There was a cry by her feet. Raina, steering the mortar and pestle turned gyrocopter over the endless dark maze with it's half-seen endless angular twists and turns and occasional pale green flashes of lightning, looked down. Sweating, the sleeping girl who'd followed her into this bizarro world turned in on itself stirred against the effeminate man who had somehow come with her, hands clenching and unclenching.
Pale green light flashed off of his bent, crooked old-fashioned glasses and matted curls as shrugging, he looked up at Raina, a faint smile that was almost a smirk on his narrow face. Raina returned her attention to navigating – whatever was going on there could take care of itself. She looked up and ahead, in the dim gray light she could make out the mirror image of the maze spread beneath overhead and had no idea where she was taking them.
Piloting a Navy chopper had been relatively easy: there was constant radio contact, radar, maps, and other navigational tools if the weather suddenly went bad. Then she could land and wait it out. Once the weather improved, there were always landmarks; bridges, mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, whatever, should technology fail her. Fog? No problem! If she couldn't rise above it, Raina could always skim along until she found a road and work it from there. Hell, there'd even been that one time in Alaska when she'd been forced to navigate by following an oil pipeline, scaring the hell out of God knows how many caribou and one polar bear in the process, all thanks to a faulty radio and tower ops with no sense of direction. But this place? This place? Holy shit!
This place was nothing but mile after mile of identical shadowy twists and turns without so much as a Howard Johnson's roof to home in on for an unscheduled coffee break! Even the green lightning never repeated itself even as it zig-zagged into infinity!
There was a tap on her shoulder.
Arms straining to keep the pestle whizzing overhead and the mortar aloft, Raina glanced behind her, thinking that one of her passengers wanted something.
Startled, she fumbled, causing the whirring pestle and the mortar to careen from side to side even as it dropped in midair, only to catch herself so that it leveled out, the scarred green marble of the mortar delicately caressing the mirror-still water beneath it which blackly reflected the maze with it's tangles of passages overhead, rippling out in silent circles with each kiss.
Mike stood behind her, truncated finger held to his lips, eyes dark hollows in the dim green-gray-black light. Raina blinked, eyelids heavy, the pain in her foot and her arms a distant ache belonging to somebody else.
Grinning with fangs that were somehow un-threatening, Mike gently but firmly took the pestle from her hands so that the stone basin they stood within gradually slowed, easing itself silently into the water, ripples breaking up the overhead maze around them. Tossing the pestle into the water with a soundless splash, he took her hand.
The world flipped over, and they were standing in a frosty, moonlit landscape.
Only, it wasn't Mike holding Raina's hand, but a gangling shirtless adolescent in patched, worn-out overalls and work boots.
In her arms she cradled a too still baby wrapped in a hospital blanket.