A Tour of the World Between Worlds
With a snap of the reigns, the giant lizard-like monster, a ‘raptor’ as the strange man called it, began to pull the carriage. We had slept through the night in the wagon, and it wasn’t until the vehicle started to shake that I awoke. I shot up in an instant and looked around. It took a moment to remember, but I eventually recalled the previous day's events. Mr. Non had tried to chat with me about pointless things, and I answered with one or two-word replies. It was amazing how patient he was; I suppose the others in the grey world also had been the same.
I sat up and rubbed my eyes as I looked around. We were heading toward the rising suns, but the strange man didn’t seem bothered by the light in his eyes. He blissfully guided the monster pulling the cart with the green frog sitting on his head—I wonder what he might say if I told him about the strange creature on him.
“Good morning Kiko!” he shouted even though his back was turned to me.
“You can pull something out of the barrels to eat if you want.”
I didn’t hesitate at his suggestion and quickly began to scarf down some bread.
“Where are we going,” I asked after finishing my meal.
“Where do you think we would go in this strange world?”
“Please, just tell me.” I made no effort to hide the annoyance in my tone. He laughed.
“To find some friends, of course!” I wasn’t sure how credible his words were, but I was starting to think they were careless and not worth listening to.
“There are others in this world?” I asked halfheartedly.
“I’d guess we can at least find five or so,” Mr. Non said as he cracked the reins. As we pulled out of the abandoned town, the monster began to change direction slightly—probably so we weren’t directly looking at the suns. My eyes narrowed.
“Are you certain, or are you saying a number at random?” His laugh gave me my reply. This was not something he took seriously. I was the fool for giving in for even a moment.
“Maybe you’ll be lucky, and we’ll find your friends from the other world!”
I regretted going into details immediately. Too much was said the prior day.
“They won’t be coming. It is too risky to enter this world.”
“I can see that!” Mr. Non said with a laugh. “But you shouldn’t be so negative about it; it will only lead to despair.”
“Ignore him, Kiko,” Azul chimed in from my shoulders. “We should be getting away soon.”
My back pressed against the side of the wagon, and I stretched out my legs; the posture might have looked like I was getting complacent and relaxing—and in a sense, I was—but I kept my hands close to my daggers in case they needed to be drawn.
“There’s no need to rush; we should get more food while we can,” I whispered. Since Azul never ate, I at least had not seen it; I imagined he didn’t understand what it was like to be hungry. The dragon grumbled as he retreated out of my field of vision.
His concern was valid to a point; we shouldn’t offer too much trust to this stranger. If anything, it was an oddity how relaxed I felt around this person. Sad as it was to admit, it was quite unlike me.
“So, tell me, Kiko,” Mr. Non said as he focused on guiding the cart, “What do you want to do from now on?”
“Right now, I just want to get out of this world.”
I kept my mouth shut. Through my retelling of the story, I neglected to mention Azul. Though I had wanted to sound a little crazy, I felt bringing up an invisible blue dragon coiled around my neck like a scarf might be too much for some random guy. At the very least, I couldn’t tell him about my search for the keys—at least not directly.
“I’ll be searching for something.”
“Oh, for what?”
“My lost memories.” A half-truth should suffice.
“Just memories? You don’t need to look; they could come back here if you wanted.”
“Unless you know a trick to it, I doubt they would.”
“I could try giving a bonk on the head with a rubber mallet under the cart,” Mr. Non said with a laugh. I sighed and shook my head.
“Why would you have that in the first place?”
“To help amnesiacs, why else?” Though he didn’t look at me, I could see the grin on his face in my mind.
“Surely you don’t run into people who lose their memories all the time?”
“Actually, you are the first, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be the last.”
“What if I hit you in the head with the hammer?” I threatened.
“I’d rather you didn’t; head trauma can be a serious condition.” He deflected with a laugh.
“But you have no problem hitting me? That would be considered a crime.”
Mr. Non pointed out into the vast wasteland of the world.
“No authorities mean no crimes! The tradeoff is we all get eaten!” he said with a laugh.
I opened my mouth to reply when my eyes grew wide. We had been going back and forth like it was nothing, and I had no idea why I was being so open. Where had that come from? My hands even moved away from my daggers, and my posture grew more relaxed. I shrunk back and turned my gaze to the wooden floor of the cart. Sure enough, there was a hatch to an undersection. He very well could have some hammer down there, or he could have simply been joking.
“Whatever you say….” I grumbled while grabbing one of the hilts to ensure my hand stayed in place.
“Oh, don’t be like that. Look ahead; we’re coming close to some of the only life left in this sad world!” I turned to look at what Mr. Non was talking about. It was green, not a bleak green with hints of yellow; the spot was truly green.
A tall tree shot up in the center, like a tower that might even touch the clouds. Its green-covered branches stretched out over a wide area, making almost a large umbrella to protect the trees above. It had to be ancient. I didn’t think a tree could ever get so large.
Under the canopy of the giant tree, a collection of relatively smaller trees gathered around like children. They were a bright pink color which forced an involuntary roll of my eyes. Cherry blossoms—why couldn’t it be anything else?
“Are we going there?” I asked.
“Of course! I think you’ll find it quite nice. Plus, It’s the only place left in this world that the monsters leave alone.”
Mr. Non shrugged.
“Ask the monsters, I guess.”
“Kiko, it may be unwise to go into that forest!” Azul warned. His words weren’t convincing. I doubt he could make a good case for not entering. It was the only place that was safe. “If you are so concerned with eating, you should stab that man and just run away with the food! His back is wide open!” he added. I shook my head. That was most certainly not an option, and I think the glare I gave the blue dragon made my intent clear. If Mr. Non proved untrustworthy, that might be a different case, but I certainly couldn’t just stab anyone; at least, I hope I couldn’t.
The blue dragon grumbled as our cart reached the base of the first trees. He didn’t offer any more complaints as we slipped into the serene woods.