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“A pattern more complex than ourselves could be said to be more intelligent when treated as an entity.”
The two Carls nearly tripped over one another as once again they scrambled for the door. 


            “Wait!”  Peach cried.   They both froze mid-step and looked
back at her.  “You’ll need a guide or two...”   And at those words there
was a bark and when they both turned again to the door Carl saw his two
sheepdogs, Annie and Monty, waiting for them on the other side. 


            Younger Carl got there first but Carl himself wasn’t too far
behind.  He stood in the doorway for a moment’s hesitation; looking
back at all he was leaving.  Including Peach.  He motioned to the bird
to come, holding out his arm.  But Peach shook her head sadly. 


            “Bring him home,” was all she said.  And as soon as he took a
step back into the darkness, the door slammed and she disappeared from
sight... and maybe vanished altogether.



            It was... interesting... being in the darkness again. 


            He had so many questions.


            The chief of all being...


            Where was it all coming from?

            “That’s the question of the ages.”


            Carl spun around, surprised though he shouldn’t be. 


            “Jacob!”  His voice echoed his younger self’s.   But Jacob’s attention was fastened on the older Carl.


            “Hello, Carl.  I don’t believe we’ve met.” Jacob bowed to him. 


            Carl took a step back, getting nowhere.


            Annie rubbed against him. With a start he realized he’d forgotten about her and Monty.


            “Why the dogs?”  Younger Carl asked, puzzled, as he scratched Monty.


            “These dogs,” Jacob explained with a patient air, “are your guides and guardians.”


            “I don’t follow.”  Carl admitted honestly, with his younger self nodding in agreement.


            “Do you remember when I first came to you Carl?  What guise I was in?” he addressed the younger Carl this time. 


            “A dog...”  Younger Carl answered slowly.


            “Exactly,” Jacob said, nodding.


            “But why...?”


            Jacob raised a hand, “Let me finish please.”


            Both Carls waited impatiently.


             “Welcome to the Void.”  Jacob swept his arms out to all
sides of him, indicating that there was no space the Void did not fill. 


“In the ‘world’ you are from, you are conditioned to only see what you
believe is possible.  Now you are going to have to do that which no one
else can...”


            “And what’s that?” Carl asked. 


            “See the Truth.” 


            Carl looked at younger Carl, younger Carl looked at Carl, both looked to Jacob.


            “Excuse me?”  One of them spoke, it was impossible to tell which. 


            “I thought truth was in the eye of the beholder.” Carl
ventured after a moment’s silence.  “That we both hold truths, but never
the same...”


“Here is different.”  Jacob cut off.  “In your world human beings,
Wizards more so, create reality.  But the world you live in isn’t the
actual ‘World’ itself.  In other words, what you see there isn’t
necessarily the true Cosmos.  So your truth isn’t the Truth, very
insightful of you to know that.  What you perceive to be true there is
actually a mixture of that which is unknowable and that which is


            “But here, this is as close as one can get to the
Beginning.  It’s not Timeheart—this is the Void.  Here all is possible,
you and I are simply three possibilities, and so is Tom.   As always,
the point is—if there would be a point—we are One.”  Jacob finished.


            “I’d like to see Tom now please.”  Carl’s younger self interrupted.


            “I would as well.”  Carl affirmed.


            The dogs barked.


            Jacob looked between them, sighed, and then appeared to sit, looking for all the world like he was floating.


            “Please, let me explain things a bit more first.”  Jacob motioned to the other two expectantly.    


            Carl breathed in resignation.  “Very well,” he said and crossed his legs.


            The younger Carl looked like he wanted to oppose but in the end he too nodded and “sat”.  


            “Hear me.  Tom does not exist.  But it wasn’t always that way,” Jacob reassured. 


            “I don’t understand... how could he exist but not exist?”  Carl admitted, baffled.


            Jacob looked thoughtful.   “There was a culture on Earth for
awhile that understood the concept very well.  To them a state of being
was an attribute, such as: ‘It’s red!’ ‘It’s tall!’  When you
outline the look or feel or smell or sound or taste of something; that’s
attributing qualities to it.


“Well this culture had one more attribution to add to the pile: to exist
or not to exist.  You couldn’t have one without the other.  Existence
and nonexistence coexist.”


Carl and younger Carl looked at each other again.  Both had raised eyebrows.


“Everything and nothing.”  Jacob went on, ignoring them.  “We always
take into account one but not the other.  In other words—just like this
Void—we need to create Light from Darkness... Tom from nonexistence.”


“How do we do that?”  Carl asked.


            Jacob smiled and said.  “It can be done.  Know that.  But
first we have one more hurdle in our way.  I said you and Tom’s
friendship would be tested.  Well, this is the last time to back out.”


            “I would never!”  Both Carls replied hastily.


            Jacob held up a hand.  “I need you to listen and consider
this carefully.  You need to take into account not only what Tom has
done for you but, more importantly, what Tom has done for others...”


            “What do you mean?”  Younger Carl voiced softly.


            “I think you know.  Tom gave you a wondrous Gift.  That is
indeed yours to throw away... but is it really fair to everyone you’ve
touched?  He touched?”


            Carl’s eyes widened, then closed.  He understood. 


            He thought of all he’d seen and heard—about Anthony, Cecelia, his whole family—and more people.  And more and more.


            What would become of them if the timeline was tampered with again?


            All the lives of all those people...


Whether or not to throw away that Gift wasn’t his choice to make.


            “But what of Tom?”  He asked with trepidation, his voice cracking slightly.


            “Tom chose this Path, to give this Gift to you...and the world.  Can you really undermine his wishes?”


            This couldn’t be...


            He’d came all this way here and for what?  So Tom could prove how noble he is?


            But Carl knew that wasn’t the reason,


            “I can’t do this without Tom.”  Carl choked, tears forming in his eyes. 


            “Yes you can, you have been for all of these years.”


            Suddenly it hit Carl like a freight train.  The rest of his
memories returned, the ones between his younger self and where he was


All without Tom. 



















            His newest charges:




            ...and so very, very many more.


            It was proof that Carl was needed. 


            But he also remembered Tom.  Them as joint Advisories,
working together to stop Entropy and slow down the death of the


            Could he really survive without Tom?  And if he couldn’t what would happen to everyone?


            Could the world survive without Tom? 




            “I can’t do this alone.”  Carl stated again vehemently.  “I’m not that strong.”


            Tears streamed down his cheeks and from somewhere next to him he heard his younger self sobbing.


            “This isn’t fair!” His younger self wept.


“No it isn’t,” Jacob agreed.  “But you do have a choice.”


Carl looked up warily, asking...


            “And what kind of choice is that?”  


            “To take his place.  Tom gave his life to save you; you are also permitted to give your life to save him.”


            “I’ll do it!”  His younger self proclaimed instantly and without thought.


            Carl though...


            “No, no I can’t.”  Carl recognized.  All those he’d
helped...what would happen to them?  “My life... it isn’t mine to give.”


            He looked to Jacob with watery eyes.  “Damn you!” he cried. 
“Why did you have to get our hopes up?  Why did you have to bring us


            “I brought both of you here because here is where Tom’s essence will reside.”


            The two Carls looked around hastily. 






            After seeing only the Void, they looked to Jacob once again.


            “Take a closer look at that rope Carl.  You’ll find many,
many lumps but the greatest one is at your end.  The rope led you to


            “You’re confusing me!”  Carl snapped.  “First you say he
doesn’t exist, then you say I can take his place, and now you’re saying
that he’s within me?”


            Jacob nodded calmly in the rage.  “In order: yes he doesn’t
exist... yet.  When he does exist then, yes, you can take his place. 
And yes, he has been with you all along—his memory lives in you.  That’s
the key to (re)creating his existence.  And that is something
miraculous, all things considering.  He has yet to exist yet he exists
in you.  Creating Light from Darkness.”


            “A miracle, that’s what it’ll take.”  Carl muttered.


            “That’s what I brought you here for.”  




            “You made the right choice.  Anyone can die for someone, but
to live for them?  That takes courage.  You didn’t forsake Tom, Carl,
not even once.  Remember the tests I warned you of?  Tests of
Dedication, Faithfulness, and Love?  Well you passed all three...”


            “So now what?  What does that mean?!”


Jacob chuckled.  “It means you and Tom are both too noble.  Or too in Love... take your pick.”


In Love?! 


It was as he suspected... 


So why was he filled with so much fear?


Carl thought back on all they’d been through...


All the lifetimes and years between them... 


All the give and take because one thought it’d be better for the other...


How could it be anything but Love? 


Moreover, why was he so scared of it?


Jacob cleared his throat.  “You see, Carl, a while back you asked what I
am... well, now is the time for me to reveal my identity.  I am a
mixture of yours and Tom’s subconscious Will to protect each other—that
Will took on a Life of its own.  So I am created from you and
Tom.  Hence I possess and guard all your memories from every possible
event yet to come and those that have already past.  That is how I was
made.  However, I cannot see the future this time, which means...”


He frowned.  “Even I am unsure.”


Neither Carl interrupted his thoughts, even after the silence went on for quite a while.


“And no,” Jacob finally continued, “I don’t know why Fate seems so
fixated on keeping you apart.  Just that every time it does, you two
always do something miraculous.  You must overcome it though, so that
you and Tom may rest in Time’s Heart and exist forever with one
another.  That is your final calling, I am sure of it.”


“In what way did we do ‘something miraculous’?”  Carl asked.


“Didn’t saving Anthony’s Life count for anything?  Even Mike and Chase
and that pitiable Nathanial... don’t they mean anything?  In reality
each Life in the crowd is as important as the crowd...  Every Life counts.  And because you saved those lives, you saved everyone.” 


“And what is our reward?!”  Carl shouted suddenly, voice shaking and he
himself close to hysterics.  “A short time together before we’re
separated again and have yet another struggle to find the way ‘home,’
whatever that is...” 


There was a pause, then...


“Home is where the Heart is, Carl.  You told me that.”  Jacob said. “And your Heart is with Tom... isn’t it?”


Carl was quiet. 




Annie and Monty started growling.


“What do you two want?”  Carl demanded.  “What do you have to do with any of this anyway?!”


“Good question, Carl.   You’re the one who brought them here after all.”


“What?”  Younger Carl jumped in.


Jacob appeared thoughtful.  “Dogs are raised as guardians of a plane
that doesn’t exist yet does,” he explained thoughtfully.  “We’ll need
the use of that plane to bring back Tom, that’s why the dogs are here.” 


He faced Carl.


“Ok Carl.  Take a deep breath. You can fight me if you want but this is the only option.  I know a way to bring Tom home.”


Carl’s eyes widened.


“We can?!”


“How?!”  Younger Carl chimed.


“First we need to recreate the idea of Tom.  This is the Void,
here everything is possible and we are simply three possibilities.  When
it awakens and ignites it will create all that is possible, all that is
our ‘World,’ and all that is without it.  Becoming everything and

Suddenly he was more aware of his surroundings.  


Or lack thereof.


It was all Darkness... soon to be Light.


“We have to create the seed of Tom’s existence first, then sow it into Existence, the plane that these dogs come from.  Carl, it’s time to bring Tom home.”




Jacob nodded, “Where the Heart is.”


It seemed too good to be true but how could he not take the chance?


“Ok, what do I have to do?” 


“Let’s just think and talk of Tom for a bit.  What was he like?  What
drew you to him?  What did you love most and liked least about him?  And
most importantly, how much did you Love him?”


“How much did I Love him?”  Carl repeated, trailing off in a daze.   


“I remember him snoring,” Younger Carl chuckled as both Jacob and Carl
turned to him.  “Sorry to Tom, but thinking about it I can’t help but
laugh.  I mean, I’d never been in bed with him or anything; he’d just
fall asleep in the grass next to me.  He was a deep sleeper.”  Younger
Carl grinned.


“Falling asleep next to someone is a sign of trust.”  Jacob said.


“He loved the stars,” Carl found himself explaining, “when we first
became Wizards that’s all he wanted to do, visit star systems.  Now that
I think about it, I don’t know why he ever took a position as one of
Earth’s advisories like I did...”


Jacob smiled, as though sharing a secret.  “He did it to be with you.”


And he was right.  Carl knew he was.  Now that he thought back to their
most recent Life, it seemed that everything Tom had done, he’d done with
Carl in mind...to stay close to him, to keep them always together.


Carl closed his eyes in pain.  No physical pain—he had no body to speak
of, just this mere projection—it was an ache.  Like some part of himself
had been torn from him long ago without his noticing or consent and
without it, without him, he would feel this way forever.    


“Let’s see what memories I can come up with...”  Jacob began.


 “Wait,” Carl interrupted.  “Before you start, there’s something I’ve wanted to ask.  How on earth did we manage to make you?”


“Well you didn’t do it consciously first of all,” Jacob answered.  “Like
I said before, I am your Will to protect each other, especially at the
times when you two didn’t even know one another...  And don’t take my
outward appearance too seriously.  I change whenever you two need me to,
into whatever you need me to be.


“Now,” he continued.  “We must give our memories of Tom up as an
offering to the One to bring Tom back.  Come, let us reminisce...”


So they started talking and recalling memories, giving as many as
vividly as they possibly could.  And, slowly but surely, each time Carl
listened he seemed to regain his memories—one after another—as each of
them expressed a ‘Tom-story.’ 


Soon he would possess all the memories Jacob had to offer, except...


He was so obsessed with this that he almost missed it.


“Both of you look.”  And Jacob motioned to where they had failed to
notice what looked to be a crystal ball with lightning now floating in
the balance of the Void.  Inside scenes from his memories flickered to


“What is it?”  Both Carls asked. 


This is Tom’s essence.  It has been revived by both you and the Ultimate Creator.  You have proved how much he is needed...and Loved.”


Carl felt...



But what exactly?


When he looked back up, he saw both Jacob and his younger self watching him carefully.  


“Okay.”  Carl’s resolve firmed, his hands constricting into fists.   “What do we do next?”


Now we need the dogs.”


Carl and younger Carl looked to the dogs mentioned.


Come, Annie said to them.  And Carl understood.


It’s Time, Monty finished.


“It is,” Jacob agreed.


“So how do we get there?”  Younger Carl questioned. 


“You’re already there.”  Jacob said.  “It’s all in your mind and in your
heart.”  He made to pat younger Carl over his heart but then something
strange occurred...


While everyone was a ghost and not really there, Jacob was now more transparent than anyone.


Something was wrong. 


He was vanishing.


Jacob looked down at himself and then at the Carls who looked on in
concern.  He smiled.  “We might have to move this along a little


“But...but Jacob...”  Carl’s younger self stuttered.  “You’re...”


“Don’t worry Carl,” he addressed them both reassuringly.  “This is what’s supposed to happen.  A Life for a Life.”


“You’re not saying...”  Carl broke in.

“Yes I am saying,” Jacob cut them off gently.  “When Tom arrives, I’ll disappear.  There will be no more need of me.”


“But...”  Now it was Carl’s turn to stutter, “But why?!  Why do you do this?  You could be free...”


“Yes, Carl, I do have a choice.  I could lead a Life, you both gave me that option long ago but I am choosing this path.  Not just because I was made for it mind you—though it was—but because I care about you both.”  Jacob smiled.


“You two have given me and the world the gift of hope for our future. 
Besides that, if there exists such a thing as soul mates, Carl, then I
think you and Tom are the archetype.  There is nothing so beautiful in
this world than pure Love.  That I can contribute to that... that’s
worth ‘dying’ over.”


Carl shook himself, trying to find emotional equilibrium.


“Let’s find Tom.”  Jacob said.  “It’s ok, I’m still here for now.  You haven’t gotten rid of me just yet.” 


Jacob went on, “Now, welcome to the Dreamscape,” and Jacob swept his
arms out dramatically with a bow.   “That is what it is known as among
those who are permitted to come here—and that is dogs and dogs alone. 
First look around you, describe it to me... what is it like?”


They looked around.  It was still Light only... distorted Light.


Warped Light that was leaving both Carls dizzy and disoriented. 


This was not a place where they could get any kind of grip on reality...






“Exactly.  Indefinable.  We’ve got the seed and we’ve got the Home of
the Soul, all we do now is till a hole in reality, plant, and...”


“Then let’s get started...”  Younger Carl said impatiently.


“No,” Jacob cleared his throat.  “Not yet.  There’s still one loose end to worry about...”


Jacob held out his hand, “Carl if you’d please come with me.”


Younger Carl made to hold his hand but was cast aside.  “Not you Carl, the older Carl.”


Carl hesitated, but then stepped up and took Jacob’s outstretched hand.


The bottom dissolved beneath them and they fell forever.


And when he next opened his eyes, he wasn’t sure whether or not he’d opened them at all. 


There was darkness everywhere.  No, more than that, it was a pitch black
plane of existence.  This was the Lone One’s domain Carl realized with a
shiver, if anything that Jacob had said was true.


“That’s right, we’re going to take a look at the darker regions of your
soul.  What do you think Carl, are you worthy of Tom?  Worthy of his


            Carl answered from his heart.  “No, no I am not worthy.”


            “Thank you for being honest.”  Jacob’s voice echoed.


            “Is this the end then?  Have I failed him?”


            “’To make Light out of Darkness and Darkness out of Light’...wasn’t that your task?”




            “Why do you think you’re unworthy?”


            Carl peered into the darkness but he couldn’t see Jacob, couldn’t see anything...


            “Because Tom deserves better!  I’m far from...”


            “But what if the one he Chooses is you?” 


            Carl swallowed.


            “You look scared now Carl, what is it that you truly fear?”  Jacob’s voice rang through the darkness.


            “It’s selfish,” Carl mumbled, having the distinct impression Jacob could hear every word.


“Well?” Jacob prodded after a few moments.


“The fact is I don’t even know if I can ‘love’ him... yet even
with that...”  Carl shook his head.  “He gave me a Gift, to love someone
unhampered by his feelings... Why can’t I do the same?!” he choked on
tears the last few words, feelings cascading over him.


“Easy, Carl, easy.”  And suddenly Jacob was beside him.  He couldn’t see
him, the world was still pitch black, but he felt his presence and it
was comforting.


“I think you underestimate yourself.”  Jacob said softly.  “I think—no, I know—that
you have Tom’s best interests at heart and if it means stepping down
for a lifetime then I have no doubt you’ll do so.  Just remember that
you will always find your way back and meet here again.  And together
you will enter into Time’s Heart.  I’m sure of it.”

Carl found the smile he thought he had lost for good.


He could imagine Jacob doing the same.


Suddenly there was a noise that sounded like a snapping of the fingers. 


And then there was Light.