Fight Back

Extra content for Penelope’s Paths

Not wanting to risk a failure of Siri and a low battery, and feeling like every minute counts, I decide it’s now or never. But Craig’s position in a chair? Would I be able to do anything?
Suddenly, he gets up and heads to the kitchen. It’s like he’d somehow heard my thoughts. He picks up the skillet and locks it away in the cabinet.
As if something has snapped in me, I charge Craig, running and screaming at the top of my lungs.
Clearly, I’ve caught him off guard because he just looks at me with wide eyes.
With as much force as I can gather, I thrust my knee into his groin. He slumps over with an “Ooof! Shit!”
I draw my foot back and ready myself to kick him again as hard as I can.
But he sees my foot coming. He grabs my ankle and shoves my foot upward, causing me to fall to my butt with a painful crash.
I scramble to my feet, trying to remember what other moves I’d planned on using, but Craig pulls back his hand and it flies at my face almost as if in slow motion.
I fall back, my head whacking with an ominous thud on the hard log wall. I feel myself slink to the floor and everything feels… weird. Like the walls and floor are moving.
“Look what you made me do, Penelope!” His voice is filled with anguish and anger.
I try to fight and to hold on to consciousness and figure out what he’s talking about. Surprisingly, I feel almost fine.
“C’mon. Don’t do this!” I suddenly hear Craig’s voice with alarming clarity, my head apparently clearing of the fog I felt only moments ago. “No! You can’t do this! Everything was perfect!” he rants.
Oddly, I can’t understand who he’s talking to. He’s crouched on the floor where I’d just been.
Just been? 
Someone’s legs are extending to his right, the top half of the person is in his lap.
Carefully, I walk up to the pair and with the utmost disorientation, I look down and can’t catch my breath when I see…when I see me in his lap. My eyes wide, my mouth agape…like I’m… like I’m dead!
I step over…me…or someone who looks a lot like me—how she got there I have no idea—and crouch down to look at…my doppelgänger…this whole moment beyond surreal.
Had Craig drugged me again? Nothing is making sense.
Suddenly, I hear the sound of a woman crying. It’s a familiar sound.
I walk toward it, just outside the front door.
Looking over my shoulder, I still see Craig rocking with the person who looks an awful lot like me. As he’s not paying any attention to me, I try the front door knob which turns easily!
My body charges with electricity as I realize I can now escape!
I open the door and am suddenly in…Shannon’s home? Nate is crouched next to her. And Shannon is in Laura’s arms.
Wildly confused, I step in and rush up to my friends. I’m alarmed to see Laura looking so panicked. Calm-cool-and-collected-with-the-answer-for-everything-Laura looks…lost.
“Guys. I’ve never been so relieved to see anyone ever!” I say, filled with relief.
“They have to find her, Laura. They have to. It’s been eight days! Why did we let her go hiking with a total stranger?”
“Shan, we couldn’t have seen this coming.”
“But we should have insisted on meeting him.”
“Guys. I’m right here. I’m fine. Well, I mean, I could be better. I’m starving, wait…no I’m not. I’m not hungry at all,” I realize.
“We don’t even know if she’s with him,” Laura tries.
“They rangers say there aren’t any bodies in the park, so where could she be? Huh? He kidnapped her! I’m sure of it! Call it mother’s intuition!”
I peer into Shannon’s face which is tear-streaked and she’s completely hysterical.
“You need to take these,” her husband says quietly. “The doctor insists,” he continues.
What in the actual fuck is going on here? I wonder.
“Guys!” I shout, almost hurting my own ears.
Laura and Shannon, even Nate look shocked.
“Did you hear that?” Shannon asks.
She unfolds herself from the sofa and pads to the front door yanking the door open. She runs outside and I’m right at her side looking with her. For what? She’s looking up and down the street.
“Penelope!?” she yells, trepidation and hope in her shout.
“What?” I ask, wondering what in Sam Hell is going on.
Mystified, Shannon walks back into the house leaving the door wide open and says, “I would swear I heard her…?”
Shannon’s husband is there with the glass of water and pills. He forces them onto her and settles Shannon on the sofa before he turns to Laura and says, “I’ll be right back.”
Laura just stands in the room and it looks like she’s about to fall apart.
What is going on??
I rush over to her and wrap my arms around her, then say as soothingly as possible, “I’m here. It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.”
Laura doesn’t wrap her arms around me, rather she shivers.
“Penn?” she whispers.
I pull back to tell her “Yes! It’s me!” but the tears quickly fill her eyes and then run down her face.
“Are… Are you here?” she asks with a strangled whisper.
I smile and sigh with relief. “Yes. I’m right here.” But Laura isn’t looking at me. She’s looking all around, but not seeing me.
Something starts to settle in my thoughts.
My belly cold—well, all of me feels cold— I walk over to the giant mirror I’d found for over Shannon’s fireplace. I look in the mirror and see…me, but also I don’t. I see me, but also the room behind me. Through me.
However in what I can make out from my image, I see the whole side of my head, the side that has this nagging headache, and it’s not pretty. I want to touch my head but I raise my hand to the mirror to touch the dark matted mess and my hand goes into the mirror. Just dissolves right into the glass.
I gasp and pull my hand back, completely in tact.
Out of nowhere, I hear my mother’s voice.
I walk toward the voice that seems to be coming from Shannon’s kitchen.
As I step through the doorway I’m alarmed to see Shannon’s contemporary kitchen (designed by me) is now a French Provincial kitchen. In fact, it’s exactly like mine. I look at the fridge and see my own collection of photos stuck to the front with my favorite magnets.
I turn in a slow bewildered circle.
This is my kitchen.
“Penelope?” my mother’s voice calls again, hope in her voice.
I rush to the front room and see that she’s just stepped into the room with her suitcase at her side and the set of keys I gave her clutched in her hand. She looks so frail. The last time she looked so unwell was when my father died four years ago from a massive heart attack.
“Mom?” I try, my voice sounding so distant. I wrap my arms around her, taking in her lavender scent.
Instantly, she starts to cry and slumps into a puddle on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
At this point, I know in my heart the ultimate truth.
I’m not here. Not really.
When Craig slapped me with the force of a giant grizzly bear, and I hit the wall, I really hit the wall. I don’t have a headache. My head was split open there.

This is my end.

(Yikes! You see what I mean about DARK?  And why it probably wasn’t for the best to be in the published version? 
And – fun “fact” – I wrote this scene on a day I was binge watching Ghost Whisperer.) 
And – If you have’t read it yet, go and read the option of Penelope deciding to try to somehow use her phone.)