"Dream Catchers" - Your Story #47 Finalist

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"Dream Catchers" - Your Story #47 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:21 pm

Dream Catchers

Nobody knew what they were or where they came from. They just started showing up and killing people. Some people called them angels; some people called them demons.

Joshua Walker called them Dream Catchers because he no longer believed in demons or angels—not since they killed his wife, Mary, when she was pregnant with their first child. Joshua hated them with every fiber of his being.

Joshua wintered over in the wilderness in northeastern Maine every year to plan his next campaign against them. He was 68 this year, which meant he’d been hunting them for 43 years. He was slowing down and figured he had two, maybe three more years before his body couldn’t cash the checks his anger signed. He also figured he could get two or three dozen more of them before that happened.

This morning he stepped outside to fetch some more wood for the potbellied stove, and in front of the woodpile, he saw footprints, a not uncommon sight in winter, but these weren’t ‘coon or deer, or even bear. They looked human, but these prints were bare feet in winter—a Dream Catcher. Joshua squatted and examined the prints. The edges were crisp and there was no snow at the bottoms, so they were made before sunrise but after the blizzard ended. Not very big and not particularly heavy, Joshua judged from size and depth of the prints. The two prints closest to the woodpile were just balls of the feet and toes. He remembered how Mary always stood on tiptoe to reach anything higher than the lowest shelf in their kitchen cabinets. For just an instant, he smelled the sweet ginger scent of her hair.

Joshua returned to the warm cabin and dressed for the hunt. His prey was no more than 30 minutes ahead of him, but he stuffed his pack for a full day and a night just in case. When he was ready, he picked up his rifle then stepped back out into the harsh Maine winter. Instead of following the footprints, he moved down the opposite side of the cabin and swung wide of the corner with his Winchester shouldered. He saw nothing other than the footprints leading from the cabin into the tree line. Joshua lowered his weapon and began the tedious work of moving across deep snow.

Shortly before noon, Joshua stopped for a drink and a quick meal. Again he thought of his dead wife and tasted her lips—minty and fresh—with the last sip of water. Anger suddenly flooded his heart, and he brought up his rifle, aiming left, then right, looking for the thing he knew was hunting him. That’s when he heard her voice speaking to him.

“Please put down the weapon, Joshua,” she said. “If you shoot me I will die, and so will our daughter.”

It was Mary’s voice, but she’d been dead for 43 years. No, it was a trick. The Dream Catcher was playing with him, trying to use his own dreams against him. Rifle up, he looked for the target, looked for vengeance.

A form walked toward him, and Joshua Walker saw the perfect sight over the iron sights of his rifle. His finger tightened on the trigger. Before he could squeeze off the round, Joshua recognized his wife. No, it isn’t Mary; they’re tricking me, making me see what isn’t there. His finger pressed harder against the trigger.

“Joshua, there are no tricks; there are no demons or angels here.”

He couldn’t do it, couldn’t shoot his own wife, even though she was already dead. Tears clouded his vision.

“See, Joshua, I’m pregnant, and the child inside me is yours,” she said while cradling her belly with her small hands.

Joshua fumbled with his pack and pulled out a Mylar blanket then ran to his wife to protect her and their child from the cold. His heart ached for her and, as he ran to be with his wife, his arms became too heavy to hold up the blanket.

They found the frozen body of Joshua Walker that spring.

“He looks happy for someone who died alone in this wilderness.” said one of the hunters. “Just like all the rest.”

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