Authors: Michelle Smith
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #Supernatural, #Fantasy, #Young Adult
By Michelle Smith
Copyright © 2013 by Michelle Smith
Cover photo copyright iStockphoto/Ig0rZh
Cover designed by Linnea Thor
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, are coincidental.
To Mema, for showing me what true faith and hope are all about.
I’d been a freak for as long as I could remember. My parents didn’t even let me finish the first semester of senior year before ripping me out of school and placing me here, in Sunrise Juvenile Treatment Center—otherwise known as the nut house for teens. I knew I wasn’t the most normal girl in the world, but actually being labeled as crazy? That was a stretch. I had nightmares. I had daydreams. They just went a little awry sometimes. It didn’t make me insane enough to be in a place like this. At least, that’s what I repeated over and over until even I almost believed it.
Memories from my childhood didn’t consist of playing dress-up or having sleepovers with friends; they were made up of hospitals, testing centers, and guidance counselors. I was used to being gawked at, studied, poked, and prodded. None of that compared to how I felt now, because now, I was certifiable. Officially.
My roommate, Charlotte, and I were doing our English assignment in the center’s lounge, which had become a favorite spot of mine since my arrival. It was nice and quiet, unlike the designated study area, which was usually crawling with . . . well, people crazier than me. Even being in a place like this didn’t get us out of schoolwork; the center made sure of that.
Charlotte snorted from the sofa across from mine, and I glanced up at her. “What’s so funny?” I asked.
She lifted her head slowly, shock clouding her freckle-covered face. To her credit, it was the first time I’d said anything more than “hey” to her since arriving the day before. She huffed a little and held up a book of poetry. “This Robert Frost guy. He’s going on about how the world is going to end in fire or ice. Personally, I think he’s full of crap.”
“And why’s that?” I asked. She stared at me for a few seconds before looking back to her book. I rolled my eyes. This was why I never made the effort to talk to people. Half the time, they were too involved in their own worlds to be bothered.
Setting my own book aside, I stood and stretched with a yawn. Four hours of sleep each night just wasn’t cutting it. Unfortunately, the nightmares made more than that a dream in itself. I walked over to the tiny window, which wasn’t much more than a hole in the wall. As I gazed outside, I wished it was a few degrees warmer so I could actually go out there and breathe in the crisp December air.
Dark clouds were rolling in on the horizon. Crossing my arms in front of my chest, I felt that familiar sense of deja-vu creeping up. The clouds were a strange color; not the usual dusty gray that signaled impending snow, but nearly black, like the storm clouds that brought downpours and hail in the middle of summer. During July, our town in southern Pennsylvania was no stranger to crazy storms popping up mid-afternoon.
That wouldn’t have been too alarming if it wasn’t December. Not only that, but this wasn’t the first time I’d watched this exact scene unfold. The only difference was that this time, it wasn’t all in my head. At least, I didn’t
it was. These days, it was almost impossible to tell the difference.
“I think the earth is just gonna go
into a cloud of ashes one day,” Charlotte said, but her voice sounded distant. She completely lost me as pieces of my dream from the night before started flashing through my mind.
The clouds rolled in . . .
I closed my eyes, trying to focus on my thoughts while Charlotte droned on.
Come on, what was next?
There were tornadoes, but tornadoes didn’t pop up in December. Good grief, I hated my screwed up head. Nothing ever made sense. My brain was worse than a jigsaw puzzle missing a few dozen pieces.
“Kerrigan?” I turned at the sound of my name, and Dr. Tyler smiled at me from across the lounge. “It’s time for your session, dear. Shall we?” She gestured to the hallway, and with one last glance to the sky, I spun on my heel to join her. I offered Charlotte a wave, which she acknowledged with a grunt before I followed my psychologist down the hall.
Once we reached her office, she opened the door and stepped to the side so I could go in first. I hung my head, allowing my dark hair to shield my face from her intense gaze. She stared at me like I was some sort of study specimen. I guessed I sort of was. That’s all any shrink ever saw me as, anyway.
Hearing the door click closed behind me, I took a seat in front of her desk. She settled into her high-backed leather chair, and once again, I was thrust into what had become my life—at the mercy of some shrink trying to figure me out. Judging by the tranquil paintings and comfortable furniture, her office was designed to put patients at ease. In the confines of this room, though, all I felt was claustrophobic. I was trapped in here for the next hour with a woman who had a file on me an inch thick, and assumed she knew everything there was to know thanks to a few certificates on the wall.
She didn’t have a freakin’ clue.
“Happy birthday,” she said, opening the folder with my name scrawled across the top. “The big 1-8. How do you feel—”
“I’m not crazy, you know,” I blurted out.
And score one for the word vomit.
She smiled, but I knew better than to fall for the sugary sweet image she was trying to portray. I’d become pretty good at picking people apart over my life, especially those in the medical field, and it didn’t take a genius to understand her smile was patronizing. It was a smile I’d seen plenty of times.
“No one ever called you crazy, Kerri.”
“Don’t call me that,” I said with a shake of my head. When she scrunched her eyebrows together, I added, “I don’t like people calling me that unless they’re family. It’s . . .” I took a deep breath, then released it slowly in an attempt to calm my annoyance. “It’s a special nickname.”
She nodded and scribbled something on that handy-dandy notepad of hers. “Duly noted. What about your friends? Why aren’t they allowed to call you that?”
Pressing my lips into a thin line, I fought the urge to spit out my response. “I haven’t had friends in a long time, Doctor, so I can’t give you an answer.”
“You didn’t answer my earlier question,” she said with another scribble. “Why would you assume that I think you’re crazy? Have I given you that impression?”
“Well, I’m here, for starters. Only nut-cases get sent to places like this, right? Plus, you’re looking at me like everyone else always does.” I shifted in the cushiony chair, trying to get somewhat comfortable. “Like I’m a walking time-bomb. Like I’m going to start zoning out and lose it at any minute. It’s the same way my teachers—heck, even my parents and sister—look at me.”
She chuckled. “Trust me, I don’t think you’re a walking time-bomb. We have a few of those around here, and you certainly aren’t one of them.” She studied my face for a moment. “According to your chart, your condition has taken a violent turn over these past couple of months. Care to talk about that?”
“You jump right into it, huh?”
“It seems we have quite a bit of ground to cover,” she replied.
The ticking of the clock echoed in our silence while I held her gaze for what felt like an eternity. She wasn’t backing down.
. “The dreams . . . I’ve had them for as long as I can remember,” I finally said. “And yes, they’ve gotten a lot worse.”
“Your daydreams, as well.” She glanced down at her notes before returning her gaze to me. “They’ve become rather vivid, it seems.”
“Obviously. That’s why I’m here, isn’t it?”
My cheeks heated with both embarrassment and frustration. The day my parents decided to throw me into the nutso bin played on repeat in my head, only increasing that frustration. Oh, wait—technically, it was a “treatment center for at-risk youth.” Long story short, it still meant they thought I’d lost my mind. To be honest, I questioned my own sanity after the incident at school. It wasn’t every day that one of my daydreams resulted in me trying to break out the window of my math class because I feared for my life.
In my defense, the fire roaring in front of me was pretty freakin’ real at the time.
“I’d like to talk to you about hallucinations,” Dr. Tyler said, breaking me from my memory.
“I wasn’t hallucinating,” I countered. “Hallucinations are for crazy people. I’m not crazy. I have daydreams, that’s all. I mean, they’re pretty realistic—”
“Then why are
you here, Kerrigan?” She sighed, then leaned forward to toss her notepad onto the desk. “A daydream is a fantasy. While daydreaming, one is well aware of the fact that what she’s seeing isn’t real. What you experienced in class that day? That was much more than a daydream. Your parents placed you here because your behavior terrified them.”
When I remained silent, she started scribbling on that stupid notepad again. How was the page already half full? What the heck had she been writing when I’d barely said anything? “It looks as if you’ve tried a few types of medication. Did any of it help at all, in your opinion?”
I snorted. I couldn’t help it; she seriously thought I didn’t know this stuff? “Medicine doesn’t work. I’ve tried it already—plenty of it. You name it, and I’ve probably been on it.”
She pursed her lips and nodded. “Well, there are different medications out there. The doctor here can work with you and find the one, or even combination of meds, that suits you and your needs.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake.
What the heck
I need? I needed a night of sleep without nightmares startling me awake every few hours. I needed to get through a day without having a daydream, or hallucination, or whatever it was that had me breaking into cold sweats of fear.
“Tell me, Kerrigan—how long have you been dreaming of your own death?”
The question hung in the air as I met her gaze once again. That was a secret I’d only confided in my dad, and while it shouldn’t have surprised me that he’d told her, it didn’t make me happy, either. It actually kind of pissed me off that he’d betrayed my trust.
“Not long,” I replied in a clipped voice. “I probably would have lost it by now if it’d been going on any longer.”
Dr. Tyler started to speak, but her voice became a dull noise as my focus shifted to the window. My eyes widened when I saw what was going on outside. I rose from my seat, and even though she called my name, I ignored her. Goosebumps multiplied on my arms as I stared out the window with rising panic.
The clouds . . . they were black as the night sky, and piled on top of one another like huge, deformed marshmallows. The trees lining the property swayed violently in the wind. The image was all too familiar. This was no normal storm, and finally, my dream from the night before played clearly in my mind.
“The storm’s coming,” I whispered to myself, repeating the words from the dream. I wasn’t sure whose voice it was I heard in the dream, but it was full of fear.
“What did you say?” Dr. Tyler stepped to my side, staring out the window with her arms crossed in front of her chest. “Wow. Looks like some storm brewing, huh?”
I attempted to answer, to say
, but my throat constricted while I took in the ominous sky. The clouds swirling like a whirlpool as they approached rapidly. My heart smacked against my chest with each bolt of lightning that streaked across the sky.
And then, with a deafening crack of thunder, it happened.
Two massive tornadoes emerged from the sky and crashed to the earth with a roar. The windows burst, sending glass flying everywhere. I dropped to the floor with a shriek just as shards sprayed throughout the room. My body hit the hardwood with a painful
I covered my head with my arms, guarding myself from the glass. Wind whipped and rushed above me, howling like nothing I’d ever heard. Chunks of glass slashed the back of my neck. I had to get out of there. I had to get somewhere safe, and that wasn’t her office. Keeping my head down, I glanced to the right, then the left, searching for Dr. Tyler.
A huge shard of glass protruded from her forehead. With a scream, I scrambled to all fours. Blood flowed down her pale face as I crawled backward, wide-eyed and wondering why the
that freakin’ door was so far away.
I pushed myself to my feet, then whirled around and yanked the door open before stumbling into the hallway. I bent over, putting my hands on my knees as a sob erupted from me.
Oh my God, it’s actually happening.