Chapter Sixteen: Waterwell
"Tali? Are you feeling alright?" Carter opened the door.
"Yes." I sat up and smiled at him. "Last night was pretty crazy…"
"And it was my entire fault." Carter sighed unhappily.
I knew it was a part of his fault, but no one could take the whole blame. I mean, yeah, someone should have scouted the area for the Praguedike. However, no one could have seen it coming.
"I had a dream." I decided it was good to change the subject, get Carter's mind off of the faults.
"Oh did you now?" Carter lapsed back into that easy charm of his.
I nodded and leaned forward, "I know where the amulet is. We're wasting time here in Idaho."
Carter didn't say anything as he sat down on the edge of my bed. He was shaking his head, clearly unsatisfied with my answer. "Tali…why won't you leave Sarah alone?"
I wanted to give him a smart mouth answer, but I held myself back. Carter had just forgiven me, and so I can't mess that up again. Instead, I figured the best answer to give him is a summary on my dreams.
I hadn't told him about any of my dreams since the encounter with Maurice. Since then, I've had dreams that piece together everything I had seen. Although, I hadn't told Carter because I've been lenient. I was scared to tell him, and I didn't know why.
I explored the possibilities, and considered that maybe I hadn't completely trusted Carter yet. No matter how attracted I am to him, there was still something there, something different. I've noticed that Carter seems to know more than he should. He always has that relieved, triumphant look to himself when he beats me at something, or wins an argument. He's too leader-like and even pushy. He doesn't like my bringing up of Sarah Pentrum, because Sarah Pentrum was never in his original plans.
Whatever those were.
Another possibility to why I was so scared was because of personal sake. I felt like my dreams were sacred. They held important information, and we couldn't risk giving it off to Maurice or his spies. My dreams were my own, and I shouldn't be forced to tell them.
Time was ticking though, and every field, every farm was a waste. Each person we stop and talked to here in Idaho was unnecessary. I bring up Sarah every other stop, hoping Carter would give in to my demands. Of course he didn't. I wasn't pushing hard enough. If we didn't get out of Idaho soon, I swear I was going to loose my head.
The truck pulled to a stop in front of an old farmhouse. Unfortunately for me, the sight brought back memories, and I chose to stay in the car for a little bit. Everyone went inside to talk to the family that lived there, while I stayed back with Rosko. He seemed to be very sad also, as he rested his head in my lap.
"Good boy." I cooed, running my fingers through his hair. Flashes of last night crossed my mind. I saw the evil glare of the Praguedike as it tired to grab me. The mere thought of the creature seizing me and killing me didn't settle my stomach well.
Neither did the thought of the employees that had to clean up our mess. Anabel's job was to clean up situations, she was an actor. We could definitely have used her last night. But we didn't have her, and so Kirk had to do something different. Before we left, the employees came back and asked us about the window. Kirk immediately glared at Rodney, who had fake cuts and blood all over him. Apparently Rodney sleepwalks now.
The employees believed us however, and I figured it was clever. Rodney didn't mind tricking them either. It was the first smile I'd ever seen on Rodney's face. Renold was busting up laughing. I laughed my fair share also whenever Carter brought it up.
I reached for my half eaten corndog and bit into it. Rosko started whimpering, begging with those silly puppy-dog eyes. He knew I wasn't able to resist them when he did it, so I handed him the rest of my food. Rosko licked my chin then bit at the corndog happily.
While the dog feasted, I caught myself staring out the window longingly. The farm was set up differently from Choll's. There was a small barn to the side of the field, a horse stable next to it. A metal dome sat twenty paces away, holding what looked to be hay and coal. All to the right was the big farmhouse and garage for the tools and tractor. It all looked so normal. So outrageously normal. I longed for it without hesitation.
While my eyes roved, I caught sight of a water well. The gray stones looked rough and worn compared to the other buildings. I knew it was just a regular well, probably never used, but what caught my attention was the hunched figure next to it.
I opened the truck door and jumped out, my feet crunching against loose gravel and dried grass. As if in a trance I followed the narrow path of dirt through some cornstalks. Rosko hurried after me, a little nervous--if that was possible for a dog.
As I neared the water well the figure became more pronounce. It was a child, no more than nine or ten years old. He had a grimy face and pale green eyes. The boy was mumbling something to himself, swinging a short stick around. I couldn't make out what he was saying--which made me quite uncomfortable.
"Excuse me." I crouched down next to him, accidentally scraping my arm against the rough stones.
The boy stopped chanting and glanced up at me with an icy glare. "What are you doing here?"
My mouth was dry as I thought up something to say. "I'm Talia."
The boy brushed back his tangled curls angrily and he backed away from me. "You shouldn't be here."
I didn't' want to think rude things, but this boy sounded like a mentally disturbed child. "Why shouldn't I be here?" I asked anyway, ignoring the thought of leaving him.
The boy's eye twitched as he bit the stick. "Um…Kid?" I asked again.
"I saw you come." He whispered, "I saw you in my dreams."
My eyes went wide with excitement. "You have dreams?"
The boy was unsure for a minute, as if he just realized I was there. "I see dreams of terror…and destruction. I wake up with a headache and I'm crying. There is always fire and an evil man. He shoots color from his fingers."
Maurice. "What happened to the evil man?" I wanted to know.
"His people took black horses and went around the world; killing people…The evil man awakened a monster." The boy's voice was quiet and flat.
I swallowed and moved closer to the boy, "You can see the future?"
"The future." The boy squeaked in fear. "Father said I'm not allowed to see the future no more. But it comes anyway. I can't stop the visions like he wants me too. I talk about them to my stick, but my father hears. And he whips me."
A cold wind started up and blew around us as I thought about what to say next. A father whipping his son? Was this man scared of his own child? This poor boy doesn't even know what's happening to him. He doesn't understand what could be happening at all. I felt so horrible, wanting to do something for him. "You're a Dreamer." I whispered to him.
"I dream about good things too." The boy continued, as if I didn't speak, "I dream of a girl who can save us all. She runs to get a sparkling necklace."
I bit my lip, unsure of how to feel about that. "Does she win?"
The boy suddenly lurched forward and started crying. "I don't know! I DON'T!"
"Oh sorry! Sorry, sorry!" I immediately cooed, trying to calm him down. I touched his back.
The boy's green eyes found mind, hypnotic in a way. He seemed to get a hold of sanity and compose himself. "I'm Danny." he murmured and smiled a toothless grin.
"Hi Danny." I smiled for him, in case he needed it.
"Who are you?" He asked dreamily. I liked my lips nervously. "I'm Talia."
The boy didn't show any signs of recognition. He merely stood and pointed at the well. "Do you know what's down there?"
I followed his finger with my eyes and slowly scooted towards the well. "Water?"
"Are you sure?" He asked. He looked over the edge to prove a point. "There are people down there. I hear them every night. They whisper things to me."
I shuddered involuntarily and peeked over the edge. I saw swirling darkness. A swallowing black hole of fear. Nothing else. "People?"
"They tell me about their deaths." He whispered, "They tell me about that girl I see in my dreams. They know all."
I pulled away from the well, my stomach churning from the fear. "Oh…really?" I swallowed back a retort and stood up. "Do your parents know you're out here?" I asked softly.
He shook his head and pointed at the farmhouse. "My parents would love to meet you, Tali."
I ignored the fact that he knew my nickname as we traveled through the fields. The water well was silent when I looked in, but for some reason I felt a shiver shoot down my spine. I swear I heard a whisper…
Danny glanced up at me. "You heard it too."
"Mhm…" I hugged myself, feeling cold suddenly.
"I told you they talk to me." He turned away and opened the backdoor. "Come."
Carter looked surprised when he saw who accompanied me, but didn't' voice his disapproving thoughts. I merely shrugged and looked at Danny's parents, who seemed nice enough, but had hard, worried looks at Danny. "I'm sorry if Danny had…disturbed you." The mother had curly auburn hair and a dishelmed wardrobe. She had a crazy sort of look to her.
I understood why Danny's mother would be worried, however, and knew she probably thought her child was mentally retarded because of his powers. If only she understood… "No he was an angel to me. Showed me the well." I smiled wide to comfort everyone. Danny's mother wasn't so convinced.
"He likes to talk about…spirits near that well. I'm so sorry about that." She trailed off, seeing my frown.
"He didn't talk about anything like that." I eyed her suspiciously to play up the part. It worked; she flushed and stopped worrying about what Danny could have done to me.
"Anyway," Kirk smiled to the father, a burly, bald man with a cowboy hat. "I understand you don't possess Dragonmir or Lythseed, but perhaps you have other plants?"
The farmer shook his head. "Only Limbusgrass." He didn't seem like the kind who talked much. Frankly, I was glad, because his accent was a little annoying.
Kirk stood from his seated position. "Well thank you anyway, we're thankful for the cookies and lemonade."
I licked my lips and looked at Carter hopefully. But he had a sheepish grin and shrugged.
The family wasted no time getting us out of their house. I found out that besides Danny, they had two other kids and an old grandmother living with them. Not that it mattered to me. I only wished I'd be able to see Danny again. He intrigued me to no end, and I had so many questions about his dreams. He was confused, just like I was.
On the road again, Carter looked at me funny.
"What?" I glanced at him, overdoing the innocence.
He chuckled and shrugged, "That boy kept staring at you the whole time."
"Really?" Sean blinked and looked at me.
I merely shrugged. I was too busy staring at that crazy woman to really pay more attention to Danny.
"Yeah, it was like he was staring at his god." Carter rolled his eyes. "What did you do to him?"
"Nothing at all. As I may recall, you stare at me like I'm YOUR god."
Carter glanced at me and smirked. "Fine. Tali: 1, C-Dawg: 2."
"C-Dawg? You have to be kidding me." I sighed in exaggeration.
"I get a cool nickname too!" Carter insisted.
"Get a better one. And you're at nothing."
"Nothing? I believe strongly that the score is 1:2."
"No way," I frowned and crossed my arms.
"Yes. The time I kissed you, and the time I caught you with the book." He had a smug smile.
"Kisses don't count." I countered.
He frowned. "Dang."
"So are we done with Idaho now?" I asked, tapping the arm rest. Sean had been fairly silent the whole time, which really surprised me.
"We just have one more stop to make, then we're off to Montana." Carter glanced at me, probably wondering why I was so restless.
"That sounds fair." I leaned my head back and turned up the country music.
"Yuck." Carter moaned. Sean perked up some and started singing along. "I can't believe this country music. Just wait, when we get to Connecticut, that country music is trash."
I rolled my eyes and smiled. Enjoy it now then. I told myself.
"But why?" Sean wasn't giving up so easily.
"Because it drives me crazy. All they sing about is their alcohol and car." Carter complained.
"That's not true!" Sean frowned. "Some talk about love and stuff."
"And children." I added in.
"Yuck." Carter said again, just to get the point across.
Sean sighed. "Good thing I can tolerate Alternative."
"But that's not what we'll listen to." Carter shook his head. "Rock and Metal."
That made me groan. "Are you kidding me?"
"Are we there yet?" Sean finally asked just to get off the music topic.
"Now don't start that." Carter warned his tone serious.
"Oh…I wasn't going to, but now that you reminded me…" Sean grinned wide and said, "Are we there yet?"
"No we aren't!" Carter gritted his teeth.
"Are we close?" Sean pressed.
Carter didn't answer, or was struggling not to answer.
Sean smiled triumphantly and continued, "We must be close, you just don't want to admit it, because then you'd lose."
"Just shut up. I'm not playing this game." Carter sighed.
"But I am." Sean crossed his arms expectantly.
"Play with Tali." He muttered.
"Uh-oh." I muttered, "Do I really want to get stuck in this?"
They both said it at the same time. "Yikes, Count me out." I leaned against the window and smirked, watching Sean get bored and sit back.
Rosko barked happily and pointed his nose out the window. A sign just came up.
Welcome to Montana.