Sleep Tight

By Leah Stephens, Period 5, 1/13/06

"Time for bed, little one," cooed a mother. She gently guided her sleepy daughter to the small pile of quilts next to the fire. "Though I can hardly call you that anymore." The woman laughed softly and continued, "The way you flirted with the young men tonight made your father turn over in his grave." The woman's daughter blushed and climbed under the top most quilt.

"Good-night, mother," she said then waited patiently for her mother's soft lips to brush against her forehead.

"Sleep tight," the mother replied. The daughter closed her eyes and listened to the happy crackling of the fire. Sleep overtook her and she dreamed.

The dark closes in on the young woman. It seems to crush her lungs, making her gasp for the air that isn't there.

Blackness deepens and she can almost feel its fingers smother her nose and mouth. Panic fills every inch of her body and she crouches and hides her head between her knees and chest. A malicious laugh fills the air.

Slowly, the soundt sinks into her and even more slowly she can feel the presence of the darkness retreat. An instant later, both dissipate and she takes a loud, deep breath of stale air. Her eyes widen to look for something, anything, in the darkness. Maybe not anything

Luminescent green eyes flash at the corner of her vision and the purring of some big creature sounds loudly in her ears. Iron-tasting blood trickles in her mouth. Dangerous blood that could bring the creature to her. She swallows quickly and listens

Silence.

The terrible false calm that is the eye of the storm before it comes back even worse.

Warm air caresses her cheek and ignoring caution, she stands up and spins around. Arms spread to keep her balance, she freezes when the nameless man laughs again.

"Who are you?" Her whisper cuts the laugh short and footsteps echo around her. "What do you want?"

An arm wraps around her midsection and pins her arms to her side. Another covers her mouth, just like the blackness did not moments before. Thrashing, she tries to bite the man's hand but to no avail.

"I want your power," he breathes. The smell of mint assaults her senses and her head grows light. Letting go, he watches her sway for a second.

"P-power?" Dumb-founded, she squints into the darkness for her assailant. "I have no such thing."

"Give it to me now!" The first light she has seen the entire time here is the glare off a silver knife as it is pulled to her throat. The flash blinds her and she stiffens when the cold, sharp edge is pressed against her throat.

"Leave me be!" Shrieking, the woman brings her foot down on the man's toe with all her might. Fire blooms in the distance ahead of her as the knife clatters to the ground. Sprinting towards it, she appears only as a golden white blur.

Left behind, the man curses and pulls a bow and a single arrow from under his feet. He knocks the arrow and drawing it to his cheek, he aims and lets go. The twang of the bowstring is masked by the woman's feet and when it hits her, she falls a foot short of the purifying orange flames. From the coldness it emits she sees her breath slowly drift toward it. A zephyr comes from behind her and kills the small flames. Around her, the black fades to gray and then to white.

Twisting the black arrow, the man pulls it from her back. Not a drop of blood taints her soft white gown nor is it torn from the hit.

He kicks her stomach and she turns onto her back to face him.

Panic fills her gentle brown eyes as they meet his crystal blue ones. The dark skin of her face is framed by light brown, almost blonde, hair. Her chest rises and falls from the exertion of running. A black curl falls across his eyes as he leans down. Scooping her into his arms he bends his neck and –

Somewhere in the retirement home, a door slams, waking the wizened old woman from her reverie. Remembering her dream, she chuckles and mutters, "That's what happens when you grow old; you loose your mind."

With a creak of old bones she pulls herself from the hard, leather chair. Above her head the T.V. buzzes on and on about the world's many troubles. Her walker makes a soft swishing sound, since it is muted by old socks and she makes the long trek back to her home. Room 315.