fiction

“Earth to Ale.”

27 March 2018

“Earth to Ale.”

There’s a voice, and suddenly everything around you comes into focus. You see a hand waving insistently in front of your face.

“You okay? You need some air?”

Slowly, you become conscious of your surroundings. You’re in a room, brightly lit. You hear the tinkle of china and the murmur of conversation. There’s gentle music that seems to float. You’re at a dinner party.

You frown. How did you get here? You try to stand but your legs don’t get the memo. Your hands reach out and grab the chair in front of you for balance. Maybe you need some air…

You head towards what you think is the exit. The room feels warm. You’re focused on the door, ignoring the waiters serving trays of the most luxurious delicacies and the guests wearing heavy, dazzling jewellery on their necks and wrists. The room seems to get bigger the faster you walk.

You burst out the doors and make your way past the crowd of smokers on the terrace. There’s an empty jetty next to the building. Stilted footsteps behind you tell you the familiar face from inside has followed you out. You stop at the end of the jetty and stare at the vastness of the sea and sky before you. The cool air smells like the horizon. You see him step up next to you from the corner of your eye.

“Who are you?” Your voice sounds distant.

You can see his breath in the darkness. “I’m Gabe. Remember?” He didn’t seem surprised. You open your mouth to reply but stop when he turns his head towards you.

Something about his face and the sound of distant shouts coming from the party has made you remember something specific. The storm. Getting into a fight. And Gabe, pulling you away from the chaos. The back of your head is throbbing, and you remember having fallen on the cobblestones. You gingerly rub your head.

You turn towards him, afraid of his answer. “What happened to those­–” You remember how Gabe seemed to appear out of nowhere before getting you out. “How did you know I was there?”

This time he seems unsure. “You don’t have to worry about it. They won’t bother you again.”

“Why? What did you do?”

He looks sharply at you. “I didn’t blackmail them or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about. Now look, I brought you here so you could forget about yesterday, have a good time.”

You still have questions, but you can see he’s done answering them. “Fine. Let’s go back inside.”

You have a great time the rest of the night. Drinks, dancing, dining. You make the most of the party.

It’s a couple hours past midnight, and the party is still going. You decide to take a walk with Gabe again, at the jetty. There’s been a nagging feeling at the back of your head all night. Out here, far from the city, you can see the stars.

“Thank you for what you did yesterday.”

He looks at you from the corner of his eye. “Don’t mention it. You really should stop running into trouble. It’s getting quite tiresome always having to save you.” Slight tilt of his mouth.

“I’ll try.” You’re almost at the end of the jetty when a thought strikes you. “What do you mean, always having to save me? That was the first time you helped me in a fight.”

There’s no answer. You know he likes to take time to answer, so you wait. After a while, you realise you can’t hear his stilted footsteps anymore.

“Gabe?” You turn around.

He’s not there.

“Gabe?” You yell and look around.

Maybe he went back to the party. Odd, you think, but what other explanation could there be? You start walking back towards the building.

As you get closer you realise the building has gone quiet too, the lights dark. You could swear there were people dancing and smoking here just minutes ago. You walk in.

No one’s there. You can see cobwebs on the crown plaster mold of the ceiling, waving in a breeze admitted by the open door.

“Gabe?” Your voice echoes around the room.

The room starts going out of focus. You feel yourself falling to the ground but can’t stop yourself.

You hear one last sound before you completely lose consciousness, a voice. Gabe’s voice. In an instant, you remember everything.

“Earth to Ale.”


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