Main Character: Chris
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters within this story and I am making no profit from this.
Acknowledgement: I would like to thank MOG for the creation of the ATF universe.
All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.
- Edgar Allan Poe
Team seven had concluded several long weeks and had decided to spend the weekend at Chris's ranch. They had been in the grueling research and court stages for most of their cases and had assisted team three on a bust a last week. The bust had been pretty rough and team seven had borne the brunt of the assault. While there were no life threatening injuries there were still enough bumps, bruises, grazes and bullet holes to leave the team at a disadvantage in the field. Looking out at the storm clouds that were rolling in over the city of Denver, Chris decided to call it a day. As they drove out of the city past the suburbs, and out into the country, the skies continued to darken. Thunder gently rumbled in the distance as the rain began to fall. The gravel crunched under the wheels of the Ram as Chris came to stop. The storm began to gain some momentum with the rainfall increasing steadily. Looking out the window was like looking down through a lake, trying to catch a glimpse of the bottom only to be interrupted by the ripples in the water. The raindrops interrupted the view as they raced each other down the windowpane. They had finished diner and were settling in to watch a movie when the lights began to dim, before returning to normal.
The rumble of Josiah's voice matched the sound of the thunder.
"Do you often have brownouts in this kind of weather, brother?”
"Sometimes, when the storms get really bad,” Chris answered.
"You've got loads of lamps and flashlights and stuff don't you?” JD asked and was answered by Chris' nod.
"We'll at least we found something good to watch,” Buck said, a light grin playing across his face.
They started with The Omen, and finished with The Conjuring before they decided to call it a night. As they made their way to their respective beds, Chris took in the sounds of Buck's teasing about nightmares, and the adamant rebuttal from JD.
"I'm not some little kid, Buck. I can watch a 'horror' film without wetting the bed.”
"You wet the bed?” Buck shot back.
"No, I don't, I just said I don't.”
"You were the one who brought it up, so you must have had some sort of experience with it.”
Chris allowed the smile to show on his face as the voices grew dimmer. It seemed that he was asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. Suddenly from the depths of his dream Chris awoke, not sure as to what had initially brought him into the realm of consciousness. He could hear the rain tapping down on the roof, finding the eaves and running through the drainpipe. Listening carefully to try to distinguish the noises of the storm from things out of the ordinary, he realized that he could hear a banging sound that seemed to be coming from somewhere outside. Dressing quickly, he hurried to the backdoor, gabbing a flashlight on his way out. The smell of wet wood and leaves assaulted him as he made his way down the porch.
The rain was cold against his skin and he could feel the faintest breeze as he walked towards the source of the sound. Making his way through the dark, he realized that the banging was coming from the barn. As he opened the old wooden door, he felt a quick stab of pain. He really should have sanded the door some time ago and now, not only was he out in the middle of the night looking for strange sounds; he was also going to have to remove the splinters he had acquired. The beam from his light seemed barely able to penetrate the heavy darkness. As he entered the barn, the first thing he noticed was the lack of noise. He could no longer hear the banging, but the sounds so common to his barn were also gone. He couldn't hear the horses or the generator.
Walking down the center aisle, he played his beam towards the stalls. His light began to dim and he shook the flashlight in vain. He turned just as the door slammed closed. He could feel his heart rate increase and tried to force himself to remain calm. He was a grown man, it's not like he was afraid of the dark. Stretching out his arms into the dark that surrounded him, he tried to find the wall of the barn so he could make his way out, but no matter how far he reached he couldn't seem to find it. Through the blackness that surrounded him he suddenly noticed a faint red light glowing in the distance. Groping his way towards it, it began to grow in size until it began to take on the look of a distorted face. The eyes seemed too large with tiny pupils and the teeth looked like razor sharp knives. Questioning what he was seeing Chris stopped, but the face still was coming closer. He could now see the body of this deformed creature, not really that of a man's, more like a beast with claws on the ends of its limbs and scales covering it from head to foot; blood was dripping from its teeth and claws. Now, he could see behind this creature the half eaten carcass of a horse.
"I must be dreaming.”
Chris tried to wake himself, but the image before his eyes would not fade. He began to back up and tried to make his way towards where the door should be. The creature seemed to be coming closer and closer. The harder he tried to move the heavier his limbs seemed. He felt a searing pain in his shoulder as the creature sank its teeth into him. He tried to fight it off with the flashlight, but his arms were too heavy and would not cooperate. Try as he might, he couldn't move. He tried calling for help, but found his voice had deserted him, too. The creature let him go looking to get a better hold. Desperately reaching for the ground to try and find his way to the door, he suddenly found there was nothing beneath him, he could feel himself falling, falling, falling.
With a sudden jolt Chris met the floor. Sitting up he found that he was in his room, on the floor beside his bed. Taking a few ragged breaths, he tried to calm himself down. He heard a gentle knocking at his door, just before it opened and Vin stuck his head in.
"You all right?”
"I heard something fall, Guess it was you.”
Chris slowly stood up.
"Now that I'm up, I might as well check on the horses,” informed his friend, not feeling up to going back to sleep just yet.
"I'll go with ya.”
The two of them were quickly dressed and working their way to the barn. Chris had double checked the lights to make sure that they were working properly. Chris walked towards the first stall only to find its occupant missing. Running to the next stall he was met with another empty stall. Feeling the panic beginning to build, he hurried towards the back of the barn. Rounding the corner, he could see on the horses prancing nervously. The horse was suddenly broadsided by the same creature that he had seen in his dream, He turned disbelieving eyes towards Vin, who was taking in the scene calmly. Vin's pupils shrank, his blue eyes enlarged and turned red. Vin opened his mouth, showing Chris his distorted teeth. Before him no longer stood his friend, but another of the large creatures. The beast lunged for his throat, but only managed to sink its teeth into Chris' chest, knocking him back.
Chris could feel his whole body trembling as he sat up on the floor of his bedroom. The knock on his door caused him to jump. Getting up, he walked over to the door and reached a shaky hand for the knob. He found himself facing Vin and Nathan.
"I heard a loud noise,” Nathan said.
"I fell out of bed,” Chris stated.
"Seemed to be coming from the barn,” Vin contradicted.
Not the barn . . . Chris could already feel apprehension rising in him.
The three friends made their way towards the barn. Just outside the barn Chris stopped.
"You two can check inside the barn. I'll do a walk around.”
Nathan and Vin looked at each other before turning back and nodding to Chris. Chris watched his two friends enter the barn before he began circling it. He was turning the last corner when he thought he heard someone walking behind him. He turned to find himself face to face with the beast. Once again he seemed unable to move or to call out. Desperately, he managed to turn. He could see Nathan and Vin running towards him. Both men began to lean forward as they ran, their bodies morphing as they moved. The three beasts converged on him, sinking their teeth into his thigh, shoulder, and arm. They began pulling him in different directions all at once. All of a sudden, two of the animals released their grips sending him flying into the last one, with a resounding thud. Chris tried to reorient himself as he found himself on the floor once more.
Turning frantically to the door, he was surprised to find it open. Trying desperately to compose himself, he worked his way across the room and through the hall. As he reached the end of the hall, he could see Vin standing, smiling at him. Josiah and Nathan flanked him. All three were showing him their teeth. Turning he was faced by Ezra flanked by Buck and JD. The six creatures turned on him at once knocking him to the ground. This time all he feel was pain. As his shoulder was savagely attacked, the burning in is arm and thigh intensified. He wanted to beg them to stop, but he couldn't find his voice. A single tear worked its way down his cheek as he closed his eyes.
How long it went on he couldn't be sure. All he could be sure of was the pain. This was now the one constant in his dream. Slowly he opened his eyes, aware of the light. Looking around he found himself in his bed, and if his clock was correct it was just after nine in the morning. Drawing in a deep breath he could smell bacon and eggs cooking. As he sat up he felt a sharp pain in his arm and shoulder. Looking down he could see the gauze that covered the bullet hole in his shoulder and the graze on his arm. The knife wound to his thigh was another reminder of the bust. Laughing softly to himself, he headed to bthe athroom to shower and shave. It had been a rough night, but he had made it through. He entered the kitchen to find the others working on breakfast.
"Sit down, brother, everything as almost ready,” Josiah informed him from his station over the bacon. Ezra was serving up stacks of hotcakes, while Vin and JD got the table ready. Nathan was making the orange juice, and Buck seemed to be in charge of the toast.
"You okay their, pard? You look pretty rough,” Buck asked. JD rolled his eyes.
"Come on, Buck, Chris isn't going to have nightmares. I bet you were the only one that did.”
"Did you take your pain meds?” Nathan asked. When Chris shook his head Nathan had to shake his, too.
"What you are looking at is the realization that lack of medication does not form a harmonistic relationship with horror movies, antibiotics, alcohol, and junk food,” Ezra said, keeping the smile off his face, but failing to disguise it in his voice. Chris smiled ruefully.
"All my wounds seemed to have worked themselves into my dreams, and I don't think the tacos or beer last night helped.”
"Well, you can catch up on your sleep later. For now, let's just enjoy this fine breakfast,” Buck said, deciding to let his friend off easy after his hard night.
Chris smiled has he picked up his fork only to drop it when his finger twinged in pain. Looking down at his hand he could see several splinters . . . splinters from the barn door?
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