A tattoo that's been on your hand for as long as you can remember. A chance happening. A threat.

A story.


5. Darkly Dreaming


Josh's phone started ringing. He glanced at the screen, surprised to see Lily's number on it. He answered it. "Hello?" Lily's voice sounded panicked when she spoke. "Josh?" He frowned. "Lily, what's wrong?" She was genuinely frightened when she replied. "We were right, there's much more to this than we thought." Josh climbed to his feet. "Where do you live? I'll be over in a few." She told him, and he headed out, knowing that he lived within walking distance. Before long, he was at the house. The door had been forced open. He knocked on it gently, walking into the hall. It was painted white, with framed photographs on the walls. He ignored them, instead calling out, "Lily? It's me, Josh!" He heard a noise from the back of the house, and he headed for it. He found Lily in the sitting room. She was as white as a sheet. "Lily? What happened?" He asked, crouching in front of her. "Someone broke in." Her voice was quiet and her eyes were focused on the wall in front of her. "Aw, Lily-" She cut him off, a sudden determination in her voice. Her expression returned to a somewhat normal one. "He didn't try and take anything, though, Josh. He just went to attack me." Josh frowned. "He was just a-" She shook her head. "No, Josh. You saw yourself, he could have taken several valuable things on the way in. He wanted to attack me!" Josh sat on the couch beside her. Before he could say anything, she looked at him. "It was about my tattoo, I know it." The determination in her voice frightened him a little. "How do you know that?" He asked quietly. "He tried to attack it. And when he went to attack it, I-I-I..." He frowned. "What happened, Lily?" She took a deep breath. "I-  I knocked him away without touching him."


She explained the whole situation. Josh didn't run away screaming. He listened to the whole experience. When she finished, he didn't laugh at her or call her insane. He simply thought for a little while. "I believe you." She looked up at him, surprised. He smiled at her. "Come on, we'll clean up."


Later that night, Josh was lying wide awake in bed. His mind was racing, thinking about the day's events. He couldn't believe that his- and Lily's- life could possibly be endangered, just because of a tattoo on his hip. He knew he wasn't going to sleep at this point, so he swung his feet out of bed. He focused on a bottle standing on the edge of the desk. He remembered what Lily had told him and tried to replicate it. The bottle remained stationary. He repeated himself twice, three times. He took a deep breath and, instead of focusing on the bottle, he focused on himself. He felt an energy burning, deep down, and focused on it. It grew and grew until it felt like he would explode. He released it and opened his eyes. The bottle remained stationary. The energy was replaced with exhaustion. He collapsed into bed, disappointment washing through him. He was asleep within seconds.


The first thing he was aware of was that his dream was too realistic to be a dream. He knew it wasn't happening in reality, but it wasn't a dream either. He was in a dark room. Screens glowed gently around it. "The attack didn't succeed, I take it?" A voice asked. "No, sir. She discovered the, ah, side effects. I did, however, order a second attack on both of them. It's happening as we speak." A second voice replied. "Good. Hopefully this will rid of the problem." His words were accompanied by a dark chuckle.


Chris shot to his feet. He was wide awake. He knew exactly what he had to do. He jumped to his feet, pulling off the t-shirt and pyjama bottoms he slept in and trading them for black combats, and a black t-shirt. He grabbed a leather jacket from his chair and shoved his feet into black Converse. He slung his dog tags around his neck and flew down stairs. "Josh? What's wrong, honey?" His mom asked, concern on her face. "I- I gotta go, Mom.  It's to do with my tattoo. If I stay here, I'm putting you at risk." He told her, taking her hands. She nodded. "I'm not going to try and stop you, honey. Here." She crossed the kitchen and pulled a bag from one of the cupboards. He took it and went to leave, but his mother grabbed his wrists. He could see the tears in her eyes. "No. Check it." He didn't want to push her, and so dropped the bag on the table, unzipping it. There was changes of clothes, high-energy food that probably didn't have an expiration date, a wallet, packed with money, three or four basic mobile phones, and an envelope. He went to open the envelope, but his mom shook her head. "When did you prepare all of this?" He asked quietly. "The week before we moved here. " She replied, tears in her voice and eyes, beginning to leak down her cheeks. "Go, Josh." He wrapped his arms around her. "You're going to make your father proud," She whispered in his ear. He felt tears begin to choke up his own voice. "Now, go. Time's of the essence." She shoved him away, wiping her face. Josh watched her for a moment, before sprinting out the door and to Lily's house.


Lily awoke to an abrupt pounding at the door. She climbed out of bed, heading downstairs. She looked through the peephole. Josh was standing outside. He had a backpack slung over his shoulder and looked flustered. She pulled the door open. "Josh? What's-" He interrupted her abruptly. "We need to move. Now. It's not safe. Get upstairs, change as quickly as you can, and get back." She nodded, sprinting upstairs. She pulled on a white sleeveless t-shirt, black combats and white Converse. She pulled on her black denim jacket over it and scrawled a note. "I'm sorry. I've got to go. I love you, Mom. If I stay, I'm putting you at danger. Tell Jess I love her." She left it on her desk, and shoved a few changes of clothes into her favourite backpack, swinging it over her shoulder. She ran downstairs, meeting Josh at the door. "What the hell is happening?" She asked as they sprinted away. "An attack was ordered on us. It's a long story. We need to hide as soon as possible."


Suddenly gunfire rained down from the rooftops surrounding them. "What the hell?" Lily yelled, crouching to make herself as small as possible. "Come on!" Josh yelled, grabbing her hand and dragging her along with him. They started running, trying to dodge bullets. They didn't know where they were running, or who they were running to. All they knew was that they were running.

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