“No more gunplay.” Ellery points an accusing finger at me. My hand is inches from tugging the gun free from my pocket. I guess he’s learned to read me. “I didn’t give you that to threaten me.”
“Who else am I going to use it on?” I mutter but release my tight grip. Is this where I apologize for being reckless? I hadn’t cocked the gun if that’s any consolation to him. He’s worried about my safety, it’s true, but is it a selfish act?
“Why are you helping me?” It’s my first question.
“That’s the question you want to start with?” he wonders, shrugging his jacket off.
“Yes,” I murmur, patting my pocket. It’s a subtle threat, but he’s a smart man. “And you promised to answer everything I asked here.”
“Not even allowing us a breath?” Throwing his jacket over the back of a couch, Ellery walks away from me. Putting his back to me is just as subtle a gesture as my threat. He’s telling me that he’s not afraid of me. Even if I threaten him, he’s not bothered. And that just makes me angrier. I whip the gun out of my pocket.
Okay, maybe I’ve finally gone too far. Pointing the gun at him, sure. But cocking the gun? I don’t want to shoot him. He’s all the information I have right now. And if I can continue to use our connection to gain entry into his mind, then I might finally find something of worth.
“Water?” Ellery turns to face me, lazily holding out a water glass. I hate his newfound nonchalance. Perhaps it’s not new. He’s just hidden it so well up until now. “I’m helping you because I’ve dreamed about you for three months. I’m helping you because I don’t know what faction to align myself with. So, I’d rather be neutral, where you are. Is that answer enough for you to lower your weapon?” My steadfast hands falter, lowering. “Water?”
“Yes,” I finally answer. I engage the safety with a hard click. And then I rest the gun on a table by his door. “It’s probably best if I don’t carry this around right now.”
“I’d appreciate it.” He returns to my side, handing me the glass. “Make yourself comfortable. It’ll be your safe haven for a while.” He gestures to the two couches set up in the corner, where he’d left his jacket. I take a moment to look around. Most of the building is empty. He has a small kitchen of sorts set up in one corner, the couches set up in front of it. Slightly near the middle of the warehouse, there’s a strange assortment of electronics.
“Homey,” I retort, finally accepting the glass.
“Right?” he laughs. “I sure thought so.” With everything that’s just happened, I almost forgot how offputting he is when he lets his walls down. He laughs, he relaxes, he even smiles.
“I want to know about everything you’ve dreamed so far,” I insist quietly, perching on one of his couches. He slumps down on the other. Once he’s settled, I set my glass on the table between us.
“Everything?” he confirms.
“Yes,” I hiss.
“Only if you do the same,” he replies.
“My dreams didn’t have much information. They were always about the same event. And it was always either me or Ellery. I never once saw this world, saw you, saw your brother or your Miriam.” I explain.
“Hmm.” He leans back against the couch, arms folded. “The dreams I had spanned from the day they started to the event in question. I saw everything my brother and Miriam would face. I saw my parents getting locked up. I saw the devices. I saw you coming over and helping us. I even saw the world ending.”
“If your dreams spanned to the event, how did you see the world ending and me arriving?” I wonder.
“I just did.” He shrugs. “Miriam-” His brow furrows, and then he sighs.
“-What?” I glare at him.
“Can we have a real conversation?” he asks, not making eye contact with me. “I’ve spent the last three months talking about this. I need a break: from Earthquakes, from devices, from other worlds, from them.” I suppose it’s not too much to ask. He’s been forthcoming thus far, what’s to stop him from continuing to be later?
I unzip my jacket, revealing her pink sweater beneath. And then it follows. I don’t care if it’s cold in here, a t-shirt will be enough. I can’t wear this stupid garish thing anymore. I throw it down beside me, wishing I could burn it.
“I can provide you with some black, if that’s what you’re craving,” Ellery jokes, though his features are sheepish.
“Please,” I agree. He stands, disappearing behind me. I should be worried or considering all the ways I’ll protect myself if he strikes from behind. But I’m not and I don’t. I’m starting to trust him. Enough to stay here, enough to drink the water he gave me. I’m parched. I reach for the glass, only to pause. Theo’s ring sparkles on my finger. “Ellery?”
“Yeah?” his voice is somewhat distant but loud enough to hear.
“Before we stop talking about all this, I have a question.” I slide the ring from my finger.
“Okay,” he consents. I can hear him approaching, his footsteps soft but growing louder as he moves. As soon as he appears, he drops to a seat beside me, a black sweater in hand. Without a word, I place the ring in his hand. “What’s this?”
“You tell me.” I scratch my head. He hands his sweater to me, before holding up the ring. I immediately don it, feeling a shiver roll through me. But he’s taking his time. In the dim light of the warehouse, he squints at the ring.
“I’m not sure,” he finally admits, holding it out to me. My fingers brush his palm and the colors return. But there’s no object. The rules aren’t making any sense to me anymore. “Uh. Tell me I’m not the only one who saw that?” My eyes whip to meet his. He saw them too? And he’s not hiding it from me...the way I’ve been hiding it from him.
“Wear it,” I hear myself mutter. Is my subconscious trying to take control again? I don’t want it here, especially in a place where I’m supposed to be safe. Shrugging, Ellery presses the ring down on his pointer finger. My subconscious is begging me to grab his hand now. Why is it back? It’s been hiding for the entire day, but now it wants to interact?
“What now?” Ellery inquires, his eyes wandering the room. “Am I supposed to be able to see those colors fully or something?” I’m not contemplating this because my subconscious is telling me to. I’m just as curious about the ring as Ellery is. I never suspected it might be the source of our connection. But if it is--I grab his hand.
“Okay?” Ellery’s cheeks look a few shades redder, but that’s all we’ve accomplished. There are no colors, no memories, no objects. I release him, annoyed. My subconscious is just messing with me now. “Sorry. Did I do it wrong? I don’t understand.”
“No!” I cover my face with a hand.
“Maybe it was meant to be this hand,” he offers, resting a hand on my shoulder. Even if I don’t see the colors, I feel it. I’m about to tell him to stop when I’m thrown into his mind. Before I swore I’d keep doing this until I found information, but I suddenly feel like an intruder.
Theo’s hand tightens on Ellery’s throat. They’re young, probably in their teens.
“I can’t believe you told her,” Theo snarls under his breath.
“I didn’t talk to her in the first place,” Ellery chokes out. “Even if I had spoken to her, I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“So it’s just a coincidence that I’m being shipped away?” Theo’s hand tightens even more.
“I don’t know!” Ellery pleads.
“Yes, you do,” Theo hisses. “How else would Mom know? I told you never to tell anyone about the dreams, especially our parents. But suddenly she does, and I’m being shipped to god knows where? I’m going to kill you.”
“Please, I never-” tears sting Ellery’s eyes as Theo’s fist meets his cheek.
“If I’m going, so are you,” Theo spits, finally releasing his brother. “You wanted me sent away, so I’ll make sure they know who’s the prophetic one between us. You’ll be their favorite subject.”
“You-” the word slips through my lips before I can stop it.
“-I what?” He furrows his brow, confused. It was one-sided again? I stare at him blankly, debating between admitting the truth and continuing to hide it. He’d certainly lied to me. Three months of dreams? No, it seems more like he’s had them all his life. And his parents had experimented on them--their dreams. What’s to say my dreams aren’t a product of that experimentation?
And what’s to say he isn’t a part of it?