Pleasant Dreams, p.1Krystal George
A Spine Tingling Indie Author Anthology
Featuring Stories From:
Kate Marie Robbins
Patrick Van Slyke
Twinkle (Sugandha) Varshney
Cheryl Casey Ramirez
Each story was edited by its individual author and edited by Krystal George
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By Krystal George
©2013 by Krystal George
My sister hadn’t deserved to die.
I’m not sure why I had woken up thinking about that this morning. It wasn’t uncommon for me to think of her, I mean she’d only been gone a few months, but I tried not to focus on how it had happened. My therapist had taught me that. He had said that I needed to try not to dwell on the things that I couldn’t control and just focus on the memories I had of her, and there were plenty of those. She had been two when I was born. We had gone through the years where we played together, moved through the years where we had been at each other’s throats, and finally landed where we were best friends. It was there, in that stage, that I had imagined we’d remain throughout the rest of our lives. Who would have thought that her life would be cut short so early?
Feeling more than a little keyed up, I decided to go for my morning jog despite the rain that was surely lurking just beyond the grayish clouds. It was the summer before I was supposed to head off to college. At this point, I wasn’t sure I was ready to go. Too much had happened these past few months. I hadn’t even walked in my high school graduation because I still had been grieving. Now I was trying to move past that.
A few people waved at me when I ran by. I had recently moved into my sister’s condo and her neighbors were finally getting used to me. Some may think that it was strange for me to have moved there, but if they had seen what was waiting for me at my parent’s house, they would have understood. Besides, in a way it made me feel closer to her, and I didn’t think that Jess would have really minded.
It was no secret that my family was wealthy. A lot of people speculated that that was the reason for Jessica’s murder, but I didn’t believe them. All our family’s money had done for us was allowing us a certain style of living. Neither of us had ever taken advantage of it or used it as a means to run wild. We lived simple lives… we just lived them in style.
The condo was about half a mile from a local park. It was a popular spot for runners since it had its own trail, so it was there that I headed. It was like I was running away from demons and in a way, I guess that I was. I pushed myself as hard and as fast as I could so that I could outrun the feeling that something was off today… the feeling that my sister hadn’t deserved to die.
By the time I came to a bend in the trail, sweat was dripping down my face and there was a stich in my side. I slowed down and walked a few feet until there was a bench I could sit on. It was there, with my breath slowing back to normal and my muscles beginning to relax, that I first saw her.
It wasn’t just the flash of silvery blond hair or the profile that I knew better than I knew my own. It was an awareness that flared to life inside the very essence of my soul. This was my sister. It didn’t matter to me that it didn’t make sense. It only mattered that it was her.
“Jess!” I cried.
The only acknowledgment she gave me was to press her pointer finger against her lips, silencing me. Then, without even turning to face me, she began to jog around the bend. My heart flew into a wild erratic terror. No. She couldn’t leave me. Not again. I was on my feet and racing after her in seconds.
Inside my brain I was screaming her name, calling for her to wait for me. Outside the only sounds you could hear were the short gasping breaths that heaved from my chest and the steady rhythm of my shoes hitting the trail. There were still a few people running and I pushed past them, desperate to find her.
I never did.
Exhausted, my face drenched with sweat mixed with tears, I drug myself back to the condo. I was both physically and emotionally drained. My heart hurt with the enormity of my loss and my brain felt like mush from wondering if I had finally truly lost my mind. After all, there was no other plausible explanation for what I had seen.
I was surprised when I finally made it to the door to find my sister’s best friend waiting for me. Secretly, I believed that he had always had a crush on her, but Spencer had always adamantly denied those accusations. He had also been a suspect in her murder, which is why I suspected he was so quick to deny it these days.
“Hey Spence, what’s up?” I asked him wearily. After the morning I had just had, I wasn’t really up for company.
He uncurled himself from the chair next to my door and smiled at me, “hey Mickey, I was just in the neighborhood and I thought I’d stop by.”
I rolled my eyes at the easy use of my nickname; a nickname that only he had ever used for me. Most people called me Kayla if they didn’t want to use my full name of McKayla, but not Spencer. He had been in my life for a long time now, and he tormented me just as I was sure he would have tormented his own little sister, if he had one.
Despite my somewhat foul mood, it didn’t really bother me that he was there, nor did it bother me when he followed me into the condo as I rifled through my mail in silence. We were as comfortable with each other as family and it felt normal to have him there.
“So… what’s been going on?” He asked casually while taking a seat at the bar that lined my kitchen. “It’s been a few weeks.”
I frowned. Had it really been that long? “Oh you know, nothing major,” I answered him absently.
“Well that’s no fun; we really need to get you out more.”
The casual way in which he said “we” made me pause. It wasn’t the phrase itself that struck me as odd, it was more in the way he said it. Almost like the “we” held much more meaning than it ever had before. I looked into his green eyes, eyes that had always looked at me with a mixture of amusement and tolerance, and my heart began to beat faster. After a few seconds of silence in which neither of us broke eye contact, Spencer finally smiled and for the first time, I saw him as someone other than my sister’s best friend.
“Seriously Kay, you need to lighten up, have some fun.” When I stayed silent, his eyes dropped to the countertop, “she would have wanted it that way, you know.”
My phone rang and I let the machine pick it up. Either way, the mood had been broken and I wasn’t sure how to get it back. There was something intriguing in this new interaction with Spencer and part of me wanted to explore those feelings.
There was a beep and then the machine picked up. It was the old fashioned kind. The kind that was used before voicemail became the way of things, but since Jess had used it, I had too. There wasn’t much of her space that I had changed.
“Hey McKayla, it’s Dr. Benning. It’s been a while since our last appointment and I wanted to check in with you. Please stop by the office this evening. I remembered something that I wanted to share with you. If you can’t make it, I’ll swing by the condo when I get off of work. Either way, see you soon.”
The atmosphere in the room changed suddenly. A tingling of awareness caresse
“Well I guess you can’t really go out tonight then, huh?” He took a deep breath and stood before walking toward me. I was shaking when he put his hands on my shoulders, but it was from Jess, not him. “Mickey,” he whispered, “there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
My breath caught in my throat, not from his words, but because Jess had finally managed to find her ghostly voice and a resounding “NOOOOOO” had vibrated throughout the small space. I jumped back from Spencer, the panicked look on my sister’s face before she disappeared again was enough to put a stop to whatever it was that was happening here. Obviously she wasn’t happy about the way in which Spencer was talking to me and that was enough to make me scared… given the way she had died and the suspicion that had been directed at him during the initial investigation… it made me terrified.
“I think you should leave,” I told him, trying to sound calm, but my voice was shaky.
He looked at me with hurt shining from the depths of his eyes. “What’s wrong? Haven’t you ever wondered if there was something more between us?”
I shook my head vehemently. “No,” I told him, “you’re confusing the feelings you had for Jessica with your feelings for me.”
He recoiled as if I had hit him, the sting of my words were that great. “For the last time,” he said, enunciating each syllable, “there was nothing between Jess and I besides friendship.”
I gulped but remained silent.
He laughed humorlessly, “if you want to know the truth, your sister was dating someone. I don’t know who, but it wasn’t me.”
With that he turned on his heel and headed for the door. “I don’t believe you,” I told him, “she would have said something to me.” The thought of Jess dating some unknown person was beyond my comprehension.
He stopped with his hand on the door and motioned toward the living room. “It’s true. Where else do you think she got the flowers?”
It was a long time after he left that I finally allowed myself to study the dried flowers around the condo. It was true that Jess had never really been the sort to keep them, which is why I had decided to keep them even though they were now dried and brittle. I had assumed she had bought them herself, imagined her choosing the flowers that would make her smile and decorating the small space with them. Now, looking at them, a chill raced down my spine. Could Spencer have been telling the truth?
“What are you trying to tell me?” I screamed aloud in the small space. The ghostly image of my sister was stubbornly absent, but there was still an awareness prickling my skin that made me feel like she was close. I just didn’t understand what she was doing and what she wanted and why she had chosen now to come back.
Sinking into the couch, I buried my head in my hands. What was I even thinking? I had just accepted the fact that my sister was a ghost and was what, haunting me? I laughed bitterly. I was definitely losing my mind. Maybe it was a good thing that Dr. Benning wanted to see me.
No sooner had I thought that, the lights began to flicker and a startled scream escaped from my throat. Grabbing my purse and keys, I rushed from the condo without even bothering to change from my running clothes. I needed space to figure out what was going on, and I didn’t think I’d be able to get that here, there were too many memories and freaky things going on.
My car drove as if of its own volition. Tears were streaming down my face and I knew that I was completely lost. Deciding that I may as well visit Dr. Benning myself, I turned in the direction of his office… then slammed on my breaks. There she was, right there in the middle of the street.
Horns blazed as all around me other drivers had to slam on their breaks to maneuver around my stilled car. I opened the driver’s side door, ignoring them, and slid down from the seat. I was unaware of the danger I was in. My eyes didn’t see the squealing tires around me. They were devouring the solidness of Jessica’s face. The perfection of her sad smile, the glint of sunlight catching the moisture in her eyes. When the final car, unable to swerve around the disastrous scene around me, barreled toward me, I knew that I was going to die… and when pain engulfed me, my only thought was that my sister, my beloved sister, what the one who killed me.
Bright light assaulted my vision when I finally peeled first one and then the second eye open. My first thought was that my body wasn’t working right. I tried to lift my head to explore my surroundings, but it was too heavy for my neck. I tried to sit up, but pain flowed through my veins. It was only then that I heard the whirring and beeping around me. Then I knew that I was in the hospital. Those last few moments flashed through my brain, so I hadn’t died after all, I thought.
My mother’s face swam above me after only being lucid for a few seconds. “Oh honey,” she said on a sob, “we thought we’d lost you too.”
I closed my eyes as pain stabbed through my heart. They almost had, I thought acidly. If Jessica had succeeded, they would have. “I…I…I’m…” I stammered, but my throat was dry and uncomfortably scratchy.
“Shh little ladybug,” my dad said, coming up beside her, “you’ve been unconscious for a few days.”
I blinked. Days? Panic filled me and I tried to sit up. I felt instantly as if I had forgotten something important; something that I was supposed to do… but there was nothing. Either there never had been something or my brain refused to allow the memory to surface.
My parents seemed to be fighting over who would hold my hand so I forced my other one closer, allowing each of them to cling to some small part of me. It was the first time since Jess had died that I had seen them together. It was too bad that it took another almost tragedy to force them into it.
“A few of your friends stopped by,” my mother continued motioning to a table full of flowers and balloons.
There was something there, something on the table to trigged some sort of instinctual fear inside of me, but try as I might, I could not figure out what it was. There was nothing menacing about them. Nothing that would warrant such a sea of emotion to swell inside of me.
“Yeah, you just missed Spencer,” my dad added.
Fear sprang up quickly and completely. I gripped my parent’s hands and tried to slow my ragged breathing. That was when I saw her. Jess was once again peering at me sadly. This time she was standing just outside the open door of my hospital room. She was dressed the way she had been the last time I saw her and I wanted to scream at her to answer the questions that were beginning to imprint themselves in my head.
What did she want with me? What was she trying to tell me? Why was she here? What had happened to her? Had she been dating someone and kept it a secret from me? Why would she do that? Why had she died? How could she have left me so easily?
My lips remained closed tightly around my teeth and I closed my eyes, willing her image to fade away. When I opened them again, it was only to find that she had moved closer. Her gaze studying the back of our parent’s heads. I squeezed my eyes closed again. When I opened them this last time, a scream erupted from inside of me.
Jessica, in all her ghostly glory, was mere inches from my face. Her eyes were trying to speak to me in ways that her mouth couldn’t and both the frustration of not knowing what she wanted and the unexpected closeness had me tearing at the tubes connected to me and thrashing wildly on my bed. It took two nurses to hold me down while another one shot a sedative into my IV. I welcomed the blackness of oblivion when it took me.
Pleasant Dreams by Krystal George / Horror have rating 4.8 out of 5 / Based on19 votes