It’s that time of year again! As Halloween approaches, I’d like to share an excerpt from my ghost story, Dream Shade, with you.
Hearing the bus before it came around the curve in the road, I sighed, dreading its approach. The bus ride itself didn’t bother me, it was what waited for us at the end of the ride: another day in the purgatory known as Frakes Senior High. Our school district was set up in kind of a strange way. Lots of little elementary schools channeled into two junior high schools for grades seven through nine, which then congealed into the sprawling senior high where the inmates spent the remainder of our time. So, as a sophomore, this was my first year in senior high. We were about six weeks into the school year, and I still felt completely out of place.
My friend Anna sat in our usual seat, her nose buried in a book. The curly black cloud of her hair could be seen haloing out around the volume. Fabulous. She’s hooked again. When Anna was really into a book, the rest of the world pretty much ceased to exist to her. Over the summer, she had read Lord of the Rings, and I’d barely seen her for weeks. Please don’t let it be another trilogy.
I sat down next to her. “Hi, Anna!”
“Hey,” she muttered distractedly.
Oh, crap. Weren’t there like four or five huge volumes in that series? She’d be obsessed for the next month.
“You should read it,” she said without taking her eyes off the page. “It’s really good.”
“Those vampire books? You know I don’t like horror.”
“Vampires, yes. Horror, no. It’s more like a love story.”
“Ugh, even worse!”
She sighed and put her book down in her lap, glancing at me. “You look awful. Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay, just tired. I had a bad dream and couldn’t get back to sleep.” Gazing out the window, I watched the red, orange, and yellow blur of autumnal trees rolling past. “At least, I think it was a dream.”
“What do you mean, you think it was a dream?”
I thought about her question while opening my peanut-butter bar and starting to munch. “God, these things are dry!” I grimaced. “Should’ve grabbed a bottle of water to wash it down.”
“Sarah, stop stalling and answer my question. Either you had a dream or you didn’t. So what’s going on?”
“I’m not sure. See, I woke up from what was most definitely a dream, a very nice dream—”
“Featuring Nate Spencer?”
I blushed a little; busted. “Maybe. Anyway, I saw something moving across my room.” Telling her about it made me shiver. “It must have been a dream, right? Things like that just don’t happen.”
Anna gave it some thought. I liked the way she really considered a question before giving an answer. Sometimes the wait was a little annoying, but I was used to it by now. We’d been friends for a long time, and I knew that her thoughts were worth waiting for.
“Well,” she finally said, “It could have been like a dream within a dream. Like, you thought you woke up, but really your dream just shifted. Or it could have been a pre-seizure aura. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family?”
Where the heck did she come up with this stuff? Sometimes having a brainiac for a best friend could be a little weird.
“Um, no. No epilepsy.”
“Well, that’s good. Of course, you wouldn’t have taken any mood-altering substances, so that’s out.”
“Right. No drugs.”
“Then maybe…no, it couldn’t be that.”
“Couldn’t be what?”
“I don’t want to freak you out or anything.” Her brown eyes intensified.
“Anna, I know that look. What are you thinking?”
“I know you don’t like horror. Or anything…supernatural.”
“Spit it out!”
Anna gave me a look of utmost seriousness. Her flawless, light brown skin flushed slightly with excitement. Whatever thought was running around that brain of hers, it had her pretty jazzed.
“It could have been,” she paused, her intense eyes gleaming, “a paranormal event.”
My bark of laughter sounded totally fake even to my own ears. “Yeah, right,” I scoffed. Despite my bravado, a shiver ran down my spine.