So, NaNoWriMo is till going in full force, soon hitting it’s halftime mark, and I am still so far behind. In fact, I am now 7K behind the current word goal, but if I write about 2K a day, I can still make it. I don’t know why it is going so much slower than last year, but somehow I am often stuck in the middle of the story. Sometimes I’ll get bursts of inspiration and other days simply nothing. It’s a little frustrating, but I just don’t want to stop writing. However, I do feel like plotting more next year, just to have a better outline.
But enough with the whining! I shared the first chapter of Dreamer (click here if you haven’t read it yet) last weekend and quite a few of you have expressed interest in reading more. Now, here you go with Chapter 2, but be aware that it’s a lot longer than the last one!
The materialisation was different from what he thought it would be. Not that he actually ever had a chance to test going into the dream-landscape, all Wick knew was solely theoretic. Now he felt queasy and as if someone had violently separated him into every single particle of his being, just to put him back together a second later. Whenever he had imagined it before, he thought it wouldn’t feel real, more like being in a 3D hologram landscape. Then again, he had never been in one of those either.
Right now, he was in a dark alley, similar to the one he had just seen on his screen. It was night and the lampposts were the only source of light, casting long and haunting shadows on the rest of the street. There was a chilling wind sweeping through the landscape and Wick almost started shivering, wearing only his dress shirt. Standing there basically in suit and tie, just without the jacket, made him feel like he was extremely overdressed, or rather underdressed for the weather. Nervously he glanced down at his watch and let out a breath of relief when he found it still working properly.
Humans were often confused by clocks and watches in their dreams, but little did they know that they were not bound to human time and that they therefore couldn’t perceive them correctly. Instead they were a guideline for Agents to know how much time had passed in Dreamer-reality. You could easily get lost in the field, so every Dreamer was equipped with a specific wrist-watch. It was easy to keep track that way and it even included a digital countdown that automatically sent you back after a certain period of time, if you didn’t manage to return on your own. Even Dreamers who weren’t Agents got one at birth for emergencies, which made Wick feel a lot better after breaking the rules the way he did. After all it couldn’t be frowned upon that much if they all had the watch. Looking at his own countdown now, he realised that he had only very little time – ten minutes. Time worked different in the dream-landscape and it was difficult to tell how long he could actually stay. Ten minutes in real life could take years in a dream, but he thought it was better to hurry up just in case it was the other way around and he didn’t have much time after all.
Wick cautiously took a couple of wobbly steps forward, but gravity was completely regular, so he immediately became more confident. As soon as he set foot outside the alley, he saw a panting Clara rounding the corner and coming his way. Whatever was chasing her, wasn’t in sight just yet. Quick thinking was required now, but Wick had no idea what to do. He only knew that he had to calm her down any way possible and hope that it would stabilize the dream. Every second he did nothing, she came closer towards him, until she was right there in front of him so he could grab her.
Clara’s first impulse was to scream, but he pressed her against the wall, put a hand over her mouth and signalled her to be quiet. They disappeared in the shadows, just as a blurry something rushed past their alley. Wick’s heart sped up with fear. Clara turned completely still and Wick could feel the palpable tension in the air. He had never had such a physical reaction to anything in his life before. His palms started sweating and the small hair on his back stood up straight. What on earth was that thing?
Wick let go of Clara, but they both didn’t move for a couple more minutes, too scared that the thing would notice them and come back.
“Who are you?” Clara finally demanded, getting furious now that the scare was over.
Wick clearly wasn’t prepared for the question so he said the first thing that came to mind. “I am here to help.”
“That’s not what I asked you. Who are you?”
Wick knew he had to be careful, whatever he said could easily become true in a dream. “It doesn’t matter.”
“It damn well matters! Did you see that thing that just chased me? How did you know when to grab me? We could have been trapped in this alley?”
He hadn’t even considered the possibility of the thing following them. He simply improvised and prayed to a higher power that it wouldn’t see them. And evidently it didn’t. “As I said, it doesn’t matter. It worked and that’s what’s important.” He said it with a sheepish grin, trying to lighten the mood. Clara would have none of it though, she only stared at him.
“Are you serious? That thing could have killed us!”
“Nah …” But something stopped him. Could it have killed them? Something definitely was wrong with the dream. It was different from nightmares. It was like nothing he had ever seen before.
They heard something crash in the distance and Wick quickly checked his watch to see how much time he had left. As suspected, not much.
“Clara, look at me! We have to act quickly.” He grabbed her shoulders and turned her so that she would face him.
“How do you …”
“Know your name? It …”
“Don’t you dare say it doesn’t matter! It definitely does matter.” Another crash.
“We don’t have time, Clara. You have to help me out with this. I can’t do it on my own.” Wick tried to remember every book he ever read about the dream-landscape and knew that Clara was the key to get them out of here. Some humans, and she definitely had the potential to be one of them, could change their dream by sheer will. Something had morphed this dream, just the tiniest bit of derivation from Aurora’s planned course for the scenario could have had a domino ripple effect on everything that had happened afterwards. It could have even created that thing. Even though he somehow doubted that it was caused by a decision Clara made earlier on, he was hopeful that it would get them out of the situation now. She just had to will it.
Wick felt a chill roll over him, sensing that it was near again. It must have doubled back after it lost them in the shadows. “Do you remember where you were before that thing started chasing you?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“Just answer it!” He was getting impatient with her and it did not improve the situation.
“I … I don’t know.”
“Think! There must be something!”
“Don’t shout at me!”
“Then don’t give me a reason to!”
Clara took a beat to glare at him, but then he saw realisation blossom in her eyes. “It doesn’t make any sense, but I remember something about a coffee shop and …”
“I ran into some girls, back from High School. They always used to tease me about being prude and a nerd. I was just about to tell them about my job …”
There was a bright flash and Wick and Clara suddenly both stood in a cosy coffee shop. Wick didn’t have to guess in order to know it was the one Clara had just thought about. The place was empty, but it was day again, which was extremely comforting.
Wick instantly sat down on one of the padded chairs along the wall. “Puh, that was close.”
“What just happened? How did that just happen?” Clara turned on her own axis a couple of times, taking in the coffee shop and touching desks as if she couldn’t believe they were actually there. Apparently Wick had been right. All he needed to do was get Clara’s train of thought back on track and back to the place where she was supposed to be. He still didn’t know how it could have gone so terribly wrong in the first place, but that was a problem for another time to solve. Everything felt warm and calm, completely different from the night time horror they had just faced. He felt the watch on his wrist vibrate once, a warning, his time was coming to an end.
Wick got up again, a smug grin on his face. “Isn’t it obvious yet, darling?” He stepped even closer until he was right in front of her, looking right into her blue eyes. Taking Clara’s chin into his hands he said, “It was all just a dream.” And with that he disappeared into thin air.
Clara woke up with a jolt. Her head felt foggy and heavy and she couldn’t quite put her finger on what had happened. Also, she felt weirdly out of breath. All she knew was that whatever had just occurred was something important. Something she didn’t want to forget, yet it was already half gone. She felt for her phone on the nightstand. She always put it there before she went to bed, because she couldn’t sleep without watching some videos on YouTube. It had to be there somewhere.
Finally grabbing it from the dark, she ringed the first number on speed dial.
“What the hell, Clara!” A groggy voice answered from the other end of the line. “Do you have any idea how late it is?”
“No! But I have an idea for the photo shoot tomorrow.”
“Clara, it’s 3 A.M.! I’m not listening to your crazy ideas right now.”
“B, just hear me out. Imagine a dark alley, minimalistic lighting. We mostly work with shadows. Everything is a bit out of focus, except for our model. I see metallic fabrics, not a lot of colour. He’s looking sharp. Maybe in a dress shirt and tie? No jacket though!”
“That … could actually work! I think we have ourselves a cover shot right there! Can I go back to sleep now?”
“Yes, Bianca, you can. See you at work.” She had already hung up before Clara had finished her sentence, but she didn’t really care and lay back with a smile on her face. She knew she would come up with something on time. She always did.
That was it for today! In case you still want more, I will soon post another chapter. Any thoughts on this one? Also how are you fellow NaNoWriMo’s? How are you getting on with your WIP?