He plucks them out of the air with one hand.
“No! Piper!” Jude’s violet eyes are darkened by betrayal.
“You made the right choice,” the Somnologist says gravely, pulling the trigger with the gun still aimed at Jude’s back.
I keep my eyes open but force myself to dream as the Somnologist pulls the trigger. I feel like I can’t keep my heart in my chest–but a stream of water harmlessly hits Jude’s back. At the same time as the Somnologist looks at his gun in shock, Jude spins around and disarms him, wrenching the gun from his grip so forcefully that the gun hits him in the forehead.
The Nightwalkers are in the doorway. I swallow and try to stay strong. I made a split-second decision, and I’m regretting it. I shouldn’t have thrown him those pills.
“Piper,” Jude says, a thread of blood coming out of his hairline. I swear he’s said my name more tonight than any one person has said it in my entire life. “Piper, we have to get out of here.”
“I know,” I say, bending to wrestle the pills out of the Somnologist’s grip. The Somnologist lets them go without much of a fight. His attention is fixated on the Nightwalkers.
“No, please,” he moans.
“Come this way, doctor.” I wave at the Somnologist to join Jude and me by the window.
“Are you crazy?” he says, glancing over at us.
The glance costs him dearly–it gives the Nightwalkers a second to snap his head to the side. His body crumples to the ground, his head at an unnatural angle. A Nightwalker leaps onto the desk, surprisingly nimble.
“You aren’t real,” I tell it, my voice tiny. “You. Are. A. Figment. Of. My. Nightmares.”
It extends its hand toward me but stops as the bones shrink and shrivel, disintegrating right in front of us.
“That was incredible!” Jude says. “I could kiss you!”
I hope he will, but we aren’t out of danger yet. More Nightwalkers are coming in, filling the room. Some are climbing up the outside of the window behind us.
“Am I supposed to say that to every single one?” I start to ask, but I see the answer even before I finish asking the question. There’s a fake plant in the office. I hope a fake leaf works as well as a real one. “I need to call Dovie.”
“I’ll try to hold them off,” he says, holding up the gun.
I reach for a leaf, and Jude sprays a Nightwalker that comes toward me. The bones hisses but it manages to wrap its hand around my wrist. I pluck the leaf, trying to ignore the smell of my flesh burning.Pain shoots up my arm as I bring the leaf to my mouth and bend it, blowing with all my might. A shrill whistle fills the air. The leaf falls from my fingers, and I try to tug out of the Nightwalker’s grasp. My vision is starting to darken with the explosive pain. Sparks dance in the air before me.
“You…aren’t…real,” I gasp. “You came from my nightmares.”
I close my eyes and feel the grip on my skin turn to dust. I push myself back against the wall, breathing heavily. The heat of the Nightwalker’s grip remains, seeping into my veins like poison. I wonder if I’m dying. If I die, will I be able to see Graham again or does he not exist after death? Will I exist after death?
Jude steps in front of me, holding the gun out and spraying at any Nightwalkers who try to get close. I wonder if he realizes the futility of his actions. It doesn’t seem like Dovie heard my call. And it seems like I’m dying.
“The Nightwalkers aren’t real,” Jude says.
“I know that now,” I try to tell him indignantly. I’m the one who’s been getting rid of them, aren’t I?
“Then why do you have a burn on your arm?” he asks, brushing away the blood on his head.
I look down at the burn. The Nightwalkers aren’t real. Something that doesn’t exist can’t burn me. That means this burn can’t be real either. As I think that, the bracelet-like burn fades away, and my mind clears.
Rising to my feet, I face the Nightwalkers and yell at them that they’re just nightmares until my voice is hoarse. One at a time, they vanish like something in a magician’s act.
Jude collapses beside me. I turn so fast I nearly lose my balance. Nightwalkers are climbing in through the window. One of them must have gotten him over the head. I shove him up against the wall while still yelling at the Nightwalkers. Staying crouched beside him, I take the gun from his limp grip and spray the Nightwalkers as I yell at them. I already lost Graham tonight. I’m not about to lose Jude too.
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.