Into the Wild – Chapter 5
Matt wasn’t sure what he expected. His bedroom started to dim as if the sun was going down but continued until finally, he was standing in absolute blackness. For the first few seconds he remained calm but as time ticked on his resolve began to fail. What had he gotten himself into? Then, just as he was about to panic, off in the distance, he saw a dim light.
The sunlight started to grow just as it had faded, but this time it was different somehow. It kept getting brighter, so bright in fact; he had to shield his eyes. Once more he felt like this was a test. The time ticked on endlessly again pushing him towards his breaking point. Then, through the cracks of his fingers, he noticed the intensity begin to dim. He removed his hand and blinked several times.
He was standing in a field; the grass was knee deep and bright green scattered with wildflowers. Across the plains, he could see mountains. As he looked around, he noticed they surrounded the field, isolating it from wherever lay outside.
Behind him, a few yards back, sat a small gazebo outfitted with two chairs and a table. He rolled his eyes; clearly, this was the “meeting” place the old man had mentioned.
He strolled through the wildflowers, the pleasant smells filling his nose and pissing off his unsettled mind. Flowers weren’t what he needed right now. The gazebo was wooden and covered with a canopy of more flowers, vining pink ones this time. He walked up the two steps onto the deck and found sitting on the table a dusty bottle and two glasses. He sat down, pulled the cork and poured himself a generous portion of the dark red liquid.
Just as he lifted it to his lips, “Well that’s rude. You can pour me one as well,” said the old man as he too walked up, taking the seat across from Matt.
“Hey this is my delusion, and until just now you weren’t here,” Matt replied.
“Well, clearly I am now, so please do me the honor,” Eluard smiled. “I see you decided to pick up the coin.”
“No shit,” answered Matt as he filled the goblet and handed it across to the old man. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Are we past the ‘I don’t believe you’ phase? Can we get on with the proposition?”
“Yes, please. And just give me the highlights, then I’ll ask questions.”
“I’d prefer it that way. Do you want the ‘why this is happening’ speech or just the details of what we’re offering?”
“A short version of why is fine, but does it matter if I accept the offer? I think not.”
The old man nodded. “We find people who are uniquely out of their time and offer them relocation. Now before you ask, yes, a lot of people feel they’re not in the right time and many are correct. That doesn’t mean we offer them all relocation. For a person is eligible, there must be a real disconnect from the time and place where they currently reside. They must suit their future home better than they do their current one. They must have befriended someone in their present time that is also suited to the new time. And finally, they must have something unique to offer their new world.”
“And I fit these criteria?”
“Very much so. At least, we think so. The reason for the interview is to ensure there is the desire before we move forward.”
“The desire on my part I take it. Out of curiosity, how many people turn you down?”
“Yes, both you and your travel partner must want to relocate. As for how many turn us down, roughly half.”
Matt took a long drink while he ingested what the old man had just said. The wine was good. Sitting back in his wicker chair, he questioned, “Half, huh? That’s interesting.” Chewing his inner lip and staring up at the canopy of flowers, he added, “I guess my first question would be, you said I’d need to have something to offer the other world. What do I have?”
“Why would I tell you that? It’s a discovery you must make for yourself. We’re not sending you there on a mission. Yes, we might be hoping you can help that world or someone on it, but the overriding reason is still we feel it will be good for you. To ensure you don’t get an ego, you won the coin toss.” Smiling, he added, “Yes, that’s often how we decide between multiple candidates.”
“Great. It’s good to know you put a lot of thought into this.” He paused, then realized something. “Wait, you said I had to have a friend that met the same criteria and was willing to go. Who is it in my case?”
“You tell me. If you could pick anyone you know to go with you on this journey, who would it be?” Asked Eluard.
Matt chewed the inside of his cheek and thought… Who indeed? It wasn’t a great mystery; he’d take Devon. They were the best of friends. They both loved the same kind of stories, and they were already like brothers. “Devon.”
The old man’s eyes twinkled with delight. “See? You got it in one.”
“What if I hadn’t picked the right person?”
“It wouldn’t matter; you know your friends better than we do. You and Devon just happened to both show up on our radar, so to speak, which helped in the choosing. If you hadn’t picked him, we would research whomever you might’ve suggested to accompany you on the trip.”
“What if that person didn’t match? You did say they had to match, right?”
“Yes, we would tell you and suggest a better-suited candidate. The familiarity isn’t always a deal breaker; sometimes there are two of the same world who are unacquainted. This is more often due to geographical location than incompatibility. Most become the friends we exact them to become shortly after meeting. I’m sure the added challenge of a new world and the common bond with the old one also helps bring them together.”
Matt shrugged. “Makes sense. OK, so we have the why and the who. What I need to know now is the how.”