Sun’s Light

“I hate to bother you,” Luz heard a shy voice to her right. She felt a touch on her shoulder and stopped walking to find out why. An older woman pulled her hand away from Luz’s arm. She blushed but made eye contact. “Are you one of them? I mean,.. ” she pointed at the tattoo on Luz’s arm, a sunflower with the number ’34’ on the stem. “A Unique?”

“What?!” The question surprised Luz; she did not expect to hear it there of all places. She looked around to check for oncoming trouble, but no one seemed to be paying attention. She leaned forward. “Why?” She asked. The woman smiled and grabbed her hand.

“You are! Don’t worry, you’re safe,” she stepped back and pulled on Luz’s hand. “C’mon. You’re the first one, but I doubt you’ll be the only one.” The woman led Luz through a questionable alleyway to a busy street, then into a high-class hotel. As they made their way through the lobby the woman slowed down enough too introduce herself.

“I’m Emma. If you need anything while you’re in,” Emma paused and grinned, “this universe,” she burst into a fit of giggles. She remembered Luz and cleared her throat. “Sorry. If you need anything, let me know.” Luz realized they stopped walking in front of the hotel’s ballroom. Dozens of tables prepared for dinner surrounded a stage at one end of the room.

“Why am I here?” Luz asked after taking in the setup. The woman’s cheeks flushed again.

“I’m sorry! It should be obvious you didn’t come with the other group,” Emma mock-slapped her forehead. “OH!” she hopped. “You didn’t come with the other group! DIBS!” she reached into a small red hip pack and pulled out a sheet and a pencil. She looked at Luz’s tattoo.

“34…” she scanned the sheet. “El Soldado!” she smiled and wrote a check mark on the sheet. “That’s your name right?” Luz narrowed her eyes.

“That’s what I am, but my name is Luz,” she said. The woman’s smile diminished, but she kept her business smile on.

“About why you’re here; on this Earth, there’s a man that visits every 100 years. He likes to see what kind of progress we’ve made and rewards us if it’s good. He’s supposed to appear in a few days, and until last month, we thought we’d have nothing to show him this time. But then Ms. Sharp brought us the AlterNet, and the AlterNet brought us you!” Emma gestured her arms wide at Luz. “I mean, Uniques like you. If we show the Eternal that we’ve made contact with other universes he’ll definitely reward us!” Emma seemed about to pop from excitement. “Anyway, help yourself to any of the food,” Emma gestured at a row of closed dishes on a table against one wall. “I’m going to go look for more,” she gave Luz a polite wave then wandered down the hall. Luz entered the ballroom and closed the door behind her. She reached into the tattoo on her right arm with her left hand and pulled out a small, black business card. She tossed it at the air and it grew into a large circular black portal.

A single golden boot tip stepped out of the hole, followed by the rest of the white-clothed leg. Then, the other leg along with the rest of the man stepped out of the darkness. He wore a white suit with a golden vest visible underneath. He saw Luz and smiled.

“All set?” he asked as he took in the elegant ballroom. Luz shook her head.

“They found out about Uniques,” she said. A flash of sadness crossed the man’s face and he stared at the ground.

“I guess we should move on. Man, I had a good thing going here,” he grumbled.

“It won’t be long until they figure you out,” Luz reminded him.

“Some of us already have,” a female voice said from the stage. Luz turned to see who it was, but she only glimpsed a dark-haired woman in a white suit before she blacked out.

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