I wake up drowning in a sea of blankets.
Gasping, I thrash about violently, sending waves of suffocating covers tangling around my sweat drenched ankles. A sense of panic jolts me to a sitting position, a silent howl is lodged deep within my throat, closing as though I’ve forgotten how to breathe. My terror stricken face is welcomed by the sinister shadows of what was the brink of dawn leaking slivers of light through the curtained windows of the room. Unable to process where exactly I was, my heart beats a raging storm of anxiety in my aching chest, enough to feel at the brink of passing out from the pure adrenaline. A lone beam of the crawling daylight bitterly penetrates my dilated pupils as I flinch and continue my fit of bewilderment, throwing yet another clutter of blankets to the floor.
It isn’t until the last of the sheets fall away when I realize that I am not alone.
Once my foot hits something entirely new, flesh, real lifelike flesh, I freeze, drawing away almost repulsively. My efforts lead me to slide towards a painful impact on the rough ground between wall and bed. In the narrow space, I watch with dread as the thing, the person, slowly rose, a shadow growing more and more menacing with its increasing height in the trickling tears of the sun’s rays.
I swallow a scream.
Then then a blinding flash ignites the room.
In my shaky state I almost mistake it for fire, sobbing quietly, wondering how it could be possible to sleep so soundly only to perish in a tragic blast of heat in an unknown place. However there arrived no intolerable hellish inferno. No ghoulish demonic figures left to tear me apart, consuming me whole. In fact with a simple glance around, the place seems almost normal.
I find myself wondering just what on earth I was doing in a hotel room. The shadow before me now took a familiar shape, an alarmed expression planted on its face, slender arms posed in an assumed posture of concern yet slight agitation. Not it. Rather, her.
“A-Anita?” I eventually find my voice. It sounds foreign; a strangers’. Trembling in little sputters of pitch. If not for my previous episode, I could have actually laughed.
The girl hesitates as if surprised by my reaction. The stiff, defensive look on her gradually begins to melt into a mixture of relief and exhaustion. From behind her, I notice two other shapes starting to stir as if just now waking. It amazes me that there even existed such heavy sleepers. With a low, barely audible groan, one of the lumps straightens to a rising posture, rubbing at her bleary eyes. I sigh with exasperation to see it is yet another recognizable friend. The other girl sharing her bed shifts slightly only to pull back even more of her covers over her head, muttering something unintelligible, presumably in the middle of her dreams. With a groggy contortion of her face, the one I had recalled as Grace, she gave me what I depicted as an attempt at a glare, then demanded to know what all the ruckus was about.
Frankly, I hadn’t the faintest clue, so I kept silent.
“That’s what I’d like to know too,” Anita spoke, glancing over to the clumped mass of blankets and sheets, and crawling cautiously over to lend me a hand as I peered suspiciously at her. At her sudden advancement, I shrug away shyly, unwilling to allow myself the sudden jump to trust. Noticing my discomfort, she slithered back to her spot on her side of the bed. “Are you alright?” she asks once I’ve relaxed my shoulders.
“I-I’m fine,” I find myself continually stuttering, flinching at the warm touch of a teardrop trickling down my cheek. For no apparent reason I blush, flicking it sheepishly away. Anita gazes at me questionably as though debating whether to push any further. Before she can reply, I quickly add, “Where am I?”
From the background, Grace stared blankly at me, then erupts into chaotic laughter. I wince at her booming chuckle, watching the figure beside her rustle with annoyance, grasping a pillow to muffle the echoing sound. Anita frowns, raising an eyebrow in confusion. She takes a moment to answer, searching my face for…something.
“We’re in the hotel…in San Antonio…” she trails off, gazing at me curiously, paying no attention to Grace’s constant ruckus occurring behind her. With the widening of my eyes, I shook my head furiously, struggling to force out a half-hearted cough of a chuckle.
“That’s impossible,” I spoke nervously, giving the room another look over. “Last night I was at home getting ready for a football game.”