| The Portal Of Night |
“Brint!” The star child tumbled down a rock and called out again. “You’re going too fast!”
“Maybe you’re just slow!” a voice teased. The sound leapt in the air, following its owner. Brint stood on a high rock and spread out her arms. “I could live here forever and ever!” She exulted, then looked down at the hot and sweating child that scrambled up to stand beside her.
“You enjoy making me run after you too much.” Kessler grumbled and swiped his sweat-soaked blond hair out of his eyes.
Brint bent over him and laid a slim hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry Kessler.” Her grey eyes were sincere. “Why don’t we walk up to the mountain?”
Kessler hesitated, then nodded. The two children slid off the rock and Brint danced to the well-beaten path that led up the grassy hillside. Brint walked silently for a few minutes, then gasped and ran forward a couple steps, her silver hair lifted by the breeze. Kessler groaned and followed her. He saw her freeze and he quickened his pace.
Brint was standing in front of a large oval mirror that was suspended in the air, staring into it. Kessler squinted at the mirror, but instead of a reflection he saw a velvety blackness that glimmered with many lights. Brint looked up at him, confused. “What is it?” She whispered solemnly.
Kessler reached out to touch the blackness, and it rippled slightly. He looked down at Brint in wonder. “It’s the Portal Of Night.”
Brint cocked her head. “The night? The place where we will go when we grow up?”
“It’s where all stars go after they leave childhood. They step through the portal and begin their long vigil of Earth, but I don’t really know what a vigil is,” Kessler admitted. “They stay in the sky for years and years.” Kessler stretched out his arms. “And after a century of watching, they come back.”
“You mean,” Brint’s eyes widened. “That when we grow up we will stand in the sky for a long long time and just float and watch?”
“That is what stars are made for.” Kessler nodded importantly.
“Oh, how lovely!” Brint exclaimed. “We could watch over Earth together. Let’s go now!” The star child grabbed Kessler’s hand and leapt into the portal.
“Brint!” Kessler shrieked and felt her slight fingers slip out of his grasp. He watched in horror as the darkness rippled around her and she was gone. “No!” He cried desperately and stumbled into the portal after her.
Brint opened her eyes and blinked at the darkness. She was surrounded by other stars, all looking down at Earth. There were old stars and young stars, and all shone alike, but there were no star children. Brint looked down and Earth filled her vision. She saw the great continents and the vast oceans. Brint looked closer and her vision amplified Earth. She saw houses and scrutinizing the windows, perceived children sleeping inside. They looked like her, but were not spilling out light like she did. Brint was delighted. How could she be lonely if she could forever look upon human companions? Outside of the house Brint was looking at there was a commotion. Brint peered around the corner of the house curiously. A dark figure was lurking in the alley, and Brint gasped when she realized what this human intended to do. A light was struck and flame licked up the gasoline splattered along the house. The figure fled as the fire began to consume the house. Brint was pulling away her vision as fast as she could, but she could not escape the children’s pleading wails. “Mommy! Mommy!”
Glowing tears coursed down Brint’s cheeks and she hid her face in her hands.
Kessler looked down glumly at Earth. He was fixated in the middle of Orion’s Belt, named after a mighty mythological hunter. Kessler didn’t bother to pay any attention to Earth; he was far too worried about Brint. He shifted slightly and felt the rhythmic gravitational pull that controlled the universe and circumnavigated Sun. Kessler gazed at Sun, the King of stars that beamed in golden resplendent majesty. The light of Sun began to hurt and Kessler winced and looked away.
“Umbra comes,” a star announced. All around Kessler, stars began to stretch and move about. Kessler looked about and saw Umbra, the being that brings night, cloak part of Earth in darkness.
“With night comes rest for the stars on this side of the Equator.” A voice said, and Kessler turned to see an ancient star beside him. “My name is Porunth, young one. You must be new to the night vigil.” Porunth’s face was wrinkled and kind.
Kessler swallowed hard. Porunth was a revered star called the Realm Traveler because of his ability to traverse to Earth. “Indeed, sir. I’m not even supposed to be here. I fell through the Portal Of Night, because my friend went through first. I’m not even a grown-up star yet.”
“What!” Porunth’s snowy white eyebrows jumped in consternation. “A star child! Two star children! Here in a constellation? Unthinkable!” He regarded Kessler with bright blue eyes. “We must do something about this.”
“Please, have you seen another star child? His name’s Kessler…” Brint pleaded, but passing stars only shook their heads. After an hour of fruitless inquiries, Brint’s shoulders began to slump. She tried one last time with a star that had a mop of splaying white hair.
“Kessler… Kessler… over there.” The old star’s voice shook and she pointed a crooked finger at a constellation that surrounded a black hole. “In swirling darkness.” Wild eyes darted back and forth, then the star brushed past Brint and was gone. Brint looked towards the black hole and moved towards it. Soon, she stood at the brink of the hole and felt the pull of collapsed solar mass. Brint squared her shoulders and resolutely walked into the deformed space time to find her friend.
The small luminescent figure standing against the blackness caught the eye of a strong young star named Dartana. His breath caught in his throat as he started to move towards the little star, but he instinctively knew he was too late. “Wait, child!” The white figure vanished. Dartana closed his eyes and hurled himself into the churning blackness to save the star child with silver hair.
“Realm Traveler!” A messenger star nearly collided with Kessler in his haste to get to Porunth. “We are in dire need of your skills. Two stars have been cast down to Earth through the black hole in the Andromeda Constellation. Sir, one of the stars is a child.”
Photo Credit: Pics About Space