The Book of Gateways Installment 24th

By this time I think the police are fed up with coming and asking me about perpetrators who have already fled the scene. Thank God, Piers’ ankle is fine. Just a minor sprain.
Once everything calms down and the police leave Piers and I rejoin. Sitting across from each other on my white living room couch a few inches from where he was pinned down just a couple hours ago.
“This isn’t safe anymore. We need to lay low.” Piers says as he rubs his ankle.
“You need ice.”
“I’ll get it in a second.”
Silence. I don’t think either of us know what to do, and neither one of us wants to give up the book.
“My semester at the college ends in two weeks. I’ll try to finish it out. Maybe by that time things will cool off.” I clasp my hands together at his statement. Two weeks is a long time. Anybody could come back within that time.
“You don’t think they’ll come back? I’m afraid they will. I’m still shaky from earlier.” I fidget in my seat.
“I know you are but you did great today, thank you for helping me earlier.” Piers’ eyes water a little and grabs my hand. I let it rest there for a while. We both need the comfort.
“I don’t think we should travel during the next two weeks. Just to be safe.” He nods.
“The book should stay in the safe.” I nod. “We just have to be careful…that’s all.” Piers’ thumb strokes my hand thoughtlessly. That brings me into his gravity and I find myself drifting into his comfort. Before I know it my back is pressed to his chest. He kisses the crown of my head, but I don’t mind. All of this just exhausts me. I’m not sure how much more I’ll be able to stand.

~*~

Three days go by and nothing happens. Everything seems to return to its normal state. My nerves didn’t seem to receive the memo. Every noise, shifting shadow, and random stranger became a threat. I’m jumpier than normal, but I still return to the book store. I like to think Milo keeps me company while I stay there.
“Hello, beautiful.” I know who it is before I look up from my computer. My skin ripples into goose flesh.
“What are you doing here Matt?” I say clenching my desk.
“Don’t act like this is my fault.” He says advancing to my desk. He makes himself comfortable and sits on my desk.
“Get out.” I stand. “I don’t know what you’re angle is but you’re nothing but trouble. Get out.” I walk towards the door and open it. He sneers at me and walks towards the door, but before I can react he yanks me by my collar and slams me into the wall.
“Listen to me! You stupid half wit. I warned you, I told you to stop this and get rid of it. But you refuse.” He presses against me more firmly. I grown under his weight. “You’re just like him.” Instantly it registers.
“You knew Milo?” Tears pour out of my eyes.
“No.” He releases me. I slap him in the face as hard as I can manage and spit at his feet.
“You’re disgusting.” I say as tears drip onto my collar bones. I look over to see a mother and her little daughter hiding behind a book case. Matt catches on and clears his throat.
“Cesar… I’m-”
“Get out.” And he does.
I lean against the wall for support. Turns out the woman had called the police. They’re definitely tired of me by now.

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The Book of Gateways Installment 23

Latest installment of The Book of Gateways! Please comment and like! There is more to come! I actually have a plan this time around… 🙂

After a quick slip through the portal we drop into my shed in my backyard.
“Ow” I say as my knees buckle. Piers rests his head on the wall.
“Didn’t you say something about getting used to the shock?”
“Oh zip it. I’m not a portal scientist.” Piers gags.
The rest of the night seemed like it would be uneventful until we entered my house. All of my book cases were turned over, my couch was slashed, lamps were overturned, and my bedroom was torn apart. Panic rose to my ears as I looked to Piers.
“Stay here, and call the police.” Piers grabbed my wrist and stood me by the door then disappeared into the house. I do as I’m told and call the police. Piers returns shortly after I get off the phone with the police.
“No one is here anymore. Maybe we should look for anything missing.” He rubs his neck in frustration.
“I doubt anything is missing.” I say feeling nauseous. “Matt said I should be careful. I never thought something like this would happen.”
“You don’t know if they were after the book.”
“And if nothing is missing?”
Silence.
We look around and nothing is missing. My gut tells me they were after the Book of Gateways. The police finally come and take notes and pick around. Then we are left to clean up the mess.

“I don’t want you staying here alone.” Piers says grabbing a bedding set out of my hall closet.
“Well where are you going to stay?” I say grabbing the bedding from him.
“I don’t know I’ll stay downstairs. Or in the hallway.” He pauses for a while. “Bathroom?”
“You’re useless downstairs if someone comes back, I guess just stay in my room.” I put the bedding in the corner. Far far away. I shouldn’t really be nervous around him since we’ve spent so much time around each other. Especially when Milo first died.
The night goes on and I have jitters the whole time but I make myself tea and force myself to bed. I snuggle myself in to my soft blankets, give a few wriggles, and make a few squeaks. Then I roll over and realize that Piers is snickering in his stupid sleeping bag which makes me shrink under my blankets.
“Goodnight!” Piers says laughing. Then sleep overtakes me.

My eyes open for some unknown reason and my hairs stand on end. An eerie feeling is clutching my stomach and I’m still unsure for what reason. CRASH! Something down stairs slams into a wall.
“Piers!” I whisper. “Piers!”…No reply. I flick on my bedside lamp to reveal his empty bedding. Oh no.
I slip quietly out of my bed and pull out a safe box from underneath my bed. Push a few numbers and pull out a nine-millimeter handgun. My hands tremble as I load it. I never thought I would actually have to use it this way. I creep down the stairs with my hands clenching my gun. I peek my head around the corner of the hall to see a man in black pinning Piers to the ground. Piers’ face pressed into the carpet. All I can see is his muscles tensed and his shirt soaked with sweat. At this point my heart is beating against my chest so hard I think I’ll throw up. Just do it. My muscles tighten and I launch myself out in the open.
“DON’T MOVE!” I scream aiming the gun at the intruder’s chest. He shoves his foot into Piers more firmly and draws a gun and points it at his head.
“I WILL PUT A FREAKING BULLET IN YOUR CHEST!” I cock the gun. He doesn’t move. “Lay down on the floor and put your hands behind your head and cross your ankles!” Still no movement. “DO IT!” as I scream Piers pulls his arm free and slams his elbow into his attacker’s crotch. The man crumples to the floor. Piers yanks the gun from his hand. Piers immediately stands reversing his position. I crumple into the chair next to me and place my gun in my lap.
“Who are you working for?” Piers says through his teeth. “Cesar call the cops.” I oblige hands still shaking.
“What are you doing here?”
“You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.” The man says into the floor.
“What are you talking about?” Piers yells. “What are you talking about?!” He kicks the man.
“Piers!” I stand from my chair. “Don’t be like this.”
Then the man quickly grabbed Piers’ ankle, twisted it and shoved him to the side. Piers fell to the floor in a disheveled heap. He made a quick getaway after he shoved me into the wall knocking the gun from my hand.

The police arrived shortly after.

Book of Gateways Installment 22

Hey guys! Don’t forget to like and comment! 🙂

We spend the day doing tourist things like visiting the Acropolis, Mars Hill, Zeus’ Temple, and of course finding the best gyro possible. We also find out that the Athens Metro is not that bad, and in fact is quite useful.
“It’s almost eight o’clock.” I say as we walk down a crowded street filled with street vendors, tourists, and locals. I smile knowing I’ve spent the last four hours in Greece.
“Ya, I know.” Piers says without looking up from a book, the book of gateways.
“Should you really have that out in public?” My voice tenses.
“It looks like any other book, I’ll just be sure to hold onto it tight. I wanted to see if Uncle had already put a Greece location in here. Maybe he has another shop like he does in California and China.” Piers says leafing through a couple more pages.
“Ya I guess that would’ve been smart before we created an entirely new page. Wait, what do you mean China?”
“There’s a location in the book for a store location just outside Shenghai.”
“That makes sense…You know, that’s where he was right before…”
“Ah he did have a location here.” Piers says changing the subject and shows me the page. A little store by the name of George’s Place. Not very descriptive.
“Wanna try and find it?” I nod my head yes. We ask a few locals and even try to find a map. After a while we find out it’s on the opposite side of Athens. We stand in front of the little orange cream building with a royal blue lamppost outside. To the left a large tree with leaves full and a rich green that provided shade for a couple of homeless dogs. By far the cutest place I had seen yet.
Piers and I walk pass the dogs who ever so slightly raise their heads to notice us, and then go back to sleep. We peer in the front window and see an older balding man with a salt and pepper goatee. He smiles and waves us in.
“Kalispera.” I smile and nod. Piers does the same.
“Kalispera, please come in and sit.” His English surprises me. Although most Greek people we have spoken to speak very good English, this man had no accent whatsoever.
“You work for my employer Milo? We found your store in our records.” I say sitting at a chair across from the man’s desk. Piers sits beside me.
“Yes, Milo a great man…He was a dear friend. I see you have picked up his knack of suddenly showing up.” He smiles.
“Yes, we keep hearing that.” I say returning the smile. “I’m Jazleen Cesar, and this is Milo’s nephew Riley Pierson.”
“Nice to meet you, I have heard much about you. My name is George Georgiades” He shakes our hands.
“What is it exactly that you do?” Piers asks.
“I am a financial adviser for your uncle. I take care of the various financial budgets and things of that sort.”
“You’ve continued to do this without pay? It’s been several months.” Piers’ eyebrows furrow.
“Your uncle was a very generous man, he paid me until the end of this month. I figured I would do my job as long as there was work to do.” George seemed to hold his breath.
“We would like a copy of all of his records he sent to you, and to continue your services.” I say trying to go back to a business side rather than bitter-sweet memories.
“Of course, it’ll take me a few minutes but I will grab them for you. Milo was a very busy man. I still don’t know how he did it all.” George stands and disappears into the back somewhere. Kittens with their mother appear out of nowhere and make themselves at home. Piers is not amused.
“No, Satan’s workers! No!” He pushes one away with his index finger.
“Stop being so mean, they’re sweet.” I say picking up a little black one with green eyes. I play with the cats while Piers sneezes and sulks until George comes back with a large binder of papers.
“This is for the last year or so. I tried to organize them according to location. There are at least fifteen international locations, and several in the United States.” George plops them down on the desk. Piers and I flip through the book seeing the various places in the records book link with the book of gateways location. So many places with so many stores. Milo definitely had a unique niche.
“Did you have a copy of the will George?” Piers asks.
“Yes, I am aware you both have joint custody. Otherwise I would not have shown you these records.” George chuckles a little.
“That would make sense, are we able to get a document of the yearly gross and deficit?” I say looking through a few more pages. “Oh and we will need a billing statement from you so we can continue with your services.” I smile. We continue on with George for another hour or so and gather all the documents. Turns our Milo had minimal deficit and around a seventy thousand yearly gross. Most of which went to churches, orphanages, as well as a little savings he set aside. He was a smart businessman. We say our goodbyes to George and give him our thanks. It’s a bittersweet thing to find out all these secrets Milo had. I wish he was here to tell me them himself.

Book of Gateways Installment 21

Hey guys! It’s been a bit! Working two jobs consumes time! I’ll try to get on a regular posting schedule! As usual please like, share, and follow! 🙂 Thanks!

Sun streamed into my window, hitting me perfectly in my eye, so I know it has to be about nine-thirty. I toss and turn for a while until I hear a scratching noise. Where is that coming from? Another scratch. The Kitchen? My hands start to feel numb and my tongue is tingling. Someone is my house. I snatch a knife out of my bedside table and flick it open. I never thought I would actually have to use this. My body starts to shake. I can’t just stab someone. I close the knife and pick up a large cedar staff decoration instead. Then I suck in a deep breath and walk quietly down the stairs. I don’t hear the scratching anymore. The hairs all over my body stand on end as my attacker is somewhere in my home. Then I hear the fridge door go smack.
“Is that your idea of defense?” Piers asks between bites of apple. A green one.
“Are you insane? I could’ve killed you!” I toss the rod aside and slump in a nearby chair. “You’re going to give me a heart attack.” I say as I feel a stress headache develop.
“I doubt you could deliver enough head trauma to kill me with that rod.”
“Don’t test me.” I huff.
“Let’s go somewhere today.” Piers says walking from the kitchen area into the open living room.
“Do you think that’s the best idea after what Matt said?” Piers turns his back to me.
“I seriously doubt he knows anything even close to what we’re doing. Who would?” He says over his shoulder. The people who killed Milo, that’s who. Against my better judgment I can’t help but itch to travel somewhere else. I can go wherever I want… Ha, I can travel and still be poor.
“Where are we going?” He smiles.

~*~
We decide on Greece. Of course, what traveler wouldn’t want to visit the beautiful beaches, and ancient sites.
“Are we sure this picture will be sufficient?” Piers says holding up a picture of a beach with a large harbor in the background just a ways from Athens.
“It should suffice, thank you very much. There are defining factors in them like a café that’s been there for several generations and a government sign. My aunt took this picture for me.”
“If you say so.”
“So.” I say as I open the book of gateways to an empty page and place the picture onto it. The page warms to life and sucks the picture into a nice portal. The border at the ready for instant use. I suck in a deep breath still surprised by this strange magic or science, or whatever this is.
“Ready?” I nod. We sling our bags over our shoulders and lock arms. I take a deep breath as Piers places his finger on the “key hole” and feel that familiar sensation of being whipped around and forced through something entirely too small. Then darkness.
“Whoo!” I say dragging my head up to gather my surroundings. My hand naturally comes up to shield my eyes from the blistering sun. My head still a bit scrambled. I look over to see Piers rubbing his temples.
“Made it.” He grins wide. I nod and put on sunglasses.
“What time is it here?”
“About four fifteen.”
“That means all the locals she be arou-.” My mouth drops open as I see a little boy mirroring my expression. His face drained of all his usual olive color. I see Piers out of the corner of my eye waving and crouch to one knee as he gives his best smile. The boy relaxes a bit and inches closer. Bravery or stupidity (who knows). Then the boy pokes my leg and jumps back. Then I feel a laugh gurgle up into my lungs and out of my mouth. The boy smiles and gives me a curious look. I hold up a finger to my mouth and make a “shh” face. The boy smiles and holds out his hand. I’m at a loss. What do I give? Piers smiles and pulls out a snack bar from his bag and places it in the boy’s hand. The boy takes it happily and disappears.
“That is a future business person.” I say as we walk away giddy with our successful trip.
“A sneaky one at that.” Piers says with a grin.
“Eh, what can you do?”
“Definitely not business with him.” He winks, and it makes me miss Milo.

Book of Gateways Installment 20

So I just forced myself out of a slump! Please like and comment! 🙂

“Hello there.” I hear his accent ring true.

“Hi, Matt.” I say smiling from my desk. “Can I help you find something?”

“You know I actually came to ask you to eat again. I figured it would be a more convenient time. It seems like you’ve been busy though.” He says leaning casually against my desk. For some reason I feel like he’s asking some underlying question. Something more than what is on the surface.

“Uh, not really I guess.” I say fidgeting with my hair.

“So how about it?”

“How about what?” I ask wrapping my hair into a messy bun.

“Food? Me? You?”

“I really can’t there’s no one here to watch the store and-.”

“I’ll bring it here then. You have to eat sometime don’t you?” He smiles effortlessly at me.

And like that he suckered my food order out of me and disappeared just as quickly as he had come in.

One customer comes in and moseys around the store while Matt sets down the food.

“You’re very determined…” Is all I say unwilling to eat. “How much do I owe you?” I pull out my wallet.

“No, no don’t worry about it, it’s my treat. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do for a date?” I almost spit out my Coke at the word “date”.

“Oh, is that what this is?…A date.” I say quietly.

“Not an ideal one for sure, but it is somewhere to start.” Matt chuckles. “At least you’re eating with me.”

“I suppose but I feel like you have a hidden agenda.” I say pushing the fried rice around in my to-go carton.

“Not at all… However, did you happen to get any books in on portals, like I had asked a while back?” He stuffs a large dumpling in his mouth.

“Not anything more than usual, it’s not really a popular subject around here I guess. I can make you a special order. I guess I was supposed to do that a while ago, huh? I forgot, sorry about that.”

“That’s alright…So, how have you been lately? I know it must’ve been difficult for you.” He says picking up a dumpling with his chopsticks. I swallow hard.

“I’ve been managing. Sometimes it’s easy to forgot, as if he’s just late to work. But most of the time it just feels like a pang of angst.” I shove a large bite of food into my mouth.

“I’m sorry to hear that, truly, I am.” He pauses for a long time looking down at his food almost as if he feels guilty. I feel icky all over. Then suddenly he looks up at me, smile as bright as ever, “You seemed to of just, disappeared in the beginning. Where did you go?” He drinks casually. I get a chill down my spine.

“I was mostly at home, or with Piers… Why do you ask?”

“I was just, worried. That’s all.” Do strangers usually worry like this? I feel a tingling at the base of my head.

“Matt, I don’t know what you’re trying to get at. You’re kind of unsettling me.” I say no longer hungry. Am I just being paranoid?…

“Listen, if you keep doing what I think you’re doing, then you should stop. That’s the only warning I can give you.” He smiles nicely again and continues to eat as if nothing was said. I shrink into my seat, a cold sweat drenching my neck. After that for the next half hour or so, Matt continues small talk that I try to involve myself in, I mostly nod and say yes or no.

Then the front door bell chimes its familiar sound as Piers saunters in. I sigh realizing I’ve been holding my breath. I look up and see a moment of hesitation on Piers’ face, and then return to normalcy.

“Are you ok? You look pale.” He says putting his shoulder bag down. I nod.

“Matt, stopped by for dinner.”

“A dinner date.” He adds and I swear I could die.

“That sounds nice.” Piers says with a genuine smile. “I’m just gunna grab my stuff and go up to the loft. Just let me know if you need me.” He says picking up his bag again.

“Matt was just about to leave.” I say. Matt smiles and stands.

“Have a nice night Cesar. Thank you for indulging me.” I smile and nod.

“Piers.” He nods again. Piers doesn’t respond.

Matt waves one last time as he opens the door and then disappears.

            “Are there anymore patrons here?” I shake my head no. Piers walks over to the door and locks it and turns the “open” sign off.

            “You need to be careful of that guy. He seems like a creep.” He sits down next to me. “Are you ok?”

            “Yes, I’m just a little shaken up… I think Matt knows we have the book.”

            “You told him?” Piers exclaims. I shake my head no.

            “He said he noticed I ‘disappeared’ a lot recently, and that if I’m doing what he thinks I’m doing then I should stop.” I look down at my sweating hands. Out of the corner of my eye I see Piers wipe his face with both of his hands as if to release stress.

            “What are we going to do?” I say just above a whisper.

            “I don’t know…But I don’t want to give that book up.”

            “But we could die.” But I don’t want to give it up either.

            We both sigh.

            “What was my uncle thinking?” We sit in silence.

Finally after about five minutes of thinking to ourselves Piers stands up.

            “Come on we’re going to my house. Last thing I need is creepy Artful Dodger coming and attacking you.” He says grabbing my bag. I can’t help but laugh. I follow him out, turn on the alarm, turn off the lights, and lock the door. Then I put my hand on the door of the book store and say a little prayer:

Lord, please protect this place. It’s one of the few things I have. Please protect that book. And please protect me and Piers. ~Amen.

I look up and see Piers looking at me with big swimming pool eyes.

            “What?” I say a little embarrassed.

            “Were you praying just now?”

            “Yes?” He smiles. “Why?”

            “I like that you are you.”

“Who else would I be?”

“Probably some punk.” He laughs and walks towards the bike. I think you’re the punk. I think as I scrunch my nose and follow him anyways.

The Book of Gateways (Installment 19)

“What happens if we can’t draw?” I ask as Piers puts the book in the safe behind the hideous flower, which I have now decided, is a guardian of some sorts.

“Well I mean I can sort of draw… But I still wouldn’t want to chance it. What if the drawing is so bad we end up stuck in the middle of the portal and our bodies are separated and we die…Or worse we end up melded together.” Piers seems genuinely concerned.

“Way to stay positive.”

“Hey, I’m just weighing our options of survival.” I just shake my head.

“I wonder if we could use a photo.” Piers looks unimpressed. “Well? It’s an idea isn’t it?” I remove the framed guardian and punch in the numbers to the safe. I flick open the book to an empty page.

“Hang on, I’ll be right back.” I hand the book to Piers and quickly slip through the office door to my desk. I rummage around to find some pictures I had taken from awhile ago. I walk back to the office door and try to open it. A defiant click answers my efforts.

“Piers?” I put my ear to the door.

“Who is it?” He calls back.

“Who do you think it is? Open the door!” So childish.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. You could be here to reap my soul from rugged and handsome body.” I’m gunna break this door down.

“Quit this game will you?”

“But it’s so much fun.” He pokes one eye between a crack in the door. I take the chance and slap the door open. Thud.

            “Ow! My nose!” I enter with Piers clutching his nose.

            “Thanks for playing.” I say and close the door and lock it behind me. He gives me an ugly look. I flip the pages again to where I was before. I pull out a picture of a little street from North Carolina. The street sign read “Estrim Street” just in front of an old barn that had been there for ages. I assumed these would be “defining details” or whatever the term was. I tried to eyeball the middle of the page and stuck the picture there.

            “Now I need some tape or something.” I think aloud, but before I could grab some the book began to grow warm. Little glowing blue vines of the foreign language appear and grow from the top left corner to the right and around the page. The picture is smoothed onto the page and looks as if I could stick my hand into North Carolina right now. No longer a picture. Now it’s a gateway.

 

            “It looks like it worked.” I smile as the book begins to cool down.

            “Ya, but now you’ve wasted a page on a little old town in North Carolina.”

            “Maybe I like North Carolina.” I say still happy with my latest discovery.

            “I guess it is nice there.” Piers says flipping through more of the pages. “Ooh we could go to Germany! They have a lot of great history there. I’ve always wanted to go.” Piers points to a picture labeled “Near Munich, Germany”. Then I feel a funny scratching at the back of my mind.

            “Piers when is your class?” I ask remembering that he actually has a job other than annoy me.

            “Crap!” He shoves the book in my hand. “Put it in the safe! I’ll be back later today.” He says bolting out of the office slamming the door behind him. I do as I’m told and lock up the book and open up the shop. No sooner do I open it does good ole British guy walk in.

The Book of Gateways (Installment 18)

After our bodies adjust to their normal functions Piers and I decide to create some “guidelines” for this book. We sit comfortably on the floor of the backroom with the book on the floor in between us.

            “So?” I say my eye brows raised high in question.

            “I think it should stay in the safe. It’s secretive, and only you and I know the password.” Piers says pulling on the corner of the book to bring it towards him. I nod in agreement.

            “I think we should tell each other when and where we are going when we use the book.” I say not sure how he will react to those perimeters. Piers looks up at me, his eyes conveying the gears in his mind spinning at a million miles per hour. He doesn’t answer for a while. Still thinking. He may be a history teacher but he acts like a business man. Constantly considering all options to see which has the most benefits.

            “That seems… reasonable. After all we did find the book together, and I’m sure Milo would have wanted it that way.” He starts flipping through the book aimlessly while he talks with me. I nod as he continues to flip the pages. Then I notice a little white piece of paper slip out from between the pages and gently land on the floor.

            “What is that?” I point to the little paper.

            “I’m not sure.” Piers says picking it up. His eyebrows furrow. “It’s from Milo, ‘To whomever finds this book, be cautious, there are many nuances and guidelines to these books that I have had to figure out by trial and error. As I am sure you have noticed there are blank pages and destination pages. I have found that you can create a destination page by drawing the destination in which you would like to go. However, you must have defining keys in the design of your destination.’” Piers pauses.

            “What does he mean by that?” I ask. Piers shrugs. He flips over the little page and continues to read. “‘By defining keys I mean items in your destination that define the location. You could draw an alleyway and want it to be the alleyway next to Macallister’s pub, however if there is no sign, particular garbage can with an address, or other defining items you could end up in any alleyway in the world (if it is too similar) or the gateway may not work at all. I have affectionately started calling this book, ‘The Book of Gateways’”

            “Well that makes it infinitely more complicated.” Piers flips the page again as if more instructions will appear. “That seems to be it. There’s nothing else written here.” He heaves a sigh.

            “Could I?” I ask gently taking the paper from his hand. The paper reads true. There’s nothing else. I feel a sad twinge in my heart knowing Milo wrote this not too long. The old man still had secrets. I hand the paper back.

            “You know what this means?” Piers smiles at me as if knowing I need to see it.

            “No, what?”

            “We can go anywhere.” His eyes light up. “It was better that time, right? We’ll get used to the shock.” My first instinct is to say no and chastise him for even thinking of such a thing, but then I think on it for a while. Although my mental cogs aren’t running a mile a minute they still turn and I come to a conclusion.

            “Alright.” I say quietly. “Let’s make this happen.”

His mouth opens into a wide smile. I feel afraid, but for once in a very long time I feel alive.

~*~