Maelstrom: Part 2

Hey guys! Guess who forgot today was Monday and thus a blog post day?? Lol! Anyway, here’s the next part of this new installment of the Adventures of Elizabeth Shelley! Sorry there’s not much to it, but stay tuned for next week for the next installment!

The Adventures of Elizabeth Shelley

Striding across the giant orange plateau, Rhett and I leave dusty footprints in our wake as we make our way toward the Doors. A few puffy, cartoon-ish clouds float over our heads, and the plateau is so high up I feel like I could just jump and touch one. Looking out across to the horizon, it’s clear enough today to see the lifeless, blackened surface stretching out miles below us. I wonder not for the first time what exactly happened all the way down there on the ground.

 

“Where are we even going, Elizabeth?” Rhett asks, officially giving into my pulling and walking alongside me normally.

 

“Hm.” I say, acting as though I haven’t already formulated my plan. “How about we pick somewhere from Malacia?”

 

Rhett still looks unimpressed as we cross the edge of the wegferend compound to walk among the Doors, rows and rows of splits in the skin of reality. Stopping by the one I want, I immediately step through, hardly even hesitating when goosebumps prickle my skin and my stomach drops in the white line between dimensions.

 

As my foot steps onto the cold gray stone, echoing a thump about the place, I shiver as my eyes adjust from the orange-tinted Campestris to the pale grey-blue of Malacia. The slight chill envelopes me, the tiny soft snowflakes that never reach the ground fall without fail. A coliseum of Doors, Malacia has this gentle peace, like it exists in the space between two deep breaths.

 

I think back to my first time here, on Christmas Eve when Finn and I almost got burnt at the stake in the locals’ festival. And then the next time, when we found ourselves in the maze of tunnels.

 

By the time Rhett steps out of the Door behind me, I’m already hopping down the big stone stairs through the rows, sending footsteps echoing all over the place and counting softly under my breath. Rhett follows silent, seemingly accepting his fate that we’re actually doing this, and he crosses his arms a little from the chill.

 

Counting fourteen rows down from the Campestris Door, I turn and look down the row, narrowing my eyes and peering intently at the Doors and their markings in front.

 

“What are you looking at?” Rhett peers at the row too, apparently trying to see what I see.

 

“Well.” I debate for a minute, whether to let him in on it. Then, I figure it’s probably best to tell him. “You see, when Finn and I came here earlier, the second time before we went down those tunnels and ran into that Searu and…”

 

I trail off, remembering that that was the day Beata was killed, after we got back when my watch was stolen. Rhett next to me stiffens a little, just enough for me to notice. Oops.

 

“Anyway,” I say quickly, “I’d picked this row to find a Door to go through, but Finn said no in that voice. You know the one, when his eyes go all dark, and he looks at you like he’s looking through you, and that muscle in his jaw pops out just a bit.”

 

Rhett looks at me blankly, so I move on.

 

“Anyhow, he didn’t want us to go to wherever these Doors lead. So I say, we just take a peek.”

 

“Just take a peek?” Rhett raises one eyebrow at me.

 

“Yeah,” I say, “just a peek. Come on, I’ve been dying to know why he wanted to avoid them.”

 

Without waiting for him to answer, I shuffle down the row to where the first Door lies, Rhett following behind. When I look down at its marking, all I see is a mess of lines interconnecting with each other like crazy, a ball of yarn embedded in stone. I falter, just for a half a second. Then, some insistent voice in the back of my head whispers.

 

Just a peek.

 

Looking up to Rhett, I can’t help but let my face break out into a grin as I gently place a hand through the shimmering wall. I wait until, a few seconds later, he breaks out into a grin as well, and then I head through the Door and into the unknown.

 

Needless to say, I’m not sure what I expected. Maybe an empty, barren desert? A world of just ocean? A literal portal to hell?

 

Not the countryside of the Midwest.

 

At least that’s what it looks like. From the Door, we step out into the sunshine of a dirt road, a cornfield behind us and something like soybeans in front of us. Bright greens attack us from all sides, as the fields stretch out into the distance. Further out, hills of bushy green trees overlap hills. A lazy bug of some kind whizzes around my face, and I shake my head to wave it away, wisps of hair tickling my face. The afternoon sun is already heating up the hair on top of my head, and as I look this way and that, I see no buildings or people or people-like creatures in sight.

 

“Well, I didn’t realize there were portals to Middle-of-Nowhere, Ohio.” Rhett says dryly, his voice falling flat in the heat.

 

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with the Midwest.” I say, but not really defensively. It lightens my heart that he’s making jokes, even if they’re sarcastic ones. “Although, I have to say, this doesn’t seem particularly…”

 

“Dangerous?” Rhett suggests. “Scary? Secret? Worth avoiding?”

 

“Exactly.” I say, spinning around and gazing at our surroundings. My boots dig a little into the bland brown dirt as I try to find something that doesn’t seem… Earth-like. But I come up with nothing.

 

“Well.” I stand in the middle of the road, offering my arm out to Rhett. “Shall we?”

 

“Hang on.” He rushes to where the Door is, quickly making a tiny pyramid of rocks next to it. Then he cuts a few of the ripe corn stalks with one of the swords at his back, muttering an apology, and surrounds the Door with them. To the naked eye, it’ll look nothing more like a pile of rocks and some lost corn. But to us, we’ll be able to find the Door again.

 

“Alright.” Rhett jumps up next to me, not taking my offered arm but walking ahead. I fall into step with him, and we walk down the path to the right in silence. But it’s not like the ones before. It’s comfortable, almost easy. As if we were just two kids walking home after school together in the bright sunshine.

 

Eventually, I fall into a daze in the warm afternoon sunshine, with the sound of mosquito-like bugs and soft rustling of the breeze and our footprints puffing up a little dust. My stomach tumbles around itself with that bubbling excitement I always get from the prospect of a new world to explore.

 

After a half hour, I almost think that this entire dimension was just made up of corn. But that’s when we heard the scream.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back on Thursday for another post, and share with your friends! 

 

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