We step out the door of “Milo’s Book Store San Diego”. Lannah locks the front door with a familiar “click.” We walk down a block or two on the sidewalk while cars zip back and forth and horns blare. I see large palm trees and Indie coffee shops. The smells of a different place all overwhelming me. I have never been to California before. It’s so different. My gaze gradually locks on the ground. I feel anxiety start to wash over me. My fingertips are going numb. I can’t seem to do anything but watch the three sets of feet walk ahead of me. Before I realize it we’re sitting down in a café booth. Sounds are starting to dull as if I’m being held under the water. I feel my foot tap to shake off the anxiety. I still can’t believe we’re here.
“Cesar.” I feel my shoulder being shaken.
“Hmm? Ah I just need a- I need to go outside.” I jump up and race to the back exit near the bathrooms. I spring through the exit that opens into a back parking lot. I sit down against the building. I’m starting to hyperventilate as a loud high pitched noise starts to ring in my ears. I clamp my hands to my head to muffle the noise. It doesn’t help. Then I feel warmth on my hands and I see Piers. Everything but the squealing noise is still muffled. He pulls my hands away from my ears.
“What are you doing?” He’s crouched in front of me. His voice is still far away. I shake my head. “Are you feeling sick?” I nod yes, but I don’t know why. I was fine not too long ago.
“I know all of this is weird, ok?” He looks at me sincerely. I nod again. He starts to rub my shoulder. I still feel tremors running down my spine. I look into his eyes and they’re strong and confident, but an excitement is being held at bay. I feel my hair stand on end. He’s enjoying all of this. I feel the nausea come back.
“I think I’m gunna- oh no!” I shove Piers back and heave to my right. A nasty mix of bile and remaining food presents itself on the asphalt floor. I pull myself onto all fours and continue to spew what’s left inside my stomach. I can’t do this. I wipe the crap from my lips with the back of my hand and plop back down on my butt and spit out the sour saliva in my mouth. I see Piers’ face quickly go from disgusted to neutral again. Great.
“I can’t do this Piers. I can’t go through a black hole or whatever it is! Maybe Milo could live like that but I can’t! I’m not going to either! It sounds great in the books and everything but portals are terrible.” I choke out the last bit and feel the anxiety start spreading through me again. I was not made for adventures like this clearly.
“Do you have five hundred dollars for a plane ticket home?” He grabs my shoulders again to bring me back to attention.
“So you mean you want to go home through the book?” My mouth is suspended open.
“I told you my Uncle had something going on. Something secret, and I want to know how and what he was doing. I’m determined. There has to be a way to use the book easier without the sickness and uneasiness.” I’m in shock.
“This isn’t like the movies Piers. You can’t just go and figure things out! This book could kill us! Now we know why Milo was murdered. They wanted the book and once they know we have it they will come and find us and kill us.” I grab Piers’ wrist.
“It’ll work out. No one will know and we will avoid getting killed. There has to be a way to easily navigate that book.” I’m sick of his logical reasoning. “Besides you and I both can’t afford plane tickets home. For now we have to take a deep breath and have breakfast.” I now he’s right. I feel my stomach growl, now emptied from its earlier discharge. I suck in a few deep breaths and stand up. Piers helps steady me as my legs shake from my vomiting ordeal. I hate throwing up. Piers nods to me, I nod in response and we both enter the café.