Misplaced

"He kept on talking, but his words faded away. They were drowned in the loud buzzing in the back of my head.
“Caleb” I meant to say his name normally, but my voice sounded weak and shaky. The room shifted and turned, my head was spinning and my stomach dropped.
“Rose, are you okay?”
I blinked once, twice, thrice, but it didn't help. I reached for the coke but didn't have the strength to lift it. I fell backwards against the floor, but through I could hear the bump in my skull, I didn't feel the pain. I could no longer hear Caleb talking to me, but I watched his face as the edges of my vision darkened until I could see nothing but utter blackness"

After a sudden blackout, sarcastic occult-fan 'Alyce with a Y' finds herself somewhere very far away from home, discovering truths about herself she'd never thought possible.

(Tilmeldt Fantasy-konkurrencen, valgmulighed 1)

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2. Led on

“Wake up”

The voice penetrated the blanket of sleep I was covered in. I ignored it. I liked sleeping. I mean, isn't that what teenagers are supposed to do?

“Seriously, wake up! We're going to be late!”

Late for what? It was early July, in the middle of my summer break. I didn't have to go anywhere. Was it sunday? Did my parents want me to go to church with them? Well, I certainly wasn't going to. But... My parents were out of town...

“WAKE UP!”

I sat up with a with a jerk. “Relax, Caleb, I'm awake already!” I mumbled, rubbing sleep out of my eyes.

“Caleb?”

I froze. It wasn't till now that I realized that the voice definitely didn't belong to my brother. I moved my hands and tried to focus on the face in front of me.

“What are you talking about?” he said. My vision cleared and I looked into the eyes of a complete stranger.

My first reaction was to scream, panic and fumble my way the hell out of there, but my instincts quickly settled down. The boy in front of me was pale with ice blue eyes and platinum blond hair. He had a nice face, but he wasn't outright handsome. His eyes held worry, confusion, impatience and a tad of frustration. I didn't recall ever seeing him before, but I decided panic wasn't going to get me anywhere.

“Did you stay up late? I've been trying to wake you for fifteen minutes. Get dressed and let's get going, we only have ten more minutes before the orientation starts” he said, gesturing towards a big, white dresser in the corner of the room. I looked around, taking in the unfamiliar location. Besides the dresser and the bed I lay in, the room had a desk with a chair and a bunch of papers spread upon it, a full-body mirror, a big, comfy-looking armchair with a book I didn't recognize balanced on the armrest, and a double glass door leading to a tiny balcony. Everything was in whites, sands and blues, and in a Victorian-styled design. The boy cleared his throat, tapping his foot impatiently. He raised a brow when I looked back at him, shook his head and walked through the door behind him.

“I'll wait outside” he said, before closing the door behind him. Hesitantly, I pulled the covers aside and sat up. I was wearing a sheer, white nightgown and nothing else. Embarrassed, I hurried to the dresser and browsed through the clothing it held. The hues of the fabrics were just as monotonous as the rest of the room. White and dusty blue shirts and dresses were predominant. I sighed, picking a dress from the masses. I never wore dresses anywhere, but the dresser didn't hold any jeans, only soft pants - that looked like something my grandmother would've worn - and the alikes. I pulled off the nightgown and put on a pair of lace panties with a matching bra I also found in the dresser, slipped into the dress I'd chosen and followed the direction I'd see the boy disappear. I walked right past the mirror, not wanting to see myself in the very pity state I was in, and apparently not having time to do my hair anyway. The room turned out to be on the first floor, so I walked down the stairs into a beautiful hall. From there, I could peek into a living room, a study and a bathroom. The front door was right by the end of the stairs. Outside, the boy stood leaned agains the wall. He looked relieved when I stepped out.

“Good, that was quick. Did you have breakfast?” he asked. I shook my head. “Will you be alright till lunch, then?”

“Yeah, don't worry. I'm not very hungry” I tried. For a second I considered telling him I didn't know what the hell was going on, that I didn't remember ever being here before and neither seeing his face before this morning, but I decided not to. He looked out of sorts already, and the curve of his brow told me that saying something like that would make him think I was a complete lunatic. He obviously thought he knew me, and since he was acting as a friend, I might as well go with the flow and avoid ending up at the madhouse.

He seemed to accept my respond. He grabbed my hand and began walking, but my reflexes led me to pull my hand away.

“What's wrong?” he asked, surprised by my reaction. I shook my head in confusion.

“Nothing” I mumbled, not sure what to think. I let him take my hand this time, and he led me in a direction I was certain I'd never walked before.

 

The area was beautiful. The house I'd been in before was one in a row of many little townhouses, all in a matte gray paint and with white frames around doors and windows. When the houses ended, we walked into a beautiful park with marble benches and pretty water fountains. The air was warm, but the sun was weirdly dim. I wondered what time it was. We closed in on a crowd gathered around one of the fountains in the corner of the park. Funny, I though to myself, everyone look so similar to that boy. Pale, blonde and with pretty, polished faces. With a weird sinking feeling I realized that it was very unusual to see so many similar people at the same time. How many were there? Fifty? More? As we came close I could see that they even had the same eyes. I surprised myself by shuddering. Were they some kind of... Supernatural beings? Something occult? I felt a mixture of excitement and nausea. If they were, what the hell was I doing here? Maybe I was still dreaming.

My thoughts were interrupted when a woman climbed up the edge of the fountain to stand above the crowd. She looked older than the rest, whom I realized must've all been around my age. She cleared her throat and the crowd quickly silenced.

“Merry meet, sons and daughters of the Moon” she said in a beautifully musical voice. I tried – unsuccessfully – to keep a snicker from escaping my lips. Sons and daughters of the Moon? Really? If I was dreaming about supernatural creatures, why couldn't it be something bad-ass like demons, werewolves or vampires?

The guy from before gave me a hard look. Apparently he didn't find it funny at all. “Sorry” I said, shrugging at him. His look didn't soften. I broke my gaze from his and returned to listening to the musical Moonfreak in front of us.

“I do not doubt a second that you all know what this year brings. It's finally time for the Harvesting” she continued. 

I felt the girl to my left stir. “Luna?” she whispered. I watched the no-name guy from earlier. How come he didn't mind her being noisy?

“Luna?” she tried, a little louder. The guy turned his head to look at me and mouthed 'answer her!' with a frown more confused than mine. Was she talking to me?

“Yes?” I tried hesitantly. She looked relieved.

“Can I talk to you afterwards?”

“Uh-huh, sure” I answered distantly, trying to figure out why they'd call me by such a weird name. She smiled and I returned the gesture before - once again - tuning in to the woman in the front. She was saying something deep about losing and gaining, though I've never been very poetic and was honestly not sure what she meant. After what seemed like a lifetime, she stepped down from the fountain with a wave and a smile, leaving the crowd to dissolve. The guy from earlier caught me tightly by the elbow and pulled me aside in a gesture that was a little rougher than necessary.

“What's with you today?” he asked, sounding like my brother when he was really, really pissed.

“I'm sorry!” I tried, “I'm just feeling... Out of sorts?”

“Are you ill?” he asked, his voice instantly softer and warmer.

“I'm not sure” I continued, “I just don't feel like myself”

“Maybe you should skip the Cleansing and rest a bit”

I nodded, but was interrupted before I could answer.

“Luna, Nathaniel!” the girl from before smiled at us, “Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt”

“Oh, don't worry” I said quickly, relieved to escape from further questioning.

“Nate, can I borrow Luna for a bit? I need to talk to her in private”

Nathaniel nodded, mumbled what sounded like 'later' and left us to ourselves.

“Walk with me?” the girl said it like a question, offering her arm. I took it hesitantly, not used to that kind of intimacy with neither distant nor close friends. We walked in silence for a while before she came to a halt by one of the benches. We both sat, and I waited for her to say something.

“So...” she began after a while, sending me a wave of relief. “Are you excited about the Harvesting?”

I gulped, not sure what to answer. “Yes, I suppose. It will be... Interesting, will it not?” I bit my lip insecurely.

“Most definitely!” she said in a squeal. Her bubbly mood made me smile. “I hope I'll be a Crop. It would be such an honor”

I nodded, utterly perplexed. She smiled.

“Who do you think will be Selected?” she asked, intimately removing a strand of hair from my face. Luckily I abstained from wincing.

“Oh, I wouldn't know” I answered evasively. Her smile widened.

“You're just being modest!” she chuckled. “We all know you're the ideal daughter” I forced a giggle. “Everyone but Sapphire, of course. She thinks she's the only one worthy” the girl made a little grunt and rolled her eyes. Apparently we didn't like this Sapphire-chick, and well, she did sound like a major pain in the ass.

“But I actually wanted to ask you... Uh...” she scratched her shoulder uncomfortably. “If you're Selected. Or if you become a Crop and I don't. Will we still be friends?” she looked at me with big, hopeful eyes. I reached out and touched her arm, a sudden care for her welling up inside me.

“Of course we will. If that is the case, nothing changes” I assured her, though I still didn't know what we were talking about. She looked relieved. She opened her mouth to say something more, but closed it again, curving it in a bright smile instead.

“Well, we should get going!” she said cheerily, then noticed my puzzled expression. “The Cleansing?” she elaborated.

“Yes, of course!” I said quickly. “It's just, I'm feeling a little odd today, as if I'm not quite myself. He – Uh, Nate said I should probably rest instead” I argued, trying to hide my incomprehension. The girl shook her head.

“And sleep through the Cleansing?”

“Yeah”

“No way!” she shook her head. “He's just trying to look out for you, but he of all people should know how important his Cleansing could be for you. You'll definitely be going” she said with a determination I found it impossible to argue against. “Come, let's go”

And yet again, I was pulled away by someone I barely knew, unsure what to expect. Harvesting? Crops? Cleansing? This was the weirdest dream in the world.

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