Her Map and Her Destination

Another day, another time, movement towards something that lies beyond the horizon of knowing. Dawn had a map of the route she could take across the lands and the seas. A route sketched across lands that were mainly guesswork and supposition and seas that were just blank expanses, apart from the imaginary monsters. She did not have a map of the time the journey would take. No sketches, outlines, or features of what each new day of journeying would bring.

She had known, though, when she left the ordinary world behind, that this world was different. This was not the world she had grown up in and understood as well as, if not more, than those around her. This world lay far beyond anything she had ever known. That is, apart from those times when she was younger, when she had slipped sideways into this other world.

She would never stay too long. She was always fearful that the door she’d opened – somehow – into this other world could close on her at any moment. It could trap her here in this alien landscape for… but that was the trouble with time. Her map had an endpoint, a destination. There was a point that her route traced its way towards. Time was like that, no-one knew their destination, no-one knew where they would end up, no-one knew which day would be their own final day.

Dawn had her map, so she had her destination. She did not know how long it would take to get there. She didn’t know how to travel to get there either, what method of travel she would have to use for each part of the journey.

She would have to cross some of the twelve seas of this world to get to where she needed to be. But she did not know what type of boats – if any – this world used. She presumed there must be some method of crossing the seas, for knowledge of those lands across the seas to exist, and for someone to have enough knowledge – however limited – to make a map. Even such a poor map as hers.

Back home, back in her own world, there was sat-nav, Google maps, and satellite images. Here she had a roughly torn piece of what she assumed was some kind of animal hide. But it could be anything, even human skin.

Human skin?

She held the map in her fingers, sniffed it, rubbed it between her fingers. It was soft, flexible and a sort of dirty yellow under the stains, markings and general grubbiness of something passed between many hands over many years. The details, the pictures, the iconography of the map were faded by the sun and washed out by the rains. She could see where someone, probably many years ago, had painstakingly gone over all the original features on the map. Reworking all the detail of the map from the route across it to the drawings of strange beasts in the unknown depths of the seas and the monsters lurking beyond the outer edges of what was known.

All Dawn knew for sure, though, was that she had to get from here where she stood in the hot dust of a desert city, to the cold far north of ice and glaciers. A far northern land she knew she had never seen, but it was – apparently – her home.


Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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