Guy should have felt more confident about the rescue mission, but he was too busy feeling guilty about it. It was his fault they had grabbed Travis, but what could he do about it now? Move forward for the kid's sake, he told himself. He had to.
Why did they take him to the water park of all places? He didn't figure that one out until he peered over the fence and saw just how dark it was in there. After all, why would a little water park like this need lights when it only operated during the daytime? Sure there were a few here and there, but not nearly as many as an amusement park would at night. He climbed up over the top. Only a few sparse security lights near the maintenance buildings and shops were on. Shadows pooled everywhere else. This place could be full of them and he'd never be able to distinguish them from the darkness.
There was the water too. Although in the daytime it was bright and clear, now it was black and reflective, blocking his view of anything that might be swimming just beneath the surface ready to strike. Perfect conditions for a couple nightmares, he thought. Didn't most people dream of drowning? Guy had.
"Wouldn't it be smarter just to go through the front entrance?"
The sudden words caused the teen to loose his footing on the fence, tumbling over and landing hard on his side in some bushes. The crow flapped down and perched on his shoulder, peering down at him through a pair of silver spectacles.
"Guy? Are you alright?"
"Keep your voice down! We're supposed to be sneaking in, Lambent." He pulled himself out of the bushes as quietly as possible, pulling off the debris stuck to his clothes.
"I don't like this." Lambent wasn't watching Guy but looking in every possible direction. "You have no idea how many dregs are loose in here. We need to make a plan before we go any further."
"Travis could be hurt."
"You're not ready for this."
They both looked up as a loud buzz crackled over the park's PA system. The lights all around the park, faded, the amber lights dimming down to a glow, before being smothered by the darkness. Even though the lights were gone, they could see all of them now. Of course they had heard him enter the park. They had been waiting for him.
"Too bad," Guy said, "Looks like I have to be. Are you coming with me or not?"
"I wouldn't let you fight them alone, if that's what you were thinking. I don't run from nightmares."
They were edging closer now.
"Neither do I," Guy said, "Guess that's why we make a good team."
There were impossible to count because some were melting into others, combining into bigger creatures, morphing and stretching, while bits oozed off to become their own forms slithering along the ground.
"I suppose so. Ready when you are." His feathers began to take on the familiar white glow, emanating from within.
Focus, Guy reminded himself and closed his eyes, opening his mind wider. Too many. Need to plow through. He stretched his arm forward and Lambent transformed, turning into glowing energy in his hands as he formed a propeller on a pole. It solidified instantly and he gave it a spin, the blades whirling so fast that they dissolved the dregs as they leapt at him, leaving hundreds of droplets behind him as he ran through their ranks.
He called Lambent back from the shape as soon as the last ones fell away. No need to waste all their energy on the likes of these guys, not when there were more dangerous foes up ahead. He knew there would be, Logan had probably just amassed this many all at once to wear them down. The crow flew swiftly beside him.
"I'm going to scout ahead!"
"Don't!" Guy tried to snatch at him.
Lambent dodged. "I'll circle the park and find you."
"We don't have time for this!"
"Oh, but you do have time to waste running blindly around this place?"
He figured Lambent would try to take charge again soon enough, but he had to admit the idea was good. "Fine. Hurry!"
Guy also had to admit he was tired. It had already been a long day and now it was dragging into his night. He slowed down, trying to catch his breath, but tripped down into a channel of water. Water went up into his sinuses. He was dragged along before he broke the surface.
Thankfully he was a good swimmmer. He loved the water, but this was no time to play. He looked around. He had fallen into the lazy river, a circle of water that just floated everyone round and round and round. His mother's favorite. He had always tried to swim against the current. Now he let it carry him, might as well use it and save some strength.
He spotted the nightmares before they saw him and dove under the water. He flipped on his back, holding his nose and looking up through the cholorine water that stung his eyes for a moment. He could only see blurs and flipped back, kicking with his legs before he surfaced. Once he was around the corner he resurfaced again. At least the water was warm - that luke-warm temperature that always reminded him of a hotel pool. He climbed out at the next ladder and shook out his wet clothes, glad it was summer and a hot night, otherwise he might be in trouble.
There was no sign of anyone, including Lambent. He glanced about and saw the Lazy River had carried him to the Wave Pool, which was active, waves crashing into each other. What was that? He ran closer and peered at the end of the pool up on top of the ledge next to the lifeguard tower. Someone was waving at him. He edged closer. It was Logan Marshall and he had Lambent in his fist.
"Come up here and save your little Guardian, if you dare!" Logan shouted, slamming a black staff into the ground. Hundreds of nightmares dove into the pool as the ground shook, cracking the pool's floor. The water bubbled, turning black.
Guy didn't need any more invitation. He ran along the edges, blindly ignoring the number one rule of the pool. He slipped and skidded, tumbling into the waves. It happened so fast he couldn't tell which way was up and swallowed the nasty water before he could keep going. It wasn't until he surfaced that he realized something more was wrong. He was caught in a whirlpool. Logan stood up there, laughing down at him. Had Travis even been here to begin with? Was this all a trap?
"Of course it is." The voice boomed over his world, Guy's eyes snapping open to stare into Logan's face, surrounded by light. His heart pounded in his ears.
He lunged forward but straps held him down, even one around his neck, choking him. Logan shoved him back against the chair.
"Too bad, you were so close that time," Logan mocked in a sweet tone, "You should really try again."
"Stop it! Leave him alone!" That was Travis! Where was he? He couldn't see anything under the stinging light in his face. What happened? He couldn't remember anything. Why did he feel so tired?
"You have to break the cycle!" Lambent? He was here too? Where was here? Why couldn't he remember?
"But I'm having fun," Logan said, "Thirteenth time's the charm, I always say. Have a good night...mare."
The light flashed off. He couldn't see but felt the nightmare as it smothered him, squeezing his neck, his life-force fading slowly, draining into a glass flask next to him. The only light left in the room. Three shimmering bottles full already and the night was eternally young here. His eyes closed.
Another wave of guilt washed over him, nearly drowning him in sorrow. Lambent, why didn't I listen? I should've waited. I'm so sorry, Travis. I never should've gotten you involved. I'm not a real hero. I only wanted to be... in my dreams.
He awoke to himself in the center of an abandoned circus on a dark, moonless night, the shadows closing in. Logan's laughter echoed from every direction.
Testing the waters with some characters from my dreams and nightmares YA novel. Had this idea pop into my head last night and I just had to go with and see what happened. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.