Ben Van Dongen
Gary rolled into the portal and fell to the ground, landing with a splat. “Ahhh! Damn that hurts! Tanya? Where are you? That crazy thing threw acid or something at me!” Composing himself, he became a ball again.
The ground was a piece of land, ten metres around, floating in the ether. The bare earth beneath it bowed out, like the bottom of a bowl, but at a sharper angle and uneven.
A large tree sat in the middle, stretching up to the empty nothingness, its roots dangling below the platform. Shrubs and tall grasses sprouted all around, making it look like the tree was dug out of a forest, taking the ground coverage with it.
Hundreds of other platforms floated in the void, stretching out into blackness. Each of them had a single tree, roots dangling below the convex bottom, nothing tethering them, nothing holding them up.
“Tanya? Did you hear me?” Gary formed a cube, a tall cylinder, and went back to a ball. “Tanya!”
An orb of light flickered in the distance then zoomed forward, stopping in the branches of the tree above Gary. It flowed through the leaves, casting dozens of shadows, expanding into a mist that descended, becoming the form of a woman, glowing bright, a white robe-like gown flowing in the breeze that wasn’t there.
“What? What do you want Gary?” Light pulsed as Tanya spoke, though her image didn’t change.
“Didn’t you hear me? You never listen.” Gary became a puddle, oozing around in the grass.
“I have an entire universe to watch over. I’m sorry to tell you, but you aren’t special.”
The puddle recoiled as if more salt had been thrown at it. “Wha? I can’t believe you would even say that. It’s beyond rude. It’s downright insulting.” Gary formed a ball again, undulating in place. “I go to another realm for you—YOU—and get attacked by some creature, and barely get out alive, and I’m not special!”
“Uh. No need to be so melodramatic. Besides, I didn’t send you on any job.”
“Pardon me for taking some initiative.” Gary rolled a few feet away, towards a bush. “And you didn’t even see my present.”
Next to the bush was a pile of ash. A few chunks of bone peaked out of the pile, and some teeth were scattered on top.
“Gary. Did you kill a sentient being from another realm just to bring me its ashes?” Breaking her usual statue-like stillness, Tanya brought a hand up to her brow.
Gary became a cube. “Well, I didn’t mean to kill it. It just sort of happened when I opened the portal and tried to push it through.” He formed a triangle. “It was supposed to be a pet, or something.” He became a ball again. “For the glory of you, of course!”
“Damn it Gary. Why do you do these things?”
“What?” Gary became a cylinder. “What does that mean? It’s a gift! The least you can do is say thank you.”
Tanya dimmed a bit. “I’m not going to thank you for killing a creature from another realm. What would I have even done with it if you managed to get it back alive? I’m pure energy. I float around the universe. I can’t be tied down to a physical being. And what torture would it be for that poor being, to be dragged from its world into this one. You’ve got to use your head.”
Becoming a ball, Gary rolled in a circle around the pile of ash. “I, uh, wha? I don’t. Where. How. Tanya? All I do is try to show you that I care. You’re my god and I would do anything for you. You’re really making me feel badly over here.”
The light increased within the ghostly being. “I’m not trying to make you feel badly. I just need you to see it from my perspective. You are so rash. You don’t always use your head.”
Puddling, Gary slinked back. “I’m sorry. I just get so jazzed about you. You’re my everything. I just want to show you how I feel. Do you hate me?”
Tanya paused. The illusionary breeze wiped around her, flicking her glowing white hair and fluttering the illuminating gown. “No. I don’t hate you. I’m just disappointed. Messing with portals is bad enough. You know you can cause irreparable damage to the other realm. Killing a creature from one of them, even on accident, that’s not a good thing to do.”
“Awe, jeez. I didn’t mean it.”
“That’s fine Gary. Just, no more messing around with portals or beings from other worlds.”
Gary formed a cube and clenched the shape as tightly as he could, hoping the all seeing, all powerful god of his realm, wouldn’t notice the shiver running across his globulous body. “Uh, sure thing Tanya. No more portals and no more messing with beings from other worlds. Got it. No problem. Will do.”
Tanya glowed more brightly, her light reaching the lowest branches in the tall tree. “You did close the portals.”
“Did I close the portals? Yes. The portals are closed.”
“All of them?”
Collapsing out of the cube, Gary switched to a Triangle, trying to make the change look natural. “That’s what I said.”
The ethereal wind picked up, pulling the image of Tanya apart, drawing the wisps of light up into the tree. “Just take care of it Gary. I don’t want to have to come back today.”
Her form completely transformed into the light, swirling around the high branches, forming the orb. When the ball was hovering above the tree, it zipped away at amazing speed, illuminating the furthest floating islands before vanishing in the distance.
“Well shit.” Flattening into an oozing puddle, Gary flowed over the ashes, absorbing them all, except for the teeth. The yellowed lumps of enamel floated within his substance as he carried them to the base of the tree to a small nook in the trunk. Pushing up against it, he dumped the teeth into the hole. They tumbled down the short drop, clattering against the pile already hidden within.
Flowing away, Gary became a ball and bounced over to the edge of the platform, to a nearly invisible rip in the air. “Now, what to do with this?”