Despite London having returned, the tree spirit had not and nor did the dark atmosphere disperse.
‘It’s not over,’ said Ash, ‘Kurumi, take care of London please.’ Bradley and Kurumi looked bemused. Ash kissed London and held her tightly. He stood up, held Kurumi and gave her an earth kiss. He approached the sphere looking back at his friends.
‘Only the tree spirit can take you home. We’re safe now. Goodbye my friends and thank you for helping me save London.’
Although the sphere looked solid, Ash was able to step inside before anybody could stop him. Bradley rushed to the sphere after him but crashed into it. He continued to try and find a way in, but could not. Moments later the tree spirit emerged from out of the sphere with a crystal blue water cloak wrapped around it.
‘Thank you my dear children. As you can see the water spirit and I are now one. I am no longer the tree spirit, but instead, we are the Spirit of Vaalbara. I will transport you home,’ said the spirit. It now had a more warmer and soothing voice. ‘It has been evident that some evil force elsewhere had separated the two of us, but because of you all we are united and balance will be restored to Vaalbara. You have saved earth for now at least.’
‘But what about Ash?’ asked Kurumi.
‘He has sacrificed himself in order that I can return you home,’ replied the Spirit of Vaalbara, ‘be both humbled and in gratitude.’
‘No, I won’t leave him,’ cried Kurumi.
‘We came together, we leave together,’ added Bradley.
‘It must be within your power to fix this,’ begged Kurumi, ‘We’ve already lost Aruna and Jumo, we can’t lost another friend.’
‘You see the sphere. It is the life force of this dimension. It needs Vaalbara’s energy to keep it charged. Usually, it is myself and the water spirit that keep it charged, but we have both grown weak and cannot recharge it enough right now in order to sustain it. We will be able to do so in good time, but what energy we have we must use to return each of you back to earth. It is Ash’s sacrifice, which has helped recharge the source of life for both here and on earth. The sphere ensures the growth and survival of this dimension, which in turn keeps life on your planet evolving and in resonance.’
‘But I want Ash back now!’
‘This new power that you have obtained, your elements, you must give them up. You will not need it back on earth. Are you prepared for this?’
‘Of course,’ cried Bradley, ‘I don’t want power, I just want my friend back.’
‘Very well. Each of you must touch the sphere with the palm of your hands and transfer your energy into the sphere. Your full focus will be required.’ Kurumi and Bradley stepped forward and placed their palms onto the sphere. The sphere rotated into a rainbow of colours gradually getting faster and brighter. A mist of all colours imaginable and unimaginable engulfed the atmosphere with a breeze whirling around the sphere sucking in energy from all around. The darkness disappeared revealing a crystal clear orange sky. There was a silence.
‘Well, that was weird,’ said Bradley, ‘I feel…’
‘Ordinary,’ added Kurumi. A figure emerged from the Sphere. It was Ash. He was radiating with every vibration in his body.
‘Bloody hell mate, you’re glowing,’ said Bradley, ‘what happened in there?’
‘I was drifting through different dimensions of space,’ he replied, ‘or more like space was drifting through me. I could hear Aruna and Jumo calling me. Everybody hold me.’ Kurumi, Bradley and London were already holding him before he finished speaking. They all now glowed for a brief moment.
‘Earth and human beings are made up of the same elements of the cosmos and the laws of nature itself. These elements in all its different shapes, forms and energies can be used from both within yourself and from around you. You are enveloped in a grand field of energy that stretches far beyond earth’s atmosphere. Understand, that you are not just a being of earth, but of life itself and the cosmos. You must relearn your existence and purpose, and live. Are you ready to return home?’
‘Yes we are.’ Ash held London.
‘Can we ever come back,’ asked Kurumi.
‘No, you can not return to Vaalbara.’
‘What are we supposed to do now?’ asked Bradley.
‘Is it not amazing that the body can grow. You can age over a period of years, allowing yourselves to experience. Allowing others to experience you. Be a hermit and you can skip through dimensions, playing with the laws of physics. Be a part of society and you can explore every layer of emotion and experience living. Be both, and you can open up new gateways. Now return.’
A veil of mist settled over the group and the resurrected Spirit of Vaalbara disappeared from sight. They held each other’s hands.
‘The world will never know what happened here,’ said Ash. Everything became dark and warm. Unlike the journey to Vaalbara there would be no dramatic wormhole journey back to Earth. As the darkness settled they heard the voice of the spirit, thank you my dear children. You will never be forgotten. They drifted slowly through a nebula of colours. A bright light appeared and forced them to close their eyes and when they re-opened them they found themselves back in Springfield Park beside the tree wearing their normal clothes again. The rain had stopped and the sun glistened over the blades of green grass. The geese ambled along beside the pond eating bread from the ground. The sounds came rushing through their bodies. Ash held London tight to his body and looked around in the distance as if searching for something or someone he had lost.
‘What is it Ash?’ asked Kurumi.
‘I was hoping Aruna and Jumo would be here.’ They all sighed and dropped their heads in sadness.
‘Ice cream,’ said London.
‘Yes, strawberry ice cream, replied Ash.’
The each returned to their homes vowing to meet the next day and disillusioned as to whether they had made any change at all. Ash opened the door to be welcomed by his mother with a wide smile and big warm hugs.
‘How was your day my little lion cubs?’ she asked.
‘It was…’ Ash hesitated. Realising that his mother would not understand or possibly believe what had really happened. He put on a very brave, but emotionally painful smile, ‘great. Fun as always.’ His mother sensed something was wrong, but did not press Ash further.
‘Anyway, I had a great date!’
‘I’m happy for you mum. You deserve it.’ Before his mother could continue Ash walked into the living room to sit down. London followed behind him and clicked her fingers three times. A large 50K-SHV projection screen appeared on the wall with a variety of options to choose from. London swiped her hands in mid-air and as she did this the projection flipped through even more selections. She scanned the options, fixed her eyes on an app and blinked once.
‘No London, no news, not now,’ said Ash. The news appeared with three headlines flashed up.
World leaders have called a truce at roundtable discussions to alleviate tensions amongst fears of another War World.
ESA and leading international scientists confirmed today that the solar flare would not strike earth as initially thought.
Over fifty reported missing children have all been found on an abandoned oilrig off the North Sea.
Ash smiled and gave London a big hug. Although sad he was overjoyed that he and his friends had succeeded in their quest.
‘We did it London!’ said Ash. She looked at Ash and smiled back.
‘Now you must go and save Aruna and Jumo,’ she replied. Ash gasped in shock. Deep down he knew his friends were still alive, but how he was supposed to save them he did not know.
B. L. Crisp | Copyrighted to © Barry Crisp