Lockhart spoke as the door closed. “I feel like I died. I thought when I died I would get to be young again.” Lincoln struggled to not throw up. Boston looked around and grinned with all her might.
“If we died, we went to Heaven.” Boston pointed at the castle, rubbed her shoe in the green grass and reveled in the fresh air and glorious colors everywhere she looked. Somehow, the colors all seemed richer and brighter to her than they ever did back on drab old earth. A field of ripe brown grain grew, not far away on her right, and a small sparkling blue river on her left flowed into the deep green sea not twenty yards to her rear. It all felt too wonderful, and the castle, the most wonderful of all. It looked like a veritable tapestry of colors with more spires, towers and keeps than she could count, all with flags fluttering in the cool breeze, and some of those towers shot right up into the clouds. “I feel like I’m in Oz, you know, from black and white to color.”
“If it’s any consolation, I feel like I died too,” Glen said. “But the feeling will pass, shortly. And no, Boston, this isn’t Oz and it isn’t God’s heaven. This is in the second heavens.”
“Very simple.” Glen motioned for Mister Bean to proceed. The little one strutted up the path and the others fell in behind. “The second heavens is my name for the place between Heaven and Earth. It is where Aesgard, Olympus, the Golden City of the gods and all the other places of the gods used to be, including the places where the spirits of the dead were kept until the coming of the Christ, like Hades, you know.”
“This is the place between earth and heaven?” Lincoln started to feel better. “It must be small. Thin like a line?”
Glen shook his head. “Infinite and eternal as far as I know, and multi-layered, like a fine French pastry. The isles of Avalon are called innumerable, but actually, they add up to very little compared to the vastness of it all. Alice keeps the atmosphere and everything functioning well enough for this little part so we have a sanctuary for my little ones, and others across the various islands of the archipelago.”
“What do you mean she keeps the atmosphere?” Lincoln took a deep breath and wondered.
“I mean the natural state of the second heavens is chaos. It folds in and back on itself and even time is uncertain and in flux. In order to have anything here that approximates earth and the natural laws of physics, it has to be carved out of the chaos and sustained. Otherwise we would all be floating through an airless, ever changing and swirling mass of stuff the color of rainbow sherbet and with the consistency of something like cotton candy.”
“Hurry up. Come on,” Boston interrupted. She got excited. “The Castle gate is opening.”
The others saw the gate opening but were presently huffing and puffing to get up the hill. They paused to stare at the girl and Glen spoke. “I’m fifty-seven, Lincoln is sixty-five, and Lockhart is sixty-eight, ready to retire. We will get there.”
Boston frowned and ran ahead.
“I think it would be best if I let Lady Alice take it from here.” Glen finished his thought and vanished from that spot. Lady Alice met Boston as she ran inside the door to the castle courtyard.
“Thank you Mister Kalderoshineamotadecobean. You did your job perfectly and brought them here safe and sound.” Alice’s first thought was for her little one. The little Bean grinned more broadly than a human face could possibly grin and marched off across the castle courtyard with a real swagger. “Hello Boston dear. It is good to see you again.” Alice stepped up and gave Boston a kiss on each cheek, and Boston had a thought. She spun around and saw Lockhart and Lincoln but no Glen.
“Glen?” For all her reading and experience with the subject of the Kairos, she still felt uncertain about exactly how all these different lives of the Kairos actually worked, especially when an old man vanished and became a much younger woman, or traded places with her though time, or however he explained it.
“Yes, Glen is here.” Alice touched her heart and responded with a very human smile. “But not at the moment. For now, he thought I would be best to explain.”
“Trouble?” Lockhart picked up on something in Alice’s voice. Once upon a time, he had been a police officer, and he still showed the instincts now and then.
“Eh?” Lincoln originally worked with the CIA. He had other virtues, though presently his thoughts were for his missing wife.
“If you will follow.” Alice waved them forward and they crossed the courtyard. They tried hard not to stare.
The yard overflowed with bustling little ones, all about on some errand or other. Dwarfs, elves of light and dark, and others hard to categorize could be seen working and walking across the cobblestones. Fairies and pixies of many different types and sizes fluttered through the air. Two hobgoblins struggled with a barrel of something and tried to load it onto a wagon. One big creature stood off in one corner, like an ogre or troll in the shadows. The men did not want to look too close. Boston, of course, delighted in all of it, and even clapped several times at the sights that came to her eyes.
At the back of the courtyard, they stepped through a gate and into a garden-like area. It looked big and well groomed, but it seemed more nearly the size of a small forest than a garden. The trees appeared to be placed randomly, like in an old growth forest, but the paths were clean of debris.
“It has been known to happen.” Alice heard, and threw the response over her shoulder.
They traveled through several buildings, several courtyards, and several gardens—all different—and came at last to the spring from which the small river flowed. Boston guessed when she saw the naiad sunning herself. She would have been more taken by the sight, however, if the naiad had not been lounging in a plastic lawn chair.
“Is nothing sacred?” Boston asked with a click of her tongue.
“Very little these days,” Alice sighed, and opened a door to a building which might have been called a cathedral back on Earth. The building, a tower, contained only one room, all wood. It looked like a construction as old as time itself. The wood looked full of delicate carvings, the walls and floor full of intricate mosaics and the ceiling full of magnificent paintings all picturing the one hundred and twenty-one lifetimes of the Kairos, so far. In the center of the room, there sat only one piece of furniture. A three-pronged table held in its grasp a crystal that throbbed with a discernibly bright light. The visitors found it otherwise impossible to tell where the rest of the light in the room came from, since there were no windows and no other visible doors but the one. It seemed to Boston as if the building had been built around the light to trap the light inside for all eternity. Boston held her breath in that sacred space.