Summary: Gray and Tan face an unexpected setback.
NOTE: This is a very rough draft with no editing at all (per National Novel Wiriting Month rules) and is presented for amusement value only. Think of it as a periscope into my writing process rather than a coherent story!
There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing. These snippits are also posted out of order, so please refer to the Outline to figure out where it’s supposed to fit.
“She was here.” Tan sniffed the tunnel floor intently, the nanoprocessors in his nose stripping the air of useful information and dumping it into his brain alongside his own sense of smell. “But there was someone else, a woman, no perfume, leather shoes.”
“We didn’t see any adult footprints outside.” Gray objected.
“Well, she’s here now and they left together.” Tan snuffed, then yanwed and looked up at his partner who was looking down the dark hallway with a frown. “It’s a kidnapping now, not just missing.” He waited, but Gray didn’t answer and he snapped at her. “Hey, listen, Kid. Napping. We need a police team now. This isn’t search and rescue anymore.”
“Mmm,” Gray didn’t turn and Tan finally pawed at her leg until she looked down. “What?” She sounded dazed and Tan growled softly in frustration.
“We need to go. We need a police team.” He grabbed her sleeve and tugged her back towards the door. “Leave it Gray.”
“Yeah, but—” she looked back down the hallway. “I— shouldn’t we keep looking for her? We can call this in, then keep going.”
“Rules,” Tan admonished, the voicebox chirped ignoring the fact his mouth was full of sleeve.
“Fine,” Gray sighed and let Tan lead her out of the tunnel.
Or at least he tried to.
“Hey!” the dog yelped as he hit an inivisible barrier, tripping over his feet and sliding down the unseen wall with an ungainly pile. Gray almost followed him, but hopped backwards into one of the side walls instead.
“What the hell?” She reached out a hand and traced down the invisible wall. It was smooth and slightly flexable, but it didn’t give when she leaned into it. “Tan, gimme input.”
The hound untangled himself with a grunt and stuck his nose against the barrier adding a good lick to his data gathering. After a moment he sat down, cocked his head and whined unhappily. “It’s not there.”
“It tastes like tree, it smells like a tree, but it doesn’t look like tree, but it’s a tree, but it’s a door, but it tastes like a tree.” His foreleg twitched and Gray caught him as he convulsed, snarling. “Tree, tree, tree, tree, tree, tree, tree—” the voicebox cut off as it registered the seizure, and Gray hung onto the hound as his system fought off the logic loop.
The siezure only lasted a few seconds, but it look Tan a while to reboot and Gray sat with him, murmuring soothing nonsense. He couldn’t understand her until the reboot was finished, but the sounds of her voice was familar enough to calm him until the language centers came back online.
“Why?” He looked up at her, still panting from the struggle.
“I don’t know,” Gray looked over out into the forest they couldn’t reach. “It doesn’t make sense, it let me move out before.”
“It locked.” Tan sighed. “You left it open and it swung closed and locked.”
“It’s not a doggie door,” Gray objected, but uncertainly.
“It’s closed now.” Tan struggled back to his feet and Gray got to her own feet after making sure he was steady. “Can you call out? I’m blocked.”
Gray tapped her wristband, but nothing happened. “No bars.”
“So they’ll find our footprints.” Tan sat down and stared out morosely. “Are they going to knock?”
“I don’t know.” Gray frowned, “if there’s another Gray with them they might.”
The stood looking at the closed door for a long time in silence.