sixteen: The Palis Dream

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Sleep overtook Nadine by the time the grandfather clock downstairs finished its second chime in the two o'clock hour.

The fact that she couldn't move to find a more comfortable position or risk twisting Jim into a knot was almost maddening. The more she told herself that she had to lie still, the more she wanted to move around.

Jim, on the other hand, didn't seem to have a problem going to sleep. He was probably used to unsavory conditions being in cramped ship bunks.

Nadine was left to stare up at the ceiling, listening to his breaths rise and fall.

It felt as though she'd just drifted off when a cool wind made the hairs on her arms stand up.

In her dreams, she could only imagine the idea of being cold. She couldn't see but rather felt the darkness creeping over her like a sheet drifting down over her body in a slow descent.

She began to stir.

Fear made her chest tighten as her senses woke up.

She could feel...it. Something. Someone.

There was a distinct emptiness filling her mind, a sensation she'd never felt before.

She opened her eyes.

Her mouth opened to form a silent scream, but her body, her actions, were frozen.

Staring back at her, only inches away from her nose, was the face of something grotesque. Otherworldly.

Papery chalk-white skin hanging off of the skull of a...thing. Not quite human, not quite animal, with cheekbones that protruded and a nose that looked like it had been burnt off.

Bloodshot red eyes drilled into Nadine's frozen form. She began to shake uncontrollably.

She wanted to scream, to call for Jim. She only had to wiggle her foot to wake him. But she couldn't move.

Black tendrils made up the creature's body, snaking around the room and traveling up Nadine's arm.

Her chest heaved with panic, but the spirit did nothing.

It just hovered over her like a terrifying cloud.

She swallowed, looking into its crimson gaze.

The air began to smell like wet soil after the first rain of the season. Like dead leaves crunched into dirt.

As much as she tried to fight it, Nadine's eyes began to close.


~~~~~


Nadine woke up with a sharp inhale.

Her limbs tingled as she sat up.

The world around her was bleak and dark.

She felt wetness seeping through her clothes and looked down to see that she was sitting in a thin pool of liquid that stretched out as far as the eye could see.

Red stained her clothes and Nadine lifted her fingers to her nose and inhaled.

The acrid scent of metal made her scream.

It was blood.

She shot to her feet and spun in a desperate circle.

Her chest gasped for air, but she couldn't get enough. She started running.

Her footsteps sprayed blood all over her clothes and made her want to vomit, so she stopped, not having gotten anywhere at all.

The worst part of all was the quiet.

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