As he approached the Noorb, one of its black shadowy arms whipped forward. Bob was running full speed toward it. The impact was immense. Bob flew backwards and landed hard on the ground. I ran to him. He was unconscious but breathing. I couldn’t tell how badly he was hurt.
I turned to the Noorb. It was now holding an infant. The time ripples.
Clearly, we couldn’t defeat the Noorb with force. Could we reason with it?
I stood and slowly walked toward it. Serenity was almost completely covered by the shadowy arms. I could see her chubby little cheeks, her bright blue eyes and bald little head. She was beautiful.
“You are holding my child.” I tried to sound powerful, but I’m sure the tear rolling down my cheek gave me away. I took a deep breath to strengthen my resolve. “We won’t leave without her.”
The Noorb didn’t react to my words.
I guess it was instinct, but I wanted to touch my baby. I stepped forward and reached for Serenity. The Noorb took a few steps back and raised Serenity into the air, well above my reach. It now held her by her legs. She dangled upside down, crying.
My heart sank. Tears now flowed freely down my face. I had to save my daughter.
“You can’t hold her like that! You’re hurting her!”
I desperately turned back to Bob, but he was still laying there on the ground, unconscious.
What could I do?
The darned time ripple struck again. There I stood, maybe twelve years old. As if I weren’t already outmatched by the Noorb.
I screamed, “Let her go!”
The Noorb wrapped another arm around Serenity. Now, I couldn’t see her. I screamed again.
I turned to see Bob, now an elderly man, trying to rise up. His entire chest was a black bruise. He moved slowly.
An injured old man and a twelve-year-old girl. No chance. My chest heaved as my tears poured.
I ran back to Bob and helped him stand.
“We can’t beat that thing.” The words crept through my lips as I was engulfed in such helplessness.
Bob put his hand on my head and stroked my hair. “We’ll find a way. We are not going to leave our baby with that thing!” Bob was trying to sound bold. But the rasping breath of age and the damage to his chest made his words sound weak.
We looked back at the Noorb. It was now holding a frail old woman. She looked tired and fragile. This horrid creature was draining her energy, her soul. We didn’t have much time left.
We still had no idea what to do.
“You have been found, Noorb!” a thunderous voice roared behind me. I turned to the opening in the stone wall that Bob and I had come through. It was Isaac. “Return whence you came, Noorb!” His voice roared with power.
I looked back and saw the Noorb retreat against the stone wall. It still held the elderly Serenity. The Noorb didn’t have a face, but something in its demeanor showed it was afraid of Isaac. It waved one of its arms and an enormous boulder appeared in front of it.
Isaac raised his arms high, his palms facing each other. A green arc of electricity appeared between his palms. “You cannot escape, Noorb. Beware my wrath!” Each word of Isaac’s thunderous voice echoed off the tall stone walls. I had to cover my ears.
A blast of the green electricity streaked out like a lightning bolt and crashed into the boulder that was hiding the Noorb. The boulder flew apart in tiny particles of dust.
The Noorb stood still, exposed, with nothing between it and Isaac. I gasped as the shadowy creature slipped into a crack in the wall behind it. The Noorb was gone. I didn’t see Serenity.
I looked at Bob. He was back to his normal age. His chest was still bruised, but he was a strong man.
I ran to the area where the Noorb and Serenity had been.
The constant fog on the floor and the blue air made it hard to see, but when I got close enough, I saw the little infant laying on the floor. I picked Serenity up and held her close to my chest, both arms wrapped around her. I still cried profusely, but now they were happy tears. My baby was safe.
When I looked back, I saw Isaac fall to his knees.
The time ripple brought me back to my normal age. I quickly ran to Bob. He kissed me and rubbed Serenity’s head. Then we turned and walked over to Isaac.
As we approached, Isaac fell from his knees to a sitting position on the floor. His head tilted forward; his shoulders slumped. I sat in front of him with my baby in my arms.
“You saved her. You saved my baby.”
“I could have done nothing without you. Your parental love found her. Once found, a Noorb can be dispatched, but I would never have been able to find it.” Isaac’s voice was a roaring thunder a few moments ago. Now, it rode on a shallow breath from his lips.
“Are you going to be, ok?” Bob asked.
Bob knelt down beside Isaac and softly put his hands on the old man’s shoulders.
“My time as Gate Keeper is coming to its end. But I am not through yet.” Isaac smiled up at Bob.
Bob put one arm around me, but still held Isaac’s shoulder with his other hand. “Thank you, Isaac.”
“Now, we must get you all back where you belong.” Isaac grasped his cane and tried to stand. With some help from Bob, Isaac got to his feet and slowly walked toward the opening in the stone wall. We followed.
I think I was about six years old, and Bob was maybe twelve, when we arrived at the beach. Thankfully, Serenity was still a little baby. I could carry her. I loved holding her in my arms.
“This time ripple is a pain, Isaac.” Bob, the boy, had a cute smile.
“Time is time. It will do what it pleases.” Isaac pointed to a small boat on the beach.
While the blue air was cold, I didn’t want to swim while carrying Serenity. If I got really old again, I wouldn’t be able to keep hold of her. Yes, I was glad to see the little boat.
By the time we reached the other shore, Bob and I were back to our normal ages. Serenity cooed and cemented her place in our hearts. We both knew we would love her forever.
It seemed like such a long way, but we found our way back to the mirror.
“You came here together. You must step through together.” Isaac’s voice was still weak.
Bob and I stepped up to the mirror, looking in at our bedroom.
“You must leave the child here.”
“What?” I gasped.
Bob, too, was surprised to hear what Isaac said. “No. We can’t just leave her.”
“She must return alone, back to her time.”
Tears again filled my eyes. We had only found our daughter a brief time ago. She felt so good in my arms. She was so tiny.
“I will stay and watch over her until her time comes.” Isaac smiled a gentle smile. He understood what Bob and I were feeling.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I handed Serenity to Isaac. I had feelings of deep love and deep pain swirling around inside me. Could I really step through the mirror, return to life as we knew it, without my precious child?
Bob and I turned toward the mirror, but we looked back over our shoulders. I was without words. Only tears. Tears of love for my baby. Tears of sadness. All I had at that moment was tears.
Bob found his voice and looked at Isaac. “Thank you. We will never forget you.”
We faced the mirror as the swirling in the glass near the edges began. We stepped through.
On the other side of the mirror, we both turned and looked at our reflections in the mirror. We were back in our bedroom. It was still night.
Bob wrapped his arms around me. We shared a long, warm hug.
Bob chuckled, “Do you think anyone would ever believe the night we’ve had?”
I had to smile. “No.”
As it was still the middle of the night, we walked over to our bed. I snuggled under my cozy blanket. Bob put his arm around me and kissed me softly.
I was glad to be tucked into my bed and felt so good to be in Bob’s arms. I couldn’t shake a feeling of puzzlement. “You were there too, right? I didn’t just dream it.”
Bob pressed his forehead to my cheek, his breath softly caressing my neck. “Yes, honey, I was there.”
“She was beautiful, wasn’t she?”
“She sure was.” Bob whispered.
“Isaac was something else. I wonder what he will do when his time as Gate Keeper ends.”
“I don’t know, honey. I hope he will get a well-deserved peace and rest.”
“Bob, I don’t know what we should do next.”
Bob smiled. His eyes, full of love, looking into mine.
“I think we should get a good start on bringing our daughter into this world.”
As Bob lovingly rolled on top of me, I said the only word in my mind, “Serenity”.
Bob and I stood there for a moment. Neither of us had any idea how to defeat a Noorb.
Bob must have seen his own eyes looking back at him. That was enough. He sprang forward to rescue his daughter.
I called out to him, but I knew I couldn’t stop him.