Fear The Dawn: Chapter 9

You have to get out of there.”

He pressed his hand against the mirror, and his reflection stared back at him. He turned to the right and strode down the hallway, checking the path in front with an outstretched arm. He was looking for something, but what?

Hurry, there isn't much time!”

It was a woman's voice, and it sounded a bit strained. Who did it belong to? He reached a dead end, and doubled-back. “Not that way”, the voice told him.

Where? Where do you want me to go?” he asked the voice.
Come back. Come back... home.”

Back home?” he wondered as he ran his hands along the wall. Finally, he found the gap in the wall that led into the hidden room. Inside, he saw a hall of mirrors that reflected not himself, but images from his past. As he walked down the hall, the images progressed through the course of his life, starting from his childhood. He kept walking until the Aidan in the mirror reached his university years, and he saw images of happy times spent with friends. Finally, he found the image he was looking for. He saw himself and Tina, lying in bed, locked in a tight embrace. The next mirror showed her crying as he tried to console her, and then that was it, there were no more pictures of her anywhere along the walls.

Why?” he asked the voice. “Why did this happen?”
Come home”, it responded unhelpfully.

He placed his hand on the glass and tried to look at the scene from different angles, hoping to see something else, but nothing else came back to him. All around him the hall started to grow dark.

Do you want to know?”

He turned toward the end of the hall, where the dark, horned figure resided.

Do you want to know?” It asked again, in a deep, terrible voice. The figure at the end of the hall seemed to be pulsating as it spoke to him.
Yes”, he replied. “Tell me.”
Come closer”, the figure beckoned to him. He began walking towards it.
You mustn't!”, said the woman's voice, insistently. “Come back!”
Aidan reached the end of the hall and looked into the mirror where the dark shadow resided. Slowly, the silhouette started to come into focus.
No!!” the voice screamed at him, and he was so startled that he opened his eyes.

Ugh”, he moaned, rubbing his forehead. “What is this all about?” He rolled over to look at his alarm clock, it was only ten minutes before it was set to go off. He tried to close his eyes again, but he was already wide awake. He sat up in bed and saw that most of the blankets were lying on the floor. He looked at the clock again. “I should call in sick”, he thought, but he didn't, he gradually forced himself out of bed and turned off the alarm so it wouldn't ring in another few minutes.

It was still pitch black outside, the sun hadn't even started to come up yet. “How is it morning already?” he demanded of the world outside. It was, though, and somehow he had to get going. He poured himself a bowl of cereal and slowly munched away at it with half-opened eyes. He shaved and dressed himself and took one last wistful look at his bed before throwing himself out of his apartment. He then quickly returned for his coat and briefcase before setting off again.

It was another cold morning out, he could see his breath under the street lamps as he walked along the still-dark sidewalks to the train station. He had taken extra long to get ready this morning and was no longer running early, and in the end he had to hurry to catch his train. He took a window seat near the front of the train and watched it pull out of the station. It was chilly enough today that it was still cold inside the train, and he found himself wishing he had had time to grab a cup of coffee before they left. The sun was starting to come up over the water, and he found himself dozing off watching the waves roll by out in the bay.

He was jostled awake as the train came to a stop at the station. He quickly retrieved his briefcase from under the seat and got off the train. He was still only half-awake, but the coffee in his office was calling to him now, so he used that to push himself through the station and across the few blocks to his building. The receptionist greeted him in her usual way and he mumbled something back to her. When the elevator doors finally opened he went straight over to the coffee machine without even dropping off his coat or briefcase at his desk. When he finally had it in his hands he took a big gulp before taking the rest of it back to his desk. He put his cup down on the desk and flopped down into his chair with an enormous yawn.

Good morning Aidan. Out all evening partying, were you?”
Aidan almost fell backwards in his chair. “Oh, no sir, just a bit tired this morning”.
Now now, don't worry, it's good for young people to get out every now and then. A healthy home life helps you stay focused on the job at hand. Just don't fall asleep at your desk, now, I will need those forms filled out by the end of the day”.
Aidan did his best to look alert, though even with the chewing out he still had to force his eyes open. “Yes sir, they'll be done.”

His boss walked back to his office. Aidan rubbed his head and did his best to focus on filling out the forms, but his head just wasn't in it this morning. He had barely gotten through a quarter of his stack when lunch time came. He staggered down to the lunchroom and dropped down in a chair, where he was joined by Dan a few moments later.

Hey Aidan, out partying late last night? Why didn't you invite me?”
Don't you start”, he grumbled.
So why are you a zombie, then?”
I just didn't sleep well, okay?” he responded, irritably. “Sometimes people don't sleep well”.
Weird dreams?”
Aidan took a bite of his sandwich. “Something like that. You get up okay after Friday night?”
Oh yeah, eventually, thanks for that. I tried to call you around 12:30 but you weren't in.”
Yeah, I was out at lunch with Tina and her fiance, Frank.”
Oh really? How did that go?”
It was fine, he seems like a nice guy. I think they'll be happy together.”
Dan gave him a weird look. “That wasn't why you didn't sleep well, was it?”
What? Don't be stupid”. Aidan swatted at him with the back of his hand.
Hey, I know there was something between the two of you way back when.”
Whatever, that was years ago. I'm long over it.”
Dan shrugged. “Then how come you haven't gone out with anyone else?”
I don't know, haven't met anyone, I guess. What about you?”
You're right, we should both meet someone. There's got to be more to life than slaving away here all day.”
Aidan rolled his eyes. “Where would we meet someone?”
I don't know, at a bar?”
No one meets at a bar these days.”
How did Tina and her fiance meet again?”
They met at work.”
Dan glanced around the cafeteria. “I don't know, do you like anyone here?”
Not really.”
He sighed. “Most of the women in the finance department are like twice my age and married.”
Why don't you ask that receptionist out? You seem to have your eye on her.”
Maybe I will.”
If you do, make sure to let me watch, I could use a good laugh.”
They ate in silence for a little while. Dan finished the last bite of his rice. “Nothing's going to change, is it?” he asked, finally.
Probably not.”
Dan sighed again. “There's gotta be something. I can't keep on doing this forever.”
You're welcome to come upstairs and fill in my forms if you get bored.”
Thanks for offering, but someone's got to stare at the wall next to my desk to make sure it doesn't go anywhere.” He packed up his things and went back upstairs, leaving Aidan alone in the lunchroom.

Aidan finished his sandwich and his coffee and headed back upstairs. He was feeling a little more awake now, but that hadn't increased his desire to fill out forms any. Back at his desk, he looked around the area he worked in. There was only one woman among his co-workers, and he had rarely ever spoken to her. He had no idea if she would be someone he could like, and she seemed just as busy as he was, so it didn't seem like he'd be finding out any time soon. “I suppose we might eventually hire a new person”, he thought to himself. “Maybe it could be a woman”. Was this really the extent of his dating prospects? Somehow he felt even more like an idiot for rejecting Tina now. He shook his head and tried to focus on filling out his forms, there was still a huge pile of them to get through before quitting time.

In the end he didn't quite make it through the pile by 6:00. He was still writing away when his boss came by his desk a few minutes later.
Well, I suppose that's a good try”, he said, eyeing the stack of papers in Aidan's outbox. “You run along now, Aidan, we wouldn't want you to miss your train. And get some sleep tonight.”
Yes, thank you sir.” he said, packing up his things. He had already accepted that he was going to miss the train, so he was really going to have to run to get there before it left. Of course, the elevator stopped at every floor on the way down, and he sprinted out of the building, not even bothering to say goodbye to the receptionist. He ran through the streets, crossing on yellow lights and don't walk signs. He darted through the central station, through the throngs of people dispersing to their trains, until he finally arrived at his train just as it was about to pull away.

We're full”, the conductor said, putting his palm in Aidan's chest as he tried to get on board. “You'll have to wait for the next one”.
Typical”, he gasped, out of breath.
There's one seat left”, someone said, moving a bag. Aidan looked at the conductor, and he reluctantly moved his arm out of the way. He walked towards the empty seat near the front of the train, and almost dropped his briefcase on the floor. It was the same brown-haired girl he had met on the train before.
Thanks”, he said, quickly putting his case under the seat and sitting down as the train got underway.
Don't mention it”, she replied, without even turning to face him.
He took a moment to catch his breath, but his heart was still racing from all that running. Perhaps it was that that spurred him on, or maybe it was the lack of sleep or the strange dreams.
You know”, he said, extending his hand, “I don't think we've ever been properly introduced. I'm Aidan.”
She turned around and looked at him for a second. It was the first chance he'd really had to look her in the face since they had met. She had big, brown eyes that seemed as though they'd seen a lot, and he couldn't read anything at all in her expression. After what seemed like a long while, she finally shook his hand.
I'm Nisha.”
Her hand was very soft, but she didn't linger, as soon as she had finished speaking she had already gone back to looking out the window.
It's nice to meet you”, he added afterwards, and then it sunk in that he might just have met someone already.

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