~ Twisted Dreams ~

~ Twisted Dreams ~

A Chapter by Nite Spectre

Chapter 3

Ethan woke up the following morning to the incessant buzzing of his phone’s alarm clock as it beeped and vibrated its way across his counter as the bright morning sunlight spilled across it. He rubbed his blurry eyes and practically leaped out of bed when the bright sunshine coming from the shuttered windows failed to disappear. He grabbed his phone and stared at its gaily glowing digital dial, with a curse he dropped it and grabbed his showering supplies. He rushed through his morning routine, foregoing shaving and nearly forgetting to lock the door as he rushed out. He got in his car and took off down the street at ten above the speed limit, taking the corners shaper then normal. He sped down the freeway bobbing and weaving through traffic so much that he nearly missed his exit. He arrived at school just as the tardy bell for second rung. He jogged into Mrs. Tamara’s classroom just in time to hear his name being called.

I’m…right…here…”, he puffed out as he bent over holding his chest, the old scar over his heart sending off that weird pins and needles feeling. The teacher looked at him from under her eyebrows but chose not to say anything as she simple nodded and continued the roll call. Ethan, slipping into his usual seat, slouched down into the hard molded plastic backs of the chairs. He took in a deep shuddering breath before letting it out slowly; the tension easing in his chest almost immediately. He straightened as he glanced around the room. Both Chris and Sebastian were staring at him as if he had three heads but he put it off as surprise that he even bothered to come. He loaded up his computer and almost started up his Sudoku program when he changed his mind and opened up one of the several drawing programs on the machine. He worked quietly, carefully, to not cause any more problems than his late entrance already had. The relatively sudden ringing of the school bell snapped the class back to reality as they all saved their work and filed out of the door. Ethan waited outside the door for his friends to catch up but was taken aback when they simply looked at him, both of their faces inadequately hiding their pity, before moving on without a word. Ethan, confused, watched them until they disappear from his sight before he turned and walked slowly to his next class.

Mr. Fredick waited for everyone to take their seats before starting on that day’s lesson. Ethan sat in his seat, preoccupied with his friends’ odd behavior. He was startled out of his brooding thoughts when Mr. Fredick called on him to answer a question on the executive branch on the government. He pushed his thoughts down and concentrated on the class the rest of the period. He was one of the last to leave the classroom as the lunch bell rang and he was mildly surprised to see both Sebastian and Chris leaning against the opposite wall from his classroom. They moved to stand in front of him; halting his progress to the quad. They looked from Ethan to each other as if trying to reach some unspoken decision; there apparent apprehension sending a cold sluggish shiver down Ethan’s spine.

Sebastian opened his mouth but closed it again with a snap shooting a helpless sort of look toward Christopher, who swallowed hard and cleared his throat weakly. “Ethan before you go running off to lunch there is something that you should know,” he began weakly, his mouth twitching into a frown of concern. Ethan looked at the taller boy, the hair on the back of his neck prickling. Chris paused here giving Sebastian his own pleading look but the rocker’s eyes were downcast as he stared at the floor his expression one of concern and anxiety. Chris looked back at Ethan and blurted it all out in a rush, “Jessica is here at school…and I think she knows. You know…About last night.”

It was Ethan’s turn to stare at both boys as they fidgeted under his green-eyed scrutiny. His brain was working at a furious pace; his friends’ behavior already forgotten in the light of this new and disturbing development. He gave his head a shake to clear it and asked as evenly as he could manage, “Why do you think that?” “She asked where you were this morning; and she didn’t quite seem to buy into the whole out story of finding out about her from her parents,” Sebastian added, lifting his head up to look at his friend. Ethan’s jaw worked as he tried to look at the situation from all its different angles but one thing continued to elude his explanations: how had she found out in the first place?

Ethan’s sigh gave both Sebastian and Chris more information then the simple release of tension that most people would think of it. “If she asks where I am, tell her that I didn’t show up today. If she really wants to talk to me then she will probably end up calling me.” The other two boys nodded their agreement; trusting Ethan to know what he was doing. Ethan, himself, was striding down the hall toward the doors that led to the parking lot when Chris called his name as he jogged to catch up. “Just let me ask you one thing. Why?” Ethan gave him a confused look just before the meaning of the question dawned on him. “It’s not something that I tell people. Just be satisfied to told that something happened when I was younger that robbed me of my ability to…care…too much for people or allow them to care for me,” he said in a low voice barely loud enough for Chris to catch, even with his straining ears. Chris gave him a queer look before turning and catching up to Sebastian who was on his way to the quad. Ethan watched until they rounded the corner and disappeared before he exited the building and hurried to his car. He walked around the rear bumper the large SUV that was parked beside his car and abruptly stopped in his tracks as he caught sight of the young woman that stood leaning against the trunk of his car, her back resting against the car’s spoiler.

He growled in irritation and moved toward the driver’s door but was stopped when the young woman extended her leg in front of him. She peered up at him from underneath her hair; she seemed to be watching him like she was waiting for him to do something. Instead he just stopped and looked at her. “What do you want Christi? I thought I told you that I didn’t ever want to see you again after what you did to my family and me.” Ethan growled through clenched teeth, his jaw creaking almost audibly from the pressure. Christi looked up at his face and smirked; her angular face twisting the expression into something sinister looking. “Oh I don’t want anything in particular; just popping in to visit some of my old haunts. Though I never expected to see you still here; especially after what happened to poor Jessica last night,” she said in an almost sing-song as she stood and stepped up to him, their bodies nearly touching.

Her smirk changed to a leering grin as Ethan stiffened at her proximity, “Come now, you can’t tell me you didn’t like all those times we had together,” she said, her voice as soft as velvet and as slick as oil. Ethan scowled, his voice cold as marble, “Yes, I can. I just wish that I had realized what you are before I got so entangled in your web of lies; and if I ever hear even a whisper about your involvement in what happened to Jessica know that I will hunt you down and make you beg for your life.” Christi stepped away from Ethan instinctively as the cold venom of his words struck home; her face blanched as she fought for a retort. She stuttered, “Y-You’re going to regret those words before long, and when you do; don’t come crawling back to me for forgiveness,” she finished with a snarl before turning and striding toward a waiting car that Ethan hadn’t noticed. The car sped off with a brief squeal of tires as it almost took the turn-out on two wheels. Ethan rubbed his face, before sighing and looking up into the cloud speckled sky. He shot a glance over his shoulder toward the school and twisted back around at the strange sight. A figure, dressed in a black hooded cloak stood upon the roof of the school’s main building. Ethan shivered in the surprisingly warm fall air and he knew, somehow, that the stranger was looking at him its malevolent presence raising the hair on the back on his neck. For what seemed to Ethan as a lifetime they watched each other until, with a swirl of the cloak, the figure dropped off the roof and plummeted downward. Ethan gasped and took a step forward instinctively as the figure fell but stopped as the robed stranger failed to strike the ground having vanished quite literally in mid-air. Ethan ran back the way he came and inspected the ground where a crushed body should have lain but found no trace of the cloaked being. He looked up at where the figure had stood watching him and saw a raven sitting in the same exact spot. Ethan grabbed a bit of rock of the ground and chucked it at the bird but the bird just sidestepped the poorly aimed projectile and cawed at him with a flap of its wings. Ethan flipped the bird off before turning and hurrying back to his car. He got in and started the engine, its quiet rumble comforting. He revved the engine, then backed out and left the parking lot.

He drove for home, a need for familiar surroundings pushing him onward. He didn’t just break the speed limit as he wove in and through traffic; he shattered it as he reached 120 mph on the longest stretch of his drive. The thought of a ticket or arrest never crossed his mind, not because he didn’t care, but rather because there just wasn’t room for it. His head felt like it would split open from all the different things he was trying to make sense of. Jessica and how she could possibly know what he did, Christi’s sudden reappearance after a nearly five year absence, and the strange figure that had dropped more then a hundred feet and failed to leave a single trace of his presence. Not to mention his sudden gain in strength and language abilities.

His tires screeched as Ethan slammed on the brakes of his car as he overshot his house. He shifted into reverse and parked backwards in the driveway, not really caring about what the rest of his family would say about his blocking the driveway. He entered his house and immediately went to his bedroom and sprawled down on to his bed in a heap. He rubbed his face absentmindedly as he stared up at his ceiling, his scrambled thoughts spinning as fast as his fan was. ‘What was happening to him? Why was his life so suddenly out of whack,’ he thought to himself as he fought down his anxiety. He closed his eyes and fell into a troubled slumber fret with doubt and worry.

The thud of a closed garage door jerked Ethan back to reality with an irritated grunt as he groggily rolled over onto his back. His sheets lay twisted around him in an intricate mess. He wrenched himself free and stood pulling at his creased and rumbled apparel. He ran a hand through his hair before leaving his room. Nicole stood in the kitchen shelving the groceries that she had bought when he stumbled into the brightly illuminated kitchen still bleary-eyed from sleep. She shot a glance over her shoulder in his direction but didn’t say anything as he started helping her, he helped not only to be nice but more for the need for some sort of manual labor that would keep him busy. He moved in rote motion, his expression blank as he stuffed cans and boxes into their appropriate cupboards; or so he thought before his sister’s laughter ground him to a stop, “Ethan, what the heck did you put the sugar in the fridge for?” Ethan looked at her curiously until she pulled the offending bag from where he had shoved it. Ethan’s head drooped in embarrassment as he scratched the back of his head with his hand. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking; or I mean I was, but just not about the groceries,” he said apologetically.

Nicole looked at him, “Did something happen at school?” Ethan’s mouth worked soundlessly; he wanted to tell her but how could he? “You remember that I went to a concert last night right?” Nicole nodded putting the cereal down on the table as she turned her full attention on Ethan. “Well, last night I caught some freak trying to rape this girl. I didn’t realize until after I nearly killed the a*****e and checked the woman’s condition that it was Jessica. If I hadn’t known that I needed to get Jessica to safety I think I would have killed him.” Nicole’s face went from mild surprise to full blown concern in a heart beat; as what Ethan was going through began to dawn on her. Ethan’s fist clenched tightly as his head drooped, “I took her home and explained to her parents what happened. After that I came here and went to sleep.”

“Ethan, why didn’t you wake someone up last night when you got home? For that matter, why didn’t you take her to the hospital? You said she was raped; she should be in the hospital not home,” Nicole squeaked out as she fought to remain in control of her emotions. Ethan’s head snapped up, “NO! I stopped the guy; he didn’t do anything. He did beat her though. I took her home because even if that f****t didn’t actually do anything, I still know that the one thing she needed the most is the comfort of familiar surroundings and her parents. The reason I didn’t wake anyone up is because I fell asleep almost before I walked in the door.” He lied as he willed his sister to believe him. Nicole’s eyes searched his, “How is she? Is she O.K? I mean jeez.” Ethan nodded, “She’s ok, I guess. She was at school today.” Nicole’s eyebrows shot upward, “She was at school? Wow, that is one tough girl. Did she thank you or anything?” Ethan shook his head, “I asked her parents and everyone else not to tell her that it was me. I thought that it would be better if she didn’t feel like she owns me something. Besides, I left before she saw me.”

Nicole stared at Ethan dumbfounded by his reply. “Why would you do that? I mean I know you don’t like people making a big deal of things but this is different; you probably saved her life,” she asked her entire demeanor emitting confused puzzlement. “You very well know why I don’t want her to know it was me. I didn’t stay at school because Chris and Sebastian both think that she knows that it was me.” “Ethan is it really that hard for you to admit that you like that girl? I know you do; certainly more then any ‘friend’ should. If you would give it a chance you may just realize that you could be really happy with her.” Ethan laughed disdainfully, his face twisted into a leering smirk. “Be happy with her? I won’t be happy until I’m either dead or, by some miracle, I am given back my brother,” he growled.

Nicole flinched back from the cold heat of his words, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so cruel. Its just that I saw Christi today and that on top of everything else that has happened to me lately has me feeling like an over stretched rubber band,” his words were exaggerated by him running his hand through his hair with a heavy sigh. “It wo;uld probably help if you talked about it with someone,” Nicole wheedled as she tried to get Ethan to open up instead of hiding everything beneath that damnable blank mask of his.

Ethan shook his head with another sigh, “Nice try, but no; I just need time to think about all of this.” Ethan turned and took a few steps into the hallway back towards his room. “Nicole? Thank you… for everything,” he said before disappearing from sight. Nicole let herself lean back against the countertop as she pondered her adopted brother, ‘Why are you always so defensive? Why won’t you open up to anyone?’ With her own wistful sigh, she finished unpacking the groceries before heading into her own room and closing the door behind her after a quick look at Ethan’s closed door.

Ethan lay in his bed with his eyes closed but you could see them as they rolled around as if they were search for something. He hands clenched his bed sheets in great hands full that were twisted around his hands as if he was using them to hold on. His lips moved soundlessly as he tried to sort the last two days’ events into some semblance of coherence. For hours he remained in that position; it wasn’t until the moon has raised itself up, fat and full, in the dark starless sky, that Ethan’s eyes snapped open. He sat up on the end of his bed before turning his head to look into a shadowy corner of his room. “Who are you and what do you want,” he asked into the darkness. The shadow seemed to float forward as it coalesced into a tall black robed figure. It stopped a few paces from Ethan and slowly raised one of its arms to point at Ethan; its robe’s sleeve a gaping black pit. Ethan’s eyes narrowed, “Who or what are you, and what in the hell would you want with me?” The figure remained motionless its arm still upraised. Ethan was sure that it was watching, even maybe testing him for his reaction.

The loud knock on his door jerked Ethan’s head around sharply toward his door. He looked back toward the figure to discover that it had disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. Ethan rubbed his face, the sweat running down in rivulets, before getting up and opening his door. The bright light from the hallway made Ethan blink blearily as he tried to focus on the shape in front of him. “Are you feeling alright Ethan? You look like you’ve been to hell and back,” his father said as he looked at his sons pale drawn face. Ethan nodded; his throat suddenly to dry for speech. His father looked at Ethan’s face through the crack of the door; Ethan’s pasty, waxen complexion and the dark bags of sleeplessness clearly evident in the hallway lights. “It’s dinner time if you’re hungry.” Ethan nodded, “I’ll be right there. Let me put a shirt on really quick.” His father nodded but didn’t immediately leave as he continued to look at his son’s careworn face. “We’re all here for you Ethan; you know that right?” his father asked softly his voice pitching with tightly reigned emotion. Ethan looked down and nodded before closing the door softly. He heard his father walk away as he turned and leaned heavily against the cool wood of his door. Ethan breathed deeply before snatching up his shirt from where he had tossed it before opening his door and slowly walking into the dining area. His mother looked up from her plate and smiled reassuringly at him as he sat down and began to eat.

The dinner passed in silence, everyone too preoccupied with their own thoughts to bother themselves with anyone else’s. Ethan was the first to finish eating as he tore through the meal with ravenous hunger that made both of his parents look at him askance. “Sorry. I was hungry,” Ethan said with a shrug as he caught his parents’ looks. They both shook their heads as they returned to their meals leaving Ethan to sigh in quiet relief that they didn’t question him. He washed his dishes before returning to the dim confines of his room; the deep shadows comforting yet dangerous for what they may be hiding. Ethan had not forgotten the strange figure that had appeared in his room, the specter had been disturbing and yet, strangely he had not been frightened by it. It was almost… familiar …in a strange way; almost as if it was the dark part of him come alive. It had felt nothing like the thing that he saw standing upon the schools roof. With a shiver, Ethan lay back down on his bed; the sheets bunched up beneath his back. He reached over and turned on his stereo cranking up the volume so that the throb on the bass thumped against him. He closed his eyes and relaxed allowing the music to send him into a trance where his thoughts buzzed like moths around a flame. Ethan sunk down into the trance so deeply that he neither noticed nor cared when his sister came in and turned off the music and told him good night before retiring to her own rooms. The clang of the grandfather clock in the living room striking midnight found Ethan on his bed; his body rigid with pain, his teeth clenched shut against the screams he knew would come.

A loud crack split the night and Ethan jerked again on his bed. More cracks came, one on top of the other like the rattle of a machine gun's bullet casing hitting the floor. Ethan dragged his eyes down to his chest and stared as he watched his own bones start to rearrange themselves. He fought to hold on to consciousness as each movement sent waves of pain and nausea blasting into his brain overwhelming his self-control. Eventually Ethan slipped gratefully into oblivion neither guessing nor realizing just how much his life was about to change.

© 2010 Nite Spectre

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Added on April 13, 2010
Last Updated on April 13, 2010