Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.
The next morning I awoke before the dawn. I was excited; Mark would say
"pumped." He had to go to work again, but he gave me directions to the shopping
Mark likes to complain about shopping, but I have never had a problem with it.
I did have to remember not to try to haggle; I learned how from my mother when I
was just a boy, and old habits die hard.
I had my plan of attack all thought out. First I purchased more casual
clothing: black jeans and button shirts, socks, sneakers, underwear,
and a wallet. I took my purchases into the main mall restroom and
changed in a stall. I found a salon and convinced the hairdresser to
give me a conservative haircut; my hair was a bit unruly for modern
times. Last, I went to another clothing store and purchased a dark
business suit, including shoes, shirt, and tie. The clerk there was a
pretty blonde, and she was most helpful. I think she was interested
in me; she kept dropping hints, but I acted as if I didn't notice.
I was about to leave the shopping center when I remembered I needed a briefcase
for my plan. I chose a fairly large one.
In, done, and out by lunchtime. I found a fast-food place and had my first
burger and fries. Soda didn't do much for me, though.
After lunch I took my purchases back to Mark's apartment, then went to the
library to do some more research. The librarian looked at me closely again but
still said nothing.
That evening at supper Mark asked me, "So have you figured out how long you were
a statue yet?"
"When I was a boy in the land now called Spain, the great ice sheets still
covered most of Europe. Based on other things I've found in reference works, I
think it was about thirteen thousand years."
"Yup. According to the newspaper article I was moved to the museum about a year
ago, directly from a dig site in South America. I think that the area I was in
previously must have been near a Ley line, and the museum isn't. The magic just
leaked out of me until the transformation was broken."
"Evidently I was found some distance from where Tjarik's fortress would have
been. I must have been moved."
Mark looked thoughtful for a moment. "According to what I've read, there were
no large civilizations that far back in time. Where are the cities, temples,
and monuments of your people?"
"Underwater, for the most part," I answered. "Remember, during the ice age sea
level was much lower. My people lived on the coasts; primitive natives lived
"I have been reading religious and mythological works, and I think that the
flood referred to in most of the old stories must have been the end of my
people's age... Something must have made the ice sheets melt very fast."
"Rocks from space. If one hit in the North Atlantic on top of the ice sheet, it
would release a lot of heat and melt the ice. That might also cause the
torrential rain described in the Bible."
I considered Mark's idea for a moment. "Unfortunately we can't prove it, but it
does seem the most likely theory. At any rate, according to the atlas I looked
at today, Ta Charka would have been east of the Brazilian city of Belem, under
more than two hundred feet of water."
"No wonder nobody remembers you."
"My people, anyway. Actually you do. There are tales of Atlantis, and Mu, and
numerous other ancient civilizations, but they are so distorted by time and
retellings that even I have trouble figuring out who they refer to."
I got up and began to make ready. I put on the business suit; Mark
had to tie my tie, I'm afraid; even had I known how I could not do it
with just one hand. I picked up the empty briefcase, said "Goodbye"
and went out the door.
I met Mara in the stairwell as I was going down, and I think I caught her
looking at me. It put a spring in my step.
It was quite a walk to the neighborhood of 50 Fremont Center. I found a
McDonald's nearby, and I went in. The line was long, but I didn't mind as I
needed the time to puzzle out the menu. The Big Mac appeared to be the largest
sandwich, and as I looked for a beverage I saw "chocolate" listed as a flavor of
"Ten Big Macs and a large chocolate shake, please," I said to the
waitress. She looked at me strangely. "Uh, the guys are coming over
tonight," I lied, and she said, "So you want this to go, right?"
I nodded. It was a few minutes before she handed me the bags. I paid, stuffed
the change in my pocket, and took my purchases outside. The Big Macs just
barely fit in the briefcase, and I had to carry the shake by pinning it under
the stub of my right arm. It was a bit uncomfortable walking to my destination,
but I made it.
Mark had warned me about modern security systems, but I didn't want to
get into anyone's vault, just onto the twenty-fourth floor. There was
a guard at the front desk, but he looked bored.
"Working late, sir?" he asked.
"Just back from a trip. I need to check some things in my office, up
on the twenty-fourth floor." The guard frowned, trying to place my
"KRS Financials, eh? Mister K just left a few minutes ago."
"Darn," I said, "I had hoped to speak with him." I walked over to the
elevator, put down my briefcase and pushed the up button.
It seemed to take forever, and I tried not to look nervous. I felt
like the guard was staring at the back of my head.
Finally the doors opened, and I picked up my briefcase and stepped
inside. As I turned I saw that the guard was reading a paperback
book, and not paying me any attention after all. I put down the
briefcase again and pressed the button marked 24.
The doors closed, and I remembered to breathe. I had not felt so
exposed since that day on the bluff, when Mara died. The elevator
lurched upward and I almost dropped my shake.
Before I reached my destination I began to feel the power. I hadn't
realized I could actually feel it; in my own time it was everywhere,
and I took it for granted.
When I stepped out on the twenty-fourth floor, a cleaning lady of
oriental descent saw me; but she looked quickly back to her dusting.
I felt the tingling in my right arm which indicated that the ring was
working. I looked around and found a men's room, so I went in.
I put the briefcase on the counter, then the shake (being one-handed
was definitely a drag, as Mark would say). I decided first to prepare
a few spells, but I only got Invisibility done before ravenous hunger
I opened the briefcase and began eating the sandwiches. You see, the Ring of
Regeneration can make my body repair itself, but it can't make matter from
nothing. I needed enough food intake to supply mass for the accelerated
I had eaten four Big Macs when I heard a voice outside the rest room.
"Good evening, Mrs. Kim."
"Evening, sir. How was your meeting?"
"The food was good, and that's all I'll say about it." Both of them
laughed. "Is anyone else here?"
"Some new guy went into the washroom a while ago. Been in there quite a
"New guy? I'm not familiar with any new employees." I heard footsteps
coming my way. I had prepared my Invisibility spell first as I thought
something like this might happen. I closed the briefcase, pinned the
shake with my right elbow (it was back by then!), picked up the case and
quietly spoke the word to activate my Invisibility spell. As the door
opened I stepped back into a corner.
Just in time; a man in a business suit stepped into the room. "No one
here." He sniffed. "Smells like a fast food joint in here, Mrs.
Kim. Did he have any food with him?"
"A cup of soda I think... large."
Just then I saw I had dropped a wrapper on the floor. The man picked
it up and threw it in the trash can. Then he opened all the stalls,
passing within inches of me at one point. I held my breath.
Finally he left. As soon as the door closed I began to breathe again.
I decided to remain invisible for a while longer, and was rewarded for
this when Mrs. Kim entered and began cleaning. When I saw that she
was going to mop I realized my footprints would show, so I climbed up
onto the counter beside the sink. It creaked, and she turned and
looked right at me; when you are invisible it's unnerving when someone
seems to be looking at you. She turned back to her mopping and I
relaxed a bit.
Finally she left. I got down off the counter with some difficulty, as
I still didn't have my right hand. I was ravenously hungry, so I
opened the case and began stuffing myself rather rudely.
The shake was pretty liquid by now, but it was still cold. Chocolate
isn't exactly xocholotl but it was good, and I was hungry. When the
cup was empty I rinsed it and filled it with water to wash down the
last of the Big Macs.
It was well past midnight when my hand was complete. It looked just
like the original, except that it was hairless; regeneration doesn't
seem to apply to hair growth.
As I stood there admiring my hand, my blood chilled. Most people in
this time wouldn't recognize me, so the sudden reappearance of my hand
wouldn't cause much notice; but the librarian, I knew, had paid attention to
me, and so had Mara this very night.
The librarian I didn't care about; there were other libraries in the
city, I knew. But Mara was another matter. How could I prevent her
from knowing I was a mage now?
My Invisibility was only a onefold spell, and it had already expired, so
I didn't have to dismiss it. I drained the cup, stuffed the wrappers
inside it, and put it in my briefcase. Then, I sat down on the counter
and began to prepare spells.
I felt like my old self at last as I descended on the elevator. It
was morning by now, early enough that most people weren't at work yet.
The guard at the desk had been replaced by a woman who appeared to be
a receptionist; there was now a sign on the desk labelled
"Information." I waved to her in a friendly fashion as I left the
At the apartment building I looked carefully around, hoping not to
meet Mara. I was in luck, and I knocked on the door of Mark's
apartment. I felt very exposed while I waited. After a moment or
two, he opened the door and I went in.
Mark stared at my right hand, then smiled and said, "It went well,
"I'll tell you tonight, my friend. Now I need some rest." I got out
of my business suit and lay down under the blanket on the couch. Mark
asked me something more, but I was already falling asleep; I didn't
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