Stories

5 Years Ago

Lily kept tossing and turning in her sleep, grumbling something not quite human. Her voice grew louder and louder until she was screaming her head off, waking herself up. Ollie burst through the door, his little bare feet pattering across the cold wooden floor. He looked so frightened, looking up at his big sister, whom he’d just thought to be in mortal danger, at the very least! ‘Was it the monsters again?’ he whispered, as if scared they’d be overheard. Lily was covered in cold sweat and she felt feverish, yet when she glanced at her younger brother, her face softened and she whispered back ‘Yes Ollie, it was the monsters again. I’m sorry I woke you.’ She brushed the hair back from her brother’s eyes and pulled him close for a hug. Ollie hugged her back and said ‘Don’t worry Lil, I’ll protect you from them. Let’s go back to sleep,’ he added, letting a big yawn escape his mouth. ‘Yeah, you can stay with me tonight if you’d like,’ she said, and then added almost inaudibly ‘And here’s hoping for a dreamless sleep.’

When they finally awoke, the sun was high up in the sky and they could hear their mum clattering with a frying pan downstairs, undoubtedly preparing a late breakfast. Without saying a word they got out of bed and Ollie went to his room to change out of his sleep clothes and Lily did the same in hers. She sat down on her bed, plucking at a loose thread dangling from the sleeve of her moose pyjamas. Why did she keep having the same dream? Well, with the same characters at the very least.

It always started with her looking down on a massive battle where on one side were people – or wizards? – throwing balls of fire or lightning or what ever else their imagination could conjure up to the opposing side of, well, dragons, she supposed. They were quite big and scaly and were most definitely breathing fire. She had witnessed them scorching large areas of grass and ground – and people – in front of them, to ashes. There was so much death and destruction, it pained her to even think about it. She had to stop recollecting her dreams to remind herself that’s all it was – dreams. None of this was real. But why did it feel so realistic though?

The next part was almost always different. At times she swooped down, her wings – when had she grown wings? – spread wide, to let her glide without much effort. When she was close enough to the mayhem before her, she spoke. It didn’t sound like her, nor was it any language she recognised, but all action ceased immediately, all faces turning towards her.

At other times she dove down – again those blasted wings! – and started throwing balls of fire and ice upon both sides of the battle. Or sometimes just the dragons.

On some occasions one side lost or won, whether she participated in any way or not. Sometimes she was captured and tortured. Those were the dreams most often waking her up. And that’s what she’d seen again last night. But she hadn’t just seen it, she’d felt it. She’d felt the red hot iron touching her skin, making her dream self black out, but the screaming in her head continued. That’s when she realised it was her making the ear splitting noise, and woke up, panting as if she’d just ran for miles.

What did this all mean? Should she research dream omens or something? But she still couldn’t shake the feeling they weren’t really normal dreams. They just felt too real.

‘Okay, now you’re being an idiot,’ she told herself aloud, trying to sound as convincing as she could, for it’s quite hard to persuade someone, if deep down you know you don’t believe it.

Nevertheless, she got up from her bed and changed into comfortable jogging pants and a t-shirt and then went to the bathroom to brush her teeth where Ollie was just finishing doing his. He waited for her and then they went downstairs together. Half way down they could smell pancakes and hastened their pace, excited to see what had gotten their mum in a pancake mood, since it happened so rarely nowadays.

‘Morning kids! Slept well?’ she asked, her voice sounding light and happy, even if there were dark shadows under her eyes betraying how tired she really was. The kids sat down and each grabbed a plate with food and started munching. ‘Lily had a bad dream again,’ Ollie said, raspberry jam dripping from his fingers. Lily shot a warning look at her little brother and said ‘Uhmm, yeah, I did. But it was no big deal. What about you? We’ve not had pancakes in ages!’ Her mum’s face split into a big smile as she exclaimed ‘I got a promotion! I don’t have to work the night shifts any more! Magda, you know Magda, right? Well anyway, she retired so they were finally pumping one of us up to replace her and they said they’d actually noticed all the hard work I’d been doing and,’ her voice cracked and she burst into tears ‘Oh, kids, I’m so happy!’ She hugged them both and they were all whooping and cheering.

As they sat beside the fire, having finally stopped when it got dark, that’s what Lily was thinking about. How it all had started five years ago. How she’d been dragged into this mess, into this lunatic story. The dreams. She scoffed. She’d been right. They weren’t just dreams at all. They were the futures. Well, one of them would be in any case. Which one would actually come true, even Bel couldn’t say. Any change in even the smallest of details could alter it.

No, she really didn’t have the heroic nerve Bel seemed to hope for. Some of the futures she’d seen had been downright horrific. The things she’d seen, the things she’d herself done. She couldn’t bring herself to even consider it possible she could bring death and chaos like that or be tortured until she died – if lucky.

She sat staring at the fire for a while, thinking it all over. Becoming more convinced that all she and Ollie needed to do was to get off this strange planet. To go back home to their mum. Oh how she missed her right now. And the tears came again.

G.

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