Dreams that Mask the Shadows

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Chapter Nine: Entering A New World

Kylie

The next thing that happened was something I never believed could happen.

Gadge teleported us to New York. I mean, New York? That’s crazy. The Dreamcatchers’ East Coast Headquarters was in New York—something supernatural was so close, but so far from home.

Yes, I know.

The thing that actually threw me was New York, not the teleportation. Actually, that’s not true. I would’ve been spazzed out if they simply teleported me down the street a few feet. Either way, the whole thing proved rather difficult to wrap around in my head. I was more amazed now that they had teleported me from all the way from California.

Technically, Gadge had opened up a small portal that we had to step through two at a time. Hermie and Waylan had gone before Gadge and I. As Gadge went on about what the plan was—get into Headquarters, find out information about my parents and myself, the leave without a scene—I watched in awe as Hermie and Waylan stepped through the portal and simply…disappeared.

Of course, I had no idea what else I had expected. If they hadn’t disappeared, I probably should’ve been worried. When Gadge grabbed my hand and pulled me through, the teleportation itself happened way too fast and I hardly felt a thing. Plus, I had my eyes closed for the entirety of the two seconds it took to transport so I couldn’t tell if we were falling down, soaring up, or zooming forwards or backwards—next time, I told myself that I’d keep my eyes open, but I knew I’d be too chicken.

Our grand arrival was greeted by a brick wall and a concrete one with a good amount of graffiti decorating every inch of it. We had arrived in the bathroom stall of a sketchy corner bar and it was not a very pleasant welcoming to the city but a girl couldn’t be picky when using portals.

Once we exited to the street, it got only slightly better. We took a cab ride that was about twenty minutes long and I had my eyes glued to the window the whole time, taking in every sight I could see. Then we had to walk about half a mile to get to the business building that housed the East Coast Headquarters. Gadge had said something about Hermie being suspended from portals which was why we had to go out of our way to use a portal outside of the Headquarters’ limits so it would be off the radar. I didn’t mind so much. This was as much travelling I was most likely to be doing this summer.

As Hermie and Waylan went ahead to clear the way—making sure there were no demons waiting and that the coast was clear of any nosy Dreamcatchers—Gadge and I made our way slowly to the building.

“Now, to our right are the lovely fountains of the business offices’ courtyard. There is a lovely view from the thirtieth floor’s lovely gardens on the balcony. We will be taking the elevator up there after the tour has finished with the outdoor area.” The lady smiled saccharinely. “Are there any questions?”

“How many times is she going to describe something as ‘lovely’?” I mumbled to Gadge who stood beside me.

“Lovely!” The lady trilled, making me cringe at the sound level. “Let us move here to the lovely, neatly trimmed hedges of the business offices’ courtyard…” The tour followed their tour guide faithfully as Gadge and I broke off from the group.

“Are you guys sneaking me into here or am I going to be official-ized?” I asked.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not a real word.” Gadge snorted.

“Come on,” I whined, “Aren’t you going to tell me anything? First the two Silent Brothers leave us to ‘clear the way’ of a busy city street…and now why are we entering said Headquarters like we aren’t supposed to be here?”

“Because, technically, it’s not ‘bring your Dreamcatcher-Demon friend to work day’,” Gadge quipped, “Now, shush, please. I have to concentrate. The secretaries aren’t that hard to compel, but it’s difficult when distract—Oh hello, Karen! How are you doing? Lovely weather we’re having today, isn’t it?”

“Hello, Gadge,” the secretary giggled, batting her eyelashes before seeing me. Her scowl was glued to her face so fast I could’ve sworn that I heard the giggle cut off mid giggle and the eye snap into a squint. “Who’s this?”

Damn, no one warned me that evil secretaries guarded the gates to the “Dream World”. It reminded me of Hades and his three-headed dog monster that guarded the entryway into Tartarus.

“This is my cousin visiting from out of town,” Gadge smiled. I blinked and tried to look…related. Sure, guessing that Gadge’s hair was probably a naturally blonde coloring, we might share a similar hair color, but everything else…it was almost like calling a dog your cat’s sister. Then again, I mused, Cousins don’t have to always look alike. I tried to think back on my cousins but couldn’t remember if we were ever alike in any way except by, maybe, blood.

“Oh!” The girl grinned, almost blinding us with her pearly whites. “Well if she can just sign right here…” She slid over a short form on a clipboard. This allows you access to the elevators and into the offices. What’s your name, sweetheart?”

Sweetheart? I think I’m going to be sick…

“Lucy Anne,” I replied just as sweetly. “I’m from the South and just love me some grand hospitality. It is just so hard finding it here in the big cities.”

“Oh, Gadge, she’s a darling. She thinks this is a big city?” Karen giggled and took my signed document. She promptly handed me a temporary name tag with a scanner code on it before Gadge hurriedly said goodbye and whisked me away to the back of the lobby.

Lucy Anne?” Gadge whispered, laughter bursting into his voice. He chortled, trying to cover his laughter as a fit of coughing. “Southern? You almost killed me.”

“Glad I didn’t. I still need you around,” I quipped as I tried to decide where to clip the stupid nametag. Lucy Anne was scrawled in big curly-cue letters across the laminated front. Real professional here, we are.

“Whisper more sweet nothings into my ear,” Gadge snorted, pretending to swoon. Hearing me laugh, he grinned and as we waited for the elevator to arrive, he added, “Good to know you do have a laugh after all.”

“Hadn’t had much of a reason to use it.” I rolled my eyes. “I doubt I could have fought off those …demons with my laugh.”

Gadge laughed loudly, either at my joke or at the way I looked so suspicious as I whispered the word “demons”. I wasn’t sure if it was even allowed to talk about demons outside…in the real world. Wow, would you just look at me, talking about the ‘real world’ versus…whatever world I was in now. I sighed softly. Great. And now, I’m not even sure if I’m allowed in this new world. Hence the fake name and I.D.

“We’re going down.” Gadge told me as we stepped in. “Rather far down.” Once the doors had fully closed, he pressed the number: 15.

“Wonderful,” I muttered, finally clipping the tag to the lip of my jacket.

A smaller panel slid out and Gadge stepped forward, typing away at the keypad. Something popped out and scanned his eye.

I heard Gadge mutter as I glanced around at the metal elevator, “Let’s hope this works.” The keypad slid back in and the panel closed with a click. Two heartbeats later, the elevator began to move downwards.

“Why wouldn’t it have worked?” I wondered.

Gadge glanced at me. “Well, you aren’t fully authorized for the lower levels of the building. This is a business building on the floors above the ground floor. That’s what your pass did. I can explain it later if you wish or you can ask Hermie or Waylan, but they came through first and cleared the way.”

I nodded, and leaned back. “Wow, not at all mysterious. How come I feel like I’m breaking some sacred law?”

Gadge grinned. “You probably are, just not one of your human laws.”

With a snort, I shook my head. Things had turned so fast. I was in New York. Which reminded me of home. California. And how I was supposed to be there, back from my run over an hour ago. I wondered if ‘Evelyn’ even cared.

“You know, when I first saw you, I knew you weren’t evil like some thought.”

“Some, as in Waylan and Hermie?” I said.

“Eh.” Gadge gave a half shrug, “Sure. And those twin demons.”

Oh. Right. Almost forgot about those. Turning to Gadge, I asked, “Why did they call me ‘sister’?”

Gadge shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “Beats me. Maybe they have some soul deep down in their genes. Or…a weird sense of irony…” He trailed off, pretending to study the panel of buttons in the elevator. I knew he had more information in him than that, but I let it go. Knowing they were risking a lot just bringing me here in the first place so we could figure out more about my family and what-the-hell I really was made it harder for me to focus. I looked up when the doors opened and waited for Gadge to take the first few steps out. When he spun on his heel and slammed into me as I was exiting the elevator, we stumbled back into it and Gadge slammed his palm into the panel, hitting the button to close the doors almost frantically. His eyes were wide as he tried to appear nonchalant, shoving me behind him. Slowly, the doors drew shut.

“What?” I exclaimed in a hissed whisper. The number on the elevator panel didn’t change.

Gadge sword under his breath and said, “Damn elevator not fast enough…” He whirled back to face me, eyebrows drawn together in worry before he grabbed my arms. There was a ding. The doors were about to open again.

“Wrong floor, act natural,” Gadge blurted before he wrapped his arms around me and tucked my face into his neck, pretending to kiss me. We fell back against the back corner of the elevator and as the doors opened again, Gadge placed his hands around my neck and shielded me with his body. Fighting the urge to shove Gadge out of the elevator, punch him in the face, and zoom away, I realized what he was doing and wrapped my arms around him, shoving my fingers in his hair and pulling him to me. Come on, give me some credit, I’ve seen plenty of movies and I’ve read my fair share of books. Something was going on and this was the best Gadge could have come up with to hide the fact I wasn’t supposed to be here—let alone know about Dreamcatchers and demons.

Excuse me!” A high-pitched voice exclaimed, going even higher from the exclamation. Gadge slowly untangled himself from my arms and turned. I looked down. Making sure that my hair covered most of my face, all I could see was Gadge’s back. I tried to peek over his shoulder as he spoke.

“Hey, Skylynn! Sorry, this is embarrassing. We’ll just be on our way,” Gadge said, sounding the exact opposite of sorry. The nerve! I thought, slightly indignantly before I laughed inside. Was he trying to show me off? The adrenaline soared through me and I prayed that whoever that was wouldn’t stop us as Gadge tugged on my arm. I stayed so close behind him, it was like we were super-glued together as we exited the elevator. After, I wrapped an arm around his waist and tucked my head into his shoulder as we walked, trying my best to keep up appearances.

When I glanced up and peeked over my shoulder, pretending to lean into Gadge to whisper something into his ear, the girl was glaring at me and giving me the stink-eye as she crossed her arms and popped a hip. Her brown eyes glared at me and I saw just how picture perfect she looked. She didn’t look like Gadge’s type, but who knew? With her little pink skirt, platinum blonde highlighted curls, strappy stilettos and bright red lipstick she could have come right from a sorority meeting in the House Bunny.

Suddenly, she snapped her fingers. “Gadge? You’re not—?”

“Very busy!” Gadge called over his shoulder as I turned to face forward again. “Have to go!” To me, he whispered, “Let’s take the stairs!” He made a quick turn right and I dropped my arm from around his waist as we shoved through a nearby door to reveal a metal staircase. Gadge began to race down the stairs three at a time and I had to run to keep up, attempting to go two at a time before giving up for fear of breaking my neck. When I got to the next floor, he was already peeking out the door, propping it open slightly with a hand.

“Coast’s clear,” Gadge whispered, grinning at me. I blew my hair out of my face at him as he held the door open, waving his arm in a flourish and giving a bow. His cheeks were flushed but his smile was practically contagious. That was…scary, thrilling, and fun all wrapped in one package. And I had mixed feelings about experiencing something as nerve-wracking as that again. Who knew what would happen if I was found out? Would the police be involved? I’d probably get thrown in a magical jail cell, never to be seen again. I cringed. Not a pretty thought.

The hallway we entered was filled with white walls, tan linoleum tiling, and bright hotel lights in the form of lamps lining the walls. It would have been strangely eerie if the hall wasn’t incredibly wide and spacious. It was like being in a room that was just extra long with no windows or furnishings.

A minute later, after I had made sure that I had fully gained control of my breathing, I threw a grin at Gadge and half sing-song whispered, “Who was that? She looked like a she-thing from Barbie’s Hell Mansion.”

“Welcome to the Dreamcatcher Headquarters here in New York.” Gadge bowed, waving his arms in an extravagant manner that made him look like a puppet connected by a wire. “That was Skylynn Price, Dreamcatcher and head Queen Bee.”

“Is she your ex-girlfriend?” I asked, wondering at why she seemed so angry.

“Funny you asked.” Gadge winked at me. “She’s actually Waylan’s ex.”

I winced at that thought and mumbled, “They would look perfect together.” Perfect, as in: Ew, they look like they could be models together.

“Scarily perfect you mean?” Gadge bounced up on his toes as he walked, seeming so full of energy. “It could’ve worked…they had been dating for the longest time, but things just didn’t work out I guess. They broke up over a week ago and she’s still hung up over him.”

“He broke up with her?” I said, eyebrows rising. “No way.”

Gadge nodded so hard that I swear I thought his spiked hair swayed as he gave me a knowing smirk. “That’s right. He’s open for the taking, my friend.”

I looked away, hoping Gadge hadn’t noticed the blush creeping up my neck. Clearing my throat, I said quickly, “I just…Well, just by seeing her…it’s hard to believe that he’s still…alive after…an encounter like that.” Hard to believe she didn’t tear his head off, was what I meant to say.

“You’re right.” Gadge nodded, understanding completely. “We all thought he should make out his will before confronting the beast, but he refused—personally I wanted his flat screen TV that used to be in his bedroom.” Gadge shrugged. “But, alas, he’s alive and kicking.”

“Who’s alive and kicking?” A voice said from behind us.

I nearly jumped out of my skin.

Gadge laughed at my expense before turning and throwing an arm across my shoulders. “Hey, bro! Just telling Kylie here about your—.”

I squirmed out of Gadge’s grasp. “We ran into Skylynn on the way down,” I said quickly, feeling Waylan’s look but not meeting it. Coward, I thought to myself as we began walking again.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” I sensed a smile in his voice and I glanced over at him right as he looked away. A smile indeed! Was it bad that I was starting to keep track of how many times I had a mini heart attack whenever I was around him? Why didn’t we have fans in our systems like computer hard drives? What happens when we overheat? I was panicking, I could feel it. Calm down, girl. So what if your face heats up like a Flamin’ hot Cheeto? He’s not looking at you anyway.

“Welcome to Floor 15,” Waylan said, interrupting my straying thoughts. “This is the floor that practically no one ever goes on.”

Thanks, Sherlock. I couldn’t tell that there was no one here, I thought with a smirk. Pity I didn’t say that out loud. It would’ve been good. Waylan glanced at me and for a second the horrifying thought that he could read minds entered my head before I threw that away. Right, read minds, sure! Then I thought back to how crazy this day has been and decided that I had better not rule anything out until it was proven otherwise.

For all I knew, the job description of being a Dreamcatcher could include riding an invisible flying unicorn Pegasus over a floating rainbow from house to house collecting dreams like the tooth fairy…or Santa Claus. Maybe they had a stable filled with flying unicorns out back. I wouldn’t put it past them. I barely knew this Dreamcatchers organization, but I felt like they would have something big like that up their sleeve.

I reminded myself that my mind was prone to go wildly off course when I let it and finally asked when he didn’t go further, “Why?”

“This is where all the files are kept,” Waylan answered.

Gadge leaned into me and whispered, “Therefore, it’s boring and Dreamcatchers don’t do boring.”

Oh.

“Not even a little?” I asked, making a face.

Waylan glanced at me again as Gadge shook his head and said, “Nope, not in the slightest. Just ask Hermie, he’d tell you.”

“In here,” Waylan’s deep voice broke our quiet bantering and my mouth snapped shut. We weren’t here to joke, things were serious. I was breaking into some secret organization of supernatural things and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Quickly, Waylan held the door open. Gadge slipped through and I followed close behind, forcing myself to not get caught looking at Waylan. Gadge had already teased me once. I wasn’t about to give him any more ammo.

Shelves upon shelves of shelves full of filing cabinets filled the long hallway we had entered. It was like a locker room full of information. One tight, small hallway of knowledge that could suffocate me. No, I wasn’t usually scared of small spaces, but things changed.

“If we look for you mother’s maiden name, we should be able to find any background information on her. This is where the files on each and every Dreamcatcher in the New York boundaries are. Retired or new, they’ll be here. I believe that your mother started out in the New York area so there should still be a copy of her file here,” Waylan said. He walked past us, already scanning the shelves. “It’s in alphabetical order.” He passed the P’s and headed straight towards the R’s.

“How do you know what my mom’s maiden name is?” I asked, suspicion creeping into my question. Waylan didn’t answer as he crouched down, pulling upon a filing cabinet that read: ‘Ry’.

“Hermie and I did a background check on you before when we were at the safe house in California. That background check included information on your parents. Mainly your mother though…” Gadge replied, trailing off as Waylan flipped through the various files in the cabinet. I folded my arms and narrowed my eyes.

“You did a background check on me?” I didn’t know what to think about that. Either be honored or slightly creeped out. Or both. “What, do you have an entire hallway of filing cabinets for demons too? Is that how you catch them?”

“Of course not,” Gadge snorted, a lopsided smirk playing across his face. “There are way too many unnamed for that! We have a computer system that locates all demon activities. Obviously, when there are the big cases, then there are names of the famous demons that we look out for. They are the serious bad guys that cause the most damage.”

I just looked at him.

“Found it.”

Upon hearing Waylan’s voice, I shook my head and accepted that I was being sucked into something that equally horrified and fascinated me. “What are we looking for?”

“The check didn’t give complete details on your mother’s relationship with your father. We are hoping this can lead to that.”

“My father isn’t a Dreamcatcher, too?” I asked. “I would assume he was. He…disappeared last year, but you would already know that if you checked up on me first.” A thought came to me. “Do I have a file?”

“No, your father is not a Dreamcatcher. Yes, we know that. And no, you don’t have a complete file. It’s just a list of your basic information including birth date, full name, and parents.” Waylan tilted the file towards me and looked up. “If you want, you can look at it first.”

I blinked at him. “Okay.” I took the file slowly. “Thanks?” I knew we didn’t have time on our hands and he had been the one who had pointed out earlier that it was imperative that we ‘get in and then haul ass’ before anyone found out that I had been snuck in. The fact that he was letting me see my mother’s file first made my heart smile—yes, I know, hearts can’t smile; sue me if mine did. Waylan tilted his head in a brief nod before moving past me to explore and sift through some other files.

Name: Evelyn Ryan Roth

Age: 37 Birth date: July 3rd Sex: Female Current Residency: California, USA

Married to: Jeremy Jacob Roth (unknown) Children: Kylie Cassandra Roth (18), Fiona Callie Atkinson (19)

“I have a sister?” was the first thing out of my mouth.

“Yep,” Gadge said.

I have a sister? And why is my father “unknown”.

“What does the label ‘unknown’ beside a name mean?” I asked. Waylan walked over and looked at the file over my shoulder as I pointed to the spot by my father’s name.

“Usually, that label should read ‘human’ or ‘Dreamcatcher’. In this case, your father’s type is unknown.”

“He’s not…human?”

“No.” Waylan paused and I looked up at him.

“What is it?” I asked. “Just tell me, I can handle it.” I hope.

“Well,” Waylan said, clearing his throat uncomfortably. “Unknown usually means ‘demon’ and, in this case, we know that he’s a demon.” I glanced at Gadge who had come up beside us.

Gadge nodded. “It was in the check. The one I…hacked.”

“My father,” I stammered. “Is…he’s…?” Breathe, Kylie. “He’s…” A demon? One of those malicious beasts that had tried to kill me in the alley earlier today, only three hours ago? Man, that felt like decades ago.

“Yes.” Waylan looked pained as he brushed a hand over his head, his fingers running through his hair. “There is no other information in that file?”

“There are a lot of newspaper clippings and some completed…missions, by the looks of it.”

“Your mother was famous in her day.” Gadge grinned, his fingers tapping his knee as he bounced on the balls of his feet. “I remember hearing a tale when I was a kid, and I thought it was just a rumor, but your mother proved it true. She defeated a whole den of demons with her team of three and they only had swords and a few Crystal Carriers. They came in, swords swinging and Carriers out, capturing all twenty of those badass demons. They even caught the leader after a long high-speed car chase with a motorcycle and a convertible mustang. It was intense. The stories…Oh, man,” Gadge said with a sigh as he pretended to swoon against the shelves. “What I would give to meet your mom.”

“Okay.” I couldn’t hold back my laughter. “That’s weird. And yeah, what I would give to get my mom back.” Waving a hand, I added quickly, “Wait, what are Crystal Carriers?”

Gadge blinked at me. “They are necklaces that capture the demons.”

“Yeah, I got that much from your fan-girling story, but are they made out of crystal? Do all Dreamcatchers have one, or do you just purchase them anywhere?” I asked.

Gadge shrugged. “Dunno, we just get ‘em.”

Turning to Waylan, I sent him a slightly exasperated look and he grinned before ducking his head.

“They are crystal orbs encased in metal, usually steel or sometimes gold. I’ve heard that they come in different colors and sometimes shapes in order to blend in when we go undercover, but all I’ve ever used are the normal steel locked ones. The orbs are blessed by our priests and sent out to all the Dreamcatchers at all of the boundaries. And no, the Carrier necklaces don’t need to be blessed, but it helps to contain the demon for a long period of time. Without a blessing, the crystal can wear out from within and explode, releasing the demon. Dreamcatchers tend to take all possible precautions, and multiply them by a hundred. We are required to be armed with at least two Carriers at all times.”

“What if there’s more than a couple demons?” I wondered.

“Each Crystal Carrier can hold up to ten demons, at most. It gets trickier to keep the already caught demons inside after about six or seven, so you have to be careful,” Waylan said before shrugging, “Anyway, we have to go to the computer labs. There should be information about Kylie’s dad in the database. I think I can get us in after closing hours.”

“Your dad’s pass?” Gadge asked.

Waylan nodded. “Hopefully it will help us get through the security codes as well, otherwise we will be needing some of your computer expertise.”

Gadge grinned and waggled his fingers in front of his face as he released a low, evil-like chuckle, “Mwa-ha-ha, the Gadget has struck again!”

“I think you’re supposed to say that after you’ve done something bad.”

“I’m always doing something bad, honey,” Gadge said with a wink in my direction. I rolled my eyes heavenward and held back my laugh.

Waylan continued, “We have about thirty minutes before we should head to that floor. The elevators won’t work, but I’m sure Hermie can meet us with the card at the labs. I left it in my locker.”

As they discussed their next plans, I looked down at the file in my hands containing all of my mom’s secrets—or most of them anyway. Was this the answer to my questions? Could I find out how and why my mom had changed? I was tired of calling her ‘Evelyn’. Honestly, I wanted my mom back. Bring on the waterworks, I missed having someone I could trust and talk to.

Tuning out Gadge and Waylan, I sat down on the floor and leaned against the cabinets behind me before I began scattering the papers around me, picking up a news article about a mysterious trail of murders in the eastern part of Montana.


Waylan

“Hermie’s going to call me once he’s gotten the keycard and the coast is clear for us to move up a level,” I said to Gadge. When I turned my attention back to Kylie, I found her sitting on the floor, sifting through the papers in her mom’s file. Seeing her so focused prompted me to study her briefly. Her brown hair looked slightly tinged with reddish gold in this lighting. I was still surprised at how strange it was that our paths had crossed like this. Seeing Kylie within our Headquarters was throwing me off and messing with my emotions. After Gadge had done that background check, I realized now that this was the girl that Sethar and Augustus had been arguing about. This girl was a Dreamcatcher and she didn’t have a clue about how important or powerful she was or could be.

“Hey! It says here that my mom is stationed in Oregon!” Kylie suddenly burst out, startling me out of my thoughts. Her excited and shocked gaze met mine and she paused, staring at me. I blinked. Did she feel as deer-stuck-in-headlights as I did whenever our eyes met? Or was there something wrong with me? Kylie looked away, towards Gadge as she continued, “How is this possible? She’s in California. Unless…” She looked down, squinting at the paper in her hands accusingly. “Unless that isn’t really my mom at home.” Her mouth was twisted to the side in thought and she tapped her foot with her hand.

“What do you mean?” I asked, walking over to her. My legs bent as I settled myself onto the floor beside her—not too close, but not too far, making me start to think that I was over-thinking things.

“My mom hasn’t been acting herself lately. She’s…stand-offish and has been somewhat nosey but distant. Not herself in the least. She’s always nosey but definitely not distant.” Kylie sighed. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe I have an imposter for a mother…”

“How long has she been acting strangely?” I asked.

“Since my dad disappeared…” Kylie said before trailing off with a slight hum in her throat. When I glanced at her, I could practically see the ideas trying to connect like puzzle pieces that didn’t quite fit correctly.

“Sometimes agents are put in to do surveillance on an orphaned Dreamcatcher or a particularly troublesome agent or client,” I said after a second. This whole…talking about what I do to an outsider was hard to shake off…I wasn’t used to giving up information, I was used to taking it.

“Maybe that’s it!” Kylie gasped, her head snapping up so fast that her hair whirled over her shoulder as her eyes glued onto mine. “How can we find out?”

Gadge piped in when I didn’t. “We’ll just have to wait till Hermie calls and gives us the green light.”

“It’s in the monitoring labs upstairs,” I added in case she didn’t get it. Inwardly, I cringed. In case she doesn’t get it? Kylie was obviously a very intelligent…person, don’t insult her inside your head. I shook my head as I stood. Damn. Now I was protecting her integrity inside of my own head? Now that I was standing, Kylie looked at me quizzically, as if she expected me to say something else. I cleared my throat and rubbed my neck with a hand. “I…I’m going to—.” Suddenly my cell phone vibrated, giving me the perfect out to my botched explanation of an awkward ending to a conversation. Great job, Waylan. “I have to take this.” Walking quickly down the hallway, I turned the corner into a small alcove where a computer was linked up to the Headquarters’ database of all of their agents. Leaning my back against the wall, I answered the phone.

“Hello?” The voice said, desperately, not even waiting for me to speak.

“Elizabeth?” I said. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, just fine and…dandy.” I heard her sigh. “The visions are back. And they are worse.”

“How bad? More doom and gloom?” I whispered, peering behind the corner to see Kylie talking to Gadge and waving her hand about. With a sigh, I leaned back, resting my head against the metal shelving behind me. I didn’t need Gadge and Kylie—especially Kylie—worrying about an oncoming apocalyptic message from my younger sister.

“Yes.”

“When?”

“It still looks like some high-tech, futuristic place with holding cells and cubicles of sorts. There are some computers I think and…and…I can’t remember.”

“Holding cells? What do these cells look like?” My eyes narrowed at nothing as I thought of all the possible places with cells. So far my list included prison and cubicles.

“Not like prison cells, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Elizabeth said quickly. So quickly that I almost thought that she could read minds. But that plus having visions? No, not possible. She continued in a soft murmur, “More like some sort of closet with these white, gray sliding doors and…and some touch-screen, lit up panel in the side. When it opens, I can practically hear the cheesy music of some eighties sci-fi alien soundtrack and the little release—poof—of air. Cue the fog-smoke and we’ve got ourselves a creepy futuristic apocalypse unit.” Elizabeth became even more sarcastic when she was nervous or scared. The dry humor wasn’t a new development. “I don’t even know if it’s still about an impending apocalypse…there’s destruction and murders and…horror everywhere and…and bad, bad people doing bad things. I’m sure that will narrow it down for you—.”

“Wait, hold on a sec,” I said. “That cell you described, it sounds an awful lot like the units we have here for the Dreamcatchers when their Watching, in the Spy unit—.”

“Oh, crap-tastic,” Elizabeth moaned. “It’s in the Dreamcatcher Headquarters. Wonderful. I freaking knew it. Why is it always in a place I’m not? Now you have to deal with it and tell me what’s up later after all the fun is over and—.”

“Woah, Lizzie,” I interrupted. “Calm. Wait, isn’t this your first vision?”

“Of an apocalypse, yeah. But…that’s not the point. I’m coming down.”

“No,” I said. Too loudly. I lowered my voice, trying to duck my head. “No, you’re not. Elizabeth, if the vision is for the future, we have no idea when it will come true. I’ll see you when I am done here.”

“What are you doing?”

“Something that doesn’t concern you, Lizzie. You have to trust me. I’ll fill you in on the gaps later. In fact, you’ll probably have to help.”

“What can I do?” Elizabeth asked eagerly.

“Can you find a place for a friend to stay? That’s hidden and safe and comfortable.”

“Yeah, I can find something. You don’t want me saying over the lines in case they’re tapped right? Smart move, Way. Okay, I’ll go and do that. Secret ops, here I come.”

I smiled at that as we said our goodbyes and good lucks and hung up. Now that Elizabeth had a job to do, hopefully she wouldn’t worry too much and actually find a way to come down to Headquarters. That could prove…dangerous and very difficult to explain why I’m not in the Spy Unit doing my job. Yeah, crap-tastic indeed.

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