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10 November 2004 @ 06:25 pm
Third installment  
I think I'm falling waaaaaaaay behind on this, plus I doubt I can push things up to 50 000 words. Oh well, I'll finish it one way or another!

“I hate walking, I take back everything bad I ever said about cars,” Al moaned.

“It’s only been five hours,” Blue sighed.

“Easy for you to say, you keep jumping up on me.”

“I can’t walk as fast as you,” Blue explained, shifting his weight to sit more comfortably on Al’s shoulder. “It’s also better for me to be up higher to see what’s going on.”

“What, are we gonna get ambushed by highway men?” Al asked sardonically.

“No, it’s just a nice day and I’d like to be able to enjoy it.”

Early on, the neighborhood had given away to a large, lush field skirted by twin strips of forest. They were following a dirt path which had been cut into the grass, forming a seemingly endless band which ran over the small hills.

As well-worn as the path appeared, it was devoid of all human life and, as far as Al could tell, they seemed to be the only ones around.

“So where is everyone?” he finally asked after the question had been rolling in his mind for some time.

“Oh, my section isn’t very popular for the citizens, but there are a lot of creatures around, though they appear to be hiding.”

“Your section?”

“Yes,” Blue nodded. “The Landscape is divided equally amongst the four Guardians and this innermost section is my domain.”

“So you’re like a lord or king or something?”

“No, I guess you could say I’m like its life force, I support it. The Guardians’ existence ensures the laws of the land are followed and that everything runs smoothly. We’re spiritually linked to our sections, our mere presence keeps everything in check.”

“Can you leave?”

“My section? Absolutely. Granted, it would be a bit of a strain on me to keep the link up over the distance, but it wouldn’t result in anything terrible.”

Al nodded to himself and continued walking, yet it seemed that with every step he took, his senses heightened progressively. He felt as if he waking in an entirely different location and that the actual waking world, thinking back on it, seemed increasingly dull and muffled, like it was blurred and hazy around the edges.

Now, in the Landscape, everything was more vibrant, he was almost afraid of going into sensory overload. Bird chirps flashed in his mind as quick starbursts like fireworks, insects buzzing left a cool mint taste in his mouth, and the bright sky led to the faint scent of coffee beans before his nose.

He took it all in and somehow felt like his body and mind were forming some sort of bond with the area itself. He was slowly becoming aware of subtle changes and irregularities all around him. A blade of grass shifted over a few inches. Birds flying overhead would stop for a fraction of a second. Once or twice he thought he could hear a clock chiming.

“Blue,” Al said quietly, as though he was afraid of his own voice. “I think I’m going crazy.”

“You aren’t going crazy,” Blue said simply.

“Oh, what makes you so sure?” he asked, slightly offended.

“The Landscape is a reflection of you, were you to go insane things would most certainly be thrown into chaos.”

“I’m hearing Big Ben in the middle of a field and that’s not a little chaotic to you?”

“No,” Blue chuckled. “That’s how things work here. The Landscape goes through hundreds of tiny shifts while you’re around, I’m sure you can remember a few dreams as an example. The difference now is that you’re conscious enough to perceive them.”

“That logic’s a bit circular, isn’t it? I mean, I could be totally FUBAR right now and maybe it’s just my perception that everything’s hunky-dory. Maybe my mind’s just making you and everything else up.”

“Well I guess that’s possible,” Blue reasoned. “But even if that’s the case, I’m still going to assure you that you’re entirely sane, so the least you could do is humour me.”