The dead do dream. They see with eyes that look past the physical and into the soul of the matter. The disgusting, filthy fucking soul. The ugliest darkened corners of the heart can't hide from the eyes of the dead, and these images creep into the thoughts of the living as nightmares, but the dead do dream.

His dream was simple, but layered with complexities that he would never realize.

Tate always found himself standing behind the school. His back was against the edge of a darkened forest-one that didn't really exist where the school did, but a setting that followed him around in all of his nightmares. One time it had followed him to the beach and swallowed up the happy image of sunlight. It followed him home too, back to that house, always creeping outside his window with long branches that clawed their way through the glass to invade his space.

Standing in the darkness was peaceful almost, and then, like it always did, the voice in the back of his mind scratched its way through the soft, grey flesh of his brain and made its way to his mouth. It fought the entire way, kicking and screaming against Tate's own defense mechanisms, but always winning in the end until he uttered two words against his will.

"Let's go."

He ignored it. He ignored the way his lips moved without his permission, the way the sound escaped from his mouth and echoed through the darkness of the night. He ignored the way he couldn't tear his gaze away from that goddamn school.

In a lot of ways, that building haunted him even more than the voice.

It towered above him, shadows cast along the ground his feet stood on top of. Edges of darkness threatened to destroy any view he had, and he felt the forest at his back again, always creeping up on him.

I don't want to.

It was a thought that echoed through his mind, words he didn't dare speak aloud. Every time he had in the past he'd lost everything. No, Tate wasn't going to argue aloud anymore, because the lingering masters of the night followed him even to the best of his hiding spots, and standing behind the school now he was nearly powerless to the voice.

"Let's go," it insisted aloud. It was a tone that demanded his attention, and the fact that the sound came from his own mouth was still startling to his ears no matter how many times it happened.

Why? What is this place that I should give a damn?

He was suddenly very aware of the pistol tucked into his belt, of the weight of the weapon tugging at his pants as if to say 'don't forget I'm here!' Cold, black metal was always the best of friends, and he was tempted to reach for it now but hesitated.

"This place is Hell," his mouth muttered. "The torment makes that obvious. Where else could it possibly be for all of those horrible things to happen?"

Where else? Tate thought about that for a moment, and on some level realized this was a dream. It mirrored reality, but it was anything but real. Where else could be Hell? Where else could torment happen? Where else could the voice control his lips and move his mouth and say things he never wanted to say?

He turned around, and before he even saw it there among the trees he felt the house.

There, Tate thought. In that house, there in that place, I find my damnation.

Tate turned his back on the forest-and the house-and looked back at the school. A smile crept across his face, starting at the corner of his mouth and making its way up to his eyes that lit up with a glimmer of something that was so much darker than the woods behind him.

"Then fuck all the rest," he said calmly, before starting towards the school.