Just A Dream

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Bev always knew she when was dreaming, though it wasn’t something she’d call a talent given how much of an annoyance it tended to be. As she took the first step forward to study the dirt road ever so slightly more crooked and fogged by dust than the one she knew in reality, she said a condescending prayer in her mind to experience the ignorance of youth. The chance to be in a dream and be so sharply struck by curiosity that she’d sprout wings and soar until she reached an island in the clouds… she wondered how such ignorance had to feel.

She was wearing the same dark-gray collared shirt with buttons running down the middle. It still had the crease from where a smaller hand had pressed against it; Bev looked for the child who’d tried to tell her about “scary small people” but saw no one. What she did see was the dirt and dust rising and hear the sound of rocks being kicked up without seeing the foot that should’ve been responsible. One rock rose particularly high and brushed through the strands of dark-brown hair against her neck. Upon catching it and turning around, she saw only a maze of trees cloaked in darkness and silence.

It was the road calling her forward with its inexplicable contained dust storm and structures that resembled houses in the distance. In previous dreams she’d seen those houses, explored Faywater in what felt like slow-motion as people lived their lives with hardly any acknowledgment of their troubles. The Great War was never mentioned, but the names of some who’d died and the lucky few who had survived did come up as if they were just out of town or otherwise living ordinary lives.

Bev’s orange eyes waited for a figure to appear in the dust, somebody who would ask what time of day it was or invite her for a drink she’d never actually make it to. She always had a feeling that if by chance she ever got to taste a dream-drink, it would be bitter enough to immediately wake her up anyway.

The laughter of a child made its way down the path, reaching her ears and calling out to her feet. She heard their energetic, frantic steps and felt her legs tingling with the urge to do the same but she stayed put. The shadowed structures were getting smaller, the laughter louder; whatever waited for Bev down the road had a different feeling to it than previous dreams, something more foreboding than the typical walk down false memory lane.

A voice suddenly pounded in her head: “tiny devils” it said, repeating itself like the wind were performing drum beats on her temples. She still heard the excited little voices and swore there was a force trying its hardest to pull her forward. The forest remained silent behind her, appearing even darker and more twisted than it did before. In other dreams, what waited behind Bev was always just another part of town, or simply her own home. There was something about the forest that felt too distinct for her to walk away from it. When she fully turned her body away from the path she swore a hand appeared in the farthest corner of her eye but she commanded herself to step toward the mysterious forest. She took a branch in each hand and pulled them apart… then the rest began to grow and wrap around each other.

There were sets of footsteps coming her way as the trees of the forest grew taller; with a grunt and raising of her arms she ran through the branches, pulling them apart best she could and taking scratches. The little stings took a step back to the loss vision as Bev went deeper into the black forest and vainly searched for any sort of clearing. There was no longer any laughing, just her own footsteps and the frequent scratching from branches.

The scratches were tearing away at her shirt, pieces of torn cotton brushing against her hands. She thought of the run-of-the-mill pranks she’d dealt with, finding small fragments of clothing that clued her in to who was responsible for the “mysterious” crop circles. Another prank came into her memory, and then another and another; she couldn’t figure out what made her mind suddenly start to race but when she brought it to a stop she was sweating. The branches continued to scratch her, each sting as light as the last but her steps feeling gradually lighter as well. At no point did she run into a tree or reach a clearing; all that waited for her was darkness, but soon even the sound of her footsteps was lost in it.

Bev stopped at the sight of a tree, the only thing she could see; even when she raised her arm, there was no hand to look down at. Somebody had carved markings into the tree, as if the dream was taunting her like the many pranks she’d seen before. Those markings were almost an exact match to the ones she’d seen a couple of months ago. She waited for the mischievous boys responsible to show themselves, waited for the rest of the forest to show itself too. Instead…

The markings moved, merged, twisted. The tree widened, making the ground shake as it roots emerged. Bev watched them come together in the form of a large cage around her, but she stayed put to see what would become of the markings on the tree. This dream had to be one of those pranks taken to an unusually and impossibly high degree, she was certain; the roots would get closer, the message would reveal itself and then she would wake up. Battling with trembling eyes to mask the relief such a thought brought on, Bev saw the message finish and read aloud:

“Your curiosity makes this easy.”

The tree’s growth accelerated, and from the ground appeared an opening as the roots finished making their cage. Bev could suddenly see the pieces of clothing torn off, looking down to discover all of it had been ripped away. From the mouth of the tree shot out a light, consuming her vision again as something grabbed hold of her. She was immobilized, unable to resist as voices came closer. Why couldn’t she understand them? She couldn’t even tell if they sounded young, old, male or female. They came close enough to be a whisper, tingling in her ear being the only feeling she was permitted. Not even fear was allowed, and soon her thoughts were being pulled away from her… everything that she was stripped away like she was being taken apart until–

Small distorted faces, objects and structures looming over her just like sinister devices that broke the numbness but it never lasted for longer than a moment and was all being obscured by the light that grew brighter and brighter with the ungodly language getting louder and louder all part of her body becoming a sensory time bomb that one of those unholy devices was inches away from setting off!!

Bev thudded her head against the side of the wall. The real world had returned, and so did she in the same clothes she’d been wearing. Her blanket was on the floor, glass of water knocked over. She reached for it and took a sip of what little water remained, though it did nothing to cool her body. She thought about checking herself for any sign of… something unusual, but resolved to waste no more time on such an absurd dream. Somebody would call upon her soon, even if it was for a nonsense matter. She stood up to change her clothes, swearing there would be actual consequences if another ridiculous prank came her way.

When she removed her shirt, the unseen cut that had been on the back of her left elbow was gone.

Hooray for a short story! Just gotta keep making these!!! :la: 
The inspiration for this one comes from the work of AmandaJeanComics , who is working on a comic called "Abduction" that boasts incredible artwork and chilling themes. I wanted to experiment with writing a suspense-oriented piece, so her work and character, Bev, served as some excellent inspiration. :)
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AmandaJeansArt's avatar

Finally got enough points to hype badge this beautiful piece :D