“What happened?” Aran asked and Ramsden hesitated as he looked the man in the eyes. A wave of emotions crashed over Ramsden as his mind began to replay the events. Taking a sip of his drink he began to recount to Aran all that had happened. During the recounting the waitress brought them their lunch order and then quickly departed.

“Three days after the A.S.E.R.T. Council review, we had the memorial for Marion. Now the team and I have been going through the videos and notes trying to figure out what went wrong.”

“Why did you ignore the part about the colors?” Aran asked as he sampled more of his food. Ramsden found that leaving things out of his reports to Aran was useless as the little Thai man seemed to know everything beforehand. How did the man always know?

“I didn’t know what to do with the information. I have no idea where it fits into things or what the importance is.”

“The colors allow you to access. . .uh, how should I say it. . themed areas,” Aran said with a smile.

“You care to tell me how you know this?” Ramsden asked knowing the answer. Aran winked at him and touched his finger to the side of his nose before he continued eating.

“I need to figure out how to more quickly close the portals. The only saving grace is if I don’t do anything — at least with this first and only successful test of opening a portal — is that the portal will close on it’s own after a time.” Aran nodded in agreement.

“This food is very good. We should eat here again.” Ramsden looked down at his barely touched plate of food. He had been doing most of the talking but once he started recounting the events it was as if the memories sucked all the life out of everything, even the taste of his food. That reminded Ramsden of something.

“I’m hesitant to continue. Something in the process drained me beyond comprehension. I was laid up in the hospital for several days. Looking back through the videos and notes, it seemed as if opening the portal took something out of me personally to complete the process. I don’t know I want to do that again.” Aran nodded again in agreement.

“Yes, using one’s lifeforce to supplement the energy to open a portal is really a last ditch effort when leyline power is not readily available. It should be avoided.” Ramsden dropped his fork and stared open mouthed at the happy man across from him.

“Uh, Mr. Jainukul. That would have been helpful information going into this whole thing.” Aran shook his head in disagreement, but his smile didn’t waver.

“Nope. You had to learn this way.”

“Care to enlighten me how to not drain my lifeforce in the future? That kind of puts a damper on living life after all.”

“You have everything thing you need. It’s in the symbols and formulas you already have.” Aran said as he signaled the waitress to come over. “One of each of your desserts please.” The waitress hadn’t made it all the way to the table before he had asked this of her. She turned on her heels and headed off to fill the order.

“Ramsden one reason you were chosen to track down and capture this information is because this is what you were called in life to do. You’ve said something similar to me yourself. Not everyone grows up seeing the connection between the mysteries of old and the new advances in science today. But you do. Even if nobody in your family or friends believes what you are trying to accomplish, know that you are doing the right thing. You are the one who is to do this. Not someone else. Oh, others will try and fail, but you will be transformed by this process and lead mankind into a new possibilities.” The waitress returned with a large tray of goodies, she placed on the table. Aran licking his lips didn’t seem to know where to start, but soon picked one and started digging in. He savored every bite.

“You really need to try this, it’s very good.” Aran said. Ramsden still stat stunned trying to process Aran’s words.

“That is a tall order and vague enough I’m not sure how to take in what you just said.” Ramsden confessed.

“Next time, think of your lifeforce and the leylines in the context of a linkage between this world and that of the portal. What happened last time is instead of linking you used your lifeforce to force open the portal, which is why it drained you so. But by linking and thus channeling the leyline, you should avoid the previous issue you had.”

“Why don’t you just come over to the lab and I’ll show you the notes. You could show me what I’m missing.” It wasn’t the first time Ramsden had offered this exact same thing to Aran. His project sponsor, simply smiled between bites, winked and touched his finger to the side of his nose.

“You’re at least going to pay for lunch, right?” Ramsden asked with a sigh. Aran smiled in return and offered Ramsden a spoon.

*     *     *

It was Wednesday night and Ramsden sat by the phone waiting for eight o’clock to roll around. It was not his favorite time of the day, but things would be worse if he missed taking the regularly scheduled call. At the top of the hour the phone rang and Ramsden answered on the second ring.

“Hello,” Ramsden said.

“Hi son,” Horus Burr said, his strong even voice coming clear through the line. Ramsden always found it funny to think of his grandparents as fans of Egyptology, which is why they named his dad Horus. Ramsden wanted at times to give his dad a hard time about it and tease him that he went into the Army because he was channeling his godhood. Ramsden pushed these thoughts aside and looked for the words to say in return.

“Dad,” Ramsden said with a cringe. He never knew how to start these conversations with his dad.

“How are you? What’s new?” Ramsden didn’t want to be completely open with recent events because always leads into one form of a lecture or another. Yet, it was his dad and he had no good reason to not try harder to build a relationship with his dad. The fact that his dad called regularly showed his dad was at least trying.

“It’s been a really tough week dad,” Ramsden finally said after an extended pause.

“How so?”

“I’m not sure I want to go into all the details.”

“Well give me the highlights.”

“Uh. . .okay,” Ramsden stammered unsure. “First of all, the theories I’ve tried telling you about.”

“The ones about merging mysticism and your science?” There is one of those buttons being pushed, thought Ramsden. The fact that he said “your science” implied so much. At the same time, he was amazed the man remembered since it had been years since Ramsden had shared any specific with the man.

“Yeah that one. Well it worked. Sort of.” Ramsden waited for a response.

“Really? I guess I knew it would.” Ramsden rolled his eyes.

“Oh? And why is that?” Here it comes Ramsden thought.

“Ram, I’ve told you for years that even though the Bible doesn’t speak directly to certain things in our universe doesn’t change that everything was created by God with rules that govern the universe and don’t change over time.”

“Dad, I opened a portal into another place. You’re going to tell me that’s in your Bible,” Ramsden emphasized “your Bible”. Ramsden grew up with his dad being an Army chaplin. It was about rules, order, chain of command and God all his life. His dad had little room for man’s science. For Horus Burr modern science simply confirmed what was already in the Bible or implied in the Bible. “Son, there will alwasy be a God greater than your science. It is he who created the rules of the universe and it is he who will choose when man discovers those rules,” Ramsden remembered from one exceptional heated conversation.

“Wow. That is a big deal. Are you okay?” Ramsden blinked in confusion. Each time his dad had laid into him about responsibility and God. Other than small talk at the beginning of a conversation, questions about how Ramsden was almost never came up again in the conversation.

“I’m fine dad. We did have a related but unrelated accident on the trip,” Ramsden said in a quiet voice. When his dad didn’t push for more information right away, Ramsden shared with him about Marion. Dad and Marion had connected immediately. Granted Marion was from the south and still held onto her Baptist beliefs, which is what Ramsden suspected allowed for the instant bond she and his dad shared. There were like a kindred spirit, even though she was in California and his dad had retired back where Ramsden was born in Petoskey, Michigan and the two had never met in person.

“Well she’s in a better place. It sounds like it was her time. Nothing anyone could have done about that.” Horus said matter of fact.

“Is it really that easy for you dad?” Ramsden said in frustration.

“What is easy?”

“To blow off the entire loss of Marion with saying she’s in a better place.”

“Son, I didn’t mean to imply its not a sad thing she’s passed. You know my convictions about what happens to those who are believers in Christ. Thus, I have less to be sad about in Marion’s case because I know she was a believer.” Ramsden needed to change the subject. He knew it would quickly change to his dad wanting to talk to Ramsden about his own salvation.

“Yes, I remember. Dad?”

“What is it son?”

“I need to ask you a favor,” Ramsden was feeling reckless. He had never asked his dad for anything and the thought had just come to him.

“Anything. You should know that,” Horus replied in earnest.

“If this next set of tests go as planned, I may need to take that data and store it someplace others can’t find. The last place they should look is our home.” Ramsden felt a tinge of guilt as he said the words “our home”, because he hadn’t been back there since he emancipated himself from his parents at the age of sixteen. It just seemed easier at the time, because the Army kept moving their family around and he was tired of it. Ramsden had opted to stay in Michigan and finish out high school on his own, regardless of where the Army sent his parents. It had been rough at first, more so straining his relationship with his mother, Sibil, who had been Ramsden’s best friend before she passed of cancer when he was in his twenties.

“You know I won’t condone anything illegal.” Horus said firmly.

“Yes, I remember blood is not thicker than water and if I break the rules you’ll call the cops yourself on me. I get it. It’s not illegal. But if the information gets into the wrong hands it could change things for the worse…for everyone.” A long pause.

“Of course.”

“Dad, I need to get going.”

“I miss you son.” Ramsden was blindsided. Where was all this emotion coming from?

“Thanks for calling every week dad,” Ramsden managed with some difficulty. They finished with superficial goodbyes before hanging up. Ramsden didn’t know why he had asked his dad for help. Now that he did, as he replayed the phone call over in his head, a small sense of relief came over him and a conviction that he had done the right thing.