Steven had never woken up from a dream, where what had happened physically to him there, also happened to him in reality. Instead of lying in his bed, warm, dry and drowsy, he woke up, threw up a bucket of water from his lungs and tore the blankets off him.
In his dark room, he noticed that one particular corner wasn't. A small desk, much too tiny to accommodate him, was huddled in the corner, a lamp sitting on its colorful top.
Sitting at the desk, was a young boy, scribbling away at a piece of paper with red crayon.
The lamp was on, illuminating the eerily familiar child.
"What are you doing in my room?" Steven asked firmly, getting off his bed and stripping off his soaked shirt. It was getting uncomfortable, so he threw it to the ground, looking for another shirt he knew was somewhere on the floor.
However, the carpeted floor was only occupied by toys and little kids clothes.
A book by Dr. Seuss lay open on the carpet.
The little boy, still drawing on his paper, didn't turn around when Steven spoke, nor did he move when Steven came up behind him.
He reached out his hand, resting it on the boy's soft, blonde hair.
Withdrawing his hand, he took a step back in horror. "You're me…" Glancing at the room, he began to recognize what had once adorned his walls and carpet. A picture of their family, Mom, Dad, and Steven took up the most space.
Approaching it, he knew without a doubt that the little boy in the picture was the same boy sitting at the desk.
Other old toys, locked away in his memory, grew in familiarity. There was an old train set scattered on the floor, nearby trucks, cars, action figures, toy animals and dinosaurs littered the carpet, as well as old shirts he vaguely remembered.
"This is unreal. Julia! Julia are you here?" He shouted out, staring around the room since they must still be dreaming. Perhaps he'd finally been around to see what happened when a dream changed.
That's when he heard a scream come from downstairs.
Both Steven's turned their head, eyes widening. "Mom!" The younger Steven shouted, pushing over his chair, crayon still in hand. Moving with surprising agility and speed, his younger self exited the room with all haste.
"Mom?" Steven's heart nearly stopped. His mother was here? If he could see her once, just once-dream or not, he would be overjoyed. Running out of the room, he saw his younger self take the stairs two at a time, before hitting the hallway and sprinting down it.
"Mom!" Younger Steven shouted once more, turning a corner into the kitchen. "Mom!" His cry was bloodcurdling, sending shivers and memories down his spine. Paling, he knew without a doubt what the boy had discovered in that kitchen.
Without the aid of the dream, he could vividly recall it himself.
Why not? He'd run the memory over in his mind countless times.
Bathed in sweat and lake water, Steven leapt down the stairs in one bound, falling to his knees, before doing a roll and collapsing in the hall. As always in the dream, there was no pain. Only an odd, numbing sensation ran up and down his body as he ambled back up to his feet.
Behind him, he heard his father's door opening. "Steven! Steven come back here!" He kept pace with Steven until they reached the kitchen.
No one in this wretched memory paid the seventeen year old, sopping wet kid any attention.
"I'm sorry!" He heard a man's voice come from the kitchen, just as he entered it. In one quick glance he saw the horrifying memory play out. It took only a few seconds for the events which changed his life to take place.
A man stood halfway in their doorway, a gun extended towards his mother. She was sitting on a chair at the kitchen, a book resting on the tabletop. Beside the book, a steaming hot cup of tea. She stood up, her hands raised and trembling.
Behind her, Younger Steven huddled around her leg, crying out in fear.
The man, who was wearing a ripped, tight hoodie, put his finger on the trigger.
His mom let out another scream.
Then the man said what had forever been locked away in Steven's mind: "No! I didn't know! I didn't know!" What he would later realize that to mean, was that the man had been fleeing from the police. He'd come to their house, seeing that there were no vehicles present and their lights were mostly turned off. Without having any other option, he'd picked their house to evade the police.
What he didn't know was that the family was indeed home, while their vehicles were parked along the street a ways back so visitors who'd been at their house earlier, would have better places to park.
The Walker's were considerate like that.
But it was not just what the man said that had stayed in Steven's mind, haunting him-fuelling deep rage and hatred. Bitterness. No, it was how he'd put his finger on the trigger, pulling it as he aimed the pistol at his dear mother.
He shot twice.
Both Steven's let out a howl of rage, one of them running to his fallen mother, the other towards the man. Knowing that it was of course too late to save her, Steven left his weeping, devastated family in their kitchen.
He would pursue the man.
Unsure if it would do any good, he decided to let his rage take control. He only turned around once, staring at his mother as she lay on the kitchen floor, blood pooling around her. His father picked her up in his arms, kissing her face, screaming in agony.
Younger Steven pressed his face against his mother's bosom, not knowing what else to do. All he wanted was his mother to stroke his hair, telling him that all was good; she was just hurt, but would be better soon enough.
Turning away from them, hot tears streaming down his face, he pushed the ajar door fully open. "You're not getting away this time!" He threw himself down the short flight of stairs, tearing down the sidewalk after the man as he fled down their deserted driveway.
He saw the gun fall from his hands, clattering on the driveway. Stooping down, he picked it up, tripped, but recovered. Slipping the gun into his belt, he took off down the sidewalk, under the cover of night.
Steven was right on his heels, breathing heavily, yet feeling no pain.
Only pure, unadulterated fury.
"Stop! Damn it, stop!" Steven felt no fear as he lunged at the man, not knowing if it would accomplish anything. However, unlike with others in his dreams, he could touch this one.
Grabbing his legs, he tripped the man, let him go and watched as he collapsed on the sidewalk. Letting out a groan, he slowly got up, taking the gun from his belt. "You think you would've done this last time, Steven? That you would've chased me?" With a laugh, he brushed off his pants, seemingly not in any hurry any longer.
His hood still wrapped tightly around his face, he pointed the gun at Steven's chest, mere inches away from him. "What do you want, Steven? Do you want to kill me? Avenge yourself? What do you think this is, Steven? A movie? This is a dream, you little bitch! A dream." He spat at Steven, laughing as he backed away in fright.
Steven only trembled before him, all his rage turning cold, while fear got on his heart, riding it like a horse. With a swift kick, it sent it beating fast. "Who are you?"
"Who do you think?" Flames slowly began to rise off his hood, as he put his finger on the trigger. "Are you ready to wake up, Steven?" Then he shot him.
Just as he had done up in the sky above the school parking lot.
Steven closed his eyes as the bullet tore into his chest.
And this time, lying in his bed, dressed in warm clothes under a familiar, thick blanket, he awoke to reality.