“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!” Byron panicked again. “Sis I can’t go to jail. I would not do well in jail!”
“No one is going to jail sir.” Mr. Preston started the engine. “Just a minor hiccup. Please buckle you seat belts.” They both buckled up as Mr. Preston put the car in reverse. “Good, now heads down and hold on tight!” Mr. Preston floored the accelerator. The car tires squealed.
“Hey! The door is still down!” Byron screamed just before the wagon smashed through the garage door. Outside it stopped raining and the sun had emerged. The car flew past several men in trench coats standing outside the doors of the warehouse. Julia couldn’t be sure as the car was moving too quickly but she thought she saw them brandishing guns. A few seconds later she heard the telltale pops as a round was fired off and hit the car exploding the back window. Byron and Julia cowered in their seats as Mr. Preston continued to drive, unfazed by the gunfire.
Soon several police cars could be heard in the distance. Mr. Preston pulled into a parking garage and they all got out of the vehicle.
“Follow me please.” He said, Byron and Julia were to out of breath to argue. Mr. Preston found a suitable replacement and opened it without trouble. Before Byron could believe it the car was started and pulling out of the garage. Now, Mr. Preston drove as a law abiding citizen. They sat quietly at a stop light watching the police race into the garage behind them. After three hours of driving and switching cars, they drove out of the city as the sun began to set. Mr. Preston told them it was another seven hour drive to their destination, so they should try and sleep. Neither did.
Mr. Preston took an exit ramp off the highway right around three in the morning. From there they drove on lonely country roads passing fields of corn and cows along the way. They made several turns until they reach a road running parallel to the Ohio River. Houses sat, still asleep all along the river front, staring lazily across it into West Virginia. Mr. Preston pulled into the drive way of one of the homes and killed the engine. He stepped out of the car and ushered them into the small home along the banks of the river. It looked normal enough on the inside, but Julia still felt uneasy about it. They followed Mr. Preston into the basement where he opened a door leading to a long stair case.
“Please,” He motioned for them to continue. “Show the gentlemen at the bottom of the steps your pass codes.” He shut the door behind them. The stairs dropped down before them into a deep, dark abyss of questions. Byron was more than happy to verbalize those questions.
“I don’t like this, sis,” he took hold of the hand rail. “Lurch drops us off in this creepy little town and wants us to stroll down this creepy little hallway. To what? A guy with a gas mask and a butcher knife? Buffalo Bill? I’m too young to be skinned alive!”
“Would you shut up?” Julia began to walk, Byron did not follow. “Come on, the door locked behind us, there is only one way to go now.”
“Yeah, down.” Byron followed nervously. They traveled down the stairs at a slow pace. The temperature constantly dropped as they went. Soon Julia could see her breath. Goosebumps flew up her body. Byron, being much larger than her, seemed to enjoy the drop in mercury. Not to suggest Byron was fat, Byron wasn’t overweight exactly, but he had long passed the physical peak of his youth. They reached the bottom of the steps and met another door. A camera watched as they approached. Byron grabbed the handle and tried to open it. Locked. Instead a small opening half way up the door slid open and a voice came from within.
“Codes?” Julia slid the codes through the opening. “Alright… come on in.”
The door popped open. A short bald man stuck his head through the opening. His bushy eye brows gave Byron and Julia an untrusting look.
“Hurry please. We do not have all night.” He rushed them through the door and slammed it shut. He shoved his hands in the two small pockets of his vest and gave them both a once over. “You are going to have to lose the jewelry Miss.” Julia began to remove her earrings. “The belly button ring too.”
“How did you know I had a ring there?” Julia turned red. The man just smiled and pushed his glasses back up his nose.
“My name is Arnold. I will be your Relay assistant this evening.” He removed his glasses and cleaned them. “I will be preparing you for your journey.”
“Why no jewelry?” Byron asked.
“No metal at all, gent. You’ll have to remove that belt and give me those coins in your pocket. It is pretty difficult and painful to remove rings and such when they’ve been fused to your skin.” Arnold laughed. Byron gave Julia a terrified looked and began to place his metal items into a bin provided by Arnold. Julia turned away from both of them to lift up her shirt and take her belly ring. “We will store all of these items for you and in the rare case you return, they will be given back. Now would be a good time to drink the conditioning fluid Nathan gave you.” They both did so. Byron made a terrible sound as he downed the purple liquid.
“That’s terrible!” He complained. “Does this keep us from getting sick or just make us not notice we got sicker?” Julia looked equally ill from the taste. Arnold just continued to front his glossy smile.
“We are pretty deep underground. How did you find this relay?” Julia asked when finished the drink and regained composure.
“The house above was used during the Civil War as part of the underground rail road. They found the relay chamber while carving out a tunnel to the river bank. It was boarded up for more than one hundred years because people thought it was haunted or something. Nathan’s predecessors are the ones who rediscovered it and began to research its potential.”
“What potential is that?” Byron said holding up his pants. “And what should I use as a belt? Or should I just walk around like this forever?”
“Potential everything,” Arnold began to walk down a hallway, they followed. “The relay has unimaginable potential. The reason you have come is minuscule compared to all they can do. They open up worlds of information for our use…”
“Assuming you can figure out how they work.” Julia smiled as Arnold shot her a nasty look.
“True, much is still unknown about them. But Mr. Mitchell has provided us with a great wealth of knowledge.” They passed through another door and into a cave like room. At the far end of it floated an oblong ring like structure. Carved onto the ring were rune like glyphs. There were several other people in this room; all looking at computers or listening to a tall man in the corner speak.
“Mr. Mitchell? The man who returned through the relay?” Julia asked as she pocketed her hands.
“Wesley Mitchell; he is standing over there talking to our latest group of agents preparing to leave.” Arnold pointed to the tall man. Julia and Wesley’s eyes met. Instantly the look on Wesley’s face was one of recognition. Julia had never seen the man before, but she was sure he thought they had. He continued to speak to his students, but kept his eyes on Julia. Arnold began to speak again but Julia kept her stare with Wesley. Byron, who rarely paid attention to anything, ignored Arnold’s instructions and walked toward the relay. Arnold finally stopped talking when he realized they had stopped listening. He walked up to stand with Byron by the relay. “To use it just break the inner ring with your hand. Byron timidly passed his hand through the circle. A thin red beam of light scanned across his hand. He pulled it back. “Here is where you enter a thought if you wish.”
“How?” Byron was amazed.
“A thought.” Arnold said. “Think about it and wave your hand through again. If you don’t care wait until the light turns blue and put your hand in again. Also remember if you wish to travel to the same place as someone else, you’d best hold onto them. It’s the only full proof way we know to go together. It’s also possible to jump through and travel instantly, but this method is considered dangerous. Good luck.” Arnold stepped back. Byron turned and lightly got a hold of Julia’s arm. She finally broke her stare with Wesley and turned to the relay.
“I guess he explained how to use it?” She asked Byron. He shook his head yes. “How do we enter the number?” Byron said nothing as he waved his hand through the red light and thought: thirty one. The lighted turned purple and the numerical 31 appeared in front of them for a moment. The number faded as the light turned blue. “What does that mean?” Julia asked.
“Go.” Byron said dimly as he moved his hand forward again. This time he felt a light pull radiating from the screen of light. Byron moved his grip on Julia from arm to hand and thrust his arm through the light. Instantly they felt a harsh pull and saw a flash of light, then they were gone.