|< Back| |Chapter 26| |Chapter 27| |Chapter 28| |Chapter 29| |Next >|

CHAPTER 25: TED'S BROTHER

    "Excuse me, anyone know where Hiffjoffle Castle is?"

    "Lookin' fer tha cazle ar' ya?" said a portly conductor in a rough irish accent.
"Tha tran ta tha cazle iz on trak forty three."

    Boarding the train, I searched through my pockets for a ticket. Pulling out the letter, I reached
inside it for a ticket. I grabbed it out and handed it to the ticket taker. Odd that it wasn't there a
moment ago. I was on a long journey and had no idea who Hampron was. Three hours later, the
train stopped and I stepped out. In this gloom, the surroundings were rather dreary and desolate.
Stepping onto the platform, I was greeted by an ancient station that was deserted and looked like
it hadn't been used for many years. The sign that said Hiffjoffle Castle hung limply by one chain
and was covered with years of dust. Cobwebs and old garbage littered the floor. I was greeted by
a servant, most probably one from the castle, showing me to a carriage. The horses were readied,
and we sped quickly away from the departing train. After a very bumpy ride, I arrived at the castle.
Crossing the drawbridge, I arrived in the main courtyard to be greeted by more servants who
helped me out of the carriage.

    "Here is your room sir. I hope it is to your liking. I shall return when dinner is served. Afterwards,
a tour of the castle."

    All of the hallways looked identical in this large place. Being safe at last in my room, I began
exploring my room. The smell of old damp stone walls seemed familiar. I dozed off on the couch
in the main room of my suite.

Dong....Dong....Dong....Dong....
Dong....Dong....Ding....

    Awakening suddenly at the chimes of the grandfather clock and the constant knock at the door.

    "Sir, dinner is served."

    Leaving my room, I followed the servant down the dimly lit hallways. I entered the great hall and
continued on into the kitchen. The meal was not quite what I had quite envisioned, but it was food.

    After dinner, the servant showed me all of the castle except for one door that was old and appeared
to be overused. He told me that it was a door to a tower, but I was unsure. I didn't think this castle had
five towers. I had only seen four upon my arrival. A later hallway was filled with a much larger surprise.
A detailed construction map of the Tardais. This was slightly odd, seeing that I was on Earth and Ted
had been on Tedland. Curious, a wall mirror showing the reflection of Ted when I pass.

(    Micah when the time comes, follow the master of the house to the door and he will show you the way...)

    "Here is your room. I shall return for you at dinner time tomorrow. Until then, explore all you like
except for the door I showed you."

    All I could do was sit and think about what was behind the door. It was the one thing that kept
bothering me. Somehow, that door was a piece of the puzzle that was still a large mystery with many
more pieces left to fill in. Morning came and went, as did the afternoon. I felt that this mystery was soon
going to reveal itself and I didn't like the idea it brought into the light.

    "Sir? My master awaits your arrival to dinner in the great hall."

    "One moment, let me freshen up a bit."

    Facing the old dusty bathroom mirror, I washed my face and thought about who Ted's brother
Hampron was. Ted had never mentioned him to me before, but he rarely mentioned anything about
family. Finishing, I followed the servant down to the great hall and was not only surprised, but was
also shocked to see that it was someone I had once done a Ted Challenge with.

    "So we meet again Micah. I must know how many times my brother has died."

    "Twice, I think."

    "Ah, then there is hope for him yet. You see, Ted isn't what he seems. I'm sure you have witnessed
at least one of his death's."

    "Yes. I was slightly suspicious of his origins since he had these funny little quirks and never talked
about his family. I only thought he had returned using his magic."

    "No it is not that simple, but he has returned once using his magic. I believe that when he helped kill
your enemy, he came back. There is more, much more! But now, let us eat and then descend to the
place of making."

    We finished our dinner in silence and after dinner he showed me something that I hadn't even thought
was possible. Walking down flights of stairs and through musty hallways we arrived at a large metal door
set into the stone wall. Walking up to it, he pushed in a code on the nearby code pad and the door opened
to reveal a large cavern. In the center, a machine of jumbled wires and levers humms.

    "This is not it. What I want to show you is over there."

    Pointing at the far wall, a door was clearly visible. Walking toward it, we reached the door and entered a
very familiar place that I had not seen in years. The Artem Project.

    "I am sure that you remember what this is, and where it came from?"

    "I do, but what is its purpose?"

    "I cracked it. It was never supposed to fall into the hands of Ted5. He learned the truth. It is, more or less,
what is left of the original Ted. It runs my inventions throughout time."

    He pointed over to a console of viewing globes. The images were horrifying; I never knew what Ted was.
Twelve different screens were showing pictures of the past.

(    Ted One? A strange seemingly endless view of stars. Ted Two? Odd, just static. Three through
     twelve I knew quite well, but the twelfth was here with me. How odd?)

    "You see Micah, it is more complex than you could ever imagine. We are not what we seem, even you.
We are all one and the same being... Ted."

    Next to the last screen, a new monitor came into view. Me...

    "What happened to him?"

    "We do not know, but when he died he created us in his likeness and all that is left of him is in that column.
We are all alone in this vast and empty universe. Without Ted, the world is nothing. I have exceeded my timetable.
Before I go, one last item to help you find Ted2."

    "Deactivate Hologram."

    "Ted5 was the creator of this, but I modified it and brought all of your precious memories back. Find the green
column and with it, you can recreate the real Ted. Only then, will the full truth be revealed to you."



CHAPTER 26: ENTER -- THE TARDAIS

    As he spoke, a wall dissolved and there stood the Tardais. Hampron slowly vanished, and so did all of
the castle along with him.

(    Don't fail me Micah. You must find Ted...)

    At that, I was once again flying through space and time in the Tardais. Trying to find that which was so
dear to my heart, Ted. The Tardais landed, leaving me to wonder where I was. I hoped it wouldn't be another
nightmare; I had enough of those to last a lifetime.


**************************************************************************************
*PRESENT LOCATION IN TIME:
*
*DATE: 1980
*PLACE: EARTH "EVENT ONE TIME COLLISION"
*A.I.F.O: IMMEDIATE DEPARTURE. *FAILSAFE DISENGAGED*
**************************************************************************************



    This was odd. What is Event One, why should I leave and what is a time collision?

(    Micah... Micah... I have...)

    I grabbed the key and exited the Tardais. Greeted by a strange little man, I was not welcome
wherever I was.

    "You can't park that box here!"

    "I'm sorry, I'll move it in a bit."

    "Freddman won't like it when he comes back in here. You'll be sorry!"

    He left and I was mystified how another Tardais could be here while my Tardais was here. Stepping into
the newly arrived Tardais. I began falling. I didn't know where I would end up, but I had a suspicion that
somehow Ted was behind it. I continued to fall farther and farther down. Far below me, a light was beginning
to grow larger.



CHAPTER 27: THE REAL HORROR

    Landing rather roughly, I have become somewhat confused as to where I have arrived.

    "Who art thou, and how came thou hither?"

    "For starters, who are you?" I asked cautiously.

    "I" said the stranger indignantly, "am SIADRAT, ruler of this land! I shall only ask once more, who
art thou and how came thou hither?"

    "I am Micah. I request that you take me to Ted."

    "Ted, who is he? I know not that name in my realm. There is an odd obelisk in my castle.
Are you the sorcerer?"

    "Is it tall, blue in color and have a series of indentations on the sides?"

    "Yes, you must be the great sorcerer to know the many secrets of our troubled land."

    "Our, is there more of you?"

    "Yes. My kingdom is vast and the people in it, many. Come let us go to my castle and I shall
show you the obelisk."

    On approach, I was shocked to see TedCastle staring back at me. Something very strange was
going on here.

    "Do you know who built this castle Siadrat?"

    "No, it has been here since I can first remember."

    "It's the Tardais!"

    "The what?"

    "The Tardais. That's what I came here for."

    "Ah, I have tried to open it, but there are no handles, locks, or any other method of opening it."

    "The lock is hidden behind... That's odd?"

    "What?"

    "This thing seems to be made of stone, not the Tardais at all. Are there any other strange things here?"

    "Now that you mention it, yes. A strange room in my tower. Come, I'll show you."

    We climbed several flights of stairs and passed through many familiar dark hallways. Twenty minutes
later, we arrived at the tower door.

    "Open the door and get ready for a shock."

    "Why?"

    "Just go in."

    I went in and the Tardais control room stood before me. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something was
definitely wrong. We had come through the interior door, slightly odd. One question remained however, where
was Ted? The outer door was jammed, no way out that way. The wiring was fine. The settings normal. The
fragmental reconstruct light, flashing.

    "Oh!"

    "What?"

    "I know what's wrong."

    "What?"

    "Well this thing is the reason of your troubles. Its the thing creating this place and everything in it."

    "Why can't you throw that lever marked fragment reconstruct?"

    "Its not that easy. I'd have to find the area of space, the time scale, the proportions, and rate of expansion."

    "This number that was written on the screen when first I came in here. It may help you."

    "It might."

    "The number was 38765-99-235."

    "The number I need, hopefully!"

    Micah typed in the numbers on the console and threw the lever. Suddenly the whole room began to
violently tremble. The room grew translucent, then dark and lights on the console began to flash. A sudden
surge of bright light, and Micah looked across the room to see two faces he had not seen in many years.
Ted and Bigbunny...

    "Micah, we were safe until you did that. There it goes, after it! Don't let it get out..."

    "What Ted, let what out?"

    A small shadow of pure darkness inched its way across the room and oozed out through the door as
Ted shut it.

    "Micah let me fill you in since we last..."

    "When did we last meet exactly? There are a few unanswered questions I'd like to know the answers to.
There seem to be too many, well you's around lately. Quite frankly, I'm having trouble figuring out which one
of you is real and what ones aren't."

    "What are you talking about? There's only one of me, I think? I thought I saw the Tardais land before we
landed. Time travel will do things like that to you though. Somehow we caught something that turned time
inside out, and became stuck with us inside the Tardais. The world was safe until you had to come in. We have
to go after it before it alters reality."



CHAPTER 28: THE CHASE

    "We can't hope to chase it, we don't even know where it went. I suggest that since we are here...
Never mind, I'll handle this."

    Micah went back to his Tardais, and dematerialized. His Tardais began to lurch, and then another Tardais
appeared in Micah's control room. He opened the door of the other Tardais, turned on the sequencer for a ten
second delay in his Tardais, and rushed into the other. Falling like before, he projected his mind toward the
control room in this Tardais and turned off the sequencer.

    "Micah, we were safe until you did that. There it goes, after it! Don't let it get out..."

    A small pool of pure darkness inches its way across the room and oozes out the door right as Ted runs to
shut it. Falling, the darkness lets out a horrible screech before dissipating into the ground of the artificial world.

    "It's not going anywhere. Close the doors. I thought you were in danger when I found your Tardais sequencer
on, so I took precautions. I turned the sequencer on in my Tardais and the darkness fell into it. Many things have
happened since you disappeared. Before we rest, we must dematerialize, because we've been spotted."

    As they dematerialized, Freddman appeared with the little man in the hallway just in time to see the blue box
fade away.

    "Did you see that Gregor?"

    "I did. It was the box that I was telling you about."

    "Well they moved it, I'll just forget that happened."

    "I agree totally."

    Suddenly and very violently, the Tardais begins to waver. Becoming transparent, Ted's image multiplies and
reality shatters. The Tardais flickers out of reality and shatters like a mirror. We were standing there in emptiness.
Suddenly, pictures of the past flash before me. Aaermos... The bright light... His spine snapped in two...
Phantoms of the past... Echoes...

    "You must find him, he's our only hope. Here are your memories Micah... Time... Below the depths of time...
Another time and place, not here... Transition successful... The light of this world is dead.... He has saved many....
I couldn't save him.... Gone, all gone...."

    "Micah! Wake up! I'm sure that somewhere along the line, you began to piece together the mystery about my past.
The Artem project is what's left of me in the end, or as you may see it... The beginning. You are an image of my past
and my far distant future. Your thoughts are my own and my thoughts are yours. Your journey is now complete with
the knowledge I have given you. The evil magician, the monster that was once myself, is now gone. Evil does not die,
it merely lives on in different forms throughout time and space. One last thing I will leave with you... One day you will
find the works of art I have left to you. Arrival comes forth to sweep you back to reality, and out of the dream."



CHAPTER 29: REALITY

    A bright flash of light and I find myself back at TedCastle with a single sheet of paper in my hands.
Written upon it, a single poem.


My Poems

My poems are the fragments
of my life, pieces of my soul,
and many parts of my thoughts.
Some are happy but just as well.
They are my journal and testament
as well as many of my prayers.


    I finally knew what I was. Not amazing, but frightening in a way. I found myself in a darkened ship all
alone in the vastness of space. I now know why one screen of Hampron's had only a view of stars. I was
real, this ship was in was real, and the stars were real. A new poem appeared on the page. The page
burns away, leaving the memory of words.

Reality

Is reality a dream of everyone's
that each different person shares
in some strange way? I believe
that someday the dream will end
and we will all see the true reality
of life or it's single dream that
we all share. If it is real, how
do we tell what is real and what
is merely a fantasy that ends.