In the midst of the chaos happening around him, John stayed perfectly still at the spot he was standing at. No one paid attention to him and by some miracle, nobody bumped into him either. The screams of the masses seemed like a distant echo, their panic contrasting the calmness he felt within him. He had a feeling deep inside that he should have been panicking as well, running for his life towards the exits of the crumbling mall but his feet stayed perfectly in place.
He then heard a loud crack above him and looked up to see a chunk of the ceiling falling straight towards him. ‘This is it,’ he thought to himself, ‘this is how I die’. He closed his eyes tightly and waited for his demise but…nothing. Silence. The screams had stopped and instead of smoke and dust, a fresh light breeze blew. When he opened his eyes, the mall was gone.
All there was was a vast field of grass and wildflowers. The sun was high up in the sky and no clouds disrupted the unending blue. He looked around, searching for anything. But there were no signs of civilization, no signs of anyone at all.
Tentatively, he took his first step away from his spot. The ground felt solid underneath his feet and he let out a long-drawn-out breath. Suddenly, everything seemed to crash down towards him. His body shook as he knelt on the ground and grabbed on to clumps of grass and ground.
Inhale. Exhale. Try to think. Inhale. Exhale.
Was he dead? He believed he was but would the dead had been able to feel the ground and the breeze? But the mall was gone and he was sure he had not been in a field just a moment ago. This internal debate continued until a small voice disrupted his thoughts.
Looking up from his position, he saw a small girl with pale skin, white hair and pale blue eyes, with twigs tucked behind her ears. “Are you alright?” the girl asked.
A lot of questions passed through John’s mind but he settled on one he was willing to hear the answer to. “Where am I…?”
I decided to put on hold what I was doing for a moment. Walking over to the desk where my phone was, I checked the caller ID first. It wasn’t a familiar number so I decided to ignore it and return to my work. But it kept on ringing…and ringing…and ringing; and with each ring, it grew louder. The drizzling of the rain outside grew louder as well, soon sounding like fists banging against the glass.
I covered my ears but it did nothing to block it off. It started to seem like it was all coming from my own head, bouncing around ceaselessly. I looked back at the small black bird on the windowsill, which gazed back at me unperturbed.
“Who are you?!”
“Hey, are you alright?” someone asked from the receiver. “If you aren’t, we can always reschedule our weekly hangout. Or better yet, we can come down to your place later instead? You seem out of it.”
I glanced at the receiver in my hand, then ran my hand through my hair. I must’ve not noticed picking it up. Looking around, nothing seemed out of place. The bird on the windowsill was gone. Letting out a sigh, I answered. “Sorry. How long have I been out of it?”
“You weren’t responding at all and then you suddenly shouted…It’s Brian, by the way.”
“Sorry again. I’m still game for tonight. Might need to leave the studio for now anyways.”
“You’re always cooped up in there. I won’t be surprised if you do end up going mad.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve got to finish it soon, though. Just need some final touches.”
“If you say so. See you later then?”
“See you later.” I hang up.