Charles Lee Ray had never had dreams.
This statement is not to be confused with the idea of aspirations; he'd never put too much stock in them either, but those he had, he'd either achieved or given up on long ago.
This statement is in reference to the fact that Charles Lee Ray had never managed to sleep deep enough to reach the point of R.E.M, or if he had managed to dream, he couldn't remember doing so when he woke the next morning.
Now, as he looked up at the ceiling, glad that his insomniac daughter had finally fallen asleep, he determined that it was a good thing.
Sleeping and dreaming are luxuries, for those that don't live such a cut-throat existence as him. He'd never had a point in his life when someone wasn't trying to kill him or arrest him, so being a light sleeper paid off.
He stared up at the ceiling of the dead stripper's apartment, eyes narrowed. Something wasn't right.
The apartment itself was fine enough; bare, and composed of odds and ends. He had guessed that the stripper was living from one paycheque to the next, finding ways to make do if she couldn't afford something. Admirable enough, and sensible too. He almost felt bad for killing her. Almost.
It wasn't the apartment that was unsettling him, though.
It wasn't the stripper's bed, which was a little smaller than a double, and stiff, but he'd slept in worse.
It wasn't that he'd left Glenda to sleep on the couch. They normally took it in turns to sleep on either the bed or the couch, so her comfort wasn't an issue, and her safety wasn't a concern either. If there was one kid who could take care of herself, it was Glenda.
She was getting better, lately. More focused. More attentive. He'd been training her, and she was a good student, when she didn't have her head in the clouds. The one problem with teaching her was that it was near impossible to predict how she'd react to something, or figure out how her mind worked. At times, she ran parallel to reality.
Still, he could always put her back in line, no problem. A quick threat, a suggestion of the consequences of her actions, and she'd be his loyal gundog once more.
But right now, as he stared up at the ceiling, the room wrapped in darkness and silence, it wasn't Glenda that was unsettling him.
It had been a good few years since he'd actually used the majority of his knowledge of Voodoo, content to just use the Soul transfer spell and leave it at that. But Glenda had asked to be taught it, and he had thought it would probably be a good thing for her to know. But it took practice, and you couldn't start off that big. So he had gone back through what he could remember of his training, and taught her as best he could.
He had forgotten how powerful it made you feel.
He had forgotten how connected it made you feel.
When John had taught him the whole faith, he had described what he called a "cosmic empathy". He had said that it was possible to tap into a sort of universal map of everyone's spirits and souls.
At the time, Chucky had thought it was complete bull, but had gone along with it because John was a powerful adversary. But now...
He could sense it. If he closed his eyes and concentrated, he could feel Glenda, in the next room. He could feel the people in the apartments above and below. He could feel the people in the next building, the next street... He could push himself as far as the boundaries of the city before he had to stop, feeling too exhausted.
But someone, out there, was wrong.
There was... he tried to work it into words in his mind, but found it difficult.
It was as if everyone else was joined together in a sort of spider-web. They were all part of an overall pattern. But there was someone out there who was... different. They didn't join up like everyone else. They were almost separate, but not quite. A loose thread.
That's why they were here now. They'd tried leaving L.A, after that whole disastrous attempt on Glen and Tiffany's lives. But they'd come back, because he knew that someone wasn't right. He had a feeling he knew who it was, and he felt inexplicably compelled to find them.
"I'll trade you my apple for your grapes."
Glen and Karen were once again eating lunch together, comparing what they had each brought with them. Their mothers both meant well, but neither of them had actually packed what their children liked, causing a now daily trade-off.
"How's your arm?"
"It's good." Karen smiled, her mouse-brown hair bobbing in its pony-tail. "The cast will be coming off at the weekend."
"That's great." Glen smiled. He was happy to have met Karen, they both got on very well and seemed to have an unspoken understanding of what you shouldn't mention around each other.
"What about you, are you still feeling ill?"
"No, I'm much better. I've been sleeping just fine."
"Would you... If my Mum said it's ok, would you want to come round for dinner some time?"
"Sure!" Karen grinned. "Tell you what, I'll give you my phone number, and we can sort something out."
"Great." Glen was ecstatic. If his mother saw that he was making friends, maybe she'd relax a little. She worried a lot, lately. About everything. He could see she was getting ill from the worry, but Neil had said that all they could do was try to make her see that she had nothing to worry about. The more she worried, the more he worried about her. He realised Karen was waggling a piece of paper under his nose, and he blushed, taking it from her.
"Sorry... I was just... thinking about stuff."
"You do that a lot, don't you?" She smiled, rolling her eyes and taking a bite out of her apple. "Got any homework you need help with?"
Jennifer stood in the kitchen, the radio playing merrily in the background, chopping vegetables. Her eyes flicked from the knife to the window, unable to concentrate.
Cooking a family meal was, in her opinion, one of the few good things Tiffany had brought to the life of Jennifer. Jennifer had rarely cooked meals, even for herself. Tiffany, conversely, felt cooking was an essential part of family life.
She watched the clean metal of the knife slide cleanly through the flesh of the carrots and courgettes, effortless and merciless as it glinted in the electric light.
It had been so long since she'd held a knife to someone's throat and felt the blood seep over her fingers... it had been so long since she'd seen the life fade from someone's eyes by her hand...
Of course, she was still devastated by the death of Glenda, and horrified by the return and consequent death of Chucky, but at the time she had been too panicked to really take any of it in. Now, it felt as if that long dormant killer instinct, which had been repressed and sublimated into dealing with agents, negotiating prices, and generally being a Hollywood star had woken once more.
The sound of the front door closing reverberated through the house, causing her to jump and cut her finger.
"Shoot." She muttered, and instantly sucked the blood from her cut, not fully listening as Glen walked through to her, talking excitedly about what happened at school.
"... which was fine, until Miss Bloom said... mummy, are you ok?"
"I'm fine, sweetface, I just cut myself. Give me a kiss."
Glen stood on tiptoe to kiss her cheek, and she hugged him.
"Mum, can I invite a friend round for dinner?"
"Well..." Jennifer struggled to play it cool, and not break into a fit of adoring cooing. "Of course, honey. Let's see, I'm going to be in a meeting with my agent on Wednesday, and Neil's at physiotherapy on Thursday, but your friend can come around on Friday after school."
"Brilliant." Glen smiled, before dumping his pack on the kitchen table and removing a few books. "I'll do my homework now, and then I can help with dinner."
"You're an angel, sweetie."
She smiled, and resumed cooking, feeling a little shaken, but managed to calm herself.
This is my life now. This is who I am.
"Could you pass the salad, please?"
"Thank you. Karen, is everything ok?"
"Yes, fine, thanks." Karen sat at the Tillys' dining room table, happily eating Jennifer's Swedish meatballs and spaghetti. She wore a smart, neat black t-shirt and camo patterned Capri pants, her long hair tied back in a ponytail once more. Jennifer thought she looked like the cutest little tomboy she'd ever seen. "Thank you for having me."
"Oh, think nothing of it, sweetface, it's always nice to see Glen playing with his friends."
"Glen, don't be silly..."
"You have a lovely home, Ms Tilly; it's a pleasure to be invited here."
"Karen." Neil smiled as Glen kept shooting his mother embarrassed, reproachful looks. "You are possibly one of the most polite young girls I've ever met. I think it's safe to say you'll be welcome here any time you like."
"Thank you, sir. My parents taught me to always respect my superiors."
Glen looked at Karen, unsure. She was different around adults to how she was when they were alone. She had explained that her parents had spent time in a military school, and her mom was a police officer and her dad had been in the army. Maybe that had something to do with it, he guessed.
They ate happily, discussing school and work, friends and food, and within the next two days, Karen had asked Glen if he wanted to visit her house after school on Monday. Glen had accepted happily, and Jennifer and Neil had felt a large weight removed from their shoulders as it seemed Glen was making a good friend.
Karen was just glad she had finally managed to talk her mother into allowing guests at the house, even if it was only for a few hours. As she sat on the couch with Andrew and Maggie, and Maggie held the angel-faced doll in her lap, all of them nodding quietly as her mother paced in front of them, reciting the house rules, she felt like her life had some small chance of regaining normality for the first time since her Dad had been shot dead in Afghanistan.