Estimated reading time — 21 minutes
My older brother stood over me, eyes blown wide and a smile spread across his face. He held out a hand to me like he was approaching a wounded animal, knowing that any sudden move could spook me into leaving. My feet scuffled on the floor and I looked up into his big brown eyes, the same eyes that mother said made him hard to deny. They really were beautiful, but that wasn’t why I was finding it hard to say no here. For one, I was 10, I had no understanding of why this was wrong. The second reason is that he was so much larger than me, only 13, but he towered over me. The third reason is that he had no problem with kicking my ass if I didn’t do what he wanted.
“C’mon, baby, let me help you feel good,” he purred in that voice that he used to comfort me when I was crying. I looked up to him for so long, he was my big brother and he was supposed to protect me, he was supposed to take care of me. Everyone always said we’d be the only friends we had when we grew up, I assume that they would change their mind if they knew what happened when Mommy and Daddy were away at work.
“Help me?” I murmured, grabbing at the end of my green and yellow striped, oversized nightshirt, my chin tucked to my chest, and eyes glancing up at him through long, youthful lashes.
“Yeah, we just gotta get rid of these clothes,” he started to gently brush my sleeve off of my shoulder. I didn’t stop him, but how could I, I was so young.
My eyes opened slowly, toes and fingers flexing as I got used to my 17 year old body. Just another PTSD driven dream about that fucker. I sat up, rubbing my eyes and reaching for my phone, the bright light blinding in the dark of the room. When my eyes adjusted and the time became clear, I groaned in annoyance, throwing my phone back down. It was only two A.M. and I was still tired as hell. My hand reached out for the soda on my side table, sleep sticking my mouth together and making it uncomfortable. Just as I turned the slightest bit, I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye.
My head whipped around, my thoughts telling me it was just my hair confusing me and falling in my eyes, or I was still half asleep and dreaming. That was what I told myself over and over as I stared into large, glowing white eyes, the silhouette of a human stood in front of me. It was as if all light was absent from the figure, no features legible through the darkness. The black hole of a figure stared at me for a moment before moving forward towards me. I opened my mouth to scream, but my voice was caught in my throat.
“Shh, no need to alert your parents, child,” the creatures voice was smooth, calming, like a professional children’s storybook narrator. His movements were smooth, like he didn’t even need to push off of the earth to propel himself forward. Everything about him seemed human, but eerily off. The bed dipped and my legs shot back. The thoughts of hundreds of horror stories with creatures seated at the end of your bed flashed through my thoughts, but left in favor of focusing on where this thing was and what it was doing.
“W-what are you?” I whispered, trying not to anger the monster by alerting my parental unit.
“Never you mind what I am,” he ghosted closer to me, “it is your job to mind what I do.”
“And, what is it that you do?”
“I cure humans like you! Through dreams, I help humans through their past trauma. You are plagued by the memories of your brother, and I can take that pain away, if you wish for me to.” His hand stretched out as if to touch my face, hovering inches from my forehead. He was close now, far too close for comfort.
“And why should I trust you? I don’t even know what you are, let alone what you intend to do with me.” I pressed my back closer to the wall, letting the covers fall over more of my body to hide me from him. My hands were trembling as I clutched the blankets and I felt my breath shake. I didn’t want him to know I was scared, but, curse this body, it holds no secrets.
“What would you like to dream about?” He purred, hand creeping closer and closer.
“Uhm, I guess an autumn picnic…alone,” I held back a stutter and looked into those soulless, white eyes.
He nodded his head and the hand finally touched base. It was cold, and felt like wind on my skin. My eyes weighed heavy and my body went lax, taking me back into my deep sleep.
At first, that was all there was. The smell of iron oxide and something else, like copper, wafted through the room. Something wasn’t right here. My eyes shot open and I was greeted with a small, confined, metal space. Rust tinted the walls and the floor seemed to be a conveyer belt. I glanced around, looking for a way out. In the ceiling was a small, square hole, either an air duct or a way into a room above this one. I whirled on my feet and was staring at a strange machine. I looked like a statue of a monster’s jaws. Sharp, jagged teeth line the upper and lower parts of the mechanism. The teeth were all shapes and sizes, pointed straight down like it was made to chew something up.
As I was observing the jaws, my body jerked forward, the belt underneath me whirring to life. My body seized and my mind went blank. Metal screamed as it scraped against itself, the metal jaws pumping up and down, clamping down on thin air. I turned on my heels, ready to run against the belt, only to notice the wall moving as well. The noise in the room was deafening, scraping and grinding filling the air and left my spine crawling with anxiety. In the midst of the sounds came the shattering sound of wood and pieces of an old, wooden stool were falling out of the hole in the ceiling.
My eyes shot to the machine that was growing ever closer, hinges on the side controlling the motion of the machine. Working quickly, I scrambled for the pieces of wood, dropping a few and scooping it back up off the floor. I was right in front of the machine now, the already screeching audio getting intolerable up close. I began shoving the wooden chunks into the hinges, stepping backwards as I did to keep myself as far away from the jaws as possible. I tossed most of the pieces, afraid to get my hand close to the large shivs. I was halfway through blocking the mechanisms when my foot slipped, sliding in between two teeth in what had to be the most stressful moment of my life. I watched as the teeth wound up and went to clamp down again, I braced for the bite, but the teeth came just shy of my ankle, unable to close fully.
I stared in awe at my handiwork then quickly moved to the other hinge. The wall was still closing in, speeding up exponentially as I continued to stuff shards into the hinge. Finally, the jaws were jerking and lurching from the effort, jerking open and stopping abruptly mid-bite. I sighed as I looked for a way to get through the hole, the bottom so close together that I would have had to cut my leg to get through. As I was thinking about a way to use my new method of escape, the wall pressed against my back. I was about a foot from the machine, hardly any room to move. I had no time to think as I grabbed a tooth and tried to use it to push myself up. Instead, the metal sliced through the delicate flesh of my hand, causing blood to ooze out and a sharp pain to shoot through my arm. The wall pushed on and I had no choice, the wood was starting to give and break under the force of the machine. I jumped for it, hearing the wood finally shatter into pieces and just as I was about to touch the floor of the other side, the jaws clamped down around my leg.
A scream ripped through my throat and pain sliced up my limbs as the jaws kept chomping down on my leg, sliding it further and further onto the tooth. I took a deep breath and planted my left leg on the ground, pushing myself up and standing with one leg out behind me, continuing to be shredded apart, each bite making my good knee want to buckle and give way. I twisted around, my spine creaking and ribs aching with the effort. I grabbed hold of the leg, yanking upwards and screaming in agony as the muscle and bone was let go, only for the jaws to slam back down at a different angle and rip new holes into the mutilated flesh. My vision started to blur, tears blocking out the information. I grabbed hold of the leg again, hands shaking and arms weak. I had almost forgotten about the cut on my hand until I pulled once more, only for my hand to catch on my jeans and rip open further. A growl of annoyance and pain left my mouth and I gave one last tug, my leg jerking free and my body flinging forward. The useless limb flew forward and I instinctively put my weight onto my right leg, a grotesque snap ringing through the metal room as the bone fractured in half. My face slammed against the ground, expecting to find hard metal but landing against something soft and squishy. I cried out in pure agony and held my hurt leg, rocking back and forth to calm myself down.
“Oxygen,” I whispered, the word being a safeword in my family that marked an anxiety attack. “Oxygen!” I shouted as I placed my hurt hand on the ground, trying to hoist myself up. “Oxy-“ I looked down, bloody flesh staring back at me. Suddenly I was slammed back into reality. Bodies littered the floor, the same teeth marks placed on various parts of their corpses. My stomach heaved and I covered my mouth with my good hands, not wanting to add anymore bodily fluids to the mix. Tears streaked down my cheeks and I glanced around, looking for a way out. There was a platform, leading to a hole in the top of the far wall. I crawled on my hands and knees towards it, unable to balance on one leg in the pile of carcasses. My hand brushed over wounds that were long rotted and diseased, my knee driving into the stomachs of the dead participants. It felt like a lifetime before I reached the platform, hands reaching up to pull me onto the surface and pressing to get me back on my feet. I pressed up against the wall and hopped towards the hole, not looking back at the room full of corpses.
I rested in the doorway, a sob of relief leaving my lips. The room was similar, small and rusted, but there was a lovely red, leather sofa with cream accents and black armrests. The other addition was a beautifully polished grand piano on the other side of the room. I hopped to the sofa, still unsure of what I can trust, but not in the mood to look a gift horse in the mouth. I sighed in utter relief as I sat down, letting my eyes slide shut.
Soft piano music began filling the room, at first I thought nothing of it, until I realized that something had to be playing the piano. My eyes shot open and locked upon a beautiful blonde boy, maybe in his early twenties, messy blond hair fell in front of closed eyes, face calm with focus. His hands flowed across the keys in a way that was far too familiar. As the melody reached its last few notes, he slowed his tempo, the song ending and a hand hovering over the keys as though he wanted to play another song, but knew he was finished playing. The man lifted his head and placed his hands across his lap.
“I just adore music,” the creature hummed in content, turning towards me and opening its eyes, large, white, and glowing. “Don’t you?”
I nodded my head, sitting still and keeping eye contact. I felt as though staring at him was like looking into the face of your killer, though, he very well may be mine. The thought curled inside my mind, wrapping around my logical reasoning and snuffing it out.
“Who were they?” I muttered, my voice cracking as I thought back to the pile of dead bodies.
“Oh, them? Trauma victims who failed their tests. Don’t worry, if you die in here, it normally means that you gave up trying to live anyway. Though I don’t suggest it, it won’t wake you up. You are transported through dreams, but this doesn’t mean it is one. There are consequences to actions here and death is permanent.” His eyes stopped glowing, the white of their eyes broken by reptilian slits.
“Why do you do this?” I whimpered, feeling the blood in my mangled leg starting to dry and grow stiff and uncomfortable.
“Why? That I can’t tell you just yet,” he tutted with his tongue like I was a child that asked a questions too big for my age.
“Please, j-just let me go,” I pleaded, tears staining my cheeks.
“Not yet, you have not reached the end, you have three more trials before that.” He grabbed my arm and hefted me up, dragging me to a hole in the wall that just seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. “Now, play nice, he’s sensitive.”
Suddenly I was thrown through the door, expecting to catch myself, finding that my mangled leg had mended and, even more to my dismay, there was no floor. I let out a cry of surprise as I fell through a large black abyss. Looking around, I searched for anything that would slow me down, something to break my fall. I looked down to see a light growing below me, I started to reach out, clawing at air, searching for purchase, but nothing came. I stopped, closing my eyes and let myself fall, accepting that I failed this trial.
My body smacked off the ground, the ground giving way then jerking back to sling me back into the air and repeat the process till I stopped moving altogether. I gasped for breath and blinked my eyes back open. The ground seemed to be made of pillows, brightly colored and spanning as far as the eye could see. I tilted my head in confusion, standing up unsteadily on the unstable ground. A pastel house stood nearby, leading me to believe that I needed to head to it. I reached the hot pink door and took a deep breath.
“This isn’t so bad, I can handle this,” I chanted to myself like it would make it true. As soon as I opened the door I was smacked with colorful décor and the smell of death. The building looked like a fifties diner that was designed by a little girl. I sat down at the counter, tapping my fingers on the metal top. I turned when a door opened, revealing a small purple monster. He was egg shaped, furry and with small stubby legs. His arms were fat and his eyes were closed like he was sleep-walking, an oversized green and yellow striped shirt clung to his form. He looked like a puppet or kids cartoon character. He turned to face me, nearly causing me to jump out of my chair as I got a better look at him. Large, bloody teeth hung from an oversized mouth, little fangs were embedded in and around the mouth and he nibbled on a severed arm. Long, sharp claws held the arm in place and his mouth moved unnaturally, like a sock puppet that is being made to pretend to eat. He dropped the arm to the side and raised his free hand to wave me along, motioning me into the room he just came out of.
I slowly stood up, following the little beast into the room. My body froze as I stared at it all. The floor was yellow and the walls were bright blue, but the friendliness stopped there. Entrails hung like Christmas lights, dead bodies hung on the walls, skulls lined the window sills like pies or flowers, the rug was made of human skin, and the furniture was made of mangled body parts. The little monster stood proudly in the center of the room, uncanny mouth spread into a smile. He was hopping a bit on his stubby toes and waving his fat arms around like he was trying to show me something. The monster ran to the window sill and grabbed the skull that had the least amount of meat chunks on it, bringing it to me and pushing it into my hands. I grimaced as I took the object, looking down at the large claw, poking the skull as if asking me to look. I nodded and gave a forced smile.
“That’s very nice,” I said and handed the skull back to him gently, he ran and put it back in the sill then came back, grabbing my wrist and pulling me along to one of the neon blue walls. There was a dead woman, strung up on the wall, pieces of skin graphed from her legs and arms and sewn on her sensitive areas as if preserving her innocence. His claw poked at her stomach just like the skull, that innocent smile still spread across his face. I nodded and kept my tight smile, trying not to show my disgust. The hand still holding my wrist guided my hand to touch the woman’s stomach, as if he wanted me to feel just how soft it was. It was so cold and felt so dry, like she was ready to start decaying, but was never allowed to. My face twisted into one of disgust and I heard the monster whine. I looked down as it let go of my arm and walked over to his skull collection, picking up the one he had shown me and sitting in one of his grotesque chairs. His claws dragged across the top of the skull, as if petting an animal. The sound was strangely soothing despite its source. I sighed and walked over to the little thing, setting a hand on his fuzzy head.
“Hey, it’s okay. It’s just not my style,” I gave a nervous laugh and started petting through the monster’s matted fur. “If it makes you feel happy though, then that’s awesome!” The monster turned its head to me, smiling again then opening its eyes, the white glow blinded me for a moment, closing my eyes and blinking them back open to see a different room. A tall, dark-haired man stood in front of me, maybe in his mid-forties and good looking for his age, his eyes that same white shade as the creature who ran this place.
“You almost failed,” he said with a disappointed frown. I looked up at him and nodded.
“What was the point of that, the monster didn’t even try to kill me!” I scoffed, not mentioning the unease of the situation, it felt like a perverted childhood dream.
“This isn’t about killing you, it’s not even about stringing up bodies to make you scared. You’re learning things. That is your purpose, to learn, child.”
“Learn what?! What am I learning? That you’re a piece of shi-!” his hand slammed over my mouth and he bared his teeth, long and sharp and angry.
“Watch the way you speak to me, child, I control this place and I control whether it is possible for you to survive or not!” I nodded my head, feeling his breath now, unlike before on my bed. His white eyes glowed dangerously and I had to focus on keeping my body from shaking. He removed his hand from my mouth and I sat there a moment, thinking.
“D-do you have a name?” I pretended, like I always did when I was scared. I was pretending he was a normal human, I was pretending he was just a stranger and I was okay, and I was pretending that I was going to get out alive.
He stared at me a moment as if thinking whether I was ready to know or not. The beast sighed and narrowed his eyes. “Chonak,” the word wafted over me, drawing me into darkness, unable to see, just like when I first was sent here.
My vision came back to me, seeing that I was in a rickety wood cabin with no entrance or exit. The ceiling was made of hay and string and the walls of large logs, tied together loosely with hay strands. It felt unsafe, like it would collapse at any moment. I moved forward poking at the wall and hearing the whole building creak. I took a deep breath and thought a moment. I heard the wall creak on the other side and turned around quickly screaming at the thing staring at me. It looked like Chonak had when he was playing the piano but his clothes were gone, his upper body looking skinny and malnourished, skeletal arms ending in frostbitten hands, blackened and scabbing. A third arm seemed to push out from his stomach like it had stabbed its way out of the flesh and the skin healed around it. His bottom half had four, broken, mangled legs, all meshed together by globs of fatty flesh, looking as though he was riddled with tumors. When he moved, his body rolled on his fatty legs, gushing and creasing against itself in an unnatural manner that was easiest for him.
My stomach heaved once more, watching him move made me sick. Then I watched as white, reptilian eyes glued onto my face, a smile that was a bit too wide with a bit too many teeth was laced onto his visage. A decaying hand came up to slide across the hay strands, finally taking it between his fingers with care and yanking, causing the building to groan and the corner pieces to bulge with effort. I tried my hardest to control my breathing, but it was getting difficult. His hand slid down, like a lover caressing his partner’s stomach, playing with the next strand and pulling again. The corner practically popped, crisscrossing and holding itself up through pressure, small holes opening between the logs. Chonak rolled his way over to the next corner, snapping me back into reality. He was going to wreck the place, collapse it in on top of the both of us. I surged forward, searching the holes for one big enough to squeeze through. I wasn’t that big, there had to be one. I tugged on the logs trying to make a bigger hole when yet another strand was pulled, rolling the logs out of place but creating an easy climbing surface.
My hands scrambled up the smooth wood, dragging myself up the first two layers only for the structure to jerk with the next strand. I scraped the wood with bitten nails, only to fall backwards, a sickening crack ringing in the room as my arm snaps underneath me. I cry out in pain, but I didn’t have time to focus on the agony, I had to climb, so I did. My hands clawed at wood, feet catching on splinters and flinging myself up, I was so close to the top when the logs rolled again, slamming against my legs, effectively trapping me. I growled out a sound of frustration, my legs not broken, just pinned.
“What the fuck is up with you and trapping my fucking legs you god damned-!” I jerked against the logs then realized what he was doing. He knew that he pinned my legs too, he knew that it would freak me out, that it would make me…
“Oxygen!” I screeched, jerking with my good arm, dragging myself, but not freeing my legs. “Oxygen, oxygen!” I scrabbled at the wood, the adrenaline kicking in as I jerked and pulled, seeing his hand go for the final strand. “Oxygenoxygenoxygen,” I chanted as I freed myself, flying forward and over the top log, easily making it passed the straw roof. Just as I made it over, the house fell, knocking the wind out of me, but doing no other harm.
Rolling onto my back, I stared up at a white ceiling, my chest heaving as I tried hard to breathe. Suddenly, a figure, seemingly devoid of light hovered over top of me. White eyes blinked as if assessing the situation.
“I almost failed, yes I fucking know!” I flung my hand into the air and quickly turned onto my belly, his arm extended out to me. It was his left hand, he was forcing me to use my broken arm. I reached out anyway, taking his hand and shouting as the bone snapped back into place. I stood now on bruised legs, glaring at the shadow creature. “What are you playing at?” I hissed, too angry to realize just who I was talking to and the fact that I only had one trial left.
“May I remind you to watch your tone, you aren’t done yet, besides, it is not my job to explain my motives to you.”
“I’ve been shoved into metal teeth, thrown into a room decorated in body parts, and nearly had a house collapse on me, I think I deserve-!” Sharp pain split through my midsection, blood spurting onto the ground as I breathed unevenly, staring down at the gash in my stomach, then back at the black claws coated heavily in red fluid. My eyes squinted as if my brain was lagging behind, angry white eyes narrowed and staring me down as well.
I felt my stomach gluing itself together, sticking and catching, tearing like stitches in my gut. I doubled over and finally threw up, messing up the perfectly white floor. My tears ran down my face, mixing with what was left on my mouth. I wretched again, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I stood up straight, quiet now and less angry.
“Now that you are done with your outburst, I’d like to send you through the last trial.” Chonak waved a clawed hand at a door, white and like every generic door in any old house. The door nob was gold in color and there were black grease marks from grubby children’s hands dragging across it as they shut the door. There was a large hole in the door, covered by white duct tape which, assuming from past experience, was probably caused by an angry fist. I knew this door. I hated this door.
“No, no please, please don’t make me go in there,” I blubbered out through teary eyes and swollen lips. He turned around and glared back at me grabbing my arm and dragging me towards the door, a hand on the knob and there he waited. His demeanor changed, white eyes turning into a soothing light rather than an angry spotlight shining on my pain and sins. His shoulders were untensed and the anger that was once there was gone, he seemed sympathetic now.
“You can handle this. Remember, you were here to learn. Take the knowledge that you have learned with you and conquer your fear. Remember, you are not thinking what you could have done in the past, you are taking your newly found strength and using it now in the same situation. I’m giving you a chance to control a situation you couldn’t have possibly controlled before. Take advantage of this time, Seb, I believe in you.” The name calmed me now, his new attitude making it easier for me to consent to this. I nodded in agreement, wiping the tears from my cheeks.
“Alright, I’m ready.”
The door opened and to the left was a black TV cabinet, in the middle was a window, and to the right was the bed. I walked further into the room, staring at the mattress and recalling the details. Three layers, a box spring, a mattress, and a grey striped mattress on top. He had a yellow sheet on the bottom layer, a black duvet with yellow stripes on the bottom, and an orange blanket we got from grandma for Christmas. It was crusty and covered in sweat and fluids that dare not be named. It was like my green safety blanket, but all the softness was gone and it smelled like him instead of lavender and fruit. Two black and yellow, square, football pillows accompanied a gunmetal blue pillow, a yellow memory foam pillow, and an uncovered white pillow, covered n sweat stains. The room reeked of my brother, like sweat, grease, and zits. I wrinkled my nose, having trouble keeping my anxiety levels down. Suddenly there was a body behind me, hot breath brushing over my ear and hands on my hips.
“Hey, baby, it’s been a while,” I jolted forward, turning around and staring him down. My breath caught in my throat and a sob threatened to escape. His big brown eyes stared down at me, the same eyes that mother said made it hard to deny him. He stepped forward, backing me up onto the bed, my body falling back as my knees hit the edge of the mattress and gave way. I closed my eyes, trying to get my wits about me, but that fucking smell wouldn’t leave me alone. I shook my head to try to wave it away, but even if the smell had gone away, he had already placed his hands on top of my thighs. I opened my eyes again. He was wearing nothing but a pair of pajama bottoms, the string loose and allowing them to hang as if it were a threat. Anger bubbled up inside me as I stared at that calm, malicious smile. My hands landed beside me, something hard and cold touching my right hand. I looked down to see a knife, nothing special, just a kitchen knife. I picked it up and stared at it, then back up at him.
He was cowering now, the way I had when I was younger, but he was also pleading, lying. “Hey, now, Seb, no need for that. Where’d you get the kn-knife?” his smile wavered and I stared at him.
“You know I can’t even squish a spider, let alone kill you. Then again, spider’s are innocent, you aren’t,” I played with the blade, the wooden handle and smooth blade were familiar, a chip out of the very tip of the knife. It was my grandmother’s steak knife that I stole when I was living with her. “In fact, the only thing I’ve ever hurt on purpose was myself.”
White light hit my eyes from behind my brother. The room faded away into a room I didn’t recognize. It was strange, and it looked like two people lived in it. My brother looked older now, his proper age, like he was 20. There was makeup and perfume surrounding the room, like that of his wife’s. She seemed to not be in this dream. I shook my head and stared up at him again. He looked like he was barely afraid of me now, like with age he had grown cockier. He had that same grin on his face, the one he flashed that meant I was in trouble or that mom hadn’t believed me when I told on him. It pissed me off. Not enough to kill though.
“What are you gonna do, stab me? You can’t hurt a fly, kid. How the hell did you get here anyway?” I shook my head.
“I don’t know how I got here, but I sure as hell ain’t gonna stab you,” I said, dropping the knife to my side. I stared behind his shoulder and found Chonak standing there behind him, pointing at the knife then to my brother.
“This is the final trial, Seb,” My brother turned around quickly as if startled by Chonak’s presence. He screamed and stepped backwards, falling down as he tripped over his feet.
“Wh-who the fuck are you?!” He cried out in terror, eyes wide and trained on the creature.
“It is not your business knowing what I am, it is your business knowing what I do,” he cooed, similar to the words he spoke to me earlier tonight. Was it still the same night? It had to be, time passed slower in dreams. “I’m finishing their trial, all they have to do, is kill you.”
I stared up in shock at the beast, “I can’t just kill my brother!” I shouted. “My father would be devastated!” I held the knife tighter and stared down at the boy, cowering from the shadow.
“It’s only a dream, correct, Seb? There are no consequences in dreams, no one will be hurt, just finish your trial and move on to have a happier, better life with what you’ve learned!” I stared at the creature for a moment, trying to decide what was truth and what was lies. He had promised to take me to an autumn picnic and I was sent into a metal cell. Though, he did prove that wounds meant little to nothing in this world. I sighed and walked around my brother, stepping over him so my feet framed his legs.
“Seb! Seb, no! This isn’t a dream Seb, come on, Dad would be so disappointed in you. You’ll crush him, you’ll crush grandma and grandpa and Jane! Come on, Seb, I said I was sorry!” The boy scrabbled backwards, his back hitting the bed, eyes pin sharp and staring me down.
I stood over my older brother, eyes blown wide and a smile spread across my face. I held out a hand to him like I was approaching a wounded animal, knowing that any sudden move could spook him into leaving. The knife was clenched tightly behind my back and I sighed in content. It’s just a dream.
“Sorry, Matt, but don’t worry, it’s just a bad dream, we’ll wake up soon.”
I could feel Chonak’s smile widen behind me as I raised the knife, bringing it down only to be blocked by my brother’s hand. “C’mon, Matt, don’t make this hard, just submit to me,” I purred. I grabbed at his hands, pinning them above his head and staring him down. He jerked to get free, but we played this game as kids. He beat me up, so I learned how to hold him down. I grabbed a fist full of his hair, the only big weakness that I knew of his. He went slack, reaching up to grab at me, to do any damage, but we had done this as kids too. Too bad he only got a month of military training, he could have stopped me, maybe. I pulled his hair to the side before driving the knife into his exposed neck. Blood spurted out of the wound as I dragged the knife away and I stood up, breathing heavy and watching as he twitched and jerked with his last final bit of energy. I stared down at the lifeless body before me and took a deep breath, more hot tears spilling out as I realized what I just did.
“It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream,” I chanted and wrapped my arms around myself like I was holding myself together. Chonak came behind me, wrapping his arms around me in a protective hug.
“Very good, Seb, you passed, you get to go home!” I nodded and felt a hand brush over my forehead, just like wind across the flesh.
My eyes opened slowly, toes and fingers flexing as I got used to my body. Just another PTSD driven dream about that fucker. I heard my father talking through the door, he was on the phone with someone, it sounded like Matt, or Grandpa, or Jane. I heard him end the call and then his feet padded over to my door. There was a knock and my father was walking into the room.
“Yeah, Dad?” My voice was rough as I spoke.
“Jane just called…” He scratched the back of his neck and looked uncomfortable, like he was about ready to cry or have an angry outburst.
“God, what does that bitch want?”
“Seb, Matt was murdered last night…”
I stared at him dumbly, thinking through my “dream.” Dad stayed a moment then nodded and left the room. I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, looking over to see Chonak waving in goodbye. I nodded to him and watched as he faded away. I’m sure someone would have accused me of murder, but how was a teenage girl supposed to get to North Carolina from Idaho in a night.