The children looked startled.
‘Leaving?’, Askr asked. ‘But it’s not time yet!’, Embla said.
Manko had no clue of what was going on. Not yet time for what? The red ball turned purple and again a shock went through everyone in the room.
Gill opened a door that Manko had not noticed: ‘The launchpad is activated.’
Nada: ‘Okay let me take the equipment for the children. Manko, come help me!’
Gill: ‘Equipment? Nada, you can’t! There is no time!’
Nada: ‘Look, there’s no discussion. Without the equipment, Edan and Mimir will not survive the trip. Their treatment has not been completed yet!’
Gill: ‘No Nada! We have to leave NOW!’
Nada ignored Gill and hurried off towards a smaller dimly lit room. She almost tripped over James, the cat.
Nada: ‘Manko, quickly grab James!’
Manko saw James had also been shocked by the alarm and was frozen in place, hissing, his back arched. As he grabbed James, he had to endure some severe scratching and biting.
He found Nada in the room rummaging around in drawers, cursing: ‘Where did I put it? damn it!’. This dome had six beds in the middle that looked similar to the one he had first been treated on. The children’s bedroom probably. Nada’s hair was glowing brighter than he’d ever seen before. Manko stared at it. He felt comfortably calm when she was around, even in moments of panic like this.
Nada: ‘Found it!’ She waved with something that looked like a set of small gas masks. She put them into a shoulder bag and hung it around Manko’s neck: ‘take this and go, I’ll carry the rest.
Manko turned around and walked into the dome, carefully keeping James pressed against his chest.
Manko: ‘Look! what’s that?’
From the holes in the wall of the dome, colorful smoke trails were entering the room. They had already taken up a big part of the space.
Nada followed him, blinked a few times and concluded: ‘This is not part of the AR layers, it’s something else. Better avoid it.’
Nada: ‘Hold on children, we’re coming!’
They could see Edan and Mimir, jumping up and down in front of a closed door: ‘We’re leaving! we’re leaving!”
Nada: ‘Where are the others?’
Mimir: ‘Gill told us to wait for you. He said we should take the next ride.’
Nada looked at Manko and this time her look did not comfort him at all.
Nada whispered to Manko: ‘There is no next ride…. He abandoned us.’
The colored trails were now everywhere, making it impossible for them to reach the other elevator. Nada held the frightened children close.
In the middle of the colored trails, the pulsating alarm ball had now turned even darker purple, almost black, like a blackberry. Another shock. A jolt went through Manko’s spine. James jumped away from his chest. Manko wanted to go after it, but Nada grabbed his arm: ‘don’t!’
The multi-colored curves filled up the dome as if in slow motion. They looked like cigarette smoke trails yet they did not dissolve, keeping the crisp appearance of silky ribbons. Gravity did not seem to have any effect on the strings.
This made James curious. They watched as James sniffed the air for clues, apparently without any success. He started to stealthily approach the trails that were floating in mid-air as if in water. Then he decided to go for it and jumped at the swirling edges of a bright red trail.
The ribbon broke into pieces as James went through yet the pieces stayed afloat. James now went into a frenzy and started clawing and biting at the intangible shapes, then suddenly stopped, dropped on the floor and remained lying there, motionless.
The children started crying and Nada tried to calm them down: ‘I’m sure he’s just sleeping, don’t worry.’
Nada, Manko and the children now squeezed close together as the trails came closer and closer.
Manko looked at the door through which Gill and the other children had disappeared.
Manko: ‘Nada, where does this door lead to? Where did they go?’
Manko: ‘Back to ground level? Back to the streets?’
Manko: ‘Into a building?’
Nada: ‘and up’
Manko: ‘ and up?’
Nada: ‘Up! up! up!’
Nada seemed to be losing her wits. He could see a tear dancing in her eye.
Nada: ‘I’m sorry…’
Manko turned around and he saw a bright yellow ribbon right in front of his eyes.
Then everything turned black.