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A World Apart, Part One

She ran. What else could she do? Though her lungs burned for more oxygen, she ran. Bare feet stumbling over exposed roots, she ran. Branches whipped her face. If she could only make it to the warehouse, she could disappear and he’d never find her. She knew every portal in the abandoned building.

Suddenly the trees cleared and the warehouse appeared, looking dark and foreboding, as old abandoned buildings often do. But to her, nothing had ever been more beautiful. Salvation in the form of crumbling steps and rusted metal. As she scrambled over the uneven ground, she looked over her shoulder to see if her pursuer was close behind.

She didn’t realize he was already there.

Pain exploded behind her eyes and the world was black.

She woke, head throbbing. Her mouth so dry she could barely swallow. As she opened one eye, just a slit, she saw two chairs upholstered in peeling vinyl sitting in front of an open doorway. I’m in the warehouse. One of the offices probably. It smelled of rat droppings and decayed leaves. Trying to raise a hand to her throbbing head, she realized her hands were tied. So were her feet.

He wasn’t in the room, she had to move now. Quickly rolling to the side, she fell off the desk and onto the floor, through the invisible portal. Gone.

Pain shot down her arm as her shoulder slammed against the packed earth. There was no warehouse in this Other Earth. Her first visit here had been when she was a child, long before she’d ever heard phrases like ‘parallel universe’ or ‘alternate reality,’ so it had always been Other Earth to her.

Sweat dripped from her brow as she struggled into a sitting position. Moving quickly, she began to pull at the ropes on her wrists with her teeth. It was only a matter of time before he accidentally fell through one of the portals. She could only hope that he’d fall through one on the far side of the warehouse. If she didn’t get to them before he did… No. She couldn’t think like that.

Finally freeing her hands, she began to work on her ankles, wincing as she accidentally pressed the fresh cuts on her bare feet.

She began to stand almost before she’d completely unbound her ankles, breaking into a sprint, hoping she could get to the cabin in time. She’d have to move them now, somewhere far away. Somewhere away from the portals. It was their only chance.

Practically flying, she burst through the cabin door, a breathless tornado. “Get up! Gather only what you absolutely must!” She shouted as she began to gather things from the cabinet, sitting items on the large, grey box near the door.

The front of the box was made of glass, but it wasn’t translucent. Upon inspection, she’d discovered wires inside, and imagined this Other Earth used to have a power source for… whatever this was. She’d seen no Sun Panels, so they must have had an alternate way of generating power.

The other girl sat on the floor, holding the baby and staring blankly at her. The shock of someone bursting through the door had yet to wear off.

“Stand up! Grab whatever he needs and follow me! Now! He must not find you!”

Still, she stared.

She knelt down, eye level with the girl. “He’s coming!”

Suddenly, it was as if some life force had been activated and she jumped up, baby still in her arms. Eyes wild, her breath came in short gasps. “Here? How? How does he even know?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you once we’re safely away, but for now, you just have to hurry!”

Grabbing the girl with one hand and holding their meager belongings in the other, she ran from the cabin.

They ran at breakneck speed, not stopping until nightfall.

“Gia!” The girl shouted breathlessly as she jostled the baby into a more comfortable position. “I can’t run any longer. It’s dark now, can’t we stop? He’s probably too old to have night vision anyway.”

“You might be right.” Gia was bent over, hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath. “Only the young were automatically given the upgrade.” She squinted at the girl, trying to ascertain her age. “Do you have it?”

“No. It wasn’t introduced until the year after I was born.” Her blue eyes darted downward, as if being born a year too early was a character flaw.

Gia rested a comforting hand on the girl’s arm. “Shae, we can do this; we must. The future of our species depends on it. Your brother must not be upgraded; you know this. Your mother knew it. She died to make sure he and I could escape.” Gia felt a heavy sadness as she remembered that day. Had it really been only a month ago?

“Gia, I’m not going to make it.” Jetta’s voice had been barely audible. She had insisted that Gia not take her to the medic tent when labor began. The baby would have been automatically upgraded. There had been complications during delivery, though, and Jetta was hemorrhaging badly. 

“Tell the medics to come quickly, and the two of you can slip out during the commotion. He won’t realize the baby is missing until it’s too late. I have a daughter, Shae, in Greenville. He doesn’t know she’s still alive. Find her. She can help.”

Her voice had been barely a whisper at the end.

“I know.” Shae absentmindedly stroked the baby’s fuzzy head, then turned tear-filled eyes on Gia. “If he finds us, he’ll kill me. He tried before.”

“I won’t let that happen. We’ll find a new place, hopefully somewhere very far from any portal, and you and the babe will be safe. Don’t worry. I won’t let him find you.”

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Sci Fi