The first thing I notice is the pounding in my chest. It’s so fast it’s painful. Why would a heart need to pound this hard? I breathe deeply through my nose and open my eyes on the exhale.
Then I throw myself back.
Luckily, I’m on a bed and I tumble onto a mattress. I roll away from the man staring intently at me, and land on my feet. I squint at him while backing up. He’s watching me, but he hasn’t moved. This eases the pounding in my chest a little. A little.
He’s young. Not quite a man, maybe late teens or early twenties. I have the urge to run. A door…I need to find a door, but if I take my eyes off him, he may…
“Who the hell are you?” I ask. It doesn’t matter who he is. I just need to distract him while I find a way out of here.
He’s quiet for a moment as he sizes me up. “I was about to ask you the same thing,” he says.
His voice makes me stop shuffling sideways for a few seconds. It’s deep…calm. Deeply calm. Maybe I’m overreacting. I make to answer him—which would be the reasonable thing to do when someone asks you who you are—but I can’t.
“I asked you first,” I say. Why does my own voice sound so unfamiliar? I raise a hand to my throat and wrap it around my neck.
“I…” he hesitates. “I don’t know?”
“You don’t know?” I say in disbelief. “How could you not know?”
I spot the door and edge closer, keeping my eyes on him. He’s on his knees on the bed, but he looks tall. His shoulders are wide and pull against the t-shirt he’s wearing. If he comes at me, I doubt I’d be able to fight him off. My wrists look small. Look small? Why don’t I know that my wrists are small?
This is it. I have to do it.
I dart for the door. It’s only a few feet away; if I can get it open I can run for help. I scream as I run. It’s bloodcurdling, a real ear sore. My hand wraps around the knob and I look back to see where he is.
He’s in the same spot, his eyebrows raised. “Why are you screaming?”
I stop. “Why…why aren’t you coming after me?” I’m right in front of the door. Technically I can open the door and run out of here before he’s even off the bed. He knows that, and I know that, so why isn’t he trying to stop me?
He passes a hand over his face and shakes his head, sighing deeply. “What’s your name?” he asks.
I open my mouth to tell him it’s none of his business, and then realize that, I don’t know. I don’t know what my freaking name is.
In that case… “Delilah.”
“Delilah…?” he asks.
It’s pretty dark, but I swear he’s smiling. “Yeah…is that not good enough for you?”
He shakes his head. “Delilah’s a great name,” he says. “Listen…Delilah. I don’t know exactly what we’re doing here, but right behind your head there’s a piece of paper stuck to the door. Can you pull that off and read it?”
I’m afraid that if I turn around he’ll attack me. I reach a hand back without looking and feel around. I pull the piece of paper off the door and bring it in front of my face.
Charlie! Don’t open this door yet! That guy in the room with you…you can trust him. Walk back to the bed and read all the notes. They’ll explain everything.
“I think it’s for you,” I tell him. “Is your name Charlie?” I look back up at the guy on the bed. He’s reading something too. He looks up and holds a small white rectangle toward me.
“Look at it,” he says.
I take a step forward, and then another, and then another. It’s a driver’s license. I study the picture and then his face. Same person.
“If your name is Silas, who is Charlie?”
“You are,” he says.
He bends to pick up a piece of notebook paper from the bed. “It says so right here.” He holds the paper out to me and I hand him back his driver’s license.
“Charlie isn’t a girl’s name,” I say. I start to read what’s written on the pages and everything else falls away. I drop heavily to the edge of the bed and sit down.
“What the hell?”
The Silas guy is reading too. His eyes trace over the paper he holds in front of his face. I sneak looks at him while he’s reading, and when I do, my heart beats a little bit faster.
I read more. I grow more and more confused. The notes are supposedly from me and this guy, but nothing makes any sense. As I’m reading, I grab a nearby pen and copy the paper I found on the door, to see if I really did write it myself.
The handwriting is a perfect match.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I say. “This is nuts!” I put the page down and shake my head. How can any of this be true? It’s like reading a novel. Lost memories, fathers who betrayed their families, voodoo. My god. Suddenly I feel like I want to barf.
Why can’t I remember who I am? What I did yesterday? If what these notes say are true…
I’m about to voice this when Silas hands me another sheet of paper.
You only have 48 hours. Do not focus on why you can’t remember things or how weird it all feels. Focus on figuring this out before you forget again.
It’s my handwriting again. “I’m convincing,” I say.
“So…where are we?” I turn around in a full circle, noticing the freshly eaten food on the table. Silas points to one of those little paper tents on the nightstand. A hotel. In New Orleans. Great.
I’m walking toward the window to take a peek outside when there’s a knock at the hotel door. We both freeze and look in that direction.
“Who is it?” Silas yells at the door.
“It’s me!” A voice replies.
Silas motions for me to go stand on the other side of the room, away from the door. I don’t.
I’ve only known myself for a few minutes, but I can tell I’m stubborn.
Silas unlatches the deadbolt and pulls the door open just a little. A scruffy brown head bobs around the door.
“Hey,” the boy says. “I’m back. 11:30 sharp, just like you said.”
He has his hands stuffed in his pockets and his face is red like he’s been running. I look from him to Silas, and back to him. They look alike.