"No offense," I said, though I knew saying that alone would offend her. "But the 'Exit' sign is a little cheesy."
"I don't see how it's cheesy here and not in a movie theater," she argued, opening the door.
"Well...here it's supposed to be...not the real world," Gee said. "Right?"
"Wrong," she said. "Here it's supposed to be whatever it happens to be."
"Damn," I said. "That was even cheesier."
"Merely stating a fact," she said. "The best creations are the ones that create themselves."
"You're really fond of that Exit sign, aren't you?" I asked.
And to that she sincerely laughed. I have to say, hearing her laugh is like seeing a raindrop bounce. It's so amazing because it just. Doesn't. Happen.
"Yes. Yes I am," she said.
Then, for the first time I actually noticed the plane in front of me, and again, I didn't understand. It looked completely normal. Sort of. Short, Savannah grass, that slowly brightened to healthy green grass about one hundred yards away. There, between the two separate clusters of woods, was the clearing Gerard and I had woken only a day ago.
"Actually, less than a day, Frankie," Morgan said. "You woke here around two in the morning, then slept upstairs until around eight in the morning...now it's around ten. You didn't seriously think you were out for that long, did you?"
"I dunno, but I did think you'd get the fuck outta my head,"
"Wait...but it was daylight when we woke," Gee pointed out.
"Yeah," I said. "After the whole freaky no light trick, it was daylight."
"It never changes outside," she explained. "It's always as bright as day, without the glare of the sun."
"That's depressing," Gee said, as we started toward the clearing.
I giggled and let go of his hand in order to link our arms and hug him close.
"I really don't see the big deal," he said.
"It isn't a big deal here," she said. "Here you're safe. It's over there-" she pointed toward the clearing. "-that's dangerous to you."
Then I heard a soprano voice singing close by, but I couldn't see a singer. I just assumed we had finally encountered something strange, and the outside had some sort of freaky wind music magic or something.
Angel's wings why can't I see?
Who are you to run from me?
You will see that I can find,
A way to break your shredded mind,
Wait for me, oh Angel dear,
I will take your last tear,
"That's Emma," Morgan said. "She's...strange. Not dangerous, at least to you, or even technically crazy...just strange."
She led us to the left, into the field of paper flowers - Morgan so took that idea from Evanescence - and I saw her. The fucking woman in white.
She turned and immediately broke out into a smile when she saw us. I forgot my nervousness about finally legitimately meeting her when I saw her arms. They looked like they'd endured self-mutilation, and never healed; they still bled profusely.
I could tell Gee's gaze was on them, too.
"What is she talking about?" I asked, still eying her arms.
"What was that you were singing?" Morgan asked, looking concerned.
Emma's eyes narrowed. "I dedicate it to my neighbor. He's getting sick of the other songs."
"Ah..." Morgan looked around nervously, then turned to us. "Yeah- okay, happy? See, building-ish-things, a stage that's never been used - it's fascinating. Let's go."
Ah...so there was a stage. Across from the tiny-festival-clown-box-like-things, which had hidden it from me before, there was a small wooden stage. Actually, the entire building set up reminded me of a miniature, abandoned festival.
"No," Gee said. "We still haven't seen any devils."
"The point of you coming with me was so that you wouldn't see any 'devils,'" Morgan said.
"I need to know why this place is so dangerous," he said, though I knew it was more of a need to know why he should believe her.
"I can take you to the lake, but after that we need to go back,"
Gee smiled triumphantly as she headed toward the wide path on the opposite side of the U-shaped forest. In the middle of the path, she stopped and veered off to the left. The lake immediately caught our attention.
For me, because I'd also seen it in a dream. For Gee, simply because of its color.
"It's black," he said.
"I see all those years of art school paid off," Morgan said.
Without really thinking, I bent down and put my hand in the water and studied the drops that remained on my hand once I took it out.
"Frankie, don't do that!" Gee said.
"Yeah, that's not really smart. I mean, not dangerous...but still not smart,"
"It's red," I stated.
"Good job," Morgan said. "Now that you've both passed the identifying colors portion of the test, let's go."
"Mermaids?" Gee asked.
"God, you have A.D.D.," she muttered.
A grunt from behind interrupted us.
"Here we go," Morgan said.
Only about four yards away, stood a creature...something I hadn't seen in my dreams before. It looked at least nine feet tall, it had short brown hair all over its insanely muscular body, which looked like a cross between a man and a bear...and the strangest thing, it had no face. It had a head, just no face. Only hair...or fur.
It grunted again, then reached around to the back of its head...and with a crack, the creature pulled it off.
"Holy fuck," I whispered.
The severed flesh seemed to move, and what looked like legs spread out to its sides. Then the creature hurled it at us.
I cried out, but before the part of the head could reach us, it caught fire, and exploded. The creature grunted again, turned his back on us, and walked away.
A couple of moments passed in silence as the shock subsided. I tried to ask Morgan what just happened, but I couldn't figure out what to say.
"You believe me now, Gerard?" she asked, smirking.
He kept staring for a moment at where the head had exploded, then nodded.
"Let's go," Morgan said.
We followed her, now without reluctance.