Elaine was lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. Why? She hadn't fallen there, nor had she been pushed, despite the bruise on her cheek that would seem to indicate otherwise.
When she thought about it, she didn't know why she was lying there either. It had seemed like something to do, when she got into her room and saw the floor there, looking so smooth and inviting. In a way, it was nicer than lying on her bed, because the floor was so hard and cool underneath her. It was real, and the pain in her shoulders was real., and it kept her anchored in reality.
She needed to think. She needed to stop thinking. She didn't know what to do anymore, because nothing made sense, except the feel of wood under her back. She reviewed her situation in her mind, and tried to force it into some semblance of sanity.
That strange woman had been following her for some time. She had first noticed her on the subway, on her way home from work. Since then she had seen her many times, and she had tried to ignore her. She had hoped maybe the woman would give up and leave her alone; after all she really wasn't someone worth stalking.
Elaine wasn't tall or skinny, or very good looking. She was normal looking, average in every way. Well, most ways. She had purple hair – had been dying her hair purple since the ninth grade. Purple hair wasn't exactly normal.
Then, neither was belonging to another planet.
What had she called it? Nemian. What a strange name.
Someone coughed in the next room.
Elaine gave herself a mental slap for getting distracted. 'Reviewing the situation. Right.'
A week ago the strange woman had finally confronted her. She called herself Tia, and she wasn't alone. She had brought a young man with her. His name was Nate, and he looked to be about the same age as Elaine, and just as uncomfortable. After forcing herself into Elaine's apartment the woman had told Elaine her story.
She came from a world called Nemian, she said, in search of the lost souls of their knight-generals. Elaine was one such knight, according to the woman: the Knight of Truth. Within the next few weeks she would recover the last souls lost to the Earth, she said, and then they would all be leaving Earth for Nemian.
Elaine had stared at the woman for a minute in stunned silence before bursting into a fit of hysterical laughter. It took her a good five minutes to calm down enough to tell the two strangers to get out of her apartment.
They hadn't moved.
Elaine had repeated herself. The woman just shook her head. The man opened his mouth to say something, but he was interrupted by the woman. "I can not leave without the four souls." She had said. Elaine had the feeling that this woman wasn't exactly human.
That was part of the reason she had let them stay with her. In the end though, it had more to do with the fact that she wasn't given a choice, than any rationale of her own.
Elaine pressed a hand to her chest. Supposedly, she had the soul of a knight from another planet, but she couldn't remember a time when she hadn't lived on Earth. She wasn't even sure if she believed in souls, not sure if she believed in a god.
And if she wasn't really born on Earth, wouldn't that mean that her parents weren't really her parents? The thought was too outrageous.
Elaine sighed. 'What will I tell my parents?' she wondered. Last time they had called she hadn't yet met with the crazy woman. If they called again now, what would she tell them? 'I've picked up a couple of new roommates. Well, actually, they picked me up, by which I mean they forced their way into my apartment.'
Someone coughed again in the next room. It was probably Nate. He had the look of someone who was prone to colds, but maybe that was just her imagination.
Nate was the Knight of Death according to Tia. Elaine wondered then if it was a bad thing that she found him good looking. He had tan skin, and long eyelashes, and cheekbones sharp enough to cut. He was also shy, which Elaine was glad for because she had no idea what to say to anyone anymore. When she was at work the other day she had a hard time keeping herself from jumping on a desk and yelling, "I'm crazy! I'm hallucinating! I think there's a strange woman living in my apartment who is going to take me to another world! Lock me up please!"
Elaine grinned a little at the mental image. That would certainly liven up her job at least.
There came a knock at the door. Elaine debated with herself about whether she should get up, and ending up deciding against it.
"Come in." She called.
Nate opened the door and looked down at her, then at the floor beside her. Elaine tried not to smile. He was too cute. "Um… Tia wants to talk to you." He said.
Elaine got up and followed him out into the living room where Tia was waiting.
Elaine felt uneasy every time she looked at Tia. It wasn't just because of the fact that Tia had forced herself on Elaine; it had more to do with how unnatural the woman seemed. All of her movements seemed stiff somehow, and rigid. Her voice didn't sound like a real person's voice either. It always seemed to be coming from somewhere deep inside of her, and that she just opened her mouth to let out the sound.
"I have located the Knight of Pain." Tia announced.
"Sounds real friendly." Elaine muttered. Then she looked at Nate, who was chewing his lip, and staring out the window. 'But then, he is the Knight of Death, and I'm the Knight of Truth.' She thought. 'We don't exactly fit our descriptions.'
Not that she could really be sure. She hardly knew Nate. For all she knew, he could be a serial killer. The quiet ones were always the ones you should be suspicious of…
Something occurred to her. "You're not planning on bringing him here are you?" She asked Tia.
"You can't!" Elaine protested. "There's not even enough room for you two, let alone another. And then you're bringing in a fourth right? My apartment's just not big enough. Unless you're going to announce to me that my apartment is actually bigger than I think it is, and I've been living that lie too."
"No." Elaine glared at Tia, but the woman seemed unperturbed. "I do not need to sleep lying down as you do. There will be room."
"And someone can sleep in the bathroom if they need to!" Elaine yelled in mock excitement. She stared at Tia's smooth white face, the three triangular tattoos on her cheek and fought back another sigh. She didn't have much of a choice, did she? Shaking her head she glanced at Nate. He was still staring out the window. Following his gaze she saw nothing.
"Fine." She said heavily, turning back to Tia. "Are you just going to go out there and find them then?"
"We don't have to go right?" She asked.
"That will not be necessary."
Elaine turned one last time to Nate. He looked away from the window for a second to meet her gaze. He looked so sad, she thought, and then he looked away again.
Elaine went into her room, this time lying down on her bed and trying to sleep.