Nightmares

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Rose Swanson awoke from her nightmare in a cold sweat. She reached for her blanket to try to dry herself, only to find it soaked as well. Groaning in frustration she pulled a robe over her frilly black nightgown and walked towards the laundry room, her wet blankets folded neatly in her arms. After dumping them into the washing machine she picked out new bedsheets and walked back up to her room. Silently she dressed her mattress in the silky black covers. Tugging her robe off she plopped down on her bed and closed her eyes.

Don't come back. She begged. Stay away.

She wasn't sure who exactly she was speaking to, but whoever the dark creature was that made it his mission to make her life miserable she hoped with all her heart he heard her. Biting her lip while at the same time willing herself not to tremble she wrapped her dark blanket firmly around herself and let sleep slowly claim her.

Joey Swanson couldn't help but notice that his sister looked painfully gloomy as she served him breakfast. She was dressed in black from head to toe, which was normal enough for her but instead of her usual red lips and darkened eyes she wore... nothingon her face. Not even a smudge of make up. Only her naturally pearly skin, pink lips, and black lashes. It was quite a disturbing sight for Joey. His sister strived almost desperately to be unique, to stand out, to make people stop and stare. The fact that she looked remotely normal meant that something was terribly terribly wrong. When she refused a mug of fresh coffee Joey almost fell out of his chair.

"Rose what's the matter with you?"

She looked up from her muffin and gave him a blank stare.

"What do you mean?"

Joey pointed to her face.

"You're not wearing any make up."

Rose blinked.

"I must have forgotten, that's all."

He just stared at her. Rose forgetting to put on her make up was like the sun forgetting to shine.

"Stop staring at me." She said sounding very irritated.

Joey just shook his head and bit into his biscuit. Whatever his sister was hiding had to be big.

Ryan watched his girlfriend approach with a soft expression. Rose looked tired even from far away. Her long black hair billowed gently around her scrawny black clothed figure. Surrounded by so much darkness her pale skin practically glowed. When she was close enough Ryan drew her into a tight hug. Rose kissed him then smiled faintly. For a second he thought he was holding the wrong girl. She wore absolutely no make up. Ryan just stared at her.

"Babe, are you sick?"

Rose frowned.

"Are you stuck on this whole make up thing too? I just forgot okay?"

Ryan stroked her silky hair.

"Okay, Rose. Sorry alright?"

She nodded but pulled away from him and walked into Blossom ville High. Exchanging concerned looks Ryan and Joey followed her inside.

Even in a crowd of at least a hundred teenagers Rose was easy to find. In the sea of bright pinks and purples and blues she stood out like a sore thumb. She waited for them to catch up with her but only barely. As soon as they were remotely near her she took off again down the hallway towards her locker. When she finally got there she entered her combination and took out her books very quickly.

"I'll see you guys later." She said already starting to walk away.

Ryan reached for her.

"My kiss-?"

Rose smiled slightly.

"Later alright?"

Ryan tried to smile. It didn't work.

"Alright, later."

Rose tried to concentrate on the algebraic expressions before her but she couldn't for the life of her remember anything that the teacher had taught on the subject. The only thing that occupied her mind at the moment was that terrible reoccurring nightmare that had been plaguing her since the year began. A place of complete darkness, of complete terror and anguish. Where screams of agony bounce off the walls and bite at your ears, making you wish desperately for death, for eternal silence. She closed her eyes and only then did she realize that tears had gathered in them.

"Rose?" the teacher said touching her shoulder.

"Are you alright?"

Rose nodded even though she was trembling terribly.

"Oh god." the teacher murmured

"No you're not. Randy!" the lady said, calling one of the stronger boys in the class.

"Carry Miss Swanson to the clinic please."

Rose managed to mutter a slight protest before passing out.

When walked into Joey's first period he knew almost at once that she was there for him. Without even bothering to let the woman speak he got up and walked out the door. Leaning against the opposite wall he waited for the administrator to emerge and sure enough a couple seconds later she slipped through the door.

"So," Joey said, wasting no time.

"what did I do this time?"

The small dark haired lady ran a hand through her short hair.

"Nothing I'm afraid."

He raised an eyebrow.

"Then why did you come and get me?"

She bit her lip nervously.

"Well, it seems your sister had a little mishap during her Algebra class."

"What do you mean?"

Her pale eyes gazed at him sympathetically.

"She fainted."

A strange sickening calm seized him and he glared at the woman.

"Where is she?"

"At the clinic." she replied.

"We've sent for an ambulance already. I thought you might like to accompany her."

Joey gazed down at the woman for her voice trembled. She was pretty little thing, probably fresh out of college. This was most likely her first real emergency. He hugged her gently.

"Everything will be fine."

Releasing her he ran down the hall towards the clinic. Blushing fiercely, the woman stared after him.

Rose stood in a cold dark tunnel. Trembling furiously she hugged herself. There was no warmth in this harsh and miserable place. Walking blindly through the tunnel she thought to herself

'Darn it'

She then spoke softly

"Darn it."

Then she said louder.

"Darn it."

Then louder

"Darn it!"

Then louder.

"DARN IT!"

Her frustrated cry bounced off the walls echoing a dozen times over. With a sharp gasp a sob escaped her and she fell to her knees weeping. A long moment passed and she heard a soft sweet voice begin to sing. Slowly she raised her head and found herself staring at the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen. The great lady was tall and though half of her was hidden by the shadows, the half that was visible made fresh tears stream down Rose's face. She was breathtaking, her face was white and her hair shone like a wine colored flame in the darkness. A stunning silk gown the color of newborn leaves clung to her shapely figure.

"Lady..." Rose said, ready to tell how utterly striking she was.

"you are so-" the compliment died on her lips as the lady stepped out of the shadows. Instantaneously she vomited. Holding her hair back she retched until there was nothing left in her body to retch. A slow moment passed before she looked at the woman again. Almost immediately she regretted it. The half of the woman she had seen was still beautiful but the part of her that'd been hidden was almost too gruesome for words. It was black, shriveled, and dead.

'What cruel god?' Rose thought tragically.

'What manner of beast would be cruel enough to make a woman suffer such torment? Even death would be better.'

The great lady laughed bitterly.

"Don't be so sure little girl. Even death cannot ease my pain."

A great sadness overtook Rose then, and she wished with all her heart she could say in words how truly sorry she was.

"Your wish is granted girl." the lady said.

"For I can hear as well as feel your thoughts."

"Then you know-?"

"How much sorrow you feel for me? Yes, child I know. I also know now why he likes you."

Cautiously Rose stood and met the lady's eyes, though it pained her.

"Likes me? What do you mean?"

Regally she raised her blackened hand for silence.

"We will not speak of this now. Go home child and deal with your first reality."

"My lady please-"

The woman smiled and Rose was filled with both a lovely warmth and bitter chill.

"Tonight, later tonight we will talk child. Farewell."





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