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Beyond the Gate

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The Prologue
1987










As the two Parker brothers and Balerd Campbell waited for the last light to go out in the Parker home, the three teenage boys went over their plan. It was nearing 11 o’clock at night and if the three boys wanted to complete their mission and be back before the Parker boys’ father woke up at 2:30 for his early job at the hospital, they had to leave as soon as possible.


When the final light was shut off and the house was filled with the noise of sleep, the three boys grabbed their backpacks and slowly creped out of the Parker boys’ bedroom. The Parker home was very old and very noisy. On the old wooden staircase, if you were to step on the wrong board in the wrong place, a loud screech would pierce through the house and wake the Parker boys’ mother.


But the Parker boys had mastered sneaking out of the house long ago. They knew what time their mother, father, and little sister Zillah would usually go to bed. Not a noise could slip past the door of Zillah’s room. If she were to hear the boys sneaking out, she’d insist on joining them. They would then creep down the stairs, making sure to avoid the fifth and ninth steps and to gently slide their feet across the hardwood flooring in the kitchen.


Once the boys got past Zillah’s room, without being discovered, they grabbed their bags and snuck through the quilt shop the Parkers owned. All the boys quietly walked out the door, Braden in last place so he could close and lock the door one last time.

After the boys had put their shoes on, they knew this was their only chance of aborting their mission. This was their fourth attempt to prove the myth of the gate; they couldn’t back out again.


As the boys headed east out of the plaza area toward the far end of town their excitement mixed with fear. They knew that if they would get all the way to the gate and it proved to be a myth, the area of Initio would be expanded. But above that they would be the “Myth-Breakers.”


The Myth-Breakers were the ones who would prove that the gate sitting at the far end of the village wasn’t cursed. They would prove it was just a plain gate with a fence attached. The legend of the gate was if one was to walk through the gate, they would disappear in thin air, never to be seen again. Many people believed the legend since it had been the legend of Initio since the beginning, and there was believed “proof” of these disappearances. No one had really gone through the gate in many, many years, but tonight the myth would be broken one way or another.


Once the boys were out of the village on the dusty road that lead strait toward the gate they decided it was safe to talk.


“Come on, slackers, let’s go!” Balerd looked over his shoulder at the other two.


“Not all of us enjoy running down a dirt road in the dark.” Quinlan said, jogging to catch up to Balerd.


Balerd grinned, “What? Not excited to watch your little brother disappear through the gate?” He reached over and rustled Braden’s golden blond hair.


Braden swatted Balerd’s hand away impatiently, “I don’t care how many times you guys tell me it’s real; you’re both stupid.” Braden still didn’t believe the legend despite his friend’s loud-mouthed opinions.


“Me? Stupid? I’ll have you know I got straight Ds in school last year.” Balerd smirked, “I’m a rare genius.”


Braden rolled his eyes, “Yeah, a rare genius, that’s just what you are.”


“Alright, girls,” Quinlin said, “stop your bickering. We’re here.” The three boys gazed at the old, rusting gate that loomed in front of them while the fog that always accompanied the gate crept around their shoes.


The gate was in the middle of a field at the end of a 2 mile long dirt road, about a 45 minuet walk from the plaza. The gate had a small fence connected to it and made a small enclosed square it the middle of the field. If you were to look in any direction, the only thing you would see would be the fields of nothingness surrounding the area.


Braden stared at the gate suddenly unsteady on his feet. “Aright Braden, this is it. Tonight we’re going down in history!” Balerd said as he threw his fists in the air.


Quinlan clapped Braden on the back and squeezed his little brother’s shoulder, “Good Luck man.”


Braden nodded and took a deep breath gathering all his courage. He let out the breath and stepped up to the gate. Up close the intricate detail of the gate could be seen; elegant designs had been engraved into the sliver metal that was slowly being overtaken by rust. He placed a hand on the gate and gently pushed; it swung open with ease.

“It’s just a gate.” Braden whispered shakily to himself as he looked over his shoulder at his brother and best friend.

Braden put one foot on the other side of the gate. It was just a normal old gate. Quinlan let out a sigh of relief.


Braden’s second foot softly landed next to his other foot.


Gone.


Within the blink of an eye Braden Parker disappeared in thin air in front of his best friends.


Quinlan’s breath caught in his throat, dread flowing through every vein in his body. “Balerd, what the hell did we just do?” Quinlan asked with a slight tremble in his voice.


“I have no idea” Balerd said staring wide-eyed at the gate.


“I have to go after him...”


“What the hell, Quin? Are you crazy? You saw what happened to him. You can’t, its suicide man.”


“I have to. He’s my brother. He needs me!” Quinlan balled his hands into fists. Before Balerd could protest, his other best friend had bolted through the gate and vanished, just like his little brother.


Balerd fell to his knees screaming, “No! Why didn’t I stop them?”


“It’s not your fault.” spoke a shy voice.



“Zillah?” Balerd quickly turned to face a tiny dark hair girl. Zillah walked out silently from her hiding place. At 13, Zillah Parker was brighter and more confident that all the other children her age. She was a curious little thing. And she was… different.


“You couldn’t have stopped Quinlan.” She whispered as she knelt down by Balerd, tears streaming down her cheek.


“NO! You don’t understand! This was my idea!” Balerd sobbed as he screamed.


Zillah shook her head. “If it wasn’t them it would have been someone else. It was only a matter of time before someone else went through. We should go back to village. They need to know the myth is true…”


After more protesting and crying form Balerd, Zillah helped him to his feet, and together they walked back to the plaza. Both teens, though barely knowing each other, walked hand in hand silently mourning the brothers. Braden and Quinlan were gone, and there would no be a return from them. They were dead to the world.


When the two arrived back in the plaza, Mr. Parker had already left for work and a few of the other men who worked early were commuting to their jobs. None of them stopped to look at Zillah and Balerd as they walked toward the small quilting shop the Parkers owned. Zillah unlocked the door and left Balerd on the couch while she went to fetch her mother.


“Zillah? What’s wrong?” Mrs. Parker spoke wearily as Zillah shook her awake.


“Something has happened. You need to get up.”


“Why? What’s wrong?” Mrs. Parker was now wide awake and getting out of bed.


Zillah shook her head and lead her mother to the living room where Balerd sat with his face in his hands, murmuring words of blame to himself.


“Balerd? Where are Braden and Quinlan?”


“They’re gone” Balerd whispered. “And it’s all my fault.” Balerd broke out sobbing unable to say any more.


Mrs. Parker felt the blood drain from her face. “Gone? Gone where?”


Zillah glanced at Balerd. “They went through the gate.”


“I don’t understand. Why would they go through the gate?” Mrs. Parker gripped the arm of the nearest chair, unsteady on her feet.


“I’m so sorry Mrs. Parker. It’s all my fault! It was my idea to dare Braden to go through the gate and when he disappeared Quinlan went in after him to bring him back. I tried to stop him but he wouldn’t listen!”


“It’s not your fault Balerd. I saw what happened and my brothers… It’s not your fault.” Zillah sat down in the rocking chair impatiently brushing her tears away.


Mrs. Parker’s eyes were distant as she stood silently trying to hold on to one of the many thoughts that were flying rapidly through her head. “Your father. He needs to be told immediately. Balerd you may stay here with Zillah. I’ll be home soon.” She mindlessly grabbed her keys and hurried out the door still dressed in her sleep clothes.


Zillah got up slowly and sat next to Balerd, draping a blanket around his shoulders. “They’ll come back.” She said firmly, “I know they will.”



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