Mercury, Passage One

Mercury hurtled between the thorny, blue branches of the ancient jungle, scraping her thighs and forearms as she twisted her body in every direction. Her movement was erratic. She didn’t have time to glide through the trees like the nimble flying creatures native to this terrain. Fugitives don’t have the luxury to perform graceful gymnastics.

An underwater cave lay hidden about fifty city blocks from the heavily guarded prison, but she wasn’t quite sure how long a city block might be as she had only been to one once before as a child. She also had only heard rumors of the cave’s existence. The other fugitives who used it never returned to the prison. They had either successfully escaped the grip of the Coalition’s stronghold, or they became victims. The cave was also supposedly protected by a trio of witches. If this part was true, Mercury hoped the witches would aid in her hiding.

She gripped her feet into the ground, halting her movement, and clutched a nearby blue branch for support. A black orb floated about thirty feet in front of her. Her breathing slowed, and all of the anxiety she had about her current position in the universe evaporated from her heart. She had a slight smile on her face. The orb sent out invisible, calming waves. It was drawing her closer. She wanted to touch it, but the orb did not look solid. It looked like a hole, almost. One that she could reach into and be transported to that calming place. Yes, all would be fine. There was no need to escape the guards who rejoiced in meaningless abuse. There was no need to worry about her ailing mother who no longer had the care of her only daughter, and there was certainly no need to find the underwater cave anymore.

Mercury extended her hand toward the orb. The calming waves felt like pulses of morphine ejecting their serum into the surrounding air. Her fingertips made contact with the jelly exterior of the orb. The texture did not match up with the visual she was seeing, but that didn’t matter. It was telling her to go inside it. She slowly inched her fingers into the orb, sensing the calm feelings beyond its molten barrier. The pain in her head did not immediately distract her from the floating black hole. It wasn’t until her head hit the ground did she realize that she would not escape to the oasis beyond the orb’s liquid veil.

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