He stood behind me, waiting for me to finally turn around and tell him what to do next. I wondered if it had crossed his mind yet that I didn’t need him, not like before when I was made of flesh that needed protecting. But I wasn’t made of something finite anymore. I was made of dreams and starlight and in just a day it had already pressed me into something impenetrable.
I stood just inches from him. The inches became centimeters and still there was nothing. No shock, no surge. Nothing stirred in me. I told myself it was because of death—my grandmother’s and the other Dreamers’. Mine. He touched me and I waited to feel something but the brush of Roman’s fingers sparked only silence.
“Everything is going to be okay,” he said, a sense of finality to his voice.
But this was just the beginning of something terrible and what Samson, Magda, and the other Dreamers the Rogues had rescued didn’t realize was that it was going to start with them.
“Bryn…” Roman reached for me with words this time, not daring to graze my skin again. “Please tell me everything is going to be okay.” His voice had changed, desperation and a delusional hope lacing every word.
I didn’t want to hurt him so I just nodded. I spotted Vogle in one of the spare bedrooms and I stepped inside before Roman could ask me for another lie.
When I saw my father’s body on the bed I could barely stand within the emptiness. All around me. Inside him. I’d never seen my father so still; the shadow’s poison turning him to stone. I’d seen him passed out before, drunk, erratic, yelling at my mother. But I’d never seen him still, empty of even his own chaos. I missed that chaos. Not because it was good but because it was him. Looking at this shell, I wasn’t sure if I would ever figure out how to get it back.
I remembered the startling sight of his truck outside Celia’s house, his hands on me, the frantic look in his eyes. He’d pleaded with me to listen but in his panic he didn’t make any sense. He’d said something about the Dreamers, about how dangerous it would be for me to find them and take their dreams. He said that if I did, I’d die. He knew. But how much? Nothing made sense anymore. Not then. Not now.
I remembered how he’d tried to fight off the strangers who’d come for my body but they were stronger. They were Dreamers. They’d ripped me from my body while the shadows tore my father from his. And this was all that was left.
I touched him and it turned my stomach, his hardness inhuman. I imagined what this body would look like if another day passed, two more, a week. He was deteriorating even if I couldn’t see it. Just like everything else in my life he was another bomb I’d have to diffuse before time ran out.
And it was running out. For all of us. Whatever anchor I’d been between this world and the one we only dream about was gone. There was nothing separating us now and I didn’t know how to fight something that I couldn’t control. Maybe the chaos I’d grown up seeing in my father hadn’t disappeared after all. Maybe like me, and like everything else, it had only grown and evolved into something too big to recognize.
*This excerpt is from a WIP and is subject to change*