Stranger Things Have Happened

Part 1

The night El closed the gate, the 'family' slept at Will's house. Exhausted and not just a little on edge, having everyone together soothed the tensions and eased them of to sleep.

Dustin drifted off leaning against Mike, who didn't seem to mind because his focus was 100 percent on El. And, why wouldn't it be…

When he woke up, he saw blue sky all around. He could feel the uneven ground pressing into his back. A cool breeze was dancing through his curls. Turning over on his side, he realized that he was laying on the ground near what looked like an ancient rock structure. Patches of green littered the rock surface, but from what he could see, there wasn't much surface to cover. He felt woozy, and, to avoid falling down, he pressed his hand the nearest wall. Observing it more closely, the rock structure seemed to be made by the stacking of pieces of what could only assume was shale.

As he made his way around the rock wall, the sky met the horizon and the horizon was a vast ocean. The dizziness hit again and he sat down. He had to be dreaming. He was on an island in the middle of the ocean. He appeared to be by himself, but if the stacking of rocks was any indication, he may have company soon. Thankfully, this was not the Upside Down. The sky was blue and there were no cotton flakes in the air. The sun was out and he could hear…

"May I help you? came the gravelly voice out of nowhere. If he weren't sitting, he would have jumped and then fainted dead away. As he was sitting, he fell over sideways unconscious. He soon came awake to someone patting his cheeks and talking to him in a calm voice.

"Wake up, young one," the voice repeated. "You are safe, even if I have no explanation for you."

Dustin opened his eyes and his vision was filled with the face of a bearded old man. He scrambled backward and knocked his head on the wall behind him.

The old man winced, tugged on his beard, and said: "Are you going to keep doing that? The damage could become permanent."

"What the hell?" Dustin blurted. He was now inside. He checked to see if he still had his clothes on. Whew! He did. "Who are you?"

"We can get to that later," the man said, finally sitting on the opposite side of a fire pit on the middle of cave like room they were in. "I'm more concerned about who you are and where you came from."

The old man was wearing strange robes that made him look like a monk or something. But, the robes weren't dark brown like he had seen in movies. They were light brown, or grey, from what he could see in the low light. He wondered what Mike or Will would make of this? How would Lucas react to this situation? El would probably go all Luke Skywalker on him and ask questions later. "I'm Dustin. Where am I and who are you?"

The robed man frowned. Dustin could tell that his presence was disrupting something, but that was the least of his worries. If this was a dream, he'd have to play it out.

"Nice to meet you, Dustin," the man said, amiably. "I'm Tycho. Your clothing is strange and what is that on your head?"

"I was about to say your clothing is weird and ask you why you dragged me into this little cave?" Dustin retorted.

"I thought you might be more comfortable here than lying out in the open on a bed of rocks."

Dustin eyed the cave opening and thought of making a run for it, but the old guy hadn't said or done anything threatening so he decided to stay cool. "Yeah, I guess that's true."

"So, where did you come from, Dustin?" the older man asked, genuine interest in his voice.

The boy straightened his hat and decided to come out with it. "Hawkins, Indiana. What about you?"

"I don't know that place, " said the monk. "You're going to have to help me."

Dustin narrowed his eye and gave the old man a sideways look of incredulity. "I understand not having heard of Hawkins, but Indiana, dude! The United States!"

Dustin received a blank stare for his trouble "Son of a bitch! You've never heard of the USA? Dustin stood an started pacing back and forth in the small room. "Okay, the good news is you speak English. The bad news is you're an old hermit living in the middle of nowhere. At least Ben Kenobi lived on solid ground. Yoda in the in the murky swamp. An island in the middle of the ocean is is pretty ridiculous. How is your apprentice supposed to find you?

As he was pacing, he noticed the old man's eyes widen and and his jaw slowly drop. He regarded Dustin with even a more curious eye than before.

"What? Oh, forget I said all that," he said, with a bashful grin. "I can get going and not know when to stop."

"No," the old hermit said earnestly, gesturing for him to continue. "Yo-da and Ken-obi sound fascinating. Tell me more."

Dustin looked at his host and thought he saw a twinkle in the blue eyes hidden behind the grey beard and long hair. "They aren't really relevant, Mister. The bottom line is I need to get home to my friends and my mom. They'll start to worry."

"Dustin," the old man said, softly. "You told me you were dreaming. If this is a dream or a vision of some kind, no one is missing you, because you are right there with them as we are speaking."

Dustin shrugged nervously. "Oh, yeah. That. So, uh what do we do now?"

The old man stretched out his hand, which had been inside his voluminous sleeves, and pointed at him. He had a black mechanical hand.

"Holy Shit!" the boy exclaimed, searching the small room anything that could be used as a weapon. "Are you some kind of android or terminator or that's going to kill me for sport and feed my body to sharks down down below! Are you going to make me food for your demodog!"

Dustin dashed for the door of the dwelling only to have his arm caught on the grip of the mechanical hand. "Calm down, Kid," the monk said. "Though I'm not sure what most of that meant, I'm not going to hurt you.

Letting go of the young one, he raised the mechanical hand and gave him a closer look. "See, just a prosthetic."

"Not like any prosthetic I've ever seen," Dustin replied, touching the hand which was proffered. "That's some crazy futuristic shit! Like Luke Skywalker! Vader cut off his hand and he got a new robotic one."

"I guess so," the older man replied, staring intently into the boy's eyes.

Dustin returned the man's ominous stare and noticed the twinkle again.

Dustin's eyes popped! His jaw hung open. His hand came lazily to his mouth to cover the gaping hole.

"Son. Of. A. Bitch," Dustin whispered in awe. "The guys are not going to believe this. They will shit their pants! Well, maybe not. But this is amazing. Is it really you?"

The old hermit was taken aback by the young one's response. He wasn't sure how to respond. He decided on self-effacing.

"Who?" he asked.

"Luke Freaking Skywalker!" the boy declared, ecstatically, still shaking his head in disbelief. "Jedi Knight! Or, Jedi Master by now. Right?"

The old man stroked his beard. His lips thinned and his eyes grew sad. He withdrew his hands back into his sleeves.

The old hermit nodded his head gravely. "I am Luke Skywalker, but I'm not the man you think I am."

Dustin 's countenance fell. There was only one Luke Skywalker.

"Who else could you be?" Dustin said with the quaver in his voice that signified a boy meeting a broken version of his hero.

To be continued...