After the Homecoming game, I finally got home completely exhausted. I fell asleep in my jeans, too tired to try to get undressed first. I didn't even make it under the blankets. The next thing I knew I was walking into school. The halls were strangely empty, though there was a light on in a classroom down at the far end of the hall. I walked down the hall, towards the room, but stopped at my locker first. I tugged on the door, and then remembered I hadn't pounded on it. I beat twice under the vent and the locker popped open easily. I took a book out, tucking it under my arm before shutting the door and heading down towards that light.
It was the strangest sensation. The hallway seemed to shift and change with each step I took. Somewhere in the back of my mind I realized I was dreaming, but that didn't wake me up. II reached out with my free hand, trailing along the row of locker as I went, noting the fact that even though I was dreaming, I felt them. Cool metal beneath my fingertips, lacquered in a paint that couldn't decide if it was beige, olive, or grey. Some of the lockers were vandalized, scribbled on in Sharpie marker, 'tagged' with someone's initials. One of them said 'WRY' and I stopped to look at it, realizing it was written on Jared's locker. I looked away, and looked back. The writing was gone, now just a mess of squiggles.
I kept going, hugging the book I'd picked out of my locker to my chest. The hall was suddenly interminably long, and the room with the light was getting father away not closer. Confused, I started running, trying to get there before it retreated too far. I raced the walls as they moved away from me, and as I gained speed, I caught up, abruptly, as if the hall was suddenly aware of me.
The hairs of the back of my neck stood as I reached for the door. I hesitated, looking at the light streaming out from under the door, and then turned the knob shoving it open. The room was dark. The light was gone. There was just darkness, no explanation for the bright light that had drawn me toward it. I looked over my shoulder, noticing there were suddenly lights on in the hallway. But they were dimming, then going out, one at a time, starting at the far end and coming towards me.
Panic set in and I dove into the dark classroom, reaching blindly for the light switch on the inside wall, where I knew it to be. Flicking it did nothing. The room stayed dark, and it was then I noticed the sound. It was a sound I'd heard before. It was the sound I was pretty sure Wolverine's claws made when they came out of his skin. Snikt. It was the sound of blade flicking open, of claws bursting out. It was the sound that prefaced a knife, a sharp blade slicing into skin. It was the the sound that haunted my nightmares, and the last sound Sean had ever heard.
I woke up with a scream tangled in my throat. My skin was damp with sweat, my hair tangled and matted. My jeans and t-shirt suddenly seemed to tight, choking me. I stripped everything off and went for the bathroom, turning on the water and just sitting in the tub as it poured down on my head.
Moving hadn't changed anything. The memories were just as strong here. I couldn't let my brother go. My face was dripping wet in seconds and that helped because then I couldn't tell what was water from the shower and what was my own tears. It took me until the water ran cold to pull myself out of the shower, dry myself off and stumble back to bed. But I couldn't go to sleep right away. Lying at the foot of my bed where I'd dropped it when I woke up was a book.
It was the same book I'd taken from my locker in the dream. It lay there as real as can be, and I had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually awake. It hurt and I felt assured, but then I remembered how vividly I'd felt the cool metal of the lockers beneath my fingers as though they were real too. Shaking, I picked up the book. It was my history textbook, the one I'd stuffed in there after class, knowing I didn't need it for the weekend's homework. I'd put it in my locker after class. But now it was in my room, in my hand. I'd pulled it right out of my dream. It was an complete impossibility, but it had happened.
By the time Monday rolled around, the unsettling feeling I'd had after Friday night's dream hadn't gone away. It probably didn't help that I'd barely slept Saturday or Sunday nights. There were dark circles under my eyes, and my mother gave me a concerned look and told me I was staying home. I fought feebly. I was one of those kids who actually liked going to school, especially since I loved my art class, and liked my friends, but when I nearly fell asleep in my bowl of cereal, I couldn't argue.
I went back upstairs as she placed a call to to office and climbed back into bed. I lay on my back staring up at the ceiling. I felt ice cold fingers dancing along my neck, like the caress of a hand that had been holding a ice pack. It was light outside and I was still afraid to go to sleep.
I was afraid to dream. After ten minutes fighting to stay awake, I lost the battle and fell asleep. This time, I dreamed about a theater, a grand hall where people went to the opera or the ballet. There were no moving hallways, no shifting lights or hidden knives. There were shadows along the walls, and I noticed one seemed oddly out of place, but as soon as I noticed it, it was gone.
The rest of my dreams faded into half-formed shapes and strange occurrences, the usual sort of dreamstuff that doesn't leave one terrified to close their eyes again.
When I woke up that afternoon, I had three texts from Lisa, one from Delia, and even one from Jared. They were all from around the same time, during lunch, except the earlier two from Lisa that made it clear she'd been texting during class. I responded to each one to let them know I was alive and went downstairs. There was movement in my mother's studio, which meant she'd chosen to stay home today, unless she'd already been planning to take the day off.
I crept into the kitchen, not yet ready to deal with her good-intentioned, but overbearing questions about my health and tried to make myself a sandwich as quietly as possible. I reached for a knife to spread the mayo on the bread and hesitated, hearing snikt in my head, even though it was just an ordinary dinner knife.
I shoved that image out of my head, and my mind settled instead on the history book that was still sitting in my room. I still couldn't explain how it could be there. I told myself that I just hadn't actually put it in my locker at all, though that still didn't explain how it wound up on the floor and not in my bag. But I didn't believe myself. This wasn't the first time this had happened.