“How could I have forgotten?!?!” I scold myself. “He’s found me! Where’s the book?”
I quickly scan the surroundings. I spot the book on a table two steps away. I grab it and shove it under the bed.
The noise grows to deafening. Just above the dome hovers a flying machine that has an insect body with mechanical arms?
The pilot is standing with arms above his head shouting. But we can’t hear him with all the noise. He sits down and fiddles with his control panel. I don’t need a decoder to know who wears an elegant Halloween costume on every day. His red-velvet robe, trimmed in purple and white, defines evil magician.
Oman and I simultaneously mutter: “Zard!”
The screeching dies down. It’s replaced by electronic static followed with: “Vin! Oman! Sooo very good to see you again! And the two of you together? How special!”
I am triggered by the sarcasm. I swear at him with everything I’ve got. But I catch myself. His betrayal of our friendship is still raw. No matter now. Zard holds an obvious advantage, and he’s dangerous. He has my full attention.
Zard continues his taunting: “Poor boy! Are you feeling sorry for yourself? Oh, and please don’t mind the noise! I have come a very long way to see you again, Vin. And, of course, I am always happy to visit my old pal Oman.”
“Good morning, Zard, Oman cuts in. “Or, at least it was until you brought this racket. Can’t you equip this contraption with a muffler?”
“Oh dear! Zard shames, “Is the noise making you uncomfortable? Perhaps, Oman should let me inside the dome. Then I wouldn’t be such a nuisance.” Zard bursts out laughing.
“State your purpose here, Zard. Then be off!”
Zard’s grin turns to a sneer. “Oh, it is a small matter. The boy there has robbed me! I offered him friendship and wisdom, and he repaid me with what? Treachery! And now, if my rightful property is not restored, I will take it by force! Give me the book, Vin!”
I’ve been preparing myself for Zard’s theatrics. I spread my hands in helplessness, “I don’t have it!” I lie.
Zard’s expression narrows. “Do not trifle with me, boy! You will find my patience for liars is extremely limited!”
I shrug and stutter some nonsense.
Zard’s face contorts into pure rage. He starts stabbing at his dashboard then throwing his arms into the air.
“Do you think me a fool, boy? Repent! Confess! Or feel the wrath of Zard’s overpowering technology!”
I remain silent.
A high-pitched, pulsating whine returns. Objects start visibly vibrating. I see the glass dome beginning to ripple. Is it some sort of resonance effect? The ear pain increases. I am having trouble balancing. Oman moves closer to me. Before I fall, he catches me. A transparent bubble forms and surrounds us.
Objects start to crack and shatter. Nothing is safe from the flying shards. Debris is everywhere. Using his machine guns, Zard blasts a hole through the already broken glass dome. His machine hovers inside the dome. The chaos is complete.
The shrieking noises and the explosions finally stop. I am astonished that we have remained unharmed.
Zard interrupts: “Where is the book? Defy me again, and I will shatter this entire dome including your precious telescope!”
He releases another burst of gunfire to punctuate his statement. Some bullets ricochet around the remaining framework of the dome inadvertently penetrating the skin and a wing of the Zard’s machine. It starts to buck up and down. Another bullet skims Zard’s shoulder ripping through his robe. Smoke starts to billow from the vehicle. It begins to wobble. Zard struggles to regain control. He manages to lift the machine out of the dome hovering shakily above us.
“Fff-fools!” Zard rages before he retreats into the late afternoon twilight. “This isn’t over!”
Oman releases me. Our shield evaporates. We stand up.
Oman calmly says: “Ah, Zard, such warped brilliance–a spoiled child but a very dangerous one!”
I don’t understand why Oman isn’t furious. We stand in the midst of terrible destruction. Before I finish that thought, Oman raises his hand and arm and moves it in a sweeping, circular motion. As he makes the pass over the room, fragments begin to rise and reassemble to their original form and position. Shards of broken glass reorganize; fallen masks return to hang peacefully on the wall. Even spilled liquids return to their beakers. I stand in a state of confused wonder. Is this science? Magic? Or both?
Oman then turns to me, “Are you okay, Vin?”
“Yes, thanks to you,” I answer. “How did you do that?”
“I will explain. But first, ‘Belated welcome!’ I am pleased you are here, Vin. I guess by now you know my name. I am here to help you complete your mission. As for what I just did, that is not exceptional on this planet. We understand how to reassemble at a molecular level.”
“Wow, I’ve just read that reassembling is possible. Are you the one they refer to as ‘The Great Oman’?” Can you really see into the future and past, and read minds…”
Oman interrupts, “Exaggerations. Don’t believe everything you hear. I apologize for your rude awakening. Zard as the first image of the day is a disturbing thought.”
“I moved past that. Thanks. Do you believe that Zard means only to hurt, and not kill me, us? At least until he gains possession of the book.”
“That’s a dangerous assumption,” Oman reflected. “When people turn violent, events canoften slip into quick action and reaction usually with unforeseen suffering.
I ask Oman if I can learn this technique.
“Of course, when the timing is right,” he answers. “That will be relatively simple compared to what you’ve endured to get here.”
“Can I at least find out what my journey is all about? Why am I here?”