Excerpt from Other

From Chapter 6, “The Other World”

He Saw.  His eyes were still shut, but he could See.  He understood what the creature had been speaking of, and he understood why she hadn’t been able to explain it in words.  He could never find the words for this.  It was an entire Other World, yet it wasn’t separate from the world he knew.  Rather, the two were entwined together like vines around a tree.  It was a World of influences and ideas, of connections and consequences.  It was a World, most of all, of unspeakable power.  Alain drew back after only a few reeling moments.  The Other World fell again from his Sight, but now that he knew it was there, he would not forget.

He opened his eyes.  The creature was watching him, her features drawn close as if in concern.  The expression slipped back into her usual curt impatience so fast he wondered if he imagined the concern.  “Well?”

“It was marvelous,” Alain said, hardly remembering to breathe as he gazed all around him.  Nothing had changed in the gardens; the fountain trickled its dirty water the same as ever.  Yet it seemed altogether different to his eyes.  He stood up and went to the fountain, touching the stone.  The coldness beneath his palm had an unseen life, a life that pulsed and throbbed.  The water had a voice that he could almost Hear.  He breathed the air and knew it carried more than the scent of flowers.

The creature limped toward the fountain and cast her dire gaze upon the water.  “Marvelous,” she said, as if she couldn’t imagine ever speaking the word without sarcasm.  “Take care, Alain Ferrald.  Some marvels are best left alone.”

“Is it dangerous to deal with the Other World, then?” Alain said.  “I thought if you taught me how to do it the right way, I’d be in less danger.”

She scowled.  “You’d be in less danger if you left it alone.  But since you seem determined to bound forward, I’m trying to give you a lamp to light the way.  How you use it – that’s your choice.”

“I can’t forget the Other World now,” Alain said quietly.  “Could you, after you had Seen for the first time?”

The creature shook her head, sending her matted hair flying.  “I’ve been able to See since birth.”

“Oh.”  Alain was taken at once with envy and curiosity.  She had known of this astounding, wondrous World her entire life?  Did she have a natural talent because she wasn’t human?  Was she born to creatures like herself, who taught her of the Other World like human parents taught their children the numbers and the alphabet?  “Well.  What’s next?”

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