Sarah, Returned--Chapter 43 (A Steemit Original Novel)
It’s ridiculous, I know, but in my eagerness to reach the top of the hill before the portal closes, I feel like I can get there more swiftly on foot than by car. I leap out of the cab, leaving Matt to pay the driver, fumbling with his wallet, and finally just throwing a handful of cash through the open cab window so he can run and catch up with me.
As I make a dash to the access road to the park, I hear his footfalls right behind me. The usual barricade is up at the road’s entrance, but I leap over it in one bound. As far as I can tell, based on the sound behind me, Matt does the same.
“Sarah, wait!” he calls, but I keep going. Someone is coming through, and I want to be there when they do. It could be Grandma, or anyone else. Maybe Grizel found a way out of the 17th century. Whoever it is doesn’t matter; what is important is there’s a chance I can piggyback off of their portal and use it go to my family. If I can get to the top of the hill before the portal closes, I can jump through it.
This has to be meant for me to see. After all, I never knew portals existed until I got pulled back to 1685. I’d never seen one before. No one I knew had ever seen one (except Grandma, of course, but she wasn’t talking). That this is happening now, just when I’ve discovered exactly how to get home, has to be meant to be. The timing is too perfect to be coincidental. All I have to do is think about my family when I jump through, and the portal will take me to them. Grandma's video said so.
I realize about half-way up the steep incline that I should have taken the cab up. With wheels, I’d be at the top by now. But, it’s one of those situations where you irrationally think the car is keeping you from your destination.
I scramble up the almost vertical road, tripping and falling more than once, ripping a hole in the knee of my jeans on one particularly nasty stumble. Matt is right on my heels. If I’m leaving now, he is determined to be there to see me go, so he knows I’m safe.
It seems to take forever to reach the summit, gravel from the road covering my elbows, trickles of blood running down my arms where I’ve scratched them up in my many falls. My fault for wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt. Doesn’t matter. The injuries are minor. All that matters is reaching the summit before the portal closes. In my limited experience, they don’t stay open long. In fact, this one is continuing to shine well after it should have closed. I don’t know how long it was open before I saw it, but it’s been a good three minutes since I leapt from the cab, and it’s still shining like the sun on top of the hill.
Other people in town have to be seeing this. Dover is a sleepy little village, but Matt and I can’t be the only people outside right now. What are our neighbors thinking?
About three-quarters of the way up, it occurs to me. The light doesn’t seem to be attracting any attention, except from us. Is it really a portal? Or, do I just want it to be one so badly I’m imagining it? Clearly, there is a bright light up there; Matt can see it, too. But, it could be something else besides a door through time. Maybe a magazine is doing a nighttime photoshoot. There could even be a crew filming a movie. Both of those things use insanely bright lights. Could they form an oval like a portal if they were positioned just right? God, I hope I’m not putting scars on my arms for nothing. But, I have to know.
And, while I'm still wondering if what I'm seeing is real, I’m at the summit. The light is shining just beyond the tower, near where I made my hidey-hole in the bushes before I traveled the first time. There’s no one here. No cars, no signs of people, nothing at all except that light.
It’s oval. Just like a portal. It’s got to be one. I know it is. The rest of the town seemingly ignoring it just makes me believe all the more that this was meant for me alone. Matt being here is irrelevant. I pause only a moment at the crest of the summit, Matt breathing heavily by my side as he finally catches all the way up to me. Is that a shadow I see against the light? I think it is. Could it be a person coming out of it?
The disk of light squarely in my sights, I dash toward it across the park. Matt keeps perfect pace with me this time. About three yards from the light, I confirm without doubt that I’m looking at a portal. I feel the pull from it, gentle at this distance, but it's still that same unmistakable tug, trying to drag me in.
“I feel it pulling me,” Matt whispers in wonder, looking down at his hands as they lift of their own accord.
“You need to stand back,” I instruct, putting a protective arm in front of him. “The force can be pretty strong. It pulled me in against my will both times. At least now we know you can travel.”
“Won’t it pull you in if you get closer?” he asks, worried.
“Maybe,” I admit. “I haven’t tried to resist it, like Grandma did in the video. This might be it, Matt. If it’s an open portal, I have to go through it. You know I do.”
“I know. Just in case I don’t see you again….” He turns and wraps me in a tight hug, which I return with fierceness, trying to infuse all my love for him into it, so he will carry that love with him always. If I never come back, I want there to be no doubt in his mind, ever, about how much I actually do love him.
He lets me go with reluctance, and I give him a hopeful smile. Time to do this.
I step toward the portal, the pulling becoming stronger as I do. The light is blindingly bright, totally obscuring whoever came out of it. That shadow couldn't be anything other than a person. There's a chance I won't even get a look at them before I jump through; it's okay. If it is someone we know, Matt can explain everything to them.
One more step. And another. It’s going to be a challenge to keep this journey under control. The portal exhibits a force almost like a miniature black hole.
One more step.
I freeze. A high-pitched voice that sounds like it belongs to a little girl comes out of the darkness, its owner hidden by the supernova-like rays of light coming from the portal. I know that voice. The tone and inflection are unmistakable, written on my very soul from the moment she was conceived.
Oh God. Can it be?
The portal’s pull loses all power over me in an instant, and I drop to my knees in the grass, sobbing before I realize I’m doing it.
“Clara?” I gasp.
Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here: