Guided Tour

“Come on!” Alliane pulled on Jonah’s arm. “You can’t see anything from there, get closer!” She stood on one of the city’s outer walls trying to get her boyfriend to look at the river of zombies shambling below. Jonah crinkled his nose and shook his head.

“I can’t get any closer to that stench, how can you stand it?” Alliane turned over the railing and stared down at the walking corpses. They shuffled through an empty concrete moat built around the city moaning the whole way. She made a show of inhaling a deep breath through her nostrils. Alliane exhaled then turned back to Jonah with a disgusted face.

“Blech,” she giggled. “Never smelled that before.” She left the railing and led Jonah towards the elevator. “We’re on an adventure and you need to be more adventurous.”

“I’m adventurous, I just don’t like stinky smells,” he grumbled as they stepped into the elevator. Alliane realized he may have taken it more seriously than she intended. She kissed his cheek as an apology then changed the subject.

“We’ll get the picture then move on. What’s next on the list?”

“Uh..,” Jonah pulled his cell phone out and swiped through the screens until he pulled up a picture of a list. “A ladder.”

“A ladder? That’s kind of boring,” Alliane said. “I don’t think those girls gave us all the rules.”

“Maybe they didn’t understand it either,” Jonah handed his phone to Alliane. “It says #07 La Escalera,” he shrugged. “I don’t know why it’s in Spanish, but that’s a ladder. I don’t know what the number is, maybe we have to find one with the number seven on it?” The elevator glided to halt then dinged. The doors opened and Alliane stepped out first. She headed straight for the viewing window.

“That’s super easy, we can grab a ladder from here and draw a seven on it,” she looked back to wink an emerald eye at him. “Two birds, one stone.” They reached a wide glass wall that separated the zombies from the tourists. The glass turned into concrete at about eight feet. The horde of corpses blocked out most of the sunlight leaving a dim interior. On one side, people stood in front of the glass wall and posed with frightened faces for the camera. On the other side, the legion ignored the unending flashes and continued to flow forward.

“Here,” Jonah handed his phone to Alliane then he stood in front of the clear wall. Alliane snapped a quick picture and then they swapped places. After Jonah took Alliane’s picture he joined her by the wall and watched the zombies. “Do you think they’re blind?” Jonah asked as he wrapped his arm around Alliane.

“Probably. They are dead,” she replied.

“No, that’s not it,” a woman’s voice said from beside them. The couple turned to see a young woman wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a green vest that identified her as a docent. “Hi,” she smiled at them and pressed a hand to her chest. “I’m Mundo.” Jonah waved with his free hand and Alliane smiled.

“I’m Jonah and this is Alliane.” Mundo nodded at the parade of corpses behind them. “Their eyes work fine, but the glass is treated. It’s kind of like a two-way mirror, but they only see black.”

“Oh I see. Thank you for the information,” Jonah said.

“No problem,” Mundo said. “Anything else I can help you with?” They both shook their heads.

“Not unless you can help us find a ladder around here,” Alliane giggled then turned her attention back to the zombies. She knew they’d be leaving soon and she wanted to enjoy every moment.

“Ignore her, we’re fine. Thank you again,” Mundo gave him a curious look.

“An Escalera?” she asked. Immediately both heads whipped around to face her.

“Why did you say it in Spanish?” Jonah asked.

“What’s Spanish?” Mundo asked. Alliane’s hand flew fast and sharp to smack Jonah on the back of his head.

“It’s nothing, just an inside joke between us,” Alliane said quickly. “RIGHT, honey?”

“Yeah, yeah. Sorry. I’m so used to talking to her things slip out sometimes.” Mundo stared at them with piercing eyes, but the corners of her lips tugged upward. A smile slowly spread across her face.

“Oh my god,” she said. Her eyes widened and seemed to sparkle more, even in the dim light. She began bouncing in place with excitement. “You don’t know what you are, do you???!” Her restraint withered with every second as she became more energetic. Jonah saw severe worry flash over Alliane’s face.

‘I know that we’re leaving,” he said. “But thank you again.”

“You guys are from a different universe!” Mundo blurted out. “Two actually, one each,” she corrected herself in a quieter tone. They stopped walking.

“What makes you say that?” Jonah asked. He guided Alliane away from Mundo and tried to put himself between them.

“I NEVER get to explain it to anyone, this is awesome! FOLLOW ME!” She grabbed the closest hand, Jonah’s, and led them to the cafeteria in a hurry. She sat them at a small booth.

“Wait here, I’ll get us some drinks. I’ve got a lot to tell you about yourselves,” she turned and took two steps away. Then she stopped and turned around. “OH, please don’t leave. You’re not in any danger, I promise.” Jonah and Alliane nodded, then Mundo turned away again. After two more steps, she stopped and turned around again. “BUT, if you do leave do yourselves a favor. Look for a Mundo on the next Earth you visit. We can explain things to you.” She turned and walked to the counter.

“Up to you, hon,” Jonah said. They both watched Mundo get in a short line with three bottled waters. Alliane shrugged.

“She called the ladder an escalera, that can’t be a coincidence. Plus, she somehow knew we weren’t from here. Let’s listen. Maybe she can help us with other items on the scavenger hunt too, not just the ladder.”

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