Dimitri struggled up the hill, wrestling with the heavy sack he carried. He tried hard not to look over his shoulder, for he knew his pursuers were not far behind. He had been running for five days, and he was finding himself weaker and more tired with each step he took. He couldn't help looking over his shoulder though. He needed to know if they were still there.
He knew the reputation of the king's guard. They were not known for their mercy, but he knew if he could reach it, he would survive. If he could just get to the portal, he wouldn't have to worry a minute more.
Hooves of horses vibrated the ground as Dimitri kept a steady pace. "It's not that much farther ahead," he told himself, trying to keep his courage up. He couldn't stop now. Wrestling with the heavy sack, he found a large group of trees and shrubs to hide in. Maybe if he could just rest a little while, his strength would come to him to run a little more. It would all be over soon. Crouching down, he found a seat on the mossy ground. His breath was now coming in short snatches as he tried to control it. Hunger overtook his thoughts, and he wildly searched the sack for a morsel of food. There he found nothing but the treasure he'd stolen days before. A round golden globe sprinkled with the most brilliant jewels caught a glimpse of the sun causing a reflection that almost blinded him. Closing the bag quickly, Dimitri looked about him frustrated, hungry, and afraid.
He could hear the horses getting closer. Caught in a war of decisions that seemed to last forever, he thought he might run again, but it alas was too late. The sound of men's voices and horses made him pause in his hiding place. He placed his hand over his mouth. He wouldn't allow himself to be found this time. He could never forget the dungeons and barely escaped with his life the last time. Something told him that he might not live to tell the tale this time.
"There's no sign of him," said a king's guardsman looking about the woods. Dimitri peered from behind the brush in which he hid and watched the men. They were all dressed in the king's uniform and unmistakably looking for him.
"He's here somewhere. You men spread out. I'm sure he's hiding," another guardsman said, sweeping his hand around the area he wanted them to search. Dimitri's knees grew weak, and he began to shake from his lips to his toes. What had he gotten himself into?
No one truly believed in time travel. He hadn't until his friend, Jeff, showed him proof that he'd done it. Even then, Dimitri didn't fall for the prank he knew his friend was pulling on him. He needed to know himself. He needed proof. He thought the sword his friend showed him had come from some cosplay shop online, but when Jeff took him to the museum, he saw what looked like the same sword on display in the medieval exhibit. Only this sword appeared to have a "JFK", his friend's initials, carved into its hilt. This is when he began to believe.
From that moment, Dimitri had become obsessed with it all. How did it work? Where could he go? Jeff had explained the rules that most people knew when it came to time travel. Number 1: Do not alter history. No one wanted to return to an altered timeline. That could truly be life changing! Number 2: Do not fall in love. Number 3: Don't get stuck by doing something dumb. But the most important rule was Number 4: He must go back through the door he entered, or he would be stuck in that time period. Apparently, Jeff, being the collector of vintage keys, found a beautifully forged key that actually opened portals to other time periods. The portal to the time jump could be any door as long as he carried the key with him.
Now Dimitri kicked himself for his curiosity. He needed to get to that door, and he needed to do it fast. Dimitri watched as the guards walked so closely that he could hear the clink of their mail shirts and smell their body odor. He reached into his pocket to feel for the key. It was still there. It's rusty curved design felt rough against his fingers. He just needed to wait them out.
The sun began to drop behind the trees casting shadows from the trees down to the ground. Dimitri found himself shivering from the absence of the sun's warmth. He had fallen asleep trying to stay warm and found himself waking to the sound of rustling in the woods nearby. The king's guardsmen had gone, and Dimitri was alone again. He wished he'd never found out about time travel. The two times he had traveled, he discovered a world of trouble. He had made up his mind. If he ever made it home again, he would give Jeff back his key and forget that time travel ever existed. Dimitri gathered himself and his treasure-filled sack of gold. He wouldn't need to time travel anyway. This was enough for him to pay off all his debt and live the good life. Dimitri saw the familiar path and walked until he saw the door for which he'd searched five days. There it was: a door suspended in midair floating, beckoning for him to return. A hum accompanied the light that glowed all around its borders, welcoming Dimitri's passage back to the 21st Century. Stepping up to the door, the door immediately opened with a creaking sound that crescendoed into a large boom. A great wind rushed through the door, picking Dimitri up from the ground. The door was alive, pulling him into its large mouth as if he were attached to a magnet on the other side of the door. The door cast light into the darkness of the night, illuminating the faces of the hiding guardsmen that lay in wait for him. Their faces were aghast in disbelief of what stood before them. Dimitri was just as surprised as one of the guardsmen lunged to grab the bag in which he held tightly, both of them falling through the door. They tumbled through the swirling maze of flashing lights and wind, clawing and fighting one another, dropping the bag into the abyss. It was a lifetime of fighting, but Dimitri kept his eye on a bigger light; this light meant home, safety. Giving himself one big push away from the guardsman, he kicked him down into the abyss of time. The guardsman screaming all the way down. Dimitri reached for the light and found himself crashing into his bedroom door.
He had made it home. Words could not express how relieved he was as he fell face first onto his bed. Suddenly, outside his bedroom door, he heard a knock.
Dimitri startled at the sound sat there afraid to know what or who could be there. With immense carefulness, Dimitri stepped to the door, placing his ear against it. He knew there could be no one on the other side of the door. He lived alone. The knocking continued, and the doorknob turned again and again.
"I have your treasure, sorcerer. Unlock the door," the voice said behind the door.
Dimitri's thoughts raced until he settled upon one thought that terrified him more than he could imagine. Had he brought the king's guardsman back to his timeline? Had he trapped him somewhere in the in-between? Was he really knocking on his door? Dimitri searched his pockets frantically for the key. If he had somehow lost it in travel, the guardsman might be able to continue to pursue him.
Digging and digging in his pocket, Dimitri looked for the key, only finding a hole in one of his pockets. Freaking out, he searched the floor. He searched his bed, flinging pillows here and there.
The guardsman was now knocking harder and harder. Dimitri was in a panic. It had to be here somewhere. Looking down, Dimitri recovered the key but stopped to think. How was the guardsman knocking if he wasn't holding the key?
Dimitri placed the key on his desk, realizing his hunger once again. Opening the door to his bedroom to go to the kitchen, he found no guardsman on the other side of the door. He had come to expect anything and had almost convinced himself that the guardsman would be waiting there. At that moment, Dimitri knew. He nor his friend Jeff could ever time travel again. The door of time travel would be locked forever. There was no way they could face what would be waiting on the other side of that door.
Dimitri's phone buzzed, revealing Jeff's text message, "Did you make it back?"
Dimitri texted back a short, "Yeah" before biting into his sandwich, half anxious that the knocking might begin again.
Bzzz...It was so unlike Jeff to text so quickly. "Figured. Looked outside lately?" Jeff texted with a emoji that seemed to scream panic.
Dimitri walked over to the window to look out. Dropping his sandwich, he gazed in awe of what he saw before him. A scene straight from the pages of any Armageddon novel was right in front of him. The sky was literally falling.
Bzzz...Jeff texted again, "Guess you did something dumb, huh?"