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“Nowhere”

This story came from a dream I had years ago. I originally wrote it down as an assignment for a writing class I took a while back, but I have never been happy with the outcome. I decided to give it another go, and while I’m much happier with this version, I’m still not 100% pleased, but I think that any more editing would do more harm than good. I hope you enjoy this weird adventure!

 

“Nowhere”

The sky was overcast, sending little droplets of water falling whenever and wherever they pleased. Klaus took no notice of the light spring rain as he walked home from school on the back road. The road was narrow, flanked on both sides with light green blades of grass. To his left, a line of tall budding trees followed the curves of the asphalt. The only sounds to be heard were Klaus’s boots against the road’s surface, accented by the soft pitter-pattering of the rain.

Suddenly Klaus froze mid-stride. He stood in an intersection he was positive he had never encountered. He studied the new road, but found no signs that the road had not existed as recently as yesterday. The black asphalt of the new road blended perfectly with the older, all the way down to slight marks of wear and tear from the tractors and carriages that frequented the back roads.

Klaus followed the new road with his eyes. In the distance, he could barely make out steep-pitched roofs. He scratched his head in thought. It was one thing discovering a new road, but a town that wasn’t there the day before was surreal. Klaus looked at his watch- he still had a couple of hours before work. Turning, he began to walk down the mysterious road toward the town.

The town grew slowly as he followed the slight curves and dips of the road. Before long, Klaus could see the buildings that sat under the high roofs. The houses were built in the same dated architecture as those in his town. Multiple stories high, they had visible beams separating sections of thick plaster. The steep roofs were hung with red tile, and unlike any town Klaus has ever seen or heard of, the houses were painted with bright colors. One was pink, another neon green, still another almost a turquoise. Klaus quickened his pace, his curiosity getting the best of him.

The road under his feet changed from the worn asphalt he traveled every day to a weird gray cobblestone he had never seen before- the pieces were perfectly uniform in color and size. Finally a sign bearing the town’s name became visible. After a few minutes, Klaus could make out the curly letters. Klaus read out loud as he walked.

“Nowhere.”

The houses grew slowly as he neared and Klaus slowed his pace to examine his surroundings. To his left was a pasture; the cows were mere dots on the horizon. A thin line of small red and yellow tulips bordered the road to the right. The grass was the same shade of green that he was familiar with, and it was tall where the cows had not grazed. Klaus turned back towards the town but froze after only a few steps. The first house, painted pink, stood only a few feet in front of him. The tallest point on the roof came no higher than his chest. The house across from the pink one was neon green. It was shorter than the first, but as Klaus spun in a frantic circle, he saw that all of the houses in the town were tiny. Klaus looked down at his feet and noticed that the cobblestone road was gone, replaced by worn, dirty gray carpet. Klaus panicked. Frantically, he spun around again, trying to get his bearings. The overcast sky was gone; in its place was a high ceiling. Worn industrial lights hanging from thin chains buzzed, bleaching the yellowed walls that seemed to close in around him.

Breathing fast, Klaus turned to face the direction he came from. On the wall was a mural of a countryside. Down the middle was a narrow road, painted with weird grayish cobblestones. Klaus knocked on the wall, causing a hollow sound to echo in the room. He began banging on the wall with clenched fists, eyes closed, praying this was all a dream, but his calls for help went unanswered.

Klaus slowly turned to examine the room. The town was still there; the colorful houses mocking him. Near his feet, on the left was a cow pasture, complete with plastic cows grazing the plastic grass. To the right was a line of colorful specks that Klaus knew were meant to be tulips. The town’s sign was standing in the field next to the wall. He bent down to read it, the letters so small he had to squint.

“Nowhere.”

Klaus slowly stood up. At the far end of the room was a normal-sized door, a single wooden step leading up to it. It appeared to be the only way out. He walked the couple steps through the miniature town and paused in front of the door, silently listening for whatever might be behind it. He heard nothing. Slowly, Klaus climbed the step and placed his hand on the tarnished brass knob. It turned easily. He opened the door and the hinges quietly complained with low squeaks. Klaus stepped through. Suddenly the door snapped back, slamming closed behind him. Startled, Klaus tried the knob again, but it was locked tight. There was no way back.

Klaus stood in what looked like a hallway of an old house undergoing a complete renovation. The studs of the walls were clearly visible and most darkened with age. Some had wires running through them, ending in new outlet boxes. In another, fuzzy pink insulation was stuffed against an outside wall, bits of it blowing as if a slow breeze were passing through. Klaus walked through the first floor of the house looking for a way out, but found none, not even a front door. All the windows were shuttered, barely letting in enough light to see by.

Klaus sighed loudly and closed his eyes, letting his head roll back on his shoulders. “Why do I always seem to get into the worst situations?” he asked aloud, waiting for an answer, but from whom he wasn’t sure- any answer was better than none. The only sound in the house was the pouring rain assaulting the roof, accompanied by the occasional peal of thunder.

He sighed again. As he opened his eyes, he noticed a huge hole in the ceiling. It appeared to continue all the way up to an attic two floors above. The edges were jagged, as if something big had fallen through each floor. He cocked his head to the side in wonder.

Hands appeared from behind, grabbing his shoulders and throwing him against a wall of studs. His right shoulder blade landed squarely on one, but the aged wood did not budge. Pain shot through his back as he landed on the subfloor. Wincing in pain, Klaus looked up to see a man and a woman standing in front if him. They were dirty; the man was skinny and unshaven for what must have been weeks. The woman was plump, her shoulder length brown hair a frizzy mess surrounding her pudgy face. In her hands she held a double barrel shotgun. She held it against her side, the muzzle pointed at Klaus, her finger shaking an inch away from the trigger. Klaus’s stomach began to turn as the stench of the dirty pair permeated his nose.

The woman said something in a language he had never heard before. He shook his head, not being able to answer whatever she had asked him. She stepped forward and repeated the question, obviously thinking she would get and answer if she yelled and put the shotgun closer to his face. Klaus backed himself against the studs as far as he could go and didn’t answer. The woman took another step forward. Screaming, she raised the shotgun to her shoulder and took aim. Her partner grabbed the gun and yelled something, and the woman stopped short of pulling the trigger. She glared at Klaus for a moment before lowering the weapon and yelled something Klaus was sure was a curse. She gestured up with her hand, and the man reached forward and pulled Klaus to his feet. He drug the injured intruder up two flights of rickety stairs and threw him to the floor. Klaus landed only inches from the huge hole in the floor. He scrambled up on all fours and backed away until his back hit a wall. He looked around, but the man had already disappeared back down the stairs.

Klaus didn’t move for a few minutes. In his mind he tried to piece together all that had just happened and how he had gotten himself into his present situation. Nothing made sense. Getting on all fours, he crawled to the edge of the hole and looked down. He could clearly see each floor, but no way of getting to them other than the stairs, which he dare not try in fear of his shotgun toting captors. Down on the first floor he could see the man and woman pacing under the hole, no doubt arguing about what they should do to him. Klaus could understand nothing, but the woman’s body language told him all he needed to know. If Klaus didn’t walk out of that house on his own feet, he would be carried out. He jumped to his feet, his shoulder painfully protesting, and began looking for an escape route, but found none. A small, unshuttered window sat high on the outer brick wall. If he stood on his toes, Klaus could see out. Outside, the rain came down in sheets, soaking large fields of corn. Far in the distance, a black mass blinked every few seconds with lightning. It inched towards them, promising a storm of epic proportions. Admitting defeat, he sat down against the wall, as far away from the huge hole as possible, and let the rain lull him to sleep.

***

 

He was awakened by a low roaring noise. The house creaked as the wind pushed it one way and pulled it another. The rain beating on the roof sounded like the gods were throwing stones from the heavens. He could hardly hear himself think over the deafening roar. Slowly, he pulled himself to his feet and peered out the little window. The black storm cloud now sat directly overhead, and Klaus could see very little due to the heaviness of the rain. The roaring steadily got louder, and he wondered what was behind it.

Suddenly his captors appeared at the top of the stairs. The man held the shotgun now, and he used it to motion to Klaus to move to the other side of the room. Klaus navigated around the hole and turned to face his captors. The woman’s face was a mask of anger, while her partner’s showed only reluctance. Behind them, the window let Klaus see that the rain had let up some, but in its place a huge, swirling vortex swung back and forth through the air, its mass changing colors as it sucked up dirt and corn. Klaus gasped, and the man raised the shotgun.

The roar intensified further, finally drawing the attention of the captors. Simultaneously they turned to look out the window, giving Klaus the chance he had hoped for. He pushed off the stud behind him and lunged for the pair. He planted his shoulder squarely on the man’s chest, throwing them both to the floor, grabbing the shotgun as he fell. Klaus wrenched the weapon from the man’s grasp, the shotgun firing as a grungy finger was pulled off the trigger. Beside them, the woman screamed and dove for the shotgun. Klaus rolled to the side, the woman landing hard on the floor, her momentum taking her further until she disappeared through the hole. Her screams lasted only a second, stopping when she hit the first floor below. Glancing over the edge, Klaus saw that she had fallen through the subfloor and her limp body lay on the concrete basement floor. Behind him, the man had pulled himself up. Yelling, he lunged for Klaus, but grabbed only air as Klaus managed to roll aside. The man stumbled and hit the floor, his thin frame rolling right over the edge of the hole just as the woman had only seconds before. Klaus jumped to his feet and peered over the edge. Suddenly, a hand shot up, grabbing his foot, threatening to pull him down. He struggled as the man managed to pull himself high enough to get his other hand around the same ankle. Klaus lost his balance and fell onto the floor, his bad shoulder taking yet another blow. He screamed in pain as he inched towards the hole, the added weight from the man pulling him down. The man let go with one hand and pulled himself up a little more, grabbing on to Klaus’s knee, his head and shoulders well above the edge of the hole. Frantically, Klaus shouldered the shotgun and took aim. The roar from the tornado outside did nothing to muffle the shotgun blast, and the man’s grip lessened as he fell through the hole, landing dead on top of his partner three floors below.

Klaus gasped for air as he once again pulled himself up to his feet. His shoulder was in agony, but he knew he had no time to assess the damage. Dropping the shotgun, he glanced out the window one last time. The house shook in the wind as the monstrous funnel moved closer to the house. Shingles were already being torn from the roof, and Klaus guessed he had less then a minute before it struck. He bolted from the window and ran down the stairs two at a time until he was on the first floor. He located the door he first came in and tried the handle, but it was still locked. The roar was deafening, and Klaus could hear the house start to disintegrate. Using his undamaged shoulder, Klaus lunged at the door, but it didn’t budge. Again he lunged just as the shutters from the windows were torn from their anchors. He lunged a third time, the door finally giving way just as the side of the house disappeared into the swirling mass, pulling everything untethered with it. Klaus jumped through the door and down the single step. The miniature town still covered the floor, the carpet muffling his heavy feet as he ran past the colorful buildings. Klaus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, pleading to the gods above as he ran full force into the far wall. Behind him the house was torn apart, the studs looking like matchsticks as they flew through the air. He couldn’t hear his own yell over the roar; he just ran until the roaring was behind him, his yells matching the ringing in his ears. He opened his eyes.

He stood in a grassy field. Turning in a full circle, he could see the town that drew him in the first place was nowhere to be found. Ahead, he could see a line of trees. Breathing heavily, he turned towards the trees, and the road that would eventually lead him home.

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