Carter hadn't slept through the night in days.
All he could think about was the spell he'd aided that night. The girls weren't dangerous and the magick they practiced was cute, but he'd never expected to be so personally affected.
Every night dreams of the damn weasel plagued him. He'd seen it when they were doing the spell, the unusually large creature on the edges of his vision in the moonlight. He slept and dreamt of it laying on his face, its fur in his mouth and nose and eyes. It suffocated him; pressing him to the pillow, pressing his eyes closed, forcing him to remain asleep. He'd fight it as hard as he could and awake to find only a few minutes had passed in the waking world. These nightmares went on all night until he woke the next morning groggy and snapping at his brother.
It was about two in the afternoon and he was sipping his fourth large mug of coffee for the day when he found a longing in his heart. His breath even seemed heavy as he thought of something he wanted besides sleep.
Alice wasn't working today, he'd been to the store a few times before someone told him. She was who knows where doing who knows what. She probably didn't even remember his existence unless he was right there, he wouldn't blame her. She seemed to have a lot on her mind, with Erica's drama with the coven and her mysterious 'condition' she probably had a lot on her plate.
That's weird, no one usually called without warning.
Probably a telemarketer or a survey or something, he should let it ring.
Although he had given Alice his number that night, maybe she missed him too?
Then he should let it ring anyway so he doesn't look needy.
But he'd already let it ring a lot, what if she thought he didn't care? What if she thought he wasn't home?
Just as he was about to pick up the phone, the ringing cut off into a voice mail.
"Hello, um, Mr. Carter, you gave me your phone number and I wanted to make sure it…was the right one."
Alice's voice spoke from the answering machine and Carter's heart rate doubled.
"But it seems like you're not home so…I guess call me back when you get this message."
She continued. Carter's hand shot forward and he grabbed the phone.
"Hi! Hello, yes I'm here, sorry about that." He fumbled as he absentmindedly twisted the cord around his fingers.
"Oh it's no problem, I just wanted to call since I don't work today." She clarified, sounding relieved now that Carter had picked up the phone.
"Yeah I know I was just down there." He responded, mentally kicking himself. "I needed…salt." He excused. Alice laughed lightly but didn't say anything. Neither of them said anything. Silence lapsed on the phone for an excruciatingly long time.
"So do you have any plans?" Alice inquires politely. Carter sighs quietly.
"No, school doesn't start back up for a few more days and I'm too tired to make plans." He wearily responded.
"Yeah I haven't slept right since…" he slowly sat himself down on a dining chair. "The spell we did kinda got to me." He admitted.
"Got to you?" She didn't sound serious. "How? It was an ancestor spell, and it didn't even work." She laughed. Carter rolled his eyes.
"Yes, I know, but the place was weird and the whole thing was creepy and I kept seeing things." Alice only became concerned at the final part.
"Seeing things? Why didn't you say anything?" She asked, her voice wasn't usually so demanding. Carter felt his face heat up in embarrassment.
"I didn't want to sound nuts!" He answered, quickly regretting the shouting. "Not that it's nuts…what you…do" He trailed off. Alice laughed again.
"You know, I didn't think that's what you meant until you said it." She teased. Carter smiled at the sound.
"You know, you laugh a lot." He said quietly.
"You have to keep good humor in this world." She replied seamlessly. "What did you see in the spell?" She redirected the conversation and Carter almost jumped off the couch.
"The spell! I saw this furry thing, it looked like a weasel."
"Are there weasels around here?" Alice asked.
"I dunno but the thing has been plaguing me. Trying to suffocate me in my sleep."
"Oh goodness…" Her reply is soft and empathetic. "Suffocate you?"
"Yeah…" Carter runs a hand through his hair. "It sleeps on my face in my dreams, it's telling me to stay asleep. Then when I fight it off I wake up and have to do it all over again." He complains to the receiver. Alice waits patiently. "I'm never going to get a good night's sleep again." He concludes, head hung.
"Well, it seems pretty silly to me." Alice finally interjects. Carter makes a noise of interest. "You want to sleep and it wants you to sleep, so stop waking yourself up." She suggests. Carter feels a pit in his stomach at the notion.
"I don't know"
"Well try, worst-case scenario is you die and I revive you with magick." She continues. Carter blinks as his thoughts screech to a halt.
"Wait, you can do that?" He asks carefully. Alice's laughter rings bright on the line.
"No, but you have to keep good humor." She reminds him. He smiles, and his thoughts aren't filled with fear. They're filled with Alice's laughter.
"Heh…Ok, maybe I'll take your advice." He concedes.
His bed is so so comfortable as he lays down. The afternoon sun leaves soft yellow patches on the carpet of his bedroom through the curtains. He needed sleep, but his heart pounded as he stared at the open window. The shadows on the other side of the curtain slowly shifted until they were moving. They moved closer until a shape dropped from the window sill and onto the floor. He didn't turn his head or look down as the small shape patted across the room, hopping onto the bed in one graceful spring. Carter couldn't move as it crept closer. Movements of the animal blurred as though it was doing many things in the same span of time. It crept closer, tiny paws pressing light weight onto carter's arm and chest as it approached.
With a sudden floof, the animal flopped down onto Carter's face like a cat. He choked and sputtered from the fluff, unable to move his body. Panic seized him and he began to hyperventilate. He thought of his brother, always off working or helping their parents out of state. He thought of the witches he'd met and their cruel welcome when Alice introduced him. He thought of Alice, she'd be laughing if she saw him. Pinned under a squirrel and having a mild to moderate panic attack. He laughed a little as he thought of what he must look like. The creature stirred as his laughter grew stronger, causing him to shake and causing the weasel to spin in angry circles before settling back down.
"OK," he thought to himself as though speaking out loud. "You've got me, I'm asleep, what now?"
He received no answer.
"Come on, I know you can hear me."
The response in his mind haunted him as it did every time he'd heard it. It was the uncanny valley of human voices. So close but so clearly wrong.
You think you know a lot.
Carter tried to take a breath but got a lung full of fur.
"I think I do, so why are you doing this?" He asked as calmly as he could.
I have motivations.
"Could you at least get off my face?" The light presence in his mind seemed to grow mirthful.
You are different tonight, speak with me under the lamp post.
Carter shot up out of bed so fast he realized he was standing before he realized he was awake. He was moving without thought and if he thought too hard about it he'd stop. So he kept walking.
His legs carried him out of his house on bare feet into the freezing dark. He'd slept for a while for it to be so pitch black outside. The only light was the stars as he crossed the yard. He walked for longer than he expected before he found himself on a worn dirt road beside the woods. The woods of Elsewhere had always captivated him, but tonight he wasn't there for the woods. His feet followed the only point of light on the dark road, and they only stopped when he stood before a streetlight. It was the only one on the road and its yellow hue was a comfort. His eyes went crossed from staring at it for so long and he shook his head. Clearer thoughts occurred to him as he assessed his situation. Why was he here?
"I thought it was for answers."
Carter looked around for the source of the voice but came up empty. From behind the post slinked a familiar, furry creature. Crawling low to the ground as it moved to sit at his feet. Carter stumbled back several steps in fright.
"You're real!? Oh God, you're real." He muttered. The animal tilted its head, lifeless black eyes reflecting nothing as it opened its mouth to speak.
"You're different tonight." It remarked, repeating its words from the dream.
"Different?" He asked, voice breaking for a reason he didn't understand. The animal didn't move, it just stared for a long moment.
"What is your name?"