Ostium Ad Infinitum

450px-Gates_of_Hell

Mara gasped for air. Her lungs burned and her limbs ached. Her body screamed for rest but she dare not stop. She had to reach to the doorway. Time was running out and the Venari were not far behind. As soon as the Consortium had discovered that she and Derek had entered the vault and released the data stream into the Well, they’d summoned the hunters to track them both. Now she was running for her life. She hoped that Derek was still alive.

The explosion had knocked her out the window. By the time she regained consciousness, Derek was gone. She’d no choice but to try to make it back to the portal and make the jump, with or without him. Blood flowed freely from the gash on her forehead. It stung her eyes as it slowly dripped down her face, blurring her vision. Pausing for a moment to glance behind her, she wiped her eyes clean. She couldn’t see them, not yet, but they were close. She had heard them in the distance not more than three minutes ago and knew they were closing the gap. The Venari were bred to hunt. They were humanoid, but not human: genetically designed monstrosities that had no emotion, only heightened senses, incredible strength, and a thirst for killing. The Venari did not take prisoners.

Mara spotted the dome topped building only a few hundred yards through the dense tropical thicket. Her exit was near. How strange it was that the portal in this world was located in the ruins of a city lost in a jungle. Most times when she and Derek entered a new world, the gateway appeared as a normal, innocuous door located in a public building or abandoned home. It was most often plain and discrete. The doorway in this realm was anything but ordinary. Its massive size and the ornate carvings gave the impression it was a work of art.

She turned to look behind her again and never saw the vine stretched across her path. Her left foot caught it and she flew forward. Crashing hard on the ground the air whooshed from her lungs. She pushed down on the moist dirt beneath her, attempting to stand but could not. Small white lights danced in her vision and for a moment, she feared she would pass out. Summoning her willpower, she sucked in air trying desperately to fill her lungs knowing that every second she paused lessened her chance of survival. Forcing herself to inhale she brought the much-needed oxygen back into her bloodstream. She heard them again. The Venari’s animalistic barks and snarls were close. Pushing herself up on shaky legs she managed to stand. The courtyard was only a few dozen yards from where she stood. She could make it.

A last look back confirmed what she already knew. The Venari had reached her. They were now only yards away and closing fast. With every bit of strength left in her, she ran. Bursting from the jungle and into the stone courtyard, she saw the door. Derek was not there but she couldn’t wait. Sprinting towards the portal she rubbed the oval-shaped amulet around her neck. The door glowed brightly. Only a few more feet. The Venari raced to catch her. Their claws grasped at her hair, missing only by inches. She dove into the brilliant light and vanished from this world. Her last thought before disappearing was her hope that Derek had already made it through.

[This was a short story I submitted to a contest (I didn’t win) recently and I wanted to share it here. I’m thinking this has the making of a good novella and I might try to expand this as a writing project. Hopefully it catches your interest. Thanks.]

~V

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