This is the fourth part in a continuing story. Here is the link to the third part if you missed it: https://titantime.org/6918/lifestyle/creative-contributions/the-wanderer-part-three/
Jenna wasn’t aware that she had been unconscious until she woke up. Her return to the land of the living started off slow. First came her hearing: a low humming that was intensifying and rising in pitch. There was something almost electrical about it, yet that wasn’t quite right. She wasn’t in the proper state of mind to consider it for very long. Then came the tingling of her limbs coming back to life. The world felt soft, unreal. Her mouth was dry, the rest of her dehydrated in a similar plea for water. In her confused mental state, her first thought was: I should have eaten breakfast, blissfully unaware of how ridiculous that thought was in her current situation. She tried opening her eyes. The lids were heavy and seemed unwilling to budge. After applying the force of her will long enough, they finally began to slowly creep up. She was almost convinced that she would see her room when she opened her eyes. Almost. A very small part of her, shoved to the back, knew this would not be the case. Jenna’s uncertain mind decided this information would be best left for her to find out for herself.
At first, she thought her eyes were still closed even though she knew they were open. Everything was dark. She couldn’t move her hand yet, but she guessed she wouldn’t have been able to see it if she waved it in front of her face. As her eyes adjusted, it was clear she was not in her bedroom. The room she was actually in had brick walls that were covered with pipes running up to the ceiling from the furnace and water heater in the corner beyond Jenna’s feet. One of the corners of the room was blocked from her view by a single wall that pushed itself a quarter of the way into the room. As Jenna looked at the wall, a strange orange glow began to emanate from behind it. The humming she heard seemed to be coming from it as well. She spent a few moments wandering the paths of confusion when everything came rushing back at her at once: Piper, the note, the lock down at school, going with Lindsey to The Portal, running outside, the man whose the eye was filled with never-ending darkness. All of these were her memories, unexplainable but true. Among them, though, was that strange sense of deja vu Jenna was increasingly becoming accustomed to.
Jenna would have sat up, startled, as the memories flooded back to her conscious mind if it hadn’t been for her will and, more importantly, the fact that her body still didn’t want to respond to her demands. It was all for the best anyways. If it the One-Eyed Man took her down here, he was probably somewhere in the room with her, waiting for her to wake up. Most likely he was behind the wall with whatever was humming and creating that unnerving glow. She recognized that she had been an idiot to walk into the alley while trying to avoid someone who was outside; she didn’t want to make a similar mistake by moving now.
It’ll all work out the way that it’s meant to, floated through her mind, quoting a certain note she would have rather not received. Piper must have known something like this would happen, yet she didn’t do anything to try to stop it. She left you the note as a warning, didn’t she? the more reasonable side of Jenna’s mind reminded her. The fact remained that the note did nothing to protect her, no matter how good the intentions of its sender were. Anyways, debating Piper’s morals would do nothing to help her now. It would be best to put that argument behind and focus on the current situation. The situation that Jenna doubted she could figure out in the amount of time left to her. Eventually, the One-Eyed Man would come to check on her and see she was awake. Before that happened, she needed to observe as much as she could.
Fortunately, she had already observed most of what there was in the room. However, the lack of objects in the room gave her very little to go on if she was trying to figure out what was going on. The only change was the growing orange glow and the humming that was reaching an almost unbearable range. She couldn’t see the source, but she had a feeling it was very important. It might even allow her to make sense of what is happening. Or it might make things more confusing.
Her wonderings were cut short as she heard heavy footsteps approaching the edge of the wall. A familiar figure emerged and made his way over to where Jenna was still lying on the floor. If he was a shadow in broad daylight, he was a silhouette of nothingness in the dark. He stopped about a foot from Jenna’s face and crouched, sitting on the backs of his heels. She stared at the dark boots before her and the black duster that was touching the floor, backlit by the strange orange light. She couldn’t bring herself to look up to his face. He waited. She slowly looked up to see his one eye glinting in the light from the unknown source. Thankfully, the dark socket was lost in the shadow of the hat he was still wearing. He smiled. Jenna tried not to cringe.
“You didn’t think I’d let you sit there all day, did you, dearie?” His voice smug, like he was laughing inside. “I think it’s time we had a little talk.”
Lindsey watched as Jenna rushed to find the bathrooms. She really couldn’t see why Jenna was so freaked out about everything all of a sudden. Of course, the man walking past the cafe did fit Ashley’s description of the school loiterer, but Lindsey wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Ashley had made up the story about seeing the guy. She would give Jenna a few minutes to use the bathroom, then she would go after her, just to make sure she was okay. She may be going crazy, but she was still Lindsey’s friend.
Ten minutes passed. Lindsey decided she should go check on Jenna. No one took ten minutes to use the the bathroom. She walked to the back hallway that Jenna had entered a few minutes before. She peeked into the women’s restroom and called, “Jenna?” There was no reply. Lindsey closed the door and looked toward the end of the hallway. She noticed the door labelled STREET ACCESS and decided to look and see if Jenna had gone outside. When she opened the door, there was nothing there but a feeling. A feeling of eternal emptiness that could never be filled or satisfied. A feeling that sent a shiver up Lindsey’s spine and made her slam the door shut. She calmly turned back down the hallway and walked into the main dining area. She passed the table she and Jenna had been sitting at and pushed through the front door into the warm outside air, the remainder of her coffee left behind. It really was a nice day to be downtown. The perfect day, in fact. The one thing Lindsey couldn’t figure out was why she had come here alone.