Side Story Three
Two Years Ago
Hannah slipped into the kitchen while her mother wasn’t looking, filched a carving knife and concealed it in her left sleeve. Who knew how soon she’d be grabbed and she might need to defend herself before the others could reach her. She grabbed a packet of crisps to cover her absense and returned to the lounge.
Her mother was still on the phone in the study, yelling at one of her employees so loudly that Hannah could almost make out every word. Her father had finished marking assignments and was reading in an armchair. As Hannah came in, he looked up at her and winked.
We don’t know when a door will open, so I’ve hidden a backpack with a few essentials under your bed, he told her. And there’s another in here, hidden behind the sideboard.
From everything I’ve been told it’ll be pretty soon. I’d be very surprised if I’m still here in the morning. Mum’s going to freak again. Serves her right for not listening.
Now, Hannah, your mother just wants to protect you.
Yes, but she’s making things more dangerous for me. Hannah plonked herself down on the sofa and began eating her crisps while she waited for her mother to come back.
About five minutes later they heard her mother slam down the phone. She stomped in to the lounge and sat down in the other armchair, pinching the bridge of her nose and muttering angrily about someone losing an important contract. Hannah’s father looked at her and sighed.
“I’ll make you a cup of tea, dear. You look like you need it.” He put aside his book and headed to the kitchen. He pulled the door open and stopped. “Oh! It’s in a hurry.”
“What?” Her mother looked around and the colour drained from her face as she leapt to her feet. “What the crap?”
Hannah looked around and took in the scene beyond the door. For a moment she thought the forest beyond the door was on fire but then she realised that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t on fire; it was made of fire. She whistled softly and went to retrieve the backpack her father had hidden for her.
“This is what we’ve been trying to tell you, mum. The Core of the other world won’t take no for an answer.”
“Like hell it won’t!” Her mother grabbed her right arm hard, forcing her to drop the pack, and dragging her to the door to the hall. She swore again when she opened that to reveal the same scene before stomping to the window. “The windows, too? I don’t care. It’s not having you. You’re just a child.”
“Mum, I’m 15.” Hannah pulled loose, took the backpack from her father and headed out of the door.
“Look after yourself, sweetness,” he called after her.
“I will, Dad.” Hannah was already through the door when she heard her mother yelling after her.
“You are not going!”
Hannah looked back in time to see her mother race through after her, in spite of her father’s attempts to stop her. Hannah swore to herself, dropped the pack and turned in time to catch her as she sagged towards the ground. “You can’t be here, mum. This world is very hard on non-warriors and I won’t be able to spare the energy to maintain you.”Â She guided her back to the door and pushed her through, into her father’s arms. “Look after her, Dad. I’d better go and find out why I’m here. This isn’t near where the others were going and I doubt it’s put me here for no reason.” Hannah put on her backpack, took out the carving knife and walked in to the flames.