“But what if I’m lost and can’t be found?” whimpered Dahlia.

“Well then you are gone. And that is that.” replied the woman matter of factly, searching Dahlia’s panicked face.

“You will have to come with me, I am your best choice now” she added.

“What’s my other choice?..” Delia asked as she wiped away the tears that gathered at the corners of her eyes.

“Oh you don’t want that choice, trust me..” said the woman with untrustworthy, narrowed eyes.

“But I don’t know you, so I can’t trust you, can I..” 

“Can’t you?” replied the woman with a teasing smile.

Dahlia stopped crying and looked at the woman intently for a moment. 

“NO!” she suddenly snapped, catching the woman by surprise. 

The woman’s ragged face dropped, and her smile vanished as it was instantly replaced by a stern, loathsome expression that twisted her mouth.

Dahlia took a step backward, and then looked beyond at the dazzling lights that seem to shine out of nowhere. She ran past the woman with such intent that the dark figure flinched back and stumbled over the low railing, hurtling down into the darkness. 

It wasn’t the fact that Dahlia had knocked the woman over that filled her with dread, but that there was no sound when the woman fell. No scream, no thud at the bottom, just silence. 

Dahlia just kept running with her heart in her throat, running towards the neon lights that quickly transformed into the shape of a pagoda. 

“But how can there be a pagoda when I’m not outside?” she thought to herself as she approached the now completely formed structure that was undoubtedly, a pagoda. She could now see that she was somehow, outside again. 

“But I walked into the dark house, I climbed the stairs, and didn’t leave.. did I?!" Dahlia wailed to herself in a panic. She looked behind her to see the outline of the dark house in the shadows. The house was surrounded by silhouettes of trees with their gnarled limbs that reached out at her, and when she turned back around, she saw that there in the clearing was the neon pagoda, inviting her in.

Dahlia walked slowly towards the building, her mind racing through the evening’s events that led her there. 

“I walked out of the gate, looking for the ice cream truck. How did it get so dark so quickly? The sky was orangey pink in the street. I saw that girl run down the street, crying. I ran after her because I know her, at least I think I do..? I followed her into the old house, but it wasn’t that old when I went in, until…” Dahlia looked behind her again at the black form of the house. She turned back towards the light and her eyes welled up. 

“I’ve gone too far, what if I can’t be found now?” she whispered to herself as she reached the entrance of the pagoda that looked dark inside. Dahlia bit her lip and looked over her shoulder again. She hesitated, and it was only then, when she could feel the warm light behind her radiate out of the pagoda door, that she turned back around to see nothing but bright, white light flood the inside of the building.

She took a step inside, and then another, and another, until she could finally see that there in the light was an entity which she could never of fathomed. She knew that she knew it, but could never of remembered or imagined such a thing. It beckoned her over and without moving, she found herself suddenly in it’s warm embrace. This otherworldly feeling then pulled her into itself, and Dahlia returned home as she was before she had ever heard an ice cream truck.