Previous POV scene: Elisha leaves her current life and joins the strange woman.
11 · Home
Elisha had been blindfolded for an unknown amount of time. A myriad of unorganized thoughts ran through her mind as she felt the rumbling motion of the vehicle beneath her seat. She hadn’t gone home to pack her things. What would she wear? She’d been told it would be taken care of. What about Mom and Grandma? Surprisingly, or not so much, she felt that they would be okay. One would think that losing two little girls would have a devastating effect, but Elisha believed Mom would be alright–she had been disconnected and distant since the disappearance of Martha. Grandma would probably take it the hardest, but even she seemed somewhat resigned to the fact that they were at a strange life’s mercy.
The radio was on. Low sounds of jazz music slithered into Elisha’s ears. A bass guitar kept rhythm with the snare and kick drum. The trumpet took the lead. It reminded Elisha of something that she had heard before, but she couldn’t quite place it. Mom really enjoyed listening to music after a long day on her feet. She would normally come in the house, throw her purse down by the door and remove her shoes. Before she did anything else, she would put a record on the turntable. The music would vary daily–Elvis, Benny Goodman, even some Hank Williams. Some of it was energetic, meant to be danced to, but somehow Mom found a way to fall asleep. Elisha wondered if Mom were sleeping to it now, quietly assuming that her little girl was out playing.
But Elisha was already on the road, already finding her way to a new place, a new life. She surprised herself at how easy the choice had been. The realization that she loved her sister beyond anything else and would do anything to find her had been a relief from a year of discomfort. The desire had been buried deep inside her and the only way she could describe the feeling was one of freedom, knowing that she was pursuing Martha while everyone else had decided to let things be as they were.
The blindfold was beginning to make Elisha’s face itch. She reached up to scratch but her hand was quickly taken hold of. She tried to pull away, but the grip was too strong.
“Just a little while longer,” came the woman’s voice.
Some time ago, maybe an hour or so ago, they had all left the lake and walked quickly out of the small wooded area to the nearest street. They had climbed into the back seat of a nondescript black sedan, manned by an equally nondescript driver. The boy had taken the passenger side and had handed a blindfold to Elisha.
“Why do I have to wear that?” she had asked.
He had looked at the woman.
“It’s a precaution,” she had said. “There are a few secrets that you’re not ready to know yet.”
“I need to know everything,” Elisha remembered saying. She had felt defiant at having given up her life and didn’t take kindly to her questions being blocked.
The woman’s grating laughed replayed itself over and over in her head.
“In due time,” she had said.
And now here she was, still blindfolded, unable to relieve the prickling sensation by her cheek.
“I have an itch,” Elisha said.
“Where?” the woman asked.
“By my eye. It’s driving me nuts!”
There was a pause.
“Go ahead and scratch,” she said, “but don’t take off your blindfold.”
“I won’t,” Elisha said, somewhat petulantly.
The woman removed her hand and Elisha began to scratch away. She was now tempted to pull the blindfold off for spite, but she didn’t want to take any foolish risks. If seeing her sister meant playing along, Elisha would do so as long as possible. She didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot.
Slowly and deliberately, she scratched at the itch that had since gone away, but Elisha sensed another oddity. The car had a strange smell, or, maybe not so much the car but its occupants. It was as if they had been sitting around a fire–that smell of hickory smoke combined with sweat. She mused on the fact that all of her other senses seemed to be extra sensitive while being unable to see. It reminded her of similar experiments in school where they had to wear blindfolds and taste different foods, or feel different objects to determine what they were without the use of sight. She never seemed to have any problems passing them with flying colors.
Time carried on, but without anything to look at, Elisha was beginning to feel very tired. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the crinkling leather seat. Several days ago, she had been living an aimless life, not knowing what she should do, where she should go. Now it seemed that fate had intervened and pushed her toward a decision she’d subconsciously known. She only had to follow the path laid out.
Elisha woke with a start. The vibration of the open road had ceased.
“You can remove your blindfold now.” The woman’s voice was stilted, but soft.
Elisha removed the felt blindfold and blinked, squinting into the bright light that penetrated the car windows.
“Where are we?” Elisha asked.
“Home,” the boy replied. He was looking back from the passenger seat, grinning furiously, or so it seemed to Elisha. “We won’t see each other for a little while,” he continued,” but time seems to go by fast here. We’ll meet again.” With that he opened the car door and stepped outside. Elisha heard his light footsteps fade into the distance but couldn’t see where he had gone.
She looked up at the woman who was still smiling, as if trying to comfort Elisha.
“Let me show you to your room,” she said.
They exited the car on opposite sides. The lights were even brighter outside, but Elisha’s eyes were beginning to adjust. The room was surrounded by cement on all sides except for a corrugated metal door that was drawn behind the vehicle. It was then that Elisha realized the driver had left at some point.
Where did he and boy go?
The woman came around the other side and held out her arm. “Shall we?”
Elisha turned and looked at the metal door. It seemed the only way out. The woman reach down and placed Elisha’s hand on her arm.
“This way,” she said.
They walked slowly toward the cement wall in front of the car. It seemed ludicrous. Elisha wrinkled her brow at the woman who kept facing straight ahead, never flinching. They approached a portion of the wall and just stared at it for a moment. The woman snapped her head gently to the side and Elisha began to feel a slight draft cross her naked ankles, just above her socks. She noticed small cracks forming on the wall around her and heard a faint whistling sound as the cement began to move upward from where she stood, revealing a tiny hallway with recessed blue lights.
Elisha looked up at the woman.
She hesitated for a moment, but quickly realized she had stepped into a world she couldn’t step out of. A new path had been decided upon back at the lake. She didn’t know where she was, how she could leave, or which direction in which to head home if she got that far.
Just think about why you’re doing this. Was Martha enough?
Elisha stepped into the hallway and there was a low hum. She felt a bit of air swirling around her skin. It was a peculiar feeling and it made her hair sway lightly. She turned to see that the cement wall had closed rapidly behind them.
She noticed her legs were shaking and she was focusing hard on keeping herself upright.
Was Martha enough?
The woman turned to Elisha and gently placed her hands on her shoulders.
“What you’re about to see, what you’re about to learn, will change your life forever. There’s a world out there that is unknown to most people, existing just beneath the surface of the everyday. It’s not a peaceful world, Elisha. The simplest comparison, though completely lacking in actual truth, is that there is a balance between the dark and the light. You can’t have one without the other. When the balance is upset, there is too much of one thing, and that can wreak havoc on our souls. Your sister, she’s become part of a greater plan to change that balance.”
Elisha noticed that her mouth was agape. The back of her throat had gone dry.
“You’re a big part of our best defense, and in the process, the best hope of saving your sister. Nothing in this world is free, you understand that right?”
Elisha thought she did, so she nodded.
“Good.” The woman smiled and stretched out her hand.
“My name is Lucya. Now come with me. There’s someone I want you to meet.”