So, this is not going to be my NaNo novel. I was kind of hoping it might be, kind of hoping that I could do a 100% seat-of-my-pants rambling pseudo-story... but, yeah, no. I can't pull that off. I'm defaulting to rebellion instead, so eh.
Alanna opened her eyes. The sunlight streamed into her bedroom, golden rays peeking through the curtains hanging upon each of the two windows surrounding her bed. She could hear the birds outside, tweet-tweeting away just as they did every morning... and Alanna hesitated. She could hear the birds, just as always, and the alarm on her cell phone was quietly beeping right on time. She rolled over, brow furrowed slightly, and turned it off, and then glanced toward her bedroom door, her ears perked for the sounds she wasn't hearing this morning.
Oddly, Alanna realized, no one else seemed to be home, or perhaps her parents and her younger sister had all decided to sleep in. Each seemed unlikely; it was the weekend, and her parents weren't working; nor would Clarissa have gone off to school. So they must have been sleeping in, as unusual as that was; they were all morning people, all of them but her, and having a single one of them in bed past seven in the morning was strange indeed. Having all three of them sleep in was unheard of.
Unable to fight her curiosity any longer, Alanna rose from her bed and headed toward the bedroom door; she opened it quietly, none too eager to wake anyone who might still be sleeping--nor to attract attention to herself if something else was going on. And, yes, when she stepped into the hall, it seemed everyone must still be asleep; she could see each of the other bedroom doors from where she stood, and both were shut tight. Their occupants, then, were decidedly asleep.
Shrugging off the strangeness of the whole thing, Alanna crept down the hallway and headed toward the kitchen. She was eager to find out what was going on with them all (had they come down with something, she wondered?), but that could wait; she knew better than to get involved in whatever was going on. If they wanted to sleep in, that was their business; she certainly wasn't going to try to make it hers. That certainly never helped.
Yawning, Alanna rummaged through the fridge and the cabinets for what she needed, and within the next few minutes, she had a meager breakfast of cold chocolate milk and a bowl of cereal waiting for her on the counter. She swung her hip against the door of the fridge as she moved, watching it swing shut with a certain unearned satisfaction, and was just about to pick up her meal when she paused once again.
In the far corner of the room, on the very back of the countertop where it met the wall, there was a large block of wood. In it, of course, were the kitchen's knifes; the big knives, the ones meant for chopping and carving. And--a chill shot down Alanna's spine--one of them was missing.
Her hands slipped away from her glass and her bowl, and she spun in place, suddenly shrewd eyes scanning the room. The knife, she realized quickly, was nowhere to be seen; there were no unwashed dishes in the sink, so it wasn't hiding there, nor had it been left on a counter or the kitchen table since it was last used. She didn't see it anywhere, and the longer her eyes went without rediscovering it, the colder her nerves seemed to grow.
Was she crazy, she wondered, horrified by the thoughts darting unbidden through her mind? She refused to think them consciously, refused to put higher thought and language to them; it was ridiculous to think the things she wanted to think right now. It was paranoia, nothing more.
And yet she moved anyway, frightened by notions she was too scared even to properly think, and she raced down the hall before she was entirely sure what she wanted to do. She stopped dead at her parents' door, her pulse pounding away just beneath the surface of her throat. She could feel it beating throughout her flesh, pump-pump-pumping away in an all-consuming panic that she couldn't seem to repress, and she raised her hand--then lowered it--then raised it again--then lowered it--as she debated whether or not to knock.
They would be furious if she woke them for nothing. The silence of the morning would be shattered by furious shouts, and her day would be ruined before it began. She'd be crying in her room until noon, no doubt, and her cereal wouldn't even get touched.
But if there was a reason to knock...
With a shaky breath, Alanna steeled her nerves and knocked on her mother and father's bedroom door, hoping that, at the very least, if anyone were to answer--furious or otherwise--it would just be one of her parents.
There was no answer. Alanna closed her eyes, resting her forehead on the door for a moment as her hand crept downward to grasp the doorknob. She was terrified, terrified for a whole slew of reasons, and she turned the knob as quietly as she could.
The door opened, and Alanna peered into the room.
Her eyes swept over the furniture in an instant, taking in the sight of the empty bed, the untouched dressers, the pristine closet. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, nothing appeared to be out of place... except for the fact that her parents were gone. What in the hell.
Baffled, Alanna took a step back and tried to reassess. Had she gotten the date wrong? Was it really Friday, not Saturday? Were her parents simply at work because that's where they were supposed to be today, and the knife had merely been misplaced?
She turned on her heel and crept back down the hall, no so thoroughly spooked that she couldn't even bring herself to hurry as she carefully sidestepped the floorboard that had taken to squeaking about this time last year. She turned toward the living room, walking purposefully past the blank screen of the television and the empty couch before it, and she peered out the front window, eyes on the driveway.
No. No, she had no luck at all today. Their cars were both there in the driveway, and it was clearly far too much to ask that her parents simply be at work.
Back down the hall she went, baffled and more than a little frightened, and she didn't hesitate as she opened her little sister's door.
Clarissa's room was as unruffled as the rest of the house--save that one missing knife--but she, too, was gone. Her bed didn't even look like it had been slept in; it was folded to absolute perfection, covers pulled so tight over the brand new mattress that she could probably have bounced a coin off it, just like they did in Hollywood boot camp. All of Clarissa's pillows and stuffed animals and makeup and journals were in just the right spot, each having long since earned a very particular place in the extraordinarily organized room; it was hard at times to remember that an actual person lived there, and with Clarissa nowhere to be seen, Alanna wondered again what was going on.
She backed out of the room, putting one foot behind the other like she was almost afraid to turn around, and she walked herself right into her room and shut the door quietly behind her. With a solid slab of wood between herself and the hall, she turned her back on it, and she brought her hands up to her face. Deep breaths, she told herself, one or two (or three) deep breaths to calm yourself. It's no big deal. Sometimes they do shit without telling you; they just went somewhere. Maybe they just went out to buy groceries... and none of their cars would start, so they took a cab?
Even as she thought it, it didn't make much sense. None of it sounded like her parents.
Alanna turned back to the door and locked it, refusing to acknowledge the hint of a tremble in her fingers as she depressed the little metal button into place. The lock clicked shut, too loud in the silent house, and she wondered how long she'd have to wait before she was inevitably murdered by whatever extremely efficient serial killer had managed to kill her mother, father, and sister without so much as moving a single household object.
(None of this made any sense.)