Flying

As a boy of eight, Seth finds his life changed by a dark secret … something that he can’t possibly understand.

Years later, old faces, memories, and an envelope, draw Seth back into the web.

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47. 47 - Espen

47  -  Espen

 

 

May 19, 2383

 

 

Seth had never seen Jullian so excited. He half expected to see her purple hair standing on end, due to the electricity he felt from her. “I’ve seen the vid before, and it looks like an amazing place. But …” he hesitates. 

Jullian gives him a playful poke “But what?”

“Well, paradise is expensive. I mean, I have some credits put away, but as you’ve probably noticed, I’m rather unemployed at the moment, and I won’t have you paying for …”

She leans over quickly, covering his lips with hers in a kiss. “That’s the real surprise. We’re getting a great deal, if you don’t mind some company.”

“Hmmm?”

“Jax and his girlfriend.  Jax says that she has some connections with someone who owns what they call a ‘beach house’ there, on Espen. If the four of us stay there together, our stay is free! All we need to pay for is food and we…”

Seth shakes his head. “Wait … wait …”

She gives his hand a squeeze. “I know we planned to be alone, but Jax says it’s a big place so we can have our privacy when we want and …”

“No Jullian. It’s not that. Back up a little. Did you say that Jax had a girlfriend?”

She nods. “Yes, why?”

He shakes his head again. “Incredible. Jax was always a lady’s man and by that, I mean a ladies man, plural. It’s hard to believe he’s …” he smiles at Jullian and shrugs.

She giggles. “So?”

“It sounds great. When do we leave?”

Jullian claps her hands together “Sunday.”

“Sunday? You mean, tomorrow?”

 

 

May 20, 2383

 

 

Seth opens the storage bin and pulls his mother’s envelope from under the clothing. Jullian’s apartment was probably safe enough, but he didn’t want to leave it unattended. Opening his travel bag, he puts it inside. He joins Jullian at the apartment door and smiles. “Okay, let’s go.”

 

A light rain is falling, but it’s a short trip to Tokyo station. Seth activates the travel terminal, bringing up the link to Espen Paradise. He reaches to purchase tickets to the Traveler’s Entrance node.

Jullian grabs his hand. “Not there. Jax said to come in from here …” She touches the screen.

Seth gives her a puzzled look “The industrial node?”

 

Seth steps from the gate. He’s surprised by the bland, metal hallways stretching in several directions. He looks at Jullian. Her eyes reflect his surprise.

The travel vid had shown the traveler’s entrance as a grand foyer, it’s impossibly high ceiling, alive with holographic images of wispy clouds and silver feathered birds. Visitors passed by smiling greeters and through large, emerald green doors, beyond which stretched a pure white beach and sparkling water. It was obvious that the industrial node had none of those features.

He walks toward a three-way intersection.

“Wait, Seth.” Jullian reaches into the pocket of her jacket and brings out a small piece of paper.

“What’s that?”

She walks to the intersection, looks at the paper, and turns to a corridor, heading right. “Jax gave me directions. This way.”

“Wait, Jullian. Let me see that.” He looks at the paper. It looks like Jax’s writing. He shakes his head. “Doesn’t this seem a bit strange? We’re told to come to an industrial area and given directions to follow to find a ‘beach house’. I can’t see us finding a beach anywhere around here.”

Jullian stands on her toes, giving him a kiss and a smile. “It seems a little weird to me to, but this is a note from a good friend of yours. This is our vacation. There’s nothing wrong, Seth. Please …” she kisses him again, “Try to relax.”

The gate behind them, ‘snaps’. Two men and a woman, dressed in blue cover-alls, pass by them without a glance, and head down the corridor to the left.

Seth takes a deep breath and nods. “You’re right Jullian, let’s go.”

 

They follow Jax’s directions.

They pass corridors leading to smelting, refining, and production areas. Travel bags in hand, they start down a long, unremarkable corridor, heading away from the industrial area. On their way, they pass a few more people wearing cover-alls, and a group of members of the Asian Coalition. No one is heading in the direction that they are.

They start down a long, deserted corridor. There isn’t a single window along the way. Not even a glimpse of sun, sand, or sea.

 

Jullian smiles and points at the note, her voice, full of excitement “Almost there, just around the corner up here.” She runs ahead, disappearing around the corner.

Seth looks at the dull grey corridor and laughs “Almost where?” He runs to catch up. Rounding the corner, he finds Jullian standing at an unmarked door with a scanner to its right. “A security door?”

“The note says to use door J-13. There aren’t any markings on this one, but this is where the directions end.” She shrugs and reaches into a pocket. “Jax gave me a keycard for both of us.” She hands Seth a small, green card, and runs the one she holds through the scanner.

Nothing happens.

Seth looks at his card. “Maybe the cards are different.” He runs his card through the scanner and the door slides open.

A dull, grey corridor stretches before them. Along one side, there are six emerald green doors. At the end of the corridor, a security camera is mounted on the ceiling. Standing below it, is a large man dressed in blue. From a distance, Seth’s first impression is that the man is LED, but he realizes that the uniform isn’t quite right. He was probably private colony security.

Jullian moves into the corridor, stopping at the second, green door and smiling”J-13!”

Seth joins her at the door. “Try your card on this one.”

“EXCUSE ME.”

They turn from the door. The security guard approaches.

He stops and gives them a hard look. “Are you friends of the Trillyn family?”

Seth stumbles for words, but Jullian doesn’t hesitate. She smiles, patting her travel bag. “Yes. We’re spending some time at their beach house.”

“Could I see the card, please?” The guard takes the key card from Jullian. He unclips a small scanner from his belt, passes it over the card, and reads the small display. Seth looks at Jullian.

The guard hands the card back and smiles. “Enjoy paradise.” He turns, heading back to his post.

Jullian gives Seth a wink and runs the card through the scanner. The door slides open and they step into a small room. It’s empty, save for an apartment sized travel gate.

The gate takes them to a small, rock walled room, carved into the side of a natural cliff face. Through the room’s only exit, they immerge into paradise.

 

Seth smiles, watching Jullian rush from the main room to explore the huge beach house. He steps back outside, walking a few steps in the fine, white sand. He looks up at the sunny sky and closes his eyes, listening to the sound of the rolling waves.

Mister Tarot.”

A female voice, soft, almost a whisper …

Mister Tarot!

Seth turns. He catches a glimpse of a figure, dressed in dark clothes, as it disappears around a corner of the beach house.

He looks to the front door, pausing a moment to think about Jullian, and walks toward the voice. Rounding the corner of the beach house, he looks down the long, flat wall, its symmetry, broken only by an air cooling unit. He moves on, toward the back of the house.

As he passes the cooling unit, he turns quickly as a figure stands from behind it.

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