They landed on the far side of the course. Riley had not had a chance to race this side of the track, but when she had planned it, she had a lot of fun creating the dark eerie elements that she thought some of her friends would enjoy. Now, the dark, dead trees that’s limbs hung lifeless seems very ominous having just escaped a creature that took on the appearance of death.
They landed on a section of track that was black gravel, meant to make the racers slow down through the curves as they passed amongst the trees. The sky was darker here. Riley wasn’t sure if she had planned for it to be this dark. She hadn’t thought she had…
They were also closer to the storm and she could feel its intensity growing.
“What was that? Was that death? Is death coming after you?” Suzy asked.
“No. Why would death be coming after me?” Riley said, trying to sound as calm as she could, but couldn’t help as a growing lump formed in the back of her throat and she had to fight the urge to cry now that they were away from it.
She hadn’t through too much about it back there but was it death. Had she pushed herself too far, having her friends all in her dream? Was she breaking some kind of rule and now the universe was coming after her?
“It looked like a reaper.”
“Okay, from what?”
“I don’t know. I just. I’ve seen those images before. Hooded figure, a long blade thing. I mean,”
“Where have you seen those images?” Riley knew what she was talking about, but couldn’t place where she’d seen it too.
“I don’t know. I just have.”
“It’s not death. It must be a dream wraith. I’d fought one before. They can be scary.”
“Yeah, but you said it yourself. You told me the dream chasers kill dream wraiths. They weren’t killing that. It was winning.”
“No it wasn’t.”
“Did you see the cut on Bru-”
“Don’t say his name. Not in here. Call him Raz.”
“Fine. But did you see the cut on Raz’s arm. It hurt him.”
Riley hadn’t seen that. She had been too busy trying to save Suzy. Still, If Raz was hurt, it should only be in the dream. He couldn’t get hurt in here like Riley could. He would be safe because-
No, dream chasers were safe in the dreamscape because they were in there while being in the safety of their rigs. What would happen if Raz was hurt in here without it? Would Bruce have a cut when he woke up?
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Riley said as she looked around, the woods suddenly feeling like they were darker than before and there was a chill in the breeze that had started to blow through the dying limbs.
“Riley, what are we going to do?”
“I don’t know. I wanted to get you safe. Now that we’re away, I want to go back and help them, but I can’t leave you alone.”
“Can you train me, and we go back fighting them together?”
“I’m not trained.”
“Okay, then how you do this?”
Lightning struck nearby as though warning Riley, telling her how much of an idiot she had been. She should never have done anything like this. She didn’t know what she was doing. The storm was getting closer and her friends were at risk. This was all because of her. How could she be so stupid.
Riley turned back to look at her friend who was standing there, still wearing the same clothes she had worn earlier that day… She wasn’t wearing the pajamas she had changed into just before lying down to sleep.
“Well, you’re already doing it.”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes you are. Were you wearing that when you fell asleep?” Riley said, pointing to the pink shirt with a sleeping cat on the front. The shirt was faded just like it was when they were awake as it was Suzy’s favorite shirt. Even Suzy’s jeans had that spot of butter oil from when they were eating popcorn and had stained them. They were so detailed in how Riley remembered them.
Suzy looked down at herself as though noticing it for the first time, and Riley saw the shocked realization. She reached down and touched the shirt she was wearing, pulling at it and studying the soft cotton fabric.
“Did I do this?”
“I think so. I don’t think I did it.”
“But you don’t know?”
“It had to be you. I mean. Doing things in dreams is all about imagining that you can do it. You see yourself wearing this shirt, so your wearing it.”
“Okay. So how do I have a weapon.”
“Well, imagine you have one.”
“I can’t think of any?”
“You can’t think of anything.”
“The only thing- Hey, if I imagine Nick Jonas showing up and giving me a kiss, is he going to just pop up?”
“Suzy, we have to get back there. We don’t know what is going on. That thing is after Saber and Raz. We have to help them.”
“Fine. Buzz kill.”
“Thanks. So, weapon. What can you imagine?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a bow and arrow?”
“I don’t know. Just the only thing that comes to mind right now it either going all vampire and kissing Edward or being like Katness and hunting with a bow.”
“Have you ever shot a bow before?”
“Well, no, but you said that doesn’t matter.”
“True, but having some familiarity, I think that would-”
“Riley, look out!”
Riley didn’t feel it this time, and had Suzy hadn’t said anything, would have been torn into two by the sickle’s large blade. Instead, she had jumped forward just in time that it had just struck the back of her armor, the thick, sturdy armor being strong enough to block the sharpness of the blow. It did, however, throw her off her balance and she plowed into Suzy.
Riley barely saw the creature out of the corner of her eye as was tangled into Suzy and they both fell to the ground. Riley trying to pull away, but Suzy hung onto her.
“Will you stop.” Riley said, but Suzy would not let go. Riley doubted her friend could even hear her over her own high-pitched screams. Riley struggled, but now having regained her sense of the thing being close to her, knew the blade was coming again. She gave up fighting Suzy and instead grabbed her and forced her to roll with her away seconds before the blade struck the ground and wedged itself deep into the gravel.
They rolled farther away and stopped as they could hear the creature struggling to pull his scythe free.
“Run!” Riley said to Suzy as she herself sprang up. Suzy was only a second behind her and they both took off running down the track. After a few steps and a quick look back in time to see the large hooded figure pull free its ginormous blade, Riley new they needed to go faster.
“Come on” She yelled as a motorcycle appeared in front of them. Riley jumped on and the moment she felt Suzy grip around her midsection, she took off on the dirt bike, spewing up gravel and dirt as she did.
“Have you ever driven one of these?” Suzy asked.
“You kidding. I’ve only got my skateboard.”
“OMG, we’re going to die.”
“No, we’re not.”
Riley was about to change her mind though when a new dark shape appeared out of nowhere in front of them. Riley could barely tell that it was a woman in a black skintight outfit with a long flowing came and head covered in a motorcycle helmet before they were driving past her. They barely had time to see as the woman reached out and grabbed them both.
“Come here” the woman said, as the world around them erupted in lighting, flashing a blinding white as though the lightning struck them. Then everything went to black as the world slipped away.