Arrival in Eau Clare

Mom and I sat at the gate while we waited for me to board the plane. I finally heard them announce that the plane was now boarding. As soon as they did, Mom started crying. I would miss the crazy lady as I loved to affectionately call her, out of earshot of course. She was bawling. This would be the first time I had ever been away from her in twelve years. I would miss my Mommy.

But I boarded the plane anyway. I wanted to leave all the weirdness behind. Either way, something told me I would not have an uneventful stay in Eau Clare.

I chewed gum, listened to my Cds, and reread “The Secret Window” for part of the trip. Then after finishing “The Secret Window”, I switched to trying to finish Interview with a Vampire for the third time. It was fun.

Ten minutes before we landed, I started to get nervous. How would Dad react to me? How would the kids at school?

I was simply overreacting. It would be fine. Dad would be cool. I would deal with the kids at school; anyways I was practically a professional new kid. This would be good. I would finish my last two years of high school in one place.

I had no reason to worry. When the plane landed and I walked off, Dad was right there waiting for me with a big, genuine smile on his face.

And with that look, I lost any doubts I might have had. This was going to be good. I would be safe.

“Chris, you have no idea how great it is to see your smiling face,” he said. As he spoke I could see the tears well in his eyes. I quickly looked away, letting him have a moment. Seeing his tears would kill me. A girl never wants to see her big, strong daddy cry. It makes him human.

“Dad?” I asked after he had composed himself. “We have to pick up my bags. Plus Dad, I can’t leave Frenchy alone for too long. Someone might steal her,” I said.

“Oh right, your car. Can’t go leaving that. Well let’s go get your bags first.”

We walked to the baggage claim in silence. But it was the good kind, not awkward, angry, sad, or anything like that. Just a peaceful silence. It was though if anything were said, the moment would die. And neither of us wanted that. We grabbed my bags and headed to pick up my car.

For that we had to go outside. It was freezing. I felt better because I had my hoodie on but still, Frenchy had no hood. This wasn’t going to be good. We picked her up and I stuffed my bags inside.

Dad got inside his car, a 2006 Mitsubishi Raider, and told me to follow. I decided instead of messing with the radio, I would just listen to my headphones. I put in my Fefe Dobson CD and started singing along with the first track, Stupid Little Love Song. I was glad I had put my gloves in my carry-on. The little black gloves kept my hands warm as I gripped the steering wheel.

It was a two hour drive from the airport to Eau Clare. By the time we had reached Eau Clare’s city limits, it was six-thirty. Dad promised we would stop by the shop tomorrow, so we passed by it until we reached home.

Home. It had been so long since I had been able to call it that. It almost felt normal. Almost.

It was an old, partially dilapidated house, Victorian era. Mom had fallen in love with it at first sight. Its outside was white, or had been at one time. The paint was peeling and the once pastel yellow trim had faded so much it was hard to distinguish between the white of the house. But I loved it. It had been an adventure growing up in that house. Its inside had been restored to its original splendor, except the gas lamps had been replaced by antique-looking electrical lights. It sort of looked like a haunted house. But I knew better. It was no more haunted than anywhere else I had lived.

Dad had converted the carriage house in the backyard into a garage. I parked Frenchy inside.

Dad parked just outside. I grabbed my bags and headed for the house. Dad unloaded my other bag from his truck and followed me to my door. I grabbed the key from under the doormat and let myself in. Dad followed. He dropped my bag upstairs in my room and headed back down to order pizza.

My room hadn’t changed much since I had left it when I was five. It was still painted pastel yellow and Dad hadn’t even taken down my *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys posters.

The only things that had changed were the much larger bed and my massive dollhouse had been replaced by a desk and laptop.

I placed my bags on my bed and began to unpack. I placed my clothes either in the old wooden dresser in front of the mirror or in the nearly wall length closet. Then I walked to my bathroom, thankful I didn’t have to share. Ray, as only my mom called him, would have a nuclear if he had to share in my mess. Mom loved to shorten phrases. I got the habit from her. She always said she would choke to death with the time it took her to say the long “proper” phrase. I missed her already.

After unpacking everything, I handed him the paperwork he would need to finish enrolling me.

“Thanks hon. Pizza’s here. Eat up,” he said, smiling.

“Thanks.” I ate six slices of pepperoni pizza before I was full. But by then it was nine. The traveling and unpacking had exhausted me. So, I was ready to hit the hay.

“Hey Dad?” I asked.

“Yeah sweetheart?”

“Can I go out exploring tomorrow? I saw the woods when we drove up today and I just couldn’t resist. Please?” I begged.

“Sure, just, be careful. Okay?” He replied, the worried tone of a father coming out loud and clear.

“Thanks. Night Dad,” I said, shoving my paper plate in the trash before proceeding upstairs.

Once I was in the tranquil silence of my bedroom, I changed into a pair of cotton shorts and an old Bayville Pirates t-shirt, Bayville High being a school I had attended while Mom and I had lived in California. I placed the Underworld Evolutions Soundtrack into the ancient stereo, hit the Repeat All button, and pressed Play. I turned the stereo’s volume to a quiet murmur. I then climbed into bed and drifted off into unconsciousness.

The dream was back, more vivid than ever. The golden eyed boy was smiling. No, that wouldn’t be an accurate description of the look on his face. He was ecstatic, practically jumping for joy. “So close. So soon,” he whispered.

Then, the comforting blue light appeared. But instead of the light, it really was a boy. I don’t know how I knew they were one and the same, but something told me they were. And this fact comforted me. His eyes were much softer than those of the other boy. They seemed kinder somehow. “Don’t go. He’s waiting. He wants you,” the soft-eyed boy warned.

The boy with the golden eyes laughed, but it was not kind. It was angry, and yet, amused. “Look into my eyes.”

“Chris, don’t!” The soft-eyed boy yelled.

But he shouted too late. I was locked in the golden stare. And it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The boy walked closer. But he was no boy. His body was that of a boy, probably no older than eighteen. But his eyes, they held his true age. They seemed older than anything I had ever seen, ancient even. He smiled. But not an ordinary smile, a devilish smirk I guess you could call it.

Suddenly, the soft-eyed boy was between us, cutting off the eye contact. “Leave now!” He ordered.

And I awoke, drenched in a cold sweat. I guess I had bitten my lip in my sleep because there was dried blood caked on my lower lip and chin.

I looked at the clock, ten thirty. If I got dressed and took a shower quickly, I could have breakfast and be out the door by eleven thirty. Surely that would be plenty of time to explore the woods.

I set forth with that task in mind. I grabbed two towels from the small linen closet and headed for my shower. I turned on the hot water full blast and then semi-twisted the cold. I loved the heat.

I undressed and hopped in. The water instantly steamed up the room. I let the water just run down my body for a while, trying to calm myself. I just needed to get the dreams out of my head. Before it got worse. Because it always got worse.

As I stood in the shower, I wondered about the dreams and what the changes in them meant. Neither of the boys had ever spoken my name before, or ever gotten so close. I could have probably touched the soft-eyed boy last night. The boy with the golden eyes had never spoken directly to me before last night. It was as if he was suddenly aware I existed. It was strange. But it hadn’t gotten worse, yet. After washing my hair and body, I climbed out of the shower, shoving a towel around both my hair and myself. I wiped away the steam in the mirror and tried to dry my hair with the towel the best I could. I then put my contacts in. I brushed my hair and put it in a ponytail. I would be out in the woods, so I felt no need to put on any makeup.

I then headed to my room. The forecast said it would be cold today, so I opted to dress warm. I pulled on a long-sleeved Hurley tee I had bought at Jake’s. I slipped on a nice, comfortable pair of Levi’s and a pair of hiking boots. Then I slid on my new winter jacket and headed downstairs for breakfast.

I decided to eat something quick and healthy, but since Dad hadn’t gone shopping since I got here, that meant milk and toast.

I was full. I couldn’t wait to explore the forest beside the house. Dad never used to let me in the woods because he said I would have nightmares. If only he knew.

I packed a small backpack with trail mix, two bottles of water, a map, compass, and a walkie-talkie my father wanted, made me take, in case I got lost.

I left a note telling him I had left and when I expected to be back. I made sure I had all my bases covered.

I walked out the front door. It was a bit chilly and it was lightly misting outside. The sun was up but barely visible through the dense fog that coated the area. It was beautiful. It was almost noon, about eleven-thirty. I figured I’d be home about three-thirty. I set off into the dense forest with a sense of foreboding. I had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach, something was waiting for me.

I had been a cross country runner at my school in Dallas. I wished I would be able to run here, but I had already missed the try-outs by a few weeks, so it was too late to try and join the team. I was still in good shape so I figured I would walk about four miles in and then head back.

By the time I had been walking two miles, I had the feeling I was being followed. I looked around, but could see no one. The fog by now was gone, but I still could not find my pursuer. I decided to keep walking. Even if I was being followed, all I could do was radio for help. I couldn’t just turn around go back home. I was already two miles into the woods. I was trapped.

I had been walking for almost an hour; maybe my tired mind was playing tricks on me. So I sat down on a nearby log to rest for a few moments.

I grabbed my water bottle from my backpack and took a few sips. I then stood up, ready to continue through the forest. But I heard something huge, running in the distance. And it was getting closer.

The End

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