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       Eldnium, p.34

           Enoch Pyle, Jr

  As they hiked through the woods, in a direction Landon hoped would return them to the village where he’d stayed with Ah’ni, the “click, click, click” of the man in the well wouldn’t free itself from the front of Landon’s mind. When Landon was with Li’an, the commander of the invading forces had said something like, “Option 9-3-1 terminated.” But the commander in the well couldn’t seem to identify Jackson.

  “What do you think the clicking meant?” Landon asked after a long stretch of silent hiking.

  “What?” Jackson asked, confused.

  “The clicking sound the commander in the well was making. What do you think it meant?”

  “I thought you might know,” Jackson said. “It sounded like he couldn’t identify you.”


  “Yeah, you.” Jackson explained, “When The Control captured me, they took me into a holding cell. Isaac came in disguised as one of them. He called me, ‘Option 3-5-9,’ and said I was confirmed.”

  This came as a shock to Landon, and while the pieces didn’t yet make sense, they seemed to be coming together. The Oracle had also asked what Landon was. Even the Seeker had asked him, “What are you?” Landon felt certain that he wasn’t The One, but maybe the confusion he’d thrown into the mix could wind up being helpful down the line.

  Or maybe it had already been.

  “Where are we going?” Jackson asked, interrupting Landon’s thoughts.

  “There’s a village somewhere near here. From there, I can backtrack to the lake. There’s a portal under the surface of the waters, and we’ll be able to use it to return to the others.” He paused. “I hope.”

  “The others?”

  Landon explained, “Yeah. There is a planet that, up until recently, was inhabited by people like us. Heroes.”

  “What do you mean, ‘was inhabited’?”

  “The Control found us. They came and killed most of us. I survived, along with a girl named Li’an, only because the entire planet is frozen in time. That’s why I came to save you. You can control time. You can set things right, and we can save Li’an and crush the one who is trying to kill her.”

  “What makes you think I can unfreeze time?” Jackson asked.

  “Can’t you?”

  “I don’t think so. I mean, I can travel backward in my own timeline, but I can’t do much else than that, I don’t think.” Jackson shook his head. “Shoot, I didn’t even know I could do what I can do until just recently.”

  “Well, there’s hope,” Landon said. “I didn’t know what my ability was, either. Now, I’m slowly figuring it out. We’ll work on yours when we get there.”

  “You said we’d be taking a portal…”

  “Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make sense, does it? The energy to create a rip like that in space-time would destroy any and all matter that came near it.” Landon continued, “But I’m slowly learning that there are a lot of things that don’t make sense. It’s like the physical world has a bunch of loopholes, and if you can find them, you can do amazing things.”

  “Like travel through time?”

  “Yeah.” Landon cracked a smile. “I can’t wait to introduce you to Tommy.”

  “Tommy?” Jackson asked.

  Landon spun around, walking backward. “Yeah. I’ve never seen anything like him. He’s like eight feet tall with an exoskeleton that looks just like skin. It’s amazing. Of course, before today, I’ve never seen someone with skin like yours.”

  “There aren’t any black people where you live? Where are you from?”

  “I’m from a place that’s mostly desert. But it wasn’t always that way. There was this huge—”

  Jackson interrupted, “Whoa, what’s the smoke?”

  Landon spun around and saw a massive cloud of black smoke billowing above the trees. “Oh no,” he whispered. “Come on!”

  Together, they ran through the forest as quickly as they could, Landon suddenly afraid that any damage done could not be undone.

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