The steady rhythm of dripping water echoed around me.
I couldn't see where it was coming from, darkness seemed to stretch endlessly with no end, I felt all-too-familiar with this place, the dripping water quickened as I felt a crushing weight on my chest making it hard for me to breathe.
Panic rose inside of me as I struggle to control my breathing, I started to get dizzy, spots dancing around my vision from the lack of oxygen and before I knew it I passed out and I awoke in a cold sweat gasping for air.
I blinked and I was no longer in the abyss but standing in front of our apartment door. I just came home early to surprise Kyle with a romantic dinner until I heard the sounds of giggling coming from the inside.
'Kyle's home early, is he with someone?'
I quickly unlocked the door and opened it to find him on the couch, kissing an orc. I dropped the bag of take-outs, spilling all its contents out, the sound of the food falling to the ground grabbed their attention.
I didn't even hear what he was saying as he scribbled to his feet, the echo of glass shattering resonated in my ears followed by the sound screaming and a bright light flashing, within an instant everything shifted and I was standing in a hospital room, Kyle hooked up to machines with nothing but skin and bones.
Guilt weighed heavy on my heart, as I watched him barely breathe, his breath coming out slow and raspy. I opened my mouth to apologized but I was no longer standing in the hospital room.
I looked around trying to figure out where I was and couldn't recognize the room although it felt like I had been here before, I blinked, and instantly I was surrounded by flames. I screamed out in panic and began hyperventilating inhaling the smoke and going into a coughing fit, that only made me gasp for more air, inhaling a handful of smoke.
I quickly got out of the room and into the corridor, trying to find a way out and away from the flames. I called out for someone to help me but no answer came just the sound of the crackling flames; everything being engulfed by them.
Spots started dancing around my vision, I was about to pass out. I needed to find a way out of here before I choke or burn, I kept gasping for air then I heard a snap and a beam came crashing in front of me blocking my only way out. I fell back and quickly moved away before I caught on fire, I called out for help again and was just answered with the sound of roaring flames.
Why is no one coming?
Don't they know I'm trapped?
Did the flames get to them first?
'Maybe it's for the best, you deserve to burn for what I did.'
I searched for where that voice was coming from and just called out for help but no reply, the flames started snaking their way towards me and I tried to crawl away but it was futile, I couldn't move or go anywhere. There was no place for me to run and the fire knew that. If I wasn't feeling the searing heat I was feeling it now, I let out a scream I didn't know I had until now, I began frantically patting my body down to put out the fire.
I shut my eyes and found myself tied to a thick wooden post, I could only move my head. The raging fire licked at my feet and panic rose as quickly as the flames. I looked up to my captors, their faces contracted in anger and disgust; shouting, calling me a witch, and telling me to burn. In front of the angry mob stood Kyle, the innocent orc girl, Rodney, and my parents.
"It burns, please help me it burns!" I cried out to them, kicking the debris at my feet, hoping to keep the fire away.
My mother just sobbed, betrayed, and embarrassed about raising a witch while my father comforted them and glared at me with such intensity that it felt like I was being burned inside by him. I looked at Rodney hopefully; I know he'll help me, his always been there for me no matter, surely he'll stand up to my defense 'Rodn-'
'Don't call me by my name, witch' the venom in his voice caused me to shrink 'W-What?' this is all wrong, why are they saying these things to me?
'Oh, you know why~'
The voice echoed around me, I searched for it, trying to find who said it, the crowd in front of me had stopped shouting and name-calling me, they all now stood aside as a girl with raven black hair that seemed to flow like it was in the water, dressed in what looked like a long white nightdress and her eyes seemed to glisten like gold, her caramel skin ton made them more prominent.
She looked familiar as if I've seen her somewhere before 'Who...who are you?' she tilted her head, a dark mischievous smirk playing on her lips and suddenly I was afraid of her answer 'I'm you, the real you' she answered with a wicked, devastating smile.
I shook my head in disbelief; that's not me, this person in front of me is wicked, cruel with darkness in her eyes. I am not like that, I repeated it over and over in my head while she maniacally laughed, taking pleasure at my suffering.
I looked at Rodney again, pleading for him to help but he just stood there and stared at me with cold eyes and walked away from me 'No...No please...come back, Rodney please don't leave me, Rodney!' My cries were drowned out by the rioters shouting and the evil laughter coming from the supposed me 'He won't help you, none of them will-' She walked up to Kyle and stroked his cheek with her finger, with a dark burning desire in her eyes 'But I can' she whispered and placed her hand at the back of his neck and I watched Kyle slowly shrivel up like the life was being sucked up out of him.
'No, stop your killing him!'
'No, you're killing him~'
I watched as his eyes slowly rolled back, her laughing as the light in his eyes faded.
I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.
The flames now reached me, consuming me instantly, the smell of my burning flesh reached my nose, I let out another blood-curdling scream; tears streamed down my face but immediately evaporated, I was paying for my crimes.
I felt arms wrapping around me and picking me up, a voice speaking to me but I couldn't hear it. I could only hear my sobs and pleas for all of it to end as the burning pain was just too much; I just want it all to end.
A rush of cold water washed over me, it stung at first but soon felt pleasant against my skin as the feeling of my skin burning subsided along with the smell of burning and I no longer felt like I was on fire.
"Shh, it's okay, your safe now." The voice whispered, soothing me as they cradled me in their arms, gently stroking my head and I just cried into their arms, trembling all over.
"I was on fire" I wept and they just hugged me tighter "The fire can't hurt you anymore, it was all a dream." They continued to reassure me while we sat under the cold shower, my tears mixed with the water. I just continued to cry until I couldn't cry anymore and came out as small dry hiccups, exhaustion washed over me, I tried fighting to stay awake; I don't want to go back to sleep, I don't want to go back there.
The scent of cinnamon wafted past my nose and I began to relax, inhaling the scent and allowing it to envelope me in its warm embrace as I allowed sleep to wash over me
"Your safe now." The words echoed softly in my head bringing me comfort, eventually, I drifted to someplace warm and safe.
I awoke again this time I was in my room and on the bed, my body weighing like a ton of bricks and I could barely move a muscle. I caught a glimpse of white hair moving but couldn't see who it was, everything just looks blurry.
They placed something on my bedside table, the bed sank as they sat down, they gently brushed a strand of hair out of my face and I caught the cinnamon scent again, I wanted to lean into their touch, to inhale their scent again.
My attempt to move seemed to amuse them but complied with my internal request by cupping the side of my face with their hand and allowed me to be intoxicated with the aroma.
Then they got up, removing their hand and I let out a small audible groan, and panic took a hold of me. Am I dreaming again? Are they leaving me too? Please don't go!
I tried calling out to them but came as a small weak groan. I was really tired, barely keeping my eyes open and unable to move my body at all. I was now just breathing heavily as I felt my chest get tighter and tighter, not a moment too soon they had got into my bed and I was not sitting a bit more up, my head leaning against their chest where the scent was strongest.
"Breathe, just breathe, in through your nose and out through your mouth" As he said this his chest rose and fell, I followed his breathing as my guide until I could breathe normally and the tightness subsided.
He then brought something up to my lips, the scent of fresh flower tickled my sense of smell and I groaned in protest "You have to drink it, it's chamomile, trust me it will make you feel better" he spoke so softly and with care in his voice that I didn't resist as he raises the cup and I drank the liquid and I was shocked, it tasted like how it smelled and it just warmed me inside, my body just relaxed and didn't feel so heavy.
"Told you it will make you feel better" he pulled me closer into their embrace and I relaxed more into it. Is it even possible to be any more relaxed cause I feel like I've achieved the ultimate relaxation? My mind has been cleared out of any night terrors and my body is just floating and with the smell of softly scented cinnamon.
"Please don't leave me." The words came out effortlessly even though it was barely a whisper, his body tensed up a bit and I almost doubled back on my words but said nothing as he pulled me closer to him, securing his hold on me.
I eventually dozed off into blissful slumber, no longer trouble with my guilty conscience.
The sound of meowing brought me from my dreamless slumber and groaned wanting to go back to sleep but Trixie had her plans and me sleeping in peace wasn't one of them, she started pawing my face to get me to wake up meowing as she did so. I turned my face away from her assault to only be met with a strong scent of cinnamon.
What happened next left Trixie crying out in shock and sent flying off the bed and me instinctively leaping out the bed to trip over the tangled covers around my ankle and fall onto the floor and yelped out in pain as my head hit the floor, I momentarily held my head to subside the pain before shooting upright realizing my sudden jolt and cry had woken him up.
But there was no one in my bed, I sat right there on the floor staring at an empty bed, feeling like the world's dumbest idiot. Did I imagine him being here, I looked over at the bedside table to see an empty cup but there was non, relief that washed over me but was soon followed after by a new kind of feeling, a certain sadness I couldn't understand.
I shook off the feeling before I got in too deep and was just thankful that no one was around to see what just transpired, except for Trixie but no one's going to believe a cat, right.
"What did you do to get Trixie mad?" I jumped at the sudden voice behind me, screaming in surprise "Woah easy, it's just me" Rodney said, I placed my hand over my racing heart, breathing in and out to calm it down "Don't do that" I managed to say once I had my breathing and heart rate under control.
"Okay I won't but what are you doing on the floor?" he asked as he placed two cups on the dresser, my cheeks started burning, embarrassed as the reason crossed my mind "My leg got caught," I said looking away, it's technically not a lie as my leg did get caught but how and why that's a different topic.
"Oh okay, so it had nothing to do with the fact you leaped out of bed thinking a half-naked man was laying in there with you as you've always dreamed?" he said amusingly with his head slightly tilted and a cocky grin on his face.
My face went from warm to really hot, real quick "What?! No, that's just crazy-" I started folding my blanket then unfolding it as I realized I need to cover my bed "why would you assume my reason for leaping out of bed, Trixie just frightened me that's all and there-"
"He was here."
I stopped doing my bed and whirled around so fast I was lucky enough Rodney wasn't holding any hot beverage or we would both require intensive care "Easy there but yeah, I was coming over the moment I got the sense you weren't okay-" of course the protective spell alerted him "but came too late as I got held up, by the time I arrived he was leaving, he told me you were in bed fast asleep and that he gave you some tea to calm down."
Flashbacks of before played in my mind, butterflies burst into my stomach and I felt strangely sick with heavy emotion. I threw myself onto my bed groaned into the heavily scented pillow and then proceed to roll around as I felt overwhelmed with emotions.
"Rodney, I think I said something embarrassing" I wailed out hugging the pillow, it smelled like him, he spent a few hours here and it already smelled like him.
"Talk to me" He immediately sat on the bed and I proceeded to tell him everything and I mean everything, from the night terror-he kept reassuring me he'll never do something like that and will always be there for me; to the moment he held me in his arms "You confessed to him?!" he was shocked as I am.
"Technically it wasn't a confession, more like a slip up in the moment of weakness. I can't confess to someone I barely know, he could be a serial killer, look how easily he got into my apartment" I pointed out "That's still a confession nonetheless and the white hair, that's a pretty odd choice of hair color" he added and I rolled onto my side, hugging the pillow tighter, speaking into it "I...kind of like it."
"I'm sorry did you say something?" he said with a smug look on his face, I proceeded to smack the pillow into his face before buried my extremely heated face into it.
He laughed and then fell silent. We seemingly went into our thoughts about the whole situation, seeing as how we felt about it all. For me, I can't exactly say how I feel as I'm feeling a lot of my emotions; guilt, excitement, anxiety, and probably stress or fear, all fighting at ounce to be in charge while one stays back and watches, silently waiting for it's time to be felt.
"You should take a few days off" he spoke, pulling me out of my emotional turmoil "What?" he turned a little see his back wasn't fully facing me, his brow creased into worry.
"I think it's best you take some time off from work from what you've told me about your dream it seems like it's getting worse to the point it's affecting you physically. What happens if you see a fire? You could go into panic mode, I just can't risk you getting hurt in any sort of way" he took my hand in his and gently squeezed it, my heart bleeds for him as I could see the guilt in his eyes.
Dream him affected him and this is his way of making that up to me and letting me know he'll never abandon me like that, I squeezed back even tighter "Rodney don't blame yourself like that, I know in reality you'd never do that to me, I think it's just all this guilt I've been carrying since that day has done more damaged then I thought and my subconscious just couldn't take it-" I looked down at our entwined hands, rubbed my thumb over his knuckles "Your like family to me when I thought I lost everything in that fire and felt I had no one left, you came to my rescue, rising like a Pheonix in my burnt down world. It's because of you I'm able to hold myself together."
I meant every word that I spoke, my feelings for him were much stronger than any blood-related bond I could have, maybe it's cause I've been the only child and never had a sibling to share things with, to argue, laugh and cry with but I'm grateful to have Rodney as my brother.
"Are you feeling okay?"
I was completely perplexed with what he said, I looked up to see his face contorted into one of disguised and the mooshy feelings vanished and was replaced with annoyance, he cupped my face into his hands and began examining me "Who are you and what have you done with Anita?" I took the pillow and smacked him across the face.
"You stupid, dimwitted, narcissistic playboy." With each word I continued to lay assault with the pillow while he merely laughed "Your so annoying, I get a little sentimental and you immediately something is wrong with me" I stopped my attacks and sat next to him pouting "You still love me" he added gently nudging me "I beginning to doubt that" I shot back and he made a whimpering sound like a sad puppy "Ouch my feelings, you deeply wound me" he said dramatically and I just rolled my eyes.
"So what are you going to tell him about your newfound feelings or should I?" I shot him a panicked look "You will not say a word, not even a breathe, promise me you won't say anything, swear it!" I now held him by his leather jacket collar "Okay, okay crazy lady I swear I won't say a word that you have feelings for him, scouts honor" he said raising his hand and I smacked it down "You've never been a scout boy."
"I could have been, you don't know that," he said proudly "I do know that, scout boys are pure honest little boys and very respected. You, on the other hand, would charming every girl to do your bidding" I said "Ya, that sounds about right" we both chuckled.
The care-free environment was interrupted by a loud grumbling coming from my stomach, oh right I never had breakfast "Let's go feed that hungry stomach now get dressed, we leaving in five" he ruffled my hair as he got up, making it messier and I cried out in protest, it's really painful having to brush out knots.
As soon as he walked out of my room, closing the door behind me, I got up to quickly changed out of my nightclothes and into something more presentable.