Where the fuck am I? My head is killing me. I know a literally put a gun to that thing’s head and told her to send me anywhere, which probably wasn’t very wise, and now I’m fuck knows where, but did I have to have the head-splitting pain as well? Wish I’d brought something. Medicine. Booze. Whatever. Just something.
Okay. Where might I be then? Let’s have a gander.
I’m not face-planted on the ground for a change, which is a good thing. Going through those doors really throws off my sense of balance. For a moment up feels like down, and down feels like up. Topsy-turvy like.
Okay. Deep breaths. Breath in that nice, clean, country air . . .
Because I am in the country. Well, countryside. Sort of. I’m on an . . . Island. Yeah, definitely an island. Doesn’t seem too big, as far as islands go. But enough that there’s a decent sized town here. It’s cold too. Fresh and cold. Clean. Like I said. The water’s a dark blue, looks deep. Can’t see a boat anywhere, so no way to get to the mainland if I want to.
Yeah, don’t worry, the similarity to the location of the Ostium Network is not lost on me.
I’m also picking up a Roanoke vibe. Yes, fine. I was never actually in fucking Roanoke. I know. You don’t need to remind me. But I know a guy who was. And he liked telling people what it was like. I was definitely one of those people. I got to hear a lot about it. So I fucking felt like I was there. This place is like that. Also kind of like where Ostium is. In Northern California. Also kind of like Fort Bragg. And Mendocino County, where I said my camo-fatigue wearing buddies were based.
Okay. That’s disturbing. That’s a lot of similarities to Ostium. And Jake isn’t really fucking involved.
But that’s why we’re here, right? To find good old Jakey.
Of course, it also describes large swaths of this country, assuming this is still ye olde United States of America, on both sides of the coast.
So other than healthy dark green trees, what else can I see here . . . Is that a . . . dome? Okay, kind of a weird place to put a dome. But then again, I don’t know where the fuck I am, so maybe it’s perfect place to put a dome. I’m definitely not the right person to say otherwise. I see some streets, some buildings, houses, pathways. So yeah, definitely getting a strong Ostium vibe here.
Could it be another Ostium? There was one class, way back when at the Ostium Network, when they talked about some other attempts to make a town. I was never exactly sure if it was the guys at the Ostium Network who tried it and weren’t exactly successful, or if it was some other group of someones. But they threw out names. Didn’t mean anything to us, really, but sure made them sound smart.
What were they?
Gosh, there were a few more . . .er . . . Come on brain, do what you’re meant to do.
What the hell were they? Weird fucking names.
Oh . . . Almost got it. It was . . . Ess . . . Ess . . . Eskew!
That was fucking it! And one more . . . Damn. Something . . . Something to do with sleep? Yeah. Sleeping. No. Not sleeping. Slumber. Slumbering. Slumber . . . Slumberland! Yes!
And as soon as I say that a man appears from seemingly nowhere. Yeah, I know that’s not really possible, but if I am in one of those weird aforementioned towns, then maybe it is possible. You never know. But I also think I might not have been paying much attention and he just came around a corner or from one of those buildings, through a door . . .
He’s seen me and he’s coming towards me. He doesn’t look hostile or anything, just curious. This should be interesting.
He’s not a tall guy, a bit on the short side you’d say. Five-eight. Maybe five-nine. Slim build. His face looks kinda odd, not your average-looking one you’d see on the street anywhere. Whatever that means. But his eyes . . . They’re a bright crystal blue and . . . Fucking intense. It’s like there’s a fire in them. Talk about sparkling beauties. They’re almost mesmerizing.
He’s almost here. Time to seem normal.
I’ll wait for him to talk first.
THOMAS: Hello. My name is Thomas Edward M.
MONICA: Hi. I’m Monica.
THOMAS: Hello Monica. I am a freelance sound man.
MONICA: Okay, Thomas. What do you record?
I have absolutely no intention of letting him know I’m recording him too.
THOMAS: A mysterious client has hired me to record the oral history of an obscure island community in the Great Lakes Region.
MONICA: Are you being serious?
MONICA: Well, where the hell is this?
THOMAS: This . . . Is Slumberland.
MONICA: No [POT BANGING SOUND] way! Hey, what the [POT BANGING SOUND] was that? Why can’t I [POT BANGING SOUND] swear? What the hell? What the [POT BANGING SOUND] is going on here? Hell is okay, but [POT BANGING SOUND] is off limits? What about [POT BANGING SOUND]? Or [POT BANGING SOUND]? God-[POT BANGING SOUND]-dammit. [POT BANGING SOUND]. [POT BANGING SOUND]. [POT BANGING SOUND]! Why is this [POT BANGING SOUND] happening to me?
THOMAS: I don’t know. I don’t think I can help you. I’ve interviewed another person, named Doreen, who appears to have a similar predisposition.
MONICA: Predispo-[POT BANGING SOUND]-sition!
THOMAS: I would prefer it if you would refrain from shouting at me.
MONICA [breath]: You’re right. I’m sorry, Thomas. All that was un-[POT BANGING SOUND]-called for. God! It’s gonna take a while to get fff- . . . Used to that. So I really am in Slumberland?
THOMAS: Yes. This. Is. Slumberland.
MONICA: You like saying that, don’t you?
THOMAS: Yes. Indeed.
MONICA: So what is there to do for fun around here?
THOMAS: That depends. On who you ask.
MONICA: I’m asking you.
THOMAS: Well. I like to interview people.
THOMAS: Would you be willing to participate?
MONICA: An interview? About what?
THOMAS: I’m just a freelance sound man. I’m here to record the stories of the people of Slumberland.
MONICA: But I’m not from Slumberland.
THOMAS: I don’t believe that. We are on Slumberland. You are here. Therefore you are a person of Slumberland.
MONICA: Look! For [POT BANGING SOUND] sake! Five minutes ago I wasn’t here. I was in fff- . . . I was in a place called the Ostium Network.
THOMAS: The. Ostium. Network?
MONICA: Yes. A place very different from here. Probably very, very far away too. And then I was just here.
THOMAS: How did you get here?
MONICA [sigh]: Through a door. I’m looking for someone.
MONICA: A man named Jake Fisher.
THOMAS: I have interviewed a number of people in Slumberland. I have not interviewed or come across anyone called Jake Fisher.
MONICA: You been doing this for a while?
THOMAS [heavy]: Yes.
He says the word like he’s been doing this for a very long time. Maybe years. Maybe centuries. What the hell is this place?
MONICA: Thank you, Thomas. For your time and help. Doesn’t sound like Jake’s here. I need to move on.
THOMAS: You could try calling him?
MONICA: With what?
THOMAS: My shellphone.
MONICA: You’re [POT BANGING SOUND] what?
THOMAS: My shellphone. It’s how we communicate with people on the island. Although you need to make sure you pay for the call.
MONICA: Or what?
THOMAS: Or the seagulls will come for you.
And that’s all I can [POT BANGING SOUND] take. I start running. As fast as I can. Away from him. I don’t look back. I keep going and count to fifty in my head. Putting as many trees and building between Thomas and me as I can. My breath is coming heavy now and I slow down, needing to catch it.
Then I finally look back.
Thomas is nowhere in sight. Okay. Good. Then I move on to my next thought.
How the fuck am I going to get off Slumberland?
Hey! Well, that’s something. At least I can fucking swear now.
Fuckitty-fuck-fuck! With a fucking cherry on top!
Okay. Now that I’ve got that out of my system . . . Let’s head on over to that lighthouse over there.
I jog over and it doesn’t take long. I can hear weird sounds and even weirder music from within. I don’t think I want to find out who it is or what’s going on, on the other side. I concentrate, close my eyes, turn the handle, and pull open the door . . .
The music and sounds are quieter now, muffled. I open my eyes and see the darkness I’ve seen so many goddamn times after opening a door. Before I can decide if I’m going to hear any banshees, I step through, closing the door behind me.