Here’s the object…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

A dark room, a dark woman, and a dark desire.

A very, very poor combination.

But in a second where my brain must have switched off for at least ten seconds, I kissed her back, and that was a fatal mistake.

I closed my eyes and went with it.  Until one or other or both of us decided this was not the time or the place.

And then she said something that really worried me.

“I’m sorry.”

She unbolted the door, opened it and we stepped out.  Instantly the temperature dropped forty degrees.

And sanity returned.

I tried getting my mind back onto realistic things, like leaving.  “Do you think they might be waiting, just in case there is someone here, like us?”

“Then we have to go another way.”

“There is only one way, the way we came.  It was a dead-end where the torture room is, and, apparently, where there’s a safe.”

“WE’RE not staying to find out, maybe another day.  It’s time to leave before they possibly come back. There’s a back way in here.”

I followed her out of the room, up two offices, and then into what would be the middle office.  It looked like a reception area, with dusty seats along the wall, under peeling wallpaper.  At the back there was another door, shut.  She opened it, and it led to a passage.

“The cells.”

“Like a jail?”

“Like rooms for the shoplifters awaiting their punishment.”

She stopped at a doorway and looked in.  I saw her physically shudder, before moving on.

“Bad memories?” I asked.

“It might not have happened provided I’d acted my age, but you know what it’s like.  When you’re sixteen, you want to be twenty-one, and when you’re twenty-one, you want to be sixteen again.  Trouble is, you can’t get back what you’ve missing.”

I wondered briefly whether that something was innocence.  Some people seemed to think I still had mine, but I wasn’t so sure.

The passage didn’t go very far before it turned correct, and then to the top of another staircase.  We went down, and then to the left again.  From what I could remember, we were on the other side of the mall.

There was another door, and we went through it, and out into the mall itself.  It was the second level, near the center where the garden was, and moments later we were at the railing looking down to the ground floor.

And a faint glow of light, moving around as whether it was being carried by someone moving slowly towards the pond.

And voices.

“Look, Alex, there’s no one here.  We’ve just done a circuit of this creepy place and found no one and nothing else to show there is anyone here.”

“I can feel it.

“That’s the coke you had, Alex.  Turns you paranoid.  Let’s get the hell out of here, before the guards get back.”

We moved back from the edge just in time as a stronger beam of light swept past just where we had been standing.

She had held my hand as we moved backward, and I could feel a tremor in it.

After another sweep of the beam, he said, “I swear someone’s here.”

“It’s a ghost.  There are supposed to be a few.  Ask your father.  He’s responsible for at least three of them.”

“There’s no such object as ghosts.”

“That’s your opinion.”

“Just shut up and let’s go, before I shoot you myself, and then you can talk to your friends.”

We waited ten minutes until there was a boom, the sound of a door slamming shut.  They had left by the front entrance where there was a large, heavier door, beside the large leading entrance.

“Time for us to go too, Smidge.”

Even so, she didn’t let my hand go, not until we got back to her car.

And when we were back, safely inside her room, she asked me to stay.  She said nothing on the way back.  The bravado she had shown was just that, and the last encounter, at the mall center had shaken her.

Maybe I would stay until her nerves had settled.

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

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