Here’s a sample from the first chapter of Dawn of the Dreamer, re-releasing 23rd October!
An overwhelming fear seeped beneath my skin, forcing itself deep into my bones. My eyes adjusted to the darkness as my heart beat wildly in my chest, prompting me to crouch and melt into the thick bush around me. With a sudden flash, lightning stung the black of the night, lighting up the area surrounding me, revealing silhouettes of large silver-barked trees and masses of low bushes. To my right, I sensed something creeping silently through the trees. Fear sunk heavier in my chest.
Shock raced through my body, but I stood dead still, straining to hear my pursuer over the rush of wind through the trees bending and moaning in protest. A hint of shadow towards my right sent a surge of adrenaline through my veins, willing me to abandon my hiding place and run.
Bounding from my crouched position, I sprinted through the trees and shrubs that pulled at my clothes and tore at my skin as though they’d grown claws to hold me back. The stinging cold of the rain burned my face and chilled me to the bone. Still, I kept running. I could hear it behind me, so close its hot, heavy breath warmed the back of my neck. Fear slowed my stride, and my legs betrayed me, buckling as my bare feet hit the soft muddy ground beneath me. My mind willed them to keep moving, but they couldn’t, or wouldn’t. Landing on the ground, I rolled onto my back in the mud.
A giant brown bear stood over me, the heat of its breath burning my frozen face, wet from a mixture of rain and tears. Its gleaming fur shone slick with rain. Lightning struck again, and it looked even larger than it’d first appeared. The bear reared up onto its hind legs with ease and let out an almighty roar, filling my nose with the stench of rotting meat as its breath passed its yellowed teeth. It lunged at me, jaws open wide and claws bared…
My eyes sprang open, darting around the room as I took in my surroundings. Hand on my chest to settle my racing heart, I propped myself up in my bed to find three people laying in beds of their own beside me: a girl in her mid-twenties, an older man, and a young boy. They were still fast asleep tucked into their crisp white sheets. To my right was another wide-eyed girl who looked as though she’d awoken from a terrible nightmare herself. We both looked around the room dazed while my heart rate returned to a normal beat. Our eyes met with a silent understanding as I remembered where I was. The clean white walls, shiny grey vinyl floor, monitors, and the sterile scent of a hospital. I was in a Sleep Room.
The name said it all. The people who ran the Sleep Rooms didn’t appear to be imaginative, which explained the bland name and room. They were too clever and serious in their smart white coats, nursing their computer tablets, glancing up now and then when necessary.
After six months of visits, it didn’t take long for me to become familiar again with my surroundings.
“Must’ve been a rough night, Amelia,” a familiar voice said. Nurse Cameron shot me a sympathetic grin, his friendly tone more than welcome after my terrifying dream.
“How did you guess?” I asked, rolling my eyes.
He looked up at the computer screen mounted above my head and pointed towards it. “These crazy red lines all over the place usually give it away.”
He was dressed in the same uniform the rest of the nurses wore, but where they were stern and uncaring, his smile was compassionate. There was an air of kindness and warmth in his charming blue eyes, framed by a perfect curtain of thick black eyelashes.
“I’m sorry, but it looks like the new Wristcuff we tried on you last night didn’t even try to work,” he said. “You’re still a Dreamer.”
“Of course it didn’t work. They never do,” I replied. “Maybe I’m destined to be a Dreamer forever.”
“It must be hard leaving disappointed every time we try a new one, but we are doing our best. If we could just work out why the microchip in your wrist doesn’t work with the Wristcuff like everyone else’s then you’d be cured.” He sighed. “I wish there was an easier way.”
“I know. It’s just, I want to be normal again. Go back to what it was like before the Wristochip and Wristcuff were ever invented.”
Nurse Cameron unclipped the gel band I’d worn over my microchip implant overnight and placed it in his deep pocket.
“It’s easy to think that way, but when we cure you and it can take away your self-created dreams, it’ll start working its magic and you’ll be happy you went through all of this. I promise.”
It didn’t matter how much I wanted the Wristcuff to work on me, they still couldn’t find a way for it to erase the nightmares I’d been having since I was ten. Sure, there were other benefits from wearing a Wristcuff. It was said to make you smarter, help with weight loss, gave you a better memory, and helped you heal faster. But all I wanted was for it to turn my nightmares into pleasant dreams so I could have a decent night’s sleep. I’d always assumed I’d grow out of my night terrors. But at eighteen, they’d given me no hint of fading away. Most nights, I still got them, so real I experienced the intense emotions and pain within the dream as though I was living the scenario playing out in my mind. Upon waking, I would become disorientated, trying to convince my body it’d been nothing more than a terrifying nightmare.
“Fingers crossed it won’t be much longer and you’ll be getting a good night’s sleep like everyone else,” Nurse Cameron said, as though he’d read my mind.
“Fingers crossed,” I replied.
After six months of tests, blood work, and monitoring, I was yet to find a cure.
I rose from the bed and slid on my shoes, and Nurse Cameron handed me my locker key. “See you again in three days?” He smiled.
“Of course, Nurse Cameron, wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
He smirked at the sarcastic tone in my voice.
“Just call me Cameron. Cam would be even better.”
I collected my clothing from my locker, and after changing into a pair of smart black pants and a green polo shirt, I scanned out at reception and handed my locker key to the receptionist. After riding the elevator down to the ground floor, it was a short stroll to the bus stop where I caught a bus that took me twenty minutes out of the city, back to Sandhaven, and my mind-numbing job at the Sandhaven Grocery Store.