“Julia!” Rebecca’s warning carried through the portal. From where she was sprawled on the floor, Julia could see Thomas trying to make his way back through the portal. Stopping him was her priority, so she did the only thing she could think of: she closed the portal.
Pulling herself up, she slowly walked over to where the portal had been and just stared at the emptiness in its place. She was fifteen years in her past with no means of returning to her present. On the floor was a severed hand. It had to be Thomas’s, caught on the wrong side of the portal when it had shut. Voices on the other side of the door warned her that others were about to enter the lab, so she grabbed the hand and crouched behind one of the tables.
“. . . never seen anything like it.” That sounded like Thomas, but younger.
“Where is it?” An older male voice she didn’t recognize.
“What? It was here! You must believe me.”
“I do, Thomas. Do you know what sort of portal it was?”
“As I said, I did not recognize it.”
“Research it. Come find me when you know. Then we can decide how to proceed. I will check the rest of the house.”
The door opened and closed again, then she heard someone, presumably Thomas, open a book and begin paging through it. Thomas had said he wanted to learn something in this time, but what? It couldn’t be about the portal. The moment they traveled back he must have realized what the portal was. So what had he come for?
Thomas was always so secretive; it was why she had never trusted him. This could be a chance to find out more about him, about his past. Something important happened on this day, in this place. Important enough for him to solicit her help to come back here. However, she didn’t know what he had been looking for, and she had no idea how her presence here might alter events. Her focus had to be on finding a way to return to her own present.
From behind the table, she heard the door open again, followed by the sounds of someone casting. This might have been the event Thomas wanted to learn about, but whatever it was, Julia was certain she didn’t want to be involved. She needed a distraction so she could get out of the situation. At least, that was the excuse she told herself. In her heart, she knew that she could probably have just left without drawing too much attention. After all, someone was casting a spell which probably meant that things were about to become chaotic without her help. She just wanted to be sure, and it almost certainly wasn’t to mess with Thomas. Probably.
Without a reliable location set up in advance, there was no controlled chaos she could create. Instead, she simply opened a portal in the ceiling to let whatever was in the room above fall into Thomas’s lab. Once things began to drop, she opened a second portal and left the lab before anything else could happen. She didn’t know what spell the new arrival had been about to cast, and she didn’t wait to see Thomas’s reaction.
Once more on the street, she wandered aimlessly. Fifteen years ago, she would have still been in training, so she wasn’t likely to run into her younger self. Jason already made it clear that he couldn’t help her, and approaching anyone else might have a ripple effect into the future. Thomas’s magic had made the trip possible, but now she had no access to time magic. If she couldn’t come up with a solution, she was stuck in her own past.