The fear was so strong then that it made her jump off the rotted porch. It pushed her through the minefield of junk she called a backyard. It compelled her to run down a path and urged her to climb a tree.
She spent the rest of the night sitting there, waiting for the lights to leave her eyes, waiting for the voices to be silent. She vowed not to have another vision as long she lived.
Selma shivered with fear, realizing that Kendra, who was the strongest and bravest person she knew, was likely already dead.
Each time her eyes had fluttered closed with sleep, she slipped further off the branch.
She slipped once, twice and then fell.
She climbed the tree again and sat there until she fell again; all night she kept herself awake that way and by morning, the light in her eyes and the voices in her mind were gone. She’d won against the alluring pull of sleep.
She made her way back when the sky was bright and her nurse was awake, sipping a can of iced tea on her aunt’s porch.
“Its over. It’ll be a long time before the lights comes back, I’m sure.” Selma had said tossing the car keys at the elderly woman. The old nurse caught the keys with one hand and raised a single white eyebrow.
“Does this mean I’m free to go now?” Nurse Jenny said sipping slowly. Jenny watched her carefully as she circled around the porch and staggered toward the Volkswagen.
“Yes.” Selma said too tired to roll her eyes. “Okay look I’m sorry for stealing them, but if I let you go, you would’ve told them where I was.” Selma said opening the back door to Jenny’s car.
“And why would that be a bad thing?” Her nurse asked with a frown.
“Because they would drug me. When I fall asleep before the voices go away—things—happen. Like to Kendra and Doctor Ben.”
“That wasn’t your fault, Selma. You aren’t making these things happen; you’re just seeing them before they do.”
“How do you know that?” Selma snarled, slamming the car door shut, “You don’t know anything. I have a vision with Kendra in it, and now she’s gone—and what about when I dreamed about Doctor Ben, he went missing too. I’m making them disappear; it’s all my fault. They’re probably dead.” Selma said with a cracked voice.
“Selma, I think you’re running away for a different reason. You know you’re not making them disappear. You’re afraid of what you’ll see when you fall asleep.”
‘Or of how my visions will be used when I fall asleep,’ Selma thought but she only shrugged her shoulders at Jenny before dropping into the back seat of the classic Volkswagen.
Jenny stepped into the driver’s seat, balancing her drink, her sunglasses and car keys in her hands. She sighed before she started her car, which began bellowing a calming Jazz tune.
“Jenny, do they hurt them? Does the Center hurt the people I dream about?” Selma asks quietly after watching her nurse back out of the driveway.
“If you really want to know, all you have to do is let the visions in. You haven’t let them in since Kendra disappeared. Is there something going on?” Jenny said watching Selma in the rear view mirror.
Selma looked out the window at the house she used to call home, she didn’t answer Jenny’s question. Onto the car window, she traced the letters ICFD and quietly, she whispered the meaning of the old code: In Case of a Friend’s Death.
“Don’t worry, I’m certain Kendra is alright.” Jenny sighed, patting Selma’s leg.
As Jenny drove Selma back to the Center that morning, Selma fell asleep without strange visions getting in the way.
The sound of a dog barking makes Selma jump. She has trouble feeling the fear she had that summer night. Now as she smells the damp air full of pine trees and fallen leaves, Selma only feels sleepiness.
She knew the moment she closed her eyes, none of it would seem real. The room, the blankets, the strange tasting drink and the cold wind would be far away.
‘Maybe the dark was the only thing real and this was all a dream my mind made up to make me feel better,’ she thinks darkly.
Selma tries to stand up, fighting the apathy but the effort throws her body into a violent spasm. She turns to steady herself against the couch, gripping the leather as tight as she could.
Selma feels a frightening numbness hold her; it wasn’t the sleep aids she was used to. It was something much stronger finally taking effect. Selma crashes into the couch face first.
"Jenny, are you there? Help me! I know you’re here. You’re always here." Selma says rolling over, trying to pull her self up but no one answers her call.
For the first time Selma could remember, her nurse was late.
Selma rolls up her sleeve and pinches her arm. The pain helps and Selma break the sleeping spell but she can hardly sit up.
She sits forward as her nails dig into the couch, trying to force her body to stay up.
“I’m awake. It shouldn’t be possible but I’m awake.” She whispers to herself.
Selma brushes back her hair with a shaking hand. She looks up when she hears the sound of gravel scattering outside and the familiar click of the latch on the clubhouse door.
“Jenny, where were you? I just had a close call.” Selma says, turning her head in time to see a flash of something shiny at the door and feels a pin prick in her thigh.
Glancing down, Selma finds a dart protruding from her leg.
“How?” Selma yells out in shock.
As Selma fights the sedative, her leg drops out from under her, knocking her off the couch. She topples over her soda and stumbles into the crate. Selma looks around for her assailant but she couldn’t make anything out as the visions become blindingly strong.
“P-puh please, don’t let me fall asleep. I don’t want to go back. I promise I’ll do anything just please.” Selma begs as she sinks to the ground, gripping the crate.
Jenny steps into the room, tossing the dart gun to the side.
Reaching over, she silently lifts Selma back onto the couch and smiles at the young woman as she yanks out the dart out of her leg.
Her long grey hair was beginning to fall out of the tight bun she had tied earlier in the day. There were dark circles around her deep brown eyes, ones Selma never noticed before.
Selma tries to reach out and touch Jenny’s suddenly unfamiliar face, trying to understand her actions.
The nurse gently pats Selma’s pale cold hand with her warm wrinkled ones, pressing it down to Selma’s side.
"It’s okay, Selma. I know what I’m doing. Just relax and focus on the ticking of the watch. That’ll help you find him when you get there. It’s going to be okay. I’ve taken care of everything. All you have to do is watch out for Mr. Smith. His people will come after you.” The rest of her words were unintelligible as Selma finally falls asleep.
Her body feels as though it was dissolving. It took all her strength to keep her eyes open long enough see a blurry figure step into the room.
“No, stop.” Selma whispers, jerking awake.
Selma blinks and finds that time itself has folded. She’s lying outside in the grass as a hooded figure crouches over her.
He grips the back of her shirt and loops his arms under her knees.
In a last ditch effort, Selma screams and hits at the figure as he lifts her up and places her into the back of a car. Nurse Jenny’s car, Selma realizes. There was something familiar about the figure but Selma was in no state to figure out what.
“Where did they take them, Jenny? What do they do to the people in my dreams? Why do they all disappear? You know, don’t you?” Selma babbles in her half-sleep as she fights the sedatives with a supernatural strength.
She could open her eyes again, but she could only see two blurry figures in the car seat in front of her. Selma’s eyes close and this time they weren’t going to open for a very long time. Nurse Jenny glances back from the driver’s seat to the slouching teenage passenger.
“Even if I told you, sweetheart, you wouldn’t want to believe me.” Jenny said as she watched her head lull back into the seat.
“Will she be alright? Should I do something more?” Asks the hooded figure as he shuts the passenger side door. His voice is strained with worry.
“I don’t know but she does have an incredibly strong constitution for sleep aids. I think she’ll be fine. Will, don’t stress yourself out. She’s fine.” Jenny says when she notices Will looking back at Selma. Will grunts, turns and continues to frown.
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