A soft flamingo print duvet cocoons her. The wind blows, gently tickling her nose. She hides under the duvet, trying her best to stay asleep and avoid the responsibilities she pushed off until today. Then, a thought gnaws at her head like a tick.
Her bedroom smells of half-eaten pizza, and a laundry basket that is in a desperate need of emptying. No windows for the sunlight to shine through, freezing temperatures, and she is sure she left the T.V. on while marathoning a doctor show last night.
Why does she feel the warm sunlight and coolness of the wind? She lowers the duvet and peers her head out. This isn’t her apartment. No, instead she is in the middle of a field, under the shade of an unnaturally enormous tree.
She tries not to freak out, but to no avail. Her heartbeat is rapid and her breathing shallow. She finds some comfort in the fact that she is still in her bed. She wipes the crust off her hazel eyes and examines her caramel skin on both arms for any marks, bruises, or scratches. They both are blemish-free.
She sits up while taking a deep breath, then proceeds to smack her own face. The stinging sensation on her cheek confirms her worst fear, that this isn’t a dream. The vibrant green grass tickles her feet as she stands up. She looks at her stained shirt with “Do Not Disturb” written on it.
A few steps away from the bed, she looks back to stare at her bed. A vibrant colored leaf from the tree falls onto her pillow. The trunk of the tree is twisted in a strange, yet appealing, way. Each leaf is a different color; each is vibrant and full of life.
She turns to face the vast field surrounding her. There is no sign of civilization, or any life close by. After a few seconds of hesitation, she starts to walk forward. The warm sunlight hits her skin as her legs weaken. Fear coils inside her mind while thoughts ricochet around. Where is she? How did she even get here? Then a sharp stench hits her nose.
The rancid smell fills her nostrils as she searches for the source. Then it dawns on her. She raises her shirt to sniff the fabric. She gags as she finds the source of the smell. The woman can't recall the last time she washed this shirt, fearing it teeters past a week.
She didn’t have a reason to leave her room. Most of her assignments in college courses were either finished or far from their due dates. Not to mention most of her classes were online.
Her parents lived at least five towns away. All of her friends were caught up in their jobs or buried in their own projects. Most of the time, they would head to her place anyway. She can’t even remember the last time she left her apartment for non-school-related purposes.
She lets herself get lost in her thoughts as she wanders the field for what she thinks is hours, until a new scent hits her nose. It is soft and salty, with a crashing noise to accompany the smell.
It takes her a few seconds to recognize the familiar feelings. “The beach!” She blurts out in excitement. Her feet pound the grass; dirt is flung in the air as she sprints down the field.
If she finds a beach, she may find people. There are always people at the beach this close to the summer. Her heart pounds like a cannon, but her breathing is under control. She stops running when she no longer feels the crunch of grass and starts to feel the burning sensation of sand between her toes.
Her eyes begin to survey the land. The beach stretches with no end on either side. The sand glimmers with their beauty. The ocean waters are the clearest she has ever seen. All of this, but no sign of anyone around.
Her heart plummets into her stomach. Her eyes glance at the ocean as she walks down the beach. The waves crash down upon the sand, with droplets hitting her. The sea foam hits her feet and recedes back into the ocean. The sudden chill sends shivers down her spine. Suddenly, a figure comes into view.
Her eyes squint as she makes out what is on the beach. It’s someone lying down. A sudden rush of energy fills her as she runs down the beach screaming. “Hey, hello!” Then she stops dead in her tracks. Who is this person? They could be a murderer, crazed psychopath, or even the person who brought her here.
Then, a new thought rolls in her head. The person didn’t move after being yelled at; they are still lying on their back. Carefully, she walks up to the person. “Excuse me, are you alive?” She says calmly while moving close enough to make out the figure.
He is a man with fair skin. The sides of his head are shaven clean, and the remaining espresso brown hair is in the style of a Mohawk. She guesses he is either 21 or 22 years old, two years younger than her. She crouches down close to the man. Usually, she wouldn’t be this close to a stranger, offering them their own personal space, but this is not a typical situation.
With her index finger, she pokes the man’s cheek. It feels warm. His chest moves up and down while he lies there. With this, she can tell the man is alive and starts to shake his shoulder as she softly speaks. “I am sorry to wake you, but this is an emergency."
The man eyes slowly start to open, revealing a shade of blue that matches the ocean he lays next to. “I know it is rude to wake someone sleeping, but I am desperate here. You see, I am lost right now.” The man snaps out of his daze to see the woman in front of him.
His hand slams into the sand as he quickly utters some words that the woman doesn’t recognize. As he jumps back, a cluster of squid tentacles made of sand rise around her. They wrap around each other and harden to stone, trapping her in a cage.
A scream of uncertainty and fear escapes her mouth. This is it, the edge. She must have plunged off the deep end. There is no way this is real. She reaches out to feel the rough yet warm stone cage trapping her. Her sight now on the man standing in front of her. He is almost as scared as she is. His eyes, she could have sworn they were blue a second ago, not this crimson red.
He steps closer to the cage as he asks, “Who are you?”