Light, p.5Adrienne Woods
“Natalie is okay, Natalie is okay,” Charlie said a few times and she smiled at him.
She walked to his cage and picked him up. “You silly bird. Of course I’m fine. You didn’t think you could get rid of me that easily, did you?”
He bobbed his head up and down. She laughed, peppering his neck with kisses.
He hopped onto her shoulder as she moved to open her curtains.
Sunlight streamed into the room.
She took a deep breath as she turned around. “Now please, tell me everything. What the hell is going on?”
I told Natalie as much as I could, leaving all the bits and pieces about Leigh out. I replaced Leigh with Mr. Grey and it somehow made sense.
“A Somnium. Are you sure it’s Selene?”
“I don’t know. I’m not even sure that she is capable of something like this, but Mr. Grey seems adamant that it is.”
“Where is he?” She looked around, furrowing her eyebrows.
“You know him, always investigating things.”
It was quiet for a moment. “Unless there’s more than one Somnium alive, Chas. Someone else who has the power to do this to us.”
“But why? What did they want us to forget?” I shook my head, as if that would give me the answers I needed. “We need to get to Margot and get her into a shower. Maybe she knows more than we do. I mean, she wasn’t one of the students, she was like the lecturers’ right hand or something. I’m sure she’d tell us what the hell is going on.”
Natalie nodded. “That’s an idea. But if you think Mrs. Irwin is part of this, we have to be quiet and…” she trailed off. “As horrible as it sounds, Margot has to suffer a little longer.”
Natalie was right.
“The best thing we can do now is lay low. Tonight when she goes to bed, we go and help Margot get rid of this awful spell or whatever we were zapped with.” She shuddered.
“Okay.” I got up.
“I can’t believe water was the trick.”
“I know, it sounds so unreal, doesn’t it?”
I snuck out of the room and walked back to mine.
I’d almost made it to the top of the stairs when I heard my whispered name behind me.
I turned around and found Mrs. Irwin standing on the level just below ours.
I walked down toward her. She seemed exhausted. “Could you please help me?” She gave me a weak smile.
I nodded. “Of course. What can I do?”
“You take the second level, and I’ll take the first. We need to soak down their temperatures, give them this horrible nausea medicine and make sure their sheets are fresh and dry.”
I nodded and accepted a bucket that held clothes and bottles of medicine. There were also seven syringes, which I assumed was how the medicine would be administered.
I stopped in front of Lisa’s room and took a huge breath.
You can do this, Chas.
I opened the door and stepped inside.
At three in the morning, I found myself in front of Margot’s door. My hand was curled up in a fist.
Just a short while ago, I had woken up from a horrible dream.
I’d dreamt about Margot telling Selene things I couldn’t make out, but whatever it was, I was certain it wouldn’t end well for me. It seemed as if Margot was in a trance and not comprehending what she was saying.
Then the dream shifted and I found myself staring down at a corpse on the ground.
What finally woke me was the words flowing from Selene’s mouth. I didn’t know what they meant, but I didn’t like the way they made me feel. With every word she spoke, my body filled with excruciating pain. My screaming in the dream had shaken my subconscious into wakefulness.
I needed to know what all of this meant, and I needed Margot to be lucid for me to get answers. I needed to know if there was any truth to this dream. As I now knew, dreams in Revera weren’t merely dreams. They could also be warnings. Or even real.
I jiggled the door handle, but it was locked. I knocked and waited. Nothing happened. She was probably still incapacitated like the others. I knocked again, this time a bit louder.
By the third knock, a door opened, but it wasn’t Margot’s door; it was Mrs. Irwin’s.
“Chastity, is that you?” Her voice was raspy, and it was obvious she had been fast asleep.
“Yes, Mrs. Irwin. Go back to sleep,” I whispered. “I’m just checking on Margot.”
“She isn’t here,” Mrs. Irwin said.
What? “What do you mean, she isn’t here?” I asked. An uneasy feeling crept into my gut. I’d just dreamed about Margot being with Selene. I didn’t like this.
“She—” Mrs. Irwin stopped. “She didn’t get sick. She had to go to another house because we’re quarantined here. You’ll see her soon. Now, go to bed.”
Though her tone was soft, I could hear the sternness in it.
I nodded and went back to my room.
I crawled into bed, though I couldn’t sleep. My mind refused to shut down. Why hadn’t Margot been affected by this so-called illness? And had she really been moved to another house, or was she in danger?
Painstakingly, I went through everything I could remember before waking up this morning. Perhaps the fragments of the dream I had had were connected to my lost memories. Obviously Selene hadn’t really killed me, because I was still here and I was pretty sure that meant I was alive. But as Leigh had pointed out, if Selene knew I was destined to be a Shadow Caster, I would not be here. I’d either be in the Oblivion, or I’d be dead.
I tossed and turned in bed, trying to make sense of all of it. After a while, I sat up with a huff and got out bed. I stomped over to my window and plopped myself down on the sill, peering into the darkness for my cat. If only Mr. Grey was here. He hadn’t been back since he’d left after we’d gotten our clarity back, and though I was worried, I was certain he would be fine. He’d been gone longer than this before.
It had been almost a week and my nerves were shot. The entire house was still under quarantine and Natalie was still pretending to be asleep.
She didn’t like the fact that Margot hadn’t been affected.
We’d tried to piece this mind-boggling puzzle together, but we kept failing. And all because Mr. Grey still hadn’t returned.
He never stayed away this long, and I was really starting to worry. Had he found something? Or, and I shuddered to think of this possibility, had the person who did this to us found him snooping around and was now keeping him from coming back to me?
Unfortunately, we couldn’t communicate over long distances; the way our communication worked was the same as talking to someone in the same proximity, except no else could hear our conversations.
I dozed off, as I’d found myself doing lately while I was for my cat to come home, and when I woke up again, the early morning sun streamed on my face, blinding without the cover of the curtain to dim its rays.
My muscles ached as I edged myself off the windowsill, and I stretched my neck and back to ease the twinges. I took a hurried shower and headed downstairs to help Mrs. Irwin take care of the others.
The morning was the same as all the other mornings.
We each took a bucket of clean water and a sponge with a bottle of some magic flu syrup. If you asked me, it looked and smelled like normal maple syrup diluted with water. The more I helped Mrs. Irwin with her daily chores, the more I started to wonder if she was truly part of the cover-up.
It was hard to think that someone put so much love and care behind her daily chores of looking after the girls.
Margot’s face jumped into my mind. Whenever I started doubting Mrs. Irwin’s part in this cover-up, Margot would pop into my head, because every time I asked questions about Margot and where she was, Mrs. Irwin would give me short, dismissive answers and then change the subject.
When I wasn’t thinking about Margot and the s
I hadn’t dreamt of Leigh since the night he told me to take a shower, and I was curious to know whether he had found something out, whether he knew something and hadn’t told me.
My daily chores with the girls on the second floor was working its magic.
Instead of soaking them down with the cloth, I poured water over them. Then I would dress them in clothes and change their sheets.
They were recovering much faster than the girls on the first floor.
Mrs. Irwin had even commented that I had a healing touch, and that I was an exceptional nurse.
Over the next ten days, everyone started slowly getting better. Natalie showed herself around the eighth day so Mrs. Irwin wouldn’t get suspicious and started helping us with the others. With Natalie’s help, it was easier to attend to the other girls, and from Mrs. Irwin’s reaction, I could see she appreciated the help.
And though getting everyone back on their feet was keeping me distracted, I was still trying to piece together my lost memories, still worried about Mr. Grey. He hadn’t returned. One night at dinner, I voiced my concerns to Natalie.
“He’ll be fine, Chas.” Natalie touched my arm as she ate.
I gave her a small smile. Since she shared the same bond with Charlie, she understood what I was going through and tried not to elevate my fears, but ten days was a long time for Mr. Grey to be gone, and I couldn’t help but worry that something horrific had happened to him.
Around the twelfth day, all the girls were more or less back to normal—as normal as Dream Casters could be, anyway. Mrs. Irwin seemed relieved that we’d all managed to survive the mysterious illness, and on the fourteenth day, she called the doctor to assess us. We all waited nervously in the lounge for him to give us a clean bill of health.
I was agitated. It bothered me that I hadn’t been able to piece together what whoever did this to us wanted us to forget. Part of my brain knew Margot had the information I needed. I desperately wanted to get back to class so I could find out the truth.
“Chastity,” Mrs. Irwin said. “The doctor will see you now.”
I got up and followed her to the dining room, where the doctor had set up a makeshift examination room. His equipment was scattered on a towel on the dining room table.
The doctor was a tall and skinny man with bags under his eyes. A pair of glasses rested on his nose, and his hair was peppered with gray. A stethoscope dangled from his neck, the black a stark contrast against his white coat. He was filling a syringe with liquid, flicking his fingers against the tube as he looked up at me.
A grin stretched across his face and he palmed his stethoscope.
“Please come and sit.” Though his voice was friendly, I was wary of the syringe.
“Your name?” he asked.
“Like the belt?”
I was so tired of hearing it. But I nodded. I pulled the chair out. I had a feeling in my gut that something was not right with this guy.
“I am Dr. Dimitri.” He smiled and released the stethoscope. It bounced off his chest twice before finally settling. He pressed his cold hands to the glands in my neck and massaged them gently. “So, Mrs. Irwin said you were the first one to shake the flu.”
“How did that happen?”
“I’ve always had a strong immune system.” I prayed my voice wouldn’t betray me. Why was I so nervous? Because I was lying. But then, they were lying to us.
He chuckled and inserted the earpieces of the stethoscope into his ears. He walked around the chair and lifted my shirt, placing the cold disk on my back. “Inhale,” he said and moved the disk around as I inhaled deeply.
“I heard Mr. Grey has been missing for a few days now.”
“Two weeks.” My voice betrayed the worry I felt.
“Is this normal for him?” he asked as he finally put the stethoscope down.
The tone of his voice made it sound like he was interrogating me, and I didn’t like it one bit.
I nodded, not trusting my voice to hold the lie. I didn’t want to put any further suspicion on Mr. Grey.
“I see,” he said and picked up a dark brown bottle and a piece of cotton. He opened the bottle and dabbed it on the ball of cotton. He swabbed my arm with the liquid.
“I need to give you this shot. It’s a vaccine of sorts, purely to ensure that you won’t infect anyone around you.”
He was lying. I wasn’t sure what was in that syringe, but I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t want to think about what might be in the liquid. Deep breaths, Chas. Deep breaths.
I closed my eyes and waited for the prick.
“There you go,” he said.
I opened my eyes before the words were completely out of his mouth.
I hadn’t even felt anything. The syringe was empty, and the funny off-blue liquid was now in my system. The only evidence that that he had given me a shot was the raised skin around the prick.
He placed a Band-Aid on the injection site and gave me a pat on the back.
“I think you’re good to go.” He flashed me a grin and I returned it with a tight-lipped smile.
I got up and hurried out of the room. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right.
The first day of school finally started. And though I couldn’t wait to get back to my old routine, I couldn’t concentrate. I felt drained, utterly lethargic. None of the other girls were suffering in the same way.
Apart from that, neither Margot nor Max were in our classes. It was like they had simply disappeared. Something bizarre was going on here. “Mr. Dingle,” I asked one of the lecturers after class, “do you know where Margot and Max are?”
He raised an eyebrow, rubbing a hand across his cheek. “They didn’t tell you?”
I shook my head, my lip curling in distaste. Obviously no one had told me anything; otherwise why would I be asking him?
“Selene sent them back to the Outer. She needed them to do an errand.” His eyes shifted around the room nervously. I sighed as I trudged from the room. Another lie. Why did everyone keep lying to me?
Natalie and I spent the rest of the day holed up in my room, trying to piece everything together, but with two of the most important pieces of the missing—Max and Margot—the whole thing collapsed.
And where the hell was Mr. Grey? Every day he stayed away, my nerves frayed even more.
Where was he? Had his investigating discovered any information? He’d been gone for so long, I was almost certain he must have found something out that had placed him in terrible danger.
A knock on the door snapped me out of my train of thought.
Natalie shoved the notepad we were scribbling all our thoughts on under another book just as Mrs. Irwin entered the room. She was holding two shimmering gray leaflets.
Natalie squealed and her face lit up.
“Is that what I think it is?” she shrieked as she jumped off the bed and ran toward Mrs. Irwin.
Mrs. Irwin gave Natalie a genuinely warm smile. For a moment, she didn’t look like a crow. She nodded, obviously enjoying Natalie’s excitement, while I was once again the odd one out, without a clue as to what all the fuss was about.
“Because the two of you were such a great help in assisting me and caring for the others, Selene pulled some strings and managed to get you each a pass to go with the Dream Casters this coming Friday.”
Natalie, unable to contain her excitement anymore, jumped up and down on one spot.
“Sorry,” I finally spoke up. I had no idea what they were talking about. “What’s this Dream Casters thing you’re talking about?”
Natalie’s head snapped back to me, as if I uttered a nasty curse or something, and her mouth formed a small “O.” “I forgot, you don’t know. These two babies,” she walked over to me with both the tickets in her hand, “is a pass to watch master Dream Casters doing their job—casting
My eyes widened as she broke it down in detail. “It’s wonderful and something I’ve wanted to see for a long time, but not everyone gets a chance, and…” she babbled on, the words flying out of her mouth at an alarming rate. I suppressed a giggle as she carried on. “What’s the best theme park in your world?” she asked, and waited for my answer.
“Disney World,” I said.
“Multiply this Disney World by ten and you’ll get what it is to go with the Dream Casters.”
“Okay.” I was skeptical. Nothing in this world—dream or real—could ever outrank Disney World. Natalie bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. All she needed was a lollipop and pigtails and she’d look like an excited little girl.
“Okay, Natalie.” I laughed just to get her to calm down.
“Thank you again, girls. Both of you. I really appreciate it,” Mrs. Irwin said as she backed out of the room, then she smiled and closed the door.
The joy emanating from Natalie made me think she couldn’t wait for Friday to come around. I smiled at her, though my smile was more sad than joyful. I really hoped Mr. Grey would be back so he could join us.
DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS
By the time Friday rolled around, my worrying had amplified. I was sure my Anitule was lying in a ditch somewhere, dead.
Three weeks and no sign of him.
I’d been a mess without him this past week, and after one tearful evening, I’d finally voiced my concerns to Mrs. Irwin, who kindly put up flyers everywhere to help find him.
Even Selene came and expressed her unease about his disappearance.
Their concern seemed so sincere, I was finding it hard to not trust them, as Leigh had said. I hadn’t been able to communicate with him yet, so I had no idea whether he had learned anything that could give me some verifiable proof that I couldn’t trust them.
But tonight, I would try to keep my mind away from my missing cat. Tonight, I would let my mind take a break from thinking about Mr. Grey, about the erased memories, about the sudden errand Selene had given Max and Margot. I couldn’t fathom what she’d need them for when she had a multitude of Dream Casters at her beck and call—Dream Casters who were far more experienced than the twins.
Light by Adrienne Woods / Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 3.6 out of 5 / Based on25 votes