“They are two of the characters from The Forbidden Domain.” He moved over toward the wall and pointed at the poster. It was the one showing Yiskah and Valarie. “It was these two woman. I’m telling you that they came out of my computer and then ran off someplace.”
“So two woman which were dressed in these costume entered your room and threatened you with a weapon. Did they take anything from your apartment? Or is there some reason that might have to threaten you?”
“I don’t know. In the game they were saying some strange things about how I manipulated them and that I was the cause of everything. I was just playing the game however it seems that they were real in the game and took it personally. I don’t understand how it could happen, it must have been the electrical fire that caused it.”
“Is this game,” Miss Linson looked over at the poster again to remind herself, “The Forbidden Domain, some kind of online game? People can take the things that happen in those quite personally.”
“No, no, it is just a regular visual novel game. I’m not joking, the characters in the game literally came to life in my room. I thought you were part of some police group that was suppose to actually help me wit this.”
Miss Linson nodded, “I am. Project Mayfly is suppose to help identify and deal with potential supernatural problems. However…” She paused, “Do you happen to know how many supernatural problems I have actually encountered?”
“No? How many?”
“None.” Said Miss Linson. That might not be technically true but she had never been able to get adequate proof to the contrary. “If you case turned out to be the first one then good but I highly doubt it.”
“But I saw them…” Lyle tried to say.
“Yes, so you say. However before I can believe you I must rule out the other possibility. Now will you please cooperate?”
“Very good. Now were you under the effects of any drugs last night?”
“How about sleep deprivation?”
“I, not really, I might have been up late but that isn’t unusual more me and I had sleep some within twenty four hours.”
Miss Linson had been examining the room while listening to Lyle’s explanations. She knelt down and picked up a small partially melted plastic circle. She picked it up and examined it. It was a little bit smaller then the size of her hand. There was another identical piece right next to it. There were near the worst part of the electrical fire and she was surprised to find them in as good condition as they where. However she did not know what they were for.
“Any what are these?” She asked.
Lyle walked over and took a look at the piece himself. “I, I’m not certain. It looks like a base to one of my figures.” He looked over at the other piece. Then a look of realization came over his face, “Those must been the bases for the figures of Valarie and Yiskah I had. When the came to this world I think the models became their real bodies.”
Miss Linson gave Lyle an unbelieving look, “Please don’t tell me that you think a couple of model figures are walking around threatening people with swords. I’m pretty sure that would be all over the news if that was true.”
“No, wait, I mean that those models acted as conduits to allow them to come into this world. Maybe they swapped wit the models and now the models are in the game some place. Let me assure you that the two of them were very real and normal sized when I saw them.”
Miss Linson scowled at him, “Not it just sounds like you are making up explanations without giving any thought to them. Now correct me if I’m wrong but you do actually believe that these plastic disks are from the models and you did see the two woman in the flesh. The idea of about swapping with the model is just your speculation.”
Lyle looked a little crestfallen, “Yes, that is correct. When they came through I saw the models fall from the shelf there,” He pointed. “I saw them eclipse the image of the two of them in the screen. I think there was more about how they came to this world but everything happened very fast so I don’t know if everything I remember is completely accurate.”
Miss Linson nodded at his more accurate assessment of what he saw. Even if she didn’t believe him yet it was still good to have his story straight. His story sounded unbelievable but so had many of the stories that she had heard over the course of her career at Project Mayfly.
She looked back over at the poster and asked, “Then you claim that these two woman left your appartment. Do you know where they left too?”
“How closely do these woman look like the people in the poster.”
“They look exactly the same, except you know, real looking.”
“Exactly huh? Then do you mind if I take this poster? The easiest way to find out the truth about your claim would be to find these two women and question them about what happened. If they exist then they will be able to collaborate your story.”
“The poster? Sure, I have a few more copies of it. Do you really think that you will be able to find them.”
“If they are who you claim them to be then yes. After all if they came out of your video game then they will not have real identification and will be alone in the city. Of course if they are actually real people then it will be doubtful I will be able to find out what two women happened to dress up as your characters.”
“Is there anything that I can do to help?” Asked Lyle. “They came out of my game so I kind of feel responsible for what happened.”
Miss Linson felt that he looked eager, too eager. That fort of eagerness made people get into trouble. If she just told him no then he would just go off and doing things anyways. He had the look in his eyes of somebody who had something special happen to them and wanted to continue to be special. If she told him not to help that would just mean that he would ‘help’ by himself.
She sighed, resigned to look after him until this issue was finally resolved. “Fine, I’ll let you help but you have to do it by my rules which means no independent action.”
The Wanderer stopped and took a moment to look up at the sky. The winds had picked up, which was a rarity by itself, and was managing to clear the sky of ash for the moment. It was night but the stars were so rarely visible so it was nice for the Wanderer to see them. He was wearing thick black clothes as he always was. His hair was also wrapped up in the clothing and he was wearing a special mask which kept all the ash out of his face and mouth. The outfit would be unbearable hot during the day.
Eventually the wind faded and the ash covered the sky once again. He turned back on his lantern again which allowed him to see once more through the dark ash. The moon did not shine through the thickness and the only other light was the occasional phosphorescent mushroom. The lantern was the only source of light that he could trust.
Even without the light though he would have still been able to travel. He knew this area like the back of his hand. The ruined buildings, large mushrooms, and razor sharp shadow vines were all things he knew. They had been all that he had ever known. In his youth his grandfather had told him about the time when they lived in buildings that had been above the ash and people could live like people.
The Wanderer had never really understood that phrase. Hadn’t people always lived like people. Still the Wanderer remembered times like that fondly. Back when there had been other people which he could talk to. Now there was just him.
Now he could see a light in the distance. Because the ash smothered light that meant that he was almost home. The light shown through the one thick glass pane which had so far avoided breaking. He made sure to scrub it free of ash every couple of days so that he would be able to see it in the darkness. Not because he needed to see it but because it gave him a little comfort. He passed the mushroom garden which grew all the different mushrooms that he used as his primary food supply. His grandfather had also talked about other growing things, things that were not mushrooms or shadow vines. Things that were green.
The Wanderer had liked listening to his grandfather’s stories. They told of all sorts of strange things. The Wanderer also had liked reading books with his grandfather and it was one of the few hobbies that he managed to retain when he had grown him. People had preserved a lot of books and when the Wanderer found one of their abandoned homes he would take the books back with him to his home. His grandfather had said that his father had once seen one of the ancient talking pictures and were spoken of in the books.
He had finally reached the light and he cranked open the door and stepped through. He tried to keep as much ash from getting in as he could when he shut the door and cranked it closed behind him. Once it was shut the Wanderer was able to take off the thick black clothing. He set the small sealed bucket he had been carrying to one side while he remove the thick outer layer. One he had done that he picked back up the bucket and brought it over to the stove. He shoved some dried shadow vine in it and lit the fire. Then he removed the sealed top of the bucket to reveal the dark muddy water.
There was a machine next to the stove that he moved onto the top of it. He had been made a long time ago to filter the muddy water and make something drinkable. It would heat the water and make it evaporate. Then the steam would rise to the top of the machine and then condense making clean water. He had learned about the principle in one of the books and tried reproducing it. It had let him gather much closer sources of water instead of going miles away to an underground spring.
He let the water boil while he cut some mushrooms for dinner. Sometimes he also ate meat with the mushrooms but that required hunting one of the different beasts that still lived outside. Generally that was not worth the effort but he tried to go hunting once a week for the nutritional improvement. The books on nutrition that he had read made it clear that you were supposed to eat a balanced meal. That was hard to do consistently so instead he just did the best that he could.
The house was big. Once it had homed him, his grandfather, and his mother. After they had died he had the place to himself. His mother had hoped that there would be some girl that would move in with him but because of the migration that never happened. The ash had gotten worse around seven years ago and everybody else who had lived nearby when to migrate to higher altitudes. The Wanderer had been told that he wasn’t welcome so he had stayed.
Still he hoped that they were alright. The migration of a small community like theirs was difficult and setting up a new place to call home was extremely difficult. And the ash had risen drastically over the seven years since they had left. The Wanderer didn’t know if there would be anyplace left that was clear of it. Since the Wanderer remained because this was home and because nobody would accept him even if he did move.