One minute she was…actually, Deanne didn’t remember what happened a minute ago. Or the minute before. Or anything before that.
That might be a problem.
Anyway, now she was here.
Or potentially she was nowhere.
Oh! Maybe she was dead?
What surrounded her was nothing. Or maybe she was surrounded by a bright white light. It was some kind of white void, anyway. It made her think of those Apple commercials with the smug hipster and the cute nerdy guy who was supposed to be the antagonist for some reason? Deanne had never understood. She would have gone out with PC in a heartbeat, and if Mac had ever tried to hit on her she would have broken his nose.
Deanne took a step forward and mimed breaking a man’s nose with the base of her palm, thrusting upward as hard and as high as she could.
“Okay, new information,” she said out loud. “Well, one, I can speak. And hear myself. So, I guess there’s air here. Two, there’s a solid floor even if it doesn’t look like it.”
To demonstrate to herself, she stomped a few times. Visually she couldn’t tell the difference between the floor or the ceiling or walls (if those existed) and the spaces in between. But her foot – wearing a sneaker, she noted – came down on something hard and even made dull stomping noises.
“Three, I don’t remember where I was before this happened. Or most of anything, really. But I remember my name. I remember a stupid commercial. And I’m apparently the type of person who knows self-defense.”
Deanne inspected herself. She had the sneakers on. Bright purple. Bootcut blue jeans. Yellow cotton panties underneath. Red bra and a plain white t-shirt. Her skin was a dark brown, and her hair was cropped so short she couldn’t see it. Her fingernails were short and neat, but unpainted. There was no jewelry. No tattoos. Also no cuts or bruises.
“I’m going about this methodically,” Deanne said aloud. “Maybe I’m a detective or something.”
She paused and waited.
“A private eye?”
“A medical examiner? A scientist? A professor?”
But none of that sounded right to her. There’s something missing…
Despite herself and the situation, Deanne started laughing.
“Yeah, I’d say there’s a lot effing missing!” Deanne said between gales. It had started as nothing more than a giggle and had quickly become loud and practically braying.
Hysterical, you’re becoming hysterical.
She gripped her hands into fists, pinching her thumbs until they ached. She couldn’t afford to get hysterical. Probably.
Once she had gotten control of herself again – it was a bit of a process because every time she was close she’d think of another thing that was missing like ‘other people’ or ‘the earth’ or ‘time’ and she would start giggling again – she started thinking of more ways to investigate.
Deanne jumped. “There’s gravity. Feels like Earth. I guess, I haven’t really been anywhere else. Have I? Oh, crap, I don’t know. Maybe? Okay, no. I’m pretty sure I’d remember space.”
And then Deanne nodded to herself, in that way you do when you’re trying to convince yourself of something you actually have no memory of.
Slowly, Deanne spun in a circle, studying the space around her. It was hard. Her brain didn’t like any of the input she was getting – what little of it she was getting – and kept insisting to her stomach that she boot the contents because obviously she must be poisoned. By the time she was convinced there was nothing but the white space around her, she needed to sit down and put her head between her knees.
“Ugh,” she said when her stomach finally stopped flailing about like an eleven-year-old when the mozzarella sticks finally arrived. “Whatever this is, it sucks.”
She spit at the ground. It disappeared into the white void. Great.
“Well. There’s a floor. Sort of,” she said, knocking her knuckles against it. “So, this is some sort of…space. Maybe there’s a wall. With a door.”
It was really the only thing left to do. She stood up, gave her stomach a few seconds to decide if it was going to roll around again. When it didn’t, she picked a direction and started walking.
To keep her brain and stomach occupied, as Deanne walked she tried to remember something – anything – about what had happened before the void. A new fear grew, one that said she had just been formed whole-cloth in the middle of this empty void. She was quick to break it. The memories were there, just out of reach. She was in a sea of memories, but every time she tried to grasp for one it swam away and got lost.
The things she had remembered so far were things she hadn’t tried to remember. They had just happened. Like her name, or that stupid commercial, or all those professions.
“My name is Deanne…something. Deanne…damn it. Okay. My name is Deanne, and I’m…a certain number of years old, and I come from…somewhere…on Earth…This isn’t working.”
Not for specifics, no, but she had come to some realizations. She was real, and she had a life somewhere that wasn’t this void. She had been sent here, somehow.
So deep in thought she almost missed it. Impossible, it was the only speck of color she had come across for however long and far she had been walking. Deanne would have seen it eventually. But because of all her thinking and failing at remembering, she didn’t see it until she was practically on top of it.
It was small, maybe four inches by four inches, sitting on the floor of the void. It was white, but a regular kind of white, not this sort of bright, shining white she was surrounded by. Paper white, in fact, because paper was what it was.
Deanne glanced around, as though perhaps a large shrub and someone hiding behind it had also materialized. But there was nothing except her and the little piece of paper. The side facing her was blank, so she flipped it.
You’ve been kicked out of reality. Sorry.
Deanne clicked her tongue. “Well, ain’t that some bullshit.”