Keion came in his cab when I texted him, like an indie 911. He shook his head at me as I dove into the front seat next to him. “I’ve never seen you in this sorry ass state,” he said. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” I told him.
“Yeah, you do.”
“Yeah, I do,” I admitted. I’d walked too far out on the ice and realized it could crack under my feet. “But not now, okay? I need to get home.”
Keion nodded as we pulled away from the curb. “I can see that, all right.”
I leaned my head back against the headrest and shut my eyes; I’d downed too many shots to keep them open. Sleep curved its velvety black wings eagerly around me. I didn’t fight it.
In some other place, Tanvi stared at me with eyes like a starless night sky. “Shantallow,” she said, her cheeks slick with blood and her lips not moving. “Run.” My shirt was torn at the elbow. It flapped as I ran, my ribs twitching underneath my skin, clawing me from the inside.
“We should have reached a road by now,” Tanvi said. Misery bent her voice, like a branch drooping under the weight of too much snow. “How can there be no road?”
I jolted myself free from sleep. Keion’s eyes were on the road ahead. “Shantallow,” he hissed. “We shall all be changed.” Sharp fingernails scraped violently against the passenger side of the car. Keion grinned maniacally, his teeth broken and gray. Only he wasn’t Keion anymore. My father was at the wheel. Soil spilled from his mouth. Chunks of his skull were missing, the glare from a passing car illuminating the clumps of raw, uneven flesh left in their place.
“Hey, hey!” a voice called. “Wake up, Misha.” A car horn blared. It sliced through my fear, hurling me back to the world. My head knocked back against the headrest, Keion’s right hand closed firmly around my arm. “Whoa. You were having a night terror or something. I couldn’t wake you up. You damn scared me.” He promptly released his hold, his right hand joining his left on the wheel.
“I’m okay,” I said unconvincingly. “Must’ve been all the beer.”
We were back in Balsam, a couple of blocks from my house. Keion sighed through his teeth, his concerned eyes worse than any lecture. Thirty seconds later we veered onto my street. About six houses down from mine a guy with his hood up sat on a neighbor’s steps, hunched against the wind. He cocked his head in my direction as I exited the car, like we knew each other.
Keion called after me, “Be good, Misha. Call me if you want to talk.”
I was as shaky as hell, freezing on the inside. The dream had been so real that I easily might have thrown myself from the car to escape it. One of my hands flew instinctively up in the air to wave off Keion, my feet pausing until the cab was gone and then padding me over to the neighbor’s front yard like they had their own ideas about what was supposed to happen next.
“Thought that was you,” the guy said from the stoop. He tugged his hoodie down, revealing a familiar face.
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