Justin Rutherford: Do Dreams Bleed?

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It took Justin four hours to get to sleep that night. After seeing the dozens of ghosts in his back garden, all clambering to get him, to hurt him, he never stopped shaking. He replayed the scene over and over again in his mind. He knew he shouldn't as it was preventing him from sleeping, but he couldn't help it. And then he kept replaying the terrifying experience in the tunnels. Hunter's face haunted him. It had felt like days, not hours, since the whole incident occurred. So much had happened since.

After non-stop thinking about everything that took place in the space of a few hours, Justin finally drifted into a slumber. He would take comfort in his dreams, where he'd be safe and everything would be back to normal. He could count on his dreams because they could be whatever he most desired. He wanted to live in his dreams, far away from the cold reality of real life. In his dreams he was happy. In his dreams, he was with Hunter.

'Hunter, where are we going?' a dreamed-up Justin asked an alive-and-well Hunter. Hunter held onto Justin's hand as he led him down an empty street. The day was dark in this dream and it seemed the only two people in the entire world were Justin and Hunter. The feel of his boyfriend's strong hand guiding him was a welcome memory. He almost forgot how rough Hunter's hands were. They made him feel safe.

'Do you trust me?' Hunter asked, looking back at Justin with his heart-melting smile. Justin couldn't help but smile back.

'Of course I do,' he replied, his eyes never leaving Hunter's face for a second.

The shadows in the street kept swallowing them. Pockets of light sporadically illuminated their path every now and then. For a split second, Justin could see Hunter's face suddenly change into that of the bleach-skinned assistant manager of the Pandora Café, Roberto. Justin exhaled in shock and snatched his hand away from him. He stopped as Hunter stepped out of the shadows again, this time his face was his own.

'Something wrong?' Hunter asked as he grabbed Justin's hand again to reassure him. Justin nodded without speaking, unsure of what was happening. All of a sudden, he was feeling a sharp chill, his heart wasn't beating anymore, and it all felt increasingly like a nightmare. Where is everyone? Why is it dark? Why is Roberto in my dream?

Hunter continued to lead Justin to his secret destination. 'Don't worry; it's just around the corner.'

'You sure we should be doing this? We could just go home...' Justin's voice was shaky and breaking, and Hunter noticed his reluctance.

'You said you trusted me,' Hunter said as his voice grew deep and angry. A shocked Justin could feel the anger radiating from him. Out of nowhere, Hunter's anger exploded. 'Are you just going to go home and leave me like you did in that tunnel? Are you going to let me to die by some monster, torn apart because I did the stupid thing in protecting you? I made a mistake Justin. You should have died, not me!'

'You're not dead,' Justin's voice broke as his eyes gave in to the tears. 'You're still alive; I'm going to save you!'

'You're not strong enough Justin; you're weak, too scared, and you will never amount to anything. I could have been something. I was something,' Hunter spat. Justin didn't reply as he looked to the floor and whimpered, allowing the tears to drip down his face. He didn't know what to say. He could hear Hunter's footsteps and he looked up, but Hunter was gone.

'No, wait, Hunter!' Justin yelled into the empty street, seeing no trace of him anywhere. He sprinted in the direction Hunter was leading him.

He had never been in this part of Lakefield View before; his parents always steered clear of this area. How could he picture the entire place so vividly in his dream when he never visited it in real life? He turned the corner and caught up with Hunter. He was standing in front of an abandoned nursery.

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