Don’t Close Your Eyes — Interlude 18.1

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Content Warning: Death


Mrs. Sharma looked up from where she was leaning over Lachlan, and Sam’s chest lurched at the sadness on her stoic face.

“What is it?” he said. “Is he gonna be okay?”

“He’s stopped breathing,” said Mrs. Sharma.

“Can’t you do CPR or something?” said the girl with brown hair. “Can’t you help him?”

“He’s lost too much blood,” said Mrs. Sharma. “I’m sorry.”

“What… what do you mean?” said Sam.

“Your friend is gone.”


Just like that, he was gone?

How was that possible? Just a few minutes ago, he’d been walking around, making fun of Sam, talking and complaining about being stuck here…

No. Mrs. Sharma was wrong. Lachlan wasn’t gone; Sam could feel it somehow. He was dead here, in this time and place, but that didn’t make him gone.

There was still something Sam could do to save him, though he didn’t understand it exactly.

Sam prided himself in being able to understand the logic behind most everything he encountered. On the rare occasion he couldn’t wrap his head around something, he usually liked to step back and analyze a situation before he acted.

He didn’t bother analyzing this time.

The sounds around him begin to blur and overlap–talking, arguing, and at least two people crying–until they sounded like distant white noise.

Sam took a step in a direction he didn’t understand.

On the first day of his internship, he’d been forced to do a trust fall; to stand on a picnic table and drop backwards, to hold his breath, close his eyes, and entrust his safety to a bunch of morons standing below him. He’d lost his nerve standing on the table, refusing to move to the edge and fall, and the orientation leader had told him he was too hostile, too belligerent. He hadn’t argued, because somehow being labeled difficult was less embarrassing than admitting he was scared.

Finally, Chad from marketing had convinced Sam to turn around, to move a little closer to the table’s edge and see how he felt. If he still wasn’t comfortable, he could always get down, but he should at least try being a good sport.

As soon as Sam had moved close enough to the table’s edge, Chad had winked at the orientation leader, and Sam had found himself pushed from the edge of the table, airborne, tumbling backwards as his heart lurched into his throat and spun around.

The whole exercise had done absolutely nothing for his ability to trust strangers.

The sensation Sam was feeling now, as he took that first strange step, reminded him of falling off that table, if that heart-lurching feeling had been multiplied a hundredfold. It was all the worst parts of riding a looping roller coaster; Sam fell backwards, forwards, and down at the same time, his sense of equilibrium setting off blaring alarms in his head.

All the while, his feet were still on the ground, moving one in front of the other.

For a moment, he turned to his side–though which side, he wasn’t sure–and saw one of the girls in their group. It was the dark-haired girl with some kind of European accent, the one who was friends with Chelsea.

The girl looked at him, her eyes wide with panic and confusion, then stumbled, falling to the ground, blurring, and vanishing from view.

Sam continued walking, following his instincts because he had nothing else to go on.

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