Chapter 2:

Fever Dream

Ludicy - Reaching Out

He sees a man walking along the street, wobbling about. That catches his interest, so he decides to keep watching, hoping the man would stumble and fall. The man turns and starts walking towards the school, seemingly without any will of his own. This creeps him out a bit, but he keeps watching since shit just got real, as he would say. Much to Daniel's disappointment, the man got out of his view and entered the school building. "Well, that was underwhelming," he says gloomily. The teacher notices and asks what exactly was so underwhelming about the book's idea, convinced that was what Daniel was talking about. They were discussing The catcher in the rye. That's one of the rare books Daniel read and liked, so this was right up his alley; "I find the idea itself to be alright, but the character of Jane Gallagher never gets explored thoroughly enough for my liking," he elaborates. The teacher accepts his explanation, still bitter about the fact that Daniel actually gave him a good answer. That was a lot of work Daniel just did, so he decides to take another nap. He puts his head to the desk and starts thinking about the strange dream he had. That sparks his overly childish curiosity and prevents him from falling asleep. "What did she say to me? Why was she there, now of all times? Why, after all this time? I was supposed to have gotten over it, or at least, that's the lie I tell myself." All of these thoughts storming thru his mind caused him to completely forget he was in a class. Once again, he stared out of the window to his left. The man from earlier was walking away from the school, but this time, something alarmed him. The man's teal shirt was soaked with dark, murky blood. He also noticed one other thing he couldn't see before since the man had been facing him the whole time. There was something on his back, he couldn't see what, but there was something on his back, under the shirt. And around it was a peculiar tear, almost in the shape of a circle. Daniel began thinking: "What the fuck is this guy doing? He must've been in contact with somebody bleeding, or is he bleeding himself? Why isn't this guy in the hospital or asking for help, at least? If it really is his own blood, why isn't he screaming in agony? The blood is dripping from the sleeves of his shirt and staining the dust as he walks. He seems shady, but I can't hear any commotion from outside the classroom. How weird will this day get before I get home and go to sleep?" Right then, he hears a blood-curdling scream. Instinctively looking around to see what happened, he sees one of his classmates had slipped his hand down the skirt of a girl sitting in front of him. "What a bother these assholes are, not my problem though," he thinks to himself. The rest of the day went smoothly enough until the bell rang for the last time of the day. Finally free of the shackles of school, Daniel walks out of the school, refreshed. He stretches for a bit, and as he is about to head out into the street, he notices the blood isn't there anymore. He just brushes it off, assuming somebody must've realized what happened, and they cleaned up after the incident. Even still, he was a bit weirded out by the fact that he hasn't heard anything about it, other than seeing the man walking to and from school. With everything said, he goes home to eat lunch and play some games. On his way home, weird things keep happening one after another. There was a lady in her 20s with eyes that screamed sleep depravity. There was a skater who dove nose-first into a sandpit while practicing an ollie, and he just stayed down. Walking around a corner near his house, he could see Alex's silhouette in the distance for a split second before she turned the corner. That reminded him of the grim dream once again. This time, it also made him feel an emptiness inside his heart that he had believed to be gone. He decided he would eat lunch and go to the park for a bit since he liked loafing around the empty park and listening to the sounds of wind blowing and leaves rustling. He got to the park and sat under a lush hawthorn tree. There he could think in peace, free of distractions. It was like heaven for him, his own Elysium field, so to speak. His eyes started closing, and the dream faded in once again. It seemed like it just continued on from where he was last. There was one key difference, however. Alex's hair wasn't the chestnut brown it used to be. Now it was an outlandishly dark shade of crimson. She was still hugging his arm. He felt at peace but was still stressed out from all the events that occurred that day. Alex looked up at him and said something once again. This time he could hear her words clearly. Alex spoke: "Won't you help me already? You've kept me waiting for so long. You didn't even seem to mind it happening, from the looks of it. It's been so long, and yet you're here, feeling sorry for yourself and bathing in self-loathing. Help me, and we can stay like this forever." That was the moment Daniel's heart broke, and the tears started flowing. Not even he knew why he was crying but was convinced that deep down, he knew the reason. He hugged her tightly and promised to always help her from now on. He had no reason to make this promise since he knew it was a dream but also knew he had to make the promise right then and there. He didn't want to let go of her ever again. He could only think of how much he wanted to stay that way forever. She felt so soft. The sweet scent of her crimson hair made him feel at ease. There was only one feeling inside his heart now. It was guilt. He had felt guilty for not even trying to ask why she had excluded him from her life. He felt guilty for allowing himself to fall so low and give up on life. He felt guilty because he didn't know what it was Alex wanted his help with. At that moment, as embarrassed and guilty as he felt, he mustered the courage to ask: "What is it you want me to do? What did you say to me the last time we were here? I am sorry for everything I've done up to this point. Please tell me what it was. I swear I will try from now on." She looked at him with her kind and loving emerald green eyes and said: "You already know. I will wait for you as long as it takes. I know you will come to help me." With that, everything started fading away, and Daniel started waking up. He struggled to stay with her for just a second longer.