Doug stood from the chair, stumbling slightly, then he slowly followed after her, his legs feeling unsteady and numb. When he reached the hallway the girl was still there, crouched slightly and standing to one side of the door. She turned to Doug and whispered “When I came in the place was pretty empty, I don’t know if it’s the same, we have to be quiet. Follow me and try not to make too much noise.” Doug nodded as the girl started to walk along the hall. The hall itself had wood flooring, the walls were lined with paintings and a few tables, on the tables were vases full of bright flowers. As Doug walked the pins and needles in his legs got worse before they started to finally ease a little. The hallway didn’t shrink or grow larger while they walked through it, they reached a junction quickly and the girl went left, Doug looked to the right before following. He had plenty of questions, but he didn’t want to make any unnecessary noise until they had escaped, or at least reached a place where they could talk somewhat freely.
They made their way through the house, which seemed to have no windows, most of the doors were closed, Doug glanced in some of the rooms they passed, but none seemed all that unusual. Despite the lack of windows the corridors were bright, Doug couldn’t spot any lights so he assumed it was some sort of magic lighting it.
Finally the girl stopped at a door, she eased it open slightly, then stepped through, Doug followed after and almost immediately the door closed silently behind him, the girl moved towards an open window and gestured for Doug to follow. She leaned out the window then climbed through, she helped Doug through and once outside she ducked down and crouched along the wall, Doug squatted and walked in the same crouch, it wasn’t long before his calves started to burn. He didn’t know how much further he could walk like this. Just as Doug thought he might collapse, they reached the corner of the house, the girl moved from the corner and, still crouching, managed to sprint over to a set of bushes, Doug, unable to mimic her, stood and, bending at the waist, ran after her. At the bush he found her sitting, he copied her. “We wait here for a moment. Rest.”
As Doug rested the girl scouted the area around them, after a few minutes she tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to stand. Together they walked from the bush to a large hedge, there was a small gap in the hedge, the girl unceremoniously shoved Doug through, the branches tugging at his clothes and scratching his skin, he fell on the other side, landing heavily on grass, the girl emerged a second later. She helped Doug up then took off at a light jog.
The girl slackened the jog to a walking pace, “We’re far enough away that we should be safe enough. We have to go through some areas that are a little dodgy, but I think we’re clear.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the person who rescued you.”
“I got that. I meant what’s your name, who do you work for, that kind of thing.”
“I don’t have a name and you’ll find out soon enough.”
“Do you work for Max? I was told he had shadow people that worked for him, I’m assuming you’re one of them?”
“I am, and I don’t. I work for someone else. When I left I was banished from my kind, they counted it as a betrayl. I no longer have a name to them, therefore I don’t have a name.”
They walked in silence for a short distance before Doug noticed her hair was growing back, “You’re hair!”
“Shit. It’s still blonde isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I meant it’s growing.”
“Oh. Yeah. It does that. I thought it might have gone a weird colour again.”
“I eventually revert back to the form I was in when I changed.”
“Is that how you survived getting your throat slit?”
“No, that was pure luck. I managed to turn to shadow and the rest was just some theatrics. Difficult and unpleasant, but mostly for show.”
“Thank you by the way, for rescuing me.”
She shrugged. “Is there something I can call you? I mean, even if you don’t have an name surely you have a nickname or a code name or something?”
She shook her head, “It’s gone…I guess, you could call me Sue. It was my name before the wall came down.”
“Thank you Sue.”
Doug looked around, they were walking through a large field, “Where are we? I don’t recall any large green areas on the maps that weren’t parks.”
“We’re in the Elsewhere. Currently in the domain of the one who captured you. His lands are big, but we’ll be reaching the edge soon enough. This area is still mostly bare so it’s the easiest way in and out. The others have traps.”
“Why would he leave himself unprotected here?”
“I didn’t say unprotected, I just said easiest. There’s plenty out here that can still hurt and kill intruders if they’re not careful.”
Sue’s hand shot out across Doug’s chest, “Wait.”
“What is it?”
“The grass. It’s a slightly different colour. Hang on.”
Doug peered at where she had indicated, but he could see no difference. Sue took something from her pocket and before Doug could see what it was, she threw it onto the grass a few feet in front of them. Instantly the grass elongated and stretched up to meet it, it wrapped around the item and dragged it to the ground, it had happened almost instantaneously. Sue continued to study the ground, then she slowly turned in a full circle.
“There are patches of that stuff spread all over the field, I should have seen it sooner. We can’t go back the way we came, it’s never wise to backtrack here. C’mon.”
Sue moved to the right and Doug carefully copied her movements, he didn’t want to be killed by the grass.
They made it another ten feet before the ground started to rumble slightly. “Shit.”
“We must have set off some kind of pressure trap with our weight. I’m able to clear all this easily when I’m a shadow. You make it a little more difficult.”
Twenty feet to their left something erupted from the ground, when the dirt cleared Doug could see it looked like a giant wasp. It moved it’s wings to shake off the dirt, then climbed into the air.
“What? I don’t have any weapons!”
Sue didn’t reply, she just vanished. Doug looked around wildly for a moment, how was he supposed to distract it? He couldn’t even see where the patches of dangerous grass were. The wasp dove at him, stinger at the ready, Doug threw himself to the side and scrambled to his feet. The wasp rounded on him and came at him again, Doug feinted to the left, then jumped right, the wasp took the bait and veered the wrong way, almost scraping along the ground. It took to the air again, shuddering and bucking, it seemed heavier. Doug stayed where he was, crouching and ready to jump again if needed. The wasp suddenly nosedived, collapsing to the ground ten feet away from Doug, twitching. Sue appeared on its back and slid down, there were holes all over it’s body.
“We should get moving. Something will be along to eat this soon.”
Doug scurried to her side. “as I said, easy.”
Shaking slightly, Doug followed her.
At the edge of the field there was a band of wildflowers, bright and beautiful, they paused at the edge, it was about ten feet wide, “can you jump it?”
“Well, we can’t go through it. You could try holding your breath but you might not make it.” Sue turned and without warning lifted Doug, he let out a little cry of surprise, she set him down again. It seemed to have taken little effort. “I don’t think I can throw you that far.”
“So what do we do?”
“I didn’t want to do this, we’ve already left too much evidence of where we went after leaving the house. Hang on.”
She took what appeared to be a lighter from her pockets and held it to the petals of one of the flowers, almost instantly the entire thing was on fire, the smoke was thick and black, raising straight into the air. “Careful of the smoke, it’s poisonous.”
The fire burned quickly, cutting a path through the flowers, before it died out, leaving nothing but a burned path, “hold your breath, quickly.”
Together they ran through using the small path, when the reached the other side Doug glanced back and saw the flowers where they had started were already regrowing. The earth beneath it was still black and the smoke still hung in the air.