CHAPTER TWO (or maybe one)
A stampede of emotions charged through her. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Loneliness. But the feeling that overwhelmed all the others was confusion. And the desire to get answers.
“What do you mean ‘I died’’? she scoffed, her eyes pinned to the man in front of her. She was scared, terrified, really, but she made sure not a speck of it showed on her face.
“You need to tell me what’s going on right now!” she screamed, rising from her chair and planting her hands down on the desk, feeling her face betraying her attempt to not look terrified. Ben’s face didn’t change at all. He looked at her with eyes void of any emotion, as if he had just told her to get him a coffee.
“Please. Sit down, Carly. I know you must be feeling very overwhelmed right n-“. Before he could finish, there was a soft knock at the door. A timid, mousey voice came from behind it.
“Mr. Blanke, sir? I’m sorry to disturb you, but – “ she said, nervously. The shaking in her voice made only further intensified the fire of uneasiness that burned inside Carly’s chest.
“What is it, Margaret?” he said, seeming slightly annoyed. He gave Carly a look, raising one of his fingers as if to say ‘just a second’.
The door closed behind him and Carly could hear them whispering frantically. It was too quiet for her to make out anything substantial. All she heard were scattered, nonsensical words, disconnected from their original sentences.
“Problem. No, no, no. Doesn’t know. Never. Relax.”
The door opened and Carly whipped her head back around to face the desk, hoping he hadn’t seen her taking any interest in their conversation. He straightened out the collar of his suit and unfastened the gold button at the top as he returned to his chair.
“Sorry about that, Miss Whitmore. Receptionists. Can’t live with them, can’t-“ he stopped midway through his sentence, as if he could feel how much Carly didn’t care. She noticed there was something different in his voice now. It was subtle, but it was in the way he had said ‘Miss Whitmore’. It was more formal than before.
A loud dinging sound emerged from outside the room. Carly looked at the man as his face slightly shifted from a sloppily painted-on smile to an annoyed, yet more sincere smirk. His gaze was harsher somehow, more penetrating than it was before. Carly wondered what the receptionist had said to him. And couldn’t help but think there must’ve been some connection.
“Welcome, Miss Whitmore,” he said as he interlocked his fingers, resting them on the desk.
The door behind Carly swung open. Before she could even fully turn her head, two sets of hands had grabbed her arms. She was pulled up from her seat, her head desperately turning to try and make sense of what was happening. Ben Blanke was still sitting there, not moving a muscle as he watched her being pulled out of the room. She looked at him, and saw the return of what she had seen before in his face. She had originally thought it was anger.
But it wasn’t anger. He wasn’t mad.
It was fear. He was afraid.
Carly was swung her legs wildly, attempting to free herself of the tight grip she was locked in to. She felt her muscles becoming weaker and weaker and her wild kicks losing power. The little energy left in her body felt like it was being drained out. Her legs suddenly stopped after feeling a sharp prick of pain shoot through her left bicep and her body became heavy and limp. Her eyelids began to close, and she could feel herself slipping away from consciousness. Mustering every bit of strength she had left, she picked up her fallen head to see the man behind his desk once more.
Ben Blanke didn’t move a muscle as he said it, and that, along with the apathetic tone of his voice sent a chill down Carly’s neck.
“Welcome, Miss Whitmore. To Afterward.”