Chapter One

I woke up in the middle of the night, stifling a scream. My nightgown was drenched with sweat and I felt like I had just ran a mile. I flung off my sheets and got out of bed. I walked into the bathroom and turned on the light. I downed six glasses of tap water before looking at myself in the mirror. My hair was matted and soggy with sweat and my face was red. I had had another nightmare.

I had dreamed that I was being chased down endless white corridors by an unseen evil. It was the most vivid dream I had ever had. I could hear the echo of my bare feet on the cold tile floor, feel the terror urging me to run faster, I could hear the blood pounding through my head. I took a deep breath through my mouth and released it through my nose. I had been having these dreams for about a month now. It was always the same white corridors, the same empty rooms with blood-stained walls and empty hospital beds. I was always wearing the same filthy hospital gown.

I went back to my room. My alarm clock still read 4:16. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get to back to bed. I'd have to wake up in two hours anyway, so why not get a head start on the morning? I sighed and slipped into my Florida Seminoles football jersey and a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee. I brushed my teeth and washed my face. Then, I went to the kitchen and made myself two pop-tarts and a glass of orange juice. My family (me and my dad) always made our own orange juice because we have four orange trees in our backyard. It was infinitely better than any store-bought orange juice that you would find at Publix.

After I had eaten my breakfast, I went back to my room to put my algebra homework in my backpack. I didn't particularly enjoy school, especially algebra. I had a few friends, but they weren't worth the sheer boredom I felt at school. I felt like every day was exactly the same and that I was just a tiny meaningless speck on the plane of existence. I double-checked my homework and stuffed it into my bag. Then, I went to wake my dad. He worked as a police detective for the Seminole County Police Department. It was a dangerous job, and we both knew it, but at least it put bread on the table, so to speak. And there was no way my father was going to loose his job. He was the best, most qualified detective for miles, and they knew it. They had begged him to work for them.

I opened the door to his room and turned on the lights. I heard him groan and turn over in bed. He had told me a thousand times not to wake him up before six, but I never listened. It was nice to have someone to talk to to make me feel safe when I woke up after one of my nightmares.

"It's only four in the morning, Alyssa. Couldn't you've at least woken me up at five?" he moaned.

"You know that if I wake you up any later that you'll never get to work on time," I said, exasperated. We both knew that that wasn't true. My dad always got to work on time, no matter what was going on at home. The only time that he'd missed work because of family issues was after my mom died giving birth to me and he'd had to take care of me for the first few months. After that, he'd gotten my aunt to take care of me until he got home. But now, I was twelve and I could take care of myself when he wasn't home.

"Come on dad, before I drag you out by your ear," I nagged. I couldn't help but nag. My dad told me that it was mom's specialty.