Snippet Saturday #15 Reverie (Part 10)

We freeze as the Somnologist walks in, a gun aimed at Jude. Jude raises his arms in the air, still facing the cabinet.

“Don’t shoot him!” My desire for Jude to live is stronger than my self-preservation.

The Somnologist doesn’t lower his gun but looks at me pityingly through his round glasses.

“I never thought he’d actually manage to reel someone in with his tomfoolery,” he says.

“It isn’t tomfoolery,” I say, tightening my grip around the pills. “He’s right. Reality and dreams are starting to mix together. Don’t you see it happening?”

“My dear girl,” the Somnologist says, “what makes you think this isn’t reality?”

“Because I’m starting to remember,” I say.

The Somnologist nods as if accepting my point. “And when did you suddenly start to remember? When you met Jude, right? How do you know he didn’t just plan those memories in your head? How do you know they’re real?”

“Because–because–” I break off because I really don’t have any way of knowing. I turn to Jude, who still stands with his hands up. Could he really have done that?

“Piper,” Jude says, moving only his eyes over to me.

I remember us being children. I remember him saying my name in that beseeching way when we were younger. How can that possibly not be real? But Graham and everything about him feels real too–the way it felt when he touched me, the smell of his skin.

“You came here to destroy the pills, didn’t you, Piper?” the Somnologist says. “Did Jude ever tell you who he is or why there’s a shortage?” I don’t say anything, which seems to be all the encouragement the Somnologist needs to keep going. “Jude invented the sleeping pills. He was an intern for me. As an intern, the credit for any of his inventions went to the Somnology Institute and to me.”

“Piper,” Jude says again.

“He’s angry about not getting credit for the pills so he wants to destroy them now. You see, there is no shortage of ingredients. The truth is, he stole the formula he wrote for us so we can’t make any more. Now he’s going to destroy these because he’d rather see the world burn than have somebody else get credit for his creations.”

I stare at Jude. Why didn’t he tell me he was the one who invented the pills?

There’s a crash downstairs, followed by the stench of sulfur and acid. The Nightwalkers are inside the building.

“Piper,” Jude says a third time. There’s desperation to his tone now. I know as well as he does that we need to get out right away, but I don’t know what to believe anymore.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I ask him.

He closes his eyes, seeming not to have an answer for that. It surprises me when he speaks. “I didn’t want you to think less of me because I created something with such disastrous consequences.”

“But when you say it like that–”

“I don’t care about credit,” Jude bursts. “I don’t even want it. I’m ashamed  that I ever invented them. I thought I was doing the right thing, I swear. I never knew they would turn out like this.”

“He’s a liar, Piper,” the Somnologist says. “Think about this. There’s Jude, who didn’t even tell you who he is, Then there’s me. I’ve been honest to everyone from the beginning. I shared these pills and cured the Insomnia epidemic. I told everyone when I figured out that these pills provide protection against the Nightwalkers.”

I hear the Nightwalkers’ footsteps. The stench is getting stronger and harder to bear.

“I remember Graham,” the Somnologist says quickly. He shoots a nervous glance at the door behind him. “I know Ryan too. If we get the pill formula back from Jude, you can have Graham back.”

I flater, staring down at the pills in my hands. I can have Graham back. Graham, who I’ve loved most of everyone I’ve ever met.

“Okay,” I say and throw the pills to the Somnologist, hoping I’m doing the right thing.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.

Snippet Saturday #14 Reverie (Part 9)

Jude knows exactly where in the Somnology Institute we can find the sleeping pills. They’re locked away, but he thinks we can use the fractured reality to our advantage right now and walk entirely in dreams.

We get to the Somnology Institute and sneak to the back, away from the growing line of people waiting for a pill. Jude glances back over my shoulder, his eyes darkening. I twist me head around and se Nightwalkers. It isn’t just three or four or five now. There are hundreds and hundreds. They’re coming out of a foreboding mist so I can see their glowing eyes before I see the outline of their bodies.

The thought of all the pill-less people in front of the Somnology Institute makes my heart constrict. I try to remind myself that they aren’t real but it’s hard when there are so many of them, and they’re all moving toward us. I remember the way their bones burned my skin and how solid they felt when I kicked out. How can they not be real?

Jude drags me along the edges of the institute, muttering to himself as he does so. I’m reminded, suddenly, of how crazy he looked when I first me him earlier tonight–was it really just tonight? Then he stops so suddenly that I collide with his back and presses his free hand to a window of the Somnology Institute.

“It’s water,” he whispers.

I do the same thing, keeping my hand against the cool glass and trying to convince myself it’s actually water. My eyes snap open as it feels wet against my palm. Jude smiles at me and steps through the window, pulling me along.

We’ve landed right in the Somnologist’s office. I realize with surprise that this is on the second floor. How’d we end up here? Things don’t have to make sense in dreams, though. In my case, I don’t have time to dwell on this right now.

“Come on,” he says. “They have to be in here somewhere.”

Fireflies bump drunkenly onto the sides of frosted bottles that levitate above our heads. They provide the only light in the room. We throw open all the desk drawers and cabinets that we can, bu the three of them are locked.

“So,” I say, “how do we dream open something that’s locked?”

“You tell me.” He smiles. “Come on. Use your creativity.”

I raise my eyebrows slightly and then close my eyes, envisioning a skeleton key is on top of the desk. I hear him let out a little laugh. I wonder what he would have done–dreamt the doors away, maybe? When I open my eyes, there it is, right where I dreamt it. I grab it and open the top drawer of the desk. The pills aren’t there.

I toss the key to Jude, who unlocks one of the cabinet and then the other. There they are. He grabs the pill bottle and tosses it to me, when–

“Stop right there!”

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.

Snippet Saturday #13 Reverie (Part 8)

“Piper!”

I whirl around, bringing my fists up. It’s only Jude.

“What are you doing here?” I say.

“I hd to make sure you didn’t go off and do something crazy,” he says.

I see the genuine concern with his violet eyes, which brings another memory–leaving my parents’ house to go to school. A boy waits for me by the mailbox as he does everyday. A patch of violets the same color as his eyes grows around the mailbox. I tell him, “Your eyes are like a dream.” He tells me, “I’m going to marry you someday.”

“I remember you now,” I say to the grown-up Jude. How did I every forget someone with violet eyes? “And Graham…did he ever exist?”

“I don’t know,” Jude says, the relief blatant on his face. There’s already a bruise from Graham’s punch. “Even I’m starting to lose my grip with reality and having trouble determining what’s real and what’s part of the dream.”

“And it’s all because of the pills?” I say. It’s easier to trust him now that I remember him.

He nods, watching me cautiously.

“Then we have to get rid of them,” I say, sounding surer than I feel.

His relief very obviously deepens. “We do. Lucky for us, I know exactly what to do.”

“It seems like you’ve been planning this for a long time,” I say, unable to stop myself from reaching out to touch him.

He feels so solid and real–but so did Graham and so do the Nightwalkers.

“I have,” he says with another nod. “You need to understand something, though. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Once we get rid of the pills, there will be chaos–for awhile, at least.”

“I’m not afraid,” I say, although my heart is pounding.

I’ve already lost Graham–I’m starting to doubt he never exist–and now I know the Nightwalkers aren’t real.

A blue and black butterfly lands on the back of my hand, tickling my skin. I bring it up to my face and watch it before holding it out to Jude. He cups it in his hand and then lets it go, reaching his hand out to me. I take it.

As if he can read my thoughts, he says softly to me, “I know I’m the one who’s been telling you to differentiate between reality and dreams, but maybe you can hold onto Graham. You don’t have to think too hard about whether or not he really existed. It’s okay to remember him fondly and hold him close to your heart.”

And because I have no doubts that Jude is real, I stand on my tiptoes and brush my lips to his as lightly as the butterfly’s wings brushed against my skin.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.

Snippet Saturday #12 Reverie (Part 7)

Clutching the pill in my hand, I walk. Maybe the Nightwalkers sense that I’m not in the mood to be messed with because I don’t see any. All I want is to get into bed and cry and cry and cry until I drown in my own tears or choke on them. Either one seems acceptable.

I turn the corner and collide with someone.

“I’m so sorry,” he says, reaching out a hand to help me up.

I consider not taking it but decide I don’t want some poor stranger to think I’m mad at him for accidentally running into me when it’s actually Jude and the Nightwalkers and the pill shortage I’m angry at. So, I let him help me up.

“Thank–” Before I can finish, I’m struck dumb by the sight of his face. “Graham?”

I throw my arms around his neck and bury my face in his chest. But then I immediately realize that he smells different and minty. I step back and look up at him, bewildered.

“I’m sorry,” he says uncomfortably. “I don’t know who Graham is. My name is Ryan, and I’m really sorry for knocking you over.”

With a nod, he walks past me. A blue goldfish swims by, causing the air to ripple.

I stand there, and the memory of meeting Graham returns to me. The day after I was diagnosed with Insomnia. Standing in line in front of the Somnology Institute. Seeing a guy in front of me in line. Meeting the guy’s eyes. He smiles at me, and I hope he’ll come back to talk to me. But after that, the memory diverges into two versions.

In one, he comes back after getting his pills and talks to me, showing me how his pill bottle is full to the brim. He tells me that he can give me some of his pills if I want. I tell him that I’m going to get pills of my own, so why would I need his? He winks at me and says he thought he would share. The thought excites me because sharing pills is a big deal. In this case, it’s a confession. We get ice cream together after I pick up my pills.

In the other version, I watch as he goes inside and wait and wait and wait for him to come back and talk to me. By the time I’m at the front of the line, I have to accept that he isn’t coming back. He might have smiled at me, but there was no real interest there or he would have made some effort. In this memory, the thought doesn’t bother me terribly–I don’t even know this guy.

And then comes another memory, completely unrelated. In this one, I’m on vacation with my parents. It’s boiling hot. I’m wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, so I can feel the sun scorching my skin. I whine and complain because I don’t want to be here. I just want to go home. I trudge along behind my parents, and they tell me something, but I’m too busy pitying myself to listen. With a start, I tumble headfirst into a hole in the ground, landing heavily on my ankle. I realize immediately that this must be one of the archaeological sites and start wailing in frustration and pain for my parents to get me out.

But then I notice something is in the hol with me–blackened bones, folded together in a pile. I stop crying and stare at them, slowly backing away. They’re just bones but I feel as if they can be animated and come after me.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.