Race @718

I had only a few moments to spy the woman on the baroque side of the hall. She had dark hair, a fit figure, and wore grayish garments with a black waist coat. It was similar to my clothing, but of a modern, streamlined victorian nature. This was all I saw, because a rush of wind blasted through the entire hallway, and just as we entered the hall and faced each other. Following that came a thin wall that split the already visually segregated path. Mystified I approached this wall in disbelief, and found the humidity rising uncomfortably. The wall is made of steam condensed to a thing opaque film. Disbelief again floods through me, but this time with mounting suspicion. I reach out. I touch the wall. My lower body heat clears the area where my hand touches, like a defrost system in the time I was just snatched from.

The women must have thought along the same lines, for as I touched the wall our figures met. Like staring through a frosted glass, I saw her face in less detail than before. I voice invaded my head at the same time I realized what was about to happen. I shared the voice’s urgency and mounting panic. Both my internal voice and this familiar voice said only one thing in unison, “Run!”

It is either a residual effect of our recent transportation, or we have some bond when in proximity of each other, but we dashed down the corridor with our hands still aligned on either side of the wall. A larger, deep base sound vibrated the hall, and the heat and humidity were near intolerable with the speed we ran. We had to run, for what approached us was a death worse than torture. What came after us was a larger block of steam, like a great wall pushing the hallway shorter and shorter from the right as we faced each other. If the block over takes us we are poached like eggs, swelling with moisture and boiling with heat at the same time. We couldn’t let it engulf us either, as with the thin wall, it was an even hotter completely solid. If we stopped, the wall would continue to push us, and as we swelled and boiled the block would compress us into the nearest dead end. We would still be alive through all of that. We weren’t aware of where the left side of the hall went, but we couldn’t stay in where we were.

Hands still connected through the thin steam veil we ran, glancing over at each other to check progress. Our minds are panicked, our determination to survive dominated any connection we may share mentally. Then a nightmare thing approached, or rather we approached a nightmare. If it weren’t for the steam wall, such a thing would not have been cause for concern. We would considered what to do, and willing to survive together, we would have made one of two options. This thing that we approached was a ‘T’ intersection. Our hallway was about to dead end into one of two paths. We glanced at each other, trying to imply that the other should follow the one by sardonic nudges of the head. The complexity of the situation soon dawned: the steam wall went straight to the end…it didn’t turn one way or the other. I would have go one way, and she the other. I knew the steam wall had trouble passing through solid matter than regular breathable atmospheres.
When we turned, out of connection concerns, I turned at the last minute to keep my hand on the wall. Knowing this is only the sure way to solve a maze also helped, but I surprised at the heat of the wall. I turned as nearly stopped dead as I could still she my new female partner. I at least rounded another corner, and began traveling in the same direction as before. Again there was a connection, because she looked as amazed as I at the same time. This was a very bad sign, whether there were rooms that made the hallway ‘t’ off in this large section was no matter. Its wall’s were a secondary steam block generator. This had one major drawback and yet a great benefit. Once the steam-film wall passed through it, the larger steam-block would increase in speed, temperature and pressure, but the steam-film had to pass more slowly through the unit so as to charge it. I needed a room to open up where I might catch a glimpse of the steam-film’s progress. If there was no obstructing view, we were ahead of it. I was reassured by our connection, finding she was of similar mind. Because of my conditioning, at least, I would not tire from the run for some time, but did not sense my partner was as prepared. she could last, but not as long as I.

Then the minor relief came when a room did open up, and I could see the frothy front edge of the steam-film. It is as noisy and foamy as the bottom of a large natural waterfall, but I was glad I was able to hear that as it meant we were out of earshot of the rumbling steam-wall. Passing by the entrance to this room, however, severed the fuzzy connection I had with my stranger of a partner. For the first time I was able to briefly scan my head in private for any recollection of her. The expanse of the entrance was large enough for maybe four people to pass through in a line, and that gave me enough time just pinpoint a similar face. I became certain of one thing, I saw her before on Election Day. Just then I had to rejoin my connection with her. If I didn’t at least try to reestablish a connection, she might think something had gone wrong for me. The same was true of her naturally, and it was much to our mutual relief that we could vaguely see and sense one another again. We were in this together, as I sense she didn’t really know what she was doing here either. There was something different about her confusion, however. The sense was a hidden incongruity of what she had expected to happen. I kept my recent mental research as to her identity to myself. Maybe she had thought about it. Maybe I could keep it to myself. Maybe if I took a round-about thought path.
Ancient Lore, at least to me and my kind, noted that Election Day may have been a day where leaders were chosen by popular recognition. Elections were held in the ‘time of time’ where things tended to happen more or less sequentially. Time/space was hardly even understood at that point. Time/space, or space/time, isn’t even the word-phrase for it anymore. This was a mere musing, and a common way for those trained like myself to consolidate details circumstantially. As elections progressed, more and more glamour became attached to them. Information sources scoured the day’s happenings, and winning individuals or groups held larger and larger ceremonies. Even the act of ‘electing’ by masses of people became ritualistic, one did it either before or after one’s daily duties that day. Most did it before, and then celebrated after their day’s responsibilities. Over time it became less about who was elected for what, and more about the rituals, claims and celebrations of the event and act of choosing. Before long, even the raising of individuals to be elected became farcically extravagant. Actual names were then replaced with simply pronouns, until by near the end of the ‘time of time’ it became a solemn quiet gathering in the morning, and a great explosive celebration in the evening. Historians actually think even the droning motions of waiting in line, casting a choice, following results, and celebrating or bemoaning the results used to actually be functional practices. This is how I knew of my strange partner, but not from an actual Election Day. They were long retired. I had visited a time when there were celebrations, but that was not it. The history I had surrounded my thoughts with meant something. Something historical is how I knew this all…a summary. An event about Election Holiday. A summary exercise event. Training! I hadn’t seen her since training. even if time wasn’t what it used to be, that was ages ago.

I had to keep this to myself, for although I now recognized her I couldn’t place a name, rank, or anything. As if her details had been picked from my mind, making me trust the familiarity without anything concrete. I steeled my determination and picked up my running pace. ether my holiday partner sense these undercurrent thoughts, or had realized that she knew me in the same capacity, because she matched my pace. She was beginning to wear. but if I knew her from training, we should have matched capability. The I saw it in her. A mental weight bearing her down…and undercurrent of thought under an undercurrent of thought. There was nothing to do but see this through. Race to the end and get us both out alive. One of my only hopes is that we kept ahead of the steam-film and that the ‘t’ resolved itself. I passed another opening, smaller, but no sign of the steam-film. we were ahead of it, but by how much was uncertain. One of my hopes manifested itself almost immediately thereafter. a quick turn and She and i were face to face, but there was no time for evaluation. We had to keep running, but ahead of the steam-film instinct to stay connected made us join hands. A small intimate moment, brought with the intensity of survival and mental connection. We were of one mind in one purpose: get out alive.

She began tiring. Her physical state was over-stimulated and her mental acuity diminishing. it would belong before she collapse, and I would carry the weight of 2. What had been done to her? The rubbling of the sideways steam-film waterfall grew, as did the vibration of the greater menace right behind it. My partner began to slow. she pushed to hard earlier and was on the verge of collapse. She collapses. I catch her. There’s no way I alone can out run a wall of searing hot solid steam, but i try. Her have form is over my shoulder. Her mind is off. The film and the wall are one now. humidity gathers behind me, begins encompassing me. Ahead there’s just light. A metaphoric light at the end of this mentally dark, but visually split tunnel. I can tell it’s a window. The victorian side of the hall wraps the light in an elegant and decorative gilded frame. the minimal side, my side, melds with the light-wall as if to infinite. this window, this light, maybe a way out but i alone am not going to make it. I will not abandon this psuedo-stranger however, and so I concentrate. If I can float my force, I could use the steam wall as propulsion. If I do this, I can’t carry my partner in the same fashion. I have to shift her to my front. I will carry her like a bride over a dawning salvation threshold. If I don’t she is faced with a boiling death.

The rumbling mist draws closer. The wall has caught up with the film. I can’t have long. The light ahead is so bright. Is it a window? A fixture at a dead end? Does the hallway ‘t’ off again? I must ride it out and be ready to choose swiftly. I will ride it out. As I draw near the false dawn, something dawns on me. I can ride it out… If it’s a wind, I can float against gravity, and be pushed by the approach wetness out the window. That’s the best scenario. There’s no way to tell how high up we are. Plunging to ones death is considerably more attractive then pressure cooking. If it’s a dead end, we were dead from the start. Her weight starts to bear on me, my lungs beginning to struggle against her frame at my abdomen. If it’s another ‘T’ I can jump a track like so many ancient mass transit units. the wall is on me, and no longer do I feel humidity and sweat. I feel sting and burn, blister and pressure. Wet burning was softening my back. the increasing dampness of my whole back side was getting heavy. combined with the weight of my unconscious stranger-bride, I was beginning to collapse. I looked down at her face, soft and light. her hanging hair dampening as if she were coming out of a pool. I strengthened my resolve, held her tighter, ignored the wet burning and plowed ahead like a horned beast. My steps were heavy. My legs stung from burning steam and sustained running. I I could not move another inch at a run. Now was the time. I stopped dead after a few more meters. the window still a good running distance away; the wall closing in behind. My eyes close, I feel the sweat of fatigue and burning on my forehead. I muster my energy, breathing hard already; i breath deeper and slow. I disconnect with gravity, I float a bit above the floor. I land hard as my mind and body can’t take the addition strain of levitation. I wobble and nearly collapse. I catch my balance, struggle to stand straight. The wall is on me. Even if I ran now, we’d be dead. I had one more try. Suddenly everything goes clear, I sense a warmth in my arms. I look down at my fallen companion in my arms. She is rousing, but there is not time. I ned her energy to save us both. I draw on her warmth, and formalize my stance. I squint hard, relaxing into levitation is not going to work. I have to force it. My body is tired, a stranger in my arms may die, and I am about to be engulfed in a wet burning whiteness. Like a hiccup, i pop unexpectedly in the air just in time for the steam wall to over take me. It’s pressure lifts me. It burns. It’s speed pushes me on. It soaks. The only comfort I have is a fleeting breeze of the air I’m rushing into, but it only makes me more aware of the piercing heat pain from behind. I pray as the light approaches that it is a window. Gravity can take us after that. I have no energy for foresight of the physical. I am being pushed by an unreal wall into and unknown light. I try to orientate into a reclined position so whatever I’m about to break through I go feet first. Closer. Closer. My feet make contact and something shatters. The wall dies a dispersed death, the light blinds. I feel cool, almost freezing air. I am not fit to handle the quick change in atmosphere. The burning is so hot on my back it stings like ice, but the ice cold are burns my face. I freeze, I burn, I fall. Stranger clutched close, we plummet. As I succumb to a darkness of fatigue, I am slightly assured that I will be as unconscious as my unknown bride. dying together, hitting the ground in a dreamless sleep.