Part 2 – The Stuff of Nightmares

“No!” I screamed running after the man in the hooded cloak.
He first appeared hovering over my bed like some ghostly specter. I sat upright, and he bolted with a flurry of motion. I threw my covers off and leapt to my feet in pursuit. The world shifted and turned and the surrounding walls disappeared, replaced by an empty field. My clothes had even changed, I realized, as I continued after the man. I was wearing a plain tee, a pair of jeans and sneakers instead of my pajamas, but it didn’t matter, I had to catch the man. I didn’t know why, but it seemed important.
The world spun, and we were inside the school. I followed him around the corner of a hallway and then the world turned again and we were back in the field.
The black knight from my day dream appeared, swinging his sword at me in a downward arc. I jumped back dodging his attack and lurched into motion fleeing before he attacked again. His armor clanked behind me as he leapt into pursuit. Once or twice I glanced over my shoulder, each time he was right on my heels.
How could he keep up with all that armor weighing him down? Soon I caught sight of the man again and I put on more speed, hoping to catch up with him. Why did he run?
The knight was giggling behind me. She called out, using Megan’s voice, taunting me. She called me a loser and said that I was repulsive. I remained focused on the man. I didn’t know why.
We ran, I chasing after the man, and the knight after me and the world shifting and turning around us. Flash after successive flash came, and I found myself in a variety of familiar locations, the mall, the park near my grandmother’s house and even the hospital where I’d been born. When the world shifted again, we’d returned to my room.
I stopped in the doorway peering inside.
A boy slept under the covers, he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and he was more or less my size. The boy turned, and I recognized him as Harry from my mother’s yearbook. He sat up in bed and as he did so the shadowy man pulled a knife from inside his jacket. The boy stared at him and a smile formed on his face before the dark figure grabbed him by the throat and pulled him close.
The knight appeared in the doorway and lifted his visor. Megan’s face peered out, she grinned at me her face stretching into inhuman proportions. She didn’t intervene, but instead watched as the shadow man pointed at me then grabbed the boy in the bed by the cuff of his shirt. All three laughed in perfect unison, and I stepped forward grabbed the man by the arm
“Let him go!” I screamed.
“No!” They both refused and shook their heads in perfect sync.
“You don’t get it!” the man yelled pressing his knife up to the boy’s throat.
“Don’t you see?” the boy asked. “I’m not your father!”
They both shook and trembled and blood dripped down the boy’s throat as the blade cut into his skin.
“He’s not your father, Jim.” The man cackled and pulled his hood down and pointed at Megan. “She is!”
“Nnnnnnnoooooooooooo!” I screamed out ready to hurl myself at the man, but stopped myself when he bent and contorted. His muscles shifted and shrunk and a pair of breasts bulged out of his chest. Megan’s face beamed back at me and she unzipped her jacket.
She brought the knife up to her mouth and licked one side of the blade clean. “You still think I’m sexy, right?”
“Jesus fucking Christ!” I sat up in my bed. My head jerked about, looking for any signs of the man, the boy, or Megan. None of them were present and I let out a long drawn-out sigh as I became aware that it had all been a dream.
“Shit, that was weird,” I mumbled as I stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. I did my business then hopped into the shower. Though mom was probably gone for the day, I checked in on her, just in case. Her bedroom door was open, and she’d made her bed, a sure sign she’d left. She’d had an early shift which wasn’t too uncommon, her work shifts seemed to hop all over the place. It was just one of the many hazards of working retail, or so she kept telling me.
I hovered inside her bedroom door and considered going through her room for some clues of my father’s identity, but soon discarded the idea. I’d already looked through her things more times than I could count and the only clue about my father’s identity I’d ever found was the yearbook.
Last Illusion XXV was calling me from the front room. I bought the game last week and had only played it for a few hours so far which was odd because it was one of my favorite game franchises. After a quick breakfast of Plucky Trinkets I made my way to the front room and switched on my Gamestation. It didn’t take me long to get pulled into the game play and I lost track of time.

It was almost noon before I remembered that I’d planned to pick up Megan for our run to the mall. I saved my game, then shut down the console. Racing out of the house I almost forgot my keys, but remembered to grab them at the last minute. In a few minutes, I pulled up in front of Megan’s house and was about to get out when the front door swung open. I guess she must have seen me pull around. Out sprang Megan accompanied by a blonde girl I’d never seen before.
“Hey Jim,” Megan said as she approached my car, “Is it okay if my cousin Allison, comes along?”
“Sure,” I replied and reached across to push the door open. “Hop on in girls.”
A tall girl with a model’s build stepped into sight and I felt my jaw drop as she ducked inside the car, taking the front seat. Her resemblance to Megan was startling they could have been sisters. She had the same green eyes, but had a fairer complexion. Her nose was about average-size, but her lips weren’t quite as generous.
Allison was quite the looker, I hadn’t seen many faces as pretty as hers outside of a magazine cover. My eyes lingering on her breasts, which were a lot smaller than her cousin’s and I swallowed hard. The scent of raspberries filled the air and glanced at Megan as she climbed into the back seat. I don’t know if it was some sort of perfume or her shampoo, but Megan hated that sort of stuff, so I had no doubt the scent was emanating from the new girl.
Megan didn’t say much as she climbed inside, but judging from the way she was frowning at her cousin I knew something was up. I’d been looking forward to spending some alone time with Megan, so I was a little bummed that she’d brought someone else along. Allison was easy on the eyes, but I’d never been partial to blondes. I tried not to let my disappointment show on my face.
“Hey, I’m Jim,” I said holding my hand out to Allison.
She took it and giggled, and with a rather vacant expression on her face she said “Your friend is cute, Megan. I’d wonder why you weren’t dating him if I didn’t already know you were gay.”
I choked at that “You think I’m cute?”
“Yeah,” she giggled, “I’d totally date you if I didn’t have a boyfriend.”
Then it clicked what she’d said about Megan. I seemed to have trouble thinking straight around cute girls, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. What straight teenage guy didn’t?
“You’re gay?” I glanced back at Megan mouth hanging open eyes as wide as saucers.
“Thank you so much Allison,” she said with a sneer, “I wasn’t ready to drop that particular ball, just yet. Were you planning on telling any other of my secrets today?”
The vacant expression on Allison’s face took on a more menacing cast as she said “No, but there are still plenty of hours left in the day. Who knows? Something might occur to me later on.”
The two girls glared at one another, Megan folded her arms across her chest and scowled. I glanced back and forth between the two of them and grimaced running a hand through my thick mop of hair.
“Ladies, I don’t know what the hell just happened, but why don’t we forget what was said and try to have a good time,” I said putting both hands on the steering wheel and looking back at my friend in the rear-view mirror.
“Oh, we’re teasing each other. Aren’t we Megan?” Allison said with another giggle, the menace fading from her face, replaced by the vacant mask she’d been wearing before.
I looked back at Megan. “Megs?”
“Yeah, sure,” she said gritting her teeth, “Just teasing.”
The drive to the mall was awkward as hell, but it only lasted a few minutes. Once I had the car parked we all piled out and while I couldn’t speak for the others, I was eager to relieve some tension. Upon entering the mall Allison looked around and shrugged. “Eh, not bad, but I’ve seen better. I’ll look around you two can go to your game thingie and we can meet back here later.”
She didn’t wait for a response before turning her back and stepped into the nearest store. I let out a sigh more than a little glad to see her go. Allison was pretty, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like looking at her, but it was a lot less awkward when it was me and Megan. I’d sooner not have the other girl around if they spent the entire time making jabs at each other.
“Soooo,” I said slipping both hands in my pockets and glancing at Megan. “You like girls.”
“Yeah, I think I was in denial about it for a long time. Remember, last month when I visited my uncle? Well…” she trailed off for a moment. “Allison had a slumber party with a few of her friends and long story short, I-I sort of kissed one.”
I stopped in my tracks and let myself picture Megan kissing another girl. I had enough sense not to give voice to some interesting images that her comment invoked. Still, I was sure my night time fantasies would take a few more interesting twists because of this new information.
“Is that why things between you and your cousin seem so tense?” I asked clearing my throat and doing my best not to keep my mind off it.
Megan sighed, “Yeah, sort of, but… that’s the way she is. She’s offish most of the time anyway, but since the kiss, her friend won’t even talk to her and Allison blames me.”
“That’s rough,” I agreed and eyed my friend as she continued forward.
Megan didn’t say a word, and I stopped in my tracks, my heart sinking with the realization I’d never get the chance to win over the girl of my dreams. I would soon get my chance, but in a way I never imagined. If I had known, I would have run for the hills, but one way or the other, it would have happened anyway.