Author: Darkestblue PM
Ashlin fell asleep in her small apartment, but that isn't where she woke up. Now she is trapped with five other people, in a house that seems to hold everything they could ever need. But is this too good to be true, and what would staying mean for her and the others?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Mystery - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,310 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 01-16-13 - Published: 01-15-13 - id: 3092382
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Brady hadn't exactly intended to reach out and take Ashlin's hand. But before he could really decide to he found himself doing it, and when she didn't pull away from him he felt relief. It had been so empty and quiet when he had been searching the halls.
He had begun to feel a heartbreaking sense of loneliness, which was ridiculous because he spent most of his time alone. He had always preferred books and quiet to parties and that sort of thing. It had landed him a good job, and a small but comfortable home of his own.
But his social life had taken a blow that never really seemed to recover.
He had friends, though he still spent most nights on his couch reading. He had even managed a few girlfriends who had played minor roles in his life. He didn't like to dwell on how much of the relationships were falling apart could be placed on him, but he imagined it was most of it.
He wasn't a natural when it came to affection, or good at remembering the details. Mostly, his girlfriends just said he wasn't present. And he knew that it was true, in every case. He usually had a book in front of his face, living the lives of someone way more amazing then the loner that he was.
They didn't understand why he would choose that over reality, they couldn't see how much he hated to just be ordinary. But he could, he understood, and he had accepted the cost.
But from the moment he had seen Ashlin, he felt drawn to her. And the boy who wasn't good at affection was holding the hand of a beautiful girl without too much trouble.
He looked at the screen and it still said WELCOME. The word hung there, and it was making his stomach start to ache in a familiar way. He closed his eyes briefly and took in a couple deep breaths. He had been a worrier and an over thinker for a long as he had been able to process ideas.
He had been told this by countless therapists over the years, and the most recent one had suggested this exercise. Each one had a new idea, a way that his life would improve in great leaps. He thought that if any of them were ever right, he might not need to ever find another. But it was always a few months before he tired of just being him still, and sought out someone else. If he could say nothing else for himself, he did manage to cling to hope.
The pain eased slightly and he drew his eyes back open. Luke hopped over the back of the couch and settled into the corner in a way that made Brady uneasy. He didn't want to treat it like a home, because he realized that it seemed very much like they were supposed to do just that. He didn't like the idea of playing into this hand, at least not until he understood the game a little better.
After another moment, Luke made his way around and sat on another couch, but he wasn't comfortable. He sat on the edge, his shoulder tense.
But Brady stood where he was, unwilling, and possibly unable to get his feet to move.
Kadence and Rose were still standing as well, looking mostly at the screen, though he did catch Kadence glancing at their joined hands from time to time. She looked jealous, though he couldn't begin to dream of why. He wasn't the most attractive person in the room, and he would think, that his awkwardness was radiating from him in the normal way.
He often repelled girls, and Ashlin tolerating him was already more than he could hope for. And if Kadence really did think this was an appropriate time for flirting, Brady imagined that either of the other two men in the room would be much more receptive. He imagined that Luke would be very happy if she started flirting, and he almost opened his mouth to tell her so. Fortunately he remembered that wasn't a good idea, and bit his lip instead.
Finally the word disappeared, leaving a black screen. He wanted more words, even as he feared them. At least it would be something. This waiting was making him nervous, and he was worried that Ashlin would eventually move away from his sweaty palm. He didn't think he wanted to face this alone.
Brady didn't like new either, and this was very new. It was strange, and he was glad for someone else to be feeling the same way. 'I'm okay right now, I'm safe right now', he repeated mentally over and over. It was a leftover trick from his previous therapist. It seemed to help, even if minimally. Maybe he should share it with Ashlin, maybe it would help her feel better.
He glanced over at her. Her hair was a dirty blond, and hung to her shoulder in loose curls. The side closest to him was tucked behind her ear and it looked like she was biting her cheek. He smiled faintly, before forcing himself to drop it. He didn't want her to think he was the weirdo in this situation. He couldn't see her eyes now, but he remembered them clearly. They were a deep, speckled green and they were so beautiful he really wanted her to glance over at him.
But he didn't say, and she didn't look.
It was another couple of minutes before Kadence and Rose sat down on the couch, but he and Ashlin stood still. He wondered if he was keeping her up, when she wanted to sit, but he couldn't manage to ask. She didn't make any move to leave, so he wasn't going to encourage her to do so.
Then there were words again: WE OFFER A CHOICE
A choice? His stomach ached anew, and he didn't think any amount of breathing was going to ease it this time. For a moment his mind when to wild places, and the plots to bad horror movies a over thinker like him never should have watched.
Was that choice going to be who they had to kill of first? He didn't want to be a coward, but if it came to that he might be better off volunteering for being the first. He didn't think that he could kill anyone, especially not the woman's hand he was holding. He wasn't the type to hurt, or even really save. He just was, he just existed. He couldn't say that he made the world a better place, but he didn't make it worse.
But he realized he wasn't being rational. Why a stocked kitchen, and a pool, and a fence, if they were simply going to kill each other of. It didn't make sense. He continued to stare at the screen, waiting and waiting. It felt like it had been hours, but he knew that only a couple of minutes had passed.
He wondered who 'we' were and if they thought the drama created by the pause was really necessary. He was already worried enough, and Ashlin was likely to bite a hole through her cheek if she kept up the biting. It was cute, he had to admit. The way she was concentrating, but he did worry for her poor cheek. And would he be without worry?
Finally another word: STAY?
And then the screen went black. He stared at it, blinking several times before he finally decided that it wasn't about to offer any other words.
Stay? Or…leave? Die? The very unlikely: Win a million dollars.
But that was it. Just a black screen and then it clicked off all together. He wondered if this was going to be a frequent thing, these messages from the unseen.
"What the hell?" Kadence said, looking back at them.
Her blue eyes lingered on him, and he swallowed hard.
He shrugged because what else could he do. It wasn't as if he had any magical insight. He was just as lost as the others were, though he wished that he wasn't/ His stomach growled, and he wondered when the last time he ate was.
Not last night for sure. He had hurried home, and picked up the newest installment of his favorite of a science fiction series. The books were about a war that took place in the present and a man from the future that had to help it to be won, or he lost everything in the future. They were brilliant, but he hadn't managed to finish last night.
He had dragged himself to bed, and fallen asleep before he could even think of changing.
"I'm hungry," he said, and let go of Ashlins hand.
He started walking towards the kitchen, and heard movement behind him.
"How can you think of eating at a time like this?" Kadence asked.
He shrugged. If the food was poisoned then at least he wouldn't die hungry. But he didn't think it was. He might not understand, but he thought they were safe. At least as long as they made no attempt to escape. Right now, all he wanted was food.
Ashlin opened the refrigerator and the others started digging out food. Soon they were all cooking and talking. David was from Louisiana, Luke from California. Ashlin was from Missouri, as was Rose. Kadence was from Rhode Island.
He tried to find something that they had in common but he couldn't. They didn't know the same people, all had different jobs. He didn't know what the tie was, what the unifying factor was that made them be selected for this. Whatever this happened to be.
They sat at the table, and he learned more about each of them, as he ate and drank. The food was good, fresh and warm. He didn't know how much sleep he had actually gotten the night before but he felt very tired right now.
The others too were blinking slow and leaning slightly.
"I'm going to bed," David said, rising and leaving his dish where it was.
He shuffled from the room, and soon the others were following. He left Ashlin at her door with a sleepy smile and opened his again. The bed was there, the lamp still on. He had no idea why he wasn't more panicky right now, but he wasn't.
The closed door turned out to be a bathroom, and he relieved his full bladder before falling into bed. He closed his eyes, and found himself already drifting away. He knew part of him should be worried there was something in the food causing such a unified reaction, but he wasn't.
He was asleep, before the covers could be pulled up.