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The Secrets of Another -- Part 4

The Secrets of Another -- Part 4

Jennifer is haunted by a dream that perplexes reality.









Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary . . .



—Edgar Allan Poe


The rain had not yet ceased, even as the sun fell below the horizon. Many of the town’s residents turned in for the night, and the shops began to close due to the lack of business caused by the gloomy weather. Streets were empty, with the golden light from the lampposts cast upon them, and the streams of water that filled sewer drains. Riverhaven was quiet as the night approached, muffled by the calm rain.

Jennifer was home and had snuck upstairs to her bedroom without saying more than a few words to her mother or step-father. She flipped on the light switch, placed her backpack on the floor near the door and proceeded toward the closet to change into sleepwear. When she sat down on her bed, she added William’s cellphone number into her Contacts list, then inserted the charger and placed it on the nightstand beside the bed. She paused and stared at the phone for a moment. She could send him a text and continue the conversation they had earlier. An urge overcame her, and she reached out to grab it—but almost as suddenly restrained herself. No, she thought. Don’t do it. Don’t seem desperate for his attention.

She turned off the light and went back to her bed to lay down underneath the sheets and blankets. The relaxing cold of the fabric slowly warmed as time passed, as she laid there and listened to the drops of rain that fell upon the bedroom window. Her back was turned to the cellphone on the nightstand, as she curled up underneath the silky sheets. What if I just send him a text to make sure he has my number? She thought. Maybe then he’ll be the one to spark up another conversation. Is that desperate of me? She sighed loudly, as she looked around in the dark bedroom. Hardly anything was visible, as the reflection of faint light from the window cast on nothing more than the ceiling, the dresser and the laptop upon it, and the small TV in the corner. She glanced over her shoulder at the charging cellphone and thought of how easy it could be to speak with William again. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Give it time.

It was then that she began to doze, her mind and body had soon enough drifted to sleep.

——She stood alone along the concrete pathway, surrounded by thick tendrils of brush, and the twisted and mangled dead trees. White misty fog crept through the dreadful forest, as the sky was blackened by smoky clouds. Her breath was visible, the air itself cold against her skin. She looked down the path before her and saw nothing but the darkness and fog that lurked ahead. She glanced over her shoulder to the opposite direction and saw the same. When her gaze returned forward, there came a figure that stepped out from the dark. It appeared to be a man; this conclusion brought about by the inky figure’s broad shoulders and tall stance. It was like a shadow, a deep umbra.

Jennifer watched it carefully, but it didn’t move. She wondered if this person was waiting for her to approach. She considered taking a step forward, the one step that could propel her toward the shade. But, something didn’t feel right, something in the air, as though that oily silhouette was undeniably hostile, and nothing more. She stepped forward anyway, despite the pounding of her heart and the warning of her conscience. Drawing closer to the shadow, goosebumps formed on her arms and erected the little white hairs atop her skin. Her body was aware of the danger ahead, and perhaps her mind knew too, but she wasn’t going to stop.

That was until the shadow lunged forward and darted toward her in a full sprint. She stood there and watched it come closer, and closer, and closer. That thing, as black as the void, was nearly upon her, maybe twenty feet or so, and suddenly, she heard a whisper. A faint, yet calming masculine voice that spoke as though someone was standing beside her. “I am so sorry,” she heard. The earth then trembled beneath her feet, and the shadow vanished into black smoke, all while a deep droning noise echoed down from the cloudy sky, falling into her ears and entered the deepest recesses of her mind.——

Her eyes opened, and first saw the faint light that painted the ceiling of her bedroom. She shot up, gasping for breath as her heart throbbed and brow sweat. She looked throughout the bedroom, for a moment, believing she was not the only one within it. Her eyes moved between the closet and the bedroom door until her sight finally rested upon the window and its watery streams. Rain continued to pour, and she found solace within the thousands of muffled drops on the house and glass.

Her heart rate soon returned to normal, as well as her breathing. From that moment of madness, her mind was once again comforted by the pattern of the raindrops. She sighed and laid down to rest her head upon the pillow, as her electric blue eyes found their way to the smartphone that lay fully charged on the nightstand. She grabbed it; its light blinding her for a moment and read the time: 2:21 in the morning. Unlocking it, she opened an Internet tab and searched for Camelot, Virginia. The first results were of the Arthurian legend, King Arthur’s Court of Camelot in England. Ironic, she thought. William said my name comes from King Arthur’s wife, Guinevere. And William himself was born in a city called Camelot.

But as she searched for more information on the city in Virginia, she found little more than a single Wikipedia page. The page itself had only one solid paragraph, which stated that the city was founded in 1999. This doesn’t make sense. William said he’s nineteen years old, which would mean he was born in 1992. How can he claim to be from a city that wasn’t even built until 1999?

She closed the Internet tab, and opened up the Facebook app and pressed on the search bar. A short list of names popped up underneath the bar, those of whom she had searched for recently: Adam King, David Marrok, Katelyn Ramsland. But as she read those names, there came the stark realization that she didn’t know William’s last name. Despite their conversations, never once did he mention his surname.

She closed the Facebook app and opened the Contacts tab. Among the roster of names was his own and his phone number; with such easy access to him between her fingers, she pressed Message, and it opened a blank box with a little flashing text cursor. She typed ‘Hi’ into the box and just as quickly deleted it. Then she typed ‘Hey’ into the box and yet again, deleted it. She sighed and put the phone down at her side. The faint light from the streetlamp outside lit the bedroom like it was noon on a sunny day.

She ran her fingers across her forehead and through her hair, pulling herself up and out of bed. Just as she grabbed the curtains, something caught her attention from the window to the road beyond the yard. At the edge of the grass stood a human-shaped figure, a masculine shadow by the broad shoulders and tall stance, as the light beamed down from a streetlamp upon its backside. She paused and waited to see what the person was doing, wondering if he could see her and remembering her phone on the bed.

He turned toward the right and began to walk away from the house. Jennifer pulled the curtains together and hopped back onto the bed. She breathed heavily as she covered herself with the blankets and sheets, for the rest of the night believing the horrid dream she had had was nothing short of reality.



This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © 2018 ― Zachary W Mahnke

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author.

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