Chapter 4

Beep, beep, beep…BEEP!

Three red lights cascaded down until from a street light free floating in the air until they reached green. Then it was off to the races, all of their mini cars lurched forward to the sound of ringing that was reminiscent of coins dropping to the ground.

All of them were laughing as they looked at the roadway before them. The yellow-brick road was lined tall, dangling sunflowers and as they sped along, it was obvious to see glowing lights shining up from various places along their path.

They all knew what they were, and Bruce was the first one to drive through one of the lights. As soon as he did, the light disappeared and symbols moving too quick for any of them to see were flashing above his vehicle until finally slowing until one upside down red shell was visible. It flashed a few more times and disappeared.

All of them watched it with excitement, so much so, that they nearly didn’t turn in time for the first in a series of serpentine curves. Saber especially had been watching it and Riley watched as she crashed into the curve and bounced off, falling behind her.

However, Riley was still going too fast into the second curve and found herself bouncing off the guard rail and spinning as she tried to keep herself from bouncing into the third.

“It’s not as easy as it looks.” Suzy yelled as she drove past her, only to run straight into a red turtle shell that was gliding fast along the road. Suzy spun out coming to a complete stop, yellow coins pouring out of the top of her vehicle to bounce away in all directions.

Riley quickly drove around her and through the fourth curve only to find Saber right next to her.

“How are you doing this?” She yelled over the roar of her obnoxiously loud car and its fire breathing engine.

“Just all a part of my imagination I guess.” Riley said, feeling the twist in her stomach. How was she doing this?

“Okay, but how are you holding this all together?”

“I just am.” Riley yelled back as they rounded another corner. By pure chance, they were missed as a green upside-down turtle shell flew past them. Riley looked over her shoulder to see that Suzy was behind them and was trying to catch up.

Saber looked as well and then looked at each other. Riley noticed that Saber wasn’t enjoying herself like everyone else was. She looked worried.

Riley wasn’t going to let it bother her. There was another lighted spot in the road and she quickly turned to drive over it. As soon as she did, the flashing objects were above her and she couldn’t help but look up at it. As she did, she didn’t make the turn they were coming up on, but as Saber was turning, Riley drove right into her.

Saber spun out, Riley having only clipped her front, but Riley was out of control and drove straight into the grass having no way to stop before hitting the guardrail. She tried the breaks and that sent her car spinning. She kept turning the wheel back and forth, fighting for control, but nothing was helping, the grass was too slick.

She barely saw as Suzy drove past, laughing as her freight was spinning out. Laughing, how could she be laughing? Riley barely had time to wonder about it when her racer slammed into the railing and she came to a sudden stop, the collision rocking her back and forth in her car.

She worked on catching her breath.

The world around her was darkening. At first, she thought she was blacking out, but that couldn’t’ be. She was already unconscious. She couldn’t black out. Then what would happen? Would she get mind-trapped in her own dream? Would her friends get trapped with her?

Crap!

She felt her car shake and looked up to see a large frog had landed on her hood. It was staring at her, it’s large black eyes just looking into her own. It blinked at her, and then it cocked its head to one side and then to the other. It was just watching her…

She felt the soreness from the crash that she hadn’t realized she’d felt fade away. The sky returned to its lush color of purple. She heard Bruce laughing as he drove past her, lapping her as she was still stopped there on the side of the road.

Riley looked around her and saw that there were more frogs that had surrounded her car. They were hopping over one another, and like before, were all kinds of different frogs. All ones she had read about. There were even a few fictional species, like what she had seen in movies. There were yellow frogs, and frogs with rows of six eyes. There was even a two headed frog that had jumped onto her hood and was now looking at her briefly before it jumped off.

Cat was the first one to pass her, her joyous laughter loud as she flew through the turn.  Bruce was soon behind her and he such a determined look of pure focus that made Riley question wether she ever wanted to challenge him to a video game. It was obvious he was way to serious about his Mario Kart.

“They are having fun. It’ll be okay.” Lisa said and Riley quickly turned to see the little girl standing next to her car. Riley hadn’t really noticed much about the girl the first time she had seen her. Probably because this being a dream, details always were fuzzy until you truly focused on them.

As the girl stood there, Riley took in the plain white dress the girl wore and that there was no way she was older than 10. She had long blond hair that was down to her waist and her eyes sparkled bright blue. Her face was a little round for her slim frame, and she looked almost heavenly with how there was a light that just emanated from her.  Then there was that smile that the moment it touched her face, Riley instantly felt herself relaxing in the girl’s presence.

“But what was that? What’s with the frogs?”

“Your pushing yourself. You shouldn’t do that.

So many people in your dream, and your trying to control this world. It’s too much, even for the most skilled Dream Warrior. It’s hard to handle. You have to keep focus.”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t get distracted.”

“I wasn’t distracted?”

“You’re distracted now. Look.” Lisa pointed to the horizon, and Riley could see that there were clouds of darkness at the edge of the sky. Flashes of light occasionally broke through the darkness.

“What is that?”

“What does it look like?”

“A storm?”

“Then it is a storm. What can happen in storms?”

“I don’t know. You get wet.”

“People get lost in storms. If you’re in the storm for too long, you can get trapped there.”

“You’re saying I may never wake up.”

“Do too much, bring the storm here, and none of you may wake up.”

Riley saw Suzy approaching the curve she was still parked at, feeling her stomach twist at the thought that they could all be trapped there. It wasn’t possible. There was no way, and who was this Lisa girl anyway? What could she possibly know? Just because she sounded like Riley’s inner voice that usually kept her from doing dumb things didn’t really mean she actually was.

Though there was a good chance of it.

Shut up you!

Great, now she was arguing with herself.

“Screw this.” Riley said and slammed down the gas pedal. The frogs in front of the car leapt out of the way and Riley rushed forward, leaving the girl to watch her leave.

She made it back to the track just as Suzy made it to the curve and Riley nearly ran straight into her. Riley swerve, barely avoiding the collision, and as she did, she heard a loud thunderclap and saw as lightning struck a distant chocolate covered pineapple tree.

Suzy didn’t see it. Riley tried to ignore it as she looked away and sped up to catch up to her friend. She could already here Suzy yelling something back at her, but she couldn’t hear her as the wind had picked up and Riley was fighting against it just to keep her roadster on the track.

They made it to the next turn, and Suzy whipped around it. Riley watched as something must have gone wrong. Suzy had made the turn no problem, but then she was suddenly swerving, and found herself veering off in the direction of the wall, she was going straight towards it.

“Suzy, watch out!” Riley yelled, but it was too late. She was going too fast and slammed straight into it. As she struck into the wall, a bolt of lightning slammed down into the large pink licorice tree that was just past the guard rail. The tree showered in sparks, catching on fire just before the largest limb split off. The limb fell on the hood of Suzy’s car, trapping it in place.

Riley was already beginning to slow, on her way to help her friend. She wasn’t watching the curve, and so when the large figure clad all in black robes emerged in front of her, she barely had time to swerve to get out of the way. She somehow managed it, just to have a large blade emerge from the figure and swing down, slicing through the front half of Riley’s racer.

Riley wasted no time as her car spun out of control. She immediately leapt from it high into the sky, higher than what was natural in the real world. She did it with grace that was only found in the dreamscape, and when she landed, she was already clothed in what was becoming her familiar dream armor…

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