Ch. 1: Maze Runner in Firenze? The walls are closing in on me and the eyes are watching.
- Ch. 1: Maze Runner in Firenze? The walls are closing in on me and the eyes are watching.
- Ch. 2: Is seeing believing or do you have to believe it to see it?
- Ch. 3: If this is a game, I’m losing.
- Ch. 4: Maybe it’s time to go.
- Ch. 5: Do you believe in something greater than yourself?
- Ch. 6: This is what intuition feels like.
- Ch. 7: So this is how it starts.
It was late and I was tired. But it wasn’t that late and I wasn’t that tired.
I wasn’t sure what I saw, so I didn’t say anything.
I closed my eyes and let the hum of the taxi lull me into a relaxed state and I hoped that the hotel was deep into the city so I’d have just a few more precious minutes where I didn’t have to think or do or plan or be anyone but a passenger riding into the center of Florence, Italy, for the first time. It had been a long day.
We stopped and started, slowed and revved up. Took corners as if we were in a hurry. I wonder how you say We’re not in a hurry. in Italian. In fact, how do you say, We’d like to take the scenic route and I don’t really care if we ever get to the destination.” in Italian? I sank deeper into my seat and hoped that the rest of my family was doing the same. I tried to keep my eyes closed, but every time I opened them, there seemed to be something more interesting to see than the back of my eyelids. Then it happened again.
I reached over to touch my wife’s shoulder as my eyes connected with a young woman standing in a crowd in front of a bar. It was almost midnight, but the city was buzzing with people. Her eyes seemed to light up like a cat at night, but she wasn’t a cat although it was night. Complete with the yellow glow and the double-teardrop shaped pupil.
As my hand reached my wife’s shoulder, we had passed the woman and it was over.
“Hi,” my wife said as she turned her head to look at me.
“Hi,” I said back, not sure how to explain cat woman on the side of the road or if I even wanted to. I closed my eyes again and the car stopped. Open eyes again and we were moving forward slowly.
As we tunneled deeper into the city, the buildings on both sides grew in height and almost seemed to lean in so that there was less and less midnight moon in the sky above. There wasn’t a tree to be seen, only grey and dismal walls that were closing in on us with each block.
Up ahead, a man stood in the middle of the road and faced us. The street was so narrow that we couldn’t have passed him on either side, so he would have to get out of the way. But he was looking right at us.
The driver didn’t seem phased and didn’t slow down or speed up although the world in my mind seemed to be going in slow motion. Then I saw his eyes.
This time, not catlike but a subtle deep orange and they only seemed to be looking at me. I again reached out to the shoulder of my wife. I tapped her and pointed out the front windshield.
She took only a glance ahead and then looked back at me. She was tired and it was clear she just wanted to arrive and fall into bed. I looked forward again. Yep, he was still there, the orange eyes still penetrating my vision and somehow going inside of me and through me.
“Uh, does that man in the middle of the street ahead have, uh,” I knew if I said this I’d be opening up a discussion I wasn’t sure I wanted to have. What if she saw nothing? Would she think I was crazy or paranoid or just plain weird? I checked ahead. Still there.
“Does he have orange eyes?” I finished finally.
She looked at me and then slowly looked ahead. I don’t know if it was slowly because she doubted me and wondered what oddball story I was starting at midnight in the taxi or because she believed me and was at least cautious if not a little scared.
She peered ahead and moved in her seat to get a better view from our back seat perch. She squinted and got even more forward in the seat. Then she rubbed her eyes and blinked.
“Do you see it?” I asked, but she didn’t answer. She only looked ahead and stared. It was one of those moments where I wasn’t sure if three seconds or three minutes had passed.
She finally turned back to me. I couldn’t tell by the look on her face if she had seen what I had seen and if she was now going to launch into a tirade about how it was too late to start up with horror stories or maybe she would just calm me down and say that it was nothing and that I should just close my eyes or maybe she truly saw what I saw. It was time to stop guessing.
I asked again, “What do you see?”