• Nightmares and Reality

    Fear filled the young woman’s heart. She ran through the woods. Something was chasing after her. Because the fog was too thick, she could not see what this thing was. She continued to run and collided with something she thought was a tree. However, the something moved. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came. A large creature loomed in front of her. It leered at her for a few seconds and opened its mouth, revealing long fangs with venom dripping from each. It moved towards her. She did not get a chance to see what the rest of the creature looked like, because she was not going to stick around. She turned to run in the opposite direction. However, her feet became like lead. She was running in slow motion. The creature drew closer. The ground under her feet shook and cracked. She fell into a crevice. Clutching in vain with her hands, she pulled herself onto steady ground. The creature was in front of her, reaching out its claws to tear her apart...
    Her head snapped up and she found herself sitting in a classroom, with the teacher's voice droning on. "It was a dream," she thought to herself, "just like the others I have been having."

    The teacher stopped his lecture and looked at the woman. "Ms. Fancher, I see that you are enjoying my class very much."

    "I am sorry Mr. Jeffries. It is just..."

    "Do not give me any of your excuses, Maria. If you spend less time partying and more time studying, maybe your grades will get better. Need I remind you about the "D" you got on the paper?"

    A few of the students laughed at this. Angry Maria stood up. "I have had enough of your comments." Grabbing her purple leather backpack, she stormed out of the classroom, slamming the door on the way out. The glass rattled in the panes but did not break. The teacher looked puzzled at her departing figure then continued on with his lecture.
    Maria walked angrily down the street.

    "I cannot believe how rude he is! He has been this way ever since the first day of school."

    This was Maria's first year in college. While, most of the people she graduated with from high school had started college the year before, she had decided to wait. They had their parents to pay their tuition for them; she had to pay her own way. They wanted to go to college to party; she wanted to go to learn. Mr. Jeffries had it wrong; she was doing excellent in every class she was taking, except for his.

    Maria knew that when many of her classmates from high school graduated college, they still would not know what type of career they would chose; some of them would not even get a job in the field they studied for. Maria had decided what she was going to do. She was going to get a Psychology Degree and minor in Social Services. Having lived in foster homes most of her life, she felt with her experience she could reach out to children and teens.

    "Why did I even sign up for his class?" she asked herself. "Of course; every girl on campus had a major crush on him!"

    Maria had signed up for her classes before the semester started. She had room for one more class and needed an English Elective. Being an avid reader of fantasy novels, she thought that Fantasy: Fact or Fiction sounded like an interesting class. She also had heard that the teacher, Mr. Jeffries, resembled a modern-day Robin Hood. She caught a glimpse of him as he was sitting at a desk and making final changes on his lesson plan. "He is georgous!" Maria exclaimed to herself.

    Mr. Jeffries had dark brown hair, so dark that it almost looked black. His dark eyebrows and eyes made him appear to be mysterious. While he had the classic five o’clock shadow from not shaving, Maria still though he was hot.

    “I can see why most of the females dream of having him for a teacher. I bet if he smiled, he would even be more handsome. I think my heart would just melt!” The teacher seemed to have a sulky look on his face.

    Mr. Jeffries got up from the desk and walked away without looking at Maria. He was over six feet tall and the large muscles in his arms could be seen visibly through his shirt.

    "This class should be fun," she thought to herself, as she signed up for the class.

    "I was very wrong about that class," she fumed as she headed down the street towards her apartment.

    On the first day of class, Mr. Jeffries did not have a class roster. Therefore, he passed around a sheet of paper and had the students write their names on it. When he got the paper back, he called out each name and asked each student what they were studying in college. When he got to Maria's name, he paused. He looked up at the students.

    "All right, who is the person with the fancy handwriting?"

    "It must be me,” Maria said. "Maria Fancher."

    "Maria Fancher," said the teacher to himself as he wrote next to her name. He looked at Maria and said, “So tell me, what you did with the money?"

    "What money?"

    "The money your mother gave to you for handwriting lessons?"

    Maria laughed, knowing her handwriting was not the neatest-she preferred to write in print instead of script. So she jokingly said, “Right now I am paying tuition with it." The class laughed at this and Maria thought everything would be fine after this. Then the teacher asked her what her major was.

    "Psychology,” Maria said.

    "Oh no, we have a Psychiatrist analyzing us."

    "Well, for one thing,” Maria began, "Psychology and Psychiatry are two different fields of study. Also..."

    "I have to time for your lectures," Mr. Jeffries interrupted.

    After this, Maria developed a dislike for the teacher. She made attempts to show that she had an interest in the class by asking questions and making comments. However, the teacher seemed to treat her as if she did not know anything or know what she was talking about. Then when the first test came around, she had problems and did not do very well--she barely passed. Maria went to Mr. Jeffries to try to explain why she did not do very well. However, he would not listen to her about her problems. He did not care, or so Maria thought.

    Maria could see her apartment a half a block away. As she approached it, her breath quickened, as did her pulse, and she noticed that her palms began to sweat. "There is that feeling again," she said to herself. "It always seems that somebody is watching me." She looked and saw nobody, except for a lone man, dressed in ragged jeans and a torn sweat-shirt, looking through garbage bins for cans.

    She waved to Luke, the Can Man-as everybody on campus called him. He must make his living on returning bottles and cans. "I wonder if he has a place to live," Maria thought as she passed him. The man looked up at Maria as she passed; not saying a word, he went back to his searching.

    Maria looked around the apartment when she entered. It was small with only a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and a room for sitting and studying. It was not much, but at least it was home. After being in foster homes, she finally had left when she had turned eighteen. She was able to get a job at a diner and was able to save up her money. With her hard work, she had been able to afford the rent and pay her college tuition.

    Maria sat down on her couch. "Mr. Jeffries is going to pay," she thought to herself, still angry. "It is not just me; he has belittled other people in the class too. I have a week to drop his class. I will do it! And it will be tomorrow! I will also file a formal complaint to the school board. People like Mr. Jeffries do not deserve to teach!"

    Maria stood up and walked over to her desk. She picked up the picture and looked at it. The picture showed two girls with long brown hair, approximately three years old. A man and a woman were hugging the girls. They all looked happy. Maria knew that the two girls were her and her twin sister. However, she did not remember her since, shortly after the picture was taken; they were left at separate orphanages. This picture was the only clue to her past. She wanted to know who her parents were, why they had left her and what happened to her sister. By looking at the picture, she knew there had to be a good reason why they were no longer in her life.

    Maria looked in her mirror. Her long brown hair was still neatly done in the French braid that she loved to wear. There was no need to redo it. The thing that she liked about wearing her hair that way was that she could see different shades of brown and an occasional blond here and there. A natural beauty people called her all the time; she had no need to wear makeup. Still, she was puzzled why no guys asked her out.

    “There is no time to think about the dating scene,” Maria shrugged. She picked up her purple backpack and left the apartment.
    Sitting in the library's media lab, Maria sat staring at the computer screen. She did not have to work at the diner tonight, so she was going to check up on some leads from different orphanages. Even though she had known about her sister for a long time, she just recently became obsessed in finding her. At least, if she could not find any information about her parents, then she could try to find her.

    She stretched her arms and yawned. "I wish Mr. Jeffries would understand why I fell asleep in class today. Maybe he would respect me more if he knew that I was working nights at the diner. Plus these nightmares I have been having are not helping." This was not the first time she had dreamt about a fanged creature chasing her. In the past two weeks, she had this dream four times. She should be used to it, however, she still felt disturbed by the dreams.

    "I better get back to my place," she thought to herself.

    Maria had been working at the computer for three hours. She thought she had a lead on an orphanage in New York. Like all the countless times before, it ended up being a dead end. "I might as well give up. I probably will not find any information on my sister or my parents. Why am I doing this anyway? If I find either of them, we will not be able to catch up on the good old days. What would I be able to tell my sister? I never got the chance to know her. Even if I do find my parents, I may feel a lot of bitterness for being abandoned."

    Walking back to her apartment was relaxing. It had been a beautiful spring day; warm with a cool breeze. Even now, with darkness already fallen, the night was just as beautiful. She paused and looked up a cloudless sky. The stars were out and she could see the Big Dipper clearly. She continued walking. As she neared her apartment, Luke the "Can Man" was still across the street on his mission in finding all the cans and bottles. She waved to him as she passed.

    Luke as usual looked at her and said nothing. He pulled his hood from the sweatshirt over his head. "The poor guy must be cold," she thought. "On my next payday, I should give his some extra money. He could use it..."

    Luke, all of a sudden, leapt to his feet and ran across the street towards Maria.

    She had no time to scream out as he clamped his hand around her mouth and dragged her into an alley between two apartment houses.

    "There is no sense in fighting!" he whispered harshly in her ear.

    He threw her to the ground, keeping a firm grip on her. How could such a thin man like this have such strength?

    Luke's hand slipped from Maria's mouth as she fell. She tried to get up, but he sent her a powerful kick that sent her sprawling to the ground once again.

    "Somebody, please help me!" she screamed as Luke slowly approached her.

    "I will make sure you will not make another sound," he said. He sat on top of her so she could not move. The weight on her chest was so great that she was struggling to breathe.

    His searching hands found her throat. The fingers closed around her windpipe and tightened, squeezing the life out of her.

    Deeper and deeper Maria drifted into blackness. The last thing she remembered was sounds of shouting. The final thoughts going through her mind were of her parents and sister. "I will never find them now," she thought. Then she remembered nothing.