Dream Caster_Shadow, p.10Adrienne Woods
The scene playing out on the screen was one I remembered well. Dark sand came out of my hands, but it never surrounded me. I was in Selene’s room, confronting Fox.
Fox spoke, but I couldn’t make out a word she was saying. I didn’t need to. I remembered everything.
My eyes shifted over to Margot, who squirmed as if her dream was turning into a nightmare.
Back on the screen, my dark sand wasn’t as dark as it had been that night, but somehow the screen showed it pushing Fox way to the back. Wait, that’s not right. She smashed against the wall and fell down, hitting her head against the edge of the table as she collapsed to the floor. She lay unmoving, not breathing.
None of that had happened in real life.
What is this?
Suddenly, the dream changed.
I saw Mr. Grey, and I followed him. We were somewhere on school property. “Mr. Grey, wait!” I called after him, but the cat just ran.
“Keep up, Chas,” he spoke softly in my mind.
I ran after him but just barely glimpsed his tail vanishing behind a bush. I could hear the rumble of a waterfall as I ran after Mr. Grey.
“Keep up, Chas,” Mr. Grey ordered.
I ran harder, faster. Finally, I saw the pond.
Vapor rose off the water. The air was cold and eerie. Something was wrong here.
I took a step forward—but stopped dead in my tracks as my eyes fell on the back of a shoe lying behind a shrub close to the pond.
A shiver ran down my spine and I screamed.
My eyes sprang open and I sat up with a jolt.
My heart raced, drumming a rapid beat against my chest.
My hands trembled. Tremors vibrated through my body. I inhaled and exhaled deeply, trying to center myself so I didn’t freak out and collapse in a panic attack.
Mr. Grey. I needed my cat. I need confirmation. I needed to know if the dead body the dream had showed me was real.
I grimaced as the image played out in my head.
The eyes had been burned out of their sockets.
Black sand covered the body and parts of it had been burned. But I knew who it was.
It was Max.
BETRAYAL OF THE WORST KIND
My mind replayed the strange dreams. Margot had been out cold back when I had confronted Fox. She hadn’t witnessed the dark sand flowing from my hands. She knew of my sand, but she hadn’t seen it.
What if that scene in my dream had actually happened? What if someone, something, was showing me real events? Was Margot being kept somewhere, tested?
Shit, was Max really dead? Was Margot in danger too?
I rubbed my face, pressing my fingers tightly against my eyes. If these dreams were true, then that story they’d fed me about Max and Margot having been sent to the Outer on some errand was a bunch of bullshit to cover what was really going on.
Ugh, but what was really going on?
I was so busy trying to decipher the strange turn of events, I didn’t hear Selene enter my cell. The sound of purring finally made me look up, and for a minute I became hopeful.
But my hopes were dashed when I saw Selene sitting on a chair with Mr. Grey curled up on her lap, purring loudly.
“Mr. Grey,” I cried.
He didn’t look at me, and his voice didn’t echo in my mind like I was so used to it doing.
“Cats can be such disloyal creatures, don’t you think, Chastity?”
“No.” I studied the cat, looking for all the markings that would identify him as Mr. Grey. His tail had a charcoal tip, like he’d dipped it in paint. His eyes were ringed with the circles that had made me dub him Shades in the first place.
It was my cat.
“Mr. Grey, please,” I begged. You said you didn’t care what I was! You said you’d follow me to the Oblivion if you had to. Why are you doing this? You hate her! What has she done to you?
The thoughts kept coming, but he never responded.
My heart shattered. Selene’s laughter resonated through the room.
“All it took was a tin of tuna and some warm cream.”
I turned around. I didn’t want her to see my tears. I didn’t want to look at Mr. Grey anymore either.
“What did he tell you, Chastity?”
“Fuck you,” I spat out, contempt filling my voice.
“I doubt he said that.”
“Ask him yourself if you don’t believe me. Oh, wait. I forgot. You’re not that type of Somnium.”
“What do you know about Somniums? You know nothing!” She stormed out, her sharp heels clicking on the floor.
The door shut, but it didn’t close all the way.
Voices drifted through the crack of the door. She was yelling about how furious I made her, telling Demi to dig deeper, that she needed evidence of dark sand, and if he wouldn’t deliver she’d plant it on me herself.
“What is it about this girl that makes infuriates you so much?” Demi asked. “I’m starting to think she isn’t a Shadow Caster after all.”
“Don’t you dare say that! She’s worse than a Shadow Caster.” Her voice dripped with malice. Her heels clicked on the floor as she left, which meant it was time for Demi to do his job again.
I woke up to a wooden sound in my in head, like someone was hammering on the inside of my skull. I wouldn’t be surprised if that would be the next form of torture.
Not after Demi had almost killed me with his sick methods: rats.
I could still feel them clawing into me, gnawing at my skin. I could still hear Selene yelling in the background for me to show her my sand. And I could still feel the bright, shimmering gray sand flowing out of my palms.
She hated every moment of it. The torture didn’t stop.
It wasn’t the color she wanted to see.
Why didn’t my color change? I felt dark. I felt alone. I felt hatred. According to my mother, my dark sand would make an appearance when my dark emotions overpowered me, yet my sand still stayed gold.
Had my mother been right? Did I own both light and dark sand?
Thwack, thwack, thwack, repeated the wooden noise in my head. As my mind cleared a bit more, I realized it was coming from outside.
“Chastity,” a female voice said. “Can you hear me?”
“Spike?” I wanted to say more, but my skull felt as if it was about to split in two.
I could hardly lift my head.
It had to be my imagination. A fever. It was the only explanation. Spike couldn’t possibly be here.
It wasn’t the first time a fever had caused me to hear voices. My fevers would come and go, and it was usually then that I would hear my mother’s voice speaking to me. Guiding me to fight.
Another voice spoke to her in a soft baritone. Male. Reeves?
What were they trying to do, break me out?
The thought alone rebooted my system. I pushed myself up off the floor. I was feverish, and heavily drowsy, but the possibility of escaping this hellhole Selene had put me in pushed that aside.
Why did Selene hate Shadow Casters so much?
Did Magdalena have something to do with Selene’s hatred? Something must have happened to cause Selene to feel this deep loathing. Something between the three of them before Darius died.
“I’m here,” I said hoarsely, hoping I was really hearing human voices and that it wasn’t an illusion.
Merely speaking those words drained the last of my energy and I collapsed with a thud.
I hated this cell, hated the steel bars that kept me from freedom.
In despair, I thought about what Selene had said about Mr. Grey. He wouldn’t have forsaken me. He was my Anitule. We shared a rare bond. And still, he’d ignored me.
I felt alone, betrayed by the one true friend I thought I had.
I was certain Selene was hiding something. It was the only thing that made sense. Perhaps that was the missing piece of my memory Leigh wanted me to remember.
Leigh… My heart ached just thinking
He wasn’t real. He’d never been real. Perhaps he had been once, a very long time ago, but now he was just a figment of Selene’s imagination, and she’d chosen Revera and immortality over him.
The thwacking sound of shattering wood forced me to open my eyes a fraction.
I had to stay awake. I was scared that if I dozed off again, I would wake up to another round of torture.
You can always choose. Those words used to float in my mind in Leigh’s voice, but now the voice belonged to St. Phillipus.
“She’s burning up,” Spike said. “I don’t think she’s strong enough to make the climb. We’ll have to strap her onto you.”
“Are you insane?” Reeves sounded as if this was the worst idea he’d ever heard. “If Selene catches us, you know we won’t just be thrown in the dungeons. This would be considered the worst kind of treason.”
“We have orders,” Spike said. “She needs to get out alive.”
“You would die for her?”
“It’s not just St. Phillipus anymore, Reeves. It’s Eric too. We should’ve picked up on the signs a long fucking time ago.”
Signs? What signs? And who the hell is Eric?
“You know Hoarse will never forgive you for this.”
“Chas isn’t Delphine. It’s not the same, Reeves.”
“How do you know apart from what St. Phillipus and Eric are saying?” He sounded obstinate. “You trust him that much?”
“I owe my life to Eric. And use your head, Reeves. If she was dark, she would’ve been dead by now.”
Silence. I wished I could open my eyes, tell them I was awake, ask them why St. Phillipus and this Eric guy wanted them to sacrifice their lives to get me out of here.
Their voices kept fading out, only to come back again a few decibels louder.
Someone picked me up like a sack of apples; I was too weak to cry out. I was carried for a while and the jostling only weakened me. At length I was dropped down onto something soft like a pillow or the backseat of an expensive car with leather seats.
I felt a drone like sandpaper on my bones. It drilled into me, causing my entire body to ache. Still I couldn’t stir.
“Vera,” Reeves spoke. “You know I trust you with my life. But does the Hether really exist? Have you seen it with your own eyes?”
“The Hether is not a myth. It’s part of the Outer. Well, the parts they think are destroyed.”
“And this Eric guy operates it?”
She must have nodded.
“And you trust him?”
“I trust him with my life. We just need Chas to get there.”
“Why is she so special?”
“She’s a Milleu?”
I managed to croak, “A what?” Reeves said the exact same thing, and his voice drowned out my feeble one.
A faint song playing in the background was the only thing that was audible after his last sentence.
I must have passed out because the next thing I knew, water was dripping on my face. My entire body was shaking. When I opened my eyes, Reeves was running with me in his arms.
Light shone brightly behind him. He was trying to flee it, but he wasn’t going to succeed. Something or someone was catching up to us.
“Let me go,” I murmured through cracked lips. “You don’t have to die.”
“No, we’re almost there,” Reeves said.
“You don’t have to do this. Tell them you’re under a hex or something. Make something up.”
“Chas, I know what I’m doing. I chose to do this. Nobody is forcing me. If my death is part of this plan, then at least I will die for a greater cause.”
“Yeah?” My voice dripped with sarcasm. “What greater cause?”
“One where Shadow and Light Casters can live as equals. St. Phillipus has seen it. There is a gray area, Chastity, or that is what he believes.” He struggled to get these words out between his strained pants. “All I know is that you’re part of it. I don’t know where you fit in. My only job is to get you to the Hether.”
“Stop,” Selene’s voice pieced through the night.
We were on a cliff. There was no going forward.
“Let her go,” Selene commanded. “She is not worthy of your life.”
“Yeah, you sure about that?” Reeves countered. “What did St. Phillipus mean when he said she could choose?”
I couldn’t see Selene’s face, but by the pregnant pause and several gasps, I could tell she was in a tight spot.
“They can’t,” she cried. “He believes it with all his heart. I did too. And the last time it almost got Revera destroyed. Believe me when I say I wish St. Phillipus’s vision was real, but it’s not. He’s living in a fantasy world. Light and Shadow Casters will never coexist in peace. There is no gray area. It’s only good or bad. Hand her over. She is not worth your life.”
Reeves was catching his breath now; his chest was hot but sturdy against me. “Who is Eric, then, Selene?”
“I don’t know. Someone he made up.”
“Vera knew him too. She said he saved her life.”
“She lied. And that’s why she’s dead. Don’t be stupid!”
I looked up at Reeves.
He was looking down on me, his eyes blank. He didn’t have to say the words. I could read the apology in his face. It was time for him to surrender me.
“You really are that special,” he murmured.
What? No. Say sorry, Reeves. Tell me sorry.
“Just let her go,” Reeves repeated.
“To the Oblivion?” Selene asked. “And then what? Watch her come back in a few months and destroy Revera?”
“Give her a fair chance.”
“Killing Shadow Casters is what we do. It’s what we’ve always done.”
“Make a change. For St. Phillipus.”
There was silence again.
Selene’s voice was dogged when she insisted, “He’s an old fool. Hand over the girl, or prepare to die.”
I could feel Reeves taking a step back.
“What are you doing?” I whispered.
“Giving you a fair chance.”
“You don’t want to do that,” Selene warned.
Reeves ignored the warning and I heard Selene’s command to fire resonating through the air.
His grip around me disappeared. He tossed me into the air.
Gunfire whizzed through the air. From the corner of my eye, I saw Reeves’s body shaking as bullet after bullet pierced his skin.
I was falling through the air, bullets flying all around me, but I didn’t care if any of them hit me.
Everything slowed down.
The edge of the cliff disappeared as I fell farther and farther into the unknown.
A bright light fell over the edge with me. It was getting nearer and nearer.
It was gaining on me fast. My heart fluttered like a terrified hummingbird.
I didn’t want the light to catch me. I didn’t want to go back to that dark room. I didn’t want the pain to continue.
I wasn’t a Shadow Caster. I wasn’t dark. I had no dark and sinister thoughts.
Tears streamed down my face as I realized being caught was inevitable.
The light started fading. Black shrouded me, and in that split second, I saw a man’s face.
He reminded me of someone. Someone who could have passed as an older version of Leigh.
I was fully consumed by darkness now, pulled in million different directions.
Was this the fair chance Reeves wanted?
My fair chance wasn’t in the Hether, wherever the hell that was. No, it was in the Oblivion with my sadistic grandfather who called himself Lord and ruler of the Shadow Casters. It was with my uncle who was probably under his command and next to the dark throne.
But I wasn’t anything like them.
I wanted this to be the end. I wanted to die. No more torture. No more fear. No more heartbreak.
Just die, Chas.
But my body felt fractured, twisted and yanked.
Who was the guy in the bright light?
Was he the one Selene had sent to kill me, to grab me and take me back to cell where they could have their way with me?
I didn’t know.
The black faded from me and I hit the ground with a thud, my body splayed out on sand. Warm desert sand.
Wind whirled around me, pushing me down into the sand, and it took all my remaining energy to look up.
A boot kicked me in the face. I welcomed the darkness, hoping I wouldn’t regain consciousness.
Something was snuffling around my ear. A low growl filled the space around me. Hollow footsteps of a big person moved up and down stairs somewhere nearby. A door creaked. A cold hand touched my forehead. The footsteps retreated. The creaking of the door sounded again.
This had happened a few times since I’d been in this place, though I had no idea how long that had been.
When I woke up, I felt much better than I had in a long time. The scars on my wrist were barely visible. The constant ache and drowsiness in my head was gone.
The monochromacy thing was still at large as I looked around the gray, black, and white room. Light tried to seep through, but heavy curtains hung in front of two large windows.
There was on old dresser stacked against one side of the wall and an old chair in the corner. A washing table stood against the other. The bed itself was rather old. Have I stepped through a time warp to the past?
Footsteps stomped loudly against the floor and I did what any person in my situation would do. I flung the covers back over me and pretended to be out cold.
The door creaked just as I closed my eyes. The heavy footsteps came closer. A cold hand touched my head again and then it lingered for a few seconds before it pulled away.
“I know you are awake,” a deep voice said. “Pretending to be asleep is not going to help you this time.”
His footsteps walked in the direction of the chair. Springs squeaked as he sat down.
I opened my eyes and lifted my head enough to look at him. Like Leigh, he had scruffy dark hair, broad shoulders, and long limbs. His skin was more brown than sun-kissed, though, and he was older. “Where am I?”
Dream Caster_Shadow by Adrienne Woods / Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes