THE LUCID ONE
Quinn Morgendorffer glided into Cranberry Commons like a wandering spirit come to rest. Her brown suede shoes seemed to barely touch the gleaming floors, and the panorama of commerce before her made her heart soar.
She hadn't been here in...how long? Strange that she couldn't remember.
"But you're here NOW, silly," she giggled to herself. Her voice sounded different to her ears, like she was hearing it through a blanket. Or a Snuggie. Ewww.
Oh well, it was an early morning. She paused to let her friends catch up with her.
"Oh my gosh. It's so beautiful, Quinn!" exclaimed Stacy Rowe. "And look at the sales!"
"Fiftyyy percent ooooooff," Tiffany Blum-Deckler smiled in contentment.
Quinn looked again, and sure enough, there were half-off signs everywhere! Somehow she had missed them. "Wow. This is like the best sale ever! Hey, where's Sandi?"
"Sheee couldn't make iiiiit. Too baaaad," Tiffany said.
"...Yeah. Too bad." Stacy nodded, trying to sound like she meant it.
Quinn frowned. "Couldn't make it?! How could Sandi miss a sale like this? She's been talking about shopping all week."
"Let's go, before all the good stuff is gone!" Stacy grabbed her arm and they were off to the races. Racks, displays and neon signs zoomed past them in a blur of colors. Quinn couldn't remember ever shopping this fast before. Everything they picked out fit perfectly. Her mother's gold card seemed to have no limit, and before long the three girls were lugging overstuffed bags of new v-necked blouses and leatherette purses.
Still dizzy with the thrill of a successful hunt, Quinn finally stopped at an empty bench to set down her things. She turned to look at her friends, then did a double take and spun around.
Had someone been standing in that store window? There was nothing there now, but for a moment...
Hooo-kay, Quinn. Pull it together.
Stacy and Tiffany were giving her weird looks. She didn't blame them. "Hey guys, we should probably run out to the car before we get anything else."
They both smiled but said nothing. It was almost like they hadn't heard.
"Um, guys? Who drove us here anyway?"
"We got a riiiiide from Zacharyyyy."
Quinn sighed. "That's too bad. Now we don't have anywhere to put this stuff."
Stacy laughed. "We can just leave it here and come back later. Nobody's around, see?"
"Oh, Stacy, it's a half-off sale! Of course there are people…" Quinn gestured around them, only to find that her friend was right.
There was no one else in the mall.
Now that she thought about it, they hadn't even seen a sales clerk, and the only noise came from the muzak on the speakers. The lights seemed to shimmer oddly, and her voice was still...
Am I dreaming?
Slowly Quinn looked down at her hands and brought them together. Her pointer finger passed right through her palm.
She WAS dreaming. Which meant that the mall, the sale, all of this...
"It isn't real," she said. She hated how muffled her voice sounded. "It isn't real." That was better. Much clearer.
"What do you mean, Quinn?" Stacy laughed nervously. "Of course it's real. We're right here, see?"
Quinn felt scared. She reached out to touch Stacy's shoulder, and gasped when her hand came out the other side.
"Hey, that tickles."
"See? This IS all a dream!" Quinn sniffled. "Why me?! I should have known it was too good to be true."
Tiffany took a step closer. "But it's soooo cool, Quiiiinn. It's better than reeeeal."
Stacy nodded wildly. Her pigtails didn't bounce. "Totally! We can buy as much as we want, and we never have to leave, and there's no Sandi. It's like heaven or something!"
"Yeah, but...it's still a dream," Quinn repeated. "Can't I just wake up and go shopping for real?"
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Stacy asked quietly.
"I don't know! Leave me alone. You're just part of the dream anyway." Quinn rubbed her forehead with both hands and actually felt it-maybe because she wanted to feel it.
Is that how it works?
She decided to try something else. She snapped her fingers, and suddenly the terrible cover of 'I Kissed a Girl' on the speakers turned into Nirvana. Quinn laughed out loud. Yes, grunge was wrong...but since this whole situation was wrong, it must be right somehow. Right?
Maybe this dream could be anything she wanted it to be. That was kind of neat, but pretty freaky too. If she knew what was going on, she should be able to wake herself up somehow. Maybe if she just walked out of the mall...
Quinn took off running for the nearest exit, leaving her friends standing by the bench. Where were those doors again? To the left of Cashman's, past that gross gift shop and the Karmelcorn, and then...wait! The darn exit could be wherever she wanted it to be. The second she thought this, the doors appeared quite suddenly between the shoe store and the restrooms.
With a sigh of relief, Quinn ran up and threw one of them open to find herself...
Right back in the mall again.
How did that happen? She didn't WANT to be in here. She wanted to be outside.
Outside, she thought, and tried to leave again. She was still in the mall.
"This isn't funny! I want to leave, okay?!" Her voice echoed through the empty halls.
She had to calm down and think about what to do next. Numbly, she shuffled into the women's bathroom (there was no men's room anyway) and washed her face at the sink.
Her heart nearly came out of her chest when she looked up to see Sandi's face in the mirror.
She let out an embarrassingly high-pitched squeal and whirled around. "SANDIIII, don't scare me like...that."
Sandi wasn't there, nor was she still in the mirror when Quinn looked back.
"Okay. I'm done playing around," Quinn glared. "Sandi, if you're here, I need to see you."
The mirror did not cooperate.
"I said, I want to see Sandi!"
She saw only her own reflection, making faces at her.
"GAAAAHH!" Quinn turned and stomped out of the bathroom. The floor magically became wood, all the better to make noise on.
She knew what she saw. It was Sandi in that store window too-she was certain of it. "This is NO way to treat a cute person. I want to know what's going on!"
"Maybe it's better this way," Stacy said gently as she walked up. "I mean, what if you're right and this is fake? What if the real thing is...bad? Or ugly? Like, green with purple ugly?"
Quinn shuddered at the thought, but she held her ground. "Green with purple is better than nothing, Stacy."
The other girl nodded slowly and reached out to embrace her. Her arms didn't go through this time! She felt warm, and real.
"Stacy, I HAVE to know. You were always nice to me before. I need your help with this!"
"So I'm not just part of your dream?" Stacy asked hopefully.
"Not right now."
Stacy smiled and rummaged around in her purse. She found her compact and handed it to Quinn.
"You want me to check my makeup at a time like this?"
"Open it, Quinn."
She did, and once again...there was Sandi's face, staring back. Quinn had never been so happy to see her.
"Don't look away this time," Stacy said helpfully.
The mirror rippled, as if a drop of water had fallen into a tiny pool.
"Sandi? What are you trying to say? I can't hear you..." Quinn looked closer, squinting as she tried to read the Fashion Club president's lips.
Way to go? No...Wait for me! No, that's wrong. Wait...wait up...no, wake. WAKE UP!
"Can't you see, Sandi? I'm trying! I want to," Quinn whispered back. "I WANT to wake up..."
She was ready.
She ordered the mirror to grow bigger and bigger, until it was the world.
Sandi's eyes fluttered.
As they opened, things finally came into focus. The white walls, the too-bright lights.
She'd just had the weirdest dream-no, more like a nightmare. Her three friends had been shopping without her and she had to watch them.
She bit her lip and shifted in the uncomfortable chair. If only she and Quinn could go shopping now. Sandi would not even critique her selections. Much.
"Good morning, Miss Griffin. Finally awake?" a blonde nurse said kindly as she entered the room.
Sandi nodded and stood up, wincing as her back muscles protested. Tiffany and Stacy had gone home long ago. Even Mr. and Mrs. Morgendorffer wouldn't be back until the afternoon. I'm all she has, I guess, Sandi thought to herself. She had never felt like so little.
She stood next to the nurse as they looked down at the red-haired girl in the hospital bed.
"I hope SHE wakes up soon."
"So do we, Miss-"
"Sandi. It was a very serious accident. But we're all pulling for her. You don't have to stay here if..."
Sandi looked up fiercely. "Are you, like, crazy or something? Of course I have to stay here! I was driving! This is all MY fault. If I leave, she..." Her voice trembled as she stared down at her best friend. "She needs me. Even if I was...not really nice to her all the time."
The nurse smiled and nodded. "I understand. You can stay as long as you like."
Sandi didn't watch her go. Instead she stared at Quinn unmoving, as if she could bring her out with enough attention. Anything was worth a try at this point.
Not for the first time this week, her icy exterior cracked. A single tear fell from her eye.
"Wake up," she whispered over and over, begging her and anything else that might listen. "Just wake up..."
Beneath the covers, Quinn's fingers began to move.
A/N: This fic came about as an IC challenge from BrownEyedBagel that I quickly embraced. The requirements were:
-Fic must center on Quinn who is having a lucid dream (meaning that she is aware that she is dreaming) and wants to wake up. (Maybe there is a special at Cashmans happening between 6 and 7 AM)
-Other Fashion Club members must appear in the dream, two of which try to distract her from waking up.
-The 'friendly' Fashion Club member (wants to help Quinn wake up) cannot be represented in the dream as a person: Quinn encounters them as an animal, object, or their face appeares in reflective surfaces.
-Bonus points if the friendly member does not speak
-No length requirement for the fic; but after 1500 words the dream scene ends abruptly mid sentence. Scene turns to the friendly member waking up from a lucid dream in a chair next to a comatose Quinn.