Eclipse gets home eventually
The High Cascades
The first light of dawn awakened me. I was bundled in a polar-grade sleeping bag, with a wool scarf covering my face. This high in the Cascades nights could be bitter cold, but I was someplace where absolutely no one could find me. In a few hours, I could safely teleport home, turn off the intrusion alarms, and enjoy living in my own house.
I’d been in my house three days ago. I was real lucky. I’d looked at a computer calendar to see how long I’d been away, local time. I didn’t quite gasp in horror, but I was terrified. Thanks to foamspace and travelling through the Tunnels, I had returned three days early, three days before I’d left. If I now met me, when I hadn’t done that before I left, the energy needed for paradox cancellation would come out of my hide, with surely fatal results. Worse, I heard footsteps crossing the living room to the stairs. That had to be me, Eclipse, busy preparing for my trip across the universe. I looked around, carefully, to be sure I hadn’t disturbed anything, and teleported out, my heart pounding.
I’d previously set up several caches of emergency supplies, not near the house, caches I checked like clockwork once a month. I was sure I hadn’t checked them, before I left, to see that they were intact, so I could safely empty one of them and go hide for half a week. The caches were perfectly adequate, including lots of things to read while I was hiding, and modern field rations. American, as it happens, those being the best available. Three days of rest, even if the air was a bit cold, had repaired wear and tear from flying across the universe.
I considered the hour of the day. Down in the coastal hills, other-me, me before I flew off to someplace and came back three days before I left, was about to travel to Medford. So soon as other-me was in Medford, I could safely go home. I waited until the sun was high in the sky. By now Comet had formally divorced her parents, the Wizard of Mars had entrusted the four of us with a starcompass, and I and my friends were on our way across the universe. I gathered up my belongings, made sure I’d left no trash behind, and summoned teleport. To the warble of nesting songbirds, I faded into the pale blue of an early morning sky.
* * * * *
I hovered among pine trees, my toes not quite touching the ground, every sense operating at full stretch. The day was brilliantly clear, sky an impossibly deep blue, snow on distant mountains burning white. There was my home, rutted driveway leading from garage toward an ill-maintained gravel county road, a well-worn path stretching from house to barn. None of the burglar alarms had been triggered. More passive mechanical traps, hidden snares to warn me if there’d been intruders, were equally undisturbed. “The Fortress of Evanescent Darkness” as Star had named it, was neither dark nor evanescent nor fortified.