The World Within
rating: +28+x

The world was swimming. Colors- vibrant, piercing colors were everywhere.

“D-3975.”

There was no up, no down. No left or right.

“D-3975.”

Spinning, swirling, tumbling, floati-

“D-3975!”

Dug’s eyes flew open. He was on his back, face up, in a dark room. He sniffed the air as his eyes adjusted. It smelled like…

Paint?

Where was he? He remembered…goggles, then nothing.

“D-3975! Can you hear me? Where is the group?”

Dug bolted upright. The group. His friends. Jared, Cray, Nathan, Felix. All holding on to one another, slowly removing the goggles to see the painting. The impeding calm, the slow drain of energy as he lost his color- and then

everythingwaswrongnothingwaswhereitshouldbeandtheworldwasturningand

“I…don’t know, Doc.” Dug stood. “They’re gone.” He glanced over his left shoulder. A leather recliner was in the corner, looking a bit worn.

“What do you see in there, D-3975?”

“Not much, Doc,” Dug responded. “There’s a leather chair and…a cabinet? And a rug.”

“Nothing else?”

No

“There’s a little girl.”

What?

“She says her name is Tanya.”

Dug wondered why he had said that. He hadn’t meant to. Eventually, the doctor spoke:

“Tanny..? No, it can’t be- we’ve never seen more than one person in the painting before. We do not see Tan- this girl. We don’t see your group.”

“I don’t either.”

“Search for them.”

Dug approached the recliner and laid a hand on it. It felt smooth and slick, exactly as leather should. He moved on.

He moved to the only windows in the entire room. Big, wide, glorious windows, open to the outside world, except

None of the world was the way it should be and nothing made any sense and nothing was where it belonged and the world was turning and

Dug looked back at his hands and saw brown, dark brown- leather brown- smeared on them, and he looked at the recliner and he saw the color of his skin on the chair and-

I’ve found them, Doc

“They’re not here, Doc. But the girl still is.”

There is no girl

“You can’t find your group?”

They’re outside

“The girl wants me to tell you something.”

“Can you or can you not find your group, D-3975?”

Dug looked out the window again, struggling against his own mind to form the words. To tell the Doctor how his friend Lenny’s face was smeared into the bark on the beautiful tree, or how the luscious branches were Terry’s arms, knurled and twisted, or how the endlessly gorgeous sky was brilliantly filled with the pained expressions of his group, ingeniously contorted and morphed to fill the canvas.

“She says that she misses you, Daddy.”

“What?”

Who said that? Was that me?

“She says she misses her Daddy, and she wants her Daddy to come in here.”

Whatishappening

“…Tanny…?”

“It’s been 2 years, Daddy, why haven’t you come home?”

“Oh, Tanny, I’m so sorry, Daddy misses you, my little girl…”

Dug felt his mouth moving, his lips forming words, but he wasn’t doing it. He willed his body to stop, to listen to his command, and, oh God, whose voice was coming out of his mouth?

“I miss breakfast on Sunday, Daddy, I miss when you cooked for us! For Mommy and me!”

Dug heard the doctor begin to cry.

”Tanya, my sweet Tanya, I’m so sorry…I did everything I could…but I didn’t- didn’t even see the car, baby, it came out of nowhere- you and your mother, oh God…“

Dug gritted his teeth and willed his body to fight back, but-

“I’m still alive, Daddy, in here! Come in here with me, we can make Sunday breakfast again! Mommy and me and you!”

Why am I saying this what is happening make it stop

THUD

“Sir, your goggles!”

“Hold on Tanny!”

no

“Daddy?”

NO

“Tanny, I’m coming!”

NO

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