The kids could see the faint edges of dawn scrape against a peach sky. They were crowded behind a rich, red rock overhang. Petey wanted them to wait until it was light and clear before they ventured into a ghost town. And they needed a bit of a rest and a bite of food. Who knew what was hanging around in that town? The wind was howling even as the sun ventured over the mountains.
In a little awhile, they ventured into town. They were walking slowly, being watchful, looking behind the doors and through the windows. The town didn't feel exactly right, but nobody could identify what was wrong or why. They clustered around an old saloon. While the kids were still hungry and thirsty, there was nothing fresh or alive available, and the tin cans were all dented and at least 80 years old. Not inspiring.
Towards the back were two men, one was an old guy, with longish hair pulled back into a streaky grey pony tail. The other was younger, enough so, he could have been a grandson. They looked like you would figure Native American men would look, if they lived on the a reservation in Arizona. They were sitting an ancient wooden table. The younger man was tipping his chair back and you could see great bands of turquoise on his wrists and on his belt buckle.
They ventured toward them.
"Hello, Grandfather," John-John said.
"Little Brother," Petey said. The two men were sipping warm orange soda pop. The morning sun was coming in the Eastern windows. Dust motes danced along the sun beams,
"Do you know who we are?" Little Brother looked at Omega with impudence and some amount of sass.
"I know what you are," Omega said.
In that instance both men blew up like balloons from the Macy's Day Parade. Grandfather had transformed into the shape of an orange wolf with fire for breath and he was blowing smoke and flames towards Omega and the kids. Little Brother became a snappping, vicious sea turtle, also orange, snapping at every bit of flesh it could find. They sucked all the air from the room, which made the kids choke and move away in order to catch a breath.
Omega held up his right arm, high in the sky, with his fingers fanned out. "Stop," he ordered and the wind from the mountains and the deserts blew—the dirt devils— fanned out across the room. Lightning followed by thunder, popped and snapped, inside the saloon. And then it was done. Grandfather and Little Brother were gone, all gone.
"Who were they?!?" asked Cheryl, the girl with wide cheek bones and a beginning crush on Larry. "And how did you know their names?"
"They were shape-shifters, medicine men who can change their bodies into wild and terrible animals. They aren't the sweetest guys around," John-John said. "We didn't, exactly, know their names Native Americans can refer to each other, as relationship would indicate, like calling your mom—Mom. I guessed at what their names might be."
"Is this place weird, or what?" Cheryl asked.
"It's what some people call a "thin place." It's where things that belong in one dimension can slip into another. The Irish were some of the people who noticed it first, Native Americans too. Deserts can be Thin Places," Omega explained. "Sometimes churches can be that too. Lots of people think that nature is a place to worship sacred things. That's about right."
"Is this dimension thing dangerous?" Cheryl asked, worried about Larry.
"It can be really, really bad or really, really good," Omega said. "The good stuff is where Heaven sometimes touches earth and the people here in good ways. Like if they are sick they can get better or if they are lonesome, they can feel loved."
"The scientists think that they have worked out mathematically that there are about 45 dimensions. Sometimes the dimensions don't know there are other dimensions." John-John said. "You might not know up from down. For example the dimension that explains "length" doesn't know about or understand time. So things can be pretty slippery. In the confusion, weird things can happen."
"So, is Larry lost in this dimension? Or is he lost in another one?" Cheryl wanted to know.