4 | A Tipping Pan

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Evanna jolted awake, seeing nothing but black. She sprang upright in a cold sweat—panting hard while her heart pounded an irregular, thunderous beat in her chest. She tried in vain to cling on to the dream that was vanishing into nothingness. Wait...a dream?

Shrouded in darkness, she sat staring into space as if in a trance. I was walking with Alcina down the passageway...Panic gripped her while her ragged breathing rent the still air. What happened! Where am I?

The pillowy softness underneath and the folds of fabric clutched in her fists made it amply clear that she was on a bed. As her pupils dilated, objects gradually gained definition. A strange familiarity hung about the place. She discerned the shape of a lamp next to the bed, its alien contours barely visible.

She lunged at it with one wild motion, and her fumbling fingers switched it on. Light flooded the room, momentarily blinding her with its brilliance. She clapped her hands to her mouth.

It was her room, but a warped version of it.

Everything was in whites and pastel pinks—the entire wall behind the bed was pink. Hanging on the walls were posters that were startlingly foreign. The unrecognizable items all around her fueled the burgeoning firestorm within. Her skittering eyes paused on the bookshelf, seeking her favorite books. They were missing. She suppressed a shriek.

Clambering off the bed, she dashed to the wardrobe and stopped short. The mirror held her undivided attention.

Her hair was longer—flowing all the way down to her hips like a flaming red weeping willow. Her petite frame was encased in sweatpants and a tee, neither of which belonged to her.

Evanna stood for a full minute while another wave of panic rocked her.

She slid open the wardrobe and stared at the contents. Her clothes were gone. Instead, there were types of clothing she didn't even wear. They came in varying colors, predominantly pastel pinks.

As she scurried around in a manic rush, she found her phone under a pillow, sheathed in a lurid pink skin. Thankfully, the screen pattern, which was an "E", worked without any issues. Now logged in, the background image assaulted her in a hot pink mess that failed to ring any bells of recognition. Her eyes jerked to the time.

It was 5.11 a.m.

Then her stare zeroed in on the date. She experienced a sensation akin to the floor giving way, innards lurching as if in free fall. Her vision swam for a second. She goggled anew at the date, and pixels popped out to her. She screamed.

The piercing sound shattered the silence. Evanna bounded to the computer, which stood on a long table against the wall. Maybe it's some mistake! The date settings must be wrong.

The computer booted with agonizing slowness. She wrung her hands, rocking to and fro on the swivel chair. When the desktop loaded, the background seemed to mock her with its cheery image. Her eyes drilled into the date on the taskbar.

It was indeed Monday. The first day of school. Again.

Its implications crashed into her with the force of a wrecking ball. She recoiled.

Seizing the mouse, she made a cursory scan of the computer. One absurdity after another screamed out at her. There was no Arcana Online or any other games on the desktop. Most of her files were gone. Like an overheating CPU, her fevered brain struggled to process the sheer impossibility of her situation.

In one convulsive swipe, she shoved the keyboard away. Then she grabbed her head, hyperventilating. Focus, Ev! Get online. Figure out what the heck is going on!

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