Chapter 3 – An Unfamiliar Place

When I finally woke up, I felt very cold. In fact, it felt like I was lying on some stone or brick-like floor. Had the tornado swept me away and tossed me down to some unknown place? Then what about my parents? But was that a tornado at all? How come I didn’t feel hurt at all – just slightly dizzy?  I finally opened my eyes and realized that I was lying on the ground. A dark stone ground to be exact. But everything looked dark anyway, so I couldn’t be sure if it was dark or light stone. It didn’t matter, I told myself, I need to get up and search for my parents.
I sat up slowly, not wanting to break anything on me – if I hurt myself in the process and not felt anything yet. As I was feeling myself to see if anything was out of place, I discovered that my clothes had changed. I was not totally sure what happened, but I knew for sure I was wearing my white t-shirt and sweatpants after I showered. Why was I in some kind of feathery outfit? At least it felt like some bird feather. Had someone saved me and changed my clothes in the process? No wait, what was I talking about? If someone saved me, wouldn’t they have put me onto some kind of bed instead of laying me on the cold ground? I looked around the room, trying to see the objects inside the place. I blinked several times, trying to get used to the dark. But this darkness was just too thick. I couldn’t seem to see an inch of light pouring into the room.
I finally got up and began to walk around. I stepped slowly around the room, raising my hands up to shield my face in case I bumped into any sharp objects. Somehow, I kicked into something. I began to feel it and realized it was a table. I felt around for the chair also. I sat down and felt around the table to see if there was any type of light. I had to rule out the possibility that the tornado or the storm or whatever had knocked out the power already. I searched around the table with my hands, finally feeling a wax-like object. What was it really? I brought it up to my nose to smell it. Candle? Better than nothing, I thought. I felt around on the table again for a lighter. There got to be one here, right? I searched slowly, not wanting to miss anything the second time around. I still couldn’t find a lighter, but could feel some rocks. Hmm…what kind of house has a candle but no lighter nearby? Frustrated, I placed the candle back down and brushed the rocks together lightly, trying to think of a solution. Suddenly, I saw some sparks coming from the rocks. What? Strange… Then I remembered hearing something about this in history class – way back when. I felt hopeful again. I felt for the candle again, glad that I hadn’t tossed it on the ground before. I stroked the rocks together again, applying more force this time around. Finally there was some light so I brought it near the candle tip and lit it. Success! I finally have light. I blinked several times to get used to the light again since I had been in the dark for the past ten minutes or so.
When my vision finally adjusted, I looked around the room, trying to study my current habitat. This place looked like some kind of hut. No, wait. It looked more like some ancient house. Probably some hut, I thought. This place looked too much like some scene right out of some ancient serial that my parents usually watch during their free time. What was going on here? Maybe this was some place they set up to film some ancient serial? Probably so. I finally remembered to check my outfit to see why it had felt so weird all this time. This has got to be a joke, right? Why was I dressed up like some green parakeet? It looked so much like those ancient outfits – yes, also from those ancient serials. Okay, so someone saved me and then played a trick on me, right? It must be that. I stood up and walked around the room some more, looking for the front door. Maybe someone was standing out there, waiting to hear me scream and then laughed their heads off, right? Well, that was not going to happen. I finally found the front door and was about to open it when I saw a shadow casting near the doorway. I looked to my right to see Ting Wei lying there, unconscious. How could this be possible? So the tornado was real after all? Most people in town were tossed here? No, wait. I looked up at the ceiling again to see the house very much attached. If we got tossed in here, how come the roof was still good as new? Maybe someone saved us and left us here to go back for the others? It had to be that way.
I bent down on my knees and checked on Ting Wei. Seeing that he was not hurt, I felt much more relieved. I then realized that he was wearing an ancient outfit too. Okay, someone must be in some film production and only had those clothes to change us into? It didn’t matter. I needed to wake Ting Wei up so we could both explore the place and find out what was going on.
“Ting Wei!” I tried to shake him awake. “Ting Wei, come on. Get up. I know you’re not hurt. Get up!”
He finally stirred and moaned. From the sound of it, I thought he was hurt where I was not able to see.
“Ting Wei,” I said more softly. “Are you all right?”
He finally opened his eyes.
“Shao Han,” He said weakly.
“Are you hurt? Don’t move.”
“Shao Han,” He said again. “Am I dreaming? Why are you wearing that? What’s going on?”
“No, you’re not dreaming. At least I don’t think so,” I said.
I helped him up and realized something new. I haven’t realized it before. But his hair was longer and pulled up into a knot – no wait, more like a ponytail at the center of his head. Okay, someone’s joke carried a bit too far? Without saying anything, I reached up to his head and yanked on the fake ponytail.
“Oww…” Ting Wei screamed out.
I let go of the ponytail. “Now you know you’re not dreaming.”
“What did you do that for?” He said, rubbing around the area where I just yanked the hair from.
“Just testing,” I said with a smile.
Although I said that, but I felt a bit more unease as I realized the hair wasn’t fake. His hair couldn’t grow that long after two days and nights that I didn’t see him, right?
“What are we doing here?” He asked, looking around the room. “This place looks strange.”
“I know,” I said.
I helped him to the table in the center and we sat down at the tiny wooden chairs. I was able to see that both the table and chairs were black. What kind of wood was it? How come it looked so old but still durable?
“Shao Han, where are we?” Ting Wei asked, bringing me back to the situation at hand.
“Uh… I’m not sure either. I just woke up a bit ago and was feeling my way around the room. I finally found this table and the candle so I lighted it. Then I decided to go outside and check to see where I’m at, but I saw you on the ground, so I…”
Ting Wei looked around the room once more before turning back to me.
“This place, it looks like…”He gestured his hands toward the general area.
“I know,” I said. “It looks like one of those ancient houses. But we can’t just sit here and gawk at it. Let’s go explore around. Better yet, let’s head outside…”
Before I was able to finish, I saw his expression changing. I looked to where he was staring. He got up and headed toward a corner opposite from the front door. I followed behind, wondering what he saw. There was so little light provided from the room that it was hard to know what else was in there. As we got closer, I was able to see someone else lying on the ground near a stack of hay. Hay? What? Were we in some kind of horse shed? I turned around and studied the rest of the room once more. It didn’t look like one. As I was pondering things away, I heard Ting Wei calling the person’s name. Alarmed, I turned around to see that he had turned her right side up.
“Jing Jing!” Ting Wei began to shake her awake.
I bent down on my knees also, checking to see if she was hurt. By that time, I was no longer surprised that she was also dressed in ancient attires since I already guessed that whoever it was that saved us were involved in film production. Although I still couldn’t explain why Ting Wei’s hair could have grown so much in such a short time, but I decided we could find an explanation later – when we get out of there.
“Jing Jing,” I called, wondering why it took her longer to wake up. I felt her forehead to see if she had caught something in that cold place. I didn’t realize how cold it was in there until now since I had been so busy searching for answers. “Jing Jing…”
“Maybe she caught something,” Ting Wei suggested.
“No,” I replied. “She’s all right. Probably tired.”
A reasonable explanation really since it was probably midnight by now.
As we were searching for some source of heat, Jing Jing finally stirred. We rushed over to her again upon hearing her moan. Did she break something? Although both of us didn’t get hurt, it didn’t mean she wasn’t.
“Jing Jing,” I called. “Are you all right?”
Jing Jing finally opened her eyes. Her face looked pale. The hay didn’t help much. I tried to help her up and over to the table, hoping that the little light from the candle would help. It was better than nothing at all. She finally spoke up when she placed her hands directly above the candle light.
“What happened?” She asked, looking around the room.
“We’re still pondering the same thing,” I said.
I looked around the room also, pondering if anyone else was there with us. I got up again, searching the room more carefully, looking for possible casts of shadows. As I walked slowly toward the opposite corner where we found Jing Jing, I accidentally kicked on something lumpy. I steadied myself again as Ting Wei rushed over to me.
“Are you all right?” He asked.
“I’m fine,” I said, pushing aside the hay there to see what I had kicked before.
Then we saw a figure below the hay. Why did the figure have four hands though? I reached over and uncovered the hay on the other side also, revealing another person. Ting Wei and I turned them over to see who.
“CJ!” I exclaimed.
“Roger!” I heard Ting Wei yelled out.
I turned to see Roger stirring as Ting Wei helped him sit up. I turned back to CJ and began to shake him awake. He finally came around and opened his eyes.
“Angela! What are you doing here? We’re trying to do a guy talk here! Can’t you girls ever respect us guys’ privacy?” CJ blurted out.
“What in the world are you talking about?” I asked back, wrinkling my face.
I let go of him on purpose so he fell backward on the ground again.
“Owww…” He groaned. “What did you do that for?”
“You said you don’t want me to interfere,” I said, indifference.
“I didn’t mean… Ah…forget it.”
He sat up on his own this time, using his elbow as support.
“What is this place?” He asked.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” I said.
I got up from the ground since I saw that he was still capable of running his mouth.
“This does not look like Ting Wei’s room,” He said, getting up himself.
“Of course it’s not,” I said. “What are you talking about?”
Ting Wei had already led Roger back to the center table.
“This place is strange. What the heck? How old is this place anyway?” CJ asked, tapping at the supporting pole.
“Don’t do that,” I said. “You don’t know if it’s going to fall or not.”
“Why am I wearing this?” He asked, looking down at his outfit – finally.
“Exactly, why are we all in this get up?” Roger asked from the other side of the room. He turned to Ting Wei. “Are you and CJ pulling some kind of joke on us?”
“Before we go on any further, let’s make sure no one else is here,” I said.
“Good idea,” CJ said, finally agreeing with me. “You never know what else is at this creepy place.”
Ting Wei, Jing Jing, and Roger began to get up from their seats also. All five of us began to search every inch of the room more carefully, going through every single inch of hay we could find or other places that could possibly hide a person. We finished around half an hour later and sat back down at the center table, taking a rest.
“What should we do now?” CJ asked. “It gets colder and colder by the minute unless we keep moving. But that means we’ll be out of energy and need food and drink and other stuffs. And I checked while we were looking, there’s none of those around here.”
“We could go outside and check to see where we’re at,” I said.
“It will be colder outside though,” Roger said, almost like whining.
“Either we go find some other alternatives or we’ll be frozen to death here,” I said.
I got up at that time, heading for the front door since the guys didn’t care to make a move. As I was mentally ranking the guys based on bravery in my mind, I felt someone behind me. I turned around to see Ting Wei.
“I’ll go with you,” He said. “It’s not safe out there, considering how dark it is.”
I could see those sincere eyes. Suddenly, I realized I miss him so much these past two days. I nodded and smiled at him. He advanced forward and opened the door, taking the lead. When we stepped outside, we discovered this overwhelming view that shocked us into silence. How could it be snowing outside? Where were we exactly? We were doomed without any proper shelter or food or…
“This is strange,” I heard Ting Wei uttered out.
I turned to look at him again. He seemed unbelievably calm. Or was he just putting up this front for me?
“This is beyond strange,” I said. “But…we could go seek for help with those people over there. There are lights. They’re probably still awake.”
“What is this place exactly though?” He asked with an impatient tone.
“I don’t know, but I was guessing since I woke up that we’re near some film production set. Maybe they saved us and brought us here. But now I’m not sure anymore. I mean snow?”
“Let’s go get some help first before we debate further.”
I nodded, agreeing.
He turned around to close the door before taking my hand into his as we headed toward the nearest house.
© Monday, July 14th, 2008
Posted: Saturday, March 13th, 2010