(Part #1 can be found HERE)
Suddenly he felt the need for air. Fresh air. Joe grabbed her hand and pulling her gently but firmly, started walking toward the door. Anise did not protest, her face as pale as a sheet of blank paper. So were her eyes – blank, as if any possible expression would be washed away.
Once outside, Joe sat down on the steps of the terrace. He pulled out his cellphone. No reception. Cursing quietly, he stood up and walked around a bit. Still nothing. He was thinking of climbing one of the trees, but instead he asked:
“Do you have your phone, Anise?”
“I… I don’t know” she was wringing her hands helplessly…
She looks so fragile – he thought. Wonder what else had she seen… But loudly he said:
“Check your pockets”.
Nervously she started emptying whatever she had onto the steps right beside her. Beads, little wallet, little green rock, chewing gum packets… No phone.
Now what? Joe’s head was buzzing with thoughts spinning around there too fast to single one out.
“Joe… are we… are we dead?”
“Anise, honestly, just because there is two dead people there that LOOK like us, does not mean…”
“But we could be!” they both jumped in surprise, as she yelled interrupting his words.
” I mean, what if all that we thought was real life, wasn’t real at all, what if it was all one big lie… or a dream at least, what if it was all in our heads and now we woke up and…” That was the longest sentence she’d said since he found her, and it seemed to have exhausted her so much that she slumped her shoulders and closed her eyes, resting.
Anise was always a gentle soul, very sensitive to the world around her. Maybe too sensitive, she was often a victim of endless teasing at school. Joe had known her since his family moved to Milesville when he was in grade 3. She was one year younger, but looked like a kid in the kindergarten. Somehow from that very moment he felt like he has to protect her from everything and everyone… and that feeling never left him.
“Joe?” a whisper brought him back to reality… well… if it was reality… Oh for goodness sake, was he letting Anise’s thoughts get to him?
“Yes?” he answered. Did not sound too reassuringly.
“What if…” she started again. Joe felt he couldn’t stand this anymore,
“Listen Anise. We will figure it out. Your parents, for one, they surely are real? And they were worried as hell yesterday when they were calling anyone they could possibly think of. Police are looking for you. So what we have to do is to try to contact them. OK?”
Anise did not reply, and he wasn’t sure if it is because she thought that made sense or she didn’t agree but had no will to argue. He checked the phone again. Still no signal. He looked around and noticed one abandoned deer blind not too far away. Grabbing once again the girl’s hand he started walking towards it. She did not protest at all, nor was she curious where he was taking her. She trusted him completely.
After climbing up the deer blind Joe discovered there was a very shaky one signal bar on his phone. With trembling fingers he punched #5 – speed dial for Mike, his best friend, and also police officer.
Mike picked up almost as if he was waiting for his call.
“Joe, man, where the hell are you?!”
“Listen, man, I have no clue, can you somehow search…” Joe’s knees went limp. He did not realize how much that blabber of Anise’s got into him! Dead, indeed!
“Sure thing, don’t turn off the ph…”
“Mike? Mike!!!” Joe yelled to no result. The phone was dead. Cursing he shoved it in his pocket and started going down. Half way through the steps he noticed Anise wasn’t sitting at the spot he left her! He felt his head spinning, he sat down on the grass. His thoughts went crazy, crashing into each other… What happened? Did she go back to the house? Looking around he noticed something shiny in the grass about 3 meters away from him. He picked it up… it was one of Anise’s beads, he remembered she had a handful of them in the pocket. Then he noticed strangely crumpled grass, bent in one direction, as if… someone was dragging something… He made few steps along those marks, careful not to interrupt anything. And that’s when he noticed another bead in the grass… Was that possible she was dropping them intentionally? To show him the way?
part 2, written for #fridayflash, most likely will be continued…