Task Four [Female Entries]

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Tove Emilia Liefde


Margie Ellis

They were dead. Both of them, dead. The two people in this mess I had made it my goal to protect, were gone. And it was my fault. I left Barron alone in the aisles of the supermarket, which fell over and reavealed where he was. I don't know if he died from the fall or sometime after, but either I failed my duty to that boy and his family to keep him safe. And Arielle, she had died too. There was no denying that was my fault. I left her, trapped where anyone could get her. And someone did, and she was killed, and now she was dead. I didn't even get the weapon. Their deaths weren't even justified in that way.
I had already cried for hours, at least, that's what it felt like. I wasn't entirely sure. I didn't want to deal with this. Why did I have to be the one stuck in a mall with some pscyhopaths? Why hadn't anyone come to get us yet? Surely someone had noticed the disappearance of 30 people, all of whom never came home from this mall.
I didn't want to run around their stupid games anymore. I wouldn't. That's what I told myself. Of course I knew, deep down, that between life or death, which surely would be something I was confronted with, again, I would choose life. But I wanted to think that I wouldn't. That I would take my death proudly.
I wanted to think that. But I wouldn't. If I continued the way I was now, I would die a mess, surrounded by a puddle of tears and empty food wrappers. It wasn't smart, but I was eating my stress away. As away as it could go in this place at least. I thought if I focused on the food, maybe I wouldn't think about my dead friends, or my family elsewhere. But, eating just made everything worse. I couldn't stop crying, and then I just couldn't stop stuffing my face. I wasn't usually a stress eater, so I wasn't exactly sure why I was now, but I could come up with no explanation. I was just sad. I just couldn't take it.
More time passed, and I was growing woozy. My stomach hurt a little, probably because I hadnt eaten a lot more junk food than I usually did, and I just wanted to sleep. And so sleep is what I did. Very soon after laying down, everything faded to black, and I was asleep.
And then, I was awake again. But, not in the mall. I was in a field, one on the campus of the school I tought at. I was very confused, wondering why I was suddenly somewhere I felt very safe, rather than somewhere that I felt my life threatened every other minute. Why would they bring me somewhere I enjoyed to be? The only possible explanation was that they were going to ruin it for me. But, maybe, maybe before they had a chance to do that, I could reach a phone in the school. I knew the place like the back of my hand, I could get to it very quickly. Just before I began running to the school though, something caught my eye. Or, more importantly, someone.
I turned my head, and there, running towards me, was my son. I almost began sobbing there, but I quickly saw that, just behind him, was my wife Rachel, and she was carrying our daughter. I forgot every plan I had about the school and ran towards them, tears of pure joy streaming down my face. However, as they got closer, I noticed something was wrong. My family didn't look happy. In fact, they looked terrified. I looked behind them, and saw that they weren't simply running to me out of happiness to see me again. They were running to me because I was on the other direction of the huge cloud of black birds racing after them. I had to reach them, help them, protect them, something, and though I had no plan on what to do, I was going to reach them and help them somehow. Even if it meant shielding them with my own body.
However, even that plan became very flawed very quickly. I couldn't possibly reach them. Because just as my son and I were about to reach each other, both of us slammed into an invisible barrier between us. I fell backwards from the impact, groaning as I quickly stood up. My son was banging on the wall between us and I looked at him, tears streaming down my face faster and faster, though no longer of happiness. I joined him, swinging my arm hopelessly against the barrier again and again. But, soon it was just me, because the cloud of crows reached them, and soon they swooped down, scratching at my children and my wife. I screamed louder than I thought possible as I saw my baby boy with blood pouring from his cheek, and my wife attempting, but failing, to protect our daughter from the attack. I heard my little princess shout out "Mommy!" In the most terrified little voice, and I collapsed to my knees. I was mommy. Rachel was momma. My little girl was calling for my help and I couldn't do anything to save her. All I could do was watch.
And then, I realized, that I could do more. Then I realized, that this wasn't real. This was all just a dream. And I could get out of it, I just had to wake myself up. My first idea was pinch myself. When that didn't work, I decided that maybe illusion was created by the gamemakers. They wouldn't let me wake up with something as simple as a little pinch. I hit myself, hard across the face, and when that didn't work, I tried something else. Near me, there was a sharp shard of, well, something. I wasn't entirely sure.
"Is this what you want?!" I shouted up to the sky, hoping maybe someone would hear me an wake me up. I cut into my shoulder and I screamed, but I knew this wouldn't be there when I woke up. It was the only reason I was able to do it in the first place. It was the only reason I had to do it.
But that didn't work. And maybe, that wasn't the right way to get through this. Maybe. Had to save them.
But how? There was the barrier in our way. That's when another realization hit me. This wasn't just any dream. This was my dream. Which meant I had control. This to take control though, I wasn't completely sure. Maybe I would just have to think what happened. That made sense, considering dreams are created in the mind. So, I closed my eyes, tuning out the screams I heard on the other side and of my own pain. First, I tried turning the birds into something else. I didn't have any idea as to what, but soon I heard lots of little thuds, and I opened my eyes to find little pink bunnies falling from the sky. I had definitely read too many children's books recently. Rachel's screaming had stopped, as well as my son's, but all of them were crying just as much as I would, and definitely injured more.
After realizing I had control of the dream, I knew I would be able to get to them. I closed my eyes again and focused on the barrier between us, willing it to turn into something I could break. And sure enough, the barrier had turned into something that didn't even exist into a solid, but thin sheet of glass. I wasn't looking forward to possibly shattering glass on any of them, or on breaking through it in general, but I couldn't wait any longer to get to them. I kicked the glass, and it shattered into millions of pieces instantly. Not even a whole second later, the shattered glass changed into sand, and fell upon the ground without so much of a sound.
Then I realized, that the sand had landed on just ground. Not my family, who I would be able to love, and hold and heal.
Ground. I didn't care about the grass. I wanted my kids. I wanted my wife. I began to cry again, collapsing to the ground in tears. I held my face in my hands, and cried my heart out. When I pulled my hands away though, I wasn't in my dream world anymore. I was back in the mall, sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. And I didn't even try to stop.

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