The following day was a repeat, except early morning Stanton accompanied the king as he made his rounds of a section of his land that seemed to be home to the wealthy. The houses were mansions, chateaus, small but strongly built castles. He pointed to each one naming the family that resided in building as if he believed Stanton needed to know. He was as encouraging as possible and he seemed pleased when they returned to his palace.
After he disembarked and Stanton escorted him inside, Stanton left him and went back out where his squad awaited him. Daylight seemed dimmer. He looked up as he reached his second in command. “Storm?” He asked.
“They are cyclic so we get a series of them for a week. Due to the moons phases however, this series of storms will be dangerous and powerful. Best not to be outside when they arrive.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. If you’ll alert me as to when the storm will strike, if we are still making rounds, I’ll make sure we all return at once.”
He seemed pleased by Stanton’s words and the remainder of the day was trouble free until the skies grew black with moving streaks of angry purple, lightning that crawled like snakes seeking haven between the billowing clouds.
“Now,” he said.
He gave the order and they nearly jogged back, reaching the living facilities as the first thick drops of rain thrashed the pavement. It was that moment when Stanton knew how they might escape. No one would be outside during the storm especially at night. And since the storm cycle would last several days and nights, Margaret and he could leave soon. All he needed to do was convince her. Since she seemed to be happy and relaxed, the idea might not please her. But he felt sure her safety and comfort would not last much longer. The last few days she’d done nothing but relax and recover. If the king, like he suspected, knew she was a twenty-first century shape shifter, he would place demands on her time and activities.
She was asleep when he entered their place. He ate the food she left him, cleaned up, undressed and slid in alongside her.
Somewhere around 3:00am thunder boomed loud enough to shake the building and vibrate through the window glass. If seemed the ring world created storms as it rotated and occasionally they were as powerful as he’d been told earlier.
The rain fell with a raging hiss, slamming fists against the roof, and windows. He hoped that whoever built the place had experience with ring world storms. He also wondered if using the storm, as a cover for escape was nothing more than a flash of insanity.
However, he felt strongly that it would work if for no other reason then the madness of the idea. Two nights hence, he decided and went back to sleep.
Margaret woke him during the night, and pulled herself against him He wrapped her in his arms and spoke softly.
“I’ve learned of a way to safely leave here.”
“Why would we want to do that? I feel safe and happy and when the baby is born I’ll have plenty help with it when you’re away.” She sounded sleepy but alert enough that he believed she detected his urgency.
“Do you recall a man named William who was waiting by the lake when you exited the portal from earth?”
“Umm, I think, oh yes I do. I wasn’t sure he’d allow me to stay, but after a few odd questions he let me. Why do you ask about him?”
“He was here night before this.”
She sat up as if he’d jolted her with a elbow to the ribs. “What? Why, oh no, he came to warn us of something bad didn’t he?”
“He did.” He told her everything William said and heard her sharp intake of breath twice.
“Why the hell can’t we find a place safe enough to stay in a long time?”
He shook his head then realizing she couldn’t see him and said, “I don’t know but from what William said if we get through the double arch portal, we will be quite far from this part of the planet.”
“And you believe it will be safer than this is?”
“I do. But honestly, what we’ve experienced these months since we left the lake and took the elevator, what part of any of that had been safe at all?”
She sighed, laid back and wrapped her arms around him. “None. Stanton, I’m going to deliver a baby in a few weeks. Please assure me you will find somewhere I can do that and not worry if the three of us will live afterwards.”
“I can honestly only assure you that I will continue to make every effort to do that.”
She was silent several minutes. At first he thought she’d fallen asleep, but she cleared her throat lightly and asked, “When do you want to leave? I’ll need at least a few hours to prepare, pack enough clothing and food to help us.”
“The guard who was assigned as my second in command told me the weather cycles here. The storms, like on the lake, come through regularly. The first night was last night and since the storms will continue nightly for a week, I figured we should leave the night after tomorrow night.”
“Good. I’ll be ready.”
“We’ll leave in the middle of the night. The rain and lightning with be heavy and dangerous, but I know the way now. We can reach the portal in about an hour and a half. So I’ll try to collect rain gear for us. And once we leave we cannot return here to this apartment. We will be wanted fugitives.”
“Well that’s nothing new now is it?” She actually giggled. “Sorry, I’m nervous, scared, and always exhausted.”
“Don’t be sorry. I want you where we can get beyond all of what’s happened and will happen if we stay here and I want you safe and happy too.”
He smelled her hair placed his left hand on her growing belly bump. At that moment the baby kicked. Stanton’s smile grew as he kissed Margaret’s cheek. “Let’s get some sleep we’ve a lot to do after tonight.”
Sleep came easily for her, but he didn’t get there again until 5am.