Anaya sat at the table for several seconds before she took the first bite of the sandwich. As she chewed, she forced herself to look at the patio window in front of her.
She missed the endless blue seawater.
Anaya shook her head. This was stupid! Nothing she saw out of that window was real.
Why can’t she shake this feeling of sadness then?
The picture frame must have damaged more than just her foot.
After swallowing the last pieces of the sandwich, she moved to stand up and nearly fell when she planted the wrong foot on the floor.
“Darn it all!” She muttered as she grabbed the edge of the table.
When steadied, she carefully made her way towards the stairway which was partially concealed in the wall near the TV. She entered into the dimly lit corridor. The steps wound sharply to the right and then straight up. Once at the top, she faced a narrow hallway with several doorways.
Everything about the underground seemed to involve a tight-fitting tunnel of one form or another. She felt sure she would eventually become claustrophobic.
Now, which doorway led to her bedroom?
As she hobbled down the hall, she counted two doors on the right, and three on the left with the middle one closed. She stood by that one and heard Eli giggled as Mom sang a lullaby.
Anaya let out a sigh and moved forward until she came to the last set of doors. She recognized the one on the left and entered into her bedroom.
She stood motionless for a moment as she studied the small room. It was nothing like her bedroom back home.
Everything and everyone she loved back on the surface were now gone.
She shook her head hard. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes.
“Ana?” Mom’s voice drifted through the doorway.
Anaya cleared her throat but the lump refused to go away.
“Are you getting changed?” Mom persisted.
“I-I’m working on it.” And slid her door shut.
Why did she have to go? She had no desire to be around people now. She felt wrong about celebrating her survival when so many had perished.
With the back of her hand, she wiped the wetness from her face and leaned towards the built-in dresser in the wall. She yanked out clothes and threw them on the bed. She pulled off her top, and then bent down to grab a shirt when she paused.
There was a full-length mirror on back of the door. She stared at her own reflection.
“What the heck?” She gasped.
There was a large purplish blemish over her right shoulder-blade, near the spot where she’d been burned. Her mouth dropped when she saw that the mark had a form to it.
Of a dragon.
Copyright © 2013 Carrie Ann Golden
All rights reserved.
“Really, I don’t know what possessed you to do such a stupid thing!” Mom’s eyebrows burrowed together as she gently placed a cold washcloth on her daughter’s swollen foot.
Anaya held her breath as the cloth felt like it weighed a ton. She leaned into the sofa and bit back a moan as she fixed her eyes on the blank TV screen on the wall in front of her.
Mom let out a huff and walked away.
She squeezed her eyes shut to hold back the tears.
She wasn’t dead nor was she dreaming. She was very much alive and unfortunately, awake as her foot vehemently protested.
Anaya slowly lifted the now-cooled rag and saw a purplish indentation that ran across the top of her foot. The picture frame narrowly missed all of her toes.
“You could have broken something.” Mom continued as she set Eli down on the floor next to the sofa.
“I’m fine.” Anaya replied through her teeth.
“Humph.” Was all the woman said as she handed a red truck to Eli.
“Twuck!” The toddler squealed as he grabbed the plastic object.
“Where’s Dad?” She desperately wanted to change the subject.
“Working at the Plant.” Mom replied as she watched Eli at play.
“Doing what?” Like she really cared.
Mom turned and stared at the darkened TV screen.
“He really didn’t say only that it was critical that he be there every day.”
“You must be hungry.” Mom walked away again.
“Yeah.” Anaya leaned forward to press her stomach against her knees.
“Twuck?” Eli held the red truck up towards her.
“No.” She shook her head and pointed to her foot. “Ouch.”
“Ows!!!” He squealed as he threw the toy down on the floor.
A smile formed on her lips. She watched as Eli pushed the truck across the room when his body suddenly became enveloped by golden beams. With her eyes, she followed the trail to the enormous window in the back of the room where the light filtered through.
She slid off the sofa and limped to it. She hissed as she gazed through the glass.
The ocean now gone, replaced by a vast grassy meadow which spread for as far as she could see. The sun hung in the middle of the light blue sky.
“Oh, there you are.” Mom’s voice came from behind. “I had a chicken salad sandwich made for you.” She placed the plate down on the oval table.
“Thanks.” Anaya mumbled.
“I got tired of all the water so I changed the scenery.” She said as she moved to Anaya’s side.
“How’s the foot?”
She shrugged. “Okay.”
“Good. Now, eat. We’re all going out this evening.”
“What?” She turned to Mom as the woman bent down to pick up Eli.
“There’s a celebration taking place down at the Quad. You know, to celebrate our survival.”
The pain suddenly transferred from her foot to her head. She was out for a few days and now for some reason, everything felt foreign to her.
“I’m not going.” She stated as she hobbled to the table and sat down.
Mom straightened. “This is not negotiable. When you’re done eating, you will go up and change.”
She held up one of her hands which cut off Anaya’s objection. ”You won’t necessarily be going with us.”
“O-okay.” She cocked her head at Mom. “Who then?”
“There’s a family next door who has a daughter around your age. You’ll be going with her.”
“No buts, Ana.” With that, Mom and Eli disappeared up the stairway.
Copyright © 2013 Carrie Ann Golden
All rights reserved.
At first, there was nothing but a suffocating blackness. Anaya reached for her face and pulled away some kind of a coarse cloth. The blackness remained, but a dull light drew her attention towards a door where it filtered through its edges. She carefully stood up. Her body felt like lead. So heavy and lethargic.
She reached towards the door, thinking there should be a knob or something only to discover a wooden latch. She lifted it up, and the door opened on its own with a loud groan.
Pale light washed over Anaya as she blinked several times trying to adjust her vision to make out her surrounding. She sucked in her breath.
Destruction and death as far as she could see.
Steel and cement structures that were once buildings now demolished and charred. Broken and bloodied corpses strewn in every direction.
She covered her mouth with both hands as she tried to hold back the bile that burned in her stomach.
Was she back on the surface?
A movement caught her attention. She turned towards it, and her mouth dropped. Not more than ten yards away stood a robed figure. She could feel its eyes on her. Then, it began to walk. No, it glided as it moved effortlessly over shattered boulders and bones.
She had seen this figure before.
“Wait!” She called out.
It stopped and turned partially towards her but not enough to reveal its face as it was kept hidden within the gray hood.
“Who are you?” Anaya stumbled over a broken wooden beam. “Where am I?”
A hoarse voice came from the hood. “Beware of the one who bears the mark of the Raven!”
“I don’t understand!” She cried out as she tripped over her own feet. “What raven?”
But, it was gone.
Anaya slowly grew aware of the soft mattress beneath her, and of the blanket that covered her body. She felt warm and sleepy.
She was back home, back in her own bedroom. Everything had been just a very vivid nightmare. No one died. Her friends were still alive.
She smiled to herself as she tuned onto her side and nearly doze off when a woman’s voice drifted to her ears.
“Ana?” Of course it was Mom.
“What?” Anaya mumbled as she pulled the blanket tighter over her head.
“You really need to get up.” The woman replied. “You’ve been in bed for over two days now.”
Anaya opened her eyes and sat up. She glanced around. She was in a bed that resembled a cot. The room had no windows. She didn’t have a dresser; but there were four drawers built into the grayish wall ahead of her. To her far right was a table also built into the wall. A desk?
No, this was not her bedroom from home. Where was she???
Memories slowly trickled through her mind. An asteroid had slammed into her world ending countless of lives. She and her family barely escaped through a series of tunnels and elevators. She now lived deep underground in a city.
She placed her head down into her hands. What was the last thing she remembered?
There was something very large that flew across the setting sun. It almost looked like a –dragon???
Too bad no one else saw it or else she wouldn’t think she’d gone crazy.
“What happened?” She looked over to Mom who stood in the narrow doorway.
“You passed out. “Mom answered. “You were so exhausted.”
“And then I slept for two whole days?” Anaya asked in disbelief.
Anaya leaned against the cool wall behind her and pressed her shoulders against it. The soreness was completely gone.
“Come down and eat something.” Was all Mom said and she walked away.
She sighed deeply as she glanced over to the table/desk where she recognized the watch-like object that rested there.
She shook her head. Everything felt strange. Surreal. She must still be dreaming. She need to find a way to wake herself up.
Without another thought, she slid out of the small bed and moved directly for her backpack that sat on the floor next to the doorway. She knelt down and unzipped the bag, reached inside and pulled out a framed picture. The frame was made out of heavy ceramic which was painted with glossy forms of blue dolphins. It held a picture of all four members of her family which was taken on Eli’s first birthday.
Anaya stood straight up, and lifted the picture up and over her head.
If this doesn’t work, she must be dead. She released her grip on the object.
Copyright © 2013 Carrie Ann Golden
All rights reserved.
The intermission is coming to a close and a new chapter will be posted soon! Look for it by no later than March 9th.
The black digilocator felt cool on Anaya’s wrist as she studied the blank touch screen.
How does this thing work?
“Your residential unit is located in section C-1.” Mark spoke to Dad. “Assigned unit number, C-159.”
“Okay.” Dad answered curtly.
“Your digilocator will guide you.” Mark replied as he waved them on.
“Thank you, Mark.” Dad took Mom’s hand and moved forward. “You’ve been…most helpful.”
Anaya trailed as they walked quickly ahead. When they were a few yards away, she turned and looked back.
Mark was gone. Like Daisy, he just vanished.
“Come, Anaya.” Dad said. “There’s no time for this.”
They followed the wide corridor for several moments until they came to some kind of a divide where the corridor split. One continued on straight ahead. The other veered slightly to the right and up a travelator which led to another level above.
“Now where to?” Dad mumbled.
His digilocator beeped and a green light shone from the touch screen. He looked down at it.
“Ah, yes.” He pointed to the right.
In a single line, they stepped onto the travelator and slowly glided upwards. When they reached the top, Dad stepped off and turned to the left. Anaya followed her parents down the narrow corridor until near the end when Dad stopped in front of a door.
“We’re home.” He said quietly.
“Oh, thank goodness.” Mom hugged the still sleeping Eli.
The door held no handle of any kind. On the gray wall besides it were the shiny, black numbers: 159 Underneath them, a tiny red light beamed steadily from inside the wall.
“Hmm, let’s see.” Dad waved his wrist past the light. It beeped once and turned green.
With a low hiss, the door slid opened.
As soon as Dad crossed through the entryway, the unit gradually brightened and a computer-generated, female voice rang out in a sing-song tone.
“Welcome home, Watson family.”
As soon as Anaya entered, the door automatically closed behind her. When she glanced around, the realization that she would never return to the surface swept through her.
All her friends. Teachers. Now gone.
Her hand rose to her chest and she pressed it hard against her body.
“Are you feeling alright?” Mom’s face suddenly appeared near her own.
Anaya nodded slowly. “Tired.” She barely spoke in a whisper.
“This place is incredible.”
She turned her eyes towards the sound of Dad’s voice.
He stood on the other side of their new home where a picturesque window took up almost half the back wall of the unit. She could make out the darkening blue sky speckled with pink and purple clouds.
The room, where Dad stood, was open and spacious. Hung on the wall to her right was an enormous flat screen with a long, over-stuffed sofa sitting on the floor in front of it. To her left, a built-in shelving unit that was filled with books of all sizes and colors. Near it was a set of cushioned chairs with an oval glass-table in between.
“John!” Mom, who now was in a room immediately to her left, cried out with excitement. “You need to see this!”
“I’m coming, dear.” Dad lightly brushed past her.
Anaya ignored them as she made her way towards the back window. The sun, now nearly swallowed up by the black line of the horizon, was blood-red. She reached again for her chest. Her pounding heart drowned out all sounds.
Except for one.
Death. To all.
The raspy voice came from nowhere and was everywhere.
She held her breath as her eyes remained fixated on the setting sun. Her vision narrowed until all she saw was the red star.
Was something moving in the sun?
She squinted as she pressed her nose against the glass. Something was flying across the sun.
It looked too large to be a bird as its wingspan soon spread across the width of the sun.
Death is coming for you. The voice now more male-like.
“Ana?” Mom’s hand on her shoulder caused Anaya to jump as she let out a yelp.
“Goodness! I didn’t mean to scare you.” Mom instantly pulled her hand back.
“Do you see it?” Anaya asked as she pointed to the sky.
Mom glanced out. “I see only the sun setting over the ocean.”
“But…” When Anaya turned to look again, it was gone.
Did she imagined it?
“Are you sure you’re alright, sweetie?” Concern laced Mom’s voice.
Anaya shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”
Copyright © 2012 Carrie Ann Golden
All rights reserved.