Doubt at the Wrong Time

He sat quietly, legs crossed, and focused on his breathing. In and out. The feeling of air expanding his lungs and then being pushed out slowly filled his mind, excluding all other sensations. Only then did he open his eyes.

Lines of light stretched everywhere. If he concentrated he could pick out a line from any object to any other. Different colors meant different sorts of connections, but teasing out what they each stood for would take too long.

“We don’t have time for this.”

That was a problem when working with others: they didn’t know when to be quiet. “We have time.” His concentration was secure enough that talking would not interrupt it, but he did not want to test that too much. “Now let me work.” Another member of the group shushed the person who had spoken.

He went back to the lines. The ones coming from the doorframe were surprisingly weak. They didn’t look strong enough for his purposes. The lines coming from the walls, though… Those would do.

Picking out a dozen or so strands, he began to coax them into strengthening. Sections of the wall became more closely connected to other sections. There were so many other tricks he could get the lines to do, if only he had had more time. But there were footsteps drawing undeniably closer.

“Okay. There is not much more I can do. We should leave.”

“I don’t see anything.” It was the same man who had spoken earlier. He almost wish he had learned their names just so he could properly curse him now. Instead, he waved the rest of the group on. “Go. My friend here and I will catch up to you.” They did not hesitate and quickly exited through the other door.

The awareness of the lines had not faded completely. He quickly focused on one coming from the floor. Looking at the one who had interrupted him, he said, “We will wait so you can verify what I’ve done. I would not want you to think I am not doing my job.”

The man fidgeted a bit nervously, but his bravado predictably kept him from objecting. The footsteps soon grew very loud, and the guards came rushing into the room. The first two hit the invisible web of lines and immediately became entangled. The other two behind them stopped short, confused as to what kept their fellows from advancing.

“There. Now you see. Perhaps you will explain it to them when they free themselves.”

“What do you…?” His question was cut short by his fall. His foot appeared rooted to the floor, and he tried in vain to pull it free from its invisible anchor.

He simply nodded at the man, who began to yell to be freed. It was time to catch up to the others.

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