She breathed deeply as she looked at the still body of Shakes. He was sleeping, causing havoc in someone's dreams. But she didn't feel like sleeping right now. Though Shakes seemed to enjoy these dreams... she didn't as much. They creeped her out almost as much as the dreams she used to have of the hooded man.
It wasn't just that they creeped her out, but she feels so mean in them. Sometimes, she'd crash into a person while driving in a car. It wasn't even like it was an accident- in the dreams she wanted to cause pain to her victims. Other times she would... oh, some of the things she did in her dreams were so disgusting, so inappropriate there is no way she'd want to consiously think about it. In fact, some things that she dreamed about were suppressed into her unconsious. It has been that bad.
She leaned back and sighed. At times, living in this world of black nothingness can be boring. She scowled. Who was she kidding? It's always boring here, she's absolutely miserable. What kind of life is she even living? Though, there really wasn't much of an alternative.
Sure she could decide to lose all hope so she could disappear then sink into the ground. But... then what? She couldn't do that because, however crazy, maybe where she would end up would be worse than where she is currently. Now she just lives in the absense of practically everything. The place below her feet could be full of somethings that were so unpleasant that she would actually wish for the nothing that she currently has if she were there. It really wasn't that bad.
She held onto her head since her logic was so weak that even the smallest groove might cause it to shatter. A tear fell from her eyes. Staying strong was getting harder and harder by each passing day. Not that she could tell how much time has passed. It was almost like she was in a coma, or dreaming the whole time... at least thinking so was one of the few things that have been keeping her sane.
Then, she heard the slightest sound coming from Shakes. His breathing had changed ever so slightly. When you're in complete issolation, you begin to have heightened senses.
"Good time," she said to him. Since there wasn't morning or night in the black void that they lived in, everyone just says that instead of 'good morning' or 'good night'. It helped them ignore the fact that there really wasn't any time at all, for all practicle purposes.
"Good time", he echoed back. His voice sounded conflicted, or was it confused?
"What's up, Shakes?"
He raised an eyebrow at her, but didn't say anything for a moment. "Well, I think I may have an... inkling about what happened to the others."
She reciprocated his eyebrow gesture. "What do you mean?" Then, her eyes widened with a hope that she hasn't had in a long time.
"I don't know." He shook his head back and forth. "You'll think I'm crazy."
In response, she looked around at the dark emptiness. "What could be more crazy then this?"
He shrugged in agreement with her, but still looked unconvinced.
"Just spit it out!" She was too excited to let him ponder the seemingly impossible explanation he had.
"Well," he began, "there was this guy I saw in the dream I was in. I don't even want to discuss what I had been doing... Well, a man saw me doing the terrible things I was up to, and he screamed at me, 'Tell her I'm sorry!'" He paused for a few moments.
She looked at him, not quite getting the significance. "So..."
"Right, yes. I was getting to it... I'm sorry... The man came up to me, while I was in the middle of whatever hate thing I was up to. I don't even remember what it was. Anyway, he said that if I talked to you about it that you would know him. I don't know. It's crazy, but he said that he's Soter."
She nodded at him, unbelieving. He was talking about the poodle woman before who had disappeared. Her nickname was Soter, because it means savior in greek. She had given everyone hope under the dire circumstances. She was like the grandmother, consoling them all, even though she wasn't that much older than the rest of them. At least, accoriding to Shakes, since they only met briefly. And, of course, she was also called that because she was the first one of them in the place of blackness.
"Why would you believe that? It was just a dream."
"But that's just it," he began. "It isn't just a dream. We go into another's dream. Do you think that the subconsious of the person in the dream that we're in would know of Soter? No. Somehow, the dream was speaking to me. Or-"
"Or what?" She breathed in deeply.
"Maybe we haven't been dreaming at all. It's quite crazy that we dream other people's dreams... But I was so sure that was the only explanation... that's what Soter said... They feel like dreams, I know, since we have no control and they're rather fuzzy..."
That's when she understood it. Somehow, someway, they may not actually be where they all think they are- that of course just being the two of them, since everyone else had disappeared. Or so it seemed before... She felt her stomach rise with the most hope she has gotten in a long time. So long that... oh, heck. Time doesn't even count in here...
She wavered these thoughts of the lack of time from her mind. There is hope. Real, actual hope!
But... then where were they? How could he - them all - end up somewhere else other than a dream?
She glanced back at him. He was looking at her, but patiently. She has found herself thinking more ever since she's gotten there- and he thinks a lot as well.
"You know what I'm going to say, right?" She sighed deeply. She had an inkling....
"Yes, I think I do."
"Well, we'll have to start now I suppose. Better now than ever. Just don't fall asleep!"
Her heart started to beat- a delayed reaction. He meant that they must, somehow, find a way to seep down into the black to leave this place. There was nothing else they could do. There was no where to go and nothing else to do. They don't need to eat here, or anything. They don't even need to sleep.
They only do that because it's what they're used to. It's strange not sleeping when you've been sleeping all your life. Plus, of course, it was discovered that super fun things happen in those dreams.
Well, at least in the dreams they do things. And though they're insane maniacs under dire circumstances in them- at least they aren't utterly hopeless and depressed in them.
"But.. what about the fact that we're not hopeless like the rest of them?"
He shrugged. "Well, we don't have much of a choice, do we? And besides. Soter left, and she wasn't hopeless."
She nodded. So, this could work! It would only take forever... Or maybe not, because it took no time for Soter. "Alright," she said. "Let's do it!" Her heart started pumping, as if the decision would cause her to instantly disappear to where ever they would go.
They both sat down, trying to act as hopeless as possible so that they would disappear.
Many hours, or was it days later- they couldn't tell- she looked at him, the first gesture that she's done in a long time.
"When is this going to happen?" He wasn't willing to budge his long time concentration, so he didn't react to her at all. Not even a twitch of the mouth. When he didn't answer, she screamed with all her might, "Tell me!" Before, when she talked to him, she was somehow able to ignore the
calamitous circumstances. But somehow, living in her own mind, has caused that to be rather difficult for her.
She was no longer so sure this was going to be easy... She continued, "We don't even know how long this is going to take. It could take fucking years!" Her voice cracked, and there was no echo. Her voice carried out into the black unknown. Clearly, he was committed to his feat of disappearing.
Slowly, she tried to feel for a wall behind her. When she had first come here, she had felt a smooth wall- but apparently there was no wall. She's never felt a wall since.
When she reached her hand out in vain to feel for a wall, her hand shook. And when no wall was there, she screamed while thinking, please, please, someone help me! I don't deserve this...
Then, her stomach lifted, bringing about an odd sensation like she was happy, joyous. A feeling she hadn't felt in God only knows how long.
She looked up at the bright blue sky and sighed while looking at the birds soaring through the air. They were tweeting and flying into a tree.
Then, she felt a soft, slightly wet sensation on her hands. She glanced at her hands. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! She was no longer in the black world. She wriggled her fingers around, laughing- yes laughing in delight of the feel on her hands. She stood up, letting the sun touch her face and warm her up. She squealed in complete and utter happiness. She was back home- no longer in that crazy black place!
She had officially lost hope, and now she was back!
But where was Shakes... Her breath caught in her throat, suddenly scared. She was all alone now. Looking about the area she was in, she tried to see if she could figure out where she was. She scowled, and the new-found lift in her stomach was sucked away with the strength of a black hole.
There were no landmarks around, not that she could see anyway.
She let herself stop thinking about him altogether so that she could instead focus on what was more important: finding her way home.
She found herself near a convenience store a few minutes later. She went up to the counter to ask where she was. She felt silly doing it, but what else could she do?
"Hi, sir." She looked at the cashier. He was a muscular man, though fat, with shaggy brown hair all over him. His eyes were large yet slightly mean looking. She was able to hold her own rather well, despite his unfriendly demeanor, "I would just like to know where I am. I was driving around and I lost track of where I was..." She blushed, turning crimson.
He leaned back faintly with blank eyes. At least he didn't want to laugh at her. "You're on Hazel Street, five miles west of I89."
She managed a grin. "Thanks," I sort of know where I am now, she added mentally.
Leaving the store with purpose, head held high, she sighed- but this time with minor pleasure. She was only about a half hour from home.
But then, her heart fell again. How would she get home, even if she knew the way? She didn't have her purse, and obviously her car wouldn't be around.
She moved her hands to rub her face. Except, there was something in her hands. She raised her arms high in the air (not minding who noticed this strange gesture), and right in her hands was her purse. She giggled to herself, though it wasn't maniacle at all. She had it with her the whole time! Now, that was expediant.
A smile formed on her face. She was in the city, so she was able to wave down a taxi. In no time, a taxi stopped for her and she hopped right in, happy as a kid in a toy store. Things were finally going well for her! She looked at the roof of the car. Oh, happy day, there's a roof, she thought, and buildings, lights, and people! If she just had some chocolate right then, she could have been the happiest, most grateful person just then.
In about an hour, she arrived at her condominium complex. Quickly, she started to pass through the lobby, but someone's voice was calling for her. And it was familiar.
"Libs, it's me." The voice beckoned her.
She whipped her body around and stared in awe. It was her husband.
Her voice wavered, "Oh my gosh- David!" She rushed to him, bringing him in for a hug. "David-I-"
"Don't speak," he said. Let's get into our house first." She nodded vigorously.
He used his key and opened up the door. Her breath got caught in her throat when she went inside. It was... too much. She saw her old red armchair, fish drapes... and the picture of her mother. Oh God, her mother. What had she been thinking this whole time? She must have been panicing... poor woman...
She wasn't able to think about her mother for long, though. Her thoughts instead shifted to the strange things that had happened to her who knows how long ago. The doors slamming. Disapearing pens. And then of course the scratching... Though they all seemed so simple, since they led her to her half-death...
"Come, you should sit." Her husband brought her out of her woes and put his arm around her. Ah, that's comforting... she thought.
Slowly, he motioned her to the sofa, and he sat beside her. "Now-" he began. She didn't let him continue. She leaned in to kiss him, hungry for lip to lip contact. It had been so long... He didn't satisfy her need, however. Instead, he put his finger to her lips. "There's no time for that."
She looked at him utterly hurt, though he didn't seem to think it was a big deal. Maybe he really did mean to leave me, and felt so bad when he found out about my disappearance that he came back to give his last good byes. A grimace formed on her face of the horrible thought. He must not love her anymore, ever since she started acting insane. She didn't think that he noticed what was happening, but obviously he must have.
"I'm so glad you're feeling okay." She glowered at him. That's all he had to say? And besides. News flash- she wasn't. She came back from who the hell knows where! She didn't want to think of it anymore.
That didn't stop her from thinking of Shakes, however. He was really nice to keep company with... and he was really good at telling stories to pass the time away. They had become so close when there was nothing... and now, he probably would never see her again. Sure he would lose hope and come back eventually, but why would he come to see her? She was nothing to him, just the last person there was to keep company with. Literally.
"Look at me," her husband said, knocking her out of her trance. He wasn't used to her being like this- being so lost in thought. It's like her whole personality had changed.
"It's going to be okay. You're here now. How about I make us some lunch." That was just like him. Make something significant out of nothing. He was her husband, and he was back. She smiled faintly, glad for the familiar.
She sat on the couch just thinking while he made grilled cheese for them. But this time, she wouldn't let her thoughts turn sour. Life will now be getting back to normal. She was thankful for that. Nothing weird had happened to her after... the event occurred (she refused to think about the 'black world' incident). All she had to do was call her boss and explain that... Explain to her that... oh well, she would think of something later. She was too busy being happy for that right now.
"Sandwiches are almost ready!" He proclaimed.
"Yay!" She screamed, giddy as a school girl. "I'm going to wash my hands."
She walked into the bathroom, turned on the sink and scrubbed her hands. When she looked at herself in the mirror, she screamed. She wasn't herself exactly... She looked like someone else.
Obviously, there's going to be a part five more, at least :).