Out of Luck.

There are days when everything changes. Something irreversible happens and the world will never be the same again. Some of these events are global. Some are personal but the world will be forever different.

There may be many of these days in our lives; days that we wish that we could be on the other side of. Theses moments are written in time – never to be forgotten. In these days we wish we could just move with what remains of our lives. We wish we could regain that lost innocence, if only for a moment.

Sometimes, we are just out of luck.

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5. Damien.

As I walked back into the medical bay, brown eyes stared back at me.

“You’re awake.” I tried to keep the shock from my voice as I let my gaze wander down to the watch on my wrist. It had only been six hours; the medication should have knocked her out for at least eight.

“And you’re observant.” The sarcasm in her voice forced me to roll my eyes.

I ignored the woman, instead moving over to the row of monitors and examining the readings. They were pretty standard but still, a feeling of unease lingered in the pits of my stomach. This girl was of a different world. She had lived her life in ignorance and now the illusion had come crumbling down.

“How did I get here?” she asked as her eyes darted around the medical bay. Her skin looked pale beneath the blanket of white but I couldn’t bring myself to care as I bit back a sarcastic comment. My sympathies had all but run out after the girl had stolen our car and had driven it halfway across London for some fool’s errand.

And she had ripped her stiches.

As she tried to sit up, I watched with a smug grin on my lips as she noticed the restraints that were wrapped around her wrists. The groan that escaped her lips was like music to my ears.

“This is what we do to people who steal our shit.”

“I-” And then the memories came flooding back. “Shit.”

Her face paled as realisation sunk in.

“Shit indeed.” I couldn’t help layer my voice with sarcasm. She had it coming.

 “That all happened?”

“Yup.” I made sure to sound childish. I didn’t mean to be cold towards the girl but at the end of the day, this was my job and I had the right to be a little pissed off. Of course, I had been landed with the blame after Jason left the keys in the van – that was just how it worked in this place. Our boss was infallible and everything that went wrong was on me.

“Will you take off the restraints?”

I raised an eyebrow.

“I won’t run. I promise. What do I have to run to anyway?” It was her honesty that took me off guard. For a moment I stared at the girl, drinking in her emotion before nodding and walking over to unclasp the restraints.

“Thank you.”

 

As she sat up, a wince escaped from her lips – filed with raw pain.

“And that’s what happens when you rip your stiches,” I mumbled – my voice dripping with exasperation. “You need any meds?”

“I’ll cope.”

Silence surrounded us for a few moments as the girl examined her surroundings with fear still evident on her expression. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of our machinery.

“You know, if we wanted to kill you then you’d be dead already.”

She turned to look at me whilst shaking her head.

“Is that meant to be reassuring?”

I chose not to respond.

After rattling off a list of routine questions, I typed up the girl’s results as Jason came wandering down the stairs.

“Oh, you’re awake!” he exclaimed, pausing mid-step.

“Yes, he’s observant too.” I smirked as my patent and I shared a grin. Jason’s face fell back into his professional façade as he became as soldier once again. That was his defence when things didn’t go his way – fall back on the training which gave his this job in the first place. I couldn’t help but notice the cut on his lip and the purple bruising which littered the side of his face. The girl’s eyes fell to the floor in shame after she followed my gaze.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah… Just eyeing the damage.”

Jason nodded in silent acknowledgement before turning to me with his arms firmly crossed.

“Boardroom in five minutes. Both of you. Don’t be late.” And with that, he strolled out of the medical bay.

“Yes boss.” I rolled my eyes as his figure retreated off into the distance. This was the relationship we seemed to have – at one minute we were friends and the next we were nothing more than employee and boss. To be honest, the indecision was beginning to piss me off. I only wished that he would make up his mind.

Letting out a sigh, I helped the girl to her feet and began the walk to the boardroom with my eyes firmly fixed on her. It was almost as if I was expecting her to bolt away like last time but the fight seemed to have drained out of her and her will power almost seemed extinguished.

Four minutes later, I found myself; Jason and Kate sat on one side of the table and the girl sat across from us. The table was long but not too wide and so served was perfect for the occasion. Glancing down at my watch, I waited for the session to begin. Kate drew a recording device out of her pocket and placed it down on the table before pressing down on one of the buttons – tinting the light red.

“So,” Jason began, “You’ve got questions. Ask away.”

She glared at us for a few moments with confusion written on her lips.

“I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but interrogations don’t usually work like this.”

I couldn’t resist smirking.

“Ask.” Jason’s voice was firm.

“Who are you people?”

“My name is Jason Morgan. This is Kate Willis and Damien Jackson. We call ourselves the gatekeepers. We patrol the boarders of our universe and study what falls through. We protect our people and our parallel from harm.”

“So that’s where I’m from. A parallel earth?” She said softly, allowing her doubt and fear to seep into her words. Even as she asked, I knew that she knew the answer. She wasn’t stupid but she was still seeking confirmation. As her eyes met mine, I could see her imploring me to tell her that she was wrong – that none of it was true and that she was home.

Kate and I shared a look as Jason took the lead.

“Yes.”

The woman took a sharp breath before asking the question that we all knew came next.

“Can I go back?”

“No.”

And with a single word, her composure came tumbling down. I could see the conflict on her face as she struggled against the reality that stood before her. She’d seen the evidence. She knew the facts but yet she still fought against the truth.

“Why not?” she whispered – almost pleading with us.

“There is no way back.”

Everything that she had was gone in the blink of an eye – never to be recovered. Just the idea of it. Losing everything. It couldn’t have been easy and the woman was so young.

“What happens now?”

“Now we ask the questions.” Jason replied. “What’s your name?”

“Gemma Stone.”

“Age?”

“Nineteen.”

“Where are you from?”

“London.” She let out a pained laugh. “Just not this one.”

I could see the tears welling up in her eyes but Jason continued. And he called me insensitive.

“Tell us about yourself. Occupation. Education. Family.”

“What does it matter? It’s all gone now.”

“We still need to know.”

Gemma took a deep breath – hazel eyes shining under the spotlight.

“I’m am-” She took a breath. “I was at university with my brother.”

“What were you studying?”

“History. I wanted to write books. I doubt that will happen now. Our history won’t even be the same. Everything I know will be useless.”

The regret in her voice seemed to cut through Jason as he and Kate shared a silent conversation whilst keeping me out of the loop. This was a usual occurrence and by now, I was used to it.

“What is the last thing that you remember?”

A haunted look filled her gaze as she stared right at Jason.

“I remember silence and then noise. Colour. Light. And nothing.”

“Why did you run?”

At that, she froze. Her skin went white as she held back her fear.

“Back where I’m from, people went missing a lot. A friend of mine disappeared a few months ago and since then, I’ve been investigating her disappearance. I took readings of the area and tried to trace her mobile but to no success. Nothing linked the victims; one moment they were there and the next, they were gone. We called it the network – the Network of the Lost. When I- when I woke up here, I thought I’d been taken too.” She smiled, noticing the irony before continuing. “I guess, in a way, I was.”

“So,” Kate spoke up for the first time. “Where did you learn to hold a gun?”

Shit. I hadn’t thought of that. She really was smart.

“Good technique by the way. Had much training?” Jason added on, filling the empty silence.

“I watch a lot of action movies.” She bluffed.

“Clearly,” Kate responded coolly as I quirked an eyebrow at Gemma. She was lying and all three of us knew it. Even with a concussion, she was comfortable with the metal in her hands.

“How do we know you’re being honest?” Jason asked – shattering the air of quiet. The red light of the recording device continued to slicker as Gemma responded.

“You don’t. But what reason do I have to lie? I have nothing left. All I have is my identity. Why would I lie?”

Silence.

“She’s got a point,” I found myself saying, shrugging as Jason sent a harsh glare in my direction. It felt good to piss him off for a change. I would be the first to admit that we didn’t have a health relationship; it brought me great pleasure to see him taken down a notch or two.

“Look, whilst we understand that-” Jason began but was cut off by the shriek of a siren.  Kate pulled out her monitoring device before letting a curse slip through her lips.

“Energy spike at Valley Road. Low alpha readings. We have to get down there.”

Launching to our feet, my teammates and I froze midway to the door as we realise that we still had to deal with Gemma. We shared a moment of contemplation before I turned to face Jason.

“We can’t leave her here alone, boss.”

“I know.” Eyes, cold and calculating, he stared at the refugee of the multiverse before finally making a decision.

“So Gemma, fancy a trip out?”

She let a smile lift her lips.

“Okay. This time you can drive.”

Jason let out a sigh. I liked her already.

Maybe this wouldn’t turn out so badly after all.

Just maybe.

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