Prologue: A Disturbance Outside Albuquerque

Cedar Park, Texas

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Dylan sat quietly in the drive-thru of a McDonald’s. He drove a brown 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia. Not only was this his primary mode of transportation, it was also his home.

You see, Dylan wasn’t the social type. He kept to himself. He never made friends, hardly had any family, and the closest person to him was his brother Brian.

No, Dylan was what many extroverts refer to as a loner. He mentally cringed at the thought of that word. It carried a stigma, and people looked down upon him like there was something wrong with him. He was content with his life, and didn’t need any friends. He found happiness in solitude.

That’s not to say he hadn’t considered making friends, he just didn’t have any real reason to. Dylan was content.

Seven dollars exactly, including tax. That’s why he named it the seven. He knew it was unhealthy, but he didn’t really care too much. Not like he got fast food very often anyway.

He’d ordered two McDoubles, a large fry, and a large Dr. Pepper. What, you think he drinks RC Cola? Pshhh, this is Texas.

Dylan pulled his rugged van out of the McDonald’s parking lot after having checked his order. He readied to turn on to bell street, or as his stepdad used to call it, Old 183.

A few yards ahead of his turn was the worst red-light in the Austin area; as far as he was concerned. He turned and headed towards the light. Green, orange, red. Damn. He waited until finally turning right onto 1431 and headed towards a little place called Jonestown.

Jonestown, or Jonestucky as his brother calls it, is a small town within the Hill Country. The mayor had once said “We’re all here, ‘cause we’re not all there.”

He chuckled at the thought.

Just as usual, traffic on 1431 sucked. What used to take fifteen minutes now takes nearly thirty.

Roughly twenty-eight minutes later, Dylan pulled into the small plot of land next to his brother’s house.

Back in ’01, their stepfather Darrel had purchased two small manufactured houses, and the land they sat on. This was a decade before Dylan and Brian met the man.

The plot Dylan called home base used to have a raggedy old shack Darrel called a guest house; though for years nobody every stayed in it. In 2012 Dylan moved in. The place was a wreck, but he made do. He worked an overnight shift stocking at the nearest H-E-B and made decent money.

Seeing no value in repairing his dilapidated abode, he saved his money for something else: a van.

Sadly in 2014 Darrel passed away, and Dylan’s already rocky relationship with his mother collapsed. She gave both houses and the land to Brian, told him to kick Dylan out, and moved to Fort Worth. Of course, Brian accepted his inheritance, but let Dylan stay, as there was nothing stated in the will about kicking Dylan out.

Following his stepdad’s death, Dylan was given an admittedly small sum of money. Small it was, it was just enough when combined with his savings for him to purchase his dream van.

By Christmas 2014, Dylan had acquired a Brown 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia. Not the color he wanted, but everything else was great. He could’ve afforded it a couple years earlier, but he seeing the issues these vans tend to have when bought for under ten grand, he de didn’t want to risk it. He got this one from TheSamba, and it cost him a hefty three hundred and fifty Benjamins.

He spent the following year turning the van into his home. He purchased an assortment of items like solar panels, auxiliary batteries, a ladder, a water system, etc…

Finally finishing just before Halloween 2015, he promptly had the crap-house demolished, and set up the water and power to be plugged into his van when parked.

Jonestown, Texas

Having pulled onto his small plot of land, Dylan exited the van.

Dylan was 27, stood at a below average 5’11”, had long, curly dark-brown hair that reached to his chest, a well-trimmed yet bushy beard stretched from cheek-to-cheek, and a goatee circled his lips.

Dark hazel-green eyes rested below his thick brows, and a thin nose sat between them.

He wore an unzipped brown plaid coat atop a simple black shirt. Sitting atop his shirt was a black ring, two wolves heads gripped it, hanging from a thick black chain necklace.

Deep blue Wrangler jeans covered his legs, and his feet stood within waterproof Timberland hiking boots.

Dylan walked over to a yellow cord that was wrapped around a wheel like a garden hose. He turned the wheel, unrolling the cord a couple yards. He took the translucent plug, flipped a black cover open on the left side of his van, and plugged in the cord.

Walking around to the other side, Dylan slid open the door and out hopped a large female German Shepherd.

Dylan stepped into his van, and opened the cabinet under the sink and removed two large bowls; one blue, the other brown. He filled up the blue one with water from a gallon jug, then sat the bowl on the concrete, and grabbed for the dog food. He poured the kibble into the brown bowl – the dog staring intensely – before he sat it on the ground next to the water.

“Bon appétit Dakota,” Dylan said in his soft, yet slightly raspy voice. “We need to run by H-E-B tomorrow morning, were running low on supplies. We’ll need them if we’re gonna make it to Yosemite.”

Dylan had worked overtime for three months straight preparing for his vacation. Tomorrow was his first day off.

He planned to leave Sunday morning, meaning he should arrive sometime Monday evening.

“Three weeks off,” Dylan exhaled, “so generous.”

That wasn’t sarcasm, his current job taking apart old computers at Discount Electronics had been great. No need to deal with customers, just sit at a table in the back, and take apart computers, separate the hardware, and boom, $14.50 and hour.

Ponyville, Equestria

“Attempt number one-hundred and thirty-seven,” A lavender mare said, excitedly. She had a blue mane and tail, with a pink streak through them. A horn stuck out from her head, parting her mane. Deep violet eyes rested on her face.

“Can we please take a break? We’ve been at this all day,” a small purple dragon said, tiredly. Bags hung under his green eyes. Green spikes stuck out from his head, and all the way down his spine.

“I’m sorry Spike, but I’ve almost figured this out. Remember, this spell will allow me to teleport a book from any library in Equestria into my hooves!” She said excitedly, clopping her fore-hooves together.

“Yeah, you’ve said that the last nineteen times,” Spike grumbled. “Come on Twilight, just a small break?”

“Fine, we’ll start up again first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Finally,” the dragon said, collapsing onto the couch.

Cedar Park, Texas

Saturday, October 9th, 2021

The van was parked at the lot in front of H-E-B, Dylan inside organizing the food and supplies he’d purchased.

He’d spent nearly five-hundred dollars. He grimaced.

Dakota whined.

“Almost done, girl” Dylan said, grunting as he lifted two gallons of water out of the cart and placed them under the sink.

Marble Falls, Texas

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

The Subaru boxer engine started with a roar.

Dylan sat in the driver’s seat of the van, Dakota in the passenger’s.

Dylan had just gotten breakfast at the Bluebonnet Cafe.

He pulled the phone out of his pocket, opened the music app and shuffled his “Road Trip” playlist. It consisted mostly of rock and metal. Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, Nightwish, etc…

He cranked up the volume and backed out of the parking lot before heading West.

“Next stop, Albuquerque,” Dylan said loudly, over the music.

That’s another thing about Dylan. He talks to his dog. Know how I mentioned he doesn’t really have friends? Well, Dakota is the exception. She listens to whatever he has to say, and never complains.

Ponyville, Equestria

“You’ve tried over five hundred times,” Spike said, annoyed. “Just give it up. Besides, I don’t think the Princesses would be happy with you taking books without checking them out first.”

“Just one more time.” Twilight said, her horn glowing.

East of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sea without a shore for the banished one unheard

He lightens the beacon, light at the end of world

Showing the way lighting hope in their hearts

The ones on their travels homeward from afar…

Dylan sang along when he noticed a strange light in the distance.

“The hell?” He said, astonished.

The light seem to pulsate, and Dylan pulled the van to the side of the road and stopped. He got out, and watched as the light grew closer. Dylan immediately hopped back into the van, and ignoring street laws, made an immediate u-turn onto the other side of I40. The light followed him closer, and closer.

He pushed the van as hard as he could, headed back towards Albuquerque when suddenly the world outside became white.
He heard ringing, and faintly the sound of Dakota’s barking, then all went black.