Hurt & Comfort

Book 11: Creating Comfort

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Chapter 8: Dreamkeeper

No doubt, the nightmare was horrifying. The new people Seth had met since his arrival were embedded in the walls surrounding him, undead zombies witness to his every move.

Although he was not yet fully aware of his situation, he was 'with it' enough to know that he had gone to sleep in a bed beside his new friend, Lee. As he came more awake, it turned out that his reality wasn't much better than his nightmare had been.

As Seth blearily looked around, he couldn't exactly identify his surroundings. Strangely, at the same time, what he was seeing didn't seem to be quite as spooky and foreign as by all rights it should be. The world around him seemed almost familiar, perhaps like something he had once seen in a distant, forgotten dream.

That thought brought him up short, because he couldn't be entirely sure that he wasn't still dreaming. It could very well be an instance of a dream within a dream, or more accurately, a nightmare within a nightmare.

As he sat up to get a better view, he couldn't help but notice the gray webbing all around him.

He reached toward the mysterious substance to verify by touch what his eyes couldn't tell him. He couldn't determine with any certainty if the strands before him were wispy and dry like cobwebs, or if they were more liquid, like strands of mucous. The fact that they draped and glistened in the meager light didn't really prove anything either way.

As he touched a strand directly in front of him, it dissolved into nothingness like a collapsing flake of ash. Even so, he derived no physical sensation from having touched it. For all he knew, it could be an illusion of some sort. Maybe it was a trick of the light... or darkness, or whatever it was that surrounded him.

After a little trial and error, he was surprised to determine that the source of illumination appeared to be above his own head. When he turned his head the shadows shifted all around him, creating the illusion that the endless ephemeral gray vines and strands were somehow alive.

While one part of his mind understood the illusion created by shifting shadows, another more primal part of him had the bejesus scared out of it and Seth reflexively reached beside him, to where Lee had been the night before.

Seth was beyond surprised when he encountered a hand. He turned suddenly, hoping beyond hope that he would somehow find that it was Lee's hand that he was holding.

Hope and fear were vying for control as Seth stared disbelievingly at Lee's body being slowly pulled through a semi-transparent gray veil into existence at his side.

"Seth? What are you doing?" Lee asked as he cracked an eye open.

"Actually, I was hoping you'd be able to help me figure that out." Seth said honestly.

"Okay. But first things first. Why are your horns glowing?" Lee asked slowly.

"I have no idea." Seth said honestly.

"Where are we?" Lee asked cautiously.

"Sorry. I got nothin." Seth said frankly.

"How did we get here?" Lee asked as he sat forward so that he could look Seth in the eye.

"I don't know. I woke up from a nightmare and here I was. When I got spooked and reached for you, you were there, even though I couldn't see you there before." Seth carefully explained.

"How old are you, again?"


"Yeah. That sounds about right." Lee said consideringly.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Seth asked cautiously, not quite sure if Lee were insulting him or not.

"Listen, this is as new to me as it is to you but from the way it looks to me, I'd guess that what just happened here is because your mutant ability is emerging." Lee said frankly.

"But I've already got my horns and see-through skin. Isn't that all of it?" Seth asked hesitantly.

"Apparently not. It looks like you also have some sort of dimensional ability... although I'm not sure exactly which dimension you've brought us to." Lee said as he looked around.

"I did this?" Seth asked uncertainly.

"Yeah. I think so. At least, I'm pretty sure it wasn't anything I did." Lee said seriously.

"I don't know how it works. How am I going to get us back? What if we're trapped here forever?" Seth asked anxiously.

"Don't worry too much about that right now. I've got a dimensional ability too, so if it comes down to it, I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to punch through to the hell dimension, then get us back home from there." Lee said honestly.

"Wait... does that mean that I have an ability like yours?" Seth asked hopefully.

"I don't know. Maybe. I'd really like to talk to Andrew about it and find out what he knows about this place. When he and I talked about things before, I don't remember him saying anything about any dimensions that look like the inside of a smoker's lung." Lee said thoughtfully.

"But if my ability is to bring us... here, what good does that do for anyone?"

"There's nothing that says that every ability has to be useful. Actually, it may come down to what kind of creative ways you can find to make a lame ability provide some sort of benefit." Lee said frankly.

"So you do think it's lame?" Seth cautiously asked.

"I didn't say that. My ability is to create a doorway directly into hell. As far as I know there isn't a whole lot of call for that, at least not among the more respected members of society. But anyway, when Andrew and I heard that one of you guys had been shot, I used my ability to take us through hell and directly to you." Lee said frankly.

"So you don't think my ability is lame?" Seth asked cautiously.

"I don't even know what your ability really is. We're just assuming that something you did in your sleep caused us to end up here."

"So, what can we do about that?"

"I think that before we try to find the way back, we should try to figure out where we are and how your power works. I have a feeling that if we take the time to sort it out now we'll be grateful for it later."

"Grateful is good. Where do you want to start?"

"Well, based on absolutely nothing except what I'm seeing here, I'm going to guess that your ability is contained in, or transmitted through, your horns."

"Okay." Seth said hesitantly.

"So why don't you see if you can consciously control the brightness of your horns?"


"I don't know... push or something."

"Um... I'm not sure what I'm supposed to push, but I'm going to try it. You might want to be ready to make one of those doors into hell, just in case."

"Trust me, I've already picked a spot." Lee assured him.

"Here it goes." Seth cautioned before both physically and mentally pushing to try and make something happen.

After a minute of trial and error, something finally seemed to work. When Seth saw the slightest increase in illumination, he continued to focus on the sensation until he finally had some measure of conscious control.

"Can you hold your high beam for a few seconds? I want to try something." Lee asked hopefully.

"Yeah. This isn't hard to do, it just takes a minute to figure out how to control it." Seth said frankly.

Lee hesitantly reached out and touched one of the thinner strands that were surrounding them.

Rather than dissolve into nothingness, the strand remained solid and resistant to Lee's touch.

"Uh oh. That's not good." Lee muttered, mostly to himself.

"What's that?" Seth asked cautiously.

Rather than answer verbally, Lee simply plucked the strand, resulting in a low bass twang.

"What's wrong with that?" Seth asked in puzzlement.

"It means that we're trapped. There's no way that we're going to be able to climb over, under and around all this webbing."

"Then we'll do it like this." Seth said, then consciously lowered his light to the point where everything appeared to be half-hidden in shadow.

Before Lee could ask what he was doing, Seth stepped to Lee's side and made a show of very carefully touching the same strand that Lee had touched before.

As expected, the formerly strong strand dissipated into nothingness.

"So it looks like you're able to control either how 'real' we are or how 'real' our surroundings are." Lee said thoughtfully.

"Yeah. It looks that way. But that thing you were saying before about us being trapped, this kinda takes care of that, doesn't it?" Seth asked hopefully.

"Yes. And if I'm right about how all of this works, I might have just found a use for your ability."

"Yeah? Like what?"

"Let me try out a few more things before I say too much about that."

"Okay. Yeah. But what do you want to do next?" Seth asked curiously.

"I guess that if you're up to it, we could go for a little walk." Lee said with a grin.

"Do we just have to guess where we're going, or do you somehow know?" Seth asked cautiously.

"Actually, I was wanting for you to figure out how to navigate on your own." Lee said frankly.

"How?" Seth asked simply.

"Andrew probably has a bullet point list of steps to follow, but honestly, I've had the best results from just trying different things until something works." Lee said honestly.

"That'd be fine except that I don't have any experience to fall back on. This is coming at me from out of nowhere. I'd really appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction." Seth said imploringly.

Lee placed a hand flat on Seth's back, then gave it one short gentle push.

At Seth's look of puzzlement, Lee pointed as he said, "That way."

The shadows all around them shifted as Seth looked from side to side to get his bearings.

Rather than start walking, Seth quietly asked, "The door's over there, right?"

"Yes. But before we start roaming around aimlessly you need to figure out how to navigate for yourself."

"I'm open to any suggestions."

"From the way I understand it, Andrew can sort of send his power out and see things that aren't right in front of him." Lee said carefully, then continued, "For me, it's more like everything I see is layered on top of the hell dimension, which I can almost see bleeding through."

"Well, I'm pretty sure I can't see anything like that." Seth said frankly.

"I didn't think that you would. But knowing that there's a door right in front of you, maybe you can try some different things to see it... you might try adjusting the light of your horns or something. You've had pretty good luck with that so far." Lee carefully suggested.

"Yeah. Okay." Seth said with determination.

Lee watched carefully to be sure that Seth didn't do anything too dangerous.

Internally, he was constructing contingencies in case things went terribly wrong. He had the most direct course to Andrew's room already plotted.

A sudden change in the lighting renewed Lee's focus.

As the lighting began to become more and more blue, Lee quickly said, "Up the brightness a little. We're fading."

"Right. Got it." Seth said in slow concentration.

"There it is. Can you see that?"

"Yeah. Give me a second. I'm kinda juggling things here."

"Take your time... oh crap. I didn't think about it, but your ability might not only affect spatial dimensions. You could have projected us a hundred-thousand years into the past... or the future, I guess." Lee reluctantly suggested.

"That's just a bunch of made-up sci fi stuff. That can't happen in real life."

"Yeah. I need to get you to babysit my grandson Thomas when we get back. It'll only take a few minutes with him to make you a true believer."

"Okay, um... you might want to cover your eyes for a second. I'm gonna try something."

"Just do what you're going to do. I'll manage."

Lee noticed the light not only becoming slightly brighter, but also significantly less blue. In fact, there wasn't really any color to speak of. They seemed to have become black & white.

"There. Is that what you were talking about?" Seth asked as he pointed ahead of them.

Lee could make out the vague outline of the bedroom door amongst the loosely draping phlegm-like ropes and vines all around them. Of course, if he weren't familiar with the appearance of the door, he probably wouldn't automatically make that association.

"Do you want to see if you can go through it?" Lee cautiously asked.

"No. Hold on." Seth immediately answered as he held up an arm to prevent Lee from stepping forward..

Lee froze in place, then hesitantly asked, "Then what would you like to do next?"

Their bright black and white surroundings began to dim and a blue-gray cast washed over them.

"Can you explain what you're doing? I don't understand."

"We could see where to go the other way, but we couldn't walk through it. I could feel it in my horns. If we'd tried to walk through that we'd have been torn to shreds." Seth explained with difficulty.

"Okay. I'm just as happy not to test that theory." Lee automatically accepted, then asked, "Are we good to go now?"

"Yeah. Except that I don't know where to go." Seth admitted.

"I was thinking that we could try and find our way to Slash's room. It's just a few doors down; Left out the door, at the end of the hall on the right."

"Across from Trey's room?" Seth asked cautiously.

"Yes. That's right." Lee confirmed.

"Okay. I can't be sure that we won't be blocked from going there but I guess we can try." Seth said as he led the way.

"The way Andrew explained it to me, these overlaid dimensions seem to follow certain rules, one of them being that barriers and walkways generally exist the same in both dimensions." Lee explained as he moved closer to Seth, just for safety's sake.

"Why would that be?" Seth asked curiously.

"I don't know. I guess that if you're someone who believes in gods, this might be an argument in favor of that. 'Intelligent design', I think they call it." Lee said as he slowly followed.

"I'm guessing you don't believe in that." Seth observed.

"I believe in a lot of things that I didn't just a year or two ago. Let's just say that at this point in my life that I don't automatically assume that everything that happens around me has something to do with divine intervention." Lee said diplomatically.

"Yeah. Sounds right." Seth easily agreed.

"Of course, if you believe that complex systems automatically exhibit a tendency toward order, as demonstrated in snowflakes and the formation of crystals, then you might attribute the formation of pathways and barriers as being part of that same natural process." Lee explained as he noticed that Seth was avoiding as many of the strands as possible, trying to climb over or around them to avoid touching them if he could.

"That sounds to me like someone who's making up a story to fit the facts without having any clue about what's really going on." Seth said frankly.

"Why are you being so careful not to touch the strands?" Lee finally had to ask.

"They look like they're part of something alive... or maybe like something that's been alive. What if we're inside of someone, or what if this world is somehow a living thing. I wouldn't want to cause it pain or maybe even kill it for no reason at all." Seth carefully explained.

"You know, that hadn't occurred to me." Lee said as he began to take extra care not to accidentally touch any of the strands as they continued down the hallway.

"I guess if you really believe that stuff you were saying about things falling into order, that would be another way of explaining it." Seth quietly added.

"No. I don't really believe it, I was just throwing it out there as a possible explanation. I actually don't care why certain things are like they are. I just accept them, then get on with life." Lee reluctantly admitted.

"Is this it?" Seth asked as he indicated a gap in the strands that almost looked like an archway.

"I think so. Let me look." Lee said as his eyes started to glow.

"Wow! I didn't know you could do that." Seth said with a grin.

"I don't like to show it off. This is just how I can see past the veil into the demon world." Lee quietly explained.

"What can you see now?" Seth asked curiously.

"It's kind of difficult to describe. The way it used to be, I thought that I could only see into hell, and for the most part that's true. But thanks to Andrew, I discovered that when I'm in hell, I can use my ability to see back into our regular human dimension... well, the dimension that you're used to, anyway. If you'll remind me, I'll tell you more about where I'm really from later. But anyway, now I've figured out how I can look through the hell dimension and back into ours." Lee carefully explained.

"So does that mean that you can see inside?" Seth cautiously asked.

"Yeah. That's what it means." Lee said with a smile.

"Do you want for us to go in?" Seth asked hesitantly.

"Yes. I think Slash would like to be included in this adventure. And since you've mastered the art of navigation, I think the next trick might be to see if you can intentionally bring someone in and send them back." Lee said frankly.

"I'm worried that I might do something wrong and hurt him." Seth said honestly.

"We're not just going to go in and abduct him. First thing I'm going to ask you to do is send me back, then, if that goes well, I'll wake up Slash and invite him to join us on the next part of our adventure."

"What's that going to be?" Seth asked with interest.

"Waking up Andrew." Lee said with a mischievous grin.

"Any particular reason?" Seth asked cautiously.

"He's the greatest authority on interdimensional travel that I know. Not only would I like to share the news with him, but I'd also like to get his opinion about this dimension that you've discovered."

"Yeah. And he might also have some warnings for us about things that we don't already know to watch out for." Seth said a bit nervously.

"What are you worried about?" Lee asked cautiously.

"What if we're not the only ones running around in here? What if this dimension is someone or something's home?" Seth asked frankly.

"I never even thought of something being able to live here. Listen, if you're ready to do it, maybe you could try sending me back so that I can get Slash. I can give you a thumbs-up when I'm ready to come back here and once I'm back, I can tell you if Slash will be joining us."

"How am I going to send you back?" Seth asked hesitantly.

"Just try things. If we can't find a way to make it work, it's no big deal. Right now we're just trying to figure out how it all works." Lee assured him.

"Yeah. Alright." Seth finally agreed.

* * * * *

//What are you doing?// Sounded in both Lee and Seth's minds.

"We're just trying to figure out how to use Seth's mutant ability. I'm sorry if we woke you. Can you see us?" Lee asked hesitantly.

//No, I can sense your psychic presence, but I can't visually see you at all.// Jesus said seriously, then casually added, //So Seth has an ability? I never saw that one coming.//

"Be nice!" Lee playfully chastised.

"I want to try something." Seth distractedly interrupted.

"That's fine. Go ahead." Lee encouraged.

Seth brought his hand up to Lee's chest and held it there for a moment with his fingers spread. Before Lee could ask what he was intending, Seth firmly pushed him away.

* * * * *

"Is everything okay? I can't tell what's going on." Seth finally asked.

//Hold on. I think Lee may be about to ask you to bring yourself back.// Jesus responded uncertainly.

"What's going on?" Seth asked with concern.

//Pull Lee back and he'll explain it to you.// Jesus quickly responded.

Seth shifted his light from black and white to blue-gray, then reached forward and placed a hand on Lee's arm.

Seth didn't have to physically 'pull' Lee across dimensions but rather reorient Lee from one dimension to the other.

"Hang on a second. Andrew wants to see if he can make it here on his own." Lee said quickly.

"Andrew? How long were you there? It just seemed like a minute to me." Seth asked anxiously.

"No. It's nothing like that. Andrew was just looking for us when you sent me back..." Lee was saying when a movement beside them heralded the arrival of Andrew.

"Remind me not to play hide and seek with you guys." Andrew muttered as he looked around.

"It kind of happened by accident." Seth timidly explained.

"Seth, we need to get you back so you can talk to your parents. That news story got picked up by the network and now your parents are ready to call out the National Guard to make sure that you're safe." Andrew explained.

"I left my phone on the charger back in the bedroom. I didn't think about bringing it with me." Seth said anxiously.

"Don't worry too much about it. I doubt that your plan covers this dimension anyway." Lee quietly offered.

"Yeah. And I bet the roaming charges would be murder." Andrew added.

"If my parents are worried about me, I need to get back. How do I do that?" Seth asked sternly.

"You were able to push me out of this dimension. See if you can find a way to do that to yourself." Lee said seriously.

"Can't you open a door for me or something?" Seth asked hopefully.

"I could but then you would need someone with you at all times until you've learned your ability. If you can get yourself in and out on your own, then you'll be free to explore whenever you want." Lee patiently explained.

"I bet if it was your kids that the news had been talking about that you wouldn't want to be kept waiting." Seth groused.

"Probably not. But it's still better if we do it this way." Andrew assured him.

"The sooner you do it, the sooner you won't have to worry about it." Lee helpfully added.

"I'm working on it. Give me a minute." Seth slowly said in concentration.

"Andrew, before Seth goes, can you tell us anything about this dimension that he found?" Lee asked hopefully.

"This isn't exactly a dimension. It's more like the connective tissue between dimensions. I never would have thought to look for you here."

"Connective tissue? Is it alive?" Seth asked anxiously.

"I don't know, Seth. The definition of life would probably have to be expanded before you could say 'yes' or 'no' to that." Andrew said thoughtfully.

"Any suggestions for Seth on how he can get himself back to our dimension." Lee asked hopefully.

"Not really. I don't know how his power works." Andrew said honestly.

"Watch while Seth sends me back. Maybe that'll give you a hint." Lee suggested.

"Yeah. Go ahead." Andrew said as his eyes began to cast a golden glow.

"Woah. That's impressive." Seth said with surprise at the sight.

"Remember that your parents are worried about you." Lee said firmly.

"Oh, yeah. You ready?" Seth asked as he forced himself to look away from Andrew's awe-inspiring level of power.

"Go ahead." Lee assured him.

Seth took a moment to gather his wits so that he could be certain that he wouldn't accidentally hurt Lee.

One simple push against Lee's chest and he seemed to fall backward, out of existence.

* * * * *

After a moment of observation, Andrew finally said, "Okay. I can see why you're having a problem."

"Do you know how I can send myself back?" Seth asked hopefully.

"Yes. In fact, I'm fairly certain that you have everything you need to do it except the understanding of how to make it work." Andrew said slowly.

"What does that even mean?" Seth asked imploringly.

"Dad and I have basically the same ability, except that mine just seems to have manifested a little more fully than his. Your ability, while having certain foundational similarities, operates in a completely different way. Dad and I create doorways. A physical body can step through and move from one place or one dimensional plane to another. What you do is override the dimensional cohesion of a being so that it is no longer associated with one universe and seems to fit naturally into another." Andrew carefully explained.

"So, can you tell me how to send myself back?" Seth asked hopefully.

"I can tell you the effect that you're trying to produce, but I'm not you. I don't feel what you feel, so I can't tell you how to produce it." Andrew said seriously.

"Go ahead. I've figured it out this far. I can do it." Seth said confidently.

Andrew smiled at Seth's determination, then said, "Imagine for a second that our world, where we normally live, has music that's always playing quietly in the background. It's kind of like a hum or a low harmonious drone in the distance. This world has an entirely different hum. All you have to do is remember what that other hum sounded like and alter your own internal 'hum' to match it."

"So when I change my light, that's what I'm doing, I'm actually changing the 'hum' of the things around me, so that they become more or less 'real' in relation to me, right?" Seth cautiously asked.

"Right. And when you pushed Dad back to the other dimension, you basically reset his vibration to go back to normal." Andrew carefully explained.

"And when I pulled him in, I was making him be in tune with me." Seth said thoughtfully.

"That's what it looks like to me." Andrew agreed.

"Okay. Then I guess I'm ready." Seth said as a twinge of his nervousness slipped past his confident facade.

"Go ahead. If anything happens, just stay calm and I'll get you through." Andrew said seriously.

"You and your dad are pretty cool. Thanks." Seth said sincerely, then closed his eyes as his horns began to cycle through various colors and intensities.

"You're doing fine. When you get to it, it should feel familiar." Andrew said in a low, calming voice.

"Yeah. Here I go." Seth announced, then seemed to warp and dissolve out of the in-between universe that he found himself in.

Looking around using the golden glow of his own eyes, Andrew assessed that the situation was sufficiently resolved as he, also, faded out of existence.

* * * * *

"We're all going back to my room so Seth can get his phone." Lee announced when Andrew appeared.

"It looks like the excitement's over for the moment. I'm going to get back to Alan and the babies, unless I'm needed here for something." Andrew said quietly.

"No. Go ahead and get your rest. I'll be sure to fill you in if anything new comes up."

"Sounds good. I'll see you at breakfast then. Have a good night... what's left of it."

"Yeah. You too."

* * * * *

"Hi, Mom?" Seth cautiously asked into his phone.

He had to pull the phone away from his ear for a moment, due to the screaming.

"Yeah. I'm fine. Really." Seth tried to assure her without letting the phone get too near to his ear.

"Yes. I was in my room when it happened. Nobody tried to shoot me and I wasn't ever in any danger." Seth said calmly.

"I heard something about graffiti, but I really don't know anything about it. The important thing is that when we were in trouble they took all of us to someplace safe and saw that we were taken care of." Seth said firmly.

"No. I don't want to come home. Classes haven't even started and I've already learned so much that I can't even tell you."

"Mom. I'm a mutant. No matter where I go, there's going to be people like that trying to hurt me. I think it's better if I'm someplace where I can be around people who'll watch my back and who'll be willing to jump in and help me when I need it." Seth said frankly.

"Mom. If I'm going to be a part of this world, I've got to live in it. I think this is the best way, with lots of friends and support."

"Okay. I will. Is Dad there? I'd like to talk to him."

"Yeah. I love you too."

"Dad? Yeah... I'm fine. Listen. Do you remember Marc? He's the one who was shot."

"I don't know. I haven't heard anything since we got here..."

"We're at another school, one with a big fence around it and a gate. We're safe. I promise."

"Right. What I was wondering is if when Marc gets well enough to get out of the hospital, if there's anything we can do to help him. I don't want him feeling like him and Lisa are all alone in this."

"Yeah. I'll let you know if I think of anything."

"No. I'm sure. I think it's going to be great here, just as soon as they can get all their psychos and stuff under control."

"Yeah. When you're just starting out it takes a while to work the bugs out." Seth said with a pained smile.

"Really, I'm fine." Seth quietly assured his father.

"What? Oh, yeah. I guess I'll talk to him."

"I love you too. Bye." Seth said quickly.

"What are you doing up so late? Don't you have school tomorrow?" Seth asked with a smile as he noticed that a tear had escaped down his cheek.

"Don't worry about me. Get your sleep so you can be all brilliant and everything at school tomorrow."

"I'm fine. I wasn't even there when it happened. I was in a totally different room."

"Well, I didn't know you'd be calling, did I? But for whatever it's worth, next time one of my classmates or roommates is shot, I'll be sure to keep my phone with me and turned on. How's that?"

"Sorry Junior, that sounded funnier in my head. I didn't mean to make you worry."

"Yeah. Okay. Keep an eye on the old folks for me, will you? If you notice them worrying or being depressed, let me know and I'll be sure to give them an extra call."

"Yeah. I love you too..."

"...and don't call me Horney."

* * * * *

"Is everything alright at home?" Lee asked quietly.

"Yeah. I guess so. I should have called them as soon as I got here. I should have known that they'd find out and be worried." Seth said quietly.

"I should probably call my mom too. And if my great-aunt finds out..." Beau trailed off, obviously not able to describe the horror that would be wrought in that eventuality.

//How are you feeling about your new ability?// Jesus asked curiously.

"Okay, I guess. I mean, if anyone had asked, this probably isn't the one I would have chosen. But as far as mutant abilities go, it's not bad." Seth said frankly.

"What is it, again? I was asleep when most of this was going on." Slash asked curiously.

A flash of consuming darkness erupted from Seth's horns just before Seth seemed to wink out of existence. A moment later, Seth appeared on the other side of the room.

"You're a teleporter?" Slash asked uncertainly.

"More of a dimensional traveler, I think. But that doesn't mean that he can't do a teleporter trick or two as well." Lee finished with a smile.

"Yeah. I can only go to one other dimension so far..." Seth quietly admitted.

"I'm thinking that Andrew and I might be able to help with that." Lee assured him.

"It sure was lucky that I was with you when my mutant ability manifested." Seth said frankly.

"I doubt very much if luck had anything to do with it." Lee said seriously.

//How do you mean?// Jesus asked curiously.

"If you go back over the number of coincidences that are stacked, one on top of another, I think you'll see that this couldn't have possibly happened naturally." Lee said with certainty.

"I thought you said that you don't believe in gods." Seth said cautiously.

"That's not what I'm talking about. But all of this, it isn't natural. We're being manipulated." Lee stated with conviction.

"By who?" Slash asked in surprise.

//By whom.// Jesus automatically corrected.

"Seriously?" Slash asked with a dubious look down at the rat.

Before Jesus could respond, Lee calmly said, "Some one or some thing seems intent on promoting a certain outcome."

"Do you think they had anything to do with what happened to Marc?" Seth asked quietly.

"I really don't know. I'd like to think that whatever is at play behind the scenes is on our side, doing what's right for us but I have no evidence to prove it. All I can tell you is that what's happening is something that appears to have a point. Different people and situations are being drawn to produce a specific outcome." Lee said slowly.

//I think that I could probably pick up on it if there were a telepath pushing people to do things like that.// Jesus said frankly.

Lee thoughtfully nodded his agreement.

"But maybe it's like me and Lee having different abilities. Even though what we've got is kind of the same thing, it's different too. Maybe whatever's happening isn't really telepathy but something else that can end up doing the same thing." Seth said speculatively.

"Why do you say that?" Slash asked curiously.

"Because Lee's right. How much of a longshot is it that when my mutant ability broke through that I happened to be sleeping next to Lee, who is another dimensional traveler? I could have been lost forever. No one would have known where to look for me." Seth said seriously.

Lee begrudgingly nodded his agreement.

"Even a one in a million chance happens that one time." Slash said simply.

"True. But how many times in a row can you hit that one in a million jackpot before you have to wonder what's going on?" Lee countered.

"So you're saying that a new mutant who didn't even know that he had an ability, just happened to find out about a new school being opened, then after being accepted and showing up, was relocated to another school due to a completely unexpected and unforeseen shooting and ended up sleeping next to another mutant who just happened to have almost the same mutant ability as him and when this new mutant got scared, he was somehow able to pull that other mutant into the new dimension without even knowing that he was using a mutant ability... is that the part you're saying is a little too coincidental to have happened all on its own?" Seth asked curiously.

"Um, yeah. That." Lee confirmed.

"I'm not saying that you're right, but even if you are, what are we supposed to do about it?" Slash reluctantly asked.

"Just keep your eyes open for bizarre coincidences and unlikely decisions being made. Even if we can't figure out who's doing it, if we can just figure out what they're trying to accomplish, we might have a better idea of what to expect." Lee said firmly as he looked around the group.

//What if he's telling you to say that?// Jesus asked into everyone's minds.

Lee looked at Jesus with surprise, then broke into a smile before responding, "Then I suppose that whoever he or she is, they're probably pretty happy with the way things have turned out."

"We still have to go to school in the morning, don't we?" Seth asked as he quickly looked at the clock.

"Yeah. In about three hours." Slash regretfully confirmed.

"Goodnight everyone. Thanks for all your help." Lee said wearily.

"Yeah. I guess if you were going to wake us up in the middle of the night, at least it was for something interesting." Beau said with a smile as he started toward the door.

//I don't know about all of you, but I need my beauty sleep.// Jesus said playfully.

"No you don't. You're perfect just the way you are." Beau said with a smile.

//I can accept that. But just don't make a habit of it.//

"It's a deal." Beau said as he led the way out of the bedroom.

"Hey Seth." Slash said as he stopped in the doorway.

At Seth's look of question, Slash continued, "Welcome to the club."

"Thanks." Seth answered timidly.

Slash smiled as he continued on, out of the room.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Well, that worked out pretty well, didn't it?

Every time there is new material to digest, My smile grows bigger.

It's good to see that things have somewhat settled down.

Don't forget to let MultiMapper know you've enjoyed his story/stories.

I know he appreciates hearing from readers.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher