The world was at night.
He couldn't see to catch his balance as he tripped and fell onto his hands and knees. He could smell mud and decomposing plant life, the odd wetness of night air, and traces of garbage, chemicals, diesel and metal. He heard metallic screams behind him in the distance, as if they were the roaring of robotic dragons. Slowly, carefully, he stood up and turned around.
He was about a mile from a huge airport. He could see jet airplanes slowly moving around, huge brightly lit buildings, large bright lights, and colorful run-way lights that seemed to point towards him. A jet flew low and landed on the runway and taxied away as another took off in a different area. Others were flying around in the sky. A small plane soared down and landed nearby. Had he been in a warm, comfortable and safe environment he would have enjoyed the show.
He turned away from the airport and looked around him. His eyes had trouble adjusting to the darkness around him, but he could tell that there were low shrubs and on the ground, odd rectangles and stuff that glittered. The sky was black and starless; there was no moon. He could now smell gardens and trees, and recognized some of the pollens.
He held his wand up. "Lumos!"
Immediately, he was kicked to the ground and his wand snatched from his hand. A foot rested on his wrist, another on his neck. He was aware that there were two different men, and stayed frozen to the ground. How many more are there? he wondered. Without his wand, he was almost defenseless.
"What have we here?" one asked in an deep feathery voice.
"Olivanders. A British wizard," the other responded in an almost identical voice.
Both removed their feet from Richard, but neither man helped him to his feet.
"So you know what I am," he said dully. "And you are?"
"We've been to your world. Or as the guidebook says, 'universe'.
Richard had no idea which was speaking. "So what universe is this?'
"Fortunately for you, one where your blood is deadly to us."
"Especially as you are bleeding all over the place. And it stinks." He handed Richard back his wand.
"Go ahead, light your wand so you can clean yourself up. But not too bright. And hurry up, so we're not attracting attention."
His hands did feel sticky. "Lumos," Richard whispered. The glittery stuff was broken glass, the odd shapes were cement steps and broken foundations. A variety of shrubs, scraps of lumber, tree roots and half-buried garbage littered the area. It was as if a giant shovel had torn up houses recently and left the mess behind.
"Where am I?" he wondered out loud as he quickly examined the cuts on his hands and glanced at the two.
The two men were short and thin. One had dark hair, the other, very light. Their eyes were narrow and very dark and they wore black wool suits, tailored and expensive looking even in the dim light. They were smiling, but Richard found himself frightened at their cruel expressions. He cleaned his hands and sealed the cuts.
The dark-haired one gestured to the landscape behind him. "United States. West Coast. Washington State, at the outskirts of the Sea-Tac airport. Seattle is that way, Tacoma over there."
Richard vanished his light. "What happened here? It looks like a war zone."
"The neighborhoods were ripped out for the airport expansion," the light-haired one replied.
"And why are you here?" Richard asked, still bewildered.
The two looked at each other, amused. "To rescue you, of course. After you prove your value to us," the dark-haired one said.
"My value." Richard forcefully pushed aside his imagination to listen to the answer.
"Give us something useful, and after we pick up our shipment, we'll get you out of here," the other one said.
Shipment. What would two people be expecting out in the dark, in a place like this? His eyes were getting used to the dark. The night odors were becoming clearer to him, and he recognized some of the plants.
A thought came to his mind, and after a moment's hesitation, he flicked his wand. "Accio cannibas!"
A dozen plants flew through the air and fell at his feet.
The dark-haired one squatted down, broke off a piece and sniffed it. "Not as ready as it should be, but close enough."
The other shrugged. "What else can you Summon?"
What else would people leave in a place like this? he wondered as he looked about the shadows of the ruins.
"Accio gold!" he said, casting the charm towards a large pile of cement and boards.
Neck chains, broken links, a coin, a bracelet, and a ring--still on a fleshy hand--arrived next.
"Interesting." The light-haired one leaned over and picked up the hand, examining the ring. "Pervert. Wants to be found." He turned to his companion. "Would you say that this was today?"
"Smells like it." He turned to Richard. "Can you get us the rest of it?"
The first proceeded to lick at the wrist. "Waste not, want not."
Vampires? Richard wondered. As if in a horrible nightmare, he Summoned the rest of the body of a female woman.
Vampires, he thought as he watched them delicately drain the torso and the feet.
"Can you find the rest of it?" one asked him.
He tried, but it seemed that the other hand and the head were not in the area. He felt sick, and swallowed his gorge.
"We'll take you to where you can get back on The Road again. It will be a few days before the next Opening," one said. "But first, the gold needs to be melted, so it's not identifiable." The ring and other items, including the body parts, were put on a flat piece of cement where Richard quickly took care of the task.
"How do you know about Olivanders?" Richard asked.
The two looked at each other, and smiled. "We've been around for a long time. We know about other universes, and we've even been to yours."
"Speaking of which, you wouldn't happen to know of a wizard named Tom Riddle? Last we met, he had a pet snake."