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Take Me Down the Rabbit Hole

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Dim, white light from my computer monitor illuminated my bedroom. With a flick of my stylus on my digital art tablet, my music turned up. I absolutely did not have that one old “Once Upon a Dream” cover by Lana del Rey on full blast, risking permanent hearing loss. Absolutely, totally not... 

All right, fine. Maybe just a little bit. You know what, though? It didn't really matter. It wasn't like I blasted music too often…, or at least enough to make my eardrums bleed on a consistent basis. Nobody else was home to begin with besides my pet cat. I wore headphones, so it wasn’t like anyone would be able to hear it. Besides, anything to keep me awake long enough to finish this.  

I mimized Spotify, bringing up the same dreaded Tododeku drawing WIP from before. Covering my mouth, I yawned. Rubbing my eyes with my opposite hand did nothing to stop the images on the screen from blurring together. Or what little was there. I could practically feel Todoroki and Izuku mocking me for my lack of progress through the screen...even if that was super OOC for both of them…and totally impossible.

My stylus slammed down on my desk. You know what? Fuck it. I needed to call it a night. It was super late, and I could always try to redo it tomorrow. Hopefully...

Something soft bumped against my leg, and I jumped. My eyes dropped. My pet black cat, Morgana, who I swear is like my daughter...well, my daughter who I named after a Persona 5 character, rubbed against the side of my leg. 

“Hey, Morgana,” I said, petting her back. The sides of my lip tugged up. “Don’t scare me like that. Okay?” 

Morgana pounced up onto my lap, curling up in it and purring. Wish it was so easy to shove the day away like that. To just curl up, all warm and soft, and sleep until the day is dead.

Discord dinged. I minimized Clip Studio Paint Pro with my mouse, and brought up Chrome, clicking on the Discord tab. 

Luna: Up to hang out rn

I blinked. Surprised people are still logged on, since it's super late. 

...Then again, Luna, if you want to go by her online username, lives in New Zealand (or as I call it, “The Future”, since that country is always one day ahead of us), and Sahar lives in England. The beauty of international online friends, I guess. 

Eh, talking with them for a little while wouldn’t hurt. While I might regret it in the morning, I can handle one day of work with little sleep. Did that enough during secondary school final weeks. If I was able to handle that, then one day was cakewalk. 

LordMaddy: Gimme a sec.  

Tapping my spacebar turned off my music. Clicking on the mic icon, and then the camera icon in my Discord chat, my friend’s faces popped up on the split screen. 

My eyes lit up. “Hey, guys.” 

“Hi,” Sahar said. 

“Hey, Addie,” said Luna. “How are things going?” 

“Good.” I grabbed a small, blue pebble off of my desk, twiddling it in my hand. “Just trying to get that Tododeku art piece done in time for my trade with West-of-the-Moon.” 

Luna leered, leaning forward on her desk. “Put it off again, because you were drawing that one spicy Giyu WIP like the simp you are?” 

I snickered. “Not this time. Just more that this WIP is being such a bitch. I can’t think of what exactly to draw. I tried to draw this a few times already, but either my proportions were off or it just looked horrible. Is it even possible to get artist’s block?” 

Sahar tapped her chin. “I’m more of a roleplayer and fic writer, but I think that’s a thing.” 

“I agree," Luna said. 

Twirling the pebble around in my hand, I groaned. “If that’s the case, I have it in spades. And then some.” 

God, this was a huge pain in the ass. That’s an understatement of the millennium. Okay, that last bit is melodramatic as hell, but still… I needed to find a way to finish it, and fast. 

The last thing I wanted was to repeat what happened last time. You know, procrastinating to the last second, and then sending your piece back a couple days later long after the other person sent you their work? Lazy-Gal chewed me out after that. Not that I blame her. That was pretty shitty of me. Not doing that again. No way in hell. 

“When’s the deadline for your trade?” Sahar asked. 

“This weekend.” 

“Did you try taking a couple days off of drawing, and doing it again later in the week? Find that works for uni assignments.” 

She had a point. Maybe I’m thinking way too hard about this. Some time off to think might do wonders. Found the same thing happened with my secondary school art class, so it could be the same here. 

“Might try that, and focus more on commissions.” A smile tugged on my lips. “Thanks, you guys.” 

Sahar sent it back to me. “No problem.” 

Luna smirked. “That way you have more time to complete that one Giyu WIP.”     

My brows drew together. “Not gonna let that die, are you?” 

“Nope.” 

My friends laughed as I rolled my eyes. 

“Enough about that,” I said, just wanting to change the subject. “What were you guys up to before?”

“Nothing much,” Luna said. “We were just talking about The Owl House.”  

“Oh, cool. I always wanted to watch that series, but never got around to it. Seems like a cool isekai from what I can tell.” 

“Not quite,” Luna said. “It’s made in the west, remember?” 

Got me there. I shrugged. “Eh, true.” 

“Luz is still alive when she enters the other world. I mean, is it really an isekai if Truck-kun never makes an appearance and runs the protagonist over?” 

Sahar laughed. “RIP us.” 

“Not necessarily,” I said, twirling the pebble in my hand. “I mean, Overlord, No Game No Life and The Rising of the Shield Hero are all isekai, and the leads of each of those animes were never run over by a truck.” 

Luna shrugged. “Good point.”

My eyes dropped to the bottom right corner of the screen, and the neon numbers said “2:57 A.M." Holy shit! It’s almost three A.M. already! 

“It’s super late here, and I have work tomorrow, so I probably should sign off.” 

Smirking, Luna placed her elbow on her desk, and rested her chin on her fist. “Preventing a mishap of falling asleep at the desk again?” 

I bristled. “That was one time!” 

“Sure it was.” 

Rolling my eyes, I said, “Night, you guys.” 

“Goodnight,” they both said.

Clicking on the phone icon, I disconnected from the chat, and turned off my camera. I tossed off my wireless gaming headset aside, and I leaned back in my office chair, staring up at my bedroom ceiling. 

Being whisked to another universe with my online friends? Wouldn’t that be awesome, even for a short while. Beats living in this clusterfuck of a world with Covid-19, global warming, bigoted assholes and everything else.

My phone vibrated, moving around on my desk. Huh. Must be a notification from Genshin Impact for that update tonight. 

Snatching it up, I pressed the finger lock at the back and the screen lit up. A square with lines through it rested on the top bar. 

A text message? Who the hell would be up texting me this time at night? Mom and Roy are in Kamloops, since mom has business to attend there, but I’m pretty damn sure that they’re sleeping right now. And even when they are awake, they always made a point to only text me when I’m up. (Okay, when I’m supposed to be up.) Laura’s probably fast asleep at her and her girlfriend’s place. I never had any “real life friends” for almost a couple years now, let alone ones that would text me this late. 

Tapping the top bar and sliding it down revealed the notification. 

Unknown: Ah, my dearly beloved lady. Noblest and loveliest of evil blooms. Truly, you could be the most beautiful of them all.

I blinked, staring down at the screen. The fuck? What the hell does that mean? 

...Okay. It probably means that I have budding potential like a flower in bloom...I think. But still, what sense does that make? Does it mean that I’m an evil mastermind in the making? That I’m secretly super evil? Sure, I’m not the biggest saint in the universe. I have my fair share of massive personality faults like anyone else. And I wasn't the best one during secondary school. But I wouldn’t consider myself the most evil person on the planet with the potential to become even worse like a person who tortures helpless children and kittens in the basement or some horrible shit like that. How did they even come to that conclusion? Do they know me? 

Why am I thinking about this? This was just made by a troll. Who else would send something so...random? 

My finger tapped the ellipsis at the top right corner of the phone, clicking on the delete conversation button. But instead of the message disappearing and taking me back to the contact page, it took me back to the place as before. The same message was right there. As if it was taunting me. 

My blood turned to ice. The hell? Why didn’t that do anything? It should’ve been deleted! 

Unknown: Come on. Show me your power.  

Continually tapping the ellipsis in the top corner did nothing. Come on. Come on. Why isn’t this working? Just delete already!

Unknown: Adriana Strano-García, as long as your heart desires, take the hand reflected in the mirror. 

Wind howled, and I turned my head towards the source of the sound. Swirls of green and black fire engulfed the reflection of my floor length closet mirror. When the fire dissipated, a white gloved, disembodied hand floated in the middle, a sinister green glow surrounding it. The hand turned towards me and opened up, as if it was beckoning me to take it.

What the hell? How the hell is that possible? Am I dreaming? That can't be it. I never fell asleep before. Is someone projecting a hand onto my bedroom mirror or something? Without a computer or phone nearby to do it with? 

In a flash of light, a green orb floated right in front of me. It flickered a few times. My muscles relaxed, a strange sense of calm washing over me. The entire world around me became silent and dark. There was nothing for me to focus on except on the light and the mirror. A tug on the back of my mind compelled me to go to the mirror and grab the hand. As if it was my life’s mission or something. 

I stood up, slipping my phone into my jeans pocket. My office chair squeaked, and Morgana leapt off of my lap. Floorboards creaked as I followed the strange floating orb towards the mirror, never once blinking or taking my eyes off of it. Once I stood in front of the mirror, I reached out, my fingers brushing the surface of it. 

Morgana nudged my leg, snapping me outta whatever the hell came over me. I yanked my hand back. No way. Not in a billion years! Whether it's some weird projection or I'm dreaming, there was no way in fucking hell I’m grabbing a strange, sinister floating hand in a mirror! 

The hand, along with the arm of a person wearing a black tux, phased through the mirror, the surface rippling like water. What the hell? How can he...? Well, not staying around to find out. 

I took off towards my bedroom door. Just as I was about to get away from that freakshow, the owner of the hand latched onto my ankle, swooping me down to the ground with a thud. Crossing my arms around my head cushioned the impact, preventing my head from smashing against the hardwood floor. 

The being dragged me backwards across the ground. Wiggling one foot free, I tried to donkey kick the bastard in the face. But they grabbed both of my ankles, holding them both in an iron grip. I also tried to roll over, and got the same result. 

My legs and lower torso phased through the mirror, entering the other side. It felt as if half of my body was still inside a swimming pool—the difference being that it was more like gelatin more than water. The thick, slimy kind.

I grabbed onto the sides of my bedroom mirror, clinging on for dear life. I tugged forward, kicking my legs, and they still wouldn't budge. Come on, come on! Let go! Just let go already! 

With one final hard yank, my grip on the sides of the mirror loosened, and the being dragged the rest of my body inside of the mirror. 

My world went black.