Unlike the Old Man, she seems much younger than how she behaves. Much younger than me. Especially with how I’m feeling right now. I settle on 25. Okay, maybe 30. But no more than that.
She’s crouched low, scanning the corridor of the warehouse we’re in, a warehouse that I’m fairly certain is deserted. Still, we cling to the walls like rats in careful observance before giving in to each impulse to move forward. We flick our ears in listening. We twitch our noses in scenting. Soon, I know she’ll shake a hand at me, signalling an “all clear.” Soon, she’ll wave me toward her. I pause and concentrate only on breathing. Until her signal arrives, I decide to place the “hyper-alertness” burden squarely on her shoulders.
Because damn I really need a moment.
But who’s counting? Not me. By now, I’ve completely lost track of the hours, much less the days or the years. Okay…maybe she’s 20.
My thoughts are a tangled mess. It seems an eternity since the grey-white haze nearly sucked all light out of existence. Is that how the dinosaurs felt just at the precipice of extinction? And it seems just as long since I began to wonder how I even got there … wherever that even was. Was it a meteor? Did it hit the earth? I have no clear idea how I arrived and no clear idea how I left. And no clear idea even about right now, this very moment with this young girl and me and this big warehouse that we’re trying to get through. Except somehow — fairly recently possibly, in an eternity kind of way — somehow the Old Man and my body seemed to have traded places. Or this young girl and the Old Man did, I can’t say for sure. All that I know is that now he’s nowhere to be found, his long slender even elegant hand no longer holds mine – at least not that I can see. And somehow my long since AWOL body decided to show up.
I slide my hands along my abdomen for good measure. I feel the wall against my shoulder and back as I crouch at an angle behind her. My knees ache just a tad. My feet are cold and slightly wet in my sneakers. Yep, I note to myself. Reassured. I am here.
Her small hand flicks in a fast circle at me. Maybe 35?
And so is she. Clear as can be, even in the long, dank shadows edging the walls of this very large warehouse and its series of closed doors that march out in staccato. I scoot quietly forward, shuffling my feet one over the other, fingertips lightly tracing the cold, wet cement floor. Suddenly, she stops and more abruptly than I can anticipate. I nearly crash into right into her.
“Sorry,” I whisper.
“Shh,” she admonishes, as if emphasizing the need for stealth. As in: be quiet! Stay quiet! HIDE! Hyper alertness bullying her shoulders. I shake my head slightly, but given in anyway even though I’m pretty darn positive this building is deserted. It’s old and parts of it have given up a long time ago. Parts of it haven’t seen a living being in ages, ages, ages. Except for now this is true, because now for some reason we are here. This young girl and I. A young girl, young lady — maybe 28? — who I seem to know. Problem is, I couldn’t tell you how or why I know her.
What a fucked up day, or moment, or year, or eternity, or whatever the hell it is.
“Listen. Hear him?” Her few words barge quietly, yet rather impolitely, into my thoughts.
“POSIT…” a booming voice begins before muffling itself down the long corridor.
“He’s looking for us still. He’s not giving up.”
I nod and crouch even more deeply into the wall. Ears twitching. Ears filling up with white noise. Completely shocked to hear that booming voice again. No haze. No grey-white wash.
White noise. Now, only white noise.
I crouch even further down behind her.