“This is Night_Owl, here to keep your minds wondering and your
Ben smiled as he kept his face in shadow, only a sliver of light on his cheek to let people know he'd even made the gesture.
“I'm sure some of you are wondering what I've been up to. Chatting to hostile aliens and conspiracy theorists is a good guess. Hacking into government sites and extracting information is another good one. Truth is, that isn't what I've been doing these past three days. Although it'd be a lot more fun. Have a look.”
Wheeling around in his swivel chair, Ben focused his web cam to the computer behind him. Playing on it was the video he'd recorded of himself asleep, his face still covered in shadow. After all, It wouldn't do to have the government knowing what he looked like. Ben pressed the green button on his joystick, causing the web cam to zoom in on the video of his sleeping form.
“As you can tell I've been sleeping. Surprise, surprise. Even vigilantes need it, you know? But it's not just sleep.”
Turning back to the camera recording him behind his laptop, he spoke to the hundreds, no, thousands, of faceless people that viewed his website every night. And everyday for that matter, when he interviewed wackos and scientists for his pod casts. But tonight, Ben thought with growing amusement, tonight when he was finished with this update he was going to get more viewers than ever.
“It's dreaming. See, I've been having these strange dreams about a tropical island lately. At first I thought it was just something I'd made up in my mind to get away from the stress of life. But then I got this e-mail from a kind follower who said their daughter was talking in her sleep about an island before she apparently went into a coma. Think that's weird? A coincidence? I thought so too. Then three days ago...well, have a look for yourself.”
Leaning forward slightly he pushed play on the clip that he'd received from a girl in Taiwan. She'd been filming her little brother, no more than five years old, sleeping. The clip seemed like a standard family video until it hit the fourteen second marker. The boy suddenly jerked in his sleep, his whole body jolting up as if he'd been electrocuted.
“Dao!” The boy cried. Then his breathing began to quicken, his legs spasming. “Dao!”
Just as suddenly as the convulsions had started, they stopped. The young boys eyes shot open, sheer terror in his dark eyes before a strange milky white substance washed over them and his body went limp. Ben felt a familiar shiver run up his spine. He'd seen the video more times than he cared to remember, and every time he saw that vacant, lifeless looking boy, it unnerved him. Taking a deep breath, Ben leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers as he addressed his faceless audience once more.
“When I looked up the translation it turned out what the boy was speaking was Mandarin. It means 'island'. Coincidence, or something more?”
Ben moved out of the way from view of the camera, focusing the lens once more onto the video of his sleeping body.
“I don't know about you fellow Night Watchers out there, but I have a feeling it's more than just a dream.”
She dreamed of the island again. It was the second time this week. Rubbing her eyes Jenny sat up in her bed. She didn't bother to turn the lights on.
“Lizzy, did you see it too?”
Jenny looked across the bedroom to her twin sister, searching for any motion in her face. A blink. A twitch of her lips. Anything. Sighing Jenny threw her comforter off, drawing her knees up to her chin as she stared at her sister.
“I wish we hadn't dreamed of that island. I wish you hadn't gone into the jungle there. I told you I had a bad feeling. Why didn't you listen to me?”
As usual her sister didn't respond. Her chest rose and fell slowly, as if she were sleeping. But she wasn't. She was never asleep, and she was never awake. Her eyes stared unblinking at the ceiling, glazed over with a milky whiteness that Jenny had once seen when she'd met a blind person. Lizzy had been that way ever since they'd dreamed of the tropical island a month ago. But where Jenny woke up, Liz never did.
The doctors had said they'd never seen anything like it. They said it wasn't a coma, but like one. She was catatonic. They couldn't explain what had happened to her sister, and after two weeks of observation and tests doctors said there was nothing more they could do and cleared her to go back to their cramped, San Francisco apartment. A nurse came once a day to refill the IV and check to see if there was any improvement.
Slipping from her bed, Jenny crossed the small bedroom they shared and took her sister's hand, being careful not to disturb the IV tube tapped to her arm as she sat down on the floor. Resting her head against the side of the bed, Jenny sighed.
“C'mon Liz, I know you can hear me.”
The beeping of the heart monitor kept the room from being completely silent, the rhythm steady. It had been steady for a long time. Staring up into her sisters emotionless face, Jenny felt tears well. Her sister should be alive. They should be talking about the cutest boy in their choir class, and being yelled at for sneaking out at night, like they used to. Lizzy should be smiling and laughing and daring Jenny to wear her shirts tighter and her shorts shorter.
“Liz, please come back. I can't be here without you. Please come out of the jungle.”
There was no answer. Not even a jump in the heart monitor. Tears slipped down Jenny's cheeks as she gripped her sister's hand a little tighter.
“When I go back to sleep I'm going to dream of the island again. You have to be waiting for me on the shore. Meet me on the shore, ok?”
Pressing a kiss to her sister's hand Jenny stood up, staring down at the face that looked exactly like her own. Red-gold hair, pale oval face, lips that still wore her favorite bright red lipstick. Lipstick that Jenny put on her every day. Wiping her cheeks, Jenny slunk back into her bed, turning her head to stare at her sister.
“I'm going to see you at the shore Lizzy. Go to the shore.”