I knew by then that when I'm deep in thought, time gets away from me. So, although it was sudden, it wasn't surprising, finding myself dragging my feet along a sidewalk. The sun was already past the halfway point in the sky meaning school had flown past me and I hadn't cared enough to turn my head. Mindlessly, I pivoted and turned onto a long, steep dirt-road. However, I didn't walk up the path... I knew by now there was nothing at the end. I had once been curious enough to climb up and keep climbing and keep climbing. But whenever I looked back; the sidewalk was still just a step away. My father had created this illusion for security.
Instead, I tread beside the path until I found a manhole. I lifted the lid and lowered myself inside, closing it behind me. The darkness popped on. However, I carelessly continued down the metal rungs. The aluminum soles of my shoes clinked against the rusty iron as I descended farther into the abyss. Just as I started to worry, I stepped onto a concrete floor and a low green light illuminated the floor. Everything else was black as ever. I made out three green paths. Without hesitation, I took the one on the left.
Each of my footsteps made an alarmingly loud sound, so I was on tiptoe when the foul stench of sewage greeted my nose. I pinched my nostrils closed. With my free hand, I blindly searched the left wall for a hook; on the hook was a mask. I slipped the band around the back of my head, letting the mask pop into place. Immediately, I was breathing fresh air. Carefully, I walked over a grate on the floor, a river of sewage rushing beneath me. If I was to fall, I would be carried away by the current. I crossed my fingers as the thought entered my conscience.
When I finally reached concrete again, a light bulb popped on above me and doors sealed the opening behind me, declining any more of the dirty air an entrance. An air freshener was pressed two times, signaling me to take off my mask and hang it on one of the hooks beside me. Including my hook, only two of the three had masks on them. Nadia, my little sister, wasn't home from school, yet.
I continued down the tunnel. Although it was a dull, gray color, it was starting to look like a hallway. At the end were metal stairs. If you hadn't had to go through this maze every day, you would've seen a staircase that led to as dead end; you would've turned around. But I clattered up and didn't even flinch as my body went into the ceiling and out the other end.
I found myself standing on a muddy carpet of grass with no trace of physical seperation. To my right was the never-ending path. Behind me was the sidewalk I was walking along only a few minutes ago. However, no one taking an afternoon stroll stopped and gaped at me. Me: the girl who had just emerged from the ground. They couldn't see me.
I sloshed in the direction of my overgrown-cabbage of a house. The warmth of today's sun hadn't been enough to harden the ground after yesterday, and with each step, my feet sunk further into the mud. By the time I reached the front-step, I was ankle-deep. I got most of the wet dirt off by stomping, but some of it only came off when I scraped the metal bottom of my shoes against the edge of the concrete. Finally, my shoes got to an exceptional state.
There was no doorknob on the door in front of me; an old illusion of Gage's creation. But I knew in my ead where it should be and when I reached out to find it, I felt my hand close around a circular piece of metal; it was there. I turned it and pushed the door open.
"Rae, is that you?" came a voice from the other room.
"Yes, Gage, it's me," I answered, shutting the door behind me.
He entered the room, looking the same as my father always did: faded apron around his waist, pen behind his ear, and more than a few stains on his red shirt.
"Don't move a muscle," he ordered, a frightened look on his face.
I froze, eyes wide and scared.
"You didn't clean your shoes off," Gage gasped, shattering the silence into smithereens.
I relaxed a bit. "I did clean them," I protested.
"Well, it's a little hard to believe that 'You cleaned them' if they look like that," he criticized playfully, kneeling down, helping me out of my filthy shoes. I sighed and rolled my eyes, but ended up giggling when my eyes hadn't even completed a full circle, yet.
Gage pulled a rag out of his apron pocket and carefully polished my shoes, making sure the aluminum bottoms were shiny. When he was finished, they looked like they did when he first made them.
He folded them together, so, once they were compacted, they were only two centimeters thick. He slid them into a thin notch in the wall and out of another pulled two sandals that were even thinner than the shoes. I pulled them on and helped him up.
"Gage, why does it always take Nadia so long to get home?" I asked, following him into the kitchen.
"I dunno... Maybe because she has friends to talk to on the way home?" he joked.
"Ha ha ha, very funny," I said, but my face was completely serious. "I have friends," I added defensively.
"Anyway," I continued, leaning against a counter, "What are you making?"
"Well," he started. "Let's just say we're going to have... Chipleo tonight!"
"I meant your new invention, not dinner," I explained, pointing to our kitchen table that had somehow been transformed into a mad-inventor's lab. It was covered in the tiny part of carefully taken apart glasses, hair-thin wires, and a few different brain-wave testers and recognizers.
"Oh, sorry," he apologized, blushing pink. "My new invention is a pair of glasses thhat look like ordinary glasses, except they have a band at the back that lies on the back of your neck. When it is there, it'll easily be able to access commands from your brain. The point of them is that you can send commands on magnification of the glasses to the band and... Walla! It'll switch the magnification as soon as the thought comes through your mind!"
I clapped in applause, and Gage bowed to the right and to the left.
"But wait," I said. "Weren't you planning to finish the windows that you can only see on one side for...for...for...for Mr. Namrog?"
"You're right! I completely forgot! I'll finish them tomorrow!" he assured me.
As an illusionist and inventor, he was busy. It was my job to remind him of anything he might have forgotten.
"I knew I forgot something!" he mumbled.
I rolled my eyes; this time, completing the circular motion.
Suddenly, the front door swung open and shut. Nadia burst into the kitchen, cheeks red, panting.
"There's... There's something following me!" she managed to spit out.
"Something?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"It's.... gonna get ya!" Gage added, the tickle-monster pouncing on her.
Nadia was trying her hardest not to laugh when she protested, "I'm serious!"
Gage laid off the tickling, allowing Nadia to hurry out of the room, waving us after her.
"Come see it for yourselves," she called.
I looked at Gage, shrugged, and followed Nadia into our bedroom. She was standing on a stool, looking our a window where she had a good view of the never-ending path.
"Mercedes and I stopped at the zoo on the way home, and then some kind of animal was following us for about a block. Then when we got to Mercedes' house, it was no where in sight, so I told her mom I was fine with walking home. And than a block from there; it appeared again. I tried to ignore it because I didn't think it was necessarily following me. But then it turned onto our path and started walking up!" she explained, keeping her eyes locked on the path the entire time. She was talking so fast, we could barely understand her.
"It was walking up the path?" I asked.
"That's impossible! And you know it; you helped creat the path!" I exclaimed.
"No, it's possible... at least for it," she argued. You could hear her swallow before she said, "That's was scared me."