Skyril sat up in bed, a surprised look on her face. She glanced around the room, and realized two things: her neck didn't hurt from when the werewolves had bitten her, and she was home, sitting in her own bed. She gasped, looking down at her arm and discovering it wasn't broken. She rubbed it up and down, stretching it out, not believing her own eyes.
Climbing out of bed, she realized she was wearing her pajamas- the ones with little kittens all over them, and there was sunlight coming through her window. She walked over to it hesitantly, wondering what on earth could possibly be happening. Parting the curtains, she squinted at the sunshine and saw her neighbors across the street walking their dog.
She shook her head. "This isn't right..." she muttered to herself. Sitting back down, utterly confused, she recalled the last thing that had happened to her. Skyril had been in the Nightmare's world, sitting on a borrowed bed. How had she gotten here? When? How was she no longer wounded?
Something was wrong. It had to be.
Skyril moaned and muttered, tossing over in her sleep on the bed, in the house, on the street, in the world of the Nightmare's as she dreamed the Nightmare's dream. And the Nightmare watched her, laughing at the thought of the fun she was going to have.
Israel stood in the street, his arms crossed as he stared at a point in the air. NJ stood in front of that point, looking back at Israel and saying once again, "She's here. This is the exact spot. I can feel it." Her other hand was clutching Kallista's head, and the backs of her fingers were glowing with intricate, blue designs.
"Well..," Gepard muttered, "she must be awfully small, I guess."
Raven walked around NJ and where she was pointing. Then leaned against a nearby wall and crossed her arms as well. "NJ? You do know Skyril's larger than an atom, right?" She raised her eyebrow at her skeptically. NJ sighed, letting go of Kallista's skull and dropping her arms to her sides.
"I'm sorry. I don't know why, but it's that spot. The link between Kallista and Skyril led me here. I'm not sure what's wrong..."
Israel nodded, "Alright, well then, since I doubt the Nightmare shrunk Skyril considerably, we're going to need to figure what's going on here. NJ? You're absolutely sure that you're right and it's that spot in particular?"
She paused for a second, thinking, then nodded, "Yes, it was that spot."
"Ok, this means we're going to need to do some research. NJ? Take us to your master."
NJ blinked, and made a face, "China's not my master!"
Israel laughed, "Oh, I know. I've just always wanted to say that."
Skyril crossed her bedroom and poked her head out the door. There wasn't anyone there, but she turned around anyway and went back to her bookshelf. Selecting And the Darkness Rained upon Them, the bookcase slid by, revealing to her, her weapons. She picked up one of the guns, checked for ammo, and stuck it behind her back, under her shirt. Selecting two knives with straps, she snapped them around her legs, and lastly, she hefted her mallet, a grin spreading across her face.
"Oh, how I've missed you," she muttered as she walked back to the door and exited.
She padded barefoot down the hardwood floors, pausing only once when it creaked beneath her toes. She needed to fix that. Walking again, she came to the first door, a guest bedroom. The door was open so she peeked in. Nobody. She ran to the closet and swung the door open with a roar, but there was nothing in there except a few empty racks and hangers.
Raven sighed happily as she gazed at China, then shook her head, bringing herself back to the real world. She knew China affected everyone the same way, but it was so annoying. NJ was talking with her, and her hands spread for a moment, then she shrugged her shoulders.
It had been a quick drive here, and Israel decided it was best for NJ to broach the subject with China since NJ was already one of her students. Going over to her, they greeted each other with a, "Ah, hello there, Miss Maverick. How has your sigil practice been going?" And a, "It's been going well, China, thank you. That trick you taught me last week was really useful, but listen, I have a question to asked you and I was hoping you have some information." Then the two of the walked out of earshot, and Raven forced herself not to follow behind China, gazing at her fondly.
Raven realized she was staring at her again and looked away irritably. Her gaze roamed from the books to Kallista, who was reading one in the corner, to Israel, who was pacing and trying to avoid looking in China's direction, to Gepard, who was just leaning against the wall and staring at China with a scowl as he fought the feelings bubbling in him at the sight of her.
A moment later, Raven was watching her again, and sighed, impatient for NJ to finish her conversation. She walked over to the nearest bookshelf and read the titles, The Love of Magic, Orsiphith's Guide to Avoiding Wisps, Better Early than Happy. Walking down the shelf, she continued examining them half-heartedly until she heard NJ speaking. She trudged back quickly, hoping to hear good news.
China had disappeared into the library, thankfully, and NJ was telling them what she had learned.
"So, I told China I had some very interesting information for her if she could help me out with any information she might have of her own. She agreed, of course, always happy to be well-informed, and I explained everything to her- about how Skyril was kidnapped and captured by the Nightmare and everything. Well, she didn't know anything about how Skyril contacted Kallista, but she could help somewhat with our other problem."
"China said that she had heard things about the Nightmare and had read books about it. She explained that the Nightmare seems to disappear with whomever it has capture, but is actually still in that same spot."
"So why couldn't we see it?" Gepard decided to ask the obvious, yet required question.
"So why couldn't we see it?" Gepard decided to ask the obvious, yet required question.
NJ nodded, "This is where is gets interesting."
Having searched the whole house, Skyril sat down on the couch and looked at the phone sitting next to her on the coffee table. She saw there were three messages so she shrugged and put them on speaker to listen. An electronic female's voice echoed out of it, "You have... three... new messages. Message one, July 9, 2012, 3:27 A.M." Skyril's eyebrow rose at the early hour someone had called her.
A moment later, Israel's drunken voice came on, "I so regret saving your filthy life." Skyril sat up, a frightened expression on her face. The sound of Israel spitting came on the recording followed by, "You killed them! It's all your fault. I should have left you to the Nightmare. It's your fault they're dead, and I... I," His voice got choked up, and Skyril stood over the phone with a horrified expression. Killed someone? Who was dead? What? What? "You're pathetic. You go 'round every day pretending you've got amnesia or something, won't even fess up for being the cause of their deaths." He hiccuped and the phone clicked as he hung up.
The electric voice came on a moment later. Skyril sat back down, her head in her hands "End of message. Message two, July 9, 2012, 11:36 A.M." An angry voice filled the room, but she didn't recognize it. "I don't know why I involved myself in trying to rescue some girl I don't even know. I guess it was because your friends" he seemed to spit the word out with disgust, "thought so highly of you! Skyril Oblivion. This is Gepard Valk, and I want you to know I think you're a little less than dirt. You go around, day to day, pretending everything's great. You didn't even go to their funerals. What kind of 'friend' doesn't go to the funerals? I'm sorry I met you."
Skyril's eyes crinkled up, and tears slid down her cheeks. She had done something awful, and she couldn't even remember. She shook her head, trying to recall and seeing a flash of a girl screaming, a building burning down. The electronic voice came on again. "Third message, July 9, 2012, 2:00 P.M." The voice was China's, "Meet me tonight at the park. You know which one. Midnight."
Skyril looked at the phone and nodded, realizing she did know which park. She would be there.
"Wait," Israel said as he looked at NJ with a slightly confused expression on his face, "let me get this straight. So the Nightmare exists through everyone's worst fears, but it takes the form of its victims for the fun of it and to have a physical shape, right?"
NJ nodded. "Correct so far." she said.
"Ok, then sometimes, when it has snatched somebody, it will disappear into another dimension that it controls while it plays with the person to its heart's content before finishing the person off and returning for more meat?"
"Yes," NJ responded. "Well, sort of. Ok, not exactly. It's more like the Nightmare has its own dimension where it takes its prey to play with. It can do whatever it wants there, yes, but it doesn't disappear. Not entirely, that is. It leaves a sort of a... Well, think of the Faceless Ones. Remember when they came here? There was a sort of string connecting them from one dimension to the other so that they could come back here after they were thrown into the other world. That's basically the same thing that happens with the Nightmare except there is no Isthmus Anchor because it doesn't need one. It controls the other dimension, and therefore simply leaves its invisble string and can come and go when it pleases. It doesn't usually come back while its victim is still alive or... sane, though, because if it comes back, so does the person."
Israel nodded absently. "So where does this leave us? Do we need a teleporter?"
"Actually, no" NJ shook her head and turned, pacing back and forth a few steps. "China said this part was really hazy, and that there are several myths and even attempts a long time ago to try to get the Nightmare to return from its world for one reason or another. That seems to be impossible, though, but there are other myths that say people have gotten into the Nightmare's world. Of course, they're still hazy, but there is one fact that keeps springing up." She stopped pacing and looked at Israel. "You're not gonna like it, though."
She had visitors. She smelled them coming a mile away, and if she hadn't, she would have sensed them some other way long before they arrived. Of course, she wasn't looking at them as visitors, at that moment because instead, they were purely meat, food, flesh, blood, things to fill her boredom if she could just get out of that tiny cage she was forced into everyday before the sun went down. She roared, her clawed hands grabbing and shaking the cage bars in front of her, the vampire trying to get free before the sun shone again. Alas, it was already too late, for dawn was breaking.
The visitors had come early, moments before the sun decided it was time to get up. The vampire she was stumbled back, screaming in rage at its failure to escape the enclosement yet again, for skin was growing, forming bright and beautiful. It grew, and suddenly there was hair sprouting from her head. Brown hair blooming and falling to her shoulders as her eyes sealed over replaced with gorgeous green, human eyes. Her fangs shrunk last, and with a whimper, Bridget Whiplash was back.
She sighed and got dressed in a t-shirt and jeans to appear adequately before her guests. The cage had already clicked open when the sun had risen so she stepped out, closing the door behind her and walking out into the open. Before she saw them, she knew there was five of them, and she assumed they needed something from her. Unless they were her friends, but the few she had were either living in, or vacationing in Australia anyway, so it couldn't be- she stopped in her tracks, sniffing the air and grinned.
Bridget walked out of the Vampire Inn muttering, "Why, Kallista, you shouldn't have."
Kallista waved at her with a laugh, "I can never surprise you when it comes to steak, can I?"
Bridget grinned, "Afraid not."
Kal produced a plate of only-very-slightly-cooked steak from behind her back and handed it to Bridget.
"Mmm, breakfast," she mumbled. "Well, would you, um, like to come into my humble... Vampire room, and watch me eat while you tell me who the rest of these people are?"
"Hey!" Israel said defensively, "what about me?"
Bridget looked at him for a moment. "Oh, and Israel, of course."
Skyril sat on a swing in the park. She glanced at her phone. Six to midnight. She wished, then, that China would sometimes be early. Unfortunately for her, China tended to prefer being fassionably late. Skyril sighed, playing with a small dagger in her hand and started swinging back and forth. After the phone calls, she had tried to remember for hours what had happened, but could recall nothing further. She hoped China could possibly clear things up. She was worried that China herself was going to be mad at her for some reason or another even though the message on her phone didn't sound angry, but on the other hand, when would China go out of her way to meet up with someone like Skyril in the middle of the night to give her some friendly advice?
No, there had to be some alterior motive for China's calling her. Skyril swung higher, wondering what she could have possibly done to Israel and Gepard to make them hate her so badly. Who had she killed? What was her fault? Skyril sighed again, trying to think about something else. That was what she had been trying to remember all day. It wasn't going to do any good to be distracted while she talked with China. Hopefully, China would have some insight into what had happened and would tell her.
"You're here. I thought you might be."
Skyril looked up, startled by the sudden voice, and saw China walking up, her black clothing bathed in moonlight. Skyril skidded to a stop on the swing and stood, trying to keep her mind on her questions at the sight of China. "Why did you call me here? I know you're not one to help a friend in need, so what's going on?"
China looked at her and shook her head, "No, and besides, you're not my friend so I wouldn't be helping you even if I was that kind of person. No hard feelings."
Skyril shrugged, already knowing that bit anyway.
Skyril shrugged, already knowing that bit anyway.
"The reason I called you was for two things. I wanted to see if you would come, and I wanted to give you a, shall we say, proposition."
Skyril looked confused, "To see if I would come? Why would you want to see that?"
"Because, my dear girl, if you had not come, it would have proven to me that you were faking it and you truly remembered. However, you did come, and that leads me to believe that you've been honest. You're suffering from amnesia, aren't you?"
Skyril sat back onto the swing, looking down at the dirt. "Yes," she said, "I can't remember anything since... well, I guess it was a while ago... I don't know."
China nodded, "And that leads me into that particular proposition I was talking about. You see, there's this certain book I want. I need you to get it for me, Skyril, and if you do that, I promise I'll tell you everything."
Skyril looked at China suspiciously. Nothing was ever as simple as it seemed when it came to this woman, "What book is it you want?"
"The book? It's unimportant to you- only a title. The tricky part is where it would come from."
Skyril sighed, "Get to the point."
A smile spread over China's lips, "A small mansion in Australia called Elysium Asylum."
"You see, Bridget," Kallista began to explain, "we need just a bit of your blood, if you don't mind." They were sitting in her room. There was furniture to make it as homey as possible with a cage in the next room. There were two couches, an armchair, and a coffee table. She was sitting in the armchair while Gepard, Kallista, and Raven sat on one couch with Israel and NJ on the other. NJ sat and listened, rather surprised this odd group knew a vampire, were even friends with her. Well, at least Kallista seemed to be, and Israel seemed pretty calm. Gepard, on the other hand was glaring, his arms crossed over his chest.
Bridget took a bite of her steak and glanced at Kal, "You need some of my blood?"
Israel took over the conversation, "It's kind of hard to explain, really."
Bridget shrugged, "Alright, try me." She took another bite of her steak happily.
"Ok, you know when you have bad dreams at night? Well there was an actual being who caused those a long time ago. Fortunately, this Nightmare monster was locked and sealed, but recently, it has broken out somehow and kidnapped Skyril. We got NJ here to track down where the Nightmare was because the Nightmare can change into anything, even air, but when we got there, she pointed at nothing and said that was it.-"
"Well it wasn't actually nothing..." NJ trailed off when everyone looked at her, "nevermind."
"So," Israel continued, "we went to China for help to see if she knew any way to find the Nightmare. She explained that it has its own dimension and there's a string connecting ours and its sort of like with the Faceless Ones a while ago except there is no Isthmus Anchor and no way to make the Nightmare come back to this world. However, there is way to go to the Nightmare's world, and to do that, we need vampire blood."
Bridget had stopped eating, the fork half-way to her mouth as she listened. Israel looked calm, but almost sheepish at the same time, wondering how Bridget would react.
She nodded, "... Alright then, sounds interesting. Just give me a minute to finish my steak."