The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

I avoided my friends for a fortnight, not that that was easy to do sharing a room with Jack, and of course, the dreams had returned making things that much more stressful. If I’d been the bigger man then I would’ve reached out to them after the first night, but whether because I was stubborn or because my pride just wouldn’t let me cave in to my guilt, I didn’t. I walked around the grounds alone and miserable.

The one good thing was that it gave me an opportunity to have a think, and my thinking was this: Oscar’s idea had been a solid one. It the library proved anything, it was that it had information that might help get us out of this mess. I went back to the library several times on my own, and while I wasn’t having much luck with finding an antidote to wood boy, I was able to find a bunch of stuff on the occult in general. The more I looked up, the more certain I was that we were dealing with a ghost, a horrible creepy one at that.

I finally gave in and cornered Jack in the hallway after fifth period. He wasn’t exactly happy to see me.

“Alright?” I asked rather casually.

“Yeah,” he replied, his tone much like mine. “Alright?”

“Yeah, alright,” I replied.

In lad speak, that meant we were going to be okay.

“I’ve been thinking,” I said as we strolled back to the dorm. “I think he wants something.”

“What for?” asked Jack. “I mean it’s a ghost, isn’t it?”

“I reckon so,” I said. “But I’ve been in the library and they’ve got reason for . . .” I dropped my voice when two boys stared at me as they passed by “. . . being around.”

“Too right,” snorted Jack. “He’s in my dreams every night now.”

“Yeah, but I don’t’ know for how much longer,” I replied, unsure if it was the right time to tell Jack my suspicions. My frown might’ve been the dead giveaway that what I had to say wasn’t going to be pleasant.

“What in bloody blazes now?” complained Jack.

“I think he’s in our dreams because he can’t get out of them yet.” A shudder ran through me just saying it out loud.

“Are you taking the mick?” said Jack, practically shouting.

“No,” I hissed. I dragged him the rest of the way to Oscar’s room before saying anything else. Luckily Moley was out, but Oscar was in, eating a tart green apple on his bed while he worked on an assignment. Oscar just gazed up expectantly.

“It took you long enough,” he replied.

I sat down on the edge of Oscar’s bed and proceeded to tell him what I told Jack, making sure that I didn’t leave anything out. He didn’t blink or look shocked like Jack had been.

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “I know how to use a library, too, you know.”

For the second time that day, Jack’s face looked like a slapped arse. He gaped at Oscar.

“Brilliant,” I uttered. “Just brilliant, Oscar.”

“What?” he asked defensively.

“It doesn’t matter,” I replied, shaking my head. “We need a plan.”

“We need to figure out what he wants,” re-iterated Oscar.

“Fine, but I don’t know what that means,” I said.

“Well, what did he do in your dream? Before me and Jack came along?” asked Oscar.

I tried not to think about my dreams. They always involved my mum. When he had violated those sacred moments with her, it almost made it worse. I cleared my throat feeling highly uncomfortable.

“I don’t know. I’m with my mum and he just shows up, but he’s not all gruesome like. He looks normal, but a bit like a girl if you know what I mean,” I say half-heartedly. I hold back from saying more.

“What about you?” asked Oscar, turning towards Jack.

“Kinda the same, isn’t it,” said Jack. “I ain’t never met me mum, have I, but I reckon I know what she woulda looked like. We’re walking along in the funfair and me mum wants to go in the hall of mirrors, but I’m like ‘I ain’t goin’ in there’, but she goes anyhow. I’m like yellin’ for her to come back but she ain’t and then he’s there following her inside. He ain’t no girl, I’ll tell you that. He grabs her hand and drags her inside before I can do anything about it.” I patted Jack on the back, but he shrugged me off.

“Yeah, me too,” offered Oscar. “He always shows up in time to draw them away. Both my parents show up in my dream.”

“So why don’t you see my dream and I see yours?” I asked pointing out the obvious flaw. “I mean later on, I see you and Jack, but by that point my mum’s gone, and we’re not even in the flat anymore. We’re here,” I said pointing down towards the bed, but meaning the dormitory. “Half the time I think I’m awake by the end, but I know I’m not cause he’s still here.”

“I know what you mean,” said Oscar, his face more tense than it was before. “It’s the same for me. I’m in my dream and then you lot are there and the dream shifts to the dorm and it feels like I’m awake.”

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