Chapter One – The Dream

CHAPTER ONE THE DREAM The dream was different this time. Normally, when he took a nap during the day, he would have the same strange dream. He would be somewhere basically familiar, like his bedroom or his apartment, but he would be held restricted from behind by what felt like a Demon.

This Demon would hold him and they would float around the room, while he tried to struggle out of its grip. He would attempt to reach backwards and grab the Demon and usually woke himself up reaching over his head at his pillow. But this time, in his dream, the Demon took him to a new place. And he knew that the Demon was female as he caught a glimpse of her in the moonlight. The female Demon was still holding him from behind and restricting his movement but he didn’t feel as desperate as he normally did.

She carried him, still floating through a different landscape that was mostly dark shapes that weren’t illuminated by the moon overhead. She floated until they came to a building, a dilapidated looking barn of some sort. She carried him into the building and soon he could hear the noises of another creature that sounded big and nasty. Then she floated to the corner of a wall and peeked around the edge and he saw what was making all the noise. Before him was another Demon, for it could be only that as it had horns and hoofed feet and large claws on its hands. It howled in rage and pain at the moon and for the first time since he was a child, he felt fear at seeing this beast before him.

The female Demon pulled him back around the corner and they flew through different hallways, speeding away. But then they stopped and paused in the shadows somewhere and he heard the Demon come close. “I can feel you out there little soul!” the Demon said loudly. “I will find you and consume you! You will be mine!” In a total panic, he trembled against the female Demon who seemed to be on his side and protecting him from the other Demon. In another moment, she sped away and they were free of the dangerous Demon that hunted them.

She brought him back to his house and she released him and he woke up, pretty freaked out and panting. He opened his eyes and looked around his bedroom, searching the shadows for anything strange. His room was the same as it always was, small and filled with boxes from when he thought he was going to get evicted or have to move. His two cats were nearby, both asleep and not worried about a thing. He lowered his head to the pillow again and closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep. At some point he did go back to sleep and slept soundly for the rest of the night. He thought of himself as a simple man and perhaps that was true, but Cormac struggled with the world around him and had suffered for his passions. He lived in a small one bedroom apartment on the third floor of his building in a small town that was filled mostly with people under pressure to survive.

Cormac had experienced a series of bad years that eventually landed him in that small town, to live alone and try and recover some sort of life. He was thirty years old and divorced with an eight year daughter that lived with her mother full time. Cormac was the adopted son of a psychotherapist who he didn’t get along with very well. Cormac struggled with the relationships in his life and had very few friends that he could count on. He was sober now, after two years of treatment, but had been a drug user and an alcoholic for much of his teen years. After a series of bad choices and events, one right after another, he had finally reached out for help for both his drug addictions and his mental disability. He had been diagnosed with bi-polar, mood disorder not as specified and with an anti social personality disorder.

What it meant was, he struggled with anger and his emotions and he often had conflict with others. That conflict had cost him jobs and relationships, but since asking for help, he had received treatment for his addictions and medicine for his disability. He felt much calmer and more ordered than he had before. Cormac’s relationships were still a little skewed however. He had just been dumped by his girlfriend of two years, Kayla, on his birthday. It had been about six months and he was trying very hard to remain friends with her, but she had it difficult by not interacting as much as she once did. Cormac did not get along with his adoptive father at all, and their relationship had been reduced to emails only.

His relationship with his daughter was good, but with her mother it was terrible, so often he didn’t get to see her and that upset him very much. Other than his father, his daughter and his ex, he had a handful of friends he spoke to by email and two friends he had met in treatment that lived locally. Mostly he kept to himself, living alone with his two cats, trying to become an author and writing everyday. Slowly, over time, Cormac had become more private and spent most of his time at home writing. He was hoping to become an author and he wrote for several hours a day. He had produced a small body of work and now he was trying to get it all published, one way or another. He woke at eight in the morning when his alarm went off and he spent a few minutes laying in bed before he sat up and looked around his room.

His apartment was small, with a bathroom, a bedroom and another large room that had a half wall separating the kitchen and the living room. His bedroom was still filled with boxes from when he thought he would lose his apartment. He had been receiving social services and help from another organization to pay his rent but that help had stopped a few months ago. Thankfully, the landlord worked out a deal, letting Cormac work instead of paying rent while he waited for his SSI case to be finished. He had just received a letter saying he had won his case and soon he would be getting payments and he could pay rent again. It had been months of struggle, but there was finally light at the end of the tunnel. He threw off his blankets and put on some socks, pajama pants and a shirt and walked into the kitchen.

Already his younger cat was meowing for food and he open the fridge to get the half can left from the day before. He walked into the bathroom and fed the cats, even though the older one wouldn’t saunter in until later. He walked back into the kitchen, disposed of the cat food can, then back to the bathroom to brush his teeth and use the toilet. Then back to the kitchen to take his day meds. He had just started taking a new medication during the day that was supposed to give him some energy, but so far he hadn’t felt a change. There was a basic depression that he felt every day since the break up. It had come as a surprise and hurt him very much.

They had broken up once before and he had worked incredibly hard to convince her to come back to him and he thought they were doing good, but she broke it off on his birthday and since then, well, there just wasn’t much to be happy about. He left the kitchen and walked to the one window that faced the street outside. He lived on a quiet block with all large houses. Either owned by someone with a bit of money or rented to a few people, like in his own building. Cormac lived in apartment six, on the third floor. There was a young man across the hall, two sisters that lived downstairs and a couple right below him. A single woman lived on the first floor as well as the landlord and his mother.

Cormac looked out the window to see the street lit up by the morning sun. The sky was cloudless and it seemed like a nice fall day. He noticed a man standing outside, right on the corner of the street across from his building. The man was dressed in blue jeans and a flannel shirt with a cap on that obscured his face. It had looked like he was looking up at Cormac’s apartment at first but when Cormac looked down, the man was looking away. Strange, he thought to himself, just before his older cat came running in from the ledge outside where the cats liked to play. When Cormac looked back on the street, the man was gone. He didn’t understand how he could just vanish like that, but he wasn’t there anymore, so Cormac turned back inside to talk to his cat.

He sat down in his one large chair in his living room and pulled out his book to read a little before starting his day. He read often, usually in every spare minute during the day. He would read while walking to the bathroom and back even. After an hour or so, he sat down at his computer to check his email and facebook account. Twitter was filled with updates as it always was and he skimmed through a few of them before moving on to facebook. He scrolled down the home screen, reading what his friends had posted and then posted something himself. Therapy day, he wrote and clicked the post button. Then he checked his regular email, hoping that his ex had emailed him back, but she hadn’t and he had gotten used to that at this point.

There was an email from his father, just checking in and he read it and decided to respond later. Nothing else of interest, so he went back to facebook and loaded up the two games he liked to play. It took almost an hour to play both and by that time, he was hungry. So he found something on Hulu to watch and prepared to make some food. He ate the same thing almost every morning. He had bacon, two bagels with butter and some grapes. He liked oranges and grapefruit too, but they were either out of season, or he just didn’t like what he saw at the grocery store, so he bought grapes instead.

He ate his breakfast, sharing some bacon with his younger cat and watched something online. Then he had some time before he had to catch the cab to go to therapy, so he played around online a bit more and then read over what he had written the day before. Cormac wondered if he should write down his dream. It had been different in that it came at night and not during the day like all the others, and he had actually been frightened of what he saw. Ever since he was young, he had decided that dreams were just stories in his head and nothing to be worried about.

Nightmares didn’t scare him because he could remember they were only dreams even while he was having them. But this dream had truly scared him. The scent and sounds from the Demon sounded so real and he felt that it was really looking for him. The memory of it was just as bad. Cormac wasn’t the religious sort. He believed that religion and faith was for people who need to feel like something good was watching over them. He felt that intelligent people didn’t need that crutch and he was more realistic. He believed in what he could see and touch. He had never read the bible or gone to church, but when he read about or saw movies about exorcism, he had the distinct feeling that those were actually true and someone really could be possessed by a malignant force. He had no reason to believe it any more than believing in God, but what he had read convinced him that possession could happen and probably did happen. So the dream freaked him out a little. Soon it was time to wait for the cab that would take him to the local Mental Health building where he would meet with his therapist. He got dressed in jeans and a shirt, with a long sleeve shirt over that since it was chilly out. He grabbed his book, his keys and his knife and walked down the three flights of stairs to the front porch. He chose a seat there and sat down to read and wait. His medical coverage paid for the cab and he had a standing order to be picked up every Thursday. Cormac liked that system because he really didn’t like talking on the phone at all, so this saved him from calling each week. The only downside was needing to be outside an hour before the appointment to wait for the cab and then there was usually a longer wait to be picked up again to go home. He read his book, a new fantasy novel, that being his favorite genre. A half hour later, the Columbia Cab Service pulled up and honked even though Cormac was already up and moving towards the car. He walked down the steps, onto the stone sidewalk and into the vehicle. There was a black man driving, someone Cormac had met before and they exchanged a greeting and then the man drove off. It took about a half four to reach the neighboring town where Mental Health was so Cormac read while sitting in the car. They arrived at Mental Health, and Cormac thanked the driver and stepped out. The building was old and had been converted from something else into the offices it housed now. As Cormac stepped away from the cab he spotted a flash of something at the corner of the building. He glanced over and saw what looked to be a little girl in a dress move behind the corner of the building. She was pale and kind of see-through and Cormac felt a strange sense of alarm go through his body. She didn’t look like a person, she looked like a ghost. He shook his head and looked again and she was gone. Feeling very strange, he walked up the steps to the door and went inside. He stopped at reception and stated his name so they could call up and announce that he was there. He found a seat in the waiting room and opened his book again. He found it hard to read and kept thinking about the little girl that he had seen. Did he really see a ghost, he thought? How could that be? Ten minutes later, his therapist, Janet came to the doorway. “Ready?” she said good-naturedly. She was pretty and young, around his own age he thought. She was sweet and attentive and he had a great working relationship with her. He had been seeing her for over a year, along with a psychiatrist that prescribed most of his meds. Together they walked down the hall and she asked how he was. “Same as always,” he answered, and she nodded her head. They walked upstairs and around the corner and stepped into her office on the second floor. “How are you?” he asked, looking at her large belly. She was pregnant and due soon. She had been saying she couldn’t wait for the baby to be born, she felt like she had been pregnant forever. “I’m fine, just like you, still waiting!” she answered, her smile a little strained. “Yeah, me too,” he said. “Still no check from SSI?” she asked, hopeful. “No, it hasn’t come yet. The letter they sent said around the sixteenth, so maybe early, but maybe later than that too.” “That sucks,” she said. “And how are you otherwise? The same you said?” “Yeah, the same. Nothing new going on except for my writing,” he told her, having already decided he wasn’t going to tell her about the ghost. “You’re still writing everyday?” she asked. “Everyday,” he answered. “I write maybe twenty five pages a day. I read that an author I really like tries to write eleven pages a day, so I try to write more than that if I can.” The office was tiny, just a square room with one window on the far wall. There was a desk and a chair with it, but Janet sat in another chair in front of the desk. There was a small table separating them with a small sand garden and some colored chalk in a little container. Cormac uncrossed and recrossed his legs as he looked out the window. He felt awkward staring at her for the whole session so he often looked away. “Any word from your daughter?” Janet asked next. She took a sip from her drink that sat on a small bookshelf by her side. “Yes, we spoke earlier in the week. She’s fine. Her mother’s still crazy though. Got into another fight with me about child support. But I pay every week, even if it’s not as much as she wants, I still pay.” “What more can she ask?” Janet said agreeing with him. “Will you get to see her soon?” “I don’t know, it’s always a problem with her. She would rather I was totally out of the picture, but that’s not gonna happen.” “How about your father, heard from him?” her phone beeped and she picked it up, pressed a button and put it back down. “Yes, got an email this morning. That’s still the same too. He wants to see me, but still hasn’t apologized for what he did, so I’m not inclined to let it happen.” “Well, you know he may never apologize,” she warned, smiling all the same. “And that’s why we may never hang out again,” he answered quickly. He had decided this a few months ago when his father and he had argued online about writing and publishing. He was supportive sometimes, but other times he was weird about it, like it was a challenge or something. “How about Kayla? Anything from her?” Janet asked, her voice softened for this subject. “No, nothing,” he said with a sigh. “I write her, but she rarely writes me back. Mostly we talk about normal stuff, like our pets or how her stepfather is leaving the house soon. But we don’t discuss our lives at all, so I don’t really know what’s going on with her.” “Well, if she doesn’t want to share that stuff, you have to respect it, right?” Cormac looked her in the eye for just a moment. “I know, I just miss her and the future I thought we were going to have. I would’ve been so great. But I get it; she doesn’t want to be with me. I just hope we can have a better friendship than we’ve had so far.” “Give it time Cormac; I’m sure things will work out.” She sounded so sure about it that he tried to have hope, but he knew he would feel depressed for a while still. He decided to tell her about the dream. He described it to her, in detail and she remained silent for the whole description. When he was done, she was silent for a moment and then spoke. “That’s a strange dream. What do you think its about?” “I don’t know really. It was just really strange and I can’t believe I was so affected by it. I was really scared when I woke up!” he laughed, looking back on it it seemed silly. “They say dreams are our brains trying to work stuff out. Maybe the female Demon was pulling you around because you feel so helpless about the way your life is now. Nothing is in your control, but we all wish we could control our lives better.” Cormac thought about that. It certainly could be that. But something about it was stranger than that. It affected him in some way. He felt like it was linked to the girl he saw, but he wasn’t going to discuss that at all. “That could be,” he offered, But who knows? Maybe I’ll have another dream like it and learn more about it. Can’t say yet, but it was certainly strange.” For the rest of the session, they talked about meds, scheduling another appointment with the shrink and who his therapist would be during her leave for the baby. After an hour, she walked him back downstairs and he called the cab, settling in to wait outside. He sat down at a picnic bench a ways away from the building and he pulled out his book again. It could be a short wait, or a long wait, he never knew what the cab company would do. He saw a flash again and he looked up at the corner of the building. She was there again and he watched her this time closely. She was young and looked like she came from another time. Her clothing was different and he could tell she must be older than her youthful appearance. She watched him for a while and he just stared back, not really knowing what he should do. The he waved, thinking that’s what he would do if she was a regular human. She smiled a sad smile and waved back. He felt sort of shocked. That meant she could see him and knew that he could see her! How was this happening, he wondered? He never saw spirits before. Did his dream have something to do with it? Suddenly the girl looked frightened of something and vanished into the building. Cormac didn’t see anything but he felt a presence, like pressure on him, from a dark force, something bad that had just shown up. He felt like he was going to vomit and tears came from his eyes under the weight of that pressure. Then it was gone and he felt normal again. Did something come for that girl? It felt like something really terrible had arrived and then was suddenly gone again. He heard a car and looked to the road and saw the white cab coming. He got up on shaky feet and walked over, pulled the door open and stepped inside. It was the same man from before and he was silent all the way home. He was dropped off outside his building and he quickly went upstairs and sat down. Today was turning out to be really strange and he felt like it was all because of that dream he had. He sat down at his computer and started reading over his work again, trying to think of something else and avoiding thinking about what had happened so far today. He immersed himself into his work for the next few hours.

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