The nearest beach was thousands of miles away from Jake, but somehow he woke up on one with no knowledge of how he got there and a text from an unknown number that simply said, “Welcome.”
The morning sunlight brushed Jake’s face, but he refused to open his eyes. Today was his first day off from work in two weeks. He reached for his pillow, only to notice he felt something hard and slimy instead of soft and fluffy. Jake snapped his eyes open. A piece of driftwood had replaced his pillow. More seriously, a beach replaced his bedroom.
The nearest beach for Jake was over a thousand miles away. His roommates could pull from a clever prank from time to time, but getting him to a beach was not in their skillset. The texture of the sand felt too real on his bare feet for this to be a dream. He stood up, looking for anything that would tell him where he woke up.
The beach appeared to span a few miles, but he saw no people. The beach itself was unrealistically immaculate, in Jake’s opinion. There was no litter anywhere, the ocean waves were clear, and an orange glow from the sunrise blanked the sky. However, was something unnatural about this beach Jake couldn’t place.
Jake decided his first course of action was to do an inventory assessment. He wore a plain red shirt and checkered red pajama bottoms. The only item in his pockets was his cell phone fully charged. With a glance, he unlocked his phone. There was no signal, but there was one new message from an unknown number. Jake tapped the message.
“Welcome” was all the message read, dated for 6:30 am that day.
“Welcome to where?” Jake mumbled.
The icon for someone typing a message appeared. Jake waited in nervous anticipation. After all, he had no service. A few seconds later, the following text came through. “Find the door before they find you.”
“Before who finds me?” Jake said to his phone, hoping someone was listening to him on the other end.
No message came.
Jake sighed and put away his phone. As he looked around for the door, he realized what felt so off about the beach. There were no animals. Anytime he had gone to the beach, there would always be birds, crabs, or washed-up jellyfish. There was no life on the beach except him.
With no door in sight on the beach, Jake wagered his best bet would be to head into the forest. After a short hike, the scenery changed. If you were to ask Jake about his knowledge of maritime forests, he wouldn’t be able to provide much in the way of answers, but he did know trees were not purple with neon pink leaves.
Jake pulled out his phone and took a few photos of the unusual trees and flowers. He wanted to look up what they were later or proved they existed. From the camera’s screen, Jake found a freestanding pink door with white strokes that looked like waves. He put his phone away to see the door with his own eyes. There was the door.
Today was Jake’s day off, and with the door found, he was curious about what secrets the forest held. He traveled in the opposite direction, pushing past green leaves twice his size, to a clearing with a small campfire. Surrounding the campfire were a dozen purple-haired creatures half his size with wooden masks of his own face.
The furry creators stopped their dancing and faced Jake. They picked up their metal spears from the ground and charged after Jake. Jake ran for the door. The battle cries from the masked creatures pushed an out-of-shape Jake to run blindly fast. He was a long way from the door when he tripped and fell hard into the ground. Before Jake could stand, a couple of spears pierced through his body, causing him to fall back down. The island inhabitants surrounded Jake and took their prey back home.
A man and a woman side-stepped out from behind the door. The tall, slender man wore a pink and white suit matching the door frame’s color while the young woman, slightly shorter than the man, wore a red dress. The woman worked away on a transparent tablet device while the man watched Jake’s body get dragged.
“That’s the second time they got him, Loki,” the woman said. “What should we do differently?”
“Let’s send him a third text message telling him to run,” the man said. “Great job on those masks, by the way, Raven.”
“Thank you,” Raven replied as she noted the change while Loki opened the door, which revealed Jake’s bedroom with Jake sleeping in bed.
This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You go to sleep one night, in your bed just like you would every night. Only this time, you awake to find yourself washed ashore on what appears to be a deserted island. You check your phone, no service, but you have a text from an unknown number saying, ‘Welcome.'”
Thank you to Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle for bringing this scene to life!