OBE: The Retrocognitions

By
Preface


I bolted. It was all I could do to keep from dying. I couldn’t scream, for it was trapped in my throat and I was already paralyzed with fear. I dropped what was in my hands and sprinted in the opposite direction, not caring about the yellow stain that now soiled my thin clothes. I could feel the rocks crumbling under my feet as they pounded against the asphalt. A small pebble lay in my path and I tripped over it, stupidly, landing spread-eagled on the ground. I could hear my hunter right behind me. But to my immense shock, it just sniffed me and trotted away, leaving behind a strong smell of hot, sweaty fur. I was too stunned at the moment to be thankful, as I could not believe my luck. My body had landed in an awkward position with the top half of it pouring out over the curb onto the black-topped street, while the other half lay crumpled on the sidewalk. As I waited there for them to come find me, a gleaming green something caught my eye. But I craned my neck to the left only to see that a shiny blue Cadillac Escalade was speeding up the street exactly where my unprotected head lay…




























1. Dream




I woke abruptly. I could dimly make out the vast emptiness and darkness that surrounded my room, but I could care less. As I was breathing heavily, sweat now beading my forehead, I thought about the most recent realistic “dream” I’d had. It had been the third time this week that I’d tried to change it, without any luck. She was gone, gone for good and it was all because of me. Stupid, selfish me, all because I couldn’t listen, because I wouldn’t listen: she was never coming back.
I lay in my bed, crying for the thousandth time, pain ripping at my soul, my entire being encased in a forever dark and gloomy state. Never to ever be completely healed until I figured out a way to bring her back. My soul was broken into so many pieces, that it was hard to put back together again, feeling like no matter how hard I tried, I was always still missing that one little piece of the puzzle. It would never be right again until I found that one little piece to hold everything together, to piece it back up. Without that last little piece, my heart would be…void; it would be nothing. Not human. Not spirit. Nothing. I broke down completely altogether and continued to cry and let my “dream” wash over me, not sure if this time I could ever resurface…
I had just been carrying a large pan of macaroni and cheese while following my brothers to my aunt’s house. My grandmother just had a barbeque the day before and she wanted us to take some leftover food over there.
At the time, the oldest was my brother, Darion, who was nine, followed close behind by me since I was eight. Bringing up the rear was my younger brother Javonne, who was seven. My brother Darion and I were both born in the same year, though he still was quite a few months older than me; ten months to be exact. Darion had large, brown watery eyes. His long nose was slanted at an angle, much too big for his young face. His high cheekbones and pointed chin made his face look slim, as if deprived of hunger for some time. His smooth, dark hair glistened with the beads of sweat that trickled down the sides of his face.
Javonne was exactly the opposite. His eyes were a brilliant shade of green, the contrast between them and his warm brown skin tone was dazzling. His chin was rounded, set with chubby cheeks and a slightly hard jaw line. His long black hair fell just past his shoulders in braids, snaking against his neck with every turn of his head. He was barely tall enough to pass for five, let alone seven.
As for me, I looked pretty much the same as Javonne, (or rather he the same as me, considering the fact that I was born first) like we were fraternal twins. I had the exact same almond-shaped green eyes, this time contrasted with a lighter caramel color. My long dark lashes brushed against my high cheekbones, the only sibling trait that I’d inherited from Darion. My cheeks were flat, and had none of the chubbiness that Javonne’s had, though my chin was just as smooth and rounded as his.
Out of my siblings I was the lightest colored, but we were all almost of the same heritage: African-American with the exception of my brother Javonne and I who were both part Cherokee. “Indian” as most people would call it, but that fact didn’t help much against the other fact that the sun was still blazing overhead. It was an extremely hot day, even for Sebring, Florida. We walked barefoot across the black-topped streets, so our feet burned fiercely as we darted towards cool shade.

My brothers had gone ahead a little before me, eager to get there and back. So when the dog had sailed clear over the fence, no one saw it except for me. I threw the pan of macaroni to the ground, spinning as I did, somehow managing to get some of the cheese on my dark blue tank top. The cheese burned on the exposed part of my leg that my shorts didn’t cover, and I flung my hand instantaneously to my leg, scraping the cheese off, almost without thinking. With the combined heat of both the macaroni and the sun, the cheese burned and scolded my skin through my shirt.
The big, two-story house where the dog lived was just as frightening as he was: the dead, brown weeds crawling up the sides of the house made it look almost haunted. So haunted, in fact, that I barely noticed the other houses beside it as something gleamed against my face, momentarily blinding and sending me sprawling over a feeble pebble that sat cluttered, broken into grainy bits on the sidewalk. The broken windows and faded, golden paint didn’t help much to make the house look much more welcoming either. It was intimidating to walk by, and every time I did I would get the strangest feeling I was being watched…

It felt as if I had flown through the air when my chin abruptly jutted against the hard surface of gravel that was so hot, you could literally fry an egg on. An immediate warm, bitter sensation filled my mouth and I knew that I was bleeding. The impulse reaction to cry threatened to build up on me, but I held it in, for it was nothing compared to the impending doom that faced me now. I was too frightened to even turn around to see if I was going to be mauled to death or even worse—to end up as the pet’s chew toy, the thing of play with his other little doggy friends, sorting out the tiny pieces of my fragile little bones evenly amongst the canines. Of course he was anything but little, but he didn’t attack; he simply sniffed me and trotted away. And there I lay, dumbfounded, in a complete stupor as to what had happened. Once again the shiny glare hit me full in the face and I turned to the left to see what it was, struggling to lift my face up from the scorching heat. A Cadillac was zooming up towards me, and this time I did scream, and cried, and bawled until I felt soft, gentle hands scooping me up and placing me somewhere reasonably air-conditioned.

I looked away from the inside of my scratched, bleeding palms to see that my stepmother was looking at me in a most ashamed way, her eyes urgent as if she’d done something wrong. I blinked and glanced around. I was in the Cadillac that almost ran me over. Ashley must have picked me up without my complete awareness and I must have been sitting in there crying for who knows how long.

I was suddenly hyper aware of a fierce burning on my knee and I looked down to see what it was. My stomach gave a sickening flip. A wide scrape was visible on my leg, pink from the rawness of it. Fresh blood oozed down my leg, tickling the hairs there. My knees were bended from sitting in the passenger’s seat, so I tried to straighten my leg out. That was a mistake.

“Ah!” I gasped, as the pain struck quickly. I groaned in pain as Ashley dug through her glove compartment, pulling out some folded restaurant napkins and a jumbo band-aid, her face sickly pale.

“Melani are you okay? I am so sorry, sweetie, are you all right? I’m sorry!” She slowly wiped the blood off my leg, wiping from under the scar first. The blood had trickled all the way down to my calf then, but she quickly wiped that up too.
“I’m so sorry, Melani,” she whispered again. I was too much in pain to mutter any kind of gratitude. She dabbed at the open wound, afraid to cause me further pain. She then ripped off the paper from the band-aid and with deliberate slowness, put it on my knee.
“Are you okay Melani?” she repeated again. And without waiting for a response she grabbed me and sheltered me in an inescapable embrace. I let her hug me, relieved to be free of the danger that had been imposed on me, until I glanced up and saw my two brothers and aunt come bursting out of her house on top of the hill where she lived, the noise of the slamming door awakening me from my stream of fits.
My brothers were in back of her, several feet behind and the closer she ran toward us, the more clearly I saw her face. It was contorted with fury, with rage, a sight that sent a quiver of fear up and down my spine, something telling me that I was in trouble. But I wasn’t the one she was angry at, no; I saw my brothers behind her now wiping their tear-streaked faces, mouths in full, angry pout-mode. I involuntarily smirked, enjoying the feeling that they were in trouble and I wasn’t. So I decided to play it up.

“Melani, what happened?” my aunt screamed, unnecessarily, as she was already standing outside the opened car door. Her dark brown skin glistened in the heat, her square jaw set. I shook my head and buried my face in my hands, trying to hide the smirk (that was more of a grimace, as the pain from my knee throbbed suddenly) forming on my face, as I sobbed my fakest tears.

“T-they l-left m-m-me!” I wailed. I knew I was laying it on pretty thick but I had no doubt in my mind that it would work. I was the only girl, and I usually got my way like that, though I was pretty much a tomboy. I was pleased to note that my little shoulders slumped up and down with each word that came out of my mouth, making the effect of me struggling to speak clearly that much more realistic. I paused to see if it worked. It did. She yanked me by my arm, very nearly dislocating it in the process and dragged me out of the car, cradling me in her arms. Her white shirt was cold and felt good against my hot cheek. Ashley, meanwhile, sat in the car saying nothing. For the better I assumed.

“It’s okay, they got what they deserved. Shhh, it is okay honey, don’t cry!
It’s okay,” she reassured me. A feeling of great shame and love washed over me, to realize that she actually cared about me, that anyone could truly care about me. After what happened with my uncle…I shuddered, shook my head, and whimpered. I would not think about that…

“I know, baby,” my aunt said, misinterpreting my sudden response. “It’s okay; we’re going to get that man too, for having his dog unchained like that.” She turned her back on Ashley as if she wasn’t there, and started strolling towards her house. “You two, c’mon!” she bellowed, yelling at my brothers. They followed her without delay.
She walked to the house, still cradling me, never forgetting to throw in the words of comfort, letting me know it was going to be all right; oh did I feel sick. I felt so ashamed of myself, after playing my brothers up like that. I turned my head slightly to meet their gaze to see if they were looking at me. They were, and I received a shock. Instead of looking angry, and upset about getting in trouble, they had intense looks of great regret on their faces, making me feel even more awful. I opened my mouth to whisper to them that I was fine and nothing had happened, when the glare hit me in the face for a third time.

I squinted, blinded by the power of it, annoyed that whoever was playing this joke on me was really the one who caused me to fall flat on my face, was really the one to cause me pain, and was really the one who caused me to cause my family pain. I fought to keep my eyes open against the glare that bled green through my closed eyelids. It seemed strange enough that my brothers didn’t notice it, which raised my suspicions higher as them being the culprits. I’m sure they should have seen it on my face, so why weren’t they saying anything?

“What’s wrong, Melani? Does it still hurt?” Javonne asked me, voice full of concern, and I had to admit that for a second, I was disappointed. I expected him to shout “Hey, you! Stop flashing that green light, can’t you see my sister is in pain?” though of course, that’s far from what happened.

“No,” I lied, “but somebody keeps shining something in my face. Who keeps doing it?” I asked them. My two brothers looked at each other and then back at me. I didn’t miss that something passed between their eyes thinking, possibly, that the heat got to my head.

“Who keeps doing it?” I repeated. “You keep doing it, Vonne?”

“No, I didn’t do nothing!” he yelled, a little overly-defensive.

“Me either,” said Darion. “I don’t know what you talking about…” I gaped at them. We were almost to the house and I could hear my aunt huffing and puffing her way up the rest of the hill, long ago giving up the condolences and instead focusing on not breaking a hip or rolling backwards down the hill. She seemed completely unaware that a conversation was going on behind her back.

“Yes, you do!” I accused. “I’m not stupid! Ya’ll keep on doing that and it’s not funny!” We were on the porch and my aunt set me down with trembling arms.

“Stay outside, and don’t go no where,” she said breathlessly. We nodded and continued our conversation as she went into the air-conditioned house. I flopped down in one of the plastic violet-colored chairs on the wooden deck and gazed into the clear, open blue sky, fuming. I knew it was one of them and they were either going to admit it, or I was going to have to reserve to the football terms of getting them to talk: by tackling.

“One of ya’ll did it,” I continued.

“No we didn’t!” they said in unison. “We don’t even know what you talking about.”

“Stop lying!” I screamed loudly, and my aunt yelled from inside the house. In that short moment of silence I could hear a jingle about Ryan and Bobby’s Purr-ific Cat Bites, floating from out the open door.

“Stop lying,” I repeated, even more quietly.

“I’m not lying, I didn’t do nothing!” Javonne yelled. Hot tears welled up in my eyes and instantly brimmed over. My voice was barley audible. I was so angry I could barely speak.

“You did it,” I sniffed, trying to get the words out before I went into a total meltdown. “I know you did.” I wiped my eyes miserably with the back of my hand.

“Lani, we didn’t do nothing,” Darion whispered to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. I winced and shrugged it off.

“Don’t cry Lani,” Javonne said, “please don’t cry.”

“Well who keeps doing it, then?” I could feel the veins in my neck threatening to burst. But it hit me just then, because it couldn’t be them. The first glare hit me when they were already up the hill almost to the house, which caused me to fall. The second time was when I was lying on the street, and the last happened just recently. But I glanced at them casually, seeing no sign of them carrying anything reflecting a green light. I had my arms folded across my chest, the cheese stain slimy and wet.

“What?” they said.

“You didn’t do it,” I replied reluctantly.

“Told you!” Javonne said triumphantly, pointing a stubbly little finger in my face. “We told you we didn’t do it! Who did it then?” he asked with confusion. And just as I was about to tell them I didn’t know, I felt something excruciatingly painful. It happened so quickly, so unexpectedly, that I wasn’t sure if I hadn’t received a blow to the chest by Darion, angry at me for having been wrongly accused. But the pain wasn’t physical and it didn’t come from the outside of my body either. It was a familiar pain, one that I’ve felt before but had no reason to feel now. It felt as if my soul had been ripped in two, but I had absolutely no reason to feel that now, so what was going on?

“Lani?” one of my brothers whispered, “Lani?” he said more urgently. “What’s wrong with her?”

“I don’t know!” the other whispered, more loudly. “Should we go tell Auntie May?”

“No, we will get in trouble! Lani? Lani!” I felt myself fall backwards onto the deck, cracking my head against it, but feeling no pain; just a great big whoosh! of air blowing my hair slightly around my face. It was the most peculiar sensation. It felt as if there was another person inside of me, or as if there were a ghost. It chilled the outside of my skin, giving me goose bumps. I felt myself, or what I thought was myself, being lifted out of my body into the air as if hooked onto an invisible cord. It tickled my stomach; the same feeling you get when going upside down on a roller coaster. Then I dropped back in and a scene immediately filled my eyes, as though a movie had been put on pause and had been unexpectedly restarted.

A little girl walked around a deserted hotel. The tan walls and carpeted blue floors shined eerily against the pale yellow glow coming from the few lights above. They were at least twelve feet apart and though there were many of them, over two-thirds were blown out. My first thought was that it had to be nighttime right now, or else the hallway wouldn’t be so empty and deprived of light. Bugs zoomed animatedly around the lights that were glowing, gently clinking against the glass bowls the lights were covered in somehow making the noise sound even scarier in the night. Every few seconds one of them would zoom with enough force to send it flying off course, and then coming back again for another round, madly crashing into another bug. With a final buzz, one fell dead to the ground, hard and flightless.

The little girl had her hair in brown pigtails and was wearing blue and white pajamas with yellow star imprints on them. She was carrying a blue dog with one of the ears missing so that the white stuffing came spilling out. She turned around and my stomach gave a lurch…the little girl was me! It should have been obvious now that I realized; if only I’d looked around recognized the place where I was! She was in no way headed for a good time, an evening full of blissful fun, like she had been promised. She believed she was headed to a tea party, and I didn’t feel bad at all putting a squash right there in her little dreams. If I continued to let this go on any further, she probably wouldn’t live to want to see a tea party anymore. ‘This is it!’ I said to myself. ‘This is where it happened!’ It had to be at most two years from this point. I all too late recognized my clumsy walk, strangely bow-legged from the result of the bike accident that happened a little over two weeks ago. Her little finger was in her mouth, the sign of frightened curiosity. All around her—me—were doors, all the same dark shade of blue. She knocked on number 41, whose door stood slightly ajar.

“Grandma?” the other me whispered. “Are you in here Grandma?” She pushed the door open, uncertain, with her fingers in her mouth. “Grandma?” she repeated.

A rustle sounded behind me and she screamed. But then, with a sigh of relief, the other me just realized it was my uncle James. The real me, the disembodied me, screamed in protest, though the little girl did not flinch or gasp or turn around. She acted as though she had not heard me and embraced him in a running hug. I was floating some twenty feet away, staring incredulously at the man. His long, dark arms closed over the small back of hers. He was long and gangly measuring in an alarming six feet two inches. He had to squat down on the ground in order to reach her height, and even then she only came up to his knees.

“No!” I objected. “Go away from him, he will hurt you!” There must be some way I could interfere to make what was going to happen not happen. And as I thought that, the space where I was floating in between doors 30 and 32 seemed to glow bright green and I solidified and dropped to the floor with a silent thud. My knees buckled, and with a quick glance up saw that my uncle and I had just entered the room. I quickly stood up and ran at the door just as he was closing it, and then without warning he turned around. He would have seen me if I hadn’t darted around the corner, only remembering just a second before that he was supposed to do that, though I was almost sure he’d seen my foot.

“I’ll be right back, Lani, don’t go any where,” he assured me.

“Okay,” I answered back, clueless as to what was coming. As my uncle strutted down the hall, I sighed with silent relief that he didn’t turn the corner, knowing that even as dark as it was, he would have run into me. I waited, to be sure he wouldn’t suddenly come back, and I rapped on the door he’d closed.

“Who is it?” I heard my soft voice cry.

“It’s me, Vonne,” I told myself impatiently, saying the first name that popped into my head.

“Vonne?” she scoffed. ”You sound like a girl!” But I heard the door creaking and I knew she was getting ready to open it. When she did open the door, she stared at me. As urgent as it was to get her as far away from here as possible, I couldn’t help but stare curiously back at her. I was looking at myself. Sure she was a couple years younger, but it was definitely me. Like a twin, or a clone or something. She stood with her mouth slightly open, just like me, an exact mirror image of me, and then she screamed. It only lasted a fraction of a second, as I clamped my small hand over her wide mouth. Her green eyes, I saw, were wide with fear. I put my index finger to my mouth and pushed the mirror me inside.

“Cool!” she chuckled, breaking into a smile. “I got a twin? I always wanted one of you! C’mere,” she whispered and grabbed my arm and pulled me further in. I closed and locked the door immediately. I had to stand on my tip-toes to do so. The room was pitch-black and I stumbled over something hard. A light flickered on and I saw her standing on the other side of the room by a draw-up bed, her hand at the light switch. There was barely anything in the room except the thousands of toys that seemed to litter the floor. The bed was untidy, as if someone had just clambered out of it and the walls and floor were the exact same color as they were on the outside of the door. There wasn’t even a TV or windows. Some hotel.

“So,” she began after a short pause, still holding the worn dog, “who are you?”

“I’m you,” I grunted, for I had stubbed my toe on what I now saw was a plastic Easy-Bake Oven. Some brown crust fell off as I angrily kicked it over. “But I don’t know what happened to me. I think I am from the future or something…”

“So, you’re not my twin?” she asked slowly, and I could hear the disappointment heavily saturated in her voice.

“Um, well I don’t know. I don’t think I got a twin…” I scratched my head, confused. Then, the urgency of the situation hit home. “We got to leave!” I tried to whisper and sound urgent at the same time but my voice cracked, terrified at what I knew was coming. She walked over to me, sat on the floor and crossed her legs.

“Why?” She gazed up at me in admiration as if I were some answer to one of her long-lost dreams.

“Because, we just have to,” I snapped. She flinched back from the anger in my voice.

“You’re not very nice,” she said simply. “My grandma told me not to talk to strangers or mean people.”

“I’m not a stranger,” I said coldly. “I’m you!” She pursed her lips, considering this.

“Well, okay!” She pointed at the sideways Easy-Bake that I’d kicked over. “Do you want to make a cake with me? I don’t have anybody to play with because I only got brothers.” She sighed in unmistakable frustration.

“No, I don’t want to make a cake! We got to leave!”

“Why?” she said stubbornly. “Why do I got to listen to you? You’re not the boss of me!” We were practically shouting now.

“Because, we are going to—“ And what we were going to she never found out, because at that moment there was a loud knock on the door. The sound was like an echo to me, repeatedly thumping in the dead of the night. The muscles in my stomach clenched tight in fear.

“Lani? Who is that with you in there? Unlock the door!” The deep voice that came from behind the closed door chilled my bones and momentarily froze me where I stood. It was my uncle James coming back from his unknown destination at last.

“Great,” I whispered angrily at her, “he’s here!” She looked at me, confused for a moment.

“Why are you trying to run from my uncle?”

“Because he’s going to hurt you!” I said nervously. He banged on the door again.

“Who are you talking to? Lani, open this door right now!” He started slamming against the door and it shook under his weight, dust particles spiraling in the air. I wondered why no one had come running. Surely with all the noise he was making, he would haven woken someone. Then the phrase creepy and deserted floated into my mind. I jumped and stared at the door, horrified as he thrust against it again. I turned quickly back to myself.

“Please,” I begged.

“It’s too late now, he’s knows I’m in here.” I was so irritated that I wanted to slap her but I told myself to think of the damage that may inflict upon me. I looked desperately around the room and saw a black door. I bolted to it and turned the knob. It was unlocked! I let go of the handle and turned back to myself. She was at the other door, foolishly unlocking it. I bounded over to where she was as quickly as my short legs would carry me, ripping her hand away from the lock, all the anger portrayed in my eyes.
I shook my head violently, my finger to my lips. My uncle heard the lock click and from the sound of it, was hastily putting in the keycard.

We ran over to the other unlocked door and I wretched it open, almost slamming it into the wall in my haste. As quickly and as silently as I could, I closed the door back and locked it from the side we were in. This room was also pitch-black but deserted. Apparently no one had checked in this room. Together, me and the mirror me pressed our ears to the door and listened.

“Lani, stop playing around! Stop hiding and come out here right now!” he growled. I smirked, exceptionally pleased with myself until I remembered why we had to run so quickly in the first place. Though it was very weird to look into the eyes of myself—no matter what age—and call me by my own name, I showed no signs of weakness

“Look Lani,” I sneered. “I am older than you even though we are the same, but I know what I am doing so stop not listening to me!” It was so frustrating having to do this, to follow her around making sure she did as I told her to. But I could also see why she wouldn’t trust me. Firstly, how could she just take so easily to some ghostly figure from the future having no idea what was going on? For all she knew I could be an imposter, but her foolish childish brain refused to think of anything except candy and little girly tea parties. Secondly, I didn’t have the faintest idea of what I was doing, and I was surprised that I could lie so quickly about it, though I had always been known to be a great liar.

“I don’t even know you!” she countered, confirming my theory, but said no more because by this point, her excuses were pretty pathetic. Holding fast to the back of my shirt, the mirror Lani and I tip-toed through the dark room, and I groped in the darkness for the knob. I found it eventually, and light immediately filled the room when I opened the door. I stuck my head out and took a swift peek to see if he was out there. I turned my head in both directions. The mirror Lani violently pushed me, and I would haven fallen out onto the floor if I hadn’t been hanging onto the door frame. I glared at her and she smiled sheepishly.


Through the door we ran, away from him, all the way to the front counter. No one was there. ‘What kind of hotel is this?’ I thought angrily to myself. I spun around to face her.

“What time is it?” I blurted out, a little too loudly, some of my irritation leaking through my words.

“Hmmm, let me see,” she said sarcastically checking an invisible watch on her wrist. Her sarcasm was stifled quite a bit by the running we’d just done, so her words came out in ragged gasps with her panting in between every two words or so. “It is eleven minutes after I-don’t-know!” There was a clock on the wall above our heads, but I hadn’t learned how to tell time yet. I folded my arms across my chest, fuming. I absently looked over to Mirror Lani’s room, now thirty feet behind us. She was facing the other direction trying to figure out the time on the clock, when I suddenly froze, quite unable to move, unable to speak. My hands stayed folded across my chest, heavy like lead, completely useless. I couldn’t even blink. My mind was dazed, blank, and fuzzy.

Mirror Lani turned back to me and I realized at once that I wasn’t breathing. I took a huge, shaky breath, though it sounded more like gurgling as I, too, was already gasping hard.

“What’s wrong?” she demanded. I didn’t answer. She followed my gaze and saw, very clearly, what was wrong. Our uncle was standing outside the previous room we had just vacated, the door wide open, and staring intently at us. I heard Mirror Lani’s intake of breath as well. He continued to stare at us, oddly, and then ran at us suddenly. We screamed twin screams. I could hear the huffing of his breath from that far back as he ran toward us.

“What are we going to do?” Mirror Lani screamed, not bothering to whisper. What was the point?

“Run!” I bellowed. We took off, though as soon as I said the word, I knew it would be pointless. He may have been less than twenty-five feet behind us now but he was still faster and older and could catch up to us in no time. Even though I was a little older than Mirror Lani and probably faster, I knew I wouldn’t get too much farther than she would, and I couldn’t just leave her, unsafe. After all, she was still me and we weren’t exactly track stars.

“Lani,” I yelled at her as we were running, “whatever you do, don’t let him get you!”
We turned a corner and I almost ran into a wall, towards an elevator. “Okay?”

“But we will stay by each other won’t we?” she called desperately.

I didn’t answer her; I didn’t know how. I found myself thinking the same thing. Would we stay by each other? Would we ever see each other again? I didn’t know how to answer that. Just then I heard a roar from behind us. I craned my neck and looked around. I screamed, for he was less than fifteen feet away from us, his arms outstretching. His eyes were so full of anger and so demonic that it made me even more scared. The elevator doors opened and I screamed one last time to Lani, whipping my head back to face her.

“Don’t let him get you!” With all my might, I pushed her into the open doors into the arms of a bewildered old man, slightly falling off-balance myself. “Don’t let him get her,” I cried out and then abruptly turned right. I could only hope he understood my warning quick enough. His light grey eyes widened behind his glasses as he pushed the elevator buttons quickly, glancing at my uncle. Seeing that Mirror Lani had escaped, my uncle herded towards me. He had just run into the elevator, getting there seconds too late as the doors slammed in his determined face. His eyes flickered to me, and I gasped, as I cowered into a wall. I backed up slowly until I felt my hands hit something hard and cool. I glanced down. It was a laundry chute. I dived headfirst through it, not bothering to look back.

It was definitely a tight fit, and the sides of the chute pressed against my shoulders, squeezing me.

“Ahhh!” I screamed, as the chute-slide came to an end. I flipped head-over-heels into a large white cloth-like laundry basket. There were clothes and towels in it, which broke my fall, though it certainly didn’t improve the smell. I picked a pair of large men’s underwear off my head with my pointer finger and thumb and flung it, disgusted. Then I looked up into the bewildered eyes of a kindly woman, and I smiled shyly.

“No rats in the chute; tell the boss I checked,” I told her. She stared incredulously at me. I started to climb out of the basket.

“A little help?” I asked her hopefully. She turned away from me, shaking her head, muttering something about out-of-control kids. I helped myself out of the clothes basket and looked up to where my perilous journey had taken me. The chute was boxed, silver, and to my surprise, very short. It had felt like I had been falling forever, banging my head on every piece of cold metal in it, though it probably only felt that way because of the certain turn of events that led me here in the first place. I was surprised that it didn’t break open as cheap and as dirty as the hotel already was. The loose silver bolts caught against my clothes, tearing them.

‘I can suffer from no more damage today, can I?’ I rhetorically asked myself, looking at the thin, bloody scratches on my arms. Oh, how very wrong I was.





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