Imperfections of Sleep (Part 1 of 6)

Once again, I embark on a serial short story, with little to no plan. Normally, I would be performing this literary exploration without any semblance of net, but in this case, there is one.

As this story takes place between the lines of my first novel, Shadows Over Somerset, this first installment of this six part tale is culled 99% from that novel. The rest will take us us into the tale untold… I begin in this fashion for those of you may have not read Shadows yet. For those who have, consider this a refresher.

The impetus for this tale is two-fold. One, it serves as a precursor to next week’s release of First Born. Two, this is something of a return to form, as the character whom I would later rename Landon Connors was excised from this earlier work.

This restores the balance somewhat and gives you a taste of what might have been.

Let us begin now, in the city of Wabash, 10 miles north of the small town of Somerset, where a young girl is about to lose her fight to stay awake and be submerged into a lucid nightmare from which she can find no escape…


Imperfections of Sleep
Part 1 of 6

Cassidy Martin was understandably upset. Her brothers were dead, her best friend missing, and she’d been sent off to stay with her Aunt Estelle under the guise of protecting her from whatever was going on in Somerset. But Cassidy knew her parents didn’t understand. How could they?

She laid in her cousin Todd’s bed, desperately afraid to fall asleep, but she knew it was inevitable. It was out of her control now. Unseen forces were conspiring against her, lulling her to sleep, and dragging her into the lucid nightmares that were breaking her heart. As she felt herself sinking into unwanted slumber, she whispered a silent prayer:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep… “

And then she was adrift, finding herself walking through the old Cairnwood Cemetery with her brothers Jimmy and Allen. They were going to protect her from Joey and the Dark Man. The fog was thick and all the tombstones were covered in blood. Her feet sloshed through the blood-saturated earth. It splashed as she walked, staining her frilly white nightgown. They walked into the woods and followed the path of blood through it. She could hear the screams of tiny children in the night, calling for their mothers, and fearing for their lives.

The brothers stopped and would go no further. Cassidy stepped through the foliage to see a farmhouse in a rough and tumble clearing. She followed the blood to the uneven porch, climbed the rickety steps, and walked toward the door. Joey was sitting on a wrought iron bench and flipping through a stack of cards.

“Hi, Joey,” the dreaming child said. “Are you ok?”

“I’m as good as can be expected. I’m dead, you know. Like you.”

Cassidy stepped toward the boy. “But I’m not. I’m just asleep.”

“Oh,” Joey said looking up from his cards, “I didn’t know there was a difference.”

“What are you looking at, Poke`mon cards?” she asked.

Joey looked to the cards then back to Cassidy. His eyes reflected fast moving clouds and lightning flashes. He pulled a card from the deck and flipped it between his fingers with uncanny dexterity. Round and round, over and under, the card danced in his tiny hand as if it had a life of its own. He stopped its progress, catching the card between his thumb and index finger. He held it out to Cassidy.

“Go on, take it,” he said. “It’s yours.”

She took the card from his hand and turned it over. On it was a picture of a man in a flannel skirt holding a severed wolf’s head into the air.

“I don’t think I like this,” she said, offering it back to Joey.

“Look at the other side,” he said.

She flipped it over and examined the backside of the card. Where it had been previously blank was now a picture of Cassidy. She was naked and hanging upside down from one ankle. Her other leg formed a figure four with her ensnared straight leg. The tips of her hair touched the ground and were stained with blood. She wore a smile on her face. Cassidy stared at the card for a long minute. Then the face on the card opened its eyes and they stared back at her with pain and sorrow.

Cassidy dropped the card onto the porch and ran across the blood soaked lawn. She ran for her life. She ran as far and as fast as she could.

Joey called out from behind her.

“Be sure to come back, Cassidy…we’ll be waiting.”

Cassidy woke from her nightmare, shaken and scared. She knew that it was time to end it. The time had come for her to take action. She climbed out the bedroom window of her aunt’s house and slipped around the side to the garage. With a little effort she opened the overhead door and pulled her cousin’s bike out from behind the lawnmower. The mountain bike was a little big for her so she stepped up on the car bumper and onto the bike’s seat. Then the child peddled. She peddled like the devil was chasing her. She peddled toward Somerset.

to be continued

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