Chapter 20

As soon as the world fell away around her, she knew what was happening. The second time was not as disorienting. Much to her surprise, slipping into the new realm felt natural.

It shouldn’t be this comfortable, should it?

Yet, as the sound of explosions erupted around her, the ground shaking, she wasn’t startled. She quickly took in the scene around her. There was a lot going on, but as the smoke swirled and people screamed, the first thing she did was run for cover.

It was like she had dropped into a war zone. People ran wildly around her. She couldn’t stop and study them as the buildings around her were engulfed in flames, debris falling from the sky. When one piece dropped right next to her foot and she felt the heat from it, she forced herself to move.

Riley tried to take in some details as she ran. The buildings were large, old stone structures, not like the houses in her neighborhood. They didn’t even look like anything that could have been built in her lifetime. No. They looked like something from…

Oh crap!

They looked like something from the Middle Ages, and what did the Middle Ages have? Well, if you believed the books, the Middle Ages had dragons that breathed…

Fire!

In front of her, a group of people ran into a building. She started running toward it, as well, when there was a sudden stream of fire above her, the building erupting in flames. It knocked her off her feet and she fell to the hay-covered dirt of the street. Above her, she barely got a glimpse of the large shape as it flew past, but she didn’t have to see it to know what it was. Raz was having another nightmare about dragons.

This time, there was a lot more going on. She knew she was in a village. It probably wasn’t the Middle Ages. They really didn’t have dragons. She read all those middle-earth books, which felt like the Middle Ages. This was something like that, which made sense. The little she knew about Bruce was he loved stories about elves.

Not that she could criticize. She usually enjoyed them, too. Just not when the deadliest creature from those stories flew over her head. In fact, she might never read another fantasy book again…if she got out of this alive.

As the screams started to die away in what was left of the building in front of her, Riley had to remind herself this was just a dream. Yes, a dream she could get hurt in, but the people around her were not real.

As she looked around, she realized it was easier to convince herself of that. The people running around had blurred faces. She had thought she couldn’t see them because everyone was running. Now she could see them better. Their faces were fuzzy, almost like the people in the background of a video game. They weren’t important, so no time had been spent in developing the details.

Riley pushed herself up, wiping hay from her clothes as she stood. Debris had stopped raining down around her, and the fires started to die out, smoke trailing up into the air. The whole scene was less frenzied, so she took in more of the details.

She had played a lot of Skyrim, and this looked like one of the larger villages in the game. There were the dirt pathways that turned into brick roads, which led up a hill to more stone buildings. A larger building sat toward the center. If she had to guess, she would say that was probably the chapel. From this distance, Riley could barely make out the large statue on top of the spire. It looked religious, but was difficult to identify. She doubted it would be easier to distinguish if she got closer. Just like in video games, any time you were far from the main character, the immediate action, or what the developers wanted you to see, there were less details.

So, because there was less action going on around her now, did that mean Raz had moved away from the area?

She looked at the people around her. Some worked on putting out the fires, but none of the blazes were out of control. Houses people had run into were no longer burning, and some of the inhabitants started exiting, carrying baskets, not paying attention to anything around them. There were no signs that, just minutes ago, they had been screaming and running for their lives. It was as if it had reset.

This really did feel like she was in a video game. So what did that mean for Riley? If Raz had been chased away by the dragon, what did that mean? What would happen to her? What if he was no longer in this dream? Dreams changed, sometimes starting off in one world and ending in another. What would happen to her then? She really didn’t know much about this dream stuff.

Yeah, and you should have waited for Saber to come in with you.

She should have, but it wasn’t like she had chosen to dash off into dreamland by herself. Was she no longer able to touch anyone while they were sleeping without being thrown into their dreamscapes?

She needed to find Raz before she found out the hard way what would happen.

When a huge shadow passed overhead, she looked up. The dragon flew over her, heading toward the end of the street. She thought it ended at a building, which looked like a pub, but as she walked closer, she glimpsed a small path around the right side of it. She noticed a rickety, wooden sign attached to a rod that was affixed to the stone building and hanging above the door. Riley could barely make out the name. “The Dragon’s Tooth”, along with an image of a woman holding a tooth suggestively.

Riley couldn’t help but shake her head and think ‘boy’s’ as she ran her fingers along the stone. It felt…real. The stone was rough, the bumps thick and solid against her fingers.

When she took a step toward the side of the building, she felt her foot slip. She looked down to see that she had just stepped into a large pile of… She leaned closer.

Is that horse crap?!

“Ugh!” she cried out and stepped back. That was when she noticed she was barefoot!

Grimacing, she tried to wipe it off by sliding her foot along the ground, but it was no use. She could still feel it between her toes. How could she have been running with no shoes on? Why hadn’t she noticed it before?

Also, why would a horse have pooped there? The path wasn’t even wide enough for a horse.

Seeing a chair suddenly appear, Riley hopped over on one foot and fell into it. As soon as she sat, a cloth appeared in her hand. She quickly worked to wipe away the brown yuck.

Not paying attention to anything around her, she didn’t realize how everything had started growing darker.

When she felt a rough hand grab her shoulder, she jumped and tried to twist out of its grip, to no avail. It was too strong, too powerful. She felt herself lose control as it pulled her back.

“Get off me!” she screamed, before she felt a hard blow on her head. That was the last thing she remembered before everything went black.

Published by JasonRDavis

Author of the #zombie apocalypse trilogy Invisible Spiders and the Edge of Darkness series.

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