Photo by Henry & Co.
The last thing Zack saw as he fell back onto (into?) the Map, was his sister gaping at him in horror. And then the blue circle he’d been standing on suddenly swirled up around him, and… It’s that thing that sometimes happens when you’re first starting to fall sleep, he thought. You feel like you’re falling and you reach out to grab something, anything, but then your hands hit the covers and you realize you’re still in your nice, warm, safe bed. So he reached out to grab the covers.
There were no covers. There was no nice, warm, safe bed. There was only darkness. Zack was hurtling downward at an insane speed (as if there was a sane speed to be hurtling downward at). Maybe because he was still in his swimsuit, he thought of the “Black Hole” at Wild Waters in Centerburg, the nearly vertical plastic tube he’d become tall enough to ride just last year. Only this was that times infinity, and without the water; there was just frigid air rushing past him.
It had to be a dream. You don’t just fall through your sister’s bedroom floor into… What? As his eyes adjusted, he began to make out grayish-white shapes like clouds. No, not “like” clouds, they were clouds. Wait—light! He twisted his body and saw a bright yellow light. Good—a light. He reached for it, but couldn’t touch it. It was out of reach.
About 290,000 miles out of reach.
It was the same double moon that had disappeared after Aloysia left last June and then reappeared this afternoon when… Moon? Clouds? But that would mean he was really — no, it was a dream, it had to be a dream. It was night (how did it get to be night?) and it was cold, unbelievably cold. If only he’d put something on before he’d, what, started dreaming? Of course it was a dream, it had to be a dream. He tried to relax, tried to wake up. He couldn’t. He was freezing, and he was falling, falling through the night sky into—no. Absurd. Hah-hah. Falling. Oh, sure! He started to laugh, but even before it got out, the laugh betrayed him and turned into a scream:
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Help! Gina! Dad! Mom! God!”
The words shot like bullets from his mouth and were gone just as fast. There was no one to hear him, no one; even his voice had abandoned him. The reality engulfed him like a tidal wave: It wasn’t a dream. He really was falling.
And he really was going to die.
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Thoughts: Have you ever had a close call with death? What hopes or regrets consumed your thoughts at that moment?