4. Friends

There is no pain of exertion in the full run you find yourself in. You move quickly, pumping your arms like an Olympic athlete, despite the fact that you have never done this in your waking life. You have resisted exercise and a healthy lifestyle for so long, but in this world, you don a body that is better, stronger, and more attractive that you. Your unconscious mind sets your appearance as how you wish you’d been born, as sharp and as perfect as the brain in your skull. It is “knowing” that has decided the quality of your mind. You’ve never questioned your intellect and self-worth.

The tunnel is dimly lit. Every few yards of sprinting, the tunnel changes from bedrock to nylon billows. The walls shift from an unforgiving hardness to a plush jungle gym, and the darkness changes to an early April violet. You bounce off the walls as you run to test the mechanics of the tunnel. Occasionally, a rope or tube has to be hurdled but it is not difficult. You are mindful to watch the ground as you run. You know where this tunnel leads, but you have given up on escaping this situation. There are friends to be found, to band forces and complete whatever task is at hand. Who are your friends? There’s four, you think. A good round number. No, no, maybe five. Five is more round. I need to find them.

You’ve been racing too long, your mind decides. You come to a pool of water, inlaid into the tunnel by five or so feet. There is a rope in the center of the pool that you must run, jump, and safely reach the only side to continue your run. You set your eyes on the rough yellow twine that is seen suspended in midair. Its only purpose is to elude you. You do not step back, you do not get a running start. You make a single bound to the rope that is well-beyond your grasp, and successfully reach the other side. You run again, dodging obsolete obstacles and effortlessly avoiding danger, as you have rehearsed night after night your whole life. You can see yourself from an aerial view, and you note the similarities of your labyrinth world to that of a lab rat’s. A white lab rat. Your clothes fill in with the non-color white, one more piece in your image’s puzzle.

You turn corner after corner in the tunnel, sliding down metal sheets and running up spiraling stairs, traversing some sort of basement faction of your brain. When you are bored with this constant movement, four of your five friends appear. They stand side by side, all gazing at you as if you are their only purpose. One of them is missing, you note quickly. You know this search for your core group of friends is your survivalist instincts telling you to stay with your pack. But why is one friend always missing, you wonder. Who is it? The kind, brunette curly haired friend is present, and so is her grungy, yet lovable boyfriend. The talented red-headed musician friend is there. So is the dark-hair, taller girl with the many tattoos and strong-feminine attitude. Who is the last friend? Who am I missing? 

Lynne. Your best friend, your “knowing” side reminds you. It says this with an attitude, as if you were playing dumb against yourself.

We need to find Lynne, you urge the others and they agree. One by one, they dissolve into thin air, and seat themselves quietly in the theater of your mind. Through your eyes, they will see, hear, and speak through you as they need to. You have found them, and that was your goal. You feel less heavy now, knowing that they are in your possession. Their souls are your playing cards. Their knowledge is yours.

The spiral stairs retract like a closing accordion, the plush tunnels invert, the ropes and pools are swallowed by the floor of this dimension. Gravity no longer holds you to the abyssal ground, and you feel a pleasant weightlessness come over you. You turn to see what may be beneath you, and you see a tiny doll house room. As it gets closer, the room grows larger, yet you cannot shake the initial impression that it was a doll house. When you land into the study or library, you notice the furniture looking rather fake or plastic, much like the furniture of a such a toy. The books are glued to the shelf, you know this because you attempt to pry one from its placement.

No one is in the room with you, and yet you hear voices speaking to each other. You grab the door handle to the only entrance and exit in this room, but like the other implements, this door is fake and the knob does not turn. The voice are louder now.

“Just put a little glue on this shingle,” A kind, woman’s voice says. A younger female voice whispers, “Okay.”

You peer out of a plastic window, barred only by balsa wood, and see two giants working on the doll house. It is a familiar scene yet again, a memory that has been lost but is now being filled in by your self-conscious mind. Your mother and you as a child are working on gluing shingles to the roof of your new doll house, a house that your mother made from a kit. She passes away before the roof could be completed, you knew.

Your mind scraps this attempt to find your friend. You are angry that your conscious mind is working so hard to prevent you from reliving your distant past. You find yourself yet again waiting at a bus stop for your next excursion.


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