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Expira

 

It wasn’t a jet, it was a helicopter. The idea of a romantic helicopter ride made her giddy. It was loud and improper for a lady but it was everything he brought to the table. With him she’d live in a world of thrills and spontaneity. She did a little mental happy dance. It was definitely a helicopter. Jets were too stuffy for him anyway.

“So you’re taking me away?” Lana smiled. If everything went right, she’d be living the Disney life. She already had her prince and from the sound of it, she was bound to have a sky high proposal.

He guided her by her shoulders towards the deafening chop of blades. She tapped her nails together to get rid of the jitters. Eli made her promise to keep the blindfold on no matter what. Kinky wasn’t her style but she was all for a surprise.

“Eli,” she whined, “when can I see it?” Shouting over the roar of the helicopter made her throat sore but she was too excited to wait. He stopped her from removing the blindfold and added a second layer of suspense, headphones. He let her hands go. She felt the shape of the sound proof headphones and pouted. So long as they were on she wouldn’t hear his declaration of love. The whole proposal would be a bust.

Maybe he’s taking me his island. She smiled at the thought but soon pouted once more. If it was an island proposal, a jet would have been better and faster.

His hand touched hers. She shuddered as his fingers made their way up her arm and bristled at the sharp pinch. “Ow!” The sound of her own high pitched, squeaky complaint was the last thing she remembered before the air felt heavy and everything truly went black.

 

*     *    *

 

“Did you have to go so heavy with the sedatives?”

What sedatives? Her fingers twitched as the voices filtered through her rousing consciousness.

“You said round up the girls and I did. You didn’t say I had to be proper about it.”

Coming to, Lana groaned out a stream of incoherent noises that were meant to defend her dignity and failed. The first thing she noticed was the missing fabric around of her eyes. The blindfold was gone. She opened her eyes and squinted to make out the blurs in the room but the haze that lingered kept her eyelids heavy.

She tried to sit up but something kept her down. Trying not to panic, she wiggled against the restraints.

“Hey.” Recognizing the smooth calming voice, she opened her eyes. He was a bit blurred at the edges but she could make him and the giant gulp size cup he was moving towards her. “Fluids will help flush the meds out.”

Her brows furrowed as she sucked on the straw. The restraints were the type they used on her uncle Frank. She remembered how they kept his limbs buckled down so he wouldn’t hurt himself. Lana felt her stomach curl. She remembered how they gave him meds too.

“Am I in a hospital?” She croaked out. God, she thought with her eyes welled up with tears, I’m crazy.

She sobbed quietly, denouncing everything she thought to be true, until she felt Eli’s gentle caress. “Whoa, you’re supposed to keep the fluids in.” He placed the straw at her lips. “Try again.”

Lana shook her head mid-sob.

“Come on. I’ll explain what I can while I can.”

She looked up at him. He smiled and she would have believed it if she didn’t notice the dirt on his face and the red stains on his sleeve.

He looked over his shoulder and she followed suit. What used to be blurs were men rushing around with that looked like weapons attached to their bags. Some wheeled carts loaded with items and some grouped together briefly before scattering on some mission.

“Lana,” she felt the edges of the plastic press against her lips, “please?” He pleaded, glancing over his shoulder again. “The only way I can stay is if I’m helping you.”

Seeing no way around it, Lana accepted the help and, as promised, he started talking. It was hushed, quick, and vague except for one part that stuck with her. “The Mayans were wrong.” She tried to get comfortable but thanks to the restraints and what felt like a metal cot, it was as impossible as an escape was. She whined and stared at the ceiling. “The world can’t end.”

“There’s no point dwelling-“

“You didn’t even propose to me. We were supposed to be having a private romantic rendezvous.” She scoffed at how wrong she was. “Maybe you’re a delusion too.”

“Lana-“

“Maybe I’ve been rotting away like that old guy who flew over the cuckoo’s nest and you’re my version of nurse Hatchet or Ratchet or whatever.” Fresh tears stung her eyes but she laughed through them. “That’s it. This is just my end.”

“Lana!”

“What? Doesn’t it make sense?” Eli shook her shoulders to get her attention but she refused to meet his eyes. Either he cared and she would have to accept what he was saying was true or he lied from the beginning and she was better off as a mental case.

“I had to,” he whispered quickly. “We could only save fifty. They wanted the best and I wanted you.”

“Eli!” A scruffy voice made them both jump. “Get the rest ready. We’re moving underground in an hour.”

“Yea, of course.”

She watched Eli’s back as he nodded and waited for their visitor to leave. The guy shuffled out and she swore she heard Eli sigh.

“The world’s ending, Lana, but so long as you trust me, ours won’t have to.” She opened her mouth to stop him but he only shook his head as he loosened her bindings. “I’ll find you when we’re settled. I promise.”

Everything about the situation was off. The blindfold, the sedatives, the restraints, and the mysterious fifty, each thing brought more questions than she had time to ask. Despite it though, she found comfort in his confidence. It wasn’t a Disney declaration of love but it was something she could hold faith in.

While one world crumbled, another gained momentum; and so the end of the world ushered in a new beginning to her own.

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