Fox jerked awake and gasped for breath. He looked around the room and then toward the door. He sighed and remembered what happened. He was no stranger to nightmares, especially after Mike does that or worse to him. He rubbed his eyes and stretched. Fox grabbed his phone and saw that it was midnight! He’d been asleep since three in the afternoon. Then again, with Mike, sleep was elusive.
He pushed the dresser aside then silently made his way downstairs to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he took out a slice of pizza and wolfed it down. He didn’t care that it was cold since he didn’t want to run the risk of waking Mike if he was home and sleeping off his latest alcohol binge.
“Hey kiddo,” a voice behind him said softly.
Fox startled, nearly jumping out his skin, still on edge from earlier. He turned to find his foster sister standing in the kitchen doorway. He groaned. The girl was a foot taller than him and she was muscular probably from her job. She had long black hair tied up in a bun, chocolate eyes, and she wore scrubs.
“Thanks for the heart attack, Alice,” he deadpanned.
“You’re welcome,” she teased.
The two stood in silence for a few moments before Alice broke it.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Fox said.
“Bullshit.” Alice gave him her ‘mom’ look.
Fox shrugged and changed the subject. Not wanting to worry the one person who actually took care of him other than Doris.
“Heading to work?” he asked.
“Yup. I have a double shift tonight, so I can’t take you to school tomorrow.”
“S’okay. I can take care of myself,” Fox said with a smile.
“Sure,” Alice said sarcastically.
Alice giggled, “All right, I gotta go. I have patients to look after and horny doctors to keep off my ass.”
“Like any doctor wants your ass,” Fox snorts.
Alice whacked him on the head lovingly and then hugged him goodnight. She kissed the top of his head and left for work. Fox sighed and headed back to his room.
He finished the cold slice of pizza he had been munching on and changed into his sleep clothes. He would do his homework in his morning study hall class and his comic strip later. He risked a trip to the bathroom to get ready for bed. He did it in record time and rushed back to the room as quietly as he could, then locked the door behind him. He fell back into a restless sleep, then an all too familiar nightmare took hold of him.
Six-year-old Fox whimpers as the storm rages on outside. The thunder booms and lightning flashes lighting up the dark home in an eerie way. Little Fox gets out of bed and heads down the hallway to the winding staircase.
"Mommy?” Fox calls out.
There is no answer, so little Fox decides to head downstairs to investigate. He carefully makes his way down to the bottom and to the main foyer then goes to the living room. Not seeing his mother, he treks to the kitchen and whimpers. She isn’t there either.
He looks through the glass door leading out to his beach backyard. Lightning flashes and illuminates a figure that was standing right behind the door. Fox screams as he spots the demonic-looking wolf.
Fox bolted up and gasped for breath. He looked around to see if the creature was lurking about and sighed in relief when he didn’t spot it. He took one more glance around the room to be sure he was awake and safe. He gulped in a few deep breaths to calm his racing heart and ran a hand through his short blonde spiked hair.
“Geez, Mother. What the fuck were you into? I know that night was no dream,” Fox muttered to himself.
He took another deep breath then looked at his phone to see what time it was. He groaned when he saw he needed to get up and get ready for school. He grabbed a clean pair of boxers, jeans, and a gray v-neck tee-shirt then headed for the bathroom. Fox quickly peeked out the window and sighed in relief. Mike’s truck was gone.
Fox quickly showered and dressed, brushed his teeth, spiked his hair, rushed back to his room and grabbed his school bag, he put on his boots and hurried out the door to run the three miles to school.
“It’s a good thing I live on a small island where three miles is three blocks,” Fox said to himself, panting for breath. “God, I’m in poor shape for seventeen.”
Fox made it to school just in time for the first bell and walked to his locker. He grabbed what he needed and headed to his study hall. He did his homework from last night and checked it over. Satisfied with his work, he pulled out his sketch pad and began doodling. As usual. The morning passed and Fox found himself in his favorite class. Art. Surprise, surprise. He walked in and smirked.
“Ah! My young artist has arrived!” his teacher exclaimed happily.
Fox took a bow, smiling. “Thank you, thank you! I’d like to thank my muse for being so awesome.”
The amused art teacher took his own bow. “All right, you. Grab your masterpiece and a palette.” He clapped his hands. “Let’s get to work, people!”
Fox chuckled and along with his fellow classmates, he grabbed his painting and supplies then took a seat at an easel. He placed his painting on the easel, got his supplies set up. He then got to work. Fox dipped his brush into some paint and began stroking the canvas. He never really liked the texture of canvases and was glad his teacher had Gesso on hand. Gesso made the canvas smooth and allowed different colors to show up in different hues. A few minutes went by and his art teacher was suddenly behind him with a dreamy look on his face.
“This is truly your best work, Fox.” Mr. Danic sighed.
Fox snorted a laugh. “Are you sure you should be an art teacher and not a drama teacher?”
Mr. Danic let out a HA and flipped his shoulder-length hair back.
“Drama is for little girls with nothing to do but whine on the internet about their silly celebrity crush,” he said. “Art is life! Life to be seen, to be created. A bold passion.”
Fox nearly failed at holding back his laughter. “If you say so,” he said.
“Honestly though, Mr. Kane, this painting of yours is quite the masterpiece. If you don’t mind, I’d like to save it for my seniors next year,” Mr. Danic said.
Fox was shocked but thrilled at the same time. He didn’t show off his work often, but was always happy when he got the chance. He was also happy someone loved his art.
“I’m cool with it,” he said with a bright smile.
“Excellent! I really do love it, Fox. You’ve captured a moment so brilliantly. You can sense the terror of the little one and yet see the elegance of the storm as it illuminates the nightmare haunting the poor child.”
Mr. Danic moved away to check on the other students and Fox got back to work. The painting was truly haunting yet elegant at the same time, as the instructor said. The scene showed a child in a dark kitchen with lightning lighting up the room and the horrific creature that lurked outside. An all too real fever dream that was forever burned into his mind. Fox shuddered and continued to paint.