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Down The Corridor

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Dana was deeply relieved that the next door put her out somewhere inside. She'd have preferred it not to be the men's restroom, but that certainly beat some of the places she'd been lately. With only a few dirty looks, she left the bathroom, making her way down the hallway towards the noise of people. It only took her a few seconds to realize she was in some kind of bar. The people were dressed strangely and the drinks were on the neon side of things, but otherwise, it seemed a lot like every other bar.

She'd barely made it in before a man approached her, looking annoyed; she looked around, trying to find an escape route, but there were too many people. The man was tall, with a mess of curly brown hair, and he was dressed like he was in some kind of futuristic Shakespearean production. Had she run into a rogue actor? Maybe she needed that escape route more than she thought.

"There you are," he said, frowning, as if he recognized her. "I've been looking everywhere for you. We're late getting back to the ship."

Another man, shorter than the other one, walked over to them, looking relieved. "There she is. We were beginning to worry you'd given up on us and decided to try your hand at the easy life here on whatever planet this is." He looked at her arm in confusion. "Where's your bracelet?"

"I-" Dana started, but before she could get any farther, the man took her arm and snapped a thick cuff onto it.

"Why do you have a spare?" the taller man asked.

The other one shrugged. "With the way these things break, it always pays to carry one." He lifted his own bracelet to his mouth. "We're ready now, Cally."

Dana had had a lot of strange feelings in the past few months, but nothing quite like the one she had then. It felt like she was shaking, the world fading out around her very suddenly. She shut her eyes, and the next thing she knew she was somewhere else entirely. It didn't look like anywhere she'd ever been before. The room was small, but wide, white, geometric corridors spread out from either side; in front of her was a desk, covered in lights and switches. It took her a while to work out what it reminded her of, but then it came to her- it looked like an old scifi show, the kind they sometimes got on the TV when the wind was right and the cable hadn't turned into a lamprey again.

There was a woman sitting behind the desk, wearing a green dress with huge white pads over the shoulders. Dana was used to clothing that she knew was unconventional outside of Night Vale, but this was getting a little ridiculous.

"Dayna?" the woman said, frowning at her.

"Yes," Dana said. "Where am I?"

"But you're already here," she said. "You just came up five minutes ago."

"That's preposterous," the tall man scoffed. "We just found her."

The woman hit a button on the desk. "Avon," she said. "Is Dayna with you?"

"Yes," a man's voice said. "What do you want?"

"You and she had better come to the teleport," the woman said. "Do you know what my name is?" the woman asked Dana carefully.

Dana shook her head. "I don't think we've been introduced."

"My name is Cally," she said patiently, as if Dana was a little stupid. "This is Tarrant, and this is Vila."

"Nice to meet you," Dana said. "I'm Dana."

"Are you sure?" Cally asked hesitantly.

Dana was still trying to work out what she meant when a man and a woman came down the corridor. The man was dressed in all black; she'd thought Cally had strange shoulderpads, but Cally had nothing on him. She kept herself from laughing, but only just. The woman with him was a different story, her clothes looking relatively normal, if dated, but her clothes weren't the weird part.

She looked just like Dana.

The man pulled something from his holster that looked like one of the lights dentists used to cure fillings; as soon as Tarrant caught sight of the woman who looked like Dana, he drew his too, backing away from Dana towards the other man. Vila caught her arm, quickly taking off the bracelet he'd put on her and setting it down out of her reach.

"What's going on here?" the man in black snapped.

"Let's be careful," Cally said, as if trying to defuse the situation.

The woman who looked like Dana frowned, looking at Dana. "Who are you?"

"My name is Dana," she said.

"There's only one Dayna here," the woman said. "It's me."

"Is this some sort of trick?" Vila said, inching towards Cally. "Because it's impressive, but I don't think I like it."

"Explain yourself," the man in black said, jabbing his light-wand at her. "You have sixty seconds."

"Vila brought me here," Dana said. She needed a lot more than sixty seconds, but that seemed like a good place to start.

The man in black looked daggers at Vila. "He did, did he?"

Vila held his hands up. "How was I supposed to know she was an imposter? She looks just like the real thing!"

"I'm not an imposter," Dana said. "There's a chance I might be travelling between dimensions, but as far as I know, I'm the only me."

Dayna frowned. "What do you mean by that?"

"I'm trying to get back to Night Vale," she said. "I keep finding these doors, and I think I ended up a long, long way away."

"What's Night Vale?" Cally asked. "Is it your planet? Do you need us to take you back there?"

"You're not volunteering our ship as a shuttle service," the man in black said.

"Avon, you're not helping," Cally said.

"Night Vale is a place on Earth," Dana said, because she was getting oddly used to making that clarification. "I don't know where or when I am, but that's where I'm trying to go."

"We can't take her back to Earth," Avon said. "It's suicide."

"What would you rather us do?" Tarrant said. "Let her join the crew? Maroon her somewhere?"

"It's the second option that I prefer," Avon sneered.

"Have a heart, Avon," Vila said.

"Why should I start now?" Avon replied.

It was then that Dana saw it; an old oak door was standing in one of the corridors, waiting for her.

"Helping her is the least we can do," Tarrant said.

"Let her see the entire ship, then put her down in the heart of Federation territory?" Avon said. "I'll pass."

"Thanks for everything," Dana said politely, edging towards the door. "I really have to go."

"Are you refusing because you don't think it's a good idea, or because it's what Blake would do?" Cally asked.

"Blake would recruit her to the cause and keep her here," Avon said. "But thank you very much for finding room to inject him into a conversation that has nothing to do with him."

"I'll just see myself out," Dana said, standing in front of the door and reaching for the knob.

"I always hate to say this, but Avon's right," Dayna said. "I'm not going to let you maroon her, but we have to get her off the ship. She could be anything- a Federation plant, an alien lifeform, who knows what? It's put her down or lock her up, but we need to decide now."

Vila looked up at the sound of a door closing. He frowned. "Look there," he said.

Avon turned around. "What do you want?"

"There's a door," he said. The crew turned to look, but in moments, the door dissolved.

"I guess she wasn't lying," Dayna said.

Avon hit the comm control. "Zen, get us out of here. Speed, Standard by four."

"Confirmed," Zen said.

"Don't you want to know what just happened?" Vila asked.

"Whatever it was, we can figure it out moving," Tarrant said, walking away down the corridor. "Now come on. We have work to do."

Vila shook his head, staying behind the others, looking at the space where the door had been. When they had gone, he carefully crept over, gingerly waving his hand through the empty space.

Nothing happened.

He shrugged. "Not any stranger than anything else around here, I suppose," he said, walking away.