Luke Sarandon groaned and covered his head with a blanket. The sun wasn’t his friend this particular morning, or any morning, for that matter. He was a night person, as proven last night, when he had stayed up half of it.
The night before he had had a few friends over, and had drank too much alcohol. He was paying for that mistake now, with a pulsing headache.
He sometimes wished he was more like his best friend, Mark, who rarely drank, and always fared better when he did. He could hold a lot of alcohol for a small guy. He was 5’9" and light, but he always seemed somewhat resilient to alcohol. Luke had always thought he would be the resilient one, since he was 6’2" and had more muscle. Luke laughed. Or, maybe I just drank too much to notice that he stopped a long time before me. That thought was a bit disturbing.
Finally stumbling out of bed, Luke glanced at his cell phone. It read 9:30. It really wasn’t very early, but it meant he had an hour and a half to shower, eat breakfast, and get across town to college. Grabbing some jeans and the first shirt he could find, he took a quick shower. After running a comb through his thick, black hair, he walked down the short hall.
Just when he reached his friend’s door, he remembered the hangover shakes Mark had made the night before. He had tried to talk him out of making them, but Mark had insisted they would be essential to functioning the next day. It turned out that he had been right, as usual. They would definitely be appreciated this morning. Hurrying to the kitchen, he poured two large glasses. Returning to the room, he knocked. After getting no answer, he grinned.
"Good morning, sunshine," he joked, knocking again, this time harder.
"Good morning, Luke." His friend seemed a bit irritated. "Come in," Mark sounded distracted.
When Luke opened the door, he saw that his friend was typing. He paused, then moved quietly to the other side of his friend, to the bed. He set the glasses down on the desk, careful not to distract him.
Mark had always written down his dreams, and Luke figured that was what he was doing. It was better not to disturb him now. He would lose his train of thought, and possibly forget the dream. If he did that, he would be trying to remember it all day. He only wrote down the dreams that had some possible meaning. It seemed to be important to him.
Seeing Luke set the glasses down and took a seat next to him, Mark smiled, but his eyes never left the screen. Taking a drink, he continued typing.
Luke just sat there and watched, patiently waiting. His friend was obviously in a trance. Luke found it a bit strange that his friend took so much interest in his dreams. He didn’t understand it entirely, but didn’t question it. It was just a strong part of Mark.
After what seemed like forever, Mark stopped and turned to Luke. He had a strange look on his face. "I had a really...," Mark seemed to space out for a moment, then continued. "...strange dream last night." He looked at Luke.
"Uh, yeah. You were drinking. I‘m really not that surprised," Luke said.
Luke realized that was the wrong thing to say when his friend pursed his lips and turned back to the screen. Inwardly cursing at himself, he sighed. "I’m sorry. What was your dream?"
Mark continued to stare at the desk. "You‘re really gonna listen to me?"
Luke smiled. "Of course. Go ahead. I have time."
Mark was quiet for a long while, then started talking. "I was carrying a sword, which was cold to the touch. It was influencing everything I did. It felt almost like it was leading me somewhere, down a path. It was weird."
Luke cocked his head. "The sword was leading you?" He thought this sounded very bizarre. "It sounds to me like you’re worrying about your future too much. That’s where the path most likely comes from."
Mark nodded. "Maybe. It was creepy, though. It was like I was handling something evil, but drawn to it, still. It wasn’t even the dream itself that bothered me the most. There was an evil air about the whole thing. I can’t explain it very well. It was like I could feel an evil presence in my dream. I felt like I was evil. I don’t get it. You’d think if it was about my future, it wouldn’t be so creepy. I’m gonna analyze it more later, but..." Mark was quiet for a while, then he glanced at his watch. "Hey, you had better get to class. It’s 10:45."
Luke jumped up. "Oh, shit! Thanks, dude. I’ll help clean up when I get home. Hey, tell me what you come up with, and don’t be so worried. It’s just a dream. I’ll see you later." With that, Luke flew out of the room.
Mark watched him leave, then closed the document. Sometimes he wished Luke would take these dreams a little more seriously. He didn’t seem to be concerned at all. Mark laughed to himself. That’s probably because it’s just a dream. It’s nothing to worry about.
Shutting down the computer, he finished his drink and started getting ready for work. He didn’t have time to sit here and analyze. There was a good chance he would be thinking about this dream all day, though. Since he worked at Wal-Mart in the electronics department, he thought he might pick up a tape recorder, or something. It might help to voice his dreams.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jackie Woodard cursed lightly as her scissors grazed the side of a poodle’s ear. The owner had just walked in, making the dog move his head. That had caused her to cut him. It wasn’t a bad cut, but it would still need pressure to stop the bleeding. Holding the ear with her fingers and a towel, she waited about thirty seconds. This would be hard to explain to the already impatient owner.
Removing her hand from the wound, Jackie inspected it. When she looked this time, she was surprised to see a perfectly healthy ear. There wasn’t even blood, where there had been before. Looking at it again, she shook her head. Had she just imagined the blood before? Well, at least she wouldn’t have an angry customer.
Letting her long, dark hair out of the ponytail it was in, she braided it. After talking to the closing groomer, Jackie clocked out and walked to her car, an old Honda Civic. Getting in her car and buckling up, she called her dad. She would be moving in a few days, and needed to know if the apartment she was planning to move into was still available.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jaisyn sat down, breathing heavily. He had just finished going through several fighting drills, and definitely needed a break.
The man training him grinned. "Two minutes, then we start a new set."
Jaisyn groaned. It felt like his sides were splitting, and this man was relentless. He was starting to wonder if the other man ever got tired. Right now, he seriously doubted it. It felt as if they had been sparring for hours, when, in reality, it hadn’t even been an hour yet.
Getting to his feet Jaisyn reached for the sword again. He could stand a few more minutes of this.
The trainer shook his head. "No weapons in this last set. Only hands," he settled back into a stance. "Give me your best attack."
Jaisyn rushed at the man, catching him by the arm and quickly flipping him on his back. He backed off, instead of helping him up. He knew all too well what would happen if he did that.
The other man flipped to his feet, rushing at Jaisyn quickly. Jaisyn moved to the side, and realize his mistake. The other man grabbed Jaisyn’s arm and twisted it back. Pulling the younger man up against him, the trainer grinned. "Try getting out of this one, Jay," his breath brushed Jaisyn’s ear, causing him to shiver. Jaisyn froze, thinking about his next move.
Backing closer to the man, Jaisyn moved quickly, kicking him just below the knee. The man gasped, letting him go. He hadn’t hit him hard enough to cause any damage, but it would still hurt.
"Nice move," the trainer moved at him again. Jaisyn grinned and felt a tingling feeling rush through him. He started to block the blow, when he felt something shoot from his hands. It hit the other man on the shoulder, eating away at his clothing quickly. The trainer screamed in pain and horror, staring at Jaisyn. Seconds later, he blacked out.
Jaisyn backed away, numb with shock. Seconds later, he rushed to the other man, unsure of whether to touch him or not.
Guards rushed in when they heard the scream. At first they thought the training had been too rough, but the trainer was unconscious. They moved to him quickly, and Jaisyn backed up. When they found the acid, they looked at Jaisyn.
"What did you do?" One of the guards yelled, not looking up. "Get a healer in here right now!" One of the guards was already going for a healer.
Jaisyn stared at his hands. "I don’t know," he whispered.
Two of the guards grabbed Jaisyn by his arms, leading him out. They took him to Bordekai, not knowing what else to do. Their lord dismissed the guards quickly, leading Jaisyn to a chair.
"Have a seat, Jaisyn," he spoke quietly.
The young man collapsed in the chair offered, and stared into space. He was prepared for a scolding, but what he got was very different.
"I should have been more careful with your training, since I always suspected that you might be one of them. There’s only one way to know, but we’ll save that for tomorrow. Right now you need some rest."
Jaisyn nodded mutely, confused by what he was saying, but too exhausted to ask. Bordekai helped him to his feet, calling a servant.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Right after school, Luke rushed to work. He had brought his shirt with him so he wouldn’t have to change. Mark had joked that he could just wear it to school, but Luke couldn’t see himself wearing a McDonald’s manager shirt to school all morning. It would not give off a good image.
Everything was going as expected until he went to the back to get some boxes. That was near the end of his shift at 7:40. Picking up a stack of Happy Meal boxes, he was carrying them to the front when they caught on fire. Panicked, Luke dropped the boxes. What the hell? he thought, his heart racing. Looking at his hands, he noticed they were not even touched. He picked up the stack of boxes. The ones on the bottom were burned halfway up. Luke ran to the front and talked to the closing manager. When she looked around, she didn’t find anything that may have started the fire. She just told him not to worry about it, to just go home and relax.
Luke went to his car and sat there for a moment. That had been really strange.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mark smiled at the attractive, young woman at the counter. "Hi. Did you find everything you needed alright?" He started running her items over the scanner. She half smiled, and looked down. 'I could find more if you came over to my house. Definitely.' She thought to herself.
Mark’s head shot up from scanning. Blushing fiercely, he thanked the girl, and she left. That was embarrassing, he thought. Wait a minute. How did I..."His thoughts trailed off. How had he heard what she had been thinking? That wasn’t possible. It must have been my own thoughts, somehow. That was even more embarrassing.