Dreams that Mask the Shadows

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Chapter Six: The Silence Before the Storm

Kylie

“I can’t believe you dragged me to a three hour long mass,” I groaned as we entered through the garage door.

“It’s not a ‘mass’, Kylie. It’s church, in this case,” my mom said lightly.

“Whatever. That was long.” I sighed and cracked my neck, rolling my shoulders as well before muttering, “Way too long for comfort.”

“Can you help with dinner tonight?” Mom—oh, sorry, I mean Call-Me-Evelyn—asked as I jogged up the stairs.

“Yeah,” I replied. I didn’t know why she even bothered asking. I helped every time even if she didn’t need it.

“In four hours?” Evelyn called. I checked the time on my phone. 2:29 p.m.

“Okay,” I called back before going into my bedroom and closing the door behind me with my toe. I immediately went to my bed, shuffled out of my cute little silver wedge heels and flopped down, face first. My immediate thought was: I need a nap. Curling up in my dress proved easier than I had imagined, given that the longer skirt flowed around my calves. I tried to squeeze myself into a tight ball. After a few minutes of letting my mind wonder, I felt myself falling asleep.

My eyes opened and I realized that I was no longer in my bedroom. Glancing down, I found that I was wearing the same dress I had worn to church and that I still had no shoes on. I had walked around barefoot once before when I was little. I remember clearly that I hadn’t liked it. We were on a family vacation at the time in Arizona. The pool was nice and cool, but when I went inside through the house and out the front door—with no shoes—I quickly found that my feet could not handle crackling hot dirt and rocks. Now, I took a few careful steps and turned in a slow circle before throwing my arms out wide.

“Hello?” I whistled. Where am I? There were grass and trees everywhere I looked. A meadow was placed a little way in front of me and, to my right, I could see a cobblestoned pathway leading to a twinkling lake. Benches dotted the area, here and there. I jogged to the path and ran down the little paved road. My feet didn’t feel anything, even though I was barefoot.

“Is anyone here?” I called, “Am I dreaming?” My feet splashed into the water and I felt the chill of the water seep between my clothes. I gave a soft shriek and hitched up my skirt. I waded in deeper, up to my knees before the water began lapping too high so I stood there in one place against the pull of the river. A fish swam by and another and another. I looked up. The sky was clear with the exception of a few wispy clouds. A cool breeze tickled my hair and I closed my eyes.

“What are you doing?” A voice demanded. I yelped and jumped. Jumping in water never went well, especially if your intention was to stay at least mostly dry. I tripped over the pull of the water—and my dress—and fell, going under. The current pulled me in almost instantly after I managed to gulp in a breath.

One of my worst fears was being unable to breathe under water or under anything. I didn’t like thinking that such a thing could so easily take my life. No oxygen, no life. It almost seemed too easy. Look at me, talking about death at a time like this. I flailed around, trying to propel myself up for air, but I couldn’t tell what direction up was.

Strong arms wrapped around my shoulders and hands grabbed at my clothes from behind. The water sucked me down and suddenly, my rescuer propelled us forward with a powerful kick and I felt the water rush past.

Thinking I could help by doing something useful, my mind decided to freak instead. The whole, lack of oxygen thing, you know how it gets. I kicked my legs, trying to bring myself closer to the surface, and fast. Right as I thought I couldn’t hold my breath for a second longer, my head broke the surface and I gulped in a huge breath of air.

“What are you doing?!” I sputtered, splashing about like a drowning fish. “You can’t just go around scaring the crap out of people!”

Excuse me, I just saved your soggy ass, miss,” replied the voice. The person carried me to shore as I hastily wiped my hair and water out of my face so I could see.

“Now, look here,” I started, pointing a finger before looking up. Dark, dark eyes met mine. The guy looked just as pissed as I felt. His shirt clung to his body and I couldn’t help but notice the six-pack peeking through or the fact that his hair was so dark that it looked like it was almost purple. I blinked and looked away, grabbing a chunk of my dress, hurriedly attempting to wring out most of the water—and trying to ignore the clinginess of my own clothes.

“What are you doing here? You are not allowed to come into the Watcher’s Center. Are you new?” The guy scowled down at me.

What?

He wasn’t particularly bulky, but he was definitely not small either. He towered over me a good several inches and the muscles in his arm showed that he was the guard dog of this…this…dream?—that was the only word that came to mind when I looked around.

“Um?” I said aloud, “What’s a Watcher’s Center?” Frowning, I realized that my dress wasn’t about to magically dry itself. I also noticed that I wasn’t one bit cold or uncomfortable in my wet clothes, even with the slight breeze. “Excuse me?” He had turned away from me. I hurried after him, still holding my skirt in my hand as to not hinder me. I frowned. “Hello!”

We had made it to the meadow that I had seen from when I had first arrived and without warning, he spun around and lunged at me. I leaped back, almost tripping over the back of my dress. My hands had gone up to protect me and I was crouched slightly, knees bent, stance wider.

“What are you doing?” I demanded. “What are you hiding…or…protecting?” His expression didn’t change as he stalked forward, hands loose at his side. He lunged again, bringing an arm up. I knocked it away from me and his other hand came up, faster. I knocked that one away too before soon it was like gears in a clock, him attacking with me blocking, time after time after time again. I was slightly breathless so I didn’t speak. He looked the same as he did when we had first met.

“You claim that you do not know what Watchers are,” he was saying. “And yet, you are here. How come? You are also holding your own against a Guard. You are either a spy or a rogue and you are not allowed into this department.”

I narrowed my eyes, listening and trying to concentrate as I dodged and blocked his attacks. I ducked as his foot came flying at me. He spun and his other leg swiped at my feet. Knocked to the ground, I groaned and tried sliding back but my dress caught under my scrambling feet and I couldn’t move very quickly. He was coming at me again. If I couldn’t slide backwards, then—

Right as he was about to lunge at me, I secured my feet on the ground and dove between his legs, not even caring if my dress hiked up a little too much. Too slow. I was too slow! He realized my intention and caught my legs with his own, causing me to be stopped, as well as bringing himself to the ground. We rolled and I ended up with my stomach pressed to grass. I patted the ground around my head, before reaching to grab a good sized rock just out of reach. I pulled myself up to my elbows before stretching my arm as far as I could. My hands closed around the rock.

His hands grabbed my waist and I jerked in his grasp, turning quickly onto my back before chucking the rock with all of my might, arm muscles straining. The rock thumped him in the head and he was knocked back, his hands releasing me.

“Why did you save me from drowning and then try to freaking kill me?” I shouted at him. Now I was pissed off. A small gash had opened on his temple and it was bleeding. His eyes were closed. I glanced at his chest, making sure he was still breathing. Affirmative. I rubbed a hand over my forehead. How did I get myself into this? How did I know how to fight? And why did it feel like second-nature to me? I winced as I sat up quickly. I was sure I had a bruise the size of Mount Everest on my side. What happened? I thought. You went to sleep, you nuthead. This is just a dream.

“There is no such thing as ‘just a dream’.” His dark eyes met mine and he slowly sat up. I must have spoken out loud if he had heard me. My eyes widened. Unless he was a mind-reader. Holy crap! A deep growl came from within his chest as I crouched and leaned over him from out of arms’ reach. I stood and took a few quick steps away. He gave a pained sigh. “I’m not going to hurt you.” A muscle in his jaw twitched and a vein bulged in his neck.

“Funny how I don’t believe you,” I responded.

He rolled his eyes heavenward before giving me a distasteful look. “As I was saying, dreams are always brought on by need or reason. If you get anything out of this encounter, remember that.” His eyes closed and my eyes went to his small head wound. It had stopped bleeding. I squinted. Was it closing?

“Would it help if you knew my name?” He said slowly. “I’m Tha—.”

“Why did you save me?” I snapped. I didn’t want to know his name. If I did, then that would make him real.

“You were drowning.”

“Yes.” I shrugged. “So? You attacked me right after.”

“That is my job. You don’t belong here.”

“Where is here?”

He stared at me. “You really don’t know?”

“Know what?” I growled. He leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees, replicating a casual pose. I saw the fighter light still on in his head—he was not relaxed.

“What you are?” He continued to look at me and I backed away. I had to wake up. Placing my hands behind me, I pinched the inside of my elbow. Nothing. I raked my fingernails against my arm and could feel the marks already rising against the assault.

“I’m dreaming,” I said, almost like a chant. “This is a dream. A dream…” I felt a slight tingle in my arm and I pinched harder. I took a few more steps away and in a blink he was on his feet, slight head injury forgotten. In fact, it had disappeared completely, the only sign of any wound was the blood caked in his dark hair. I pinched my skin as hard as I could and pain laced up my arm right as he leaped at me, tackling me to the ground. His hand went to my head and tangled in my hair as he tried to get a grip on me, but this time, I escaped, snapping back into reality with a painful click. Adrenaline continued to course through me and I sat up fast. My head hurt like nobody’s business and I could still feel the guy’s hands almost ripping my scalp from the rest of my head. My arm felt as if it was on fire.

You’re a Dreamcatcher, Kylie Roth, and you cannot hide from your fate.

“Kylie?”

I winced and tried to separate the dream from reality.

You’re a Dreamcatcher. His words rang in my head, echoing painfully.

“Kylie, answer me!” Footsteps getting closer, moving down the hallway. You cannot hide from your fate. You’re a Dream—

“Kylie!” Mom’s voice cut through my daze as she burst through my bedroom door. She rushed to my side and placed a hand on my arm, then my forehead, then my cheek. “Why are you shivering? Kylie, what’s wrong? Tell me.”

“I’m fine, Evelyn,” I grumbled, scooting away from her before using my bed to help push myself up. I glanced down at my clothes. Dry. My dress wasn’t wet anymore. It was perfectly dry. My head had a hard time wrapping around that. Maybe I had a concussion. I probably hit my head when I fell off of the bed.

“Why were you on the floor? You’re not…hurt are you?”

“I am not hurt and I am not overdosed on drugs or anything if that’s what you’re so worried about. You have a teenage daughter, I understand your worry, but I’m fine,” I insisted. “I’ll be down to help with dinner in…whatever…” I trailed off as I glanced at the clock on my dresser. The blurry image read 2:31 p.m. I had to shake my head and squint a little to make out the digits. “In four hours.” Turning away so my mom couldn’t see my face, I frowned. How did I have a dream in the matter of two minutes? Was that a dream? Was I going crazy? My frown deepened. Am I crazy?

“Please, talk to me, Kylie.”

“Now you want to talk?” I said slowly, before coming to my conclusion. I had to say it. I turned and sat on the edge of my bed, slapping my hand down on the space beside me. “Fine. Let’s talk about my father and all of the other things you aren’t telling me.” My mom didn’t move, frozen in her tracks as if she were caught doing something bad. I looked at her, refusing to back down, “Well, Evelyn? If we are to be friends, I believe we should not keep so many secrets from each other.”

“Why were you on the floor?” My mother asked instead, her eyes filling with the same determination that I knew I mirrored.

I didn’t budge. “What is my father?”

“What aren’t you telling me, Kylie?” Her voice could cut glass.

“What is a Dreamcatcher?” Mine could slice through a mountain. Yeah, impressive. I know.

My mother’s eye twitched and I knew I had her. She broke her gaze away from mine and turned to the door. With her back to me, she said firmly, “I’ll call you down for dinner.” An attempt at returning life to a perfect picture of normal—except I knew now that it was just another lie.

With a sigh, I fell back against my bed and stared at the ceiling. I had won our little stand-off, but why did I feel like I still lost? Maybe because you didn’t get anything out of it, I told myself, rolling to my side and bringing my arms up in front of me. My eyes caught a red mark on the inside of my arm and I glanced down before sitting up abruptly.

“No,” I breathed out, “Way.”

There were three red marks on the inside of my elbow and three long scratches, right where I had raked my nails against my skin in the dream. If it even was a dream… I felt the inside of my arm and stared. The marks were definitely real. Staring for a moment longer, I closed my eyes and groaned, placing my head back onto my pillow, face first.

Mom, I thought, What aren’t you telling me and why?


“I can put the dishes away,” I muttered quickly after we had finished eating a very stressful meal. Evelyn had tried to make some small talk, but for the most part it was silent except for the classical jazz music CD that Evelyn had put on in the background. The need to escape this disaster of a meal was strong. My mother had changed so much and I had given up trying to figure this new person out.

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