Monday, July 10, 2017
On The Run Part III
He could feel it calling to him. Alone in the grassland, beneath a canopy of stars, he could feel it in his bones. A thrumming, an intensity, no doubt amplified by the precious beacon he carried on his person. He knew he was close even before it came into view- an arch of blue- grey metal, alive with light. Often they were inert, or defective, but this one was clearly not. The runes all along the edge of it were aglow, and he could hear a strange music. Alone, in the middle of the grassland, was a place of power- an artifact of another age, understood by few- but tonight it was alive, and humming, and he was here.
Standing before it he could see other places- a desert wasteland, a volcanic hellscape, then an icy tundra. All he had to do was step through, and he was there. More images flickered past- a city in the clouds, then some kind of rig in a vast sea. Where was she? She could be anywhere, tomorrow or yesterday or next year. They had long known that sometimes the Gates would send you to other times as well as places- it was uncommon but it happened. Where are you, Anna?
He looked up at the stars as if for guidance. He wondered briefly about the people who had called this place home. Were any of them left? Other than the deranged mutants that had attacked him back in the city. He didn't know, would never know. There was something peaceful about the never- ending grassland, something relaxing- but he couldn't stay here. He had to find Anna, she was waiting for him. And she was probably also looking at a strange sky this night. Or was she at Control, helpless as they monitored the beacons, but not able to really find him. Not really.
He could see freezing winds now over a snowy landscape, and figures in thick parkas trudging through the snow, towards a distant structure of some sort. The view cleared, and then flashes of lightning and he could hear thunder, but could see little. There was no way to know how long the Gate would be open, or even why it had opened. Most likely due to his presence here, having come through barely three days ago, and no doubt the beacon played a role. It might be open for five minutes, or a year. He had little time to waste.
He thought again of the folly of this- trusting artifacts they didn't understand, playing a game they could never win. How can you win when you don't know the rules? The Gates had been there before them, and they would probably never truly understand them. But he couldn't deny the benefits, the things they had found- and if only the unscrupulous were allowed to go through, what would that end with? No they didn't have a choice, had never had a choice- but this was the price to pay. The possibility of never going home.
The beacon was in his hands now, and it was glowing a faint blue. Of course it was. Like recognizes like. Tropical trees swaying in a breeze. He steeled himself, knowing the nausea would come. A great ship among the stars, ablaze with lights and observation bubbles. He raised the beacon and ran his hands over the strange designs, the language of a race that had been gone before his kind even reached the heavens. He could only hope Control would see him, be able to pinpoint him amidst the vastness of forever. And that the Gate would sense his intentions. That played a role also. Trust, now. It's all I have left.
He was looking as if through a window, out at strange swirling vapors- some kind of limbo. Then there were flying creatures, winging over a vast plain. That passed, and he could see a vast ocean, dotted with islands. He waited. And then, astonishingly, he was looking at himself. Staring into his own eyes, backlit by a bluish glow from the beacon and a magnificent canopy of stars overhead. He was stunned. Had this ever happened? Then he was gone. The other he, that is.
Thousands of possibilities, the tapestry of creation laid out before him. All he had to do was choose. But he would never find Anna that way. No, he had to trust. And wait. It might have been minutes, or it might have been hours. And then the beacon flared to life, dazzling him with its brilliance. It was alive, and pulling him. The Gate hummed as well, and he knew. It was time.
The swirling mists coalesced into a view, a door to somewhere else. To Anna?
He stepped through.