Kellee held her breath. What came next would change the way she dealt with her sister for the rest of her life. Trembling, she reached out and laid a hand over her bare breast. Kaylee shuddered.
“I’m not sure about this,” Kaylee whispered anxiously.
Kellee kept her hand where it was. “I’m just as scared as you are,” she whispered. She looked at the bedroom door, suddenly ultra paranoid. One or the other had checked the door ten times in the last ten minutes.
“I’m more scared of asshole catching us, than I am of Mom or Dad,” Kaylee complained. Asshole was their younger brother, Martin, a nightmarish 14 years old; the twins were 16.
“I want to do this,” Kellee pressed. “So do you.”
It was just two weeks since admitting her overwhelming need to make love to her sister. To be precise, fourteen days ago, on Friday, October 16th.
A miserable two weeks it’d been too. Kellee thought she was getting an effing ulcer. She’d lost six pounds, which was a big deal for a 16-year-old weighing only 109 pounds in the first place. That loss came right out of her boobies, too, the last place she could afford it. No 16-year-old thinks her boobs are big enough to begin with.
She stood 5’3” barefoot, was blonde and blue-eyed, fair-skinned (of course fair-skinned, both parents being of Scandinavian descent), wore hated orthodonture and attended Harford Lutheran High School in Bel Air. She hated school. Math homework was the worst.
“Go check the door again?” Kaylee pleaded.
Sighing dramatically, Kellee gave up her sister’s boob, rose and padded to the door on tiptoe, twisting the doorknob. It held firm in her hand, barely moving. Then she gave it a tug, just to be sure, and to her horror, the door swung out freely and hit her bare toes.
“Eeech!” she squealed softly, staggering back a step. The doorknob followed suit and with it the door. The gap was now a foot and a half wide, revealing her very bare breasts. Behind her, keening in panic, an equally topless Kaylee twisted away and covered up. Kellee fitfully jammed her left forearm over her breasts.
“Shut the door!” Kaylee screeched. Blinking spasmodically, Kellee stood frozen at the open door, mouth agape, staring across the hall. “Kellee!” Kaylee keened wildly. “Shut the door before Martin sees us!”
Kellee turned her bewildered gaze to her freaking-out sister and worked her mouth, though nothing came out. She didn’t think Martin was of immediate concern right now. Not with the opposite wall missing, and with it Martin’s bedroom door.
Kaylee blinked furiously. “What the... ?” Jumping up, she baby-stepped to her sister; shoulders hunched painfully, arms crossed over bare breasts. “Where is the wall?” she wailed. “Where’s the rest of the house?”
Kellee shook her befuddled head. “I don’t know!” she wailed. It wasn’t there.
A wide sandy beach, waves crashing ashore, receded to the distant horizon. Lush green forest, so dense as to be virtually impenetrable, bordered the beach.
Kaylee whined, “What’s going on, Kel?”
“I don’t know!” Kellee responded shrilly. “Where’s the wall?”
“Where’s Martin’s bedroom?” Kaylee demanded. “Where’s Mom and Dad’s bedroom? Where’s Mom and Dad?” she wailed. Who cared where little brother was.
The afternoon was crisp, the air reverberating from the crashing surf. It was 1:34 a.m., according to the bedside clock, but intense sunlight made them squint. Kellee erupted in goose flesh and began shivering violently. Kaylee dashed to the bed, grabbed their T-shirts off the floor, and flung one to Kellee. She snatched it over her head and Kaylee did likewise, moaning uncontrollably.
What the eff was going on, Kellee wondered.
“Shut the door!” Kaylee pleaded. “See if it goes away.”
Kellee immediately slammed the door and gripped the knob hard enough to make her tendons cry out in protest. She never wanted that door open again. She was panicked, barely able to breathe, heart pounding against her ribcage. She had to--
“Go pee!” Kaylee suddenly squealed, squirming madly. “I have to go pee!”
“Stop that!” Kellee hissed. “You’ll make me pee my panties!” She was in serious danger of peeing down her leg and soaking the bedroom carpet right now.
Writhing, Kaylee jammed her fists into her crotch, staggered to the door and yanked it wide open. Kellee gasped and jumped back, hopping one-footed, holding the other foot whose toes Kaylee had raked with the door. Kaylee blinked at her fiercely for a moment, and then rushed into the hallway.
“Don’t go out there!” Kellee yelled, too late. At least the pain had erased her urgency to go pee.
Kaylee was backed against the wall. The hall carpeting ended abruptly where the opposite baseboard should be. Advancing cautiously, Kellee raised a hand in the air and held it out, palm vertical, hoping to encounter something solid.
“Don’t what?” Kellee muttered, encountering nothing but air.
“Leave it alone! Please!” Kaylee begged.
“Leave what alone? There’s nothing there, sis!”
Dropping to her hands and knees, Kellee crept forward until she broke the plane of the missing wall and looked downward. The carpeting ended cleanly, lying atop the smooth edge of a 3/4” thick plywood sheet. Sandwiched between the plywood and a sheet of drywall below was the flat end of a 2x6. More were visible all down the length of the hallway floor, arrayed two feet apart. Below her lay the dining room, to the right of the dining room a hallway leading to the living room. The basement was intact, though a three-foot gap separated the main floor from the edge of the white sand. Kellee wondered why it hadn’t collapsed inward and flooded the basement. She looked up: the house was neatly bisected, top to bottom.
“Kellee... ? What is going on?”
“I don’t know,” she muttered, “but I intend to find out.”
“No!” Kaylee protested.
Kellee arose and brushed her hands, and then the knees of her pajamas, a totally unconscious gesture. She was no less frightened than before, but now curious, as well--and more than a little intrigued; Kellee had an adventurous side. Kaylee grabbed her arm.
“How will you get down?”
A good question, Kellee thought. She hobbled to the end of the hallway, now a balcony with no railing, and examined the stairway leading downstairs. The second floor was a good fifteen feet off the sand, maybe nine feet above ground at the mid-floor landing. It was still a heck of a jump, she thought grimly, with no immediate way to climb back. Easy way to break a leg or your ankle, too, she thought.
“Want to go first?” she asked glibly. Kaylee gave her a sour look and crossed her arms.
If only they had a ladder, Kellee thought. A tall ladder, made of aluminum like the one Dad stored in the garage, the kind that extended way upward so you could clean out the gutters in the fall, once they became totally clogged with falling leaves. That exact ladder, in fact, she thought, turning around.
Pushing by her sister-”Hey! Watch it, dammit!”-Kellee returned to her bedroom and strode to the front window, popped up an eye-level wooden slat and gazed out. She was shocked to discover the view out front was absolutely normal. No pristine beach, no cascading breakers running to the horizon, no dense forest.
Looking back, blinking in consternation, she noted sparkling white sand and lush greenery through the open bedroom doorway; the ocean (she assumed it was the ocean) was hidden from her at this angle. She dropped the slat in a huff, stomped back to the makeshift balcony, down to the far end, and peeked carefully around the corner. She discovered a continuation of the beach and heavy forestation, heading south to the distant horizon, if directions still applied in this effed-up world.
“What?” Kaylee demanded.
Kellee returned to her window and yanked opened the blinds. “See for yourself!” she shouted.
Kaylee stayed put, tightening her grip on her chest. “No way! How can we be seeing that--” she stabbed her nose at the window--”with that!” she protested, jerking her shoulders toward the open door.
Kellee said nothing, hating the strident sound of both their voices. Must calm down, she warned herself, not a good time to panic, not if she wanted to get a handle on this thing. Kaylee, for one, looked two seconds away from diving for the closet door. “Calm down,” she murmured.
“You calm down!” Kaylee shot back, hugging herself even tighter. Kellee didn’t set her straight on who’d she’d been talking to. Instead, she gazed out the window again, gauging the drop to the front lawn. Even higher than out back, she judged, a good five feet higher, making a drop suicidal. Unless she shimmied outside first, hung from windowsill by her fingertips and then dropped. That put her feet five feet closer to the ground. Still a long fall, though, and nearly as dangerous. Eff that, she thought.
“What are you thinking about doing?” Kaylee demanded.
“Nothing stupid,” Kellee assured her. “I was considering maybe dropping from the front window and getting the ladder out of the garage-” Kaylee’s eyebrows shot up in alarm. “-but there’s no guarantee the beach would be there if I went around back from out front, you know. I looked,” she reminded Kaylee, “and what’s out front and what’s out back are not in the same effing Twilight Zone episode, Miley Smiley. It’s to effing far to drop anyway. I’m not breaking my fool neck for anyone. You can try it you want.”
Kaylee laughed derisively. “Thanks.” Her brow furrowed again. “What about using the ladder to climb back into this window,” she ventured thoughtfully, “drag it inside, and use it to climb down to the sand out there.”
Kellee gazed out the bedroom doorway at the expanse of white beach and thick greenery.
“You’d still have to drop down from the front window,” Kaylee added unnecessarily, shrugging. “Maybe push a mattress out the window first? Give yourself something to break the fall?”
Kellee glowered at her. Kaylee shrugged. “Just thinking out loud, you know...”
“Don’t. It’s bad for your brain, fart-breath.”
“Mindless Mini,” Kaylee countered.
Kaylee flushed bright red.
“Not yet, is what you’re supposed to say,” Kellee quipped, letting the blinds drop. Her sister hunched and turned an even brighter red. The ladder was definitely out, though.
“I have an idea,” Kellee said.
Kaylee grumbled something.
“Help me strip the sheets off the beds. We’ll tie them together and puts knots in them, make a ladder that way.”
“Oh, that’s effing brilliant,” Kaylee muttered.
“Shut up and do what I tell you, fish-breath.”
As Kellee made for the bed to get at the sheets, Kaylee made a face and shuffled for the bedroom door.
“Good thing I’m not across the hall,” she murmured, gazing at the beach.
“Good thing,” Kellee agreed absently. “Make sure your bedroom’s still there before you walk inside, dummy. Don’t want you falling down an elevator shaft and killing your anemic self.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Kaylee responded, rolling her eyes. “Who signed off and left you in effing charge.” Still, she cautiously opened her bedroom door and peeked inside before crossing the threshold. At her window, she lifted a wooden slat identical to the one Kellee had lifted and gazed outside, just as Kellee had. The normalcy of the view made her shudder.
“Is your bedroom still there?” Kellee shouted.
Kaylee glared out the window, muttering profanities. Her sister was so irritating sometimes. She blinked, wondering what it was about the tableau that made her so ill at ease. “Did you notice anything strange out front?” she yelled.
“Other than the lack of Daytona Beach?”
“Daytona Beach has condos instead of trees, and hard-packed brown sand instead of this pearly white stuff,” Kaylee muttered, glancing out her bedroom door. The beach looked as though no human foot had ever trod upon it, much less seen a beach blanket flung out and laid down on its pristine crystals of sand. “I don’t think things are right out front, either. For one thing...” She trailed off, trying to determine what that one thing was.
Kellee appeared in the bedroom doorway, looking impatient. Kaylee motioned her over to the window.
“We don’t have time for this,” Kellee said, crossing her arms and tapping her right foot. “I want to get out back.”
“Look out front, first,” Kaylee urged.
“Because I asked you to!” she insisted, smacking the blinds. “Something is really fucked up about this neighborhood, Kellee!”
“Like it hasn’t been fucked-up forever.”
“Not like this!” She jabbed a finger at the tree in the middle of the yard.
“So?” Kellee demanded. “What am I looking at?”
“That bird, right there. And the squirrel, halfway down the trunk.”
Kellee was no expert on birds, but it looked like a female robin on the branch in question, and a black squirrel was descending the trunk, head down, bushy tail following. Must be a nest, she decided, out of sight in the upper branches. Maybe a bird’s nest as well. She shrugged.
“They don’t move!” Kaylee hissed. “They haven’t moved since I’ve been standing here, watching them, Kellee!”
Kellee wrinkled her brow. She leaned forward until her forehead bumped the edge of the wooden slat. Not only didn’t the robin or adorable black squirrel seem to be moving out there, but the robin had its beak open, apparently in mid-chirp. A very long, extended mid-chirp, she thought.
“And, of course, it’s mid-afternoon, where it’s supposed to be... 1:46 a.m.,” Kaylee said, consulting her clock. They both looked out the bedroom door, at the sparkling white sand and the dense greenery dwindling to the horizon.
“What do you think it means?” Kaylee asked.
Kellee regarded her peevishly. “You expect me to know?”
“You’re the smart one,” Kaylee pointed out mockingly.
“Not smart enough for this,” she muttered, ignoring the insult. Turning away, she grabbed the top of Kaylee’s comforter and flung it back. “Let’s stick to the program, okay? One thing at a time.”
“Would help if that one thing made any sense,” Kaylee grumbled irritably. She folded the comforter neatly as Kellee stripped off the flat sheet and then followed her out of the bedroom. “Think two’s enough?” she questioned.
“It’ll have to be,” Kellee answered, indicating the non-existent hall closet, where linen was normally stored. “We have the fitted sheets too, if we need them.”
Kaylee grunted, trying to recall seeing anyone in a movie or TV using a fitted sheet to make a climbing rope. She couldn’t recall a single instance, though it seemed equally possible in her opinion. A sheet was a sheet, was a sheet.
Knotting the sheets individually, creating a handhold roughly every two feet, and then doubling the knots for additional gripping power, Kellee tossed half her sheet over her bedroom door and had Kaylee grab hold and give it a test. The sheet stood up just fine to her sister’s one hundred and three pounds dead weight. A subsequent attempt to climb the rope ladder worked out not so well.
“Forget it,” Kellee said, cinching the ends of the sheets together into a double knot. “I’ll worry about climbing back up later on. The point is to get down to the ground.”
“Without breaking an ankle,” Kaylee reminded her. The flaw in her sister’s plan--and a big one, she thought--was how to anchor the end of the rope, and leave Kellee length enough to climb down to the sand without having to jump.
“That’s easy. Saw this in a movie once.” Confidently, if inexpertly, she looped the end of the sheet half a dozen times around the inside and outside knobs on her bedroom door, and then tied off the end. It took three tries to get it just right, but finally they agreed on the outcome.
“That’s pretty smart,” Kaylee admitted, giving the rope a yank. “If it doesn’t tear the door off the hinges, that is.”
“The door opens inward, dummy. It can’t get ripped off the hinges.” She demonstrated, swinging the door back and forth. The rope only decreased any chance of a mishap by keeping the door from closing.
“The doorknobs then,” Kaylee said fitfully.
Kellee rolled her eyes, but nonetheless carefully examined both sides of the doorknob while her Kaylee tugged repeatedly on the rope. Peeved, more than relieved, she declared the rope a good fit for the occasion, and tossed the remainder over the side. The end dangled an acceptable two feet off the white sand. It still bothered her how the sand hadn’t collapsed into the void of the open basement. That and everything else about the effing sand. This really was a Twilight Zone episode.
“You know,” she mused. “Neither of us thought to check our cell phones, did we?”
Kaylee’s eyes popped wide open. “Well duh!” she exclaimed, smacking herself on the forehead. Dashing inside, she grabbed Kellee’s iPhone off the bedside table, and her excitement died away. “No signal,” she muttered. Probably had no signal on her iPhone either. She turned to discover Kellee holding it in her hand. She shook her head.
“Fuck! This is so fucked!”
Kellee dropped the phone on her bed and wrapped Kaylee in her arms. “It’s not as bad as it seems,” she soothed, patting her back.
Kaylee gripped her tight. “How bad does it have to get, God dammit! You don’t think ... this isn’t because...”
Kellee snorted. “Right: God’s punishment for loving my little sister.”
Kaylee shook her head. “Mom lied on our birth certificates. I know she did. I was born first. I’m the older sister. I should be the smarter one.”
“As opposed to being the prettiest?” Kellee teased.
Kaylee giggled. “I am the prettiest! And I have the biggest boobies too!”
“That’s not saying much,” Kellee retorted. She flashed on cupping Kaylee’s bare breast, the way they had kissed, had an intense surge of arousal that Kaylee responded to instantly, breathing against her neck. Kellee moaned and grabbed her behind. Kaylee writhed against her.
“No!” Kellee protested unhappily. “We don’t have time for this now. We gotta find out what’s going on.”
“Fuck,” Kaylee groaned as Kellee released her and stepped back. “This is so bull-shitty.” She grabbed Kellee’s forearms but didn’t try to draw her back. “How can this be going on? What the fuck happened to us, anyway? Are we tripping on acid?”
Kellee blinked and gasped. Kaylee shot a look at the doorway and what protruded above the distant horizon made her eyes pop wide as a pair of silver dollars. Her mouth dropped open and her heart lurched against her breastbone. Emitting a strangled cry, she staggered against her big sister, and then hid clumsily behind her. “What the fuck is that?” she squealed.
Kellee knew, though she couldn’t believe what her eyes were seeing. The curvature of a rising moon, immense in size, ghostly white through the intervening atmosphere, savagely cratered; a satellite ten times the diameter of their own, with no familiar markings.
“Is that... ?” Kaylee croaked.
“I hope so. I don’t want it to be something else,” Kellee said in a cracking voice.
“Something else ... like what?” Kaylee squeaked.
“Like an asteroid,” Kellee choked out. “Or a comet.” She had watched Deep Impact only last week, with disaster images still fresh in her mind. This was no asteroid or comet though; it was too big. “Jesus,” she muttered.
Cautiously, she led Kaylee to the bedroom doorway and stood safely inside it. The gigantic moon continued its slow climb above the remote horizon, expanding as it rose to claim an astounding half the available skyline. This satellite was either truly immense in size, or unimaginably close to the Earth. Though Kellee had doubts this was the same Earth that she and her sister had walked around on this afternoon.
“That is just impossible,” Kaylee muttered. “Totally, totally. Totally.”
“No shit.” Eyeing the energetic waves coming ashore, Kellee judged their height at six to eight feet. Smart enough to know that was nowhere big enough with that monster eating up the sky. And wait ... if that was east she was looking, there was something terribly wrong in Fucksville, USA. The Atlantic coast ran north and south, not east west. Where were they ... the Florida panhandle?
“I vote we close this door right now and hide under the bed,” Kaylee said.
That sounded a great suggestion to Kellee Anne, nearly irresistible. That demon moon leering at them. Not the prominent Man in The Moon formation, but a more vaguely defined set of eyes and nose, the left orb higher on the misshapen face, larger, and elongated, as though deformed in a fight or a car wreck. The nose gave it a skeletal appearance; a lopsided series of craters formed a jagged mouth. Kellee erupted in goose flesh.
“Shouldn’t those waves be higher?” Kaylee asked.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Kellee muttered.
The apparition was three-quarters above the horizon, dominating the sky like a malignancy, shimmering ghostly white. Enough light reflected from its immense surface to cast shadows at right angles to those cast by the sun. Kellee ventured halfway across the balcony, squinted upward at the hot white orb. That looked normal, at least. Only...
“Let’s go back inside,” Kaylee pleaded.
Kellee shook her head. Nothing would give her greater pleasure than losing sight of that awful face--except maybe kissing her little sister--but how come the sun created no sensation of heat on her face and hands?
“I hate that effing thing,” Kaylee said. “Make it go away.”
Kaylee tried snapping her fingers. The moon stayed put, but Kaylee laughed, at least.
“Do you know Mom wanted to name me Haylee?” Kellee said.
“She told me that about two years ago. I was bitching about my name, and she told me to blame my father. Her choice was Haylee, spelled H-A-Y-L-E-E, but Dad shot it down. His sister that died in-utero was supposed to be named Haley.” She spelled the different lettering of the name and eyed Kaylee for comment.
“I didn’t know Dad had a sister that died,” she said.
“Neither did I. Not until Mom told me about it. I was so shocked. And grossed out, really. I can’t believe she wanted to name me after some dead sister of Dad’s.”
The idea made Kaylee shudder violently. “What made you tell me that now?”
“Don’t know,” she said, squeezing Kaylee’s hand tightly. “In case, you know...”
“You never got a chance to tell me later?” Kellee ventured.
Kaylee added her left hand in holding her sister’s. “Thanks ... I guess.”
Kellee chuckled darkly. “This is so fucked up.”
An extended silence followed, as the twins held hands and watched the awful moon rise and finally clear the horizon.
“So, what do we now?” Kaylee asked.
“Stick to the plan, I guess,” said Kellee, shrugging.
“With that thing up there?”
“It’s not doing us any harm.” She gazed at the unsettled ocean and the loudly breaking waves. A storm must be doing this, she decided: a hurricane maybe. She remembered the water looking exactly this way when the family visited Ocean City during Hurricane Sandy years ago. The surf was quite a bit worse than this, in fact, ready to demolish the long pier holding the Ferris wheel. She’d been surprised it hadn’t gone down, actually.
“What if these waves get suddenly a lot bigger?” Kaylee asked in trepidation.
“These waves should be two hundred feet high,” Kellee pointed out. “They aren’t. Besides, you think this Barbie Doll House would protect us if they suddenly grew into absolute monsters and decided to crush us to death. I don’t think so, Miley Smiley. Let’s go.”
Without hesitation, she freed her hand, closed her bedroom door, and followed the rope to the unguarded edge.
“No,” Kaylee moaned. “Don’t do this! Please?”
“You stay up here,” Kellee soothed. “In fact, you need to stay up here. In case I have trouble climbing back up again. We don’t want both of us stranded down on the sand, with no way up.” She imagined standing atop her sister’s shoulders, Kaylee tremblingly with effort and the inherent instability of the sand in which she stood, trying desperately to get a handhold to haul herself up, lacerating her hands and knees and breaking every single fingernail. She laughed harshly. “You definitely stay up here until I know I can climb back up, sis.”
Though unhappy about it, ignoring the demon moon as best she could, Kaylee gripped the rope and helped her sister maneuver over the edge, first sitting with her legs hanging over the side, and then twisting around and snaking the rope between her legs, gripping it awkwardly with her feet. Both suspected this attempt would end with multiple bruises and abrasions. What neither expected was that Kellee would unceremoniously zoom down the rope with a terrified yelp and land hard on her behind.
“Ow!” she protested in consternation.
“Are you okay?” Kaylee called down, obviously suppressing laughter.
“No thanks to you, yeah, I think so,” she groused. Rubbing the small of her back and twisting back and forth experimentally--so much for graceful athletics; she’d always been a klutz anyway--she pulled herself erect and tested the sand with her bare feet. How typically Kellee Andersen not to put her sneakers on first.
“Be careful!” Kaylee implored, all thought of laughter obviously gone. “For all we know, this place is infested with giant, sand-burrowing carnivorous bloodworms.”
Kellee gazed up at her sourly. “Thanks so much for that, sweetie. Anything else you want to warn me about?”
Kaylee bit her lower lip. “Just be careful, OK?”
“Right. Can you throw down my flip-flops?” She had reconsidered wearing sneakers on the sand; her feet had already settled down to her ankles. And maybe these pajama bottoms weren’t the smartest things to have on, either, when she thought about it. She brushed off her rear end in chagrin. What a dummy.
Kaylee was gone a minute and Kellee used the opportunity to investigate the basement/sand anomaly. Dropping to her knees, she crept forward and cautiously waved her hand in the void between the basement ceiling and the edge of the aberrant sand. She was again struck by the absence of any heat on her bare skin or clothing. Was infrared somehow missing from the sun’s wavelengths? Was this the sun at all? This was so fucked up.
Nothing grabbed her from the semi-darkness, and once her eyes adjusted to the gloom, she was able to make out the familiar shapes of furniture and the TV set. Not a grain of sand appeared to have fallen onto the dark green carpet, though it was hard to tell for sure in the low illumination. Curious, she tossed a handful of sand into the void. It fell normally onto the carpet below with a peppery thud.
“Huh,” she said quietly. Her flip-flops landed beside her on the sand, eliciting a startled yip.
“Sorry,” Kaylee apologized, not sounding apologetic at all.
Glowering, Kellee arose and slipped the flip-flops onto her feet, gripping the rope for support. She was truly worried about making an ascent later, especially a speedy one, should the need arise. So far, nothing had attacked her out of the sand, ditto from the tree line or the crashing surf, but that could change in a heartbeat. Shading her eyes, she scanned the ocean for signs of any ships, islands, or man made structures. She beheld nothing but an endless expanse of restless, rolling swells. Not a bird or other creature in sight, either, not even an insect. The same held true for the dense jungle to her left, thick with palm trees and other tropical looking vegetation. If not for the overwhelmingly length of it, she could easily be on the beach from Lost.
“No smoke monsters, please,” she muttered.
“What?” Kaylee called down.
“Nothing. Grab the rope. I’m gonna try climbing back up.”
“Good idea.” Grabbing the rope and staggering her feet, left foot a safe two feet back from the edge, Kaylee braced against her sister’s anticipated weight. “Ready!”
Kellee grabbed the highest knot and jumped, clenching the rope between her thighs and feet as she did rope climbing in gym. She clumsily propelled herself upward, hand over hand, twisting and grunting furiously. For a time it appeared she wouldn’t make it. Only a desperately needed hand from Kaylee at the critical moment helped her make it over the edge.
“Fuck!” she coughed, wheezing and throwing the rope aside. Kaylee urged her away from the edge; a fall would do no one any good right now.
“Fuck,” Kellee repeated. “This is so fucked up.”
Kellee looked up. What now?
As Kaylee retreated a clumsy step backward, Kellee twisted to look in the indicated direction. She yelped and scrambled to her feet and joined her sister in the bedroom doorway. A dozen yards away, a low-slung creature, not unlike a yellow alligator with a ridiculous-looking rack of antlers behind its eyes, stood half out a thick clump of bushes. The creature blinked at them rapidly, obviously confused.
“What is that?” Kaylee squeaked.
The reptile twisted its head for a better look at the twins and the misplaced half-house. It growled softly, working thick jaw muscles. Unlike an alligator, no teeth protruded along the lower jaw.
“I don’t know,” Kellee said shakily. No teeth visible was not the same thing as no teeth at all. The thing could have a mouthful of razor-sharp dentures for all she knew.
The animal shook its head, which shook the rest of its body. Slowly, it backed into the thick undergrowth, its growl menacing, leaving only a trail of smudged prints behind in the sand.
“Thank God I wasn’t down there,” Kellee muttered. She looked at Kaylee, who stared bug-eyed at the disrupted sand.
“You’re not going down there again!” Kaylee exclaimed.
Kellee laughed, leaning against the doorjamb. The rush of adrenalin had her dizzy and weak-kneed, breathless; she blinked against the tunnel vision distorting her vision. Then she grabbed the knotted sheets and yanked them back onto the landing. No extending an invitation to come visit, she thought. No siree, Bob.
“We’re trapped here,” Kaylee pointed out.
“No, we aren’t,” Kellee said. “We’re going out front. I don’t think we’ll find any yellow deer-a-gators out front.”
Alarmed, Kaylee brayed: “Are you crazy! You don’t know what’s out there! We could have Godzilla wandering around the neighborhood, for all we know!” She stumbled back as Kellee untied and freed the end of the rope from the doorknobs.
“I am not standing around while whatever this is bowls us over!” Kellee said hotly. “If I can’t get answers out back, I’ll get one out front.”
“How do you know that?” Kaylee protested. “How can you possibly know that?” She was dangerously close to histrionics, Kellee realized.
“Will you calm down?” She grabbed Kaylee and wrapped her in her arms, rocked her gently back and forth. “Do you really want to hide in a closet and let this bulldoze us? No! We’re do-something girls, not a couple of miserable wusses. We take charge! Get a handle on this thing. Make it about us, and not about them!”
Kaylee laughed weakly. “Right. The James Bond sisters.”
“I could be James Bond,” Kellee teased. “You can be Q. Or maybe Miss Moneypenny. Or-God help us-M!”
Kaylee giggled. Neither could name the actor portraying 007 in the most recent series of movies--none of which they’d even seen, other than Skyfall--but Dad was a walking Encyclopedia Britannica of all things Bond; they’d been subjected to the lore of MI6 since learning how to talk. Dad was a maniac on the subject.
“Mom thinks he’s sexy,” Kaylee joked.
“Oh, please. Liam Hemsworth is sexy. Nick Robinson is sexy--”
“I’d fuck Nick Robinson,” Kaylee interjected.
Kellee rolled her eyes dramatically. “Like Nick Robinson would have anything to do with you, scuzzball.”
“Alex Roe, then. He fucked Chloe Grace Moretz ... he’d certainly fuck me.”
Kellee held her at arms length. “Chloe Grace Moretz? Really? You equate yourself with her?”
Kaylee snorted. “We look almost identical to her, you moron!”
“Alex Roe didn’t fuck her in the movie, anyway,” Kellee countered.
“He most certainly did. They cut it from the final version to get a PG-13 rating. She even showed a little bare booby, I read.”
“As opposed to showing her bare little bobbies?” They resembled the actress in that respect also.
Wary of her sister’s fragile state, Kellee gathered up the rope, coiling it in her left hand while she kept an eye on Kaylee’s face. Her sister was clutching herself again, mouth turned down in a severe grimace, tapping her right foot spasmodically. Her posture made Kellee need to go pee. Good luck there, with an AWOL bathroom on the second floor. The one downstairs though; it was probably there. Must remember to take her keys.
“Get dressed,” she said perfunctorily. “We are done exploring in our bare feet.” She kicked off her flip-flops in advance of entering her bedroom. “Jeans, flannel shirts, boots, our leather jackets; we need protection before we go out that effing front window.”
Kaylee nodded agreement.
“And put your hair back in a ponytail, too. We don’t want anything messing with our vision outside.”
Grinning agreeably, Kaylee snapped off a quick salute and entered her bedroom.
“If anything changes, yell!” Kellee warned. “We don’t want anything cutting us off from each other. Wait...” She hurried after Kaylee, shouldering the coiled rope. “We stick together from now on. I am not getting stranded in some alternate universe without my little sister.” She cast an anxious eye to the landscape to her left. “We both go up and down the rope before we go anywhere, too, okay?”
Kaylee nodded energetically. “I am so okay with that. Keep watch, while I get dressed?”
Kellee grinned. “Allowed to look?”
“Look all you want,” Kaylee consented, blushing lightly. “Just keep your hands to yourself.”
“Hands to myself. Aye, Aye, Captain.” She smacked Kaylee on the rear end. “Like you ever tell me what to do, scuzzball.”
“There’s the trouble with our relationship in a nutshell,” Kaylee grumbled, heading for her dresser. “You thinking you know what’s best for me.”
“I do know what’s best for you,” Kellee retorted. “You doing what you’re told.”
Kaylee lofted a middle finger as she yanked open the jeans drawer. “‘I don’t have to take this abuse much longer!’,” she recited. They both loved Jaws, the most awesome movie ever.
While Kaylee stripped off her T-shirt--which was actually Kellee’s T-shirt, turned inside out--and struggled into a bra with her back turned, Kellee kept watch on the offensive landscape beyond the balcony, glancing at her sister, wishing she’d turn around and show her bare breasts. This triggered an almost unbearable longing for normalcy. It brought hot tears to her eyes and burned the back of her nose. She wiped at it, fitfully, sniffing. When Kaylee glanced back over her shoulder, Kellee turned away, leaning sullenly against the doorjamb. She fought not to cry as Kaylee’s arms encircled her waist and pulled her back against her sister’s chest.
“Goddammit,” she sobbed. “What is going on?”
“I don’t know,” Kaylee comforted. “I don’t know. But you’re right ... so far, nothing has tried to hurt us here. Not even that effing ugly jack-a-lope in the bushes.”
Kellee laughed bitterly. “That’s not saying a whole lot. What about Godzilla wondering the neighborhood? Think he’ll be undecided over a couple of skinny little morsels like us? He crushes buses and tanks not even thinking to look down. Rips the heads offa MUTO’s while breathing fire down their throats. We don’t know what we’re looking at outside.”
Kaylee gripped her tight, found Kellee’s hands and clutched them with her own. “We face it together, okay? Just like we do everything else.” She slid her hand up the front of Kellee’s T-shirt and sought out her bare breast, squeezing it gently. Kellee moaned as she located the spot just below her left ear and kissed it wetly, teasing with the tip of her tongue. Kellee writhed, half twisting in her sister’s grip to seek out her mouth. They joined lips and began a tentative, achingly sweet kiss. The kiss they should have enjoyed earlier.
“This is so unfair,” Kellee protested. “I want you, in bed.”
Kaylee had a handful of hair, forced Kellee’s lips back to her own. It was exhilarating, being the aggressor for once; Kellee always had that role. She slid both hands down the back of Kellee’s pajama bottoms and gripped her bare bottom with both hands, crushed her groin against the sharp ridge of her hip. Kellee shuddered violently, making a desperate sound between a whine and a whimper. She raised her right leg, ground against Kaylee’s hip, forced her left hand down the front of Kaylee’s panties. Panting and frenzied, the sisters froze, instinctively going inert.
“Jesus. I have my hand down your panties,” Kellee croaked. Unwilling to remove her hand entirely, she curled her fingers away from the soft whorl of her sister’s pubic hair. Both had a small, trim triangle at the apex of their genitals; otherwise, both girls were soft and smooth, typical of girls their age. Kaylee nodded spastically.
“Thank you for letting me kiss you,” Kellee whispered.
“Kiss me again,” Kaylee pleaded.