Dreamer

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Chapter 4

Saturday, February 24th, 2029

JOHN

Another dreamless sleep. I wake up and rub my eyes hard. I’ve had enough sleep for now, I need to get out for a bit. I stand up and stretch, and then walk out of my room, shutting the door behind me.

“I’m heading out,” I say, jogging down the stairs.

“Out where?” my mother looks from the shirt she’d been folding over to me, craning her neck.

“I’m thinking I’m just going to head to the park,” I look to my watch and see it is eight in the morning on the dot. My father is already at the bar.

My mother looks at me with concern, “Are you sure you don’t want to put an ice pack on it or something? I mean, it could stop it from getting any worse.

“I’m fine. I just need to be more careful on my walks home, I didn’t even notice that the sidewalk rose up near the intersection of Quaker and Aviation.”

“Okay, just make sure you take it easy and don’t stay out too late,” she finishes the shirt and puts her full focus on me. She looks at me with eyes that seem to say “I’m sorry.” I’m out the door before I can answer back and the cold winter air is as refreshing as it is blood chilling. Either way it is better than staying in at home on this beautiful Saturday morning. I live a good fifteen minutes walk away from the park so I get some time to unwind in the bracing wind. I turn my head and I see a few children playing on the sidewalk. They’re drawing on the cement with some chalk. I don’t quite see the picture which is a shame. I would have liked to know what it was they were drawing.

I turn my head the other way as I walk and I look down to my watch. It’s about nine in the morning. I press the button on the side of the watch and switch it over to the view of the random numbers. Compared to the 153 that I’d seen it now shows a “20.”

That’s the lowest I’d ever seen it dip. I see the quiet and empty streets. Nobody is really out this early except for those who have enough energy to spare, I guess. I continue my walk down the sidewalk, its cracked exterior ever present. It declares its age like a neon sign you’d see on a bar front. I place my hands in my pockets. It’s gotten a little colder than I would find comfortable. I’m glad I decided to bring my jacket today. It’s black and completely plain, but it’s warm enough.

A few more minutes of walking in the quieted solace do I finally reach the park. “Crandall Park” is displayed on the top of the gate. I walk on through the thorn-like black gate.

Not many people are here to join me today. Most everybody that is here is here for one reason. Escape. In that regard I have a lot in common with quite a few of them. I notice one person sitting alongside the rock wall just staring up into the sky. He looks a bit ragged, but I can hardly see his face due to his hat covering most of it. I then turn my attention to one woman who is lying on a blanket she had cast out on the snow. I believe that she is asleep, but I know better than to confirm my suspicions.

I walk down the cobblestone path that lies out before me, passing the usual skeleton trees on either side. I also catch a glimpse of the stone fountain to my immediate right. I’m surprised that its water is still able to be flowing in this cold. I look forward once more and then one thing immediately catches my notice, a girl sitting on the bench, drawing a sketch on her large drawing notebook.

Of course, it couldn’t just be any girl. It’s the same girl I’d run into at school and the same one from my dream. She’s the same one I keep thinking about. It’s Sarah.

Am I going crazy? Am I in the dream again?

I begin hyperventilating. There she is, sitting on the park bench, the girl from my dreams. She looks up from her drawing and looks right at me. I duck behind the nearest tree. I can’t control my heart rate, it’s rising and won’t stop. I peek around the tree and she’s gone. I am going crazy.

But...was I really just imagining her?

I walk over towards the bench and I look at it for a few seconds, completely silent. I sit on the bench and let my head rest in my hands, groaning. My heart is still pounding. I feel a tap on my shoulder. I nearly scream as I jump and look around, it’s her.

“W-Woah! I-I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to frighten you!” She says, nearly jumping herself.

“O-Oh...it’s no problem,” I lie, recovering from almost having a heart attack.

Keep it in. Keep it in.

“It’s so odd that I’d see you here,” she grips the notebook in her hands hard for a second and then releases her extra tension. “I take it you must be my welcoming committee?” She asks, giggling.

“What?” Confusion strikes my face.

“I’m new here and the others around here seem about as lifeless as the trees you were hiding behind. You...you’re different,” she says with a smile.

“Lifeless? But aren’t trees alive?”

“In the most basic of ways,” She says, pointing towards the one I’d been hiding behind. “Trees are given life to do menial tasks and to perform very specific duties. I’d like to think that we humans have a bit more freedom than just that. Something about that freedom is what I felt in you. I’m sorry if I caught you off guard in the halls yesterday, but I just had this feeling like…I can’t even really explain it. I guess I just felt that you’re different,” she looks over to me and smiles.

“D-Different?” I ask.

“Yeah. You have a certain...energy about you. It’s kind of hard to explain and I’m doing a terrible job of doing it. I’m Sarah, by the way. Sarah Newman.” She extends her hand out to me.

I nervously shake it. I’m not usually good with social contact, let alone with girls. I can already feel my face turn bright red.

“My name’s John Baker, although you can call me John.”

She laughs.

I try and fake a smile, but I’m still nervous, “S-So…you’re new here? When did you move in?” I sit back down and she joins me.

“We finished unpacking about a few days ago, but the actual move was last Tuesday. The rest of the time was just getting everything in order and yesterday I went and met with the principal and got my schedule for Monday.” She sets her notebook aside and returns her focus to me.

“So, are you an art student?” I ask, looking down towards the notebook. I catch a glimpse of the drawing on the face of the paper, the picture being drawn is a sprawling cityscape. “Woah...that’s really good.”

She stares at me with a confused look on her face and then follows my gaze, “Oh, that’s...nothing!” She pushes it behind her.

“No, really. It was good.”

She bites her lip for a second and then holds it out on her lap. “Thanks...I’ve never really showed anybody these. They’re somewhat like a journal for me to let out my thoughts, just with pictures, instead of words.”

“Yeah?” I ask.

“The thing is, I don’t really have the mind for it, drawing, I mean,” she says.

“What do you mean? That sketch kind of says otherwise,” I say.

“I mean, when I draw...it’s kind of like a trance kind of state. I don’t really think about what goes where, it kind of just happens.”

“I kind of understand. I mean, I can’t use a pencil to make anything of note to save my life, but I think I kind of understand where you’re coming from with that,” I respond.

Sarah looks up at the sky and she lets out a held breath.

“It’s kind of weird. There’s a whole world around us, but there are very few times where we actually take notice of the small things that actually go on.”

“That’s...deep.”

“Good, because I read that on the back of a cereal box,” she bursts out laughing.

I can’t help but laugh as well.

“Really, what kind of cereal are you eating?” I say in between fits of laughter.

“I don’t know, I guess it was just the first thing that came to mind. Kind of how I roll I guess.” she says.

I see her look down and she looks back up quickly, “My, that’s a really cool watch, what kind is it? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like that before,” she asks.

“You still see many people around with watches?” I ask.

“You are, aren’t you?”

“Well, this is special. It was a gift from my father, it’s one of a kind, the Pulsar Mark II.”

“Mark II? Wouldn’t it be the second of its kind then?”

“It’s a remodel of the first digital watch ever made and was a gift to me, so that’s why you probably haven’t seen one like it before.”

“Huh, I guess so,” she says.

“So, you into watches?” I ask.

“I don’t own any myself, but they’re an important part of history that people don’t really understand their impact. It’s not specifically the watch that has me interested, it’s moreso the idea of the watch.”

“What do you mean about their impact?”

“Well, time is such a fickle thing in that it really doesn’t exist. We just perceive time. Watches, especially wrist-watches, were one of the first reliable ways of keeping our minds at bay by keeping time. Otherwise who knows what day we could be on, or even how many years ahead we could be? Unless we dictate time to ourselves, our mind doesn’t know really what to do with time, so it becomes erratic and we lose track of it.”

“Makes sense I guess. Kind of makes me worried about being paranoid about checking my watch now,” I say, laughing.

“Oh, you’ll forget about this conversation within the next few days anyway. There’s no need to worry about it,”

“I doubt that, I mean, you’re really smart and usually a first conversation about how ‘wrist watches saved humanity’ is going to stick fresh in my mind,” I say, chuckling.

“I never said it saved humanity. It just…oh how do I put it, made everything a touch more organized,” Sarah says, laughing as well.

She bows her head down as she laughs and it is really quite cute. Her hair bounces and seems to have a blonde glow around it. She looks back up, her blue eyes staring right at me. In another instant they go wide.

“Oh geez! That reminds me that I promised my mom I’d run out and grab her a coffee! She’s probably been waiting all of this time,” she begins tersely.

“Coffee? Weren’t you doing a sketch when I first saw you?”

Sarah blushes slightly, “Oh, y-yeah. I kind of did get sidetracked originally, didn’t I?” She giggles.

“I guess so,” I laugh back. She looks right into my eyes and in hers I see that same light burst. They are the same ones from my dream and the same ones I saw through Iris’ eyes.

“I...I have to go. It’s been really nice meeting you John, I hope to see you in school,” Sarah says quickly, standing up.

“Listen, do you want me to help you out in school on Monday? Depending on your schedule I could give you like, a tour or something,” I scratch my forearm and look away.

She turns back to look at me and smiles, “That sounds nice. I’d love to.”

I look back and she’s gone. Out of sight completely, I look around and notice that she’d forgotten her notebook lying on the bench. Well, I’ll be able to give it back to her on Monday. I pick it up and look down at my watch for the time, nine twenty-nine. I press the button on the side of the watch and scroll over to the news section.

CONSPIRACYaGETOUTpoc/=/03182029al/ENDWypseORLD

What the hell is this? All of the news stories have been replaced by this one section repeating over and over again. Conspiracy? And then I see the numbers. 03182029. Conspiracy, Get Out, 03182029, apocalypse, End World. Just what is going on and who hacked the news database to send this message?

The wind starts picking up, so I decide it best to get going. I find it easier than just sitting and doing nothing. Walking past some other early bird teenagers I make my way out of the park. I scan the area for any potential spots to warm up. I remember that the boardwalk is artificially heated through pads they inserted in the ground so people could go sightseeing on the piers even on days like today.

The boardwalk is only a few minutes from the park, so I begin my walk. Curiosity eats away at me as I walk through town, carrying Sarah’s notebook. What other kinds of drawings does she have in here and…could it have anything to do with my dream? No, that’s a total invasion of privacy and is wrong.

But then again, looking back to this city drawing, I recognize some of the buildings. Not as buildings, but their…place in the city. I remember these buildings as they were falling and then I remember this as the city that was in utter ruins in my dream. Is it really possible? Is all of this really possible? How does she know about this city? How is she here? How do I see these numbers and who sent that message over the news broadcast?

There are so many unanswered questions floating around in my head and they continue to roam even as I enter the boardwalk. There’s something new in the distance, they seem to be three pointed towers, only about twenty feet in height. They seem to make a triangle amongst themselves and a shadow of the walk rails that connect them from the top hangs below making a shadowed triangle below, as well. In the middle of the towers on the ground there is some sort of symbol etched into the ground. It is a word, a name, maybe, “Micah.” I walk into the middle area between the three towers, where the strange symbol is and kneel down beside it. The sky turns dark, clouds fill the sky. I look up and a confused look strikes my face. There is a loud crash and I can feel the earth shaking. I’m thrown off my feet and I land outside of the towers’ grasp. I crack my head off of the ground and my vision goes dark.

I’m back at the ruined city, after the dream of yesterday it seems. Mangled bodies litter the streets, it’s a horrible sight. All I see is a mass of red and brown. Buildings are heaps of rubble and not a single life spared. It’s hard to picture that this was a city filled with life, but now it just represents death and despair. Is this a premonition? Is this city doomed on the 18th? I keep wondering until I see Sarah. She’s standing a few feet away from me, she has a sort of glow to her. A glow that makes me feel at ease, even in this situation.

It’s almost inappropriate compared to all this death around us. I try to scream for her, call her name, but it is futile. I have no voice in this dream land. I am mute. She turns around and puts her finger towards her lips. She walks over and places an arm on my arm. She takes a note out of her pocket and places it in mine. I try to ask her what it is, what all of this is, but no sound comes out. She is engulfed within in a stream of light and she’s gone.

My eyes open and I’m staring up at the sky. It’s dark, but not as violent as it was before. Clouds fill the sky and they are dark, but the earth remains still. I sit up and the pain comes instantly. I reach my hand up to my head and it comes back caked in thick coats of blood.

My blood.

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