Jen could see the otherworldly door beneath her, at least a mile wide and thousands of feet below her. It was so big the idea of physically lifting it was laughable, but it didn’t matter. She already knew how to open it, even if she didn’t understand it.
The buzzing inside her head grew, spreading through her whole body and paralyzing her as she fought to keep everyone floating.
A low, deep sound came from beneath her. It was a big sound–not a loud sound, but a sound that came from something impossibly large. It made her think of whale sounds, or sounds she’d heard trucks make passing over bridges, but neither of those sounds came close to this one in scale.
A long, curved glowing line appeared at the door’s edge, expanding into a crescent like a massive moon waxing beneath them.
She was doing it. It was opening.
“What’s happening?” said Sam.
“I command you to stop that at once!” boomed the strange voice.
She ignored them both.
The door was almost fully open now; the crescent had widened into a full moon, and she could make out the garden inside. The fountain and tiles surrounding it were nothing but a tiny, colorful dot in the center like she was looking at them through an airplane window.
When she’d been a little girl, she’d spent a lot of time playing in the creek behind her childhood best friend’s house, a friend who’d been eccentric in a way that Angelina reminded Jen of. One day, her friend had led her to a large pipe draining into the creek, just big enough for a seven-year-old kid to crawl into. ‘Look!’ the friend had told her. ‘There’s a planet on the other side!’
Jen had crawled into the pipe and looked, seen the tiny street and cars on the other side contained in a tiny orb surrounded by pitch black, but she hadn’t understood it at the time. Now, looking down at the immense sphere lit up in the dark below her as though suspended in space, she knew exactly what her friend had meant.
Not entirely sure how she was doing it, Jen shifted the colossal door to the side and placed it beside the opening. They were hovering thousands of feet directly above the garden now.
Well, that had been easier than she’d thought it was going to be. Almost too easy.
The wind picked up into a roar, thrashing at her clothes and throwing her hair into her face so it obscured her vision again. She could hear the big sound again, and she shook her hair from her eyes–she wanted to brush it out, but she was terrified that if she moved her hands, everyone would plummet into the garden below.
Shaking her head dislodged enough of her hair that she could see the door sliding back over the opening.
She’d been able to open the door on her own while keeping everyone in the air, but she didn’t think she’d have the concentration to play tug-of-war with some mysterious entity without dropping everybody. She had to get everyone through the door before it closed.
“Drop!” she screamed at Sam.
“Drop!! Freaking drop!”
Jen plunged downward, taking everyone with her. She was hurtling down, but she wasn’t falling. She was in total control, using gravity as a tool without being at its mercy.
The wind picked up even more, until her hair and clothes lashing against her skin became painful, and her eyes burned with tears that had nothing to do with her broken heart.
“You shall never escape!” thundered the voice. “Never!”
She couldn’t see the door at all anymore, but she could hear that massive sound of it being pulled closed. No, massive wasn’t a big enough word to describe it. Illimitable, she thought. It was one of the last vocabulary words she’d learned in high school English, and it meant something so big, it didn’t have limits or bounds. The sound was illimitable.
Even with her eyes squinted against the wind, she could tell the light from the garden below was fading.
Then, with one last long, low, illimitable groan, the door slid shut and everything went black again.