By R. J. Hore
A strange new toy leads a married couple to an alternate universe and an ancient prophecy.
Alexis screamed in his ear. She doubled over as though ready to bring up supper—if she had any. She clutched at him and opened her eyes.
His ears buzzed as if his head hosted an unruly crowd of cicadas. Everything continued to revolve.
Alexis’ mouth gaped but no further sound came out. Her clenched knuckles bulged white where they gripped his arm.
Shaking, he clung to Alexis and, using her as a prop, staggered to his feet. The world around him slowed, dissolved into focus and the sensation of sickening movement ceased.
A loud ringing echoed inside his skull. Was that the doorbell? Who could that be? The ringing didn’t sound like the front door, more resembled a Chinese gong. Where did that come from?
They lurched together like a pair of drunken dancers, and after a long moment, steadied. The sky above glowed with a million stars displayed through parting clouds. Darkness stretched to the horizon, except for the shimmering ring of a thousand pinpoints of flickering light somewhere at his feet.
Alexander’s straining eyes accustomed to the gloom, and he stared around. He stood, clutching Alexis and swaying on a platform, or maybe a flat roof, at the top of a high building. A loud ringing echoed through the night. Someone pounded on a gong, a large one by the sound.
“Whatever was that?” He gasped. His stomach did a flip-flop.
He inhaled wood smoke, or perhaps some sweet incense. Alexis held a firm grip on his arm.
She moaned. “What happened? Oh, my head.”
“The Twins have come, they are here,” a hoarse voice shouted from close behind him.
Roaring rumbled up from far below. He turned around, Alexis still hanging on tight to him.
A round, bald man garbed in a yellow robe stared at them wide-eyed. The glow from a nearby torch gleamed gold off his nose ring. He shouted, “Quick, acolytes assist them.”
Half a dozen men, also hairless, and garbed in what appeared to Alexander to be lemon-yellow bathrobes, rushed forward from behind a high, triangular archway and pressed around them, bowing and bobbing like a flock of hungry pigeons. The newcomers surrounded the clinging pair, reaching out for them with painted nails.
“Get your filthy hands off me,” Alexis cried out.
From the strangled sound of her voice, she struggled to hold back a full-fledged scream.