Ok, I've waited long enough, I'm posting another chunk of story, mostly the dreams, and then I'll finish out the next bit.
Darien and Brendan returned to where the tv was, beyond the kitchen. The horror movies had long since stopped playing, and the DVD machines shut off. Darien turned the tv on to the local station, and found some late night news. He wasn't thinking about it, but part of him hoped to find something about his sister.
Brendan draped himself upon the couch, and wrapped the thick, skeleton covered blanket around himself as Darien unwound.
It wasn't long before the sandy haired youth was asleep, and Darien was not far behind. He fought to stay awake, trying to watch the news. Darien's eyelids won the fight though, and he soon found his head bobbing up and down, jerking himself awake each time he found sleep closing in as he sat in the recliner. He didn't even bother getting up to find a blanket, and before he knew it, Darien was asleep as well, leaving the entire house silent save for the news reporters speaking in whispers from the television.
Darien's sleep was anything but restful. His dreams were plagued with visions of his sister. He didn't remember everything, but he remembered enough.
The dreams were filled with horrible creatures of fang and claw tearing apart his sister, peeling off her skin in long strips. Once they were done, something else stood in her stead, a monster like them. The face of his sister was gone, replaced with one that matched the things that had attacked her. There was no sign left of the sweet, innocent girl he had grown up with anymore. Gone now was Alyson, replaced by an abomination ready to kill and maim and destroy. The new recruit that had been his sister took charge of the creatures that had killed Alyson and set the beast inside free.
The trio advanced on Darien. Alyson was the only one dressed in black, in a shredded mockery of her Halloween costume. The others were dressed all in white. Darien's dreamself thought they should have been stained a deep red, already drying to a rusty, orangey brown, but there was not a speck of red on their clothes, nor their hands or even their faces. They were pristine and pure, like Alyson had once been. Alyson's skin was still flush with colour, but the creatures following her had grown pale, almost as pale as their clothes.
Darien took all of this in as they closed in upon him and the dream slowed down. He wanted to act, to move, to strike. If he was frozen because of the logic of dreams, or because he could not bring himself to strike the creature that had once been his sister, Darien couldn't say. Instead, he just stood and watched as the monsters drew around him, suffocating him, until they pounced and tore him to shreds.
His waking mind knew that was not what his sister had become, but it was still his deepest fear. He knew all too well that one wrong step could lead Alyson down a very dangerous path. She put on a brave face, a happy one even, but she now lived on the edge of darkness, and she could slip over that edge and not know it before it was too late.
The unconcious body in the chair tossed and turned, struggling to find comfort in the waking world that it was denied inside Darien's own head.
Brendan was oblivious to his friend's tortured sleep, as he himself fell deep into slumber. As Darien murmured and mumbled in his chair, Brendan pulled the blanket tighter, feeling colder than he should, from having spent so much time outside. He began to snore as his body pulled into a tight ball on the couch.
Inside his head, he was surrounded by darkness. A black so deep that nothing could be seen anywhere around him. He tried to peer deeper into it, but all he saw was more black. There was no light for Brendan's eyes to pull in and adjust to if his dreams had any sort of reality to it.
Even in the darkness, Brendan found he could still see himself just fine. Looking at his hands, it was like looking at them on the sunniest day of the summer. He looked for any signs of where the light was coming from, but he could see nothing. It was as if the light eminated from within himself. Even looking down at his feet, expecting whatever light was hitting him, or coming off him, to show what he was standing on, he was disappointed. The light did not shine on anything that reflected back. The ground was as black as everything else around him, right up to the point where it met the soles of his feet. He lifted a foot, examined the tread of his sneaker which was just as visible as the rest of him in the Brendan-llight, but when he lowered it back down, it cast no glow upon whatever he stood on.
Brendan stomped his feet, and he could feel his feet hitting something, hear the noise, but still nothing was there to be seen. An outside observer would think he was some glowing Brendan cutout floating alone in the darkness. Brendan tried to identify the sound, but it sounded not like wood, or stone, or metal. He couldn't even tell if it was solid, or something covering up a hollow space beneath.
He bent down to try and touch whatever it was, but his hand waved right past his foot, instead of fingers connecting with something solid. Brendan moved his foot to the spot he had just brushed, and was surprised, yet somehow not at the same time, to find his foot land on something solid. He tried this several times before concluding that he only stood upon whatever he stood upon as long as his feet were actually standing upon it. He even reached down and touched the bottom of his shoes while his feet were, so he believed, planted on the ground.
With his head struggling to wrap itself around what he was experiencing, Brendan stood back up straight. For all he knew though, he was upside down, or standing on a wall, or trapped in an invisible M.C. Escher sketch.
While he was confused and confounded, he was sure this was a dream of some sort. He wondered where all the hot dream girls were hiding, and why he was so alone.
As if it could hear his thoughts, a voice broke the silence. "You are alone, but we are always with you.
A male voice, much to his disappointment, but at least someone or something else was there with him. Brendan turned in the direction of the voice, if this place could be thought of to have any sort of direction whatsoever, and saw another glowing person. A man almost twice his age stood there in the darkness, a strange glow highlighting him just as it did Brendan.
"Who are you?" he asked the apparition. He expected his voice to echo through the cavernous blackness, but it fell flat and hollow into the dead air, like it couldn't even manage to traverse the space between them.
The man spoke, eminating calm and serenity. "I am you."
Brendan examined the newcomer. He did bear some resemblence to Brendan, but not enough. He was taller, almost Darien's height. He did have the same shaggy brown hair mixed with strands of gold, but it was thinner and receding with age. He also had the same hazel eyes, flecked with spots of green.
But the features were just as wrong as they were right. The nose was too large, the brow the wrong shape. The newcomer had a pronounced, chiselled chin that Brendan lacked. Brendan's ears had prominent, dangling lobes, while his twin that was not his twin had ears that were attached right to the side of his head, every last inch of them.
"No," Brendan said. "You're not."
The newcomer smiled, pleased at his response. "Yes. And no."
"Yeah, no, what?" Brendan's confusion was pretty clear. His companion couldn't resist a little smile at his befuddlement.
"I am you, and yet I am not you."
"Yeah, I don't have the time for this." Brendan turned to go, although he had no idea of where he would go to in this sea of darkness. When he turned away from the other, he turned right back towards him, or he was all of a sudden standing opposite him. Brendan thought either explanation made just as much sense in this place.
"All you have is time here, Brendan."
"I really hate dreams like this," he said to no one, but it may as well have been directed towards the other.
"Most of us do, yeah." Something changed in the tone of his voice, and the way he spoke. It felt less heaped with cryptic nonsense, and more like genuine sympathy. It was a welcome change, and gave Brendan pause to hear more. Again, it wasn't like he had anywhere else to go.
"I don't have time to explain."
"Of course you don't. And what happened to all I have is time?"
The man made a familiar shrug. Brendan had felt himself make the exact same move many a time. He was so similar in so many ways, and yet so different. "This place is limitless with time, but the real world needs you, and will have need of you very soon. We can only compress so much into so little in here."
"Where is here?"
"I've asked that a few times, and never gotten a good response. And that's really not important right now."
"Is this place real?"
"Don't you dare."
"Well, it's the truth! Right here, right now, to us? This place is real. But it's not a real place in any literal sense. Look, there are things you need to know."
The other figure sighed. "This is not how this is supposed to go. Look, you are special. You've figured that much out by now, or we wouldn't be having this conversation."
Brendan couldn't deny that, not with what he had been experiencing so far with the Montroses. Was that what this was all about?
"You have things to do, things to accomplish. You have a role to play, a very important one. Possibly even more than one. Stay close to the vampire."
Brendan bit his lip and looked like he was about to swallow his tongue. "It's a little late for that."
"We know, it's ok. Things are in flux and uncertain right now, but that happens. Fate is never a sure thing. There are many possible outcomes. But stick by her side, and she'll guide you to your destiny."
"I don't want a destiny."
"Too bad, you were drafted before you were born. Fate's a bitch, and you're her monkey. It's not so bad, but you will have to dance a bit for your supper on occasion."
"I think I liked cryptically annoying you better." Brendan glared.
"This is why you've always felt out of place, at odds with yourself, until recently. You've been fighting your destiny, and now you're caught up in the current. I don't blame you for not wanting to go with the flow, and you shouldn't just be swept along. It's good to fight and rage against it, but know when you're going the right away, and when you need to express your sense of self."
"How am I going to figure that out?!"
Brendan's associate in the darkness smiled. "I never did figure that one out. Wish I had. I'm sure you'll do fine. Trust your instincts."
"Who ARE you?" Brendan asked again, hoping for a better answer than before.
"Ask Terry," was his sole response.
Before Brendan could ask who that was, he could feel something tugging, pulling him away. He thought the other man was walking away backwards, but the sensations felt more like he was being pulled, dragged out of the darkness. He wanted to stop it, to stay and ask more questions.
His hands flailed away, trying to grab anything despite knowing he would find no such purchase to hang onto.
The glowing man faded more and more until he was nothing but a small orange speck on what Brendan considered to be the horizon, for lack of any better way to think of it.
As he sailed away into the darkness, or out of it, he heard the man's voice once more, lost in the distance and swallowed like light by the black hole that surrounded them. Brendan struggled to hear what was being said, but it was so difficult, and at least there was no wind created by his rapid ascent, like would have been normal.
Still, he picked up some of the words, and piecing what he knew together, he thought the man said as Brendan disappeared from sight, "I think he'll make a fine addition."
Brendan's eyes flew open, and he thought he was still in the dark land of his dreams, but as he regained conciousness, he could see the familiar shadows of Rachel's tv room surrounding him in the darkness of the real world, which was nowhere near as absolute as that which had been in his head.
Darien was in his chair, jerking and mumbling in his sleep. It reminded Brendan of a dog dreaming, whimpering and its legs running along invisible ground. He thought of waking his friend up to relieve him of the dreams he was trapped in, but there was no need for both of them to be awake yet. He was sure Darien would argue that point, and he would have started the quest for his sister at that very moment.
Brendan sat up on the couch and wrapped the blanket around him and over his head, like a bone-covered cloak. What had his dream meant? Was it more than just a dream? Was he ready to start believing in cryptic and prophetic dreams on top of everything else? Would it really be that much of a stretch at this point? Or was his dream just that; a dream? Was it nothing more than his mind trying to process everything he was going through the past few months, like not fitting in?
Somehow, Brendan doubted it was the latter. Something about the dream was too real, and yet too unreal to be nothing more than a simple dream. What did it all mean, then? Who was that strange visitor that looked so much like him, and yet so not like him?
The young man yawned and tugged his impromptu cloak around him even tighter. His questions would have to wait for another day. One thing he couldn't argue with was staying close to Alyson. First they would have to find her though, and it was still many hours before sunrise.
Brendan laid back down, wrapped up the blanket and his legs sticking out from the edges of it, making him look like one giant, human popsicle. He wondered if he would find himself back in the empty void, and soon he was on his way to find out.
Upstairs where the girls lay, Rachel had yet to fall asleep. She had heard her friends clamboring up and down the stairs as they cleaned. She heard them shouting outside. She had heard the house grow quiet and could see the lights fading away through her open door. Whenever someone came by to try and check on her, she at least closed her eyes and tried to fake being asleep, or trying to sleep. Part of her was in truth trying to sleep, but her brain was too frazzled to do that.
She felt the shadow pass through her door as Kelly stopped by last to check on her friend. The shadow lingered there for awhile. Rachel shifted in her fake sleep, and turned her back to the doorway. Once she was facing the wall, she opened her eyes back up, and watched the dark spot cast by Kelly until it went away.
When she had heard the shouting outside, Rachel wondered what all the commotion had been, but was unable to will herself up and out of her bed to go find out. If it was important, she would find out later, she figured.
For how long she lay there staring at her ceiling, where once dots of light shone bright from tiny glow in the dark stars she had placed up there, but now there came only more darkness. It was probable she had only been laying there for a few minutes, but the night dragged onward as her body begged for release her brain would not give.
She heard a noise downstairs, a loud gasp as if someone was struggling to breath after being punched in the stomach. Rachel thought it sounded like Brendan, awaking from a bad dream. Good for him, she thought. Better to have bad dreams than no dreams at all, she figured.
Sometime after midnight, it must have been after, she had laid in bed at least that long, hadn't she? Rachel rolled over and over until she fell out of her bed, and landed on her hands and knees.
Rachel waited there to see if anyone would come running to investigate the quiet little thumps she made when she landed. She had spent many years getting out of bed in much the same manner, although tonight lacked her usual grace. She rested her head against the throw carpet on her floor as she waited. Her blonde hair fell in a heap all around her head, making a tangled mess.
No one came.
She was relieved and saddened at the same time. On the one hand, Rachel did not want to be disturbed, but on the other she craved the attention, wanting someone to hold her and make all this go away.
With all her might, Rachel pushed back against the floor until she was sitting up on her calves. She worked her way up onto one foot, and then the next. She still wore much of her Halloween costume, although the ears were long discarded, the heels kicked aside somwhere, and the tail had been lost at some point during the night.
The girl padded through her quiet house on feet as silent as a cat. She glanced in on Kelly, curled up under a pile of blankets and snoring away. It had often been joked about how bad things could get and Kelly could still sleep through them or fall asleep after, and after tonight they had a new guage of where those limits lay beyond.
Satisfied that someone was sleeping well, Rachel continued down the hall and found the bathroom door. She shut it behind her, and turned on the light.
Staring into the mirror over the sink, the first thing to catch her eye was not her own mess of blonde hair that looked like it had escaped from an 80s heavy metal band, or the dark circles under her eyes from a mixture of lack of sleep and messed up makeup.
No, the first thing she noticed was that she was not alone in the bathroom. In the mirror, Rachel could see behind her, just over her shoulder, a mass of red hair.
The grogginess she felt vanished in an instant, and Rachel stood up straight, no longer needing to steady herself on the faux marble sink counter. She spun around to see who the intruder was, but as these things tend to go, there was no one standing there. She spun back around to the mirror, but her visitor had left from there as well.
"Alyson?" she croaked out, unaware she was even doing so, and the sound of her voice breaking the quiet surprised her all the more.
All that remained in the mirror was the dishevelled blonde staring in wide eyed shock back at herself. She ran a hand through her hair, trying to restore some semblence of order to it. The thick mane did not feel like cooperating at this hour of the morning, and Rachel soon gave up.
She ran the water for a few seconds, and splashed several handfulls onto her face, the shock of the cool water bringing her back to herself. She dismissed the apparition as stress from the day.
Rachel grabbed a facecloth from a shining metal ring and wet it once the water warmed up. She cleaned up her face and at least made that look somewhat normal, if tired. Even without the makeup, the young woman had grown into quite the beauty, although it was hard for her to see it at the moment.
"Ugh, all this trouble is so not worth it," she muttered, and wrung out the cloth. With her business concluded, and wanting to put her brief vision in the mirror behind her, she turned off the light, and exited the small room.
Rachel passed by her friend once more, who was still snoring up a storm in her fitful sleep. The blonde was surprised and pleased that she had joined the rest of the house in dreamland almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. She didn't recall anything she dreamed about, but Rachel suspected her visitor in the mirror may have been nothing more than that.
Kelly was the only one inside the Matthews house that slept well that night, it seemed. After she checked on Rachel and made her way to the familiar guest room she had stayed in for almost half the weekends of the past two years, and a month or two that past summer when she got in a fight with her parents, and curled up under the covers.
The guest room was as much her room as the one she slept in back home. Many of the decorations came from her own collection of dolls and pillows, and even a painting that had caught her eye while shopping. The Matthews thought of her as their surrogate daughter, and they were more than willing to let her stake out a tiny portion of the room. No one realised just how much of it she had claimed, though. When other guests needed to use it, they just thought the room was full of Rachel's castoffs.
Kelly was asleep in almost an instant, but she took a moment to let everything she'd found out sink in. Auras were one thing, but vampires? She wasn't sure if she believed, even after what she had seen. She hoped they could find Alyson so they could have a nice long chat, at the least.
The young girl must have had Alyson very much on the brain. Once she fell asleep, she dreamed of having a talk with her. The two of them were sitting at a small, purplish table just the right size for two. Alyson sat on a long bench beneath a glass window that stretched almost the entire length of the wall, with several more matching tables and opposing chairs attached to them. It was almost like the cafeteria seating at Kraftsbury high, but broken up into smaller chunks.
Alyson wore a black hoodie, which was not normal for her, either in colour or style. The hood was pulled up over her head, obscuring her face from view as she looked down at the table. Strands of her red hair streamed out from either side of the hood, entangled with the white laces used to tie it up.
On the table between them sat two styrofoam cups, their contents steaming away into the air. Alyson's cup was taller than Kelly's. Beside them was a box of half-eaten doughtnuts, some chocolate covered, some powdered, and one plain still remained.
Alyson had a doughnut in her hand, and bit into it, leaving a small blotch of strawberry jelly on her chin, dripping from her thin, red lips.
Kelly reached out for her cup, and saw she was wearing a purple sweater from the large, loose, knit cuff dangling from her wrist. She sniffed at the contents, and smelled cocoa, flavoured with just a hint of cinnamon, just the way she liked it. It had once been topped with whipped cream, but most of that had either melted into the cup or been devoured. When had she eaten the whipped cream, she wondered? Everything was fuzzy.
The two sat there eating and drinking in the...restaurant? Diner? It seemed familiar, but Kelly couldn't quite place it. She tried to focus, but as she tried to grab at any one detail, everything else faded away.
"How's the doughnuts?" Alyson asked.
Kelly took another bite from the powdered one resting on a napkin at her side, eaten down to a small C shape.
"It's good," she said matter of factly.
"You like doughnuts."
That was a strange thing to say. "Of course, I'm eating one."
"And you like cocoa."
Kelly nodded and took a big gulp from her cup, almost finishing off the entire thing to punctuate her point.
"Just a bit," she said and dabbed her mouth with another napkin. Or was it the same one? She wasn't sure.
"Darien prefers coffee. Large, six sugars, two creams."
"Um, ok?" Why wasn't she asking Alyson about the vampire nonsense? She's sure that Alyson would put that talk to rest if she just asked.
"It's time to go," said Alyson.
"What? I'm not done yet."
"I'll be done soon."
"I don't understand."
"It's time to go."
"You said that already, Alyson!"
"Time to get up."
Kelly's eyes flew open at that, faster and more effective than any alarm clock she had ever owned. Hints of sunlight were creeping through the thin curtains. Daylight was coming at last.
She perked up her ears, and heard that the house was quiet, save for some snores in the distance. She was the first one awake, it seemed.
Kelly threw back the sheets and headed for the bathroom to start her day. She was running on automatic pilot, as she finished up with some splashes of water on her face to wake her up, and gave her hair a quick comb through with the brush she had laid out earlier.
She headed back to her room, and grabbed the spare bag she'd brought in and dug out some clean clothes, noting a purple sweater packed with the jeans. It felt familiar somehow, but she dismissed it from her tired, fuzzy brain.
After getting dressed, she headed downstairs as quiet as she could, carrying a pair of trainers in her hand, creeping down the stairs in stocking feet.
She poked her head through the kitchen and saw the boys sound asleep, and headed for the front door. She put her shoes on and exited into the cool, foggy morning air.
There was a lot of questions today of what to do, and where they'd go, but Kelly knew one thing above all else; she needed some doughnuts.