If I thought the church was weird, the next thing they showed me blew my mind.
“What am I looking at here?” I said, staring at the enormous rock structure the creatures had led us to (after introducing themselves as Lumpy and Ralph, along with giving me some much needed food).
“It’s you,” said Lumpy.
“Well, I can see that,” I said. “I’m just wondering why you chiseled a fifty foot tall sculpture of my face into the side of a mountain.”
Ralph rolled his eyes. “We didn’t do this. The Totem of the White God has been around since the beginning of time.”
“It’s true,” said Lumpy. “We’re kind of immortal, so we know these things.”
“You’re telling me the bizarrely accurate stone representation of my face is a natural phenomenon?” I said. “This doesn’t strike you as…I don’t know, a bit unbelievable?”
“It’s a magical prophecy, girl,” said Ralph. “Key word there being ‘magic’. The point is that it’s unbelievable. You think we would have taken the time to build a whole shrine to you if we had found a neatly manicured hedge instead?”
I rubbed my eyes. “Harold? Please tell me you’re on my side for this one.”
“The Totem…” said Harold. “Is there one of me?”
Ralph and Lumpy shook their heads simultaneously. “Nah, this is the only one,” said Lumpy.
“Oh…” He looked crestfallen. “Then what part do I play in all of this?”
“Who says you play any part in this?” said Ralph. “You’re a bystander, kid. Wrong place, wrong time.”
Harold scowled and for a brief second I worried Ralph might be wrong. If I was the supposed God of Light, that still left a God of Darkness. It’s not that I through Harold was evil (in fact, he was as far from intimidating as I could imagine), but…I had only known the kid for two days. Of course, the whole thing hedged on my belief that the two Gods even existed, which wasn’t happening. Ralph and Lumpy were as crazy as the rest of this world. Powers or no powers, I wasn’t about to get mixed up in their lunatic delusions.
We spent another night at the church; not something I was particularly interested in doing again, but it beat sleeping outside. Lumpy and Ralph promised that in the morning they would take us to a nearby town to find a proper place to stay while we were trapped here. They seemed to thing we’d be around for a fairly long time, but I planned to use our excursion to look for some way back home. It was way too early to admit that this was a one-way trip for the two of us.
I couldn’t sleep (you try to get some rest in a shrine dedicated to your supposed upcoming epic war) so I snuck out to get some fresh air. To my surprise, Harold was sitting on a nearby hill, staring up at the sky. He briefly jumped as I sat down next to him, but quickly turned back to his stargazing.
“Hey,” I said. “I wanted to thank you, and say I’m sorry. You dragged me to safety while I was out, probably saved my life.”
He briefly looked my way. “I thought you were pissed that I left you in the church.”
“Well, yeah. It probably wouldn’t have been my first choice to be left in the care of two pyschos who worship me-“ Harold stiffened. Not the best apology here. “But I’m still grateful you didn’t just leave me to die.”
He didn’t respond, so we passed the time in silence for a while, staring at the unfamiliar constellations.
“Do you think we’re going to die here?” Harold asked quietly.
I don’t really want to think about it.
“Nah, I’m not that worried,” I lied. “Tomorrow we’ll head to the town and find some wizard or something that can magic us back home. And then I’m never stepping foot in the Braunwald house again.”
“I wonder how their parents will react.”
It took me a moment to realize who he was talking about. Patrick and Diana. I tried changing the subject. “So what are you looking forward to most when we get back?”
He ignored me. “The only reason we’re alive is because you moved the trees. And now you’re going to go fight the God of Darkness and leave me alone.”
I sighed. He was young, impressionable. It wouldn’t help anything it he got further caught up in the fantasy. “You don’t actually believe that crap, do you?” I said. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m no one special either.”
“But you have powers-“
I held up a hand. “I can make plants grow…maybe. We don’t know anything about it, or why it’s happening, so for now, I’m not going to worry.”
Too late for that…
“Besides,” I continued. “Let’s pretend there is a God of Darkness and I’m ‘fated’ to fight him in an epic battle to the death. What am I going to do, strangle him with flowers?”
“I just wish I could do something. It’s my fault you’re here in the first place.”
“I was meaning to ask you about that,” I said, hoping to pry a bit more into Harold’s lie from earlier. “When we were talking about the portal in the attic, it seemed like you knew something about it-“
“No, you don’t know anything about it, or no, you don’t want to talk about it?”
“I don’t know anything about it. It just appeared and I stupidly touched it. When I came to, I was here.”
“Ok, because if you did have any information about what’s going on…”
Harold stood up. “If I knew what was going on, do you think I would have spent months here by myself, fighting for survival? You think I did that on purpose?”
“I’m not saying that, I just thought-“
“So you probably think Diana and Patrick are dead because of me too, huh?!”
“Well?!” He moved closer, clenching his fists.
I had tried being nice, I really had. But when it came to Harold, I either wanted to take care of him or (more often) strangle him to death. And maybe it was just because I had put up with so much weird shit in the past day, but I lashed out.
“Honestly,” I said. “Yeah.”
That stopped him.
“I don’t care if you’re hiding anything, or if you’re completely clueless. We wouldn’t be here if the three of us hadn’t gone looking for you. We’d still be home, Patrick and Diana would still be alive, and I’d be one day closer to never having to see you again.”
He opened his mouth to say something, and then closed it, choosing to just glare at me instead. Then he turned and walked away.
I stayed on that hill for another hour, trying to calm myself down. Had I just completely messed up my connection to the only relatively normal person around me? Probably. Did he deserve it? Also probably, but I was the older one and it was my responsibility to be mature and keep it together. I had failed. I promised myself that I would apologize to him in the morning…again.
But when I went back to the Church, he was gone.