She found herself in a hallway. Was this the exit? She stayed confident, focusing on the metal door that sat at the end of the long, unremarkable and kinda dark hallway. That was it. Stella knew it. That was the door out. She focused on it as she walked the hallway, it taking forever and her heartbeat rising in fear the closer she got to it. She didn’t pause when she pushed the door open, over confident about what she’d find on the other side. She didn’t expect to be blinded.
It was the sun. It was unbearably bright. She couldn’t see anything but white. Calmly, she took her shitty suit jacket off and held it open above her, using it as a cover to block the sun. She closed her eyes, took some breaths, and when she felt like she might be able to see again and not puke, she opened them again.
She was in an alley. A remarkably clean alley, as far as alleys were concerned. She recognized it. It was the same alley where she had met that creep, Chris. There definitely hadn’t been a door there before. Turning around to confirm its existence she wondered why she wasn’t surprised to find it gone.
She needed to get lost. Become anonymous, blend in. Leaving the alley, she couldn’t help but notice the wetness of her shoes, and how loud the wet splotchie sound was that was coming from her socks. All the humming in the office must have covered it up. She weaved in between two tents and started walking in the direction of downtown Vancouver, all the while staying hidden amongst the crates and tents making up the homes and building of the community. She pulled her blouse untucked and checked that she wasn’t wearing anything in between it and her bra. She wasn’t. She undid a few of the top buttons, noticing how constricting they were. She wished she could take the shirt off. She hated it. She was still holding her jacket over her head and she stopped, noticing that the sun only mildly bothered her eyes now. Leaving the ugly jacket balled up by a tent, she wondered where to go or what to do. She needed to get far away from here, she knew, but to where? Was the hotel safe? Were there going to be people after her? She thought about the water and headed towards it. She would walk by it until she figured out what to do. She could fly home? Maybe she should just get the fuck out of here. What did it matter? Could she lose her license to learn? What would the Academy say? Maybe she should call them? Maybe that would end this adventure and this assignment? “Well, I guess that’s that, sorry Academy, Noam’s an office drone now. Can I have a new assignment?” That seemed unlikely. She’d been assigned as his partner.
She could see the seawall now. But he was so impulsive, and such an ass. I don’t think he thinks about anyone but himself. Why had she worried that she’d be the shit partner? Clearly this guy was way worse than her. And now he was a lemming. What an idiot. Why should she have to help him? She could do his job. She didn’t need him. Yet, she knew why she needed to help him. It was her job. It was her job to be his partner, and she knew as his partner she couldn’t just walk or run away. She needed to figure this out herself.
Climbing the ladder up to the top of the seawall, she stopped and looked at the ocean in front of her. She wasn’t going to risk going back to the office. Stella couldn’t believe how many people had been in that room. What was wrong with them? What had been wrong with her? Why was everyone so… she waited for the right word to find her. Apathetic. Emotionless bodies moving around, doing everything, and caring about nothing. Apathetic.
It had been scary. If as many people worked for the Rewriter as she figured did, Stella also figured they had to have homes within the community. They had to go somewhere. It was just too many people not too. If they had homes, it meant they had to come home at night. She had no memory of where she had slept the last few nights. The hotel is where she should go. Hopefully they hadn’t checked out while they were ‘checked out’. She could wait in Noam’s room then until he came home. She hoped she’d be safe there.
Feeling angry that she felt so scared, Stella turned and headed on the seawall towards the hotel.