After Danny had dropped Riley off at her first class, English, she had muttered an indifferent thank-you before striding into the class without so much a glance over her shoulder. That thank-you was the only two words Riley had spoken to him for the rest if the day. She didn’t even look at him in History or Bio. Danny hopped on the school bus that afternoon feeling utterly deflated.
He slumped into the first available seat. Fortunately, in was completely unoccupied, though not for long. A boy, tall and thin, with lanky shoulder length brown hair, soon sat down beside him. Danny quickly held his breath and turned his head towards the window. Willing the bus ride to be over as quickly as possible; the boy beside him stank of old, sweaty socks. Eyes slowly beginning to water, Danny stared out of the scratched up bus window, over to the far end of the school grounds. He stared intently at an odd shadow hovering just inside the range of trees that lined the boundary of the school. The shadow was the shape of a human, but it was so far away Danny couldn’t even tell if it was male or female.
But all of this was forgotten when the boy beside him let go of a large belch and turned to him grinning as the bus began to pull away.
Danny lay sprawled across his bed, a leg hanging off the edge and his arm tucked under his head. He eyed the ceiling furiously. Though it had done him no wrong. Danny continued to think about Riley. All the thing he could have said, “Who are you? Where did you come from? What were you doing in my dream? But as he thought these things, Danny suddenly saw Riley in his mind, he saw her face and the way it looked when she first saw him. Suddenly he was glad he hadn’t asked her any of those things. She though he was stupid enough already; no need to add crazy to the list he thought sullenly.
He didn’t know what to do about his dream, he could understand no of it. Who had dreams of people and then met them the next day? No one. Not for real anyway, he thought.
Danny hadn’t even spoken to his mother. He sat quietly through dinner thinking over ways he could approach the subject with her. But every time he came close to a decent plan. He found he wasn’t able to force anything out of his mouth. He didn’t even attempt to talk during dessert. His mother had kept shooting him concerned glances but did not speak either. She knew that Danny would sometimes slip into these moods and that there was nothing she could do but keep an eye on him until he bounced back in a week or so. Danny didn’t feel anything was particularly wrong, he just liked to retreat inside himself sometimes. It just helped him cope. With almost everything. He just wished it would solve it too.
Danny continued to stare up at the ceiling. His thoughts began to drift towards Steve. He wondered what he would be doing right now; where he was right now. Danny closed his eyes, trying to breathe deeply and evenly, he thought about Steve. He pictured Steve clearing in his mind, his dark messy brown hair just the same as Danny’s, his grey eyes lightened by his trademark half-smile. He and Danny looked almost like twins. Just at different ages. The harder Danny tried to focus on his image of Steve, desperate to dream about him, the more the image began to fade. Colour fading and dulling, features distorting. Steven’s eyes paling into white, the richness of his hair whitening. Dread filled and tightened in Danny’s chest as the image of his brother continued to fade. He grasped for it, reaching out further and further, but the harder he tried the quicker the image faded.
Danny released a pained breath. The image disappeared entirely. Another, much clearer image appeared in its place. A house, or more accurately, a large warehouse surrounded by trees. The derelict building is made almost entirely made of wood, its roof at a dangerous slant and peeling paint on the front of the building says Belrainia Printing Press & co. At once the image sharpened again, becoming exactly like Danny’s dream last night. Danny feels his feet hit the ground, gravel crunching as he spins in a quick circle. The path behind him goes on its end hidden by the trees. Danny turns back to look warily at the crumbling Publishing House.
Although empty, and seemingly abandoned, terror began to fill Danny and his hairs rose to stand on end. Nothing moved; he saw no one, and nothing but the sound of the birds in the trees can be heard. But something about it was wrong, unnatural, something about what Danny was seeing didn’t sense. There was something missing. Danny’s heart pounded against his chest and his breath became ragged as he continued to stare at the building. A burning sensation began behind his eyes. He wondered distantly whether it was because he need to blink, had he blinked recently? Unable to take his eyes off the building, Danny reached up in an attempt to rub the burning sensation out. As his fingers met his eyes, Danny felt as though some sort of cord snapped in his mind. The nightmare of the house was gone and he was back in his bedroom, and for some reason, craving chocolate.
After a minute, Danny’s breathing had returned to normal, but his craving had not disappeared. He couldn’t get the thought of his mother’s Lindt Bunnies out of his mind. He knew she kept a whole stash of the on the top shelf of the Laundry cupboard. So maybe if he just took one, she wouldn’t notice.
Just as he was about to swing his legs over the edge of the bed, a sound began to come from underneath it. Something similar the squeak of a mouse, accompanied by a low hissing end.