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Down the Corridor by Nils Durban
SUMMARY: Entry in the August 08 Flash Fiction competition. Theme: Unintended Consequences.
Malory's body flowed along the eerily luminous Corridor, following the trail that had been deeply scored into its intangible surface by Vickers' flight. There was little concept of time here and, as a result, he needed to concentrate in order to maintain his successful pursuit and not drift down the line, past Vickers' exit point and probably beyond any hope of ever picking up the trail. Right now it was a bright yellow meandering streak but Malory knew that it would soon fade, blend back into the surrounding glow.
Vickers was a day-tripper. For seven years he had been a member of the scientific team responsible for research of the interspatial wormhole referred to as The Corridor, an unintentional creation resulting from an overzealous series of super-fission tests in New Mexico. It was only later realised how close they had come to turning the world, and a fair amount of local space, inside out. The Pandora's Box that had been left to them was a closely guarded secret, the scientists allocated to it the most brilliant minds that could be persuaded to forego all links with the outside world.
Forays along the Corridor were strictly planned and monitored, but it had become more and more obvious that the presence of the anomaly had a serious effect upon the psyche of those who remained within its proximity, an ever increasing desire to step inside, to make a secretive unscheduled trip.
Vickers had been gone for no more than twenty minutes when the alarm was raised. Malory thought that even this was too long. But his colleague had covered his tracks well, had even created a dummy inverter to replace the one that he had removed. And then, unable to resist the compulsion any longer, he had gone day-tripping.
The trail began to circle the Corridor walls, a sign that Vickers had slowed down, searching for an exit. Malory traced its course meticulously, trying to ignore the protestations of his stomach which was becoming increasingly insistent regarding the rejection of his earlier breakfast.
There! A series of ripples in the trail before it dove straight down through the (surface?) of the wormhole and out.....where? Malory angled himself to follow its course.
His breakfast arrived upon a cobbled pavement and Malory rejoined it about half a second later, cursing in response to the impact of his knees upon the stones as well as to the hangover from hell that he had instantaneously acquired. He was a veteran traveller in comparison to most of the others, but never would he get used to it.
He scanned the vicinity quickly, taking in his surroundings. The road before him consisted of equal parts mud, straw and what he presumed was horse shit. His ears verified this by the recognition of hooves upon an adjacent main road.
He drew his inverter from its webbing at his side and triggered its display which was preset to locate its counterpart. A red light shone whilst an arrow indicated direction. Good, he wasn't far away.
He made his way out onto the main thoroughfare and into the shadow of what he realised, after a moments careful contemplation, was St.Paul's Cathedral.