Liz ran through the dark, deserted streets, as the footsteps behind her got louder.
He was catching up with her.
Panicking, she turned down an alley, dodging a dumpster and some old milk crates. She overcorrected and struck the rough brick exterior of a building, scraping the skin on her arm through her red, leather jacket. But she barely registered the pain. She had to get away from the killer.
She’d changed directions so many times that she didn’t know where she was. No one was around, and she didn’t recognize anything. She just kept running.
Everything had happened so quickly that she hadn’t gotten a look at the killer’s face. One moment he was simply a dark shadow, and the next moment he was after her.
Her heart pounded so loudly she could barely hear anything else, and she gasped for breath, the fear and all the running driving the air from her lungs. She didn’t know how much longer she could keep it up.
Changing directions again, she darted down another alley, trying to find a main street or another populated area.
She could hear his pounding footsteps and labored breathing close behind her and the adrenaline that surged through her gave her a momentary burst of speed.
Dodging down two more alleys, she thought she could hear people ahead and hope surged through her. If she could just get to them, she’d be safe.
Running as fast as she could, she focused her whole being on reaching the end of the dark alley. She found herself chanting in her mind, ‘just a little farther, just a little farther.
The alley seemed to stretch on forever, but finally she could see light spilling in. She dodged past two dumpsters, a broken phone booth laying on its side, and an old oil drum with a fire burning in it, before skidding to a stop.
Blocking her exit was a brick wall that extended a couple of feet over her head.
Throwing her whole body into a jump, she attempted to grab the edge of the wall, but it was just too high. She fell on the ground, and spun around as she heard a soft chuckle.
The killer was only a few feet away, but somehow he was still completely cloaked in darkness. Slowly he moved closer to her, knowing she couldn’t get away.
Liz looked around desperately, trying to see any way to escape, or anything she could use as a weapon, but there was nothing.
Backing up she ran hard into the wall.
She still couldn’t see the killer’s face, or any details that might identify him. All she could see was his arm extending toward her.
Liz screamed, and suddenly sat up in bed. Looking around, it took her a moment to realize where she was, and that she was safe.
She took a deep, calming breath, trying to settle her racing heartbeat. The dream had been so real, unlike anything she’d ever experienced.
And suddenly she didn’t think it was a dream.
It seemed too real, too specific, too detailed. She began to think that maybe she had somehow dreamed the murder.
(Monday, October 23rd)
Hurrying through the halls at school, Liz eagerly looked for Max. She had to tell him what she’d dreamed.
He wasn’t in his homeroom, or near his locker, but finally she found him coming in from the parking lot, obviously in a hurry.
“Max,” she called out, rushing to him. She grabbed his arm. “Max, I have to talk to you.”
Seeing the urgency on her face he nodded. “Sure, let’s go in the Eraser Room.”
Together they went through the crowded halls to the small room, and locked themselves inside.
“What’s going on?” he asked concerned.
“Max,” she started, “I had this dream last night, more like a vision, about the murder. It was so real. It was like I was victim.”
Max was skeptical. “Liz, after what you went through, you don’t think it could just be a dream?”
Her face fell. She’d thought he would listen to her and believe. “No, it wasn’t just a dream. It was like when I was getting those visions when we kissed. Max, I remember the fear and how tired I felt and gasping for air. I was running, and got lost in the alleys, and I was wearing a red, leather jacket that I don’t own. There was this brick wall that blocked the alley and I couldn’t get out. It must have been the murder.”
“Liz,” he said softly.
She cut him off. “We have to go talk to the Sheriff and find out. I’d know the place if I saw it. And, I don’t know, maybe it would help catch him before he kills anyone else.”
Max smiled. “Did you see who the killer was?”
“Well, no,” she admitted. “He always seemed to be in the shadows.”
She shook her head. “And I don’t think it was the first dream either. I think that’s what’s been bothering me. I’ve been having dreams I can’t remember, and then these weird feelings the next day.”
“Okay,” Max said. He didn’t believe she’d had anything other than a nightmare, but he wanted to spend time with her, and he wanted to support her. And maybe if she saw the place in the bright light of day, she would realize for herself it was just a dream.
“I know where the murder happened,” he said. “I’ll stop by the Crashdown after school and we can go take a look.”
Liz exhaled a deep breath. “Thanks, Max.”
Maria moved around the Crashdown, filling coffee cups and taking orders. It was a typical afternoon, not too busy, but enough customers to keep her on her toes.
She handed ketchup to one table, and got more sugar for another, and was just turning to check the status of her orders when Liz came in from the back. She wasn’t working and took a seat at the counter.
Maria turned in her orders to the kitchen and stopped in front of Liz. “What are you up to?”
Liz hadn’t told her friend about her dreams. “Um, I had this vision in my dreams last night, and I think I saw the murder.”
“What?” Maria asked, and then lowered her voice. “What do you mean you saw the murder?”
Briefly Liz told her what she remembered.
Maria shook her head. “How do you know it was real? Liz,” she said softly, “it sounds like you just had a nightmare.”
“I could feel it,” Liz tried to explain. “It was real, and I don’t think the murderer is through. More girls are going to die.”
“Liz,” Maria started again skeptically.
Liz cut her off. “Max is coming and we’re going to go see where it happened, and then I’ll be able to prove it’s real.”
Maria was glad Liz was going somewhere with Max. She thought they belonged together no matter what Liz said. “That’s good,” she said. “So what does Max think about your, um, vision?”
But she didn’t get her answer, because at that moment, Max came in.
He smiled widely when he saw Liz and she felt herself blush. She wondered if Max would ever stop affecting her.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yeah. I just need to get my jacket.”
When Liz left, Maria grabbed Max by the arm, dragging him to the side. “Are you doing this just because you think it will help you get Liz back, or do you really believe her.”
Max shook his head. “I’m not sure if I believe her or not, but she believes it, and I want to be there for her so she feels safe.”
Maria eyed him skeptically. He hadn’t really answered her question, but she decided not to push. “Just remember that she’s really vulnerable right now. The last thing I need is to help Liz clean up another shattered heart.”
Max’s brow creased. “Liz is the one who slept with Kyle,” he said. “Why does she have a broken heart?”
For a moment Maria looked alarmed, and then she shrugged. “You know, she’s just upset that it didn’t work out between you.”
It was obvious to Max that Maria was lying, but he had no idea why. What was going on?
He only had a minute to wonder about it though, because Liz came back with her jacket.
Turning to Maria, Liz said. “I’ll see you later.”
It only took a few minutes for Max to drive them to the scene of the murder. He parked the Jeep at the mouth of the alley, and turned off the engine.
They both sat, neither of them making a move to get out.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked.
Liz felt shivers running all through her. The hair on her arms was standing up like the air was charged with electricity, and she felt jumpy and nervous.
Swallowing hard she nodded. “I need to see it.”
Max got out of the Jeep and went around to meet Liz. She seemed hesitant and he held his hand out to her. Instantly she took it, and he gave her fingers a light, reassuring squeeze.
Together they walked into the alley, that even in daylight was shrouded in the shadows of the buildings.
Liz shivered again. What a terrible place to die.
Almost immediately, she could tell it wasn’t the alley she’d seen in her dream. It didn’t look right, and there was no wall at the end. She could see all the way out onto the street.
But she kept walking with Max until they reached the place where the girl had been found.
It amazed her that there was still a chalk outline on the ground, and she couldn’t help thinking it’s where the poor girl had taken her last breath.
She must have been so terrified, her heart beating out of her chest as she ran for her life, gasping for air, knowing she might die. The emotions rushed through Liz and it was almost like she could feel what the girl felt.
Slowly leaning down, Liz felt like she had to touch the place. She reached out hesitantly, not sure what to expect, letting her fingers brush the ground.
But nothing happened.
She was somewhat surprised. She’s expected something.
Carefully she pressed her entire palm to the ground, so that her palm was right on the chalk outline. Breathlessly she waited for a moment, but still nothing happened.
She was just about to give up, when she got a creepy feeling up her spine. For a split-second, she thought she was having a reaction to the place, but then she realized it was the feeling you get when someone is watching you.
Glancing at Max was enough to tell her it wasn’t him.
He had a concerned look on his face as he met her eyes, but he wasn’t intently studying her.
She looked around, expecting to see someone else in the alley with them, but there was no one else near. Another shiver shook her body
Max noticed immediately. “What wrong?” he asked, bending down next to her.
“I feel like someone’s watching us,” she said softly.
He looked around carefully, but didn’t see anyone either. Even though he’d suggested coming, he didn’t think it was good for Liz to be there. She was so adamant about coming, that somehow he thought it would help her, but it was just making things worse.
Holding out his hand to her, he said, “Come on. Let’s get away from this place.”
Liz nodded, placing her hand in his, and allowed him to help her up.
Max kept her hand in his as they walked out of the alley, and back to the Jeep, but that contact didn’t chase away the feeling she had of being watched. She glanced around several times, but she never saw anyone.
The ride back to the Crashdown was short and silent. Liz knew Max didn’t even have to ask her if it was the place in her dream. He could see it on her face.
When they reached the café, he went inside with her.
She was so disappointed. She’d been so sure that her dream was a vision, but maybe she was wrong.
One of the waitresses approached her, motioning to the counter. “There’s a package over there for you Liz,”
“Thanks,” she said distractedly.
Liz went behind the counter and picked up the small box. This one was blue and had witches doing various things; riding brooms, stirring cauldrons, waving wands. It was tied with a black bow, and once again her name was handwritten across one corner.
Sliding off the bow, she opened the box to find another dozen lollipops tied with a black bow, and beneath them was another note.
And when she does her shaky rockin' dance
Man, I haven't got a chance
With a scowl, she turned it over, but there was still no signature or other indication of whom it was from.
Max took a seat at the counter in front of her, leaning over to see. “Another gift?” he asked, slightly annoyed.
Liz held it out for him to see. “More suckers,” she said with a shrug, “and another weird note.”
He read the card, and turned it over, feeling another punch of jealously. “Well, at least this one rhymes,” he said humorlessly.
With a sigh, she shoved it all back into the box and put it under the counter, dismissing it, and turned to Max. “I really thought that dream would lead me somewhere, or give me some kind of insight.”
“I know,” he said reassuringly. “Maybe it will make more sense to you later.”
She nodded. “Yeah,” she said disappointed. “I just…”
Sheriff Valenti was suddenly behind them, and obviously out of breath. He put a hand on Max’s shoulder and motioned for Liz to come closer. When she was next to him, he spoke in a low voice. “There’s been another murder.”
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