Teri sat bolt upright so fast her hips ached from the sudden stress. At first she thought the girl’s shadowed face had swallowed her whole. Then her eyes picked up faint light coming in under the curtains and she remembered it was only a nightmare. Then her brain woke up a little more and she remembered that nightmares were stalking her in the waking world as well as her dreams.
The thudding of her heart was the only sound she could hear. Or maybe it was just so loud it was drowning everything else out. Teri’s chest hurt, sharp agony that peaked every time she took a breath. She rubbed her temples. Just thinking about how scared she was made her anxiety worse.
She didn’t keep an alarm clock in her room anymore, she just used her phone. She felt the same stab of dread she did every time she woke up in the middle of the night just before she touched it. It was actually a relief to worry about something normal, like how late in the middle of the night she’d woken up.
When the screen lit up, Teri shook her head and looked again. It couldn’t be right. It’d felt like she’d been trapped in the dream for hours, but she’d only been asleep sixty-eight minutes. Her thumbs hovered over her screen for a moment, and then she sent a text to Morgan.
Yeah, I’m not the only one.
Everyone. Aiden and Max.
Teri suppressed a moment’s irritation that Morgan was up texting Aiden. She shouldn’t let everything bother her, especially something like that.
What’s going on?
Max is on his way to the school.
When? Why? We need to stop him.
Luckily Morgan had plenty of experience reading her texts so she answered her pile of questions in the right order.
He just left. We all dreamed of the school. Aiden’s getting ready to sneak out and get us.
Teri threw off the covers. The cold was like a full body slap. At least it woke her the rest of the way up. As she searched around for some warm clothes, her phone buzzed across the bed.
Did you dream too? Morgan asked.
Yeah, about the school… and her.
Her phone didn’t go off until she got a text from Aiden to sneak out. By that time she was bundled up. It’d been bone-chilling by the time she’d gotten home, she couldn’t even guess how cold it would be now. She had on her heaviest, ugliest coat. She’d learned her lesson.
Every creak of the floorboards echoed through the second floor. Teri winced as she moved past her brother’s room. He was a deep sleeper, but her fear and the silence magnified the sound of her footsteps. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t woken him up.
The stairs were a slow motion torture device. They never seemed to make this much noise during the day. She couldn’t take it anymore. She leapt down the last couple steps, landing with a thud that actually was loud. She listened down the hall for any signs that her parents were stirring. Her phone buzzed in her pocket. She could see the front screen through her jeans. The denim couldn’t block out the light in the dark house.
She opened the door slowly, easing the handle. The cold made her want to yelp, but she ground her teeth together and she slipped out into the night towards Aiden’s car. The engine was running, but the lights were off. The only light she could see in the car was on Morgan’s face, from her phone as she sent Teri another test asking where she was.