Just before dinner is ready, Brian’s grandparents arrive. They brought a necklace like Brian’s, for Jordan. They also brought rings for a binding ceremony for the two of them.
“See you tomorrow. I’m driving,” Jordan said. “Mom’s taken the day to help prepare for the visitors. I’ll see you at our regular time.”
“You sure you don’t want me to drive?”
“My turn. I never get to drive.”
“I’m not arguing. Better get outside before—” He chuckled as her father beeped the horn once more.
“Love you, BC.”
“Love you, JB.”
He walked her to the car and waved as they drove away. Elise was asleep on her grandfather’s shoulder, so he went upstairs to put her down. Miles toted the luggage upstairs, leaving Brian with his grandmother and mother.
“I’d like a cup of your delicious tea,” Patience Casey said with a smile.
Maribelle led them to the kitchen and Brian helped her set up a pot of a relaxing tea blend. As they sipped their tea, they talked quietly until Miles and Vaughn joined them. The men had a shot of whiskey each, rather than the tea. Brian envied them. It wasn’t so much that he liked whiskey as much as he wished he were considered grown up enough to have it.
When he’d finished his tea, Brian made his way to bed, leaving the adults to talk. He was tired. Though he hadn’t been to school, his body ached and his head throbbed. He wasn’t feverish, but he felt rather like it. For someone who rarely got sick, it was an uncomfortable feeling. He crawled into bed, setting his alarm to wake up for school. His tape recorder went on next and he turned out the bedside lamp, stating the date as he lay down. He’d gotten in the habit of doing that so he would have clear markers to go back to later. Snuggling under the blankets, he hoped for one night without the added burden of Dreaming. He had so many thoughts churning around in his mind, he was pretty sure he would have a lot of Dreams.
“One quiet night,” he whispered. “Give me one quiet night—please.” Closing his eyes, he fell asleep.
Darkness surrounded him. Strong, cold winds blew from all directions, whipping around, tugging at his clothing and hair. Dressed in his pajama pants, he stood at the top of a rocky crag, gazing down on the night washed land below. It was freezing cold. He could see his breath in front of him. The strength of it crept into his bones, chilling him. He imagined himself in a warm coat, instead of his pajamas. His body warmed considerably, though his breath still came in feathery wisps.
Something rolied and coiled on the ground below. Brian couldn’t see what it was from up here, but he knew that going down would mean discovery and death. It took some time, but he determined that it was a creature of some kind on the ground. It writhed and struggled. From time to time, Brian heard the roar of an angry beast. He didn’t know what the creature was, but he knew he had to set it free. Determined to complete the mission of releasing the beast, he made his way down the rock face on a whirlwind. It set him down on a wind and water swept beach. The tide was low, swishing and shushing softly to his left.
The beast lay to his right. He could see now that it was held down with stout ropes attached to pitons, which were hammered into the sand. It took a moment to realize that the ropes and pitons were made of the sand itself. Nothing here had been left to chance. Approaching with caution, Brian examined the situation with detachement, as if he were watching a particularly boring movie.
The beast turned its head a little, dark, liquid eyes catching his gaze. “Help,” it whispered in his head. “Help me!”
Taking a step toward the captive, he found himself even further away. Each step took him backward, even though he faced the direction he wanted to go. Turning his back to the creature, he took a step in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, he moved that way easily. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes, imaginging the beast. Stepping backward with his right foot, then his left, he came up against the warm side of the creature. He touched it, winding his fingers around one of the ropes. Opening his eyes, he saw that he had reached his goal. Toes digging into the sand, he turned, face mere inches from those deep brown, penetrating eyes.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The creature didn’t answer, merely stared at him, pleading with its eyes.
“How can I help you?”
Images filled his mind of him snapping the stout ropes and ripping up the pitons. Deciding this was as good an approach to the situation as any, he stepped back, rubbing his hands together.
“Stop!” a voice shouted from behind him. Turning, he saw Jordan. She was dressed similarly to him, in pajama pants and a heavy coat. She also had on a hat and gloves. “We don’t know if it’s friendly,” she cautioned.
“It hasn’t attacked yet.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes