~~“You know, you definitely know how to attract trouble. I don’t know what to do with you.” My eyes widening and my stomach tightening in fear I looked up to see that the man had returned. His voice was gentle but there was something very off-putting about him. Almost evil. I started to worry about what it was he planned on doing with me. On this high cliff in this strange new world, I was completely at his mercy. A feeling I did not like one bit. He seemed to realize what I was thinking, “Do not worry, I couldn't think of killing you, Meg.”
What! My spine stiffened painfully and the word. How did he know my name? I hadn’t met him before. Who was he? This place I felt the now familiar sense of overwhelming panic build in my chest. It felt like someone had thrown a metal net around my chest and pulling down.
“Perhaps you are a little confused? Yes?” his statement seemed to flip a switch somewhere deep inside me. Now I was angry. No I was furious.
“A little!? I’m confused about where I am, who you are, how do now my name and, and …” I stopped yelling and began gasping for air. “And what the hell kind of place is this?” I finished when I had caught my breath. I was surprised when I glanced up, to find him smiling suppressing the urge to laugh. I narrowed my eyes at him. Fury still seething along my skin.
“What's so funny?” I all but snarled. This time he did laugh. Throwing his head back his broad chest rising and falling in rapid motions.
“I believe the question is what’s not funny,” he admitted when he had claimed down. I stared at him incredulously. I shook my head and I was sure my mouth must have been hanging open as I did so. His sudden laughter had shocked all the anger out of my body and left me once again drained. I just felt tired.
“Whatever,” I murmured. Suddenly he didn’t seem so dangerous anymore. Just a strange man laughing at me. I turned around and started trekking down and away from the cliff face. He didn’t block my path but he stared after me curiously.
“And where do think your going?” he called out.
“I’m going to find my way back and you can't stop me, whatever your name is.” I replied carelessly.
“Well, my name is Lex and there’s going to be a small problem,” he said appearing beside me.
I’m sure he would have said more but I tripped over a hidden rock and fell, scraping myself on the inside on my arm and twisted my ankle. I yelled out in pain and then began coughing as the dust settled in my lungs and my eyes. He was beside me within seconds.
“Are you alright Meg?” he said, lacing and arm around my back and sitting me up.
“I think I might have- Owww!” He was rudely prodding at my injured ankle. Picking it up and turning it over in his hand. Shaking his head as he did so.
“Would you stop? That hurts!” I cried. Hot tears fells from my eyes gently remove any trace of the dust. Leaving muddy trail down my cheeks.
“Sorry, but I’ll have to carry you.” He ignored me. I frowned realizing the fault in his plan.
“But you can't just...”
And before I could object he scooped me up and started walking down towards level ground easily following the twists and curves of the almost invisible path. I felt for sure he would drop me, I could barely even walk without tripping, let alone carry someone.
“How are you doing this?” I asked, “How can you carry me and not trip?” I continued clarifying my question. He seemed to hesitate deliberating his answer.
“Practice,” he simply said looking at the horizon.
“What you mean. How many times have you done this?! Wait...Wait...you've been here before?” I asked surprised.
“Yes, the mansion you were so rudely trespassing in, is the portals disguise. It’s a way to get from here to there.
Look I know what’s happened to you, in the mansion, it’s rare to happen to humans, but it does occasionally occur.”
“Wait you’re…” I interrupted, choosing to ignore his comment about my rudeness, but he cut me off again.
“Not human? No I’m not.” He stated firmly. Shock washed over me once more and I closed my eyes trying desperately to understand what he was saying. I couldn't speak, so I remained silent after that and so did Lex.
The wind picked up and we must have been walking for at least half an hour, so in the most un-childish way I could think of, I asked,
“Um, how much further?”
“Not long” he said stiffly. I sighed, there was still something off about him and an instinct telling me he wasn’t to be trusted, but with my ankle either twisted or broken I’d didn’t have much choice. So I didn’t push him. I thought back to earlier that day. Getting up in the morning and walking down stairs. Although it was a Saturday my father was at work, he was the CEO of a large insurance company. He wasn’t a bad boss, in fact he was one of the most liked, he came in whenever he was needed. My mother was once again experimenting in the kitchen. Lately she was going through an all organic phase and the result was baby food. My little brother Henry was four and he loved it, mostly because dad would come home and pour some sugar in it when mum wasn’t looking. My mother was yet to discover their secret. As my thoughts slowly drifted towards my friends, I realised I had school tomorrow and a very important math exam. One I needed to pass. I was usually quite good in school, but Math was my worst subject.
I groaned inwardly imagining Mr. Ward’s face he saw I wasn’t there tomorrow. Everyone knew that Mr. Ward took a sick pleasure in giving out detentions and telling students off. Some even went as far as to suggest he was a sadist. I didn’t think he was a sadist but I was definitely wary of his obscure humor.
As we walked on the silence slowly began to feel deafening; finally I decided to break it.
“You said there would be a problem, a problem in getting back.” He didn't answer so I prompted him “what is it?” and this time he answered,
“It only happens once a month,” he replied carefully, I frowned,
“What happens once a month?” I asked confused. He sighed as if it were a great effort to tell me.
“The portal to this world, it only opens once a month,” he explained.
“Oh” was all I could utter. Feeling devastated. A month? How could I wait here for a month? Where would I wait? The only thing making the news bearable was that I actually could get home. Even if I had to wait a month.
“I’m sorry” he said, miserably, suggesting it was his fault.
“It’s not your fault you know,” I said earnestly. He looked at me, and gave me a small sigh,
“Actually it is, I’m the one who brought you here, and that makes it my fault.” Memories of my last few moments in the mansion flooded back to me, the sobbing and shaking, I hadn't exactly noticed much.
“What do you mean? What exactly happened in there?” now I hoped I was finally going to get some answers. He drew in a breath,
“Well, the Mansion trapped you because the portal was about to open and during that time, nothing can come in or out. But since I was already waiting to head back and the portal energy would have killed you when it shut off, I felt it was my solemn duty to bring you back with me.” He looked down at me with a surprisingly warm smile. “Even if it was against the rules.”
A wave of nausea flooded over me. Lex seemed to notice it.
“Oh, ah sorry, the portal, it releases a wave or energy when in close and sucks in energy when it opens, though you probably didn't notice that. You seemed a little preoccupied with the missing doors and windows.” He joked. “I have to admit it was a little funny to see you racing around like that.” He chuckled.
“Hilarious.” I muttered. Too many near death experiences left me feeling empty and I wanted to change the subject, I'd heard all I needed to.
“Where are we going?” Looking forward as we marched across what was now level ground.
“Home.” He replied. Once again back to one and two word answers.
“What but you said it takes a month to go back home!” I said once again confused. Why couldn’t he just sit me down and tell me everything instead of just dropping one bombshell after another and becoming reclusive.
“Yes that’s true but I meant my home. Here.” He replied still calm with a large almost devilish grin despite my sudden outburst. It hit me again how little I knew him and heat rose to my cheeks as I finally realised, I was being carried down a cliff by this strange man I had only just thought of as evil.
“Oh,” I said angry at my own stupidity.
“And for any other questions, we will answer them inside. We’re here. By the way, I would watch out for the people here and try not to make eye contact with them. Some people have done a little more than murder.”