Madeline stepped through the portal doorway quickly, her face red with embarrasment. She hadn't really intended to be disrespectful of the agent, she was just in a hurry to get through the wormhole before it closed. Why did Glen have to rub it in her face by bending over to help him? He had seemed even more surly and distant than ever lately, and she was at her wit's end trying to figure out why. Didn't he recognize how hard she worked to make him happy? This vacation was just another example. She had been planning for months, and the closest he had come to showing gratitude was when he stopped insisting he didn't want to go. She almost perferred active resistance to his silent, passive-aggressive attitude. Oh well. He could stay miserable if he wanted, she was going to enjoy her time off of work. No whining patients or arrogant doctors harrassing her, no inferior co-workers to infuriate her with their incompetence.
As she passed through the silvery-blue fog of the portal entrance, she felt the familiar cold chill of interdimensional travel. She hated it, but it usually only lasted an instant, and then she would be stepping out of the far end of the wormhole and into the destination terminal. This time though, something was wrong. She continued walking, which was weird, since in all her past travels she never remembered taking more than just the one step. Pick up your foot and step through the portal, and it came down on the floor of your destination. Surrounded by the silvery blue fog, she began to panic, and then she felt something grab her wrist.
Glen stepped through the portal with the same casual indifference as Madeline. He also was immediately surprised when after three or four seconds he was still surrounded by the silvery blue fog. He felt the panic rising in the back of his mind, but he forced it to the back of his mind. In his long years as a cop he had learned that panic is normal, but given free reign it would make it nearly impossible to think rationally. Instead, he funneled the burst of adrenaline to focus and sharpen his thoughts. He was no inter-dimensional physicist, but he knew that the human body could survive perpetually in the murky environment of the wormhole tunnel. In fact, while the body was in the midst of inter-dimensional travel it was in a sort of suspended animation and ceased to age at all. So on the bright side, if he was somehow stuck in the tunnel he would not die. On the other hand, he could conceivably sit here for centuries with nothing but his conscious mind for company. No physical sensation or awareness of the passage of time would wreak havoc on his sanity. He quickly squashed the memory of a story about a scientist in the early days of inter-dimensional travel who had become lost in a tunnel, only to emerge a century later irreversibly insane. He struggled to make some progress, not sure if he could actually make himself move, but the physical effort reassured him somewhat. As he waved his hand around him he thought he felt it brush against something. Instinctively he grasped it, amazed to find anything tangible in this murky place. As he grasped the thing, a terrified scream burst through the murk.
Madeline screamed, frozen with terror. Something had a hold of her wrist, and was gripping it with a cold viselike strength. She screamed until her lungs should have been emptied of air, but the scream continued. The fact that she could not feel the scream, nor the panic of having no air in her lungs made her even more terrified, and she screamed all the louder. Another hand grasped her arm, just a bit above the other and she felt as if her sanity was slowly slipping away. Then she heard a voice. It was a calm voice, speaking with a quiet authority and tinged with annoyance and disgust.
"Calm down Maddy, you are going to hurt yourself."
The surprise of having her hysteria interrupted by Glen's disgusted voice drove the panic immediately from her mind. She wanted to be angry, she wanted to hurt him. But the relief of understanding what the mysterious thing was that had grabbed her battled mightily with the impulse and finally won.
"Glen? Is that you? What is happening?" Her voice trembled with fear and anger, battling within her mind for control. She reached her other hand out and placed it over his hand where it grasped her wrist. Glen's maddeningly calm voice answered, seeming to come from everywhere at once.
"I'm not a freaking scientist am I? Your guess is as good as mine. It seems like we are stuck for some reason."
"I told you to hurry! This is all your fault."
Glen could not believe what he was hearing. Had she really gone from hysterical to catty that fast?
The portal agent whose name was Bill and who was looking forward to going off shift in five minutes entered the control room and dropped the stack of portal passes on the counter in front of a technician named Ted. He mechanically picked them up and dropped them in an auto counter which immediately began flipping through them.
"Which portal?" his bored voice intoned. "64B" Bill answered with the same amount of interest. He didn't even slow down to watch, but headed directly for the break area in the back. He was stopped by the voice of the Ted, which was no longer bored and disinterested.
"Which portal did you say?" Bill repeated the portal number over his shoulder without slowing. But Ted's next words stopped him in his tracks.
"It looks like we have a castaway... or two."
To Be Continued...
© 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved