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Through the Storm

Through the Storm

By: James G. Boswell

The injured woman awoke upside down. Her head throbbed, and a warm liquid ran down her face. She felt a dull pain on the side of her temple and touched the spot. It stung, and she jerked her hand away, cringing. She looked at her fingers and saw them covered in blood.

Disoriented, she looked through the smashed windshield and saw that it was dark outside. Rain pelted the car’s underbelly with an uneven, metallic rhythm. Water flowed inside through the broken driver’s side window, forming a puddle on the roof.

Something cut into her abdomen as she struggled to move. She put her hand there and felt the polyester fabric of her seatbelt taut against her skin. She found the buckle and unlatched it, falling headfirst into the puddle. Water soaked her hair and clothes as she crawled out into the rain. Lightning flashed in the distance, followed by a booming thunderclap.

She found herself inside a dark forest. A narrow, muddy road extended into the darkness in both directions. She tried to recall the events that had led her there but couldn’t. She realized she didn’t remember her name, where she lived, or where she was.

Then, she noticed a single light off in the distance through the woods. As she began moving toward it, the pain in her skull intensified. She cried out as she fell to her knees, clenching her eyes shut.

When she opened them, the road, trees, and rain were gone. She floated in a dark void with no sound and no light. She heard and saw nothing. Yet, she somehow sensed that something was moving closer to her through the emptiness. Something massive and intelligent. It knew she was there, and it was coming for her.

She tried to scream, but her voice made no sound. She tried to get away but was unable to move. All she could do was wait for the horrible thing as it approached. Pain shot through her head once more, and she shut her eyes in agony.

Opening them, she found herself back in the woods on the side of the road, standing in the pouring rain. “What’s happening to me?” she said.

Her feet splashed through the slimy mud as she trudged deeper into the forest, heading towards the light. After several minutes, she realized that it came from the window of a building. She ran toward it in excitement and desperation.

Coming closer, she saw that the building looked like several large, white cubes fused together in an ascending pattern. Its bizarre shape stood out against the backdrop of the woods surrounding it.

Next to the building was a white, cube-shaped garage. Its door was open, revealing a four-door sedan inside. Beside it was an empty space large enough to fit another car.

The injured woman spied a metal door on the side of the building. She began pounding on it, saying, “Hello? Is anyone home? I need help!” Several moments passed, but nobody answered. She shivered as rain continued pouring down upon her.

Then she heard a loud click, and the door opened with a whining creak. There, in the doorway, stood a peculiar woman who appeared both young and old at once. She wore a faded pink night robe and slippers and had bags under her eyes. When she saw who was knocking on her door, her eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped in surprise.

The peculiar woman stared at her for several moments, looking her up and down. Her eyes rested on her visitor’s head wound. Then, she beckoned her inside, saying, “Oh my goodness. What happened?”

“I was in a car accident. Do you have a phone I can use?”

“You poor thing. I know these roads can be dangerous all the way out here, especially on a night like this. Follow me.”

The injured woman walked behind her down a white-tiled, white-walled hallway. Bright fluorescent lights hung overhead.

They entered a room that also had white walls and floors. Inside it was a white upholstered sofa and chair next to a metal table. Metal shelves filled with textbooks with white bindings lined the walls.

“Have a seat here and rest, my dear,” the peculiar woman said, indicating the sofa. “I’ll go call an ambulance.”

“Thank you,” the injured woman said, sitting down. “I really appreciate your help.”

“Think nothing of it. It’s the least I could do.”

The injured woman plopped into the sofa and she breathed a sigh of relief. Several minutes passed as she waited, and her eyes wandered to the textbooks. Then she walked over and opened one.

The pages contained complex formulas with esoteric symbols and geometric diagrams. None of it made any sense to her. The paper as brown and brittle, and it appeared to be much older than the binding. It was as if someone had removed an old volume from its original binding and rebound it.

The peculiar woman returned carrying a cup of tea in one hand and a first aid kit in the other. She also carried several white towels under her arm. After setting the tea down on the table, she held the towels out to her visitor.

“Dry yourself off, sweetie, and I’ll bandage you up. Then you can enjoy some hot tea until the ambulance comes.”

“Thank you so much. You saved my life!”

“Think nothing of it, dear.”

A few minutes later, the injured woman sat on the sofa, wrapped in towels and sipping her tea. She ran her fingers over the fresh bandage on her head. The peculiar woman said, “Oh, don’t touch it, dear. You have to give the wound a chance to heal.”

The injured woman started to respond but found herself unable to move her jaw. A deep sense of fatigue overwhelmed her. The teacup slipped from her grasp, shattering on the floor as she slumped down into the sofa. With her last bit of strength, she moved her eyes to look up at the peculiar woman who stood over her smiling. Then, she blacked out.


“Julia?” said a voice. “Julia, it’s time to wake up.”

Julia, the injured woman, opened her eyes. She looked around, finding herself in another all-white room. It was bare except for the chair in which she sat and a metal table next to her. Upon the table was a textbook with a white binding.

Her head throbbed, and pain arced across her skull. She tried to move but found her arms and legs restrained by leather straps secured with padlocks. Panic arose within her. She tried to scream but found herself gagged with a white towel tied around her face. The peculiar woman stepped out from behind her, smiling.

“You poor thing,” the peculiar woman said. “You almost got away. I didn’t even know you’d left.”

Julia gave her a frightened, questioning look.

“I admit, I had a hard time figuring out how you escaped, but then I found this on the floor.” She held up a paperclip, twisted and bent in several directions. “You must’ve had it in your pocket when you first came in. I suppose those men I hired to bring me fresh specimens failed to search you. I’ll have a talk with them about that.”

Julia looked at the paperclip with despair and confusion. A memory flashed in her mind of her inserting it into the padlocks on the straps. Then it was gone.

“Oh yes, dear. You were here before. After you escaped your bonds, you must’ve found the car keys and snuck into the garage. I imagine you were quite eager to get far away from here as fast as possible. Too eager, apparently, as you wrecked your car, well, my car.”

Tears welled up in Julia’s eyes as she shook her head in disbelief.

“You don’t remember, do you?” the peculiar woman said, her grin widening. “You must’ve received quite a nasty bump on your head. Thank goodness you didn’t suffer any brain damage!” Then she leaned back and let out a loud, witch-like cackle. Julia looked at her, petrified.

“Anyway,” the peculiar woman said, turning around to grab the book off of the nearby table. “We must continue our work.” Then she opened it and began reciting a chant that sounded like nonsensical gibberish. She repeated it over and over again until her voice began to strain and crack.

Julia closed her eyes and found herself plunged back into the empty void where she was before. She sensed that the presence there was approaching fast. As it drew near, she knew that now there was no escape.

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