Chapter Three: Run Better

Chapter Three: Run Better

A Chapter by TopHatGirl


   The world was always black in his nightmares. It was dark, and terrifying, like inky tentacles wrapping around your throat to constrict your breathing.

   That wasn’t even the worst part, though.

   The worst part was being so numb. His vision was fuzzy, constantly shifting back and forth to the point where he wanted to puke. He couldn’t even observe anything, because he was always busy trying to keep his balance on the murky path.

   And when he says black, he means black. As in he can’t see anything, like his eyes were horribly cut out and now he has to depend on his touch. Soon, he feels his eyes start to bleed, dripping down his face and dropping to the floor. The splotches of red contrast with everything else.

   His head is screaming. It sends ripples of pain through his body, fraying nerves until he can’t even move. Paralyzed in the darkness, he shrieked, trying to stop this. A weight is on his chest, keeping him from doing anything.

   He squawks help over and over again. If someone could just wake him up, save him. Then it would be better. But he’s trapped, trapped until the morning light breaks through the window.


   And soon, he did wake up. Muscles filled with lead, and it took all of his effort to drag himself to the bathroom and into the shower. His skin was layered in sweat and grime, so it took about an hour to get himself completely clean, the steam surrounding the bathroom and creating sheen on the mirrors. Rubbing off the vapor from the mirror, he examined his face. A long cut down his cheek still remained from the spider attack, so he got out some rubbing alcohol and slathered it across the wound. The guys would ask about it in school today, but that was okay. He didn’t actually care.

The clock only read 7am; he hated being an early rise sometime. He spent the extra time looking over his history textbook for today’s exam. He had to maintain his C average so his dad wouldn’t sigh disappointingly at him.

At school, he went through classes with a general bland attitude. Teachers took a second glance at his face, but other than that didn’t comment. He would show up to school with scars a lot, and they just assumed he was in a gang because he had dark skin. Adam wasn’t much of a loud jock, he was fine just sitting quietly at the table of other football players, occasionally adding in a joke or a burn if needed. He was perfectly content with mulling over his creamy corn, thinking about what in the world might be happening in people’s dreams today.

   He never talked about his nightmares. That would be f*****g lame saying you cried for mommy on the cold dark nights. His father didn’t suspect anything either, which was good. His dreams were nothing but his own. 

   “Hey, you thinking about that physics test today?” Jeffrey asked from across their quad table, pointing at Adam with his corn full of mystery meat. “Because that was gay as s**t, I ended up drawing a cat on it.”

   “Nah, it wasn’t too bad. But maybe he’ll give you extra credit for the cat,” Adam offered, still trying to finish up the English homework he never did.

   “You both need to stop worrying about grades,” Mike piped up, offering up another steaming plate of wisdom in a wrinkled letterman’s jacket and a naïve gleam in his eyes. “We don’t actually need school. It’s all just a ruse to get the damaged kids trapped for hours a day. I mean, bullshit, right? I could be at home lighting it up,  playing some video games, and maybe talking to a few girls. But nope, I gotta be sitting in math class listening to that old b***h of a teacher say I’m a f*****g failure.” When he finished his speech, his jaw closed tightly, as if he had just given a rant akin to ‘I Have A Dream’.

   Even though most of the guys he hung out with weren’t the brightest of people, it was kind of a relief to not be around geniuses all the time. Sure, in middle school Adam would stick around with the library eyed kids, but they kind of made him feel like an idiot.  Being dyslexic wasn’t too uncommon, but having people hark on him about it all the time sort of made Adam stray toward these types. And it wasn’t half bad; sitting with the rest of the football players made him feel like he belonged somewhere.

   “So dude, where’d the face scratch come from?” Kevin asked, the other quiet one at the table. He was in a state of constant thinking, about a lot of things that didn’t matter.

   Looking up from his homework, Adam gave a lopsided grin. “My cat f*****g scratched me because I stepped on its tail. Hurt like a b***h.”

   “That’s cuz you are a b***h,” Jeff lamely retorted, earning a high five from someone else at the table.

   “Yeah, nice one,” Adam said, and sat back as the rest of the table exploded into an argument about whether or not the coach was hooking up with the math teacher.

   In History class, he got his test back upside down. The teacher, a sturdy dude with his ties a varying degree of color, gave him a little disappointed sigh.

   In the back of his class, Adam turned over his paper, seeing a hastily scrawled ‘F’ on the top. He squinted to read the message written underneath. ‘Mr. Shipton, knowing your father’s love of this subject, I expect that you can do better.’

   The subject was on medieval wars. More specifically, the Joan of Arc, which his dad had taken his middle name from. Adam’s hand curled into an angry fist, as the teacher walked away, but he forced himself to calm down.

The bell rang, and he shoved his paper into his backpack, racing out the door.

Driving home wass filled with pent up rage. How f*****g dare he say that I’m not doing well, and that I should be because of Dad! That’s bullshit, utter utter bullshit. Wow, f**k that, I’m not just my dad. I’m my own goddamn person, not some genius scientist millionaire. 

   Slamming the car door behind him as he pulled up to the driveway, he stomped into the house. His dad looked up briefly from his desk in the foyer, giving his son a small smile.

   “Hello Adam, how was your day?” he asked calmly, clearing seeing that Adam was upset.

   He froze, letting his arms relax. “Hey, Dad. It was fine,” he said in a curt manner, dumping his backpack on the carpet.

   “That’s good.” His eyes crinkled as he glanced over at the elevator. “We have another customer downstairs, can you-“

   “Yeah, I’ll get suited up,” he cut off, retreating to the elevator and pressing the button. Exhaling slowly, he rubbed at his temples. He was being ridiculous. He would be fine. As it dinged to the lab floor, two parents looked up at him from their seats.

   “Hey there,” Adam greeted, walking over to the tech board and turning on the systems. The couple was the picture of normal American households, a housewife mom and a father in a pressed business suit. The mother’s hair was frizzed at the ends, and her bottom lip well chewed upon, a sign of deep stress in her daily life. The father had laugh lines and frameless glasses perched on his nose, and would occasionally glance at his daughter. The daughter was already asleep in the patient bed, the suction tubes attached at her forehead. She had a cold, judging by the way her chest rumbled when she exhaled.

   “So, what’s the problem here?” Adam asked casually, as if he was a mechanic at a car shop. The father was the one to speak up first.

   “She’s been having awful nightmares of a three headed dog that chases her. We believe that it’s because of the neighbor’s pitbull that bit her a few weeks ago.”

  Adam nodded mutely, barely acknowledging his father as he came into the room on the elevator.

  “Sarah will be in the best of hands,” Dr. Shipton said, and began putting a face mask on the young girl. It had the gas that would induce her into the dream portion of sleep.

   Getting into the heavy armor, he wasted no time getting into the dream. Yelling again before he landed, he thanked his lucky stars this was a girl’s dream.

   This dream was a field of flowers, of all colors. His back crushed a few dandelions, but he couldn’t give less of a s**t. The skies were a light blue, with birds flittering about and singing like this was some straight to DVD Disney movie.

   Sarah was nowhere to be found. The kids dreaming didn’t always make an appearance, which usually made his job easier. Getting up and letting his sword hang at his side, he began walking through the field.

   Suddenly, the fire of a gun is heard. Adam jumped, taking a few steps back. Well, that certainly wasn’t expected. Turning towards the sound, he saw a shadowy figure, gun still in hand. The figure fires again, and it nearly missed Adam’s head.

   “The f**k?” he asked, squinting to look at the figure.

   It was that same man from the last dream.


    That’s impossible. Children can share monsters, share fears, but not like this. Not this detailed.

    As the man began to reload, Adam bucked it, his legs pumping furiously as he tried to outrun it. The man started running too, the two of them tromping through a field of flowers. One by one, Adam took off the encumbering armor, letting the pieces drop to the floor. It wasn’t bulletproof armor, anyway. Soon he was in just a t-shirt and basketball shorts, trying to dodge oncoming bullets.

    His sword can’t block bullets, goddammit!

   In the distance, there is another figure, coming towards Adam from the front. It too, is running through  flowers. “F*****g s**t!” he shouted, slamming his heels down to slow away from the other maniac.

    The figure in front of him turned out to be a three headed dog.

    Dog or bullet dog or bullet dog bullet dog bullet dog bulletdog

    He started to run in the other direction, back towards the man with the gun. The man looked confused, but shrugged, getting poised to shoot his gun again. But the dog was getting closer, too.


    “The f**k is that?” The man asked, who when Adam got a little closer, turned out to not be a man at all, but just some boy about Adam’s age. Too busy to even think, the footballer just keeps running, like he has to make the touchdown in less than ten seconds for it to count.

    “Run, d****t!” he screamed to the other dude. For some reason. Even though about thirty seconds ago that same dude had just tried to kill him. Logic, Adam. Logic.

    The three headed beast was slobbering with blood lust, its mighty paws pounding against the dirt with a righteous fury. The other guy’s jaw dropped, but he quickly recollected himself to aim the gun again, but this time at the dog. Adam made it over to him, and watched as he fired.

    Maybe he would just kill it for him.


    The bullet whizzed right past the dog. The beast was unfazed, and only kept running.

    “S**t,” Adam swore, and grabbed the gun guy’s arm and tugged. “Let’s go, unless you wanted to be eaten in three different kinds of ways.”

    Soon they were both running, linked by Adam holding onto the arm. The field of flowers suddenly was the most intense battlescene ever, with every player getting exhausted with every step. The other dude was pale, almost paper white. He had dark, sunken eyes and untamable brown hair. His legs were long and lanky, making for good running. He wasn’t as muscular as Adam, but had a glowering demeanor that would be good for angst ridden tv shows. If Adam had to guess, the guy was about 17, had a troubling past (there were fading scar marks on his chin), but a little better off now. He also probably stayed in the darkness a lot, and had a fear of water. Adam could or could not have been right about this, but he had a pretty good feeling about it.

But he was getting pretty sick of running. Eventually, he let his feet slide against the ground again, earning him a long stop. Turning around, he raised his sword. He also positioned his body in front of the other guy subconsciously; he was sort of a natural protector. The sword glinted in the sunlight, making him feel cool, even though he was still in basketball shorts and a black t shirt.

   The beast hurled itself at him, and he pulled his arm back before thrusting it into the stomach. That only slowed it down for a few seconds, but it still jumped clean over both of them, its shadow glooming.

The other guy (damn, did he have to learn his name soon) loaded up his handgun, and aimed it at one of the heads. Squinting one of his eyes, he fired. It landed cleanly at the eye, but it still wasn’t enough. The beast was noticeable slower, but only by a fraction.

   “Work on the front, I’ll go with the top," he shouted, and the other guy nodded, aiming his gun again.

Adam ran and ducked, sliding his body to jump up and grab the furry neck of the black fur. Clinging on to tufts of hair, he narrowly avoided being eaten before he managed to balance on its back. The dog was rowdy, and kept trying to shake him off like a bull bucking a rider. Adam plunged his sword into the scruff of the neck, trying to keep stable. All three dogs head’s yowled with pain, and Adam momentarily felt bad. But then he looked into those red eyes again, and his guilt dissolved.

   Yanking out the sword again, the blade now shining with blood, he plunged it in further, really digging in deep. More bullets fired at the heads. The dog was slowing down, and began to fade. Using one last method, Adam took out his sword and gave one nice clean swing at the neck of one of the heads. It cut deep and hard, killing the dog instantly. Grunting, he jumped off of the dog and landed with a small thump before it collapsed to the field, dead.

   “Holy s**t,” Adam breathed, leaning against his sword and sinking into the field of flowers. He lied on his back, content with watching the lazy white clouds drift by. The other guy reluctantly sat beside him, elbows propping up his chin. He sighed heavily, looking up at the sky as well.

   “What’s your name?” Adam asked, letting his arms fold behind his neck.

   “Nick O’Malley,” he answered, staring at his gun, which was also covered in blood.

   “You Irish or something?”

   “No,” he sneered, brushing a piece of hair out of his face. “I don’t know where the name originates from, but I sure as hell ain’t Irish.”

   “Who even says ‘ain’t’, though?”



   “Says the man in armor.”


   “Hey, I took it off.”

   “Yeah, doesn’t count.”

   “F**k you.”


   There’s some tension there, before they both snort and go back to watching the sky. Adam blinked, feeling his eyes get heavy.

   “So, uh, why did you try to kill me?” he asked, attempting light conversation. Nick shrugged, his worn brown leather jacket crinkling.

   “I don’t know, I just-“ He paused, his eyes widening. “F**k, I still need to kill you! Because you’re wrecking the fragileness of nightmares!” His hand flew toward his gun as he stood up and cocked it at Adam.

   “Whoa there,” Adam said, hand hovering over the hilt of his sword. “You sure you wanna fight me? I just beheaded a dog.”


   “Yes, with my help,” Nick retorted, keeping the gun steady. “Besides, it’s blade against bullet.”

   “I’m still gonna win,” Adam noted, shrugging. Nick allowed him to grab his sword and stand up.

   “Then, let’s do this.”

    Giving it a good running start, he swung his sword, but Nick quickly rolled out of the way and fired. The bullet barely grazed Adam’s leg, so he tried to slice his opponent while he was still recovering from missing. He managed to slice through the jacket, but only a few drops of blood came through.

   Nick gave a smug smirk before firing again. “Nice job bringing a knife to gun fight, d****e.”

   Man, this guy sure did have some sort of snarky villain complex.

   But their fight never came to fruitation.

   Mainly because Adam would’ve won anyway, and also because as soon as another bullet went off Adam started dissolving again. The last thing he saw was Nick’s furious face, about to scream something about him being a coward.

© 2013 TopHatGirl

Author's Note

Why do I even post my nanowrimo books they're so terribly unedited

My Review

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I really like this series! I feel like what Adam and his father are doing is similar to if someone found some source of immortality or something like that. It would seem like a great thing, but it would destroy the Circle of Life(Yes, we read Tuck Everlasting in my Literature class recently). Maybe Nick's trying to protect the Circle of Dreams? That statement about how Adam was "wrecking the fragileness of nightmares" is a nice bit of foreshadowing! Hope to see more of this book! ^^

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Added on May 21, 2013
Last Updated on May 21, 2013



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Hi, I'm TopHatGirl! If you're here about my character lessons or to get some advice, email me instead of messaging at [email protected]. This is because I don't go on this site as much anym.. more..

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