Alex woke with a start.
He wasn’t dreaming. There was light coming through the window. There was a digital clock on the bedside table, and Alex pulled it over and looked at it.
He couldn’t have slept for more than twelve hours, he was still tired. So it had to be past midnight.
He’d slept in his jeans because of Celia. His old sneakers were by the bed and his red and white windbreaker was on the chair, and Alex pulled them on. Celia had left the key next to the television, and he grabbed it and put it in his pocket.
Then he slipped out the door.
Alex stumbled forward, and then shivered, his skin prickling into goose bumps. In the desert, things got cold at night, and
He walked toward the lights, and was surprised to see how many people were walking the streets. There was a Saloon, and the door was open. There was shouting from within, and the clink of glasses. Someone laughed uproariously.
In the row of shops, there had been a soda fountain. He could see people drinking milkshakes through straws through the well lit window. Across from that, the galleries that had been dark were lit, and people were sitting on the porches, pouring drinks and calling out to people walking by in a friendly manner.
In the street, vendors had appeared, filling the road that Alex had driven down only a few hours before. The stalls and carts were filled with strange items, from crystals on strings to scrolls to meat on sticks.
Looking at all of the things, he’d been distracted from the people, but as he got closer, it suddenly jumped out at him that there was something very wrong with the people that filled the street.
A couple passed him by, and Alex starred. The man was wearing a suit, but not a modern suit. This one had a bowtie and a vest, and a pocket with a chain, and he was wearing a bowler hat. The woman had her hair up, and she was wearing a fancy green dress with lots of embroidery and carrying a parasol. She looked at him as she passed him, and as Alex shivered he realized that she wasn’t even wearing a coat. The dress was short sleeved and the only thing around her neck was a black choker.
There were others, that were wearing clothes in the same fashion as the couple, and there were others too. Up in front of the soda fountain, leaning on the railing of the walkway, were creatures covered in fur. Behind one of the stalls there was a man with no eyes trying to sell a plate of some kind to a woman that was seemed to be wearing a suit of vines. Striding through the crowd was a large man wearing thick black robes, and people parted the way for him.
Alex felt horribly out of place, but the view was enthralling, like he’d stepped into a movie.
A woman saw him, and she laughed. She was tall and even paler than Alex and wearing a yellow dress that nearly shimmered, and she muttered something to the women that she was with and then approached him.
“Hello dear,” she said. “Are you cold. Would you like Sara to warm you up?” The other women giggled, their eyes slithering over him. Their looks made him even colder, and he took a step back, but the woman in yellow reached out for him.
There was something about her, and Alex looked into her eyes. They were like burning liquid gold, and without thinking, Alex took the hand that she offered him. Her skin was soft, but it was also colder than ice. Alex gasped without thinking, and flinched back and the woman laughed.
“Sara,” a heavy voice said from behind him. “Stop playing with the child.”
“Oh, Darius.” She stomped her foot, but the only sign of it was that it set her skirts shaking. “You’re no fun.”
“He probably belongs to someone. Otherwise he’d be caught by the sleep.” Alex turned, and found that the speaker was an eight foot tall brown bear with piercing blue eyes. The bear took two steps forward, and then bent down and smelled him. “I don’t smell a fresh mark. You aren’t supposed to be out here, are you?”
Alex shook his head.
The bear grinned. “I bet you thought you’d just pop out and see the festivities, didn’t you?” He turned to the pale woman and said. “They strain their leashes, especially on the festival nights. He doesn’t smell too healthy, and they haven’t even come up with the feast. If you eat now, you won’t be hungry later.”
“Will you escort me then?”
“It would be my honor, Sara.” The bear offered an arm, and the pale lady took it. They began to walk away, and the bear looked back at Alex, and gave him a shooing motion with a paw.
Alex turned, and began to walk away. He wanted to run, but somehow he knew that would be a bad idea. He was a sheep that had wandered into a den of wolves and then somehow walked out.
He slunk over to the side of the road, past the darkened office of the motel, and to room seven. He fumbled in his pocket for the key, and he was so nervous that he had trouble with the lock. He slipped inside, dead bolted the door, and barely taking the time to take off his shoes he slipped into the bed and pulled the covers over his head.
This had to be a dream, but it wasn’t vague enough. He was still wearing his windbreaker and he could feel the cold zipper biting at him through his thin t-shirt. He unzipped it, and pulled the covers down for just long enough to toss it back onto the chair, and then pulled him up again.
He rolled up into a shivering ball, and waited for the morning.