"Are you sure this is the right house?"
"Of course I'm sure!"
"But are you absolutely sure? Because last time-"
"That was one time, and I was only a few streets off! It's not like you haven't made the same mistake before!"
The two dark-clothed men's arguing continued as another figure appeared from the shadows of the night. "Quiet, you two! We need the element of surprise if we want things to go as planned. We don't want to take back another failure to the Boss, do we?" The other two men cringed slightly at the mention of the Boss, as the Boss was a person you didn't want to upset. Originally there had been six men in this group. Now they were down to three. Xander had disapeared after failing to kill some sort of to-be-famous singer. Sam had been asked to see the Boss after failing to carry out a mission for the fifth time and had never came back. And Jerome, the youngest, not even 17, had been sent on a mission kept secret to the rest of them and hadn't been seen since. Nobody knew what exactly had happened to these men, but rumor was that they had been killed by the Boss. And it was a believable rumor too, as the Boss was known as a person who didn't have much patience towards failure.
The two men who had been bickering before began to do so again, more cautiously, however, having been reminded what would happen if they got caught or if they failed. The other man, the obvious leader of the three, sighed heavily, then crept towards the house where the target was. He turned around, making sure the hedges surrounding the gardened yard were hiding the other men from sight. Then he sat down on the damp earth, leaning against a tree at an angle where occupants of the house could not see him, and pulled out a piece of white paper from a pocket in his black suit.
Slowly unfolding it, he re-read the information on the paper, committing it to memory. Then he held it out, pulled out a match and lit it, then set fire to the corner of the paper. He dropped the paper to the side of him as the fire consumed the last of the writing on the page. The last thing he saw before the paper completely burned was the name "Ivaline Whit," the name of the target they were to kill. Then the fire consumed the name and the light extinguished almost immediately, only a few sparks lighting the ground. Ivaline Whit. A soft, pretty girl with no brains, most likely. That's what all rich kids he had met were like. "This is going to be an easy job," he thought with a smile. He looked forward for the time when he would see the fear in her eyes, and then watch as her life ended. But for now, he would wait.
He watched the lights of the house slowly turn off, room by room. But two lights remained on; the parents' room on the second story and their only daughter's room a couple windows over. But the man was prepared to wait. In fact, he had started this mission expecting to do so. It might be a long wait, but what was a few hours in comparison to seeing the look on the Boss's face when he presented their team's success? Their team's only success, and it would be all due to him. But first the lights had to turn off, signaling both occupants were sleeping.
"And I will be ready when it does," he thought, fingering the cold metal of the pistol at his side. "How should I do it? Poison? Strangle? Or just get it over with a bullet to the head?" He mulled over his options as the night slowly wore on. If anyone in the house had looked out the window and waited for the right moment, they might have seen a stray ray of moonlight break through the clouds and reveal the three men. But none of the house's occupants did.
Not even the one who should have. The girl. The victim. Ivaline Whit.
"But, Iv! I'm going to be all alone!" Kaylin pouted.
I rolled my eyes. My friend was so dramatic. "Oh no! All alone? That's horrible! I mean," I smirked, " it's not like you're the most popular girl at Westview High School and have a bajillion other friends that will be there."
She laughed and flipped her honey blonde hair over a perfectly tanned shoulder. "I am pretty popular, aren't I? But still..." She resumed her pouty face. "You're my best friend," she said, emphasizing the 'best.' "Who cares about those other losers? I want my girl Ivaline at the party to back me up through whatever happens!"
I waved a hand dismissively. "Oh whatever, you'll have fun without me, and we both know it."
"But Ivalineeee..." she whined.
I sighed. I honestly wished I could go, but I couldn't tonight. I had a massive English essay that was due on Monday, and I had already procrastinated it for... well, about a month. "Sorry Kay, but not tonight."
She rolled her eyes. "Fine, but you're going to be missing out on a fun night!"
I groaned. "I know! I wish I could come, but I have a tons of homework, not to mention my curfew and..."
She cut me off. "It's a shame you won't be there to hang out with... no, I shouldn't try to distract you from your homework," she said with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
I tried to pretend I didn't care for a few seconds, but eventually caved. "Okay, spill. Who's coming?"
She squealed. "Perfect! You're a lifesaver, Iv!" Looking back at her watch, she said, "Gotta go! Hope to see you there later!"
"No problem! Hope I get to come!" She blew me a kiss before I closed the lid of my laptop, ending the FaceTime call. I sat there for a moment on my bed, silently cursing my luck. Then I sighed, setting my laptop to the side and pulling my English notebook closer. Goodbye Byron fantasies, hello English homework.
But still he waited, unmoving. And after three more hours of waiting, it paid off. One simple movement, one flick of a light switch, and the target and unknowingly signaled the group who wanted to kill her to begin their plan.
He froze as a small creaking noise came from the wooden stair he had just stepped on. There was a slight movement upstairs, but soon everything was silent again. He waited another minute before taking another step, this time with more care. He didn't relax his muscles until he reached the top of the stairs. Wiping the cold sweat from his forehead and gripping his dagger for comfort, he began down the ornately decorated hallway.
Ever since I was little, I had always woken up at the slightest of noises. My parents once told me about how hard it was to put me to sleep as a baby because the tiniest creak of a floorboard or squeak of a door hinge would wake me up and start me screaming and crying again. They joked that they didn't want to have any more kids and go through that again. But that was when I was a little. Now, I was in high school, and I valued sleep like any other teenager. Staying up late almost every night led to me going to sleep faster from exhaustion. I could sleep through almost anything now, which was why it surprised me that I woke up to a small creak from the staircase. Rolling over in my bed, I looked at the door, exhausted. I knew what it sounded like when someone went up the stairs; I had to know if my parents were coming to check on me when I was younger so I could quickly turn off my phone and pretend to be asleep. Now, my parents didn't really care. I listened silently for a moment, and hearing nothing, I determined that it was just the house settling. Turning over again in my bed, I snuggled into my covers, and closed my eyes.
But I couldn't fall back asleep. I was exhausted, but my mind was awake now. Along with being woken by the faintest of sounds as a kid, I also had always been scared easily, and having an overactive imagination just made it worse. I never told anyone, but I was still as scared of things as I was when I was a kid. I heard the whisper of fabric in the hall, and very faint footsteps that I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been listening. By then I was sitting straight up in bed, panicking about everything. My breaths came faster as my brain went on overdrive and began thinking up some ideas of what it could be. They were all very unlikely, but frightening all the same. Who was in the hall? If it was my parents, why would they bother being so quiet? They never took special care not to wake me up. I quietly stuffed some pillows under the blankets, a trick I had used every once in a while to fool my parents, and then dove under the bed just as I saw the doorknob turn. I closed my eyes. "I'm overreacting. It's just nerves. I need to stop staying up all night, it's making me see things. I'm such a wuss, I'm scared of everything." I slowly opened my eyes and looked at the door again. "This is just a dream. I'm over reacting."
The door slowly opened and two men stepped inside. They silently began walking towards my bed, and I scooted farther underneath it. The first man stepped into the moonlight, and I saw him smile as he looked at my decoy, drawing a dagger from his belt. I froze, cold sweat drenching me as he took a step forward, his boot about a foot away from my face. Quicker than I could follow, the dagger swung down. Feathers from my pillow flew up into the air, nobody moving for a second. Then the man swore and turned to the other man behind him. "Where did she go?" he hissed.
The other man shrugged. "Maybe to the bathroom or something?"
I couldn't see the expressions on their faces, but I heard the leader's voice again and could tell he was angry. "You idiot! If she went to the bathroom, why would she leave a decoy?"
"Because I'm super paranoid and scared of everything," I thought as I slowly slunk farther under the bed.
I saw a pair of boots head to my closet and check inside. Glancing behind me, I saw the moonlight spilling onto the floor from my window. One of the men unlocked and flung open the window, calling down, "She's not here, keep a lookout." I shuddered as I looked at his belt and saw a pistol, the dagger still gripped in his hand.
"Okay, the window is out, someone is obviously guarding it," I thought to myself as I looked over at my bathroom door and saw the other man checking it. "Bathroom door that leads into the hall is out..." I looked at my bedroom door, still open wide, and with nobody guarding it. "Which means the only option left is.... Why am I even thinking about this like it's real?" I pinched my arm lightly, then harder as I didn't wake up. What was going on? This was obviously a dream, why couldn't I wake up?
I heard the man swear again. "Where the heck is she?" I pulled myself forward, watching as the man turned to check the closet again, the other still in the bathroom.
Now was my chance, when nobody was looking. "Besides, this is just a dream, right?" I told myself. "I can't get hurt." I didn't believe myself as I tore out from under the bed and ran for the hall.
"She's getting away!" called one man in a whisper. I had to give it to the murders in this particular dream, even when things went wrong, they still made sure my parents wouldn't hear them.
"Darn you well-trained, fake murderers!" I thought as I ran for my parent's room. Then I stopped. The man had a gun. Did I really want my parents to die too? "Just a dream, just a dream..." I told myself, but I quickly turned and catapulted down the stairs. Down the hall, through the kitchen, turn right to the living room, then out the open front door. I heard footsteps behind me, but I didn't stop as I ran around the corner of my house.
The grass in the side yard was still wet with water from the sprinklers, and I was barefooted. With one step, I slipped on the slick grass, ending up sliding into a tree. I hit my head hard against the thick trunk, falling to the ground as the killers raced around the corner. They never noticed the small grove of trees I had fallen to the ground in. One of the men pointed to the left, and then he took the right as another figure followed his directions as they continued their search for me. Against all better judgement, I slowly began to fall asleep. "Just a dream, just a dream." I repeated over and over until I finally drifted off.
When I woke up, the sun was out. My pajamas were soaked and cold, I was shivering, but there were no creepy murderer guys to be seen. "See? It was just a dream." I told myself, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought, "If it was all a dream, how did you end up outside?" "Sleepwalking," I told myself resolutely before slowly standing up. Slowly stretching my sore limbs, I walked up to my front door and went inside. My parents were already downstairs, looking somewhat confused as they saw me walk in.
"Ivaline, dear, would you please shut the door, come inside, and tell me what you were doing outside?" I shut the door behind me and grabbed a blanket off of the couch, wrapped it around my shoulders before sitting down at the table.
"Well, that's the thing...." I explained to them all that had happened last night. My mother pursed her lips as my father looked at me from over his newspaper. When I was done, they looked at each other, and then back at me.
"Ivaline..." my father started.
My mother continued. "Men in black, daggers, murderers, almost getting killed... Iv, it sounds like you just had-"
"A nightmare, yeah, that's what I was thinking, too," I cut in. "Have I ever had problems with sleepwalking before?" My parents shook their heads. "Well, there's a first for everything, isn't there?" I thought to myself.
My parents looked worriedly at each other, and I quickly added, "I'm sure it was just a dream and I started sleepwalking. It happens to people all the time, right? Nothing at all to worry about!" I got up and pulled a box of cereal from the cupboard, then poured myself a bowl.
I was just going to get the milk out when my mother said, "Well, you might want to lock the door to your room tonight, just to make sure you don't end up going outside and accidentally hurting yourself." My father nodded in agreement before turning back to his newspaper.
My hand froze just above the fridge door handle. My room. Something wasn't clicking into the sleepwalking story I was so sure about. "Umm, be right back," I muttered to my parents before sprinting up the stairs into my room. The moment I opened the door, I saw it. The slashed pillow and bedsheets on my bed, feathers spilling from the pillow and fluttering around lazily on my carpeted floor from the breeze coming from my open window. I heard my parents come up behind me, and I heard my mom gasp. "Iv..."
"Ivaline, what did you do to your bed?" my father asked, slightly confused.
"I... I didn't..." I muttered. Walking up to the bed, I saw that the slash had definitely been from a knife, not from someone tearing it apart. Unless I had somehow gotten my hands on a knife last night... "T-that's a knife slash..." I stuttered, and my father stared at me in disbelief.
"You can't be serious?"
I slowly nodded. Looking down at the ground, I saw a faint line of dusty footprints on my carpet. Multiple footprints, and all of them bigger than my foot size. The open window which I had remembered closing and locking last night, the footprints, the slash on my pillow...
"It was real... It was all real..."