James walked aimlessly through a vast gray area. There was neither a definite beginning nor a definite end to this place. It stretched out infinitely in every possible direction. Even the sky was colored this strange shade of gray, making it blend into the rest of this peculiar world. James continued to walk, hoping that something could alert him to what was happening. Looking around, James noticed that all of the buildings seemed empty and lifeless, as if he had somehow landed in a ghost town. Any establishment that he entered looked the exact same: dull and devoid of life. He began to wonder what had happened to him. With his younger brothers, Matthew and Wesley, nowhere to be found, his mind raced through a list of all the demons and warlocks they had faced, trying to single out one with this sort of power, the power to send people to alternate dimensions. His thinking was interrupted, however, when he heard a faint voice far off in the distance.
"Hey!" the voice called out to him. Or was it to someone else? Someone was calling him, James reasoned, because he seemed to be the only person around.
As he strained his eyes he could barely make out a silhouette of a young woman running toward him. At her current distance, James only saw medium length blondish hair swinging freely from side to side as the woman ran. As her more delicate features slowly became visible, he realized that her expression was one of distress. She wore a pained look on her face, and the frivolous frolic that James believed he had seen before instantly became a desperate dash to escape from her assailant, who James could now see faintly behind her.
He was at a slight disadvantage without his brothers; they were strongest together. But this time James was all alone. He quickly sprang into action, as usual. He took off running in the direction of the woman. The distance between them was greater than he had expected, and he saw that the woman's pursuer was closer to her than he was. This only fueled his determination to help her. Steadily approaching the woman, James observed the swarthy man who was the cause of her distress. He looked oddly familiar to James. His hair, height, build, everything about him seemed so memorable. Whatever it was, though, James quickly put it out of his mind as he focused on his priority.
He still had too much ground to cover, and his enemy was almost within reach of his prey. James desperately reached his right hand in front of him, hoping that he was close enough. Suddenly, he lurched backwards and landed hard on the dirt covered ground. Looking up, he saw that the woman was now alone, her follower having somehow been stopped. He quickly stood to his feet and continued running, finally reaching the woman. Upon seeing her clearly, he felt a strange sensation of déjà vu run through his body. Had he seen this person before, or was it just a fluke?
"Are you okay?" he asked through heavy panting, having covered almost a mile in such a short time.
"No!" she cried out frantically and a little delirious. "H-He's coming to get me! You gotta help me!"
"Calm down!" James responded, trying to comfort her in his arms. He looked around in all directions, but the strange man was now out of sight. "Where did he go?"
"I don't know!" she said, "but he'll be back! He always comes back! Please! Don't let him take me back!"
"Take you back where?" James asked. Looking into the woman's piercing blue eyes, something seemed so familiar about her. "And who is the man you're talking about?"
"It's…" she replied slowly as she looked into James' icy blue eyes clearly for the first time. Her own eyes widened, as if she had seen a ghost. She fainted in James' arms, no longer able to handle the shock.
James was lost. He had no idea of what had just happened. What had he done to make this woman faint? He started to suspect that he had a part to play in this mystery, but his exact role remained unknown. As he laid her gently down on the ground, things got even more bizarre. She opened her eyes, once again conscious, and stared into James' eyes. Her body began to tremble like she was standing outside on a cold winter afternoon in a bikini. She opened her mouth to speak, but before a word came out, she disappeared in a violent explosion of tiny blue and violet orbs of light, leaving him alone again to figure things out. With a puzzled expression on his face, his world suddenly went black.
James awoke with the same quizzical look on his face. He realized that he was sweating profusely; his bed sheet was drenched. For a moment he was disoriented from seeing a barrage of white lights dominate his field of vision, but as he took in the familiar surroundings of his bedroom he realized that it was an eerie combination of being only a dream, followed by the bright morning sun shining through his window. Somehow, though, this dream stood out. It seemed…real. He could clearly remember the details of this dream, which was odd because usually he could only remember random parts of other dreams he would have.
He dragged himself out of his bed. Grabbing his clock, he held it inches from his face. Seven o'clock in the morning, a Monday morning, the Monday morning of Spring Break. He sighed as he roughly replaced the clock onto the end table. Of all the times to be woken up so early in the morning, Spring Break was definitely the worst timing. Now vaguely awake, James couldn't get back to sleep. He carried himself out of his room and downstairs to the kitchen, wearing nothing but pajama pants. Yawning, he entered the kitchen, his eyes squinted to the point of being closed. He felt so oblivious to everything that he never noticed that he was under surveillance.
He held his face in the refrigerator for a few moments and let the coolness run across him, waking him up a little more. It felt good, and James reveled in the breeze that the refrigerator generated. He inhaled deeply and then exhaled, closing the door. His eyes opened, he turned to see Wesley staring at him with a quizzical expression. Having never noticed him before, he instinctively jumped back slightly and raised his hand, ready to take immediate action.
"Hold up, Quick Draw!" Wesley exclaimed upon seeing James' hand in the air. He knew all too well what it felt like to be thrown around like a rag doll. "It's just me, alright?"
Wesley had been sitting at the table in the kitchen, sipping green tea, his new trend. His trends seemed to change with the phases of the moon. His new laptop computer was facing him, the morning sunlight bouncing off of its sleek crimson back. The table was littered with papers on which looked to be random scribbling, some of them balled up. On top of the mess was a plate of bacon, eggs, and pancakes. When James had raised his hand, he shot straight up from his chair, almost knocking his tea onto the laptop.
"Shorty?" James asked groggily. "What are you doing in here?"
"I live here, remember?" Wesley joked. "Now slowly put your hand down, and no one will get hurt."
"Sorry," James said, running his hands across his face in an attempt to wake up. "I'm exhausted."
"Then go back to bed," Wesley advised.
"I can't," James said. "I had this weird dream and now that I'm up I can't get back to sleep. Which reminds me, what are you doing up this early? Don't you realize it's Spring Break?"
"I never went to sleep," Wesley said. "The deadline for submission for this publishing company is coming up, and I need to finish writing this story. It's my first real submission, so I need to be on top of my game. And I finally have a good thing going on with Kim; I don't wanna mess it up. Besides, with all of the magic stuff that's been going on, I haven't had any real time to work on this."
"Oh," James said, eyeing Wesley's food. "You gonna eat that?"
"Uh, did you hear anything I just said?" Wesley asked, rolling his eyes. "Anyway, fix your own food. Oh wait, that's right, you can't cook."
"C'mon," James begged, "you should've cooked for everyone anyway. We are brothers."
"Let me tell you what I know," Wesley explained. "I know that when you have a chance to sleep in, you sleep in. And I know better than to try and wake you up when you're sleeping in. Anyway, I fixed this while you were still asleep. Matt's not even here, so since I was the only one up, I cooked for myself. Deal with it."
"Are you done?" James asked in an annoyed tone, crossing his arms.
"No," Wesley said. He took a moment to cough up an extra-large loogie and spread it all over his food. He topped it off by licking every inch of the food. He smiled as he held his plate up, offering it to James. "Now you can have it, if you still want it."
"You're such a kid," James said, reaching for a box of cereal in the cabinet.
James grabbed a bowl and filled it with corn flakes. He took out some milk from the refrigerator and poured it into the bowl. Getting a spoon from the drawer, he joined Wesley at the table, placing his bowl on top of some papers. He disdainfully ate the cereal while Wesley slowly savored his more elegant breakfast. Wesley seemed to eat it extra slowly now, just to annoy James.
"Where's Matt?" James asked.
"He never came home last night," Wesley said. "He just said that he was going out, and that was yesterday evening."
"Matt got lucky," James said, smiling.
"I guess," Wesley said. "But shouldn't he have at least called?"
"Apparently you've never gotten lucky," James said.
"I have higher standards," Wesley said. "So, tell me about your dream."
"It was weird," James said, stuffing his mouth with cereal. "Usually I don't remember much when I dream, but this one is still clear in my head. I can't make any sense of it, though."
"What else is new?" Wesley asked nonchalantly as he took another bite. "Why do you think this one's so clear when others haven't been? Do you think it's something magical?"
"It better not be," James replied, as if he were threatening the universe. "The last thing I need is to be interrupted during Spring Break."
"Well, I think any chance of you having a normal Spring Break just flew out the window," Wesley proclaimed. "Thank you, by the way, for jinxing this one week I had to catch my breath and be normal."
"Whatever," James said dismissively.
"Don't 'whatever' me," Wesley shot back. "You know as well as I do that anytime anybody says anything about things being normal, any demon or warlock or whatever comes from anywhere at any time, and what happens in the end? We end up having to fix up the house."
"Right…" James sighed slowly as he slurped some milk from his spoon. "Let's talk about something different then. What's up with you and Kim?"
Wesley smiled at the mention of her name. It had been a year and some months since he and Stephanie had broken up, which proved to be a rough time for him considering that the breakup was James' fault. Since then, James had always been a little wary about bringing up relationships around his youngest brother. He remembered all too well what happened after Stephanie ended her run with Wesley; it resulted in Wesley delivering a somewhat powerful punch to his stomach. James always wanted to hit him back, but let it go.
Now, over a year later, Wesley had put that part of his life behind him. He was with another girl, Kimberly Nichols. They met three months ago at a New Year's party and kept in touch ever since. Wesley considered himself an old fashioned romantic; he took things slowly at first and treated Kim like a queen. In the span of those three months, their relationship had developed into a very healthy courtship. Wesley had to work extra hard to keep his supernatural secret from her, while ensuring that their relationship remained great.
"We're good. Since the three of us haven't been doing a lot of…M-A-G-I-C…" Wesley paused as he wiggled his fingers, simulating a magician.
"I don't think demons are illiterate," James joked, eliciting a look of annoyance from Wesley.
"Anyway," Wesley continued, "I'd say we're doing well. As a matter of fact, we're supposed to be going out tonight. Dinner at Brio and then a jazz concert after. She's a big fan of jazz music; should be pretty cool. She managed to get some tickets."
"Who listens to jazz?" James asked innocently. Unfortunately, his span of knowledge did not include jazz music.
"Really?" Wesley responded with a look of confusion. "I think we'd be better off trying to figure out your dream…"