So remember when I said I was gonna finish a “book” I started writing a LONG time ago? I changed my mind.
I decided to start a NEW one! Here is the first bit of it that I’ve gotten on the computer so far.
I’m being followed. I can’t see them, but I can feel them watching. I’m standing in a desert, and it is void of all life. It’s all white sand and blue sky, no clouds or birds overhead and no rocks or tumbleweeds in the landscape. I keep feeling that creeping sensation of someone watching me, but no one is there. I keep turning in circles, looking for whoever is following me. There is no one there, but I know someone is following me. Somehow, I know that they also want to hurt me, to kill me. I start running, but there is nowhere to hide and no matter how fast or far I run, the landscape never changes. It’s like I’m running but going nowhere and the feeling of being chased becomes overpowering. I’m running from nothing, but something is trying to kill me. And then I wake up.
This is the dream I have been having almost every night for the past two months. The nights that I don’t dream are when I stay up till morning, terrified of the dream that haunts me. I tried everything I possibly could from sneaking sleeping pills to trying to clear my mind before bed. If anything, the dream was just getting worse, not really changing but making me wake up in worse states of tangled sheets and sweating buckets. Even if I slept for ten hours, I woke up feeling like I had been running for my life.
Before I started having the nightmare every night, everything was completely normal. In fact my life was going just as I wanted it to. The day it all started going downhill was the day that John Picard asked me out on a date. I had a crush on him since my freshman year and now I had moved on from the braided-pigtails and glasses to long curly hair and contacts. He had always been the nice guy, the one to welcome new kids, give up his seat at lunch and he was also friends with everyone. Not only was he a great guy personality wise, but he was quite the looker too. My friends Nia and Carson were the only people who knew I liked him so much. Nia liked to tease the heck out of me, always saying that our kids would be adorable. Carson never really teased me about it, but I think he had a thing for Nia. Carson and I grew up together on the same street. He had three older brothers and two younger sisters. I was an only child with only my dad, and Carson’s family sort of took me in as another sibling just that I went back across the street for dinner every night. My dad was never really home much and when he was home he just sat in his arm chair and typed away on his laptop. He worked at the local newspaper as a photographer but he had his own blog that he wrote on at home. I never really knew what he blogged about but he spent all of his free time on his laptop. Nia moved to our little town in Indiana when Carson and I just started middle school. Her family was from New Mexico but they sent her and her older brother east to live with their aunt and uncle after her parents died in a car accident. She came into class on that first day and sat right next to the window near Carson and I. By lunch time, she had gotten in a fight with another girl who made fun of her wild black curly hair. I would never have thought that Nia would become one of my best friends; she was so free-spirited and wild. Anyway, back to John Picard. I was at lunch with Nia and Carson. Nia was going on about how the food they serve us at lunch had no nutritional value when he walked up behind me. I didn’t know he was there until Nia looked up at him from across the table.
“Well, look who’s here Jenna.” She said with a crooked smile. I turned around and was face to face with a grey torso. I looked up and into the face of the guy I had had a crush on for three years.
“Hey Jenna,” said John.
“H-hi,” I stuttered, mentally kicking myself for looking like an idiot.
“Um, I was wondering if you’re doing anything this weekend. My dad is letting me use his truck this weekend and I was hoping you’d like to go to the movies in town with me.” He blushed.
“Uh, um, uh…” I was so surprised that I couldn’t string together a sentence in comprehensible English.
“She’d love to!” Nia blurted out. I nodded stupidly.
“Ok, well I’ll pick you up Saturday at five? We can grab something to eat before we go.” He smiled his radiant smile at me. Me! A nobody, an awkward anti-social junior. And he was a handsome fantastic senior! But I’ll I could do was nod and stumble over simple words.
“Great.” He said, and waved good-bye as he turned and walked back to his table.
“Nia!” I turned to face her. “Why did you do that?!”
“Well you couldn’t stop talking gibberish and staring like you’ve never seen the male species in your life, so I figured I’d intervene.” She grinned.
“I can’t go out on a date with John Picard! What will I say? What will I do? We have absolutely nothing in common!”
“Well, you like each other. That’s one thing.” Nia grinned even more and Carson sniggered.
“I don’t see you taking a side on this Carson!” I snapped at him.
“I’m just having fun watching you flip out.” His eyes crinkled as his smile widened.
“You two are impossible!” I exclaimed, tossing my hands up in the air. “I don’t even have anything decent to wear. And my parents won’t even let me go.” I slouched and picked at my lunch.
“Girl, we have all week to go shopping before your big date.” Nia beamed, “And leave your parents to me. They love me.”
“No they don’t.” Carson said. “They love me more. I’m like the son they never had.”
I laughed and elbowed Carson in the ribs. “Uh-huh, the son they are glad they never had.”
“That’s not true! If your parents wanted you to have a brother, he would be just like me.”
“Whatever you say, little brother.” I smiled into my sandwich.
“Ha! I’m only younger than you by two months and five days!”
“Still,” I said with a shrug. “I’m older.”
Nia threw her head back and laughed. “You two basically are siblings.”
Carson and I grinned.
After school, Nia dragged me over to her house to ask her parents if we could go shopping. Nia’s mom, Roseanne, graciously offered us a ride. The whole way there Nia was going on and on about her crush at school, Joseph Winter. I just grinned and looked out the window, hardly listening. We drove by a large field of corn and I tried to watch each stalk fly by. I was starting to get dizzy when out of nowhere a gigantic bird flew out of the field. I watched it fly higher and higher and then I noticed something. It wasn’t really shaped like a bird. It looked more like a human. I pressed my face up against the glass trying to get a better look. The bird thing really was a human! He had the build of a baseball player, long and lanky. His hair was short but stuck up in wild tufts. His wingspan was double his height and the wings themselves were sleek and black, like a crow’s. I watched as he drifted in a spiral back down into the field. I was so stunned that I didn’t say anything. Was my head so dizzy that I imagined a crow as an actually flying person? That must have been it. There’s no such thing as people with wings, at least in real life. I sat back in my seat and tried to clear my head.
“Jenna, did you hear me?” I faintly heard Nia’s voice.
“What?” I replied.
“Obviously not. I asked if you think I should get a new dress or not.”
“Oh, um do you need one?” I tried to rid the bird-man out of my mind.
“Well no, but it’s nice to have new clothes.”
“Oh.” I said.
“Are you ok?” She asked peering at my face. “You look kinda sick. Are you feeling car sick?”
“We’re almost there Jenna, can you make it for about five minutes?” Roseanne asked.
“I’m alright. I think I might just be hungry.” I lied.
“Well, we can get something to eat once we get there. It’s almost dinnertime anyways.” Nia said.
I nodded and closed my eyes, resting my head on the back of the seat. Nia took my hand and started rubbing the inside of my palm. Her mom was a physical therapist and had taught Nia different ways to relieve pain through massaging parts of her hands and arms. I almost instantly felt better and once we got to the mall I was back to normal. Nia’s mom insisted that we still get something to eat first, worrying that I might feel sick again. After dinner, Nia dragged me around the mall while her mom went to the department store.
“I think you should wear something white.” Nia said, holding up a very short dress to me. I took it and held it to my body.
“This is way too short Nia. Plus we’re gonna be on his dad’s boat. White is a bad idea when I’m most likely gonna get wet.” I handed the dress back to her.
“Well, you can wear a bathing suit under it. White is such a good color for you, you’re so tan and you have such blonde hair.” She held the dress up and looked at it.
“Isn’t it too cold to be wearing anything that short?” I said. I really liked the dress but I didn’t want to freeze to death or embarrass myself on my first date with John.
“Hm, I guess so. Oh look!” Nia ran to a rack of brightly colored clothes. She pulled out a long strapless dress. It was patterned with black and white tribal designs and had a belt with black and white feathers trailing off the end. The feathers suddenly reminded me of the weird man I saw. No, I told myself. It was a bird and you were car sick. I held the dress to my chest.
“I love it.” I said and Nia smiled.
“Go try it on! I’ll look for some jewelry to go with it.”
I walked into an open dressing room and shut the door. I took off my many layers to ward off the chill and slipped into the dress. The horizontal tribal patterns made me look wider, which was good since I was on the scrawny side. The black and white colors brought out my green eyes. I touched one of the long feathers dangling off the belt and felt a weird vibrating in my body, like I was getting a small electric shock. I let go of the feather in surprise and the vibrating stopped. I touched the feather again, and the vibrating happened again. I kept holding the feather and realized the feeling was coming from my bones. I kept gripping the feather in my hand and felt the vibrations lessen. Then it stopped altogether. I let go of the feather and then picked it up again. Nothing happened. I tried the other feathers, but still nothing. Maybe I’m just flipping out from earlier. I thought as I took off the dress and put my old clothes back on.
I came out of the dressing room and of course couldn’t find Nia anywhere. Thinking that she got distracted by some other clothes, I sat on a bench and waited for her. I started wishing that I had a phone, when I saw the bird-man again. This time, he didn’t have wings. He was walking around in the mall, looking for something. He walked into the clothing store where I was and walked towards the men’s section. I got up and casually followed him. I was watching him pick out a black canvas jacket when Nia bounded up to me, her arms full of clothes.
“There you are! Did the dress fit?” She asked loudly.
“Uh, yeah.” I said, turning away from the bird-guy right when he turned at the sound of Nia’s voice.
“Good! I found some pretty turquoise jewelry that I think will look awesome, you’re eyes are practically the same color.” She beamed.
“Oh, cool.” I said.
“Are you still feeling sick?” Nia asked, peering into my face.
“No, I’m fine,” I said. “Are you ready to checkout?”
“Yeah…” She said dubiously.
After checking out I saw the bird-man again. I had a closer look this time. His hair was so black that it had a blue shine to it. He had a long nose, and dark almost black eyes. He had on dark jeans, a grey t shirt and a black leather jacket and had black feathers tied to a button on his jacket. I couldn’t see anything that would mean he had wings, no lumps on his back or feathers sticking out of his shirt. He caught me staring and I quickly turned away.
“Hey Nia let’s go in here.” I said dragging her into a sports store.
“Why would I want to go in here?” She said looking at a rack of yoga pants.
“Cause I need to get some…” I looked at the back of the store. “Fishing lures.”
“Fishing lures? Why on Earth would you need fishing lures?”
“C’mon.” I pulled her away from the front of the store where the bird-man could see us through the front windows. I went to the back by the fishing supplies and looked back to the front of the store. The bird-man was gone. “Ok we can go.”
“Uh, what about the dumb fishing lures?” Nia asked pointing at the fake worms and feathered fake fish.
“Oh, yeah.” I grabbed a pack at random and dragged Nia back out of the store. We met her mom at the department store and left. I kept looking over my shoulder for the bird-guy, hoping he didn’t catch me staring at him. After Nia’s mom dropped me off at home, I ran upstairs to my room and dumped my bags on the floor. I lay on my bed and almost instantly fell asleep.
This was the first night I had the weird dream. I was standing alone in a dessert, nothing in sight. At first I didn’t feel like anyone was watching me. I was just wondering where the heck I was when I felt it. I turned around but no one was there. Everywhere I looked was sand meeting sky. I started running but I wasn’t going anywhere and whatever was watching me was now chasing me. I woke up suddenly, sweaty but cold and breathing hard. It was three in the morning so I took a shower and tried to go back to sleep. I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching me still and I stayed awake up until my alarm clock went off at six, scaring me to death.
By the time I got to school, I completely forgot about the dream because the bird-guy was there at my school. At first I thought he was stalking me.
“Nia! Do you recognize that guy?” I asked Nia as soon as I saw her.
“Uh, no?” She replied. “Should I?”
“He was following me yesterday and now he’s here.” I turned my back to him, hoping he couldn’t see me.
“He’s stalking you?!”
“Shh! I don’t want him to know I’m here.”
“Well if he’s here then he obviously knows that you’re here too.” She peered over my shoulder.
“He’s actually really hot.”
“What? I mean maybe he likes you and that’s why he was following you. Or,” She smiled coyly, “Maybe he thinks I’m cute and was hoping to find me by following you!”
“Nia, seriously. I saw him yesterday and he was freaking me out.” I glanced at him quickly. He wasn’t looking in my direction anymore, but was walking towards the main office.
“Well, if he happens to be in any of my classes I am gonna introduce myself.” She walked off to her first class.
I went to my class and sat in my desk, trying to concentrate on what the teacher was saying. About ten minutes into class, the door opened and there was the bird-guy. He looked up from his paper and asked
“Is this chemistry?”
The teacher looked over from writing on the board. “Yes, are you new?” She asked.
“Yes ma’am. I’m Caleb Jefferson.” He held out his hand. She looked surprised but shook his hand.
“Why don’t you take a seat by Jenna and she can catch you up on what we’ve covered so far.” She turned back to the board.
I watched horrified as the bird-guy named Caleb walked to the empty desk in front of me. I didn’t know whether to confront him or act like I had never seen him before. Would it be weird to ask if he had wings? That’s stupid, I told myself. You were carsick and dizzy, he’s not bird-guy he’s just some guy you saw at the mall. I was brought out of my mental break down when Caleb sat down, turned to me and asked, “So what did I miss?”
His eyes stared right into mine, making me feel like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. They were a weird yellow-gold and the color took over almost his entire eye, making them look huge. He tilted his head to the side and I saw his eyes flash white.