Her day ended as it had begun, locked once again in the small bedroom.
Too weary to bother changing out of her clothes, she sat on the edge of the narrow bed and placed her hand on her stomach. Her abdomen ached from her solitary diet of soup. Although, despite its horrid taste, her headache was finally gone. One bonus.
Now if she could just get the dizzy spells to go away.
At least she'd made a connection between the attacks and the random flicker of memories. The more she tried to collect the memories—keep them—the worse the dizziness became. She'd eventually had to give up trying to hold onto the mental pictures for fear that she'd be made to eat any more soup.
If she never saw another bowl of the horrible slop it would be too soon.
She flopped back onto the narrow bed and looked up at her only light source, the narrow window high above. Through the glass, a sliver of moon floated on a sea of sparkling stars, teasing her with tales of places far away. She lifted her hand and traced the outline of the hooked moon through the air with her index finger. After a moment, she let her arm drop back down. A small, hard lump pressed beneath her thumb as she rested her hand on her hip. Digging into her pocket, she removed a crumpled scrap of paper. Her sketches. Unfolding the page, she stared at the outlines she'd traced during her morning in the store. Holding it up, the light of the moon above shone through the thin paper, highlighting the repeated image; the pointed peak and the small circle floating above it. She'd drawn it over and over. Multiple copies of the same shape. Different sizes, different line thickness, but the same unusual shape.
It gave her a sense of calm to see it, yet she couldn't understand why. What did it mean? Why was it so important that despite all that she'd forgotten, this image refused to leave her alone? She hadn’t seen it anywhere within the house or store. Not on any books, or material, or signs. She’d thought to ask Tomas, or her father, but whenever the words touched her tongue, her throat would close up and her heart speed with a racing fury.
She couldn’t share it.
She couldn’t share it with anyone.
Blinking away the surging despair at her missing memories, she rubbed her eyes free of any wayward tears. It would do her no good to cry.
She crumpled the page and stuffed it back into her pocket.
With a weary sigh, she closed her eyes, letting the light of the silver moon lull her into the dreams.
The circle of blue was so beautiful... It looked like a curtain of sun kissed water; suspended in the center of the decorated sphere. A group of people stood in front of it. Smiling. Beckoning her. Calling her name. She walked towards them...but no matter how far she travelled, they remained the same distance away. She walked faster. Jogged. Then ran. The harder she fought to reach them, the farther away they drifted. Someone called her name. A name she almost recognized, but couldn’t catch hold of. At first it was a whisper. A soft word carried away by the wind. Then it grew louder. Forceful. It carried an urgency that made her heart speed up. She ran.
She opened her mouth to answer, to call out to them, to tell them to come back, but a hand pressed over her mouth kept her from getting the words out.
It took but a moment for her to realize the words were truly trapped because there really was a hand covering her mouth.
This was no dream!
Panic screamed through her limbs as she fought the shadow form, but it was like wrestling with a statue.
"Stop." The command came in a harsh whisper, blown warm against her ear. "I won’t hurt you.”
She froze. The voice did not belong to someone from her household. With the beat of her heart warring in her ears, opened her eyes.
A giant shadow loomed above her bed, blocking out even the moons high above.
"I’m going to move my hand,” he whispered harshly. "You will not scream."
Knowing she had little choice but to do as he said, she bobbed her head. She would not scream.
He lessened the pressure of his hand until it was gone completely. Then he rose to his full height next to the bed.
She scurried back against the headboard. With the distance, she could see him now.
His presence overpowered the tiny space of her small room. She should be screaming—crying out for help—but some how she felt a strange sense of security at his presence. The strength and calm that surrounded him, flowed from him, calmed her fear.
"Say something," he ordered.
She wasn't sure what she expected him to say—this strange man standing in her bedroom—but a demand for her to speak was not the first thing she would have considered.
"What...what do you want?" she whispered.
He dropped his chin and stared down at her. "It is you."
"I..." she blinked. "Yes? It is?"
He frowned, and leaned closer. "You don't remember me."
"You were in the store today.”
She took a moment to study him in the faint light of the moon above. He was dressed the same as he had been in the store. Black leather. Weapons. She remembered him from earlier in the day, but beyond that, there was nothing. "No," she answered honestly. "I don't remember you. Should...should I?"
He nodded. "You should."
"I'm sorry." The apology escaped before she could question why she felt the need to say it to him.
He shifted his weight, lowering his large frame until he was squatting next to the narrow bed. She held her breath as he reached towards her forehead. He pushed her bangs aside with his index finger.
"Who hit you?" he asked, his tone clipped.
She flinched when his finger prodded the bruise at her temple. "I fell."
He lowered his hand, but remained crouched next to the bed. His eyes narrowed. "Do you remember falling?"
She shook her head. "They said I was in the forest," she repeated what she'd been told. "I hit my head on a rock."
The directness of his gaze pinned her. "How long have you been here?"
"My whole life?" she ventured.
He snorted. "How long have you been here that you can remember..."
"Good?" she frowned. Why was that good?
"What do you remember before that? Do you remember anything of Atlantis?”
"Atlantis?" she repeated. "Who's Atlantis?"
"Not who. What. Atlantis is your home."
"My home?" She shook her head, her eyes taking in the tiny room before slipping back to the man before her. "This is my home."
"This is not your home," he scowled. "No more than it is mine."
"I don't understand..."
"The pictures you drew this morning," he prompted. "Do you remember them?"
Her hand automatically hovered over the small pocket at her waist. She hesitated only a moment before reaching into the pocket and withdrawing the crumpled piece of paper. She straightened it, pulling it taut between her fingers.
He leaned forward and pointed to one of the larger copies of the pointed shape with its floating circle. "This symbol is from the Ring of the Ancestors. What your people call a Star Gate."
"A Star Gate," she repeated as she stared at the repeated image drawn by her own hand. Star Gate. It sounded pretty. Magical.
"It's used to travel between worlds."
Travelling between worlds? Worlds? As in planets? Her heart quickened. She looked to the windows high above. Stars and moons. Hundreds. No, thousands. Millions. And a gate. A gate to the stars. She lowered her eyes to the designs she held in her hand. Stargate. The word whispered through her thoughts.
The travellers deep voice brought her back to her present situation. "Do you remember your name?"
She blinked at him, her tongue unable to form around the name they called her.
"Your name?" he repeated.
"I... it's... Cala..." She cleared her throat and tried again. "Calara."
No? What did he mean, no? No, that was not her name? Or no, she'd said it wrong? Calara. Yes, that was definitely the name they'd called her. Tomas. Maron. Her father. Everyone she'd met. Her name was Calara, and this was her home. So why was the is man, this stranger, so intent on telling her differently?
"Who...who are you?" she finally thought to ask.
He clamped his fingers over her mouth. "Someone’s coming."
She strained to hear over the sound of her own breathing. His tension translated straight through to her spine and she shivered. Outside in the hallway, a floorboard creaked.
"Tell them nothing," he whispered harshly, lifting his hand from her mouth. He wrapped her fingers around the paper she still clutched until it was well hidden within in her fist. "Do not trust anyone.”
He stepped away from the bed.
She scrambled to her feet. "But—”
"And don’t eat or drink anything they give you."
“I’ll come back for you.”
"Wait!" she hissed, but with a touch to the band across his forearm, he was gone.
He'd completely disappeared.
How was that even possible?
A metallic snap in the lock spun her towards the door as it swung inward. She gasped aloud to realize the traveller must have come into her room the same way he’d left because the door was still locked. From the outside.
"What are you doing?" Thea walked into the room, the flickering light of the lantern she held making her scowl seem dark and dangerous. "Who are you talking to?"
"I..." she stared at the empty space where the traveller had just stood. "I was just... talking to myself. I am sorry if I disturbed you."
The old woman lifted the lantern higher and glanced around the small room. Her arm shot out, jabbing a cup forward. "Drink!"
The scent of the evil soup reached her nostrils and she shuddered, remembering the traveller’s order not to eat or drink anything they gave her.
The old woman stepped closer, the lantern hovering beside her face, casting long shadows across her deep features. "Drink," she commanded, jabbing the cup even closer.
Thea wouldn’t care if Calara had to be force fed the soup, so long as her command was obeyed. So, she lifted the bowl to her mouth and gulped down the tepid liquid.
Thea snatched the empty cup away and stomped into the hallway. "Get to bed," she ordered. "You have much work to do tomorrow."
The door closed with a definitive bang and was instantly locked.
Muffled voices from hallway caught her attention. Suddenly worried Thea had just encountered her traveller, she rushed to the door, straining to hear. She pressed her ear to the wood, but the deeper voice on the other side was not the low, gravelly baritone of the Traveller.
It was Tomas who Thea was talking to.
Curious to know if they were talking about the traveller, she dropped to her knees and lay her ear against the keyhole.
"...the dizzy spells," Tomas was saying.
"We cannot give her any more of the soup," Thea answered. "One pot a day is all. Any more and the root will cause too much damage."
"You accepted her because she is intelligent," Thea snapped. "Unless you want to marry a simpering fool, you will do as I tell you. Now stop chattering and go to bed."
"Yes, Thea," Tomas replied, sounding chastised. "Good night."
The sound of a door closing accompanied a set of retreating footsteps until there was nothing left to hear but silence.
Thea's word sent her heart racing.
Dear God... she was Tomas’ wife?
She backed away from the door, her retreat stopping only once her knees connected against the back of the bed. Her mind repeated the old woman's words.
Thea said want to marry, which meant it hadn’t yet happened.
Relief sagged her spine and she sank onto the mattress.
She leaned back against the headboard, tipping her face to the moonlight high above and let herself drift with thoughts of a magical gate through the stars.