Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used the following prompt: “Is this a joke?”
At some point I must've fallen asleep, because when Marisa jostled my arm, I almost jumped out of my skin. Not to mention the slightly embarrassing squeak I emitted. From still sleep-blurred eyes I gazed at her, only to discover pity edged in every line of her face. That woke me up in an instant.
Shane yawned and stretched in a way only puppies or small animals can—completely without regard to how deeply he pushed his paws into my thighs. I grunted and hefted him in my arms, then cast a quick glance out the car window. Total darkness greeted me.
Not the kind of semi-darkness city people claim to be twilight. No, this was real gloom. I shifted in my sea,t and dug my fingers into Shane's fur. He protested with a yip, and I forced my fingers to relax.
“Are we there?” I asked.
“Yes,” Marisa replied.
When she didn't continue, I turned my head toward her. She showed no inclination to explain anything, so I felt compelled to ask, “And now?”
“Now you get out of the car and step through the portal. A man named Silvion will receive you on the other side.”
I swallowed, then grabbed for my backpack's strap. Shane bounced from my lap to the small space between my feet, barking and wagging his tail. He pushed his forepaws against the cardoor, as if he wanted to say, “Come on! Come on, Gil, what are you waiting for?”
For a moment I heard his voice, the slight teasing tone of it. That would be just what Shane would say. He never hesitated, always went full force at anything and everything. It was one of his character traits that had been so endearing to me. The same characteristic had prevented me from asking him out for a date forever because I was nothing like him. Fortunately for me, one friend we had in common told him how much I liked him. Shane had laid eyes on me and decided I was it for him. I never disagreed with that sentiment.
I pushed the door handle and, as soon as the door opened a slit, Shane squeezed himself into it, growling when it didn't go fast enough.
“Hey,” I admonished, “don't run away, okay?”
Shane pressed against the door and shot me a long-suffering look. Reluctantly, I swung the door open and Shane whizzed out of the car. I stepped out, shouldered into my backpack, and hoped my eyes would adjust to the sudden dark around me.
“Shane?” I called out. I zipped up my jacket and walked a few steps. Gravel crunched underneath my shoes, and the air smelled fresh and clear. I called Shane's name again. This time he barked from somewhere to my left.
A car door slammed shut, and I whirled around to face Marisa. She accelerated and sped away, spraying small pebbles in every direction.
“Marisa!” I yelled. I ran after her car, but stumbled over... something... a moment later. Flailing my arms, I barely managed to keep upright. After finding my balance again, I laughed. “Is this a joke? This has to be a joke!”
No one agreed or disagreed with me as the taillights of Marisa's car vanished from sight.
I wrapped my arms around myself in an attempt to ward off some of the night's chill air when several clacks boomed. I whirled around, searching for the source of the noise, while my heart imitated the booming sounds.
A blinding light crackled to life only a short distance away from me. Shane sat in front of the brightly illuminated circle, his chest puffed out and his ears perked up.