We are told that dreams are merely electrical impulses that fire for short bursts in our deep sleep cycle. The average dream is said to last only 7 seconds even though, to the dreamer, time crawls by at a much slower pace. Psychologists say that dreams are the sub-consciousness’s way of clearing out the waste of the waking mind. Problems that plague one while awake can be solved in dream land. You can see loved ones that have moved on, fly across fields, and float among the clouds on a magical, bouncing, orange couch. Sounds fabulous, right?
As we all know by now, there are many types of dreams. They range from mild to highly interactive and vividly detailed. Sometimes we awake with a smile on our face after a pleasant night. Other times, we awake with a feeling of dread and a need to check on loved ones. Finally, there are times we find ourselves in need of a shower after a romp through our alternative night world. Either way, each morning we do indeed wake up and find ourselves in the comfort of our own homes. Everything is as it should be, right?
My dreams have always been vivid. The textures and sounds, even smells hit me as hard as if I were really in the place that my mind created, instead of being a casual observer. I have awoken with the smell of ancient dust still tickling my nostrils. For the rest of the day, my allergies gave me a most troublesome time. Sounds like a coincidence, I know. I do live in an area that is surrounded by farmers. My neat subdivision is a hidden treasure trove that one would not know existed unless you have been there before. The only issue is that it was the dead of winter and we were having the coldest one on record since the 1800s. I can assure you, nothing was growing and I keep a very clean house.
You know the sensation you get when you realize that you are dreaming? I used to quite enjoy this feature, especially if I was trying to fly and failing miserably. Ok, that isn’t the complete truth. I really, really enjoy this feature after trying in vain to find a normal toilet without success for an hour in dream land. Running around to find only rooms filled with stadium style bleachers where everyone calmly does their business in the open is no picnic. I believe the worst one was the time that I searched for hours for a private bathroom only to find it overflowing with ick and unusable. The shock is enough to clue me in on my dream so that I can wake up and use the facilities. It’s rather handy as I am much too old and much too young to be soiling the bed in my sleep.
I believe that “bathroom dreams” are the subconscious mind’s way of helping us avoid unpleasant situations, but that is as far as I am willing to commit myself to what science has deemed as truth. Dreams are not excess waste left over from a busy mind. Dreams are not mere electrical impulses. Both concepts sound lovely. I used to subscribe to those notions myself. After all, they are documented and backed by scientific research. I now know that this is only the result of our limited ability to understand the world around us, whether we are awake or not. I have witnessed certain signs that have led me to believe the way that I do now.
I began suspecting that my dreams were more than what the world at large said, when I began dreaming of the same places over and over again. I know there is such a thing as a recurring dream in the psychological world. If you wish, you can Google the terms and find all of the literature your heart desires. There are numerous philosophies about this phenomenon ranging from a reoccurring trauma to other desires best not mentioned in polite company. Again, I shucked off these night time flights of fancy as just that. This is more difficult to do when the main star of one of my more frequent recurring dreams welcomed me back.
The first time this occurred was enough to shock me right out of sleep. I even heard his voice as the dream crumbled cussing himself for his actions. It was such an unnerving experience that I was done with sleep for the rest of the night. In daylight, I felt silly for being so easily spooked and began to become curious as to why I reacted with such dread and disquiet. My curiosity won because a few weeks later, I was able to jump into the same dream, prepared for a warm welcome.
I received a warm welcome followed by a briefing of our current situation. My mystery partner and I have completed countless missions together. We do not always look the same from dream to dream, but I know it is him, just as he recognizes me. As far as I can tell, we never appear in our waking world forms. At least, not completely. I think we appear more as an we do in that realm. I am not sure what his real name is, but for some reason the name “Xavier” has always stuck out in my mind when I think about him. For all I know, it could be his real name. Wouldn’t that be something?
Whatever his real name is, in the end, it amounts to the same in dream land. He is my go-to guy. I never have to worry about my back when he is near. He has saved me from perilous drops down an elevator shaft, from being shot in the back by pissed off polar bear, from being crushed by a runaway amusement park ride, and one time he even saved me from running face first into a brick wall. Even in dream land, I am not graceful. I’ve saved him from equally bizarre and mundane fates. We are a team and there is no one that I would rather brave those strange realms with than Xavier.
On our last mission, we came across a situation that has chilled me even after I awoke. There are not many things that deeply bother me and I am able to shake off a “nightmare” very quickly. This time, I was unable to do so. To make matters worse, I have not been able to enter that realm again no matter how desperately I try. Stay with me folks. I am not crazy. This is not the ramblings of an imaginative thinker who has nothing better to do on a Wednesday night than spout out fiction and wild theories to whomever will listen. The truth is, I need your help. I guess I should tell you about my most recent dream.
It has been raining here for weeks. Now we have the dreadfully good fortune of being slammed with a tropical depression that seems to have loved the area so much that it is hanging around for eternity. I have not seen the sun shine for so long that I am beginning to think that when it does break through the clouds again, that I will probably hiss and go momentarily blind. I am on vacation at the moment. Great weather for it, huh? It is for someone like me who has way too many outside chores to do and would love an extended break from them. In other words, I get to be a couch potato.
It sounds marvelous when you couple it with a few days of zero adult responsibilities. The only problem is that I am dreadfully boring. I can only spend so many hours reading and binge-watching horror movies before my brain melts and my bed starts to call my name. The rain does not help. I swear it sings me lullabies the same time right after lunch each day. Today it started in hard around three. That is usually way too late to contemplate a nap but I thought why not and gave in. For three and a half hours I slumbered. I didn’t just nap. I found myself a mini coma.
My dream started out strange but they always do. My mother’s front yard looked like fifteen garage sales had exploded upon the grass. A fourteen-foot moving truck was parked sideways in the driveway so the goods could be sorted and moved to another location. Shipping containers filled to the brims were stacked haphazardly in the side yard. An old rust bucket of a car was parked behind my dad’s truck, its trunk overflowing with broken down boxes of even more junk.
To help with the work, my mom had hired a group of construction workers (because that makes sense) to help man the sale. My mother was out riding her bike through the neighborhood in hopes that her neighbors would stop adding their unwanted items to her sale. I’m not entirely sure where my mom got the bike. It had purple and white streamers flying off of the end of the handlebars and a huge horn mounted onto the plastic basket on the front of the bike. She seemed to shrink down to fit the bike and then grow again when she dismounted it. I have no idea why this was an important detail other than I needed to remember it. While she pedaled the neighborhood streets, my neighbors and I were left to rummage through the never-ending piles.
We started loading my car, a late model sedan, with weird junk that I must have and other junk that I am supposed to deliver to some mystery person at some mystery location. Because dreams cannot be bothered with mundane details such as driving to a location, I magically appeared at my destination in another vehicle, an old pick-up truck with faded blue paint and dirty windows. Dream logic, right? Somewhere along the way, I have picked up Xavier. He was driving as we pull off the highway and onto a dirt road leading to a small mom-n-pop grocery store.
Xavier’s eyes were a piercing blue that wildly contrasts with his jet-black hair and deeply tanned skin. He’s wearing a faded denim jacket and jeans that are the same shade as the truck he was driving. His face was creased with concentration and worry. I knew he was mentally preparing for the task before us. Parking the truck, he took a moment to look at me. Reflected in his eyes were my own worries. This will be no ordinary mission. As unspoken words passed between us, we dismounted the truck and headed for the store.
How we found this place was beyond me as the vegetation had taken over this spec of land long ago. Thick weeds and grass grew unchecked around the light pole in front of the building. Patches of asphalt, long ago broken down into chunks mark what once might have been the parking lot like cancerous growths. A path worn by many feet cut through the tall grass, beating it back in places, leading to the front steps of the porch. As unkempt as the grounds were, there were still many customers bustling back and forth through the entrance. Their faces were but a blur for they were not important and did not warrant my attention.
As we approached the steps, drawn by an unseen power, we were greeted by a teenage boy and his grandmother, the proprietor of the store, who seemed older than the dirt the weeds were growing in and not all together there. My attention shifts from the boy to a several motorcycles that were cruising up and down a dirt road leading through the thicket behind the store. A rowdy gang of teens were having themselves a wonderful time speeding back and forth, kicking up red clouds of dust in their wakes.
I asked where the road lead. The air grew cold as the smile fell from the young boy’s face. His grandmother locked her eyes firmly with mine for the first time. Her gaze was so intense that Xavier stepped slightly in front of me, alert for any danger, my solemn protector. Her voice was like hot lead as she told us of the condemned building at the end of the road. She warned us away from that place of death. A certain knowledge spread across my mind as I realized I would have to go there. I voiced my thoughts and saw a deep sadness briefly flicker over those too sharp eyes. She warned us away again, this time only halfheartedly as her grandson helped her from her rocker on the broken-down porch. They disappeared into the store. Neither one looked back. I did not need to consult Xavier for he already knew our destination. Like a well-oiled machine, we gathered ourselves and made our way down the dirt road.
Two worn ruts cut through the growth of this neglected property. The motorcycle gang flew by us at regular intervals. It is as if we were ghosts traveling along a forgotten dirt road for they did not seem to notice our passage. After a while, we could hear them up ahead, but none ventured back our way. Suddenly, the trees that had threatened dangerously close on all sides of the truck opened before us. Here, nothing grew. Barren dirt, hard packed by time and use encircled the boarded up square building. The teens, led by a crazed-haired blonde, were trying to break into the front door. So much for sneaking into the place, I thought to myself as Xavier nods in agreement. As we exited the truck, we were taken by surprise when the front door of the building opened and two geeky dressed gentlemen in orange prison jumpsuits welcomed the rowdy teens inside. They told everyone to grab a jumpsuit in case the police showed up so that we all looked official. Shrugging, Xavier and I followed their example and headed inside.
The inside was deceptively larger than it appeared from the dirt yard. The first rooms we found resembled a military base’s filing room. The teens had dropped their rambunctious act and became focused. They were on a mission. The blonde began explaining to me what they were methodically searching for in the cleared-out files, what tragedy took place here twenty years before. The group was in conflict about the various experiments that occurred on the grounds. The two geeks thought it was used for bio-warfare research. The blonde said it was a cover for testing on children. She believed the government was researching ways to make the perfect citizen. Both theories seemed too far-fetched and cliché for my liking. Xavier shot me a “are these people serious?” look as he turned to search a nearby cabinet.
Smiling to myself as if he had read my mind, I searched a few of the drawers. Most had been cleaned out completely. In fact, they appeared to be way too clean for a place that was supposedly abandoned for two decades. These filing cabinets looked brand new. Even if the building had been boarded up the entire time, wildlife and insects should have found their way in. Everywhere I looked, I could see no evidence of either. The hairs on my neck stood out on their ends as if the very air had an electric charge.
Xavier, ever alert to my moods, appeared at my side as I opened the middle drawer in the remaining row of filing cabinets with shaking hands. The insides were full of paperwork, covered in dust. I found receipts written in a strange language, notebooks, and bags of unusually shaped pills. Some looked like white teddy bears. Others like pink unicorns. There were some prescription drugs in blister packets too. A few were missing. I dropped it all back into the cabinet as if it were contaminated. Something bothered me intensely about finding this stash in an otherwise pristine room. I started to say as much but stopped as the room had gone too quiet all of a sudden. The teens were gone but we could hear their muffled voices whispering harshly from another room.
We snuck towards the sounds, shocked to find the way we had come in had changed. Instead of a row of lockers, indicating a changing room for personnel, we found ourselves in a retro kitchen/dining room combination. I’ve been in this place before. I had only a second to register this thought when I heard the blonde crying. The police had found our little party. The teens were hiding as she tried to talk her way out of going to jail. I crouched behind an old wicker kitchen chair. The room was filthy and dark. I could barely make out my surroundings. It looked like several people were sitting in the rest of the chairs. One held a finger up to his mouth to silence me before blending back into the darkness. I felt the comforting presence of Xavier next to me. Shadows danced on the walls from the other room. One filled the doorway, blocking what little light was penetrating our dark hide-a-way.
Harsh light filled the room as the police search for the others. An officer stood in the kitchen doorway and scaned the room. Xavier and I were in plain sight, yet he only saw the others sitting at the table and ordered them out. We waited for what felt like two eternities, holding our breaths in expectation of being captured before our work here was completed. Finally, the cops left, taking the teens with them. We continued to wait, giving them time to leave before moving, weary of drawing attention to ourselves. Unfortunately, the cops were not too thorough with their search. One of the wayward youths was not caught and rather loudly proclaimed that as he tried to exit through the front door. Busted. The cops had never left.
As the police made their way through the building once again, something grabbed my foot and began to pull me under a side board. The overhead light came on blinding me. Whatever had a hold of me was draining my life force, greedily feeding on it. I felt helpless. From far away, I heard Xavier’s voice, though I could not make out what he was saying. I barely heard the crash as the sideboard collapsed on top of me. I was near death by the time they dug me out. Strangely, once they freed my foot, the life surged back into my body. The building shook as something was none too happy to have lost its meal. Xavier fretted over me, checking to see if anything was broken, his eyes filled with worry. I assured him that I was fine.
The police were none too thrilled to see us. They began lecturing us on the dangers of leading a group of teenagers inside a condemned building. As they prepared to handcuff us, the teen rushed outside screaming as if hell itself were chasing him. Doors began opening and slamming shut. The floor beneath our feet buckled and cracked. The walls melted and changed into new features before melting again. Everyone was screaming and trying to retreat through the front door. We did not make it in time. It was as if the entire building drew in one last breath of air before it slammed all of the doors and windows closed a final time, trapping us inside. Mad laughter boomed through our ears before an eerie quiet settled upon the space. Dazed, we stood around the kitchen table trying to gather our thoughts and process what had just occurred. No one spoke for a long time.
Stuck, but not helpless, we decided to work together to try to find a way out. I showed the head officer, David, the file drawer with the weird pills and old papers. He and his partner, Philip, sat in the dust covered living room to try to figure out what each pill was and what it did. This seemed extremely important to discover. I left them to it as I searched through the main bedroom off of the kitchen while Xavier went through the contents of the cabinets, looking for food and other clues.
The bedroom was cramped. Piles of plastic bins ran from the ceiling to the floor. Jammed up against the dresser, that was covered with boxes upon boxes made of metal, was a pile of old blankets and clothes. The bed was in disrepair as if someone had recently awoken from a terrible nightmare. This bothered me. It was too clean and the smell of sour sweat too fresh for an unused space. Again, I found myself doubting whether the place had really been abandoned all of these years. Nothing fit together. Why would a military building look like a standard home on the inside? More accurately, why would it have a military style filing office, locker rooms and then a living space furnished like an elderly couple lived there?
Caught up in my thoughts, I tripped over an overturned bin in the corner of the room, knocking over a stack of old brown boxes. Video tapes and picture albums scattered across the floor in a heap. There were snap shots of different children playing happily in a lush back yard. A lump formed in my throat as I scanned through the photographs. Frantically, I began digging through the pile, hoping for answers. Xavier rushed into the room just as I uncover a ghastly smell. At the bottom of the box is nothing but used paper towels, covered in excrement. The smell gags me, it is so fresh and pungent. He pulled me from the room before I can vomit, leaving David and Philip to my discovery.
The duo grabbed a few of the video tapes. Standing against the kitchen counter, I watched as Xavier helped Philip set up a television on the kitchen table. It was one of those with the VCR players built into it. I haven’t seen one of those in ages. It too looked brand new. Dreading what was on the tapes, David loaded one into the player, pressing play. The sounds of youthful laughter filled our ears. Home movies. Each tape was of a different set of children but all were filmed in the same location. There was something heartbreaking about watching those precious memories. At first, I could not put my finger on what it was, then it hit me. Every child was dressed alike in the same bright orange jumpsuit. Another detail jumped out at me, the bike. It was in every single video.
I started to point this out to the others when a dreadful voice, speaking a language not for the ears of man, boomed out of the television speakers. It gave way to a laugh that nearly stopped the heart. Xavier shut the television off before the voice could continue. I was grateful for him. Before anyone could speak, the cackling we heard from the monitor, cut through the air. The room came to life again. Doors banged open and shut. The contents of the refrigeration spilled out onto the floor. The smell of rot and fresh excrement assaulted our senses. In the chaos of whirling objects and putrid smells, no one noticed the arrival of our guest.
As suddenly as the onslaught began, it stopped. Everything came crashing onto the floor with a loud bang. As the dust settled, I noticd that before us stood a fragile old woman with wiry white hair. Her eyes were clouded and she was drooling on herself. Her nightgown was worn and showed much more than we wished to see of her withered physique. David reached out towards her as she started to scream. Her eyes came into focus as she latched onto him, ripping at his face with her claw-like fingers and biting with her broken teeth. Philip shoots at her three times, missing with one shot that rockets into the wall behind his target, but nailing her in the side with the other two. The tangled pair collapsed to the ground in a heap.
Keeping his gun on the old woman, Philip motions for us to roll her off of David. Xavier grabbed her shoulders while I get her feet. She was almost weightless as we shifted her onto the floor, laying her on her back. Xavier checked her for a pulse to no avail. David’s face was in ruin. One of the bites in his neck had proven fatal. We stood by helpless as his life force drained out onto the floor which drank it up greedily. Grabbing a blanket from the bedroom, Xavier wrapped David’s body in it and carried it to the bed as Philip stood over the murderer’s body shaking with rage and disbelief. Not a single drop of David’s blood stained the floor.
What in the world were we dealing with here? Where did this woman come from? Where had she been hiding? Furthermore, what did she have to do with the children on those tapes? The answers were not forthcoming and it began to feel like time was running out for us all.
Xavier returned from the bedroom with more sheets. He set them onto the kitchen table and went to the old woman’s side. I have seen that look on his face before. What he was about to do was leaving a bad taste in his mouth and filled his stomach with lead. Grabbing the bony ankles of the old woman, he dragged her to the nearest kitchen chair. Seeing what he meant to do, Philip helped him pick her up and sit her down. Together, they bound her to the chair and not an instance too late for her eyes came into focus once again. From her killer mouth, another icy laugh issued forward in an attempt to break our resolve.
When she saw that laughter did not work, she tried another tactic. The room came to life around us. We were not impressed nor spooked by this juvenile display. It ended abruptly. Staring with us with unfiltered hatred, one moment, and then as if a switch had been flipped in the deranged creature’s head, she gazed upon us as a grandmother would while dishing out her beloved cookies. I was not fooled by this trick either but decided to see where this path would lead.
I calmly took a rag from the kitchen counter and wet it with cool water. Confidently, I walked to the old woman and began to clean her face. I loathed to be that close to this vile creature. Touching her flesh made mine crawl as if a thousand ants were squirming across the surface. She softly spoke to me about how good of a child I was for helping her. She thanked me for looking after her. She asked me to forgive her for wrecking the house.
It disgusted me to do so, but I spoke kindly to her. I told her that the house could be cleaned and for her not to worry. Her eyes brightened as I spoke. My stomach was in knots. I was not sure what to do next. Thankfully, Xavier did. As I finished cleaning her face, he appeared at my side with a glass of water in one hand and a mixture of the strange pills we had found earlier in the other. I thought drugging the old woman seemed an unlikely strategy, but things work different in these realms. He gave her his most charming of smiles and coaxed her into taking every single pill.
It did not take long for the pills to take their effect. The air cleared up and the occasional rumbles throughout the building subsided. Whatever had been working through the old woman was losing its hold on her. Eventually, we were able to untie her. Watchful for another ruse, we led her to the couch in the living room so she could lie down propped up on a pile of throw pillows like a queen.
Philip gave her another handful of pills. She liked some of them. Others she spat back out onto her gown saying that they tasted like medicine. We wanted her docile before the entity had a chance to fully gain control of itself and her. Entity did not feel like the correct term for whatever it was that we were dealing with, but it was the only explanation that we had. Our plan seemed to be working though it was a struggle to get her to eat many more. I started giving her real candy from a jar on the coffee table, in between mouthfuls of drugs. It should have killed her a thousand times over. It did not. She merely sat there with a foolish grin on her face singing to herself.
For hours, we tried to get information out of her. I know how that sounds. She was doped out of her mind. How could we possibly get anything useful? Entity remember, as in not human. Like I’ve said before, things work differently in the realms. Eventually, our efforts paid off. Her eyes cleared a bit and a smugness came across her face. She wiped the drool off her chin with her forearm as she proceeded to tell us, with genuine delight, how she lured parents away from their children in order to gain strength in this realm. She got the idea after banishing her twin sister and condemning her cat to eternal torture.
Her sister, Agatha as she fancied calling herself, was content sucking the life out of the military personnel that had once inhabited this facility. Magnus, as her sister insisted on calling her, wanted to turn this world into her own private realm. They fought bitterly for days. Magnus was the stronger of the two and sent Agatha to wander the Realm of the Shadows for eternity. Her cat she loathed even more than her dim-witted sister. It would spend each of its nine lives in horrible agony unless she, herself, was terminated. If that were to happen, then her cat would be freed. Since Magnus had zero fear of death, she was quite sure that her feline would suffer greatly before being snuffed out. That’s what the treacherous creature deserved, as far as she was concerned, for trying to kill her off. Her twin she just despised for existing. She couldn’t kill her without killing herself which just pissed Magnus off even more.
As she stormed throughout the structure, working herself into a fury, she came across a lone survivor hiding in one of the lockers, Private Lewis. Instead of tearing the lowly man to pieces, she felt how powerful this man’s spirit was in contrast to the others. Here was a man with something to live for, his family. What a beautiful family it was too, so full of life and sweet, sweet essence. Using magic that she learned long before this realm was considered new, Magnus tricked the young man into bringing his family to visit.
Lewis had a little girl, age eight, and a little boy, age ten. Magnus gave each of them a new bicycle to ride which was greeted with much delight. Lewis and his wife could never afford to give the children such gifts. The children rode themselves ragged, day in and day out. For three, fun-filled days, the family celebrated their first real vacation together. There were delicious foods, lots of laughter, and tons of joy. It was too good to be true. Magnus insisted on capturing everything the children did on film. She convinced the Lewis’s that it was because they only stayed little for a while and these moments must be preserved to cherish later. On that third night, as the family slept unaware, Magnus snuck into the parents’ bedroom and sucked their essence out while they dreamed, leaving only their clothes behind. These she threw in a corner in her bedroom.
The children awoke the next morning with no memory of their parents. Magnus sent them on their way, each with a brand-new bike and no destination in mind. She did, however, suggest off-handily for them to visit her when they had families of her own. After all, who wouldn’t want their children to enjoy the same cherished, childhood adventures. With a smile and a wave, the first of many orphaned children road off, condemning themselves to their parents’ fates.
The drugs were wearing off. Magnus was gaining control of herself. She would not take any more pills from any of us. To demonstrate her returning abilities, she decided to show me how she sucked the life out of her victims. Grabbing the sides of my head, she started chanting in that strange language of hers. Xavier was desperately trying to get her to release her iron grip. He succeeded but not before I saw the truth. Each person endured a painful death, choking on a green, reflective powder that slowly ate their face away until nothing remained. Inky fumes rose off of the bodies that Magnus inhaled deeply.
Stunned and enraged by the unwanted vision, I grabbed Magnus by her throat, intent on choking the life out of the cackling bitch until the muscles failed in my arms. She bit and squirmed in my grip. Her strength was incredible. We tumbled out of the living room and into the kitchen, with Magnus on top of me. Philip tried to shoot her, but she turned at the last second. I felt the bullet graze the side of my head before it slammed into the floor beneath me. Familiar arms slide across my stomach as Xavier wrapped them around my foe. Pulling with all of his strength, he jerked the bewildered beast off of me, throwing her into the cabinets.
She was on her feet in seconds, lunging towards Xavier. A single shot rang out. A hole formed where Magnus once had an eye. She took two steps backwards before collapsing against the spilled contents of the cabinets. I was on my feet and running towards the bedroom before her body had hit the ground. Xavier yelled at me but I had no time to respond. I had seen that green powder from the vision, right before I stumbled over that bin. I didn’t want her essence, but her death would please me greatly.
Running back into the kitchen, I saw Xavier and Philip fighting with Magnus once more. I yelled for one of them to force her mouth open. Philip grabbed her by her hair and braved her snapping jaws. She tried to latch on but luckily was only rewarded with a mouthful of his jacket. Xavier, whom I have never seen hit anyone, punched Magnus hard in the jaw, breaking it. With his hand now free, Philip forced it open as I poured the green powder down her gurgling throat. As her face began to dissolve, we all backed away from her. Choking on her own blood and filth, she uttered a final laugh before saying that we would never find her children, they would bring others here to restore her and…we…..would….never……find…..them.
As her body turned to inky, black mist, the doors and windows blew open. We scrambled out the nearest door way to escape the toxic fumes. While we had been trapped inside, the day had ended, the night had gone on, and a new day had started without us. Seeing the backyard, the lush grass and pathways made of stone cutting through the yard that seemed to grow larger and smaller before my eyes, was gut-wrenching. This was where all of those happy families had spent their last remaining days. Feeling as if we had failed in our mission, Xavier and I left that heartbreaking scene and climbed back into our truck. Philip vanished ahead of us in his patrol car in a cloud of dust.
The dust cleared as I found Xavier and I sitting on my parent’s porch. Funny how dreams transport you in the blink of an eye. It was dark again. I guess we took the entire day to make it back home. The front yard was clean. The sale must have been a success for everything was gone, including my mom’s bike. The sudden dread that I felt was mirrored in Xavier’s eyes. We had won the battle, but not the war. How many of Magnus’s children were out there? Could she really come back? Feeling like a failure, I felt Xavier’s hand close over mine. I turned to gain strength from him and as our eyes locked, I felt myself being pulled from that nightmarish realm. I awoke, safe in my bed, but the images still lingered, as did the warmth of his touch.
Seven seconds. That is the maximum amount of time we are supposed to spend actually dreaming. I find that to be utter bullshit. I have come to believe that what science registers as our complete dream cycle is only our passage in and out of our realm and into another. We live in both places. One we access while we are awake, the others, while we sleep. I do not know whether they are actually called realms. I do know that if you die in one of them, you are dead there forever unless you come back at an earlier point in time. The realms have different rules. Recurring dreams occur when you arrive in that realm in the exact same moment, at the exact same time as the last time you visited.
I believe this is why you see people you know in real life and why they act differently in your dreams. It is because they are different people. It is also because they do not realize that they are in fact, in another place. Ignorance is bliss. As for Xavier? Well, he has never struck me as the lay back and let it ride type. No, I think he knows exactly what I do, that there is work to be done and that people need our help. I don’t know where you are in the waking realm, Xavier, but I am damn glad you are always there in the sleep realms. I haven’t been able to reach you there in a while. It must mean that you are safe. If you are, drag me into a peaceful dream and I’ll promise to do the same. We need a vacation, dude.
In the meantime, for those of you who are reading this, time is running out on that side. We have to find those children and ensure that Magnus can never return. She is aware of our realm now. If she regains her body, it is only a matter of time before she finds her way here. The next time you find yourself dreaming, look around you. If you look hard enough, you will realize that all I have told you is true. That’s when the real night time adventures will begin. There will come a day that you find yourself staring at a familiar boarded up building. Wait for the sound of an old pickup truck coming down that dirt road. Until that day, I’ll see you around the realms, hopefully, you will see me too.