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Chapter 1


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I could feel the slivers of bright, warm sunlight that were already seeping through the blinds, coating my entire body. I shuffled my feet around on the polished, smooth tiles at my feet. I could feel the deep grooves in the couch underneath me. Have I spent all night here? I stretched my stiff legs right out in front of me, startled when I abruptly hit my shins. The daylight blinded me for a few seconds as I frantically tried to focus. Foreign voices and unusual sounds became sharper as the shapes started to appear before me. The lobby? I fell asleep in the lobby?! I yawned loudly and smacked my lips. Blinking, I leant over my knees and let out a deep sigh.

What time is it? I glanced at my wrist and pursed my lips. My watch was gone. Of course. I shuffled forward in my seat and braced myself on the arm of the chair, standing up slowly. I scanned the room. The gaming nerd from room 4 was having an epic battle with the lock to his letterbox. A middle aged woman in a generic maintenance outfit was struggling to hold the door open with her foot as she tried to drag a bucket of cleaning products and an armful of mops, brooms and dusters through the door. The waitress from the restaurant next door who lived on the top floor of our building was making her way down the stairs, dressed in her uniform, eyes glued to her phone.

"Miss?" I waved a hand in her direction to steal her attention. "Miss, do you know what the time is?" I asked gently. She swept a wisp of hair back behind her ear as she arrived at the door and looked up, rolling her eyes at the woman in the doorway. "Miss, do you have the time?" I repeated. She huffed impatiently and rudely wedged her way out the door, bumping the woman and sending the bucket, sponges, rags and spray bottles scattering all over the ground. I sighed. I looked the walls over, searching for a clock. Down the hallway, I caught sight of a digital display hung up high between the ceiling and the doorway to the communal lounge. 2.24?!

My heart stopped. I knew the weekend was well and truly over. I was unforgivably late for work. I patted down my hips, expecting to slap my phone against my leg. Nothing. I spun around and lunged at the couch, wedging my hands down every crevice. Nothing. Not even my set of keys. The cleaning lady finally bustled her way inside and was cursing bitterly at her buckets. I rubbed my face with my hands as I tried to make sense of my scattered mind. Should I go in to work and try to explain myself, or do I wait until tomorrow? Where are my keys? Why did I wake up in the lobby?

Dazed, I stepped out and stood in the doorway to my apartment complex. It was early afternoon. Smartly dressed receptionists were walking briskly back to their offices from their late lunch dates. Thugs in droopy pants and oversized shirts were hovering around a bench, sizing up every passing male. A couple of taxis waited by the curb at the end of the street. A mother on the other side of their road was tugging on the arm of her pre-schooler who'd noticed an abandoned toy car in the gutter. I breathed in deep. I could taste the overflowing garbage bin just feet from where I stood. The day was still and surprisingly humid without any breeze to break up the toxic, overpowering city smells. I scrunched my nose up and leaned my back up against the glass door, sticking my hands in my back pockets. My fist curled around a piece of paper. I pulled it out and opened my hand. Score! Ten bucks! I licked my lips as I considered what this could get me for lunch.

My favourite place was this little takeaway sushi place that was tucked away in the back streets a few blocks down. I figured the walk would sober up this lingering hazy, groggy feeling. A good walk and some good food might grant me the clarity I needed. I looked up the clear blue sky and smiled. My feet took off before I could even catch up and found myself floating along the side walk, observing the daily life bustling around me. I was rarely privy to the midday scenes that unfolded on my street. At this time of day, my usual surrounds were comprised of a begrudged co-worker named Judy and her incessantly loud typing; a slew of old, beaten up filing cabinets and a waiting room of dreary-eyed, sluggish social outcasts slumped in their chairs like motionless zombies. Unemployment was rife in my city, and it was my job to sort through the well-meaning from the welfare bludgers. It was a means to an end - it kept a roof over my head and food on my table. But it meant that weekends were spent sleeping in, hermitting away in my embarrassingly cluttered apartment and getting hopelessly drunk as soon as the sun went down.

I felt powerfully rejuvenated by the rays of sun that bathed my tired, light-deprived body. I smiled as I noticed the brilliant green leaves trickling down from the trees above me. I looked ahead and noticed a young couple walking towards me. I caught a glance from the woman and grinned at her. She averted her eyes quickly. She reached out to hold the arm of her partner, who pulled away from her and scowled. I frowned as I noticed a foggy shadow that puffed from his body like smoke. It was just a split second. I turned back to look at him again. Maybe I did more than just drink last night. I shook it off, rubbed my eyes and kept walking.

Rounding the corner, I caught my toe on the cracked pavers beneath me and stumbled goofily as I regained my balance. I giggled to myself. My giggle seemed to echo. I looked up and noticed a young boy, no more than five, pointing at me and snickering. Behind him, his father was packing bags into the back of the family car while his mother strapped a baby into a car seat. The boy waved and I waved back. He grinned brightly. I pulled a funny face and shrugged my shoulders. The boy laughed loudly. Instantly, I was filled with laughter. I joined him with deep, heartfelt chuckles that made me squint my eyes and my face felt warm. Feeling childlike, I took dramatic, lunging steps forward, holding my arms out to the sides as if to balance myself. I looked over to where the boy had been, but he was gone. I craned my neck to find him, but couldn't see him. I peered through the windows, but he wasn't seated in the car either. I stopped for a second, terrified that the boy had run out into the street. The mother, now seated in the front seat, waited patiently for her husband to shut the boot and join her. He got in and started the car. Still, there was no little boy in the car. Panicked, I rushed over to the passenger side window and began slapping the window. "Your son! You forgot your son!" Neither of them turned to look. The driver carefully pulled out into the street and they slowly drove away. I waited a second and looked all around, frantically looking for the boy.

He was nowhere to be seen. Hyperventilating, I gripped my knees and forced myself to breathe. I'm probably still tripping. He was probably just ducked down in his seat. I kept scanning the street, just in case. A large woman walked past me and I turned quickly, grabbing her shoulder. "Did you see a little boy here a second ago?" I panted. She wriggled her shoulders and shook me off, readjusting her bag strap without so much as a glance in my direction. I stopped and searched for someone else. You look like a crackhead right now. Get it together. I took a deep breath and gathered myself before resuming my journey once more to my beloved sushi store.

The nearer I got to my lunchtime destination, and the more that I noticed people around me, I realised that I needed to take some time out before interacting with more people. I remembered that there was a small city park just a block away from the shop so I rerouted and continued on. After crossing the street, I felt the solid, hard concrete transform into plushy, uneven grass. I found a bench, plonked myself down and stretched out over the back of the seat. The cool shade of the trees was welcome on my flushed face. I closed my eyes and cleared my mind, focusing on each breath. I laid my arms out over the top of the bench seat, stretched my fingers and flung my legs out in front of me. I took a deep breath in. I parted my lips and forced a huge breath out, feeling my chest fall rapidly.

Simultaneously, a flash of bright light and a searing headache overwhelmed me. I gripped my face with both hands and crumpled over. The pain was unfathomable, unlike anything I'd ever experienced. And then just as quickly as it came on, it was gone again. I'm losing it. I need a hospital. I knew that there was no way that I would get there on foot, and I certainly didn't have enough for a taxi fare to take me there with the cash I found in my back pocket. I had more money back at my apartment though, so I'd take a taxi there, pick up my wallet and continue on to Emergency. I held my breath and stood up slowly, gripping the bench just in case I needed to steady myself. I didn't feel all that bad, I mused to myself, as I wandered over to the gutter and stuck a hand out. An empty taxi passed me. And then another one. And another. I must really look drugged-out.

A pair of teenagers approached me to my left. One was looking around subtly while muttering something to the other. I felt my blood run cold. "Taxi! Taaxiii!!" I yelled loudly, waving my arm around. The youths bowed their heads and one slipped his hand into his pocket. I flicked my head around and noticed a young man at a bus stop just a few yards from where I stood. I rushed over to him. "When's the next bus coming?!" I blurted. He frowned and continued reading his novel. I turned back and noticed the two young men had looked up now. I gasped as I noticed both of them staring at me with pure black pupils, the whites of their eyes now blood red. "RUN!" I screamed and started sprinting across the street.

Time seemed to slow almost to a complete stop in that moment. My strides thundered across the bitumen, the impact echoing in my ears. My heart beat felt as if it was thumping all over my body. A high pitched ringing blocked out all other sounds. As my foot hit the other side of the street, I spun around and searched through the traffic. A couple of car doors slammed shut and a dark coloured vehicle sped away, weaving its way through the cluster. Then a break. And there, at the bus stop, sat the man, his book now on the ground. The ringing in my ears faded out and the droning noise of traffic crept back in. I took a few steps to the side, standing on my toes as I tried to see more. And then it was gone, a large bus now completely blocking my view.

"Three o'clock," said a man standing next to me. "Huh?" I huffed back, still staring at the bus. "You asked me when the next bus would arrive. It'll be here at three." I turned slowly. The man standing next to me didn't even look up from the book in his hands. It was the guy from the bus stop - he had the same shirt, same jeans, same baseball cap. My confusion was broken quickly by a guttural scream from across the street. "Somebody call an ambulance!" People began running from everywhere and seemed to stop behind the bus. Others hurried away, turning back repeatedly with looks of fear and despair. The bus crept forward as sirens wailed in the distance, congested in the midday jam. "What's going on?" I asked the stranger. I turned to look but he had already gone. I squinted as I peered back over the tops of cars to the bus stop and noticed a spray of red against the glass walls of the bus stop. And below him, the young man, a deep, dark crimson stain in his once-clean blue shirt, slumped against the glass, his book laying at his feet.

I began to run. Effortlessly, I breezed through the foot traffic along the side walk. My breathing was a rapid pattern of terror and fear. My eyes were welling up with tears. I grunted and pushed myself even harder, sprinting as fast as my legs would take me. I threw my body against the glass door of my apartment building and flung myself up the three flights of stairs to my level, where I collapsed in the middle of the hallway and crawled the rest of the way to my door. Gasping, I blindly felt around for the door knob and turned.

The door burst open and threw me to the floor. I got to my knees and dragged the rest of my body inside, kicking the door sending it slamming shut. I laid on the floor, heaving and sharply sucking in every breath. My legs ached. Every part of me was shaking uncontrollably. My mind felt like a dark, violent storm. I shut my eyes tight and wailed.

Another bright flash and that unfathomable, incredible pain in my head. I cried out and shot back up onto my feet. I stumbled between walls until I reached the kitchen. I braced myself in the doorway but my legs instantly gave way and I fell to my knees. I felt immediately empty. I reached out and stroked her head. She looked like she was sleeping. Curled over on her side, I ran my fingers her hair and shuffled over behind her. I carefully leaned over her, cuddling her. Dark streams of mascara painted her soft cheeks. Tears streaming, I kissed her cheeks. Her lips were cracked and dry. I ran my finger over her beautiful, full lips. Her eyes were glassy and dull. My heart breaking, I gently swept a hand over her face, closing her eyes one last time. What happened? I asked her softly, but knew she couldn't reply. And I knew I already had all the answers.

I laid on that kitchen floor cradling the one person I had loved the most, and had loved for my entire life. The one person I knew most intimately.

It was me. And I knew who killed me.

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What happened to your shoes?  

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11 hours ago, freetoroam said:

What happened to your shoes?  

Huh? I don't think I mentioned any shoes?

Are you referring to the way the protagonist can feel whatever is under her feet?

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3 hours ago, jypsijemini said:

Huh? I don't think I mentioned any shoes?

Are you referring to the way the protagonist can feel whatever is under her feet?

Yes,  you mention feet and toes,  I was wondering what happened to her shoes. 

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