The Observer: Mind's Eye

By: Nathan R. Wellner

Chapter: 3/ Dreams and Reality

Heat. Suffocation. A blanket was covering me and something was crawling across my face.

I threw my hands up in front of me, screaming in surprise like a little girl as I threw myself to the side. The blanket entangled itself around me, and the next thing I knew my head impacted hardwood floor with a resounding crack. Pain exploded through my skull and I collapsed completely, lying still.

After what felt like an eternity, my head began to clear and I pushed myself up, disentangling from the blankets. My left arm was aflame with a thousand tiny needle pricks. I swore venomously, realizing what it was that I felt crawling upon my face like some foreign entity. Sleeping hands do not make for good bunkmates.

Blinking blearily, I looked around, confused. I was back in my apartment, and the shine of the midnight moon spilled in through my bedroom window. Hadn't I just been in Egypt? Right outside the Pyramids of Giza? I distinctly remembered two gunshots…Katherine went down and then I was hit in the throat…

I gasped, suddenly pulling in sweet tasting air as the full weight of events hit me and my hands flew to my throat. No injury greeted me that I could see…er, find. My throat was as intact as it had ever been, and lacking any evidence below the skin, I felt confident enough to bet bottom to dollar that my so-called singing voice would not be obstructed in the least. Do, re, me, fa, so, la, te, do.

Perfect.

"K-Katherine," I whimpered as I shakily got to my feet. I did not know why I felt so scared saying her name. It felt more and more that I had been on the receiving end of a rather bad dream. I couldn't just dismiss it that casually. Unlike the casual person, I knew from firsthand experience that the mind has a way of playing tricks on you. That did not explain why I woke up in my apartment when the last thing I saw was the Egyptian desert, with miles and miles of ocean lying between the two. Yes, there's Katherine, but the places were just as equally different as she was from me. I'm not a natural traveler, and when I go places, I don't go very far. It's too easy to get lost in the woods.

I fumbled for a light switch and clicked it on, illuminating the room with the warm glow of energy inefficient light bulbs and gave myself a further inspection. It didn't take me very long to find something that I didn't like.

My breath hissed as I drew it in sharply.

I've heard of all sorts of crazy things involved in sleepwalking. People try making themselves dinner for example and nearly end up setting fire to themselves and their home. I remember hearing a conversation of one person accidently dropping the pointy end of a knife down on their foot. Someone getting dressed was well within the ballpark from everything that I've heard. However, I did not recall putting on blood-stained clothes as fitting the norm, especially since I did not normally own any. The blood was still rather tacky, lining my clothes and spotting my shoes. My eyes drifted over to the blanket I woke up in. It looked as though a bloody mouse had been let loose in it.

"Oh God…" I whispered, pressing my hands against my face. A cold shudder went through my body as I came away with a strand of red hair from where I had been smacked in the face.

I was wearing the same clothes that I had been in when Katherine had been sniped.

***

The sound of his cell phone ringing reached his ears, snapping him out of the warm world of deep-seated sleep. A groan escaped his lips and he rolled over, wrapping his pillow around his ears to blot out the sound. However, the technological piece of stress refused to put up with being ignored and the ringing of the cell phone increased in its intensity. Finally, the young man gave in and rolled back over, grabbing the phone off of his nightstand and hitting the answer button.

"Yes?" his voice came out gruff and tired. Anyone who heard it would have been able to tell that he was greatly annoyed by being disturbed, but enough of a professional tone remained to show that he was pushing it all back. Work first, complain later.

"Shawn?" came the voice on the other end. The man sat up, white hair standing on end in the deadly art of bed head, his brow furrowing in anxiety. The voice sounded greatly agitated. Nervous even.

No, he thought to himself. Scared.

"Hey. Is everything all right?"

"Shawn…could you come down to my apartment? Something's…something's happened."

"You mind telling me what?" he asked, throwing aside his blanket and stepping out onto the floor. The cold air did not so much as touch him now. He was a man with a purpose, and as long as he had one the elements were meaningless to him.

"Just get here, please. I think…I think Katherine's dead."

Shawn's free hand paused at his shirt. The phone went dead before he could pursue that track of thought any further, inviting his need to know. Shawn looked down at his phone with great annoyance at the caller.

"Damn it," he whispered before striding over to his closet.

I sometimes wonder about what other people are doing both before and after people drop a tree in their life. When I'm not around, do they make a sound?

***

I splashed water in my face and leaned back in my tub, breathing in and out slowly and evenly. The water was clear, thankfully. The worst of the mess had been on my clothes and that was easy to take care of. Once I had sufficiently calmed down, all that would remain would be the memory.

"I'm going to burn those clothes," I muttered to myself, completely contradicting my thoughts. Sitting on the toilet Shawn looked at me grimly. If he was at all bothered by my nudity he didn't show it, either being too worried about me to care or making sure that he saw nothing more than he needed to see.

"You want to tell me what happened?" he asked. I did.

"Katherine and I went to Egypt to see the pyramids. She got shot. I got shot. I woke up here, looking like I ran through a meat shop. I don't know about Katherine."

Shawn frowned. "You said that she was dead when you called me…"

"Bullet hole to the head." I closed my eyes, reliving the memory in my mind. I could still feel the back of her head smacking into my face. My fingers curled as tension ran through my body all at once like a snake uncoiling.

Shawn nodded. He saw the strand of red hair, but he hadn't commented on it. He wouldn't now either.

"Still as succinct as always. Could you be a bit more descriptive?"

"I don't see what else there is to tell," I said a little more fiercely than I intended. The bath water moved in waves as I shifted aggressively in it. "We…we were just walking! I was behind her. I heard something that sounded like a firecracker going off and then Katherine's…her hea…"

I couldn't get the words past my lips. I curled downwards, wanting to ball up. My fingers tapped against each other, unable to decide if they wanted to cover my eyes or hug my knees.

"You said you were shot."

I tapped my throat and nodded. Shawn frowned.

"Did you violate anyone's territory?"

"I don't think so. I know I haven't. You know me. I don't get out much. Katherine…maybe. She didn't act worried about anything though…"

"You know, it could have been a dream…"

"Don't give me that shit!" I snarled, whirling on him. Shawn remained as impassive as the moment that he walked into the apartment.

"It's a possibility. These things can happen. You know they do for people like us."

Were I anyone else I definitely would have argued with him on this detail. Blood doesn't normally appear out of thin air from bad dreams, not unless you were causing the harm yourself. I however, did not have any injuries on me. None that I saw anyway outside of the bump I got courtesy the floor.

Still…

"But it felt…so…so real!"

"I'm not saying that it couldn't have been," said Shawn, getting up from the toilet. "But shouldn't you consider the possibility that you could have made these things?"

I looked down at the water, running his words through my head. Shawn. Outside of Katherine, he was really the only person that I had any connection to in the physical sense. I can't say that we're friends, but we help each other from time to time. For some reason we've stuck together and I trusted his words. He knew Katherine as well, and was friends with her. How far their relationship ran I don't know. They knew each other before I knew either of them, and I don't pry.

Shawn wandered over to the kitchen sink, his eyes watching me from the mirror.

"You know the saying. If you see it, it exists."

"I hate that saying." I scowled at Shawn. He had picked up the strand of hair and was studying it intensely.

"Doesn't change a thing," he said, grimacing. "Stuff like this…it's happened. It happened to me when I was a kid. I woke up one morning and something was different. I think it's something a little bit like bedwetting. You just got it later than most because you don't practice much. How often do you leave the apartment? Just to get money? I don't want to tell you what to do, but you should know that isolating yourself the way you do isn't good for you. It ends up causing problems like this."

"You're assuming that this is what it is," I shot at him.

"Maybe a little," he admitted, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "I prefer to be optimistic in the matter. Otherwise…"

Shawn let the sentence drift off, letting my mind fill in the gap for him. I knew what he meant. Better that it all be an overly-realistic nightmare instead of the real thing. For Katherine's sake, I hoped it was, but I just couldn't shake it. The things that I remembered didn't add up.

Am I going crazy? I wondered. If so, I would have a lot more to worry about than the standard crazy person. Crazy people don't accidently turn their pajamas into bloodstained clothes and create hair out of thin air.

"Wait. My PJ's…" I shifted in the tub and started to stand up when I remembered that Shawn was still there. He looked at me via the reflection in the mirror with an eyebrow raised. I immediately started stammering and sat back down, my face burning with embarrassment. "Um…my…my night clothes. I usually throw them in the hamper when I'm done using them…"

Shawn nodded, getting what I was talking about.

"If you altered your clothes after going to bed then they won't be there. I'll go check for you. You need a new set of clothes to change into anyway."

"Huh? I can just clean the dirty ones…" I faltered. I forgot that I was going to burn them. Oh well. "Look. Just leave the room so that I can work my stuff, okay? If things don't work out I'll yell for you."

"Suit yourself," Shawn shrugged. "Meanwhile I'll check that hamper."

Setting the hair back down, Shawn opened up the bathroom door and exited, heading for the bedroom. As soon as he was gone I got up from the tub and walked over to where the dirty clothes were piled. They were still stained with blood. They, the bed sheets, and blanket were the only things covered in the stuff. There was nowhere else in the apartment that had it, and Shawn did a quick inspection of the hallway to see if there had been anywhere else. Nothing. Not unusual from his perspective. People like him and I are capable of altering slices of the world around us. As what Katherine had done, and she had done so plenty of times before, dream or no dream, we could go anywhere. Do anything. There were limits, but all you had to do was…see what you wanted. That was the bare bones of being an Observer.

I picked up my shirt and looked at it, my eyes focusing on every dark blot. The blood had dried. I emptied my mind and closed my eyes. Taking a deep breath, I reopened them and looked at the bloodstains. They flickered for a moment, wavering back and forth between existing and me having a clean shirt.

An image of Katherine falling into my arms sprung unbidden into my mind and I dropped the shirt. The stains remained, no longer flickering. I realized that my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. This wasn't good. My mind was a mess. Pressing my hands against my forehead, I made a small, keening sound, trying to force the memory from my mind so that I could work long enough to get the job done. No matter how much I tried though, it just kept coming back, and I kept feeling warmth spraying on me while the back of my friends head flew into my face.

Hitching my breath I shivered and tried again. This was going to be a long night.

3