After he’d gotten home, Brian had been relieved to discover that the half hour he’d spent in the other world had in fact only lasted five minutes at the very most, but he guessed more like one or two. He’d have to do a better test, later, get the exact ratio right. He was so relieved, in fact, that he dozed off in front of his computer soon afterwards and awoke sometime in the late afternoon, which was when he made the call to Dale.
Elyse didn’t answer her phone for two hours, and when she finally called him back, she sounded groggy. ‘Brian? I think I’ve got like, six missed calls from you. Are you pocket dialling me, or…?
‘Nope, I was calling about this thing we’re doing tomorrow.’
‘You do know I’m sick?’
‘What do you have?’
‘Does it matter? Same thing Dale’s got.’
‘Oh, good, he’s coming, so that means you can, too.’
She sighed. ‘I don’t think so. What is it, anyway? Why on a Sunday?’
‘I found something that you all really need to see, down in the park. I can’t really explain what it is, but believe me when I say you will want to see it. If you don’t come, you will regret it for the rest of your life. If you don’t come, I will never be your friend again. I’ll talk about you behind your back and…’
‘Alright, God. How long is it going to take to witness this miracle?’
‘If you feel as shit as you say, you only have to be there five minutes and then you can go home. I promise you, you won’t want to go home. Trust me on that.’
‘Jeez. Mr. Mysterious.’
‘See you there?’
‘Fiiiine. Better be good.’
‘I’m just gonna pass out till then, okay? Bye.’
He let out a sigh. They were all coming. Dale would be difficult, but he’d be there, and Steph hated missing out on anything, whatever it was. She’d go to remedial maths lessons if she thought everyone else was going. All he needed to do was show them the door, and the world would do all the explaining for him. After that… well it would be good to have people to help him explore. After reading the exploits of Arthur T. Zindel the one thing he’d learned above all others was that you never had any idea what you were going to get. It was like playing a lottery where you could win anything from a billion dollars to a bullet in the head. The biggest game of Russian roulette in the universe.
He returned to the door once that day, using his phone to complete Zindel’s time test. After a few tries, he calculated the ratio to be just under thirty to one. Which meant that it took thirty minutes in the other world for just one to pass on earth. They could spend over a week there, yet only seven hours would pass on this side. What Zindel called a ‘Fast world.’ Brian was sorely tempted to stay, to do a little reconnaissance on his own, but in the end he was persuaded against it by an ominous chapter in the book detailing Zindel’s narrow escape from a pack of snarling beasts.
Instead, he went home, ate his dinner in silence and spent the rest of the day and most of the night pacing restlessly in his room. He went for a walk around the block at midnight, mind spinning with thoughts about what they might find, the adventures they might have together. Who knew? Maybe they’d stumble on a world where gold was as commonplace as soil? Or one in which the very water granted immortality?
He itched for it, but for all his impatience, Brian was not stupid. He would wait. At three in the morning, he sent a Facebook message to all of them, telling them to meet at noon on Sunday by the cliffs, and to bring a hearty lunch and the sharpest knives they could get hold of. He managed to sleep before sunrise, his mind alive with dreams so vivid and colourful they were almost like memories.
And then Sunday arrived.