He glanced back from one of the screens to the other, then returned his attention to the one featuring the two figures, almost identical in their appearance. Watched them approach apprehensively, then shake each other’s hands while they talked, then hug.

Ephram was most interested when the Gary from the other world, the man who was originally from their world, whispered into his employee’s ear. Something important. Something he would have to keep an eye on, or an ear out for at least until he knew what the other Gary had told his opposite. Gary was important, likely for more than just rescuing children from between worlds, but he was also going to likely be a risk, a wild-card to keep on. Not all parallel worlds, or visitors from them proved ultimately benign. Not in Ephram’s experience.

He had to work out what he was going to advise Esperanza.

And he was also worried about Frank and Nora. How the interstitial reacted to their psyches did not appear to have been good. But there was time, at least a little he might be able to carve out. He just had to make the right adjustments, ensure they were set along the right path.

“It looks like it’s over,” a voice said from behind him. Male again. The old man he’s first encountered.

“About what I would have expected,” Ephram noted.

“You sound troubled,” the talking moved from right to left. “This was what you wanted wasn’t it. Surveillance. Understanding. Helplessness.”

“I came in search Enlightenment,” he replied.

“You should have been prepared for what you would find then.” The old man now sounded amused. “Enlightenment is rarely what we expect it will be. Why else seek it out in the first place?”

“Since it’s over, can you at least release me from these things?” Ephram asked.

“You’ve been free from the beginning,” he was told. “Its only your choices and decisions that created your bonds.”

Ephram glanced down at his arms resting on the chair’s armrests. They were free, weren’t even marked by the tight leather straps. He wasn’t bound to the chair by his ankles wither. Ephram took in a deep breath, lifted up his hands to rub them, then stood up, looked around the room. It looked different from before. The bunker he’d been dragged to now appeared as if it hadn’t been used in years. The screens he’d been viewing were dark, dusty. The only light streamed through a pair of barred dust coated windows at the back of the room behind him.

Ephram got up, wiped the greasy hair from his forehead, walked to the door, opened it. It was unlocked, and creaked loudly. There was no one, no sign of anyone. In fact, it looked like no one had used the place in ages. He coughed a little at the moldy dust his movement raised. Down the all there looked to be only one set of footprints in the grime that caked the floor. His.

Of course.

It took him an hour to finally work his way out of the abandoned complex, pushing the bunker’s doors open amidst the cracking of dried overgrown vegetation that had grown over them. It took another hour to find a road, and then to get a signal on his cell phone.

One bar. That would be enough.

Go to Chapter Thirty Three

Go to Chapter Thirty Five