- Text Size +
Chapter Twenty Six

August 1, 2014

Yolo, California

Nick’s grip tightens on my arm. I watch his fingers curl around the compact. His eyes meet mine and I barely register the rise and fall of his chest. His eyes are fire. I look at Kal and the monstrous Frankengun.

“Is this some sort of joke?” Mike asks. The cameraman turns towards Kal.

“TURN THE DAMN THING OFF!” she screams.

The guy lowers the camera, but I see the telltale light of the recording light remain. She does too. Her reflexes are like lightning. Before I can register that Nick and I have a millimeter of a window to escape, she turns the gun and fires.

There is no sound. The light that emanates from the gun is a rainbow that shoots out almost like a tentacle, almost touching, but not quite, its target before spiraling back to its source. The cameraman appears unharmed except for the lack of expression on his face. He is totally blank. Unmoving. The second the light touches the gun, the thing is pointed back at Nick and me.

"What did you do to him?” Mike demands. “I don’t care if this is government property or not. You can’t just go around--”

Again, Kal quickly flicks her wrist and the gun goes off. This time, Nick and I are ready. We don’t even say a word. Both of us take off towards the door Kal had come in. As we fly through, Nick shielding me, I see a streak of light fly by.

It takes a split second for me to realize where the door leads. I take off down the hall, Nick right on my heels.

“I just need a second to press the button,” he says breathlessly.

I don’t answer. A large burly guy appears at the end of the hallway. I stop and survey the wall. My brain registers the large white vent and I make a split second decision.


I scramble in and hear Nick right behind me. The vent tunnel is endless blackness and my hands slap a thick dusty caked mess that flies right into my nose. I know that it will only be a minute, maybe less, before I'm overwhelmed by the sensation to sneeze.

The vent tunnel bends and it is a full two minutes before I see some slivers of light. My nose is dripping but I am holding in the sneeze that will give us away. Quietly. I push out the vent and proceed to tumble out. Nick's head appears a second later.

We are in another hallway, but it is deserted. I press myself against the wall and creep. Nick mimics my movements.

The numbers on the doors soon tell me we're nearing the back exit. One more turn and...


A flash of light misses Nick and me by a mile, but it serves to scare me enough that I reach blind panic level again. I grab blindly for the first doorknob I see. Miraculously it opens and I drag Nick inside with me. I gasp for breath.
The small room is completely dark except for the digital display light coming from Nick’s fingers. He’s taking us back to June 23. His finger hovers over the button.

"I couldn't press it in the tunnel," he apologizes. "Not enough room."

I grab his arm. "It doesn't matter," I sputter. "Let's go."

Before he can press down, we both lose our balance as a veritable explosion rocks us backwards. A shelf of cleaning supplies shakes as Nick’s back crashes against it and my body crashes against his. The compact falls from his fingers, sliding smoothly out of reach. Kal stands in the doorway, illuminated harshly by the yellow light of the hallway.

“Stay out here,” she commands to what I suspect is the giant Aladdin-esque guard.

She smiles slowly as she steps into the small closet and closes the door behind her. I see the display of the compact move as she takes it in her hands. We are trapped. In darkness. I close my eyes tightly.

“Before I do what I need to do,” she says. “I want to know where you got this, Mr. Carter.”

Nick’s arms wrap around me. I press my face into his chest.

"I put a fake one in the safe before we left for Cali. I’ve kept the original with me the whole time. Just in case.”

"Just in case?”

“I wasn’t going to lose Courtney. Again. Kill me, but just let her go. All I want is to know she’s with Ben and safe.”

“Do you realize you don’t belong here?”

“Do any of us really belong anywhere?”

His heart is racing, yet his voice is totally calm.

“You have, I imagine, your own version of my friend here in your dimension.”

"You’d be wrong.”

"Excuse me?”

Kal can’t mask her surprise. She is never wrong.

“I didn’t magically get a Courtney back when Josh took her.”

“Why not? You should have.”

“I don’t know, but I’m kind of partial to this one.”

"I’m not a slut,” I add. It’s the first words I’ve said in awhile. I realize I probably could have said them much more eloquently.

"Like I said,” Nick actually laughs. “I’m kind of partial to this one."

"Do you realize how much you've messed up everything?"

"You're not the first person to say that. Now if I can just say 'my bad,' Court and I will get on our way..."

Kal is quiet. I brace myself for the light. She has never been one to play frivolous games.

"Unfortunately," she says, "It's not going to be that simple."