How Milo had managed to join her at some point during the night was not, in her hazy state, a particular point of concern, rather, Marie had thrown an arm around the dog and used him as a somewhat squirmier replacement for her state-of-the-art sensor controlled heating pad, and hadn’t even minded when he licked her face a few times before settling in.
Now that she was awake, Marie tried to will herself to get out of bed and cleanup.
“Get up,” she growled quietly to herself.
“Now,” Marie added.
“Please,” said the wild woman from the doorway, where she stood with a small gathering of people ranging from a large woman in overalls to an elderly man in a very odd hat.
Marie sat up, surprised, and reflexively pulled the covers up to her chin. The four people standing in the doorway stared back at her, unmoved. The wild woman from the night before looked like she hadn’t bothered showering she they’d gotten in either, although she’d changed into a long skirt of some green gauzy material and a white sleeve-less shirt.
The other three were clean, but wearing the strangest combination of clothing imaginable. The large woman, who was built like an ox and was about as attractive, had a grandma cowboy look going on with a lace trimmed pastel pink shirt on under her no-nonsense overalls. A pair of oddly shaped glasses – somewhere between octagonal and nonagonal, but slightly curved as well – were perched on her surprisingly dainty nose.
The old man had a blindingly colorful pair of pants on that looked straight out of the nineties and a hat that looked like a bowler hat got into an argument with a hammer and a pair of scissors.
There was a fourth person in the doorway, a tall man dressed all in black, but mismatched and patched together, so one of his sleeves was a bluish black, and one was a graying black, and his torso, in comparison, was a true black.
Marie took all of this in, blinked, and, never having been woken by four disheveled looking strangers, promptly started to cry.
“Oh my god,” the man dressed all in black said with disgust, “this is the anomaly?”
“She’s been doing that since I found her,” replied the wild woman.
“God, that’s sad,” said the woman in the overalls.
“Shut up,” Marie sniffled.
“She talks!” the man in black cried sarcastically, clapping his hands together.
“Her name is Marie,” Marie replied, wiping her face on the ruined sleeve of her silk blouse. “Where the hell am I and who are you people? Take me back home, right now!”
Milo chose this moment to jump back onto the bed and snuggle himself into Marie’s side, grunting softly.
“You’re in the town of Perto-Roco,” the elderly man answered, moving forward and sitting on the edge of the bed. Marie scooted away from him and pulled her knees into her chest.
“Where is that, Florida?” Marie asked.
“Florida?” the woman in overalls asked, “Do we have Florida in our dimension?”
“Marie, tell me, what planet are you from?” asked the elderly man.
“That’s not funny,” Marie replied icily. “Tell me where we are. If this is a kidnapping, my dad will pay whatever you want. Just tell me where we are.”
“Marie, what’s the last thing you remember before you were in the forest?” the wild woman piped up.
“I was in the elevator at work,” Marie replied sullenly.
“And then what?” the wild woman probed, “A light flickered or flashed, the elevator opened, and dumped you out in the middle of the woods?”
Marie was silent.
“What if I told you that you were on another planet?” the wild woman continued.
“I’d tell you to go fuck yourself,” Marie spat.
“Atta girl,” the man in black chimed in.
The wild woman sighed and pinched her forehead with her fingers.
“Okay. Let’s approach this another way,” the woman in overalls piped up. “If you come with us, you can have a nice hot shower, a change of clothes, and a big lunch.”
“Is there alcohol at this lunch?” Marie asked.
“Seconded,” said the man in black. Marie caught his gaze and he smiled good-naturedly.
“As long as I’m here,” she sighed.
Word count – 12003