“How far are we walking?” David was finally following her, though definitely slowing her down. Isabella was used to moving quickly through the Teddybear land, wary and watchful because of the very real danger that a pack would appear and move in for the kill. It was possible that with two of them together the Teddybears might hold off, but if they were a large enough pack she rather doubted that.
“Far enough,” she said. “I don’t know, David, until we find a door that will let us back into our own world safely. Almost certainly back to the cave system though, I doubt we’ll be lucky enough to find a door to anywhere outside it.”
“Who are ‘we’?”
“Keep up, David, please.” Isabella noticed that he’d stopped again, and she looked back over her shoulder without slowing down. “It is at least as dangerous here as back in that cave. Possibly more so, as the people in that cave might worry about someone knowing that we were in there.”
“You said we back when you came out of the house. Who are ‘we’? Are there lots of you coming here?” He had started moving again, but he was only walking. Sighing to herself, Isabella slipped the knife from her belt and passed it through the air in front of her, feeling for the catch of a nearby doorway.
“Not lots, no. You can only get here if you own a Brinchev Kris or are with someone who owns one, and Brinchev, to date, has made seven of them. So there’s on the order of seven of us that come here. Why, David?” She thought she caught something for a moment, but whatever it might have been, it was gone when she moved the blade back again. She moved on, holding the knife in front of her.
“Oh. I just thought… you killed that Teddybear back there, didn’t you? The one that was all slumped over.”
“The only one we’ve seen so far? Yes, David, I killed it. I’m sorry you found out.”
“But you’re not sorry you killed it?”
“No. I know what they’re like, and I know what it would have done. You have no clue, and no idea, and I really hope, for your sake, that you never find out either.”
“And if I don’t believe you?”
“That’s your choice, David. Damn it, why are there no doors here?” She kept moving, noting that the fields seemed darker here, as though there was less light. She began to suspect that she was moving adjacent now to solid rock inside the mountain that housed Leszátor’s Cave, and stopped to scan the horizon.
“What? Are you looking for something else to murder?” David stumbled over the dried, rough ground of the field as he caught her up.
“Why would I need to when I have you here?” She looked at him, not smiling, and was pleased to see a look of shock on his face. “Where does it look lightest to you?”
“Would you really kill me?”
“Try me. Where does it look lightest to you?” She put the knife back in her belt, but his eyes watched her the whole time.
He looked around, and then looked around again, more carefully. Then he pointed. “Over there, where those trees are.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Damn. Can you run?”
“Of course!” He was offended.
“Good, because you’re walking far too slowly. Come on, we need to get to those trees and quickly.”
They ran across the field, Isabella leading the way and David going slowly at first and then speeding up as he found an old furrow about as wide as his feet that he could run in. Above them the white clouds drifted aimlessly across the grey sky, and little black shapes wheeled here and there, birds too high up to see clearly. The grass, mostly blacks and greys, swayed as they passed, and now and then there was a chirrup of a cricket. Otherwise, the field was oddly silent.
As they reached the trees Isabella slowed, and then stopped altogether. When David caught her up she was looking at something on the ground in front of her, and he looked over her shoulder. Then he turned away and threw up.
“This is bad,” said Isabella. “This is very bad.” She pulled the knife back from her belt, and swept the air in front of her. The blade caught on something almost immediately, and she hissed breath through her teeth. Then, very carefully, she delicately cut through the air and peered into what was beyond.
There was a cave, some kind of grotto she thought. There were large white and grey crystals on the walls, splashed with red, and the rock around it was brown with old blood. Bodies were scattered on the floor, throats cut, wrists and ankles slashed. There was an opening in one wall, and a woman in a uniform standing there holding a gun. She looked like a guard, though Isabella couldn’t see anything that she might be guarding. She let the rip in the fabric of space close.
At her feet was one of those bodies; a young girl, barefoot and baresleeved, her wrists and ankles slashed. Her throat might have been cut too, but the teddybears had clearly got to her already and the flesh from her skull had been eaten away – she could see the tooth-marks on the bones – leaving just the hair on the head behind. She didn’t need to pick the skull up to know that it would have been broken into underneath to get at the soft tissues inside.
“We need to keep moving,” she said. David was squatting down still, retching into the grass. A thin string of spittle ran from one corner of his mouth. “I don’t know how they got this body through, but it’s been found already. They may be watching to see if anymore… food comes through, and we’d definitely fit the bill.”
“Of fare,” said David with a bitter little laugh. “How do you know she wasn’t put through like this?”
Isabella paused. “I don’t,” she admitted. “But I have seen the results of teddybear eating before and it looked like this. It’s a reasonable assumption.”
“Oh you’re just full of answers, aren’t you? Except you haven’t got me to where you promised me you would, have you?”
“Stand up, and come on,” she ordered, trying to ignore his words. “We still need to get out of here.”