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Authors: Kate Spofford

Dreamwalkers (4 page)

BOOK: Dreamwalkers
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So, I turned away from Alex, and stepped out
of his dream.

I tried to stop thinking about Alex after
that. I could tell he believed the rumors about my family, the same
way everyone else did. Even Sissy and Melanie. They only sat with
me because they were excluded too. We were the outcast table and
pretended to be friends to keep everyone from thinking we were
total losers.

I had friends once. That was in middle
school. Before Daniel killed everyone and took off. I was pretty,
and athletic, and I played on the soccer team. I could have been a
cheerleader if I cared about that sort of crap, Claudia Childs kept
trying to convince me to try out.

Before.

When I went back to school after two weeks
off for the funerals and the police investigations and trying to
wrap my head around the fact that it was just me, Mom and Aunt
Jenny now, no one talked to me. My teachers treated me like I was
made of glass. I turned mean, snarling at anyone who gave me the
pity face, snapping at my teachers and classmates when they danced
around “sensitive topics.” Everyone gave me a wide birth.

And when they stopped treating me like That
Poor Girl Whose Father Was Murdered, they started treating me like
That Girl Whose Cousin Killed Three People. Seventh grade became a
living hell.

I found out I was a werewolf not too long
into seventh grade, so that made it all even more fun. I dropped
soccer now that I couldn’t talk to any of the girls, and I
certainly didn’t need the pressure. The anger and adrenaline of the
game made me want to change. I found myself sitting with Melanie
and Sissy, a pair of girls in a terrible friendship. Sissy had no
other friends than Melanie, and Melanie kept Sissy at her beck and
call by being mean to her. I liked Melanie’s straightforward
question the first day I sat with them at lunch: “So, did your
cousin kill your dad or what?”

“How am I supposed to know? Do you think I
was there or something?”

She shrugged, shoveling mac and cheese into
her giant mouth. “He’s your cousin.”

“I’m not his keeper.”

“He must’ve done it,” she said. “That’s why
he ran off. What did he do with the bodies?”

The official report stated that my dad and
uncles were “missing.” The police found plenty of blood. Mom, Aunt
Jenny, and I had dealt with the bodies–the explanation for our
footprints being all over the crime scene was that we had gone
looking after they didn’t return from a camping trip. They found
blood matching everyone but Daniel. It was pretty obvious to
everyone that they were all dead and that Daniel had killed
them.

“What do you know about it?”

“I know he’s a weirdo. We’re just lucky he
killed your dad and didn’t do the whole school shooter thing.”

Sissy ventured a comment. “Mel, that’s an
awful thing to say.”

“What, you want a psycho loose in the
school?” Melanie snapped at her.

“Don’t talk to her like that,” I said to
Melanie.

Melanie dropped her fork onto her tray. “And
what are you gonna do about it?”

“Maybe I’m psycho too.” I opened my eyes wide
and stared at her, blank-faced.

“Fine, whatever.”

Okay, so maybe I used a little of my werewolf
mojo to push her into backing down.

Anyway, so I stopped caring about Alex Lo,
too concerned with how other people saw him. Instead I focused on
James Byrne, the Big Jock on Campus. At night I meditated on his
stupid, broad face, his sneering lips. It took a few nights, but
one night I found myself in James’s bedroom. He was watching
Claudia Childs give him a striptease.

“Oh, please,” I said before thinking.

While James jumped and looked up guiltily,
pulling a pillow over his groin area, Claudia was paused in her
striptease. Paused, like a DVD.

This gave me a few moments to assess the
situation.

I was wearing the same jeans and t-shirt
combo I usually wear to school, only it was like my clothes had
shrunk in the wash. And like my boobs had gone up two cups
sizes.

James had a simple mind. It didn’t take me
too long to figure out how to fuck with it.

“What do you want, freak?” he demanded once
he figured out who I was.

I smiled. “Oh nothing.” I shoved my hands in
my back pockets and pushed my giant chest out. “I just came by to
say hi.”

He looked at me with wary eyes. “Yeah?”

I sauntered toward him. “Don’t you want me
here?” I put on a pouty face.

“Uh, well, yeah. I mean, Claudia’s here,
too.”

Claudia came back to life then. “Hi, Kayla,”
she purred at me.

I managed to keep from laughing. Dreaming
about a threesome!

Her face came toward mine, lips puckered, and
I ducked away. “Oh, James, sorry to bust your bubble, but I’m not
interested in Claudia.”

“Then get the fuck out!” he yelled.

“I mean, James,” I said slowly, “that I want
Claudia to
watch
.”

I straddled him and his stupid pillow and
leaned in close to his face.

He did the rest, started kissing me, groping
me.

And this is when I decided to sprout fur
under my tight t-shirt. His fingers touched that coarse hair and
jerked back. “What the fuck?” he said as horror dawned on his face.
I pulled away so he could see my wolf face, my fangs. “Maybe you
shouldn’t say mean things about me and my family anymore,” I
snarled right in his face, before my face turned completely wolf.
Then I dug my claws into his shoulders, and he screamed and
screamed, all high like someone had his balls in a vice.

I woke myself up laughing hysterically.

That was my favorite trick, to jump into the
dreams of some kid at school who had decided to make my day
unpleasant. It was so easy. I learned how to poke around their
brains a bit before introducing myself, figure out what their fears
were. I learned James’s pretty well, since after that first dream
he decided to start calling me “that hairy bitch” in the hallways,
like I wouldn’t hear that with my wolf ears. Turned out James was
afraid of spiders, so you can imagine where I went with that. It
was my first experiment in creating dream objects out of thin
air.

I don’t know, I guess with all that messing
around I thought I was pretty good at dreamwalking. Daniel sure
proved me wrong on that. For the first thing, his dreams always
took place right where he was at. If he was sleeping on a couch in
some trailer, he was dreaming that he was sleeping on a couch in a
trailer. If he was sleeping under a bush, he was dreaming about
sleeping under a bush. It was like his life was so horrible that
his nightmares didn’t take him anyplace new.

The Jeep turns down a dirt road that barely
looked like a road. Pine branches slap at the windows. I sit up,
looking for any sign of civilization. Trees, trees, and more trees,
pressing in at the car and making me feel claustrophobic. Ten
minutes of this.

Then Remy announces, “Here we are.”

 

 

 

 

-8-

 

I drop my two bags in the entranceway of the
cabin. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“It just needs some fixing up,” my mother
says, bustling in behind me with a laundry basket full of cleaning
supplies. “A fresh coat of paint, some elbow grease, and soon this
will be better than home.”

I raise an eyebrow.

“Come on, it’ll be fun!”

“Where’s my room?”

“Uh… ask Remy.”

I turn and nearly slam into his rock-hard
abs. “Oh, there you are,” I say. “Where should I put my stuff?”

He walks in and gazes around. Did he see the
same rotted rugs and flea-market furniture I did, the same cobwebs
in the corners and piles of dead leaves skittering across the
floor? I wait, arms crossed over my chest.

“There’s a room back there. I guess you girls
can take the room, and I’ll take the couch?”

“How generous,” I mutter, snatching up my
bags and making my way to the closed door near the kitchen. Ugh…
the kitchen is going to need a ton of work before anything that
comes out of it will be edible.

I turn the knob, which emits a rusty squeal,
but the door doesn’t budge. I shoulder into it, then put my bags
down and really give it a hit. It barely budges.

“Here, let me,” Remy says from behind me, and
does some kind of football linebacker thing. The door doesn’t stand
a chance. It burst open in a cloud of dust and wood splinters.

I cough. “Thanks.”

“I’m sure you loosened it.” He smiles and
saunters away.

After I glare after him a little, I enter my
new bedroom. Or should I say, my and my mom and my aunts’ bedroom.
The twin size “bed” is just a mattress on the floor, covered with a
dusty quilt. The drawers of the narrow bureau have apparently been
repurposed as firewood.

“Mom!” I yell.

When she doesn’t answer, I storm back into
the living room. Remy is bringing in a cooler. Through the murky
window I can see my mother and Aunt Jenny getting more stuff out of
the car.

“I thought you said you’d been ‘fortifying,’”
I say to Remy. “I guess ‘fortifying’ doesn’t include making the
place actually livable?”

He looks up, a mild expression on his
face.

“Where are we supposed to sleep? This place
is trashed, in case you haven’t noticed. A twin mattress isn’t
going to be enough for three grown women. We don’t even have
sleeping bags! How the hell is this any better than our house? A
human could knock these walls down with a push!”

“You seemed to have trouble with that door,”
Remy reminds me.

I can’t even think of anything to say. A
growl rises in my throat and I feel my skin go prickly, my nails
turning into claws and digging into the palms of my hands.

“Kayla Marie!”

The change slows then reverses, like a cool
wave washing over me. My mother is doing what I had done so often
for Daniel.

I would have liked to show Remy just how
strong my wolf was.

“Stop being an ungrateful little snot. You
know we can’t stay at home. This place might not be the Ritz but
it’s safe enough for now. Got it?”

“Yes,” I mutter, and storm back into the
bedroom with its useless door. In other circumstances I would have
thrown myself on the mattress, but in this case I choose to sit
gingerly until I’m certain the springs won’t bust through and stab
me. Then I flop onto my back.

A water spot bulges from the ceiling, raining
little flakes of paint down on me.

I listen to Mom and Aunt Jenny debate about
where to put the food in the kitchen, and a minor argument about
electricity which ends in Remy heading out in the Jeep to get some
gas for the generator. Then Mom starts sweeping with brisk strokes
that sound more like raking with all the leaves, and a timid knock
sounds on the door.

“Kayla?”

I sit up at the sound of Aunt Jenny’s
voice.

“Mind if I come in?”

“It’s fine.” I speak quietly even though I’m
sure Mom can hear every word anyway.

“She has her headphones on,” Aunt Jenny says,
crossing the room to sit beside me on the mattress. “How are you
doing?”

“I’m okay, I guess,” I say. “I know I’m being
a brat.”

“This place is… less than ideal,” Aunt Jenny
acknowledges. “I keep telling your mother that she needs to let you
in on our plans.”

That gets my attention. “What plans?”

Aunt Jenny glances toward the door. When she
doesn’t continue, I raise my eyebrows. “I’m all ears.”

“It’s better that you don’t know,” she sighs.
“Your mother is right.”

There’s a creak and that’s all the warning I
get before Mom is standing in the doorway, her hair pulled back
with a handkerchief and the broom in her hand. “Is the world
ending? Did my sister just say I was right?”

Aunt Jenny giggles, sounded maniacally
guilty. “Oh, you know. I was telling Kayla that she needs to give
Remy a chance. They’d make a good couple.”

Mom smiles, suspicion gone. “Of course they
would. Remy’s a handsome man, strong. He’d protect you.”

I hear the unspoken words:
You can’t
protect yourself
.

(Daniel’s stronger than Remy)

The thought comes unbidden, more out of
rebellion. I don’t realize how loudly I thought the words until I
see the grateful look Aunt Jenny gives me.

“I didn’t say Daniel couldn’t protect you,”
Mom says, her voice full of honey. “But Daniel isn’t here, and Remy
is. You have to take what you can get.”

I roll my eyes. Here we go again.

“Beggars can’t be choosers.” I say in a
mocking tone. “Why can’t I choose? Why do I even have to choose?
I’m only fifteen. I should be thinking about getting good grades in
school and what I’m going to wear to prom and where I should apply
to college. Not about marriage. I shouldn’t be asked to wander
around the country by myself for six months–totally unprotected, by
the way–and I shouldn’t have to choose between marrying my cousin
and marrying a total stranger who comes from a bloodline of
lunatics!”

“Whoa, did I walk in at the wrong time?”

All three of us jump about a mile at the
sound of Remy’s voice.

“How did you–” Mom starts.

“I didn’t hear–” Aunt Jenny says.

Remy doesn’t say anything about how he
managed to sneak up on three werewolves with incredibly sharp
hearing. I don’t say anything either. I lean back on one hand,
regarding Remy with narrowed eyes.

Maybe, if I play my cards right, I can learn
a thing or two from him.

 

 

 

-9-

 

The next day, after an uncomfortable night on
the floor, I am more than willing to try to clean up our new living
quarters. I throw on a thermal shirt, fleece jacket, ripped jeans,
and galoshes, and don a pair of the work gloves Remy thankfully
thought to include in stocking the house. Mom, of course, makes a
comment about my greasy hair, but after living on the road for all
those months, I don’t much care. Plus the shower is disgusting. I
go to work on that first. There are branches in there, coming in
from a ghetto skylight.

BOOK: Dreamwalkers
8.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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