He won’t stop watching me.
The empty room makes me feel like the subject of some test, white light bouncing off smooth white walls and floors that might be fake wood. Fake white wood. The room is square and empty except for me and the doors. Two for each wall. Normal doors. Basic doors.
My heels click against the floor as I cross to the door on the right. Now that I’m here, I can breathe a little easier. I can do this. The handle is the kind that sticks out to the side, resisting a little as I rest my hand on it. I push down.
“Are you sure that’s the right door?”
I whirl around at his voice, throbbing heart suddenly in my throat. He’s a black tuxedo with hands and a head and a serious face, standing in the middle of the room. His brown eyes are deep, meeting mine. I search for my voice.
“Ah- uh, Yeah.” Found it. “Logan’s behind this door.”
“Very well.” He gestures stiffly with one arm. “Go through.” He hasn’t stopped looking at me.
I push down the handle, stepping backward through the door, pulling it closed between me and him, then I turn to see the new room and he’s there, a pillar of black, staring at me. He nods at me.
“What? I…” My back presses on the door, my fingers seek the handle. “I just, you—”
“No. I mean—”
He nods again. “Wrong door.”
I count the doors without meaning to. Two for each wall.
“Are you here for your brother?”
Deep breaths. It’s fine. I’m fine.
“Yeah. Where is he?”
His finger twirls absently. His eyes make a quick circle on the ceiling. “He’s… here. He can see you.”
“Where is he? How did you—”
“Which door are you going to choose this time?”
I hate the idea of approaching him, of coming closer to those eyes, that distant hollow smile, and the fingers tapping against his leg one at a time. But I have to do this. I have to save Logan. And he’s this way, even if this man is in the way.
I push out a breath, brushing past the black-suited man.
“He’s this way.” This time I go left, opening the door to a flood of light that fades as I step through and I’m back in the same room. His eyes are on me.
My teeth cut down on the inside of my lower lip, and I try not to wince. The iron taste of blood seeps between my teeth.
“We’ll see about that.” I hurry past him, straight ahead, through the left door again. There’s no way…
The same room opens before me. I push forward. This time, it will be different. This is just some messed up experiment of a building, I don’t know why Logan would come here but I’m going to find him. I have to. He doesn’t belong here, he needs help—
Click, click, click, then I slam against the door, slamming the handle down and stumbling through the portal. Same room.
And he won’t stop looking at me.
I push forward again, accross the room through the same door. I see the other doors but I don’t go through them, I can’t because—
“Why don’t you try another door?”
“—Because that’s the way I came from! And he’s this way.”
I rush forward and my balance is off and my ankle doesn’t even try to hold me. I fall to the floor, already seething. Fingers tear at the thin leather straps, gripping the shoes with all the frustration and fear and hatred. I stand, bare feet against the smooth floor. He’s staring.
“Don’t let the pressure get to you.” The man says. But my back is already to him.
The left door again. It has to be this way. When my mind asks why, I have no answer.
I slam the door behind me. He’s standing in the center of the square, still looking at me, but his head is down. It’s a poor imitation of sorrow.
“I just talked to Logan.” His words drip with childish injury. “He doesn’t want to see you anymore.”
“You’re lying. There’s no way you talked to him!”
“You don’t know—”
One of my heels flies through the air, striking his shoulder and falling to the floor with a soft thud. He looks up now, and his eyes are sunset orange.
“Oh, he did not like that.” He steps closer, stiff and slow. “Your brother’s patience comes at a price. He walks a fine line. Careful, or he may fall on the wrong side.”
“What do you know about my brother?”
Another step. I don’t miss how his knee tries to buckle forward.
“It hurts your brother, too, you know. He doesn’t want it this way either. But he has no choice.”
“He… doesn’t see the danger.”
Another wobbling step and we’re mere feet apart. The light catches on the buttons of his coat, glints off the pocketwatch chain dangling from his pocket. This close, I smell the smoke tangled with heady pine. It’s like coming home.
“Your brother walks the line between wishing for life and wishing for… well...” The unsaid word hangs in the air. “Both sides of the line terrify him, and when you don’t even trust him to keep walking…”
“No… That’s not what I meant…”
He wraps me tightly in his arms. I don’t resist. Silk brushes smooth against my cheek.
“He sees you. He has never stopped seeing you.” The room blurs, spiderwebs of light blooming from each bright bulb.
“What do I do? I can’t go on like this.”
His breath shakes his frail body. I try to hold back, but my first sob shakes us both. He pulls me a little closer.
“Stop looking for ways out. Stop trying to close doors. Stay with me.”
The light grows brighter, and fear siezes my heart without warning. It’s too soon to say goodbye.
“Trust me, sister. And never let me go.”
My arms, hanging at my side, lift to embrace him. Then my hand catches the chain, pulling, lifting. The clock seems to float, metal shining with a cold glow, and I will it to stay—
Then, it falls.
The clock’s scream shatters the room.
The morning light falling through the window catches in my tears. In the distance, I hear an echo.
“Never let me go.”
Author Notes: I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep, so I wrote this at 4:00 am