Leaving for Better or Worse
"Wait!" my grandma cried out. I hadn’t noticed her presence. I only assumed that she had gone back to bed. I didn’t want to involve her in this. She already had enough to deal with, and now she made me feel guilty, having to leave her in the middle of the night. But it would be best to keep her safe.
"Before you leave, take this. It will help you a lot during you journey. Plus, there's something inside that's extremely important." Although her speech was clearer than it had ever been, her actions were still as wacky as ever. She handed me a shoe. At least it wasn't old and tattered, like the doormat, but it was still dusty. The worst thing about it was that it wasn't my size. Adrian tried to take the shoe away from me, but I drew back. What was he thinking, trying to take something that wasn’t even his. He even saw it being presented to me. Even though it may not have been the greatest of gifts, it’s still mine.
“Don’t have too much fun, now. And don’t worry about me, I can manage on my own. It’s so nice to see you finally leaving,” Grandma said, wrapping me up in a hug before turning back into the house.
It was time to interrogate Adrian. "Why do you want this shoe? It's probably useless, since my grandmother has a reputation of having a messed up mind."
"That's not your grandma, Kat," Adrian started, "She's no one’s grandma. That person you just saw was a shape shifter, and your guardian for the past sixteen years. She has done a great job protecting you. Quite surprising that no one else has visited you in the past. That 'shoe' is actually a levis. It can contain anything, while still maintaining the same weight. It's like a giant backpack in the form of a shoe.”
"Isn't Levis a clothing brand?"
"We thought of the name first!" he snapped.
Adrian grabbed the shoe from my hands and reached inside it. His hand went further and further in it, until it seemed as if he was using the shoe as a telephone, and that his arm was missing. It was quite a comical sight. After a couple of minutes rummaging in the depths of the footwear, Adrian finally managed to pull out random trinkets of all sorts of sizes. Without even looking at them, he thrust a few towards me.
"Couldn’t find any useful items, but those should be able to give you a little glimpse of our World.” “What even is your World?” I said, fingering the various items in my hand. There was a card that seemed to be swirling with something that resembled water and its movements intrigued me.
“It’s called Tedalia. It’s hard to describe. It’s better when you see it in person. Now let’s go.”
“Now? Couldn’t you just let me sleep?”
"Nope! You can stay at the inn, this place is no longer safe. We'd better hurry before anything else drops by."
“Could you at least let me get some of my stuff?”
“I’m sorry, but it’s best if we get going right away. We can get you some more stuff at Sklanda Centre.”
I was reluctant about leaving the home I had for sixteen years, without anything to bring along. He led me to a particular leaf on the ground, one that was shimmering slightly.
"There's an inn called 'Snooze' in the centre, so we can stop there to rest,” he responded, his tone confident that I was going to follow.
Too tired to complain, I reluctantly took his proffered hand as he dragged me forth, just a bit more. I would probably be back the next day, no one would notice. Once I stepped on that glowing leaf, the surrounding leaves began to vibrate. They hovered over the ground, and shot up. Rising above, circling us, trapping us in an ever-flowing tube of leaves. The crisp, dry smell of the autumnal leaves sent me into a trance and didn't notice that the leaf I was standing on was pulsing with light. The tapered leaf grew in size, stretching beneath our feet like a piece of gum. I looked around at the other leaves, and they were growing as well. They grew so large; they blocked my view of what was outside. All I could see were giant leaves. The leaf finally stopped growing once it reached the length of a surfboard, providing enough room for both Adrian and I to stand on.
At the same time, the surrounding leaves dropped, while the crisp, golden brown leaf we were on rose into the air. I had noticed that my house had expanded too, as well as everything else.
My half-asleep brain finally caught up with the present. We had shrunk.
By now we were high up in the air, towering over everything else. I marvelled at the view from the leaf. Everything was so much bigger, so much clearer. There was a soft breeze that gently blew the leaf, propelling the leaf forward. Despite all the movement, I felt stable and trusted the sturdy, but thin leaf.
The leaf drifted though the air naturally, twisting and looping around and through non-existent hoops. I should have felt queasy, but I wasn’t. Although I was still sleepy, I couldn't stop myself from staring out into the open. Everything looked so detailed close up. The different colours in the leaves, the patterns engraved onto a tree and the glistening of the strands of a spider's web in the moonlight. The breeze rushed through my hair, giving me a thrilling sensation.
We zoomed past trees, venturing into the depths of a cluster, not large enough to be called a forest, but enough to shield us from the open area. There was a steady descent before we landed on the soft undergrowth, damp with the dew starting to form. All I could see was bark and giant leaves, almost hitting me in the face.
Once we landed on the leafy undergrowth, I got off, and felt a stretching sensation as everything grew back to its original size.
“Weird,” I muttered.
I looked around. There was nothing but trees. Why did he bring me here? Unless… unless, he wanted to kill me. Why did he go through all that effort only to bring me here to end my life?
Adrian continued to walk further into the forest, leaving me behind. This was very atypical of a serial killer. He motioned me forth. I didn’t follow.
Without trying to make a deal of some sort, he came back to me and simply tugged my arm in his direction, and forced me to follow him.
For a hazy few minutes, I stumbled through the undergrowth, not sure of my surroundings or where I was going. I thought there was a glowing tree, but that just might’ve been my sleep-deprived brain.
I felt a strong breeze pass me and we found ourselves out of the forest and before a towering building made up of uneven reddish-brown bricks. A neon sign flicked on the front with the word "SNOOZE", but only the letters N and O were lit up brightly enough. It felt like it was telling me to stay away.
Adrian tugged at my arm, "Kat, come on."
"But I don't want to sleep in there," I groaned in disgust.
"Trust me. I haven’t killed you yet, have I?”
I was taken aback by the sight. The exterior was a façade, hiding the truth beneath its crumbling walls. The fireplace made for a cosy atmosphere. It was more like a cottage than an inn. The furniture was clean, soft and inviting. As Adrian went to the reception counter appearing to discuss the arrangements, I wandered off towards a specific grey armchair. It beckoned me to come closer. I sank into the chair and started to drift off. The last thing I saw was Adrian turning towards me.