It was just a bad dream, I told myself for the hundredth time. I woke up in the middle of the night screaming and kicking, my nightmare left me restless, I was afraid to fall asleep again.
It felt so real… the way those things were ripping my skin off my bones and eating it. I could still see it. I even ran to the bathroom mirror to check if I was fully intact. What's happening to me? This isn't normal. There was so much I was trying to push under the rug, but just couldn't anymore.
It all started the night at the Pentagon. No matter how much I tried I couldn't forget that night.
When the man with the eyepatch tried to kidnap me, and I killed him… Skylar’s unexplained death. Now nightmares! Maybe I was just having a bad couple of weeks, or call it paranoia, I don't think I can blame it on stress for much longer.
There was something telling me to get out of the house, urging me to leave the house. I stared at the apple tree painting on my bedroom wall and immediately thought of my father.
“I should get to school,” I whispered to myself.
I had a lot of catching up to do considering I'd missed two classes yesterday. But I really wasn't in the mood for a lecture today, who ever really was? I drove my old run down SUV to school, which was no more than a thirty minute drive.
The sky was clear, the sun was shining and there was very little traffic on the road. I made it to school safely, though with a feeling of unease deep inside my gut I walked on the College grounds.
I had a few minutes to spare before my first class, these were the times I missed high school right about now I'd be with Cassidy and Frankie hanging around some lockers or something. Here I felt alone most of the time.
I sighed, pulling out my headsets from my pocket and setting them both in my eyes. An old Kesha song began playing quickly and full of life. It was exactly what I needed at this point, I turned it up, the song completely expelled every outside sound.
I didn't really have many friends at SilverLake College, I'd say Rider was my only friend. Kind of pathetic I know. I barely came for classes so people didn't miss me much, nor did they notice when I was around. What was I even doing here? Wasting my time, was all I was doing. I was working towards a diploma in business management, a diploma I was certain I'd never use, in a career I didn't want.
I should just drop out now and join the circus, or get married they're plenty of rich men out there who are lonely and in need of wives who can cook and clean. I laughed at myself. I can't even do that.
Rider appeared standing in front of me just as the Kesha song died in my eyes.
“What?” I said, removing the headsets from my eyes.
He looked apologetic with his hands in his sweatpants and his hair all messy. “I see you're still pissed.” He said.
“What makes you say that?” I replied, tucking my headsets in my back pocket, avoiding his gaze.
“I'm sorry, yes I acted like a dick. Forgive me Ava, please?” He pleaded. I smiled to myself.
“I'm glad you know that. I'm not mad at you anymore. I know how overprotective you can be, I knew what I was getting into when I started dating you.” I chuckled the last part.
He grabbed my face and kissed me passionately, right there in the college courtyard with the small group of five to six people watching us.
“My place tonight?” He asked.
I nodded, my face in his palms.
Eventually we had to stop making a scene of ourselves and head to class we had different classes, but made plans to go out for lunch. I had no afternoon classes thank goodness, but I still had to go to work.
After a two hour long communication lecture in a hot class room with no air conditioning, and a loud and heavy lecturer who made it almost impossible for anyone to zone out or fall asleep. I finally made it out. I was walking to my next class which was unfortunately Business Law, a class I've skipped twice so far this month.
“Val!” Someone screamed my name followed by the honking of a car horn. I jumped back in surprise, almost dropping my phone too.
“What are you guys doing here?!” I said when I saw Cassidy and Frankie in Cassidy’s BMW M4 Convertible. A very pricy car… and new.
“Wow? When did you?…” I marvelled at the brand new silver BMW that was parked in the parking lot of my humble college. My old bucket of bolts stood some three cars away. I wanted to scrawl at it for being old and unattractive.
“We're taking it out for a joy ride! Let's go!” Cass yelled popping the door open for me. I wanted to get in and ride away into the sunset like they did in the movies.
“Val let's go!” Frankie popped up from the back seat in her blue green hospital scrubs.
“I have a class right now,” I said, I was thinking about all the work I had to catch up on and how much trouble I'd be in for missing yet another class.
“Who cares! Let's go, get in, get in, get in.” Frankie’s over excitement got me pumped and I found myself getting into the front seat. Just earlier I was doubting my presence here, so there was no need to stress about getting into a little bit of trouble.
“Yeahh!!” Cass turned the volume up on a Lana Del Rey song called Dark Paradise with it we drove at 180 miles per hours, with the winds in our hair on the open road, driving to who knows where.
We made it back into town after an hour or two of the test drive and decided to get a bite to eat. I was starving.
“I don't know about you guys, but I am starving.” Cass said getting out of the car. She didn't even bother to buckle her seat belt. With the way she drives there's no way I can ride with her and not have a seat belt on.
“Dido,” Frankie said hopping out of the back seat. I set foot on the sidewalk and felt an uneasy breeze go past me. The sun was still blazing in the sky where was the wind coming from?
The girls had gotten away from me and I had to run to catch up with them.
“Where are we eating?” I asked. This part of SilverLake was called Tenth Avenue. This is where all the high class restaurants, stores and hotels are. The meet & eat was somewhere around here too.
“Let's go to the meet & eat,” Cass said, she'd pulled out her phone and started speed texting.
“No, please. I don't have to be there until four, let's go somewhere else.” I rolled my eyes.
“Let's go to Evangelen, the new restaurant close to Starbucks…” Frankie suggested.
Evangelen was a fancy new restaurant with a French and Italian twist. It was a popular place with indoor and outdoor seating. We couldn't get seats inside so we settled for the beautiful white paint chairs and tables outside.
“You're welcome Frankie,” Cassidy laughed and kissed Frankie on the checks.
Frankie rolled her eyes, “Thank you Cass.”
“What, what happened?” I asked.
“Well Frankie was about to have a mental breakdown because she was going into surgery today.” Cass explained. I was shocked, because Frankie didn't tell me.
“You were going to perform surgery today?”
“No, just watch. But I was still freaking out. The actual surgery is on Friday. How do they expect me do enjoy my weekend after cutting open a human being?” Frankie ranted.
I tried to laugh it off. “Didn't you know?” Cass asked. I shook my head. “It must have slipped my mind.” Frankie said, skimming through her menu.
“Oh my gosh,” Frankie gasped suddenly. “Shit Frankie!” Cass dropped her phone on the table it landed heavily.
“What is it?” I asked. She did this all the time and it was probably nothing important.
“Look at that wedding dress store. I've never seen it before.” See?
“The dresses that look second hand and too ancient to still be around.” I asked. Cass laughed, though her face was buried in her phone so I wasn't sure what she was laughing at.
“I think I'm going to order a scotch or a brandy.” She said. “Geez Cass you drink like a man.” I teased.
“They're absolutely beautiful, don't you think?” Frankie asked us bringing us back to the dresses.
“Doesn't matter because you're never going to wear one of those.” Cass teased.
“What's that supposed to mean?”
“That Scooter is definitely not the guy to marry you.” Cass shrugged.
“Cass…” Frankie said in a low sad tone.
“I'm only being honest,”
“Not now Cassidy!” Frankie snapped. Cass rolled her eyes and went back to her IphoneX.
“Don't listen to Cass, she just needs a drink.” I said trying lighten the mood. Frankie gave her a dirty look and Cass blew her a kiss.
We changed the topic quickly and went on to gossip about other unimportant stuff.
My shift ended at five, crowds started to fade into the restaurant I wanted to leave before my manager popped up and asked me to work another shift. The crowds that hang around this place in the evenings were brutal and ill mannered. My coworker Mindy could take then, she was a biker chick with tattoos all over her body and a black belt in butt kicking.
She and I barely spoke. I left the restaurant in a light mood I hadn't taken my car to work because the old rust bucket decided it wanted to die on the college parking lot.
So I took the bus, I sighed, the bus my old friend. It was still fairly early in the evening and I seemed to be in good spirits so much so that I wanted to go see my mom. I'd disappointed her by not going over for dinner the other night. I should buy her a pie or something to make it up to her. I'll just tell her I made it because she doesn't like store bought foods.
So I stopped by a bakery in Tenth Avenue, the minute I walked into that pink colored bakery I knew it had to be expensive. The cashier had a huge smile on her, she was ready to rob me of everything. I was out of there the second my eyes landed on the $40 dollar muffin.
I'd get her something in a more affordable bakery I thought. I got off the bus a few blocks away from her apartment building. This side was the middle class of SilverLake. There weren't any clothing stores, or lavish restaurants like Evangelen. Around these parts you found joints like Mamma Amy’s Bakery and Uncle Joe’s beer hole.
I dashed in and out of Mamma Amy’s and got mom a strawberry cake. It cost me $6 dollars. I walked down the quiet streets, I could see the apartment in the near distance, the cake was still fresh. The delectable scent filled my nostrils, as I walked the fully lit sidewalk. Then out of nowhere a slender man bumped into me, causing me to accidentally cover myself with strawberry frosting.
“Dude?!” I yelled. The cake was ruined, the plate dropped to the floor leaving frosting on shirt. He turned slowly towards me, his face revealing a long scar that spread across his face. The scar crossed over his eye and upper lip.
“Umm never mind.” I said turning away quickly. I tried to run but he reached out and grabbed me.
I tried to get up to run but he was quicker than me. He grabbed my hair and yanked me back.
“You're a pretty little thing aren't you Avalon Carmichael?” He ran a finger across my face then licked it. How’d he know my name?
“Ah! Leave me alone!” I screamed. It was pointless, the streets were empty.
“And your sweet too.” He slapped me across the face. I landed flat on the ground and bumped my head. He approach me, I dragged my body away from him but it was useless.
He grabbed me again, but before he could land another punch. I landed one of my own. I lifted my knee and kicked him in the shin.
“You little bitch!” He yelled. I got to my feet again and tried to run, but the clearly furious man grabbed me. I screamed as he brought his fist to my face.
What happened? He didn't hit me. His fist didn't connect with my face instead he was laying face down on the ground motionless. Dead.