by R.W, van Sant
Chapter 23 and 24
Sleep pulled him into its nebulous embrace. The entire universe became a swirling abyss of half-visions. The world was hazy, yet he could perceive it speeding along without him at a ridiculously rapid pace, a video stuck on fast forward. Driven as before, by the eternal, gnawing hunger he fought like a child around a merry go round to catch up. He perceived the veil parting and the world returning.
The sky was blue once again, and the sun shone brightly upon the lush growing world. Life was everywhere. He rejoiced in the survival of the earth. The creatures that occupied this new world were smaller and far sparser than the colossal animals that had roamed the land. Skin, feather, and fur had replaced scales as diversity had taken over nature.
Jerry felt the pangs of worry. It was a long exile; a vast majority of his kind did not survive. Those that remained roamed the new world beside him and satiated their hunger upon the strange beasts of the new world they found. Animals similar to those in zoos yet larger, more primitive roamed the wilds, prehistoric rhinos, elk, and elephants. Great flightless birds now dominated and roamed the open grasslands as dinosaurs once had.
Ravenous hunger drove him on. All rational thought disappeared. Out of the sky, they dove, wearing new forms they chased down the creatures, tearing into their flesh with tooth and claw. Mass devastation resulted as they devoured entire species driving them to extinction. They were depleting the food supplies too quickly. Without a food source like the massive herds of the huge reptilian creatures that existed untold eons before, he knew they would soon starve. As lush and diverse as this new world was, it would no longer sustain their numbers for long. To survive, they would have to try again, to throw themselves back into the abyss of sleep, to hibernate and let the world grow and fill, become abundant as it once was.
The creatures they changed had taken over the world, but they were still far too scarce. Diversity and competition had kept sizes small and numbers low, and they required a world overflowing with life, an unending source of food. The world was no longer fit for giants. It would take large numbers to satisfy them and secure their future survival. They needed a species so tenacious and prolific that it spread across the whole of the world to provide an endless food supply.
They flew over the plains and mountains, the oceans and forests until at least they found suitable candidates, small creatures that sought protection and sustenance in the trees, yet they formed social relationships. This potential drew their attention. It made them perfect.
Jerry felt his will merging like a river into the great collective. In their need, they bent their combined will upon the tree dwellers and bestowed upon them and their descendants the potential to dominate. To the offspring, they gave the whole world. Hidden in their now developing brains, they implanted the desire to reproduce, conquer, and expand. With these new traits, the creatures would rise above the limitations of nature and learn to alter their environment to suit them. Left to their new resources, the creatures would create the populations of available food that would be necessary to sustain his kind forever. When next they awoke, they would feed unhindered, without fear of depleting their food supply.
He knew that if they failed, death was imminent. They needed a beacon, something to call them forth again when the time was right. From the depths of the earth, they pulled forth a large crystalline rock of perfect clarity. Throughout its numerous facets, they infused their intent to awaken. Reflecting the light of the full moon, it would vibrate the ether, making the world buzz, a silent release of energy that would resound through the veil, and awaken them from their slumber. He could feel the vibration as the moonlight threw off a thousand reflected beams. Jerry felt his entire body tingling.
Jerry awoke early to escape his disturbing dreams. They no longer felt random, an unnerving pattern was developing, but his tired mind could not focus well enough to discern it. He had not had nightmares since he was a child, and couldn’t understand why they returned so abruptly, and fiercely. He refused to accept that his mind was so weak and so profoundly disturbed, by ghost stories and the knowledge of insanity in his family.
His dreams were predatory and free. In them, he was in control of bizarre and dying worlds, yet he could remake it to suit him. He had never had wealth; it would be a drastic change. Was it power he feared? Power was part of the dreams. Flight and swimming meant freedom. What if they became business types who cannibalized the world to become wealthy? Perhaps it was just Ted’s cooking, a mild case of food poisoning. They were just dreams. He would not become a soulless corporate CEO.
The light broke through the window. Jerry climbed out of bed, moved to the window and pulled wide the curtains to let in the morning light, then cracked the window to let in some air. It was growing a bit stuffy in the old room, and e fresh air helped to clear his mind. A gentle ocean breeze had replaced the raging winds of night. Cool air flooded his room and gave him goosebumps.
A hot shower did wonders to clear the remaining fuzz from his brain. Jerry threw on a pair of cutoffs; he made his way cautiously down the stairs. He was sure what to expect. He feared he would see Rebecca wearing only one of Ted’s tee shirts.
“No matter how rich we get, let’s not become assholes.” He called as he trudged down the stairs.
“No promises?” Ted said. “But I’ll try to remain my humble, loveable, nearly perfect self.”
“Well, let’s at least agree not to hurt people who get in our way or destroy the environment to make money.”
“Hey, now there’s an angle. We put up an entirely environmentally friendly resort, solar panels, and organic foods, maybe those generators that work on the tides. The people from the Bay Area will come in droves. We can make a fortune. You’re studying the wrong thing, bro. You’re a businessman.”
“Where’s Rebecca?” Jerry half feared to ask.
“Don’t know. Don’t care.”
“Wow.” Jerry had never heard his elder brother show so much spine where she was concerned. “What happened?”
“Not much. We went for coffee and talked.” Ted slumped onto the couch. “She went all lovey-dovey. Begging for my forgiveness, admitting she was wrong. She was laying it on thick. Made me feel things I’d forgotten I could feel.”
“Ted, you didn’t fall for it?” Jerry asked. “Linda told me she talked to her in a store last week; she wasn’t even interested until Linda let it slip you got an inheritance.”
“Rebecca is many things. Subtle isn’t one of them. It was pretty obvious she wanted my money.” Ted said. “Give me some credit, after as much time as I spent with her, I know her.”
“Did you tell her you had to share?” She would not have liked the thought of splitting Ted’s money.
“Yep, that’s when she convinced me,” Ted replied. “She started to offer ideas on how to cheat you out of your share.”
“Really.” Jerry was not at all surprised.
“When she dumped me, it hurt like hell, and I won’t lie to you. A couple of months ago, I might have taken her back. I know that she doesn’t care about me, not really. If I want sex, I can pick up girls in a bar, or get a hooker, without all the bullshit she put me through.”
“Where is she now?” Jerry asked.
“A greyhound the fuck out of my life I hope. I dropped her at the station last night and came home.”
“I’m proud of you.”
“Let’s get back to that hotel idea.” Ted smiled, a glint of promise in his eyes.
“Well let’s get the idols first. Then we can discuss business plans.” Jerry retrieved Ellie’s books and went out into the morning air. “We’ll want to hire a housekeeper, one who can cook.”
“We’ll get a great five-star cook. Man, I think way too small. Maybe I should go to college. You’ve got some ideas. “The truck bumped down the long stretch of gravel and dirt to the highway.