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The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Two: Everything (Continued)
Previously: Gina and Zack’s quest had led them to the end of their emotional rope.
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By now three things were clear: the dreams would not cease until they found the Revealer; they would not find the Revealer until they found the Questing Beast; and if they did not find the Beast soon the dreams themselves would kill them. Or drive them insane.
Zack and Buigor were sitting atop the coach when Gina came out the next morning. She was about to put her foot up onto the cabin step when instead she whirled around and began to scream. It was a leaf shaking, grass bending scream, fueled by mad raging despair. She screamed for two minutes, perhaps longer. And then there was silence, as if her screaming had drained the world of all other sounds.
“Gina…” Zack began. But before he could say any more, she pulled out her blade and ran into the woods. No, ran at the woods. For a moment he thought she’d seen something, but then he watched in dismay as she attacked a rough-barked spruce, swinging her broadsword at it over and over again, leaving a gaping piney wound. She ran to a boney paper birch and hewed it so many times it timbered to the ground.
After half an hour, Gina plunged her sword into the brown-needled forest soil. It immediately reappeared in its sheath. She threw it as far as she could. It reappeared in its sheath. She threw it even farther. Again it reappeared. She brought it back over her head and heaved it with a savage shriek. Again it reappeared. She dropped to her knees and screamed, “OK, you win! I don’t care if I die, dammit! Just get it over with!”
Ten minutes later she rose, straightened her harness, and walked silently to the coach.
For the next two hours, they zigzagged down toward the southeastern hill country. Gina sat in the front cabin, her red-veined eyes fixed on the coach’s scarred leather interior. Across from her were two tiny, bespectacled mouse-like Knowing Beasts. They must have been mathematicians, for they chittered unceasingly about numbers.
Gina’s shoulder jerked forward every half minute or so.
“You seem to have a form of palsy, miss,”one of the little mouse-maticians observed in an educated central Frengan accent. The other added, “It is most advisable to seek a physician. Three out of ten patients who avoid treatment—”
“Thank you,” Gina said, “but I think I have to get off.” She leaned out the window and banged on the coach’s copper shell.
The driver brought the horses to a halt, and then climbed down.
“But the pearl you paid with—it is worth more than—”
“It doesn’t matter. Keep it.”
The man bowed deeply, then elbowed Zack and said, “I won’t have to do the Dance of the Swirling Seers after all, eh?”
“I guess not,” Zack said, staring at his sister.
Buigor jumped down from the swordsman’s seat. He knocked his knees against Zack’s and gave him a sudden awkward hug, then made a complicated set of hand and facial gestures at Gina.
“Buigor says he was only trying to prepare you,” Zack interpreted.
Gina nodded vacantly.
Zack signed to Buigor that Gina had forgiven him.
Satisfied, the hulky fellow gave Zack one more affectionate whack, and climbed back up onto his seat.
The coach pulled away, leaving brother and sister alone at the edge of a shrennel field. Several minutes passed.
“What’s going on?” Zack finally asked.
“This is Rennou,” Gina replied.
Thoughts: Problem: Life moves in lines, but our thoughts move in circles.
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