Night TerrorsA Chapter by Bella Catten
Adri pays the price for ignoring her fears and feelings.
When breakfast was finished and cleaned up, Alex reemerged from his room to help with the chores. During our absence, a family of raccoons had broken in and made a nest in Sadie's sock drawer, but other than that, the house was still in relatively good condition.
However, I still forced myself to work tirelessly, not stopping until surfaces literally shone, frightened that if I stopped, my worries would catch up to me. Even when the others stopped for lunch, I didn't halt in my cleaning frenzy.
When I started scrubbing the sink handles for the fifth time, Jeremy lightly tapped on my shoulder.
"Maybe you should take a break." he suggested meekly, but I shook him off. Working, pushing myself to my absolute limit, was distracting enough that I could shove all unwanted thoughts into a bottle, then forcing them into the back of my mind. I had to be the strong one again, and the only way was to push my own feelings aside.
When darkness fell, I was so tired that I simply collapsed in bed, too hungry to eat or even undress, confident that as long as I forced my worries away, I'd be safe.
I was wrong.
I have no control over my brain when I'm asleep, and the Hated Thoughts bottle was somehow knocked over, spilling the worries into my dreams.
Now they're nightmares.
White lab coats chased me through the dark hallways, brandishing needles longer than my arm, and everywhere I turned, Charlotte's insane eyes stared at me, and she cackled madly as I ran, sweating, wearing nothing but a hospital gown. Suddenly, a hand reached out, snatching my locket, and I fell, tumbling in into a dark abyss.
"You killed me, Adri. Why did you kill me?" Ella's sobbing voice echoed all around me.
"I didn't mean to!" I screamed. "Please, I'm sorry!
"You killed me, Adri. Why did you kill me?" her repeated phrases brought on waves of guilt, self-hatred, fear, and sorrow. Below me, needles appeared pointing up towards my body as I plummeted, screaming my head off, towards the sharp points. Suddenly, rough hands flipped me around so my back was falling towards the needles, while my front faced upwards, where Ella began to shake my shoulders.
"Wake up, wake up, wake up!" she yelled at me, and I blinked with surprise, then jolted up in bed. Sadie was gripping my shoulders, vigorously jerking them back and forth, while everyone else gathered around, looking concerned.
"Wha-" I tried to shake off the nightmare. "What's going on?"
"You were screaming." Sadie informed me, and my mind bottle threatened to crack open.
"Oh." I forced a smile and jammed the lid back on the bottle. "Don't worry about me. Just a little nightmare. Go back to bed."
"But-" Dexter tried.
"Bed. Auriela, you sleep with Sadie and Kate tonight, okay?" I insisted, and gestured towards the door. Grudgingly, they all dragged themselves out, except for Dexter. He plopped down on my bed with a grave expression, so unlike his usual boyish and innocent face.
"Adri, I used to have night terrors, too. People think I'm naive and innocent just because of my age, but that's not true. I've seen terrible, terrible things." He took a long, shuddery breath before continuing. "To cure night terrors, you must learn to recognize when you're in a dream, then remember not to scream."
"How did you learn it?" I asked curiously.
"It's a long story." he protested.
"I've got time." I pressed, and he sighed.
"It......" he took a deep breath before diving into the story. "It all started when I was two years old. My father lost my mum to childbirth when my little sister, Penny, was born, and he blamed Penny." Dexter began. "He completely ignored her, leaving me to care for her. When he began to come home absolutely plastered and abusive from his frequent benders, it became a game of Hide With Dexter. Penny quickly began the target of his drunken rages, so I began to hide her before he got to our flat. It resulted in him turning on me, but I always was brave for Penny. I pretended it was a game for her sake, but I think she knew deep down that this was no game. Even if I was beaten until I was unconscious, she never came out until I fetched her in the morning.
"One day, my father came home early, whistling and sober. I had no time to hide Penny, who was now three while I was five, so I simply stood I front of her protectively as my dad burst in. His jovial manner completely threw me off, and I watched daftly as my father strode to Penny's room and picked out her nicest frock and little buckle up Mary Jane shoes. He then told me to bathe and wash Penny, then to blow dry her soft blonde hair. After that, he told my sister to dress up in the frock and shoes, and we both willingly complied, astonished beyond measure. We both dared to hope that maybe, just maybe, our father would become the loving parent we had always dreamed of.
"As I smoothed down little Penny's dress and shined her tiny shoes, we heard a knock at the door. My father answered it, and someone walked into the living room of our flat. Penny and I were so excited; for once, we were going to have company! Penny chattered about how the person was probably a lady, and she was going to marry Daddy, then we'd all live happily ever after. She was ready, and so I led her downstairs to the living room. There, sitting on the couch, was my father sitting with a short, stout, and bearded man with beady eyes. I didn't like him from the start, and a sick feeling twisted in my gut. I only watched numbly, like a compete dunce, as this man circled Penny with a perverse expression.
"He finally nodded to my father, handing him a stack of pounds, which he took eagerly. My father then picked up my sister and began following the man out the door. I realized what was happening, and began making an awful row, screaming and hitting my father. He simply kicked me aside, leaving me winded and unable to move. Penny began to cry as my father loaded her into the man's truck, and her wails rang in my ears as the truck pulled away. I recovered my senses and started to chase the car, but I was not as fast as a car.
"From then on, it only got worse. That man somehow got my email address, and sent me video after video of him doing terrible things to Penny. I watched every one, and vowed to take revenge on my father and that man. When I got my powers at age seven, the first thing I did was rescue Penny, take her to an orphanage, and kill the b*****d who had raped and beaten her all those years. I then returned home, only to watch as soldiers in black captured me, then shot my father when he demanded payment. I was shipped off to the facility, and locked in a cage. "Of course, my years of terror caught up to me, and I started screaming in my sleep. The guards hurt me every time I did it, so I learned a foolproof way to muffle the screams; I learned to recognize when I was in dream by pointing out things that didn't make sense or were missing. Within weeks, I had successfully smothered the screaming, and it served me well in the two years I spent at that facility.
"Oh, Dexter....." I had no idea what to say. Dexter had always been the happy and seemingly carefree boy who more often than not got on your nerves, but always made up for it later. Turns out he had been hiding a deep, terrible secret.
"Don't-" Dexter saved me the trouble. "Don't try and comfort me. I'm lucky, compared to Penny. She experienced much worse.....her therapist says she may recover, and she even got put in a foster home, by a sweet couple who can't have children. They dote upon her, and I know it's exactly what she needs. I've been keeping an eye on her, visiting from time to time....." He cleared his throat and changed the subject. "Anyway, I can sleep with you and muffle your screams until you start realizing dreams, right? We'll be flat mates!"
"That's perfect." I agreed, relieved, then looked at him for a second. "Your accent seems to be fading."
"Mine? No. It's always like this. There are two types of talking; the refined, slight accent and the full blown out accent, complete with skipping the letters h and t. I made myself and Penny talk the proper way, despite our lack of education. I only use an extreme accent when I want to confuse people."
"It works." I assured him, laughing quietly so I didn't wake the others. As he crawled under the warm covers, a sense of calm settled over me, and I slipped into a deep sleep once more.
In the morning, I woke feeling tired and scared. The nightmares had been relentless, and I only prayed Dexter was good at muffling screams. Luckily, it looked like he was when I walked into the kitchen. No one looked at me, or even acted differently. This was going to be crucial for the next month or so, because I was going to resume my position. I had spent enough time on my own selfish needs and I had to pull it together if we were going to take Charlotte down.
Yes, you heard me.
I was going to take down 'The Mother'.
"Okay, group meeting." I announced authoritatively, which earned me some strange glances. Most were too wary to accept the old me was back, due to my recent breakdown. I stared at them, hands on my hips.
"Well?" I tapped my foot. "Hurry up and freaking gather!" Chairs were slowly pushed back, scraping against the tiles, and they all trooped to the couches and armchair.
"Okay, we need a game plan if we're going to take down Charlotte. Alex, you're going-" I started.
"Um, what?" Jeremy interrupted. "Take down Charlotte? Are you out of your freaking mind?! She's impossible to even touch!"
"You are going to back me up on this, got it?" I snarled nastily, and he shook his head.
"Adri, no one can take her down. Especially not a ragtag bunch of kids who can barely manage to stay away from her. You are jeopardizing our lives!"
"She is killing people!" I retorted. "No one else is trying to get rid of her, so that leaves us! She's hunting down children and doing awful things, putting herself in impenetrable fortresses. However......" I was up in his face now. "However, humans make mistakes, and Charlotte is at least half human. She's made a mistake somewhere, and we are gonna find it."
"I could go in as a mouse and go-" Sadie began, but I interrupted.
"Absolutely not. None of you kids are allowed to do this part." I said firmly. A silence followed as we all racked our brains for a solution.
"I know what what the mistake is." Alex volunteered. I whipped my head towards him.
"What?!" I asked eagerly.
"Not what. Who." he corrected and I opened my mouth to tell him off. "Sorry, sorry. Never mind." he quickly adds, and I relax. "Anyway, his name is Archibald Granger. He is one of my mother's closest acquaintances, and she works him like a dog. I know for a fact he's been put on the case for finding me. I can lure him in, then-"
"Absolutely not." I said firmly. "The second you step through that door, Charlotte will stuff you so full of pills you won't be able to walk."
"True." Alex pauses, hesitating, and I picked up on it right away.
"What? What is it? Is there another way?!" I demanded. "Tell me! No matter the cost, tell me. This has gone on long enough."
"Fine, okay?" Alex relented, and paused, unsure of how to start. "Mother constantly is calling him to work, and that makes it extremely hard for him to keep a girlfriend. If anything, he sometimes gets a girl to go out with him twice. He's resulted to hanging around a bar-the Martini Club-to pick up desperate broads. When Mother calls him in without notice, he brings the girl along, if she agrees to it."
"Alex." I glared at him impatiently. "Get to the point."
"The point is, he will pick up any girl willing to give him a chance." Pause. "Any girl." he emphasized, looking at me meaningfully, and Damien shot up like a jackrabbit.
"No! Absolutely not!" he yelled.
"Whatever. It. Takes." I repeated slowly and firmly, ignoring Damien and focusing on Alex. "Alex, can you contact Archibald and tell him to report to work?"
"Yep." Alex replies confidently, and I rub my hands together happily.
"This is going to epic." I chuckled, and it all was downhill from there. I pulled out a big pad of paper and a marker, outlining our plan to take down Baba Yaga, dubbed Baba Yaga by Kate, due to the fact that Baba Yaga was a witch who kidnapped and tortured children. Kate made sure to add that Baba Yaga was also very ugly, and so, her nickname became Yaga.
Chores were left unfinished as we worked late into the night, working the kinks out of the plan. When we finally finished, it was pitch black dark outside, and the floor was littered with crumpled up papers containing flawed plans. I looked over the paper with the final plan, smiling to myself. It was a close job, but it could work. Even a failed attempt could be enough to expose the "Yaga" to the media, and they'd take care of the rest.
Everyone would be used for their unique gifts to get in, except for Damien and Auriela. I refused to put Auriela in danger, and ordered Sadie that she was to take Auriela to Mrs. Periwinkle, a kindly old lady in the village, where she would be safe until the battle was over. As for Damien, he had a slight issue. For some bizarre reason, his super strength and invulnerability had evaporated along with his memories. As his memories slowly returned, one by one, his strength increased, but his invincibility still showed no signs of returning.
As for Alex, he proved himself during the whole operation to be an invaluable asset, providing, names, times, places, dates, descriptions, codes, people, maps, and information. When the finished product was rolled up in my hand, I discovered that I had inadvertently forgiven Alex, realizing he was truly sorry, and that he hadn't meant to hurt, let alone kill, anyone. He was just another helpless pawn in Charlotte's chess match against humanity.
As the others dragged themselves to bed, yawning like crazy, I called to Alex.
"Alex, wait." I stopped him, and he turned to face me, heavy circles under his eyes that I'm sure matched mine. "Look, I just wanted to say.....I, um, I forgive you, okay? It was selfish and mean of me to pin Charlotte's crimes on you. It wasn't fair, and I just wanted to apolo-" The air was knocked out of me as Alex crushed me in a huge hug.
"Thank you." he whispered.
"Can't....breathe." I gasped, and he released me immediately with a sheepish grin. "Good night." I told him, and tiptoed into my bedroom, where Dexter was already sleeping peacefully. "Oh, and Alex?"
"We couldn't have done this without you." I held up the paper, and he smiled proudly at the praise. I crept into my room, shutting the door behind me, then hiding the paper in my sock drawer. After that, I yawned and slid in between the covers, not even bothering to change my clothes. My lids closed, and my world went dark.
© 2012 Bella Catten
Added on April 2, 2012
Last Updated on June 2, 2012
AboutMy name is Bella Catten. I am fifteen years old, and love writing books, although I am terrible at finishing them. My goal is to finish at least ONE book, and maybe get it published. I live.. more..