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I couldn’t just jump back into that world unprepared. There were various preparations I needed to make. There was that massive rat creature to consider. I might not even be back right away. It was Friday night, so I told mom and sister that I was going to go sleepover at my friend’s house tomorrow. I made sure to call a friend and make sure he lied if my sister tried to contact me.

Then, I began packing for the trip. I only brought one change of clothing and a light blanket. If I did get caught over there, I didn’t want to die from exposure. Once everyone went to bed, I went out and looked for things in the kitchen quietly. I took a kitchen knife, about ten cans of vegetables, a bottle of multivitamins, and then another ten bottles of water. Since water was the big killer, I decided to fill a thermos with water and add that. Then, for good measure, I threw a box of my mom’s Slimfast meal replacement bars in there too.

That was good enough for food and protection. I supposed I didn’t need shelter as long as I stayed in that closet I started in. However, I needed better protection. I went through my closet and found a baseball bat. I thought about putting nails in it, but I couldn’t do that at home without mom hearing, and besides, I’d be just as likely to break the bat in half with the attempt.

I also found a catcher’s mask. I didn’t even do baseball. It was something left from my dad. It was a good thing he had. The mask and bat made me feel slightly safer. I left them on top of the bag in the corner of my room. I then set my alarm too early in the morning and went to sleep. There was no way I was going to try to tackle that place in the dark. At the very least I wanted to ensure there were no more creatures like that before the next night fell. Ideally, I could stay the night in my bedroom. The thought of staying the night there terrified me. This was all just a precaution and allowed me to spend two days searching for valuables.

I quickly fell asleep and was woken up by my alarm that morning drowsy but awake. I poked my head out the door. Seeing no one else up, I went to the front door, opened, and then shut it with a light slam. I then scurried back into my room, making sure to remain quiet. I pulled out my phone and then sent texts to my sister and mother, letting them know I left early this morning. I locked my door and then approached the mirror.

Taking a look at it, I moved it so that it was in my closet. I didn’t want my sister accidentally ending up in this world. With a breath, I touched the mark, and the familiar white light flashed. My nose was immediately assaulted by the stagnant air of the new world. I immediately regretted not remembering to bring some kind of face mask to keep out allergens and pollutants. For all I knew, this world might have some kind of super virus that would wipe out my entire planet.

I couldn’t think about such bleary possibilities. I was on a mission. It was my mother’s life on the line. I had to find something that I could use to make a fortune. Why not the watch? Well, reading through the details, it was locked to my genetic code. In other words, it’d only work for me. If I did try to give it to someone, it’d be more likely I had it taken away from me than for me to successfully sell it. I needed to find something in this other world that I could sell successfully.

Looking around the storage room, nothing was touched from when I left. The cabinet was still blocking the entrance, and it didn’t look like the rat monster had tried to get into this room. Maybe, it wasn’t as aggressive as I originally thought. First, I put on my mask, took out my knife and put it in my pocket where I could get it easily, and then held my bat in my hand. I kept my backpack with me too, tossing it over my arms before heading out. I carefully moved the cabinet, and then slowly emerged into the dark hallway. I had a flashlight now. Although the watch was plenty bright, I still wasn’t sure I trusted what it said about its battery life. I heard that chittering sound, causing me to spin around. Ultimately, I saw nothing.

Very carefully, I walked down the hallway, making sure to check each room before I passed to the next. I held the bat out in front of me, ready to, if not strike, at least holdback anything that lunged at me.

“Keeee!”

I let out a cry as a large mass leaped from a dark corner and slammed into me. My bat was instantly knocked to the ground, and a giant creature jumped on top of me. All I could see was massive incisors clamping down on my mask. Had I not been wearing a catcher’s mask; my face would already be destroyed. Trying desperately to remain calm, I fumbled into my pocket until I had a grip on the kitchen knife. Pulling it out, I stabbed down where I figured the creature’s eye was.

“Keeeeeee!” It let out an even louder screech this time.

The heat rising to my brain, mixed with the sudden spray of blood, and I started stabbing the creature wildly. Each strike was aimed at its face, desperately hoping I destroyed its brain. After fifteen stabs, my arm was too tired to keep going. Thankfully, the creature had also stopped moving. It was now on top of me with all of its weight pressing against my lungs. With all of my strength, I pushed up and turned, dumping the creature down to the ground. It landed with a thump.

I had blood all over my shirt, and running up my arm. As for the rat, well, it looked like a dead naked rat now. I pulled off my mask, and one look at the damage caused me to wince. It was useless now. However, it had likely saved my life. That thing would have bitten off my head if it had the chance.

“That was horrifying…” I voiced the words out loud because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to get over it on my own without verbalizing it.

With a cough, I pulled off my shirt. I only realized as I pulled it off that the rat had also been scratching me with its claws. My shirt was in shreds, and I had a dozen scratches on my stomach that were now starting to itch.

“For Mother…” I had to remind myself why I was here as I resisted every urge in my body to turn and run away.

Instead, I calmly took out a bottle of water, cleaned my hands and wounds, put on a clean shirt, and then ate a Slimfast bar. Feeling slightly better, I reached out and grabbed the bat. The cheap kitchen knife I had defended myself with was now unusable. Besides being covered in blood, it was also dented in various spots. The knife didn’t seem strong enough to get through the bone. If I hadn’t been hitting the eye, it’s one weak spot, I might not have successfully killed it.

“For Mother… For Mother…” I gulped, forcing my shaking limbs to stand up.

I didn’t have another catcher’s mask, let alone a knife. I just had to go on without them. Rather than searching the place room by room, possibly running into another giant rat in the process, I decided methodically didn’t necessarily mean better. I tightened my backpack, and then started heading down the stairway I had taken the last time I was here. Instead of stopping at the third floor, I took two more floors down, stopping at the 1st floor. I reckoned that anything valuable would probably be out in the front. As I left the dark stairway, I started to hear popping sounds. I continued down the hallway carefully, but the popping sounds continued. They were coming from outside, and I realized after a minute they were getting closer.

With one final breath, I decided to take a peek outside, to see what it was making all that noise. Just as I went to the window, it exploded. With a cry, I stumbled back, falling onto my butt. At that moment a form burst through the window. That form landed right on top of me. I was reminded of the rat, and as my back hit the ground and darkness overtook me, I could only wait for the pain as my body was torn apart.

That was when I realized that I wasn’t being attacked. Rather, my head ended up between two soft pillows. Countless times of having my sister use my head as a pillow rack made me quite familiar with the feel of these things. There was a sweet pleasant scent, and then a woman pulled off of me. She looked a few years older than me, and she was drop-dead gorgeous. She looked like she could be a model. She had brunette hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones, and kissable lips. Her breasts were larger than my sisters by at least a size, at the same level as my mother.

She was wearing what looked to be a tactical vest, a stained shirt, and a pair of shorts. She sat up, straddling me. After looking dazed for a moment, her eyes locked on me.

“You… you’re not a raider, are you?”

A… what?”

“Tsk!” She made an irritated sound and then jumped into a roll.

She grabbed a gun which had fallen from her hands when she landed on me. In a single motion, she ended up in a half-kneeling position with the gun pointed directly at my face.

“If you want to live, Wastelander, tell me who you are?”

“Huh?”

She snorted. “Wrong answer, you had your chance.”

Her eyes turned serious as she aimed the gun at me carefully, and I realized she was seriously going to shoot me. Before I could even say a word, there was a hissing sound. A dart struck the strange woman’s neck. She went to grab it, but then she suddenly started convulsing violently. It looked like she was being electrocuted.

I instinctively rolled over and hastily crawled over to her. Just as I reached for the dart on her neck, I heard another hiss. This one hit me. Yes, it was electricity. The last thing I remembered was convulsing on the floor before darkness overtook me.

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