Vancouver, WA

May 31st, 2020

It turned out that they didn’t have long to wait, but the circumstances that led to Amelia and Tony, along with their kids, just about pushed Roxanne over the edge. Even now as she sat on the edge her bed, remembering how the couple had screwed her over, she found herself grinding her teeth and digging her fingernails into the bedding beneath her, wanting to scream but knowing that it would bring her mother without fail.

They’d left her here.

Amelia had even come to her as she had done for several days after their first meeting, keeping an eye on her apparently it seemed now, but under the guise of letting her know just where she and Tony had found the next door that might lead them out of this place. They’d spoken at length about where they were, what this time loop was, and why they’d been stuck here for so long. They’d even discussed what happened when people got out, how the narrative of the day changed each time.

“It’s like whatever’s keeping us here creates a different story each and every time someone gets out. I think, WE think, that whatever or whoever did this to us actually wants us to get out, but is picking and choosing who ‘wakes up’ and who stays stuck in the loop. That way it’s not a mass exodus from a place that can’t be explained.”

“But why don’t more people band together when they wake?” Roxanne had asked.

Amelia had shrugged, “Maybe because of the same reason. Our minds can’t really process what’s going on and we need to be sure of ourselves and the situation before we go and act on it.”

Only yesterday Amelia and Tony had told her about the next door, which had apparently shown up in a gas station just a short walk from their neighborhood. She’d gone with them, thinking to finally get out of the loop and be done with this strange place. They’d made their way to the gas station, which had been closed at the time of night they’d gone. Tony had been carrying one of their children while the other, still younger than the first, had been rolled along in a stroller by Amelia. Both children had been fast asleep, but had had woke when Tony had broken the lock with a solid kick that had the front door of the station off its hinges and swinging in a broken manner as they’d made their way inside without hesitation.

The door had been set among the coolers that kept the sodas, water, and other various drinks cold, an unlikely place for a stout wooden door as any could be. But Tony hadn’t hesitated, pulling it open and walking through with their eldest child still held in his arms as Amelia had followed with the stroller and their other child. Roxanna had been about to follow, but Amelia had stopped suddenly, looking back as she’d grinned.

“This isn’t yours kid,” she said with a wink. Roxanne hadn’t understood what she’d been talking about, but the savage reverse kick that Amelia had planted in her stomach had doubled her over, sending her crashing to the hard floor as she’d heard the door slam behind the woman. Gasping for breath, aching and confused, Roxanne had tried in vain to reach for the door, to grasp the knob, only to find that it had disappeared, becoming a transparent cooler door once again.

Her scream of denial and anger had been swiftly drowned out by a police siren that had begun to wail in the distance, informing her that she had very little time to decide whether she wanted to be booked into the county jail or spend the night in her bed.

The choice had been an easy one, but the trip home had been a long one.

(to be concluded)

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