You’re sitting in a meeting about Pointless Project Three again. Outside the glass walls of the conference room, clouds drift over the Long Island Sound. Cars drive the street that parallels your office building. Gouts of water erupt from the fire department next door as they begin testing their hoses. Their spray arcs across the street perpendicular to both buildings soaking an apartment build’s brick facade. College students scuttle about dodging the spray on their way to class.
Your boss drones on about how Program A connects to Program B. He then gets lost in an excursis on Really Tiny Detail C which has nothing to do with Pointless Project Three. The AC clicks on and attempts to freeze you solid. Everyone’s staring out the windows or at their hands in their laps hiding smartphone displays.
Then a guy with a long sword walks in, armor sparkling in that one sunbeam that dared to pierce the conference room…
Behind him a motley assortment of characters, faces intent, bodies tense file in. Your boss keeps talking; the rest of your department continues to regard the windows or their twitter accounts.
You take a swig of the mint tea in front of you, blink a few times and then rub your eyes. The invading horde increased in your momentary inattention. They’re taking up all the space in the room and no one except you notices.
The leader separates himself and approaches your ergonomic-knockoff desk chair as if you sat on a throne of hammered gold. He bends knee as best he can while clinking like a cart full of tin cans.
“You’re actually listening to this crap?” One gauntleted hand sweeps in your boss’ direction.
You glance at your boss but he’s still flapping his gums and enjoying the sounds coming out of his mouth. He’s still babbling but his words travel farther and farther to reach you as the table lengthens and so does the room.
Outside the sun is still shining away in its blue dome. An invisible hand winches Long Island and Westchester together, squeezing Long Island Sound into a river. Three miles now separates formerly Long Island from what was Westchester. A dense forest covers the opposite shore now. You goggle at the sight.
Your not-so-ergonomic chair vibrates as you jump to your feet. The chair stretches out into a stone bench out while staying the same pale gray. You rush to the windowed wall and stare.
All the buildings between your office and the new river shrink down to the size of grass blades and turn green. A forest sprouts up at the limits of New Rochelle and sweeps inwards until two rings of standing stones, one within the other, arrests it. Your whole office rises, slow at first, as if it’s on an elevator’s track in the center of it all.
The man with the sword laughs and then appears on the meadow sweeping out from your office building. He touches his helm and then swings unto his steed. His company waits for its captain, mounted and tense, ready to ride.
“What the hell is going on?” you ask as you turn away from the windows.
But you receive no answer.
Under your feet the linoleum tiles flip over into carved stone. The windows pop like soap bubbles and a section of bas relief takes it place as railing. The potted plant basking in the sun nearest you topples over. It spills out becoming a vine that wraps around the conference table morphing into a twelve foot tall sculpture of an eagle about to take flight. To your right and your left, the balcony extends, curving as it conforms to the mountain sprouting up out of your office building.
Your boss and coworkers freeze and then the image of them ripples in a breeze and floats away. You try to catch it but what the wind catches, it keeps. It bandies the scrap of fabric about as it propels it out towards the water–the River Nirthal.
You turn to face the conference room door to find an arcade instead. Through one of its arches, you spy a tunnel boasting more carvings, more statues and the one you’ve been looking for.
He’s standing there, cloaked and cowled. The ever present glow of his green eyes sweeping out before him. At his side, a little boy smiles as if he changed everything. He holds his young father’s hand and his big iridescent green eyes hold your eyes captive.
The boy nods just once answering your unspoken question. Then he shrugs. “I want to play,” he says.
You know where you are. It’s where you’ve always been. One step away from reality, one step nearer to dreams. In Shayari’s mountain hall where the story begins…