Someone was calling her name, but she didn’t want to wake. Fern rolled over, pulling the duvet tighter around her to try and block out the voice. Even though she hadn’t been having the best of dreams, something about hedgehogs taking over the world, it was better than waking up. She mumbled something to the voice, which she hoped sounded like ‘leave me alone,’ then fell back to sleep.
She was a child again. Wondering through a huge garden and looking at exotic plants. A family holiday, maybe? She was strapped into a baby buggy, unable to get up and walk about even though that was the only thing she wanted to do. Chubby fingers appeared before her face, pointing at large butterflies dangling from lush green leaves. A toddler mash of barely intelligible words bubbled from her mouth.
‘What is it, Fern? What is that?’ her mother’s voice came from high above her.
Fern tilted her head up and continued to point, whilst babbling.
‘Is it a butterfly? Yes, it is. Don’t they look so pretty?’
They went on, passing tall palm trees and lots of under scrub bushes. The pram wheels crunched on a gravel and sand pathway. Birds sang and darted around, though most seemed to stay hidden. Fern heard her mother taking to someone, her father? Older brother? She wasn’t sure. She rubbed her head feeling too hot and looked up at the glass dome above them. The designers and gardeners had tried hard to cover up the metal beams and windows, but it could still be seen in some places.
Fern opened her mouth to complain, but the sight of a teenage boy stopped her. She didn’t know him and felt a wave of fear. He had long light brown hair, sharp dark brown eyes and a calm looking face. Fern pointed, her voice torn between shouting and crying. Dimly, she heard her mother asked her what was wrong then the scene changed.
She was standing on a wind-swept beach. The sea was raging in with white topped waves crashing against a desert storm. Oddly, Fern was aware that she was her present self. She looked around, but couldn’t see anything, other than a cliff face in the distance. Hurrying over there, she found a small cave and went inside. The walls were wet and seaweed was strewn across the sand floor. She heard voices, despite all the storm noise and paused.
Ahead was a dim yellow light, fire? A torch? Something else? And standing either side were two teenage boys. She got closer and saw that one was the boy from before and the other was taller, with red hair and violet eyes. They were sharing a cigarette and standing almost in a nook of the cave.
‘Why now?’ the brown haired boy spoke.
The red head one shrugged and took a long drag. Smoke curled out from his mouth and rushed up into the darkness of the cave ceiling.
‘I though you wanted to be with me. It’s what we planned all along. So, why?’
‘Because, I…’ the red head trailed off then passed the cigarette over, but the other boy refused to take it and instead began begging.
‘I won’t die like the others. I’m stronger than them. Please? I’m ready.’
‘No. Not yet, not yet,’ came the reply.
Fern peered around a large rock, completely absorbed. I know these boys, she thought, from school? From some movie? She tried to listen harder, but the wind had really picked up and the boys’ voices were fading. She felt the edges of a stray wave touch the back of her naked ankles. She glanced down, but couldn’t see much. The wave started to retreat or at least she thought that as she turned back. A bigger wave roared in and slammed against Fern. She screamed then icy salt water was filling her mouth and lungs. She spun like clothes in a washing machine and fought to find the surface. Chocking and unable to breath, her vision went black and serious panic cut through her.
Struggling awake, Fern dug herself out of the nest of pillows and blankets. The bedroom was dark, but after a few blinks, her eyes adjusted and she could see clearly. Glancing to the other side of the bed, she wondered where Brook was. Rubbing her face and eyes, she got out of the bed and went to the door. Cracking it open, she peered out and saw Brook sat on the sofa. The TV was on, casting ever changing colourings around the dark living room –kitchen combo. A large jar candle was lit on the coffee table and as Fern took a deep breath, she couldn’t help the small smile that came to her face.
‘Hey,’ she called sleepily.
‘Hi,’ Brook answered with a flick of his head.
Fern walked out and joined him on the sofa.
‘Yeah. I had this weird dream though…’
‘Oh?’ Brook uttered as he switched between channels.
Fern drew a cushion into her lap, having noticed she was just wearing underwear and a t-shirt. She looked at the TV and saw that Brook had stopped on a black and white movie.
‘I think you were in it,’ she picked up.
Brook changed the channel back to what he’d been watching – cartoons- and fully turned to her. When she didn’t go on, he asked her to and put the TV control down on the coffee table next to the black candle.
Fern took a deep breath of scented liquorice air and told him about her dream, ‘I was on this beach during a storm and I went into this cave. There were two boys there and they were talking about the plans they had made to be together…’
Brook’s eyes shot over to the bookcase and unable to stop herself, Fern looked too. The photograph of two young teenaged boys looked back at them. Fern sighed and pressed her head into the sofa, ‘it doesn’t matter,’ she mumbled.
‘Sometimes…’ Brook started then paused.
Fern toyed with the cushion in her lap and debated leaving to get dressed.
‘Sometimes, the blood shows us stuff. Memories, thoughts, feelings. Or else it seems to, but these things are not always right….’
Fern nodded, ‘it was just a dream,’ she concluded, ‘it doesn’t matter.’
Brook pulled a small face then turned back to her, ‘maybe, you should get dressed? Then we can go out and get you some fresh blood.’
Fern bit her bottom lip and tugged at the edge of the cushion. The memories of last night came flooding back and for a few moments she was nervous about going out again. Dacian’s face popped into her head and before she could chase it away, the sweet taste of his blood came back into her mouth.
‘What?’ Brook broke into her thoughts.
‘Perhaps, you should just go and bring some back for me,’ Fern said softly.
Brook shifted on the sofa and put his hands on her shoulders, ‘I won’t leave you again. I learnt from my mistake and now you need to do the same.’
Fern frowned and studied his face, but couldn’t pick anything out under his serious expression. It’s like your Jekyll and Hyde, I swear, she thought.
‘Let’s go,’ Brook said and got up.
Fern, with a deep sigh, pushed the cushion back into place and got up. She walked back to the bedroom, whilst Brook sorted out the living room.