Glass Prism

Seventeen-year-old dream stealer Valkyrie Highlander finds herself caught in a dangerous web when she agrees to join an extracting team hired by the most feared prison camp owner in the nation.

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1. Prologue

BREAK THE RULES

--Traditional

 

You know that feeling you get, right before you do something that might not be legal? Like someone's grabbing all your insides and twisting them into a huge ball, tangling them like Old World earphones? 

Good. Then you know how I'm feeling.

Forty-six-year-old Solomon Levitt, going fashionably grey in both beard and hair, lies before me in his bed. Asleep, most definitely. Dreaming, more than likely.

The window I came through is still slightly open, the cold winter breeze rushing through the opening like so many small knives. The heater in this slummy motel room hasn't worked in ages. I know this for a fact because I staked this place out for months, making sure our good friend Levitt would be comfortably invisible for as long as I needed. I wrinkle my nose. This place really is shitty.

The banana-gone-overripe brown paint on the walls is flaking off, and the carpet is the color of a city sidewalk--a dirty grey splattered with other questionable colors. The bed Levitt is peacefully unaware that he's on is barely a mattress with a few rag-thin sheets, tattooed with the same horrific flower pattern as the curtains on the small window. The unidentifiable remains of someone's breakfast are scattered on the nightstand. Levitt would have a meltdown if he knew that this cesspool is where he spent those pesky unaccountable hours that come after a scamming.

I shiver, the sleeves of my leather jacket ruffling slightly. The small, translucent glass prism in my hand shivers with me. Moving quickly, I set my messenger bag down beside the bed and hand my jacket on the back of a plush chair close to the nightstand, but a substantial distance from the bed. Just in case. I settle into the chair, pulling in a deep breath and shaking out my tense limbs.

As I crack my neck, I reach into the pocket of my midnight black jeans and pull out an equally black box, about the size of the boxes wedding rings come in. Opening it much the same way, I pull out two red noodle-thin cords, each ending in a razor-sharp needle. I take the right wire and, leaning out of my chair, plunge the needle into the creamy skin of Levitt's inner elbow. It sticks and stands up straight, but he doesn't even twitch.

Grimacing, I perform the same procedure with the right needle on my own elbow. Once it's in, I readjust myself in the chair one final time, cracking my knuckles. My finger hovers over the small red button in the center of the inside of the black box, which glares at me like a small, angry eye. 

Just twenty minutes, I promise myself. It's just another job.

With that, I jam my finger down onto the red button, and invade someone's dream.

xXx

My eyes snap open. I sit up quickly, and shove the glass prism deep into my jean's pocket. Ignoring the fact that until very recently I was sprawled across the bench at a bus stop, I stand and begin walking done the street. After a few moments of normalcy, the hals drift back off to their previous occupations, stopping their unnerving staring. If you don't give them anything to look at, they won't look at you.

I pick up the pace, my Converse slapping the cement of the sidewalk in a steady staccato rhythm. My precious twenty minutes have already begun to slip by. I glance up at the towering buildings all around me, raising like giants above the miniscule hals. It looks like one of the Old World cities--Chicago, or Atlanta, maybe. Levitt dreams in retro. Interesting. 

My plan is relatively simple. It mainly comprises of finding Levitt, stealing what needs to be stolen, and getting out. 

Easy enough.

I shove my hands into my pockets, fingering the glass prism in the left one. The palace can't go on for very long; Levitt isn't a creative enough person to dream up a whole city. He must be somewhere close by--within one of the surrounding buildings. As I'm musing over this, I accidentally run into someone walking past me, bumping me slightly. In retaliation, the shove me roughly to the side, muttering.

I stumble, and bite back a crude remark. Jesus. Levitt's hals should cool it.

Only after a few minutes pass do I realize that the hal with the anger management problems had fashionably greying hair. I just let my man slide through my fingers like water.

Shit.

I whirl around and take off after him, a bit too fast. Some of the hals in my vicinity turn mechanically and stare at me blankly. I slow down, following him coolly from a couple feet away. I'm guesstimating I have about fifteen minutes left before my time runs out.

Calmly, nonchalantly, I follow him to a posh-looking building. The spinning doors that we enter through are nearly double my height, and I try not to gawk as I am dwarfed by them. The lobby soars above me like a dome in a church, and I feel strangely humbled, reverent almost. But it only lasts for a minute.

Levitt strides towards the elevator, and I throw a half-formed, nearly-born plan into rigorous action. I rush at the elevator as it almost swings shut, thrusting my arms out and hollering.

"Sorry!" I shove in next to him, breathing heavily. Coincidentally, we're the only two in the elevator. Perfect.

I smile up at him shyly, but he only glares at me down his nose, looking severely annoyed. He slams his finger down on the button for floor eight, and looks pointedly at me, as if I'm gum stuck on the bottom of his $500.00 Italian leather Gucci's.

"Oh!" I laugh, playing my part to the extreme. "Same floor. What a coincidence, huh?"

He merely looks straight ahead and doesn't even acknowledge my comment. We wait in complete, semi-awkward silence as the elevator makes it's smooth way up to floor eight. When the elevator slides to a halt and dings melodically to make sure we know, Levitt steps back to let me walk out first.

"Thank you," I smile sweetly, and walk out. As soon as he's out of sight, my smile drips off my face. I need to be behind him.

I duck into a dim hallway as he walks unassumingly in front of me, then cut back out behind him. He'll be going to the core--that's where they all go--and will lead me straight to the elements.

He walks to a blank, dark wooden door, and reaches for the handle. I glide like a shadow behind him, sticking close to the wall. He pauses as he reaches for the handle, his shoulders tense, and that's when I know something's wrong.

I freeze. All my thoughts snap apart and crumble into dust, leaving me vulnerable and unable to move. I find myself sending up a fervent prayer to anyone that he won't turn around, that he'll just disregard any spine-tingling feelings.

But, of course, he doesn't.

He whirls around, his face bright red and his eyes wide, his voice taking on the tone of a man fearing for his safety. "WHY ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME?" He screams, and I flinch back into the shadows. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"

My thoughts flutter around like birds in a cage. I'm going to get caught, and I'm going to die. He knows he's dreaming, and I'm going to lose my credibility, and this is all going to end so badly I can barely contemplate. 

In those few seconds where everything has slowed down and it's in-between his frantic screams, I know what I have to do.

Code Orange.

 

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