Summary: Some doors are nicer than others.
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.
His fingers meet bark that feels real and he runs his hand along the trunk for a moment before giving it a light push.
Nothing happens and Sara makes an unhappy noise.
“I haven’t tried yet,” said Blue, “I was just seeing if it really was a tree from this side.” He actually doesn’t want to go back, not quite yet. Being inside the city feels unnatural and it has been gnawing at the back of his mind for a while. Things are too perfect, the temperature never changes, the sun never rises or sets, it never rains or snows, there’s no wind—it’s like living in a dream.
“Could you please try?” asks Sara and it’s a forced politeness that makes him realize that even with the keycard she really is scared of being trapped outside of the city.
“What’s so bad about here?” He turned to look at her, confused.
“This place isn’t real,” she said, “it’s temporary—the city can close the door at any time and turn it off like it was never here. So the trees, the grass, the sun, it’s all just an illusion. It’s a dream of a forest and it’s really really creepy. Okay?”
“I guess,” said Blue, unconvinced.
“Just try and open the door already,” Sara snapped, “I want to go home.”
Blue didn’t point out that the city wasn’t technically her home, since he figured that would just get him yelled at. Instead he turned back to the tree and flatted his hand, spreading out his fingers to cover as much of the trunk as he could.
“Open, please.” He asked softly.
There was a deep gong-like tone from the tree that quickly grew in volume, but lasted only heartbeat. A thin blue line of light started from the base on one side of where the door should be and danced along the parameter of the arc before vanishing as it reached the ground on the other side. As it faded out the entrance to the tunnel faded in, showing them a nonplussed Nathan and Horn (who was rather plussed, but was hiding it well).
“Well, that answers that question I guess.” Said Sara, who wasted no time in hopping over back into the city. “See anything odd from this side?”
“Nope,” said Nathan, “looked the same as it always does.”
“So what did we prove, exactly?” asked Blue, following Sara back into the tunnel with a sigh.
“That you don’t need a keycard.” Said Sara.
“And that means?”
“No idea,” she said, “other than the city seems to like you for some reason.”
“Why couldn’t we have tested this on a door closer to camp?” Asked Blue, annoyed that the long walk had apparently been for a three minute test.
“So they’d have time to rescue us before the city closed the door again.” Said Sara, “There’s always a chance that the city would have locked us out.”
“Why would it do that? You have a keycard” Objected Blue.
“Keycards don’t always work.” Said Nathan mildly.
“And you’re telling us this now?” snapped Horn, who had finally gotten back on Blue’s shoulder.
“Would you have gone out if you knew?” asked Nathan.
“Of course not!” said Horn.
“Maybe.” Said Blue.
“Wait, what?” said Horn.
“We can’t go home again and this city gives me the creeps,” said Blue. “I’d rather be out there in the sunshine and the real world than trapped in this weird tree.”
“But that world is going to die.” Objected Sara.
“You don’t know that,” said Blue. “All you know is that the doorways stop leading there. Maybe the world moved, maybe the tunnels broke somehow—you have no way of knowing that it’s a problem with the world and not just a problem with the door.”
“I’m not willing to risk that,” said Nathan.
“Then you’ve been here too long.” Snapped Blue. “Look, are we going back or not? I don’t want to stay here.”
“Yeah, I guess,” said Nathan, looking at Sara who just shrugged.
And then started to head back home.