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The Visitors, part two

The Door was a drainage culvert this time, Rob noted with displeasure. All the muck and leftovers from the city were here, and he was knee-deep in it. Come to think of it, the city-zens would think of him as muck too, washed away down the drain. They’d always thought of Visitors like that.

Couldn’t tell what caused what, the person became unwanted because they chose to be a Visitor, or the person became a Visitor because they were unwanted. Maybe it was a little of both.

All Rob knew was that he better get out of this culvert and fast. He could hear the rumble of a storm coming. His Gran had taught him all the prayers and blessings, including the ones for lightning and thunder. “See, nothing to be afraid of my boy! They’s something to be thankful for! You can get in your daily quota of thanks with those! Two-for-one, even! A bargain!”

He said the prayers dutifully, even thankfully, when he was a child, but he wasn’t feeling thankful right now. He needed to get out of that culvert, and quick. The storm was coming faster than he expected. He scrambled up and out to catch the lay of the land.

His Gran wasn’t a visitor either, just like Julia’s Gran. No Gran-mothers were Visitors, because Visitors happened after they were able to choose. All the parents died suddenly over the course of about a month, a decade back, and all the children were left in the care of their Gran-mothers. The Gran-fathers were suddenly off either working to support their new families or off fighting against the new enemies. Sometimes they were just off, not able to handle the new strain of new mouths to feed.

Nobody had ever seen an enemy, none that they knew were there. There had to be an enemy. There was no other reason for all the unexplained deaths and tech failures. They all suspected the usual suspects, the nation-states who they’d grumbled with off and on for generations. Nobody fessed up though, so they were left guessing. Rob even suspected some of them killed off some of their citizens to make it look like they were hit too. They were low enough to do just that.

Right now he didn’t have time to think much about the past. His present wasn’t looking very good, and his future was downright uncertain. That thunder was getting closer. He said a prayer and looked harder. He didn’t have much to work with.

This Room was an open field, long, low, and empty of much except rocks and a few scraggly wildflowers. Not all Rooms were actual rooms. Every Visitor learned that before their first Walk. Some Rooms were entire buildings full of rooms that lead only to other rooms, not other places. It was important to be able to spot the difference. Otherwise you’d spend all day, or all your life, stuck there. He didn’t have all day, with that storm coming.

Perhaps those boulders to the right may hide a nook that he could wiggle in, that might take him out of here. If nothing else, it might just be enough to keep him dry. That alone was enough to head in that direction. Not like there were many other likely options. An abandoned well could do as a place to find a Door, but he’d rather skip the worms if he had a choice. It certainly wasn’t a place to be scouting out in a storm. Shouldering his canvas sack, he trudged on.

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