Chapter 55: Ansel

Hello, dear readers. Today we return to Ansel’s story. She’s found a way off of Sisyphus’s mountain through the seams of reality and now she’s forced to face another brand new world entirely. Discover what she finds there in this next chapter of the Infinite Limits saga, and please do think about picking up a full copy of this and any of the other novels in the series through this link.

Thanks again for reading along, dear readers. Enjoy the story.

< LIV. Chelsea     [Table of Contents]     LVI. Mr. Walker >

LV. Ansel

“I asked you first,” the boy said, standing from where he had been knocked down by Ansel and brushing himself off. She could see that he was a boy now and that he was wearing a long white coat just like the Scientist’s.

“So,” Ansel said, picking up her rucksack and wishing she had come up with a better response than “So”.

“So?” The boy scoffed. “So you should answer first, that’s what. It’s common courtesy.”

“And what if I don’t answer you at all?” Ansel asked, crossing her arms, stuck in this ridiculous line of reasoning because of her earlier one word response. “What if I don’t trust that you’ll answer my question in return?”

The boy laughed now, but when Ansel gave him a look he stopped. “Wait,” he said. “You’re serious? Why wouldn’t I? Sharing information costs me nothing and maybe you could do something useful with the knowledge. As to why you wouldn’t give me your name, I don’t see any good reason for you not to. I mean, our conversation would certainly be more productive if we knew each other’s names. Don’t you think?”

Ansel couldn’t argue with that. She wasn’t quite sure why she was arguing in the first place. Maybe she just didn’t want to trust anybody anymore. “I’m Ansel,” she said with a shrug.

“Hello, Ansel,” the boy said, holding out a gloved hand for her to shake. “I’m Ashley.”

Ansel scoffed. “Ashley?”

“Yes, well, I answered your question, didn’t I? That’s my name. So what’s the problem?”

“Well, that’s a…” Ansel didn’t know how to else to say it so she just put it bluntly. “That’s a girl’s name and you’re a boy.”

“I’m not a boy!” Ashley insisted, crossing his arms and tapping one foot.

Ansel couldn’t argue with that, either. She knew how much she hated it when people tried to tell her she was a girl when she knew she wasn’t one, and now here she was doing the same exact thing to this bo—eher—Ashley. “I’m—uh—I’m sorry,” she stuttered. “I didn’t mean to… I’m just sorry.”

“Good,” Ashley said, nodding and uncrossing his arms. “And in the future don’t go around assuming things when you only have limited evidence. You’ll end up making a bigger fool of yourself than you already have.” He picked up a heavy bag and strapped it over one shoulder, making to lug it away and leave Ansel behind without another word.

Uh, wait,” Ansel said, stopping him. He looked pretty irritated to be standing there with the heavy bag over his shoulder. “Where are you going?” she asked. “Where are we now?” She hadn’t taken the time to look around before, but now that she did, she was a little unsettled by the place. They were standing in a long, dark, slightly curved tunnel with cement walls and metal grating for a floor. Maybe going through that seam wasn’t such a good idea after all. It didn’t look like she’d be able to find food or water anywhere near this tunneled labyrinth of caves, and her minimal supplies were only enough to last a day or so at most.

“I’m going home,” Ashley said, his voice straining against the weight on his shoulder. “My shift’s over and you’re here to relieve me. So on that note, goodbye.” He started to walk again, his feet clanging on the metal grating with every heavy step.

“Wait, relieve you?” Ansel said, rushing over and taking his bag off his shoulder to let it fall with an echoing bang on the metal floor. “What are you talking about?”

Ashley groaned. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You have been through training, haven’t you? Let me guess, you don’t even have your own interface.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Ansel shrugged. “I don’t even know what an interface is.”

Great.” Ashley sighed, bending over to open his bag and fish a big heavy computer tablet out of it. “Just what I needed. You know, I don’t get enough credit to waste my time training newbies. I have other shit to do.”

“I don’t need any—”

“Look. It’s okay. You can use mine this once, but you have to bring it back to me right after your shift. You got it?”

“Would you listen to me?” Ansel said, stomping her foot with a loud clang. “I don’t have any shift. I don’t need any training. And I’m not here to relieve you. I just need you to tell me where I am and how I can get out of this stupid tunnel.”

Ashley stared at her, blank faced, taken aback by Ansel’s aggressiveness and finally at a loss for words.

“Well…” Ansel said. “You had answers for everything else. Why not this?”

“I—uh— Who are you now?” Ashley asked, taking a step back from her.

“I’m Ansel. I already told you that. Now it’s your turn. Where am I?”

“How did you get here if you don’t know where you are?” Ashley asked, taking another step back. “Who are you?”

I’m Ansel,” Ansel repeated. “How many times do I have to tell you? I came through the seams the elevators travel through and now I’m here. Where is here, and how do I get out of this stupid cement tunnel?”

The seams.” Ashley said, excited, stepping forward now and apparently over his initial fears. “What seams? What are you talking about?”

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Ansel said. “The seams between the edges of the worlds. I think it’s the same sort of way an elevator travels between them.”

“But you didn’t take the elevator?” He was putting the interface, or whatever, into his bag now and fishing some other foreign tool out of it. “You walked through the fields without any protection?” He waved a little beeping and flashing wand in front of her, apparently communicating some meaning to Ashley who was staring at it rather than Ansel as he spoke.

“No elevator,” Ansel said. “Not this time. I hate those things. And besides, do you see any elevator doors around here?”

“Of course not,” Ashley said, still scanning her with the wand. “But you could have ridden an elevator near here then walked the rest of the way.”

“Hey, cut that out!” Ansel pushed the wand away and stepped back from Ashley now. “All I need to know is how to get out of these stupid tunnels, alright. Leave your little beeping scanner doohickies for someone else.”

Ashley chuckled. “Doohickies? Hardly. If you came through the fields unprotected, there’s no telling what you passed through—or for that matter, what passed through you. This here little doohickey might just save your life. Now, can you read this?” He held the wand too close to her face for her to see anything.

Ansel snatched it out of his hand to get a better look. “Sonic Scanner,” she read.

“Good. Very good,” Ashley said, snatching the scanner back. “That means you have no spatial distortions. You came out facing the same way as you were when you went in. Getting flipped around’s not a fatal outcome, of course, but it would be rather annoying to deal with if you ask me.”

“Whatever.” Ansel sighed. “I’ve had about enough of this examination. If you’re not going to show me which way is out, I’ll just find it on my own. Good bye and good riddance.” She stomped loudly down the dark tunnel, picking a direction at random.

Uh, I wouldn’t go that way,” Ashley said, re-packing his bag and hefting it up over his shoulder. “The security bots will stop you if you try. I’m surprised they haven’t noticed you yet as it is. Come on. Let’s go this way. I’ll show you.”

Ansel hesitated, not sure if she wanted to trust this guy just yet—she had made plenty of judgement errors in deciding who to trust lately and she didn’t need to add another mistake to that list—but in the end she didn’t really have a choice either way.

“We’ll get something to eat, too,” Ashley said, starting his slow trudge up the tunnel and limping from the weight of his bag over one shoulder. “Come on. We have so much to talk about.”

Ansel hesitated again but only for show this time. She knew he was her best bet in finding out where she was, whether she trusted him or not. After a moment’s wait to let him think she wasn’t too eager to join him, she jogged to catch up and followed him to an elevator.

“I hate these things,” Ansel said as the doors slid closed.

“I love them,” Ashley said, dropping his bag with a thud. “Dorms, please.”

“Dorms?” Ansel said, and her stomach grumbled—she wasn’t sure if it was out of hunger or because the floor falling out from underneath her made the butterflies in her stomach scatter.

“Don’t worry,” Ashley said. “It’s not like I’m inviting you up to my room or anything. You can wait in the lobby. I just have to drop this bag off. It’s too—ugh—heavy.” He lifted it up on his shoulders with a huff as the doors slid open.

Ansel tried to say that she could take care of herself whether it was in the lobby, in his bedroom, or anywhere else in all the worlds, but she couldn’t form words when she saw what the elevator doors opened onto. This was no lobby. It couldn’t be. It was outside. It looked like the wilderness with the endless mountains she had just escaped from, like a tiny patch of the green belt without the skyscraper walls closing it in on either side.

“Well, come on,” Ashley said, already on his way through the grass. “There’s a bench by the bubble. You can wait for me there if you don’t want to come up to my room. Let’s go.”

Ansel forced her jaw shut and hurried to catch up. “This is the lobby?” she asked, stupidly, regretting it instantly.

“That it is. Pretty lame, huh? But it could be worse.”

“Worse?” What was this guy talking about? He didn’t know how good he had it. “Are there any animals?”

Ugh. Yes. Tons of squirrels and rabbits. And beware, they will charge at you for any little crumb of food. They’ve gotten pretty mean lately, but they usually stick by the pond so as long you stay away from there, you should be safe.”

“There’s a pond?”

“Well, duh,” Ashley chuckled, setting his bag on a little bench under a huge oak tree that was hung with ivy. “This isn’t Pennbrook. We have some class here. Though—what am I saying?—there’s no telling where you come from. You probably have no idea at all what I’m blathering on about, do you? Here. You wait right here and I’ll be right back.” He hefted up his bag one more time and carried it into a little glass bubble near the bench. The doors of the bubble slid closed and the translucent thing carried Ashley up into the sky to disappear behind the fluffy white clouds.

Ansel set her rucksack on the bench then sat beside it to take in this new wilderness. It seemed larger than the one she had come from, but maybe that was only because there was no mountain to give her perspective. There were no hills at all, in fact, only flat ground and trees too thick to see through in every direction. It didn’t really seem like a forest, though. It was more like a bunch of trees.

Ansel stood and paced in front of the bench, getting anxious. What was taking this kid so long and when was someone going to figure out that she didn’t belong there? There weren’t many people around, sure, and plenty of space for them to spread out into, but the few that Ansel did see were all wearing the same long white coat that Ashley was—like it was some kind of uniform or something. It made Ansel feel self-conscious about the new jeans and t-shirt that had so shortly ago made her feel more comfortable than she’d ever felt wearing clothes.

Where was she anyway? Ugh.

Maybe she shouldn’t wait for this Ashley kid to come back, after all. She had promised herself to be more careful about trusting strangers, and here she was waiting for one to come and take her who knows where. Maybe she should just go find that pond he was talking about and hunt those squirrels and rabbits, whatever they were. They probably tasted good. Why else would someone stock this wilderness with them?

She had gathered her rucksack and decided to go do just that when the bubble came back down out of the sky, carrying Ashley in his long white coat. “You’re not planning on ditching me, are you?” he asked as the pod doors slid open. “I’ve got so many questions I need to ask you before you go.”

Well, she was planning on ditching him, but it was too late for that now. “Nah,” she lied. “I saw you coming. I was just getting ready.”

“Let’s go, then,” Ashley said. “You said you were hungry, right? Well come on.” He waved her on back toward the elevator they had ridden in on. Getting into it after him, Ansel noticed the elevator was in a wooden shack just like the elevator in the wilderness outside of the Scientist’s window. In fact, the shack looked like an exact replica. “Dining Hall,” Ashley said as the doors closed, and his stomach grumbled while the elevator fell into motion. “I guess I’m pretty hungry myself,” he said with a blush.

The elevator stopped and the doors opened onto a huge dining room filled with long tables that were half empty. The floor was white vinyl, the tables and chairs were silvery and metallic, and every single person besides Ansel was wearing a long white coat.

“Well, come on,” Ashley said after some time of Ansel staring at the scene from the safety of the elevator. “Let’s get some food, then we can talk.”

“I don’t know,” Ansel said, hesitating, still standing in the elevator door and preventing it from closing. “I don’t feel right. I wish I had one of those white coats. I look like a Street orphan trying to pass herself off as a Day Schooler.”

Ashley looked at her as if he hadn’t even known she were wearing clothes until she mentioned them. “Well, I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t even notice they were different.” But now that she had pointed it out, Ansel could tell that he couldn’t stop noticing.

“Well, someone will notice,” Ansel said. “And when they do, it won’t be hard to figure out that I don’t belong here. Then what would they do with me? I don’t need any protectors ruining my plans.”

“Protectors?” Ashley chuckled. “Protectors haven’t existed since 3D printers were invented. There’s no need for them anymore. They’re ancient history. I promise. You don’t have anything to worry about. Now come on out of that elevator, someone’s probably trying to use it.”

Ansel scoffed. “Then the 3D printer hasn’t been invented yet,” she said. “I’ve seen protectors and I know they exist. You can fuck with them if you want to, but I’m getting out of here so I don’t get caught. Doors close.”

The elevator doors tried to close but Ashley stuck his arm inside to stop them before they could. “Wait,” he said. “Hold on a second. You see, that kind of information is exactly what I want to talk to you about. You can’t leave.”

“Well I’m not going in there looking like this,” Ansel said, crossing her arms. “I won’t do it. That would be stupid and dangerous.”

Hmmm.” Ashley thought about it for a moment. “Okay, well, here.” He started to take off his jacket. “Take mine. You’ll look like you belong here so no one will mess with you, and I actually do so it won’t matter if they try messing with me.” He held out the jacket with a smile.

Ansel hesitated. She wasn’t sure his logic was sound, but she was getting pretty hungry and she still had no idea where she was or where she was trying to get to. “Alright. I guess,” she said, begrudgingly taking the coat and slipping it on. It fit her perfectly and smelled like something attached to a distant memory she couldn’t quite put her finger on. “But if anyone starts acting suspicious, I’m out of here.”

“And I won’t stop you,” Ashley said with a big smile. “You say the word and I’ll show you back to the seam where I found you—or you found me—whatever.”

Ansel nodded. “Good. Let’s go get some food then.”

He led her between the tables, and at first Ansel was still worried that she was going to be found out, but she came to recognize that no one there was paying any attention to her. They were all too busy with their own lives, doing their own things. Some were arguing with one another—across tables and up and down them—about a subject matter that must have been important from the tones of their voices. Peppered among the debaters, sitting at tables all alone even if sitting right next to one another in body, were others who furiously clicked and typed on tiny computer screens, working on something equally as important as the debates going on around them. None of them from either group were really even eating, it seemed, and those who were only did it with one hand or through a mouth full of words, more worried about subjects far beyond basic human needs for nourishment.

The line they waited in for food was short and quick. Each person ordered the same thing without thinking, and the printer dashed it off, no questions asked. When it was their turn to order, Ashley said, “One special, and a—uh…” and he looked to Ansel.

She froze. She didn’t know what she wanted to eat. She never knew. There were always way too many things to choose from, and she had no way of knowing what this Ashley might think was weird food to order. Before she went into full meltdown mode, agonizing over the decision, Ansel went with the only thing she could think of, the same choice she usually made during anxiety breakdowns, following the crowd. “Same,” she said.

“And one special,” Ashley said with a grin. The printer hummed into motion and soon Ashley was handing Ansel a tray and leading the way to a table. He started to sit at one that was already filled with people until Ansel urged him to move to a more secluded area. Even with the jacket she didn’t really feel comfortable being out there in the open like that.

“So,” Ashley said through a bite of his sandwich, the same sandwich Ansel was chewing on. The special was apparently the same meal she had gotten for lunch when she let the 3D printer order for her in the Scientist’s kitchen: soup and a sandwich. “I have so much to ask you I don’t even know where to start.”

Ansel scoffed, poking at her sandwich. She should have ordered wild game, that was what she really wanted to eat, not this sliced, pre-made cold sandwich. “How about you start by answering some of my questions,” she said.

“Splendid idea,” Ashley said, spitting a little half-chewed bit of food across the table in his excitement. “Your questions should be as informative as my answers. Even more so, probably.”

“Well, okay,” Ansel said, stirring her soup. She didn’t really believe what he said, but she didn’t mind the flattery. “So where am I?”

“Where are you? Hmmm.” Ashley dropped his sandwich, really thinking about the question. “That all depends on how you mean.”

Ugh.” This wasn’t getting anywhere fast. “What do you mean how I mean? I mean where am I?”

“Well, you’re sitting right there aren’t you? But that isn’t a very useful answer.”

“No. It’s not. It’s a little too obvious.”

Exactly,” Ashley said, clapping his hands. “Too specific. Already known. I could say you’re in the dining hall of Tulane Advanced STEM Academy, too, but that would be equally useless for you.”

“What’s the Tulane Advanced Stem Academy?”

“You hit the nail on the head again.” Ashley laughed. “Though technically true, the statement relies on knowledge inaccessible to you, rendering the truth it holds once again moot.”

“Oh my God,” Ansel said, putting her head down on the table, almost in her soup. “Can you tell me anything useful?”

“God?” Ashley grinned. “Now that’s an archaic term. And finally we find some small illumination of the matter at hand. May I ask you a question now? Have you ever heard the word of Sic bo?”

Ansel groaned, raising her head to look at him and actually spilling some of her soup with the motion. “I don’t know. Is it something useful?”

Ashley chuckled. “About as useful as God most of the time, if you ask me, but in this instance rather useful as it appears to be a key to your origins.”

“My origins?”

“Your origins. From the Latin oriri meaning to rise, become visible, or appear, sometimes used to mean zero on the Cartesian coordinate plane. Your origin is thus the center or your world, where you came from. So, have you ever heard of Sic bo?”

Ansel shook her head.

“And Mother Maria, ruler of fate?”

“What does this have to do with anything?” Ansel complained. “I thought I was supposed to be asking the questions.”

“I’ll take that as a no, and I’m not surprised by the fact, either. It’s further evidence in support of the hypothesis that you, Ansel, are not from this world at all—maybe not even from this country or time period for all I know, but more evidence is required before making further inferences.”

“I’m from the Streets,” Ansel said, fighting back unexpected tears from the memory of them. “I don’t know what world you’re from, and I don’t know what a country is, but I do know that I’m from the Streets.”

“The streets? You see? I mean, is that even in America?”

“What’s America?”

Ashley made to speak then stopped. He put a hand to his chin and shook his head. “I— Well, it’s— You know… our country.”

“Whose country?”

Us. The people who live here. The people who think and create here, moving America’s technology forward. Who else is there?”

Ansel chuckled. She had no idea what this guy was talking about anymore, and the only way she could respond without lashing out or crying was with laughter. “Who are you even?” she asked.

Ashley had to think about that one, too. “You know,” he said after some time. “I’ve never really pondered that one, either. You ask a lot of questions I’ve never even thought of. This is amazing.”

“Well while you do ponder it, maybe you can figure out how to tell me where I am, then more importantly, how to get out of here. I think I’m done with this place.”

No,” Ashley said without hesitation. “You can’t go yet. I have so much to learn.”

“Well I’m not learning anything, Ash. So what’s the point?”

He smiled wide. “I know how I can explain where you are and maybe find out where you’re from at the same time.”

Ansel shook her head, not believing him. “And what about where I want to go?”

“That, too. All of it.” He stood fast from his seat, knocking it over with a clang. “Come on. I’ll show you.” He grabbed Ansel’s hand and pulled her to the elevator, leaving her just enough time to grab her rucksack in the process. “Lab,” he said when the doors closed behind them.

“Lab?” Ansel said. “No, I’m not going back there.”

“Back?” Ashley scoffed. “You’ve never been to my lab before.”

Ansel calmed down, blushing. All this time she had thought that there was only the one lab, the Scientist’s Lab, she had no idea it was a general word like kitchen or bedroom.

The elevator doors opened onto a short hall that looked just like the Scientist’s. Ansel fought her urge to push Ashley out of the elevator and ride it back to the wilderness lobby where she could live in peace and instead followed him through the hall to the door at the other end.

“Are you ready?” he asked, holding his hand on the doorknob.

Ansel nodded

Ashley opened the door to reveal a room that looked exactly like the Scientist’s office—the smaller one Ansel had only been in a few times—but instead of looking out onto a line of assembly line workers, the window here looked out onto the same scene as the window in Rosalind’s giant office—the wilderness scene with the endless mountains which Ansel had climbed over and over and over before travelling through the seams to literally run into Ashley.

“So what do you think?” Ashley asked, scurrying to the desk where he flipped on the big bank of monitors—just like the Scientist’s only a little smaller.

“I’ve seen better,” Ansel said, casually strolling to stand behind him and drop her bag. “That view’s kind of played out, isn’t it?”

“I like the mountain,” Ashley said, defensively, still typing and clicking at the computer. “It reminds me of Sisyphus. I could only imagine what it would look like to stand atop that mountain.”

Ansel scoffed. “I don’t know what Sisyphus is, but it’s not that great of a view up there. It’s kind of annoying, really, to see all those mountains and know that you’ll never be able to climb them all. And I’m telling you that from experience.”

Ashley stopped typing to turn and stare at her. “No,” he said, jaw dropped. “You haven’t. You couldn’t have. That would mean that you—”

I did,” Ansel said, smiling and nodding, proud of herself. “That’s where I came from when I ran into you.” She pointed out the window. “I stood on that mountaintop before I traveled unprotected through the elevator seams into your tunnels.”

“No way. Uh uh. Impossible,” Ashley said, clicking and typing away again. “Look at this.” A complicated diagram came up on the bank of screens. Ansel wasn’t sure, but it looked kind of like a three dimensional map. “There’s only one way into that sector and it’s too heavily guarded for anyone to get into or out of, much less both.”

“Well I did,” Ansel said, beaming—and blushing a little bit, becoming a little full of herself for some reason. “Now how do I get back?”

“You don’t.” Ashley scoffed. “I don’t even know how you claim to have gotten in there in the first place, but it’s out of the question to go back.”

“That’s shit,” Ansel complained. “You told me you could help me find where I wanted to go. I want to go back there, to where I can at least hunt for my own food. So are you going to help me do it or what?”

“Hunt for food? Now you’re really crazy.”

“I am not, and I don’t care what you think. I’m leaving.” Ansel stormed out of the room but she didn’t emerge into the hallway. She would have complained about how hard those stupid doors were to operate, but she was distracted by what she saw. The room she had gone into was filled with the same type of glassware she had seen in the Scientist’s big lab, these vials and beakers filled with variously colored chemicals in different states of matter—Rosalind had already taught Ansel a little bit about chemistry in her short stay with them. Ansel rushed over to get a closer look at a particularly bright red concoction that was boiling, steaming, and mixing with a colorless gas to form a new green liquid, when Ashley rushed up and pulled her back from the table. “Be careful,” he said. “I’ve been working on that set up for weeks. Don’t mess it up.”

“What is it?”

“Chemistry homework. I hate chemistry.” He grimaced. “I don’t see how it’s ever supposed to be useful for a spatial physics major, but they make us all take the basic science classes and that includes the worst of them, chemistry.”

Ansel scoffed. “This is basic?”

Ashley blushed. “Yeah, well, I got held back in my first few attempts. None of those being my fault, of course.

“But what are you doing?” Ansel asked, ignoring his embarrassment.

“Making some inorganic something or other. Ugh. I can’t even remember anymore. Does it matter?”

UhYeah,” Ansel said. “It’s pretty much the coolest thing you’ve shown me since I’ve been here.”

“My homework? Wow. You know, there’s a lot cooler stuff around here. You should see the zoo. We have actual four dimensional animals, though all you can really see are their projections on our 3D space, of course.”

“Zoo?”

Ashley laughed. “Yeah, you know, a place where they keep animals to look at. It’s much better than stupid chemistry, and it’ll help me explain where you are. Come on. It’s not going to make sense until I show you.”

Ansel didn’t want to leave the shimmering colorful glass paradise, but she would like to see some strange new animals—and maybe even figure out what that long eared rat she had eaten in the shade of the endless mountain was. She followed Ashley down the hall and into the elevator where he said, “Zoo.”

“So you just keep the animals caged up or something?” Ansel asked. “Is it so they’re easier to eat?”

“Eat?” Ashley chuckled. “Mother Maria, no. Of course not. It’s so we can study them. And preserve most of them, really. There aren’t many species that aren’t endangered these days.”

Ansel nodded, not entirely sure what he meant, but at the same time not wanting to make a fool of herself. She thought she could understand the word species from context clues—it was a type of animal—but endangered was a little more difficult. Ansel knew what danger was—probably a lot more so than this white coated kid would ever understand it—but she still had no idea what it meant to be endangered. Was she endangered every time she was in danger? It was better she didn’t ask so she could save herself from sounding like an idiot. She’d try to pick up more clues as to what the word meant when they got to this zoo.

The elevator doors slid open to reveal another wilderness scene but this one packed denser with dark leaved trees all hung with vines. Ansel stepped out onto the soft soil of a dirt path and stared up at the canopy where the sun burst through in tiny clumps of rays, giving the canopy the appearance of a green night sky similar to the black one she had seen twinkling over the endless mountain.

“They always bring you to Africa first,” Ashley said, leading Ansel along the tiny dirt path that seemed to go on forever in front them. “Every zoo I’ve ever been to, I swear. They want to hit you with the big stuff right when you enter so you’ll be hooked from the start for the rest of a mediocre ride to the grand finale.”

“Africa?” Ansel asked, not really interested in his response because she was too distracted by the endless trees and echoing noises which must have belonged to some strange creatures.

Ashley chuckled, stopping in Ansel’s way and pointing out to guide her vision through a small clearing in the trees. “Africa,” he said. “Another country, one with animals like you’ve never seen before.”

There in the clearing was a black cat that looked almost exactly the same as that Mr. Kitty that Ansel had chased ages ago, but this cat was twenty times Mr. Kitty’s size. It stood in a hunter’s stance, muscles tense and twitching, ears pointed backward, long black tail held flat, and green eyes staring through Ansel’s skin to the meat and bones it so wanted to taste underneath. Ansel’s muscles tensed up along with the big black cat’s, her own hunter’s reflexes kicking in, while Ashley didn’t seem to care that the thing was staring at them, ready to pounce, when it did.

Ansel let out a shrill scream that didn’t make sense—she had meant to yell “Look out!” but the words came out jumbled and unintelligible—and dove to push Ashley out of the hungry beast’s way, dreading those sharp, deadly claws which were angling for her jugular.

 

#     #     #

< LIV. Chelsea     [Table of Contents]     LVI. Mr. Walker >

And so ends another chapter in the Infinite Limits series. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story as much as I have writing it. Do join us again next week for the next chapter. Until then, have a great weekend and a great week after that. And always remember: We do nothing alone.

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