There’s a long period of time when I am floating and surrounded by a darkness that is actually comforting.
No sound.
No light.
Just me and the feeling of my own breath and the pulse of my heart slowing down.
The air is actually cool and filled with more oxygen than I’m used to. This is one of the nice by-products of traveling the way I do.
During these moments, life is serene and my troubles melt away.
The other door opened and sucked me through catapulting me across the lab floor with such speed as to have me crashing into side of my old wooden desk. The loud crack could have been the splintering wood or a few bones. Maybe both.
The door slammed shut and the lights around the frame blinked. The low pulsing sound indicated that the door would soon open and another body would come flying into the room. Molly had followed me through the door and I was certain that, if she was thrown with the same force, she might get seriously injured. With much effort I got to my feet and stood with my arms out waiting for the door to open… waiting to catch my little niece before she kissed the desk behind me.
The pin inside the Deltri-pham meter on the side of the main coil rig was tapping the the end of the scale in the red.
Any second now. I clapped my hands and hunched over like a baseball pitcher and prepared to catch my niece.
The door burst open and the room filled with light. I could barely see the body as it was ejected through the frame in my direction. It hit me with enough force to send both of us back into the desk. This time the desk completely collapsed and my shoulder dislocated.
My vision cleared and I saw the dazed body stir before me. She was feeling her way along the floor trying to get to her feet.
Too tall for Molly, I thought. Thinner too.
The young lady crawled toward me. Her damp, matted hair covered her face. She flipped her head back and, with her curled lips, blew the hair back away from her eyes. Stubborn strands clung to her cheeks and mixed with her sweat. I couldn’t make out her features until she was a few inches away, staring into my eyes.
“Uncle Buster…” she whispered. “…are you okay?”
I looked at the adult face before me. Despite a long scar running down her cheek, mud caked around her neck and matted, uncombed hair, she was my pretty side-kick-kid with eyes just as beautiful as I remembered them from only a few minutes earlier.
She shook her head and hugged me close. I tried not to gasp as her weight pressed against my injured shoulder. I felt her tears quickly dampen my shirt and I patted her head.

“I’ve been looking for you,” she said. “I’ve been looking for so long…”