matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,
matapam
pamuphoff

Maze of Worlds

The brain is not cooperating with getting words on the screen, a sure sign I need to hit the zero carb wagon for a week, then slowly let the carbs back into my life.

In the mean time, to keep you entertained, one of the barely started stories that never got picked up again, so this is all there is:


The Maze of Worlds

Chapter One

Trapped in the Foster Care System

April 1, 3528 ce

Spring 1411 px

22 Emre1413 yp

“Christophe Antione!”

Kit stopped, fork halfway to his mouth. His “caseworker” was scanning the rather thinly populated cafeteria and spotted him. Crooked a finger in a summons.

A snicker from down the table. “What did you do wrong this time, Kitty?”

Kit shoved a last bite into his mouth and stood, grabbing the “dessert square” and leaving the rest. Might as well let the others finish it. It’s not like there’s enough, anyway.

Mrs. Lainer looked down her nose at him. “Throw that disgusting thing away.”

He swallowed the “meat” in his mouth and took a bite of the dessert. At least it pretended to be sweet.

“I gave you an order.” Frosty tones.

Kit swallowed and stuffed the rest in his mouth.

“You are the most disobedient child I have ever had the misfortune . . . why don’t you even try to behave!”

“Why don’t you send me to my uncle?”

“Because there’s no supervision there. He works odd hours in a dangerous profession, divorced . . . He’s just not suitable for a problem child.”

“I’m only a problem because you’ve stolen me from my family. I see no reason to behave for kidnappers.”

She came close to shoving him through the office door. “This is Mr. and Mrs. Fontenot. They are opening their home to you. To add you to their family. They have three other foster children . . .”

Kit ignored her and studied the pair of adults. Right. Living off the foster care stipend. Looking me over like a problem to be dealt with as cheaply as possible.

“He doesn’t look fourteen. Twelve, maybe.” The man smiled.

Yeah, rub it in.

“Now go pack. Be quick about it.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Kit slid out of the office, and trotted for the boy’s barracks. Not that he had much to pack, but “not much” was better than nothing. Two changes of clothes, all showing their age and getting tight.

I’m almost fifteen. Three more years, and I can go starve on the streets, unless Uncle Martin will take me in. Guess I’ll finally find out if he really wants me, or if these people are actually being kind and giving me the excuses.

Back at the office, Mrs. Lainer escorted them all to the door . . . and then it was time to figure out which category these two adults fell into.

The man held the car door for him. “Relax. We’re going to get along just fine.”

Hand on his shoulder for a brief squeeze, running down Kit’s back as he climbed in the back seat.

Oh. That kind.

So much for just going along for the next three years.

And I can’t go to Uncle Martin, it would just get him into trouble. I guess it’s time for Plan F. Go hunt down the sperm donor, and see if he’s any better than pervy fosters.

He watched out the car windows . . . heading west, so there should be a transit hub, yeah, there’s the sign . . . He looked at the door. Automatic locks, of course, but what his mom had always called his special “tricks” would release them.

They slowed as traffic backed up and he zapped the lock. Flicked the seat belt latch, grabbed his bag, opened the door, and bailed out. He dodged the slow moving cars in the next lane, hit the sidewalk and ran. Turned at the first corner. Getting out of sight was always the first step.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

He walked down the alley, turned right at the first corner, right again on the street that had had the transit center sign.

The new stepfather hustled around the corner up ahead.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

Kit walked past him, waited at the light and crossed the street. Kept thinking invisible thoughts all the way to the transit station. Zapped the pass reader and walked through the gate.

He checked the map, to be sure his memory was right, and dropped down another level for the right train.

That took him to the right bus . . .

A man was checking each passenger as they boarded. Kit waited until the driver reached for the controls to slip invisibly through the door. He sat on the steps. And braced himself.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

Two years ago his Mom had taken him through a dimensional corridor, on a vacation trip to China. The corridor had been the most wrenching, horrible . . .

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

He concentrated on staying invisible as he twisted . . . took a deep breath of dusty hot desert air leaking in around the door edges.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

The bus drove another couple of kilometers, then pulled over under a high roof. The passengers started pushing forward. Kit slung his bag and got friendly with the doors. They opened, and he jumped out and dodged to the side.

Right. I’m in Nowhereistan.

From here on out he was going to have to improvise.

The legitimate passengers from the bus were splitting up, some dropping down escalators with signs over them like “UEAF” “M. Acc.” And “Warehouse Dist” which was at least understandable.

But most of them were headed for other buses also with unintelligible labels. “LC” “DONA” “MD1” “CC” “GA”

He edged closer to the new buses, studied the people lining up for them. And the police walking out and looking around, jaws moving as they looked around, frowning.

They don’t see me, they aren’t looking for me. But he turned and walked away. But whoever they were talking to seemed to be sending them toward him.

He panicked and bolted for the nearest escalator. Down to a turnstile. He vaulted across, and kept running. Down to a tram platform , complete with a tram. He threw himself through as the doors closed . . . I wonder where I’m going?

The people on the tram frowned at him. Not a lot of people. An empty bench . . . he sat, fished in his bag and pulled out a book. Old fashioned, paper. An old form that still hung on, useful for children who broke things and people working in secure areas where electronics were forbidden.

As he’d hoped, it was such a normal thing that people stopped looking at him. It was a pretty fast tram, but the police could call ahead . . .

He stayed on the tram through three stops, and got off on the fourth.

Trotted up the stairs.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

A man on a tall ladder, doing something up high on a wall.

Kit stepped closer. Maybe a cam is down. Or he’s blocking it . . . Blocking . . . He looked around, slowed.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

A trio of men walked past and he went with them, invisible to humans. It has to have been the cams. Someone monitoring the cams spotted me. So how am I going to get to the gates? I need real camouflage. Something the cams will see that won’t trigger any automatic checks, that a person monitoring won’t notice.

The men were walking a bit wide spaced, not together, just heading the same direction . . . toward an escalator. The man in the lead charged up the moving steps. Kit scuttled to stay between the other two. Bent and pretended to be searching his bag, not as if he was staying low where a cam might not see him.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

He quickstepped off the escalator and followed the man in front of him right out the big glass doors. Circled him and trotted ahead of him, the man’s bulk between him and the building, and any cams that might be there. Big plain buildings ahead.

Warehouses.

Do they store stuff, then ship it through the gates?

How do I find one that ships to Embassy?

Does it matter where I go?

No. Not really. Right now, I just need to go someplace that isn’t here where the cops are chasing me!

He trotted down the street. The doors are open on that one . . . Drat, they’re unloading. Okay, next warehouse . . .

He kept going. Got to a street corner that had a store, and dug out the bag he kept around his neck—the only way to keep anything safe in custodial care. Two cash chips and the pocket knife Uncle Martin had given him when he was eight.

Of course it was just a vendo store, but that was perfect. He popped the first cash chip in . . . and used it all on a small pack of cheese and crackers and a drink. He checked the second chip . . . and decided he’d better save it.

Right now I’m just hungry. Tomorrow I’ll be starving.

He walked out, and down an alley. Found a bit of shade to sit in and try to pretend that four crackers with a smear of cheese was a meal.

Actually . . . the shadows were pretty long.

Will it be harder or easier to get through a gate in the dark? They say they run the powered gates around the clock, but the permanent gates wouldn’t have the same limits, would they? The two powered gates have to go to every world that doesn’t have a permanent gate.

Kit hunched his shoulders. And I have no idea where any of the gates are going. Whether it’s better to escape through a permanent gate or a powered gate . . . and I also have no idea where the nearest public restroom is . . .

He wound through alleys and between warehouses, looking for anything . . . he peeked though an open door. Several trucks, loaded and empty, one flat bed, loaded facing a closed vehicle door. No one in sight . . . a door labeled bathroom . . .

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

No one there. Whew, what a relief.

As he reached for the door, footsteps.

He bolted down to the last stall, flattened against the wall.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

“. . . late! If he misses the gate I swear I’ll fire him, union or not.” A man’s voice, English with an accent Kit couldn’t identify.

“Still have two and half hours. So long as there’s no problem with security, he’ll have plenty of time.”

“Yeah, if he gets here any time soon.”

Fortunately they just pissed and left.

But they have a truck going through a gate in a few hours. If . . .

He opened the door a crack. Two men walking away.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

He slipped out the door and along the back wall, solid with shelves, and behind the truck. A great huge crate on the end. He peek around the far side. No people. Up to the front. Another crate, but the space in between was filled with sacks. White, labeled potatoes, there was wheat, several long green sacks . . .

Kit looked back at the shelves. Folded cloth, green like those bags.

You don’t see me, you don’t see me, you don’t see me!

The green cloth was sturdy canvas duffle bag.

Just my size.


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