Wake, p.13
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       Wake, p.13

         Part #1 of Wake series by Lisa McMann
 
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  She pauses, closes her eyes, and she’s in it. In a trance. “And Mr. Wilder is getting frantic, because every time he gets close to the shore of this island, one of those backward waves pushes us out farther. Like in that one movie, where Tom Hanks is that castaway dude on that island with his pet volleyball?”

  Cabe chuckles. “I think it’s called Cast Away, Hannagan.”

  “Yeah. Whatever. Meanwhile, Mrs. Wilder is still sitting on the deck, reading a book, oblivious to the storm. Weird, I know. He calls to her to get inside the cabin and get the life jackets out, but she can’t hear him. And then the yacht starts spinning and slams into the reef, and we’re all flying out into the water. The yacht is in smithereens, and all the stuff that was inside the cabin is floating around, being carried by waves.

  “Mrs. Wilder is flailing and drowning in the water, and Mr. Wilder swims around picking things up out of the water. He sees his wife struggling, and he grabs life jackets—there are at least fifteen of them floating here and there, and he’s got maybe eight or nine of them strung on his arms. He starts to swim toward her. . . . ”

  Janie closes her eyes and swallows. Her voice is shaking. “And I think, he’s going to save her. . . . ”

  Cabel bites his lip.

  Captain offers her a break.

  She waves her hand, trying not to lose concentration, and continues.

  “He starts to swim toward her with life jackets. But instead of saving her, he says . . . um . . . he says, ‘You can rot in hell, you old bitch.’ And then he swims past her, toward the shore, with all those life jackets.” She takes a breath. “Like they are the most important thing in his life. And . . . ”

  She pauses.

  Continues in an odd voice. “And the jackets, they aren’t floating anymore—they’re dragging in the water. Sinking. Pulling him down. Under. And he won’t let go.”

  Janie opens her eyes and looks solemnly at Captain. “I think the packages you’re looking for might just be sewn inside the life jackets, sir.”

  Captain is already dialing the phone trying to get a search warrant for the yacht.

  Cabel’s mouth hangs open.

  Janie’s head throbs. “Do you have any Excedrin?” she whispers.

  10:30 a.m.

  Janie and Cabel sit down for their math exam.

  10:55 a.m.

  Janie, parched, salty tears running silently down her cheeks, closes her blank blue book, stands up, turns it in, and walks out of the classroom, every eye in the room staring at her as she goes. Cabel scribbles a few more answers, waits a few minutes, and turns his in too. Initially, he looks in the parking lot for her and, seeing her car being slowly covered in the snowstorm, breathes a sigh of relief she’s not out driving in this mess. He goes back inside the school and searches the rooms.

  He finds her, finally, passed out on her table in the empty library.

  Picks her up.

  Takes her to the emergency room.

  On the way, he calls Captain. Tells her what’s going on. Suggests maybe now’s not a good time for Janie to get stuck in the dreams of random hospital visitors.

  When they arrive at the ER, they’re ushered to a private room. Cabel grins. “I love this job,” he murmurs.

  Janie is dehydrated. That’s all.

  They give her an IV, and then Cabel takes her to his house. She sleeps a long time. He sleeps too, on the couch.

  She blames it on the salty sea.

  GLORY AND HOPE

  December 16, 2005, 4:30 p.m.

  Cabel and Janie sit in Captain’s office.

  Captain comes in.

  Closes the door.

  Sits down behind her desk and takes a sip of coffee. Crosses her legs. Leans back in her chair and looks at the two teenagers.

  “We got it,” she says. She smiles, and then laughs like she won the lottery.

  And shoves an envelope toward Janie.

  Inside:

  a contract

  a scholarship offer

  a paycheck

  “Read it over. Let me know if you’re interested,” Captain says.

  And pauses.

  “Good work, Janie.”

  December 25, 2005, 1l:19 p.m.

  Janie swipes the last bit of frosting from the cake at Heather Home, walks the rounds, says silent good-byes to the sleeping residents, and gives the director a grateful hug. She takes a red helium balloon from the cake table, turns, and walks out the door for the last time, slowly now, through the parking lot to Ethel.

  Drives to her house, and sprints through the snow to his.

  Opens the door.

  Slips in.

  He’s waiting, in his sleep, for her.

  She slides into the dark shadow against his body. She kisses his shoulder. He takes her hand. Strings his fingers through hers. Holds on tightly.

  And they are off, through the link of fingers.

  Watching themselves, together.

  Catching his dreams.

  STILL AWAKE?

  THERE’S MORE:

  FADE

  1:42 a.m.

  Janie dreams in black and white.

  She’s walking down Center at dusk. The weather is cool and rainy. Janie’s been here before, though she doesn’t know what town she’s in. She looks around excitedly at the corner by the Dry Goods store, but there is no young couple strolling arm in arm there.

  “I’m here, Janie,” comes a soft voice from behind. “Come, sit with me.”

  Janie turns around and sees Miss Stubin seated in her wheelchair next to a park bench along the street.

  “Miss Stubin?”

  The blind old woman smiles. “Ah, good. Fran has given you my notes. I’ve been hoping for you.”

  Janie sits on the park bench, her heart thumping. She feels tears spring to her eyes and quickly blinks them away. “It’s good to see you again, Miss Stubin.” Janie slips her hand into Miss Stubin’s gnarled fingers.

  “Yes, there you are, indeed.” Miss Stubin smiles. “Shall we get on with it, then?”

  Janie’s puzzled. “Get on with it?”

  “If you are here, then you must have agreed to work with Captain Komisky, as I did.”

  “Does Captain know I’m having this dream?” Janie is confused.

  Miss Stubin chuckles. “Of course not. You may tell her if you wish. Give her my fond regards if you do. But I’m here to fulfill a promise to myself. To be available to you, just as the one who taught me remained with me until I was fully prepared, fully knowledgeable about what my purpose was in life. I’m here to help you as best I can until you no longer need me.”

  Janie’s eyes widen. No! she thinks, but she doesn’t say it. She hopes it takes a very long time before she no longer needs Miss Stubin.

  “We’ll meet here now and then as you go through my case files and learn from my notes. When you have questions about my notes, return here. I trust you know how to find me again?”

  Janie’s eyes widen. “Yes . . . you mean, direct myself to dream this again?”

  Miss Stubin nods.

  “Yes, I think I can do that. I’m sort of out of practice,” Janie says sheepishly.

  “I know you can, Janie.” The old woman’s curled fingers tighten slightly around Janie’s hand. “Do you have an assignment from Captain?”

  “Yes. We think there’s a teacher who is a sexual predator at Fieldridge High.”

  Miss Stubin sighs. “Difficult. Be careful. And be creative—it may be tricky to find the right dreams to fall into. Keep up your strength. Be prepared for every opportunity to search out the truth. Dreams happen in the strangest places. Watch for them.”

  “I . . . I will,” Janie says softly.

  Miss Stubin cocks her head. “I must go now.” She smiles and fades away, leaving Janie alone on the bench.

  2:27 a.m.

  Janie’s eyes flutter and open. She stares at the ceiling in the dark and then flips on her bedside lamp.

  Scribbles the dream in her notebook. Wow,
she thinks. Cool.

  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

  Lisa McMann presents

  Janie—the way Cabel sees her . . .

  October 14, 2005, 10:05 a.m.

  “Good luck,” he says, his voice harsh. Cabel Strumheller shoves his way past classmates and off the bus, and enters the hotel in Stratford, Canada. Fuming. Still shaking a little. Eyes to the ground, not wanting to accidentally look at her, see if she’s coming.

  He goes straight to his room and flops on the bed, staring at the ceiling. Three other guys let themselves in. They rummage around the room for a few minutes, but Cabe barely looks at them, barely acknowledges their presence. They don’t talk to him, either. What else is new?

  Once his weekend roommates are gone, off to see the first play, Cabel rolls over on the hotel bed to think about things.

  About Janie Hannagan, and what exactly happened on the bus for the past four hours.

  About what the hell is wrong with her, and how she managed to get inside his dream.

  He slams his fist in the pillow. Can’t get the nightmare to stop.

  Cabel stands on the steps at the back door of his house, hand on the knob of the open door, looking in. Then he slams it shut and marches through the dry, yellow grass. His dad bursts out the door after him, yelling, standing on the step, carrying a beer and a cigarette in one hand, a can of lighter fluid in the other. His dad screams at him, and Cabel turns, frightened of the towering man. He freezes as his father approaches. The man sprays Cabe’s clothes with the lighter fluid.

  Sets Cabe on fire.

  Cabel flops around on the ground in flames, screaming, pain searing through him, the fire blistering his skin. And then, with a furious roar, he transforms into an enormous monster with knives for fingers and he lunges for his father with only one goal in mind.

  Killing him.

  That’s how it starts—the nightmare Cabe has had for years. That, or some form of it. It changes a bit each time. Cabel can’t imagine a worse nightmare.

  But that’s not even the part that’s bothering him. Not now. He’s packed away all those emotions, thank you very much. That nightmare he can handle.

  But what happened on the bus? That was just crazy. Because this time, asleep sitting next to Janie, he actually watched himself have the nightmare. As if he were an onlooker to someone else’s dream.

  And Janie was there, too, behind the shed in the backyard with Cabel.

  Watching.

  Watching Cabel’s dream play out as if they were right there, in it.

  And then afterward, when he woke up, seeing the shock in her face too—it was like a confession, and she didn’t try to deny it.

  He knows her. Knows where she lives. Casually, not weird like a stalker or anything. They’d ridden the bus together since middle school, back when Cabe was a grade ahead of her. Back before his dad messed up Cabe’s life.

  But Cabe doesn’t want to think about that now. Doesn’t want to think about his dad ever again. He’s done with that. Done with him.

  Still, the nightmare he had on the bus is fresh. He didn’t think he was still having that one. But now he knows he has been.

  And he’s not the only one who knows that.

  The monster man roars and runs away from the house, back toward the shed. There’s a girl back there. Janie. The girl he always dreams about.

  The monster man growls. He sees her.

  She squeaks and closes her eyes, her back pressed up against the shed, as if she’s trying to melt into the siding.

  And then the monster transforms, back into Cabel. He looks at the girl, so sorry, so very sorry for scaring her. Wanting her to see him like nobody else ever does. The guy that nobody really knows. When she opens her eyes and sees him, she steps toward him.

  He touches her face.

  Leans in.

  Kisses her.

  She kisses him back.

  “Ugh,” he says, remembering how the nightmare ends. Squeezes his eyes shut, trying to figure it out. Trying to understand how Janie Hannagan managed to see all of that.

  “She’s a freak,” he says slowly. “Psychotic. What if she’s an alien?” Cabe shakes his head. He’s seen enough weird stuff to know that weird stuff really happens. Not much surprises him anymore. And after what just happened, thinking Janie might be an alien or at the very least, psychic, isn’t much of a stretch. Is she dangerous, though? He thinks she might be.

  He feels the paranoia coming, lets it wash over him. Was she spying on him? How long has she known that he dreams about such awful things? And that he dreams about her? It’s embarrassing. And now, quite possibly, after four hours riding together in the freaking middle of the night, she knows the dreams and nightmares of half the people on that bus.

  But why are they oblivious when he’s not? Why aren’t they confronting her?

  Is he just imagining this?

  He can’t figure it out.

  He saw her on that bus. For hours, on and off, she shook. Out of control, like a multitude of seizures. She’d begged him to keep quiet about it after the first episode, made him promise her he wouldn’t get help, wouldn’t tell a soul, no matter how many more times it happened. He saw how she was too weak to get food when they stopped at McDonald’s. Watched her helplessly. She looked terrible. Would anybody subject herself to that on purpose?

  But she got inside his psyche, where nobody else could ever go. Where he doesn’t want anybody to go. And it’s scary. What is she?

  He hasn’t felt this vulnerable in a long time.

  Cabel shakes his head.

  He thinks about the first time she noticed him at the neighborhood bus stop on the first day of junior year. It was funny then—they’d ridden the same bus for a few years, but he’d never seen her even glance his way.

  He’d heard what Carrie Brandt had said to Janie back then while they waited for the bus to come. Lookie, it’s your boyfriend. And Carrie laughed. God, that was embarrassing. Janie shushed Carrie, but then she started laughing too.

  Cabe sat behind them on the bus to school that day. Pretended to sleep so he could overhear. In case they were going to make fun of him even more.

  But they didn’t.

  Not Janie. Not ever again.

  He caught Janie’s eye once or twice after that, and she didn’t look away in disgust or anything. But they didn’t speak.

  When the homecoming dance approached, Cabe thought fleetingly about asking her. Ha. Yeah, right. No way she’d go with him. He was a total loser. The only group that accepted him was the Goths. And they take anyone.

  He almost didn’t even go to the dance, but the guys were going to hang out, so what the hell, right? He never even went inside the gym. He just loitered outside the back door with the guys, smoking, and thinking about how he should quit now that he was getting his life figured out. And wondering if Janie was inside.

  When the door flew open, nobody saw it coming. The doorknob gutted him before his foot could stop it. Took his breath away for a minute. Searing pain. He doubled over. His friends laughed. Why not? It was funny for them, he supposed.

  But his eyes stayed on her as she flew out of there as if on a mission in the dark, cool evening, heading down the same street Cabe had walked dozens of times a year, every time he missed the bus.

  She wobbled on high heels like she’d never worn them before. It was a long walk home, and not very pleasant—it was getting cold and the farther away from school, the worse the neighborhood got. Once Cabe got his breath back, he eyed his skateboard. Maybe now was his chance. He adjusted his beanie, shoved his bangs up under it a little so he could see. Lit another cigarette and smoked it slowly, his fingers shaking just a little.

  “You going after her?” one of the guys, Jake, asked him.

  “Maybe,” Cabe said coolly. He took another drag and let it out slowly, then crushed the butt with his shoe and grabbed his board. “Yeah.”

  “I’m coming,” another guy said. “Curfew.”

 
“Me too,” said another.

  Cabe took a breath and frowned in the dark. “Whatever.”

  Before he could change his mind, he tucked his board under his arm and they set out.

  It took several minutes to catch up to her on foot, and for a short time he thought he’d lost her. She’d abandoned the high heels by now, but the neighborhood was deteriorating rapidly as they moved toward the crappy side of town, where both Cabel and Janie lived.

  He saw her tense up as the three approached. The two guys laid their boards down and she froze. Cabel cursed under his breath. He didn’t mean to freak her out.

  “Jeez!” she said. Recognizing him, thankfully. “Scare a girl half to death, why don’t you.” She looked pissed.

  Cabe shrugged. Outwardly cool, inwardly a mess. His gut twisted and churned. What the hell am I doing? But it was too late to go back now. He tried desperately to think of something to say. The other guys skated up ahead, giving him some distance.

  “Long walk,” he said. Cringed at how lame it was. “You, uh”—his voice cracked—“okay?”

  “Fine,” she said, clipping the word. “You?”

  Cabel gulped. He took a deep breath. No idea what to do next. But he could hardly stand to watch her walk barefoot. She was limping already.

  “Get on,” he said, and put the board down on the ground. Took Janie’s shoes from her hand. “You’ll rip your feet to shreds. There’s glass an’ shit.”

  Janie stopped. Looked at him. And he could see something in her tough-girl face. Vulnerability or something. It made his stomach twist.

  “I don’t know how,” she said.

  He grinned, then. Relieved. She didn’t tell him to get lost. Definitely a step in the right direction. “Just stand. Bend. Balance,” he said. “I’ll push you.”

  And, after staring at him for a long minute, she did it. Unbelievable. He placed his hand gently on the small of her back, hoping that was okay with her, but not about to ask. Pushed her, and after a few wobbles, she figured out how to stand without falling and tilt the board to steer as he pushed her through the crappy streets of South Fieldridge.

 
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LISA MCMANN SERIES:

  • Wake
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