Authors: Ginna Moran
Tags: #young adult, #young adult fantasy, #young adult paranormal
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Copyright © 2014 by Ginna Moran
All Rights Reserved.
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
/ by Ginna Moran
ISBN 978-1-942073-06-2 (mobi ebooks)
ISBN 978-1-942073-07-9 (epub)
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Cover design by Silver Starlight Designs
Cover images copyright 123RF
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For my readers.
Also by Ginna Moran:
DESINED FOR DREAMS
It’s been four days since I last inflicted a nightmare and if I don’t do it tonight, my father will start questioning why. I don’t want him to know how conflicted I am by inducing fear into others. How it makes me feel like a monster. He’d tell me that I don’t have a choice, that I have to do it to survive. Nightmares give me the sustenance I need. If only I had another option.
I glance at the printout Roxanne, the Creature Council’s assistant, gave me a week ago. It’s a list of volunteers eager to experience the torment of a nightmare inflictor. I never understood why some people like to be scared, thrill-seekers and horror junkies, but what they don’t understand is I’m their worst nightmare. I never fail. My nightmare inflicting will haunt them forever.
The first name on the page is Elizabeth Whitney. She’s a banshee from California, and here for another week. I wish the council would tell me more about the volunteers, like why they’re here and why they volunteered, but all I get is the name, creature, and guest apartment number.
Does it really matter? You’re not looking to be their friends.
I push the thought away. It’s best to forget the dreamers anyway so I don’t obsess over their dreams once they’re gone.
I slip from my room and rush to the lobby before I have a chance to sense my best friend, Alyssa Callaghan, asleep across the hall from my dorm room. She’s given me an open invitation to inflict nightmares on her if I need to, but I can’t bring myself to do it. She’d be my last resort.
Warm air hits my face when I step from the building. The grounds are pristine and thriving with vegetation and life despite the dry weather. The forest nymphs that tend to our compound use their magic to keep our gardens flourishing. Everything’s always in season here.
I turn right at the corner of the building and head in the direction of the guest apartments. It’s a large, concrete building with a flower painting on one of the walls. It’s two stories high with twenty-four rooms with private bathrooms and a lobby with a flat screen television and a few bookcases of books and magazines.
I open the opaque glass door and glide into the brightly lit lobby. The television hums lowly, accidentally left on, and cool air embraces me. Most of the apartments are empty, but I sense four people sleeping in various rooms.
Elizabeth’s room is the third door on the right in the hallway. Hunger burns in my stomach as I glide to her door. I touch my fingers to her doorknob, twisting it open, and soundlessly enter, clicking the door closed behind me.
A tiny beam of fluorescent light from the crack under the door creeps across the floor of the dark room. It’s pointing toward the bed, guiding my way to the dreamer. Elizabeth sleeps on her stomach with her arm and leg draped over the edge of the twin bed. She has a mass of blue curls that spill over her yellow pillow and I brush my fingers through them. Turning her over, I study the freckles that sprinkle across her nose and cheeks, and then press my fingers to her temples. The world shifts and my stomach drops as I invade her head.
Spinning around on the balls of my feet, I gaze at a beautiful garden. Blooming hydrangeas stand six feet tall and yellow rose bushes line a small block wall. The scent of roses encircles me as a warm breeze blows my white hair behind me. This dream is magical and beautiful, and I can’t wait to destroy it.
I plant my boots on the soft soil next to blooming, vibrant pink cyclamen. I run my fingers over the blossoming flowers and the petals sprinkle to the ground as the plant dies from my touch. I step forward and brush my fingers along the roses and then smack the hydrangeas with my palm, turning everything into rotting mush. I suck in breath after breath of the delectable nightmare, tasting honey and vanilla with every swallow.
Dark clouds roll over the sunny sky and thunder claps in the distance. It’s always so satisfying destroying a dream amid a rainstorm. I create them in almost every dream I invade.
A scream rips through the air and I sense the dreamer nearby. The wail is ear-piercing and unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It stops me in my tracks for a second.
She’s a banshee, remember?
I blink a few times as rain pelts my face and floods the dead garden. Gliding forward through the mud, I reach a small cement path that leads to a looming, plantation-style home. Drooping willow trees line the path and I run my hand along the sorrowful branches and leave them dead in my wake.
Another scream rips through the air and I cringe at the intense sound. I need to find the dreamer and finish the nightmare so I can get out of here.
Elizabeth stands on the front lawn of the house, gripping the hand of a man who looks like he could be her father. His arm drapes over her shoulder and she covers her eyes with her hands. Her hair cascades down her back in a waterfall of blue curls and her whole body trembles.
“No, please, no. Don’t take him!” Elizabeth cries and buries her face in the man’s chest. “I’ll do anything, please, you can’t have him.”
The man stares at me, a frown marring his face, and he pulls away from Elizabeth. “There’s nothing to be done. You can’t stop death. You know this, Lizzy.”
Elizabeth jerks her head up to face me. “You don’t know that!” she yells. “Have you ever tried?”
Elizabeth freezes as I glide closer. She grabs her throat as a long, agonizing wail rips through the air. Her wide eyes stare at me, unblinking, and the sound of her scream sends ice down my spine. Her greatest fear isn’t a monster or an event—it’s death.
I feel bad for her. I hate who I am, but Elizabeth is truly tormented by who she is. A banshee afraid of death...maybe they all are. Maybe it’s why they scream...
I can’t handle invading her dream any longer. Strolling closer, I close myself off to the sound of her dream and approach the man. I wrap my arms around him and he explodes into a cloud of black dust. I suck in his dream essence and lick my lips.
“No!” Elizabeth screams. She drops to her knees and cries into the grass. “Why did you have to take him?”
I turn toward her and kneel at her side. “Don’t worry, Elizabeth,” I say. I cup her chin so she has to look me in the eyes. “I’m here for you, too.”
The nightmare crumbles around me and I pull myself from Elizabeth’s mind. I’m out of the building within a few seconds and plop down on the grass.
The moon veils my pale skin in soft light and I feel alive again—I feel human. Color returns to my hair and eyes because of the nourishment I get from the dreams. I wish I could look and feel human like this all the time. I wish I wasn’t cursed with this horrible ability. It’s always the first few minutes after I leave a nightmare that I realize what I’m missing. The shift between my nightmare inflictor side and my human side is the one thing no one will ever understand.
I think it would be better if I was either completely human or completely a monster so I wouldn’t know any better. But of course, that can never be, because like my father says, I am what I am and that will never change.
It’s been a long day indoors. I’m weak with hunger from resisting the temptation of creating nightmares for five days now—and because of it, I’m bound to the night. It’s what happens when I don’t invade dreams. It’s how the monster within me punishes me for starving it.
When I was ten, I once told my father it felt like I was being possessed by another creature and it was the one forcing me into the dreams of people.
He told me it was a ridiculous thought because I was a nightmare inflictor and that feeling was just my need to survive. I wanted to believe him.
I still want to believe him. But, I really do think my monster side is one separate from me and if I don’t fight it off it will take control of my life. I’m afraid one day I’ll give up and let it happen and let it destroy my humanity. Maybe then I won’t feel so guilty.
You won’t feel anything at all.
The sun sets and I run outside and sit on the soft grass. I can’t risk sensing people sleeping in the dormitory. It’s against the rules to stalk the dreams of the unwilling at the compound. So, I wait outside until well past midnight before heading in the direction of the guest apartments, where Paul Weston, an enchantress’ son from South Carolina, waits for my arrival. He was the only volunteer on the new list Roxanne gave me and I can’t risk missing my opportunity because he leaves tomorrow. It could be several days before another volunteer arrives and I don’t think I will last that long.
I glide through the opaque glass door and into the lobby of the guest apartment building. It’s dead-quiet, the television blank, and all the books and magazines are neatly shelved in their home against the wall.
I pass six empty rooms and stop outside the one closed door at the end of the hallway on the right side. Next to the door is a small decorative table with an empty vase and I grip the edge of the table as burning hunger rushes over me. Paul is deep asleep on the other side of the door and it only takes me a second to turn the knob, open and close the door, and glide the three foot distance to the twin bed.