Diaries Magazine

Ch 2 - i Was Never Alone, Anyway

Posted on the 08 February 2013 by Mavie
A jarring peal of laughter filled the small metal confines that I stood in. There was no point in looking around for the source as all I would see were a hundred distorted versions of myself. I stood analysing the mirror that elongated my face making the rest of my body a short plump stump. The House Of Mirrors was not how I remembered it to be, it had lost its appeal and I wondered what had possessed me to part with my three dollars just to find my way through a maze of cheap unbreakable, not to mention scratched, mirrors.
“What a dump,” I grumbled ignoring the row of reflections ahead.“Tell me about it.” “Arrgh!” The scream escaped long before I had whirled around to confront the man who had crept up behind me.“Sorry, but at least you got your money’s worth. Right? I got your heart racing, didn’t I?” I took in his lopsided grin and refused to comment. “Mind if I follow you?”I relented and stepped through the narrow mirrors that twisted into a miniscule labyrinth that only took moments to navigate out of.“What a waste of money,” I grumbled digging into my jacket pocket for more loose change.“Where to next?” The stranger asked shrugging his slim shoulders. I looked up in surprise, his earlier request wasn’t just limited to the House Of Mirrors, but it seemed he wanted to accompany me for the remainder of the evening. Carefully considering his intentions, I let my eyes wander over his tall frame. He was a few inches taller than me, with a slim build that could do with a bit of bulking up. His straight brown hair fell over his forehead, covering his ears in a straight out of bed look that dominated his pale slender face. We stopped in front of a darts stand where the prize for hitting the bullseye was a large soft teddy that retailed at over fifty dollars.“Let me try this one. I used to be good at darts when I was younger,” I studied the darts board.“Excuse me? Did you say something?” The lady behind the counter stepped forward.“Oh. Uh no. Can I have a go?” I paid the sum and collected three darts. “Stand sideways,” my companion instructed.I centred my body weight and threw the first dart. Three darts later I frowned dejectedly at my poor aim. The darts had landed on the board but were nowhere near the red center. “Better luck next time.”“Why don’t you give it a try?” I suggested.“Me? Oh no. My playing days are well over. Shall we go on?”We continued our walk guessing our chances at each booth, the more we spoke I began to notice people around us shooting peculiar looks in our direction. “Hey Zac, is it me or are people looking at us funny?”He laughed, “I think it’s just you. Hey look! The Ghost Train, want to go on?”We settled into a carriage and waited for the ride operator to collect our money. Handing over another three dollars I blinked in surprise as the man bypassed Zac and tended to the couple behind us.“Why didn’t you pay?” I asked.Zac shrugged, “he didn’t ask.” Deciding to let it go, we rode the train into the dark tunnel where screams echoed and the lights flashed highlighting skeletal figures that hung from the wall. A wet gooey substance brushed against our faces and I shrieked repulsed at the thousands of germs that now lingered on my skin. Something tugged my hair and I wrenched it free, cowering in my seat hoping not to be touched again by whatever had deliberately snared itself. A neon sign told riders to smile then a flash went off, momentarily blinding us and all too soon the ride ended bringing us back out through swinging black doors decorated with large orange spiders.
“Wow, that was short.” Zac commented releasing the safety bar.“Yeah. That goo was a new feature, they never had that before.” I brushed my fingers over my prickling face.“That’s right. The goo is new,” The ride operator verified thinking my comment had been directed at him. Then in a much louder voice he called, “collect your pictures from the booth!” Exiting the ride, I walked over to the screens that displayed a range of startled expressions from its four riders. Finding my picture was effortless as only two screens displayed bodies in them, the rest illustrated empty seats where riders would have been if the train had been full. I focused on my picture and grinned at the tightly squeezed eyes, the narrow shoulders that were hunched up against my ears uninentionally making a prominent double chin rest on the soft woolen fabric of my scarf. It was an awful image that registered a display of disgust mingled with fright as the red goo passed over my head. Inhaling sharply I let out a short cry, there was something odd about the picture, something that should have caught my attention at first glance.“Hey Zac! Look at this!” I called over my shoulder.When Zac didn’t answer, I tore my gaze away from the picture and pivoted around in search of him. But he had gone, vanishing into the crowd without a sound. I craned my neck up and down the crooked aisle but his lanky body had dissipated into thin air. Returning to the screen, I shuddered as a cold shiver ran down my spine. Clenching the metal rail in front of me I steadied my breathing, my heart rate had to increased to where it was crashing against my chest filling my ears with the sound of gushing blood. How did I miss the strange misprint in the picture? The seat where Zac should have been was vacant, a large space sat between my arm and the edge of the carriage, but what was stranger than that was my arm. It appeared squashed as if pressed up against something solid. Something solid like another body. Could it be an error? I looked closer for signs of blurring but the image was crystal clear, I was sitting on my own. I bit my lip as the hammering in my ears intensified, my head began to ache and I blinked making sure I wasn’t seeing things.The seat was definitely empty. “Excuse me?” I hurried around to speak to the ride operator.“Huh?” he grunted.“Did you see the man I was sitting next to? Only he isn’t in the picture, maybe your camera needs adjusting?”“Lady, I’m busy here. I don’t remember who you were with. And me camera is just fine.”His back turned rigid and he resumed rolling a cigarette. My head pounded harder and I could feel a migraine coming on. Maybe it was time to call it a night and think about this when I was at home. I cut through the crowd and walked towards the bus stop careful to keep an eye out for Zac. Just as the main road came into view I could see the large bus looming ahead almost at the designated stop where people queued patiently. Sprinting over the pebbles I crossed the road just in time to join board the number 77 which would drop me a mere five minutes from my house.I settled in the only seat available and rested my throbbing temple against the cool glass. These headaches had been increasing in frequency over the last few weeks and I knew this was going to be a bad one. The bus groaned and pulled into the slow traffic, but not before my eyes lingered on a lonely figure by the side of the road. Zac stood watching me intently, both hands stuffed into the tailored pockets of his jacket. He nodded once in acknowledgment and stepped back onto the pavement to make room for the bus’s tail to swing out. Forty painful minutes later I arrived home pleading sickness to my Mum. Stomping up the stairs I kicked off my trainers and snuggled deep under a warm duvet ensconced in the darkness of my bedroom. Mum brought up two Panadols and I swallowed them gratefully. I had to lie very still if I didn’t want my head to explode in another burst of needles, and within minutes sleep arrived as a temporary reprieve allowing me to close my eyes thankful that at least there was something to block out the pain. The following morning my headache wasn’t any better.“Mum, I need another Panadol. My head is killing me,” I grumbled from my position sprawled on the sofa.“Another headache? We should get you seen to.” Mum said bringing me a glass of water.“Yeah.” I pacified Mum as I had given up on visiting the doctor. Every visit to my local practioner resulted in the old fashioned advice of keeping warm, taking plenty of rest and swallowing a couple of Aspirin to keep the pain away. “Listen I need to run some errands, will you be okay while I’m gone?” “Of course, just take your phone with you.” I swallowed some water and settled back waiting for the pain to subside.The front door closed and Mum’s footsteps faded as she made her way down the drive. Minutes later the doorbell rang and I heaved myself off the sofa to answer it.“Zac! What are you doing here?” I smoothed down my hair in panic.“Looking for you, you didn’t seem too well last night.”“Yeah. I have a headache.” Then remembering last night I crossed my arms haughtily. “And where did you get to?”“Ah, yeah sorry about that. I’m not sure what happened. One minute you were there and the next you had gone. When I finally found you, you were running for the bus and by the time I got there, the bus was pulling away.”Oh. His explanation did seem plausible. Lowering my arms, I stepped away from the door. “Do you want to come in?”As I turned I didn’t see the slow smile that spread over his lips. I didn’t see him gently kick the door closed and I most certainly didn’t see the thoughts that played out across his face, the thoughts that said - she’s just invited me in.

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