That night, I did manage to go to sleep. For a while, I lay awake in bed, listening to my parents arguing with Jack.
I don’t know if they gave him yet another handout that night. Eventually, though, he left. By then I was asleep.
Late that night—or early the next morning, I should say—I awoke from a dream.
The dream itself was routine enough: a mishmash of random scenes and events from my daily life. First I was at home with my parents, then I was going to classes at West Clermont High School. In another segment of the dream, I was working at McDonald’s.
The dream was subject to the usual distortions and inconsistencies of the dreamworld, but it contained no content that was especially memorable or disturbing.
And then some force invaded the dream.
The dream images of daily life abruptly dissolved, replaced by total darkness. I was awake now—but not quite awake. Paused on the boundary between sleep and full consciousness.
And I wasn’t alone there.
A presence was leaning over my bed.
I dared not open my eyes. As is often the case in this in-between state, however, I was capable of some version of sight, or what I imagined to be sight.
Lying on my back, I could sense the vague shape leaning over me.
It terrified me, whatever it was. It was horrible and seductive at the same time.
The thing was trying to speak to me. But before I could make out the words, I pulled myself out of this in-between state.
Fully awake now, I sat up in bed. Looked around my darkened bedroom.
I was alone. But I noticed something: The door of my bedroom was slightly ajar.
I had closed it when I went to bed, to drown out the sound of Jack’s rambling pleas for charity, and my parents’ frustrated but half-hearted responses.
But now the door was slightly open.
It was just a dream, I told myself. Just a dream.
Another part of me perceived that it hadn’t been a dream, though. The scenes of school and home life and McDonald’s—yes, those had been dreams. But I had been at least marginally conscious when that thing visited me.
I struggled to figure it out. The thing had appeared as nothing more than a mere shape.
Or no—more than a mere shape. The shape had been distinctly female. But no longer female in the sense that Leslie Griffin and Diane Parker were female.
The shape had once been female, it occurred to me. My visitor carried femininity—and humanity—as distant memories. But it was something else now.
Marie Trumbull, were the words that sprang to my mind.
Ridiculous, I told myself. You were not visited by Marie Trumbull, the executed Loyalist spy. You’re letting your imagination get the best of you.
I lay there, for perhaps an hour or more, before I finally willed myself to go back to sleep.