This is the second part of the story started in Disturbance in the night. Yet again it originates from an excellent challenge from Saras blog, namely the key challenge. In this blog post a key is presented which she found when she was very young. It is also this key which is the subject of the challenge; where does the key lead and what mysteries will it uncover? This is my contribution set in the world created for Disturbance in the night.
As soon as I have time I’ll also include a video recording!
The key to great adventure
A green light flashed before my eyes. I walked forward for what seemed like an eternity, but not on steady ground. No, I hadn’t felt that since the man-dog and I had reached the portal, no for the longest time my feet felt like they were walking on fog, pedaling through the air endlessly. But strangely enough, I didn’t really feel terrified because of it. It was as if I knew that I’d safely reach the other side.
And suddenly the green light started to intertwine with rays of white, I looked in front of me, eyes pinched in an attempt to see anything in all the brightness. A bright light with the shape of a portal beamed ahead. Intuitively I felt how I was drawn towards it, and what felt like a few minutes later I passed it.
I opened my eyes, I was laying on my back staring right towards the sky.
– Where am I?
I looked around, my eyes seemed to still adapt to seeing. Bit by bit I could piece together what I saw around me. I guessed it was in the middle of the night and I was lying on the grass. It felt quite soft to the touch and the grass was heavy of dew. My clothes were quite soggy as well and as I sat up I felt how my sweater was a bit damp. I looked around and saw nothing except a few trees and mist and stars.
– I wonder were that man-dog is…
There was not really much to do, and for some reason, I felt extremely tired, but I knew that I had to start moving. I didn’t even know where I was, my first priority should be to locate myself, or at least find some kind of shelter.
– Hello, is anyone here? I said, rather loud, hoping that the man-dog would answer.
I heard nothing answering me, actually, it was almost too quiet, only a mild wind convinced me that I could still actually hear. I looked up in the sky, searching for the belt of Orion, but I couldn’t find it.
Well, I guess I better start walking… I stood up and was just about to start walking when my foot hit something hard.
I looked down and picked up the object sticking up from the ground. It was a really heavy and dirty metal thing… covered in so much mud that it was difficult to see. I wiped away some of the mud and held the objects up against the stars to get some light on it. And in this light I could finally make sense of the object, it was a key! Not the kind of key everyone uses for their houses today, but more like the old barn keys made from iron used in the 19th century.
Perhaps it would have been odd to keep it on a normal circumstance, but I had just traveled through a portal and this key was the first object I’d ever found on this mysterious place. I decided to keep it. I wiped away the last pieces of dirt and debris and put the key in my pocket, where it barely fit.
I started walking again, this time without any particular troubles. I slowly went down the hill and walked forward until I suddenly found a road. I decided that it might be best to just follow it since the road would surely lead me somewhere. I traveled along the road for a quite a while, at least a few hours, because all of a sudden I saw how the sky turned rosy red and the dawn broke.
Now when there was more light I could see even more clearly, and would you believe it, further down the road I saw a figure, a figure shaped like a man-dog! I happily started walking faster towards the figure, eager to meet my newfound companion. Somewhere in the back of my head panic rested and told me that the figure didn’t necessarily have to be the same as the one I had recently met, but I pushed away any doubts. Right now I didn’t really have much choice but to believe.
And as soon as I got close my fears completely vanished, here I had indeed found the man-dog! He seemed to sleep hard on the side of the road.
– Hey! Taking a good rest? I said quite loudly.
The man-dog woke up, stretched and yawned and then looked up at me.
– Oh, there you are! I’ve been looking for you!
The man-dog stood up and quickly brushed off some dirt from his clothes.
– Are you hungry? He asked.
I hadn’t really thought about it, but as he asked me I realized that I was indeed terribly hungry.
– Yes, I said as I nodded my head.
The man-dog smirked lightly and reached into his pocket, pulling out the hot dogs he had taken from the fridge earlier. He gave me one and put another in his mouth like a long cigar, eating it slowly while his face made a very thoughtful expression.
– So do you know where we are? I asked.
– No, not really, replied the man-dog slowly munching.
– But if my calculations are correct we should be quite close to the forbidden garden.
My puzzled look gave me away. The man-dogs thoughtful expression quickly disappeared and was replaced by a grin.
– Oh right, I’m sorry, I didn’t even get to tell you that part, you solved the riddle of the gateway all to fast.
– The forbidden garden is a place I’ve dreamed about for many years. I’ve read many legends about it and supposedly it’s a wonderful place with beautiful hedges, flowers, and fruit which tastes divine. Of course my real objective was to think out a way to get here, the passageway was my life work. But to finally get here… it’s just amazing.
I couldn’t really say that I was very pleased. I didn’t care much for gardens and even if the fruits tasted amazing I much preferred drinks. Suddenly I started feeling unmotivated to move on. But then a question came to my mind.
– Okay well, that’s great and all, but how do we get back later? I asked.
– Actually, the answer to that lies in the garden as well, replied the man-dog. In its center, there should be a tree which acts as a portal back.
– Okay, then let’s go there!
We ate two more hot dogs each before we started walking. The surroundings were quite nice but I couldn’t really see anything other than the road, trees, and grass. We traveled what felt like a few hours and then we reached a high hedge.
– Oh my goodness, we are actually here! The man-dog said his voice filled with joy.
– So how do we get in? I asked.
– It should be an entrance… somewhere along this hedge… Replied the man-dog while scouting the ground along the hedge.
I followed and helped to look among the many twigs of the hedge, we searched for a long time when we finally found a small hole.
– Oh, this should be it I’m sure! Said the man-dog.
– After you…!
We slowly moved into the hedge only to find a dead-end.
– Perhaps there’s another way in? Said the man-dog his voice filled with exhaustion. I became a bit angry.
– No, it must be here, I said while I started to tear away on the twigs. The man-dog seemed to reach out to stop me when suddenly a twig cracked and a ray of light started shining in. I looked at the man-dog grinning.
– Seems like we found the entrance after all!
The man-dog grinned back, relieved that we didn’t have to go back and continue the search for a way in. He started to help to remove the twigs and soon there was a hole big enough to get through. We crawled through it and fell down on the other side, a short fall of about half a meter. But what met our eyes when we got up made us both gape in awe.
In front of us was the most amazing garden you could think of. Not the kind of grand gardens outside of palaces, but the kind of garden you’d see hidden away in your dreams. There were an old swing set and a lot of flowers wherever I looked. The flowers were in all shapes and sizes but still stood perfectly placed as if each flower had been put there for a specific purpose. There was a small pond there and a few codfish swam around happily. Any feelings of pain or hunger from the long trip there and the wrangling with the twigs seemed to disappear and a great calm took place in my very soul.
– I feel like I’ve been here before… I thought out loud.
– Yeah… I think most of us have been here in our dreams, replied the man-dog.
– At least that’s how I first got to know about this place.
– What do you mean?
– When we are kids we see things way more clearly than when we grow up. Only a few of us ever retain this skill of perception to adulthood. But it stays there, in our dreams and daydreams. You remember this place because you’ve been here, or at least seen it when you allowed your mind to wander freely.
I didn’t really understand what he meant, but I had to agree that this place felt both familiar and relaxing. I walked to the swing set and sat on it, I got an urge to swing a bit and pushed myself back and forth with my feet. I jumped off during one of the swings, just as I had done as a kid.
– So shall we go and look for the fruit? I asked.
– Yes, let’s do that, said the man-dog with a faint smile on his face.
We walked along the hedges and took our time to look at all the different flowers. As we walked the man-dog pointed out and named a lot of the flowers, hyacinths, lilies, roses… When suddenly we got to a really big tree with big yellow fruits hanging down.
– This is the fruit, said the man-dog.
– How do you know that?
– It’s the only plant here that I haven’t recognized.
We both reached out and grabbed a fruit which was just so far away that we could reach it.
– So let’s try it?
– On the count of three. One two… three!
We both bit into the fruit at the same time. As I bit into it I felt an explosion of tastes. The fruit tasted all kinds of tastes at the same time, and not only that but it felt like it was sweet and sour and salt at the same time as well. I didn’t know what to think but took a few more bites, the flavor was amazing!
As I ate I felt how I became more and more happy I remembered things from my childhood and the taste reminded me of different things I thought I had forgotten. When I stopped eating the fruit was gone and only a stem remained. I stuffed some more fruits in my pockets.
– This fruit is amazing!
– I told you didn’t I?
I started to feel like this place wasn’t so bad after all. I felt like I could stay here a while longer.
– Perhaps we should stay?
The man-dog looked at me.
– Okay, but we should try to find the center tree.
I nodded and we started exploring the garden while searching for the tree with the portal home. While strolling through the garden I grew more and more fond of it. I found a lot of different little roads leading to flower patches, more fruit trees with different fruits one more tasteful than the other and eventually small wells and springs. The place felt otherworldly like it wasn’t really meant for humans, but at the same time it felt like the perfect place for me and I started to really enjoy my time there.
The time passed faster than I could have imagined and close to dusk we eventually found the center tree. It glimmered green and surges of energy spread from it just as I had seen energy surge from the portal for what felt like an eternity ago.
– I don’t understand, there should be a way to activate the portal, mumbled the man-dog.
We searched the center tree for clues of how to activate the portal. We didn’t get much luck and dusk turned to midnight. I got to think about my key and searched the tree for a keyhole, but there was none to be found. We sat down by the tree, strangely I didn’t feel especially sad for the fact that I might not be able to go back. In fact, I was relieved.
– Remember how we got here, the man-dog said. We used the stars to guide us. Maybe the stars can send us back?
I looked at the man-dog and realized that I was not alone in this. I needed to find a way back, at least so that the man-dog could return.
– Yes, I said, looking up in the sky. The sky was bright and filled with stars. Not the stars of earth, but with a whole other set of stars and patterns. I looked at the man-dog and pulled out the key.
– I found this earlier, it might be of some help?
The man-dog inspected the key. He reached out and took it and hold it close to his eyes. He smelled it once and then stood up.
– I remember this smell. I felt it some way back just before we found the center tree!
We rushed back together finding out way through the hedges. The hedges appeared to be closer to each other than they had been during the day. Suddenly the man-dog stopped and reached for an object on the ground. It was a small lockbox.
– If I am correct this key should be able to open this lockbox… at least the smells are exactly the same.
The man-dog put the key inside the lockbox and turned it. A distinct clicking sound was heard and the lockbox opened. Inside it was a stone which glimmered green.
– I bet this stone activates the center tree!
We ran back towards the center tree, the hedges felt even closer than before. Now I really felt that it was time to leave this place. We eventually found our way back to the center tree and pushed the stone against it. The tree started buzzing and green sparks started flying from the stone. We stepped back quickly to avoid getting hit.
The tree started to crackle and suddenly a big flash of light made us cover our eyes. Wide surges of green light spread along the wrinkles of the tree and in its center a portal formed. The green in this portal seemed gentler than the green light from before. I looked at the man-dog and nodded, he nodded back and then we rushed towards the newly formed portal.