Annie checks her watch one last time before getting up and packing her bag to head home. The watch says 5:56 pm, exactly four minutes left until the professor’ sends the class on their way. “Ok guys and be sure to read chapters 5-9 tonight. there will be an exam in the morning” She grudgingly gets up out of her seat and exits the classroom.
” Annieeeeee” her bestfriend runs up behind her in the huge university hall. “hey girl whats up” Annie responds “Ugh today was such a long day. i can not wait to get home and make this drink! evening classes are the worst” Storm yelled a bit louder than she should have. Annie chuckled and nodded her head before replying “i got the rum!”. As annie and storm exit their school, strong winds and rain smacked their faces. “My car is over this way” annie yells to storm. The girls run to annie’s car, jumping in, Storm exclaims ” crazy ass storm. had no idea is was suppose to rain today” “i love the way you find a way to incorporate your name into everything” annie says laughing.
Annie races down the highway in her small black Honda civic heading toward her and storms apartment. “im going to roll a joint real quick. i feel like we may hit traffic” storm says grabbing her marijuana bag. As storm rolls their joint, Annie slows the car down a bit “look over there for a min” she says to her bestfriend. Storm lifts her head slightly and looks out her window, there were 3 black women standing outside of a car. It appeared as if their car had broke down. ” you think i should pull over or something? its raining pretty bad out here …and theyre like my grandma’s age” annie says to storm “hell nooooooooo so they can take our money, take our weed and take your car?!? uh uh. not happening” strom replies taking a pull off her joint. As annie sped the car up a bit she took one last look at one the old ladies. She was shortest one in in the group with long grey natty locs and long chain necklace with some kind of pendant. She looked annie directly in the eyes as the passed. “Holy fuck storm did you see that?!” annie said a bit amused. “what happened” storm asks while passed annie the joint. “bitch she looked me right in the eyes! like she knew i was going to look at her one more time. that is so odd” annie says in a dreamy like voice.
They pull up to their apartment building and annie parks the car. “ill get us some dinner started” storm says once the girls were safely inside their fourth floor apartment. Annie nods in agreement. She goes inside her bedroom and stares at herself in the mirror. “ima fry some chicken. that cool with you” storm yells from the kitchen “yeah thats cool” annie says still looking her self over. “Well” she says to herself under her breath. She pulls her long red locs out of the ponytail they were in, and shakes them free. She grabbed a homemade baby wipe and gently wiped the eyeliner and mascara off of her smooth mocha skin and the lip tint off her lips. She pulled her sweatshirt over her head and examined the large Egyptian Goddess tattoo on her side. Annie is a 22 year old college senior and living on her own for the first time. She lit a jasmine incense stick, plugged her phone into the charger and spread out on her queen sized bed topless.
“damn that food smells good” she says to herself as she logs into the Facebook app on her phone. She scrolls her Facebook newsfeed past the usual selfies, and pictures of her friends children, and she notices a post from one her close friends Darryl. Its a video of him driving on the same highway her and storm drove on on the way home from school. She pressed play on the video: “so im out here driving down the parkway and i noticed these cute little old ladies. i circled around and rode past them about 3 times before i decided to see if i can help” Darryl begins in the video. He cuts the camera to one of the old women, she has a wild salt and pepper floppy afro. “we’ve been out here for hours after our car broke down. so many people drove pass and watched us i didnt think anyone would stop” she says, her voice has a hint of a small southern accent. “what?…no way” annie says to herself in disbelief.
The old woman then abruptly places a medium sized object in Darryl’s hand, almost making him drop the phone. “what are you doing ms?’ darryl asks somewhat confused by the womans gesture. “take it” said the other old woman, as slowly walked into the video. “whaaaat the hell” Annies says again in total disbelief. It was the woman who she made eye contact with on the highway. She flung her long locs behind her back and repeated ” just take it Darryl” she showed him a half smile. Annie’s eyes widened.
“food is done!” storm yelled from kitchen. “oh…ok ok im coming. Storm..i have to show you this” she yells back. Darryl did a nervous chuckle “how do you know that i’m Darryl?” he looks directly to the camera and widens his eyes a bit. The old woman continued to just watch him with the half smile, leaving his question unanswered. Darryl puts the object inside his car and called the 3 old women and tow truck and a taxi. “what the hell is this?…oh my God” Darryl says in a distant tone, once back in his car and unwrapping the object. He shows it on video, Its a long piece… about the size of a persons forearm and oddly shaped. It also wrapped in a strange black clothe that Darryl cannot seem to get off. He props the phone oh his dashboard, puts his gift in the passenger seat and drives off “that was the strangest encounter i have ever had in my life. did you guys see that” he asks his live Facebook audience. “and i cant see to get that weird covering off..its like..some material Ive never seen before…”
Darryl’s live video begins to freeze and the sound becomes distorted. Annie picks up her phone to see if the issue is with her phone or with the Facebook app. The video begins to play again but very slow and the quality is very chopped. “the road is getting darker and darker…” Darryls voice says in the video. The video part now completely gone with only the sound playing. “im not sure what happened but nothing seems to look…” the video cut off completely. A message appeared over the video telling whoever is watching it that there is an issue with Darryls streaming service and he should return as soon as there is a good connection.
“wow wow…stooorrrrmmmm!” annie yells grabbing her phone and leaping off of her bed to run down the hallway to storm. “You have to see this please. its Darryl…he was with the old women from the highway” Annie said rushing into the kitchen to storm and freezing mid sentence “Girl!” she exclaimed, extending an arm and handing the phone to Storm. “what? i thought Darryl was away with his friends for a bit” storm said sounding a bit confused. Annie watches Storms face as she watched the video with same perplexed yet amused face that Annie had. “….take it Darryl” the old lady repeated from the video. “how the hell did she know his name is Darryl storm?! what the hell is that about?” Annie interjected. “I have no idea but it is wierd” storm replied “and whats up with his connection? ive never randomly lost service on that highway before”storm followed up. Annie is usually the calm one in her and Storms friendship, while storm is more opinionated and carefree. This time things seem reversed. “ill call him to see whats going on and if he is ok” Annie said.
She grabbed her phone, found his number and hit send. It went straight to voicemail. She tried again and it went to voicemail. “his phone isnt on it seems..” she said to storm “you think it died or something?” she asks as she hits send for a third time. This time the phone didnt ring it all. The call cut off completely and annies phone went back to the main screen. “whats going on” Storm said coming up behind her. “the call cut short. it didnt even ring this time…i dont know,
i hope he is ok” Annie said. “if we dont hear from him be tomorrow, we should definitely see whats up” storm said with worry creeping into her voice. Annie, Storm and Darryl have been good friends for the past 4 years. The girls met Darryl during their first year at the university. Storm and Annie have been bestfriends from 11 years old, with Darryl being around 3 years older, He has taken on more of a big brother role for the girls. “im hoping that he is with some hot girl somewhere and not in any danger” storm said sitting down with her plate of fried chicken, spanish rice and rum and coke. “shiiitt let me go and fix my plate” annie said swinging around to face storm on the living room couch.
Swaying down the hall after 3 glasses of rum and coke each, Annie and Storm make it to their bedrooms. “Girl i cant get beans offffff” Annie yelled from her room to Storm through slurred speech “your beans?! what beans? im coming” storm yelled back hysterical. Storm helped a tangled annie out of her jeans and into bed. She then collapsed next to her. “BZZZZZZZZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZ” Annies phone vibrated loudly next to her on the floor. She opened one eye and looked at it. Slowly waking up, she reaches for her phone. It is 3:57 am and she has a missed called from 888-888-8888 a very wierd number, “the hell?” she says under her breath, she then notices the voicemail icon on the top of her screen. She taps it and listens but its all static and she cant make out a voice. She places the phone down next to her and lays back down. Storm is breathing gently next to her, she tries to align her breathing with storms breathing hoping to relax and clear her mind. It dosnt work, she lays awake blinking at the ceiling with thoughts of Darryl and the old women in her head. “Did they kidnap him?” she thinks …”not that big ass guy, impossible” she chuckles to herself and drifts off to sleep slowly.
*flick flick flick* annies hears the flick of a bic lighter in a distance from under her covers. Someone yanks the sheets from over her head. “here girl” Storm stretches out her arm, and passes annie a freshly rolled J. Annie inhales deeply, “thanks. i had a wierd dream last night” Annie begins. ” i was in this room and everything was white. i kept feeling like i was being watched” she says in a tired tone. Storm looks up at her attentively and placed her hand lightly on annies cheek. “you ok babe? you look like you barely slept” Annie nods her head from side to side “i didnt. and i have to return these books today” her voice trails off ” and my phone kept ringing last night. from this very strange number….it was like 8888 something.” She grabs her phone from off the floor “she look” she passed the phone to storm. “Wow its just a whole bunch of 8’s thats not even a real number. who do you think could have been calling from that number?”
Annie steps out of the shower, and applies her lavender shea butter to her mocha skin. She picks up her phone and begins to scroll through her instagram page, smiling every so often at the cute gold complexion girl with the short curls. “one day” she says to herself softly. She jumps on and throws on a tank top and sweats and puts her locs in a high bun. “hey storm im leaving to return these books now. i should be back in a hour or so” annies yells down the hall. “ok cool i may have food ready again” she yells back. Storm is majoring in culinary, and always cooks for annie. Annie smiled and walked out of the door.
Blasting Lil Wayne, annie drove down the highway rapping the best she can and smoking a small blunt. “what the…” she says in shocked tone and pulls her car over. She is the same exact spot where she passed the old women the other day, except now this part of the highway looks totally different. She looked over out of her passenger window and noticed hundreds of colorful glass bottles hanging from a few trees, and what looked like different color toilet paper hanging from them as well. She got out her car to get a better look at all of the beautiful colorful trees and glass bottles chimed together in the wind. As she got out of her car and walked through the grass, closer to the trees and forest on the side of the highway, she noticed bunches of colorful, dried flowers on the ground. She bent down a picked a piece up astonished. “potpourri?” she says to herself, but the dried flowers had no scent. Annie still walking toward the beautiful trees, passed a small black cat with yellow eyes. The small cats followed her to the trees, brushing against her ankles.
“oh my goodness. hello”annies says and bends down to pet the small animal. “do you know who did this” she says picking the cat up as it playfully tugs at one of her locs. She continues toward the trees with the small cat in her arms. She stops and grabs her phone to take a picture to send to Storm, but she has no service. “wow what is happening to my phone? im still pretty close to the city i should have service” she says suprised and worried as she cant seem to get the phone to work. She tried to call storm but all she heard was static. “this is so odd. what is going on?” she whispers. A strong scent of frankincense and myrrh rushed up her nose. Its one of her favorite smells. She smiled as it brought back thoughts of her mother and family. She didnt why, but for some reason the smell pulled her in. As it brought back memories of her childhood, she felt the need to follow this amazing smell. As she slowly walked though the trees and into the forest, she felt a sense of calm and exhaled then inhaled, letting the scent of frankincense take over her being. She looked toward the big tree with all the dark blue and purple bottles hanging from it, she grabbed her little cat and walked toward it. This was the first tree that Annie saw when she pulled up and she could not take her eyes off of the grand marvelous tree. She put the cat back down and noticed something inside of the tree, it was clear, hard and shiny. “a selenite stone?” annie yelled in disbelief as she looked at it. Collecting crystals was one of her hobbies, she reached in the tree and grabbed it. She held it to her face for a closer look then the entire forest being to spin and and warm sensation ran up and down annies spine. She felt frozen as everything kept on spinning around her, she suddenly dropped her knees unable to stand any longer.
Slowly Annie pulled herself up off of the ground, the selenite stone that was still clutched in her hand, was now vibrating and warm. It had a small pulse in the center…like a tiny heart beat. “wow” annie said staring at the pulsing stone in her hand. She looked up at the forest around her and froze, every last one of the trees in the forest were decorated with colorful bottles, paints and shells. There were huge exotic wild flowers growing all around her that gave off strong scents of jasmine and lavender and her small kitten friend was now a full grown, beautiful black cat with piercing orange eyes. “what the fuck..” she said pulling her phone out of her pocket once more for a picture. But this time her phone screen flickered off and on and suddenly cut off. She tried again and again, playing with the power button but the phone would not come back on. Puzzled Annie slowly backed away from the tree still staring at her bizarre phone.
“Ohhhh those wont work around here” Annie heard a quiet voice behind her, she quickly turned around to find the old woman with the grey locs smiling softly behind her. “Huh? what do you mean?” annie said confused, “that….that in your hand. they dont work on this side” the woman replied slowly, looking at annie over her glasses. ” excuse me, but my phone wont work in the forest? what do you mean this side?” Annie asked, adrenaline slowly creeping into her voice. “no, your phone will not work in the forest on this side. this is the other side child” the woman said a bit more seriously. “the other side of what though? what am i dead?” annie asked afraid. The woman let out a loud shriek :oh nooo sweet child. you are not dead. but, you are not on your side either. Come with me, there is so much you need to know”
The small woman walked past annie, deeper into the forest and annie slowly, reluctantly followed. As the sun began to set, and the sky began to glow a magnificent purple, annie shivered a bit “where are we going?” annie asked the old woman nervously. “Home” she replied simply, “OK” annie replied quietly and paused “but my home isnt this way..in fact i should really be heading back home now, to my real home. My friends are probably all worried” Annie said, meeting the woman at her side. “you will be at your “real home” as you like to put it…eventually. your friends are fine. ill make sure of it” she said with half smile, and a wink placing her hand on annies arm as the two slowed down. The pair stood in front of an old dark cave, the old woman looked up at annie and smiled warmly, leaving annie more confused. She could not understand why this woman kept smiling at her while leading to the middle of nowhere. “what is this? why are we at this cave? when did this cave even get here” annie said in nervous belief. “Come” the woman said grabbing annies hand in hand in her warm wrinkled one. She seemed to pull a flare like torch out of nowhere with her other hand and led the two into the cave.
As they got closer, the sweet lavender smell got stronger. Annie stared into the darkness. “whats in there that is giving off that smell? its lovely, but i dont think im going there..” annie said to the old woman hesitant as she pulled back a bit, but the old woman tightened her hold as she placed an arm tightly around Annies waist egging her foward. “relax Anorai, you need to trust me” the woman said in a stern voice. annie moved foward with the old woman all while staring directly at the side of the woman’s face in disbelief. Anorai is Annies birth name that only her grandmother use to call her. Her mom began calling her annie or rai for short around age 3, and she couldnt figure out how the woman knew her name. She decided it was best to question the old woman later, as the darkness of the cave grew bigger and bigger. The two women entered the cave, and annie realized this was a darkeness she had never experienced. It was an esoteric darkness, unreal and unearthly. She could almost feel it around her as if it was alive, pulsating and swallowing her whole. “what is this place..”she whispered but the old woman responded by only giving her hand a tight squeeze.
As they continued through the caves darkness, annie noticed something glowing faintly in front of her “ah yes” the old woman whispered sounding more pleasant and satisfied, her and annie where headed toward the glowing object. Once they arrived close enough to the objects, annie noticed it was more selenite but this time they were glowing ones and annie could feel heat emitting from them. “what kind of selenite is this? why are they glowing? annie whispered the woman didnt answer her, instead she responded by reaching out and breaking off a piece of the selenite.