by Larry B. Lambert
Are there other worlds in other dimensions of space that somehow touch ours? Does it seem that the membrane between what we see with our mind and what we experience unconsciously is as porous as a bridal veil? Can we tear that barrier to feel what we can’t explain—that smallest of things that are present seem completely beyond our reach and beyond our understanding?
People called him an angry gnome, but Basil Noldor ignored them. Others said he might be possessed of Satan because he didn’t acknowledge God’s hand in all things. He merely winked an eye, magnified out of all proportion by the coke-bottle-bottom eyeglasses he wore draped over a large, outsized nose. A more objective and far kinder evaluation of the essence of Basil Noldor, writer, dealer in antiquities, was that he was, militantly eccentric.
In his cottage, not far from the river, Basil sat hunched over a gnarled oak desk, wearing out another iron nub, dipping it in ink and scratching words on a page. His son tried to ignore him but found it difficult because his father engaged him in conversation. Basil Noldor’s voice, high pitched and raspy with much angry use, intoned, “There is no such thing as magic!” His son heard this rant before and did his best to tone his father out. “But I do admit that the human imagination needs superstitions.” His son added a log to the dwindling coals on the hearth. “They weave the fabric of history and society so that, in time, there is very little difference between fables and historical fact. It all becomes fact, and without that historical reassurance of legends mixed with truth, the world would be a lonely place indeed. That, my son, is why I write.”
Ignatius Noldor, only son to Basil, rose in society partly through bribery offered by his father and partly because he had a singular talent for obsequious pandering. His present rank of assistant alderman, a tribute to both causations. Unlike his father, Basil, he firmly believed in magic. Ignatius gripped fast to the hope that mystical incantations could bring the metaphysical world directly into his physical presence, for his specific benefit. He made a respectable living as a pander and factotum, eating other men’s bread without guilt or any remorse at all, while providing scant services in return.
After adding wood to the fire and reclining back into his chair, Ignatius picked up a well worn , leather bound tome dealing specifically with magic. While his father ranted in muttering tones and scratched his pen. Ignatius read other en’s words, trying to suck the marrow out of their mystical message.
Suspended by a rod reputedly fashioned from meteorite iron, an elaborate tapestry hung on the wall over the fireplace. Careful embroidery recounted the journey of the Noldor family through time. It was a chronicle, a family tree, a historical tribute, and had been in the family for over four hundred years. Ignatius was less than impressed by it. there had been a time when he was younger when he looked at the gilded names with awe. Age and experience taught him to be underwhelmed by the tapestry. Noldors held ignominious postings and minor jobs as bookkeepers, bank tellers and nannies. None ever rose to command an army or even be knighted. None of the Noldors was a scarlet woman or a powerful bishop. Clement Noldor did become a man of the cloth but never advanced beyond the ash stained sackcloth of an ordinary monk.
A serious understanding of the family’s painful mediocrity spurred Ignatius to exceed the standard set by preceding generations through the study of magic, mystics, witches and warlocks, shamans and the traditions of the dim and distant past. His father thought it complete foolishness, a complete waste of time and an indulgence in fantasy.
Peering into crystals, uttering and muttering, studiously mixing chemicals and often getting sick from the fumes they produced, Ignatius’ single-minded pursuit of truth-in-magic continued without any significant breaks. There was something out there, and he knew he was the Noldor to find it.
Suddenly Basil stopped writing. He looked at his son, so much an image of himself, reading and pondering and he made a decision.
“Son, stand by the fire if you will.”
Ignatius set down his book, carefully marking his place and joined his father.
“Magic is not real nor does it exist apart from natural law. It’s simply a way of trying to explain the unexplainable in a way that discounts science. I want to show you something that has been in our family for nearly five hundred years.” Basil said, as he drew back the heavy tapestry from over the fireplace as one would pull a curtain aside.
A tunnel, three feet high, large enough for either Basil or Ignatius to walk through without bending over, recessed back into the wall at least five feet. A shimmering darkness glittered in the tunnel and Ignatius stood on his toes to get a better look as his father fetched a ladder.
Once in place, Basil climbed the ladder and led the way into the tunnel.
“What is it, father?”
“One of the most closely guarded secrets of our family. It’s a portal in space-time, naturally occurring, stable and possibly driven by the energy created by the stones in this part of the house.” Basil said with a prideful flare.
“Not magic, science, my son. I don’t understand precisely why it’s here or how it came to form here, but its process is part of the natural order. It’s night there on the other side of the portal but when I first saw it, the doorway in time opened on to a glade, with violet heather blooming so that the world appeared to be a rolling sea of lavender under a cerulean sky. All the magic in the world, all the fables and mystery of the ages were challenged by a single leap into the dark that my brother took. Winthrop and my cousin Garner took a free dive into oblivion. I was there to watch them walk through.”
Basil lighted his pipe with a cinder held fast by iron tongs. “They didn’t seem like ghosts or apparitions to me, but I have no idea how they might have appeared to somebody looking at them from the other side of the door in space-time. No shade of a lost soul or glittering angel, I expect, but you never know.”
“Did they ever come back?” Ignatius asked. “Have you heard from them?”
Basil contemplated the shimmering world on the other side of the portal as dawn began to peak beyond the distant hills of the alien world. “They came here and spoke from time to time. They needed things. So I had fine suits of green made, sent pots of gold coin to help them pay for their needs and such.”
“So there are people on this other world? People like us?”
“People twice our size, who are different and not so different, I expect. I have seen them. I don’t think they can see me and a trip through this doorway, this shimmering membrane is a one-way journey since neither Garner or my brother Winthrop were ever able to return. Winthrop told me some of the people took Garner and forced him to disclose the location of his pot of gold. Once they found it, they were so enthralled with its value that they ignored him and he escaped from them.”
Ignatius was floored. “But gold is so common.”
copyright Larry B. Lambert 2009