She was racing through the darkened woods like she had so many times before. Barefoot, the fall storm had
turned her fair skin to a muddy palette of grass stains and seeping scratches. Her target drew nearer; a little
cave beside the riverbed, a cache of which she thought he did not know. A safe place. A hideaway.
Presently, she halted, the rain pelting her bare shoulders like shrapnel in wartime, her ice blue eyes darting left
and right, obviously and hopelessly disoriented. Twigs cracked behind her and she knew instantly he grew
nearer. Panicking, she crept low to the ground and took silent refuge behind a gnarly ash tree. She waited,
trembling with each burst of thunder. A grunt and cracking twigs told her he had stopped, and that he was
searching. She clamped shut her eyes as though she were that child she’d once been, afraid in the dark with
the monster under her bed. She heard a dragging noise, muffled by the soggy ground. Then silence. As the
seconds passed, she gained courage to peel open an eye. The hair falling from her face as she looked up
revealed a set of steel-toed combat boots directly in front of her, in an aggravated stance. The boots were
attached to pant legs. And cargo pockets. And a knife belt. And a smooth green shirt…
Hastily, a massive pair of arms grasped her, and though she tried to scream, no voice escaped her. Her mouth
was fixed as though fastened at the jaw. Her body wrestled and kicked but the vice-like grip was no
contender. Rain and tears mixing in her reddening eyes, she tried again to scream. At once, her teeth began
to ache and plunge inward as a pool of blood trickled from her hemorrhaging gums.
A teenage girl awoke panting, in a cold sweat. Her lengths of dark hair were twisted around her shoulders in a
fashion that only a restless night of poorly attempted sleep could accomplish. And yet, she pondered, she had
been asleep, hadn’t she? She sat up in bed brushing the mess of hair from her face and reached for a set of
eyeglasses above her. Cramming them on her face and getting out of bed in the same instant, she poured over
a mirror near the foot of her bed. She counted each of the thirty one teeth in her mouth. She smiled at
herself, frowned, moved her jaw up and down, and side to side. There was no sign of blood and no missing
teeth. Could it have all been a dream?
Glancing at the clock, she figured there was no point in trying to fall back asleep tonight. She reached for her
physics book, switched on a floor lamp, and began to study.
The school was bustling with teenagers when Adrianne Brooks parked her daddy’s beat up truck with a bed full
of timber in the lot at ten after seven. She was a sophomore at Pine Burrow High School, a straight “A”
student, but the type of person to not show off her smarts. Glancing at her wristwatch, she collected her
books and tried her best to blend in to the vast array of the student body. Most of the teens gathered outside
the school building, traded homework answers, and talked in lofty voices about upcoming parties. It was a
mixture of every kind of clique normal to a high school, the jocks and cheerleaders, the nerds, the preps, and of
course, the Goths, respectively. Personally Adrianne did not fit into any of these cliques, having only a few
close friends. Scanning the lot presently, her icy blue eyes rested on best friend Christy Hart as she rode up
the street on her bicycle, waving frantically when she saw Adrianne.
“Did you get everything done last night? I was up until three in the morning doing homework!” She said as she
lumbered an oversized book bag onto the cement. “And I still couldn’t get my brain to shut down and let me
sleep!” Christy twittered as she locked her bicycle in the rack. She wore a tight black vest over a blue dress
shirt that somehow matched ridiculously well with the skort and hot pink and black striped socks that stretched
to her knees. Pink and blue laces in her shoes, as well as a black clip in her hair completed the deal. Compared
to Adrianne's jeans and a faded tee, the look was extreme and Christy Hart was the only person Adrianne had
ever met who could achieve such an appeal.
“I still have a few things to do, but nothing’s due until after lunch.” Adrianne said, eyeing up her friend’s attire.
Christy was notorious for her unusual sense of style; a mixture that could likely be said to combine the preppy
and the outrageous. “I couldn’t sleep right last night either. Must be all this talk of midterms.” She laughed,
and Christy smiled modestly.
“You don’t even understand Addy, I had the strangest thing happen real early this morning.” Christy said,
straightening her auburn curls in one hand and expressing with the other. The first bell rang, and the lot of
loiterers outside the school building began to shuffle inside.
Adrianne groaned. “Tell me after our first class?”
“Uh, right, see you!”
The girls scattered off with the rest of the students and wandered down the halls to their first period classes.
For Adrianne, today that meant World Studies, a class of which she was not particularly fond.
Mr. Kardozke was writing three words up on the black board as the students entered. Glancing up as she
walked in, Adrianne noticed the choppy white strokes, shockingly legible, that read, “Pop Quiz Today.”
Adrianne rolled her eyes as she sat down in the corner of the room and pulled out her book to study a bit
more. She never did quite understand how learning about what happened in Georgia 1,500 years ago was at all
relevant to her life. Most classes in which she participated she was at least held her interest, and she had
come to enjoy learning from teachers she respected.
Maybe her reason for the dislike of this particular class was the pair’s primary encounter. On the very first day
of her freshman year of high school, Adrianne had walked into his class by mistake, thinking it was Algebra II
instead. Mr. Kardozke had humiliated her in front of a group of sophomores and juniors by looking up towards
the ceiling and asking himself, “Why do they expect me to babysit?” The upperclassmen, then overcome with
hysterical laughter never let her forget it. She was immortalized as the girl who could not, from then on, set
foot in his class without someone in the class referencing the event, or calling her a baby. Adrianne did not
need to be watched like an inept toddler any more than she needed to study the world; yet, being the diligent
student she was, she aced the class all the same. After all, her uncle told her constantly that when she
became a famous neuroscientist, people would inevitably abruptly cease their teasing that has so far scarred
her adolescent life. The late bell pierced out over the school building as Adrianne closed her book and
straightened the pencils on her desk with a mildly contented smile on her face.
“Settle down students, SETTLE!” Boomed Mr. Kardozke. The class seated itself and, somewhat reluctantly,
attended to the teacher.
“First things first,” started Mr. Kardozke. “As you have noticed, we have a quiz today.” Most of the class
groaned as he stated that the due date for the research paper would be Monday. But his rich British accent
had echoed the room too many times for Adrianne to truly pay attention. Her mind wandered to how much
reading she had left for her classes, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox she had read of earlier that morning,
and lately, Christy.
She had achieved a dream-like state of thought when a stack of yellow paper was thrust in her face from the
boy sitting in front of her. The quizzes were being handed back through the rows of students. Glancing at the
papers as she handed the rest behind her, Adrianne noted the first of five questions: Worldwide, a person with
a defiant individualist personality type will likely do which of the following…
Cake, she thought to herself; a multiple choice quiz. She smiled happily and began to work, breezing through
the first two answers. The third question through her off guard. What tribe historically believed that
premonitions could enter the mind through dreams? Instantly, she began to think of the odd dream she had
had in the early morning hours. The woods. The terror. The ash tree. The man’s grip. Her bleeding jaws and
inability to scream. Presently, her face became colorless and the cold sweat with which she had awakened
returned. Her legs began to tremble beneath her desk. Enough, she thought, I have to concentrate. Taking a
deep breath, she regained her poise.
After completing the quiz and surviving another long lecture about caste systems, the bell finally rang.
Gathering her books, Adrianne hurried to meet up with Christy in the cafeteria as they did everyday for mid-
Christy was there waiting for her at their table when Adrianne arrived. She was attempting to complete a
worksheet but kept becoming distracted by a loose thread trailing from her sleeve. An apple was waiting for her
friend near the seat opposite, along with a warm cup of coffee. She looked a bit distraught by the time
Adrianne sat down. Her face was pale, more so than it had been earlier. She seemed preoccupied; not only
with the loose string draping from her sleeve, or with the worksheet before her. She seemed deeply troubled,
Adrianne now realized. She seemed, distant, almost as much as when her father died tragically a few years
“What was it that you wanted to say earlier?” Adrianne asked imploringly. Christy scanned the room for a
minute, then said, “Don’t think I’ve totally lost it, okay?”
“Sure Christy, just come on, out with it.”
She glanced hesitantly around the room again, then said, “Last night something funny happened. I had just
gotten into bed when I heard the dogs barking outside. I figured it was just a rabbit so I didn’t think much of it
at first. But then I thought, since Mom and my brothers are up north at the cabin, maybe I’d better look
outside anyways. Just to see, you know?” Adrianne nodded.
“There was a full moon last night, Addy, so I could see the kennel perfectly from my window. There…. There
was a man out there. He blended in pretty well. But when he shifted, I could see his face. He was… really
gaunt-looking. He was by the kennel trying to calm the dogs from the look of it. Daddy said to never take any
chances with that sort of thing, so I went to Carl’s room and got his gun.”
Adrianne gasped. “What happened?”
“I couldn’t see him anymore by the time I got back to my room. I called Mr. Paule next door because Daddy
always told us to call him if he was away and we were in trouble.” Christy sighed and her voice trailed off a bit.
“Oh my God, Christy. Did they find him?” Adrianne was on the edge of her seat. Passersby glanced at the
couple as they moved about the building.
“Mr. Paule said he would come right over. Then about an hour later I heard a knock at the front door. Luckily,
it was Mr. Paule, and he told me I ought to call my mom right away. He said they found the man, and that he’d
said he wasn’t from around here. Mr. Paule said he was dressed really weird, with big black boots and cargo
pants, and an army shirt. He said his car broke down and he’d been walking towards town since then, and
came upon my house.” Adrianne stared, suddenly remembering her dream. Could it all just be coincidence?
“Well, in any case,” started Adrianne, attempting to disregard her reflection, “until your mom and brothers come
home, you are staying with me. My folks will probably insist on it. Did you call your mom? Did anybody contact
“Mom’s at the cabin. I tried calling her, but so far I haven’t been able to get reach her. And tell them what
Ad, that some lost guy was in my yard?” Christy sarcastically asked of the Pine Burrow Police. “The cops
around here are morons anyway. Can’t even bend over to tie their own shoes.”
“Still Christy,” Adrianne said, stifling a laugh at the image, “you need to make them listen to you. I’ll go with
you after school and we’ll--”
“I haven’t even begun to tell you everything.” Christy said. Adrianne stared at her. She looked down from
Adrianne’s heavy gaze.
Her eyes opened again as though she were moving rocks as well as lashes. A tear escaped and raced down her
cheek towards her coffee.
“He was here.”
“You mean- HERE?” Adrianne asked, shocked. “Are you sure?” She reached out and grasped her friend’s hand in
her palm empathetically.
Christy retracted slightly as the motion surprised her. “I was just sitting in class and happened to glance
outside. He was sitting on a bench by… by the bike rack. I made the excuse of sharpening my pencil to get a
better look. All I could really see was his back. But it was him. He must have been tying his shoe or something
then he just l-left.”
“You’re sure it was him?”
“Positive. I just know it was.”
“Wow, that’s so weird….” Adrianne pondered for a moment. “You need to tell someone, I mean, the second that
you aren’t safe in your own house, or even in school…. That’s bad. Come on, we’ll go tell someone right now.”
“No, not right now Addy…” Christy sputtered. “I just, I mean, we still have class… Midterms.” She nervously
twisted the plastic ring on her finger.
“It will just take a minute, we’ll run down to the guidance office and tell them something is wrong, and that this
creep is following you around--”
Christy looked up from the spot she’d been staring holes in on the table. She searched Adrianne silently, then
said, “After school. After school, we’ll go to the cops.”
Adrianne persisted, hoping her friend had wanted to go sooner to report the odd events. Finally, she agreed.
The rest of the day was filled with final touches on research projects, taking tests, and reworking papers to the
instructor’s ideal form. By the time the dismissal bell rang at four, Adrianne was more than ready to find Christy
and walk to the police station. It had been extremely difficult for her to not tell a counselor what was
happening earlier in the day, but she had decided to respect her friend’s wishes. Just as long as Christy told
someone what was happening, and soon.
Adrianne and Christy met on the school steps as they did nearly every afternoon. It was obvious that a dark
cloud had entered both of their minds, and embodied both of their hearts to a point where neither had much to
say. They walked silently into the steady breeze towards the police station. Finally Adrianne spoke as they
approached the historic building.
“You okay?” Adrianne asked.
“Just worried.” Christy fought back a tear. Her eyeliner was smudged a bit, but she had reached a point in her
reasoning in which she no longer cared.
Together, the girls went inside, and requested to speak to an officer.
The girls were seated across the desk from the new chief of police, Mr. Theodore Harris. He was in his forties,
and blonde patches of fine hair scattered his otherwise bald head. Though he seemed distant, he upheld an air
of compassion. To his left was a young deputy who had so far been asking all the questions and writing in his
“Did anything else happen today? After you saw him outside of your class?” The deputy asked Christy after
she had given her statement.
“No sir, that’s all.”
The chief, who had thus not said a word outside of a formal greeting, now turned his head to Adrianne. “Do
you have anything further?”
Adrianne instantly thought about her dream. Would an officer of the law even be interested in such a thing?
“No sir.” Adrianne said, her ice blue eyes meeting the chief’s briefly.
The chief’s eyes lingered a moment longer on Adrianne, and then he began to speak. “In this situation, girls,
there is really nothing we can do but find the man and bring him in for questioning. As he has not been a
physical threat to either of you, we cannot detain or arrest him in the slim chance that he is still in town.”
“In the slim chance that he’s in town?” Adrianne burst. “He was in town this morning, by our school. Don’t you
find that suspicious?”
“It was probably all coincidence. You girls had better stop reading the suspense novels and focus on your
studies instead.” The chief said, snickering.
“So that’s it?” Adrianne asked. Christy looked at her friend with tears in her eyes. “You can’t do anything for
“Just go home girls, like we said, we will try and find the man for questioning. Beyond that, we cannot hold him
on any charges.”
“Come on Chris. Let’s go.”
On their way out of the office, the girls heard the chief’s comment to the deputy. “Probably just trying to get
attention, you know. A lot of broken homes around here. Teens caught up in the middle of it all.”
Furious, the girls made their way outside; Adrianne making sure to let the door hit just a little harder than
normal as they exited.
“Can you believe those guys?!” Fumed Adrianne. “Attention? Us? Trying to get attention? Gosh. I try to stay
below the radar and above the influence, and he can still sit there and say we are trying to get attention?”
She slammed her fist into her hand angrily.
“He’s just trying to do his job, Addy. There’s nothing he can do for us.” Christy sighed. “Maybe we are making
too big of a deal out of it. I don’t know.”
“Christy, guys don’t just randomly come on to your property in the middle of the night and then show up where
you go to school the next day. Something’s not right. I just know it.”
Upon reaching the school grounds again, the girls walked to Adrianne’s truck in the parking lot, still chatting
resignedly about the police.
“Hop in, I’ll take you back to my house and you can stay, okay Christy?” Adrianne offered as she clambered into
Christy thought a moment. “No, that’s okay, I still have to take my bike back and grab a few things. I’ll be
over in a little while.”
“Just throw your bike in back and we’ll drive over together.” Adrianne reasoned.
“Can’t. Turn around.” Christy said, and the first smile Adrianne had seen on her friends face since that morning
Adrianne turned. “Oh, right. I forgot about that,” she said sheepishly, suddenly recalling the load of wood.
“I’ll be over in awhile, okay?” Christy asked.
“Well, alright. Say, want me to follow you back? Just in case?”
“Just in case what, exactly?” Christy mused. “I’m starting to think maybe the cops are right. That guy is
probably miles from here by now. It was probably coincidence.”
I’m not so sure…. Adrianne thought to herself.
“I’ll be fine. It’s only a mile to home anyways. I’ll be right over.” Christy turned and walked towards the bike
“Stubborn as always…” Adrianne said to herself. She watched as Christy unlocked her bike, shouldered her bag
and began off down the sidewalk towards her house. Starting the truck, Adrianne shrugged, backed out of her
spot, and began to drive out of town towards home.
About an hour after Adrianne reached her parent’s house, her father came home from working. The news he
brought home startled and petrified his daughter.
“What do you mean she’s GONE?” Adrianne yelled when he related the news. She was shaking, partially with
frustration and lack of vindication, but moreover with sheer terror. He said he’d just been in town, and a few
people had witnessed Christy Hart leave the school grounds, and get only a block towards home before
discovering a flat tire. She then had proceeded to continue towards home, walking her bike to prevent
damaging the tire further.
“Someone said they saw a car stop, and figured they’d help her out.” Adrianne’s father said. “But they didn’t
help her. Four or five witnesses stated that someone inside spoke to her for a moment, and then she turned
and kept walking. Next thing you know, this car drives up right along side of her, pulls in front, slams on the
brakes, she screamed, and they threw her in the back….”
Her mind was ebbing from possibility. Could it be the same man? In an instant she wanted to tell her father
everything, but she felt as though she had been struck by a freight train. A sick feeling crept over her and
encased her body. She and her family, along with the majority of the town began searching everywhere for
Christy. Although there were several witnesses, and each saw which direction the car holding Christy was
traveling, no one got a license number, and no one had seen the car before or since. It was almost as if the
car traveled in some other dimension.
It was nearly five in the morning before Adrianne, exhausted from a night of searching, returned to the police
station. The initial search had proved ineffective, and little evidence was available with which to commence.
Christy had been taken less than an hour after she went to the cops, and they had offered her no protection.
They offered little protection at this point to anyone. What kind of a society has a legal system where a mere
child with a suspicion and a suspect is not offered solace, even in the smallest of forms? The entire situation
was more than anyone involved, especially Adrianne, was prepared to handle.
Trees. Lots of them. Darkness. Hard rocky ground.
Adrianne turned a bit in the chair in which she was resting. A deputy glanced in the room where she sat,
continuously falling in and out of sleep.
“Should we wake her and take her home?” Mr. Brooks whispered. His face was long and seemed deeply
troubled. The news of the missing girl had hit him hard. The possibilities were endless, but he could not help
but parallel that this could have been his own daughter.
“Let her sleep, she’s not bothering anything.” The deputy responded. The men retreated to the conference
room where many members of the small community still gathered.
“Is her mother on the way?” Asked Mr. Brooks from the next room.
“No,” a voice responded. “She is still unreachable.”
Some kind of nylon rope. A dry riverbed. A cave.
The cave seemed familiar. Its walls were earthen, the entrance surrounded by trees and the cloak of the
river. Inside, a long dark form was positioned haphazardly in the furthest corner from the entrance.
She saw a bright light, and rapidly, a sweeping feeling behind her caught her right between the shoulder
blades. Though she fought, it held her down with immense strength.
“We can send someone to the cabin this morning. It’s a horrible, horrible thing, a daughter missing, and a
mother not even knowing.”
Suddenly, a pair of cold, bloodshot eyes pierced her own. Their outraged owner struck her hard in the side,
and as she fell to her knees, he rummaged for the knife that had been knocked from his hand during the
struggle. The flashlight he’d been holding lay a few feet away on the ground. She, holding her aching side with
one arm gathered all of her strength, pulled the knife from where it had landed beneath her, and swiped it
furiously in his face. He grabbed her arms and though blinded by his own blood from wounds on his cheek and
forehead, he overpowered her, tying her wrists tightly behind her back. He then placed her aggressively on her
stomach, bent her knees, and tied her ankles to a noose that was strung limply on her neck. It was then she
realized that if she struggled any further to escape, the noose would tighten, and slowly suffocate her.
The man recovered his knife and paused after placing it back on his belt. She heard him flick a lighter open
repeatedly, and from beneath her bangs, she watched him attempt to light a cigarette. Frustrated, he swore
violently, and presently threw the lighter in the corner after stuffing the cigarette back into his pocket. The
flashlight beam shown directly in her face, then moved away as he departed. She began to panic, feeling
around in the darkness with her body, desperately trying to keep her limbs as still as possible. She was not
about to wait for his return. She thought hard. She needed something to remove the bindings, something she
could find easily, retrieve, and use without moving. The task seemed daunting, and nearly impossible.
Slowly, she began to feel her way along the side of the cave. Her muscles had begun to cramp from the odd
position, and her joints ached from the tight ropes. The clothing she wore was soaked from the rain and her
body was covered in goose skin. Upon finding nothing useful, an overwhelming urge conquered her thoughts.
She could burn the bindings from her body. It would be risky, but she saw no other option.
Her heart thumping, she began to work her way toward the corner she’d heard the lighter’s case strike the
wall. Her body moved more back and forth like a snake than it did in a vertical line. When she reached the
corner, she rolled over onto her side and began frantically searching the area for the lighter.
“I’ve got it!!” She whispered to herself, as she fought through the aching pain to obtain a more comfortable
She began to flick the lighter repeatedly with her sore fingers, each time feeling for a flame’s warmth. Finally,
after many trials, a flame emerged. Excitedly, she lifted her legs as far forward as she comfortably could, and
began to singe the rope that bound her ankles to her neck. Without warning, a flashlight beam shone directly
in her face, and a look of sheer terror crept its way across her brows. Her screams pierced through the air as a
blow struck her in the side of the skull. The lighter dropped from her dainty fingers, and struck the earth with a
dull sound. A pool of blood formed from the silence of her mouth. Her teeth lay shattered and broken on the
Adrianne awoke screaming. Once again she was covered in sweat; tears creating gullies of the lines on her
“Adrianne! What is it!?” Her father gasped, rushing from the conference room. He took her hand and held it
Adrianne proceeded to tell them everything as quickly as she could. The dreams she’d had, the whereabouts of
the cave, the man. Everything spilled from her mouth just as the blood had seeped from her gums a few
seconds before. Though it made her seem insane, she knew that what she’d experienced the past two nights
had not been only dreams.
Men retreated to their vehicles. Everyone at the police station that early morning began to sift through the
muddy woods in search of the hidden cave near the river, by request of a teenager’s nightmare.
The cops say that when they found Christy, she was covered in mud and grass. Her clothes were ripped and
she had multiple lacerations to her arms, burn marks near her ankles, and rope burn around her joints. The man
was caught in the woods not far away, and put up a massive fight to become free. One of the men shot him in
the calf when he tried to run, and captured him for good. He now sits in a state-run prison cell, asked every
day why he did it. He has yet to say. Ted Harris, and two of the deputies involved were honorably discharged
from their positions at the Pine Burrow Police Department.
Five months after she left the hospital, Christy convinced Adrianne to take a bike ride through the trails in that
very woods. It was odd, how she appeared to have adapted so well to everything she had been through.
Bruises and cuts heal with time, but the emotional scars are sometimes more than one can surpass. The
doctors all said it must be her survival instincts coming out, just as those very instincts had helped her through
the actual events, the events that Adrianne had watched unfold in her own mind.
“It’s just good to be home you know?” Christy whispered as they passed the giant ash tree just outside the
cave. “It’s good to be safe.”
“I’m just glad we weren’t too late.” Adrianne said.
From somewhere deep inside her, Christy felt a sharp rap; a twinge of agony that existed solely to remind her
that her past was anything but an illusion. That night had been real. The physical verification lingers in the
ultrasound pictures she’d had taken that morning.
In a way, you were too late, Addy. Christy tugged on the kangaroo pocket of her oversized sweatshirt,
begging for just a bit more room.
|The Silence of Reverie
By: Aimee Weidner