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The Hours #20

I watched the others sleep but noticed that they did not sleep well. All of my companions twitched and fidgeted, making pained and frightened noises as they did so. I had no idea how long they would sleep, but I took the time to consider my course of action.

When they woke, each looked around in confusion with fear in their eyes before they realized where they were. Eyes roamed around, looking for the beasts from their nightmares as the quiet of the afternoon was ripped apart by gasps of surprise.

Samantha was the first to wake. She looked at me and her eyes narrowed when she saw Mary resting against my chest. When her eyes returned to mine, she bit her lip, lowered her eyes again and lifted her hand to wipe her eyes. She did not meet my gaze again, though she did sit up so that Carl’s arms were no longer around her. I wish she had looked up so that she could have seen me smile at her.

Mark was the next to rise. He looked around the boat and rubbed his neck. I assumed that was the last physical sensation he could remember from when I had watched the torch disappear into the night. After his eyes met mine he turned around and looked at Samantha. He looked at Carl’s sleeping face, sighed, and then turned to stare over the side of the boat.

Mary woke and began brushing her arms. She looked all over, searching her arm and skirts for intruders before looking at us and letting out a sigh of relief. She curled into my arms, burying her face against my chest and shuddered.

Carl was the last to wake. He jerked up with a start and drew in a huge breath. After his moments of disorientation, he sighed and shook his head.

None of us spoke. Carl and I picked up the oars and moved the boat along as fast as was possible until making our port. Odd and uncomfortable words were exchanged with the boat’s owners and the coach drivers, but everyone was as off put by our attitudes as we were.

My friends and I parted ways. I sat in the study, staring at the fire and drinking far more brandy than was my norm, replaying the dreams that I was certain were not just dreams.

I would have to proceed with caution. I would not hurt Mary. She deserved better than that, but I could not ignore what I felt for Samantha. In that strange dream world, despite its horrors and pain, I had found love.

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