Chapter Five

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Zoe didn't go to school the next day, and her father didn't bother going to work. Collectively they had managed maybe three hours of sleep before the dream had struck, and after that neither had been able to sleep a wink. Her father had told her to take a shower somewhere around seven-thirty, hoping that the warmth would help her to relax, and by the time she had stepped into the lounge room in a fresh pair of pyjamas with her hair still damp he had already stuck in the first Halloween movie and whipped up two hot chocolates.

She sunk onto the couch beside him gratefully.

The night's events weighed heavily over her. She didn't want to have to talk about it. She didn't want to look to the dining room table where two bowls of pasta were going to remain unfinished; she couldn't look to the front door that in a matter of time would open to reveal a gleaming black pistol. She kept her legs curled up on the couch—unable to stand the thought of her father's blood pooling on the hardwood floors beneath.

The house didn't feel safe anymore. The dreams had taken that from her, too.

Her father was quiet, patient, one arm wrapped securely around her again.

He must have been burning with questions. Here she had told him that he was going to die and then said no more, and he hadn't pushed the matter for even a moment. He'd simply been there for her, holding her through the night while she alternated between silent tears and violent shivers. But he had to be scared for himself, too.

That was all the encouragement that she needed.

She cleared her throat and forced the first words out. "There were three men..."

Her father squeezed her shoulder gently. I'm listening.

She took a deep breath. Then another.

"They came to the house," she went on, finally chancing a glance at the door where her nightmare had begun. At her request, her father had the deadbolt thrown and the chain lock in place. "It was pasta night. We were just sitting down to dinner. Then the doorbell rang, and when you went to answer it..." She took another second to breathe. She could still see the pistol when she closed her eyes. "It was one of them. One of the men. He had a gun."

Her father's voice was gentle as he asked, "Did you recognise him? Any of them?"

Zoe shook her head. Her father's rumpled shirt whispered against her ear. "No. But they knew you. The man with the gun... He knew your name. And he said they'd been looking for you a long time."

Her father frowned. "Did he say why?"

"He said you'd had something that they wanted. But that you didn't have it anymore. That..."

Her father looked down at her. "That...?"

Zoe hesitated. Then, reluctantly, she said, "That what he wanted now was for you to stand aside so that he could take...me."

Her father tensed beside her. "What?"

He straightened, pushing Zoe upright with him. She moved back, re-positioning herself so that she could meet his gaze squarely.

Michael Myers was now entirely forgotten in the background.

"They're coming for you." Her father ran a hand through his hair. "Zoe, what did they look like?"

She described them to him as best she could, throwing in every detail she could remember—the scar and the tattoo that the first man bore; the way the other had moved, silent as the grave. She had nothing for the third—she had never even seen the hands that had grabbed her, let alone the man's face. She wished she'd had the sense to turn and look. If she had only realised that she'd been in the midst of a dream...

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