Demi awakens to find herself in an even stranger situation than before she passed out, and that’s saying something! She explores her surroundings, only to come across a mysterious stranger. Meanwhile, Atiyah demands to know what’s happened to her friend, as Basir struggles to undo the damage that’s been done.
Episode Two: The Cosmic Misplacement of Demeter Diaz
[We hear a thud and a shaking sound]
Hmm? What was that?
My room shook for only a second. At first I thought--
Earthquake? No, couldn't be...
It felt strange. It had to be something else! And what's taking Demi so long? We still have to work on our project! I jump up and go out into the hallway to look for her. The bathroom is totally empty. Hmm. Maybe she went to the other bathroom? I go downstairs, pausing when I hear Jaddi arguing with someone.
What were you THINKING!? You useless creature! Why do I permit you to live?
It's so weird. Jaddi never raises his voice like this. He's always so gentle and warm. I tiptoe down quietly and sneak around, following his voice. I find him down in the basement. From the top of the steps, I can see him railing at Mikael.
Cursed monster. You've doomed us all!
Jaddi slaps Mikael, who slumps over in shame.
I feel tears stinging my eyes.
I run down the steps, running between the two of them and shielding Mikael.
What are you doing!? This isn't like you at all! You'd never hit anyone! Ever! What's gotten into you?
How could you be so mean? This isn't right! Why are you being like this? Answer me, Jaddi! Why?
I feel a gentle hand on my shoulder.
Please, miss Atiyah. It's my own fault. The Master's anger is rightly directed at me.
Y-you can talk!
Mikael bows to me.
Enough! Your insincere apologies will never repair the damage you've done.
What do you mean? Just because he never talked to us before? What's the big deal--?
[firm] No! [sighs, then more gently to Atiyah] My dear Atiyah, I am so sorry. Because of Mikael's carelessness, no, his defiance! He directly disobeyed me!
Mikael winces as if Jaddi had just hit him again.
Because of him... your friend Demi is gone.
I stand there for a second, not sure what to say. I'm so confused. Did Mikael say something rude to Demi and scare her off? But why wouldn't Demi just tell me?
Well... I'm sure it'll be okay. I'll talk it out with her when I see her at school tomorrow and—
No, Atiyah. I'm afraid... you may never see your friend again. For all we know, she's already dead.
I wake up with a ringing in my ears and bright spots in my eyes. Geez, when did it get so hot in here? It's sweltering! I sit up, holding my head and trying to blink until I can see clearly again. A cool breeze blows by, much to my relief.
Why is there a breeze indoors?
[her inhale turns into a full out gasp]
I look around me and find myself in the middle of a friggin' DESERT. What the hell is going on here? How did I get from Atiyah's rich people house to a DESERT? Where am I? Where's this desert, for that matter? There's no desert anywhere near the city!
This can't be happening.
I grab my head and try to remember anything before this moment. Something about some weird glowing orbs... That supposedly mute pretty boy talking to me... Sneaking inside the Basilah family cellar... Oh god. Oh no. I scramble to my feet.
How much did I have to drink?
I waver a little on my feet, but regain my balance. That's odd. I don't feel hungover. And I'm not a huge drinker in the first place, so I can't imagine I got smashed in a stranger's basement, especially without their permission. None of this makes any sense. Unless...
I'm dreaming... Hah! I must be dreaming. Of course.
Yeah. It has to be. That's the only explanation that makes any sense. I was lying in Atiyah's room, exhausted and bored. I probably dozed off while she was talking about that “Piranha” monster and dreamed all of this!
Way to be hamfisted with your commentary, subconscious. My life is an emotional desert. Har, har, har.
I dust myself off and start walking. I don't know where, it just seems like the only thing to do. But the more I think about it, the weirder this all seems. If I'm dreaming, how do I know I'm dreaming? I'm never aware of my dreams while I'm still dreaming them? Ugh, I'm making my own head hurt. For that matter, I've never had a dream where the sun is this hot or the air this humid. I'm sweating through my clothes, and I'm so sticky and thirsty, I can hardly breathe. Nothing about this feels like a dream. I realize I'm still carrying my purse and fish out my cellphone.
No service? Typical.
The longer I ponder my situation, the more I start to worry I'm not asleep. To my relief, I see some buildings up ahead. Maybe someone has a phone I can borrow. Worst case scenario, I can use a payphone. Do payphones still even exist? Whatever. I start into a sprint, desperate to get back to civilization. But the blazing heat and my increasingly dry mouth and throat slow me down into a jog. Something's not right... As I draw closer to the buildings, I realize they're all distinctly... old-looking. And I don't mean old as in they look like they were built in the 70s and never updated. I mean REALLY old. Like out of another century, old! I slow down as I arrive, and finally stop.
Where... the hell... am I?
[The hustle and bustle of people.]
There's vendors selling dried goods and jewelry on the street. Everyone's dressed like something out of a mid-east history book... I know this sounds crazy, but my question is starting to become WHEN am I?
E-excuse me? I'm sorry.
[Annoyedly blows her off in another language]
Riiight... uh... ma'am! Please?
[Screams, panics and moves away]
W-wait, I'm not going to hurt you or your kids! I'm just lost!
They all panic or grow angry at the sight of me. Is it because I'm dressed differently? Because I'm fairer skinned than most everyone here? Wow, that's weird. I've suffered plenty of discrimination in my life as a woman of color. But now, I'm the white-looking one by comparison? THAT'S a surreal feeling. I'm sure the language barrier isn't doing me any favors either.
Look, I just need to get home, please. Does... anyone here speak English? No? Spanish then? Tengo que usar un telefono, porfavor. Estoy perdida.
I really need to practice my Spanish. That was so godawful, I wouldn't be surprised if no one's responding because they can't make out my accent.
Please... somebody... anybody...
I feel my whole body start to shake. I'm lost, alone, in a place where no one can understand me. My shoes are filled with scratchy, uncomfortable sand, the sun is starting to make me feel faint. I need water... I can't breathe... No, I can't panic! I can't! I can figure this out. I just have to THINK. I pull out my cellphone again. Still no service. Well, maybe I just have to find some reception so I can call a cab or something. Yeah. It'll be fine. I can do this.
I hold my phone up and start wandering around, looking for even a single bar. Everyone's keeping their distance from me, and out of the corner of my eye, I think I spot a couple people give up a prayer of some sort. Whatever. I ignore them and go about my business. I start to wander close to the edge of town, but still nothing. How is this even possible?
Que voy hacer?
Lo que conviene, senora.
I jump, startled, and whirl around. It's one of the townspeople, but he's different. His clothes are the same style as everyone else's, except finer, more ornate. I assume he must be wealthy. What's more, his features are different too. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the innocent looking freckles above his nose, or the lighter shade of his hair. His facial structure isn't the same either, but I can't quite place his ethnicity. He's certainly tall, and decently good looking too, I'll give him that. I feel myself flush, but I'm sure it's more because my brain is cooking in this inhumane heat. But there's something about his eyes, especially. I squint, trying to get a better look through my increasingly hazy vision. What is it about them...?
[clears his throat]
I'm startled again by his pointed throat clear. I must have been staring.
You... understand me...?
I realize I've accidentally reverted back to English, even though he spoke to me in Spanish. He regards me oddly. I begin to say something in Spanish instead, but he speaks first.
Of course. In whichever language is your pleasure, my dear.
Oh THANK YOU! I was starting to lose it. Please, I'm completely lost and I'm not feeling too good, I think I might be getting heatstroke. I need help, but no one else can understand me—
Be calm, please.
He pulls a waterskin off his belt and offers it to me. Now normally I'm a lot more cautious when it comes to strangers. I never, ever take a drink from someone I don't know. Hell, I won't even finish my own drink if I've taken my eyes off it for a moment. That's how paranoid I can be about these things. But considering my situation, I'm willing to take any risk if it means quenching my thirst and soothing my raw throat. I grab the waterskin and tear the top off. I know I should take small sips to prevent my body from going into shock, but I have no restraint left in me. I chug down as much as I can until I choke. The water is so cool and soothing. It's the best feeling in the world. Never has water tasted so sweet.
[sighs, relief] Thank you.
I hand him back his waterskin.
Not to worry, Miss...?
I'm sorry, I like drank it all and I haven't even introduced myself. I'm Demi.
Charmed. I'm Jayden.
I take a few moments just to breathe, significantly relieved, even in this scorching heat. I'm starting to feel nauseous, though. The last thing I want is to start throwing up all over myself.
Please, you look as if you need to get out of the sun. You're welcome to rest a while in my home.
Prince friggin charming. Take me, I'm yours.
Demi: [slightly breathy]
Right this way, then.
He offers his elbow to me. This guy may seem more normal, but even he has this old-world feel about him. Did I accidentally wander into a renfaire or something? Still, he's the only hope I've got right now. I'm not going to last much longer out here on my own. I take his arm and follow. As we go on our way, I glance back at the village behind me. When just moments ago it had been bustling with activity, it now looks like a ghost town. Not a single person can be seen, as if they all vanished, or at least ran inside in a hurry. Most disturbing of all is that I didn't even notice it happen.
Dead? What do you mean “dead”!?
She's fallen through the barrier, to the other world. I can't imagine she'll last long out there, knowing as little about Otherfolk as she does.
What are you saying? Otherworld? Otherfolk?
Isn't it possible for you to recall her? You have the ability—
Did I give you permission to speak!?
[sighs] I am going to recall her. I simply want you to be prepared. What comes back, if anything comes back, may be unrecognizable...
Then what are you waiting for!? Recall her! Recall her now! If she's really in so much danger, then every second is precious!
Mikael. If anything else comes through, you take Atiyah as far from here as you can. Understood?
Yes, Master. Of course.
Mikael gently but firmly wraps his arms around me. Weirdly, I realized Mikael had never touched me before.
Huh? What do you mean “anything else”? Will someone please explain what's going on?
Ms Atiyah, please. The Master needs to concentrate.
I watch as Jaddi faces the far wall and raises his flat palms in front of him.
Let it be done... [he hums, deep and low]
The wall begins to waver, like it was made of liquid or electricity, not concrete and stone. Sparks shoot out and I can see it. A tear in the waves of energy. A hole in the barrier.
How did we end up in such a swampy place? I thought we were in the desert.
Do they not have varied terrain where you're from, traveler?
Hmm. I guess that's a good point. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'll take the mud and the trees over the scratchy sand and burning sun. Swamp gas and all! You're a ways away from town, aren't you?
You don't say. Well, here we are.
I push back some overhanging branches and moss to clear my line of sight. It's another squarish stone house. Although this one is significantly larger and has some impressive lattice work, as well as actual shutters instead of just cloth over the windows.
Ah... I suppose?
He doesn't seem to understand my slang either.
Go on inside. There's a chaise you can rest on in the back.
Thanks. Seriously. You're a life saver.
He opens the door for me and I hurry in. Immediately I'm disappointed at the lack of air conditioning, but even so, it's cooler than outside. I take a deep breath—
[coughs] Ugh... Did something die in here?
The hint of rot hangs in the air. I look around. This room is empty, so I walk into the next one, seeking the source of that awful stench. A table sits in the middle of this room, with a bowl of fruit so far gone, it resembles fuzzy melted gelatin. Flies are buzzing everywhere. I wave a few away from my face, moving closer to inspect the former fruit in morbid curiosity.
Something doesn't add up here. Why would such a rich, clean-cut guy such as him leave a bowl of fruit to rot in his house like this? These had clearly been sitting in their own juices for a long time. Still, another scent bothers me. The fruit may have that pungent smell of decay and alcohol, but it isn't that putrid acridness I'd sensed at the entrance... I look around at the sparse furnishings. On the other side of the room, a woven blanket hangs over an entryway. It's moving ever so slightly, but there's no breeze in this house. The stench hangs in the still and stifling air. I move towards the blanket, curious as to what could be moving it. Slowly, I pull it back and—
[Buzzing of flies and bugs]
I cover my face as a swarm of flies and who knows what else comes swarming out of the next room.
[buzzing fades away]
I dare to look up, and peek behind the cloth. The putrid stench hits me like a blow to the stomach. I cover my mouth with my shirt, my stomach churning.
[coughs and groans]
I can't take this for very long, so I look around immediately, searching... and there, at my feet, is a pile of bones and skin, the flesh stripped away in chunks, as if by tremendous teeth and claws. And in the corner I can see the skulls, as if there was any doubt from the rib cages alone, I can plainly see... they're human. I jump back into the previous room.
[gasps. Then chokes] Ah...ahhh...
Oh stars. He's insane. He's going to kill me. Just like he killed the previous owners of this house. No! Nononono!
I hear the popping and cracking of bones and joints. I whirl around. Jayden stands in the doorway, his eyes sunken and dark, as a sadistic smile spreads across his lips, revealing teeth that look too sharp, too numerous. His limbs twist unnaturally, his entire body bending in a way that shouldn't be possible. His clothes shred and fall away. I open my mouth to scream, but no sound comes out in my terror. Suddenly it isn't a man standing before me. It's that thing. That grotesque monster from Atiyah's bestiary.
I run, but he charges at me. I feel his claws tear through my clothes, leaving deep gashes in my back. I stumble, running into the table and sending it to the ground. I fall with it, tumbling and sliding to a halt. My purse flies out in front of me, its contents spilling out. I look behind me, my heart pounding painfully in my chest. The monster perches on the overturned table. I could almost swear he's smiling as he licks his lips and gnashes his teeth.
[Jayden makes a monstrous sound, almost like a laugh.]
I don't dare move. The moment I try, I know he'll leap on top of me, and it'll be all over. He could disembowel me with one flick of his wrist. My throat is tight. If I dared move, I'd curl up and sob in fear. I look back at my purse and all my things that burst out of it. This is all that will remain of me. In this unknown, faraway place, where no one will know my name. This is all they will ever find. My keys. My wallet. Some spare change. A tube of lip-gloss I never used. Some receipts I forgot to throw away. That stupid talisman Atiyah gave.
And suddenly, I remember—
Many Otherfolk have been sealed inside mystical items, enslaved, or even slain! All because a person discovered their true name... You know, right before I met you, I had a dream about a Rakshasa. He called out to me and I could hear his true name in my heart. [end flashback]
It's out of my reach. I'll never make it in time. I look back at the monster. He's beginning to growl, surely he's growing impatient and bored of playing with his food. I swallow hard and take a deep breath to steel my courage. It's the only chance I have. Inconspicuously as I can, I place my hands under my chest, ready to push myself forward. I hear the monster behind me. He must have seen! No time left! I leap forward and reach out to grab the talisman, rolling onto my back as the monster comes down on top of me, I thrust the trinket out.
In a burst of light, Demi is there, in front of Jaddi. But she isn't alone. She's returned, asleep in the arms of a strange man, with innocent looking freckles over his nose.
Demi Diaz: Lucia Lobosvilla
Atiyah Basilah: Victoria McMullen
Jayden: Nick Eriken
Mikael: Dalton Broback
Basir Basilah: Will Sherron
Wahid Basilah: Joel Williams
Ithnanie Basilah: Ryan Hoyle
Thalata Basilah: Kory Showman
Arebah Basilah: Nick Eriksen
Hemsah Basilah: Señor Pacman
Sittah Basilah: Señor Pacman
Seba Basilah: Lucia Lobosvilla
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com
Rebe García (892art.tumblr.com
Written and Mixed by Lucia Lobosvilla
all rights reserved