"You've had tough dreams before," Joey said. He long ago stopped trying to comprehend the things the experiences, but he could never fake the concern she felt so safe around. "This was different," she said, aiming to keep this simple "I never get involved with these visions, let alone come out of one with a physical injury. Maybe I shouldn't have gotten involved."
Joey nodded with her story. "But you did," he said "You just wanted to help. Maybe involving yourself is what got you so involved in the dream."
"You think I should go home?" Anin asked "Separate myself from the situation?"
"No," Joes said as he stood up and kissed her forehead "Then I wouldn't get to see you. Just, tell your friends that you aren't involving yourself anymore. They can have their fun and when it's time to go, you can catch a ride home with them."
"Joey, it's not fun," Anin argued "People died!"
"I saw the news. Some nasty murder occurred last night. But you guys roll into town and head for the first crime scene. You aren't Scooby Doo."
This was not an unusual issue between Anin and Joey. He never seemed to understand the real world implications of her dreams or readings. He always thought of them as a cute diversion, but never anything major. They fought over the move, but Joey always planned to transfer back to Syracuse, so he ultimately had given up on getting Anin to stay out in Albany. Rather than fight him again on the subject, she sighed and looked back to her tea. "Whatever," she mumbled as she picked up her tea cup.
"I have to go to work," he announced as he placed a hand on Anin's shoulder. "I'll be back tonight." Anin nodded but didn't turn to look at him as she sipped at her cup. "Try not to have a huge party with those guys without me," he said, trying to get a laugh. Anin continued to ignore him. Eventually he gave up and left, closing the front door carefully, but Anin heard him slam his car door.
Anin sat in silence for a while and tried to enjoy her tea. After long, fatigue was taking its toll. Joey was right, the early wake up followed by the long morning had exhausted her. She first figured she could get through the day and ignore how tired she was, but she also knew she was more than a little afraid to go back to the sleep. The idea of returning to her dream where the fading man could attack her did not appeal to her. She couldn't let that fear rule her though. Blake had consumed gasoline in order to get ahead in this case, the least she could do was rest up.
Anin gave up on the tea and made for Joey's bedroom. The bed was a mess, never made, but inviting to Anin. She closed the door and drew the curtains closed, blocking out the midday sun. The only major source of light left was the large digital alarm clock that showed 2:09 in bright red letters. Anin thought about opening the window a crack to let some air in, but ultimately decided against it. She stood in the darkened room and let off a long, loud yawn as she stretched before she climbed in and closed her eyes, letting the cool sheets comfort her.
Immediately she found herself back in the park. The same scene she had seen played out was once again in motion; people strolling down sidewalks, children playing and couples cuddling on benches. "Okay," Anin said, forming a plan to herself "If I just stay put and not interfere, the dream should play out like all the other times before."
Anin nodded to herself. If she didn't disturb the fading man, he couldn't hurt her. All she had to do was hang out elsewhere and let the dream play out. The man would fade away and never have the chance to attack her. Pleased at this plan, Anin made for an empty bench to play the waiting game.
She tried to keep occupied as she waited by watching everyone in the park in their own activities. Everyone however seemed to be operating on a loop. People walking would go from one end of the sidewalk, turn around, then head back the other way before turning around yet again. The children ended up running around in circles, one child seemed trapped in a perpetual loop of tripping and falling, they'd start crying, then get up again to run around some more before falling in the same spot to start the process all over.
"Dreams are weird," Anin mused to herself as she continued to wait. She never kept time, but she felt as if she was approaching the point of the dream where the man fades away and the dream ends. She impatiently sat on her bench as the time came and went, but everything remained in motion. She let out a disgruntled sigh while the park remained in its endless loop. She anxiously slapped her legs rhythmically as time wore on, not wanting to linger any longer in the park.
"This is suppose to end," Anin said as she looked up at the sunless blue sky "Why isn't it over?" She glanced back down to the park scene to notice that everyone had ceased their activities and were now looking at her. The lovers on the other benches had each stood up and were facing her while the children playing had all lined up to stare. Anin swallowed nervously as she looked around at the surrounding people, all looking directly at her as if they knew she didn't belong.
"I don't understand," Anin said as she continued to crane her neck around at all the people, this time turning to her left as she did it. Then she heard breathing right behind her, sitting next to her on the bench. She quickly turned back around to come face to face with the fading man, those same black eyes peering into her. The man gave off a wide grin as Anin screamed and forced herself away, off of the bench and away from the man's reach.
"Get back!" she screamed as she scrambled away. The man slowly stood up and casually made his way after. Anin stumbled to her feet and tried running, only to run into a wall of people, all gathering around to impede her escape. "No, please!" she screamed as she tried to claw her way through the crowd, the man still walking after her, now with his arms raised to grab her.
She cut through the crowd as best she could while the people behind her simply parted themselves to make an easy path for the man to follow. The last group of people seemed impenetrable as they stood shoulder to shoulder, cutting Anin off from the freedom of the open field behind them. She could feel the man was almost upon her as she clawed one hand through and tried to pull herself through the slim opening of humans in her way. She felt a cold hand graze against her shoulder as she forced herself through-
-And down off of the bed, landing hand onto the carpeted floor below. Anin scrambled to her feet and raced out of the room for the bathroom. Inside, she looked to the mirror and almost ripper her shirt off away from her left shoulder to reveal a trail of red marks where the man had touched her in the dream.
She fought back the urge to cry as she slowly made her way back to the bedroom. She didn't want to sleep anymore but she just wanted to lie down. The nap that was supposed to be restful had left her even more stressed and anxious than before. All she wanted to do at this point was wait for someone to come and say it was going to be alright. She wanted Joey back home, or for John to swing back by like he promised her when he dropped her off.
Anin laid back down and just stared at the clock. It read 2:16 in those bright red numbers that in her face wouldn't allow her to easily fall back asleep. She didn't want to be alone anymore. She wanted someone, anyone to be around with her in case the fading man came back for her.