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Further Adventures of the Borderland Biker -Chapter 15

There are roads and then there is 'the' ROAD.

By Derrel Whitemyer

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Editor's note: The following story is from the book, "The Further Adventures of The Borderland Biker, In Memory of Indian Larry and Doo Wop Music," by Derrel Whitemeyer. 
For Chapter 14 Click Here
 “Bilbo would often say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
__Frodo Baggins from THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING by: J.R.R. Tolkien
 “The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dropped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.”__Lewis Carroll from ALICE IN WONDERLAND
 “To ask what time IT is, is to ask what time IS. To ask what time is, is to ask what part… the beginning…the middle…or the end…of the string is BEING the string now. To ask what part it’s being, is to ask what part… the upstream…the part flowing in front of you…or the part down downstream…of the river is being the river NOW.”
“I saw eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
Driv’n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov’d; in which the world
And all her train were hurl’d…”
The ride to Ma n’ Pa’s house from where we’d left Bartlett, once the size of a car but now back to normal spider size, at the wisteria covered wooden fence took ten minutes. 
“Check the front door;” said Larry, “I’ll check in back.”
Larry and I parked our bikes then went our separate ways. Climbing the steps reminded me of when I was a little kid walking up to the pink door of our neighbor Mrs. Floyd to go trick or treating. A couple of knocks, no response…a couple of…“Is anybody in there?”…no response…and then I saw the note folded in the door jam. It was from Hilts.
“Go ahead and read it,” Larry had walked around from the back of the house.”
It had been written on the back of a brown paper bag. 
“My flight to rescue Ma n’ Pa was to say the least harrowing; and I’ll tell you about it later. And yes, just don’t ask me how, they both knew you’d be here and told me to leave you this note outlining the problem we face. In essence the problem is Ma n’ Pa were able to reboot their Borderland but it split into four sections. Each section is now separated by, for want of a better term, normal space-time. I need you to reconnect them. Think of it as making a Venn diagram with four circles by connecting them with a common element. By listening to the songs being played by the Styx Diner’s jukebox on your ear radios then riding between the sections you’ll become the needle attached to the musical thread, the common element that’ll join them. You’ll be able to find the exits and entries between sections and normal space-time by following the Road. The exits and entries will sometimes move but by listening to the Jukebox’s music you’ll be able to find them. Following the Road will allow you to pass between the four sections of Ma n’ Pa’s Borderland and normal space-time. The sound and clarity of the music will increase or decrease depending on how close or how far away you are from entries and exits. Turning your head will tell you from what side the signal is strongest. Riding from one section to the other, while listening to the music, will thread that common element. 

“I’m with Ma n’ Pa in the section furthest from you; we’re here at the Styx Diner. Ma n’ Pa feel it’s important that the JukeBox be protected; I’m helping Pa set up a failsafe defense so it’ll never be vulnerable again. As soon as I’m done I’ll come back to Ma n’ Pa’s place and retrace your path. It shouldn’t be that hard to find you.  I may even be able to find a way for Charon to come with me. Get some rest if you can then go back to where you entered this Borderland. From there turn on your ear radios and follow the music coming from the Styx Diner; you’ll be following the Road. Ride in the direction it’s strongest. You’ll know you’ve passed out of the Borderland and into normal space time because the signal will begin to diminish in strength. Keep going. You’ll know you’re still following the Road because the signal will begin to increase in strength the closer you get to the next section of the Borderland.” 
“We’ll leave at twilight…no later,” said Larry. “We need the time until then to gather whatever we may need. Ma n’ Pa would’ve anticipated us scrounging around for those things. In fact we’ll probably find most of them inside their house. The door’s unlocked; let’s see if I’m right.”
Ma n’ Pa’s house was as I remembered, from its fireplace to its surreal furniture. At the foot of the fireplace were two small backpacks. Larry picked up the nearest, opened it and reached inside.
“My size, somehow I knew I’d pick the right one,” said Larry as he held out a hooded sweatshirt.
Clothing, flashlights, first-aid kits, no weapons; the backpacks were similarly packed with the same items.
“I’m leaving my Raider; Hilts will need it. We’ll ride double on yours. If we find another bike on the way I’ll borrow it. In the meantime I suggest we use the remaining time to get some rest. We’ve both been running on fumes and there’s no telling when we’ll get another chance.”
We’d overslept and it wasn’t until after sunset we were finally ready to leave. With the exception of the three quart bottles of Elisa’s magical coffee and the dreamcatcher, our backpacks were filled as we’d found them. Larry left the keys in his Raider and was in the process of finishing a short note telling Hilts the direction we were headed.
“He’ll track us but this note will help,” said Larry as he taped the note to his gas tank.
“Any traveling we do, especially through normal space-time, should be done at night. On the plus side we’ll encounter less people, less people hopefully less problems. I’ll co-pilot. I’m not expecting any problems so I won’t say ride shotgun.” 
Closing the front door to Ma n’ Pa’s house, Larry then descended the front steps and climbed onto the back of the Raider. A tap on my shoulder to get us moving and within seconds I was riding out of the driveway and onto the garden path that would lead us back to where we’d first entered the Borderland.
The sky was cloudless and the constellations somewhat different in shape and position from what I learned to recognize in my youth. Because the sky was cloudless a near full moon provided more than enough light for me to find my way back to the wooden fence where we’d left Bartlett. The wisteria blossoms were gone, as I somehow knew they would be, as well as any sign of Bartlett. Any sign of a web had also disappeared.
Larry laughed, “Like the man says, location, location, location. Bartlett’s most likely moved somewhere else in the garden where the blossoms last longer and there’s more insect activity; he’s a survivor, he’ll be ok.
“Hilts said we should begin listening to our ear radios from where we first came into this Borderland. He said from there the signal would lead us to ‘the’ ROAD and across into normal space time. If we retrace out route from here to the where we came out of the tunnel we should be there in less than ten minutes.”
The tunnel that led to the hundred and fifty foot hole that led up to Bartlett’s Borderland was now just the overgrown ruins of an old rock silo.
The tunnel that led to the hundred and fifty foot hole that led up to Bartlett’s Borderland was now just the overgrown ruins of an old rock silo.

The ride back to the tunnel brought back pleasant memories of when Larry and I helped Pa tend the surrounding orchards. Memories of helping prune and harvest those orchards, now bathed in moonlight, made me look forward to meeting up with Ma n’ Pa.
“Things have changed more than I expected.” said Larry after I’d parked and he’d gotten off the back of the Raider. “I wasn’t surprised the wisteria blossoms had faded or that Bartlett had moved to where there were other flowers in bloom. I just wasn’t expecting this.”
What neither Larry or I were expecting to see was the tunnel that led to the hundred and fifty foot hole that led up to Bartlett’s Borderland was now just the overgrown ruins of an old rock silo.
“Turn your ear radio on. The path continues on through the orchards. The signal’s strong in mine; if it gets stronger we’ll know this path’s heading where this Borderland crosses over into normal space-time. What’s happened here is probably similar to what happened back at the wooden fence where Bartlett had his web in the wisteria. Ma can explain it, I can’t. We need to get going.”
Turning on my ear radio brought the song “Oh Rose Maria” by the Fascinators in loud and clear. Two minutes on the path brought the signal in even clearer. We were riding in the right direction. 
Fifteen more minutes of following the path and the orchards ended with the path intersecting a small two lane road. The road was paved and bordered by old oaks and split-rail fences on both sides. Some of the oaks had overhanging branches that reached out and over the road. 
“It’s potholed;” said Larry a few minutes later pointing at the road, “plus the signal’s been getting weaker since we left the path through the orchards and started down this road, which means we’ve left the Borderland.”

“It may be getting weaker,” I said, “but it’s still clear in the direction we’re going. We’re on the right road.”
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