Riptide

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Chapter 59

My body laid there creepily, staring at me as if it knew we were supposed to be united. It was time. I had mapped out the ever-changing domain of the pocket dimension. I knew where my way out was. A small innately carved oak door with a gold handle remained constant no matter where we appeared to be, and despite the fact that the key and the handle looked nothing alike, I could feel that someone had gone through a lot of trouble to make it look like the two came from separate worlds. Now all I had to do was wait.

***

Dr. Brown patiently stared at the horribly outdated T.V screen while the young man carefully tinkered with the large brown box, a look of disgust on his pimple-covered face as he pulled out hunks of junk Dr. Brown had left for him to find. This was the third time “F.R.E.T,” as Dr. Brown called the fake computer geek who came to fix the simulated 90’s-style screen. “Fret,” as Dr. Brown had said actually stood for “Fixer of Random Existential Troubles.” Dr. Brown had also explained that the T.V was never actually broken, he simply called Fret from time to time because there was nothing good to watch when you controlled exactly what happened on each and every one of the channels. He explained that Fret was more entertaining than watching a football game you invented the players for. Once Fret had finished fixing the T.V which was never broken, Dr. Brown made the simulated teenager walk through me each and every time to get one last laugh from Fret’s presence after talking with the surly representation of an everyday high-school nerd about their shared hatred of music. I wished I had eyes to roll. This had gone on for what I knew should have been some amount of time, but couldn’t tell how long it had truly been. Dr.Brown was right. Time did pass strangely here. What should have been seconds felt like years, months felt like minutes, weeks felt like seconds, and years seemed to pass with a matter of thought, every time I thought about leaving, I suddenly knew it had been another year. This happened more and more frequently. Dr. Brown controlled everything around us. Whatever happened did so because he had willed it to. I hated everything about where we were and Dr. Brown knew it. He did everything in his power to make my existence awful. He changed the scenery the moment I finally got used to being there, but there is one admirable thing about the way he lived. This being the fact that after however long he and I had been stuck here, he never left. I could tell he was becoming just as sick of our existence here as I was, but he never used the key to leave. I tried to remind myself that he was simply waiting for me to turn my back before he left. I knew he was awful but there was still something about him, some sad, desperate part about him that shined through his horrid decisions. No matter how much I hated him, I still wanted him to be better, but I knew this would never be. I would have to leave him before he trapped me without a body forever.

I shook myself from the thoughts I kept hidden from Dr. Brown and watched carefully as he groaned and sank into a large deep green rocking chair which appeared from nothingness. “Well,” he said. “Wake me in a few hundred years.”

“You got it, boss,” I thought sarcastically, hoping to appear to be just as surly as I normally was. He opened one eye and stared at me carefully as if trying to search my mind for something. I fought myself from expressing the terror I felt and instead waited in silence Dr. Brown to fall unconscious.

***

“Alright,” I thought to myself, knowing Dr. Brown had been asleep for quite some time, as his chest had fallen into a rhythmic breathing routine as he rested in the squishy green rocking chair. I silently creeped up to the chair, knowing that if this didn’t work I would be trapped outside of my body for the rest of eternity. I recalled from what Dr. Brown had told me that the body and the and the mind are reconnected in this realm by the key. I hoped he was right. I took a deep breath and suddenly knew what I had to do. I focused all of my energy on the key. I turned everything I had to the small silver item. Every memory, every emotion, every thought, every hope, every dream, everything which made me who I was was focused on the key. Moments, feelings, people, emotions, items, wants, needs, thoughts, everything flooded my mind. Regrets, resentments, experiences, choices, words, embarrassments, loves, and laughter, so much laughter tore through my brain as I felt myself slowly become whole once more. I watched the key begin to pull away from Dr. Brown’s possession, but it wasn’t enough. I felt my body begin to slip away once more. I quickly began to run through every meaningful moment in my lifetime. Everything which has ever had an impact I recalled, begging the key to come back. I watched Chloe as she sat sadly on the swingset the day I met her, fixing her skirt. I watched myself walk up to her and sit down on a swing beside her. I saw myself fall to the ground a few days later and skin my knee. I observed as Chloe instantly appeared at my side with her arm extended as she led me to the nurse’s office with a new pair of jeans she had prepared for a moment similar to that. I gazed upon the sunset the way I had when I sat on the soft velvet grass of the park with my father and stared at the darkening sky with wonder in my eyes as he told me stories of his childhood. I began to feel my body around me once more. It was working. I studied the look of pride on my face when Charlie first scored a touchdown for the team of people who doubted her every moment even after she had fought for so long to get there. Memories I hadn’t even known existed began to fly through my mind as I wiggled my fingers in delight after being nothing more than an idea for so long. I caught glimpses of moments long forgotten when I held Charlie in my arms for the first time and gazed upon the fire in her eyes. I remembered each time I had accidentally brushed Peter’s shoulder with my own and dashed off with a burning face.

Dr. Brown was beginning to stir. I could see the faintness of his body as the key continued to pull away. I held out my arm for the key. I could feel it between my fingers as he snapped awake. I yanked the key off of its chain and fumbled with it, begging the key to stay in my hands. But it didn’t. I shrieked internally as my body began to slip away from my mind. I dove for the key, wrapping what little bit of my quickly-fading body I still had around it. I was instantly restored. I watched Dr. Brown dive for it as I stood but he was already beginning to seperate. He dove right through me as I began to run for the ornately carved oak door, but the fight far from was over. I could feel his presence instantly before me, blocking my passageway to the door.

“Stop,” he demanded. I froze. I hadn’t expected that he, a man who quite literally didn’t have a way to keep me from diving out of the door would demand I not leave. “You can’t leave,” he said, coming closer. Although I couldn’t see him, I could almost feel his breath on my face. I shook away my daze and began messing with the lock, hating the fact that I had never had a door with a regular lock and wondering why I had never bothered to learn to unlock a door. I did as I had seen in movies and jammed the small silver key into the keyhole. Nothing stopped me, so I tried to turn it to the left. Nothing happened and before I could try to turn it to the right, something threw me from the door. I could feel my physical form slipping away as I got up and ran to the door, tripping and falling again and again after so long barely existing. There was no time to worry about what hit me. I dove for the key which Dr. Brown yanked and pulled on, trying to get it out from the lock. I wrapped my fading fingertips around the key and felt my body return to me. I fell to the right of the lock, twisting the key as I did. I heard a click as I unlocked the lock. Nothing happened for what felt like an eternity before suddenly, the door disappeared along with the key. In its place was what looked like an infinite black hole. I cursed as the gravity of the once-a-door lifted me off my feet. Dr. Brown and I were ripped from the room and shoved down a long tunnel of nothingness until suddenly, everything stopped and I was returned to the room with the large machine at the exact instant I had left, only I stood beside Jake, who laid on the ground and watched with great fear as I, or someone who looked like me disappeared with a bright glow from the place they were strapped to the machine. I dropped to the ground to Jake, who continuously switched from staring at me to where “I” had just disappeared from.

“Wh-” Jake stumbled for a moment to find his words. “Who are you?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” I asked him. “I’m m-” I froze as I remembered the self destruct Dr. Brown had installed the machine with. Jake seemed to have read my mind jumped to his feet. I dashed to the controls without a single thought toward where Dr. Brown had gone.

We worked frantically to stop the machine from exploding. “Come on,” I shouted as the count-down came over every loudspeaker in the entire facility.

“Ten,” the animated voice counted off as I scanned the machine for anything which may have anything to do with the self-destruct. “Nine,” it said as Jake screamed in frustration. “Eight,” it counted as I found a small grey box located at the base of the structure. “Seven,” the voice said as I realized there was no way to get the front panel open. “Six,” it counted down as I called Jake over to my discovery. “Five,” counted a new voice as Jake hit the box with a bolt of lightning which blasted the panel off. “Four,” the new voice said as I fumbled with the wires. “Three,” it counted as I did my best to track where each wire connected. “Two,” it said as I realized the situation was hopeless. “One the voice counted as I grabbed Jake by the arm and dove for cover. “Self-Destruct sequence activated,” the voice said as the machine exploded.

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