“Dad, I had another nightmare last night.” Jane reached forward and poked at the struggling fire. Early morning dew still clung to everything making lighting the fire a multi-stage process requiring much fiddling. Her dark hair fanned forward as she moved, hiding her expression but, I could tell by her tone she was upset.
Under the guise of taking in the lake view, I ran several simulations to determine which would be the best way to discuss the dream with her this time. Before me, the pink sky of dawn reflected off the water—the start of the scheduled clear day. A haunted call from a far off loon punctuated the results of my calculations. There was no clear solution.
Rubbing the back of my neck, I turned. Jane sat on the other side of a few wisps of flame with her head cocked to the side. She watched me, waiting for my response.
“Was it the same as always?” Keeping eye contact, I closed the gap between us and sat on the log beside her. Dad was the wrong word for what I was, but it was far too late to change Jane’s terminology now.
Jane nodded. “I was playing the violin, in a room with widows overlooking a maple forest. I always think that I know the music, yet it’s a tune I’ve never heard. Just thinking about it leaves me with a nostalgic feeling. Do you know what I mean?”
“I’ve never felt anything like that,” I said in a soothing tone. “Tell me more.”
“As I move the bow over the strings, notes cascade into the room mixing with the warm sunlight pouring through the widows. The moment always feels so perfect. Then I blink.” Wrinkles formed across her forehead.
It was the same vision as always, the one I could never manage to eradicate.
“I opened my eyes and realized I’m submerged in a tube of liquid. I couldn’t breathe.” She paused and put her hands to her throat.
“It’s okay,” I said. “You are safe here with me.”
She met my gaze and dropped her hands back to her lap. “I fought my way out. Once I escaped the tube, I found myself in a factory of some sort. Deep down I knew someone was coming after me, so I ran through corridors until I couldn’t run any more.” She looked back at the flames, the first log had caught fire.
“I’m sorry you keep having those dreams,” I said wrapping my arm around her shoulders. She leaned into me. “But, you have to remember, they are only dreams.”
Jane studied me with her wide brown eyes. “But what if it was real? I mean, every time I dream it, it feels more like a memory.” She sighed and brushed a lock of hair out of her face. “I feel like I could just pick up a violin and play it, yet I’ve never even seen one in real life.”
“We’ve always lived here.” I let her go to gesture through the trees to our cabin. “Just you and me in this forest.” The wilderness around us was all a lie. The sentimental part of me hated deceiving Jane, the logical part knew it was the right thing to do. I needed to keep her trust just a little bit longer. “How about we give up on this fire. Are you ready for our hike?”
“Yeah,” she said with a grin. She stood and grabbed her pack. “I can’t wait to see the view.”
I gave her my widest smile as I dumped a bucket of water on the struggling flames. “We’re going to have a great day.”
After swinging my pack onto my back and tightening the straps, I started towards the trail leading deeper into the forest. I had planned for this day for years, and I wanted it to be memorable for Jane.
Thanks for joining me at the Armchair Alien! I’ve got tons of great scifi stories to share.
The Last Stop is a four part short story that I’ll be putting out on the next few Tuesdays and Thursdays.