Day 7

There wasn’t much of a change when it came to where they arrived. It was a city just like every other city with sharp dressed people moving in a brisk pace to and from their destinations. The thing that bothered Liam the most was that there wasn’t a single person in this city of brick and glass buildings that towered above them. The sun, wherever it was cast its light down from a bright blue sky with puffs of clouds.

“This is where we are supposed to be?” Liam asked as he drove the car, another two thousand and eleven Honda Civic.

He watched as Perdita opened her book and looked over her notes. He liked her handwriting. It was small, compact, and wasted no room with flourish. She put her finger to another circle and looked out at the people as they smiled and waved to one another, but again, never slowing.

“I don’t know if she’ll be here or not,” she said. “When you jump sideways, I don’t know what happens.”

“The only thing we can do is try,” he said. “There’s only one way to find out.”

“That’s right,” she agreed. “This time she’s named Selma, and this is her address.”

He looked over at the notebook and took it down. He then used the car’s GPS system to pinpoint where the girl would live. They had gone over the details that morning driving into the city, but it was quick, and he hadn’t had enough caffeine to fully understand what they were supposed to be doing.

“So, we go to this address after she comes home,” he said turning down onto a very empty four lane strip. “We watch the parents and her, and then, if the parameters are right, we take her?”

“We take her if it means saving her,” Perdita said looking over the notes. “From my line, there was a girl that lived her that was murdered by her father tonight. We will sneak into the house and ensure that he doesn’t do that.”

“By taking her,” he said.

“It’s breaking a rule,” she sighed. “I know.”

“That’s probably the biggest fucking rule you can break,” he said. “Taking someone out of time.”

“We might not have to,” she said. “We can just probably leave them alone.”

“How many times have you almost taken this girl,” he asked.

“Too many to count,” she said. “I’m hungry.”

“I wasn’t going to say it,” he said. “But I’m starving.” Liam did a search of the eating areas and found a few places. All the names didn’t make any sense and he looked at Perdita who shrugged. Maybe they had jumped a little too far and the names had started to change, but nothing more. Either way, he couldn’t stand it anymore, so he picked one called Ferdinand’s Girl. The hunger was getting a little too much and with empty traffic he sped to the place without consequence.

“This is just a Wendy’s,” Liam said as he sat down his tray.

“Well, it isn’t a Wendy’s because they don’t exist,” she said.

The restaurant had the same shape of every small Wendy’s either of them had ever seen. Even the girl was on the side, but her hair was black and straight. She didn’t have a smile, but more of a smirk. The employees wore black everything and all the cardboard was black as well with big FG lettering on the side.

When they ordered the fifty dollars’ worth of food, the people looked at them for a long time before telling them that it would take a little longer to fire up the grills since they didn’t think anyone was going to eat today. When Liam asked them what they were talking about, a woman in her mid-forties with a white bun, gray eyes, and wire framed glasses told them that they didn’t need to worry about it and the food would be out shortly.

They shared bites of chicken sandwiches, nuggets, burgers, but oddly enough, there was no bacon to be found on the menu or any of the food. They continued to eat and drink while no one came into the place. The workers sat there and watched them with glossy stares.

“You think it’s some kind of holiday,” she asked.

“Is it a holiday,” he shouted at them. They looked at him and then at each other, then back at him.

“This is starting to feel like we’re doing something completely wrong,” he said.

“We won’t be here much longer,” she said. “We’re in and out.”

“This is not the heist I ever wanted to pull,” he sighed as he shoved six fries in his mouth.

“None of us want to be doing what we’re doing,” she said as she finished off her second milkshake.

“Do either of you have a place to stay tonight,” the old woman had come up to them. Her black apron clean and pristine. “I have room for some guests.”

“No,” Liam said standing up. The woman was too close and moving closer. “Thank you. We’re leaving.”

“Well, if you’re going to stay around here,” she said. “Don’t get one of the hotel rooms. Stay with a family.”

“Thank you,” Perdita said gathering up a few burgers from the tray and taking her journal.

The woman followed them to the door and when they looked back, the entire crew was standing in the windows looking at them. They didn’t wave, smile, or frown. They were just simply staring while Liam and Perdita got into the car and drove away.

“Well, I hated that,” he said.

“I hated it too,” she replied.

Liam knew that they could try and figure out what it all meant. They were, he found, smarter than both had figured, and it wouldn’t take too much work to really understand what was happening in this place. But the fatigue was real and neither of them had energy left. Between every jump they had to do a lot of calculations because of how the earth moved through space and the placement of where they were going to jump.

They drove until the sun went down and the shadows grew deeper. The sun had set and the odd thing that Liam noticed was all the lights to the apartment buildings were bright because all the windows had no blinds or shades. He could see into each one and see every family sitting in their living room laughing at the television. As he slowed, he noticed that there was always one child that looked around the age of eight that wasn’t laughing and sat away from them.

He pointed this out Perdita and she wrote it down in her book. They pulled up to an old crumbling brick building with large open windows with yellow light coming out of each one. When they got out of the car, Liam noticed he could hear the same television show coming from each of them. There was no reason to be scared, but something about that, about this place made him worry. Though he was never a gun man, he wished, at that point, he had a gun.

“It’s apartment six,” Perdita said.

“Okay,” Liam backed up into the empty road and squinted.

They stared into the room and the same thing that they saw in every single household. A man, woman, three kids, and an eight-year-old all in the living room laughing at the television. The eight-year-old wasn’t laughing, didn’t frown or smile. They simply just sat there staring blankly at the television.

“That girl doesn’t fit the description,” Perdita said. “We’re going to have to check.”

“I don’t want to check,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “This won’t break any rules.”

He followed her up the steps, into the hall and up the stairwell. The sound of the show, whatever it was, was going off. The big band was blasting its brass instruments as the announcer said goodnight. And then the line that came next struck him odd. Later, he would know what it meant, and he didn’t think he’d ever be the same again.

“Good night everyone and remember to tend to your guests,” laughter.

They made it to the door and Perdita knocked. There was a long pause, some whispers and then the man opened the door. He was wearing a pair of black slacks, white button shirt, blue tie, and thick black rimmed glasses. His hair was oiled back and his eyebrows, which were raised, were bushy.

“You’re not supposed to be out right now,” the man said. “Did something happen?”

“Y…Yes,” Perdita said. “Something has happened.”

“Honey,” the mother came the door. She was wearing a pink dress. “What’s wrong?”

“Something has happened,” the father said. “Clearly there’s been an issue.”

“Then come in and stay,” the woman said. “There’s no use going out there to those hotels.”

“That’s okay,” Liam held up his hands.

“Thank you so much,” Perdita said.

They entered in the house. The living room was pitch black. The entire house was pitch black except there were lights on in the dining room. He was the last in line so when he shut the door, he didn’t really shut the door. Instead, he turned the knob to make it click and then walked away.

Something was wrong.

They entered the room, and the children were all seated on one side. The mother and father both stood at the end of the table where the blank girl sat staring at the empty table and white sheet.

“This is our guests tonight,” the father said. “Children meet our guests, guests meet our children.”

They waved at one another. Perdita waved at Selma and there was a gasp.

“That’s not our child,” the father frowned. “Our child, Selma, is three floors up now.”

“Oh,” Perdita said. “When will she be home?”

The father and mother didn’t answer. They stood quietly with the children watching the large grandfather clock as it ticked. It was seven fifty-nine. Perdita took Liam’s hand. When the clock chimed a few things happened. None of it was good.

The girl screamed, bit the father’s hand, and climbed onto the table in an attempt to escape. The mother shouted and leaped forward to stop her and landed on the silverware. Liam could see some of the knives cut into her skin. But she didn’t stop. Instead she pulled the girl closer to her. The children, moved in on the table and bit down on the girls arms and legs. The father had taken a knife and was looking at the mother with disappointment.

Perdita was screaming and trying to get to the girl that was now being devoured alive by the children and mother. Liam was screaming trying to pull Perdita through the dark house and back into the hall. When Liam looked back the girl had stopped moving, the mother was screaming, the children and father had not had their fill.

In the hall they could hear, coming from every room, breaking bones, tearing flesh, and screaming that became gurgling.

“Wherever she is up there,” Liam said. “I’m pretty sure she’s gone.”

“Then we got to go,” Perdita said.

They ran down the stairs and out into the parking lot.

Liam looked up at the windows and each one of them had turned a hue of crimson as blood had been splashed on every single one. Whatever this place was, he thought, he was glad to be rid of it.

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