Lethe Sillage

2 years, 4 months ago

NaNoWriMo project for 2014 that's so unfinished I never really even finished the first chapter. The story of eight beings from across Entirety who wake up on a mysterious, luxurious planet where they are the only inhabitants. Their only clues come from the cell phones they all woke up with, and even those clues don't help them much. Worse, it turns out one of them - Istra - is slowly being overtaken by some sort of infection that might just be the end of them... (also istra is really out of character and it's wild)

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I woke up in a pool in the middle of a dark room, floating on an inflatable plastic bed with nothing but the clothes on my back and a cell phone that wouldn’t stop vibrating. Honestly, I didn’t really think much of it. At the time I assumed I had just woken up after a wild party in someone’s pool with someone else’s phone. Struggling not to tip over the bed and fall into the pool, I managed to sit up and check the phone, immediately noticing there wasn’t a lock screen and that at least five different people had sent “me” texts.

[are you alive?] wrote 1. 3 sent [Who is this?] and coincidentally so did 7. 6 sent a simple [Hello?], whereas 8 sent a considerably more concerned [hello?? are you there?? please reply].

“Why would the owner of the phone nickname their contacts with numbers?” I thought to myself. That seemed kind of strange. Furthermore, why would two people ask who I was? Did they know the owner had lost their phone? If that was the case, though, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to explain that or give me the owner’s contact information? Why would it matter who specifically took it?

While I was debating who to text back first – or if I should text anyone back at all – whoever “8” was beat me to it.

[are u ok?]
[are u dead]
[are u somewhere out there]

After staring at the screen for another few seconds, I supposed ending the stream of texts was as noble a cause as any.

[who are you looking for?] I sent without thinking about it. If I had someone else’s phone then it would be for the best that I get it back to them as soon as possible. Given that my phone wasn’t on my person, it probably meant that we had gotten our phones mixed up at some point during the night.

8’s reply came quickly: [you].

[this isn’t my phone] I informed them just as quickly.

[this isn’t my phone either] they texted back.

[is it mine?] I asked, figuring 8 must have been the person whose phone I had. I wasn’t sure why they seemed so concerned for my wellbeing, but I guess I wouldn’t want someone who had mistakenly grabbed my phone to be found dead in the street the next day.

Just as the thought crossed my mind that this meant 8 somehow had my number, they texted back, [probably not].

[look where are you] they sent immediately afterward, not giving me much time to grow concerned over the situation.

[idk in a pool somewhere]
[it’s really dark in here] I noted, the phone’s screen being the only source of light in the room.

8 wasted no time in responding, [have u tried leaving yet??]
[or did u just wake up]

[the latter]

There was a pause in the conversation for at least a minute, one that worried me given how quickly 8 was responding.

[can i call you?] 8 finally returned.

I typed a few different responses: sure, okay, I guess, why not, five other things with the same exact meaning. I don’t know why I was struggling so badly with such a short reply, but when I finally decided on “go for it” I felt a sort of anxiety that I couldn’t quite pin down.

After replying I brought the phone to my chest, allowing the darkness to swallow me whole for just a moment. Theories started forming in my head, tangling around each other until a generic ringtone put then on hold. I hesitated for a ring or two, then answered.

“Are you 8?” were the first words that came out of my mouth.

“No, I’m twenty.” replied a feminine voice. Twenty? That didn’t make any sense. Was that their name?

“Just joking around with you!” they laughed, “If you’re talking about the name in your phone, then I’m the same person you were just texting!”

Without giving me any room to respond they continued, “Well, I think so, anyway. You’re 5, right?”

“No, I’m Istra.”

They snorted, “Ha! I like you already, Istra! Well, my name’s Trinity, but you can just call me Trin if you want.” they introduced themselves. Trin was so warm and casual that, just for a minute, I forgot I was floating in a pool in the middle of God-knows-where with a mysterious cell phone talking to a complete stranger.

“So you haven’t left wherever you are, right? Could you do that? I think… I think we’re in the same place. The same building, I mean.”

“What makes you think that?” I asked, nonetheless dipping my free hand into the water in an attempt to paddle toward the edge. The water was cold, but the entirety of my right arm had fallen asleep so it didn’t bother me much. I don’t remember laying on that arm at all, or either of them for that matter. I couldn’t have been moving around much either, not without falling off of the bed.

“Well, I found someone else, too! He was number 6! Say hi!”

Trin forced the phone over to someone else, who muttered something along the lines of “oh, goodness” before clearing their throat and beginning anew.

“H-Hello there! Salutations!” greeted the new speaker, voice plainly nervous.

“Hey.” I greeted in return, turning the phone around to light the way. Finally I found an edge to the pool, paddling toward it and sliding from the bed onto the ground.

“Hello!” the voice repeated emphatically. “My name is Mr. Sharpe! I suppose you could call me just call me Sharpe if you’re a… casual sort of person.” he introduced, the way his voice trailed off making it clear that he hoped I wasn’t a casual sort of person.

“Istra.” I replied, not really sure what else to say. Even in a situation like this where all I had were questions I couldn’t figure out how to keep a phone call going. I pulled myself off of the ground and went to dry off my hand on my pants, immediately realizing that I was a fucking dumbass who forgot to pull their sleeve up before dunking their arm into a pool. Worse, I realized I was wearing that shirt – the stretchy black one that ended in gloves, the one that everyone told me was absolutely ridiculous and inconvenient. It was, but I thought it looked too cool to care. Now here I was, stuck wearing a wet shirt I couldn’t wring out without getting half-naked (which I figured would make a worse first impression than showing up with a soggy sleeve).

“So, did you leave the room yet?” Trin asked, taking the phone back from Mr. Sharpe.

Struggling to find anything with the small amount of light the phone gave me, I responded, “Not yet. Still trying to find a door.”

“Hmm… sounds like it’s a pretty big room. Try keeping your hand on the wall and following it!” Trin suggested.

Finding a wall, I placed my hand on it and walked alongside it. “I was already doing that.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s kind of obvious. Well, in the meantime-”

Trin suddenly stopped speaking, presumably in response to Mr. Sharpe’s shrieking. I could hear a third voice yelling, but I couldn’t make out what.

“What’s going on? Are you guys okay?” I asked, trying not to sound as concerned as I was. When I didn’t get an answer I picked up the pace, breaking into a run and slamming straight into a door. Muttering profanities under my breath I fumbled with the door before figuring out it was meant to be pulled, swinging it open and bolting down the hallway that was beyond it.

“I’m out, where are you two?” I continued, scrambling up the staircase at the end of the hall and tripping at least twice.

Still not getting a response, I stopped to catch my breath and looked down at the screen. Trin had hung up – or, I considered, someone had hung up for them. Hands shaking, I went to my contacts list and called 6, who was supposed to be Mr. Sharpe. Much to my relief, he picked up.

“Hello?! Hello! Istra, wasn’t it?!” Mr. Sharpe greeted breathlessly, voice very panicked.

“What’s going on?!” I asked with renewed vigor, fumbling with the doorknob at the top of the stairs and wincing at the light in the next room.

“Oh! Yes, well, we were speaking with you when a very large reptilian fellow burst into the room – well, more of a large hall, I believe – and started yelling! He seemed quite angry and irrational, so we began to flee! And if I’m not mistaken…” Mr. Sharpe’s frantic explanation paused for a moment, “yes, it would appear I’m not mistaken, he’s still chasing us! Goodness, he’s still chasing us!”

By the time Mr. Sharpe’s explanation had devolved into nervous laughter, my eyes had adjusted to the light. In front of me was a massive window showcasing a sunny, tropical beach. Moving forward I realized it was a wall made of several windows, stretching onward for as far as the eye could see. The room itself reached just as far, making it more of a hall. More of a large hall.

As if on cue, two figures I could barely get a glance of rocketed past, followed by a massive reptilian creature of some sort. Fairly certain I had found Trin and Mr. Sharpe, I pocketed my phone and chased after the group, not really sure what I intended on doing. In spite of my complete lack of weaponry or magical ability I felt confident that I could resolve the situation somehow.

“Excuse me!” I shouted, cupping my hands around my mouth. In the back of my mind I hoped all of this running would help my sleeve dry out. “Hey! Could you stop for a second?!”

Surprisingly, the beast stopped. It stopped so fast that when I stopped to avoid ramming into it I was accompanied with a horrific squeaking noise. Slowly but surely, the beast turned to face me. It must have been at least twice my size even though it was mostly hunched over. The majority of its mass seemed to be concentrated in its arms and torso, making it look more cartoonish than threatening.

“And who the fuck are you?” it growled, voice low and gravelly.

“Istra.” I answered, fingers dancing along the edge of my pocket as though my phone would be capable of protecting me from an angry mass of scales and vitriolic glares. “And you?”

“Oh, don’t act like you don’t know, asshole. You know who I am. All of you… you all know who I am, don’t you?! Quit fucking around and tell me what the hell is going on before I tear you apart limb from limb!” the creature bellowed, turning to look back at the two figures who were presumably Trin and Mr. Sharpe: a human wearing a brown outfit and a man with a knife blade for a head.

“I’m pretty sure none of us know who you are, just like I’m pretty sure you don’t know who we are.” I continued, refusing to break eye contact. There were few things I hated more than misunderstandings, and I had too many questions myself to want to deal with anything else.

“If I’m putting this together correctly, you woke up somewhere with a cell phone, right? That’s what happened to me. And those two, I’m guessing. I think we’re in the same boat.”

Trin and Mr. Sharpe both rapidly nodded, eyes (well, it didn’t seem Mr. Sharpe had eyes) cautiously darting between me and our angry guest.

“Or you’re all behind this.” the creature sneered, lowering its face toward mine.

“Or we’re not.” I continued unflinchingly, “Either way, tearing all of us apart limb from limb won’t get you any answers. Let’s just talk about this for a second. Maybe we can figure out what’s going on, because clearly something’s not right here.”

“And why should I trust you?”

“You don’t necessarily have to trust us. But, let’s be honest here. Do any of us look like a threat to you? No offense.” I added on, looking over at Trin and Mr. Sharpe. They didn’t seem particularly offended.

The creature smirked, “You have a point. In retrospect, a couple of ants like you could never even dream of containing me.”

“Right. So, we can stop the chasing and yelling now, right?”

“…Fine.” the creature conceded. I didn’t mean to sigh so loudly, but I did.

“Good. Now… can we talk about this? From what I’m gathering none of us really know what’s going on, right? Like I said, I’m guessing we all woke up here with phones, right?” I started rambling, not sure where to begin. “Could we each go over our accounts first, then?”

“That seems like a good idea!” the human I assumed to be Trin rushed over with an eagerness that didn’t seem entirely appropriate, “I’ll go first, then!”

We all directed our attention toward Trin as they began their explanation.

“Well, first off, my name is Trinity Bell! But you can call me Trin if you want. I’m just an ordinary girl, so I was pretty surprised when I woke up here!” she began.

“We didn’t ask for your life story.” grumbled the creature.

“Alright, alright.” Trin huffed, looking somewhat offended. “Anyway, I woke up in what looked like a lounge. I noticed I had a different cell phone than usual and that a couple people sent me texts. I was really confused, so I sent out texts to everyone in my contacts and hoped I’d get some responses. And I did! I started replying to some of them when Mr. Sharpe here popped up!”

“…Of course,” she continued sheepishly, rubbing the back of her neck, “I thought he was some kind of slasher monster right out of a movie, so I just kinda screamed and took off… eventually we wound up around here and cleared things up!  Sorry about that, Sharpie.”

“Err… please, don’t worry yourself much about it.” Mr. Sharpe reassured her, looking more taken aback with her sudden nickname for him than any lingering poor impressions.

“Anyway, then Istra here started texting back,” she pointed at me, “then you charged in and started chasing us,” she pointed at the creature, “and now we’re here!”

She shrugged, “Sorry, that’s all I got.”

“No information is bad information.” I assured her before turning to the creature. “And you?”

It shifted uncomfortably and muttered something under its breath, looking like a disgruntled employee being forced to participate in one of those obnoxious ice-breaker games.

“Bosthiar.” it began. “My name is Bosthiar. And my story isn’t much different. Woke up in some kind of closet with a phone, got a bunch of texts. Didn’t bother looking at them. I got out and figured you fucks knew something about this.”

“Kind of hasty of you to assume the worst and try to maul the first people you see.” I commented, raising an eyebrow.

“I don’t like wasting time.” Bosthiar scoffed.

“Yeah, you’ve made that pretty clear.” I replied, absentmindedly scraping at the trails my shoes left behind. “And you, Mr. Sharpe?”

Mr. Sharpe jumped, quickly adjusting his tie and the hair on his head that didn’t exist.

“Ah, yes, well… I’m afraid I have little to add. I sent out messages to each of my contacts and then set off and met Miss Trinity.” he summarized. “My apologies.”

“Well that got us fucking nowhere.” Bosthiar grumbled, looking calmer than he was before regardless. “Now that we’ve established no one knows what the fuck is going on, what next?”

I brought a hand to my chin in thought and quickly pulled it away. Still wet. I pulled out my phone and checked the contacts list – eight people, named one through nine with five skipped.

“I guess if we all have phones and our contacts go up to nine, that means there are probably five more of us around here, right? We should try and look for them.” I suggested.

“Brilliant! Oh, brilliant, Istra!” Mr. Sharpe clapped enthusiastically. “A wonderful idea!”

“Sounds reasonable enough.” Trin approved.

We looked over to Bosthiar next, who had quickly devolved from terrifying fury into quiet awkwardness.

“Not like there’s shit else to do.”