Thursday, June 11, 2009

Part 01

The odd thing about the wall was that it didn't seem to be getting any closer, no matter how fast she ran toward it.

When Rachel had started walking toward the wall, it looked like it couldn't have been more than a mile away, and probably about six feet high, made of loosely stacked stones. By rights, she should have been able to reach the wall and climb over it before half an hour had passed. So she had started toward it almost immediately, stepping around and over the earthen jars haphazardly scattered across the ground, determined to figure out where she was.

That had been five, six hours ago. She had walked, sometimes jogged, and sometimes run pell-mell across the plain as an unreasoning terror of the place had come over her. Still the wall remained obstinately six feet high and no more than a mile off, no matter how fast or slowly she traveled, as if Xeno's Paradox had become the law of the land – except that at least with Xeno's Paradox, she would have been able to cross half the distance, and half again, even if she never could reach the wall itself. But there were no halfways here, just the same unrelenting distance between herself and the wall.

Rachel had been alone ever since she awoke on the level field, though there were other people about. She had seen a group of them, off in the distance, chasing a kite or banner that was flapping in the breeze, just out of reach, but they had been too far away to call, and she had had no desire to chase whatever it was that they had been chasing, with them.

There were mosquitoes here too, or gnats, with a sharp, stinging bite that she felt if she stopped or stayed in one place for too long, and a red welt on her right wrist were one had bit her.

The wall was impossibly close. She was a police officer, in top physical condition. There was no reason she shouldn't be able to reach it. With a sudden, frenzied burst of speed, she ran toward it with all that she had within her, her feet turning up chunks of sod with every stride, until the pounding of her heart filled her ears and her lungs ached with the effort of her run, until at last she fell to the ground, gasping for breath, trying to puke up food that wasn't in her stomach, while sweat fell in great drops upon the ground.

She was almost too tired to care when the gnats started biting her again, but only almost. Their stings were little goads that finally drove her to her feet and got her walking again.

But not toward the wall. It made no sense, it defied all logic, but she had to concede that she would never reach it, not if she lived a thousand lifetimes. She had thought that by climbing that wall, she would be able to avoid whatever it was that the owner of this land clearly had intended to be her destination, but obviously that wasn't going to be an option.

Rachel sighed, and started her long walk back.

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