The Faren Realm by: Christine Schnell

Sitting out near the river, Claire pondered the murders she'd heard about on the radio. Her mind wasn't focused very well on what was going on around her, but she knew, somehow she knew, that something was amiss near her. She clambered to her feet and immediately felt the slip of the portal to the Faren realm, allowing the creatures into this world.

Well, that's what she called it. Some rather cute, fluffy creatures came out once. They made a sound that sort of sounded like "faren." She tried to catch one but it was too fast. Someone eventually did and the reporters were calling it a Faren because of the sound as well (aren't they original?). No one knew where it came from though. Only she did.

The portal opened many times before. Never did anyone else feel it or notice the lights. This one was close, and she didn't want to be too close to it. She hadn't dared to go in one yet. As the bright light of the tear in space faded slightly she could see something she never imagined to see there; someone looking out at her.

This manlike creature about her height but much thicker, with two long arms and two short legs, didn't so much stand as balance on its belly. Its face, while far rounder and wider, was a deeper pink than human skin. Its eyes were a bright green with large pupils that unmistakably were looking directly at her.

It made some sort of gurgle and she felt herself slipping again as its arm reached out towards her. She felt so disorientated by the slip that she couldn't move. So when its six fingered hand wrapped around hers, she couldn't stop it, and it pulled her in.

The world grew to freezing and her whole body tingled. She felt like she was being sucked through a straw, and right back again blown up like a balloon. The whole time it pulled her and her fear grew greater. What was it doing to her? She felt warm again and while it still held her hand it waddled away trying to take her with it. She realized that grassy terrain surrounded her, no longer the river bed. She looked behind her and the light of the portal faded away.

"What's going on? Wait, let go!" She dug her heels in.

"Glub," it said; she almost thought it pleaded. It pointed its other arm towards a hill. "Glubbbbbb…"

Well, what would it hurt her to go a little way? She picked up her feet and walked with it up the hill. At the top a wondrous sight met her view. A small town full of colors, all the people were the same color but their buildings were like rainbows, some wore what appeared to be umbrellas for hats that were also an array of colors. Even the plants, while their bases were as green as ours were full of thousands of flowers stretching from dark blue to pale yellow. She followed the creature with her mouth agape. When they reached the main street everyone stopped to watch her as if she were the strange one.

Not only were there "people" but more of the Farens and many other small and midsize creatures walking among them. She had no idea if they were intelligent or just running around the town wild. A six legged, lizard like, blue creature without eyes wiggled its antennae towards her and she froze.

The pink-man with her waved its long fingers in circles over the antennae and the creature shook its head. Then with up and down motions, the man's belly jiggling, it waved its hands intricately and the six legged creature seemed to understand and even appeared to nod then scuttled off in the direction they were headed weaving in and out of the people in the street.

The street itself was crowded now, there were no vehicles and the store fronts seemed to cater to people of all shapes and sizes, as they had furniture were both big and small. Pink-man led her past them all. She tried to adjust to the new setting as much as possible. Eventually they came to a large green building with pillars that swirled up the side of it like vines. She went up the ramp to the main door and entered into a complete mess. The stench from the twigs and leaves littering the floor was a mix between wet grass and old cat litter. The six legged creature from earlier scuttled up to her and wiggled its antennae at her, turned around, and waited for her to follow. It led her to a door near the end of a long hallway that opened up into a hay filled floor with chairs of all sizes and ramps running up and down along the walls. At the back of the room was a stage with a lone pedestal on it.

They led her to it and a small rat like creature with feathers instead of fur, and wings too small to lift it, scurried up around the pedestal. Perching upon it on two legs, it sniffed the air with its small flat nose. It fell back down to all fours and made sounds as if it were talking to pink-man.

"Glubb, glubbby, blugg," the little creature said. Pink-man waddled over to the rat bird and plopped down beside it. Rat-bird rubbed up lovingly against the pink skin and the man gurgled happily.

Then to Claire's shock and surprise, rat-bird moved away from the man sat fairly majestically on top its little pedestal and spoke. "You must forgive the Bluggle. It became excited when it saw you and wanted to keep you as a pet. It didn't know any better."

"Um…" She was at a loss for words.

"It isn't much more than a pet as it is. I was happy when the Maffuan informed me you were here." The six legged lizard stood on its two hind legs and bowed to her. "I am the head Pourfar. We've been looking for a human to help us."

"Help you?"

"Yes, we need you to find us a human who can control the holes in the world."

"Glull bubb," Bluggle said.

"She did?" Pourfar looked skeptically then to her, "Did you know when the hole would open?"

"Yes…," she said hesitantly.

"That is convenient. I think with a little effort you can learn to open them as well. Yes, you shall do."

"Do what?" This was all too much for her she was becoming disoriented with sensory and information overload.

"Why save our world, what you call Faren, of course."

She nodded dumbfounded. Pourfar bounced down fluttering slowly off the pedestal and gestured for her to follow. She didn't.

"I'm sorry. I can't do this. I-I don't know what's going on." It stopped and watched her patiently. She had so many questions on her mind, but the only one that spilled out of her mouth was, "How do you speak my language?"

It shook its head. "You have much to learn."

***

She did have a lot to learn and she spent many days figuring out how to channel the feelings of slipping to feelings of pulling. Slowly with the help of Pourfar (it told her, here no one has or needs a name) she was able to open one small hole back to her world. She could only tell it from the others by the little black spot on its forehead.

"Look I did it!"

"Yes, very good, now close it."

"Close it? But I could go home."

"You can open another later. Close this one."

"Fine." With much effort she tried to do the opposite of what she did to open it. She scrunched her nose as she pushed with all the energy she could muster and the portal sparkled. She fell backwards as the portal burst to a size larger than twice her height. "Great, just great." She stared helplessly at it.

"Good, now try again."

She stared into the portal wistfully watching the cars drive by. She felt herself slipping. The portal was sucking her towards it, she had to close it soon or she would have no choice but to go back home.

"Close it now." Pourfar clenched the ground with its claws as if it was holding on for dear life. It flapped its wings furiously still it started slipping in as well. She tried again pushing with everything she had but imagined it getting smaller. It sparkled again grew brighter, she felt herself being pulled off her feet the little Pourfar could hold on no longer. Its claws clicked off of the ground and it flew through the air along with bits of straw and dirt into the portal.

"No!" Claire screamed as she saw it fall into the street among the cars darting this way and that. It disappeared under one and she didn't see it again after that. She let go. She felt tired, so very tired. As soon as she released her concentration to the energy the portal winked out of existence.

She fell to the ground passing out. She wanted to sleep and forget this world. She heard the sound of tiny claws scrapping hard stone. Another little creature, one with a green stripe down its back, nuzzled her ear.

"Wake up. You did it! Very good," it chirped. "Now you must do this at least ten more times before we are sure."

"Go away. Let me sleep." She brushed it aside and rolled over.

"No time, no time! We must continue. We must hurry!" This one was more annoying than the last.

"Ugh," she groaned. Eventually she gave in and with effort managed to open another before losing it the moment it opened. They didn't have a choice but to let her sleep.

***

What the Pourfar considered saving the world and what she did were not the same concept. After she satisfactorily opened and closed hundreds of portals, the Pourfars escorted her to an area where a herd of large animals grazed on trees.

"Get on," the Pourfar with stripes like a tiger said, "The Rayut is domesticated."

She looked at the thing the size of an elephant with a long neck and small head. She thought it looked like a miniature brontosaurus with short, spotted, light green fur.

"How?" she asked.

Pourfar clicked a few notes and the beast lowered itself to lie on the ground. She looked at it dubiously; there was still no way she could climb up there. With a few "glubs," the striped Pourfar called out. One of the pink men waddled up to her and with its long arms raised her lightly and high enough so she could climb on top. The Bluggle gently picked up Pourfar and placed it so it could nestle between her legs. Then Bluggle somehow found purchase and swung like a flying monkey up onto the back of the Rayut.

"Ok, now what?" She asked.

A few more clicks and the Rayut rose to its feet and Claire grabbed on for dear life. Once on its feet however, the ride was very smooth and she felt safe to relax. It amazed her how fast they went even though the Rayut was walking the buildings and then trees and hills seemed to fly by.

She felt the slight tug of a portal and she pointed in the direction she felt it. Her little stripped friend gave a few more clicks and they headed that way. She saw the bright glow in the distance and knew without being told to shut it. With a little concentration and relaxation, she meditated soon the slipping sensation disappeared. She opened her eyes and the portal was gone.

"Excellent, now find another," the little creature bounced, flapping its wings excitedly.

She sighed and pointed in the opposite direction. This went on for days and maybe even weeks. She couldn't tell as one day faded into the next and she spent most of them floating in meditation. She'd become nothing more than this world's lone member of their janitorial squad. No one told her how or why these portals were opening, only that they would somehow be dangerous and must be closed.

She asked why she couldn't do this from her own world. Pourfar refused to answer. It was all very frustrating.

***

Today was like every other day, she woke up with the rat on her stomach and the Rayut grazing trees nearby. Food wasn't hard to come by, there were plenty of wild berries (that looked like small books) and the grass was pretty tasty, like syrup. The world was strange but she was getting used to it. No matter how confident she became in this world she still wouldn't eat whatever it was Bluggle caught and ate raw every morning.

After breakfast they once again mounted and sped off towards the moonrise. The ride was easy and she managed to close two portals without getting close. When she felt the next one, she knew something was different. She didn't close it right away since she wanted to see what was going on. Before the Rayut came to a complete stop she slid off its back and ran towards the portal, something was laying in front of it.

She gasped as she realized it was a human and he wasn't moving.

"No!" She fell to her knees beside him and rolled him over so she could see his face. Three stab marks in a triangular pattern reddened his chest. His pale face and glazed eyes told her all she needed to know. She quickly looked through the portal. Nothing. It was a rural area, and only a front porch and a fence could be seen of civilization.

"This is not good, not good," said Pourfar clinging to Bluggle's shoulder. "It must go back." It looked around in a bit of a panic. "Hurry, you must hurry and close the portal."

She sighed and tried to lift the man. She heaved but could not lift him more than a few inches. Bluggle shuffled over and helped her so much that the man was flung through the portal and as she still held onto him she went too. She felt cold, so cold and feared she'd wind up like the dead man. As she was squished, inflated to her normal size, and on the cold wood porch, she realized she was alive.

"Wilfred? Are you all right?" A graying woman hurried through the house to the front door. "What- who-? Wilfred!" She threw the screen open and fell down next to Wilfred. "No, no Wilfred what happened to you?" The gray locks fell down into her wrinkled face but her eyes showed the fire of youth as she glared up at Claire. "You! You did this?!"

"No, I-I tried to help."

"I'm calling the police!" The old woman bolted to her feet and ran inside the house.

Claire had no idea how she would ever explain and so she opted not too rather than be thrown in jail or worse a sanitarium. She ran.

***

"It's happening isn't it?" Claire asked afraid of his answer. It was several years later. Claire managed to remain a fugitive. She didn't even know if they were still looking for her. Unfortunately, the murders continued.

"Yes. You've heard the reports." Dr. Friesian, a professor Claire sought out that had theories about portals, shifted through files on his computer.

She bit her lip. "I was hoping it was only a shifting in the atmosphere. It's happened before."

"Look here and here." The doctor pointed at the graphs. "It's clear the frequency is increasing. This is not a shift." She'd told him everything and he was willing to help. They'd done many experiments with her opening and closing portals, while he never saw one he did register them on different pieces of equipment.

"Then what can I do? I don't have the power to keep closing portals and some open and close before I can find them." She'd worked on improving her skills and was able to close them miles away. Now, however, it appeared they were opening elsewhere beyond her reach. It was spreading.

Before the doctor could answer, a knock came at the door. The doctor rose to open it. A tall grizzly man flashed a badge in the doctor's face.

"Dr. Friesian? I am Detective Mallard, I was told you may have some information on a case I'm working on." The doctor glanced at Claire; they both had the same thought. They'd heard this detective's name mentioned in relation to the murders. He must be on to something if he has found his way here.

She feared he would recognize her and prepared herself to run.

"Sir, I have no explanation for a substance that's been found in the wounds of the victims. As you know eighteen people killed by the triangle killer have been found, each having three distinct wounds separated approximately three and a half inches apart in an equilateral triangle pattern," he quoted from memory as he must have gone over it a hundred times. "What you may not know, and I will need your professional confidentiality on this, is they're not knife wounds."

"They're not?" Claire unwittingly brought his attention onto her.

"Uh… No.... Do I know you?" Claire shook her head a little too violently. "Hmmm… you seem familiar," he said absentmindedly. "Ah well, we believe something organic caused them."

"Organic? I don't understand," Dr. Friesian said.

"Yes, I don't either. You can read the file for yourself," he handed the doctor a folder. "As you can see, the shape and size of the wounds are not indicative of a thin blade. Normally with many weapons there's trace elements that are left behind. This is no exception, yet we can't identify what we found. I was told you specialize in exotic materials."

"Yes, please, if you have a sample?" The doctor held his hand out and the detective obliged. "My -- uh… -- assistant will read through the file while I run some tests. If you come back tomorrow-"

"I understand things take time. I've been on this case for a long time, Doctor. You have to understand there is a killer out there, and this… thing… is the closest we've ever gotten." He was watching Claire as she pretended to read the file. She knew it was only a matter of time.

"I will give you a call tomorrow morning. I promise." Dr. Friesian practically pushed him out the door.

"I will return first thing tomorrow," he corrected, "I will need the sample and file back." The doctor shut the door on him.

"We need to find the source of what's opening the portals." Dr. Friesian sighed as he put the sample on the microscope. "We've thought the murders were related and now this…"

"What if it's not one thing? What if it's like pollution?"

"Then you still need to find the source," Dr. Friesian said. "Do you understand how important it is to stop these portals."

"Yes," she sighed. "How do we find out what's causing them?"

"Well, I still have tests to run. It would be easier if we would go back to Faren and talk to the people there."

"I'm not going back. It's kind of creepy there."

"Claire, you will need to go back eventually to stop whatever it is."

"Then I'll put off the inevitable." She huffed. It had been a long day and she intended to go to bed soon to sleep it off. In fact, she stifled a large yawn when the Doctor called her again, excitement lacing his voice.

"Look at this, Claire, I've never seen anything like it." The doctor's eye was stuck to the microscope. He reluctantly moved away to let her look speaking while she saw clearly what he was talking about. "There's no doubt it's an animal cell yet there is chloroplast and has a single vacuole the size of one in a plant cell. It's as if an animal and plant were spliced into one entity."

"Something in that world is both animal and plant?" This was stranger than anything she could imagine even from Faren.

"What if.... Claire hand me that file." She did and he rifled through it. "Yes, look there's another sample the detective did not give us, found in the autopsy."

"What?"

"A seed. They couldn't identify what plant it's from but they didn't think much of it. Claire, do you realize what this means?"

"It means we need to visit some grave sites."

"I'm calling that Detective."

"What?!" Claire burst from the chair, "He doesn't know any of this."

"You want to meet one of these things without protection?"

Claire hated the idea of having to explain everything to the cop. They thought in terms of only good and bad. He just wouldn't understand this other world. The only reason she trusted Dr. Friesian is some of his papers indicated he already knew about Faren.

"It will be all right Claire, trust me, I think he knows already. Why else would he come to us?"

"Ok, but if he arrests us I'm denying everything."

***

"What's so important it couldn't wait until morning?" Det. Mallard pulled up. The doctor and Claire were already waiting for him outside. Claire saw him glance at his watch a couple of times. "This better be good. I'm missing an anniversary dinner with my wife."

"Just drive," Dr. Friesian said as he entered the car, "we'll explain on the way."

"I recognize you now." Detective Mallard looked at Claire in the rear view mirror. "You're the one they accused in Philadelphia of murdering Wilfred Simon."

"No, I'm-"

"Don't worry. I don't believe you killed anyone. In fact I don't think there is a triangle killer. I think there's some kind of monster or something killing them."

"You do?" she asked full of surprise.

"Yeah, you remember those creatures they found a couple years ago? The little furry ones? They've popped up several times over the last few years. When they have it's always within miles of a murder. I believe they're related. I think there's another, not so harmless, creature that's appearing out of nowhere."

She couldn't look him in the eye, for she didn't know how much she should tell him or what he would believe.

"What do you know?"

The doctor is the one who broke the silence. He told the whole story and while Mallard appeared skeptical he listened.

"I believe you." He stared at Claire intently and she felt a little embarrassed like he was checking her out. Thankfully it didn't last long as the car came to a stop.

"God, my wife is going to freak." Mallard mumbled as he opened the door for Claire.

"You're certain the last victim is buried here?" Dr. Friesian asked.

"Yes, I went to the funeral." Mallard led the way to the grave site. The dirt mound was still fresh, he'd only been buried a couple of days before and no grass covered it yet. "What are we looking for exactly?"

"Nothing, hopefully." Claire swept the flashlight over the mound and her heart fell. "Damn."

"What is that?" Detective Mallard bent down to look at a green stalk growing out of the mound.

"I wouldn't get too close until we have time to study it." Dr. Friesian used the shovel he brought to tap it. That was not a good idea. The sprout began to act violently whipping back and forth three prongs separated at the top and snapped back together.

"Is that what I think it is?" Mallard asked.

"That is your murder Detective, or at least a decedent of it."

"God!" He ran his hand through his hair. "How the-"

"It's happening!" Claire called, she'd been feeling a little sick and she just suddenly felt as if she were slipping.

"What? What's happening?" Mallard began to panic.

"Where is it Claire?" The doctor stepped back from the grave and pulled Mallard with him.

She pointed to the sprout and sure enough she saw the bright light beginning. The sprout acted more wild and stretched upwards as if grabbing for the light.

"What's that light?" Mallard asked covering his eyes.

"You can see it?" Claire looked between him and the portal.

"See it? Who can miss it?"

"Doctor?"

Dr. Friesian shook his head. "I don't see a thing. Only that thing going crazy. Can you close it?"

Claire strained to do what she could and even tried relaxing. Nothing worked. "It's not closing!" In a flash it grew and she felt herself being dragged in. The sprout now nearly pulled itself out of the ground. The dirt around it floated upwards towards the portal.

"What the hell is that? I can see movement on the other side!" Mallard screamed for the portal roared with energy and the plant-animal began to scream as it was being ripped from its host.

Before Claire could make out what was happening everything fell to pieces before her eyes. The detective drew his gun as something large and dark green came towards the portal on the other side, snapped out, stabbed Det. Mallard then finally grabbed the baby monster taking it back to Faren with it. Claire stood in shock as it became obvious that thing, whatever it was, bred by killing humans and sticking its seeds inside them. All she saw of it was what she believed to be its long tail and an exoskeleton like a lobster. The spikes at the end almost looked more like lobster claws. It took a moment to sink in that Detective Mallard had fallen to the ground.

She looked down at him and saw his vacant expression. She knew there was nothing she could do for him. Besides, the doctor could do more than she. What she could do is close that portal and if these creatures were the source and somehow controlling them, there was only one way to stop them.

Without thinking she bent down, picked up the Detective's dropped revolver and stepped towards the portal.

"Claire? What are you doing?" Dr. Friesian reached for her but it was too late. She entered the portal; gun held ready.

***

The strange sensations took over her body and the familiar slipping started. She was ready this time and the moment she felt solid ground under her feet she started shooting. Two thunks came from the hits on the monster who already had its back turned and was slinking away. The long tail seemed to have a mind of its own as it raised and faced her. It was large enough to rip her head off.

She gathered her strength and swallowed hard as she squeezed off a round right down the center of the three claws of the tail. She wondered if it even was the tail as it responded to the bullet as a human would to a hole in their head and collapsed. At the same time the baby one screamed and she shot it too. She didn't notice the slipping sensation ceased until she turned around to go home.

The portal was gone!

She tried to open a new one. Nothing happened. She tried over and over to no avail.

"No!" She screamed to the cosmos. She refused to believe she was trapped here, yet there was nothing she could do. A new portal would not open and after her third day of feeling no portals she realized she had killed her only chance to go home. That monster was the source and now it was gone. Who knew if its children would open a portal ever again or just kill more humans. She could only wait, and she would be waiting for years.

***

Dr. Friesian tossed the shovel to the ground and turned away as the portal closed. He looked down to the dead detective and shook his head. "Your wife will be very disappointed." He bent over the body and with tweezers very carefully pulled something from each of the wounds then placed them into a sample jar. Stuffing it into his pocket he turned and walked away a broad smile playing across his face. A little, furry Feran popped its head out of his jacket and he petted it knowing soon this world would be the ideal home for its brethren.



I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please send me any comments you might have, good or bad. Copyrighted 2009 by Christine Schnell. Go ahead and share it with others just keep my name with it.
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