This was written as a challenge to defeat my writer's block. I'm pretty satisfied with it. I do not own Looking for Group, nor do I own Rick Astley.
Read on. =]
The room was like the nighttime sky. Rich, dark, endless. It was a real room, though, with real walls and a good, solid floor and a high ceiling. A really, really high ceiling. Only, it felt as if the surfaces extended indefinitely, yet somehow blended together in a curve at the vertices. It molded into itself, became a form while it remained shapeless. It felt like floating -- standing on the floor, that is. It was like not being able to see the room, because I really couldn't see it, but I just knew that it was, in fact, a room.
The first time I arrived to this place of illusions, my brain lost all ability to perceive distance, stability, range. I couldn't see, but I just knew. I was a stranger to this place, but I just knew. I had no evidence, only instinct. Only feeling. That first time, I had no idea why I was there, just that I was alone in a place I'd never been in, unable to see or hear or think. I stood without being, walked without moving, ran without stepping, existed without presence.
I don't know how long I waited for a change, for something to happen in this nothingness. So I sat down, silent, trying to judge where I was sitting because it felt like there was no floor beneath me. I just knew it was there. I just knew I was there. Here, I was here, in my own darling Plane of Suck, if you will. Since I couldn't see or hear – and since I was utterly at a loss for methods to escape – I couldn't tell how long I had been seated.
I tried counting sheep, but it was as if they were rejected from my mind. A barrier of sorts. I slowly moved to lie on my side, wary of the ever-present fear that I would fall right through the floor. I could've sworn I'd already fallen asleep, but it wouldn't hurt to try and nap. It would help the time go by. I closed my eyes. I counted numbers. I counted to eleven.
And that was when Tri appeared.
I heard a sort of popping noise that didn't echo like I figured it might. Then there was this strange weight on my hip, light like a piece of fruit might be, but awkward and uncomfortable because I knew it didn't belong. I knew it wasn't natural. I looked through the long hair stubbornly barricading my face, through the strands to peer over my shoulder, and saw – and I kid you not – a Smurf.
Only he had light cream skin like a human's, and was wearing torn pants and a patterned shirt, and had dark brown hair that tied back in a ponytail, and…okay, maybe he wasn't a Smurf, but he was the size of one. Point being, there was a little man, no taller than half a foot, sitting, quite comfortably, on my hip, just chillin', so to speak. I wasn't having any of it.
Now, you know those movies where a woman is sleeping in her bed and a hamster or some sort of rodent crawls under the sheets and starts squeaking in her face? She wakes up, she screams, she throws a fit, the typical Hollywood version of a woman, right? I'd like to say that wasn't me, but that would be lying.
I screamed, I threw a fit, I catapulted my arm out so fast I didn't even know I had done it until it collided with a thwack! into the little bugger. As soon as we made contact, my lips parted in a screech of varying pitches, after which I promptly shook my hand like there was a massive deadly spider on it and wiped it furiously on my jeans. As if its presence remained on my skin and could kill me even though it was already dead in the pitch black darkness around me.
And then everything became white.
I woke up.
The room was dark. The walls and floor and ceiling were invisible to me, but I knew they were there. I knew there was a room around me, but I couldn't see it. I just knew. I took a seat on the floor I feared would break any moment, despite the fact that I'd been here more times than I could remember and it never happened.
I waited for Tri to pop in, but I knew it would take him a while. Once I got to know him, I found that he had some of the worst punctuality problems I'd ever encountered. Usually I would arrive, gain my bearings, pop a squat, and contemplate for several minutes until my presence alerted Tri. Like tripping a wire or something that would set off his "Guardian Alarm" or some dumb thing like that.
Today, however, was different, and I knew it from the moment I woke up. Today would become nothing but trouble for me. So let us start from the beginning, shall we?
I never have nightmares. I don't know why, especially since I dream every night and I remember them. Nightmares seem to evade me - well, except that one time last year - but while I'm not exactly complaining, I just feel awkward waking up without having a nightmare every once in a while. I'm stressed, I have problems, but I don't get nightmares.
So I'm sleeping – correction, trying to sleep – but I kept on waking up, tossing, turning, tangling my limbs into my sheets. It felt as if I woke up every few minutes, salty sweat clinging to my skin. I heard bells chiming, like church bells, even though the church by my house didn't ring the bells at any other time than Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. At some point when the sky was beginning to lighten, I fell asleep for good.
Thick, heavy, concrete slabs of dread filled my stomach, monstrously clawing, dragging, channeling nausea straight to my throat like invisible bile while airways constricted and heartbeats thundered and uncomfortable terror and no oxygen and I jolted awake, gasping for breath. Not a moment later my alarm blared a shrill greeting, but I just stayed in bed. I shook. I'm not sure how long I sat on the mattress, trying to figure out what I had just felt, trembling in a fear that felt so undeniably real but I knew was artificial, my alarm bleeping at me, faster and faster until it was a single screeching cry.
I hadn't dreamt. I hadn't experienced a nightmare. I was at a loss.
When I finally gathered myself, I realized I was going to be late for school. I rushed my morning routine – forgoing a nutritious and delicious breakfast – and raced out the door. Some deity was feeling sorry for me and allowed me that much of a break.
The commute to school was a different story. It seemed pity wanted nothing more than to avoid misery. I felt like I was in one of those cheesy teenage movies, where the main character is late on the first day of school because they missed the cheese bus and they're a mess when they finally get to the first day of tile-floored, chalk-scented hell. Only I'm not the main character of a movie, I don't ride a cheese bus, and this isn't the first day of the school year.
The high school I go is the only one in my town, for starters, so everyone knows everyone's uncle. Catch my drift? It's really a Pre-K through 12 school but it's divided into several buildings – like a college campus – and grades 9 through 12 share one of those buildings.
Most people take a cheese bus to school, but those who don't will bike or walk there. I'm a biker, though not because I like biking, but because I'm so lazy I wouldn't run or exercise in any other way if I took the bus.
So I was biking to school in too-tight-around-the-waist ink-stained jeans and a plain old blue tank top, trying to recall the way to the campus. Eventually I managed to find my way, but locating the bike rack wasn't easy. Naturally, the school had moved it. Once I found it, I walked the fifty steps to the front door, the twenty yards to my home room, and the final ten feet to my desk, where I took a seat in the pastel red chair.
In which I realized I had left all of my books at home.
And it only got worse.
For most of the day, I'd felt jumpy and irritable. Paranoid, even, and if you asked, I wouldn't be able to tell you why. I'm sure the wacky sleep I'd experienced and the way I'd woken up this morning had something to do with it, though.
Which was why I got irritated by Tri being late.
I'm usually annoyed by his tardiness but today's events combined just drove me out of my mind. It felt as if I'd been waiting for hours for the brat to get here, but I wouldn't admit to myself that it had really only been a few minutes. And yes I call him a brat, even though he's older than I am.
Just for the record, Tri's Smurf-size did nothing but oppose his attitude, which was the size of a rhinoceros. He's a lazy little bugger with a deceptively deep voice, kind of like getting Rickrolled and watching Rick Astley – who looks like he's still going through puberty – belt out "Never Gonna Give You Up".
No one sees that voice coming.
Tri finally arrived – ignoring my wishes for him to stay out of my personal space – and took a seat on my knee. If it wasn't my knee, it was my shoulder, but it always reminded me of those deranged Devil-Angel pairs that argue with one another.
"I'm starting to think you've got a crush on me," he teased.
My fingers twitched, ready from habitual reflex to flick him off my knee, but felt it wasn't worth the effort.
"So the most amusing thing happened yesterday," he went off. "This eleven-year-old girl fell asleep last night after counting eleven sheep, and just so happened to be scheduled to have eleven dreams. Talk about repetition!"
That reminds me…
"Have you ever had a stalker before?" I asked, quelling the urge to stand just he would fall off my knee.
He leaned back, using the dip where my thigh and knee met like a hammock, and said, "As surprising as it may seem, no. I haven't. Why?"
I fingered the ear-length strands of my dark brown hair, trying to focus in this place of no consequence. I hated that Tri was so sarcastic and egotistical. It always brought out the worst of me.
"I think I've got one," I finally told him.
Instantly: "Aw, that's almost cute."
It was like he didn't have to think for a moment about comebacks. They just came naturally to him.
"I think I'm serious."
"You think you're serious?" Brat. "Well, I'm being serious. You know, just as serious as my Aunt Opal's heart attack."
The urge to flick him was growing. I twisted my hair faster around my pointer finger. My free hand twitched.
"God rest her psychotic little so-"
"You never had an Aunt Opal, you loon!"
Tri jolted forward, eyes wide as if genuinely offended. My leg twitched.
"I'll have you know I take great offense to that name!"
I scoffed and retorted, "And I'll have you know I take great offense to your height!"
He sucked in a breath between his tiny teeth and flopped back down onto my leg. I was waiting for him to elbow me like the brat he was. Even my toes twitched.
"You're really in a bad mood today."
"You think?" I snapped, and proceeded to jerk my leg once just to jostle him.
He let out a cry of shock which, in turn, startled me, right before he tumbled off my knee. Then the space around me, solid but feeling oh-so-fragile, suddenly shuddered, leaving me grasping at air to steady myself while the ground felt as if it would collapse for real this time. I swear, for a second that seemed to stretch on much longer than a second should have, I felt like I was sinking into the floor. It was the longest second of my life, me experiencing that rapidly dropping, clawing, suffocating dread in my stomach.
But then the quaking came to a halt.
I felt my chest heaving for air before I even recognized the need for it. I pulled a hand to my chest, holding my pounding heart. I closed my eyes, reaching that same hand back up to weave through my hair, telling myself it wasn't real. This entire place truly was nothing more than a dream.
And dreams can never hurt you.
The surprise of what happened disappeared unnaturally, leaving me to believe I'd imagined everything that just took place.
"I can't believe you!"
I snapped my eyes open at Tri's voice. I thought he had fallen to the ground, but his voice and the now insistent tug to the seam of my jeans let me see that he was clinging on to the fabric for dear life, feet kicking as they tried to find a crease or loose thread to help him climb back up.
"I didn't think you'd have the guts to ever go through with that!"
What was he, a mind-reader now?
I yanked my hand out of my hair and offered him my palm to give him a boost, to which he responded with a breathless "What's got you all warped?" while he tersely repositioned himself on my leg.
I had been considering a kind approach, possibly even an apology. But jeez -- the man was dense!
And I was angry again. "Were you paying any attention to what I was saying?" My hand returned to my hair. Even through the anger, I knew I was afraid to ask him about what had just happened.
"Oh boy." He rolled his eyes. "I can see how this is going to turn out."
"Pipe it, Pipsqueak!"
Tri sat up one more time. Prepared one last quip before he sent me back. "The accepted vernacular is vertically challenged."
I woke up.
Right, so I kind of forget to mention that I've got a sort of stalker. I have a problem with the number eleven for that exact reason. Although it wouldn't be too far fetched to think that Eleven is the one with the problem with me. I really am pretty sure it's stalking me.
And I know, how can a number stalk a person? It's inanimate. It doesn't have the ability to process thought or carry out motion, but I'm sure you think I'm a nutcase for talking as if all of this is possible.
Trust me, I'm a little eccentric every now and then, but I'm nowhere close to being coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. I have a full deck, thank you very much. I may just be missing the Joker cards, but those aren't useful, right? Right.
So back to Eleven. I think it's got some serious social issues, or is harboring some deep-set emotional grudge against me for…well, for whatever it is that's upsetting Eleven and making it stalk me.
Wherever I go, it just kind of pops out at me. I never intentionally search for it, either, yet it's always right there. Actually, now that I think about it, it's more like this totally subconscious thing, like there's this voice that just goes off in my head…
Like, "Hey! Hey Magil! Maaaggiiiilll!! Look over there, Magill! Hey, hey turn around! Magill, turn around!"
And before I know it, I've turned to wherever and wham! Hello, Mr. Eleven!
I'm sure if I had told Tri any of this, his response would be something along the lines of "Well…how do you know it isn't Mrs. Eleven?"
Jerktator. Now I really wish I had let him find his own way back onto my knee.
And just so there aren't any mix-ups, my name is Magill, and yes, I'm a female. Shocking.
The "Plane of Suck" comment is from a comic I read online called "Looking for Group". "Rickrolling" has happened to me before. I've caused it to happen to others. If you don't know what it is, then go to YouTube, type in 'rickrolled', and watch on.
So please leave a review and let me know how this was. Thanks for reading!