Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Twenty Eight

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 28 (or, "The Misshaping Of Midtown")

Yesterday’s Episode: Dvorak was finally set free, but ended up being who Carissa wasn’t expecting. After fighting with Mac, Dvorak made him disappear.

    The boat was rough, and Carissa held on tight to the mast. She could smell the fresh sea air as the boat made its way to shore for the first time in days. There were hundreds of people around her, looking at the same area she was. It took a moment, but she finally recognized Lady Liberty in the harbor.
    Carissa hadn’t even known that she had fallen asleep until Isabel roused her, shaking her from her Ellis Island dream. She opened her eyes and found that she was lying on hard ground. Isabel was sitting by her side, her eyes on her friend. “Are you okay?” she asked.
    Carissa nodded until it all came back to her -- the way Dvorak had acted, Mac’s secret, him disappearing to who knew where. Then she started to shake. “I don’t know.”
    Isabel hugged her friend tight. “You’ll be okay. You always will be.”
    “I know, but now what? I did something really bad, Isabel, and I didn’t even know I was doing it. I was just following the rules. I just did what they told me to do, and now look what happened to Mac.” She sat up on the ground, trying to get her bearings back.
    “Do you think that Mac...” Isabel went quiet.
    “Stole somebody else’s identity? I don’t know. But if Dvorak is all about the rules, then Mac broke a huge one. It’s tricky. On one hand, maybe he needed to do it so that he could stay in the country. But he should have done it legally.” Carissa sighed. “I can’t believe I’m not needed anymore. Dvorak is here, and he’s going to fix the world just like the old lady said he would. But it’s going all wrong. At this point, I’m going to lose you as well, Isabel.”
    Isabel was quiet, then looked up at the ceiling. Carissa’s eyes looked up as well, and she could see where the stained glass ceilings had been, now broken and gone.
    “This entire thing is surreal,” she said.
    Isabel sighed. “Well, that old lady wanted you to find Dvorak, right? Why don’t you just go ask her what you should do next?”
    Carissa’s eyes widened. “That’s a brilliant idea!” she said.
    “If we go to the Saint Arbucks near the school, hopefully she’ll know we’re looking for her.”
    “Hopefully Dvorak won’t know,” Carissa said. “Isabel, you’ve got a great idea. But I think we should also try to find Ariana as well. There were some things that she said that were right, and if the rest of the things she said were right, then I think she might have the best game plan as to how to stop Dvorak. We got ourselves into this mess. We need to get ourselves out.” She stood up. “I wish Mac was here.”
    “So he could make sure everything goes according to plan?” Isabel asked.
    Carissa shook her head. “No...I just miss him.” She sighed. “I hope he’s gone to that same place that Peter has gone. If we can somehow get all of that back and prevent Dvorak from destroying everything...” She shook her head again, this time to clear it. “First things first. Isabel, you go uptown to Saint Arbucks and try to find the old lady. We need her help most definitely, but I want to try to find Ariana. I think she’ll be around Union Square. Besides, I don’t want to set anything off by going in that Saint Arbucks. That’s why you have to find her.”
    “Sounds good. But why are you going to Union Square?” Isabel asked.
    “Ariana will know by now that we released Dvorak,” Carissa said. “And if she knows that, she’s going to want to be in a location where I can find her so she, at the least, can say ‘I told you so.’ But I did want to believe her. We have to try.”
    “Good plan,” Isabel said, “but how do we get out of here? There’s no other trains.”
    “Oh.” Carissa thought to herself for a moment. “I don’t know if we could go up through the roof or not --”
    Before she had even finished saying the words, the world around them had moved, and Carissa and Isabel were up and out of the subway station and on the surface. The sky was now pitch black dark, not a star in the sky, but each building glowed, and Carissa could see the nearby Brooklyn Bridge glowing as well. When she really focused on the sky, she could see that there were cracks running through it, as if the entire world really was ending.
    “How did I do that?” she asked, trying to hold herself together.
    Isabel shrugged. “I don’t know. But do it again. We need to split up and find the lady and your friend who told you the truth. I’ll go uptown. You go to Union Square to find her, and then meet me at Saint Arbucks, okay?” She gave Carissa a hug. “I love you. Be safe, my spirit sister. Remember that I would do anything for you.”
    “I know, I know, stop getting so sentimental,” Carissa said. “I’ll be there in a short time and we’ll both get chai.”
    “Sounds good. Now, can you beam me up to Columbus Circle?”
    What am I supposed to do? Carissa thought to herself. But she put her hands out in front of her, and without any warning, Isabel disappeared with a “pop!” into thin air. Carissa sighed. “I hope she made it.”
    Maybe it’s possible that my powers didn’t disappear when Dvorak took over, Carissa thought to herself. Far from it. Maybe they actually increased.
    She started to run, the world frozen around her, buildings glitching and water still and the air stale. With every step, the world altered itself a little bit more, but Carissa wouldn’t let it faze her. I just have to find Ariana, she told herself. If I can do that, then I can get the real answers.
    When she got to Union Square, which took much less time than she thought it would, the entire area had already been eradicated. The park was completely gone, replaced by a huge black hole, sucking up everything around it. Carissa wondered if the black hole was going to lead to limbo, but she didn’t want to test that theory.
    “Ariana?” she called out. “Ariana, are you here somewhere?” No answer. Carissa knew she needed to move on.

    Isabel found herself standing in front of a very familiar looking Saint Arbucks. The logo had turned green instead of red, and there was a mermaid as a logo instead of the usual centaur, so Isabel knew the entire world was being messed with.
    She went inside the café, but time stayed still. People were frozen, getting their drinks and sitting and chatting with others, their mouths frozen open. It made Isabel thirsty, but now was not a time for coffee. She scanned the café, but there was no sign of the old lady, her tracksuit, or any apples.
    “Hey!” she yelled, at the top of her lungs. “If time is frozen, then you can still hear me, right, old lady? You’ve got to help me! Carissa’s trying to save the world, and she found that herald guy like you told her to, but nothing is going according to plan and the world is being destroyed! I don’t know what to do and Carissa doesn’t know what to do and Mac is gone and aren’t you supposed to help us?” She sighed. “Carissa would be here, but she didn’t want to screw things up. She’s going to see that Ariana person and get some answers. I just want everything fixed, and I want my best friend to be fine. I hate seeing her like this.”
    “You’ve got a lot of spunk coming here, kid.”
    The voice sounded familiar, and Isabel turned, but she did not see the old lady. There was instead a younger woman there, with a black short sleeved military jacket on. She was at a table and had a frapp in her hands, and a red apple on the table.
    “But now that you’re here, and now that Carissa understands, we might just have enough time to pull this off,” Sarah told Isabel. “Shall we initiate the survival tactics?”

    Carissa started to head toward the upper west side and the Saint Arbucks that she had sent Isabel to. Madison Square Park was empty as well, but this one was a barren wasteland instead of a black hole. Herald Square glowed so bright that Carissa could barely see. She walked around the frozen cars and people who had been passing by, still on their cell phones, pushing strollers, everybody going where they needed to go. She was the only one in this entire universe who could truly see what was going on, and she was definitely the only person who could do something about it.
    Times Square, unlike the rest of the buildings, was completely dark. When Carissa got there, she could literally not see a thing. She looked around, tugging at the bottom of her shirt nervously, realizing for the first time that while it should be cold out, she didn’t feel a thing. Was this how the end of the world always went? Was it always this horrible and miserable for those who were chosen? Dvorak said that he had ended worlds several times before. Had he ever been stopped? Could he be, now that he had been freed?
    “Well, look who we have here.”
    Carissa knew that voice. She was able to see Ariana, glowing with light at the top of the stairs on 47th Street, in the middle of two flagpoles, two Old Glories frozen in place. She came down from her perch and faced Carissa. “You did it again, guardian. You didn’t listen.”
    “And I’m sorry,” Carissa said. “For everything. Is there any way to stop this? Or are we doomed?”
    Ariana almost seemed surprised for a moment. “You think there’s still a way to save your world? The fated day is tomorrow. Dvorak cannot be stopped.”
    Tomorrow? Nobody had ever told her that! Carissa held on to her shirt to keep from falling over. “It can’t be.”
    “Oh, but it is.” Ariana smiled. “You are just one in line of several living beings from several planets that have made this decision. Congrats. I hope you like your new world.”
    Carissa shook her head. “There has to be some way to reverse everything that has happened. Dvorak -- he’s the one who created everything, right?”
    “Dvorak does not create,” Ariana said. “He only destroys. He breaks apart the framework, and at midnight after the fated day, everything that is broken will disappear forever.”
    Carissa had to think for a moment. “Including limbo?”
    “Including limbo.”
    She had an idea. “So, in theory, if we put Dvorak in limbo and made him stay there, and the fated day happened, Dvorak would disappear forever?”
    Ariana smiled. “You are the first person ever to understand that. Is that your plan?”
    “Sounds like it would be, but how do we get him into limbo? I know Isabel went to Saint Arbucks to find the old lady and get her help. Does she know how? Isn’t she, like, the head boss of QWERTY or something?”
    There was an understanding in Ariana’s eyes. “So that’s how it will go,” she said with a smile. “I have enough power to send you to limbo. You have to go there, gather all of your friends together, and then form a plan. Are any QWERTY associates in limbo?”
    “Maybe this one person that the old lady knew,” Carissa said. “He disappeared at the very start of this.” As if by magic, the photograph of the old lady and the man appeared in Carissa’s hands. She showed Ariana. “Him.”
    “Oh, so you did get that photograph!” Ariana said with a smile.
    Carissa seemed confused. “You were the one who gave us that picture?”
    “Of course I did! Didn’t you read the message on the back?”
    “You mean this smudge?” Carissa said, pointing to the area on the back of the photo.
    Ariana took one look and rolled her eyes. “That one. Sorry, I’ve only been trying to stop you from finding Dvorak since this entire thing began two weeks ago. At least then your world would stand a better chance. Dvorak is the only one who can make permanent changes in these realms, so if you don’t contact him, your world will reassemble at random, the way God intends it. Technically Dvorak should fix the world according to your wishes, but instead he just destroys everything every time he’s woken up. That’s how these universe colliding things go – either the two worlds merge at random, or you wake up Dvorak thinking you can get him on your side and your world is destroyed as a result.”
    “Or we put Dvorak in limbo,” Carissa noted.
    There seemed to be a look of recognition on Ariana’s face. “You said this guy in the photo, Mick, could be in limbo. That’s excellent.” Ariana turned to Carissa. “You need to go to limbo and talk to him. He can help you. You’ll have to do it quickly, as time in limbo is the same as time in the real world. Tell him you are initiating Operation Colemak. We’ve never done it before, but Mick’s a pro. He remembers everything. Complete Operation Colemak as quickly as you can. I will initiate the real world section of Operation Colemak here, and it should get you out of limbo and Dvorak in if all goes well. But this is the part where it is really up to you. Dvorak cannot go into limbo by himself. You must complete Operation Colemak, and by yourself. Trust me. If you do this, I will get you and your friends back out of limbo. I am sensing that it is God’s will to.” Ariana took a deep breath. “Are you ready?”
    Carissa shouldered her white duffel, which held the Gutenberg Bible inside. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

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