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Audrey T. Williams
I am floating in a void. The boundaries of my body become nebulous, amoeba-like. I feel myself reaching out, probing for some sensory experience… anything.
I feel a quick jerk! That strange, sudden muscle spasm when you stumble in a dream, and your body reacts as if it’s real. Or you get too close to your mattress edge, then wake up to find one arm flailing, grasping for any solid thing, wishing air was tangible, but gravity never spares the unsuspecting.
With eyes open halfway and already closing again quickly, some part of me desperately fights to get back my dream, to that party at the pool, next to the woods. I was just about to start dancing.
But something is wrong. Even in that split second- half sleep- partial blink- some part of me that’s aware notices a change in the physical appearance of my bedroom. The walls are the wrong color. The wrong texture. And my bed is too damn HARD. Where is my pillow?
Wide awake now, I look around slowly and wonder how they did it. Did they pump sleeping gas in through the heating vents under my bed? Did they put a delayed tranquilizer in my drinking water? No use wasting energy trying to work out the details. Whatever past events had led up to HOW I got here, my present situation is clear.
I am in a jail cell.
No. Impossible. I blinked. In fact, it felt more like a holding room…or an esoteric initiation chamber. This is just too much TV, that’s all. I have to be making this up! How would I know what an initiation chamber looks like? I shook my head, rubbed my eyes, and peeked through my fingers. Memory floated a word to me from a childhood movie. Was this an oubliette?
I was sitting on a hard, dirt floor. The walls around me looked like textured clay, maybe adobe. Behind me, there was a sound like someone clearing their throat to announce their presence. I turned and looked up, curious to meet my host. I was addressed more than greeted, and only by a blurred face on a vid screen.
From the vid screen speakers, “Your choices will determine if you move forward in training or not. If you do not pass, you will be put back as we found you. No memories, no questions.”
Well, that’s very “Men in Black” of them. “Is it possible I may get hurt? Or be killed?” I ask out loud. The only response I hear is, “Test one… begin.”
A sudden tremor, like an earthquake aftershock, rumbled under me, then a grinding sound vibrated deep within the walls. A section that had appeared to be seamless and smooth moments before now slid to the right. The light shifted in the room to reveal an arched opening in front of me. There was a curtain in the arch, dimly lit. The curtain’s fabric appeared to be frayed and thick, like narrow strips of dark carpet, or thick strands of wool. The room beyond the doorway was shrouded in low light. I could see movement but sensed no body heat, smelled nothing. I felt alone. As I approached the curtain, I recognized its texture; it was human hair.
Matted dreadlocks hung the length of the open archway from the top of the curve to a few inches off the ground. Each knotty lock swayed slightly as if caught in the current of a gentle breeze, but no air was moving.
As I approached the arch cautiously, the locks stopped moving and trained in on me. Each lock began to track my movements, independently, moving as I moved. They could sense.
|What I Write||
Speculative fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, essays, short plays, and monologues.
– “Kah-beah” (Mixed race in Burmese) monologue performed May 2017 at Billie Holiday Theater NYC for “50 in 50: Writing Women Into Existence.”
– Author interview with Peter S. Beagle, forthcoming in Eleven Eleven Journal, Issue #23, Fall 2017.
– Poem “Great Dismal Speaks” published in Oakland Review #4, January 2017.
– Book review of Desiree Cooper’s “Know The Mother” published in Eleven Eleven Journal, Issue #21, Fall 2016.
– “Mushroom Haiku” published in Fungi: A Mycology Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 2013.
My goal for this write-a-thon is to work on the story shared in my writing sample excerpt by writing three, double-spaced pages in 12 pt font every day.