Chapter 4

As if determined to break through this terrifying barrier and gain freedom, all three people who are trapped in their own space brush aside their fear and dash forward – with one not experiencing fear but knowing he was right from the beginning about being in a dream. They know they want to get out, to escape from this unfamiliar place. They would not want to associate themselves with this strange space any longer. They do not want to make it into their new habitat.
And as if determination is the answer, they finally succeed. All three gasp as they find themselves in a white room. All four walls are white, plastered walls. The ground is marble white. It is like a living room, extending itself and overflowing into the remaining of the house with one path showing the stairs leading up to the second floor. Another side shows a kitchen. Everything is white. So white and bright. Even the chandelier hanging above is crystal white. So different, so foreign to their previous surroundings. And unlike the thick eerie, suffocating mood created in the other atmosphere, this one projects a placid yet heart-warming feeling.
When they are finally done with exploring the new surroundings, they turn to regard one another. Even though they had bumped into one another when the scenery changed, but they were so absorbed in their alertness to the scene itself that they had neglected the others who seemed to be suffering from the same obstacle as them.
“Who are you?” All three ask at the same time.
Another set of silent stares.
“I asked you first,” The three continue with their interrogation.
Their faces all show traces of fear and discomfort. Yet the guy with the confident air recovers first, showing traces of impatience more than fear.
“I’ll go first,” The confident guy says. “I’m Vic.”
“Janine,” The girl replies.
“Jie Kai,” The fisherman says. “You guys can call me Kai.”
They stare at the new habitat with cautious eyes. It looks promising. But that does not mean it is.
“Where in the world are we anyway?” Kai asks when they are done with another round of inspecting the place.
“I don’t know,” Vic replies. “I thought I was dreaming. But I couldn’t wake up from it. And to think that walking through that door would mean waking up.”
“I thought my brother was playing a trick on me,” Janine says. “But this…” She gestures with her hand. “It’s just…weird.”
“This means whatever this is, we can’t get out?” Kai asks, his eyes darting to find a door, anything.
Vic could see the fear in Janine’s eyes. He wants to comfort her and tell her that they’ll find a way out. Yet words have escaped him at the moment. It’s not like he could do that. It’s too much of a stretch and leaning towards lying. He has no idea how to escape. Then he wonders if it’s really a dream. Because how could he control so much of his emotion if it is? But if it is not, then… That is when he remembers and turns to Kai. “You were involved in the accident?”
“What?” Kai asks back, wrinkling his face. “What accident?”
“We were in an accident earlier.” Vic’s responding to Kai but he’s looking at Janine at the moment, wondering if he’s the only one remembering about the accident.
“So we were in an accident!” Janine cries out happily – though an accident isn’t supposed to cause such a reaction.
Vic nods, feeling relief that she remembers.
“I remember glasses flying everywhere.”
“We were in an accident?” Kai mumbles to himself more than them.
“Yes,” Vic answers, his voice gaining even more confidence. He could remember their faces more accurately now. They had looked at each other before they passed out. So that means they’re unconscious right now? But how could they meet up then? This is ridiculous. No, it must be because he remembers their faces and has imprinted it into his mind so now he’s imagining them. “You’re just my imagination, right?”
Both Kai and Janine give him a weird look, like they have a mind of their own.
“It’s the only way that could explain why I’m the only one who could remember more than you two.”
“I remember too,” Janine defends herself.
“It’s because I want someone to remember so it proves that I’m not insane and there is really an accident.”
“Then tell us where you were headed before the accident happened,” Kai says, his voice both offended and authoritative.
“To meet up with some friends after an assignment,” Vic answers, smiling. He’s actually conjuring up some answers for the other two as well, waiting for them to say those words. It would prove he’s right about those two being a pigment of his imagination.
“I was on the way home,” Janine responds first. “I was going to pack and head for the cabin for the weekend.”
Vic gasps silently, a response different from his expectation. Yet he reassures himself that it’s a coincidence because it is indeed the weekends so if some ideas couldn’t be controlled, then it is a strange dream. Besides, he’s still confident that Kai might be the one uttering out the answer he wants to hear.
“Fishing trip,” Kai replies, his eyes on Vic.
Vic covers his face with one hand, not believing his ears. He closes his eyes again, wanting to think his way out of the place – like the last time. But he still sees Kai and Janine staring at him strangely as he opens his eyes again. He sighs out, feeling his luck draining. “This is not happening.”
“Wait…” Janine suddenly blurts out, her right hand up in the air, trying to stop them from whatever it is that they’re doing – which is nothing at the moment.
“What?” Vic and Kai ask at the same time.
“I read in a book once that there’s a state in which you go through if your body shuts down and your mind takes over, letting you travel into a different universe. Maybe that’s what’s happening to us. We did go through an accident, right?”
“So we’re on some alien planet?” Vic asks, his smile mocking.
“At least I’m thinking of something,” Janine retorts.
“Whatever it is,” Kai says, not caring if the other two are at odds at the moment. “We have to figure a way out of here.”
“What are we working toward then?” Vic asks, his mood suddenly serious. “We could rule out several things.”
“No pain,” Kai says, as if reading Vic’s mind.
Vic nods, though he has given up on Kai being part of his imagination.
“It’s too quiet here,” Janine contributes, abandoning the disagreement she had with Vic earlier.
“Except for the static I heard earlier,” Kai points out.
“We can’t feel anything.”
Vic’s eyes scan the room once more – as if by doing so, something would show up.
“Not to point fingers, but how did we get into the accident in the first place?” Janine asks, looking from Kai to Vic.
“It was raining too heavily lately,” Vic answers. “It might be that.”
Janine turns to him. “So you don’t remember everything either.”
Vic shakes his head, admitting defeat.
“How about we explore this place some more?” Kai asks, directing his thumb towards the stairs behind him.
“Better stick together,” Vic says, as if reading Kai’s mind that he wants to split up.
So they begin to ascend the place. But as Vic steps onto the first step, the stairs shake and pushes him back. His sense of balance gone, he falls back. Kai and Janine catch him by the arms in time. They take it into their hands to take several more steps back.
“So we can’t go upstairs…” Vic notes, though he did not have to say it. The others have loosened their grip on him. “Maybe the kitchen?”
The other two nod in unison as they make their way toward that direction. Once again, they’re met with weird moving waves, pushing them back into the living room.
“This is ridiculous,” Vic mumbles as they stand around the coffee table again.
Kai and Janine settle down at the sofa as Vic paces the floor.
“If we’re really unconscious,” Kai begins, his eyes on the wall opposite him but his mind is wandering at the moment, trying to figure things out. “Then we need to wake up and fast, before they declare us dead.”
“What if we are dead?” Janine asks, feeling the chills crawling up her spine.
“I don’t believe it,” Vic says, stopping his pacing and sitting down at the sofa across from the other two. “They say that when you die, your life will appear in a filmstrip or something like that. I didn’t see it. I’m sure we’re just unconscious.”
“What sci-fi book is that from?” Janine asks, wanting to payback.
“There are accounts from people who had been through near-death experiences.”
“Does it say they experience things like us then?”
Vic shakes his head.
“Maybe we’re hanging between dead and alive,” Kai suggests.
“This is just too frustrating,” Janine calls out, stomping on the floor in the process.
It is then that they feel a change in the atmosphere. The room shifts, changing, spinning at a maddening speed. Vic watches it carefully as Kai reaches for Janine’s arm. It’s like instinct to Kai in wanting to protect the other person. It is until the room stops spinning that Vic turns to the other two. They’re still there. Kai has let go of Janine’s arm and he’s standing up to inspect their new prison. It’s dark and eerie like how they find it when they were alone to fend off the strange place. But for some reason, the sofas and coffee table are still with them.
“Nice going,” Vic comments, but not with sarcasm. “Now we know that you could stomp out of the situation. But how could we all wake up?”
“When you were closing your eyes earlier, what were you thinking?” Kai asks, turning to Vic.
“I wanted to wake up,” Vic answers, not caring if he’s being silly.
“Maybe you weren’t thinking as hard as she was.”
Vic wrinkles his face. “That means each of us has some kind of ability to get us out of here?”
Kai nods yet his face shows signs of uncertainty.
“What’s yours then?”
“I see things. If I try hard enough, I could conjure things into being.”
Vic still has on his doubtful look. It’s not like he wants to argue with Kai. But it’s just that he’s having a hard time believing of their newly acquired talents. “Say…if we combine all our powers, would we wake up faster? You think it’s worth a shot?” He has been rambling on and on, but he doesn’t care at the moment. It’s just too…weird.
Kai doesn’t reply, but turns to Janine.
“It might be worth a try,” Janine agrees, knowing it’s just too silly. But she also knows they have to give it a go.
“How are we going to do this then?” Vic asks, settling down on the sofa again. “On count of three think of waking up or something?”
Kai shrugs. “Sure.”
They’re now all settled down at their original spot before Janine caused the room to change earlier. Vic has volunteered to count as he’s getting ready, closing his eyes.
“One…” Vic begins when everyone’s ready. “Two…and…three…”
© Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011