Them... Justin.

No one’s here. Just me, only me. No one else…
I raise my head out of my hands half way and look up at Abby.
She laughs once and says “Don’t start that.”
I smile once and began to lower my head back into my open palms.
“Hold on.” Abby says.
I look up at her expectantly.
“You haven’t answered the question yet.” She continues.
“What question?” I asked confused.
“What’s your favourite colour?” Abby sighs impatiently.
“You can’t choose mine.” Liam retorts from across the picnic table.
I grimaced and turned to face his smug smirk.
“We can’t have the same favourite colour?” I say with mock horror.
“No.” His smile widens.
“Well then, I suppose you’ll just have to go with pink.”
“I…” Liam starts.
“Too late, that’s taken.” Abby interrupts.
“By Justin.” Liam interjects.
“Oh, I agree completely. Nothing suits me better.” I answer with huge fake smile.
Liam laughs and shakes his head.
“Just choose your second favourite, Justin.” Abby says, getting impatient again.
“Right. Uh, black?”
Abby and Liam both stare at me pointedly.
“I’m not freakin’ emo!” I shout, laughing.
“Fine, fine.” Abby replies.
“Anyone seen Amanda?” Liam asks, changing the subject.
By now my head was resting back in my hands, I pretended I wasn’t listening.
I heard the clacking of Abby’s laptop stop from her typing as she paused to answer Liam.
“I think she was with Cam.” Abby says thoughtfully.
“Big surprise!” Liam replies sarcastically.
“Mm, they’re always together.” Abby says as if she found the thought cute.
“It’s a wonder she hasn’t just eaten him yet.” I mutter.
Liam and Abby heard me and I could tell they were waiting for an explanation.
“Long story.” I say in between a yawn.
My eyelids begin to droop, getting heavier and heavier, the cool air rustling past and the quiet chirps of small birds seeming to move rhythmically with Abby’s computer tapping.
“What about Riley?” Liam asks again.
“I don’t know. Justin?” Abby turns the question my way.
“Umm, I think he went with Shannon, Hailey, Josie and Tobi to the movies.” I answer, feeling myself fall deeper into sleep.
Faintly, I hear Liam laughing and Abby saying something in return.
Then everything went quiet. Quiet and dark.

“Bab? Bab! Come on, wake up.” Someone shakes my shoulder.
“Huh? Wha-what’d you call me?” I say, forcing my eyes open.
“Uh, Justin? Come on, we got to go, everyone’s left.” That voice sounds familiar.
I look up at the speaker and realise that it’s Tobi.
“Tobi?” Everything seems dark.
“Yep. You fell asleep during the movie you know. You missed the best parts! But anyway, we got to go, everyone’s left the Theatre.”
“Theatre! How’d… I was at the park with Abby and Liam!” I know I didn’t dream that.
Tobi looks at me strangely, probably thinking I did dream it.
“Come on, we have to go.”
We left the theatre and walked out into a huge mall complex. A few people were walking about, carrying shopping bags or standing around talking to one another.
“Abby and Liam said they’d be at the music store.” Tobi says pointing out the direction. “You go on ahead, I have to go to the bathroom.”
Tobi walks off in the opposite direction he indicated, leaving me dazed and alone.
I look around me and see a Janitor placing warning signs indicating a wet floor. Then I realize in between the signs, the floor looked slick and wet reflecting everything up above. The long strip of liquid seemed to go all the way straight down the hall area, and around the corner in the direction Tobi showed me. The middle-aged Janitor then hobbled off, and I realized I was completely alone. I could still hear the babble of people talking, footsteps, everything. I just couldn’t see where it was coming from.
I stepped forward, still completely confused, looking but not seeing.
Suddenly my feet gave way beneath me, and I fell hard onto my backside and began to slide down the white tiled floor at an alarming speed.
My speed didn’t slow, and as an instinctive reflex, I forced the palms of my hands down onto the floor to stop myself, but instead of slowing, my hands were met with a slimy ooze that covered the floor.
“Oh, crap!” I shouted as I sped down and around the corner and forward down the next hallway.
This is not normal. This can’t be happening! I should have stopped way back!
Up ahead I saw two other figures, coming closer, but they weren’t standing still.
In a short time I was sliding in between Liam and Abby who were sitting down as if what was happening wasn’t surprising at all to them.
Abby turns her head and her face lights up with enthusiasm when she sees me.
“Hiya, Justin.” She says cheerily.
“I see you got trapped to.” Liam snorts.
He then laughs.
“We’ve been on here for a while now. One step and we can’t stop sliding on our arses.”
“How the hell is this happening?” I ask, hysteria reaching my voice.
“Don’t ask us.” Abby replies unconcerned.
“Don’t you want to stop?” I ask incredulously.
“Well duh. But we don’t know how.” Liam returns.
“Why not call someone to help?” I suggest.
Liam stares ahead contemplating this and after a while admits to trying.
“Who you calling?” Abby curiously asks.
After a while, someone picks up and Liam begins to chat away.
“Hiya, Amanda. We kinda need your help.
“Yeah, Abby, Justin and I.
“We’re stuck on some kind of slide and we can’t stop.
Kay, thanks.” He puts away his phone.
“She’s coming.” He says with a grin.
“What’s she going to do?” Abby asks.
“She’s going to try and block the slide…”
“We’re going to crash?!” I shout.
“She’s going to use soft barricades.” He says hesitantly, as if he doesn’t quite believe it himself.
I moan and put my head in my hands, waiting.
After a while Liam’s phone buzzes and he answers it.
“Alright then.” He simply says, and he replaces the phone.
“What’s going on?”
“We’re about to reach the barricades she’s set up.”
I begin to sweat nervously and my heart accelerates.
Already ahead I could see square outlines blocking the way.
“She’s set up one thing for each of us.” Liam adds calmly.
“This should be fun.” Abby laughs.
I wasn’t so sure for some reason. We’ve been on this weird slim slide for a long time now and we haven’t slowed down a bit.
I could see Amanda standing out of the way, along the side of one of the walls, watching.
Her barricades came in close, really fast. There was no time to think.
Liam was first. In his path Amanda set up a stall that appeared to sell sharp cutlery. He went flying straight into it, causing a large mass of sounds and clatters. I could hear the stall collapsing as he ran into it, but no sound from him.
Abby went then. Another stall was set up in front of her; by the glimpse I caught it was selling fireworks. She flew straight into it and as I slid by I could hear loud bangs and whirs, I could feel heat exploding behind me and the whole mall lit up in bright and swirling colours.
As I continued to speed down, I saw a stall full of oranges ahead. For some reason the oranges scared the crap out of me, yet I wanted to slide right into them. The stall came in fast and I was surrounded by citrus fruit, they just kept on crashing into me and it felt like I was being pulled and pushed around until I couldn’t see anything but the colour orange.

“Justin!” Someone was shaking my shoulder again.
“Whhhaaaatt?” I moaned loudly, sitting up and rubbing my eyes against the light.
“You fell asleep you nutcase.” Liam said laughing.
I looked around and realised I was outside at the park, sitting at the picnic table. Liam and Abby were standing up beside me, Abby’s laptop clutched to her side under her arm.
“Oh, sorry.” I muttered.
After my eyes adjusted I asked, “Abby? What was that colour thing about anyway?”
“Huh? Oh. Personality test. Yours came out wrong though.” She pulled a face.
“How?” I asked.
“Some garbage about you being a quiet solemn person who sees the world as a sad place.” She replies.
“Yeah, that’s so you.” Liam said rolling his eyes.
“What was Liam’s?” I ask again.
“Um, the colour orange. Something like ‘a bright, random person who sees fun and a joke at every chance.’” She shrugs.
“That seems about right.” I mutter to myself, too quiet for anyone else to hear.
“Hey, we’re thinking about going to the mall, wanna come?” Liam asks.
“Oh, hell no!”

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Them is a series of short stories I’ve decided to start that involve ten friends who each undergo strange dreams that reflect who they are. This is just the first one, so… hopefully I’ll get there.


dream, series, them

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