Fear began to swell over Norah as she sat up slowly. She wanted to cry out for James, but her mouth felt sealed shut, vocal chords paralyzed. Barely breathing, she reached over for the desk lamp beside the bed. Clicking it on, she saw nothing around her but the under-furnished room in which she was left.
But she could hear something. She heard something so disturbing it wiped her mind blank, save for the terror in which she was awash. She heard breathing. Rough, jagged breathing. Like the breathing of a sick person. . .
And it was her own. She inhaled deeply, not sure whether to feel relieved or twice as frightened. Shutting her eyes, she clicked off the light. And, feeling very unsafe, slowly drifted off to sleep.
When she awoke, it was as black as before. And she had that same eerie feeling that there was someone with her. So without even bothering for the light, Norah reached up her hand and touched something warm. She screamed. It screamed. The lights went on.
"James!" Norah shouted, "What the hell are you trying to do? Give me a freakin' heart attack?"
James backed away from her, throwing his arms in the air.
"I should ask the same thing! I came in to check on you, and bam! Just whack me in the nose, why don't you?"
Norah responded softly, "Check on me? Why?"
"Oh, no reason. . ."
Norah raised an eyebrow at him.
He sighed, "You were. . .You were screaming. What were you dreaming about?" He sat on the bed beside her, looking her in the eyes.
"I don't know," Norah responded bluntly. "I really don't." She paused, then, "I want to get up. What time is it?"
"It's eight o'clock."
"Good, good," Norah flung her legs over the side of the bed James wasn't sitting on and walked around to him. She leaned on his shoulder, using him as an arm rest.
"Well. I think I'm going to explore a little. I have no idea where I am or what's in this place, so I think I'll take a look around, kay?"
"Can I stop you," James said. I wasn't a question, but a realization of Norah's strong will and the futility of any resistance.
Norah smiled a warm smile and patted James on the head, then exited the room.
Man. What a place this was. The kitchen was scary. Mad scary. James, the poor bloke, seemed to be stuck somewhere between oh, say, 1950 and 1951. He didn't have a microwave, he had a huge convection oven. He didn't have a fridge, he had a teeny box of separated into to halves - cold and a little bit colder. His stove, oh his stove was a kick. It was pink with these horrible opal knobs. . .It looked like a Barbie toy.
And everything (aside from the horrid oven) was turquoise. No, no. Turquoise was prettier than this. It was all robin's egg blue, and it all looked to have a thin layer of tobacco smoke covering it, giving the already ugly color an even uglier coat of yellow-brown. Even the ice crusher (who EVEN has an ice crusher?) was this color, though the handle was blistering chrome.
I had to laugh at this. James was so intelligent and here he was, stuck in the age of mock-perfection when husband and wife slept in their own twin beds. I had yet to find a computer. Hell, I had yet to find a TV! Total Pleasantville.
I was 'admiring' the chrome countertops when James walked in.
"Hey, Beaver," I said.
"That's what this reminds me of. 'Leave It To Beaver'. That would make you Beaver Cleaver, nay?"
James appeared dazed and confused to my only-too-clear reference to dead pop-culture.
"I'm sorry, don't you watch the telly?" I said, hopelessly.
"I don't have a television."
"DID YOU HAVE A TELEVISION IN 1950?" I was stunned. What little kid didn't know about "Leave It To Beaver"?
"I wasn't born in 1950,"he said, still incredibly perplexed. I felt like pummeling him with something.
"Just. . .just forget it."
"No, really, what? You've intrigued me."
"Okay, here's the plan. I'm going to buy you a TV, I'm going to get you satellite, and we're going to sit down together and watch TV Land all day long," I responded through my teeth. This was a cruel and bizarre insult to my brain.
"Can we not? I'm busy," apparently James hadn't heard of sarcasm, either.