Ashlin groaned and rolled over. Her hand reached out, to slap off the alarm until she realized that wasn't what had pulled her from her sleep. It was quite, very quiet, and still very dark. She didn't even have to pull her eyes open to realize that it still seemed too dark for the hour it had to be.
She dropped her hand back to the cool blanket and lay still for a moment. She sighed and talked herself into looking over at her nightstand. She hoped this was one of those times when she had simply dreamed the hours, and when she looked at the pale green glowing numbers they would show there were still hours before she had to be up for work.
But when she looked over to where her digital alarm clock should be faithfully telling her the time, she saw nothing. The room was way too dark and it occurred to her that the power must have simply gone out during the night. She scooted over in the bed, and reached out for the nightstand.
She didn't feel her clock at all, and she drew her hand back. This was still a dream, that explained all this strangeness. She just was just having a very vivid dream. She chuckled at herself, and the rising fear. It was slightly silly but she reached out and pinched her left arm. A quick burst of pain erupted beneath her fingers and she dropped her hand at once.
Pain meant reality, pain meant that she was really awake and that something odd was really happening. She tried to look around the room again, but her eyes couldn't make out anything of use.
Ashlin reached out again, slowly sliding her fingertips across the nightstand. Fear was pushing her forward, even as it pulled her back. But she wasn't going to figure anything out, sitting up on the bed and waiting. Finally her fingers felt the coolness of metal and as she moved up the base she realized this must be a lamp.
Her fingers bumped into a switch and she drew in a deep breath and flipped it to the left. Light rushed out to push away the dark and she was forced to close her eyes. The contrast had been too much, and when she finally felt her eyes could handle the light she pulled them back open.
Her apartment was old, with old furniture. She loved it dearly though, most passed down from her mother's parent, whom she had never actually met. This wasn't her apartment. The room was only held her, at least as far as she could tell.
In the far corner was a nice, new looking desk, empty aside from another lamp resting in the corner of it. On the right wall there was a cherry wood four drawer dresser. And that was it. The left wall held a door she had no intention of looking behind.
Ashlin tried to settle the wild and rising way her heart was beating. Fear wasn't going to help her; it was only going to make her irrational. She had two options, as far as she could see, wait and see, or get up and seek.
She had never been good at waiting, and she threw back the deep blue comforter on the borrowed bed. She glanced over the side, before sliding her feet to the floor. She felt like a child, someone still scared of monsters under the bed. But her father wasn't here to reassure her, and this was clearly something she was going to have to do on her own. But she did quickly move away from the bed.
She looked down at herself, still in her flannel pajama pants and a long sleeve pink shirt. What a way to get kidnapped, if that was in fact what this way. Her feet were covered with the socks she had worn to bed, and she sighed.
It was as if someone had snatched her from her bed, and brought her here. She just wasn't sure where here was, or if here was real. Perhaps she had fallen out of bed, and bumped her head. Or even more likely she had simply gone crazy. If that was at the case, she was slightly upset her fantasy world was actually worse than her real life.
She walked toward the door on the far wall, giving the closed one of the left as much space as she could. Logic said, on the slight chance this was a real as it seemed, that avoiding closed doors as much as possible was a good idea.
She held the door handle for a moment, realizing that her palms were sweating. She turned it slowly and opened it to a brightly lit area. Ashlin glanced back at the room one more time, wondering if sitting still was safer than exploring. But she finally just shrugged to herself and stepped out.
Whatever she thought she was going to see –an axe murderer- it wasn't this. She stood in a carpeted hallway with several doors on each side. It dead ended to the left, but the right seemed to keep going. She closed the door behind her, trying to make note of where it was in case she should need to return, and moved to the center of the hall.
It was silent here too, nothing behind those doors making noise, if there was anything behind those doors. For a moment she felt lonely, until she shook it off with a slightly bitter laugh. She spent much of her life alone; it was just this damned silence that was making her feel that way.
She walked exactly in the middle, giving enough space between the doors on either side in case of an attack. No one came though, and soon she was out of the hall and into a large area. To the left was a living room. She stood behind one of the black leather couches and looked at the room.
There were three of the couches, all identical and they formed a shape that looked like a U. In the center of them was a black glass top coffee table, and on the wall was a large flat screen TV. The carpet was thick and very white. It looked like the type of carpet Ashlin would love to take off her socks and dig her toes into it, but now wasn't the time.
She moved farther still, and found a large modern kitchen. There was table in the corner and Ashlin moved to the fridge. She opened it with caution, certain that every move was going to be her last. She didn't think she could rest easy if it was the refrigerator that ended her though.
But there was no bomb, nothing of apparent danger. Inside she simply saw clean, well stocked shelves. The freezer revealed the same and Ashlin spotted several of her favorite foods in there. She forced away the way her stomach growled at the sight, reminding her that she had skipped dinner-again.
She moved down to the cabinets, finding only dry food and then farther down pots and pans. There was a sink, but it was empty and dry. Ashlin couldn't shake the feeling that it was all meant to be used, that it just hadn't been yet.
She exited through a side door and moved down another hall towards a glass door. She pushed against it and the smell of chlorine filled her nose. She moved into the room and saw a large pool. The room was warm and reminded her of days in her childhood when her mother would take her to an indoor pool like this. On the far side two lanes were marked off, but there was no one swimming laps.
She headed over to the other door, and opened it, and breathed in fresh air. The door held when she pushed it open, and stepped out onto the cool grass. She eyed the door with caution; unsure if being stuck outside would be better than being inside. But it held, as if it was waiting for her, and she moved farther out.
It was mostly bare, but went on for a long ways. She could see a large, very tall fence in the distance. She looked to the right and there was an outdoor table and some chairs, but once again she was alone.
It was cold out, the bite of fall wrapping itself around her. She turned back to the door and jumped to see a man standing the way. Well, it was a man, but a young one.
"Who," he started, his voice slightly hoarse. He slowly pushed his tongue out and moistened his lips. Ashlin tried not to stare as he slowly pulled it back into his mouth and tried again. "Who are you?"
Ashlin swallowed a lump away. He looked a little lost, more than a little loss, and she took a timid step closer.
"I'm Ashlin," she said, thankful for someone to talk to. "Who are you?"
He stared at her, hands at his side. His eyes were a chocolaty brown color, and very gentle. Ashlin didn't know if he wasn't going to answer, but she took the moment to really look at him. His hair was dark, almost black, but not quite. It was short, hanging just over and resting on his forehead.
He was taller than her, and fairly thin, though she could see the definition of muscle underneath.
"I'm Brady," he finally said. "Brady Jones."
With that he turned, and started to walk away. She waited about half a second before jogging to catch up with him. She didn't know when she decided he was worth her trust, but apparently she had.
"What do you think we are doing here?" she asked, as she reached his side.
His gave a small shrug and stopped walking by the pool. He looked down into the water, his cheeks already slightly red from the cool wind whipping against them.
"I don't know, Ashlin," he said, and she found she quite liked the way he said her name. "But doesn't it all seem a bit much?"
"A bit much?" she repeated, wondering which part he was referring to.
He gestured to the pool and then looked away from her.
"A bit much for just the two of us," he said.
Oh, she thought. That. It did seem like a lot, for two people, but who was she to fault the logic when she didn't understand the game.
"Yeah," she agreed.
He sighed, long and slow. Then he turned to face her. She was lost for a moment in the way he looked at her.
"I woke up, "he said, brushing his dark hair off his pale forehead. "I was asleep at home and I woke up here. It sounded like someone walking by my door, must have been you."
She nodded and looked at his clothes. He was in jeans, socks and a long sleeve black shirt. He didn't seem to be dressed for bed, but she thought that he was man. Maybe that was what guys were to bed.
"I was at home, asleep," she agreed. "And I woke up here. What do you think…I mean, what is this?"
He shrugged again, and started walking. He seemed to be alternating between leaving her behind, and waiting up for her. So she jogged to catch him again, as he opened the glass door and stepped back into the building.
Ashlin heard the voices, before she saw their owners.
Brady led her up to the living room again, and even though she shouldn't be, she was shocked, she moved back slightly and took in a surprised breath.
She felt a brush against her arm, and looked down to see Brady's fingertips against her forearm.
"You okay?" he asked, in a whisper, eyeing the others who too had been shocked into silence.
His touch was distracting, but Ashlin managed a nod. He dropped his hand at once and turned to the others. Ashlin bit the inside of her cheek, a bad habit she had been working on, but now she allowed herself its comfort. This hardly seemed like the time for self improvement. Maybe if she survived, but only then.
There were two more girls standing before her. One was a tall, thin, blond with sky blue eyes. The other was shorter than her with dark curly hair and soulful green eyes. Instantly Ashlin decided she would like the green eyed one better, but then chastised herself for making such a snap judgment. There were two more boys as well.
One was taller than everyone else. He was shirtless, and his feet were bare of even socks. His chest was muscular, but he looked like the type that knew women would be looking. The other was about Ashlin's height with blue eyes and black hair. It was ruffled, and he still looked a little asleep.
"What the hell is going on?" the blond asked, eying them carefully.
Her voice was very soft, and pretty, but the words were cold and nasty. It was as if she thought they were responsible for this whole situation.
Brady simply shrugged a habit it seemed he had. He looked over Ashlin and she realized he was waiting for her to take charge. She sighed. She was more of a listener, didn't care to make waves. But someone had to do something.
"I'm Ashlin," she said, letting go of her cheek with her teeth. "This is Brady; we woke up and found ourselves here. And you?"
It was the black haired boy who spoke first, his voice deeper than she expected.
"I'm David," he said, his voice southern.
"Luke," the other boy said.
The blond stared at them, as if they had given away national secrets to the enemy but finally she gave in.
"Kadence," she said, looking Brady up and down.
It seemed she decided what Ashlin already knew. Brady was quite handsome, in his own way.
The brown haired girl looked down and then back up. Ashlin gave her a small encouraging smile and the girl smiled back.
"Rose," she said.
Once the introductions were made, the room fell silent again. Ashlin went back to biting her cheek and Luke shuffled around.
She tried hard to think of the right thing to say, and was surprised to see Brady watching her when she looked up at him. She opened her mouth but was interrupted by the sound of the television clicking on. The all turned to face it, and the screen lit up.
It said a single word, in a dark purple font.
The room seemed to hold its breath, and she felt a hand slip into hers. She looked down and saw Brady's hand in hers. She knew he was just scared too, but she didn't hate it. She didn't feel so alone like this.
They stared at the screen and waited.