Chapter 1: Stalked in a Dream
Joey could tell she was dreaming but not dreaming right away. She was walking down a very long hallway that seemed to have no end, the lights flickering above her.
“I feel like we’re going to start a habit of meeting in our dream places.” a voice said beside her. Joey turned to see Akaysha standing beside her, the thirteen year old with strange abilities that they had saved from Hector.
Joey gave a small smile as they continued to walk passed black doors that she somehow knew were locked.
“Is this hallway another one of the places in your mind?” Joey asked.
“No. I thought this was your place.”
“Oh. Interesting. I wonder where we are then.”
Akaysha halfheartedly tried one of the doors, which was locked, just as Joey had figured.
“Where do you think this hallway leads?” the girl asked, looking up at the exposed, flickering light bulbs as they continued walking.
“I have no idea…”
The hallway started to change, and the doors started to look less and less like doors, and more like the figures of buildings. Soon enough, they were walking through an empty town, and the hallway had turned into a road. The two of them came to a stop, feeling a bit unsettled by the empty town.
“Why do I feel like… this is a real town somewhere?” Akaysha said uneasily. Joey’s eyebrows furrowed forward in concern.
“Because… I can feel that… it is a real town….”
Joey felt a shiver roll up her spine, and she quickly turned to the girl.
“Akaysha-we need to wake up-right now. I don’t know why but-.”
Akaysha quickly closed her eyes, and then disappeared. Joey did the same, but nothing happened. She tried harder to wake up, even trying to slap herself in the face, but she still found herself alone in the empty city.
“Come on!!” she muttered to herself, a weird feeling creeping over her as she tried to wake herself up. She stiffened, feeling like she was no longer alone, but that it was someone other than Akaysha this time. She slowly turned to see a figure down the road with a long, worn black trenchcoat wearing gloves, a hat, and a gas mask. Joey swallowed, a cold fear gripping at her heart for some reason. The man was holding a black box.
“Jooooooey…” two familiar voices said in unison.
Suddenly, standing next to the man with the black box and the gas mask were two people. One of them was a barefoot child with crazy curly brown hair and some dirt on his shorts. The other was a man wearing a faded brown button up shirt with wavy hair that came down to the bottom of his ears. For some reason, she couldn’t see their faces. It was as if someone had scribbled them out with a sharpie marker. Joey stood there paralyzed, not even needing to see their faces to know who they were.
“Jack… Dad…” she whispered, pressure building up in her face.
“Open the box Joey…” her family members pressed, their voices warping. “Find it and open it…”
Joey took a step back, feeling freaked out by whatever this dream but not a dream was.
“Ok. Wake up Joey. Wake up.” she told herself, slapping herself again as the three figures slowly started to walk towards her.
“Wake up!! Wake up!!” she yelled at herself, her eyes glued to the ones coming towards her threateningly. The man in the gas mask started to hold the black box out to her. She had no idea what the black box was, but it seemed that every molecule of her body and soul was telling her not to open it.
“It’s not them… It’s not them…” she muttered, slapping her cheek, trying to feel the sting. She tried to take a step back, but found that her feet were sinking into the asphalt. She began to be surrounded by other voices and whispers, and she did her best to tune them out.
“Find the box and open it… Find the box and open it… FIND THE BOX AND OPEN IT.” they chanted as the warped version of her father and brother came closer with the man in the gas mask.
“NO!!” she screamed, slapping herself as hard as she could. She began to feel a sting, and then she fell through the asphalt as the man with the black box reached out to her with a clawed gray hand.
A moment later, she was jolting awake on Ian and Roderick’s couch, where she and her friends had been watching an old scary movie.
“Man I love the blood in old movies!!” Jordyn said a bit devilishly, leaning forward. Brian looked a bit sick, Roderick was laughing, and Ian had also fallen asleep. Jordyn turned to Joey, who was feeling a bit disoriented after her little nap.
“Is it too boring for you and Ian?” she grinned. Joey rubbed the tiredness out of her face, feeling a bit unsettled.
“I don’t… I don’t remember falling asleep. Or even feeling tired for that matter…” she told her, scratching the back of her head.
“Hey Roderick, watch this.” Jordyn snickered. She gave Ian a little punch to the stomach, which caused him to wake up with a little yell. Roderick, Brian, and Jordyn burst out laughing as Ian scowled and yawned.
“Why do you have to be so violent?” Ian growled. He rubbed his eyes under his glasses and looked over to Joey. “Looks like I’m not the only one who just woke up. But, I take it she didn’t punch you.”
Ian straightened up when he noticed how concerned Joey looked.
“Hey-what’s the matter?” he asked. The others turned to her expectantly.
“Well… I just… had a weird dream… that’s all.”
Roderick raised a brow.
“You mean like… a dream dream? Or… something more real?” he asked. Joey bit her lip.
“It was… real. And unsettling.”
“Well, are you going to tell us what happened in it?” Jordyn asked. Joey shifted a little on her spot on the couch.
“Well, there was an empty town, and a weird man in a gas mask-.”
As soon as Joey said ‘gas mask’, Brian and Ian’s heads shot to attention.
“Hold on-this wasn’t the black box guy was it?” Brian asked a little fearfully, shrinking back.
“Well, he did have a black box he was trying to get me to open…”
At the sound of that, Ian immediately jumped up and ran to his room. He came back with the crystal that Prthviko had given them a few weeks ago when they had been down in South Carolina.
“I’m contacting Prthviko right now!!” he said shrilly, gripping the crystal. Roderick grabbed him by the arm.
“Hold on Ian. He said to contact him if we had any new information. And I wouldn’t necessarily classify one of Joey’s dreams as new information. If we want to find out more, we should probably go investigate this town she saw.”
Ian stood there, his hands clenched around the crystal and looking pale, while Brian shook his head vigorously.
“Dude. Please no. I feel like we just got back-and-this guy is creepy as heck.”
Jordyn smirked at Brian’s fear.
“Oh come on. We’ve had a few weeks of break. Man up Brian.”
“Well, why don’t you… uh… Woman up?” he shot back with a frown. Jordyn regarded him with confusion.
“What is that supposed to mean?” she asked. Brian hung his head a bit sheepishly.
“I have no idea…”
Jordyn nodded and then whipped out her phone.
“I’m going to text Chief Lenard right now and tell him we’re going to check this out. Do you think you can find this town Joey?”
Joey nodded a bit absentmindedly, the images from her dream still haunting her.
“Great! Then I vote we leave in the morning!”
At the sound of that, Ian groaned.
“Here we go again…” he muttered.