Part Eight

You Will Find Your Way

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Part Eight of You Will Find Your Way
Dallas is sent home. Or is she?

Between Somewhere Else & Hopefully Earth

Portal travel is complicated.

Dallas doesn’t remember much of what happened the first time she traveled through a portal, however long ago that was. In the place she ended up, the weird world with Mathias and Maris and monsters and death, time worked a lot differently from what she was used to.

Also, she’s pretty sure she blocked it out because it was just that traumatic.

The trip home isn’t much better.

Everything is bright, hot and white, even when she tries to close her eyes, and everything hurts. Her skin feels like it’s been set ablaze as she falls, but she also doesn’t feel like she’s moving at all, and trying to figure out what’s going in makes her dizzy, forces bile up her throat in a painful, searing wave.

Then, whatever is surrounding her goes tight, presses in around her like her bones are being ground together, before the gravity she vaguely remembers finally takes hold, slams her into something hard.

When she can breathe again, Dallas moans, mostly out of self pity and that there’s no one around to judge her.

She forces her stiff arms to listen to the signals coming from her addled brain and shuffles off the knobby root piercing into her lower back between the patchwork seams of her leather tunic. Soft earth squelches between her fingers as she slowly rolls to the side, pushes off the ground with a gasp that catches in her sore, overburdened lungs.

Dallas finally opens her eyes, and her heart skips at the pale yellow streams of sunlight filtering through the lush green trees in the clearing she’s sprawled out across. It’s a far cry from the browns, grays, and reds she had grown so used to, and her eyes sting when she looks to the blue sky overhead.

Thick wisps of smoke hiss into the air off her body, and now that the portal has faded—disappeared with a pop that barely registered in her ringing ears—Dallas paws at her arms to make the rest of the remnants fade into an unfortunate, painful memory. She rubs at her right shoulder while she catches her breath, clenches both hands into fists before spreading her shaking fingers out on her thighs.

When she’s done taking stock of her body—all in one piece this time, thank goodness—Dallas finally rolls to her feet and takes a slow look around the clearing.

She takes another deep breath of fresh air—really fresh air—and narrows her eyes, concentrates hard but can’t hear anything like the ubiquitous blare of traffic, or any other signs of humanity like she would if she were in the place Maris intended to send her to.

Something is definitely wrong.

If Maris sent her back to New York City, she should be hearing the symphony of angry taxi drivers or the chattering of hotdog venders or homeless men and women busking for change around Central Park, but—

Above her head, a bird caws as it flaps its swings and takes flight. It shakes the branches of the tree it perched on, loosing a dying leaf that floats to the ground, lands on the toe of her boot.

Anxiety pools in her already whirling stomach, her brows furrowing deeper when all she hears is the skittering of rodents, more chirping birds, and the rustling of wind through the untamed branches above her head.

Dallas spins in another circle and then breaks into a sprint, her boots crunching on the dry leaves scattered over the soft dirt. For a moment, she’s back on the other side of the portal with a herd of flaming creatures on her tail.

When she breaks through the trees, her heart stops.

Because she is in Central Park, but not in her Central Park.

“Oh shit. Shit, shit, shit!

You Will Find Your Way continues with Part Nine.

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A life-long college sports fan and forever bitter about the country’s east coast biases, Kathryn, the Fake Redhead, graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Creative Writing, emphasis in poetry because she felt the fiction studies emphasis was too pretentious. She is currently helping other writers hone their craft while she pursues her dreams of becoming a published novelist.

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