Flight

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flight
flʌɪt/
noun
3.
the action of fleeing.

I'd never much liked porridge, right up until that morning at the farmhouse. Maybe it was the relief of having shelter, and anything would have tasted good. Maybe the Lynts were just really great at making porridge. Maybe the milk tasted better on this planet. Could be that a slightly different type of cow had led to the split between our worlds, way back.

That was about the depth of my understanding of all this multiple worlds chatter. Cow jokes.

"You can't stay here," Malcolm said over breakfast, his words twisting into me like a knife.

"Nobody knows where we are, though," I said.

"No, but they're searching," said Grant, walking in through the door to the farm yard, pulling off bulky gloves and throwing a bag of potatoes into the sink.

"Shoes, Mr Vega," said Sylvia, pointing at his boots and watching sternly over the rims of her glasses. Sylvia and Malcolm were married and owned the farm. Grant Vega maintained the fields for them. All three were part of a local cell of an apparently international group dedicated to stopping the systematic abuse of Locque. They appeared to have had approximately nil progress on that mission.

"We have stations around the world," Malcolm had said when we'd arrived the previous night. "All situated close to turbine installations, monitoring what's going on. We have agents in some of the facilities. But we're spread thin. We don't have much real power."

"Us showing up is a pretty big deal, then?" Marv had said.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," Malcolm had confirmed.

Sylvia brought a new round of toast while Malcolm refilled everybody's drinks. The fields shone green and gold through the windows and under any other circumstances I could have walked them all day until the sun dropped.

Marv entered and took a seat, wearing the new clothes that they'd provided for us. The fashions were entirely unfamiliar and even the materials felt different but they were clean and smelt fresh. I hadn't realised quite how filthy I'd become until I'd washed and thrown my old clothes away. They'd been falling apart at the seams, so it was just in time.

"Help yourself to anything on the table, Marv," Malcolm said. "I was just saying to Kay that regrettably you can't stay here. They will be searching house to house and will eventually get to us. Tomorrow at the very latest. While we would very much like to offer you our hospitality and talk to you about your experiences, it would be unwise for us all."

He was white haired and the oldest of the group. Something about the way he spoke and moved made it evident that Malcolm was a planner. He exuded patience and expected everybody else to do so, too.

"Then where do we go?" I asked. "Surely being outside is even more dangerous for us than being here?"

"Sure is," said a new voice from the back door. A young woman, maybe in her mid-twenties, was leaning on the door frame. Her skin was darker than the others and her hair was cropped short. "That's why I'm going to be coming along for the ride."

Grant laughed loudly and extended a hand in the direction of the woman. "Kay, Marv, meet Rose Furey. Don't piss her off."

"Rose has worked with us for many years," Malcolm said. "She is an excellent tracker and she knows how to get in and out of places unseen. You'll be safe in her hands."

Sylvia took a sip from her mug, holding it close to her face. "The Aviary is lit up like a Christmas tree," she said. "Since last night it's become the most secure place on the planet. There's no way anyone is getting anywhere near it."

"Why would we want to go back there?" I asked.

"Your friend appears to have left you behind, my dear," Malcolm said gently. "If you're to return to your world you will need to do so using one of the turbines on this world, such as the one I believe you've already seen at the nearby facility."

Marv sat up straight. "So there's more than one?"

Malcolm nodded. "At least one in every country. That's how they - we - however you define it - maintain control over your world. They have dominion over all your seats of power."

"Another lady, Jennifer, who you haven't met," Sylvia continued, "has already worked out a path to the coast which should avoid most checkpoints or risky areas."

"Jen is very good at details," said Malcolm, with some satisfaction. "We're a small group here but we have good people."

The rest of breakfast was a whirlwind of names of people and places - I wasn't always clear which was which - as they outlined the plan. We were to leave immediately in one of the farm's automated delivery trucks, which would get us at least most of the way towards the nearest big port. Once there Rose would find us a ship to sneak aboard and get out of the country. The more distance between us and the mock-Aviary the better.

I could have quite happily stayed in the comfortable care of Malcolm and Sylvia Lynt for days, or weeks, but our stay was to be less than twenty-four hours. As I walked across the farm yard, hat pulled very low on my head, I tried to accept this instability as my new status quo but a part of me continually rebelled against the thought. To accept it would be to let them win - those arse holes who have manipulated us for centuries and were now hunting us. Generally speaking, surrender was for other people. I had no concept of how I could ever return my life to something worth living, but I had to give it a try.

Rose Furey walked a few paces ahead of me and Marv, a small backpack slung over her back. She was tall and muscular, more so than me, and moved with a poise and posture that suggested immense self-confidence. Although she was there to protect us, I immediately felt intimidated by her presence. The amount of trust we were having to invest in these people was also deeply unnerving - it seemed like we should be able to trust them, otherwise they'd have handed us over in the night, but we were still in massively over our heads. This wasn't jumping in at the deep end - this was tying cement blocks to your feet, in the hope that there'd be something useful at the bottom.

"The truck is automatic," Furey said. "You don't have self-driving cars on Locque, right? Nobody drives here. It's been programmed with its route. All we need to do is sit in the back and not get seen."

"Doesn't sound too hard," Marv said.

"We'll see."

I hopped up the tail of the truck and into its large container. Looking out the back I could see the farmhouse, still bathed in the morning sun. The others were standing in the yard, looking concerned. Malcolm gave a small nod, then Furey hit a switch which caused the doors to swing shut. The farmhouse disappeared from view, replaced with the cold metal of the container's interior.

"Here we go again," Marv said quietly.

I wondered whether Cal was still alive.

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