The female voice calling my name was familiar.
“Eric. Wake up. Now!”
Was it Emma, the girl who sat near me in Econ? She was pretty hot and I was sure she sometimes flirted with me as I talked to her before class. She didn’t stick around after class long enough for me to find out.
I opened my eyes. It was very dark, but worse than that, I couldn’t focus. Even the shadows were blurry. I could barely make out the female figure leaning in close over me.
She had a hand open-palmed on my shoulder and gave me an occasional shove.
I was sure it was Emma. It had to be. I could feel her breath. I grabbed her to pull her down for a kiss, but she pulled out of my hands as soon as I touched her, before I could get a grip.
“What’s wrong with you? Weirdo.”
I blinked a few times and the face came into focus, now a bit easier since she wasn’t as close and shadowed as she was before.
It was my sister, Karen. Where was I?
“Sorry, I was dreaming,” I said.
“More like you’re drunk. I told you not to hang out with Matt.” She never really liked my friends, but now, as a high school senior, she made no bones about showing her disapproval of the “townies” and couldn’t wait to leave for good.
“Maybe.” My focus still wasn’t great. “Perhaps I am still a little tipsy.”
I sat up. Why was I on a couch?
The night came back to me, or at least part of it.
“Oh my God! I passed out on the couch! Have Mom and Dad seen me like this?”
I could see Karen a little clearer, but it was still dark. She shook her head.
“No, we aren’t at home. We have to get out of here now. Why’d you ever come in this place, anyway? Let’s go.”
I stood up and almost fell over again. My stomach did a somersault. I knocked something over with a bang. Karen, already on her way, looked over her shoulder at me.
“Hurry, but quietly!”
I glanced around and realized I was in 345 Cedar Street. I took a step for the front door, banging my shin on a coffee table. The windows on the Cedar street side showed a slight predawn glow, but the room was almost pitch black.
I took two more steps, careful not to hit anything else.
The front door was rattling, beginning to open.
“Damn,” Karen said. “Quick, this way.”
She grabbed my hand and dragged me towards a different corner of the room, shins be damned.
I glanced back as we left through a door I hadn’t noticed. There were strange elongated shadows in the front door. I only saw them for a fraction of a second before I was pulled down a steep stairway.
Once started down, Karen let go of me.
With my hands free again, I grabbed the banister on both sides and followed my sister down the dark well. I bumped into her as she stopped. I heard a noise and the door opened outwards.
Karen ran down a path and called over her shoulder, “Hurry! Sprint!”
I took off after her, my stomach lurching and my head spinning. Why did I drink so much?
Karen lunged to the side took a few steps and then jumped into thin air. She dropped out of sight.
I followed, ready to die as I leaped into a small canyon, but was surprised that the gully was only about three feet deep.
“Duck! If they see you, they’ll kill us.” Karen was lying down, pressed against the side of the culvert.
A tall, twisted shadow was heading down the trail. I ducked and pressed myself against the side of the gully, trying not to breath.
After a while I could feel Karen move. She stood, scanned the area then half crouched. I got up as well, staying in a half crouching position, although it made me feel a little unbalanced. I thought I was feeling better until I got up.
Karen walked down the gully. I realized that she was dressed for summer. I still had on a winter coat and was sweating, which didn’t help the nausea.
“What were those things?”
“We call them ‘Shadow Goons’.”
“We? Who’s ‘we’?”
She didn’t answer. In a minute she climbed a steep ledge and headed back towards the building.
Approaching from a different angle, I couldn’t see any doors or windows. Karen made a “shush” motion with her moth and finger and pushed me flat against the wall. She tapped “shave and a haircut” rhythm on the wall.
A door appeared.
We entered a sunlit room. It looked comfortable, even if most of the furniture was comically over-sized.
“We are in the Thworans’ world. We’ll be safe,” Karen said.
The Thworans were a private joke, make-believe monsters I used to tease her with when we were kids. I once had a dream about some monsters which I later called “Thworans”, but pushed my fears onto my little sister, telling her that they would get her if she ventured out at night. What are big brothers for?
A door opened and a nine-foot-tall creature entered. Its muscles rippled through its thin clothing as it moved. It stopped in front of us and smiled. I could see the rows of sharp teeth.
“Welcome Karen. It’s been a while,” the Thworan, yes, a real Thworan!, said.
“Thank you, Threck,” Karen said. “I’d like you to meet my brother Eric. Eric, Threck. Threck, Eric.”
“Charmed.” Threck did a slight bow. “Let’s go into the dining room and get comfortable.”
Karen followed the large beast out of the room. There was nothing I could do but follow as well, wondering if we were to be the main course for its dinner.
I have some ideas where I want to go with this now. If you missed it, here is Chapter 1. Chapter 1 is based on two stories I wrote for Friday Fictioneers last week.
Continue reading at Chapter 3