The Imaginary (LakeView Series, Book Two)

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I search through the darkroom, my heart racing in my throat. Nausea builds up in my stomach, and I can feel drops of sweat slowly pouring down my temple. I can hear my sister scream, her high-pitched terror cutting through my psyche. Whirling around I scour everything, not seeing my sister.

"Salem?" I cry out, fear making my tone edged. Where is my sister? I can hear the creature let out an appeased yowl, it's got her. Salem didn't run fast enough, the creature has gotten her.

"Sage!" Her voice is raw, it pierces my chest like it had been wrapped in razor wire. She is in danger, and I can't find her. It sounds as though her voice had come from down this hall, so I start a sprint towards her. I need to get to her before I lose her.

The creature lets out another cry, the shock of it causes me to stop for a moment. My breath rushes from my lungs, the very idea of not having my twin makes every nerve of my being ache. She needs me. I run as fast as I can, running after the slashing sounds. The sound of the creature's claws tearing through my sister's skin echoes in my head.

I'm running, weaving past wheelchairs and old hospital beds, but no matter how far I go or how fast I run I cannot find her. Each door I pass I whip inside, bracing myself against the door frame to hold myself together. Inside of every room is an empty bed, but not Salem.

Why can't I find her? I can hear her screams, the sound of the creature, and her tearing skin rings inside my head. It's so loud, it makes my head pound, but despite it sounding so close I still can't find her.

I come to the end of the hall, a brick wall keeps me from proceeding to the basement of the hospital. My sister's screams from just behind the wall, I scream my throat raw and claw my hands against the cold bricks.

"Sage! Please! Help me!" Her voice is gurgled like there's something stuck in her throat. My fingers grow raw, blood smears on the bricks but I don't cease my attack on the wall.

"Hang on!" I call to her, kicking the wall and pounding it with my fists. The creature stops yelling, and the sounds of my sister's cry silence; leaving me alone in suffocating deafness. "Salem!" I scream, my hoarse voice filling the void for only a moment.

"You didn't save me, Sage," Salem says, from behind me. I let out a cry of shock, whirling around and pressing my back against the brick wall. My sister stands in front of me, blood pouring from her gaping wounds.

"Salem-" I start, reaching a shaking hand to her pale body. The closer I reach the further she steps from me.

"You didn't save me, Sage. You saved yourself instead. I'm dead." She says, with each word her voice raises octaves to the point where she begins to yell at me. "I'm dead because of you!" I shake my head wildly, no. No, it's not my fault. I tried to find her, I just didn't reach her in time.

"No, no. I didn't-" Salem cuts me off, screaming wildly so blood splatters on my face.

"Yes! It's all your fault! I'm dead! Dead! DEAD!" My sister's face before my eyes grows gaunt, her cheeks sinking in and eyes bulging out of her sockets. She decays before my eyes, her hair falling from her scalp and the scent of decaying flesh fills my nostrils.

I press my back firmly to the wall, staying as far from her as I can. I've failed her, she's dead. She opens her mouth to let out another unearthly scream, maggots crawl rapidly from her gaping mouth. Her legs crumble from below her, causing her to fall into mine. Salem's skin begins to slip off the bone, I shove her body away from me. This can't be happening.

"No! No-n0-n0!" I scream, squeezing my eyes shut and pressing my palms to my sweaty temples.

"Your fault! Your fault! Your fault!" Salem's voice echoes in my head, even though her corpse lays at my feet.

"No!" I sit up in my bed wildly, my eyes adjusting slowly to my bedroom scenery. I'm in my bed, the sheets damp with perspiration. I stare at my far wall, the vinyl records and hanging plants that frame my slightly open bedroom window.

"Sage?" My sister says quietly, peeking into my bedroom from my ajar door. Her eyes are wide with concern, my screams must have woken her. I let out a long breath, letting go of the bunch-up comforter that I had in my fists.

"Yeah?" I respond, my voice is shaky from what I had just gone through. My twin moves swiftly into my room, crossing quickly to my bed and planting herself beside me.

"Another nightmare?" She asks knowingly, her voice warm with comfort. I nod, wiping my sweaty palms on the comforter. She wraps an arm around my quivering shoulders, her skin brings gooseflesh to my arms; the idea of her body being decaying still on my mind.

"Sorry I woke you up-" I mumble, still staring out my window. Dawn breaks the horizon and an orange sun comes through my window, light casting on my floor. My sister cuts me off, squeezing me tighter to silent my apology.

"Stop, it's okay. We needed to get up anyway, I'm sorry you had another nightmare. Ready to talk about it?" I shake my head, there's no way in hell I could tell her about what I dream about. About six months ago now I woke up from a medically induced coma, after being in a car accident with my mom. While in the coma my sister visited me daily and told me about her new school and new friends. Somehow, for whatever reason, I'd dreamed of us going to a haunted asylum. When I woke up, thankfully, everyone was safe and sound. But recently, I've been experiencing some horrific nightmares about being back there.

There's no way to be able to open up to my sister about this, I can't think of a way to calmly tell my sister that I've essentially held her dying body. As well as watching our friends die. So I'll keep it to myself, even though it's causing traumatic dreams. I guess I should be thankful it's just a dream and isn't happening. I don't think I could handle losing them again.
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