VIII

33 6 6

"If you two are going to do anything, now would be a good time!" Iain roars, putting on a last desperate burst of speed as we charge along the side of the cliff face, the monsters screeching and cackling with glee at the thrill of the hunt. Hayley turns in the saddle to pull a makeshift arrow from the bundle strapped to her pack, which she fits to her bow and looses into the cluster of demonic creatures bearing down on us, closer with every second. From her grunt of frustration I can tell she's having no success, but my eyes are squeezed tightly shut – not from fear, though I'm certainly terrified, but from concentration.

None of us can feel the call. I don't know if it's going to come soon, or at all, and if it doesn't, we're all going to die. So if it's possible to move on without it, if I'm ever going to find out, now is the time.

I'm picturing the door as Iain suggested. I can see it in my mind's eye. I didn't consciously choose it, but it's my bedroom door from the house we lived in when I was little. I can see the pale blue paint, the Noah's ark sign with the words "Felix's Room" in bright colourful letters. It's shut, but the handle's very clearly in focus, and I'm reaching for it. If I can open it, I might be able to step out into the corridor, and if I'm in the corridor, I can take us to a different room where the monsters can't follow. All I need to do is turn the handle. It's just too far to reach.

"Felix!" Hayley cries. "If you can do it, do it now!"

"Almost..." I breathe, utterly focused. I reach out with my thoughts, just touching the handle with the tips of my fingers. I stretch, straining my mind to the point of physical pain.

"Felix!"

There. My fingers curl around the brass handle and I push down, and the door in my mind swings open. I pull the three of us through, and then and then and then and then and thenandthenandthenandandandWhereAreWeWhatAreWeWe'reLostWe'reFallingFallingIntoOurselvesWhereDoWeGoWhatDoWeDoHaveToStopStopSTOPSTOPSTOP!

Cold. I'm on the ground and it's cold. Snow on my fingertips. But I'm not cold. The ground is cold, the air is warm. Just like on the ice world, when the blizzard stopped.

I open my eyes. The sky is bright and pale, a red sun glaring down, bathing the snowfields with light. I'm high up, looking down on it all. Dazed, I turn and take in my surroundings. This is still the ice world. We're on a flatter patch of a rocky slope by the mouth of a cave, dizzyingly high up, on the side of a mountain. I'm sitting on the snowy ground, my clothes damp, my muscles aching. Iain and Hayley lie beside me, the centaur's legs sprawled haphazardly, his tongue lolling comically out of his mouth. Hayley is curled in a ball. Neither looks hurt.

Did I do it? Did I move us on without the call?

It felt different, nothing like moving on ever was before. If moving on with the call was stepping through a door, this was diving off a canyon, landing in rapids, being tossed and thrown and battered by the streams and vortices of time and space. I managed to grab onto something, I think. I caught hold of this world before we were swept away.

I look down onto the snowfields, my eye drawn towards a cluster of woods – the cluster of woods Iain and I found Hayley in, I realise. This must be the mountain the monsters were chasing us along. So where are they now?

Iain groans. I run over to him and help him climb unsteadily to his feet... to his hooves, I mean. He looks around blearily. "Where are we?"

"Still on the ice world," I tell him. "I think... I think I managed to move us. Not on to another world, just a little up the mountain."

"That was fortunately timed," Iain remarks, shaking his head and chuckling. "What happened to the scary things?"

"No sign of them..."

Lonely WorldsRead this story for FREE!