They pulled the man out of the canoe and rested him on the ground.
“We found him three lakes over,” said Will. “He had a boat, but it looked irreparable and I didn’t see any oars anyway.”
“When will they learn that they need to prepare a little better if they want to travel this far out?,” piped Clark.
“I don’t think this was a normal traveling around the area. We all know why we went out there.” Will paused for a moment while the others nodded in agreement. “We’ve never actually found someone out there when we showed up before. What’s more, he seemed to be struggling with someone all too familiar?”
Someone who was with the crowd of people that had shown up spoke up, “What do you mean?”
“I’m saying he was having the visions!”
Various exclamations from the group surfaced from the slow growth and death of a smattering of voices. “That can’t be.” “Not possible.” “Why would he?”
“He was moving in the same ways we all do,” continued Will. “We barely got to the area in time, in order to perform the ritual. By the time it was over, he was passed out like this.”
“Emma, help me move him over to our tent,” said Phil, “Let’s see if we can’t revive him.” He looked around to everyone else. “Alright everyone, show’s over. We’re going to take care of him and try to figure out why he was in our area.”
“Don’t forget to ask him if he saw the visions!” said one of the voices
“That goes without saying.”
Jim stood in the crowd staring at the ruckus. The situation was very different.
“Could it really be? I don’t think it’s possible that it’s the same person.”
He stood listening to the crowd openly questioning about the status of the newcomer, but dared not to tell anyone of the thoughts he was thinking. As the crowd was moving away, he heard some muttered comments that weren’t too kind towards the found man. Their coats brushed Jim’s side, as he walked like a salmon upstream, dodging the people heading back to what they were doing. Jim walked over to where Clark, Will, and Phil were talking among themselves over the man lain down in front of them.
“He looks the same. The black hair, the scar over his eye, even the clothes. Why would the clothes be the same?”
The men were chatting while Jim leaned down and moved the man’s shirt up a bit.
“Hey, what are you doing?” asked Phil. “Didn’t you hear that we’re all done here.”
“Aww, Phil, leave the kid alone.” said Will. “He didn’t mean any harm, did you kid?”
“Hey kid?” Phil asked as Jim continued to inspect the man’s side.
“The same wound.”
“Woah, wait a second. When did he get that wound?” Phil looked to the other two men, who shrugged their lack of knowledge, and then went over to Jim. Phil knelt to Jim’s level and lifted the shirt higher. “Looks bad. Won’t kill him, but it doesn’t look too good.” He looked over at Jim, “Jim, how did you know this wound was here?”
He nudged Jim with his elbow. “Jim, hey Jim. Snap out of it.” Jim turned and looked at Phil’s face. “Jim, do you know this man. How did you know he had his wound.”
“But how. The SAME wound. This can’t be happening.”
“Sorry, Phil. I’ve… never seen this man before. I think I saw him move a bit from some pain from his side.”
“Hmmm, I hadn’t seen him move.” Phil ruffled Jim’s hair. “A kid’s curiousity, eh?” The others nodded. “Run along, Jim. We’ve got him from here.”
“Yes, sir.” He stood to leave.
“What if he remembers too? What if he tells the others. I hope I can get to him before he says anything. Before he remembers anything.”
“Do you think I can meet him when he wakes up? Almost no one ever shows up around here.”
“Get in line,” grunted Will. “We all have a lot of questions.”
Jim sat in his tent trying to recount the earlier situation. He grabbed a string that was placed between two of the middle pages of his journal and laid the pages open on his mat. He tapped his pen on his bottom lip and studied the writings and images scattered around the page.
“Which part was wrong? I could have sworn that I got it right this time.” He scanned down a bulletpointed list and stopped part way down. “Could it have been here?”
He exhaled, letting out a stream of mist. “I shouldn’t be doing this. I should just ask them what to do.”
“They’d never let you learn the ritual, Jim. They’d just continue to tell you that you’re too young.”
He thought back to the hazy images in his mind that consumed him during his attempt at reconstructing the ritual. From what he had gleamed from some of the others who were learning the ritual, a lot of the training actually involved some mental exercises and training that looked similar to meditation. They said that if you were to figure out how to manipulate others to believe that what you were doing worked, then you had to also learn to believe that your own actions worked for yourself as well. The best way to do this was to enter into your own mind and let the fatal flaws within manifest themselves and learn how to control your own emotions and thoughts during the attacks.
Jim pictured in his mind the attempt to access the scarred portions of himself. His breathing quickened as he recalled the anxiety that comes with knowing you’re about to ride some waves of chaos that you don’t normally encounter day to day. It was then that he saw he was walking across a lake towards a shimmering light just off the trees on the nearest shore. Drawing near, he saw that that this light was around a man and that nearby was an absence of space. It’s not that it was really dark. It was more like the existence around the spot was fading. His heart pacing, he knew that this was the sign of the demons.
“But why is this man here?” Jim echoed into his recollection.
As the absence of space began to shift with reality such that a shape because visible, he sprung into action. Imagining a staff in hand materialized a rod of wood that stretched from shoulder to ankle and Jim quickly grabbed both it with both hands. He went through some of the motions that he watched others do during the ritual, but none of them had any effect.
“It was then that I knew. I’m not sure how I knew it, but it was crystal clear. It was him – he was affecting the ritual.”
Jim saw as his mental image of himself blasted an energy beam towards the glowing man, hitting him in the side and knocking him to the ground. He went back to work, weaving his arms in the patterns, only to realize that neither the bright light nor the void were there any longer.
“He was the source of the distortion, but why did things stop when he fell? And how does this vision affect the learning of the ritual if you never get a chance to complete it. And finally, why did this man show up? It can’t really be him, can it?”
“Well, I guess I should get back to trying to figure out what went wrong. What in the world happened with that guy?” Jim stated in exacerbation.
“What happened with what guy?” asked a voice, as a gust of wind blew the page over in the the journal.
Jim calmed his startled reaction, slowly shutting his journal and looked to the door of the tent. “Hey Scott… oh… they found a guy a few lakes over. Looks like he was all alone.”
“Was he alright?”
“No, not really. They found a wound on his side and they said that he seemed to have fallen down during one of the attacks.”
“Why would he be affected by one of the attacks? That doesn’t make any sense. I thought they shut down the system?”
“I thought so too.” He placed the journal near the corner of his mat with some of his other belongings. “Maybe they brought it back online?”
“Maybe he just didn’t come with the rest of us and is only now showing up?”
“You think he would have been in the lawsuit, don’t you? I never saw him there.”
“God help us, though, if they put the system back online. With what we go through all the time, why would they subject others to this fate?”
“Maybe they fixed it?”
“You think they fixed it?” He put the pen away next to his notebook.
“No, probably not. Why did he only show up now?”
Jim looked to his notebook. “I’m not sure, but either way, it can’t be good.” “Definitely not good for me.”