Coincidence?

More than a mage, Aisha considered herself a procurer. Traveling the world searching for things people wanted interested her much more than researching in a lab ever did. Most of her clients were mages, since nonmages rarely had anything to offer her. Information, however, was always a welcome currency, if it was the right sort.

It wasn’t easy, but she had finally tracked down the person she’d been looking for. One of her old suppliers had provided her with the identity of the mage and location of his house. The supplier hadn’t been in touch with the man for several years, so it was possible he had moved. The fact that he had lost touch was the only reason the supplier was willing to help her at all.

While shifting through shadows was useful in her work, she often preferred trying to do things straightforwardly. In this case, there was no benefit to sneaking around, so she simply knocked on the door.

The man who answered did not fit the description she had been given, but that didn’t mean much when it came to mages.

“Jonathan?”

The man grimaced. “No. Stephen.”

“Is Jonathan here?”

“You better come in.”

* * *

Days later, Aisha returned to the cabin she and Julia shared. As expected, Julia wasn’t there, but from here she could take a door leading to Julia’s rooms in her house. Unaware she’d been holding her breath, she sighed in relief when she saw that the portal was still open and no new barrier had been erected.

“I’m back,” she yelled as she stepped through.

Julia was in her workroom, studying some notes on her desk. She didn’t look up when Aisha walked in. “Do you know how much power it takes to . . .”

Aisha lifted Julia’s chin and gave her a long kiss on the lips. She felt Julia return the affection.

“I’ve missed you, too,” Julia said when the moment ended. “What happened?”

Aisha sat in a chair next to the desk. “I found the time mage that had provided the temporal infused quartz all those years ago.”

“That’s great!”

“No, it isn’t. He’s dead.”

“He’s dead?”

“Yes, but there’s more.”

“Good news?” Julia’s question sounded hopeful, but the look on her face said she knew better.

“No. I tried tracking down several other temporal mages. At least five. They had all died within the last ten years. To be more accurate, they’d all been killed.”

“Six? That can’t be coincidence, can it?”

“With everything both of us have seen, can you think of any evidence that coincidence exists?”

“Do we know who killed them?”

“We know they were killed by magic, but whoever did it was never caught.” Mages handled such matters by themselves, not wanting to involve the law enforcement of nonmages. “Because the killings were spread out, in both time and space, no one seems to have considered them connected. I don’t even know if was one person or multiple people. But like I said, I don’t believe in coincidence.”

“And now Thomas has been attacked by unknown mages. For the second time.”

“That’s why I think all of these have to be connected somehow.”

“Who is doing this? And why?”

“I don’t know yet. But we will figure it out. Promise.” Aisha leaned forward and kissed Julia once more.

After the Siege

“Matthew?! What happened?” Sarah’s surprise threatened to overwhelm her.

“If I could sit . . .” His voice was strained, and every movement caused his face to contort with pain.

“Of course.”

Sarah and David slowly led Matthew to one of the big armchairs where he collapsed into the soft cushions. While Matthew tried to find a comfortable position, David spoke.

“I found him tied up in a basement down the street. The men who entered the house earlier came from there. I think they were holding him.”

“Good guess, kid. They thought I could help them, give them information on the house. In the end, though, they just left me there. Did they get Thomas?”

Sarah wasn’t sure how much to tell him. Trust wasn’t an issue between them, but she wasn’t sure he was strong enough at the moment to deal with the whole situation. “He’s still upstairs. Not dead. My current priority, however, is your well-being. How badly are you hurt?”

“I’ve felt better, but I’m going to live.” He forced a smile.

The light-heartedness he was trying to project actually caused her to worry more. “Do you think they’ll come back?”

“Hard to say. If they didn’t get him, they’ll be back. I don’t know how soon.” The pain showing on his face had become constant.

“Rebecca? Can you help?”

“Of course.” Rebecca closed her eyes and stretched out her hand towards Mathew. After only a few seconds, his head dropped towards his chest, and his breathing steadied. “Julia, I need some help getting him to the infirmary.”

Julia opened a portal and helped Rebecca carry him through.

“So what happened in the house?”

Sarah was thinking about Matthew and didn’t hear David’s question.

“Sarah?”

“Sorry.” She shook her head a bit to try to bring her focus back to the moment. “What did you say?”

“I asked what happened.”

“As Matthew said, they were after Thomas.”

“But they failed?”

A wave of exhaustion swept over her once more, so she slumped into a chair. “Sort of. Thomas is in his room, frozen in time. Two of the attackers are up there, too. They didn’t kill or capture him, but he is currently incapacitated.”

“How do we save him?”

“That’s what we were discussing when you came in. We aren’t sure yet.”

“Why didn’t you tell Matthew.”

“He needs rest. Needs to recover. There’s nothing he can do right now in his condition. Was there anything else in the house where you found him? Any clue?”

“No. The place was empty. I doubt they had been there long.”

“Okay. You should get some rest, too. Oh, and would you mind not leaving the house for the next few days. If they do come back, I’d rather have you in here with us.”

“Sure. Whatever I can do.”

“And David? Thank you for finding Matthew.”

“Purely accidental. But you’re welcome.”

David left Sarah alone with her thoughts. Matthew being back in the house, even wounded, managed to give her a little comfort, but there were still a lot of unknowns to deal with. Her first task was studying the features of the men in Thomas’s room. She wanted to be able to reproduce them as exactly as possible.

Siege (part eight)

“So there are three people frozen in time in Thomas’s room, and we have no idea how to release them?” Rebecca’s voice betrayed the toll that stress had taken on her.

“Yes. That is the current situation.” Sarah felt exhausted.

“On a positive note, the barrier seems to be gone.” Julia tried to sound upbeat but failed.

The three women were sitting downstairs. They had tried to move the men without success. For now, at least, they were stuck in their current positions.

“Can you use your blue crystal?” Rebecca asked Julia.

“No. I haven’t figured out how to extend its use. I was lucky that it worked on Bailey. But mind control is a different sort of magic than temporal stasis.”

Rebecca slumped further into her chair, the hope she had harbored briefly fully extinguished.

“We need another temporal mage.” Julia said. “Do you know anyone, Sarah?”

“No. Thomas was . . .” She caught herself. “ . . . is the only one I’ve met. It’s clear they were after him, but we still don’t know why.”

Silence fell over them as each reflected on the matter. For her part, Sarah was not certain how to feel. She knew she couldn’t leave Thomas as he was, but it might mean the house was safe, at least for now. On the other hand, he might also have an idea as to who their attackers were, or even why they had attacked.

“We should restore our own defenses. Whoever it was that got away, he could come back. Can you put up a barrier of our own, Julia?” Sarah refused to sit still and wait for the next thing to happen.

“I can, but there is a reason I didn’t put one up before. With preparation, they can be taken down. It worked in this case because we didn’t have the time to break it. If I set one up, they could figure out how to deal with it before we notice. At best, it would slow them down.”

“That’s better than nothing.”

“Okay. I just wanted you to know the limits of it. I’ll put one up and reactivate the long hallway. Leaving one up for too long might also attract unwanted attention. Once I can figure out a way to remove barriers quickly, I think we should consider taking it down.”

“What about the men upstairs?” Rebecca asked.

“There’s nothing we can do about them, remember?” Sarah answered.

“No. I meant, what if the stasis is temporary. What if they can start moving. They’re still a threat.”

“That’s a good point. I’ll put up a barrier around them. Even if they manage to break out, at least we’ll know.”

“I’m sorry to put so much on you, Julia.” Sarah said.

Julia shrugged. “Defending the house is my job. It’s why you all let me stick around in spite of my anti-social attitude.”

“That’s not true,” Sarah protested.

“Relax. I’m joking. Mostly. Anyway, it’ll give me something to do.”

“Rebecca. Do you think you could contact Thomas’s soul? See if it’s frozen too? Maybe we can contact him through the spirit world?”

Rebecca appeared to think about the idea for a few moments. “I can try. I don’t know if it will work, but I will try.”

“That’s all I ask. I will see if I can track down the identities of our uninvited guests. Maybe that will provide us with some answers.”

They heard the front door open and then David’s voice.

“Barrier’s down. Is anybody here?”

“In here,” Sarah replied.

David came around the corner, but he wasn’t alone. He was supporting another person who seemed to be unconscious.

“David! Who . . .?” Sarah had rushed over to help.

At the sound of her voice, the figure raised its head and gave her a weak smile. “Sarah. It’s good to see you.”

Her surprise caused her to take a step back. “Matthew?!”

Siege (part seven)

“Try again,” Rebecca insisted.

Sarah knocked on Thomas’s door again, with the same result. It didn’t make a sound. She looked at the other two mages and shrugged. They knew that others had entered the house, but they had been unable to locate them. Thomas’s room was the obvious place to check.

“I’m guessing it’s sealed,” Julia said. “We probably couldn’t move it no matter what we do.”

“Couldn’t you bypass the door?” Rebecca asked.

“Don’t.” Sarah said to stop Julia from trying. “We have no idea what’s going on in there.” Sarah leaned against the wall.

“So we just sit out here and wait?” Rebecca sounded frustrated.

Neither Sarah nor Julia answered. Sarah wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but a part of her thought that Thomas deserved whatever was happening. His recklessness had driven Matthew away, killed Jason, and he had refused to help Rebecca when she had been taken. If this attack was aimed at him, then he hand endangered everyone. Again. Saving him from himself . . . Saving those he so casually put in harm’s way over and over . . . It was all exhausting. She would rather not continue doing it.

But the rest of her knew she couldn’t ignore the situation. Thomas was a member of this house, and she wouldn’t abandon him, even if that’s what he would do. “Julia, do you think you can get in?”

“Probably.” The spatial mage focused her attention on the wall beside the door. She took a few steps down the hallway, before turning back. “Here. You want me to open it? Are you ready?”

Sarah nodded. “Do it. But let me go in first.”

The wall appeared to flow open, and on the other side, she could see a man crouching over Thomas. It looked as though he was trying to pick the mage up and not having any success. The moment he noticed her, he began casting.

Sarah had already crafter multiple images of herself, leaving him without a clear target.

“This again,” he muttered. He pulled spell sphere from his pocket and dropped it as his feet.

Julia yelled from behind her as the portal opened up, but it was too late. The man had already jumped through, and it closed behind him.

“Can you follow him?”

Julia shook her head.

Thomas hadn’t moved at all, so Sarah bent down to check on him. He didn’t seem to be breathing and was completely stiff. More than that, she realized, she couldn’t move him at all; not even his skin gave way to her touch. It was as though he had turned to marble.

“What about these guys?”

Julia’s question drew her attention to the rest of the room. There were two men standing near the door, and neither of them were moving.

Sarah suddenly understood. “Stasis. They are frozen in time. So is Thomas. They must be the other mages who came into the house.”

“Frozen in time? I didn’t realize that was even possible.” Rebecca said. “How do we unfreeze them?”

Sarah looked back down at Thomas. “I have no idea.”

Siege (part six)

The only type of mage rarer than temporal mages were those who specialized in chaos magic. Thomas had only ever met one of those, and that was Jason. Chaos mages had a tendency to fall victim to fatal accidents. On the other hand, he had met a few temporal mages during his apprenticeship. They weren’t prone to accidents; there just seemed to be fewer born with that gift. He had really never asked why; he simply had thought himself special.

Now that another house he belonged to was under attack, Thomas began to wonder if someone might be targeting temporal mages. That didn’t seem likely, though, and he still had no explanation for why his houses kept being attacked.

Without warning, the door to his rooms opened, and three men entered. The face of one of them was very familiar to him: it was the man Thomas watched attack him over and over again fifteen years ago. He was older, but Thomas was certain it was him.

“No destruction this time? Have you come to talk?”

The man sneered at him. “We just needed to get past that damn spatial mage of yours. But if you want destruction, we can oblige.”

A shimmer Thomas had only barely noticed disappeared from around the three men. Recognizing his chance, he tossed a spell sphere at their feet. As soon as it struck the floor, the sphere exploded in a blinding burst of light that enveloped all three of them. When it subsided, two of men were frozen in time. The third, the one he had recognized, was still moving.

“A stasis bomb. Clever. But I told you before, you aren’t the only person with access to temporal magic.”

“Who are you? What do want?”

The other man frowned. “You don’t really expect me to waste time explaining myself, do you? You have been a thorn in my side for too long. No more.” He pointed at the floor beneath Thomas’s feet. Thee floor began to rot away, and he barely had time to leap away.

“Impressive. But you can’t run forever.” The man brought out a spell sphere of his own and threw it at Thomas. He easily dodged it, but the chair behind him burst into flame.

Deciding to ignore the fire for now, Thomas cast a spell towards his opponent. The man ducked and smiled.

“That was a rather feeble . . .” His mouth kept moving but no sound came out.

“I wasn’t aiming at you.” The other man couldn’t hear him, of course. He began gasping for breath with no success. Thomas had stopped all the air around him. No sound could travel through that area, and it was impossible to inhale anything. The solution was temporary, since the area was finite, but it gave Thomas time to reach his cabinet.

As he opened it to grab something that would help, the intruder pulled another spell sphere out of his pocket and threw it at Thomas. This time, he didn’t dodge, and electricity shot through him causing him to collapse in convulsions. Meanwhile, the other man had finally found the edge of the frozen area. On his knees, he took several gulping breaths while recovering from oxygen deprivation.

The electricity had subsided, but Thomas was quickly losing consciousness. Out of options, he pulled out a small sphere and swallowed it. It was the only chance he had to save himself; he just had to hope that his housemates would save him from this desperate act.

Siege (part five)

Turning several street corners to throw off anyone who might be following him, David put a fair bit of distance between himself and the magic shop. No one seemed to be following him. Maybe it was just an unlucky coincidence that he lost contact with Julia when he did, but he didn’t want to take any chances.

Ducking into a narrow alley, he looked around to make sure no one else was nearby. Once he was satisfied, he slipped on Sarah’s invisibility ring. He hadn’t seen any need for it, but Sarah insisted he keep it. Now he was grateful she had. Safe from prying eyes – he hoped – David made his way back to the house.

As soon as it came into view, he knew something was off. The building always had an air of magic about it, if you knew how to look. But this was different, unfamiliar. This magic, whatever it was, might be responsible for severing the connection with Julia. Leaving the ring on, David approached the house carefully.

He went to open the door, but something stopped him from touching the doorknob. A barrier was wrapped around the house, though he had no idea who created it or why. Had Julia set it up to keep someone out? Or had someone else set it up to trap everyone inside?

He considered trying to use brute force to break through, but that had too many downsides. For one thing, it might not work, and all he would have accomplished is announcing his presence. On the other hand, using elemental magic might even damage the house. Without knowing more, he decided to wait and see what would happen next.

Over an hour passed uneventfully. Tired of waiting, David decided to try to get through the barrier. As he approached the house once more, he noticed three people leave a house down the block and walk in his direction. The ring’s magic appeared to still be working, so he hoped they weren’t coming for him. Indeed, they walked right past him and up to the front door. All of them appeared middle-aged and male; none of them looked familiar to him.

Effortlessly, they opened the door and entered the house. David tried to follow them inside, but the barrier remained intact. If they could pass through, they were probably responsible for setting it up in the first place. But knowing that didn’t help him.

Instead, he went to the house where the men had come from. There was a “For Sale” sign in the front yard, and the place seemed unoccupied. The front door was unlocked, so he went in as quietly as he could.

There wasn’t any furniture in the living room. In fact, every room was empty, and there was no indication of who the men were. Had they even really been here? To be thorough, he decided to check the basement, too.

As with the rest of the house, there was nothing in it. It was hard to imagine that anyone had ever lived here. He noticed a door at the far end of the large space. Opening it, he found himself in front of a person blindfolded and tied to a chair.

Siege (part four)

The pounding in her head was the first thing Julia became aware of. Underneath her was the hard ground, bare of any vegetation. The light was that of the late afternoon, but there was no sun overhead. She was in one her own extra spaces. The explosion must have thrown her inside, probably sparing her from the worst of the blast. Behind her, the portal to her room was still open.

On the other side, she saw Rebecca and Sarah just sitting in the middle of the debris. Neither was moving; they just seemed to be staring at nothing.

“Rebecca. Sarah.” She called to them, but they didn’t react.

When she tried to pass through back to her room, Julia discovered another barrier had cut her off. This one had the same resonance as the one around the house. Whoever was responsible must have erected it after she had been tossed through the portal. This barrier extended all around the space, trapping her in an even smaller area, only about five feet in diameter.

Her friends weren’t in any condition to help her. The mage who had erected these barriers – even using them to circumvent the Long Hallway – was impressive. But how impressive? There was little doubt as to their skill, but how much stamina did they have? How much magical resources did they have at their disposal?

While this space was small, Julia had intended to make it larger, so she began adding volume to it now. If nothing else, it would give her more room to think. Someone watching from the other side wouldn’t notice any change because only the portal was in her room. But the barrier would have to grow to cut off the entire area and keep her trapped; otherwise, she could just create another portal somewhere else.

As her pocket dimension grew, she could feel the barrier thinning. Julia had a number of the white crystals with her, so she had plenty of energy. Eventually, the barrier broke apart, popping like a balloon. The other mage must have reached their limit and chose to maintain the barrier around the house instead of fighting her.

Julia quickly stepped through the portal and let it fade behind her. Would the same trick work on the larger barrier around the house? She wasn’t sure. It would probably require a lot of magic to create enough extra space, and she wasn’t sure she had that many crystals available.

Before working through that problem, she needed to wake her friends. Shaking each of them by their shoulders didn’t work. Even yelling in their ears had no effect. It was like they were hypnotized or possessed . . .

Julia jumped up and hurried to her work bench. It had been years – at least from her perspective – since she had seen it, but it was here somewhere. After sifting through the clutter, she found what she was looking for in a drawer: the blue crystal she had made for Bailey. With the crystal, she ran back to the other mages and put it into Sarah’s hands. It took only a few moments for Sarah’s eyes to begin to focus.

“Julia?”

“Yeah. Hold on.” Julia thrust the blue crystal into Rebecca’s hands.

“We were looking for you, but couldn’t find you.” Sarah sounded unsure of her own words.

“I think someone was messing with your heads, though I don’t know for sure. I think you’re okay now. Rebecca? Are you with us?”

Rebecca nodded. “We definitely need someone who specializes in mind magic.”

“Later. Right now, we need to deal with the barrier on the house.”

“I think I have an idea,” Sarah offered.

Siege (part three)

All spatial magic has a signature. Each mage bends space according to a resonance unique to that mage. If one could isolate the resonance, and one knew the mage’s signature, it would be a simple matter to identify who had cast a given spell. However, the differences in resonance also meant that it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, for one mage to disrupt the spell of another.

Unfortunately, Julia didn’t recognize the resonance of the barrier surrounding the house and had little experience breaking through them. Her own defenses for the house didn’t involve a barrier but, rather, a series of spatial trap doors that one could only avoid with the badges she had created. Now that she was trapped inside someone else’s barrier, she had to figure out how to breach it. There had to be a way through since their assailants would presumably need to enter at some point.

Sitting in her rooms, she continued probing the barrier, looking for a weak point. The door to Esther’s place wasn’t functioning, and she was still unable to open a portal to anywhere else. If she could get in touch with Aisha, or David . . . But she hadn’t even been able to manage that much.

Not knowing when something else might happen made it difficult for her to focus. Absentmindedly, she began creating a small space, separate from her room. She couldn’t get to anywhere outside the house, but this space didn’t technically exist outside the house. As she shaped it and added some of her own design preferences, she became more absorbed by the process.

When she realized what she had been doing, Julia felt a twinge of guilt for wasting magical energy on something frivolous. They might need it to defend themselves against whatever was coming next. However, she quickly realized that this space might be useful. If they needed to escape or hide, this would be perfect.

The sound of her door opening drew her attention. Some sort of object, roughly the size of a shoebox, floated into the room. The object was on the other side of the barrier that wrapped around the house. Whoever had created it, had formed a hollow, tentacle-like impression that acted like a deep indentation in the barrier. As far as the house was concerned, the object was outside, beyond the barrier. It was a clever way to manipulate the barrier to move things around without running afoul of the house’s defenses.

The tendril closed behind the object before releasing it. It fell to the floor without ever allowing an opening Julia might have exploited. Her admiration for the novel use of spatial magic kept her from realizing the danger that this intrusion represented. The explosion knocked her backwards, and the world went black.

Siege (part two)

Minutes went by, but their search turned up nothing. While they continued sifting through the rubble, Sarah asked, “Are you certain Julia was in here?”

“This is where she was when I lost contact. Could she have gotten out?”

“When I asked her about breaking through the barrier, she said it was probably impossible. But maybe she found a way? And doing so created an explosion? I just don’t know.” Sarah couldn’t help but feel anxious. They were already down a member with David outside of the house. If Julia was also missing, the house’s defenses would be seriously compromised.

“Well, I don’t see any signs of her,” Rebecca said. “I hope your speculation is right, because all the other possibilities I can think of are horrible.”

Sarah nodded in agreement.

A door leading to one of the back rooms opened and Julia walked out. “What’s going on out here?”

“Julia?!” Both women exclaimed in unison.

“What happened to you?” Sarah asked.

“Where did you go?” Rebecca’s question overlapped Sarah’s.

“What are you talking about? I’ve been right here.” Irritation was obvious in her voice and body language. “Why did you two break into my room? And what did you do to create this mess?”

Sarah looked to Rebecca, who briefly closed her eyes. “It’s her.”

Sarah turned back to Julia. “Don’t you remember? The house is under attack. We thought you’d been hurt because Rebecca lost contact with you.”

“You were spying on me?” Julia glared at Rebecca.

Sarah stepped between the two women so that Julia would be forced to look at her. “Julia. What is going on? We were working together. We are all in danger. Why are you acting like we’re the enemy?”

Julia’s anger seemed to subside a little, and confusion replaced it. “That doesn’t make sense. I don’t recall any of that.”

“Is she under the influence of a spell?”

Rebecca shrugged. “I can’t tell. I know it’s her, but I don’t have any good way to determine whether there is a spell on her.”

“You think someone has messed with my head?”

Sarah gestured at the room. “You don’t remember this happening. You didn’t hear it happen, even though you said you were here. Rebecca and I arrived after this. Do you have any explanation?”

Julia thought for a few moments and then lashed out, her anger returning in force. “Just get out of here.”

“Julia, you’re not making sense. We need to work together.”

“I’ve seen how Thomas works, Sarah. I’m not interested.”

Sarah was caught off guard. Hadn’t Julia let go of her animosity toward Thomas? Even if someone had erased her recent memories, they wouldn’t have wiped fifteen years worth, would they? Could they?

To Rebecca, she asked, “Are you certain this is her?”

“Without a doubt.”

“How did . . .”

Sarah was struck by a wave of disorientation. When it passed, she returned to searching through the rubble. “Are you certain Julia was in here?”

Rebecca nodded. “This is where she was when I lost contact. Could she have gotten out?”

Siege (part one)

Rebecca had no experience with an attack on a House, unless Peter’s attempted abduction counted. According to Sarah, such attacks were not unheard of, but her family had never been subjected to one. An advantage of being isolated from the rest of the world, she assumed.

Nothing had happened yet, but both Julia and Sarah were convinced something was coming. How were they to prepare for such an attack without knowing when it would come or what form it would take? Her expertise seemed particularly ill-suited for dealing with this situation.

Once more, she had been asked to stretch her abilities and connect everyone mentally. If they survived this, she was going to insist on recruiting a mentalist mage. Spirit magic wasn’t really mean for this. The best she could do in this situation was to keep track of emotional states. It lacked the exactness of verbal communication, but it should alert her if someone was attacked. Julia had left a small portal open for her to share information, but because she was also trying to prepare, she had only had the concentration for keeping one open.

Something began tapping her leg. Looking down, she saw the bear trying to get her attention. It had been roaming the halls on the lookout for anything unusual. It was motioning her to follow.

“Julia?”

“Busy.” Julia’s voice sounded strained.

“My bear found something. I’m going to go check it out.”

“Be careful.”

The bear led her through the hallway to the stairs leading down to the first floor. At the bottom of the stairs laid a pack of cards. Jason used to play, but she hadn’t seen a deck since his death.

A slight distortion shimmered in the air around the cards. It quickly dissipated, and the cards seemed to settle more naturally on the floor. As she tried to puzzle out what had happened, a wave of surprise washed over her and then vanished. Someone was missing.

She located Sarah’s calm, determined mind immediately. After a few moments, Thomas’s mix of anxiety and irritation came into focus. “Julia?” There was no response. She couldn’t find the spatial mage anywhere.

Taking the steps two at a time, Rebecca hurried to Julia’s door and began knocking loudly. “Julia? Julia!”

Her own fear grew with the silence. No one else was experiencing distress, so she ran to Sarah’s room. The other mage opened the door immediately.

“Something has happened with Julia.”

“Where?” Sarah’s calm demeanor helped ease Rebecca’s own anxiety a little.

“Her room.”

Sarah walked quickly down the hall to Julia’s door and knocked. “Julia?”

“I already tried.”

With a slight hesitation, Sarah grabbed the knob and turned it. Both women were surprised when the door swung wide open.

Instead of the void they had found the last time they had entered Julia’s rooms uninvited, there was a room. However, it looked like the aftermath of explosion. Debris was scattered everywhere, and the ceiling had collapsed. They could see an inky void through the hole. Without waiting another moment, both of them began digging through the rubble, looking for their friend.