I ran through the darkness until I was at that field of flowers below the moon. I sat at the top of hill and pulled my knees in. "Why can't I wake up?" The world spun around me. I wanted to disappear, I wanted to wake up, I wanted it to stop. Nothing changed. I heard footsteps behind me. I didn't want to see who it was, but fear got the best of me. I looked back. Aaron walked through the field to me, pushing his bike. He didn't sit beside me. He stood there watching me, waiting for me to say something. I turned away from him. I know I'm dreaming. He's not really there. It doesn't matter if I say anything to him. I felt him staring at me. I didn't let it get to me. My eyes stayed forward. I remind myself again that none of this is real. Wheels turn behind me, almost screeching. His feet make so much noise this time. Aaron stopped again. I felt him standing next to me, but I don't look at him. This is my dream. Even if I can't wake up from it, I'm not going to be controlled by it. He stayed there beside me for way too long, saying nothing at all. I knew he was waiting me out, testing if I'd break. Why my mind was tormenting me with this, I didn't know. As he stood there beside me, I ran possibilities in my head about why this was happening. How long had I been asleep, I wondered. This wasn't like a normal nightmare. Typically, nightmares woke me up almost as soon as the dreams turned creepy. Too many strange, creepy, and unsettling things had happened in this dream for me to have not woken up by now. Why am I not waking up? Having dreams within a dream was something that happened to me a lot when I was a little kid, but that stopped happening once I started high school. Something changed to make that stop. I couldn't remember what it was. There was someone who helped me with something... What was their name? I tried to conjure up a name, a face, anything that would give me a clue about who I was thinking of. Nothing came. I heard Aaron pushing his bike down the hill. When he was in front of me, I watched him go down the hill. The flowers around me changed to a grassy hill. I was sitting on the edge of a road, looking down at where the woods and the hillside met. The sun beat down on me, but the air was cold. It smelled like morning. That place again. My heart raced. I wanted to be anywhere but there. My body wanted to run down that hill. I forced myself to sit and watch Aaron. Something different might happen when he reached the bottom, I told myself. Closing my eyes in this horrible dream seemed to only make things worse. I decided I was going to keep my eyes focused ahead and see what happened. Halfway down the hill, Aaron's form shifted. He was wearing my clothes, but his head was blurry. On his blue bike appeared splashes of red paint. I looked closer. Red paint stained everything on him. His hair was longer than it was before. At the end of the hill, he stopped before a puddle of red paint. He drooped his head. Red paint dripped off his long hair. He said, in a strange, distorted voice, "Allison, look at me." I didn't respond to him. He turned his head in an unnatural way and said it again. "Allison, look at me." His face was less blurry now, but still not right. Where his eyes should be, there were two deep, black holes. From his nose, now slightly crooked, red paint oozed down. His mouth was smiling widely, slightly too far over on one side. He turned his body more around and kept smiling. Red drenched his bare hands, some of his fingers looking bent in a painful way. One of his legs was also bent at an odd angle. He said once more, his voice more feminine sounding now, "Allison, look at me." I wanted to run. I didn't know who this person below me was. This wasn't Aaron anymore. I tried to remain calm and reminded myself that I was only dreaming. Nothing in a nightmare can hurt me. It's not real. The person who was Aaron tossed the bike into the red puddle and ran up the hill at an impossible speed. One of the person's legs dragged somewhat behind the other leg. As they ran, red drenched everything they touched. The hill was being covered as they ascended. It took everything in me to not close my eyes or run away. I was determined to stay in control of my dream. The person hovered over me, then pushed me down on the ground. At first, I didn't try to push them off. This was a dream. There was no point in doing that. I was never in real danger. I told myself that repeatedly in my mind, but I could feel that person's weight on me. I could feel them shaking me and feel the heat of their breath as they repeated that same phrase again and again. "Allison, look at me. Allison, look at me. Allison, look at me. Allison, look at me." I couldn't take it. I started fighting back. Their screaming, their filthy hands on me, their disgusting face in my face. I had to get away from them. I kicked and screamed even louder than they were. They lowered their face closer to mine. The blurriness was leaving more and more. Teeth were missing in the mouth, near the front. Red streaks down the cheeks. A big splotch of red on the forehead. Red dripping from the mouth on one side. "Allison, look at me." I closed my eyes and kicked hard. Their sticky hands slipped around my neck and squeezed. I gasped and then I was underwater in a pool of red. I swam towards the surface. Something tugged at one of my legs and pulled down. This tug of war kept going until I couldn't hold my breath anymore. I gasped again, closed my eyes and found myself falling. With a heavy thud, I hit against my bed. I opened my eyes, hoping I was finally awake. Everything looked normal. On my desk was a photograph of Darian, my mom, and me. My TV was on playing my favorite TV show. Dr. Wei was sending the protagonists out on a new mission, as the show usually went. I got out of bed and took in the texture of the floor. This had to be real, I thought. I ran my hands over everything. My dresser, my comforter, my TV. This time, I thought, I'm finally awake. I gave a sigh of relief at that and collapsed back on my bed. My sheets and pillows smelled nice, probably from some kind of lavender scented detergent. It reminded me of something I couldn't quite place. I sniffed it more, trying to jog whatever memory was there. Nothing came to me. A tap at the window. I looked over. Aaron was tapping on the glass. I went over to the window and opened it. I asked him, "What are you doing?" "Let me in." He pushed the window upward. I noticed he brought his blue bike with him. He had it propped against the side of the house. "Why didn't you use the door?" I asked. "Darian won't let me in." He said. "Why?" "He's never liked me." Aaron climbed in through the window. He closed and locked it. Then, he grinned and said, "Let me show you something." I didn't care what he wanted to show me. Anything to make me forget that horrible nightmare. "Okay." He led me over to the bed. My ears rang, then I heard something low. Humming. It sounded like a young woman's voice. The song was familiar, but I couldn't place it. I blocked it out and sat down.
Fourteen | TOC