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Perchance to Dream
Echo languidly leaned on the breakfast bar in her kitchen. Dark circles rimmed her cobalt blue eyes, evidence of restless nights. Wavy locks of midnight black hair tumbled into her face and she pushed them back absentmindedly. She could hear her mother, Eve Brookes, in her home office, talking to a client on her cell phone. Echo yawned and began hunting for lunch.
As her chicken quesadilla sizzled in the skillet, the telephone rang. Echo snatched it off the hook. It was her best friend, Rebecca Stacey. Both girls were going to be juniors the next fall, and although their activities and preferences differed, they were still good friends.
“So, how are you?” Rebecca asked, barely bothering with a greeting.
Echo shrugged, and then remembered she was talking on the phone. “I’m fine, I guess.”
“How did you sleep?” Rebecca’s tone was incredulous, although Echo knew better than to blow her off.
“Same as usual.” Echo sighed. Normally a sound, untroubled sleeper, she had been suffering from nightmares and restless sleep every night for the past two months. Recently, the nightmares had been growing more frightening, and Echo woke up almost as tired as when she went to bed.
“Did he come back?” Rebecca queried.
“Yes, and I don’t know if it’s a he. I can’t tell.” Echo replied exasperatedly. Recently, a shining, white person had been featuring in her nightmares. The being was beautiful, and Echo felt drawn to it. However, whenever it appeared, her nightmare became worse, and Echo wondered if the fear was because of the person.
That evening, Echo sat at her computer, looking at her ballet school’s website. The photos of students prominently featured her. Several pictures showed her as Clara in last Christmas’ production of, The Nutcracker. Soon, Echo knew, she would have to go to sleep. The digital clock on her computer already said 12:17 a.m.
Reluctantly, Echo crawled under her covers, resolving to dream only about her plans for swimming with Rebecca the next morning. As she drifted to sleep, Echo felt a soft breeze brush against her cheek, and her semi-conscious mind wondered at it, since the windows were closed.
Echo walked through a murky grey fog. Her legs would barely move, and she suddenly knew it was because she was standing in knee-deep water. Sloshing along, Echo realized she was having another nightmare. Strangely enough, this nightmare was much clearer and realistic than the others had been. Two steps later, she suddenly sunk up to her waist in the water. Normally, she would have felt frightened, but Echo was oddly calm. She floated through the still waters, feeling as if she was dancing on stage.
In a startling instant, fear hit Echo hard in the chest. She gasped and looked around. To her left, she saw a white light shining and knew that the specter had arrived. Echo attempted to run, but her traitorous legs just barely kept her standing, and she knew that if they gave out, she would undoubtedly drown in the dark water.
The bright, white light came closer, and Echo could see the outline of the figure. Soon, it was close enough for her to tell that it was a woman. She was tall and thin; the water barely came up to her thighs. Her whole being shone white, concealing her features. She could see the woman’s long, thin arms with abnormally large hands. Her waist-length, white hair glowed brightly and floated around her, despite the lack of wind. From her back sprouted large, shining white butterfly wings, veins pulsing and edges jaggedly ripped. Her sleeveless, diaphanous dress spread out and seemed to become liquid where it met the water. A string of shimmering black pearls wrapped around her shoulders and waist. However, Echo did not notice her beauty after the first glance. The woman’s eyes held her, threatening to engulf the girl. Her eyes, black, with slit pupils that shone white, embodied all the terror and nightmares that Echo had experienced the past two months. Echo feared those eyes, but they drew something inside her. Something pulled her closer to the frightful woman. Through the grey haze that clouded her mind, she heard a voice, like a sighing wind, speaking.
“Come home, Echo…
“Come home, to me, Echo…
Echo’s mind pulled away, and she managed to take a step back. Before her rose a large, white hand, stretched out, beckoning her. The compulsion pulled Echo as she watched her own hand slowly rise.
After saying goodbye to her husband, John, as he left for his office, Eve Brookes went to the kitchen for some breakfast. She had an appointment with a client at ten o’clock, and it was already nine. Upon entering the kitchen, she stopped and looked around. Something wasn’t right. Usually, Echo woke up and made herself something to eat before then. Eve had noticed Echo’s apparent ill health and lack of energy. Smiling to herself, she decided to let Echo sleep in and make breakfast herself.
At nine-thirty, Echo still hadn’t awakened, and Eve was getting worried. She was about to go to Echo’s room when the phone rang. It was Rebecca, wondering where Echo was. She said they had made plans to meet at the pool at nine-fifteen.
Hurrying into Echo’s room, Eve found it empty. The covers lay bunched at the foot of the bed. Glass shards covered the sheets from the smashed window beside the bed. Eve rushed from the room, dialing emergency as she went, failing to notice that a film of sparkling, white dust coated the bed. Written in the dust, soon to be swept away unnoticed, was a single, spidery word: Auryon.
Echo opened her eyes and wondered if she had gone blind. Thick, oily blackness surrounded her. She remembered touching the translucent, pallid hand of the faery, and then seeing a burst of white. Try as she might, Echo could remember nothing after that.
She pressed a hand to her temple in an attempt to ease her splitting headache, when she glimpsed a flash of light at the edge of her vision. Turning, Echo saw the faery slowly floating toward her. Backing away, Echo looked in vain for an escape. Suddenly, the faery stood beside her, white pupils flashing brightly. Echo drew back fearfully.
“What do you want?” Echo’s voice sounded hollow, as if she was in a large room. The faery sneered, distorting her angelic face.
“I have what I want.” Her smooth voice wafted over Echo like ether, relaxing her tense and frightened mind.
Shaking her head, Echo tried to think through the haze that covered her mind. “But you said ‘Come home’.”
The faery nodded. “This is your home…now.” She turned to leave.
“Wait!” Echo called, distress lacing her voice. “Who are you?”
The faery smiled, which gave her face a demonic look. “Don’t you remember me, Echo?”
Echo was about to reply that she had never met the faery before, when a memory, distant but clear, filled her mind. She recalled a canoe trip with her family, taken when she was very young. Being small and heedless of danger, she had accidentally fallen from the canoe and hit her head on a rock. Unconscious for only a few minutes, she saw a glowing white figure.
As recognition dawned on Echo’s face, the Faery nodded maliciously. “Yes, you saw me, and I saw you. Ever since, I have wanted you. You are a wonderful addition to my collection. I think I shall keep you for a while.”
“But where am I?” Echo asked, stalling for time.
“You are in my world. You are part of my collection.” Suddenly, the blackness lifted and Echo saw a colossal room before her, lit by a candelabra sitting on a wooden table covered in scrolls and books. Circling the room were long shelves, displaying clear glass orbs. In some of the orbs, she could see people, standing or curled up, all with blank expressions on their faces, as if they were blind. Echo recoiled in horror, knowing within herself that she too was a prisoner, trapped inside a glass orb.
“This is my collection,” the faery said, indicating the spheres. “They choose to come home with me, as you did, and I keep them.”
Echo shuddered, not wanting to think of the possible meanings behind the faery’s statement.
The dark veil covered the scene again, and Echo turned on the faery. “Let me go!” She screamed, terror overpowering her reason.
The faery smiled again, a thin, malevolent smile. “You chose to come with me, now you must stay.”
Echo shook her head. “Who are you to keep me here?”
“I am Auryon.” As suddenly as she had appeared, Auryon was gone. As Echo stood in the darkness, tears wetting her face, she heard the faery’s voice.
“Welcome home, Echo.”