Chuck has us working on an X & Y kinda stories. We pick something from table X and one from table why and smoosh them together and - hey! - we get a cracker of a story! I chose Stephen King's The Stand and Indiana Jones (And the Lost Arc)... well... it was okay I guess.
“No... no, please...run, Stu, run!” her eyes snapped open to find him staring at her in the darkness of their bedroom. Tears brimmed and poured down her cheeks as she held him close, sobbing, “Oh, I dreamt you were ...”
“Franny, was it the same dream?” he turned on the bedside lamp on his side before looking back at her. She nodded and he lay against the pillows sighing, wondering what it all meant, “I haven’t had any dreams like that – not since Mother Abigail.”
Sniffing, she snuggled against him, wanting to be near him, “I don’t know what it means – I wish to god I did – but I don’t.”
Stu kissed the top of her head, knowing she was scared about what these dreams might mean. Could there be another Randall Flagg out there? Could there be another plague – much like the one they just survived – doing the rounds to kill off the rest of them? He just didn’t know; and he didn’t like seeing his wife in this much pain about not wanting to sleep, “We will find out what this is about, Fran, I’ll ask around and see if anyone else is having similar dreams.”
“I don’t like losing sleep, Stu, it’s starting to affect my health.” She said.
“Yours and mine alike.” He reached over and turned off the lamp, but didn’t let her go; instead pulling up the covers and holding her as close as he could to protect her as much as he could from what was going on inside her head.
Teddy sat on the front porch with Stu sinking a nice hot cup of coffee. It wasn’t quite as good as they used to be, but he was getting used to the taste.
“I’m sorry about the quality, but drying out the beans is something of an art form.” Stu smiled, “I’ll get it soon enough.”
“Nah, it’s okay, not everything is going to be perfect in the first few years. Remember Glen Bateman told us that.” He peered into the bottom of the cup for a moment before setting onto the table in between Stu and himself, “So you didn’t invite me here to discuss the quality of your beans, Stu. What’s going on?”
He ran a hand over his head of short curly hair, “I’m not sure. Franny’s been having nightmares about me; tellin’ me to run. It’s woken her up in the middle of the night for the past week.”
Teddy sighed, “Geez Louis man, I dunno what to say. I’m no doc.”
“I don’t want to talk to no doctor, they’ll just fill her fulla pills.” He leaned back in the porch chair, “I want to know if your wife has had any bad dreams like my Franny?”
The long-hair man adjusted his glasses, then pushed his hair back, “Nope, not that I can think of, or remember.”
“Shit. It looks like I’m taking her to the hospital then.” He shook his head, “I hate hospitals.”
She stood at the door, just out of sight knowing what was happening to her in her sleep was probably going to be something bad... it probably meant it they had to go away from Boulder for something important. Looking over at her lovely little baby girl, Abigail, Franny realised she’d probably had to leave her behind.
The doctor at the hospital sat in his chair with a worried expression on his face as they sat down across from him.
“Tell us what’s going on.” Stu said taking her hand.
“Franny, you’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with you. I don’t know why you’re going through these dreams; and if they’re like the ones we all experienced last year, I’d say you’re both in for an adventure.” He put his pen on the open file, “But you have to know something. You’re pregnant; and being pregnant can cause all kinds of weird things to happen... like nightmares.”
“I’m pregnant?” she smiled, “You could have opened with that, you know.”
“But this running dream, and you being in danger, Stu, it’s probably something I wouldn’t worry about too much.” The doctor smiled, “Besides, it may well be your hormones.”
Once inside the door, Stu watched his Franny opened up the rest of the house. He was going to be a Daddy... wow! Smiling, he saw her grab the kettle off the stove, fill it with water, return it to the stove and turn it on for a pot of tea.
“Do you think we should pick up Abbie from... what are you looking at?” she asked standing in the middle of the kitchen.
He walked over to her, took her hand, “You.”
“Stu! Franny! Are you both home?” Teddy’s voice called down the hall, “Where are you?”
Stu turned off the stove and walked out to where he saw Teddy was standing there with his rifle at the ready, “What’s going on, man?”
“Pack your shit, we have to bug out.”
“What’s bug out?” Franny asked.
Teddy looked at her, “Evacuate. Somebody has shown up from out west near Vegas, some stragglers who were the last to get hit by radiation... we gotta leave before they spread it to us.”
As they packed the last of their things into the back of the SUV, Franny tied their little sweetheart into her car seat, “Where are we going to go?”
“Rapid City.” Stu said.
“That’s a long way, and the petrol might not work in the cars anymore.” She said.
“That’s a risk worth taking. Get in and we’ll take turns driving.”
Rapid City looked pretty nice after the long hours on the road; but it was far from empty. Stu slowed the SUV to first gear and could feel they were being watched.
“We’re not alone, Fran.” He said, “They saw us coming from miles away and they think we’re nasty.” As the words passed his lips, a man stood out in front of their vehicle, levelling a twelve-gauge at the windscreen and Stu stopped without panic.
“Out!” the man shouted, “We’re not happy for new people to show up out of the blue sky here.”
Unbuckling his seat belt, Stu got out of the vehicle and Franny moved over to his seat. He looked over at her as he smiled and put his hands up, “I’m friendly, we all are, friend.” He said, “We were evacuated from Boulder.”
He lowered his firearm slowly, “Are you Stu Redman?”
“Are you going to fill me fulla holes if I say yes?”
“Hell dang it man. We ran out of vehicles to get to Boulder. You and your woman, you’re famous. Everyone knows you!” the man slung the rifle over his shoulder and put forward his hand, “Welcome to Rapid City. Sorry about the rude welcome, but we’ve had our fair share of Flagg’s people show up here.”
“Well, I’m glad to say we’re not in any way related to him.” He shook hands with the man, “Well, you know me, what’s your name?”
“Bill – everyone calls me Billster; it’s a mix of my first and last names.” He smiled, “Bring your people through, there’s plenty of houses and the power’s on too!”
Their new house was fully furnished and the garden needed work done to it – but Stu loved getting in and getting his hands dirty in that sense. Franny was quickly making the house a home as she started looking around the stores which were selling new and old items from the other houses not currently being used.
But she still suffered the nightmares; which bothered Stu to no end. This time, though she started writing them down, and seeing more in them the longer they stayed in Rapid City.
Stu soon found himself a job with a landscaping crew to help around the city to make it look like it did before Captain Trips came to kill off the population. The committee running this place was hoping to have this city up and running like it did before, to make it feel as though nothing had happened.
He came home one day to find Franny had gotten a map of the city and pinned it to one of the bedroom walls upstairs. She was looking through her dream journal and pushing pins into the map, making notes, pinning them off to one side, then taking string and playing connect the dots with it all.
It gave him the creeps to see her doing this.
“Honey, what are you doing?”
She turned, “I’ve been seeing more in my dreams, Stu; and it’s this city I’ve been dreaming of.” Closing her journal, she took a step back and looked up at the map on the wall, “It looks messy, but it really is what my brain is showing me.”
“And that is?”
“I have to ... we have to... go into the hills and find this.” She showed him a brass idol, “It’s there, and we must get it to protect the city.”
“Or you’re needing to work.”
“You don’t believe me.”
He put the book down and took her hands, “Honey, I love you and really hope your dreams stop, but really you need help.”
“We got help, and the doctor didn’t find anything wrong.” She said, “Can you please trust me?”
Taking a deep breath, he smiled, “Okay, what do we do?”
“We leave tonight.”
“What about Abigail?”
“She will be okay, we will be gone for only a little while.” She grinned, “I got a babysitter!”
In the dark, the hills looked like mountains looming over them with haunting, deep holes for caves. Stu had flashbacks to the nightmares he had last year in the cornfields for a moment and those dead, red eyes of...
“Come on, let’s go.” She took his hand and turned on her flashlight as they started climbing the well-worn tourist path up the hillside.
“Franny, it’s a tourist spot.”
“Yeah, for the first few miles, but there’s an area where we’ll go off on our own.” She smiled. It didn’t take long for her to prove to him how well she knew this hillside.
Soon, they came to a fork in the path, and the trees lined it upwards towards the top of the hills to a lookout; but where they were going was the other, unwalked, path. This was something Stu wasn’t too happy about, but Franny asked him to trust her.
She turned on her flashlight and he followed suit and they climbed up and into a huge, blackened hole of a cave which seemed to swallow them up whole. He turned back to take one last look at the city lights twinkling below and was surprised at how high up they really were; and wondered if they were going to come back from this or was going to be a big joke?
“Stu, come on.” Her voice echoed from the darkness within the cave. He turned and shone his flashlight into it and felt as though the light was taken up by the ink blackness for a moment; but it wasn’t, “Franny, this is creepy, honey.”
“I know. I need you near.”
They walked along a narrow pathway inside the hillside and came to a huge cavern inside the place. Looking down, they found they no longer needed their flashlights and so, turning them off, looked around from their vantage point.
She pointed down at a dais in the middle of the place, “Do you see it?” she whispered, “That’s what we need. We have to take it off the dais without altering the weight on it.”
“Something bad happens.”
He regarded her, “Hon, that’s just something for the house isn’t it?”
“No. It’s to help us all.”
“Okay. I’ll see what I can do.”
The two of them found their way down to the staging area where the dais was and the idol sat in a pool of glimmering light. Stu pulled out of his pocket a plastic bag he normally had on him in case he found a tree in full fruit, and he started filling it with sand from around the area. He found a few rocks and pushed them into the bag, wrapped it up, felt the weight and thought it was about right.
He walked up to it, the bag of rocks and sand in one hand, the other hand ready to take the idol. In one swift movement, he swapped them over.
Franny grinned when it was the right weight and walked to him, “Oh you did it! Thank you, sweetheart!” As they looked it over, the bag on the dais moved and two stones fell out onto the floor, A grumbling started up and they stood, looking up towards the back of the cavern where a massive rolling sound thundered around the cavern, “Oh no! The weight shifted!”
“What the ...” Stu looked up to find a huge white ball catapulting towards them, “Holy crap! Franny! Run!”
“No... no, please...run, Stu, run!” she screamed as they turned and ran away from the huge ball, along the only way out – a huge tunnel – with the ball coming after them, destroying anything in its path.
Side by side they ran with the idol in their possession; and when Stu spotted a clearing to their left, he grabbed her arm and pulled on it, she knew exactly what he was saying. They both jumped the side wall and made it into the nature reserve alive just as the moon rose over Rapid City and that massive ball rushed past them leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.
The next morning, Stu and Franny sat at the breakfast table with the idol between them. She still didn’t understand what it was or what it meant; but when she went to bed the night before, she didn’t have any nightmares.
“So, Fran, what does this thing mean?”
She smiled, “It’s a bigger mystery than I thought... I’m not sure. But wasn’t that fun?”