He knew, Elizabeth thought. He knew she knew. Then why was he asking? Why wasn’t he commanding her to speak? If he yelled at her, she’d talk.
But the FBI agent hadn’t raised his voice. His face was serious, but it wasn’t the dead-eyed stare that Doug gave her when he was quiet, when his voice dropped to a hissing whisper just before he burst into a rage. Chavez would stay quiet, she realized, even if she refused to talk. She thought he might just sigh, or turn away, disappointed.
For some reason that thought upset her more than the thought that he’d shout at her.
“Do you trust me, Elizabeth?”
Trust. What’s trust? she thought, a long-suppressed edge of bitterness creeping into her mind. She trusted Doug, after all. Trusted him to behave like he always did. She had no problem trusting that people would act in their own interests, and treat her like dirt.
But from Chavez she had seen something different. He had his own agenda, she was sure of that, but he didn’t act like everyone else. He showed her respect. She wasn’t really sure why. She’d made so many mistakes. Not even Matt respected her, she thought, even though she knew he loved her.
“I don’t know,” she said, sighing. “But let’s give it a try.”
* * *
When Elizabeth Wright spoke then, it was if a different person had taken her seat at the table. Chavez heard new emotions in her voice: contempt and anger for her husband, disbelief and confusion at the things she saw. She told them how she believed she was still asleep when she watched her brother, ten feet tall, reach in through their bedroom window with impossibly extending arms and drag Douglas Wright screaming across the lawn.
“I closed my eyes and tried to wake up, or get back to sleep, I don’t know. Eventually the shouting stopped, and I woke up the next morning. That’s when I found Doug in the tree. Oh, God, I thought I was going crazy.”
Chavez sipped his coffee, letting it sink in. Ojeda asked, “Had Matt appeared in one of your dreams recently?”
“The night before,” Elizabeth said.
“That’s it, then.”
“What’s it?” asked Chavez.
“Well, she dreams of Matt, she’s in the dream state, right? But he’s lucid in the dream state. They meet, she’s dreaming, he’s awake.”
“Still not following you,” Chavez said.
“Well, they meet, he starts thinking about his sister, right? Matt dreams about her the next time he goes to sleep. But when he’s dreaming in that world, he appears here, in this world.”
“Where exactly is he? I mean, you’re talking about dreams like they’re an actual place.”
“Wish I knew. Maybe it’s another dimension. Maybe it’s the collective unconscious.” Ojeda shrugged. “Maybe he exists as a pattern of recurring thoughts in all of our minds, a purely conceptual being. The professor had some ideas, but I never really understood them. Bottom line though, wherever it is, the walls between there and here are clearly permeable.”
“So he dreams of beating the crap out of the husband there, and it actually happens here?”
“He’s the Red King, man, this is his dream. Matt’s a good guy, but he has issues. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that his insomnia started because there were things he saw in his sleep that he was avoiding. It’s not a surprise that some of his dreams will be violent.”
“He was protecting me,” Elizabeth whispered.
Chavez tried to wrap his mind around it. If Ojeda was right, Larkin could wreak havoc in any place, at any time. And he might have no idea he was doing it.
“All right,” Chavez said. “How do we stop this?”
Ojeda looked at Elizabeth. “I have an idea.”
* * *
[Go to Chapter 13.1]