♠ ♠ ♠
I slept on a hammock in Zuria’s living room that night.
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.
At one point during all that, I was moved to a hammock, and that’s where I was now.
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.
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.
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.
So. This whole thing wasn’t a dream, huh.
This was real.
This was my sister’s other reality.
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.
It made me wonder why she didn't come here before.
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?
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.
I’m smarter than Alice. I should have been chosen in the first place.
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.
My head was suddenly throbbing.
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.
I massaged my head, and realized my hair was still long.
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.
I plopped back down, hanging my arms to the sides, and the hammock rocked lightly along with me.
I thought about what Zuria said, and how once we stop the rain, I’ll be able to go back home.
It seemed natural to have that be the prize for the hero, but in my case…
“...Man...I’ll go to jail for sure…”
...That was all I could think of.
I couldn’t go back.
There’s no way.
I found the perfect place to stay away from the law forever.
My biggest problem, as usual, was Alice.
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.
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.
“What a pain…”
Still—combat? What was that all about?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Whatever it is, I’m sure I can take it.
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.
I closed my eyes, trying once again to think of what exactly “combat” could mean in this place filled with rainbows and sunshine.
As I began drifting off again, I started seriously considering the consequences of living here for good.
I’d be leaving behind my family, all sorts of technology, fast food, karaoke... my friends…
A sudden flash of my best friend suddenly came to mind.
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.
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.
I laughed to myself bitterly as I recalled that conversation.
“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.”
My quiet voice echoed in the empty room with no answer, and I ended up falling asleep again.