Saturday, December 18, 2010

Door 18

They had a plan.

Of sorts.

Clarice had left Jack sitting on his bed. She told him she'd be back that night, very late again, after Damien was asleep. They'd jump to the future, grab the two Doorways - yes, they were both there - and Jack would come back with both of them. He'd put them where they'd never be found, by Damien or anyone else. It didn't matter if Jack couldn't destroy them. He'd bury them 100 feet in the ground if he had to.

The basic plan sounded great to Jack.

But even he could see it was a little light on detail.


It was a long, long day.

Clarice had told him to get some sleep. She said he'd have to be rested and ready for their trip that night.

Whatever. There was no way Jack could sleep. Or rest. Or even relax.

It was Saturday, which made it even worse. No school to distract him. Just a long day of avoiding his Dad, ignoring Janet, and trying to not think about what he had to do later that night.

Jack wandered out to the garage. Not exactly a place to revisit old triumphs, but he felt like he needed to take something along as a weapon. He had every intention of getting in and out of there without ever seeing Damien, but, well, things don't always work out as planned. He had never been a Boy Scout, but he was fully behind the "always be prepared" motto.

He thought about the torch and immediately dismissed it. What would he do - ask Damien to wait for a second while he lit it? He looked over the claw hammer for a moment, but it just seemed too grisly somehow. He didn't think he could bring himself to hit someone with it, even if he had to. He settled on a short, flathead screwdriver. He could stab with it and he could use it as a knife; it was brand new and quite sharp.

Jack slipped the screwdriver into his pants pocket and prayed he'd never have to use it.


The television was showing something - Jack couldn't really focus on what. It was probably funny because Janet was laughing. Jack excused himself. Said he was tired and was going to go to bed.

It was 7:15.

His Dad watched him all the way up the stairs, but didn't say anything.


Jack sat on the bed, fully dressed with light pants and a t-shirt and his favorite Nikes.

He had been waiting for over six hours now. He had tried to sleep for the first two or three hours and then gave it up as hopeless.

So he just sat, waiting for Clarice.


She arrived at about 1:30 in the morning. Jack's eyes were slits, he was really having to work to keep them open. He had them closed for a moment, then when he opened them again, she was standing in front of him.

"Clarice!" Jack said. "I was afraid-"

Clarice fell to her knees and retched.

"What's wrong?" Jack said, kneeling next to her.

"Sick," Clarice moaned. "We've got to get back...before I pass out."

She grabbed Jack with both arms, hugging him tight.

And they were gone.


Jack was afraid to move.

It was pitch black and he had no idea where he was. Clarice still had one arm around him and he could hear her breathing, but he didn't know if he should talk. What if Damien heard him?

"It's OK," Clarice gasped. "We're in my room. Let me catch my breath."

Jack sat up and let his eyes adjust to the gloom. There was a tiny bit of light coming through the window, but it was very dark.

"Are you all right?" Jack whispered.

"I will be. I can't go back through again. We need to get the Doorways and you need to get them back."

Jack swallowed. Tried to anyway, his mouth was really dry. It was hot there, even in the middle of the night.

And he was scared.

"He's got the Doorways right beside his bed," Clarice said. "Don't worry, he's a heavy sleeper. We'll go in and get them, quietly, bring them back to my room, then you can get back."

Jack nodded. He didn't want to talk, because everything he wanted to say was an excuse to not go through with it.

Clarice stood up walked out of her room. Jack followed.

They slid down a narrow hall, keeping against the wall, where the floor was less likely to creak. The apartment was terrifyingly quiet and every step they took sounded loud and obvious.

Clarice stopped at a door at the end of the hallway and whispered into Jack's ear, "They're in here. On the left side of the bed. I'll grab one and hand it to you. Then I'll grab the other and keep it. We'll walk right back out and head to my room. OK?"

Jack took a shallow breath. "Yeah."

Clarice opened the door and peeked in. She moved into the room and Jack stayed right behind her.

The voice came from behind them.

"You back-stabbing little traitor," the voice said softly. "I knew you'd do something stupid like this."

The lights flashed on and Jack squinted against the sudden brightness. He saw a huge, dark form tower over him.

"You must be Jack," Damien said. "You should have stayed in the past. Where you belong."

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