The boy looked startled when Garrett spoke to him. If his training was anything like mine, the boy was lost inside his head trying to come back to the reality of things. Seeing what was truly real.
He looked up at me with wide brown eyes and I saw a tear slide down his cheek. I knelt down in front of him and wiped it away with the pad of my thumb. “Hi, Sam.” I said in a soft quiet voice.
He gave me a shy smile. “I’m Nox.” I held out my hand to shake hands and he took it in his hand with care and gave my hand a small squeeze before he let go of my hand. “I thought you had passed fire-started training.”
Sam chocked on his words, “Me. too.”
“Did Garrett pull you out of class?” I asked.
He shook his head, “No. My teacher sent me here. Said I had to do go one more time. Emma too, she was after me.” He pointed down the hall. “She’s down the hall waiting for… him.”
The fear in his voice was not lost on me as he spoke of Garrett. I smiled at him. “Did he hurt you?”
Sam shook his head. But I could see the lie within his eyes. I gave him a smile to reassure him and asked as I tapped his head, “Did he hurt you inside here?”
The boy’s eyes went wide. He scrambled away from me knocking over the chair. “It’s not real. My mom and dad said so.”
I stayed where I was and asked, “What isn’t real, Sam?”
“The dreams. They aren’t real. I’m imagining them, it’s just in my head. You are in my head. I didn’t tell my mom and dad I saw Emma. Or you.” He gasped and whispered, “Or the others…” His words trailed off and he fell to the floor and wrapped his arms around his legs and started rocking back and forth.
I crawled to the boy and sat in front of him. “I’m real. Emma is real. I think they all are real.” I held out my hand and touched his knee and he jumped. “See I’m real.” I turned my hand palm up and wiggled my fingers begging him to take them without asking. “I’ll tell you a secret.”
He looked up at me tears shining in his eyes. “I have the same dreams. I’ve had similar ones since I was your age.” I turned around on the floor and pulled my shirt and hoodie up over my head and I heard the boy gasp. Cold fingers touched my back and I froze. The prior fear from before increased tenfold and I could hear my ragged breath and my heart in my chest almost hurt it was pounding so hard.
There was movement behind me and the cold fingers on my hand taking my shirt and hoodie from my fingers and letting them fall back down over my back. The small arms of the boy wrapped around my neck from behind and he pressed his face into my neck. I felt him crying more than I heard him and I reached around and pulled him into my lap, his arms still around my neck and I held him while he cried. I whispered through my dissipating fear, “I believe everything.”