A Shadowlander's Dream - Book One: A Tale of Shadows By Kathryn K. Williams

Part One: Dawn's Break

Prologue to a Dream

A girl ran down the winding city streets, her backpack slung over her shoulder and a duffle bag held tightly in her arms. She kept her eyes low as she quickened her pace. She didn't want anyone to recognize her as she ventured downtown on that busy Monday morning. People didn't seem to notice the girl as she pushed her way against the crowd towards the train station. That was fine by her. She put her hand in her pocket to check if the train ticket she bought the other day was still there. She felt some comfort at the feeling of the paper. A sign of her only chance of escaping the madness of her life. Upon entering the station she quickly glanced around to see it was filled with people on their way to work. She ignored the people and ran down a set of stairs to the main tracks. A large clock told the girl that her train would be leaving in only a few moments, which was just the way she wanted it to be. There was no time for anyone to stop her if they figured out her plan. Everything was perfect. She broke into a sprint down the last of the stairs and along the long platform. She turned around and walked backwards to make sure she was not being followed. Nervously she pulled her backpack higher on her shoulder and quickly turned around again to find herself face to face with another girl. She had no time to stop herself before colliding into her, forcing both of them to tumble to the ground. She rubbed her knee and began to apologize when the bell tolling the trains departure rang throughout the station. She grabbed her duffle bag, jumped to her feet and dashed for the train doors with the other girl close on her heels. Both leapt onto the train just as the doors closed behind them. The entire car was empty other then the two girls. Panting she found herself a seat and plopped down, trying hard to catch her breath. She opened her eyes to see the girl she bumped into sitting across from her. The girl simply smiled at her. There was something about that smile. Something that she could not put her finger on. The train started to move. Relieved to be finally on her way the girl let out a deep sigh and bid a goodbye to her old life.

Chapter One - A New Morning

"Rise and shine!"

A voice cut through Jennifer North's sleep, startling her out of her peaceful slumber. She blinked while shielding her eyes against the bright new day's light that flooded into her room. She squinted in search of the person who invaded her dreams. Her search didn't go without avail. Before her stood Ann Emery, a young woman in her mid twenties who was hired by her mother to keep an eye on the house while she was away. Ann bent over next to the bed and picked up a few of Jenn's dirty clothes.

Jenn rubbed her eyes at the sight, "Did you hafta open the blinds?" Jenn asked groggily, pulling the blankets over her head, only to have the blankets torn off of her, "HEY! Why'd you do that?" Jenn yelled as she tried to reach for the blankets which were now being neatly folded.

"Because you have school today, young lady." Ann told her as she set the now folded blanket at the end of Jenn's bed.

Jenn brushed her bangs out of her eyes to get a better look at the digital clock that sat upon a small desk next to her bed. Its red lights blinked at her reading 12:00 over and over again, "OH NO!!" She jumped out of bed, "The power went out again. What time is it anyways?" Jenn frantically looked across the room in search of her school uniform.

"It is about-" Ann started to look at her watch when a voice calling from outside.

"HEY JENN YOU THERE!!!" The voice yelled out.

"Kris is here already?" Jenn scurried to the window and flung it open. She poked her head out the window and yelled to a tall thin girl in blue school uniform, "Hey Kris!" She waved enthusiastically to her friend.

"What are you doing up there?" Kris called out from the sidewalk, "Dreaming of the perfect girl?" She grinned.

Jenn grabbed a large crystal dragon off the nearby desk and pretended to throw it at her friend, "Why you . . . " The dragon nearly slipped from her hand. She regained her senses before dropping the dragon out the window and set the dragon back down on the dresser, "I'll be down in a moment." She called out the window once more before turning around to see that Ann had left before she began to strip off her pyjamas and prepared to get dressed.

She stopped for a moment to look at herself in the mirror that stood over her dresser. The bangs of her straight, black, bob cut hair that yet again hung over the left side of her partly Asian face. No matter how much she struggled with her hair it always fell the same. She tried all the same, let out a sigh and opened the dresser to find a clean bra when something moved in the corner of her eye. She looked up quickly only to be greeted by her own reflection in the mirror. She quickly glanced around the room. Her bed, which was small, but comfortable, was set in the far corner. Her desk sat next to her bed and held the clutter of the paranormal books that she had been leafing through the night before. A poster of Chloe Sevigny, dressed in her black leathers from "If these walls could talk 2", hung above the desk. On the back of her door hung yet another poster, this time of Melissa Etheridge. Other than that the room was rather empty. Clothes were scattered all about and if Jenn knew Ann they would be in the wash the moment that Jenn left for school. Nothing was out of the ordinary so Jenn relaxed a little and began once again to prepare for school.

Double-quick she grabbed some panties and hastily pulled them, then fastened the bra in place while looking around for the rest of her things. She found her white dress shirt hanging on the end bed post and snatched it up, continuing her quest as she buttoned up the shirt. A small black tie that slung over one of the closet door handles was quickly snatched up and wrapped around the neck of her flipped up collar. She gathered her navy blue blazer off the back of her desk chair and briefly looked at the crest upon its right breast pocket, still proud to be able to wear the academy's shield upon her cloths. As she pulled the blazer on she found the matching pleaded skirt laying on the desk chair and stepped into it, then zipped up the side. Satisfied she had everything she ran down the stairs where she tried to hunt up her shoes in the closet by the front door, "Ann, did you move my shoes?" She called out into the reaches of the house as she fought with her neck tie.

"They are sitting next to the door where you can find them." Ann's voice called out from somewhere in the house.

"Where?" Jenn asked before looking, then turned around to see a pair of small black runners off to the side under one of the long frosted windows that ran along either side of the front door, "Never mind, I found them." She grabbed her shoes and began to pull them on when Ann entered the front hall.

"Your mom asked me to make sure that you remember your psychotherapist appointment this evening." Ann reminded as she came down the hall with a brown paper lunch bag in hand.

"I know, I know." Jenn replied unconcerned, "I don't know why I have to go, I mean they are only dreams after all." Actually, they were more than just dreams. These dreams felt like something else entirely. If it wasn't for the fact that one of them left her with such an unsettling feeling in her heart, enough to keep her up the rest of the night, she probably would have just ignored them. If she had known that telling her school councillor about them would end with some psycho doc appointment, then she would have just kept the dreams to herself.

"That may be true, nevertheless the school is concerned about you."

"Yeah, whatever." Jenn utter as she tapped the toe of her shoe on the ground. She looked up at Ann as she took her lunch from the woman, "Oh by the way, I asked mom and she said Kris could stay over tomorrow night." She took a quick peek inside the bag then closed it.

"She did?" Ann asked sceptically, "I haven't heard a word about this from your mother."

"I talked with her on the phone last night and she said-"

"I don't care if you talked to her. Until I hear from her then the answer is no!" Ann returned sternly.

"You have no right to tell me what I can and can't do." Jenn could feel herself getting frustrated, "If I want Kris to stay over, then she will."

"If that is the way you want to play things. I'll just make a call to your mother while you are at school."

"Please do!" Jenn almost splat, getting increasingly irritated with the woman. She grabbed a small thin laptop bag which she had converted into a school bag, shoved her lunch inside it, then quickly opened the door and slammed it behind her.

Outside Kris patiently waited for her friend. Her eyes were closed as she looked at the sun, letting its warm light wash over her body. It felt nice to be able to just stand there and let time pass on by. She heard the sound of the screen door and opened her eyes to greet her friend with a smile.

"Kris, I'm ready!" Jenn called out as she stomped across the front pouch and down the steps that led to a small path through the cramped front lawn. She swiftly hopped over the short iron fence, a fence that isolated her home from the rest of the world, and came to a landing beside her friend. She blinked at her friend's hair in disbelief, "Blue, Kris?" she asked with curiosity.

"Oh, a failed experiment." The girl pulled at one of the bangs of her short hair curly hair and stared at it crossed eyes, "I meant it to be silver." She looked over at Jenn as the two of them began to walk to school. "What do you think?"

"It's you." Jenn concluded with a laugh. Kris smiled back at the girl and once again Jenn noticed how boyish Kris looked when she smiled at her. Kris was taller than Jenn and a year older than her. They only met less then a year ago and quickly became close friends. It was like they had been friends in another life, "Sorry I made you wait." Jenn apologized as she fixed the collar of her shirt and ran her fingers through her hair.

"Problems at home again?" Kris asked, concerned for her friend.

Jenn let out a sigh as she kicked at the ground. "Same old stuff. Ann is being a pain. Just because Mom asked her to look over the house doesn't make her my boss."

"Your mom away on business again?"

"When is she not away on business? And when she is home, I never get to see her anyway. So what difference does it make?" Jenn kicked a rock as hard as she could and watched as it skipped down the street. It came to a stop at the foot of a small blonde pigtailed girl.

"Hey Tanya!" Kris called out to the girl.

"Jenn! Kris!!" The girl joined her friends.

"What you up to?" Kris asked as they reached the girl.

"Nothing muuuucch." Tanya yawned, "Is it just me or does it seem more like Saturday than Thursday?" She asked, rubbing her eyes.

"I know what you mean." Jenn agreed, then was infected with Tanya's yawn, "I hate when that happens." She said between the yawn.

"What?" Tanya looked at her friend with her head cocked to the side.

"Have you ever noticed that when someone yawns everyone around them yawns too?"

Kris laughed, "I've never had that problem."

The two other girls stared at Kris then looked at each other, "Kris is not normal." Tanya mumbled into Jenn's ear loud enough for Kris to hear.

"In this world who would want to be?" Jenn marvelled with a snicker.

"Yeah," Kris agreed, "If normal means drooling over boys all day long, then I don't want it."

"No, you would rather be drooling over girls." Jenn teased with a broad grin.

"So would the both of you, so you are the not ones to talk." Kris reminded Jenn with a smirk, "And speaking of girls, how are things with between you and May, Jenn?"

"Don't remind me." Jenn answered irritably

"She still not letting go?" Kris worried. May was an old friend who has been acting rather strangely towards Jenn recently. Kris could fully understand why May would start showing feelings for her friend. Many of the girls at school blushed when Jenn looked their way, however only a select few really knew Jenn well enough to call her a friend. It is not that the girl was hard to get to know; she was just very closed off. Kris wished there was a way to open up Jenn's heart, but she didn't want to force it, and the situation with May seemed only to be worsening things.

"Have you told her how you feel?" Tanya raised. She too could feel the tension building amongst her friends and it was beginning to distress her. She watched as Jenn's head lowered and stared down at her feet.

"I don't know what to say." Jenn said as she watched the road move under foot, "I can't just tell her to go away, can I?"

"Yeah, true." Tanya admitted, feeling a bit guilty. She never got along with May as long as they had known each other and had been known to get into long arguments with the girl. Jenn, May and Tanya all knew each other from kindergarten, and for Tanya it would be no loss to just tell May to go away, but for Jenn it was a different matter. She had never told anyone off in as long as Tanya could remember. It was as if, no matter how irritating May was, Jenn either never noticed or simply ignored it.

"Listen . . . can we not talk about May right now?" Jenn pleaded, "I've already got a headache and I don't need to be reminded of the bigger headache I'm going to have." She rubbed her temples.

The rest of the walk to school was in silence. None of the girls could think of something to talk about so they opted to just keep their mouths shut for the time being. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally arrived at the school ground. The girls began to break off onto their separate paths.

"Jenn, we'll see you at lunch, right?" Tanya asked before taking off down the hall to the right.

"As always." Jenn answered with a smile.

"The club just wouldn't feel right without our president." Kris said patting Jenn on the head.

Jenn batted Kris's hand away and gave her a glare, "Since when am I the president? You are the oldest."

"But the club was your idea after all." Kris recalled beaming at her friend. Suddenly the school bell rang, "I guess we will have to leave this discussion for a later time?" Kris half asked before slipping down another hall, "See you at lunch."

"Kay!" Jenn called out as her friend started to disappear into a crowd of girls, "And there's nothing to discuss!" She yelled over the crowd.

"That is what you think." Kris teased as she waved behind her, "I'll talk to you later." And she vanished into a classroom.

Jenn shook her head, then ran up a set of stairs and headed into her morning class, "Morning Jenn!" called out a couple of girls. Jenn nodded and returned the greeting. She found her seat in the back of the class, next to the window and sat down heavily.

"You look tired." A voice sounded from behind Jenn.

Jenn leaned backwards over the back of her chair, "Morning May." Jenn greeted the girl upside down. May was a rather beautiful young girl with long wavy golden blonde hair, if Jenn didn't know the girl so well she might have felt an attraction to her. As long as Jenn could remember May had always been somewhere nearby. If it wasn't the same class, it was the same club. It was like Jenn could not get away from the girl. It was not like she didn't like May, far from it, it was just that Jenn wished to be alone at times and May just didn't seem to understand this. She was always pushing herself on Jenn and trying too hard to be helpful. After a while it started to get on Jenn's nerves.

"Morning!" May greeted playfully as she sat in the seat across from Jenn, "Did you sleep well? You don't look too good." She frowned when she saw the long look on Jenn's face.

Jenn lifted her head upright, closing her eyes tight against the headache she could feel growing, "I'll be fine. I just missed breakfast because a power outage knocked out the alarm clock again."

"That has been happening a lot recently hasn't it?" May asked curiously, "The lights flicked a few times last night at my home too. I wonder if it is related?"

"Who knows?" Jenn set her chin in the palm of her hand while staring straight ahead at the blackboard, "No one will come to check on the wiring at home until mom comes back so I have to live with it."

"Is she coming back soon?"

"I have no idea." Jenn sighed, shifting her eyes to the trees outside. Something inside her stirred, like a flickering memory trying to break through. She rubbed her temple trying to push the feeling away.

The classroom door opened and a large man in a brown suit entered, "Morning class." He greeted the room as he walked towards his desk at the head of the class, "Would you please take your seats now?" There was a rustle of movement as each girl hurried to their proper seat.

May got up to move to her seat at the far side of the class. On her way she gingerly ran her hand through the back of Jenn's hair causing the girl to pull away from her. The two girls exchanged glances as May continued across the room. As the class began Jenn prepared for a very long day. That feeling grew with every passing minute filling her head and heart. No matter how hard she tried to concentrate on her studies it only worsened until it was a throbbing ache within her chest. Then the pain emerged behind her left eye. She leaned over her desk and set her hand over her eye, letting her bangs fall over her hand. Her eye throbbed so much that she could feel a tear welling up in the corner of it. She glanced up at the clock. Time was not moving nearly as fast as she would like it to. Her eyes fell on May across the way. It was as if May could feel Jenn's eye upon her for she turned to look back at Jenn. She gave Jenn a small wave and a smile. Why was May suddenly having this attraction towards her? Jenn wondered to herself. Why were any of the girls in school attracted to her? It was not like she was very special. Sure she was only one of the very few girls that not only accepted her sexuality, but was open about it too. She always knew she liked girls since she was very little; hell, almost everyone in school knew, but then again, many were like herself; she just happened to be a little more open about it. It wasn't like it was her choice. If she had it her way she would be able to hide her feelings as easily as the others around her. She clenched her head with both hands as thoughts crashed through her mind.

There was even a small school club for the few girls like herself. Club Hen, as it was called, was sort of a joke that only Jenn truly understood. Being that she was part Japanese and her mother always called her "Hen" or strange. One day she was watching a Japanese television program and noticed that many times people also would refer to a gay person as "Hen." As a result the teachers were lead to believe that the club was for students who felt "out of place," when it was actually a lesbian gathering. She was not trying to stand out by creating the club. She just felt so alone, and knew that there had to be more girls like her seeing as this was an all-girls school after all. She knew that creating such a club would out herself to the school, however she was not expecting to become titled as one of the "Princes" of the school. She was expecting to be hated and maybe feared, not receiving random love letters in her locker. She set her head on her desk causing a small thud.

"Miss North, are you alright?" The teacher asked, looking up from the book he was reading.

Jenn lifted her head and looked around to see that the entire class was now staring at her. She didn't realize that she hit her head hard enough to get such attention. She felt dizzy and her eyes were having a hard time focussing, "I'm alright. It is just a head ac-" A wave of heat rushed through Jenn's body making it feel like her neck was on fire, followed by a sudden feeling of nausea. Jenn started to fall out of her chair. The girl in the desk next to Jenn caught her before she hit the ground. The teacher dropped his book to his desk and ran to Jenn's side.

"JENNIFER!!" May cried out as she jumped from of her chair.

"Steady now." The teacher helped Jenn to her feet and started towards the door when May arrived at Jenn's other side and wrapped the girl's arm around her neck.

"Teacher, I'll take Jenn to the nurse's office, okay?" May asked pleadingly.

"That would be great." The teacher handed Jenn over to May and watched the two girls carefully leave the classroom. The moment they disappeared from view, the class became a bustle of activity. Everyone seemed to have their own answer to why their classmate would collapse so suddenly, "Now class if we could get back to the assignment?" The teacher asked, giving no room for any gossip to grow.

Down the hall Jenn could feel the dizziness beginning to subside. She looked around disoriented. It took her a moment to recall how she got in the hall when she noticed she had her arm around May and pulled away causing herself to stagger into the wall.

"Jenn, what's wrong?" May asked, alarmed by her friend's sudden actions.

"Nothing!" Jenn rested her head upon the cold brick wall, trying to regain her balance. It soothed the throbbing in her head slightly. "Just go back to class. I'll be just fine." Jenn assured, waving a hand at the girl.

"But . . . " May began to reach out for Jenn again.

Jenn pushed May's hand away and started walking down the hall sliding her shoulder along the wall for balance, "Just leave me alone." Jenn snapped. She felt tired and wanted nothing more than to be left alone.

May, dismayed, stepped backwards. Jenn had never snapped at her before and the sound of the girl's voice stung May's heart, "O...okay . . . " She began to turn back towards class then stopped, "I'll see you at lunch, alright?" She forced herself to smile.

"Whatever." Jenn waved a hand in May's general direction before slipping around a corner. She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. She could hear May's pacing in place before she ran off up a set of stairs towards the second floor. Jenn let out a deep sigh. She hated herself for snapping at May like that. She just didn't feel at ease with the girl around her. Again she felt her headache strengthen and staggered to the nurses office.

A nurse in a long white coat and thin rimmed glasses greeted Jenn at the door, "Well, good morning Miss North. How can I help you today?" The nurse asked with a smile.

"I don't feel so good." Jenn complained sitting on one of the small beds that was closest to the nurse's desk, "My head hurts and I feel sick."

"Hmmmm." The nurse got up from her swivel chair and placed a hand upon Jenn's forehead, "You don't seem to have a temperature." She pushed Jenn's bangs back and looked into her eyes, "You still having those dreams?"

Jenn fidgeted in place. How many people knew about her dreams? "Not really." She answered trying to think of how to dodge the subject.

"You are seeing someone about them?" The nurse asked as she shone a small flash light into Jenn's eyes.

Jenn batted the nurse's hand away and gave her an irate look, "Why is it any business of yours? My dreams are my own and I'll deal with them in any way that I wish." Jenn barked at the woman, "Now if you don't mind I'd like to lie down for a bit before heading to my next class. I'm just a little tired is all." Wearily, Jenn curled up on the bed.

"Alright, alright." The nurse raised her hands defensively, "You rest up then. I have some work that needs to be done. Sleep well." She returned to her desk, grabbed a couple of folders and left the room, quietly closing the door behind her.

Laying back on the pillow Jenn stared up at the ceiling. What was wrong with her? She was never this cranky, not even on her period. She folded her arms behind the pillow, closing it around her head. Her breathing came out in erratic heaves as tears welled up in her eyes. This was not like her. She just wanted to be normal. Wanted to be left alone, but no one would let her. She rolled over to her side and curled her knees close to her while kicking her shoes off, letting them fall to the ground. Slowly she drifted into a fitful sleep.

To be Continued . . .

Note: The world of the shadowlands, Its stories, Characters and ideas are a copyright of Kathryn K Williams.

This story is based upon my manga of the same name. If you wish visit my site and see some of the art based on this series at http:www.KatAndNekoManga.ca

Also if you spot any typos or other errors please contact me at KathrynKatAndNekoManga.ca