Chapter 32

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Alex woke just before the sound of his alarm filled the room. The memories of his blackout, clear and vivid as a bright blue sky just the night before, had started to fade, if only slightly. He still remembered all too much of the nightmarish visions, from being attacked in the woods to a girl’s death, a girl identical to Nadia. Though the exact details felt more like a late night movie he had only been half awake for, enough of it stuck in Alex’s memory to send shivers down his spine. The question he had now was what to make of the parts he did remember.

Jumping out of bed, he felt physically better than he had in months. Whatever it was that happened during the blackouts to heal his cuts and bruises seemed to be working overtime now. He felt lighter on his feet, more energetic, and when he looked in the mirror he got another seemingly impossible yet pleasant surprise. He looked thicker, more muscular. He certainly didn’t look like a bodybuilder, but he didn’t look like some 120lb weakling either. Curious, Alex stepped over to his dresser and grabbed hold of the top with one hand. He was able to lift one side off the ground easily, in fact it felt much lighter than he remembered it feeling the day he had to push all his furniture back into place following one of his earlier attacks.

Putting the dresser back down, Alex hopped into the shower, his mind buzzing. Something was obviously happening to him, something was changing him. But what? First all of his blackouts started off as headaches, making him worry that he had some sort of tumor or a late reaction to the car wreck he was in as a child. Now he didn’t think that was the case. His recent scans at the hospital had shown nothing unusual, so the likelihood that it was something physical was almost zero.

Was he going insane? Maybe some sort of mental break down? Possibly, but once again he didn’t see that as likely. Even though he didn’t remember all of them, he knew he had dreams or visions every time he blacked out. He remembered enough from his last episode to scare away sleep for the next ten years or more if he thought about them too much before bed. The problem was they felt too much like memories, too real to be something his brain cooked up on its own. And finally, if it was just a mental break down then why did every blackout seem to co-inside with some sort of injury? An injury that always healed itself by the time he woke up.

Alex stepped out of the shower, his mind had gone from buzzing to spinning. It was all too much to think about at once, too many questions that he really had no answers to. Trying to clear his mind of the seemingly never ending onslaught of questions and thoughts running through his mind, Alex dried off and started getting dressed for the day. Maybe he was looking at this all wrong, overthinking things too much. Maybe it was a bit more straight forward than he thought. Maybe his mind, or something else he couldn’t even start to guess at, was trying to make him see something he had forgotten, something he needed to know. Besides, the changes seemed to be helping him anyways.

Alex’s mind ran through the remaining images from his visions as he dressed. The forest, the boy, the hounds, the… Halfway through putting his shirt on Alex stopped, Nadia! So far that morning Alex had managed to not think about the worst part of his vision, the one part that remained perfectly clear and the one part he desperately would like to forget. Somehow she had to be part of it. The history he found relating to her family, Ethan’s strange behavior both towards Nadia as her boyfriend, and how he seemed hell bent on keeping her away from not only himself but all her other friends as well. Hell, Wes and Dillon even attacked him just for paying too much attention to Ethan in the lunchroom.

Suddenly another thought hit him; was Ethan getting ready to do something horrible? As much as Alex didn’t like Ethan, it would be hard for him to imagine something like that happening except for one thing, the picture he had found in the library. It was strange that someone could look so much like Ethan so long ago; stranger still that he had been at the funeral of one of Nadia’s ancestors. And in the lunchroom yesterday, Ethan dropping hand warmers in the trash when it was so warm out already…

A sick feeling crept into Alex’s stomach; he must be going insane. He was getting ideas that couldn’t possibly be true. Insane or not though, Alex knew what he needed to do next. He had to look at those old yearbooks, but most of all he had to find somebody who knew more about the town’s hidden history than newspapers and yearbooks had to offer. Ludolf was right about one thing; this town’s past was turning out to have more going for it than he had thought.

Feeling somewhat hopeful now that he had a sense of what he wanted to do Alex threw on the rest of his clothes and ran out the door, stopping just long enough to grab his backpack and wave a quick goodbye to Mark; who looked like he was in the middle of a battle with the fry pan anyways, cursing as he burned his hand and dropped the smoking remains of eggs into the wastebasket.

He was going to get to the bottom of whatever was going on, and he was going to learn the truth about Ethan one way or another, Wes and Dillon be damned. Alex smiled to himself at the thought of them trying to beat him up again, the way he was feeling today, he was really hoping they’d try.

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