Fractured Reality

A loud crash echoed through the parlor, resounding off the plastered walls and wooden staircase. Jacob Caine took a step back in an attempt to avoid the flying pieces of shattered glass and crystal, but failed horribly. Small incisions covered his bare arms and a chunk of glass wedged itself into his left thigh.

“Fifth one this week,” the elderly housewife said. Above her head, a vast array of chandeliers and yellow tinted lights hung from the ceiling, swaying to-and-fro at the slightest degree. “This is the problem with trying to live so high above ground. Drafts can sweep a whole house barren.”

For the time being, Jacob ignored the painful wounds on his body and instead chose to focus on the front door. It stood tall with a large, brass handle. The deep brown hue drained all color from the surrounding walls; it stood in heavy contrast with the other doors of the house, in size and color.

Though the beauty of the door was in a state to be admired, Jacob’s pupils locked in on the see-through stained glass pane, seated about eye level on the entranceway. Outside, white clouds glided through the sky at a slow pace. While the woman of the house begged Jacob to clean up his cuts and take a seat in the sitting room, a sense of curiosity urged the young man to step toward the door.

His breath escaped him as he neared the doorway. Within reach sat what appeared to be the brink of the earth. Ground simply disappeared, only to be replaced by boundless air. Jacob dared to look over the edge, at which point a sense of vertigo brought him to his knees.

“This can’t be the edge of the world,” Jacob whispered, mainly to assure himself that everything would be fine.

“Are you okay?” came a soft, feminine voice. “You don’t look so good. Oh, dear! It can’t be the blood loss... can it?”

I wish it were the blood loss, Jacob thought. That would make things simple.

“Oh, child,” said the old woman, as if in response to his thoughts. “You look as though you’ve never seen a floating house!” And thus Jacob’s greatest fears were realized.

As the clouds continued circling the old victorian home, the boy focused on the ground beneath him. The growing wind whipped him in the face as he struggled to concentrate. Streaks of green and brown covered the landscape below, forming circles of color and texture.

A growing sense of dread coupled with nausea wracked his insides, twisting and turning and squeezing. The pure white clouds slowly sped up, flying faster and faster around the floating edifice.

It’s not the clouds that are moving, Jacob thought. I am.

The house’s menacing mid-air spin strengthened as Jacob dashed back towards the staircase. He grabbed at the polished railing as unseen forces tried to undo his grip.

Chandelier after chandelier began to fall, crashing to the floor beneath, spreading a magnitude of fragments.

“Six, seven, eight,” said the housewife. Her face contorted as her lips shaped into a frown.

Just before Jacob’s legs were pulled out from under him, the portraits on the walls began dropping off. They slid across the flooring and collided with the outside wall, by the front door.

“My beautiful artwork!” the woman screamed, rushing forward. While she ran, her feet came out from under her and she found herself airborne. The next moment she was gone, whisked out of the front door and sent into freefall.

Jacob screamed with every ounce of strength he still retained. He was now parallel to the ground. The foundations of the building began ripping apart as he closed his eyes, tears beginning to stream down his face.

***

Pure silence. Jacob gasped as he jumped out of bed, flailing hysterically. He was fine. It was only a horrifying dream.

Jacob tried to forget the nightmare. His morning routine continued like normal, aside from the lingering thoughts of flying houses. Jacob hopped downstairs, helped himself to breakfast and watched television in the living room. It was true he was shaken up, but at least he was home. His mother’s shout from the other room only helped confirm that.

“Get the door!” she yelled.

“What?” Jacob asked as the doorbell rang a second time. He jumped up from his spot on the couch and made his way to the foyer.

As Jacob opened the door, his heart nearly stopped dead in his chest.

“Hello, young man,” said the frail, aging woman at his doorstep. “I just moved in across the street and was wondering if you’d help me hang some lights.”





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