146/366 – Salt

Day 4 of 100 Word Prompts: Salt

“Why did Sam go in alone?” Finley asked as he pushed his bike into the bushes.

“I don’t know if he told you two, but he told me that he loved me a couple of weeks ago,” Evelyn said, “I didn’t really know what to say-”

“So, you said nothing,” Joseph finished. “Yeah, he told us.”

“Well, I found out that his nightmares came back today,” Evelyn said, shaking her head. “Did he tell you guys about that?”

“He hasn’t really been around the last week or so,” Finley said. “I’ve called almost every day, and his mom keeps telling me that he doesn’t want to do anything.”

“I get more of the same,” Joseph said.

“Well, I was working at the Ice Cream Shack today when Sam came in with his mom, and he looked terrible. He told me that the nightmares had come back. I told him to wait until I could get here to go in to deal with Draven once and for all, but he didn’t listen,” Evelyn said, “So, now I think we have to get in, find out if Draven caught him, and try to stop things from getting worse.”

“Getting worse than Sam getting killed? How is that possible?” Joseph said.

“The last time we fought Draven, he told me he didn’t want to kill Sam. He wanted to use him,” Evelyn said. “Did you guys bring sleeping bags? It’s supposed to get cold tonight.”

“No, we didn’t bring them, but we should be able to get in and out before it gets too cold,” Joseph said.

“Wait, Draven wants to use Sam? For what?” Finley asked.

“I don’t know, but it can’t be good,” Evelyn said. “I was lucky that Sam came along when he did last time. Draven almost had me.”

“Alright,” Joseph said, taking a deep breath. “You guys ready to do this?”

“As ready as I’m going to be,” Finley replied.

“Remember, focus on the edge of the tier. We can’t pop in on it. Draven knows when people arrive in his realm,” Evelyn said.

“We know,” Joseph replied, giving her a dirty look.

Evelyn, Joseph, and Finley crawled into the bush where their bikes were hidden and got as comfortable as they could. Evelyn pulled her sweater close around her and curled up in a ball while Joseph and Finley used piles of leaves for pillows.

Using the lessons from Sam, they each concentrated on the edge of the fourth tier, letting their minds go blank and the glowing sand to fill their vision. In less than twenty minutes, Evelyn and Finley stood at the edge of the tier, horrified looks plastered to their faces as Joseph materialized just over the border.

“Joseph, you idiot!” Evelyn said, “Run!”

In the willow forest, something big crashed through the trees on its way toward them. They could feel the vibration under their feet as they skirted along the edge fo the tier. Evelyn’s heart raced in her chest from the fear. She knew what was behind them without even seeing it. It was Draven’s pet, the nightmare itself.

The trio jumped one of the massive willow roots and found a large pool of glowing blue water under them as they fell. Each felt the breath leave them as they plunged under its cold surface before surfacing. Evelyn grabbed Finley and Joseph’s hands and pulled them back under the base of the tree as the nightmare continued past. Evelyn shivered, not from the water, but the view of the beast, shifting like black sand into every nasty, dangerous thing that plagued people in their dreams.

A hand covered her eyes as Joseph whispered, “don’t look at it.”

Evelyn shut her eyes and nodded before the hand came away from her. They waited less than a minute as the creature’s thrashing through the forest grew further away.

Evelyn opened her eyes to see Finley staring angrily at Joseph.

“I can’t believe you were that stupid,” Finley said, shoving Joseph.

“I didn’t mean to,” Joseph replied, “You know how hard it is for me to come in here. We should have gone into the first tier and worked our way down here anyway.”

“Draven knows at least you are here now,” Finley said. “He’s probably going to assume that we’re here too. We don’t know what he’s using Sam for, but we’ve all seen what Sam can do here.”

“I said I was sorry,” Joseph said.

“There’s no point arguing about it now,” Evelyn said as she pulled herself up onto the roots above them. “We need to focus, so we don’t get caught. We don’t know what Draven is doing right now, but Sam has a head start, and we need to get to him first.”

“Sorry,” Finley and Joseph said in unison.

“Let’s go,” Evelyn said, extending a hand. She pulled them up one at a time.

“You know, you’re really good at this,” Joseph said. “Are you sure that you’re not a dream walker too?”

“I spent a lot of time in here with Sam, and then when I wasn’t with him, I’d spend time on the third tier to figure out how to do things. It’s not hard if you learn to control it,” Evelyn replied as they began walking into the forest. “Just remember not to touch anything you don’t have to, okay?”

“I remember,” Joseph said, a shiver traveling up his spine. “What was with that pool?”

“I don’t know,” Evelyn replied, “I’ve never seen one before.”

“Guys?” Finley said, drawing their attention behind them. He was bent over, knocking ice off of his legs as it formed. “Look at yourselves.”

Evelyn looked down to see the ice building on her legs as well.

“Quick, get it off!” she said, bending and batting at her pants as it formed faster and climbed higher.

The trio swatted at the crystals growing on them until their muscles began to stiffen and lock up. The cold was overwhelming as it reached their chest, and they gasped for air. At the moment they opened their mouths, the crystals saw their opportunity and flooded inside.

The last thing that Evelyn was aware of before the world went dark was the taste of the ice. It tasted like seawater.

Across the fourth tier, in the heart of Draven’s castle, Sam was pacing in a cell. He had heard the nightmare leave with a ferocious roar. He had hoped that his friends would come, but they had been short-sighted enough to go directly to Draven’s domain. He felt his stomach knot when Draven walked up to the door.

The pale-skinned man, too thin by all standards, looked in on him with his amber eyes. The corner of his mouth, where thin lips met, twitched in his usual fashion when he was excited. His unnaturally long fingers twisted around the bars in the door as he pulled himself through them like he were a ghost before drifting up to Sam’s face.

“Your friends are being collected as we speak, Sam. Are you sure you won’t do me the tiniest of favors?” Draven said, a sinister smile spreading slowly on his face.

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