Between here and there,

Together, you and I…

I opened my eyes slowly. Above me, my vision was filled with the eternally starry night sky, endless and all around. I grimaced up at it and thought: I have to get out of this place. Everything around me was so mundane and filled with too many bad memories. It was becoming very hard to just sit around and hide from everyone. It's a horrible feeling, feeling completely alone in a crowd.

I shook my head and groaned at the crick in my neck. I had fallen asleep for too long this time. Running a hand through my unruly curls, I stood and looked around, noticing that my backpack was still where I'd put it after coming here right after another uneventful day at school.

My eyes fell on the glass smooth water of the huge river that surrounded the town of Junction, and then to the towering mountains just beyond that. What had my dream been about this time? Flashes of flying through the night sky over the town drifted up. I smiled sadly. If I could fly, I would be far away from here by now.

I glanced down at the roots surrounding me sadly. Part of me wanted to stay in my spot and try dreaming of flying once again, but another part urged me to go home. I needed to get school work done, despite how pointless it was. I sighed, walking over to the forest edge stiffly.

Pulling my backpack up from the dirt as I went and slinging it over my shoulder, I started toward the shadows of the deep woods and mumbled waving sadly over my shoulder, "See you tomorrow…"

It was calm as I walked slowly through the darkened roads. I was thankful for that. And when I got home, I noticed that mother had retired for the evening as well. Quietly, I tiptoed down the hall to my bedroom, careful not to jostle anything and make noise.

I relaxed once I'd closed my bedroom door and got my work out. About an hour later, I dropped my pencil unceremoniously on my desk and pushed away. The clock hanging overhead read a little after midnight. Surprisingly, my nap had not left me wide awake. I easily slipped under my covers, set my alarm, and drifted off to sleep; wonderful dreams of soaring through the sky surfacing immediately.

The next day at school, I spoke to no one. What was the point? They'd end up irritating me somehow, so why bother? They were all a waste of time in my opinion. If I had the choice, I'd never go. But I want to leave this place. I need to. The teachers always spew that, in order to get places in this life, we need good educations. So that's what I plan on doing.

I stuffed my hands into my pockets roughly and slipped through the after-school-crowd around the entrance to the one story building that was my high school. The shrill sound of the swarming adolescents disappeared as I broke from the throng. Immediately, I started my beeline to my spot by the water, watching as the afternoon moon sank lower behind the mountains, the evening moon just starting to peek up.

It's always full of shadows here.

I trudged through the woods purposefully, shoving my hands deep into my pockets as I went further, and the darkness closed in around me. I always disliked this part. No matter how often I visited my little secluded spot, I could never get over how uncomfortable it made me feel.

A chill suddenly ran up and down my spine without warning. I froze, my ears straining for a sound that couldn't possibly be there. I shook my head after listening for a few tense seconds. There's no way anything could be out here with me. No one besides me ever wandered this far and only birds and bunnies ventured into the shadows cautiously; nothing at all to be scared of.

I pushed on, shaking the feeling. However, not much longer, I felt the chill again, and stopped dead. I glanced nervously around. There had been a small rustling noise. What was going on? I must be imagining things, I decided, rubbing my temples softly in an attempt to calm my imagination. Nothing could be out there. My gut was telling me to leave and go home, even though that meant being around my mother when she was awake. But, usually when my gut told me something, it was right.

Quickly, I spun on my heel.

When I finally made it back into town it was only six, and the streets were still busy with people. I ignored them of course and made my way through town square (a troublesome loud shortcut). The shops were still open; their bright signs making me squint as I hurried past them. I passed the corner grocery, the barber shop, the video game store, and…Merlin's Magic Marvels?

When did that open up? I walked towards the rundown looking shop and peered through the dirty window front. It was like it'd been there for years. I glanced around at the passersby and saw that no one was paying any attention to me or the curious shop. The bright neon green and yellow sign above the door stood out to me in the darkness, so why didn't anyone else seem to care? Timidly, I stepped toward the door, and then hesitated. Was this really a good idea?

Cautiously, I placed my hand on the handle and twisted. It swung open surprisingly effortlessly, despite its appearance. I stood for a moment, peering uneasily into the dimly lit room before finally stepping inside. The small space had somehow managed to fit dozens of bookshelves within its walls. It was dead silent.

"H-hello…?" I called awkwardly. "Is anyone there?"

No answer.

My brows pinched together in irritation as I wandered into the din. As I moved further in, the overpowering smell of old books accosted my nostrils. I noticed that stacks of books littered the floor, some towering towards the ceiling above the shelves. I gazed in awe around me as I explored. Things I could only dream up were scattered across the wood floors. I half expected some of them to move. I jumped when something creaked in the store's deep. This was a waste of time! I thought angrily, turning to leave.

The bookshelves towered above me, obscuring the way to the exit. I gaped up at them. This was not happening! I must've fallen asleep like a fool in the middle of the woods, and now I'm dreaming this ridiculously irrational dream! Huffing slightly, I picked a direction that I felt would lead me to the exit and started off. Everything seemed to have turned around.

After a few minutes of edging around piles of thick books and gadgets, I noticed that it was starting to look familiar. Was I going in circles? Now I was worrying. What kind of place was this? In the shadows, I could have sworn I saw something move.

I cleared my throat and decided to call and see if anyone was there. I asked apprehensively, "Excuse me…are you the owner…?"

I shivered. It was like in the woods.

This was creeping me out. I turned to stride away from whatever was lurking in the shadows, and came face to face with an old man. I let out a strangled cry and fell back, toppling over a large pile of books, landing in a heap.

"My dear boy, welcome!" he cried happily.

I gaped up at him and asked disbelievingly, "What?"

"I do believe I've startled you…" the old man observed.

I made a sound and pushed myself up heatedly. He merely grinned and clapped his hands together, "Now that you're here, we can get to business! I know exactly what you need!"

I raised an eyebrow skeptically, but followed after him as he started down the aisle. I asked, "What is this place, exactly…?"

"Merlin's Magic Marvels, of course." He answered easily, stopping and rummaging through a particularly large stack of books.

"Yeah, but-"I began, but cut myself off. No use. Clearly I wasn't going to be getting a proper answer out of him. I instead looked around for the exit, but still could see no sign of it.

Suddenly, a book was shoved in front of my eyes. I winced, expecting to be knocked out cold with it. But he merely held it in front of me expectantly. Tenderly, I took it, shooting furtive glances over at the crazy old man as I examined the small brown leather book. On the front was the imprint of a heart. I flipped it over, and found the back to be blank. The old man smiled and said, "The answer to your destiny lies there…"

I had to choke back my snort of doubt, and didn't reply. I turned to the first page and saw the title 'The Protector'. I muttered more to myself than him, "My destiny, huh…?"

"Precisely." He replied matter-of-factly. "And for you my boy, as my first customer, it is free of charge!"

I merely stared up at him distrustfully. He had to be after something. Was he going to try and kill me? I took a step away from him suspiciously. Before I could turn, however, he had spun on his heel and started striding away from me. He called over his shoulder, "I have done what was asked of me. You may leave now, my boy."

He disappeared into the shadows without another word. I gaped after him. What the hell, old man? I don't even know where the exit is! I sighed in frustration, scratching the back of my neck as I scanned the shelves around me once again. After only turning halfway around I stopped in my tracks. There, right in front of me, was the exit.

I left without thinking or looking back. Once safely outside and across the street, I chanced a look back. That was weird. I glanced down at my hand and saw the book still clutched there.

Despite my head telling me to throw it in the next trash bin I saw, my heart told me to take it home. I hurried back, careful not to make too much noise as I opened the front door, so as to alert my mother. But, my luck seemed to not be going my way tonight. She was standing in the greeting room, which was in the direct line of sight to the entranceway.

"What are you doing here?" she asked disgustedly.

I sighed, it was the same every time, "Mom, I live here with you, remember?"

She sneered at me and blocked the hall that would take me to my room and spat, "You are nothing to me! You don't belong here!"

I deflated, no matter how many times I heard it, I still couldn't get used to her saying that. I couldn't think that way, though. Otherwise, I'd end up listening to her and leave, only to find that I had nowhere else to go. I brushed past her and muttered, "Believe me; I don't want to be here either…"

She started her tirade, then. Cursing, and hurling insults after my retreating back. The last insult I heard before the door muffled her voice was, "You are no son of mine!"

I locked the door behind me, and went for my desk, dumping my backpack on it unceremoniously. I then followed after it, falling into the rickety chair. Alright, time for business. Let's see if this book really is the "answer to my destiny". I snatched it from its place in my bag and flipped it open to the title page that read:

Once upon a time…there were many different worlds.

In one of these worlds, lived the Keyblade Master, and his Protector.

There, they played…

My eyes began growing heavy. I shook my head in an attempt to pull myself out of my drowsiness, but I was just so tired.

The sound of crashing waves on the shore rose from the darkness. My nose wrinkled as I suddenly began breathing the stinging scent of salt water. But I couldn't open my eyes. I was just floating in darkness. The sound of children laughing circled around me, growing fainter just as quickly as it had risen.

I tried calling out, but the sound was swallowed up. Fear gripped me. And then I was no longer floating, but standing; the silent darkness still blinding me. I wanted to call for my mother, but I knew that she couldn't hear me, and wouldn't even bother with saving me anyways.

Follow him.

Help him.

Guide him.

Be the light in darkness.

Do not fear.

For you hold the Key.

Whose voice is that? Where is it coming from? I whirled around, my eyes suddenly snapping open. But nothing changed; my vision was still filled with that of an inky black void. When the last echoing remains of the mysterious voice faded, it felt like I was frozen; suspended in mid-air. It felt like I was taking in a deep breath, readying for a plunge into the unknown. I didn't fall; however, it felt more like my body was shifted to another place. Around me, three pillars appeared, each holding a separate item.

My feet landed solidly, and I was free to study the items. On the stand nearest me was a shield, next a scepter, and lastly a sword. The voice permeated the darkness once again:

Choose wisely.

For this will determine who you are.

Protect the one you must.

Will you take up the Shield…Scepter…Sword?

Two must be taken to start you on your journey.

I shivered, feeling a cold breeze run across my skin. This was crazy. How was I supposed to know what two things to choose? And then I stopped. I already knew which ones I wanted. It was as if I was drawn to them; the sword and the shield, both powerful and helpful. Somehow, my heart was telling me this is what I would need. For what, though, I had no idea.

The darkness around me suddenly gave an almighty shudder. I stumbled, but managed not to fall. I glanced around worriedly. I could feel something getting ready to happen. The darkness seemed to groan as it shook once more. This time, I was not lucky in keeping my footing.

As my hands braced against the ground, a white light suddenly blossomed from my fingertips. I gaped in disbelief as cracks of white split the darkness, running along and out of sight, zigzagging away for what seemed like forever. I stood, fear gripping me once again. The floor now resembled a cracked mirror. Without warning, it broke, and I went tumbling into a sea of white.

I jolted up from my sitting position, gasping. My heart hammered against my ribs. I clutched my chest for a moment, trying to calm myself, and felt the book slide from my lap to the ground. I glanced down at it, a sense of apprehension gripping me.

But then I shook my head muttering, "Weird dream…"

Because that's all that had been; a really weird dream, following a really weird day. I stood and glanced down at the book still lying placidly by my feet once again, seriously debating whether or not to toss it in the trash. I reached for it, but I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. Instead, I tossed it onto my backpack lying next to my door. After that, I quickly crawled under the covers, and shut my eyes tightly. I just had to forget all the weird things that had happened today and start again. Put it all behind me.