I had a dream that I caught up with my main character – exactly where I left her. She was in an alley, next to a dumpster, in between two brick buildings. The building on her left was vacant – and had been for some time. Plywood covered the windows, metal panels blocked the doors. The building on her left housed a furniture maker, but it was closed on Mondays. There was no one to help her.
She was in mid-run- caught, and still, like a photograph. Her lead leg extended outward, her back leg curled behind. She hovered over the ground. As I approached, though, her eyes glimmered, her skin rounded, and she peeled her body away from its spot. She wobbled a bit, found her balance, and then narrowed her eyes on me. She crossed her arms across her chest and stuck out her chin.
“Oh,” she said. “It’s you.”
The girl she was running with didn’t move. She remained pinned in time. Her eyes were wide and livid, her mouth open, her bandaged hands oozing blood. One drip had leaked free and was floating, immobile – midway between her hands and the ground.
A pack of dogs hovered at the corner in suspended animation – frozen mid-leap. One of the dogs wore a tee-shirt that said “Math Camp.”
I knew who that dog was. Poor, poor Brian. I hope I can save him.
My character crouched on the ground. Gave me a grin. “WELL,” I said, exasperated.
“Well, what?” Nika said.
“Are you going to just sit there?”
“Yup. Can’t do much else.”
“Aren’t you mad?” I jammed my hands into the back pockets of my jeans. I knew every detail of where we were – the damp pavement, the rough bricks, the deep shadows. I knew the exact smell of sawdust and cat urine and spilled propane and old trash. I knew the shape of the graffiti, the position of the old boxes and empty bottles and blowing paper on the ground. Where I left her – it wasn’t a nice place. It wasn’t nice at all.
“No time to be mad,” she said. She cleared her throat and spat on the ground. “In fact, there’s no time here at all.”
“Aren’t you going to tell me what happens next? You’ve been telling me what happens next from the get go. This is a hell of a time to clam up.”
She shrugged. “Figured it was your turn.” She stood. “Better get cracking.”
And then she put herself back into position. Mid-run. Hovering over the ground. Waiting. Counting on me. Of all people.
And I have no idea what happens next.