The Contingent

Leanna stepped out of the supply closet of Granger’s Own and into the garage proper. The pleasant Colorado air gave way to the oppressive summer heat of South Carolina.

“Uuuuuugh. Summer. The worst.” she exaggeratedly muttered to herself as she closed the door.

She started sneaking towards the main office where Granger was probably fiddling with something or another. Maybe he was hanging with Mike? She liked Mike. He always had the nicest things to say about her and her cookies.

She crouched down as she approached the office window, gently set down her tin of baked goods, and slowly rose up to peer in. Granger was in there. Elbows on the desk and his forehead resting in his palms. His dirty blonde hair pulled between his closed fingers. He was trying to figure something out. Something important.

He looked up and sniffed the air. A smile spread across his face.

“Hey Lee. Come out come out wherever you are.”

She ran in and pounced him planting a big ole kiss on that smile. He kissed her back and then pulled away with a serious expression.

“Real talk. Before you get all Springy on me,” he said as he pushed her back gently.

She crossed her arms. Her eyes narrowed as she cocked her head. “Wait, are you breaking up with me?”

“What!? No! What?”

“What?” She unfolded her arms and backed away slightly embarrassed.

“Why would I do that?”

“Dude I dunno! You’re the one being all ‘Real talk’,” she said in a mocking deep voice.

“Jeeeesus, woman. No. The end of the world is waiting to smack us in the face, and I need to ask you something important before it does.”

“OH MY GOD are you proposing!?” Her eyes widened as she brought her hands up to her face covering her nose and mouth.

“Holy…what? Are you kidding me right now? Would you just let me talk?”

Leanna grumpily walked over to a chair and plunked down. “Fine. Talk, South Paw.”

“Ok. Wow. So. Remember how last winter you were telling me about dream magic? How you and other Folk can walk from dream to dream. Something about them being all connected. All dreams over all times.”

“Yeah dude. I remember. How do you though? You were so baked…”

“Oh I dunno? I guess being told there was this vast interconnected network of all of humanity’s dreams was the kind of thing that stuck with me. It’s kind of a big deal, Lee!”

“Point.”

“Any way. I’ve been thinking about the door that the Patrons unlocked. A door into the collective consciousness of humanity. We’re trying to shut it. Pushing it from this end. Taz has been working on some intense stuff but what if we helped by pulling it from the other end? What if the collective consciousness of humanity pulled the door shut while we pushed? A sort of fail safe.”

“Go on…”

“Is it possible, for you or anyone you know to help people dream of shutting that door? All the people. Ever. They’ve all been told by now the reality of their world. Its some heavy stuff. And they’re probably dreaming about it. It shouldn’t be that hard to focus those dreams, right? Ugh…I don’t…I don’t know anything about how this works…but…”

“Granger. Shut up. Listen to me. Let’s say you had the power to make deals, right? With like elements of reality. Like lets say you and Electricity made a deal. And you could summon it. Be protected from it. All that stuff.”

“Sounds pretty cool.”

“It is. But let’s say some dudes did a thing and made that power stronger. But the thing that person did would hurt everyone else in a bad way.”

“I’d find a way to stop them even if the power went away.”

“I know you would, man. And that’s why I love you. But not everyone would. Me and mine…we can jump around in dreams so much better right now. It’s like whatever the Patrons did with that door made all of us invincible in there. It used to be dangerous to go from dream to dream, but now we can run around like it’s an open field. We can shape things and make safe places. We can quell nightmares, man. Its insane. And amazing.”

“But everyone is going to die, Lee. There won’t be any new dreams to run around in.”

Leanna got up from her chair and walked over to Granger as she spoke.

“I know, man. I know. But what if there was a way to stop the Patrons but keep the door open? I mean the door being open isn’t bad. It’s just being used to do a super bad thing. Like woah bad.”

“Ok. Let’s follow that thought to conclusion then. We stop the Patrons’ plans somehow. The door stays open. You and the other Folk get free reign of the dreams and your powers are stronger forever. Can you promise me that that door won’t be used as a way to hurt humanity again? Can you promise me that someone running through that open field of dreams won’t do something evil? That humanity won’t be manipulated or damaged through their dreams?”

“Granger. Dude. Come on. There would be plenty of us who would defend that place from anyone who would try something like that. We’d keep it safe, just like you and the Contingent keep the real world safe.”

“These are people’s dreams though, Lee. Deeply personal things that, sure, can be nudged to inspire greatness. And that’s a great thing. A good thing. I can support that one hundred percent. But they can also be shattered just as easily. Hopes and dreams and aspirations torn asunder by some ass hole on a power trip. Or even worse, as collateral damage because you tried to save the world.”

Granger extended his prosthetic arm and squeezed Leanna’s hand with his.

“I know first hand the cost of war, Lee. I payed it. I made bystanders pay that cost too when I couldn’t disarm that bomb. I made that little girl pay that cost when I tried to teach her dad a lesson when I saw him beat her and her mom and I couldn’t stop him any other way. Do you want to play that kind of dangerous game with something as sacrosanct as dreams? What could ever be an acceptable loss when it comes to dreams, Lee? Could you pay that cost?”

“Alright. Alright. Damn. Good points all around. Now I just sound like a little girl who wants to keep playing with her new toy. That’s one way to end a high. Jeeze.”

Leanna bit at her bottom lip, bounced up and down nervously and then sighed as she came to a hard decision.

“Ok. Ok. I’ll help. And there’s lots more Folk that want to help I’m guessing. This is our world too, man. We fought tooth and nail and endured more than you can imagine to get back here. And we’ll help defend it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t dudes that’ll try to have their cake and eat it too. Or even fight you on this. If we’re going to do this I need you to Promise that you’re in this to the end and you and your people are going to do everything possible to set things right or I swear by my name there will be hell to pay.”

Granger paused as he was about to agree.

“Is this going to make it harder for you guys to hide? From…you know…”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, dude. One Earth shattering scenario at a time, please.”

“Ok, then. I promise, Lee. The Contingent and I are in this to the end…one way or another.”

“Good. Then so am I,” she said with a heavy sigh and sealed the Promise with a kiss.

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