Moo Goo Gai Pan; By: Jaylyn Gatrell
The plastic wrapper crackled as I greedily tore open the fortune cookie. Then, I broke the fortune cookie in two, and I didn’t even bother eating it. I unfolded the fortune and my heart sped up in anticipation. Even though it’s a silly superstition, I believe whatever fortune you get will come true. It read: Don’t be hasty; prosperity will knock on your door soon. A feeling of disappointment settled in my heart. This wasn’t even a real fortune. No sooner had this thought escaped me, all the lights abruptly went out.
This wasn’t the kind of dark where you could see the outline of shapes being illuminated. This was a pitch black dark. It was as dark as I would imagine the deepest corner of a person’s mind being. Where everything that has been forgotten or discarded lies.
“That’s because that is where you are at,” a thunderous voice sang out. The voice was deafening and seemed to be coming at me from every direction. I covered my ears and meekly replied, “I’m inside my own mind?”
“Precisely,” the voice boomed.
My brain was swimming with questions. What did this strange voice mean? I couldn’t be inside my own head, right? That’s insane. Not to mention impossible. Or…is it.
“So who are you and how are you inside my head?”
“You will know soon enough.”
I had no idea what to make of this.
“Can you tell me why I’m here?”
“No, but I can show you.”
Before I could even contemplate what this meant, a whoosh resounded in my ears, and my body began disintegrating. I felt as if I was being sucked up a straw, but I couldn’t see anything because I was blinded by the bright light. Or was it the pure darkness?
With a thud, I was thrown onto solid ground by some inaudible force. In front of me there lay an ominous steel door with no clear knob. I looked around for the source of the strange voice, but could see nothing but the darkness stretching on forever and ever in both directions.
The only thing that was visible to my naked eyes was the steel door and the small patch of dirt I was sprawled across that was directly in front of the door. I crept up to the door and pressed my ear to its cold, hard surface. I struggled to hear what sounded like a cross between a faint whisper and a hiss. Once I could finally decipher the whispers, I wished I could erase them from my mind. The voices were chanting help me and let me out over and over until I thought my head would explode. I backed away from the door and curled into a ball, but I could not get the voice out of my head.
“Help me!” I cried, “Get me out of this place.”
A shrill silence was the only answer I got. I had never been so alone or so scared as I was in this instant.
I heard a tinkling, melodious laugh on the other side of the steel door and I froze. All of a sudden, the temperature dropped about twenty degrees, and I could see my breath coming out in little puffs.
“Do you not want to join them n their eternal misery? But you couldn’t even if you wanted to because there’s no way in and there’s no way out.”
“Why are they in there?”
“Why isn’t it obvious? Because you put them there.”
This voice was starting to aggravate me. Its confusing answers only made me ask more questions.
“Just get me out of here.”
“Not just yet. You still have a lesson to learn. Choose wisely.”
Just then, a different door appeared on the opposite side of the first. It was wooden and actually had a door knob. It looked much more inviting, and heat practically radiated from the crevice at the bottom. I rushed over and flung the door open. Instantly I knew something was wrong. I took one step before I realized there was no ground to step before I realized there was no ground to step onto. As I was falling, I could hear the voices hissing in my ear. The longer I fell, the louder the voices grew. Right when I was about to hit the ground, the voices reached their epicenter. Then everything was silent.
I was terrified of what was going to happen next. I frantically looked around. All I could see was the dirt floor, but at least it wasn’t pitch black anymore. There was almost an iridescent glow descending around me. Then a bright white light shone on a little girl that was crying a couple of feet away. I asked her what was wrong, but she wouldn’t answer me. She kept crying out for her mommy and clutching her knee. When she lifted her hand, it was covered in blood. I rushed over and tried to her, but the strangest thing happened. I went straight through her. Even stranger, a second later she disappeared, only to reappear riding a bicycle. As I watched the scene play out, my mind began to cry for her mommy, but her mommy never came. I must have pushed this memory to the back of my mind. Tears filled my eyes as I watched the painful memory replay itself.
The sound of footsteps quieted my sobs. I whipped around and gasped. I was face to face with… myself. Although this version of myself had gleaming red eyes and long inky black claws. When she spoke, I was a flash of pointy teeth that resembled shark teeth.
“It’s such a sad sight, isn’t it?” she cooed. “And now because of your hasty decision you will have to watch it as well as all your other forgotten memories replay themselves forever.” She swept out her arm dramatically and thousands of other beams of light switched on. They were each illuminating a different memory.
I covered my mouth with my hand, suddenly horrified with myself.
“You see, if you would have chosen the steel door, a moment later you would have heard my good friend opportunity knocking. The door would have swung open and you would have been freed. Of course you didn’t because the wooden door seemed more inviting. Well, maybe next time you won’t be so hasty.”
She smirked and laid her hand on my shoulder, being sure to dig her claws in.
“Now you’re mine forever.”
I screamed and screamed until I felt my eardrums bust, and blood ran down my neck.
I woke up screaming my head off in a small run-down Chinese resteraunt. The waiter was giving me a mischievous look.
“Did you learn anything?”
“Y-y-yes m-m’am…. I learned—-” my voice died ash she disappeared. She reappeared at a table on the other side of the room and gave the customer their fortune cookie. Then turned towards me and winked. Her open eyes glowed red.