#TrailofShadows

Prologue (Still a draft)

THAT’S IT! I am different. Normal people don’t have the kind of dreams I have. These… dreams are more like reality; the things I touch, the smell in the air, and even the taste in my mouth. I’ve been having them since my sixteenth birthday two weeks ago, and they’ve only been getting weirder and weirder. Like the one I’m having now.

I’m standing in the pitch black woods, shivering like I’ve been caught in a winter storm. I look down at myself. I’m still wearing my pajamas. Putting them on is the last thing I remember before going to sleep. But I have no clue whatsoever as to how I got out here, and more importantly, why there’s a body lying motionless at my bare feet. 

Startled, I lurch back. The dim moonlight shines down on us and I realize it’s a boy. There’s dark red blood splattered across his chest—which has been mauled to the point where I see flesh and bones. His eyes are wide open, petrified black circles looking up at me.

I want to scream, only my voice is stuck somewhere south in my throat. I try to move, to run, but my legs seem to be frozen to the ground.

Feeling something wet on my hands that I hadn’t noticed before, I raise my trembling fingers to my face. They’re covered in blood. I look at myself again and check if I’m bleeding anywhere, but no. There are no cuts on me and I don’t feel any pain. So it must be his blood.

A cold sensation blooms in my stomach, telling me that I might’ve done this.

“No…” A childlike whimper finally escapes my lips and tears stream down my face. I fall to the ground. Accidentally brushing his leg, I drop back on my elbows.

Steadying my racing heart, I begin to search his face. He seems only a few years older than me, possibly around eighteen or nineteen. I can’t place him, though. I don’t recall seeing him in Lancaster before.

I sit up and continue to stare at the body, waiting for my legs to regain strength so I can run and get help. It couldn’t have been me. I don’t have a single cruel bone in my body to hurt anyone. And even if I did it, how come I don’t remember, and why would I kill this stranger? Did he attack me and in self-defense I killed him?

“Hey.” A gentle voice echoes from amongst the trees. I shuffle around and comb the creepy forest with my eyes, while my fingers cling to the moist grass in fear, wiping his blood from my hands.

“Who’s there?” I call out, my voice rasp and shaky. “Who’s there?” I say again.

The dreadful silence makes me bring my knees up to my chest. I can’t see a thing. All I hear are crickets and the loud beating of my heart—hammering with terror and anticipation.

I close my eyes and sob, waiting for the real killer to get me next. I wince when strong hands grip my shoulders from behind.

“Please don’t kill me! Please!” I scream, discerning that begging is all I can do at this point.

Trying to break free, I shake my whole body. Then suddenly, whoever it is relaxes their hold on me.

“Relax,” she whispers. “I won’t hurt you… yet.” Her voice is mellow, with a musical ring to it. “Look at me,” she orders.

I keep my eyes closed, not turning around right away, still paralyzed with fear.

Moving her hands away from my shoulders, she repeats in a harsher tone, “Look at me!”

Quickly I open my eyes, turn my head and gaze up at her as she straightens. My jaw drops, seeing the doll-like girl. Her crystal blue eyes are ghostly, piercing mine. Her long wavy blonde hair is disheveled and sprayed in blood. And she’s naked, with only her hair covering her chest. My stomach churns as a drop of blood falls from the corner of her mouth.

Who is she? Where did she come from? What’s going on?

I really want to wake up now.

She realizes my disgust. Her eyes expand and she shrieks, “Don’t look at me like that!”

I spin around fast, afraid. “Wha-what’s going on?” I manage to ask.

She bends down and squeezes my shoulder once more. I shudder at her touch.

“Look, he had it coming. These things happen all the time in our world, Whitney.”

My body stiffens, hearing my name. I twist and ask in a whisper, “How do you know my name?”

She laughs. My confusion amuses her. “You’ll find out soon enough. But for now, just close your eyes, and listen.”

Her response angers me. I know I should be afraid, yet a calm feeling spreads over me. “You killed him,” I boldly state. “You did this.”

She moves closer to my back. I grimace as her cold lips brush against my ear, whispering, “Shhh, just listen to the music, Whitney.”

The girl begins stroking my hair, at the same time a soft melody starts to play. It ricochets through the trees and all around us. I’m engrossed in some kind of a spell now, and I do what she asks, pressing my eyes shut to take it all in.

As the humming intensifies, I become dizzy and start to relax. My eyes feel heavy. The night, the strange girl, and the guy’s bloody body are trying to disappear from my mind. I only want to sleep. When I open my eyes again, this will all be over.

I fall deeper and deeper into a numbing state, as her voice sways and keeps on repeating, “It’s only a dream, Whitney. It’s only a dream.”

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