Jun 20, 2018 7:23 AM
the underground railroad
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a portal to brithombar in a red district
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Nelen gets out of the truck and the next driver gets in, and Nelen goes home.

In the stairwell is a patch of darkness, like an oddly shaped shadow with nothing to cast it. He's a little too distracted thinking of dinner to wonder about it.

When his shoulder clonks against it in the narrow stairs, there's nothing to clonk. He loses his balance; he falls.

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He lands in a puddle. No, worse than a puddle, it's some sort of open rainwater drainage channel, probably somewhere upscale because it zigzags very prettily. It's raining right now. There are people around, but not immediately around, and not looking at him. 

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Oh fuck he's gonna die. He's gonna die hungry and confused and without saying goodbye to his family. There's bound to be security cameras, even if no one's seen him yet. Maybe if he gets out of the running water nobody'll come looking for an excuse to kill anyone else. He scoots out of it as best he can.

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Someone notices him moving, changes directions towards him.

There's a dark spot on the ground on the edge of the rainwater channel. 

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Aaaaaaah he gropes blindly at the spot.

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And he's dripping on the stairwell in his district.

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What.

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The stairwell does not volunteer an explanation.

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...he reaches for the dark spot, from his safe sitting position.

It isn't solid.

 

He goes and gets a chair and puts it between the path and the darkness. He sends his organizer an email.

He has dinner.

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No one comes by looking for a red caught on camera somewhere it had no right to be. No one comes by at all.

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There are back stairs. Everyone uses those for six weeks.

After that, when nothing has happened, Nelen goes down the front stairs, and moves the chair aside, and steps through.

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It's not raining today. The rainwater diversion channel is tiled in something that looks like marble, very neatly and precisely. The buildings are white rock and glass and crystal.

The two people he can see from here have silver hair and...dark orange? Brownish? They wear it long and elaborately braided. They're too tall. 

They're not paying him any particular attention. 

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There are probably Amentans that tall but there probably aren't two of them of different castes who hang out. The buildings are even more unlikely.

Nelen risks a few steps.

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Every other plot of land is a park or a water feature or a sculpture. Straight ahead down the larger street there's a port. There are more people, unhurried, dressed elaborately. Mostly brownish hair, some more grey, one yellow.

No children. 

Some people in an unnecessary miniature park up ahead are singing; he can't pick out any words.

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He pulls out his everything, and takes pictures.

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At that he does attract a few curious glances. Someone in the park stands up and looks at him; their brow creases like maybe they said something, but they didn't say anything and are in fact still singing.

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...he drops his everything back through the shadowportal and freezes.

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Brow-crease? 

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Frozen frightened red.

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The brown alien stops singing and tries to say something out loud. In an alien language. 

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Nelen shakes his head slowly, wide-eyed.

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If the brown alien were Amentan this facial expression would probably be curious, not upset. Maybe slightly concerned. They try another language.

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Headshake.

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Another one?

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Nelen does not speak any of these languages.

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Well this alien seems to know at least one sentence of, like, twelve, after which they will smile apologetically and shake their head.

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