It seemed like the entire wall of the chamber was made of doors. Doors everywhere began to open and the gunmetal grey clad security guards entered from all of them.
I couldn’t believe it; after everything I’d been through I’d not only let down Jacob, I’d let down the Faerie Queen and all humanity. I was beginning to wonder if I represented anything meaningful.
Male and female guards approached me from all points of the compass. I raised my hands, but this didn’t affect their cautious approach.
Then, from the corner of my eye, I noticed sparks start to form and flicker on the side of the red surfaced octagon where I’d placed my hand.
It started in a small way but within seconds it was as if a huge Catherine wheel had gone off.
Suddenly I was at the centre of a sphere made up from, what seemed to be, iron filing sparks: The rest of CERN’s chamber blotted out.
I came to. All my eyes could reconcile was vague and grey; everywhere. Yet again I was prone on the floor. I got up and looked around. Nothing – I was encompassed in grey.
As I turned on point, attempting to get my bearings, I noticed two vertical patches of grey that were slightly darker than any other point. With no other options I made my way in their direction.
Wherever I was it was like a permanent fog existed; everything vague and surreal. Now there were two vertical posts of darker grey in front of me.
I had no idea what I ought to do. But I knew I couldn’t stay wherever it was that I was.
Do or die, I thought and pushed an arm between the dark grey trunks of thick etherealness.
Pinpoints of dampness licked the hand I’d pushed between the dark grey pillars and coldness stroked my hand.
Before I could make a decision about my next steps, a vice like grip grabbed my hand and I was yanked into another world. I held my breath and readied myself for yet another onslaught of the senses. I hadn’t realised it but I’d also closed my eyes.
“Derek, are you Ok? What happened, my son?”
The voice was familiar, though I doubted its reality. I opened my eyes slowly, stealing myself for a huge disappointment.
I was stunned. It was Jacob. He’d pulled me through and I was back in the park.
“I think you could do with a cup of tea.”
“I think I could do with something less boring,” I told him.
Jacob smiled. “Follow me, son.”
Jacob walked towards the road and I followed. Within seconds we were standing in his office.
“Derek, you have done more than I could ever have hoped to achieve.”
I didn’t know what to say – the whole journey hadn’t been anything I’d planned. I just shrugged.
“Do you know the Akh’Mori have turned back?” Jacob queried.
I shook my head. “No. But that’s good isn’t it?”
Jacob smiled his smile once again. “Of course it is, son. You have done immense good.”
“The LHC is fixed?” I said.
“The Akh’Mori have turned back – there is a reason.”
I nodded. I knew the truth of the matter, just wanted to hear it.
Jacob looked at me – somehow his face spoke of happiness and sadness at the same time.
“You have been the perfect student, Derek.”
“I just wanted to do the best I could,” I said.
Jacob nodded. “I know. And you are now in the position I was when I started.”
“What d’you mean?”
“What I mean, young lad, is that I was the best person when I started.”
“Ok, that makes sense,” I said.
“Now you are.” Jacob told me. He took my hand and shook it. I felt a buzz of sorts travel through my hand and arm; then he let go.
“I’m so sorry. But this is the way,” Jacob said.
I frowned. “What d’you mean?”
“You’re the guardian now.”
Those were the last words Jacob ever said to me. Having completed his statement, and seemingly his purpose, Jacob crumbled to dust, his shape collapsing as if it had been made from the finest white flour.
I sat on his office chair and wondered whether I would find an appropriate apprentice in the coming years.