Something tugged on the sleeve of Fitton’s shirt. He shrugged it off and returned to his work. Again the insistent plucking at the fine cotton fabric repeated. With a sigh, Fitton removed his spectacles, placed them on his desk and turned to find two wide, hazel eyes staring at him.
“What is it Scribe?”
“The girl, she’s escaped.”
“What do you mean she’s escaped? And what girl?”
“The one, with the ink, I took her scrolls and I was about to transcribe them when she fell into my office!”
Fitton frowned at the little man before him. What he was saying seemed so improbable that it didn’t sink in for a while. When it did Fitton’s dark eyebrows pulled together and his mouth began to twist in anger.
“How did she get out!?”
“I don’t know sir.”
“So she is just running around the palace unsupervised?”
“Well, I don’t know sir. I thought she would stay in my office; I barely ever leave I didn’t think she would want to go anywhere. I mean the world outside is just so scary…” the small man’s babbling trailed off into silence. He seemed to vibrate as he stared at Fitton. His nose twitched intermittently. It was a nervous tic that Fitton had watched grow worse over the years. The little man was jumpy and not very comfortable to have around, but Fitton needed him, his transcriptions were flawless, and they were the only ones that stuck.
“Come along scribe, we best go find her.”
Fitton stood up and retrieve his jacket from the hook behind his desk. He pulled it on and stuffed his spectacles into a pocket. On a mission Fitton strode to the door and the scribe scurried along behind him.
“We’ll start the search in your office, but if she ran there’s no telling where she could be by now.”
“Mhm mhm.” The scribe hummed in agreement.
Fitton pulled an ornate old watch from his pocket and grimaced. “We’d better get moving, it would be best to have her back to her room before they are finished their evening entertainment.” Fitton lengthened his stride and the scribe ran along ahead of him. Fitton was much taller than him and it made the little man nervous to be around him.
The basket jerked to a halt and sent her tumbling. Her hair fell in her face and she didn’t bother to smooth it back. Slowly she rose up on her knees and peeked over the edge of the basket. The world looked so much bigger from where she was. She peered down and glimpsed hard stone half a foot beneath the basket. Throwing her head back she stared back up the chain to where she had come from. The globe looked smaller from down here but was nonetheless larger than all the other globes that hung in the room. She guessed there to be at least a hundred. Some smaller than others, some much larger. She had no way of telling which one she had come from, every globe was the same except for size.
The darkness was a little daunting but it wasn’t as dark as her own world had been so she reassured herself and stood up. Hesitantly she climbed over the edge of the basket, her eyes squeezed shut, and dropped to the floor. She was surprised when she landed on solid ground. It jarred her ankles and knees, but her lack of grace tumbled her to the ground and onto her butt again. She was grateful it was better padded than the rest of her body. It would be nice if she could have a large cushion for all these rough landings though. She wondered if every world but her own involved as much falling as this one did.
The stone was warm beneath her feet. She took a few steps and admired the way the skin of her soles slapped against the hard floor. The sound echoed in the room around her. She walked for a while, emphasizing her steps to make them reverberate off the stone louder and louder. A wave of doubt stopped her though. What if there were other creatures, like that little man, wandering around? What if there were other creatures, not like that little man, wandering around? The thought scared her and she cast about, searching for a safe place to hide. Her eyes fell on a wall, made of the same stone of the floor. She was more concerned about the gaping hole in the wall though. It was huge. The wall curved up in an archway, extending from it was nothing but a tunnel of shadowed stone. Intermittently the darkness was pierced by yellow light that flickered, waved, and beckoned. All thoughts of fear fled from the girl’s mind, she wanted to know where the passageway led. She wanted to know more about this world that she had fallen into.