Stupid me! I thought. What was I thinking, anyway, recklessly following a possibly hostile ball of light through an unfamiliar maze of tunnels deep into the earth. For all I knew, there were dangers lurking in every nook and cranny, slithering monsters from some ancient epoch like in that H.P.Lovecraft novel I read that time. Or maybe I had reached the gates of hell and hideous demons would soon be coming to drag me deep down into a boiling lake of pitch with sulphurous fumes. If so, I probably deserved it. Maybe I should have just stayed at the academy. There, at least, I knew what to expect, as dreadful and dreary as it was.
So there I was, hunched over an especially uncomfortable rock, damp and shivering, hugging myself and feeling the usual self-pity which has never, ever done me any good, but sometimes its all I have to hold on to, like a familiar friend. At the moment I was feeling especially small and worthless, like an insignificant blot on the earth, lower than low. I wasn't even all that scared anymore, because the darkness inside me was more real and depressing than the darkness of the cave. Besides, I was getting real hungry. It had been awhile since I'd eaten that sandwich in the box car.
I was even thinking I'd be better off dead, my life had no meaning anyway, when her voice came from right there beside me, Snap out of it! This is no time for a pity party, and I was so startled I screamed.
"It's only me, you numbskull," Selena assured me, "not some demon from hell." How did she know what I'd been thinking? But then, she always had.
Now I was kind of angry. If she's really my friend, why'd she desert me in my moment of need? I asked, perhaps too sharply, "Where've you been, anyway? You're never around when I need you!" But even as I spoke, I realized I was behaving like a child. "Forget it, you don't have to answer. Just tell me how we're gonna get out of this place." I had slowly gotten off my haunches, which wasn't easy since my muscles were sore from all that squatting.
"Just hold on and let me think, will you," Selena retorted. Which was strange. She usually has all the answers just like that, without having to think. Now she was thinking for quite some time while I stretched and moved about, trying to get my blood circulating again. I was feeling more and more like a real person with my own needs and desires and the very real possibility of making choices, not merely an object tossed this way and that either by the winds of chance or according to some predetermined plan. "Okay," she finally said. "There's something about this place that seems familiar, like we've been here before."
I dredged deep into my well of memories, both real and imagined, some possibly implanted by the enemy that pursued me. An image flashed into my mind before slipping back into the depths. "I think I may have been here before," I replied. "In my dreams. But I can't picture you at all. I don't think you come to me in my dreams."
"I'm not talking about your weird, convoluted dreams," she said impatiently.