The Price of Entanglement - Chapter 6, pt. 3

That had shaken her a bit, but left her more confused than anything. She'd gotten to the store just fine, collected her groceries, caught up with Fred, and had largely forgotten the whole thing. By then the rain had started again, and she'd left her umbrella at home. Just a light rain though, and of a low acidity. She'd hunched over a bit to try and keep it out of the grocery bag. "If I can't handle this, I'll be hopeless at the job," she told herself.

There was little light left by this point. The sun had long since set, and the last haze of light was leaving the cloud cover overhead a dark, damp gray. The wind began to pick up, whipping her longish hair into her face, wet strands clinging to her forehead and cheeks. There were no cars on the road, but a sound approached, a rhythmic clopping she was unfamiliar with. It rang a dim bell in her memory; a sound out of a movie or something, maybe. The air smelled of ozone; there was no hint of thunder or lightning in the sky.

She was struggling with her hair and the bag in her hand as the sound approached from behind; she labored to turn. The sound was practically on top of her. She'd never seen a horse in person before, but now two were bearing down on her, carrying dark-cloaked riders. The same head-rush feeling she'd experienced earlier settled over her again.

The figure just about to run her down looked like the same man she'd seen before, but subtly different. Larger, more filled out, a few years older maybe. Definitely more grim-faced and tired looking. He was dressed for travel, his outfit from earlier gone. He looked like he'd been on the road for days, and had been injured.

His companion was a woman, though not one of the figures she'd glimpsed earlier, she thought. Dark hair, maybe black. Very pale skin, and vivid green eyes.

I shouldn't be able to see this much detail, she thought; it was far too dark. She couldn't even make out the color of her own skin.

She tried to execute a leap out of the way, but she was too burdened. The grocery bag anchored her by one arm, and the head-rush feeling anchored her head. She managed a jerking lurch that was aided unexpectedly, and unhelpfully, by the shoulder of the horse thundering past her; it slammed into her and threw her in the direction she'd been trying to go. Pain exploded through her arm, though in her dizzy state she barely noticed.

She staggered to her feet as the horses thundered past, and she ran awkwardly after them. The the woman looked back at her, eyes wide. Jo staggered her way into a run after them. Her head began to clear, the head-rush receding, the ozone scent fading, and just as before, the strange figures had vanished.

"Hey! This is a serious story!" she snapped as Quinn glanced at his messages.

"Sorry Jo, but you do know how weird it sounds, right?"

They were at lunch at the Capital, sitting in a relatively quiet corner of the place. "Of course it sounds weird. That's why I'm telling you," she huffed. "Twice. In one night!"

"Has it happened again since?"

"No, thankfully. Just on Friday."

"So who are they?"

"Who? The people I saw?"

"Yeah, you said you saw the one guy twice, right? Same one, only maybe older the second time? So who do you think they are?"

"I don't know, I didn't recognize them."

"My money's on some sort of renaissance faire event or something."

"Do people even do that sort of stuff anymore?" She frowned. "Not that it matters. They disappeared, Quinn."

"Well, you did make it sound like they were in kind of a hurry both times. You probably just didn't see where they went."

She cocked her head, suddenly wondering. "That's ... true. Maybe. I don't think so. But ... maybe you're right."