Astronomicon: Boundary

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 You Shall Not Pass

"What have you found?" Ann asked, running up the sandy path between the dunes.

"I don't know," John replied.

He stood just staring at the view across the dunes as the wind whipped up his blond hair and billowed his knee-length khaki shorts.

"So why have you stopped?"

She caught up with him and stopped a few steps behind.

"Because I had to. I can't go any further."


"Not really. It's strange, there's some kind of invisible barrier."

"Invisible what?" she said, peeling some stray hairs away from her eyes.

"Look at this."

She watched him bend over and scoop a handful of sand from the dune underfoot. Loose, dry sand ran between his fingers and blew away in the strong sea breeze. He closed his fingers around the sand, raised it up and tossed it quickly at the path ahead of them. Some blew away but much of it flew in a loose cloud for a couple of feet and then simply vanished, in mid-air.

Ann stared in disbelief. It looked for all the world as if the sand had just spontaneously ceased to exist. John walked back a few feet and picked up a dried out stick that was embedded in the dune. He moved back to where he was standing before and flung the stick into the air. Again, after a couple of feet, it just blinked off.

"That's crazy!" she said.

"Look at this then," he replied and leapt forwards with as much force as he could muster.

Ann shrieked and reached out for him, expecting him to vanish too but instead, he just seemed to hit a soft barrier, stopping him gently and then letting him drop vertically back to the ground. He turned around to face her and shrugged.

"What the hell is it?" she asked.

"I haven't got the faintest, but we can't continue in this direction."

"Do they have the technology to do this now?"

"It's been 180 years since we were frozen. Who knows what technology they have?" he replied.

He walked back to stand beside her.

"So what do we do now?" she asked.

"I think exploring in this direction is strictly off the menu. Maybe if we head down to the water's edge again and head along that way? I can't imagine this barrier extends over the water."

"Excuse me!" called a voice from a distance down the path behind them. "Excuse me!"

They turned to see who was calling, surprised to find a weaselly-looking man dressed in what looked just like a lab coat. He was stumbling over uneven sand wearing inappropriate black, leather shoes. He trudged closer to them and then tried to shake the sand off his shoes.

"Who are you?" asked John.

"I'm not. At least, don't worry about that. I won't be here long."

"Where did you come from?" asked Ann, visually sweeping the beach for his footprints, but they appeared to simply start from where he first called to them.

"You shouldn't be here," the odd man said.

"Why? Is it private property?" asked John.

"I don't see any signs," added Ann.

"Look, just turn around, head back down to the beach and don't come this way again. Just forget about it."

"Forget about it?! You've got an invisible barrier – how can we forget about that?"

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