Its cold outside; the sky is dark and foreboding. No one is home, no one is out. No one is around anywhere. She was alone, so desolate and alone. She felt abandoned and discarded. The wind kicked up the tattered leaves, heaving them into a circular journey across the hardened. The sky was so dark, nearly black; the only light was a dim and flickering street lamp. She was terrified of the dark, but she had to be out in it, walking on her frozen feet. At least they felt frozen in her thin tennis shoes. She wished for sunlight and for the wind to stop, but wishing never accomplished anything.
The girl had to find someone, anyone. Where did everyone go? Why was she walking a dark and lonely street so desperately? What did she remember last? It all came in flashes, but nothing tangible. It was a flash of red scale, like a fish? There was no creature face, no words, no form, just a flash of red scale.
The young girl walked nearly an hour down the dimly lit street. There were houses, cars, even children’s toys, but no people…not a soul. There was not greyish-blue light flickering in windows from televisions, no jumbled noise from music or radio, no smell of dinner cooking, no fireplace smoke, there was nothing. Absolute nothing.
“Hello!” the girl cried out. “Hello! Please!”
Tears began to run down her cold cheeks. She was alone, scared, and had been in winter’s chill far too long. She headed home. It was now an hour’s walk to an empty apartment complex. The girl shouted every so often, pleading for human contact.
“Hello, please someone?”
Still no answer. No one ever answered. She finally made it home, nearly convulsing from cold shivers. Her apartment complex was a tall old hospital from the early 1900’s. As she turned her key in the old side door, she thought of all the ghost stories she had heard about the building. She had never been in the complex alone before. What if the stories were true? Nothing could be scarier than being alone, alone in the entire world.
She walked through the wide corridor, plain white with dingy grey tile flooring. Each step she took in the well-lit hallway was a reminder this was a hospital. And this was the exit for the dead. A hard shiver shot down the girl’s spine.
“Am I dead? Is this why I am alone?” she thought
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sight of the elevator, cold and sad with its miniscule appearance. At least the power was still on, but for how long? Seven flights of stairs was a long climb for her cold feet and legs. She risked the elevator.
The doors rattled open and the girl stepped on. The doors rattled closed and slowly shimmied up to the seventh floor. When the door finally rattled open again, the lights flickered.
She entered her two bedroom home, no parents, no cooking food, nothing. She shut the door (locking it out of habit), cranked the heater, and headed to the refrigerator. There was no one there to stop her from having cookie dough for dinner.
The girl tried to remember more about the red scale, but there was nothing. What could she remember before that? A fight with her mother, she said she hated her mother. She retreated to her room after that, fearing the verbal lashing of a wounded mom. She had pulled out her favorite book to read again.
The book was a trilogy, all in one, unabridged. It was massive compared to all the other books she had. The torn paper cover surrounding the hardback book was covered in fiery reds and oranges as a red scaly dragon released a breath of fire onto an ancient city. It was the girl’s favorite tale of heroism overcoming tyranny.
Right after the fight with her mother, the girl had wished the dragon from the tale would come destroy her complex, saving her from her arduous life.
“That’s it!” the girl shouted to no one. I am dreaming because of the book! I dozed off, I am not alone!”
But the poor girl could not wake; this was not a dream after all.
Morning came; it was in the empty apartment. The girl had fallen asleep in her father’s recliner. There were no lights or heat, nor would they come on. The power was finally gone. After a morning restroom break, she went to her room and donned a sweatshirt and large sweat pants over her clothes, to keep warm. It was going to be a long boring day; she decided not to go anywhere. There was some warmth left in the humble apartment and she wanted to savor every last bit of it.
She decided to read her monstrous sized book, could find it nowhere. The book with the red scaly dragon was gone. Flashes of memory came back to her. Yelling at her mother caused her mother to lose her temper. She remembered the red scaly dragon flying at her face several times as her mother struck her with the book over and over again.
The more the girl remembered, the louder her dad’s voice became. She finally realized she could hear her father calling to her from some other-worldly place.
“Jess, wake up. Please wake up. I love you.”
Jess’s world began to fade and the cold grew bitter. Within minutes, blackness took the entire apartment. Darkness, cold, and loneliness were all around with her father’s words echoing in the distance. Jess could not resist closing her eyes, all she could see were red scales flying at her face.
She tried calling to her father, but he never acknowledged her words. He just kept begging her to wake up, his words growing more and more distant. But just was awake, sitting in her dark room, pleading to be heard, to be found.
New words came from her father, faint and very distant. “Ah, Jess, please…no!”
They were the last words Jess ever heard.