She smiled. Eyes feral and full of a threat like the ending of the world.
There was an explosion and he started screaming. I shove the door open and hurl down the hall.
Thump, thump, thump, heartbeats and seconds, down the hall turn left, to the window. Pressure building behind me. Window so close.
I pounce up and into the air, wincing in anticipation and pain as the window impacts my face.
Phantom claws slash through my pants. Feels like I just lost my foot. But I’ve made it, falling endlessly into the aether.
I turn and as the fog takes me I see blackness wrapping round the window I just defenestrated through. Two glowing eyes stare down at me. Then nothing.
I fall forever. Forever and not at all. Falling through time and space. Then a glimpse of a thought catches me and I slide, out and into reality. Free of the queen, escaped from the professor. The street is wet, wet and hard. I push myself up. Take stock.
My foot is a bleeding oozing mess. All my weight stays on the right, whole one. My face is cut but I’m alive. I limp down a rain filled street empty of friends and full of gawking strangers until I see a sign with a warm drink.
Pushing the door open is easy enough. I hold open my eyes and bleed to a counter. Pulling out my pockets I find some coins and pour them onto the counter.
I imagine I must look a little ridiculous. The room is all staring at me. The guy behind the counter says something. I see another speaking rapidly into phone. I smile and gesture towards the drinks. The guy behind the counter rushes something warm next to me.
I throw the drink back. My tongue screams and my throat clogs in pain and sadness. The warmth rushes into me like the shock of a fist. And with it something else. I know where I am. Somewhere south of Boston.
The police are coming, and ambulance. I look down at my foot and smile again. I made it out didn’t I? Still holding the drink, I draw a blessing on the counter with my blood. Sirens start to appear in the sounds around me.
I fall backwards, releasing the will to stand, and as I fall I whisper at the roof. “Catch me if you dare…Never this mouse, never this hare.”
In my dreams I remember what was, the times in her velvet cages with the other children. The training under the professor. The Glass towers amid a garden full of roses. A world that will be.
This just doesn’t feel right. It feels like its missing something. Like I’m not telling you everything. I wake up. I look around. It’s a weird hospital place, I’m connected to half a dozen wires and monitors and a nurse is writing stuff.
She says something about me being awake and asks my name.
I try to tell her, honest. But fail. Even the drink doesn’t help. It comes out garbled and she cocks her head to one side.
I just shake my head. She wanders off to get the doctor and I pick myself up out of the bed. And with that I’m out the window again. Crawling along a ledge. A glance down shows me a roof that’s empty. I gather shadow and poof to the roof.
A deep breath, then I jauntily scroll to a fire escape and let myself down. My foot feels better, almost healed now.
I meander down the busy daytime street, bumping into people politely as I go. By the time I’m at the train station I have 3-4 passes and a goodly collection of coins and paper denominations. I consult a map and head south, an eight hour trip or more.
The time passes quickly.
She won’t stop with the aether. She’ll have scouts out and hunting me soon enough. And thanks to the wild fall I’m trapped here with no gates. Well, no known gates. Every place has some.
Magic is thin here though. Unlikely that they’ve even mapped their gates.
I spend most of the trip sleeping, resting and eating. Eating ever so much. Before getting on the train I had taken the time to hit up a store for supplies and a bag. I’ve emptied the bag. The passenger next to me makes several comments about me being hungry and alluding to saving some for later.
I smile at him. And finish off my second jar of peanut based nonsense.
Healing takes it out of you.
Pulling out a deck of cards I shuffle them. Playing solitaire with dice thug style I wait for the trip to end.
Three stops before my destination I get off. West now.
Hopefully they won’t know this world well enough to follow me too closely.
I’m almost full when the first one finds me. A young girl. One of the newest classes. She wasn’t really expecting to find me, I can tell. Her eyes go wide.
I run as the crowd starts to scream. I duck into an alley and shift into another one. Then I meander out and join the crowd. Maybe an island, I think. I think that would stop her trackers. But water. I shiver. Water doesn’t like me too much.
Not sea water anyways.
Too soon. I wanted time to build up traps, defenses, and a layer of different hiding places. She’ll know her pet is gone. They’ll converge now.
No one gets away.
I’m already way past that curve. No one tells her no, but I have. And lived, so far.
So I’ll be something special. There’s at least one thing going in my favor. This won’t be routine. They don’t have practice with this.
Then again. The White Queen.
I charter a boat for an island. The sea roared as I passed over it. I almost felt bad. The true Sea takes time to really notice but in a few days there would be a trail of storms rippling over where I had gone. The boat is fast though, so they won’t have time to catch up.
We reach the island and I take a risk. A plane to the other side of the world. The boat ride had gotten me thinking. Magic really was thin her. That scout had been super unprepared. I must be on the extreme edge of the known world.
What if I just dug in here?
My limited talents don’t require as much as her top tier enforcers. And my skills would overwhelm any of the weaker ones.
I wonder if she would come after me personally. It would mean publically acknowledging my challenge. That would cost more than I think I’m really worth. Then again.
I don’t think she’s going to be willing to let me set the precedence. To let me be the first to get away.
I get off the plane and run for the mountains. I almost make it.