I appeared in a flash of light. “What the-? Where am I?” I looked around. It was a blank white space that seemed to stretch on forever in every direction. “How did I get here?” A sound hit my ears and I looked up. A piece of paper. Drifting down towards me. I grabbed the sheet. “You have been banned from existence,” it read.
“What?” I asked incredulous, crumpling the paper into a ball. “Banned from existence? What for? Who would even have the power to do something like that? To ban me from existence? This has to be some sort of joke, right? Or a dream?” I snapped my fingers. “That’s it! I’m sure all I need to do is just lay down,” I started doing what I was saying, laying down on the cold white floor, “wipe the sleep from my eyes, close my eyes, and then just give it a little while. And when I wake up, I’ll be right back in my bed! Everything’ll be okay!”
I tried keeping still, but couldn’t with the lack of noise. I didn’t have a pillow or anything that would help me get comfortable. How long is it going to take for me to fall asleep? I asked myself.
No! Stop that! We need to sleep.
Silence crept over me as the thoughts died down.
I wonder what Jack’s up to right now. The thought rang through my head. Jack was my best friend. We always used to sit up late at night and just talk about any and everything. Let’s text him and see what he’s up to? I took out my phone, but my slight joy died the instant I saw the two words I hated: “No Service”. “Ugh!” I put the phone down next to me and closed my eyes again.
Eventually, the minutes, then the hours, then the days started to tick by. And there I lay, still awake, still waiting for my brain to stop its manic activity long enough to actually dream (and maybe get me out of this nightmare). After a while, I opened my eyes.
I was still in a void. “Maldita sea (Goddammit)!” I let out a frustrated scream. In my fury, I had made the mistake of checking my watch. It hadn’t even been five minutes since I decided I was going to take a nap. I widened my eyes, incredibly confused and unsure of what I could even say in response to that information. “I… But I thought… Okay.” I let out a sigh and plopped myself down on the (white) ground, criss-cross applesauce style. I didn’t even care about what happened to my faded blue jeans because it was a white void and there was no dirt anywhere since it existed outside of everything.
Thanks God. I thought. I’m gonna die of boredom in here. Just then, a thought hit me. “Wait,” I asked aloud, “if this place is outside of space and time and just… existence in general, how am I going to eat? I still need food. What if I get hungry? And thirsty? And I need to use the bathroom? I’m really going to die in here… or out here… or… here! I’m going to die!”
I watched the girl from the monitors. She was freaking out about food and water and the bathroom. Doesn’t she know that outside of existence you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff?
“Well, she’s never been outside of reality before.” I heard my sister’s voice behind me. Dalia walked up to me and looked at the screen. “You know this is torture, right? She’ll go insane before you finish your little experiment. Remember the babies?”
“That was different.” I wagged a finger, my focus squarely on Mariana Abril, who was currently still preoccupied with her human needs. I flicked my hand and sent down a note before turning to Dalia. “How was I supposed to know that no social interaction would kill them? They were still being fed; their biological needs were met!”
“Still, the social part is important for them. They’re social creatures. Starving them of that will make them go insane, especially since it’s someone who had a life and friends and a family before you stole it from her.”
“Unless she doesn’t…” I offered with a smile.
“Like the millions of other test subjects you’ve had over the millennia?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Oh ye of little faith. Mariana could be different from all of them!”
“I don’t even know why you’re so fascinated by these humans; they’re more trouble than they’re worth.”
“You could say that about any species.”
“Well, yes, but humans are different. They can think, they can feel, they have sentience. And that sentience makes them hazards; look at what they’ve done to their planet.”
“Sure, it’s dying, but they could always fix it. Or slow the decline. Or something. Don’t count them out yet.”
Dalia rolled her eyes at me. “When you’re done playing with your toys, give me a ring.” The Immortal started her strut down the hallway towards the conference room. “Don’t kill her,” was the last thing she yelled before leaving me alone.
“I won’t!” I dismissively waved a hand at her. Always wanting to ruin my fun and experiments; I like seeing how these humans work stuff out and rationalize things. Seeing what they can and can’t do is intriguing; they’re strong spirits. I turned to the monitor and saw Mariana had disappeared from the screen. “Wha… where is she?”
I was walking off in a direction. I needed to get out of here. I refuse to die in some void separated from space and time. At least let me get back to my family so they don’t have to worry about where I am. Suddenly, a sheet of paper flew into my face, stopping me in my tracks. “No one’s worried about you. You’ve been erased from their memories.”
“What? No! You cannot do that! My parents have waited forever to have a child! I was a miracle for them; you can’t just take that away.” I argued with the heartless deity.
Another sheet. “They still have a kid. It’s just not you.”
“There’s no one else like me out there in the world.” I crossed my arms.
“You’re not hard to replicate.”
“Hey! Why are you even doing this to me, anyway? What did I ever do to you? In a world where people can make entire galaxies disappear, why should I be the person that disappears? I haven’t even done anything!”
A magic 8-ball appeared in the sky and the answer inside of the triangle read, “Reply hazy, try again later.”
“Oh haha, very funny.”
“Yes definitely.” Another answer read.
I simply shook my head and walked past the oh-so-funny deity. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was even looking for, but there had to be something out there. I mean, it’s a void, yeah sure, but nothing is infinite. Everything has an end and “infinity” is just a lie. And if I don’t have to worry about eating or drinking or sleeping, I should be able to go on until I find an end.
“If you’re ever lost, just find North and keep walking that way. You’re bound to find something sooner or later.”
I could hear my dad’s voice echoing in my ears. I still remember when he first took me camping when I was 10. I hated it! I was bored and couldn’t bring my friends and it was pizza day at school and pizza’s my favorite food! Plus, we had to drive an hour up to Westchester just to find a forest. It was raining that weekend, so we had to pitch a tent in the cold in the rain in the middle of fall. I already didn’t want to go and now this happens? It was the worst weekend ever, and the camp talk bored me to death. Who’da thunk I’d actually use something he taught me?
My eyes started to tear up at the idea that I’d never see them again, that I’d been wiped from their memories, that I’m missing and that they don’t even know what they’re missing with me. My friends, my cousins, my parents, my dog, my cat! Angie wouldn’t survive without me! She always loves when I pet her, especially if I just scratch on the right side of her face; then she’d rub her face up against me and then give my thumb a little nibble, nothing hard, just a playful little bite with her teeth. Then I’d have to get the mouse on the string and throw it around with her and get her to jump up to try and get it and—Goddammit I’m crying!
I plopped down on the ground in a heap and started sniveling and wiping away my, now-uncontrollable, tears. It was like a dam had just burst; the eye shadow I wore was likely swept away in the current, dripping down my face and onto the white ground.
I leaned forward, surprised. “She stopped. Dalia, she stopped.”
Dalia appeared in a puff of smoke. “What did you do to the poor girl?” She asked, annoyed that I kept going with my “foolish” experiment.
“She stopped. And she’s crying.”
“We need to go down there and help her. Console her. Get her back home.”
“Nah, she’ll be fine. All she needs is a little pick-me-up.” I flicked my hand, and Mariana was whisked off her butt. “Get going. Chop chop!” I forced her legs to start moving again.
“This isn’t right, and you know it.”
“It’s for science! To see how far the human spirit can go. People wouldn’t have made all the amazing scientific revelations they did if they hadn’t done things like this, especially with psychology. Phrenology and lobotomies led to figuring out what parts of the brain did, Skinner led to Operant Conditioning.”
“And all of those things were deemed immoral as humans evolved in thinking.”
“Morality shifts all the time.” I waved away her comment. “Too flexible. Morality, societal customs, all of that shifts from generation to generation and year to year. Science is consistent. Once a discovery is made, it’s set in stone.”
“I don’t think that’s how science works.”
“Now it is.” I snapped my fingers and made every discovery from that point forward absolutely true. Now people have to find a way to rationalize it all, regardless of if it’s contradictory or not… actually, that sounds like it could be fun to see. After Mariana, I’ll check back in on the science community and see how they’re doing.
“Que demonios? (What the hell?)” I quickly switched to English, yelling out to God, “Hey! Stop this!” I tried to force myself to stop, but the rebellious limbs ignored my brain’s instructions. Just then, my body stopped. I shook my leg and let out a sigh of relief. I had control again. Another sheet of paper drifted down to me.
“Alright, alright! I’ll go!” I snapped, crumpling the paper into a ball and throwing it behind me into the void. What does God even want me to do, anyway? Why stick me in here? What makes me so special? I started forward again, traveling North until my legs felt weak and I had to take a break. It had been two hours since then, and there was still nothing in sight. Still an endless, white, inescapable void. I laid down on the ground while I waited for my strength to return to me. My thoughts drifted back to my family.
My parents were both 50, certifiably old. Mom was infertile; I truly shouldn’t have even been born, but somehow, my dad got my mom pregnant with me… well, me and my twin. She (?) didn’t make it very far into the pregnancy. They were miscarried in the first few weeks of the pregnancy; taken back into my mother’s womb. Then, I just kinda absorbed some of them in me during the pregnancy. Two heartbeats at the first ultrasound. One heartbeat at the second. Now, I have two blood types because of it. Every once in a while, I do sometimes have a nightmare about this other twin… calling out to me, I guess is the word for it.
I closed my eyes, my potential twin appearing in my mind’s eye. I’ve always imagined it being a girl. Long, dark brown hair like mine that she always kept in a ponytail, gray eyes (mine are hazel), just as tanned as me (yet they burn more easily). She had pearly white smile and was an absolute clean freak (I don’t think I would’ve liked that part of her). She always watched these super cheesy soap operas and always sang Spanish songs in the car (she wasn’t really a good singer, but she always had fun with every song she sang). She could be annoying sometimes, but I loved her because she was my sister and sisters stick together through everything. Her name’s Selena (at least, in my dreams). Selena Concina Abril. She was older (by three minutes) and she never let me live it down; she was never snooty and said “you have to listen to me because I’m older” but she did think to remind me of this stuff whenever we went to amusement parks and stuff.
I wish she had lived. If she had, I would’ve actually had to share a room with someone; I wouldn’t have always been super scared of being alone in that big bedroom that fit two… but she’s not. And it’s all my fault; that’s what I thought when I was younger, at least. Even though my mom said, “Honey, it’s not your fault. It’s a natural thing that happens to people,” I couldn’t help but think that I did it all. I stopped my mom from having two daughters instead of one. I used to cry in my room and say “Lo siento (I’m sorry)!” all the time because of that, until I was 13 and we talked about pregnancy in my sex ed class (I had to step out for that lesson; I physically felt sick).
I shook my head, snapping out of my memories and fantasies. “I have to get back home. I need to get back to my family.” I started walking again.
Many hours later, I stumbled across a hole in the ground. It was big. A few feet wide. It looked big enough for a person to fit in. I looked up. “Is this what you wanted me to find God?” No answer. “Does this lead me back home?” Still no answer. I stared at the hole. I couldn’t see the bottom. A pit formed in my stomach as a thought rang out into my head that this, unlike the void, would have an end, a bottom. I could die at the bottom of that pit. But I can’t stay here. I have to take the risk and get home.
Steeling my nerves, I took a breath. I jumped. Moved forward into the hole, towards what would hopefully be the end of this void and my own banishment.
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