Sarah was flying way above the stratosphere. Her long brown hair flapping in the wind like a cape around her head. She was moving fast but the air felt like a gentle breeze. She felt as though she were wrapped in a soft blanket that smelled of cinnamon and cloves. Like Christmas in Colorado. She closed her eyes hoping to savor this feeling. She’d remember it always. She’d use it to feel safe. This feeling would stay with her until she she didn’t need it anymore. She slowly opened her eyes.
Darkness. She thought maybe she hadn’t actually opened her eyes, so she tried again. This time she squeezed them shut. She kept them closed for a moment then opened them, slowly. Darkness! I’m Blind! Panic made its way up from her stomach to her chest. Or was it dread? Her chest heaved. Oh my God!! She sat up. This is a dream, has be a dream, I’ll wake up. I’ll wake up, in my bed and be grateful. For everything! One Two Three Four Five Six….
She waited. And waited. And waited. Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One. Come on bitch! Wake the fuck up!
She realized she had been sitting in an awkward position, her spine cemented in a rigid straight line. Her legs had gone numb. Or were they! Oh shit! Just touch them, they’re right in front of you, if they’re there. NO! Can’t freak out about something that hasn’t happened yet. Just touch them. She raised a hand and held it over where her upper thigh should be. She hesitated. Just fucking do it! She brought her hand down and felt pressure on her thigh. Thank God! She touched her other thigh, pressure. She lifted her legs one after the other by the back of the knees. They just needed a bit of circulation.
She made a point to breath deeply. In and out. In and out.
Okay…. legs, check, arms, check, hands, check, eye sight….
She thought maybe it’s just that the lights were out. Those black out shades really work! She’d simply get up and turn on the lights.
She crossed her legs and started the precarious task of standing up. It took a minute but she was now standing. Okay, turn on the light. She suddenly realized she couldn’t find her normally impeccable sense of direction. She held both arms out in front of her and took a step forward. Think Sarah, think! I come into the bedroom and the first thing I do is turn on the light. What hand do I use? She pictured herself standing in the hallway outside her bedroom door. She turned the knob and opened the door. It opened inward which is something she’d always hated. It left no room for the blue velvet armchair she’d dreamt about reading in. Turn on the light. She reached across her body to the left with her right hand and flipped the switch.
Now, just reverse, take a step. She started moving slowly toward the light switch.
It was taking longer than it should. She stopped and pictured her bedroom. She saw her full sized bed in the middle, taking up the majority of space, she smiled when she saw her black and white cat curled up in a tight little ball. She saw her 40” flat screen TV on the opposite wall then the slightly opened door, the light switch to its right.
She moved forward again. Nothing. She had a sickening thought. Maybe she wasn’t in her bedroom. Maybe she wasn’t even in her apartment! She could feel her eyes opening wide but the pitch black darkness only grew more dense.
She turned her head hoping to hear something, anything, but nothing. Oh my God am I deaf too!? She opened her mouth to scream for her roommate but her voice never made it past her windpipe. Or did it?
Kevin sat at his desk, scrolling through Facebook on his new iPhone 12. He hated all political posts but couldn’t help reading them. This was a light day. Only two or three. He jumped a little when he heard movement coming from the hallway outside his tiny office. Hardly anyone ever came down there. He listened for a while but heard only the buzz of the fluorescent lights above his desk and the ticking of his watch. “Oh shit. I’m hearing things.” He had heard of this happening. Spend all your time alone and you go a little nuts. He shook it off and went back to his phone but this time typed in – Long term affects of being alone.
Sarah had been standing in the darkness, she didn’t know how long. She felt that time wasn’t moving. There still hadn’t been any noises, she was too afraid to try finding the light switch again, so she waited. As she stood, she had a thought. I must’ve been kidnapped! But by whom?
She searched her mind for clues. She couldn’t remember the last thing she saw or felt. Nothing. She ran through what she knew to be fact. My name is Sarah Jackson. I live in a two bedroom apartment in Queens. I have a cat named Mimi. Mimi! She saw a flash of her former life. The cat looking up at her, raising her paw like she did when she was hungry. Oh my God! I forgot to feed her!
In a moment of desperation, she began to move her arms, there must be something she can touch, a wall, a door, anything but there was nothing. There didn’t even seem to be air around her. She knew she was somewhere. She curled her toes expecting to feel a floor, she’d been standing on something hadn’t she? She started to panic again finding it hard to breath but why? Was there even air? Fuck this! She bent down on her knees and felt for a floor and then suddenly, a memory.
She was in her bathtub. She saw her hand come out of the water and grip the side of the tub. She heard a faint knocking on the door. It took all her strength to turn her head toward the sound. A tear ran down her face when she realized she wasn’t going to be able to get up. Then, she took a painful labored breath in and blacked out.
Kevin was busy scrolling through information on his phone when his alarm went off. Thank fucking God! He checked his watch and sure enough it was time to go home. He slipped his phone into his pocket and stood up. When he got to the entrance of the hallway, he realized he didn’t know which way to go. “What the fuck?”He looked down the hallway to the left. Same as always, empty, stark white walls, the ceiling lined with those awful fluorescent lights. He looked to the right, the same. That’s strange. That’s where the door to the staircase was. But it wasn’t. How the fuck am I supposed to get home!?
He heard something like a cart rolling toward him from the opposite direction. He took a step back and looked slowly toward the sound but there was nothing! The phantom cart rolled right past him, through him? Alright man, calm down. It’s just your imagination. You work in a morgue, you think it’s haunted but it’s NOT! He suddenly got very angry with his ex girlfriend. Every time she heard a noise she’d swear it was a “spirit” that had followed him home. He brushed it off but there was always a little part of him that believed her. God damn it Mona!! He took out his phone and googled “Can a ghost follow you home from a morgue.”
Sarah was sitting now. Legs crossed, eyes closed? She didn’t know anymore. She was trying to breath in and out. Counting, a trick she’d come up with to help her relax when she felt a panic attack coming on. One, two, three, four, five, six. She thought about Mimi. Hopefully her roommate Jen, decided to all of a sudden give a shit about their cat and fed her. Yeah right! She didn’t care! Wait! Jen’s a good roommate! Sarah remembered something. She and Jen outside a pet store window. Jen, wearing that adorable blue and grey knit hat, kneeling down making kissing noises at a tiny grey and white kitten. It had reached up and put a paw on the window. Just like Mimi! Mimi. She remembered something else.
Kevin was now convinced he was in fact being tormented by a spirit. He couldn’t figure out how. I work in records! I’ve never even seen a dead body! He gasped. That wasn’t true. He remembered walking down the aisle in a church. He was trembling. He looked up at his father who held his hand, tight. Whatever they were getting closer to, it was terrible and he desperately wanted to run the other way. That’s right! My brother, Johnny! He had died. Kevin didn’t know how old he was at the time. Very young. Young enough to have forgotten all about this. He closed his eyes and remembered his father falling to his knees when they reached the alter. It was an open casket. I refused to look! He remembered feeling like the people in the church were angry at him. Suddenly, Kevin had tears streaming down his face.
Sarah was still sitting cross legged, thinking about Mimi. Jen never knew her. Her precious kitty had died back home in Colorado. She was devastated. That’s why they were looking for a cat. Jen thought getting a kitten and calling it Mimi 2, or, Madam Mimi the second, as she would say, like she was announcing a Medieval member of high society at a ball. Sarah laughed out loud. You funny bitch! Jen seemed like a memory now. Someone she’d known in a previous life. Known? It was more. She had one final flash, laying in bed looking at Jen, her beautiful smiling face illuminated by early morning sunshine. The light grew brighter and brighter along with it a sound like electricity. Sarah shut her eyes and covered her ears, she knew it would be unbearable in a second. Now, silence. And darkness. Just as she was about to lay down, she heard something. Purring!
Kevin was back at his desk, his head in his hands. Thank God no one comes down here. I must look fucking ridiculous, crying like a little bitch! He picked his head up. He looked at his watch, it’s face flickering in and out of clear vision. He rubbed his eyes. The nagging sound from the fluorescent lights was becoming to much to bear. He got up and flicked the light switch. “Fuck!!” He remembered that switch had been for something else. The lights were turned on and off by a technician. Rich! That fat piece of shit! He stomped down the hallway to the staircase. He stopped. The staircase! It’s here!
Sarah was overcome with happiness as she saw a pair of round eyes with light reflected in them. Mimi! She could hear the pitter patter of feet as the cat ran to her like she always did when she got home. She scratched her little head and bent down to kiss her. That’s when she realized it. There’s light! Sarah looked ahead of her and saw rays of light coming through what looked like a cracked wall.
Kevin stood at the door for a moment. He didn’t trust it. Did he really want to go home? There’s nothing there except bills. Mona had been gone for a couple months, she left a plant but It had died. You know what? First thing I’m gonna do is throw that thing out! He gripped the door knob to open it but it was stuck! He tried again, it wouldn’t budge. The door could be locked automatically if there were some kind of security breach. Of course! Rich! He started banging furiously on the door. “Rich! You fat fuck! Open the FUCKING door!!”
Sarah got up. She moved slowly toward the rays of light. She could feel warmth. She heard a sound getting louder as she moved closer and closer.
Kevin was now kicking the door. Those damned fluorescent lights! The sound had changed. It was a rhythmic beeping. He recognized it. He saw himself as a teenager looking at a hospital bed. A priest standing over it, praying. Last rights. A nurse reached over to a machine. He recognized it as a respirator. Kevin’s chest heaved as he saw his father laying there motionless with tubes coming out of everywhere.
Sarah held her hand in the warm soothing light. Whatever was blocking it fell away. She was now bathed in glorious illumination.
Kevin opened his eyes gasping for air. He saw a fluorescent light flickering above him. He saw the outline of scrambling human forms dressed in full body white suits. Something was being pulled out of him. The humanoids hovered over him as he struggled to breathe. He could see that they were cheering.
Sarah was flying, way above the stratosphere. She could smell cinnamon and cloves. She looked down and saw her lifeless body laying in a hospital bed. A nurse by her side, weeping. She felt sorry for the nurse but it was okay, she didn’t need that body anymore. She looked further and saw Jen slumped over on their living room floor, sobbing, holding a grey and white kitten. Sarah blew a kiss. Jen took a deep breath and looked up. Sarah knew she didn’t see her but she felt her. She could feel something so inviting above her. She knew what she had to do. She flipped over in the air, and drifted upward toward the light…