Every time my life makes a wrong turn, I have the same reoccurring dream. I’m really small, like eight or nine. I’m sitting on a grimy concrete floor in my favorite Princess Jasmine sleeping T-shirt. The concrete feels rough and cold under me.
Around me a huge warehouse stretches. Darkness hides its walls, puddling in the corners. Directly above me a metal lamp is hanging on a chain. I sit in a circle of light, exposed.
Just beyond the light a thing watches me from the gloom. It’s skinny and ugly, with hairless grey skin and a black coarse mane. It walks on all fours, and its curved black claws scratch the concrete. It’s an awful sound, like nails on a chalkboard.
It walks left, then right.
It steps closer to the light, and I see its face. It’s a horrible face, almost human, but it has no nose and its ears are long and pointed. Its eyes are black and angry, and its mouth is a slash across its face filled with long needle-sharp teeth. Its lips are black and its teeth are yellow, and looking at them makes me shiver. I’m scared. I’m so, so scared, and I hug my knees.
“You won’t get away from me,” the thing says. Hearing its hoarse voice is like having a bucket of iced water dumped on me. I want to close my eyes but I can’t, because not seeing it would be worse.
I know what it wants. When I speak, my voice comes out tiny. “Please don’t eat me.”
The thing paces again. It wants to come closer, but the light holds it at bay.
“I will get you,” the thing says. “Soon. Very soon.”
My voice is shaking. “Please don’t eat me.”
There is another monster in the warehouse with me. It’s big and strong, much larger than the thing, but it never does anything. It just sits in the darkness and watches.
“Please don’t eat me. I’ll do anything.”
The thing lunges at the light.
I wake up.
The bedroom was dark, except for the green light from the digital clock. I struggled to catch my breath. My heart was beating so fast, it hurt. Stupid dream.
I strained, listening for small noises. I couldn’t help myself. I really wanted to grab my blanket and run across the hallway into mom’s bedroom, just like I used to do when I was little.
This was ridiculous. I was sixteen years old. I would be getting my license as soon as I finished the driving school. I was too old to sleep in mom’s room.
I felt about with my feet under the blanket, looking for the familiar weight. Usually Marbles, my big brown torbie cat, slept at the edge of my bed. If I could only find Marbles, I could hug her, cuddle up, and go back to sleep.
I tried to whisper, but my throat was so dry, only a weak croak came out. “Marbles, kitty, kitty…”
I craned my neck, trying to look at the far end of my bed. A short shadow stood in my doorway.
Fear exploded inside me, stinging me in sharp rapid bursts. The scent of metal flooded my nostrils, as I stuck my head into a copper bowl left out to bake for hours in hot sun and took a whiff. Pale red strings sparked on the edges of my vision. My body was reacting to danger. I had to put the brakes on, or it would carry me off like a run-away train.
I gripped the blanket, fighting for control. No. Now wasn’t the time for this. Not until there was a definite danger. I had to squash my fear now or my body would take over and then everyone would be sorry.
I sat straight up in my bed. The shadow froze in place. Messed up blond hair, brown UT Longhorn T-shirt and big eyes staring straight at me.
“Damn it, Dannie, what the hell? Do you want to get killed?”
The pressure inside me disappeared. I took deep breaths, trying to get enough air into my lungs. Dodged a bullet there.
The second shadow joined my brother. Now both of the twins were accounted for.
“Something bad is going to happen,” Trinity said.
My stomach dropped. The twins were very rarely wrong. They couldn’t predict anything nice, but if some kind of disaster was coming our way, they almost always sensed it. Mom said it was their subspecies defensive mechanism, kind of like kittens instinctually knew to puff themselves up and hiss when scared, except the twins didn’t puff up, they predicted catastrophes.
“When?” I asked. Like did we need to get out of the house because some space rock would land on us in a second or what?
“We don’t know,” Dannie said.
We looked at each other.
“We’re going into mom’s room, Ellie,” Trinity said.
“You’re twelve years old. You can’t run to mommy because you’re scared of the dark.”
“We’re going.” They two of them went through the doorway.
Now I was by myself.
I waited for a long minute. The air conditioning kicked in, the fans humming in the wall. Shivers ran down my back. Screw it. I grabbed my blanket, scooped up my two pillows, and ran across the hallway and media room into mom’s bedroom.
The master suite’s window opened on the side of the house, and a big cypress tree blocked the view, so mom sometimes left the curtains half open. They were half open now and silvery moonlight spilled into the room. I still tripped over a basket of clean laundry and nearly face planted.
“Shhh,” Trinity said.
“You’ll wake up mom,” Dannie said.
Both of them were laying on the carpet by mom’s bed.
“Shut it.” I craned my neck. Mom lay under her covers, her dark hair spread on the pillow. I could hear her breathe. She was okay.
I dropped the pillows and the blanket on the twins, ducked into mom’s bathroom, and into her closet, pulled a spare blanket out and brought it out. The twins had spread the blanket out. We lay down, me and Trinity next to each other, Dan a little way apart. I spread the spare blanket over us.
“I wish dad didn’t die,” Dannie said.
“I do too.” Dad made us feel safe. As long as he was around, nothing would hurt us. But dad was gone, and Emily was off, doing her own thing. It was just the four of us, me, twins, and mom.
Tomorrow was Mother’s Day. Maybe the twins were wrong this time. Maybe nothing bad would happen.