To make a sudden violent spasmodic audible expiration of breath through the nose and mouth especially as a reflex act
“A very common act all over the world. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes loud. In my case, it’s...well, it’s hard to explain.” He lifted the strange yellow and blue fruit, examining it carefully. “I read somewhere one time that all terrestrial tetrapods sneeze. Of course, then I had to look up the meaning of tetrapod. A vertebrate (as an amphibian, a bird, or a mammal) with two pairs of limbs.” He carefully pulled a piece of the peel away, casting a pleasant aroma around the room. “I can’t really say how many times in my life I’ve sneezed, it’s really hard to recall such an action that everyone considers minor. But...” He took a bite of the fruit, causing the juices to run down his hand. “But, I do remember every time I’ve sneezed since that one moment.”
The woman across the table seemed a bit puzzled, her natural green hair highlighting her lush purple skin. She was intrigued by the stranger, but his ramblings were a bit boring. She’d almost trampled him on her Tarkuor, lucky for him she’d already fed the large six legged beast. Draibwua hadn’t been to many other lands, but she was sure he wasn’t from any them. There was the added strangeness that she could understand him. “Yes, but what does this have to do with where you come from?” she asked, confused.
He took another bite of the intoxicatingly delicious fruit. “Well, it happened about two years ago.” He paused as if trying to count something, “Yes, almost two years ago. The divorce had just finalized and I had come over to my ex wife’s house to pick up the rest of my things.”
“What the hell do you want Paul?!” She was undoubtedly still quite pissed at him. “I told you to have one of your boys to pick your shit up!” She threw the duster, she’d been holding, at him. He didn’t move at all, knowing he deserved all the anger. That anger suddenly crossed into tiredness of all that had happened in the last year, her eyes started to water. “Why...why won’t you just leave me alone.” He started to say something “I...ah...ah...AH CHOO!”
He placed the fruit on the table “And then I...” His eyes widened “I...ah...ah...AH CHOO!” All that was left of him was the spittle on the green haired ladies shocked face.
Paul raised his head to take a look at the new place he travelled, his face brightened. “Sarah!” He rapped on the door loudly while yelling “Sarah! I’m back! Please, answer the door!” The slanted numbers beside the door ‘214’ and the rest of the place looked the exact same, then the door opened.
The favorite yellow and white dress, the long blond hair...the beard? “Woah...sorry, buddy. I’m, uh...I’m looking for Sarah?”
The voice was deep but feminine “I’m Sarah, whatsit to you? Don’t tell me, I got drunk again last night and you remember....” Then she noticed the stubble on the strange mans face. “Woah, who the hell are you? You’re not a woman!”
Paul sighed and shook his head “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Do you have any pepper I can borrow?” Sarah returned with a shaker full of pepper, not sure what to make of the strange request by the even stranger guy. Paul took a large whiff of the pepper “ah...ah...AH CHOO!” and was gone again.
The alley was dark and a bit damp, and smelled of rotten left overs. Paul leaned against the stone wall feeling exhausted, repeating “Please don’t be a freaky dimension. Please don’t be a freaky dimension. Please don’t be a freaky dimension.” A cough in the darkness startled him, but he soon saw that it was just a homeless man in a cardboard box. Making his way to the nearest street, he needed to find out if it would be safe to rest before he collapsed.
It didn’t seem very late, but the streets were completely deserted. The street lamps made the quietness see too ominous throughout what looked to be a shopping district, almost like a main street. The street sign at the corner read “Broughton Street”. Every business he passed was boarded up, which was typically not a good sign. A shiver ran down Paul’s back, he didn’t normally get bad feelings about things but something about this place was giving him the heebie-jeebies.
The sudden whisper from the darkness made him squeal “Hey you, get in here! Hurry!” Without even thinking, Paul ran for the doorway the whisper came from and was quickly pulled inside. The small store was filled with people, most of them huddled in a corner. No one made a sound, most of them probably even held their breath. Paul just stood there, waiting, not really phased. Sure, this was scary or him, but he’d seen some pretty crazy things in his travels. It could have been an hour or even just ten minutes when they guy by the door stood and sounded the all clear.
Paul walked over to the guy that looked like he was in charge “What was out there?” Everyone started whispering to each other as the man in at the door sized Paul up with a very confused look on his face “Are you from another planet are something? What do you mean ‘What was out there’?”
He’d been given this treatment a lot and found the only good solution was the amnesia approach “Sorry....I just..I don’t know what’s going on or where I am, I don’t even know who I am.” He was good at lying, or at least he thought he was up until his wife caught him in the lie.
The man offered his hand “I’m David, and those ‘things’ outside were the Night Owls. You don’t know how lucky you are right now.” He turned his attention to the group and went to go help some of the injured.
Now that there was a bit of candle light, Paul could see that they were in some kind of wig store. He turned his attention back to David “So, what exactly is a ‘Night Owl’?” The gasps from the crowd was almost too unnerving, like they were going to string him up for not knowing.
David froze in place for a moment. The blur of speed from the trained knife wielder was quite scary, but Paul had had his share of people act the same way through the last two years. He didn’t move at all, knowing he would probably get hurt more if he did. David looked furious “Who are you?! Did ‘They’ send you to capture us?”
Paul knew he was in trouble, just moments away from being killed most likely. He sighed “Fine, I’ll tell you everything, but you aren’t going to believe me.” So he told his tale as everyone sat in silence, wide-eyed. Though he did leave out a few of the stories, like the nympho assassin with the twin sister.
After about an hour of rambling about the different places he’d travelled, Paul noticed the shocked look on everyone’s faces. David rubbed the back of his neck and stood up “Wow, either you are a complete nut job or you are one of the best writers I’ve ever met. Here I thought you were going to tell us what city you were from. At first I thought you were a spy for them. Now...I’m not sure what you are.”
Paul sighed “Told you that you’d never believe me. I’d love to prove it to you and get out of this place, but I’m exhausted and I’m at least safe in here with you all...I think. What exactly are we hiding from again?”
David shook his head in disbelief “You...you seriously don’t know?” He sounded exhausted as well. “We’re hiding from..” All of the sudden the door slammed open and a group of young ladies entered the store. Everyone was too petrified to scream. Each girl had some kind of weapon pointed at the crowd, when the room was secured the woman in charge entered.
“Well, David, it has been a while hasn’t it?” The pig tailed lady wore the same uniform as all the other girls. Paul’s jaw dropped open in amazement “Seriously? We’re...we’re hiding from Girl Scouts?” He turned to look at David “Of all the places I’ve travelled, this has got to be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.”
David smirked “You’ll have to forgive the new guy, Sarah. He’s a bit of a loon, saying he comes from some other world.” He walked up to Sarah “Oh, forgot to tell you, Danni says ‘Hello’.” Sarah’s face turned to fury just before the loud popping sound of the taser went off. David hit the ground like a brick and seconds later the women served the same to everyone except Paul.
He was led outside by Sarah and her two guards while the rest of the people were collected and put in the back of a truck. Paul was finally able to get a good look at her face. He couldn’t believe his eyes “Sarah?! Sarah Bowman?!” She looked at him like she’d seen a ghost, no one outside the Den knew her real last name.
She pulled out her taser and approached Paul “Who the hell are you and how do you know my name?!” The two girls behind her looked just as confused as she did, not that Paul was surprised. But maybe this was his chance to stay safe from what they were going to do to the others. Paul held his hands up “I can explain...my wallet.” He went to reach for his wallet which he soon regretted. The guards took his wallet and put him in the backseat of Sarah’s vehicle.
Hours later Paul picked his throbbing head up off the table. The cabin smelled of summer camp, or maybe prison camp. “Where...where am I?” He looked around dazed. It was morning, or afternoon. His gaze fell on the other side of the table where he found Sarah sitting there patiently, redoing her pigtails.
“So, who are you and why do you have a picture of me in your wallet?” Her tone was straight forward, commanding and frightening, yet it was like she was just carrying on a simple conversation. Paul choked on his own words, stumbling for the right way to say it. “Well...you see, umm...We’re married!” Sarah’s eyebrow arched, asking the question quite bluntly. Paul answered “Well, we were. We...we got divorced a few years ago.” He wiped the sweat from his brow, this was much harder than he thought. This was the most danger he felt he’ been in in his entire life, and that was counting the two wars and the assassin’s sister.
Sarah finally tied off her pigtail with a puzzled look on her face. “I’ve never seen you before in my life, and you definitely aren’t my type. Though you say we divorced so I’m sure there was a good reason for it.” Paul looked away shyly, forcing himself to remember this wasn’t ‘his’ Sarah. Before he could respond Sarah spoke again “But, I guess I could always use another donor.” She said with a smirk. That look made Paul squirm, knowing this wasn’t good.
That’s when he felt his escape coming. Picking up his wallet, Paul looked Sarah in the eye “I’m sorry, Sarah.” She was taken aback by his change in tone. “Ah....Ah...AH CHOO!” She was even more surprised by the sudden disappearance of her prisoner.
Thankful to be away from the last dimension, Paul was beginning to feel the wear of travelling in such a way. He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to open his eyes to find out where he was. Right now all he wanted was Sarah. He wondered where it all went wrong. She had been his world at one time, but she didn’t want him in that world anymore. Somehow he knew he’d never see ‘his’ Sarah again.