Chapter 8:

The First Night


 ♠ ♠ ♠Bookmark here

I slept on a hammock in Zuria’s living room that night. Bookmark here

Rather, after I asked what Ambrosia meant by “combat”, I only got a few vague answers from them, so I got upset, then I yelled at them, and then Ambrosia blew more smoke on my face and I was out cold. Bookmark here

At one point during all that, I was moved to a hammock, and that’s where I was now.Bookmark here

There were no windows, so I couldn't tell if it was dark out or not. The clocks plastered on every inch of her house all showed different times, so it wasn’t very helpful.Bookmark here

Still, I think it was the middle of the night. No one else was around, Zuria’s bedroom door was closed, it was deadly quiet, and there was no sign of the caterpillar woman around anymore.Bookmark here

The gentle crack of the fireplace provided a familiar lull to my ears, but instead of finding it soothing, it was steadily cranking up my nerves.Bookmark here

So. This whole thing wasn’t a dream, huh.Bookmark here

This was real.Bookmark here

This was my sister’s other reality. Bookmark here

I couldn’t stop thinking of her and how all this time she knew about this place. She knew Zuria, and she knew about the acid rain and the mission she had to fulfill to save this world.Bookmark here

It made me wonder why she didn't come here before.Bookmark here

I was apprehensive at first, thinking I might be dreaming or experiencing some sort of trauma after what I did to Alice right before coming here, but now that I have a moment to really think about it...this wasn’t bad at all, was it?Bookmark here

Who wouldn’t want to leave their world behind and go be a hero somewhere else? There’s countless stories like that around, and they all make it look so fun. Bookmark here

I’m smarter than Alice. I should have been chosen in the first place.Bookmark here

Alice…Bookmark here

…..Alice……... Bookmark here

...Ugh. Bookmark here

Every time I think of her, the same few images come to my head: a flashback of her sticking her tongue out at me, or laughing with her friends, or fighting with me for the last piece of cake on our birthday...and then it’s immediately followed by her lying on the kitchen floor of the cabin; her eyes wide open and soulless, and a dark pool of blood around her.Bookmark here

“Ngh…”Bookmark here

My head was suddenly throbbing. Bookmark here

Why couldn’t I remember what we were fighting about, or how I killed her? I was holding a knife, standing over her corpse…but there’s a big gap in the middle that I can’t seem to fill no matter how hard I think back on it.Bookmark here

I massaged my head, and realized my hair was still long. Bookmark here

I gasped.Bookmark here

I quickly sat up and looked at my outfit, but I wasn’t wearing the dress anymore. I was wearing the clothes I had on from the start. Phew.Bookmark here

I plopped back down, hanging my arms to the sides, and the hammock rocked lightly along with me.Bookmark here

I thought about what Zuria said, and how once we stop the rain, I’ll be able to go back home.Bookmark here

It seemed natural to have that be the prize for the hero, but in my case…Bookmark here

“...Man...I’ll go to jail for sure…”Bookmark here

...That was all I could think of.Bookmark here

I couldn’t go back. Bookmark here

There’s no way. Bookmark here

I found the perfect place to stay away from the law forever. Bookmark here

My biggest problem, as usual, was Alice. Bookmark here

Her corpse disappeared, and for all I know she could still be alive, or someone took her body, realized who she was, and knows my secret now. Bookmark here

If I want to remake my life in this place, I have to find Alice at all costs...and that means playing along with Zuria’s plan of finding the Spades and whatever. Bookmark here

“What a pain…”Bookmark here

Still—combat? What was that all about?Bookmark here

I thought I was using Zuria for my own benefit, by keeping my real intentions a secret from her, but if I think about it, she’s been shady from the start.Bookmark here

She seems so serious, but I can’t shake this feeling that she’s the one keeping things from me. She’s definitely not told me the whole story.Bookmark here

“Combat…”Bookmark here

Who or what would I even be fighting, anyway? Am I expected to win? I’ve never been in a fight in my entire life!Bookmark here

I mean sure, I’ve been punched a couple of times, but that’s expected! Everyone gets punched, I think! It certainly couldn’t be just because I have no brain-to-mouth filter or anything!Bookmark here

Actually, how hard can these fights even be? My sister has even less experience than me, and she was supposed to be in this role originally, so I’m sure I just gotta fight some weakass enemy and be done with it. Bookmark here

Yeah!Bookmark here

Whatever it is, I’m sure I can take it. Bookmark here

I turned around on the hammock, lying on my side as best as I could. I didn’t feel the need to snoop around or steal anything, either. There was no point. I didn’t know where I was or what even has value in this place, so I left that all for a later time.Bookmark here

I closed my eyes, trying once again to think of what exactly “combat” could mean in this place filled with rainbows and sunshine. Bookmark here

As I began drifting off again, I started seriously considering the consequences of living here for good.Bookmark here

I’d be leaving behind my family, all sorts of technology, fast food, karaoke... my friends…Bookmark here

...Ah.Bookmark here

“Dinah…”Bookmark here

A sudden flash of my best friend suddenly came to mind.Bookmark here

Dinah and I had been friends since we were little, and had always been in the same class together. He was taller than me and very friendly, although we both got in trouble quite often. He was sort of like the big brother I never had, and he would always look after me even though most of the time I clearly didn’t deserve it.Bookmark here

Whenever someone gave me trouble for running my mouth, he’d always step in to help. He was good at fighting, and had offered to teach me more than once, but I always rejected him. I told him I didn’t need to learn something like that because I’d simply call him for help if I ever were in trouble.Bookmark here

I laughed to myself bitterly as I recalled that conversation.Bookmark here

“Oh, Dinah. I’m in the deepest shit I’ve ever been now...but there’s no way you can help me out of it this time.”Bookmark here

My quiet voice echoed in the empty room with no answer, and I ended up falling asleep again.Bookmark here

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