The Nick Of Time
(and other abrasions)
Shadows Of Polaris
Al Bruno III
The trap had left Audra unconscious, Jack pondered her as she hung there by one arm. Finally he muttered to himself, "Better safe than sorry." and hefted her over his shoulder. There was a snap and a spark; her fingers left behind five tiny spots of scorched flesh as they were pulled away from the wall. "Wait up Trager." Audra stirred with a moan and then fell unconscious again. Do something! Matthew thought as he struggled and cursed, For God's sake you broke a Whosiewhatsit Crystal that's got to count for something! But the more he fought the harder they held him. "Somebody!" He cried, "Somebody help! Somebody!" "Fear not Outlander." Constable Trager said as he led the Sentries back into the treeline. "It will all be over soon enough. When your mind and your body have been properly adapted you will finally understand your place in the greater scheme of things." "Snip snip." Jack laughed. Matthew dug his heels down only to find himself dragging furrows in the snow and dirt. He shouted Audra's name over and over but she didn't react, not even a twitch. So much for his hopes of her playing possum. If they were going to make it out of this it was up to him. Closing his eyes he prayed. He tried to call some great and benevolent power down from above to help him. Matthew had never wished this hard for anything in his life, maybe because he always suspected none of his aspirations or dreams would ever come true. Gritting his teeth he tried harder, turning his focus inward. Audra had told him that everyone had a spark of magic in them. Where was his? He wasn't even sure what he was looking for. Was it like recovering a lost memory? Or more like flexing a rarely used muscle? Matthew felt like a child leaping at the clouds in the hope he might somehow fly. The Sentries released him and he stumbled forward. I did it! I really did it! A crash filled the air. Matthew turned to see a tree fall. The Sentries moved to defensive positions in front of their Constable as a dark shape lumbered out of the woods. The bear raised itself up on its haunches and roared a fresh challenge. Starlight and shadows left its fur dark and its eyes gleaming. Its breath steamed with every roar, its snout dripped. Looking upon it Matthew knew that it was old, it was dying. No not it. She. It's a she. Jack laughed, "If it ain't damned one thing it's another." He drew his Desert Eagle and took aim at the beast. The bear dropped down to all fours again. The ground reverberated with the impact. The she-bear moved with startling speed. The Sentries barely had time to fire before the beast was on them. The Constable began to chant, her voice sibilant and frantic.
Oh God what am I doing? Matthew charged forward tackling Jack Diamond as he fired. Both men tumbled backwards into the snow and mud. Audra hit the ground a few inches from them but didn't stir.
decrepit building. He shouldered the heavy iron door closed. He cradled her limp form close to him for a little while but not too long for he knew if she awoke he would loose his nerve. Gently he set her down on the cold floor and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. He allowed himself to kiss her once, briefly and chastely. Then he stood and pressed the palm of his hand against the stone archway. Gold light flooded the chamber. Against the far wall, behind the altar, a section of the stonework shifted like haze. The Wier was open. "The stars are right. Ursa Minor is in ascendance. The Pendaroth
is among us now 'an unlick'd bear-whelp that carries no impression like the dam'." "...going to Harnett's Tabernacle is suicide." "...The Pendaroth is the first. He will gather the Valiant Ones to his side" "...all they know is you go through that Wier and you don't come out."
The stone of the wall was rippling now, frothing and bubbling like magma. He cast off his shoes, frilled shirt and wallet, piling them on the floor. A warm alien wind filled the air and tousled his hair. Grinning with anticipation Matt crossed through.