By John Andreula
The man in the white fisherman’s hat stood at the spare bedroom window on the second floor. The room didn’t contain any furniture aside from the kitchen chair he had brought up from downstairs. The white walls around him were as bare as the day they were painted.
The entire cul-de-sac was visible from the corner unit he was standing in. This room afforded him a view of the whole development. The window on the adjacent wall behind him had a direct view of the street’s lone entry and exit. Buckets could see anyone coming or going, as well as what they did while they were staying in this sleepy community.
But at that moment Buckets’s mind wasn’t on the responsibility he was coerced into. He stared absently across the street at unit fifteen. His dark eyes peered out from beneath the brim of his cap unfocused on anything specific.
He considered the matriarch of the family he had been watching for this past week. The woman had approached his front door earlier that afternoon. Buckets wasn’t interested in the lonely housewife. She was attractive enough despite the desolation in her eyes, but companionship with a person The Controller had interest meant bad news, and he didn’t need any more trouble.
Buckets’ own sister Cherise was a vice president at The Controller’s corporation, VIM. She was also Stanton’s primary leverage over him. She hadn’t a clue of the threat to her and her children that her boss constantly reminded Buckets he was.
The fact that Buckets had to keep an eye on this executive’s family made him believe that Stanton had weight on them as well. Either that or it was his job to discover some leverage for him. He decided not to attempt to guess at whatever The Controller’s motivation was.
The slim man grabbed his metal flask from the windowsill. He took a swig.
In his distracted state Buckets hadn’t noticed the dark haired young man with the camping bag on his back that was making his way down the hill at that very moment.
Ty strained from the weight of his pack. By his best estimate he had carried it five miles from the bus stop.
Thanks to Blanks’ ability, the two had only had to pay one fair on each of the different modes of transportation they took to get from Colorado to this small suburban town in central New Jersey.
Ty ambled down the sidewalk before reaching the bottom of the hill. Directly ahead was a grassy circle. Upon it a handful of young boys played some variation of dodgeball as the day’s sunlight waned. A concentric circle of paved road surrounded the field. It was bordered by lined parking spaces. Some spaces were filled. Others were empty. In front of the parking spaces were rows of identical five unit buildings. A lone streetlamp flickered to life across from where Ty stood. It wasn’t warm enough to give off light.
Ty felt a subtle press against his chest. “Hold it,” a voice spoke calmly from the empty air next to him. Ty halted and waited for his companion to clue him in on their plan.
“That’s it right there. Number fifteen.”
The number was attached above the door of the middle unit. A lush garden of vibrant flowers was just below the kitchen window.
“You head around the buildings on the right through the backyards. Get behind that one and keep an eye out. I’ll let you know when I need you.”
Ty gently placed his hand on the one Blanks held on his chest. He hoped it would put her at ease, but he couldn’t see it didn’t. “Alright,” he replied quietly. Then he made his way to the back of the first row of homes.
Unseen to Ty, and to Buckets sitting in front of the window above, Blanks crossed the paved circle. She strode past the boys and their game and headed to the far side of the cul-de-sac.
She climbed the steps of the centermost home and peered in through the storm door window. A blonde girl crouched over a mess of paper on the floor ll around her. The girl’s long straight hair hung down over her shoulders around her face. It was almost touching the floor.
The girl put her colored pencil on the carpet beside her. She picked up another and continued working without pause. Blanks knew this was the girl. This was the savior that Gigi and The Writer were banking all their futures on, so small, so young.
A blue sedan rolled silently down the road. Despite the electric car’s lack of exhaust or engine noise Buckets immediately noticed it. Buckets picked up the cell phone on the window sill and text two words to the lone preprogrammed contact, “He’s home.”
As the watchful man watched the car rush down the block, Ty ran across the empty stretch of grass unseen. He made it around the building he needed to.
Stephen pulled into his parking space in front of the house crooked and too fast. The underside of the sedan grinded to a stop scraping the underside loudly. Sweat bled down his forehead as he exited the car and ran up the concrete steps. Blanks stepped to one side, barely avoiding getting hit with the storm door as Stephen flung it open. The unseen woman slipped into the townhome behind him.
Stephen thought was, Okay. They’re okay. as he saw Sierra composing another of her strange purple man pictures on the carpet in the living room. The young girl looked up toward her father. Typically Stephen didn’t get as much as a glance from his daughter when he arrived home from work, but he was too worried to acknowledge the surprise.
Even if Stephen had taken notice, it wasn’t him Sierra was looking at. She was staring at the unseeable woman just beyond him.
Blanks felt the girl’s gaze. No one had ever seen through her invisibility before. Looking into those young, tired eyes, Blanks understood that the girl was indeed special.
Stephen’s leaned into the kitchen and peered up the road toward the street’s entrance. There wasn’t much time. “Jan? Baby?” he called loudly into the house. He waited for a response, but there was none.
Stephen pulled at the neck of his white designer shirt in an attempt to loosen it, but the collar collar wasn’t the problem. “Janice?” he yelled out again.
“I’m up here, babe.” his wife hollered from the floor above. Stephen exhaled in relief. He bounded up the stairs, feet stomping each step as he ascended.
He arrived at the bathroom door out of breath. Janice continued to stare at the mirror in front of her. Stephen could tell she had been crying again. “Hun, we. . .have to leave. . .quickly. . .They’ll be coming soon.”
Janice turned to regard her absentee husband. If she wasn’t already so emotionally drained from the day and her life she would have rolled her eyes at him.
“There’s no time to explain.” His breathing was almost back to normal. “Look, Janny, go pack a weekend bag, please, for you and Sierra. We need to get out of here.”
Janice wasn’t be moved by Stephen’s paranoia or his abrupt sense of urgency. She was a statue. Her eyes were fixed on the husband who had been distant for far too long.
“Janny, baby,” her husband only called her that when he was in some serious shit, “I know I haven’t been good to you or Sierra lately. . .” Apparently she did still have enough energy to roll her eyes at him.
Janice wanted to stay defiant, but something in her husband’s eyes or tone told her he was involved in something serious. Janice relented, “Okay. . .But you are going to tell me everything once we’re in the car.”
Stephen conjured a weak smile for his sullen, beautiful wife. “I will. I’ll be ready in ten.” He rushed downstairs and headed further into the basement.
Blanks decided to follow, but when she arrived on the first floor her eyes glimpsed the picture the girl was drawing on her paper. It was some sort of emaciated hobo with purple skin. The detailed portrait sent a chill down her spine. This poor girl. . .
Blanks looked out the sliding glass back door. She could see Ty crouching behind a shrub at the far end of the backyard. She continued down after Stephen, but by the time she got to the foot of the basement stairs she was too late. He had disappeared.
She spotted a closed door and reached for the knob. Slowly, she attempted to turn it.
The doorknob didn’t budge. It was locked from the inside.
Across the street the phone on the window sill chimed. The man in the fishing hat lifted the phone. His eye locked onto the display screen. INCOMING CALL: CALLER UNKNOWN. Buckets slid his finger across the screen to answer.
Seth Stanton’s bespectacled face appeared on the phone. “Chase?”
“Mr. Stanton,” Buckets responded nervously.
“Thank you for the work you’re doing there in Brunswick. . .,” the old man paused,”. . .I have one more task for you. Swelter will be arriving momentarily. He’s going to need you.”
Buckets face went flush. The only person he liked less than Stanton was that tattooed freak. Nevertheless, he remained silent.
“Mr. Ansel, do you understand me?”
“Y-y-yes. . ..”
“Good. I’ll be looking forward to a successful debriefing.” The edge of The Controller’s lip rose into an subtle smirk as he delivered his veiled threat. “Please do try and avoid any unnecessary casualties.”
A thunderous roar arose behind Buckets. The Controller spoke again, “That should be our little friend now,” and The Controller severed the connection.
Buckets turned and looked out the side window. An enormous red pick-up rounded the entry to the cul-de-sac. Painted flames ran down the hood and the fenders making the ludicrous truck even more ridiculous. The tattooed driver spotted Buckets in the second story window. He shot his fist in the air and gave Buckets the finger and then tilted his head back hysterical at his own theatrics.
Fire erupted from the huge tail pipes of the truck as it plowed down the road toward number fifteen. Two monstrous black SUVs followed around the corner at rolling pace.
What had this poor family had gotten themselves involved in? the slim man wondered to himself.
He headed downstairs and out the front door. There was about to be violence.
To be continued in the second part of The Dreamers.
Look out for it in the next couple of weeks.
John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.
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