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Gwen, are you ok By Bruno Maiorana Characters: 10604

Updated: 2018-04-10 12:02


118 - Gwen

"Something's not right, " Ria muttered, before collapsing on the ground.

The next thing I knew, I could hear an explosion of voices all around the house, as if hundreds of people were talking at the same time. A bright light filled the room, blinding me completely. I covered my eyes, protecting them from the flash while trying to reach Ria to shield her from whatever it was that was happening. I couldn't find her.

The light subsided.

So did the voices.

There was absolute silence.

I opened my eyes.

Ria was gone.

Vanished.

The man I hit on the head was regaining consciousness.

Confused, he attempted to get up once again.

I grabbed the pan and hit him on the head a second time.

He collapses as he did before.

I noticed one of the goats was missing as well.

In a matter of seconds, I placed my laptop and the whiskey Terra had brought us inside my bag, picked up the gun Ria had dropped and put it in her handbag. With her bag on one shoulder and mine on the other, I decided to flee from the scene, leaving the door open so the guy could exit when he wakes up, if he did wake up.

The streets were dark and empty. The moon was casting an eerie glow that reflected on the puddles of water from yesterday's rainfall, like a scene from a Lovecraft story. Me, Dark Capuccina and the unnamed black and white goat ran through the dark alleys leading to the main street.

In reality, I couldn't run, so I walked as fast as I could while carrying both bags and thinking about Ria and her last words. It felt as if I were dreaming again. I could swear this event happened already.

On the main street, I hailed a cab and asked him to take me to the only place I knew in the city, the Marriot Hotel. The goats follow me into the taxi.

"Marriot Hotel?" said George Clooney. His eyes were cold as ice as he smiled at me from the front seat.

There must have been thousands of taxi drivers in Islamabad, so what were the chances of us meeting again? Well, one in thousands, that was not a very clever question.

It was not too late though, I could still turn the previous situation around if I played my cards right. I had no choice but to get into character mode.

"Listen, George, " I pleaded. "I know I hurt your feelings the other day but I didn't mean to. Really. It was just a stupid joke from a stupid TV show. Would you please forgive me?" I gave him my puppy eyes and placed my hand on his shoulder.

He didn't say anything but looked at me from the rear mirror and kept driving for a while without saying a word in a direction I knew it wasn't the one he should take to go to the Marriot hotel.

He took his cellphone out of his pocket and I just snapped. I didn't want him to call his friends and make this situation even more difficult. Almost instinctively, I took out the handgun from Ria's handbag and pointed it at him. One hand on the trigger and the other one 'half down the barrel' as Jack Bauer had taught me.

I took a deep breath. "Give me the cell phone slowly and keep driving, " I ordered him calmly while feeling the cold metal heavy in my hands. It was the first time I had pointed a gun at someone but as soon as I held it, it felt like the natural thing for me to do. I suddenly felt confident and full of life, as if Jack Bauer was talking through me. The driver did as he was told.

"Pull over here." The goats looked at me as if they knew what was happening. George Clooney pulled the car over and looked at me. I could do this.

"Now listen to me carefully. I'm going to be completely honest with you. I didn't mean to scare you. I'm actually a really nice person most of the time but today I'm having a terrible day. My friend disappeared and I don't know where she is. I'm not gonna shoot you, I just need you to say you forgive me, turn the car around and take me to the Marriot Hotel, so we can put all of this behind us. Do you understand?" I said, using Jack Bauer's soothing voice.

"I understand, " he squeaked, terrified. I was actually really disappointed because I wanted him to say nothing so that I could asking him again if he understood, only louder.

"Now say you forgive me, " I demanded, trying not to get too carried away by the moment.

"I forgive you, " uttered George. His face was expressionless now. Maybe he hadn't forgiven me, but it was better to take his word for it and not push my luck. He turned the car around and I put the gun down, petting the goats to relieve some stress.

When we arrived at the hotel, I gave George his phone back and paid him twice the fare for the inconvenience. The goats and I got off. He thanked me and I could swear I saw a tear running down his cheek as he drove away without looking back.

I approached the reception desk and saw the same receptionist as last time

"Can I stay at the hotel with a goat?' I blatantly asked her.

"I'm afraid goats are not allowed. Sorry." If this was a role-playing game this was the time where I needed to roll the dice for willpower to stop myself from pulling out the gun on her.

"How about two goats?" I joked, feeling more relaxed after successfully passing my willpower check.

"No. Goats are not allowed. They can wait for you outside, " she replied courteously, not realizing

I was actually joking.

"They are service goats, " I improvised. Mentally rolling for charisma. My bluff vs her insight this time.

"Service goats, uhmm…" It seemed as though I had spoken the magic words. "Let me talk to my supervisor." She left the reception desk and went to an office next to it.

While she was away, I took out my belt and improvised a leash for one of the goats to act as my service goat. Then I took my phone charger and did the same with the other goat. It sure is difficult being a single mom.

"I'm sorry but I need to ask you what functions do the service goats serve? What are they trained to do?" OK. I can do this, there's no way back now. I rolled for bluffing once again.

"I am a pyromaniac. If I try to set something on fire the goats will stop me." The receptionist seemed truly concerned as she looked at me and the goats. I had rolled a critical and it was super effective.

"In that case we can allow the goats into the room, just please make sure they don't get onto the bed, " she asked me politely.

"I will. Thank you very much." She handed me a key and explained where the room was.

Glad it was all over, I took the elevator to the third floor. Once I got into the room, I released the goats and they instantly clambered onto the bed. I took off my shoes and lay down on the bed next to them.

???

119 - Ria

My head was killing me, despite that, I was feeling alright. I lay in bed for a few minutes trying to figure out where I was. Everything was unfamiliar to me, the bed covers, the ceiling, the walls, shelf, wardrobe, the desk, I had no idea where I was.

It is definitely not my room. Whose room is it and what am I doing here? It was probably a girl's room. I was lying on one-half of the bed while the other half was occupied by a pile of girl's clothes, shirts, dresses, jackets, and jumpers. There was a laptop on the desk and a pile of DVDs next to it. It'd been a while since I had seen a DVD, had I traveled back in time?

There were some pictures on the desk. A tall blonde girl's bright smile shined in most of them. I assumed this was her room. In some pictures she was with her family, some with her friends and some were graduation pictures, where she was wearing this beautiful, long, blue dress. Everyone in the pictures appeared to be tanned and joyful.

How did I get here? The last thing I remember was when I was with Gwen and there were some goats there. I couldn't seem to remember why there were goats there or where Gwen was but before I could worry about them, I needed to do something about my headache.

The bedroom's door was open, so I left the room carefully just in case there was someone else in the house. It seemed to be a family house - there was a master bedroom, a smaller bedroom, and a toilet. I used the toilet and drank water from the tap. I went through the cabinet until I found some aspirins and took two of them with water from the sink.

I headed out to the living room. There were a TV set and a video-game console. More family pictures, a guitar and some handicraft on a shelf. There were some diploma certificates displayed on the walls, so I inspected one of them, which said 'Bachelor of Design - University of Western Australia'.

Australia, that explained the DVDs. But how did I get to where I was? There was a ticking clock on the wall, it was almost two in the afternoon. There was also a landline phone I guessed I could use. I looked out the window, and it looked like a residential street not too different from the ones in Vancouver. The door was locked.

I took a seat on one of the couches and tried to remember where I was. Next to the TV set were piles of DVDs, but they were all American crime shows, nothing useful. On top of the coffee table was a newspaper. 'The West Australian', I checked some of the news on it. It seemed we were in a city called Perth, somewhere in Western Australia. While I locate Perth on an imaginary map in my head I heard a sound coming from one of the bedrooms.

???

120 - Gwen

Where is Ria right now? While still in bed, I took out the gun from her bag and held it in my hand. The ceiling hung heavy above me. The air became dry. A beam of sunlight pierced in through the window as if to remind me that the Earth just kept spinning despite my friend's disappearance. I petted one of the goats with my left hand and felt her soft fur bring a healthy balance to the icy-cold metal of the gun in my right hand. It was like two dreadfully different worlds clashing inside me. I wanted to be cute and lovely, I wanted to nurture some baby animals, but I also wanted to be reckless and dangerous. I wanted to set things on fire and threaten someone with a gun.

Ria's handbag lay next to my backpack, and next to it, the goats were napping together. Maybe there was something in Ria's bag that could help me figure out where she could be. I opened it carefully, handling every item as if they were eggs about to hatch.

Inside the bag was her pink underwear, phone charger, toothbrush, dental floss and a half-full toothpaste tube, her passport with two credit cards tucked in between the pages, lip balm, a small bag of dried nuts, her cellphone and a picture of a brown chicken. Nothing out of the ordinary.

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