I selected the image of Scotland cityscape for my twenty-minute sprint this month. I hope you enjoy the beginning of this idea.
This Is Not Our Basement:
Michael made his way down the stairs into the basement to investigate the weird noises. His roommate must have left one of her weird experiments running, because the combination of bubbling noises and sharp knocking sounds made no sense and wasn’t rhythmic enough to be music.
The light was still on, but she’d put up a red filter so it didn’t do more than make sure he didn’t trip on the stairs. He didn’t see her as he reached the bottom, but that didn’t always mean anything.
“Claire?” he called out, hoping she was there and would answer him.
Michael walked further into the room, checking to make sure there wasn’t anything strewn across the floor. All he saw were faint markings, like she’d been drawing on the floor with chalk.
“Claire?” he called again. “If you’re down here, let me know.”
Michael kept walking toward the back of the room. There were two rooms, so she might have been in the other one with the door closed and not hear him.
When he reached the center of the room, right under the red light, his foot hit something less than solid.
“What the…” he started. Before he could even finish the sentence, he was pulled forward and the light went out as wind rushed up around him. He couldn’t tell if he was falling, or if a wind was coming up from the floor.
His foot hit solid ground again and he stumbled as the sudden light nearly blinded him.
Michael took two steps and then finished his sentence.
He as standing on a path leading down a hill toward a city. A European city by the look of it. He looked behind himself to find more hill, and beyond that more city.
“Claire?” he said softly.
“Michael?” she asked, popping up from the grass beside the path.
“This is not our basement,” Michael said.
“I told you not to come down without asking,” Claire said, hurrying to his side. “You aren’t hurt are you?” She actually grabbed his hand so she could take his pulse.
“Confused, but not hurt,” Michael said. “Where are we?”
“Dundee, Scotland,” Clair said. “I was testing out a portal. You at least answered the question of whether it stays open after someone goes through it.”
“How do we get home?” he asked.
“Same way we got here,” Clair said. “It’s a two-way portal. You just have to back into it.”
“So I just walk backward?” Michael asked.
“That should do it,” Claire said. “Let me get clear first,” she added before hurrying off the path.
Michael took two steps backward, then another two. “You sure about this?” he asked as he took two more steps backward.
“That’s not good,” Claire said. “It should have worked. Let me try.”
Michael stepped off the path and Clair started in front of him and walked backward several steps.
“It’s not there,” Claire said. “That is not good.”
“So you’ve said,” Michael replied dryly.
“It means we have to find another way home,” Claire said. “It was supposed to be a one use portal, which I thought meant in one way, out the other and it closes until that person goes back the other way. Apparently that means open, go through once, go back through once, and it closes. And it doesn’t distinguish direction, so when you came through, it closed.”
“This is what I get for trying to pay the rent on time,” Michael said, sitting down in the grass.
“I thought I gave you the rent,” Claire said.
“You gave me June rent,” Michael said. “It’s the first of July. July rent is due in four days.”
“Oh, damn, sorry,” Claire said, biting her lip. “I’ll figure out how to get us home by then. Or at least get a check cut.”
“Why are you not freaking out?” Michael asked.
“I specialize in magic, this isn’t that big a deal,” Claire replied.
“And we’re in another country without any papers or permissions,” Michael pointed out.
“At least they speak English,” Claire countered. “Much easier not to get noticed this way.”
If I realized you were this much of an optimist I might not have let you move in,” Michael groused. “So what’s the plan, and how can I help?”
“The plan is to find some supplies and open a portal home,” Claire said. “If you have any cash, or your cell phone on you that would be helpful. I have my phone but no cash.”
Michael started pulling things out of his pockets. He had his phone, three receipts from yesterday, eighty-five cents in change, and his wallet which revealed four dollars and one emergency check.
“That is not going to get us home, but we can at least write the check and get that home,” Claire said. “I can transport it directly into the rent box, so they won’t hit us with late fees.”
“But it will overdraft my account and charge me a ton of money.”
“I swear to pay you back for all of that, plus interest, and an apology gift for you ending up here with me.”