Zack glared at the man holding his little sister tightly by the neck, her small sock-clad feet barely scraping the ground. His own small hands were trembling in a mix of fury and fear. Anger like he had never felt before warred helplessly against the fear he felt at doing as they requested. Fear for his sister and himself. There was no guarantee he would come back if he went through the portal, and then who would protect her? Even more worrying, though, was the thought of whether or not they would even do as they said they would?
Zack was all she had left in the world; their parents had died years before when she was little more than a baby. Her safety was his responsibility, it was a heavyweight for a ten-year-old’s shoulders to bear. Still, she was only barely-seven and he would do anything for her.
Even if it meant believing them for now.
The experiments that were supposed to only be run on him, had found their way to her whenever he disobeyed. He could still see the bruises from the straps they had used to hold her against the chair, and the tiny track of needle marks at the base of her skull.
They were the same marks he had, though his were far more numerous.
The hand holding her slim pale neck tightened enough for the skin to turn red and her feet to come completely off the floor. Zack knew in that moment he would go through the portal, and he would come back, even if he had to do it all alone.
His eyes burned with shame and the prick of hot tears as he forced himself to look away and step closer to the portal. There wasn’t supposed to be one here, wherever here was. The locations of all the portals in the world had been recorded since they opened over a hundred years ago. No new ones had appeared since, and none had disappeared.
It made no sense that one wouldn’t be under the control of the government or larger corporations. They were intensely valuable commodities, even as a child he understood that. Not that the knowledge was doing them any good at the moment.
“Are you ready?” One of the scientists standing off to the side asked.
Equipment lined the walls, each piece connected to a different sensor they had strapped to his body.
“This isn’t going to work anyway so we might as well hurry!” The portal stood silent at his back as he turned one last time to look at his little sister.
Instead, he was in time to catch her as she was thrown at him like a ragdoll. The impact pushed them both through the portal and through to the other side.
Zack held his sister tight as the portal fought against their entrance. They were both too young, not to mention that neither had even awakened their abilities yet. That only happened when someone was halfway through maturity, around fifteen years old for most people.
The experiments the scientists had been doing on them were all designed to overcome that limitation. Despite the pain, they were both feeling, it was clear that whatever had been done to them worked as they fell to the ground on the other side. Now they only had to survive for twelve hours and they would be automatically ejected back to their world.