“There’s nothing new to be gained by this perspective, Mar,” said Rolly quietly, his head still stuck out into the night. “We can’t see all that much and I still can’t hear shit.”
Mara was already pulling on a pair of jeans. “I know, baby. I wanna go outside anyway, I really need to see if there are any other people around. I really want to talk to another person.” She did a shimmy and a jump and even under the exigent circumstances, Rolly forever enjoyed that moment where she yanked her jeans over her ass. “It’s no offense to you, if you weren’t here I’d be a fucking basket case, I just want a stranger to tell me I’m not stark raving.”
Rolly grabbed a pair of sweat pants off the back of a chair and sat to drag them on. “You wouldn’t be a basket case. You’d be a She-Hulk until you got everything under control. Ha, then you’d spend a month hiding under the covers and be a fucking basket case.”
“So what do you think we’re gonna find out there?,” she asked. “I can’t even guess. Like, are we crazy, like right around the corner everything’s all light and life and hunky-dory? Is everyone gone? What if everyone’s gone?”
Stamping heels into tennis shoes and zipping up a hoodie, he shrugged. “Dunno. They either are or they aren’t.” He dragged a giant sports duffel from under the bed and threw it on top of it. “I, however, am going to go with the assumption that there is a chance that outside of these walls there’s unfriendly shit. So, you’re going to go grab our ball bats. I’m going to grab the big flashlight, fuck it, and the little one too, and a kitchen knife.”
Mar stopped short on the way to the hall closet. “Rolly, seriously, a knife?” She looked towards the window, where no sound or movement floated. “Okay, fine, yes, a knife. I’ll throw in a couple bottles of water and some crackers, because who knows, maybe we don’t get to come back in.” Breezy words for a terrifying possibility. “But we’ll still look totally normal, so if we are the ones who somehow both devolved into lunatics trapped in the same delusion, no one will even be able to tell.” She smiled brightly and spun on a toe.
Rolly was trying to be rational in an irrational situation, which was commendable but also very easy to get wrong. For instance, you couldn’t ever stop remembering that there was no logic to fall back on, it was all spur of the moment calculation that could be undone by single moment’s hesitation. Ball bats, knives, and flashlights were all very good, but would they actually do any good? There was no way to tell, and better at least a sense of bravado than cowering.
Mara came back into the room with an armful of supplies. She tossed them down onto the bed for Rolly to pack as the man approached the endeavor like a real life game of Tetris. He could somehow fit the ability to live for a week into a bag that size; it was a bizarre gift.
“Okay,” he said. “We’re ready. Let’s go.”
As they walked towards the front door, Mara cleared her throat. “Uh, Rolly, I feel like I should tell you that when I went into the kitchen I heard the humming again. It was by the door.”
He glanced sideways at her but didn’t slow his stride. “Did it sound like an invitation or a warning?”
“A what? An invitation?” She thought about it for a second. “I really don’t know that it sounded like anything other than humming. It was the exact same sound we heard before.” Now they were in front of the door and she stopped with her hand on the deadbolt. They waited and listened, but there was no more humming, nothing at all in fact, stopping them from stepping out into the corridor, but still they hesitated a moment longer.
She turned the deadbolt. They waited. She snicked the chain lock off. They waited. As she reached for the lock button on the door handle, the humming came again.
“Laa, lalala, lala, laaaa….”, fading away, not as if the hummer was walking farther away, but as if the hummer was disappearing.
“Warning?” Rolly asked again. “Or invitation?”
“Doesn’t matter,” answered Mara, and turned the knob. She re-locked the door from outside, unsure whether she was protecting what was inside or defending herself from it, and whether or not such feeble security mattered anyway. Nothing for it, now.
From their first few steps into the hallway, they knew immediately that they were in fact the ones who were crazy. At least they were in it together.
It wasn’t their hallway. There were no patterns on the wallpaper, or the carpet, whereas theirs had geometric designs woven in. The stairs at the end of the hall had disappeared, replaced by a flat plane that led directly to a large, double front door that they didn’t recognize. The monotonous color scheme was unrelieved. What could loosely be called light was coming from tacky electric candles in tacky art deco holders on the walls.
Mara stepped closer to one of them, peering closely at the crude details. “Ugh. It’s a face.” She pulled Rolly over and pointed. “It’s a face, like an outline of a face. It is a decidedly unhappy face.”
The face hewn into the candleholder was indeed not a happy face. Quite the opposite, actually, seeming to indicate extreme suffering with just a few lines. Foreboding, that was the word for it. It boded of foes. They stepped back and walked forward once more.
She caught him staring at her again, and stared back confused. Then she shook her head. “Just say it, you moron.”
That stupid grin. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
“I’m glad you’ve got that out of your system, because we’re at the front door now, and our lot in life is not about to improve.” They both turned to look through the glass.
The world looked exactly as it had through their bedroom window. No color, no sound, no people. Nothing but mucky looking fog and bilious light from strangely shaped street lamps.
It wasn’t even their street anymore.
* * * *
Get ready for the real weirdness to start in the upcoming Part 4, There’s nobody here but us chickens. Haha, I don’t think that’s what I’m gonna call it, but it would fit and it made me laugh….