"Accalia!" Someone said loudly. I groaned from bed. "A-call-e-uh," The person said drawing out every syllable.
"What?" I moaned into my pillow.
"Rebecca?" I asked shocked sitting up surprisingly quickly for someone who had just been totally out of it.
"Who else would it be, silly? You have some other roommate living under your bed I don't know about?" She asked laughing.
"No…I just…wow I had a weird dream last night…"
"What about?" She asked.
"I don't know…I don't remember…"
"Oh well, come on! Get your little self out of bed and dressed and all made up so we can go meet the girls for brunch at Maurine's!"
"Brunch at Maurine's?"
"Yes. Your favorite breakfast place that you need reservations like two years in advance practically to get a seat at? Wow Lia, did you hit your head or something?"
"Umm I don't know…"
"Well what are you still doing in bed? Get up, get up! If we're late we'll lose our table!" Becca said pulling me out of my bed and pushed me towards my closet. She handed me a cute dress and a cardigan. I changed as she found me shoes and then she sat me in front of my vanity and ordered me to do something to my face, because my "Eyes look like big puff puddles!"
"I hate you," I informed her.
"I know. At least you look amazing while doing it though. Thanks to me I might add."
Less than an hour later we were standing outside Maurine's. Two girls in similarly flowered dresses waved from a table near the window.
"Amy, Mia!" Rachel said.
"Hey girls!" Mia said.
"It's been weeks since we got together for breakfast!" Amy said exasperated.
"I know, I know I've been so busy with work," I told them.
"By work she means spending time with Mark," Rebecca said pretending to whisper.
"Becca! I don't spend that much time with him!" I said defensively.
"Yes you do," Mia said.
"Excuse me; do you girls know what you want for breakfast yet?" A waiter said walking over.
"Of course we do!" Amy said. "Unless you three forgot our usual order?" She asked looking over to the rest of us. When none of us jumped to order she sighed. "We'll have a pastry basket for the table, we'll split the brioche French toast and the eggs bella donna, three glasses of orange juice, one glass of great fruit juice and four Ramos Fizzes."
"Wow Ames you said that practically all in one breath," I said, laughing.
The waiter repeated back the order.
"Perfect," Rebecca said smiling. Once he was out of sight she turned back to face us. "He was so cute!"
"He's ok," Amy said.
"No, she's right, he's majorly hot," Mia said.
"I didn't even get a good look at him," I said.
He came back with our drinks and our pastry basket. I looked up at him. He met my gaze and smiled, I smiled back. He looked so familiar. He walked back towards the kitchen.
"What do you think?" Rebecca asked.
"He's cute," I said.
"That's it, just cute?" She shook her head. "His name is Will, I saw his nametag."
Why did that name sound so familiar?
"Wanna talk?" I asked.
"Not really." He said.
"That's ok. Come on sit down." I pulled him onto the couch. I hugged him "You'll get over it. Things will go back to normal."
"You don't know that."
"No I don't but I said you were going to live and I was right wasn't I?"
"Look it may not be this month or even this year. But I'll be there for you ok?"
"Isn't this the prettiest thing you've ever seen?" I said to myself as I touched the little buildings around me.
"No you are," he said.
"Don't get me wrong I love it here. I love the work we do and I love the people here. I love-"
He cut me off by pressing his lips to mine. "You. I love you."
"Accalia, are you ok?" Rebecca asked making me jump.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"You just zoned out on us there for a second," Amy said.
"I was just thinking about the dream I had last night…"
"Well alrighty then..." Mia said. She handed me her drink. "You look like you need this more than me."
"Are we going shopping today?" Becca asked.
"Becca we went last week!" I exclaimed.
"So? You can never have enough clothes!"
"Um I guess, where do you want to go?"
"Well there's a new boutique open on Main so let's go there." She grabbed her purse and jumped up.
"Ok as long as you go to the theatre to see a show with me tonight," I said.
"Theatre? Fine…" She sighed defeated.
"Is it just me or are you getting major déjà vu?" I asked. She rolled her eyes.
"We have this conversation every other week. I'm sure that's all it is. Now come on!"
What started as one boutique turned into four hours of straight shopping and me spending way too much money.
"Becs I'm going outside, the smell of perfume is starting to get to my head."
"Whatever," she said barely looking away from the rack of dresses. I walked outside and sat down on a bench sitting across the street near a small park. There were some guys playing football and little ways away a group of children tried to climb up the slide of the playground.
I looked down the street and saw a girl walking my way. At first I didn't recognize her but as she got closer I could tell I knew her. At least I felt like I knew her. "Kate?" I asked, not sure where I'd gotten the name from. She stopped walking.
"Do I know you?" She asked.
"No, I guess not," I said shaking my head.
"Ok then…" She walked off, giving me a weird look.
"You're going to have to leave your room sometime. You are turning into a hermit."
"I'm sorry but my love life has problems. I am entitled to a sappy movie and a carton of ice cream."
"You have been in here for a week. Get out there! Flirt with someone that doesn't moonlight as a big hairy." Kate said. "And in the meanwhile get you pathetic ass downstairs."
"Who is that?" She said. I pushed her out of the room.
"Mark, he's an old friend. He used to work for the same people Becca works for. He is trying to get out, and he's in there telling Magnus everything he knows."
"Well he's cute…" Kate said, I laughed. "What? He is."
"I'm not denying it." I said putting my hands up in surrender.
"Does he have a girlfriend?"
"I don't know I haven't seen him in a year!"
"You should find out for me," She told me.
"Because he's cute! We've gone over this," She said rolling her eyes.
'"I'm going to Alfredo's tonight," I said
"Really? That place is really nice! You should let me curl your hair! What are you going to wear? I'll help you pick out a dress. You have to wear a dress, I know you're a shorts and jeans person but that is not going to fly."
"Whoa, someone just turned into Barbie," I laughed.
"Shut up! Where's your curling iron?"
"In the cabinet next to the sink," I told her and she grabbed it. She plugged it in and then got a bottle of silver nail polish.
"Sit," she instructed.
Why was I having a dream about my real-life friends and all these people I've never met? And what the heck is a "big hairy"?
I sighed and walked down the street to my car and lay back in the seat. I obviously just needed to get some rest. I dozed off fairly quickly but I woken up when I heard Rebecca's ringtone on my phone. I looked up to see her running out of the store and start across the street. She waved. Something looked off about her like she was transparent. Was I still dreaming?
"Rebecca, there's something I need to tell you." I said.
"I know." She said.
"Did you think I wouldn't figure it out? Your 'job' is super top secret and live in; I asked around and heard some rumors about what goes on there. When I looked up this place I saw a few myths surrounding the town, when I heard you say something about people like us I pretty much had it figured out. You're a werewolf right?"
"What do you think I did?" Rebecca said seeming sort of amused.
"I think you're working for someone like the Cabal."
Rebecca laughed. "No, no nothing like the Cabal. We are bigger than them. Even more…creative in our experiments."
"Creative as in becoming friends with your 'experiment' before you try to kill them?" I asked.
"Lia! Hello?" I heard Rebecca yelling.
"Oh sorry. I zoned out for a second," I said.
"I need to go get some air. I'll drop you off at home."
The ride home was silent. I didn't even know what was real now. When I had looked at Rebecca a second ago I could see right through her. What if I was still dreaming? Maybe this whole thing was a dream. A dream within a dream? I'd never heard of that before.
Rebecca got out at the apartment and I drove out to my favorite spot. No one was usually here but today there was a woman standing on the edge of the cliff. "Hello?" I said hesitantly. She turned but it was too dark for me to see her.
"Do I know you?" I asked.
She laughed quietly. "I don't know, I know a lot of people."
I walked closer towards her and I recognized her from my dream but I didn't have any flash to remind me of who exactly she was.
"I'm Helen Magnus," she introduced herself.
"You look troubled," she said.
"I had a really realistic dream and I'm having a hard time telling what's real from what's not."
"That's never good."
"Tell me about it," I said, sighing.
"Have you thought that maybe you're dreaming now and that your "dream" is real?" She asked.
"Yeah but the things that happened in my dream are impossible!"
"Nothing is ever impossible, even if it seems that way at first. You should know that better than anyone."
"But I don't!"
"I think it's time for me to go, "she said. She started walking towards the dark.
"Wait!" I called.
She stopped and turned to face me. "Just remember if you ever want to truly wake up, come back here."
"What does that mean?" I yelled but she was gone. I sat down on the hood of my car and stared off into the sky.
"I just want to know what's happening to me!"
I stayed on the cliff until sunrise and then I drove down to my favorite diner to get something for breakfast. I liked it better than Maureen's but I'd never tell Becca that. The dinner was crowed like usual and there was a guy with his back to me in my usual booth. I walked towards him and sat down in front of him.
"This is my table," I told him.
He laughed. "Is your name on it?" He asked.
"No but I come here almost every day, everyone know that."
I looked up at him for the first time and gasped.
"But you're new here," I said trying to continue. I don't want to remember, I told myself. Can't I just have a normal conversation with this guy like two normal people?
"Yes I am, I'm Henry."
"St-stay away from me." I said it.
"I won't hurt you." He said knelling in front of me.
"But I might hurt you."
"What do you think she means "this is right"?" He asked.
"Well, I'm not sure but I think she means this." I leaned in and kissed him.
"Accalia will you marry me?" He asked. I stared at the simple ring, speechless. "Oh. I understand, Will warned me this would probably happen. That's alright. This was a stupid idea." He turned and walked out. I managed a squeak. I stared at the ring another second before taking off after him.
"Henry!" I yelled. He turned around. I put the box into his hand.
"Oh yeah…thanks." He started to turn around.
"Wait." I stuck out my left hand.
"You're supposed to put it on," I said waving my fingers.
"Of course I want to marry you Henry!"
"Hey are you ok?" Henry asked bringing me back to the diner.
"I have to go!" I jumped up and ran out to my car. I drove up to the cliff and parked. I opened the door and looked around.
"Helen?" I called. There wasn't an answer. "I could really use your help, I don't know what you want me to do!"
I sighed and sat on the hood of my car.
"You said come back here when I was ready to wake up, well I'm ready!"
I got up and started pacing. I walked over to the edge and looked down. I stepped back but I was leaning to far over the edge and my foot slipped sending me flying over the edge. I screamed.
When I sat up I was drenched. What the crap? I looked around me, I was in a lab of some kind. Will and Magnus had just sat up too.
"Accalia?" Magnus said confused.
"What are you guys doing here?" I asked.
"I don't know but we need to get out of here," Will said.
We all got out of the tanks that we were laying in.
Two men ran down the stairs, one was wearing a lab coat and the other guy was just dressed normally.
"What's with the tanks, and how long have we been here?" Will asked.
The normally dressed guy, Magnus said his name was Virgil, answered. "Three days big shot!"
"What?" Magnus asked.
"You think this is fun for us?"
"Who brought us here?" Magnus asked.
"We did," Henry said coming down the stairs with Kate.
"Henry!" I exclaimed. He came towards me and I started to hug him. "I'd hug you but I'm soaked."
"Come here," he said, grabbing me. I hugged him.
"We brought you here to save your life," Kate said.
"It's good to see you all up and around, and from the looks of things sane?" Henry asked the guy in the lab coat.
"Yes," the guy said.
Someone brought us towels and we walked up to the office. I listened as they talked about how we got to this top secret underground research facility.
"So, we paid to be held prisoner?" Will asked.
"Prisoner? You needed treatment!" Henry said. "You guys don't remember anything from before?"
"We got a call from those Lotus guys," Kate said.
"The ones we met outside of Carentan?" Magnus asked.
"Yeah, there was something big coming up out of the ground down in Mexico and you thought it was an off season migration of rock lizards. But then you got hit by this…" Henry clicked a button and a panel slid open revealing this giant worm looking thing.
"We don't know what it is but apparently it puts its victims in a crazy dream world while it eats them."
"So you did all this," Magnus motioned around the building. "To save our lives?"
"We put you in tanks filled with nuerogel which was your life line to the real world," Virgil said.
"So every time we woke up it was like a patient waking up in the middle of surgery," Magnus said.
"I guess you guys really don't like living in bliss," Henry said.
"But I never woke up," I said.
"We noticed that, maybe you like your dream world?" Kate asked.
"Not so much, I thought I was going insane. I kept having these flashes of my memories and I thought I was dreaming but then I run into one of you and I couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't anymore. Also I fell off a cliff."
"So did we!" Will said. "That's how we woke up."
"Yeah me too."
"How did we never hear about a creature like this?" Magnus asked. "The only explanation is that it came from Hollow Earth."
"We're getting calls from all the global sanctuaries, we're on a global alert."