I Understand

“I don’t understand!” I screamed over the rush of wind blowing all around us.

“What’s not to understand?!” the sorceress shouted right back at me. Her name was Karen and, yes, she was gorgeous But I tried not to look at her that way. For one thing, she was about 300 years older than me. She didn’t look a day over 30, though. But, trust me, our relationship was purely professional. And I intended to keep it that way, until our inevitable deaths. Which, judging by our current situation, wouldn’t be too far off.

“I did what you told me to do!”

Karen smiled wearily and nodded her head. “Yes, you did! But it was too little, too late! The ritual was completed before we even had a chance to stop it!”

By now the wind and thunder were near deafening. Soon the vortex would be completely opened and unspeakable evils would spill into our world. I refused to believe that the most we could do now was watch it happen.

My mind raced. I was good with a sword. I was good with a bow. I was even good with automatic weapons, but those wouldn’t really be useful against the beasts that would be coming through the portal. The sword I had was enchanted. The arrows I would use had been blessed by priests from the Order. Bullets in a gun might hurt our enemies a little, but they wouldn’t do a great deal of damage. Modern weapons never seemed to do the trick. Except for a nuke. Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to any of those.

So I had my weapons ready. My bow to pick them off as they emerged, my sword for when the got closer. And I had some defensive magic up my sleeve, just in case. But I knew it wouldn’t be enough to defend the world. Karen was the one with the real power. I just hoped that she had some good offensive spells that would make a dent in the coming horde.

“They’re coming!” she yelled, her eyes never moving from the eye of the vortex. Her vision was obviously enhanced. All I saw was a dark center surrounded by swirling light and debris. Then I noticed them. They were ugly with dark green, scaly skin. They were moving quickly. I loaded the bow and sat poised, ready to shoot. Karen looked at me and screamed, “Don’t hold back!”

That was my cue. I fired. I fired again. And again. My aim was true as I watched one after another fall. But I knew it would be only a matter of minutes before they reached our position and I would need to draw my sword. In the meantime, Karen was throwing fireballs and lightning bolts left and right.

I was always impressed when I saw Karen work her magic. Tonight, she was taking down dozens of demons at a time. Her next big move was to tear open the earth itself. Well, she somehow made a gorge appear in the ground, which probably swallowed about a hundred of those monsters. And it took a great deal out of her.

They were still pouring out of the portal and they were getting closer. Karen was tired. And I knew it was time for the sword. Thankfully, these beasts weren’t the greatest thinkers. If they had wanted, they could have easily taken us both down, just by sheer numbers. But a few attacked us individually, while the rest continued their march beyond us.

I lost track of how many monsters I slayed with the sword. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Karen was holding her own, but she wouldn’t last long. Then she stopped.

In a panic, I turned toward her, afraid that she had been struck down. But then I could see that she was thinking. And I saw a sudden look in her eyes. It was a look that I’d seen before. It was the look of victory. She smiled at me, “I know how to close the portal!”

“How?!” I asked, desperate to hold off the B-movie rejects.

“I’m going to cross the streams!” I looked at her, puzzled. “It’s from that ridiculous Ghostbusters movie you made me watch!”

I knew what movie it was from. I just didn’t see how it applied here. As she explained, I continued putting down any demon that dared approach us. “See the jewel that each of them carries around their necks?” she asked. All I could do was nod. “That’s what’s allowing them access from the other side. If we can get one back through the vortex, the portal will close!”

“You know, that has nothing to do with crossing the streams, right?!” I yelled.

Karen tore the jewel off the chain worn by one of the dead creatures. She then levitated into the air. Somehow, I knew what she was about to do. “It’s up to you to clean this up once it’s closed!” she yelled, looking down at me with a certain sadness, as if she knew she would never see me again.

“Wait! Why can’t you just throw one of these monsters back through?!” I asked, desperate to keep my friend and mentor alive.

“Because they are not native to this world!” Karen looked back to the portal. “You’re clever, talented, and more powerful than you realize! I expect you to mount a rescue someday!” she shouted as she began flying toward the vortex.

“I understand!” I said as I watched her move through the air. I lost sight of her when I blocked an attack by another demon. I was fighting for my life and for the lives of all humanity when an explosion rocked the world around me. A massive shock wave knocked all of us down.

I sat up and saw the devastation left in the wake of what Karen had done. The portal was closed. Whatever she had done worked.

I jumped up, ready to defend myself, but none of the demons were stirring. Thousands of them, lying on the ground. I wasn’t sure if they were unconscious or dead. I wasn’t willing to take the chance, so I began the long, arduous process of beheading each and every one of them. It wasn’t pretty, but it had to be done.

Hours into the clean-up, I realized that something or someone must have been controlling the monsters from the other side. With the vortex gone, access to the creatures’ minds must have been gone, too.

As I piled demonic bodies to be burned, I thought about all I would need to do. My first task would be to rid the world of the evidence of these things. Then I would have to figure out who had opened that portal in the first place. Just because they failed to destroy the world tonight didn’t mean they wouldn’t try again. Then I had to figure out a way to get Karen back to this side, assuming she survived the trip.

Suddenly I was a little sad that I didn’t get the chance to really say good bye to her. I knew there was a distinct possibility that I would never see her again. But she had some kind of faith in me. She seemed to believe that I would be able to get her back someday. And I won’t stop trying until I do.

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