otherworldsthanthese: (to caress the river with awe)
This is not the Keystone World, but it fulfills its purpose.

It's closer, anyway, maybe even than the one Jake came from. He can't remember anymore. Reasonable, really, since there's nothing to remember. This is where he's from, New York, the one and only. There were no other Wheres, no fantasy westerns, no voices. All games Eddie and Susannah used to indulge him in when he was a babby. A shared joke between brothers - you've got the Touch, you've got the power! - who couldn't get away from that song by Journey or whoever the summer Transformers: The Movie hit theatres.

Jakob Toren is sixteen, older than he's ever been. Oy, his faithful canine companion, is three. Together, they stroll down the alley on the way to Jake's school, where Oy will yap something that sounds like, "Bye, Jake!" (or, rather, "EYE 'AKE") then scamper home. Everyone along their route is well familiar with the routine and both the dog and his boy can rest comfortable knowing that they are not being pursued, that no one means them any harm.

They pass a construction zone and, as on every other day, Jake thinks nothing of it. It has been a construction site for as long as he can remember, with no signs of conclusion, despite the apparent completion of the black skyscraper beyond the seemingly impenetrable wooden fence that surrounds the site. It's never been anything to write home about, even with the coming and going nonsense graffiti, but he still hears himself making commentary out loud, every now and again.

"There are some boards missing," he mumbles and, at the same time, Oy doesn't bark, he says, "Rose!" Before Jake can realize the significance of any of it, his dog darts through the hole in the fence and out of site. First bell will be ringing ten minutes, but without any hesitation, Jake follows.

Someone lost control of their community garden. What else could it be? Even the inorganic structures on the lot - the fountain in the middle, the tower further back - seem to sprout from the overgrowth of rose bushes. Red roses, too. Susannah's favourite, so maybe he can pick a couple for her (no, just one) to ease her inevitable displeasure when she finds out he skipped school to do some impromptu trespassing with his dog.

(Had he made up his mind so quickly? Ushering Oy back out onto the street shouldn't take so long as to result in truancy...)

Oy is sitting at - Oy is in the fountain, craning his long neck and barking at the white stone turtle that sits on top of the pedestal in the middle of the water. Brackish, filthy standing water that hasn't -

The fountain turns on and the fat turtle spits a clean, clear stream right into Oy's face. His tail goes nuts and as Jake approaches, he bounds and splashes to his boy and shakes off the excess.

"Wow, thanks, ya bumhug. C'mon." Jake sweeps his arm in a shooing gesture. "You're making me late, let's -"

Eddie, especially, has always made fun of the sounds Oy makes. They all did. The dog says "woof"? Not their dog. And scampering out of the fountain, shooting down the path - clear before they visited the turtle? Jake never noticed - and through open doors, those weird barks echo through the foyer of the looming dark tower, loud enough to wake the dead: "Tet! Gan! Ka! 'Ake! Ka!"

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𝙹𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝙲𝚑𝚊𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛𝚜

September 2017

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