic began to build at her hands, the shimmering red spilling out of her palms and over her fingers.
Without warning, Maia’s slender body jerked forward, and the magic burst from her outthrust hands and struck the empty air, spattering against it like raindrops on a window. The magic began to swirl, whirling faster and faster in a circle, its crimson hue gradually fading to warm gold. Kian shielded his eyes as his sister was absorbed into the portal. Suddenly, the golden vortex shot forward, enveloping Aron and Risa in its auric arms of flame, and finally Kian himself was sucked into its depths, being drawn toward Alderia.
As he passed between the dimensions, pulled along the fiery tunnel almost against his will, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye – a white light hurtling towards him at lightning speed! Kian tried to duck out of its way, but he was immobilized by the gold fire. He shut his eyes tightly and braced for impact.
The shock was incredible when the white light passed over Kian’s body. He howled in pain as his muscles were ratcheted by a powerful electrical jolt. His blue skin actually began to steam from the heat of it. Mercifully, Kian blacked out from the pain. His last conscious thought was the sensation of falling.


Lara Night found herself plummeting through soft white clouds, the cool mist saturating her skin and hair as she passed through them. She was spinning out of control, feeling her stomach churn as glimpses of the horizon passed before her eyes, never in the same place as before. Thoughts were racing through her mind – that it was all an illusion somehow, that it was a dream. It couldn’t be real.
Before long, she felt branches and leaves tearing at her skin and clothing as the sound of cracking wood filled her ears. Closing her eyes, she began to silently pray that none of the cracking sounds were her own limbs…she begged for the falling to stop.
And it did.
The breath in her lungs rushed out of her violently as the merciless ground slammed into her back. She felt her head bounce once slightly after it hit, and a wave of dizziness followed almost immediately. As she opened her eyes slowly, she realized the falling was over – but she had no idea where she had come to a stop.
“Ohhh…that hurt.” Lara sat up slowly, leaning her head against her left palm to try and stop her head from throbbing painfully. A quick survey of her arms, hands, legs and head told her that she was uninjured – yet every muscle and joint in her body cried out to her. Resistance to damage didn’t always guarantee absence of pain.
She stood slowly, and paused to pick out the many leaves and branches which had wedged themselves in her hair, as well as inside her costume. She decided not to ask herself how the foliage ended up in there – some things were better off not discovering.
As soon as she’d had a few moments to calm herself, Lara tried to remember the events which had preceded her fall and violent crash to the ground. She had traveled across the universe, even between realities, dozens of times without incident. What had been different this time?
Lara remembered leaving her home in Los Angeles in her black and white costume, locking her door before she leapt toward the skies. She wanted to begin her cross-reality journey to Otherverse in the air, so she would end up in the air once she re-materialized on Otherverse Earth. It gave her an advantage over anything which might be on the ground at the time.
That was the last thing she remembered clearly. Then, a vision – a blue-skinned young man, flying toward her at high velocity. She felt him pass through her intangible energy form as she instinctively cringed and closed her eyes in anticipation of an impact which never occurred. Next thing she remembered-
Lara looked up at the trees painfully and sighed. It was time to forget the past and begin exploring to figure out exactly where she was. She began walking through the forest she had apparently landed in the middle of. It was a short walk – by the time she took a few steps, she saw a single-lane paved road winding through the woods…as well as a wooden sign.
“Whitewater Forest?” She smiled as the words she spoke out loud reached her own ears. She knew where she was – on the home Earth of someone she hadn’t visited in a while. He was a good listener, someone who was nice to her…someone she was happy to call a friend.
But just as she considered visiting him, her thoughts turned again to the blue-skinned young man. An ordinary human falling from the sky would have been killed – had the “blue guy” met the same fate? Was he seriously injured, in need of help? Lara knew that as long as she had a chance of saving someone who could possibly be dying…she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t.
She leapt into the sky, quickly shifting into intangibility, intent on sending herself to wherever the “blue guy” went. Only as soon as she began to change to energy, she felt pain like never before. Her skin felt as if it was on fire, like someone had just tossed her into a blast furnace. The shock was enough to break her concentration, causing her to fall to the ground once more, not even feeling it this time when she crash-landed.
As the pain subsided, she rose slowly to her feet. She looked at her hands, expecting to see burns, even blood – but they were uninjured.
“What is going on here?” Lara looked up at the sky again as she stepped over to the edge of the road on shaky legs. She thought about flying somewhere…anywhere that could help her find out what was happening. But after her last attempt, she had to build her courage first.
Lara floated off the ground gently, higher and higher – testing herself, to be prepared for any pain her flight might cause. But even as she rose above the treetops, she felt nothing. She looked at her hands again, realizing in a flash what had caused the sudden, painful heat – she had been trying to teleport herself somewhere!
“That’s it! I can’t travel-” Lara’s voice began in triumphant discovery, but trailed off in sadness. She began to realize that she was trapped on this Earth, and didn’t understand why. Her mind imagined the blue-skinned young man somewhere, bleeding to death…and she was helpless to stop it.
A deep sigh cleared her mind. She couldn’t harbor any fear, any worries – the problem at hand, her inability to leave this universe, would have to be addressed first. Lara knew she would have to visit the one person with enough imagination – and possibly power – to send her home. “Well…I’m off to see the wizard.”


Kian regained consciousness just in time to see that he was falling head-first towards a small body of water. With a startled cry, he extended his arms and summoned his magic. A silvery shimmer shot downwards, enveloped the rapidly approaching ground, and brought up the water into a cushioning fountain.
Kian splashed hard into the waterspout, but it worked – slowly, he lowered himself until he could let himself fall without breaking any bones.
“Gods, what a headache,” he groaned. His skull was pounding, and every muscle in his body twitched spasmodically as a result of the shock he’d gotten from going through the portal to Alderia…he stopped himself in mid-thought. The shock hadn’t been from the portal, he realized abruptly. It was that white blur he saw.
Puzzled, he looked around for Maia, but didn’t see her – or Aron or Risa, for that matter. A horrible realization began to ice up in his stomach. This was not Alderia. He knew it instinctively. For one thing, it looked like he was in somebody’s backyard. It was fenced in, and had a large willow tree off in one corner. The other side was landscaped with odd-looking plants, although they had yet to bloom. In the middle of everything (where, though?) was what looked like a pond set in stone. Kian turned around, and sure enough, a yellow one-story house was staring back at him.
“This day can’t get any worse,” Kian lamented. Right on cue, as if to disprove his words, a pair of large, barking dogs came barreling towards him. Kian, it must be said, shrieked and ran like a woman – only there was nowhere to run. The larger, honey-colored dog leapt up and put his front paws on Kian’s chest, knocking him over. The smaller, black dog took the sleeve of Kian’s tunic and pulled, growling menacingly.
“Opie! Floyd! Knock it off!” a woman’s voice called out sharply from the house. The dogs abandoned Kian and ran to the back door. Kian sat up, shaking his head to clear the mental cobwebs, and looked up to see who had called the dogs off.
She was a young woman, barely out of her teens, with thick, rich auburn hair and pale skin. She was of average height and was dressed in the strangest clothing Kian had ever seen – blue pants of an odd fabric and a sleeveless black shirt of an unfamiliar cut. She wasn’t wearing any shoes, and Kian noticed that she had pretty feet.
“What are you getting into now, huh?” she asked the dogs, scratching their ears while their tails wagged enthusiastically. She looked up at Kian, and her blue eyes widened in sudden shock.
Kian caught her gaze and managed a guilty wave. “Hello,” he said lamely.
The girl continued staring. Kian indicated his wet, muddy clothes. “Could you give me a towel or something?”
“A towel. Sure,” the girl repeated dumbly. “Ah…can you come over here for a second?”
Kian acquiesced, looking apprehensively at the growling dogs, but the girl had them firmly by their collars. She stared at him for a long time, taking in his blonde hair, violet eyes, pointed ears and undeniably blue skin. She also noticed his dripping clothes – a yellow tunic, tan leather pants, soft leather half-boots and a dark blue traveling cloak. After a very long scrutiny, she sighed.
“Well, that’s it,” she said glumly. “I’ve finally snapped. I suppose I can go bomb my old high school or something now.”
Kian squinted at her. “Are you…quite all right?”
“Oh, sure. I’m fine. I’m seeing fictional characters walking around in my backyard, so yeah, I’m just perfect.” Her words were heavily laced with sarcasm.
Kian frowned. “Fictional?”
“Well, yeah. There’s this whole thing where you don’t exist and I’m insane.”
“I’m…” Kian began, then thought better of it. “Well, mostly I’m wet, but I’m also very lost, so could you please tell me where I am?”
The girl shooed the dogs into the house, shut the door and faced Kian. “Not until you tell me what happened to you.”
Kian sighed. It was going to be one of those days. “I was with my sister and friends at the Temple of Anthai. We were going to Alderia, and as I was traveling through the portal, I-”
“So you are him,” the girl said in amazement.
“Pardon?”
“Kian. You’re Kian Roh.” The girl stared at him, bewildered. “And I’m…talking to you.”
Kian decided that maybe the girl was a little crazy. “It seems you have the advantage over me.”
The girl smiled despite herself. Well, I’m nuts, not rude, she thought. “Dayna,” she introduced herself. “Dayna Abel.”
Kian shook her hand politely. “I’m quite sure we haven’t met before,” he pointed out.
Dayna frowned. “Let’s assume for a minute that I haven’t lost my mind. How did you end up here?”
“I don’t know!” Kian said in frustration. “I was going to Alderia and this white light hit me. I blacked out, and the next thing I know-”
“-you’re making a nosedive into my pool,” she finished for him.
“And for that matter, where is here?”
“Earth,” Dayna said with a shrug. “You won’t have heard of it. I hate to tell you, Kian, but you’re on another world.”
Kian absorbed that. “Okay. So how did I get here, and what was that white light?”
“I don’t know,” Dayna admitted. “I didn’t put that in the book.”
Kian blinked. “What?”
“Never mind. Why don’t you come inside and dry off? You and I need to have a very long talk.” She grinned suddenly. “You’re lucky I’ve got the house to myself this weekend. My dad thinks my friend Jay looks like a freak. He’d have apoplexy if he saw you.”
Kian followed Dayna into the house. Strange girl, he thought to himself.