(final edit before the proofreaders (he said). Chapter 2 use to be “Children of the Moon” followed by Chapter 3 “The Clarity of Night.” During the rewrite, I couldn’t see a point to keeping the chapters separate so combined them into this single chapter. This also marks the start of some noticeable rewrites (maybe))
Read Empty Sky Chapter 1 – The Cabin
Read the original Empty Sky Chapter 2 – Children of the Moon and Empty Sky Chapter 3 – The Clarity of Night
Jamie slept with Shem beside him. Both lay quietly, resting between dreams.
The Moon, her light walking through the forest on white-slippered feet, lifted her arm to better see.
Tom slept opposite Jamie and Shem, on the far side of the cabin in the bed once shared with Ellie. He’d twitch, kick off his covers, grow chill and pull them up, repeating the pattern while The Moon watched.
Her children, the Oneiroi, little black silhouettes, shadows in the darkness of night, came and went, opening and closing their multicolored, multifaceted, crystalline eyes, kaleidoscopic Gates, little rainbow bridges allowing humans passage from one dream reality to the next.
Above Tom’s bed, a dot, smaller than a piece of dust, winked into existence. It floated down, riding the heat eddies of the woodstove, as if wanting to rest in his ear. Once beside him, it grew horizontally, becoming a slit, then vertically as something stretched it open, spreading it wide. A deeper blackness, an emptiness, a hole in the night, difficult to see and unheard, formed legs, pulled itself free, walked through and stood beside Tom.
The Moon held herself motionless in the sky, her light growing from crescent to full.
“Wake up, Jamie,” beamed The Moon. “Wake up, Shem! Wake! Wake!”
The creature formed amoeba-like pseudopods ending in reaching hands and grabbed the Oneiroi hovering over Tom. Its silhouette crumpled like wadded paper, its life drained from it.
Tom moaned in his sleep, “Ellie…”
Shem stared at the creature and growled.
Jamie woke wide-eyed, his face cold with the damp night air. The smell of heavy, dying earth surrounded him like an unwelcome blanket. The Moon’s bright light screamed full upon his face from the cabin’s window.
Tom’s twitching stilled. The Oneiroi rose like mists from the cabin floor, fleeing, escaping the searching emptiness.
One Oneiroi remained to ensure Tom’s safe return from his dream.
The creature grabbed it.
Tom kicked off his covers.
Jamie sat up.
Shem stood over him, not letting him off the bed.
“Shem, get off me! Dad’s having one of his dreams.”
The trapped Oneiroi’s eyes grew dull then dark, its supple shape becoming hard and angular like flint being struck. A crystalline eye burst from its skull as its little body shattered into black flakes.
Tom hadn’t returned from his dream. He let out a quiet sob. “Ellie.”
The opening in the night winked itself shut, closing horizontally then vertically, space folding like a napkin until only a pinpoint remained, then it, too, disappeared.
Dark night filled the cabin.
Shem leapt to the floor, sniffing the air and whining as they neared Tom’s bed.
Jamie’s stood over his dad, curling his feet against the cold wooden floor tendrilling through his thick wool socks, the cold October night reaching through his longjohns, listening to his father whimper, and tucked him under the covers.
Shem put a paw on Tom’s cot and looked at Jamie.
“It’s okay, Shem. He’s dreaming about mom again. He’ll be okay in a minute.”
Shem went to the door and whined.
“You’re a pee-bucket, Mr. Shem. Come on, you old dog.”
Shem and Jamie stood in the cold in the clearing in front of the cabin. Jamie’s shadow stretched out long and full as the moon grew from crescent to full, his shadow’s lines given sharp edges by the moon’s intense light. He’d never seen his shadow like that, not even in the noonday sun.
He stood silent for a moment and watched it echo his movements, waving its arm when he did, walking when he did. The intense moonlight even shadowed the mist from Jamie’s breath as if his shadow breathed when he breathed.
It even turned back to the full mooned sky when he did.
The moon’s face changed as he watched. Mom told him about Rabbit and Mouse, about The Old Man in the Moon, all sorts of stories people believed about the moon. This was the first time he clearly saw a woman’s face, though. Mom never told him anything like that.
She looked down at him and shed a tear, turned her face away and went from full back to crescent.
“Have you ever seen anything like that, Shem? We’ll have to tell Dad.”
He looked around. Night frightened most of his friends, even Bobby Games, but it didn’t frighten Jamie. Not even full mooned nights. Uncle Jack told stories about werewolves, shapeshifting people who howled on bright moon nights. Bobby hated those stories but Jamie just sat and listened. Bobby asked, “Aren’t you scared?” and Jamie shook his head, no.
He’d always been more comfortable at night. He didn’t know why. Maybe because with the moon so bright everything could be seen, clearly revealed in black and white.
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