Through Another Door

There were people waiting for them when Alexa opened the door.

It was certainly not the first time that had happened. They’d run into hostiles a time or two, scientists on one memorable occasion, and there had been the time the door had opened into someone’s bathroom.

(If Door-hopping ever became a proper mode of exploration, there would have to be some sort of note sent around about remodeling.)

But this time they opened the door into an attic and two children, one snatching her hand back as if she’d been about to open the same door. They were dressed in school uniforms; the boy had a black eye and the girl two scraped knees. They were, not surprisingly, staring at the team.

“You are most definitely not Aslan.” The girl had a working-class London accent and a very withering glare.

Alexa opened her mouth, momentarily at a loss for a reply.

“No.” Josie stepped forward, her voice carrying gravitas like Alexa had never heard. “One of the truths about such portals as this is that they rarely, if ever, open to the same world twice. But there are other portals out there, and they will take you to many places.”

“Be careful-” Cole began, and then trailed off, at a loss for once in his life.

Aerich stepped up, his voice stentorian and serious. “-for there are monsters and dangerous people through many doorways, and you will not always be given a guide.”

Peter said nothing. His meters were beeping and whirring away.

“Good travels.” Alexa bowed to them. “And may the Door always lead you home when you need it to.”

Peter’s meters clicked; they had all the data they needed. Alexa shut the door firmly, holding the girl’s eyes until the door and the world was closed.

“HQ would have loved them.” Cole’s voice was surprisingly bland.

Alexa was equally surprised to find her own voice vehement. “HQ can go fuck themselves until those kids are adults. Let them explore while they still have wonder.”

“They might die, you know.” Josie was back to sounding stoned and dreamy. It made the sentence she’d uttered even more creepy.

For once, it was Aerich who defended her. “They might. And they will then have died exploring. Let them live, as Alexa said. Time enough for HQ and such things later.”

“Makes you wish, doesn’t it?” Peter finally looked up from his machines. “Sort of makes you wish we were young enough to see the world like they do.”

Facets of Dusk has a landing page here

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