Monday, October 29, 2012
It was pitch black and he was alone. Only moments ago, he’d been trailing his brother, his brother’s girl friend and some of their friends. Now here he was, feeling his way along an empty corridor.
Kurt called out, “Karl, where are you?” but got no reply.
He stopped moving. He suspected the others were playing a prank on him. “This isn’t funny.” There were no whispers or snickers.
How had he gotten separated? He’d been following Karl as closely as he dared. There couldn’t have been more than a foot of space separating them. Maybe the passageway split, or an unseen door opened. In the dark, he’d gone one way while the others went in a different direction.
He took a few deep breaths and began feeling his way along the smooth walls, shuffling his feet as he went. He searched for an opening or doorway. After going a few feet without finding one, he sidestepped to the other wall. He misjudged the distance, and jammed a finger on a solid barrier.
“Damn it!” He listened for barely suppressed laughter. Still nothing.
He continued on, alternating left to right. He squinted at the darkness, hoping to detect light or sound that would guide him in the right direction. The absence of everything was disorienting.
I wonder if I end up in an unused part of this house? Maybe he was in an “Authorized Personnel Only” area. He called out to see if he could get somebody’s attention.
“Hello? I think I’m lost. Is anybody there?” Again he was answered by silence.
He continued on, finding nothing. How long is this hallway?
Finally, he thought he heard something. It was like a low humming sound and it was coming from ahead of him. He quickened his pace as much as he dared, and moved toward it. The sound became louder. It sounded less like humming to him now. It seemed more like moaning. Or maybe it was singing. He wasn’t sure.
He noticed something near the floor. It was bright, and angular. He squinted, hoping to see it more clearly. It was blueish white, and flickered in and out, but without disappearing completely.
When he was nearly upon it, he realized he was seeing light shinning under a partially closed door. Finally. He groped around with both hands. When he discovered wood molding, he exhaled in relief.
Not thinking about what he could be walking into, he pushed a door aside and entered what seemed to be the only room in that part of the house.
After fumbling in the dark for so long, even the small amount of light in the room was blinding. It took Kurt a few seconds to focus and take in the details of the room. It was much smaller than he’d expected, not much bigger than a large closet. The peculiar light was coming from an abundance of candles scattered about. He wondered what kind of candles produced blue flames.
In a corner opposite the door, there was a round table, covered by a cloth. A figure was seated at it, head down. It looked, to Kurt, as if the person was reading. He couldn’t imagine trying to read in such meager light. Maybe they were napping.
Encouraged by the sight of another person, Kurt forgot to be scared. He stepped toward the table. Clearing his throat to alert the figure of his presence. They raised their head, and looked in his direction.
“Hi, sorry to...” Kurt remembered where he was, and braced himself for something to happen. He could see that the person at the table was a girl. She smiled at him but did not immediately speak. Fairly confident that he was not in a room that was part if the attraction, he continue with what he had started to say.
“I’ve gotten separated from the others. Could you help me get back to them?”
“These others want you to rejoin them?”
Kurt was surprised by her question. He knew that Karl would rather not have his younger brother tagging along, but he didn’t think he wanted him gone.
“I accidentally got separated from my group. They’ll be looking for me.”
“Will they now? Why don’t you have a seat, and I’ll help you find your brother shortly. They’re no doubt still in the house somewhere. We should wait until they’re outside again.”
Kurt understood her reasoning. Most of the interior of the house was dark and chaotic. He’d have better luck finding the when they exited.
He noticed a wooden stool partially concealed beneath the tablecloth. He pulled it out and sat opposite the girl. Her smile was warm and friendly. He felt himself relaxing. He was glad he’d stumbled across this room.
“May I offer you some tea while you wait?”
Not being a tea drinker, but not wanting to be impolite, Kurt said yes. She stood, and crossed to cabinet where she busied herself preparing his cup. He could hear the clink and tinkle of china and utensils as she poured and stirred. She returned to where he was seated, a steaming cup in hand.
She handed it to Kurt and then stood there as if waiting for him to take a sip. It appeared to be very hot. He noticed the aroma as he brought it to his face. It was spicy and exotic smelling. It seemed like something his mother might drink.
“What kind is it?”
“It’s my own special blend. I make it out of plants I grow in my garden. I sweetened it with a little honey. Try it. It’s just what you need.”
Kurt did as he was instructed. He was cautious about taking any of it in, not wanting to burn himself. As the liquid hit his tongue he was surprised to find that it was the perfect temperature. He allowed a little more to flow from the cup.
It had a peculiar but pleasant taste, with just the right amount of sweetness. He thought he could detect flavors of cinnamon and licorice. He swallowed before taking another drink. If all tea tasted like this, I’d drink it more often. He peered at the girl over the rim of his cup. She continued to smile at him, though he thought it held a different quality now.
He set the now half empty cup on the table.
“Thank you. It’s very good.”
Instead of returning to her seat, she stepped closer until she was standing behind him. He felt her hands rest on his shoulders. The contact surprised him, but he didn’t attempt to move away. He felt very calm, almost sleepy, and very safe with the girl. He closed his eyes for a moment, and enjoyed the sensation of the warm tea in his belly and the comforting.
“I bet you’re angry with your brother and your friends for letting you get lost.”
“I don’t think they did it on purpose.”
“Mmm.” The girl’s response puzzled Kurt.
“They’re probably about done with the tour now. Maybe we should go see if we can find them.”
Kurt felt the hands slide down onto his chest. He was starting to feel uncomfortable. He attempted to move away, but she held him tight.
“Relax. I’ll help you find your friends, but I need something from you first.”
Before he could ask her what she wanted from him, he felt the nails of both hands dig into his flesh through his sweatshirt. He wanted to scream out, but found that the sensation stole his voice.
Kurt thought he heard fabric tearing, followed by a wet sound, like stirring cooked noodles. He expected pain, but instead felt an intense coldness bloom in his chest. The chill spread outward from where the girl’s hands worked at fabric and the flesh underneath.
The light in the room began to fade and as it did, so too did the cold. Soon there was no room. Then there was no girl and eventually, no Kurt.