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Something is different today. I feel it as I push away my down comforter and climb tiredly out of bed. The air around me is somehow is compressed, like a blanket of an invisible unknown substance. I walk slowly towards the door of my room and down the hallway to the bathroom. Except it isn’t the bathroom. I found myself instead in the coat closet. Which is weird. The coat closet is downstairs. I give myself a mental shake and continue down the hall, looking back and forth from room to room. Each room is different, their location scrambled. I’m really confused now.
I reach the room where my parent’s suite usually rests and look hesitantly inside, not knowing what to expect. Instead of my parent’s bedroom, I find the kitchen. Fear presses its way into my stomach now, building up into a kind of panic that forces its way through my throat and up into my mouth, escaping in the form of a scream.
“Mom! Dad!” I shout, running back down the hallway and to the stairs. But there are no stairs. In their place is a dark tunnel. As I look down it, a further feeling of unease spreads through my body. I can’t see where the darkness ends. It looks just like something from a scary movie, where the lead character walks through the door or passage and finds themselves in a completely terrifying place. I lean forward, trying to see the end of the weird tunnel, and I feel a strange cold fill the air behind me, making the windows rattle and the doors open and close of their own accord.
Fear completely fills me now, and without thinking, only wanting to get away from the unnatural cold, I leap into the tunnel and shoot straight downward, going so fast the breath is sucked out of me and I’m locked into a straight-as-a-board position, arms pressed helplessly at my sides and legs practically glued together. I fall for about ten minutes before regaining my breath and separating my arms from the rest of my body. I’m still falling, going faster now than before. There is nothing I can do, and I force myself to think that when I wake up from this dreadful nightmare, I’ll be safe in my bed and the rooms in my house won’t be shuffled.
I fall for what seems like hours, and still I see no light or sign of ground below me. And then, without warning, my feet slam into a hard surface with the force of a stampeding buffalo. Pain engulfs me and I collapse to the floor, my legs throbbing and my whole body aching. I have no idea what’s going on. The world is spinning much too fast and north and south have reversed themselves, making it impossible to have any sense of direction at all. I lay there in the pitch black, my eyes closed and hands clenched in fists.
Finally, as the pain slows to a dull pulse, I open my eyes and sit up, trying to see past the walls of ebony that have taken over everything. I force myself to think rationally, to make sense of what has happened. I make a mental list of things that I know:
My house is rearranged
My parents are gone
My legs are falling off (not really)
I am trapped in a pitch black tunnel
Great. That’s just great.
I close my eyes again and breathe deeply, willing myself to wake up, to resurface into a consciousness lighter and warmer than this hole I’m stuck in.
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Over and over I say these words to myself, and I force my lungs and heart to oblige. Finally, when I’m feeling a little more calm, I open my eyes again and try to stand up. But it’s impossible. My legs are immobile, motionless, and in agony. Okay, so walking is not an option. I proceed to feel around with my hands, running them over the incredibly smooth surface that I have landed on. What is this? I think to myself, feeling more and more nervous with every inch I move my hand.
And then suddenly, the smooth surface disappears, to be replaced with an equally smooth surface. The only difference is that this new surface is liquid, not solid. Water! My mind says to me, and relief floods through me, only to be masked again by panic, fear, and hopelessness. What am I going to do? I move my other hand and find that that side of the smooth surface I’m on is also encompassed by water, or some other liquid.
I know without feeling the other two sides of my perch that I am completely surrounded by this substance. I am on an island. I am on an island. I say it over and over again until it really sticks in my head, and I say out loud, “I’m really screwed.”
“Yes.” It comes out of nowhere, and the sound of this voice makes me yelp in fear. I can’t distinguish its gender, but it’s gravelly and deep, like heavy rocks scraping against hard ground. “Yes.” There it is again. This time I’m prepared for it and I listen to it, my ears straining to hear more than this repetitive syllable. This time I notice how it seems to echo, so that a thousand “Yes’s” are bounced around, each one smaller and smaller until the last “Yes” fades away into the impenetrable blackness.
“Hello?” I call out, my voice trembling, wondering what was coming next. “Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.” the mysterious echo replied, until once again it faded into oblivion. And then my brain makes one of it’s rare brilliant entrances, and I am struck by the notion that I am in a cave. A large, maybe even unending cave. Just as I make this connection, however, the terrible voice speaks again, except it says more than just “Yes”.
“You should be afraid... It is only natural to fear death. Don’t worry, it will come quickly.” The last word reverberates around the room, a sinister whisper, an evil tendril of a sound. I close my eyes and will everything around me to go away, so that I can focus on my one wish, one thing thing that will get me out of here. Wake up, please, wake up! “Wake up!” It comes out as a whisper, and I open my eyes.
Panic fully flares in me now, because if that voice is telling the truth, if I really am going to die, than it could be at any second, any moment. “Please...” I whisper, pleading now with the bodiless voice that seems to haunt the endless cave. “Please, don’t kill me...” I don’t know why I even bother. The chance that that voice would grant me mercy is ridiculous, and even as I’m thinking it the voice speaks out again, this time quiet and yet more menacing than before. “It is no use begging. I am not one to pass up the opportunity of a body to live in. Especially one as young and frightened as yours.”
And as that last sentence faded away with the rest, I feel the cold that chased me down the tunnel in the first place surround me and press against me until it was fixed around my throat, pushing the air out and my mouth open. The cold seemed to pour into my mouth and trickle down my body, until it had wound it’s way the veins and into my rapidly beating heart. And all at once, it stopped. The pain, the fear, the cold was sucked out to be replaced by-