Friday, April 19, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Nineteen

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 19 (or, "Welcome To Limbo")

Yesterday’s Episode: Mac and Peter go on the hunt for the Gutenberg Bible, but run into a mysterious person trying to stop them.

    Peter opened his eyes.
    He was sitting in a classroom, one that looked a lot like his. The door was closed, and the windows were foggy, with it being a winter day. His chair was in the back right corner, and he was in his school uniform. As he woke up, he looked around for his school books, but they weren’t there. Neither were any of his school mates. What was this? Had he gone straight to school from Union Square? None of this was adding up. Maybe this was one of those instances where reality was messing up. Mac and his friends were talking about that, and it seemed to explain why Peter couldn’t remember certain things.
    None of this was adding up. And if he could just find Mac here -- or wait until school started -- then he would get his questions answered.
    He stretched his legs, then rolled his neck and got up from his chair. At the very least, he should be able to go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat. But when he tried the door, it didn’t open. The knob didn’t have any give to it at all.
    Moving around the classroom also made Peter see that it didn’t seem like a real classroom at all. There weren’t any signs posted on the walls, no chalk, no indication that there had been any life here at all.
    Except for, Peter was now noticing, the sound of snoring.
    He approached the teacher’s desk with a tentative cautiousness, going back to his chair to grab his cricket bat (which had somehow made it to school with him). Then, he slowly crept toward the chair and tried to see if there was anybody in it.
    There was. A young man with blonde hair and a white jacket on was sitting in the chair, dozing, arms in his lap. Peter raised an eyebrow. “What the...”
    The man stirred and looked up at Peter with big blue eyes. “Oh, hello there. Wasn’t quite expecting visitors yet, but you’ll do. Transmissions don’t come down here anyway.” He straightened himself in the chair and spun around to face the teacher’s desk without anything on it. “Your name, please?”
    “Peter. Peter Doyle.”
    “Peter. Right. This makes more sense now. I am, as you can see --” and then, without any warning, a nameplate appeared on the desk. Peter leaned over to read it as the man said it -- “Mr. Michael Spowers, your teacher.”
    Peter gave the man a strange look. “I’ve never had you as my teacher before, Mr. Spowers.”
    “Mick. Please. This class is going to be informal enough as it is.” He smiled as two notebooks appeared on the desk in front of them. “We will probably be joined here in this classroom by other students you know, as this universe decides what it’s keeping and what it’s chucking.”
    Peter raised another eyebrow. “I’m afraid I don’t copy. What the smeg is going on here?”
    “I’m sorry. Maybe your friends didn’t fill you in. Suppose that’s my job now.” Mick leaned his head on his hands. “Welcome to class in limbo, Peter. The world you know and love is changing, molding as it tries to fit. And those things that get lost in the shuffle -- like you and me -- go here. In limbo.”
    Peter’s eyes widened. “So we’re in limbo? That means I’m dead?”
    “You’re not dead. Not yet, anyway.”
    “Oh. I swear, if I ever get out of here, I’m joining the drama club even though my dad told me not to.” Peter paused. “If we’re stuck here, we can get out, right?”
    “I hope so. When the world you know completes its transformation, whatever it might be, this limbo will disappear at that time. If we are here when it disappears, then we go along with it.”
    Peter gulped. “So how do we get out?”
    “We can’t do anything. We have to wait for the girl Sarah -- my associate -- chose to decide what happens next. If she can get it straightened out, we’ll go back to normal. But she only has --” Mick looked at his watch, for some reason -- “five more days to do so. And if she doesn’t choose what happens to your world, then the world will start choosing at random.”
    Peter took a notebook and sat in the student desk across from Mick. “You speak like you’re not from my world.”
    Mick grinned. “That obvious, I suppose. Now, would you like me to teach you?”
    Peter nodded and opened the book. “Tell me everything you know.”

    Mac tried to call Carissa that night.
    About ten times.
    It wasn’t until one of the hospital nurses, a really nice lady named Jackie, picked up and told him that the hospital was closed that he quit. For the night.
    He went out to his roof in Brooklyn for a while and thought to himself. Coney Island had been eerily quiet since it was winter, but especially because of the hurricane. For once, he could stay up here and think in peace, but tonight, he couldn’t think about anything, save for the fact that he had tried to help Carissa...and failed.
    He got up the next morning and was surprised to find that his bike was gone, left at Union Square last night as part of a police investigation. He checked the news, but there was no notice that the investigation had ever happened. Because of this, he was late to school, which was miraculously fixed, as if there had been no fire.
    He decided to forget about math class -- he was ahead of everybody else, anyway -- and went up to the roof to call Carissa. But when he got through to the hospital number, they told him that she had already been discharged. It was a sigh of relief as he hung up and then called her cell phone.
    Somebody else answered. “Diga?
    Shoot, Mac thought to himself. It wasn’t that he didn’t like foreign languages, he just preferred to talk in English, as his family always had. “Is Carissa there?” he asked in English.
    The tone changed. “Oh! You are the white boy, yes?”
    “Yes, that’s me.” Mac felt embarrassed.
    “Okay. I’ll get her.” There was a pause, and then Mac felt relieved when Carissa’s voice came on the other line. “Sorry that my mom picked up the phone. She’s finally started being more concerned about my health.”
    Mac didn’t even wait. He launched into a full description of the previous night’s activities, including the strange woman in the cloak. “I kept trying to call you, but they said that you were asleep,” he said.
    “I was,” Carissa said. “That was my fault. I waited up until night hours, and then I couldn’t wait anymore. This entire experience is making me very tired.”
    “I’ll let you rest, then. I don’t have my bike anymore, but can I meet you at your house after school?”
    “I don’t see why not. Let me just ask my mom, although I’m sure she’ll let the nice white boy who rescued me in.”
    Mac felt his face turn three shades of red. “Okay, fine.”
    He got through the rest of the day just fine. During lunch, he spoke with Isabel and filled her in. “Have you seen Peter at all today?” he asked.
    She shook her head. “Not at all. And trust me, I would have noticed.”
    They both went over to Carissa’s apartment after school. The 1 line was delayed, so they took an A and walked. Carissa looked much better, and she was out of her school uniform, wearing a fitted hooded sweatshirt, green in color, and black leggings. Mac had to remind himself not to stare.
    “There’s got to be something special directly about that Gutenberg Bible,” Carissa said as they sat in her living room and her mama brought them churros. “I was looking through my own Bible this morning, and other than heaven and hell, there’s nothing about the world changing. Quite the opposite; it says that things will remain as they are, until the end of times. And I think everybody, or at least a lot more people, would be noticing if the end of the world was coming about.”
    “Sounds like it would be something that God, if this was true, would want people to know about,” Mac said. “I’m not the most versed in Christian religion, not that I don’t want to be, but it does seem like a weird coincidence that we’re being asked to find out more about this Bible.”
    “Maybe if we go back to the library, we can at least find out more information about it,” Carissa suggested. “I’m not saying we should try to find the book again -- after all, Peter is still missing. But the library may give us invaluable information on the book itself, now that we are sure it’s the book and not the content we are primarily after.”
    They all agreed, as long as there was a Saint Arbucks run afterward at the cafe in Midtown, far from the forbidden one. Carissa got her mother’s permission to go, as long as Mac was with them.
    This time it was the A train that was under investigation, so they took the 1 train instead. Mac led the way down the stairs and down the elevator to the station. “It feels good to get out again,” Carissa said as they got on the next train. “After being in the hospital for a day and then my house, fresh air is great.”
    “Yeah,” Mac joked, “fresh air in a station that’s so far underground that you need an elevator to get there.”
    “Hey, guys,” Isabel said, “this train doesn’t normally stop at Grand Central, does it?”
    And Mac noticed that the car had changed. Now, they were the only ones sitting in it, and the train was no longer the old model it had once been, but the newer ones with the blue seats. There was a messaging system and electronic ride map above Carissa’s head; he read it.
    “We’re on a 6 train,” he said, in shock. “How is that even possible?”

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