Cassie awoke with a startling feeling; she was drenched in sweat and her heart was pounding fast. It was so quiet in her room that she could hear it beating in her ears. It was still dark outside, so she knew morning was still a few hours away. The light breeze was blowing her sheer white curtains around, giving her a creepy, spooky feeling that physically shot up her back and made her head tingle. Looking at the clock, she was surprised to see it was only ten minutes after one; she thought it had to be at least three o’clock.
Her nightmares were becoming far more frequent lately. They were much more vivid the last couple of nights, but they still didn’t make much sense and within a few minutes of waking, she would forget what they had been about. She longed for a good night’s sleep; it felt like ages since she’d had one.
Feeling her way around the bed while her eyes adjusted, Cassie walked to the bathroom to splash some water on her face. Thirst overcame her, so she headed downstairs to get a drink. She found that she was craving cranberry juice, grabbed a tall glass of it and gulped it down. Realizing that she doesn’t normally drink cranberry juice, she popped open the pantry door and saw that she had a fully stocked shelf full of it – but had no recollection of putting it there.
In the dark kitchen, she suddenly felt like she was being watched. Cassie hated that feeling. She pulled her white silk robe more tightly around her as she shivered from a chill. She could feel the goose bumps rising on her soft, fair skin. Her long, wavy, blonde hair fell softly around her shoulders and halfway down her back.
Feeling tired but awake now, Cassie decided she would sit down and write. She was far too focused on the silence around her and the uneasy feeling she was left with after waking from her nightmare, and she thought maybe getting her mind out of reality and into her creative world might help make her feel better. Turning to caffeine now, she brewed half a pot of hazelnut coffee and sat down at her desk in the study. She read the last few paragraphs of where she left off last to get into the swing of writing, and let her mind wander into the world of Josie Parker, the fictional star of her current novel.
Not ten minutes after she began to type out her thoughts did she get the eerie feeling of being watched yet again. She turned around and looked the room over; nothing. She thought she heard something in the opposite corner of where she was looking, yet found nothing when she turned to look. Her big blue eyes searched the walls, the ceiling, the window, and then out into the hall. She couldn’t shake the feeling, but finding no one there, she let her eyes fall back to the screen in front of her and, taking a sip of coffee, she started typing again.
Cassie swore she felt something graze her shoulder, and she shot around to look behind her. Still, she found nothing there. She was now so uneasy and suspicious that she couldn’t concentrate on her novel. A quickly passing thought of her fiancé made her shiver, and she put that thought behind her, knowing that it was impossible for him to be here – he was dead. She tried once more to forget about the world around her.
“You are determined to find something in the darkness, aren’t you? Something that will prove that what you’re feeling is not without reason.” The hair on Cassie’s neck stood straight up as she listened to the strange and unfamiliar voice coming from behind her. The voice seemed to speak to her within a tenth of a second, even though she knew that was impractical. Time seemed to speed up and slow down all at once, which she knew made no sense whatsoever. She felt confused and terrified as she turned around to face the voice.
There, standing before her, was a dark figure. The voice was unmistakably male, and her eyes confirmed this when she saw the figure’s face. Short, dark hair, a very pronounced jaw line, dark eyes. Familiar, yet not. His skin was pale – so pale, in fact, that before she even realized what she was thinking, her mind told her what – not who, but what – she was looking at. A vampire! Even as she considered the possibility, she was arguing with herself; how could this be real? Vampires don’t exist! Do they?
The vampire started towards her, but it was as if she blinked and he had moved ten steps without even moving at all. He just… appeared before her. Cassie was so scared that she couldn’t move. She was trying to tell herself to scream, to run, to call someone for help, but she was also very intrigued – unwillingly intrigued. Something inside her was telling her to get away, but it was like the vampire had a hold on her, was manipulating her with his stare or something. Then he spoke again, even though she didn’t really see his lips move.
“Are you dreaming? Are you awake? What’s happening here? What’s going on? Who am I? How am I doing this?”
Cassie was speechless, though she didn’t know if it was because she just didn’t know what to say, or if she was physically incapable of speaking in this being’s presence. What she did know was that he seemed to be reading her thoughts and speaking them back to her. Suddenly, she felt a sort of release, and was able to talk.
“What’s happening?” she asked the vampire.
“I can’t tell you much,” he said. “but I can tell you that I’m most definitely not a vampire.”
Before she could ask why he couldn’t tell her much, he continued. “Because you wouldn’t understand it. All I can say is that I’m not exactly from here, and that you need not be afraid. As frightened as you feel right now, there’s no need for it. Fear won’t solve any of your problems.”
Cassie was really confused. Was this another nightmare?
“No, this is not another nightmare,” the thing said. “You just seem to have an ability to detect my presence, to see me somehow. The dreams you’ve been having – they haven’t all been just dreams. Your mind is trying to tell you that I’m here, but it can’t fully comprehend me.”
Just then, Cassie got the urge to vomit, and did so all over the area rug in front of her. She couldn’t understand how he was answering questions she hadn’t even yet fully formed in her own mind.
“Quite simply put, you’re trying to warn yourself. We’ve been here before, we’ve had this conversation, and you’ve been flabbergasted each time. You’ve somehow managed to use your tragedy to your advantage, but you haven’t quite figured it all out yet. It’s like what happened, it unlocked some part of you and enabled you to see and do things that most people can’t. A door was opened. You’re warning yourself of the future. The spooky feelings you’ve been getting, the nightmares – they are to warn you of an intruder. You’re trying to warn yourself so that you can prepare and change the outcome.”
“What tragedy? What outcome? What intruder? Wait – who are you?” Cassie asked. Suddenly it hit her – the tragedy he spoke of was all too real. Her fiancé’s losing battle with cancer. The shock of it all, the funeral, the despair, the heartache.
“Just make sure you’re prepared,” it said.
“If something happens to me involving an intruder, how would I even be able to come back to warn myself?” she asked.
“It’s not you who is harmed, it is your unborn baby.”
Cassie is shocked beyond belief. Her eyes welled up with tears and her hand instinctively went to her belly. She wasn’t pregnant! Was she? Could it be true? Could there be one last bit of him that will survive?
“Yes,” the thing said. “Go and check if you don’t believe me. Get a test. Don’t worry about it now, though – you need to wake up! He’s coming!”
“What do you mean, wake up? You said this wasn’t a dream!” Cassie cried.
“Just wake up! Wake up!” Just like that, whatever it was disappeared before her very eyes. Like it wasn’t even there at all. Suddenly, she caught a scent of her fiancé’s cologne and it was like he had just left the room. Could that thing have been… him? Cassie didn’t believe in ghosts, but in that moment, she found herself wishing that she did.
All of a sudden, Cassie woke up in a cold sweat, in her bed. It was still dark outside, so she knew that morning was still a few hours away. The sheer white curtains were blowing around in the light breeze. She was parched and craved cranberry juice. She was feeling pretty uneasy, but sat up on the edge of her bed anyway. Her dreams were becoming so vivid lately, and the line between dream and reality was seemingly more indistinguishable each night. She suddenly had the undeniable sensation of being pregnant, but couldn’t figure out why. Her hand instinctively went to her tummy anyhow. It had been 8 weeks since her fiancé died, and, being awake now, the pain of it all set in and made her heart sink again. She looked around the empty, quiet room, got a chill up her spine, grabbed her robe, and headed downstairs to get a drink…