Do you know that feeling, like when you don't know where to start a story? Like when you wish it was just a story and nothing real at all? Like when you're stuck thinking 'If this were just a story, it would be much, much easier to tell'? All the jumbles of words can't seem to coordinate themselves into a proper sentence and we're just stuck... staring into the dim light of your computer screen, asking yourself, repeatedly 'Where do I even start?'
That's where I am, right now.
So tell me, where do I start this story?
On a roller coaster. I start this story on a roller coaster. I'm going to openly proclaim right now I never want to ride a roller coaster again. I never want to see fair food or hear jingling key chains or see smears of spilled slushie on hot cement. I used to have fond memories of these things. I don't anymore.
Maybe it starts when we got off the roller coaster. When did the people start fading out? I'm not really sure when the park started emptying or the dark started settling in. When did the air go stale and still? I'm not sure where things started going wrong. It seemed like all of a sudden things just weren't what they were before and suddenly we three weren't together anymore.
They like leaving me alone in these places. They like having me run about and look for people in large empty spaces. They like giving my panic attacks because they can. I think in a cruel way, they like making me feel the need to release my lunch everywhere. You know, and then I actually do. It happens. Happened. A bit. Maybe more than a bit. I'm feeling a little prideful about it.
I kept a handle on it though. It wasn't so bad this time you know? No curling in on myself. No falling asleep and thinking 'well this is it'. None of that self-deprecation shit either. It's not my job, according to certain other members of the party.
I didn't sleep much over those days.
Too full of energy.
Didn't eat much either.
So I looked. I looked hard and long. And I found what I was looking for, eventually. Blake was on one of those big swinging ships, strapped in, passed out. I had no idea how to operate the thing. It seemed to be operating on this infernal timed loop. Stop. Start. Go go go. Stop. Start. Go.
So I waited. Eventually it stopped again. And then I went and grabbed him quick as I could manage, before it started up again.
So now I had a passed out Blake on the loading dock of this swinging ship, and I'm crying and screaming at him to wake up, because I need him to wake up. I need him to wake up right then.
And by some miracle or magic choice of words, he does. He snaps his eyes open and he's there with me again. The rush of relief right then? Unspeakable.
After a time I manage to get him walking, and it's back to looking. I keep his hand in mine. I never let go.
We found Lissie in the fun house after what felt like a whole nother day of looking. She barely awake in the mirror room. I found her by her manic laughter. It stopped when we got into the room. Turned to a more sick gurgling. All the blood in her throat. It's a miracle she didn't choke on it.
Oh god that was a sight to see.
Zip-ties, curled in on herself, blood under her finger nails (not entirely sure that it was hers), nose a shambles, neck bruised and caked with dried blood, ribs broken - again. When we cut the ties off her, she could hardly stand on her own. We didn't make her.
She guided us out, she knew how to navigate it, someway or another. Maybe it was instincts in this place, maybe she's got a talent? I don't get any of it, but I'm practically dragging the two of them out, Lissie coughing out her guidance.
I still hadn't let go of Blake's hand.
He was right there with us. Right there. Next to me. He felt that first breath of fresh air. That life again. And then he was being dragged from my grip. Dragged. Clawed. He clung. I clung. I reached. He reached back for me. Everything was warped.
A face. There was a face behind him. Or the shape of a face. A warped image of a not-face. Seen it before. I couldn't hurt it. Never could. Couldn't sway it. Couldn't make it's grip on Blake loosen. Me? Just a non-consequential being. Powerless. Everything distorted in that moment. Suffocating. Somehow.
I couldn't pull Blake back. He was out of my grip. Then he was gone.
I'm getting him back. Don't you think for a second that I won't.