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Chapter 00: A Dream Within A Dream

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There was the crashing of waves against stone—a violent sound that made the young man's blood run colder than the wind howling all around him.

It echoed in his ears long after it was gone, bringing forth visions of the sea so vivid he could taste the saltwater of the ocean. A harsh wind blew through tangles of dark hair as the young man stood on the edge of the pier, gazing out at the sea. Hazel eyes widened in an expression of panic and the sound of his heart beating pounded against his ears, like drums.

He stumbled back, afraid of the frigid waters lapping at the wood of the pier. The splashing grew louder and louder even as he moved back, trying to put some distance between himself and the sea. And then, he fell, and the pain was just barely there, drowned out by the steel-gray clouds above.

All of a sudden, it was all gone.

Warm sunlight poured down from blue skies. The harsh sound of water on stone was replaced by the soft whisper of a breeze sweeping through blades of grass. There was a soft sigh from somewhere behind him, and Elliot sat up and turned.

He was met with the sight of a young man staring back at him with a look of frustration. He was tall and thin, with tanned skin and light brown hair that shifted in the gentle wind. His eyes, gray-blue in color, were sharp and clever and sparkled with life—and they were soft when they looked at Elliot. Always just when they looked at him and it made his heart ache.

His name was Allan.

"Bad dream?" Allan asked, not moving from where he stood in the wide, grassy field. Elliot stared for a moment before standing. He nodded as he shook grass from his clothing. In response, Allan just looked up at the sky and sighed. Elliot thought he sounded tired.

"I like this place," Elliot said after a moment, not having anything else to comment on. "It's peaceful."

There was just the two of them and, in the distance, a farmhouse. There was the rustling of leaves as the trees scattered around the place swayed with the wind. More importantly, there was Allan, and his presence alone was comforting.

"Elliot," Allan called. Hesitantly—because he knew what was next—Elliot turned his gaze towards the man. For a second, Allan looked sorry. "You need to wake up."

He was gone a moment later, along with the field and the sunny day.

Elliot could hear the rain beating weakly against his window even before he opened his eyes. The room was dark and the day outside was gray. A deep loneliness seeped into his very bones as his eyes stared at the empty ceiling above him. The reality of life rushed back into his mind.

He was in his apartment—alone—and the clock at his side told him it was late. City sounds washed up past the rain; cars and buses and the wailing of a patrol car fading in the distance. The space at his side was empty and cold and he remembered.

Allan was a dream that Elliot wished he didn't have to wake up from.



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