I found myself in a quaint house, something like a shack. The curtains of a musty purple shade were draped to a side, the windows fogged with dust. The floor buried in a layer of dirt that stuck to the bottom of my sneakers.
I heard the voice of a girl. “Come here!” she said. I knew her name to be Samantha, although I had no idea how I knew whom she was.
“Where are we?” I asked, surveying the room full of covered furniture.
“I’ll lead the way.” She strode towards the rounded door and was out in less than a second. It was difficult to keep up with her.
On the tiled ground, I saw that the old house was in the shape of a huge mushroom. It was made of wood; it was dirty and had a large garden outside filled with a lot of white jars. But there was one jar different from the others, although I didn't know why I was drawn to it.
I spun around to face the brunette girl beside me. “Sam, how did we meet again?” I asked.
She smiled menacingly. “We haven’t yet. You’re still dreaming.”
And in that split second, I felt myself rise from the ground, gasping for air. I looked around me. I sluggishly pushed from the ground and saw that our pick-up truck had crashed into a huge rock. I ran towards the vehicle turned upside-down. There were no flames or smoke, like they showed in the movies. But Dad was nowhere to be found.
Almost as if it had lit up, I saw a strange path at the corner of my eye. It had vines and lead to an odd-looking house—just like the one in my dream. I found myself shuffling towards it.
A pair of cold hands grabbed me by my wrist. “Martin, you came back!” she exclaimed with the familiar smile on her heart-shaped face, that which I could only remember from my dreams.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa...," I stuttered, backing away from the strange girl. "You're not an alien by any chance, are you? Where did you come from? How’d you know my name? How—?”
“I’m human.” She giggled. “I’m Samantha Norris. I don't know if you can remember, but we were in each other's dreams last night. I don't know how it's possible, but if I had to guess, I'd say our brains have super powers.” She laughed.
It was no laughing matter at all. “Sam? Wait. How did I get in your dream?”
“What’s a Swinburne?” I asked.
She laughed again. “Swinburne isn't a 'what,' silly. She’s our friend! She lives in that house over there.” She pointed to the mushroom-shaped house. "She was in our dream, too, but I guess you can't remember." She rolled her eyes playfully.
“I don’t even know her!”
“I don’t, either!” She laughed—again.
“I don’t understand.”
“Come here,” she said and pulled me even closer to the house.
We sat on a huge stone near the river beside Swinburne’s mushroom hut.
“The other day when you’re dad crashed here in Linder Creek, Swinburne talked to me while I was dreaming.”
“What do you mean ‘the other day’?” I asked.
“Yeah, I forgot to mention you were out cold for a while there.” She giggled.
“What? Where’s my dad?”
“Oh, Mr. Charlie McCoy! So he’s your dad. I thought he was mine.” She laughed. “Kidding. Don’t worry he’s safe. He’s inside my hut.”
“Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“I didn’t want to change what was meant to happen,” she said.
“That was a five minute dream!” I retorted.
“—which lasted for three weeks? Yep. Sounds silly, right?”
“Not silly,” I said. "Strange, maybe."
“As I was saying, Swinburne talked to me while I was dreaming the other week," she explained. "She said it was important that we meet her today. Then I gave you a signal last night because she said it was time for you to wake up.”
“So where’s Swinburne?”
“Here,” an old lady interrupted. I shuddered at her long, crooked nose with warts on the end. She was an old hag. Looked like one of those witches you saw in those fairy tales. “It's so nice to meet you young ones.”
She looked scary. She had droopy eyes, a pointed nose, a mole, and her hair was so dry you could use it as a broom. She walked towards us. It was a long walk from her house to the river. I didn't even wonder how she heard our voices. Her feet were incessantly annoying. She kept stomping her feet.
When she had finally reached us, she turned to Sam and said, “Hello, darling.” She smiled, baring her missing teeth. “You're late.”
“It’s his fault.” She said, pointing her fat pointer at me.
I stood still. I was too nervous. Swinburne walked around me, as if to observe me. She made the hair on my skin stand. She looked like my dead Aunt Cecilia. And you would not like to meet her.
“Hello there, Martin,” she said. "Do you still remember me?"
“No.” I said nervously
“You don't? Would you like me to demonstrate what I did to your mother?” My eyes grew wide. And a shiver ran up my back at the realization. She was the witch! I knew it. She killed my mom.
“Why did you kill her?” I was angry. I wanted to kill her using my eight-year old hands.
“SHHHHH…” she said. She put a finger to my lips. Sam held my hand. I guess she got scared, too. Swinburne's voice was deep and it echoed even when it was just a whisper. “FOLLOW ME.” She held Sam’s hand and she held mine. She dragged us into her mushroom house. She went inside and left us standing on the front porch.
“Is she crazy?” I whispered. "Are you crazy? She killed my mom!"
“I don’t know, Martin. I’m scared. I want to go home,” she said.
“I want to go home, too.”
“Let’s make a run for it.”
“How?” I asked.
We peeked through her glass window. She was getting spices from a huge shelf. Her living room was filled with…hair? She had a cat like the ones you see in fairytales from Disney. It was fat and ugly and big.
“So, what do we do?” she asked
We took one last look. Her cat saw us and it roared, literally. Swinburne saw us looking and we ran towards her front gate. We ran through the giant jars, the same ones I'd seen in my dream. The door flew open and I saw Swinburne pull out a stick—a wand, maybe. She screamed a few muffled words. Her wand exploded with a string of lightning.
Sam and I ran and hid behind two big jars. She kept zapping at the jars, each one shattering into millions of pieces.
I dove behind an ancient jar and a peal of thunder sounded in the air. The ancient jar was incinerated into pieces releasing a wisp of some sort. There was smoke and light everywhere.
I ran towards Sam and held her hand. The smoke formed a sphere. It grew huge and the light covered it. The three of us stared at the giant sphere.
Swinburne looked at me. “Martin.” She pointed at me. “You shall be cursed. Your body shall sleep but your soul shall wander. Listen to those awake and visit people in their dreams. You will not be seen, but you will if that person should die.”
“What did I do to you?!” I shouted
“Nothing. If you love your mother, accept the consequences of being her son. You shall pay for her sin!”
The sphere grew even more immense and exploded with an earsplitting shriek, and left nothing but wind and dust. Swinburne was gone. She was nowhere to be found.
YOU ARE READING
Eight-year old Martin McCoy accidentally breaks an ancient jar in a witch’s hut and gets stuck with an eternal curse, forced to roam the dreams of other people in his sleep. He learns to live with it: a restless soul with the ability to listen to th...