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Always Summer, and Never Solstice

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Margot gave over pounding at the door in a minute; it had made her hand sore where the bones pressed against the thin skin, and she knew from bitter experience than her flesh would soften before William’s heart, or Annika’s. There was hardly a crack of light around the door, and their voices had already faded.

Outside, the big door would be opening. Outside, there would be a smell of wet earth heating seeds. She remembered Ohio, remembered rows of corn yellow as her hair, the sky a reflection of her eyes. Remembered chasing the sun as it hid in puddles and lakes.

They had read a story about a detective in class, who had used an access card to push back a deadbolt. Margot wondered if such a thing might be found in this greasy little closet. Certainly she could expect no rescue from the teachers; experience had taught her.

Her seeking hands found a mop in the dark, the corner of a shelf. She trailed her fingers along it. The rough metal gave way to an even rougher texture, the stiff uprights of the mops and brooms to sturdier things that seemed fixed to the floor like the great flower-stalks of the incessant jungle. She pushed on, following them, and the crack at the door grew faint and then vanished behind her.

She seemed to have found herself in another tunnel, perhaps a disused and abandoned access shaft. It was full of cobwebs, and funny things that prickled at her face and hands as she touched them. The dark around her grew grey, then dim, then she could see a scattering of dirt and leaves under her feet.

“This must have been a surface access once,” she thought to herself, and pressed on over the leaves. They were small and crisp, more like the leaves in Ohio than the strange pale leaves and sprawling pedicels of Venusian flora.

When she turned about to look for the door there was no light behind her, so she thought she might as well press forward. They would not be looking for her for some time, she supposed. In about ten minutes she came to an iron post, and saw there was a lamp atop it, illuminating a little circle. Turning about she found that she was not in a tunnel, as she had imagined, but had somehow come out among trees already on the surface.

At the horizon, there was a faint band of pink in the cloudless sky.