Chapter 2- Born Again
I opened my eyes. Wherever I was, it was dark. My brow throbbed with pain, as did my neck and back. I saw a pool of blood where my head had been as I tried to pull myself up. I realized I had been bleeding from my left eyelid and across my eyebrow. I touched the cut to see if I was still bleeding.
I examined the space directly ahead of me. There was food that had been spilled from the shelves on the floor, a small fire to my right, wires and mangled machinery everywhere, and dents and holes on the sides of the craft. There were two bodies slumped over in the helm chairs, both of them lifeless. I drew my breath in. I realized I was the sole survivor. I felt almost guilty, but at this point, I was too unnerved to care. I slowly managed to get to my feet.
"Where am I?" I said aloud, supporting my weight on the side of the ship with my left arm. Then I realized something very bad. Not only did I not know WHERE I was, but I did not know WHO I was. I struggled to recall anything. All I could remember were a few emotions. I was scared and I had been trying to get away from danger. Any more than that was a mystery.
"Well, you certainly didn't do a very good job of getting away from danger," I said, looking around myself. I got down on my knees and managed to crawl out of the mangled ship though one of the holes in the side. I looked around. I was in a heavily wooded area. I panicked. I did not know what to do. I clenched my fists together and I decided to start walking.
After what seemed like hours, I came upon a beautiful building. It was far off, but my heart raced. Finally, I could get help! I started running toward it. It had fountains and flowers and seemed to be well lit by a pink shimmer above in the sky. I figured this must be the palace of whatever planet I was on. It was then that two people walked by in very fancy clothes.
I was about to approach them when an eerie feeling washed over my body. I didn't know why, but I got the feeling that I should stay away from them. I almost hated them, but as far as I knew, I had not even met them.
It was then that I looked down and studied my clothing. It was, or rather had been, very fancy as well. Maybe I did know them. I decided to steer clear of the palace for the reason that maybe the palace was what I had been trying to get away from. I took one last look and darted across the path leading to the gates and headed down a dirt road that eventually led to another building. I had been walking a good hour before I reached it. It was dark, but maybe it was open and could provide shelter from the cold.
I went to the front door. Locked. I went to the side door. Locked. I peered in and saw it was a Library. I went to the back. No door. It was there that I sat down, exhausted, in the grass and huddled against the back wall.
"Now what?", I asked myself. I put my right hand on my throbbing forehead and my left hand down on the grass. Except, It didn't land on only grass. My fingers curled around a cold ring. It was large and covered in dirt and grass. I tried to lift it but it was caught on something. I managed to get to my feet and began to tug. Then to my amazement what appeared to be a hidden cellar door opened up.
"The ring must have been the handle to the door." I deduced. Yeah, Yeah, I'm the next Sherlock Holmes, I know. But how often do you find hidden doors leading underground? It hadn't been opened for years, I could tell by the way the grass had completely grown over it.
"Well, it's shelter," I said. I proceeded to descend the staircase just inside the door. There was a flashlight sitting in what looked like a torch holder. I walked down to it, clutching the railing for dear life, as I was very tired. I figured I had lost too much blood and was now weakened by it. I took out the flashlight when I reached the seventh step. When I took out the light, the door shut above me. I clicked on the light and slowly went down the stairs. I found a light switch at the bottom of the staircase. I switched it on and a bulb in the middle of the room flickered to life. All I saw at this point was a bed. I was so exhausted from walking I went and collapsed it.
I figured I had better tend to this cut on my head. I reluctantly pulled myself up and went to a table that was in the center of the room. There I found an old rag. I looked around. I saw what looked to be an adjoining bathroom. I found a light switch just inside, but the bulb was broken. I took in the flashlight and went to the faucet. I turned the water on. There was a gurgling sound followed by a gush a brown liquid. I waited to see if it would clear. When it got to a pale yellow I wet the rag. I looked up, into a mirror and saw myself for the first time.
I would have looked okay if it wasn't for the ugly cut across my eye. I cleaned it, (well, with the yellow water, cleaned it) and went to collapse on the bed, but not before switching out the light.
I awoke the next morning. I got up out of bed groggily and looked around. I reached for my flashlight. I walked over to the light switch and turned it on. It was then I examined the room more closely. There were many furnishings. A couch, a writing desk and chair, a coffee table in the middle of the room, and of course the bed. Along the walls were newspaper clippings of the building. I walked over to the wall. The clippings were old and yellowed. Some of them unreadable. I read a few that were legible and found out the building I was in was a community center. Then I noticed two doors on the opposite side of the room from the stairway I had first entered.
My curiosity grew like a wildfire. I began to run to one of the doors but slowed my pace because my head hurt too much. I opened the door on the right, revealing another stairway. I scaled the stairs only to bring myself to a sort of tunnel. I figured that when the stairs ended, I was at ground level again. The tunnel before me could not have been more than five by five.
I began to crawl. It had light coming through somehow. The tunnel had a sudden drop as it opened. It became about twelve feet high and only about three feet wide. I jumped the drop which was only about three feet down. I looked into where the light was coming from. I got to a place where I saw what looked to be like a dance class. I was standing there behind only glass where they could surely see me. Frightened, I stood there just looking.
Then, the whole class turned towards me. But nobody appeared to see me. No reactions like, "Who are you, and what are you doing here?" No funny looks. Nothing.
The music stopped. "Okay ladies!" the instructor shouted. Line up by the mirror. The class walked over to the other side of the classroom and turned away from me. It was then I realized I had been holding my breath. I let it out and took a deep breath. I realized this was a one-way mirror and that they couldn't see me.
I continued down the tunnel, taking great care not to make the slightest sound. They couldn't see me, but I bet they could hear me. The talent of sneaking around seemed to come naturally to me, but I couldn't remember why.
I descended a short flight of stairs until I reached another tunnel, this one not as long. I saw some light ahead and sped up slightly to see where it came from. I looked up and peeked through what appeared to be a set of vents.
I was in a kitchen. The smells of the room were so intoxicating. I realized for the first time how hungry I was. I did not know when the last time I had eaten. It felt like days ago.
"This place must be a whole lot bigger than I thought," I whispered to myself. It was apparent I could crawl through the walls of the entire community center. I doubted anyone else knew about the tunneling. I had found my very own way to get around unnoticed. I felt the excitement begin to rise in me. I also felt hungry. My stomach growled so loud I was sure someone could have heard. I peered through the vent to get a better look around.
I saw three cooks with several large crockpots. They appeared to be cleaning them out over a large sink. I waited for the cooks to leave. They locked the doors (one leading outside and the other to an adjoining room). I pushed up on the vent and was quite surprised at how easily it lifted. I raced to the refrigerator and grabbed (of course being nine) the large vanilla cake sitting in the center. My mouth began to water. I figured I should take this back to the room I had slept in. I was about to make off with the cake when I heard the key in the door.
I quickly shoved the cake back in the refrigerator and raced to an open cupboard. I looked around and found myself to be where the spice and preserves were stored. The cook seemed to be having trouble getting the key in the lock. I debated making a dash for the vent.
Finally, the door opened. One of the cooks entered shouting, "Okay, I'll get the salt. Lousy Louise. Always forgettin' somethin'."
I saw the salt next to me and panicked. I opened the door and dropped the salt out of before the cooked turned to the cupboard, at least I hoped it was before. Just then the man stumbled and hit the cupboard with all his weight. My heart leapt to my throat and I held my breath. Not even noticing the salt, the cook grabbed the door and yanked it open. He took a bottle contained something green and shut it.
I had seen the man staring straight at me but he didn't even say a word to me about being in the cupboard. The man tripped and stumbled back towards the door. Then he shouted, "Ya know, Louise, I gotta lay off the beer. I just thought I saw a dirty kid in the cupboard."
I almost laughed. Thank goodness for drunks! After the man eventually managed to lock up the kitchen again, I crept out of the cupboard cautiously. I went back to the refrigerator. I reached in and got the cake. Quick as I could manage, I dropped it into the vent from which I came and climbed in.
I closed the vent and pushed the cake in front of me until I was able to stand. This break came when the short stairway was within reach. I picked up the cake and ascended the stairs and retraced my steps until I got back to the room I now called home.
I didn't have a knife or silverware so I just grabbed a fist full of cake and shoved it in my mouth. It was delicious. But then, I had a feeling worms would have been delicious at this point. I thought I would die of hunger.
I kept eating until I had devoured half the cake. Once I was full, I journeyed back into the tunnel, passing the vents in the kitchen until I had to climb a ladder. At the top, I found himself on a large platform hidden by a curtain. I peeked through to find I was an over a stage.
This platform was too high for it to have been used by tech crew and was obviously hidden to anyone, including the actors. It looked like part of the ceiling. On the other side of the platform, I found another part of the tunnels. I walked over to it and continued down. This time the tunnel roof was well over six feet above my head.
I soon came to the library I had seen the night before. I passed it and ventured down the hall until I came to a waist-high platform to my left. The tunnel continued past it but the platform had several vents in it. I got on the platform and looked down through the vents into the library I. I figured the platform I was currently on was the ceiling of the Library and the tunnel I had been going down was near the roof in height.
After peeking in a while into the library I climbed back to the tunnel and continued my adventure. The walkway began to slant downward and I saw another light. I heard the music of the dance class starting up again. When I reached the light's source I had to stop. It was the top part of a one-way mirror of the dance room, except this time it was on the other side of the room and the mirror came up to my waist. I looked down at the dancers and then realized I had made a full circle.
I started walking again and soon came to a very long stairway and descended it. I recognized the door at the bottom of the staircase as the door on the left of my room. I re-entered my room, coming out the opposite door I entered. I was pleased.
"How nice," I said to myself. "I guess this is home now. I have everything. A kitchen that will always have free food. A library, where I can get books to learn. A dance room that will let me hear music. And I can watch all the plays for free from the platform. I'll live here forever."