“I don’t know, everything just seems so perfect.” Glenn says, laying down on his back. His hands cupped under his head as he looks at the sky. Not that there’s anything special about the sky today, just plain gray. It couldn’t even bother to be blue, just dreary and cloudy.
“Really?” I ask, not sure where this new philosophy came from.
“I just feel,” He pauses, “Happy, for once, Lyra.”
“I mean everythings just going well for me at the moment,” Glenn continues as he sits up, his once white shirt now stained with green patches.
“Glenn, your shirt,” I try to say with a laugh. His dark skin shows no recognition of the words, almost like they weren't said at all. But then the joy from earlier is gone, disappearing like the moment never happened.
“Lyra, you know you can’t talk about reality,” He says, his voice grave. He runs his hand through his shaggy black hair, messing it up as it falls into his eyes.“They don’t like it.”
His words send panic racing through me, despite having no clue what he’s talking about.
“Who are they?” I ask, all previous thoughts forgotten.
“Ignorance doesn’t change where we are.” He says it like this is some place we’re trapped in, and not the paradise he was so fond of a minute ago.
“This isn’t funny, Glenn. Stop doing that.” I say, hoping that all his words were lies. Just something he conjured up as a joke, to scare me.
“Why would I lie?” He asks. Genuine hurt in his eye, that’s just as disturbing as his words.
How did we go from looking at the sky and pondering life to this?
Just as I think it, a red glint passes over the sky. Making it look like a force bouncing against an invisible barrier, before it disappears.
“Did you see that?” I ask Glenn, his green eyes wide in shock.
“Why are you questioning it, Lyra? You’re gonna get us both in trouble.”
Then his expression turns back to the giddy one from earlier, melting back into the moment before all of this.
“I don’t know, everything just seems so perfect.” He says again.
What is happening?
It’s been a couple days since the sky turned fluorescent and Glenn scared me. And It’s anything but forgotten.
I think about it every free moment of the day, every lapse in time. Even with this pass in time, the event makes no more sense.
“Earth to Lyra, earth to Lyra. Anyone copy?” Mar says, into an invisible device. I give her an annoyed look, not ready to leave my thoughts yet. “Lyra?” She knocks on my head after she says the words.
“Hey,” I say, pushing her hand away. My hand looking far more pale than before compared to Mars. The freckles dotting her cheeks corroborating her outdoorsy lifestyle. Adding to the look is the leaf stuck in her braided orange hair and the flannel shirt.
She looks just as likely to hop on a horse or to pose for an autumn photo.
The woodsy scene around her only adding to the effect. We’re on Mar’s farm by the barn right before it cuts into the woods.
“You wanna tell me what you’re thinking about?” She asks, her voice hinted with an accented tilt. “Did you break up with Glenn?!” Her voice is far too enthusiastic.
She never liked Glenn much, I think she was skeptical of him. He is the classic hot guy in movies, popular in school. We even met because he needed a tutor, how Cliché is that? I guess because of that she thought he was just using me, but she doesn’t know him like I do.
I pause mid thought.
Yeah, I heard it.
I already addressed that we’re cliché.
“I’m just making sure you’re okay,” Mar says, smiling. “You can talk to me.”
I want to.
I want nothing more than to tell her everything, and I try.
“What’s going on, Mar?” I ask, my voice high and scared.
“Nothing,” She says, fiddling with her earring. Just as she does every time she lies.
“Mar?” I say, hoping she’ll tell me. “Why won’t anyone talk about anything? Why did the sky change colors? Why’s everyone-” Mar grabs my wrist, stopping me. Her skin looking gray and sweaty.
It immediately sends panic through me, and then I look at her face.
Her braided pigtails are messy, the ends jagged and short. Like someone grabbed the end and cut it off, leaving it barely two inches long. She always would style her hair into the most complex of twists and styles, she never would have done this herself. I can imagine the sad look that would be in her eyes, but…
Her pupils are gone, replaced by pure silver. The same silver that now drips from her lips, spilling down her chin.
She doesn’t look human.
“Mar?” I ask, my voice small in shock.
I know I should be scared. Of what happened to my friend. Of who did this. And of whoever ‘they’ are that everyone seems so scared of.
But I just feel numb, and trapped. Like something is limiting my emotions. Or like I’ve already lived through this.
That’s when all the emotions hit me.
And pure unbridled fear.
It’s almost too much for me to bear as my heart races and my breaths come out short and shallow.
Everything feels wrong, and I can’t explain the pain I feel in my heart. It’s like the worst kind of emptiness, the kind that can never be filled again.
The kind that is there forever, a constant reminder.
It feels like loss.
The loss of a love or a brother, or the loss of a friend.
Mentals pictures flash through my mind, like photos capturing a second in time.
A creature bearing its teeth, the same silvery liquid dripping from its long fangs. Its wild gray fur is on edge, a defense mechanism.
It moves like a rough animation as its hand slashes through the air, scraping at the skin on my check.
No, this didn’t happen.
These aren’t my memories.
My hand goes to my cheek, my fingers immediately landing on the gash now there.
It wasn’t there a second ago.
The creature bares its teeth again, only this time I notice a shape behind it. It’s facing away, with a cut lock of hair next to it, discarded.
“Lyra!” Mar asks, her voice loud and full of fear.
“What- Are you okay?” She asks, crouching over me.
No, I’m most certainly not okay.
“You fell,” She says, making me realize, I am indeed on the ground. But I don’t bother to stand back up. “and had this terrified look on your face.” She continues, looking anywhere but at me. I do the same, unable to see anything but the horror my mind had just shown me.
Where did they come from?
They can’t be mine, could they?
“You really scared me.” Mar continues, her voice so cheery it’d seem like nothing had happened.
It was just in my head…
“But seriously, are you okay?” She asks, as she puts her hand on my arm to help me up.
Then the sky flashes red again, this time a large gap forming.
“Please tell me you see that?” I beg Mar, but she’s gone. Not gone like she was a minute ago, covered in silver. Gone as in she disappeared as if she were never here.
“Mar?” I whisper, although I don’t have time to panic because my body lifts off the ground.
“Mar!” I say more desperate this time, just as I’m pulled into the air higher. Like a marionette doll yanked up by her strings. The terrain rapidly disappears before I near the sky.
But I don’t stop.
I fly even faster as my body crashes through the capsule, now glowing an even brighter red. It feels like I’m crashing through water, but it doesn’t stop.
I just keep going.
And going before I crash into the black abyss. It feels like wading through water, murky and slow. It seems like the fall might never end…
But then I open my eyes.
I’m in a room full of bright lights and beeping machines. Various tubes tie me to the devices as a reporter rambles on the TV. There’s a curtain on my right, just next to my bed. Which is covered in thin sheets, tucked around the blue outfit on my body.
It’s a room I know immediately.
What am I doing here?
There’s a lone chair next to the bed, occupied by a figure.
His head is in his hands, his white shirt lightly stained green.
That was a few days ago when that happened, why is he still in the same shirt?
What is happening?
“Glenn?” I ask, hoping he can explain all of this.
If ‘they’ let him talk about it, I think angrily.
He startles at my voice, like he’s rearing back to life. He looks so tired as he looks at me, his eyes shocked and hopeful.
“You’re awake,” He says, smiling as he stands up. “I was worried there for a minute.” The smile disappears with his words.
“What happened?” I ask. His expression changes again into worry and longing. “I was with Mar at the-” I stop when I realize I don’t remember. Everything from before, seems like a dull dream. Fading away into a hazy thought the more I try to remember it.
That- it’s couldn’t be.
That can’t be what that was.
I don’t want to admit that it makes sense. It could have been some sort of defense mechanism, that’s a thing right? People creating fictional worlds in your head when something traumatic happens, as a way to lock out the memory.
“You don’t remember?” He asks, the question seeming wrong after the direction my thoughts went.
I shake my head.
Images of the beast flash back through my mind.
That couldn’t be… No.’
Was that reality?
Not the dream I’d been living in?
Nothing feels real anymore. How can I tell? A random detail comes back to me from the little I know, something I can check.
My hand goes to my cheek feeling for the phantom gash from earlier. My fingers land on a plush bandage, I suck in a breath.
That was real…
How was that real? Do I even know?
“Was the creature– was it real?” I ask him, struggling to find the words. His face is a pained expression as he grabs my hand, careful of the IV coming from it.
My entire body has settled into a dull ache, but I can hardly feel it. It’s probably from pain medication or something of the sorts. Maybe that explains why my emotions feel strangely suppressed.
Even in the dream thing I could feel it.
I wish I knew the whole of what happened.
The creature bares its teeth in my mind.
Or maybe it’s for the best.
Another thought fills my mind, Mar.
Panic fills me at the possibility.
“Mar-” I say, my voice frantic. “Is Mar okay?”
He looks away, avoiding the question.
Which is all the answer I need…