My latest creation - Dreams. Give me your thoughts.
My eyes snapped open. My body was covered in a sheen of sweat. Breath escaped in short gasps form my lungs. The red glow of my alarm clock told me it was 2:37 a.m.
I sat up shakily and clutched my blankets tighter. I felt eyes on me. Somebody was in my room. There was a shuffle to my left. I jerked my head in that direction.
I saw a boy. He looked as if he were trying to retreat. As our eyes met, he stopped moving away and rose to his full height. He wasn’t tall, but he was probably still taller than me. From what I could tell, his hair appeared jet black. He had blue green eyes that seemed to glow out of his face.
We watched each other silently. Finally, he opened his mouth. “You weren’t supposed to wake up.”
He fell back at the sudden sound. I threw my pillow, catching him off guard. He stumbled back, into the stool I hadn’t bothered to push back under my desk. He fell over it and landed on the floor. His head smashed into my lamp, sending it crashing to the ground. The bulb sparked and shattered. I was still screaming.
“Cadence!” my dad yelled. I heard movement outside of my room.
The boy was across the room in an instant. I was still sitting up, and he slipped behind me. His hand slapped over my mouth. His other arm wrapped around me, restraining me. He was surprisingly strong for his build. The door flew open.
My dad looked around frantically. To my surprise, he relaxed slightly. “Are you okay?”
I was shocked. Did he not see the look of terror on my face? Was he seeing something I wasn’t?
“Not seeing, actually.” The boy’s breath was hot on my ear.
I froze. How did he know what I was thinking?
The boy physically made me nod my head in answer to my dad’s question. Adrenaline sent my heart racing. What the heck was going on?!
Dad’s eye’s flicked over my room again. He took in the fallen lamp. I could tell he wanted to say something, but his words were swallowed up in a yawn. “We’ll talk in the morning.” He closed the door and disappeared.
He left? He just left?! I sagged against my captor in shock.
“Don’t blame him,” the boy said. “It’s not his fault he can’t see me.”
Even if I’d have been able to say anything, I wouldn’t have been able to think of a response. With adrenaline and fear running at light speed through my veins, I tore away from the boys grasp and flipped him over me and off the bed.
He groaned and didn’t make a move to stand.
I crawled to the edge of my bed to look down at him. I grabbed the first thing my hand touched on the bed. I held the heavy edition of Crime and Punishment over my head, ready to use if he twitched a muscle.
He rolled away suddenly in a quick move I wasn’t prepared for. He was out of reach and I didn’t dare leave the safety of my bed. He lifted his hands to calm me, much like I can imagine someone doing to an angry bear. “Easy, I’m not here to hurt you.”
I hadn’t noticed before, but he had a slight British accent. It felt like this whole scene was straight out of Harry Potter. “Who are you?!” I hissed.
He smiled. Something glinted in his blue green eyes that I couldn’t quite interpret. “That,” he said obnoxiously, “is not a question easily answered.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I’m not asking for your deep personal life history. Just tell me who you are and what you’re doing in my room!”
He raised his eyebrows at me. “But my deep personal life history is exactly what you’re asking for, you just don’t know it. Yet.”
I didn’t respond. The boy, so solid and so real at one time, seemed to be . . . fading. A franticness surrounded him all at once, and I knew that I wasn’t imagining it.
“Look, I can’t sit here and answer all your questions. I don’t have much time left. But you have to trust me when I say that what I’m about to say is important.” His eyes were pleading.
I glared. “I never going to trust anything you say!”
He looked down. “You have to.” The complete sincerity in his tone made me hold my tongue so he could continue. I could see my window through him now. “When you try to go back to sleep, focus all your energy into the thought of me. It doesn’t matter what you think about me, as long as you’re thinking of me.”
I could barely make out his outline.
“You have to do this. I can’t come back again until I gather enough energy. The walls might fall by then. The balance has to be kept!”
I couldn’t see him at all. I was alone in the darkness of my room. “What’s your name?” I called urgently at the place he’d been. At that moment, knowing his name was the only thing I wanted.
Out of the empty space, his voice floated weakly to my ears. “Ashton.” I knew he was gone.
I rolled the name over on my tongue. It didn’t feel menacing. Slowly, I lowered my book. I fell back on my bed and concentrated on breathing more regularly. There was no way I was going to fall asleep. My personal space had been violated, my dad hadn’t seen anything, and Ashton had disappeared into thin air.
“I’m dreaming,” I muttered to myself. It was the only explanation. People always said that you couldn’t feel pain in a dream. My eyes found Crime and Punishment. I briefly considered hitting myself with it, but discarded the idea. If this wasn’t a dream, I didn’t want to know.
I resituated myself in the blankets carefully so as not to accidently do something that would cause me to feel pain if this weren’t a dream. My pillow was gone, but there was no way I was going to go get it. I reached over and grabbed a different pillow. It was too fluffy. I didn’t care. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. I released the air in a slow sigh.
My eyes opened an instant later. Trying to wake up by going to sleep was pointless, and I wasn’t tired in the least. The clock glowed with the numbers 2:44. I watched it change to 2:45 then 2:46. I started counting the seconds between each minute change . . . 27 . . . 28 . . . 29 . . . nothing.
I wasn’t asleep. My eyes were wide open, but the red glowing clock had vanished. I was seized on every side.
I screamed against the hand that was clamped down over my mouth. Unseen assailants grabbed my struggling arms and legs. They lifted me easily off the bed and carried me across the room toward the balcony. We were outside and I could see what was happening. Men dressed from head to toe in black were stealing me from my room. My eyes were covered with something, and I didn’t see anything else. I never stopped screaming against the hand that covered my mouth.
I have no idea how they got me to the ground from my second story balcony, but they did. The sound of water sloshing against the bank clued me into where they were taking me. My suspicions were confirmed as they sat me down in a chair on a rocking boat. I felt myself being secured down. I took a breath to renew my screaming.
My captors took advantage of the momentary lapse. The hand lifted from my mouth and a gag was put in its place. Amidst the chaos, I heard a distinctly feminine voice break through. “Leave her be. There’s nothing she can do now.” All the hands lifted off of me simultaneously. I stopped screaming and blinked my eyes to focus.
The men were hard to see in the dark. They had formed a circle around me. The circle also extended around someone else. The girl was probably slightly older than my 17 years. Everything about her was pale; her perfect waist length hair, her porcelain face, her off white school girls dress. Everything except her eyes. Her eyes were like twin black holes. I imagined that life was being sucked out of me every second she watched me. Her face looked so calm and peaceful, like that of a mother sympathizing with her daughter.
My study of her physiognomy was interrupted by her voice. It was cold as ice. “I bet you’re wondering why I’ve had you brought here. The truth of the matter is that I don’t care if you know or not and telling you would just waste time. Besides, by morning you won’t remember any of this anyway. It’s a nasty side effect, but it suits my purpose here perfectly.”
My eyes widened in fear. The girl stepped up to me and put her hands on both of my temples. She was going to kill me. I knew it. I tried to scream again, but discovered that I was incapable. It felt like a blanket of darkness settled over my mind. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think . . .
I jerked up out of my bed. The clock glowed 5:30. I felt a pervading sense of wrongness. I had no idea why I’d woken up. I felt violated. Something was in me that wasn’t supposed to be there. Had I eaten something that wasn’t sitting well? I followed my memory back. The last thing I could remember was having a sandwich before bed. The empty plate was still sitting on my nightstand.
Something caught my attention from the other side of my room. My head swung in that direction. My lamp was standing upright. Nothing was out of the ordinary about it. But the fact that it was fine did not sit right with me. I lied back down. My head rested comfortably in my favorite pillow.
For the remainder of the night I couldn’t go back to sleep. The feeling of wrongness never left me.
* * * * *
“So, are you going to tell me what happened last night?”
I glanced up from my toast. “What do you mean, Dad?”
Dad gave me that look that adults tend to give to children who are hiding something. “I’m referring to 2:30 when you woke up me and your mother with your screams.”
I raised my eyebrows at him. “Are you serious?”
His condescending look changed to one of confusion. “You really don’t remember? You broke your lamp when you threw your pillow, Cadence. Are you telling me that you didn’t even question why your lamp was broken this morning?”
“My lamp’s not broken, Dad. I used it to get dressed this morning.”
Dad stood up. He looked at me curiously. He turned and headed upstairs, most likely to verify my story. I checked the time on my phone. “Crap!” I was going to be late. If I didn’t make it, I would lose my alone time with Jason before Cassidy showed up. I swallowed the last three quarters of my toast in one bite. “Bye!” I yelled. I scooped up my backpack and ran out the door.
Lake Michigan peeked in and out of view as I recklessly drove the 18 miles to Gibraltar School. The parking lot was still empty. Jason had probably walked to school. When I reached the library doors, I had to physically stop myself from running. I patted down my hair. I’d taken extra care that morning to look good. I’d been trying to correct the feeling of wrongness I was still unable to shake. I took a deep breath and pushed the door open. My eyes lighted on the corner table where we usually sat. They darkened an instant later. He wasn’t there. Maybe he was late.
I wiped the disappointment off my face and walked to the table. I smiled at the librarian as I passed. Pulling out my laptop, I opened up my unfinished paper. I needed to fix my procrastination habit, but that was a job or another day.
Younger grade children began to come in and look at the different picture books. Nobody in the older grades dared to show their faces in the library, something about being too cool for books. I took comfort in the fact that nobody would come in here and see that I was. Also, there was the whole thing that my last name was Beck.
The bell was about to ring, and Jason still hadn’t arrived. I forced myself not to feel anything. I pressed print and closed my laptop. I was waiting impatiently by the printer when Jason arrived. Cassidy was at his side. I deliberately didn’t notice how the backs of their hands brushed against the others. I also didn’t notice how much Cassidy glowed, the same way she did whenever Jason was around. I didn’t even notice how easy Jason’s smile came to his face. I forced down my pain.
Jason’s face drooped a little when he saw me. “I’m so sorry, Cade,” he said, walking up to me. Cassidy hopped along in his wake.
I waved him aside. “Don’t worry about it. I had a paper I needed to finish writing.”
He smiled at me. My breath caught. “You still procrastinating?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Well, you know me.” My paper finally spat itself out.
Cassidy giggled overly loud. The librarian shot us an evil glare.
“Let’s go,” I muttered, pushing by them. They followed me out.
“I stayed up too late helping Cassi with a project,” Jason continued, by way of explanation. “This morning I didn’t hear my alarm. Again, I’m really sorry.”
“Hey, it’s your grade, not mine.” The bell rang. “I’ll see you guys later.” I went to class. My school split the seniors into two different groups for our classes. It just so happened that Jason and Cassidy were in one group, and I was in the other. I cursed myself for ever introducing them last year. Now I’d lost my best friend.
I walked through the door to my English class. I took my standard seat in the front row and waited. I didn’t have to wait long.
“Look who got fixed up this morning,” a low voice whispered from behind me.
I didn’t bother to turn around. “Go away, Cooper.”
He didn’t listen. Cooper Little pulled up the chair next to me and sat. “Why the sour face, Cady Lady? Did Jason not notice your special efforts with Cassidy stealing all your thunder.”
I felt my face start to burn with a blush. “I said, go away.”
He leaned back in his chair and twined his fingers behind his head. “Bet you don’t feel so good about friending the new girl now do you?”
I reached down and pulled up on one of the chair legs that was in the air. Cooper sure didn’t look all that cool with his arms flailing as he crashed to the floor. A second later Miss Walker entered the room.
“Okay class, pull out your finished papers. And Mr. Little,” she gave him an annoyed frown, “I would appreciate it if you got up off the floor.”
I subdued my smile as Cooper climbed grumbling to his feet and fixed his chair. What he’d said had disturbed me. If it was so obvious to Cooper, why didn’t Jason notice? Or did he? Did he see my efforts and think them sad and pathetic? Or was I being so overshadowed by Cassidy that he didn’t notice me at all anymore? It was going to be a long day and I could already feel my eyes wanting to close from my lack of sleep.