Door County Getaway
By Roy Dorman
Elizabeth and Edward had used
Marcovici’s portal to escape from the
consequences of mistakes they had made in their lives. Having teamed up in
Nowhere Land, they had been spending most of their energy trying to find the
way to long-term existence there. Now behind Door #2, they have met Rose, who
enlists them as bodyguards to a person who will be making a one-way trip to
another world in deep space. That valuable person is Janna Korba.
just barely. She needs a transfusion…and soon.”
“We have a
donor. I’ll get her.”
cat, Jesse, woke her with the insistent purring she made when she thought Janna
had slept long enough and it was time for her to put food in the cat’s bowl.
checked her phone and saw Jesse was right—it was six-thirty, and if she was
going to do a little grocery shopping before her shift, she’d have to get
afternoon sun had begun its descent and the shadows were long as Janna passed
through the living room. In the kitchen, she opened the second-to-the-last can
of cat food and emptied it into her cat’s bowl. She rinsed out the water dish
and refilled it.
Back in the
bedroom, she threw something on, grabbed her last thirty dollars, and headed
out the door.
down the hallway toward the stairs, she heard her phone chirp; a text had just
A BLACK SUV
IS PARKED OUTSIDE ON THE STREET IN FRONT OF YOUR BUILDING. GET IN. YOUR LIFE
WILL BE CHANGED.
looked to see who had sent this cryptic text and found the sender was blocked.
She walked down the three flights of stairs and stepped out onto the
sidewalk. In front of her by the curb sat a black SUV.
walked up to it. Peering into the passenger side window, she saw no one was inside.
The sound of her phone chirping again caused her to jump and give out with a
little chirp of her own.
UNLOCKED. THERE’S MONEY ON THE FRONT SEAT. GET IN.
looked around to see if someone was watching her. She thought this surely must
be some kind of hidden camera joke.
fun’s over; I’m done here,” she said, and turned to walk down the street to the
her phone chirped and displayed the message: HOW MANY MORE YEARS DO YOU THINK
THE EXOTIC DANCER GIG WILL LAST? GET IN.
a.k.a. Strawberry Fields, was an exotic dancer. Actually, she danced at a
neighborhood strip club three blocks from her apartment building and tried her
best to look exotic. Her mother, recently deceased, had been part Ho-Chunk
Indian, and her father, address unknown, had Greek ancestry that went a long
genetic background, some heavy makeup, and a sensuous smile, she easily passed
for an exotic dancer with the sort of crowd who frequented the hole-in-the-wall
club she danced at. Her workplace was on the north side of Chicago, about six
blocks from Wrigley Field.
the best season financially for her, and with the Cubs in town tonight,
Saturday, as well as tomorrow, she had been looking forward to some serious
post-game tips from the out of town Cubs fans.
getting in, but I have my phone ready to dial 911. You got that?” she said to
the evening air in front of her.
from her phone, but a passerby did look at her strangely.
opened the driver-side door and saw a brown manila envelope with her name on it
on the passenger seat. Leaning in, she grabbed the envelope and once again
looked around to see if she could catch someone watching her.
the envelope and pulled out a handful of twenty dollar bills. They weren’t new
and they looked real.
another text: THE GPS IS SET FOR YOUR DESTINATION. THE BILLS WILL BE LARGER
THERE. GET IN.
thinking. It was true she had been growing tired of her job lately. She had a
degree in English she had never used and recently had been fantasizing about
getting into an entry-level editing position.
hell,” she said as she climbed in and turned the key.
the vehicle was running, a voice spoke to her through its communication system.
The voice was female and not mechanical like the usual GPS-type systems.
WILL BE ABOUT FOUR HOURS. YOU’LL BE TAKING INTERSTATES NORTH ALONG LAKE
MICHIGAN TO DOOR COUNTY, A VACATION SPOT IN WISCONSIN. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU
about Jesse. “I have a cat,” she said to the dashboard. “Someone will have to
look in on and feed her if I’m going to be gone long.”
BE TAKEN CARE OF. WHAT ABOUT YOU? HUNGRY?
know the name of my cat?” Janna asked.
BEEN VERY THOROUGHLY VETTED. WE KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. ARE YOU HUNGRY?
eaten since this morning,” she said. “But you’d already know that, wouldn’t
MILES THERE IS A CHINESE RESTAURANT. YOU MAY STAY FOR A HALF HOUR, BUT NO MORE.
a parking spot on the street near The Golden Dragon and started toward it. A
half block from the restaurant she was passing a dive bar, The Grumpy Troll,
and the smell of bar food, cigarette smoke, and stale beer drifted out.
impulse, Janna turned into the bar. As she sat down on a stool, her phone
chirped, but she ignored it.
a burger, medium, with onions and some fries,” she said to the beefy bartender.
“What can I
get ya to drink?” he asked.
“A pint of
any old IPA would be nice,” she said.
bartender handed the slip with the food order through a window behind him and
pulled a draft.
go,” he said, setting the beer in front of her. “It’s happy hour. Burger,
fries, and a beer; that’ll be ten bucks even.”
him one of her newly acquired twenties and he gave her back “bartender’s
change;” a five and fine ones.
She took a
sip of her beer, pushed the five on the rail for a tip, and pocketed the ones.
It wasn’t her money; she could afford to leave a good tip.
asked. “Are you the Grumpy Troll?”
“Do I look
like a troll to you?” the bartender answered.
know; what do trolls look like?”
kinda short, kinda fat, and kinda ugly.”
you’re right; you’re too tall to be a troll.”
you; a comedian?” he asked.
“No, I’m an
I’ve always wanted to be an exotic dancer?”
the comedian?” Janna said with a smirk.
bartender gave Janna a thumbs up and moved down to the end of the bar where a
new customer had just sat down.
waited for her burger, she took out her phone to check the text. Who knew;
maybe the SUV had taken off and “they” were going to go with their back-up
WILLING TO MAKE ALLOWANCES FOR YOUR BEHAVIOR AT THIS STAGE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP,
BUT PLEASE BE PREPARED TO FOLLOW THE SCRIPT LATER ON.
else what?” Janna muttered.
bartender gave her the same sort of look the passerby outside her apartment
building had given her earlier.
Back on the
road, Janna waited for a dressing down, but none came.
aren’t ya gonna say something?” she finally asked.
BURGERS ANY GOOD IN THAT JOINT?
been there before, but yeah, the burger was good,” said Janna.
I MAY STOP
THERE SOMETIME AFTER FEEDING JESSE.
for a bit before responding. “I guess I just realized you might be a real
person and not just a computerized communication system.”
OH, I’M A
REAL PERSON ALL RIGHT. LOVE BAR BURGERS AND LOVE JESSE, IF THAT’S WHAT TIPPED
vetting thing; does that mean you’ve been in my apartment and snooped around?”
AROUND SOUNDS SO CREEPY. I INSTALLED A FEW BUGS AND A COUPLE OF CAMERAS, WENT
THROUGH YOUR DRESSER DRAWERS, AND PLAYED WITH JESSE WHILE YOU WERE AT WORK.
sounds pretty creepy to me,” said Janna.
MAYBE, BUT IT’S A LIVING.
“Is it okay
if we talk while I’m driving? I’d like to know how I was picked for this…,
A LOT OF VARIABLES TO CONSIDER. THE FIRST WAS THAT YOU WERE AN ORPHAN AND AN
ONLY CHILD WITH NO CLOSE RELATIVES.
died a few years ago from lung cancer. I don’t know if Dad’s still alive. But
it sounds like maybe you do.”
NOT. HE DIED IN A SHOOTOUT IN THE SOUTH BRONX FIVE YEARS AGO. SOMETHING TO DO
WITH GAMBLING DEBTS OWED TO THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE.
‘the wrong kind of people’? I didn’t really know him.”
AGAIN, BUT, YES, HE WAS THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE. HE LIVED HARD AND FAST,
USUALLY ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE LAW.
in Door County? Why do you need me?” asked Janna.
THE MIX OF
YOUR GENETIC MATERIAL IS OF INTEREST TO US. THERE IS SOMEONE WE WOULD LIKE YOU
I’m starting to hear the scary background music that plays just before
something really bad happens to the main character. I don’t suppose you’re
going to tell me who the ‘us’ is who has the hots for my genes, are you?”
silence for a few minutes. Janna let the silence go on as the interstate miles
accumulated. They were still a long way from their destination. She could take
the next exit, follow the cloverleaf to the onramp heading back to Chicago, and
chalk this up to an adventure she could share with friends for years to come.
Not that anybody would ever believe her.
I’M NOT AT
LIBERTY TO TELL YOU WHO ‘US’ IS AT THIS TIME. I CAN ASSURE YOU THERE’S NOTHING
DIABOLICAL GOING ON LIKE YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY SEEN IN HORROR MOVIES. IT’S A…
on thinking she would wait for more information rather than ask for it. That
last reply did nothing to make her feel less likely she had stumbled into
something that could be dangerous, like, say, human trafficking.
getting dark now, about 8:30, and she would need a potty break. She thought
about Jesse at home alone.
we’re being followed,” said Janna. “The car behind us came on quick but has
been hanging back at our speed for about five minutes.”
A LITTLE FASTER AND SEE WHAT THEY DO.
accelerated to 75 MPH and checked her rearview mirror. “They’re still keeping
pace,” she said.
REST STOP IN ABOUT TEN MINUTES. IF THEY’RE STILL WITH US WHEN YOU GET TO
IT, TAKE THE EXIT. WE ALREADY HAVE SOMEBODY THERE.
stayed with Janna like she was towing it. When she got to the rest area, she
took the exit and wound her way to the parking lot.
STOP. DRIVE STRAIGHT THROUGH THE LOT AND TAKE THE EXIT BACK ONTO THE
heard a burst of what had to be automatic fire. Checking her rear view mirror,
she saw the car that had been following her drift off to its left and smash
into a small shade tree.
the interstate doing seventy. Somebody was just killed because of her. She
didn’t want to think too much about what might happen to her if she tried to
head back to Chicago.
IS A PRIORITY WITH US. THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE COMES UP BEHIND YOU AND STAYS WITH
YOU, IT’LL BE ONE OF OUR PEOPLE. THEY WILL STAY WITH YOU UNTIL WE GET TO OUR
“I have to
pee,” said Janna.
MCDONALDS AT AN EXIT ABOUT THREE MILES FROM HERE. THEIR RESTROOMS ARE ALWAYS
ACCESSIBLE, USUALLY CLEAN TOO.
I-94 in Milwaukee for I-43, still heading north, and eventually came to WI-57,
which was nearing the end of the journey. She hadn’t asked any more questions
and her companion hadn’t spoken in nearly a hundred miles. She was good with
that; she needed time to think.
County, Wisconsin, was that “thumb” on Wisconsin’s eastern side that stuck out
into Lake Michigan. Made up of a dozen small towns, it was a summer tourist
destination. With Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other, the
narrow strip of land was almost an island.
hit WI-42, the last leg, and left WI-57, Janna decided it was time to talk
going to a town called Fish Creek; what’s there?”
no immediate answer, and Janna thought that maybe there was a reception
problem. When a voice finally spoke, it was not the voice of her previous
SOMEONE IN FISH CREEK WHO NEEDS SOMETHING YOU CAN GIVE HER.
minute. What happened to…the other one?”
silence; this new one was getting instructions.
VERY FEW OF
OUR PEOPLE KNEW OF THE PLAN AND ITS ROUTE. SIGNS POINT TO A TRAITOR. GWEN
HAS BEEN…REASSIGNED UNTIL CLEARED FOR DUTY AGAIN.
this is way over my head,” said Janna. “And I’m not superhero material; I’ve
got an English degree I’ve never used and dance at a dive bar. I don’t think I
have what your people are looking for. I’d like to go home.”
HIGHWAY 42. WE HAVE RESERVED A SET OF ROOMS AT THE BAYSIDE RESORT IN FISH
was sitting on a couch waiting for
someone to come in and tell her what was going on. Her new companion, Felicity,
had told her someone higher up would give her the complete picture.
doubted that very much. Hearing that her original contact had been reassigned
had not helped set her mind at ease. In most of the books she’d read and movies
she’d seen, being “reassigned” usually meant the person in question
said Felicity, “this is the lead person
of this operation, Natasha Good.”
Janna. Let’s get right down to it. As
a well-read person, you are probably aware that there are many theories as to
how humans made the jump from a species of ape to the first humans.
“We know how that jump occurred. Earth
was visited by beings from another galaxy about six million years ago. The
first colony was set up in Africa, with subsequent colonies established in
China and later, Europe.
breeding programs were established and the results of the experiments, the
first humans, were then left to the forces of evolution. Those humans who
prospered went on to eventually become the people of today’s Earth.”
wait,” said Janna. “Even if I believed any of this, what does it have to do
genes,” said Natasha. “You have bloodlines from ancient Greece and also from
the Native Americans who crossed over a land bridge from Russia to Alaska
25,000 years ago.
direct descendent of some of those first visitors is here in this inn. She is
near death and wants to live long enough to see her home planet. A transfusion
of your blood would most likely give her the time she needs.”
there must be thousands of people alive today who came from a similar genetic
background; why me?” asked Janna.
Gwen told you on the drive up here, you were vetted for a number of things.
You’re intelligent, kind, adventurous—”
laughed Janna. “Me? No way.”
here, aren’t you?” said Natasha.
didn’t you just put a bag over my head, put me in the trunk of a car, and bring
looked at Felicity, who smiled and shrugged. “That was Felicity’s original
plan,” said Natasha. “But your ancestor—we call her Corrina—insisted that we
use no coercion. She wants you to be a willing participant.”
sighed Janna. “Tell me what’s involved.”
there would be an immediate transfusion; time is short,” said Natasha. “Then,
you would be prepped for the trip with Corrina to her home.”
going to another galaxy? Now I’m back
to thinking this is some kind of reality television show.”
original colonists didn’t interbreed with the new humans until about five
thousand years ago. Corrina is over a thousand years old. Though you would
both be in suspended animation for the majority of the trip, there are a few
chores at both ends that are of a manual nature. She’ll need you to handle
just leave,” sputtered Janna. “I have a job…and a cat. Who would take care of
with Jesse right now. Jesse is part of her new assignment. Through
extraordinary advances in technology brought about by Corrina’s people and
shared with us, Gwen now physically looks exactly like you. She also has all of
your memories. No one will be able to discover that she is not you.”
about done with that exotic dancer business, anyway, right?” said Natasha.
said Felicity, laughing. “Give Gwen a chance to wring some tips out of those
rowdy Cubs fans.”
“Will it be
just Corrina and I taking the trip?” Janna asked.
Natasha. “We’ve also found two very competent people to go with you. They have
performed well under some very grueling situations, and will be helpful in case
anything unusual comes up. We’ll meet with Elizabeth and Edward yet tonight.
They should pass through the door from another dimension soon.
sighed and sat back on the couch. “Damn, I can hear that weird background music
starting up again,” she said.