Elian looked around himself. At first he didn’t know where he was. He could tell by the people around him that he was on a college campus and it was a campus he had seen before but he had toured many colleges when he had been choosing which one to go to. He had ended up staying in Columbus at Ohio State University but this wasn’t that campus.
The dream that he was in was a regular one. He had it nearly monthly if not more. He knew what was going to happen and that he couldn’t stop it. It wasn’t until he turned to run away from the direction he had been facing that he recognized the campus. It was Washington State Community College. He had thought about going there to do a couple two year degrees after he and his parents had moved to Belpre. He had gone to Marietta College to finish the few classes he had needed to finish his two Bachelor’s degrees.
The campus was full of students and as Elian tried to run to get away from the campus he kept bumping into them. That solidified that he was in a dream. No one was saying a word as he bumped into them. In fact there was no sound. That was different than his normal dreams. Usually he could hear the chatter of the students as they bustled about the campus. It was deadly silent all around him. He couldn’t even hear the sound of his own feet running or his breathing.
He was almost there. He was near the edge of the campus. He just might escape this one. As he rounded the sidewalk that led to the Pike Street, there she was. Elian stopped his running and nearly fell down. He tried to move but he was stuck. It was just like all the other dreams; he was stuck there until she turned. Elian crouched to the ground and tried to block out the sounds that he knew were coming. He didn’t want to hear the voices. He never wanted to hear the voices.
She looked like she always did. She was in a dress of white. It wasn’t a wedding dress; just a fancy party dress that Elian knew was popular several hundred years before. It set off her hair. Her pitch black long hair hung in tresses down her back. It stopped several inches above the swell of her butt. It whipped around in the breeze that was licking at Elian’s bare arms. As the she started to turn, slowly, the voices started up. Covering his ears was not helping. Elian let his arms drop.
Looking away didn’t help either. There was nothing that could stop this dream. If he looked away from her, she would just wait until he looked at her before he would wake up. The back of her dress was completely clean. There was no evidence of anything at all, which was the opposite of what the front looked like. As her side came into view, Elian could start to see the darkness that was spread all over her front. Blood was everywhere on her. It was all over her face, her neck, and all the way down her feet. While he knew what to expect, the dream still scared him. What scared him the worst was the look in her eyes. Her purple eyes stared at him like he was her salvation.
The trigger to waking up was the arm. Not her arm, no the arm that she always carried in her right hand. All Elian had to do was look at the arm and he awoke instantly. The problem was that Elian sometimes couldn’t look at the arm. It was as if her eyes stopped him from looking away from them. A small twitch of his eyes and he was looking at the arm.
Jerking awake in his bed, Elian took a few deep breaths. He was covering in sweat, as he always was when he woke from his dreams. When he was sure that he could move, he looked over at the clock. It was nearly three a.m. It was actually earlier than he normally had the dream. The first time he ever remembered dreaming that dream had been when he was five years old. When he was younger, he would run to his parents’ room and get into bed with them. Those days were long past. The location changed over the years. His elementary school in Marysville, then his junior high and high school in Dublin, after that it was always the campus at OSU. This was the first time that he had ever dreamed of Washington State Community College’s campus. It had never been Marietta’s campus, even while he had finished his degrees there.
Elian listed to the silence of the house for a few seconds before he got up out of bed. He changed into a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt before donning his hoodie. He pulled his MP3 player from his hoodie pocket and turned it on before he started out of his room. It was spring but there was still a chill in the pre-dawn darkness. He stopped on the landing and listened as he opened the side door to the house. He wanted to make sure that his parents were not awakened by him leaving. He heard nothing so he stepped outside, shutting the door carefully. It was only a few strides and he was out of the yard and one his way for a run.
He had grown up with the dreams so he knew what to do. There was never sleep after a dream. He had to clear his head and calm his body down. Even after going nearly a block, Elian felt that his body was still twitchy. This would have to be a long run.
Running for nearly two hours and even then not feeling tired, Elian finally turned towards home. The run cleared his head and he entered the house again. It was after five by the time that he got out of the shower in his bathroom in the basement. His mother and father would be getting up for work soon. His father, Edward, had the seven a.m. shift at Kraton and his mother, Gail, worked in Parkersburg at the small coffee shop they owned. It was the start of summer break and Elian was enjoying not having to go back and forth to school. He had graduated early from college and had spent the past few months taking an online course on dreams. He wanted to figure out his dreams. He wanted to know the cause and wanted to get rid of them. The one with the girl, that was a recurring on but there were others. Grabbing his sketch book, Elian started to sketch out the house from his dreams. Always it looked the same, blood dripped down the walls of the rooms that he saw, before he entered a room that had a man with his throat ripped out and a baby in a cradle. Another sheet of paper, Elian drew out the clearing where he always ran to, on four legs even. He could feel the changes in him as he went from four to two legs. The dream with the girl was strange. The dream where he shifts forms is just down right upsetting and he liked it the least of all of his dreams.
His parents had sent him for therapy for years to figure out a cause for the dreams, even trying pills to make them stop. The dreams had endured through it all and his doctors had been perplexed. His parents gave up and it became something that was never brought up at all. It was never discussed and he had learned that bringing them up was bad. He had learned to cope with the dreams and their aftermath. He figured it all out by the time that puberty had rolled around. Before he had just run around the backyard as running around Columbus at night would have been bad. Now that he was in Belpre, no one really stopped him. The cops had been intrigued by him at first but now they just flashed their lights at him in greeting. He was coming to enjoy small town life. He was happier here than he ever was in Columbus.
“Good morning, Elian!” His mother called as she entered the kitchen, he didn’t know that much time had passed. Elian jerked his face up to look at her. She looked at the drawings as he closed the sketch book and then at him in slightly veiled anger. Such a sudden change in her was normal. She hated reminders that her only child was not normal. She especially hated the reminders of the dreams. If there was one thing she wanted was a normal child. He was an only child. His parents had never been able to have any others. He never really asked why his mother barely talked about it and his father never did. “What are your plans today?”
“I’m going to go to the library, order some books and maybe head into Marietta. I’m caught up on my online classwork. It’s almost the end of the semester.”
“Have you put any thought into what you want to do?” There was a threat in her words. It was the same threat that he heard in her words since he had started college. He wasn’t that worried about finding a job. He was worried about finding the right job. His parents love what they did and Elian wanted to as well.
Elian sighed as he stood up. He picked up the sketch book and left the kitchen. He walked down the stairs and entered his bedroom and shut the door, locking it before dropping onto his bed. It was a sore subject. It was always going to be a sore subject. He had two degrees, one in early childhood education and one in library sciences. Neither one of his parents had been happy with his choices. They had even gone as far as telling him that they wouldn’t pay for his college when he had been in high school. He had scrounged around and got several scholarships and worked his way through college.
The only reason he was in Belpre was because a letter he had received from a relative had mentioned Belpre and it had intrigued him. With the letter had come access to a trust fund when he turned twenty-one. His parents didn’t know of the money. Elian had been surprised when he had gone to the bank in Columbus and found out how much the trust had been for. The letter said nothing of the amount of the trust. He knew the content of the letter by heart at this point.
I understand that you will not understand a great deal of this letter. There is a lot in my own life that took me years to understand. I know that you will not know me. My name has been lost to the ravages of time. Your own connection to me is lost.
Your life will be spectacular. Belpre will save you.
You love your parents as all children should but they will bring you down. You need to live on your own and you need to get an education. I know that this letter will cause you to want to rebel against my wishes but know that any time you choose to leave their clutches is the right moment.
To that end, I do not know the exact amount of money that will be in the trust in your name but there will be enough to get an education and find a place to live on your own.
To a Long Life,
The letter was tucked away in the safety deposit box at Belpre Savings Bank. It’s where his bank statements were as well. He had a P.O. Box in his name where most of his mail went. It wasn’t going to be much longer until he was in a place of his own. He just needed to find a house that he would be willing to live in.
“Elian, come up and have breakfast with us.” His father’s voice was just soft enough to carry through the door but not loud enough to where his mother would hear him from upstairs. His father on some days found that he hated the tension in the house but he did nothing to stop it from happening. Elian didn’t like that about his father.
“I will later,” Elian called back through the door, looking at it and hoping that his father wouldn’t open it. “I don’t want to fight. I just want to do things my way.” Elian heard the shuffling of feet away from the basement door and knew that his father had given up. His father tried to keep the peace but his mother wanted him to do what she wanted, not what he wanted.
Pulling out his phone, Elian looked at the photo he had snapped the day before. It was of a property that was on the other end of town, 1803 Washington Boulevard was up for sale and Elian really wanted to buy it. He closed the photo out and set down his phone. It was nearly two hours before the library was going to be open. Standing, Elian changed out of his around the house clothes and in to a pair of jeans and a plain t-shirt. He had a stop at the bank to make. He’d seen the grounds of the house two days before and had fallen in love. The house was huge and it was away from his parents. His parents wouldn’t be happy but he didn’t care. He had moved down with them to make them happy but in the end, their happiness was not worth his. He was an adult. He had to do what he needed to make him happy.
More and more he was questioning why he had come down with them to Belpre. He’d felt the urge that he had to stay with them or at least come to Belpre. He hadn’t questioned it too much until the last few days. He’d only felt the urge a few times before. The first and second he did what the urge wanted. The third time he hadn’t. The first times good things happened. The last time though, he had almost died. He trusted the urge now. His mother was getting worse in her quest to make him into what he wasn’t. He just wanted to be what he wanted to be and he wasn’t sure what that was just yet. His two degrees in early childhood education and library sciences were both ready for him to take a job in either field; even though he didn’t have to work with the money in his trust.
“We are leaving, Elian!” His mother called from upstairs.
“Okay!” Elian called back as he grabbed the keys to his car and grabbed his phone. He’d stop and get breakfast at the restaurant across the street from his house. He’d be able to kill an hour there before the Belpre Savings Bank opened around eight am. His book was on his dresser right next to the door. He grabbed it as he pulled his door shut. He made sure to give his parents time to get off the street before he got into his car. It was a used car. He’d bought it after moving down to Belpre. In Columbus, he had used the buses to get everywhere, or walked where he needed on campus. His parents had tried to talk him into taking the classes they wanted by tempting him with a new car up in Columbus. He had turned them down then and he would continue to turn them down. He had no want of a new car. His car had character.
The drive to the restaurant was quick; it was a little too late for him to get caught in the going to work traffic. He parked on the side of the building that was in the Save-a-Lot parking lot. The restaurant was not overly packed but it had just opened up as well. There was one woman, she smiled at him and quickly set down a menu in front of him. He looked at the name of the restaurant: Belrock Diner.
“Hi, Sweetie. What can I get you to drink?”
“Do you have hot tea?” Elian asked looking at the menu. She smiled, nodded, and walked away. Elian looked over the menu, trying to figure out something on the menu that fit his hunger. On the top of the page past the numbered specials was something called a Hungry Man. It had two eggs, meat, hash browns or home fries, and bread. The waitress came back and took his order while setting down a cup of hot water and a tea bag. Elian dropped the bag in and picked up his book. He flipped through to find the place where he left off. It wasn’t very long before his food arrived. He ate it slowly while reading his book. When he was finished, he looked over at the house he was thinking of buying. There was an open house in just a few hours. He wanted to see about how long it would take to get the money to buy the house. If he got a good look inside and liked it, he was going to buy it. The waitress came and got his plates and got him more hot water and a new bag. He poured the water in and dropped the new bag, taking out the first.
“The place is for sale,” the waitress volunteered as she stopped at the table.
“I know. I’ll be going to the open house later. What do you know about it?” Elian looked at her. She smiled.
“It’s been in the hands of two state troopers for a while. It’s in wonderful condition. There have not been many looking at it.”
Elian nodded as she wandered off. He went back to his book, sipping his drink. He wished for a few minutes that he had brought his drawing things with him. He was itching to draw something but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to draw. It was near eight thirty when he got up to pay his bill, leaving a nice tip for the waitress since the place was seemingly dead. He got into his car and drove to the bank that was at the seeming center of town. He wanted to meet with them and then run home for his drawing pad and MP3 player.
The visit to the bank was quick and he knew the process needed to buy a house whenever he wanted. The trip to the house was quick. As he entered the house, his cell phone went off. He pulled it from his pocket and found that it was his mother. He stopped and put his phone back in pocket as he grimaced. He could feel his phone continue to vibrate but he didn’t care. Running into his room, he grabbed his sketch book and shoved it in a bag before he grabbed his MP3 player as well. He was back to the library just a few minutes after it opened. Instead of the ladies that he was used to seeing at opening, there was a young red headed girl. She smiled at him as she stepped back from getting books from the outside book drop. She passed him quickly. As she passed the smell of roses and cinnamon overcame him. He had never smelled anyone that had such a strong scent. It wasn’t perfume, he could tell that. She took the books to the stand-up computer that Elian had learned was mainly used for book drop check-ins. Elian moved over to the big table in the Young Adult fiction section. It got a good bit of morning sun but not too much for his drawing. He quickly popped his headphones on and started up his music. He didn’t pay attention to the patrons that moved around him as he drew. He looked up at one point to see the young librarian putting away books in the junior section that was right next to where he was.
Shaking his head to clear it, Elian went back to his drawing. When he was done a while later, there was a beautiful tree on the page. It was a dead tree but it spoke of beauty. Elian had never taken an art class in high school or even college. Drawing just came to him naturally. He looked at the time and saw it was nearly time for the open house. He put away his things and moved to the card catalog computer at the front of the library. Quickly, he entered his card number that he had memorized his first time using it and then his pin. He placed the few books he wanted on hold and then logged off. He could do it at home but he was afraid of his parents getting the information. His mother was really good with computers. He did all of his ordering at the library. He called to renew his books. He knew that he was being stupid about it but she never liked the things that he read so it was easier to just hide it all from him.
The desk was being manned by the normal lady. Elian smiled at her and he waved as he left. The red haired girl had been nowhere to be seen. The town was coming alive as Elian drove the block to the house. There were several other cars there. He closed up his car, locking the doors as he did. Belpre was no big town but he had a great deal of money in the things he bought. All it took was one hooligan. There were only about ten thousand residents but he was used to Columbus. The stairs to the house were solid and Elian rushed up them. He wanted to see the inside of the house so bad. It was beautiful as he crossed the threshold. It was a massive house. The garage connected to the house and Elian adored it. There was a horseshoe driveway and a white picket fence that ran around the property where the driveway entrances and exits weren’t.
Paying little attention to the other people in the house and even the Realtor took little of his attention. He wandered around the house taking it all in. He found the master bedroom and the second he entered it his vision darkened.
“Run, Elian!” a voice screamed. It was female, Elian could tell that. He saw nothing, just heard the woman breathing hard. The sound of a shattering window jerked Elian out of his fugue. The bedroom looked the same as it always did. There was a smell of rotten milk in the room but it passed as quick as it came. Elian stumbled backward from the room. Someone grabbed his arm to stop him from falling. Elian looked at the man. He was dressed in what Elian had learned was the uniform for the Ohio State Troopers.
“Are you alright?” the man asked, concern on his face.
“Yes. I just got dizzy for a few seconds. It happens when I don’t sleep well.” It was the excuse when he tripped or did anything. Elian looked around to see if anyone else was there. “I love your house.”
“Thank you,” the man smiled as he talked.
“What are you asking for it?”
The man looked at him shocked. Elian was sure that the man wasn’t expecting
“We are asking for two hundred and twenty thousand.” The man’s face changed a little to something close to certainty. Elian was sure that the man thought that Elian couldn’t have that money. If he was any other young adult of the same age, Elian would agree. Elian had done his research on the house. The townsfolk were more than happy to talk about the house and updates done to it. Elian was sure that the house and grounds was worth closer to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
“Had any offers today?”
“My wife told me that someone offered two hundred.”
Elian nodded and waved for the man to follow. The man cocked at eyebrow at him but followed. Elian went down and found the Realtor who was taking to a woman. The man moved over to her and whispered in her ear. It had to be his wife.
“This is my wife, Sunny. My name is Orrville Harris. This is Amber.” The man pointed at the Realtor as he spoke.
“I am prepared to make an offer of two hundred and fifty thousand on the house. I have a statement here from my bank that I have the money in my account.” Elian pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it over to the Realtor. She took the paper and unfolded it to look at it. Her eyes widened and she handed it over to the owners. “My cell phone number is at the bottom of that sheet of paper. Call if you have any questions. At current I am searching for a job and I have a lot of free time. We can meet whenever, if you don’t get a better offer.”
Elian smiled at the threesome as he gave them a small bow and then left. There were other arriving as he left; the horseshoe was a little congested. He waited patiently to leave. He had places to go but he wasn’t in any sort of rush to get there. He had all day to do the few errands that he had to do. As he turned towards the bridge that would take him over to Vienna, Elian turned on his radio and hit the button to roll down his windows. It was starting to get warmer outside and he enjoyed weather like this. He loved the smell of the river. All of Belpre smelled like the river.
Crafts2000 was directly across the river from Belpre. It was the best place he found for getting his drawing supplies. He wasn’t ever going to do anything with the art he made, so he didn’t need to go to a high end art store. Instead he just got a nice middle priced set of pencils and paper. He wanted to get a set of colored pencils this time. His dreams were becoming more and more vivid. The woman in his dreams was getting more and more visible and he could make out her face now. His dreams were coming more and more and he didn’t know what to do. His classes hadn’t offered him any solace. He had never been able to apply any of the dreams he had to the models of other dreams.
The dreams had been good for one thing. He got a lot of classwork done in the early morning after his runs. That was back when school was in session. Now that he little to no homework to do, he found he was reading and drawing more. Wandering around the store, Elian found a good bit of things that he wanted to put around his new house, if he got it. He was sure that he was but he wasn’t going to buy a thing until he knew for sure. He would get boxes, which he knew that they sold there. He was moving out of his parents’ home no matter what. It was just a matter of when. If he didn’t get the house, he was going to find an apartment. He had a few that he liked by what he saw of the outside and the ads for the apartments but he would never pick one without actually getting a tour of the place. He was young but he wasn’t stupid.
The boxes were easy to find and the colored pencils were just as easy to pick out. Once he had them loaded in his cart, he wandered the isles again, keeping an eye out for anything he missed while looking the first time. Reaching out to a display, Elian picked up a book. His vision went dark but lightened up quickly and he saw the inside of a book store. It was the same book store that he had dreams of. Just as quick as it came, it went away. He didn’t have to close his eyes to see the book store. It had haunted him in his dreams for nearly ten years. He was happy that the dream went away long before the books in the store started to seep blood from the pages.
Elian hated his dreams more and more. He was afraid they were never going to do away. He was afraid they were going to make him so insane.
I spend my nights wandering around the towns. I find that I can go without sleep for months at a time now. I knew that this was possible as I get older. There is a reason that the age for adults is so high. I wander the towns and keep an eye on things. I keep an eye out for the traitors who destroyed the noblest bloodline I have ever known. I catch whiffs of the smells but I can never trace them for long. There is a cell somewhere near to where I am now but I’ve searched for several years for them. I don’t think they know that I am here. They are just hiding to hide. They have to be planning something.
There is a reason that he is here now, where we have been locked in a game of cat and mouse for the past several years. He is the reason they are here. They knew he was coming.
The smell of water hits my nose and I stop. It’s faint like he had been there nearly a day before. I try to follow the scent but too many have crossed it before I found it. I will find him when it’s time and he will find me. I will save him and he will save me. As it should have been.