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Author's note: I had a car accident dream one night, which inspired this book to be written. I wasn't a part in the dream, but more like a watcher.
If all your dreams were nightmares, what would you do?
That is the question that Penelope Chavez had to face when she was twelve years old. She has no memories of a good dream; they're all nightmares.
Nightmares that left her terrified.
It's not like she was a violent child; she just had violent dreams. Being only twelve years old, she didn't understand them any more than her parents did. They were scared for their little girl.
During the day, Penelope was a happy child; playing with dolls, jump rope, climbing trees, laughing when her mother called her to come down. During the night, in her sleep was when that all changed. She became a different person.
Penelope would try to speak, but nothing would come out. It was as if she lost her voice and was trying to say something important that no one could hear what she wanted. Every so often, her hands would rapidly move, forming words in sign language.
Penelope didn't know sign language. She was never taught how to form the right letters to make the right words. For that reason, her parents thought Satan was compelling her.
A priest came to visit the home of young Penelope and her parents. He sprinkled holy water around the home, shouting "The power of Christ compels you". Extra holy water was sprinkled on Penelope and her bed.
The next night, Penelope had another dream. This time, she was trapped inside a car, speeding down a bridge on a rainy night. An oncoming truck swerved toward the middle of the bridge. Penelope looked at the young woman driving. She was really pretty looking in a pink flowing dress.
The truck's headlights blinded Penelope's sight on the woman. A loud blare of a horn sounded and the car swerved quickly to the side. She was thrown to the other side of her seat and then forward as the silver car was thrown into pitch-black darkness.
Water flowed in, quickly filling the floor. "Oh my god!" the woman shouted. She unbuckled her seat belt and moved for the window.
"Someone, help!" Penelope screamed, her voice being drowned out by the woman's cries for help. She didn't notice Penelope sitting the backseat in sheer terror. the woman scrambled over her seat and to the back of the car, as the water came midway. She tried kicking the window.
Penelope closed her eyes at horrific site, hoping to stop the screams. The screaming stopped and she reopened her eyes, finding herself back on the bridge. She looked down with tears in her eyes as a white panicked face appeared. She felt helpless as she watched the car go down, taking the woman with it.
"Penny! Wake up!" her father yelled.
"Penelope's eyes quickly opened as she gasped. Her father took her in his arms as she cried for the poor woman from her nightmare.
"What was it, sweetheart?" her mother asked.
"Woman drowned... car." Penelope tried speaking.
Her father held her tighter as he tried to comfort her. "It's okay, everything is alright now."
What she didn't know was that a woman died that night. Drowned inside her car at the bottom of the lake. Penelope's dream came true, exactly as she saw it. It wasn't until the next morning that she found out about her dream's reality.
She came down the stairs for some breakfast. Her father sat across the table, and her mother beside her. Penelope ate the food on her plate hungrily. Bacon, eggs and potatoes. Her father opened up his newspaper and Penelope took a quick glance at it.
Her fork clattered on the plate as she sat there with her mouth wide open.
"Penelope! What did you do that for?"
"That's her... that's the woman from my dream."
Her father flipped back to page and read the article. He sat there silent for a while before informing the rest of the family. "It just so happens that the young woman is missing and her family hasn't seen her since the day before."
"She in the bottom of the lake." Penelope said, quietly. Her father got up from the table and left the room.
A few days later, the woman was found at the bottom of the lake, trapped inside her car. The Chavez family packed up their things and moved to another town, one where no one knew them. Penelope didn't have another nightmare that night, or any other night. Her nights were restless, as she didn't allow herself to drift off into a deep slumber. She became an almost normal child as she hid her ability from her parents and everyone else. Eventually, she stopped having nightmares and forgot all about them.
She can never be what people consider 'normal'. She has a special ability. As her name refers, Penelope is not only the dream weaver and maker, she is the death dreamer.
And her dreams are becoming stronger....
"I don't want to go to school! I'm too tired." Penelope complained. She laid across her bed with her head stuck under the black pillow.
"Sweetheart, you can't be missing school just because you didn't get a good night's sleep." Her mother sat down on the end of the bed, looking at her daughter's lazy figure. Penelope's mother was a beautiful woman at the age of 43, with her jet-black wavy hair and olive colored skin. She had a way about her that made her seem young and her age showed in her wisdom.
"Just this once?" Her daughter begged her, pulling off the pillow from her face. Mary Ella Chavez looked at her daughter's tired face. In seeing her, she worried about the nightmares her daughter used to have.
"Did you have an unpleasant dream?" She asked Penelope. Penelope looked at her with confused green eyes.
"I don't dream..."
"Not even good dreams?"
"No, I'm not able to fall enough into a deep sleep to dream." Penelope answered. "I never have any good dreams or bad."
"None, at all?" Mary Ella asked.
Mary Ella felt relieved and worried at the same time. The relief came from the fact that her daughter didn't remember the nights of waking up to horrible dreams at a young age. Moving to a new town was the best thing they could have done. The nightmares stopped and Penelope soon forgot about them as she was kept busy enough not to dwell on the horror scenes played in her subconscious.
"You can stay home, but you go tomorrow. I mean it!" She gave in. Penelope hugged her mother. Mary Ella kissed Penelope on the forehead before leaving the modern black and white bedroom to let her daughter rest.
Mrs. Chavez walked down the stairs and into the kitchen where her husband was reading the newspaper in front of a bowl of oatmeal.
"She's not going to school today." She told him, heading for the white stove.
"Why not?" Mr. Chavez asked. He looked at his wife with the same green eyes as their daughter. "She didn't have another nightmare, did she?"
"No, in fact, she said that she doesn't dream or sleep well at night."
"At least the dreams are gone." He replied. His wife sat across from him at the table.
"I'm worried about her health." She confessed.
"If you think it'll help, we can bring her to a sleep study." Her husband offered. Mary Ella was worried that they would tell her that their daughter was abnormal. She didn't want to hear those words from anyone. She loved her daughter and did everything for her. Keeping the dreams a secret was for her benefit.
"You're not worried about what they might find?"
"They might say she has insomnia..."
"I don't want to take her to a sleep study." Mary Ella answered the original question.
That was the end of the conversation for now. They both wanted Penelope to lead as much as a normal life as possible. If told about the dreams, what would she do?
The young woman from five years ago proved them to be more than dreams. They were what became reality. The time that it would occur was not something Penelope's parents were sure of. They didn't want their daughter to be special in the way she was. She was supposed to be a normal child, not odd with death dreams while she wasn't at least bit disturbed. When the dreams had stopped, they were given hope. Now, they were waiting for the day the dreams might come back.
In her room, Penelope laid restless in bed. She had tried going to sleep, but it just didn't work. So instead, she tried thinking on when her non-capability of sleep started.
As much as she could remember led to the conclusion that she always had trouble sleeping. No dreams made her wake up smiling or crying. She would ask her parents, but they would shun the topic as if it frightened them. Only one comment would ever be brought up and that would be the occasional "Did you have an unpleasant dream?" from her mom.
Not being able to sleep, Penelope rolled off her bed and looked through her drawers. She threw on a pair of jeans and a bright green top, which brought out the color of her eyes. She walked downstairs after putting ten dollars, house keys, and her cell phone in her pocket.
"Mom? Dad?" She called out. There was no reply back and she figured that they were most likely off to work. Penelope walked into the kitchen and made herself a slice of buttered toast.
Holding the toast in her mouth, she took down the notepad on the fridge and wrote she went out to clear her head. Placing it back on the fridge, she grabbed her buttered toast and walked out the door.
Penelope walked down the street. Birds were chirping in the neighborhood and there were several friendly faces. The reason why the family moved here was because her father thought nothing bad happened in a gated community. To Penelope, it seemed as if he was hiding from something.
She went to the small community park and sat on a swing. Swinging slightly, she closed her eyes. Her hand shot up to her neck as she felt a quick sharp pain.
"Ouch." her eyes started feeling heavy and her hand went slack. Penelope stopped swinging and tried blinking her eye to stay awake.
She closed her eyes one last time and fell off the swing, onto the ground. Sleep had overtaken her.
"This is the Dreamer?" a gruff man's voice asked. A beautiful woman with flaming red hair and green eyes looked down at Penelope. She knelt on the ground and pushed Penelope's black hair out of her face.
"It's her, now let's go." the woman ordered. She stood up and walked to the awaiting van. The man picked up Penelope and followed. He looked down at the pretty girl who was mumbling something but without sound.
"She's dreaming." the woman said as he placed her on the floor of the van. The woman took out a pen and clipboard and started writing fiercely.
Penelope was in front of her house. She didn't know how she got there, when just a minute ago, she was at the park.
She walked inside the house to find her mother in the kitchen putting groceries away, humming to herself.
"Hey mom."her mother ignored her greeting. "Mom... mom!" Penelope tried getting her attention. She marched in front of her mother, waving her arms wildly.
Hey mother just turned around to grab a pot. When she turned back, Penelope was shocked. Her mother just walked through her and Penelope was now on the other side of the kitchen, beside the stove. She felt nothing and it seemed that her mother didn't notice Penelope, let alone that she walked through her.
"Mom?" Penelope asked. She grew scared with fear, not knowing what was happening to her.
There was the sound of the front door closing and Penelope left the kitchen.
"Dad! There's something wrong with me. Mom can't see or hear me!" Her father took off his coat and placed his keys on the hallway table.
"Honey, is that you?" her father called out.
"in the kitchen!" her mom called out. Penelope followed her father back into the kitchen, almost lost in her thoughts.
'Maybe this is what they called a dream...'
The feeling was odd to her; she had never been ignored by her parents. Maybe this was a fear? Penelope did remember once reading that dreams can reveal fears and wishes.
"The gas stove isn't working." her mother said, snapping Penelope out of her thoughts. She watched her father take out a match from the cabinet and walk over to the stove.
Last thing Penelope saw was her father place the match down and a bright flash accompanied by a loud sound.
"NO!" the yell ripped out from Penelope's throat. She sat up and almost immediately felt a pair of hands on her shoulders.
"Miss Chavez, you must lay down."
Penelope looked at the young woman next to her. She had on a nurses top with her brown hair in a ponytail.
"What happened? Where am I?" Penelope asked as the nurse laid her back down.
"You fainted in the school playground and one of the staff members found you. I'm Nancy."
Penelope didn't understand. "Why am I in a school?"
"Your parents sent you here, silly. Don't you remember?"
Penelope shook her head.
"That must have been quite some fall." The nurse Nancy said.
"Where are my parents?"
"At home, we had to call and inform them of your little accident. You really should sleep more."
"So, they are safe?" she asked.
"Of course, you can e-mail them later if you'd like." the nurse said, handing Penelope two pills and a cup of water. She took the pills and drank the water. "Now, try to rest."
The nurse closed the curtain around her bed and Penelope waited till she left.
Penelope spit out the pills. She never took any unknown medication and she wasn't about to start now. Penelope got up from the little bed and made her way to the window. Throwing out the pills, she saw kids playing on a playground across the yard.
They looked so happy, running around carefree and excited for everything. Several older kids were there, though not as many.
A couple other buildings surrounded the playground. Penelope figured that the building on the far right must be dorm rooms and the bigger building in the middle was the main building where classes were taken.
She looked back in the park and a guy caught her eyes.
Penelope was too far away to tell anything other than his black hair. He turned towards her window and Penelope's eyes widened. He locked eye with her and smirked.
'Better control your dreams.' a taunting voice said in her mind.