Jack was dreaming again.
Or he was going crazy again. Well, maybe that was the wrong way to think about it. Maybe he was going crazy still.
Whatever. The point was Jack was in his bed and afraid to move. His clock on the bed stand read 4:02 AM, which was about right for dream-time, and probably ok for crazy-time as well. Jack assumed anytime was a good time for crazy-time.
Jack was afraid to move because there were two girls standing about three feet from his bed, staring at him. They weren’t very scary in and of themselves. They were about six years old or so, definitely twins, and pale as ghosts. They were a bit skinny and unhealthy looking as well. In fact, they could have been ghosts – they were pale almost to the point of translucence.
But what really scared Jack about these two girls was the fact that they seemed quite real. He could see their shadows, which the glow of his alarm clock cast out behind them. He could see dark circles under their eyes, like they hadn’t slept well in weeks. He could even sort of smell them. They smelled sweet and somehow sickly at the same time, like someone with the flu who had just taken a teaspoon of disgustingly sweet grape cough syrup.
He was no expert, but Jack didn’t think dreams ever had quite this level of detail to them.
Finally, he was afraid to move because he slept in his underwear, and six years old or not, Jack wasn’t running from his room, in his underwear, in front of two girls.
Jack raised his hand to them: half wave, half don’t-move-any-closer.
“Hi, Jack,” said the one on the left.
The girl on the right just give a small, quick smile at Jack. Then she looked down like her feet were more interesting than Jack.
Jack squeaked. He meant to say “hi” back to them, but it just didn’t come out.
“We were supposed to come give you a message,” the girl on the left said. Then she looked at her twin. Her twin just kept staring at her shoes. “She needs you to hurry up.”
“Who?” Jack asked. “Who needs me to hurry up?”
“Clarice,” the girl on the left said. “Our sister.”
Then Jack recognized them. The photo. These were two of the three frowning girls.
“Why did you put that picture in my calendar?” Jack asked.
“Because Clarice needs to talk to you,” Left Girl said.
The girl looked at her sister, and the sister pulled her gaze up from the floor for just a moment. Long enough to give her twin a quick, worried look, then back down again.
“It’s sort of long. And weird,” Left Girl said. “Clarice can explain it better than we can. She’s smart.”
“So have her come talk to me,” Jack said. Then he reconsidered. “Tomorrow. During the day. When I’m dressed.”
Left Girl sighed and turned to her sister. Right Girl took out a photo from her jacket pocket and handed it over to Left Girl.
“She can't come talk to you. You need to look at this picture when you eat the candy later today,” Left Girl said. “Then you can talk to Clarice.”
Left Girl gently placed the photo on Jack’s bed, right next to his pillow. Right Girl pulled on her sister’s sleeve and headed for Jack’s bedroom door.
“Wait!” Jack hissed. “I’m not eating any candy. I don’t want anything to do with that thing.”
Right Girl paused at the door and spoke for the first time. “Please,” she said.
They walked out of the room and Jack scrambled out of his bed, searching for some pants. He couldn’t find any. There was crap everywhere, but no stinking pants! Jeez, why didn’t he clean his room once in a while?
He spotted a pair of sweats thrown across his desk and pulled them on quickly, almost falling over a pair of shoes.
Jack ran out of his room, wanting to ask the girls a few more questions. Maybe find out their names, which he had stupidly forgotten to ask.
Jack ran through the living room and into the kitchen – nothing. The back door was still locked. He ran back through the living room and the entry hall to the front door. It was locked too.
They were gone.