From “Solitude” (by Thomas Weaver & Paul B. Spence)
I slept in someone’s tool shed on a pile of canvas sacking, that first night after I made my escape. I didn’t think I was entirely safe, but… safe enough, surely. They would have no way of knowing which Door I’d gone through, or even that I was no longer in the JRC, until it was too late.
That was what I told myself, anyway.
I was awake well before dawn, anxious to get more miles between myself and the place where a Door opened into that world. For a world a team had visited recently, things were fairly quiet. There was evidence of a massive battle, but I stayed away from those fields. The stench of the corpses sometimes followed me for miles, though. I didn’t think the locals would be happy to see me; whatever the JRC team had done here had probably resulted in many deaths.
Just in case, I left town and road behind, and set off across country. I miss the smell of the woods, the blue sky over my head… Have you ever seen a sky without clouds or rain? Soon, I told myself, soon I’ll find a place to stay for a few years, until they forget or give up. But I didn’t think it was going to be that easy, and I was right. They caught up with me on the fourth day: my onetime colleagues, sent to take me back to the JRC.
They were led by Kendall, his leg either fixed or replaced. The man who’d once taught me to use a rifle, just as I’d taught him how to use a crossbow, now faced me with my own preferred weapon at ready. Light glinted like ice and fire from the steel-tipped quarrel.
(Want to read the whole story? Download the free PDF from my clone-sibling’s website.)