“Mom? Mom! Where are you?” I ran around the ancient tree, looking. There was no sign of her anywhere, in spite of the fact I was sure I’d just heard her voice calling for help.
There it was again, her voice, yet she wasn’t there…. “Mom?” I yelled again, running around the tree again.
“Run where?” I shouted desperately.
In answer, the scenery changed, and I finally saw her. She was across the room from me, sitting on a small cot, looking around with wild eyes. “Mom!”
She heard me and turned. “Sam!”
I started to run to her, but found I couldn’t move. I looked over my should to see a giant man holding my arms, and screamed loudly.
He just shook his head. “I think we need to do something about you,” he told me, then proceeded to pull a gun out of his pocket and press it against my back. I screamed again, increasing my struggles, but it was a useless effort. He held me tight.
“Sam! Calm down!”
“Calm down? He’s going to shoot me!” I gasped, squeezing my eyes tightly closed and trying to wriggle free.
“Sam, nobody is going to shoot you! Open your eyes!”
I did, and was surprised to see my mother’s face above me. “Mom? Mom!” I stopped struggling, wrapping my arms around her and squeezing her tightly. She released my wrists and rubbed by back with one hand, hugging me back with the other. “Mom… Oh!”
“Shh,” she soothed, cradling me against her. “Its okay, Sam. It was a dream, okay? Just a dream…”
“It wasn’t just a dream, Mom,” I insisted, wiping my eyes and sitting back. “It was another nightmare. And it was horrible… It felt so real…”
“I know, honey, I know. But its over, and it wasn’t real. It’s okay.” She paused, a dark expression crossing over her face as she asked, “it wasn’t about your dad again, was it?”
I shook my head. “Not unless my father is a giant man who wants to shoot me.”
Mom chuckled and shook her head. “No, he isn’t. I promise you that.” She kissed the top of my head. “Why don’t you lay down and try to go back to sleep, okay? I bet you’ll feel better if you do.”
“What if I have a nightmare again?”
“Then I’ll be back,” she promised. “Just go back to sleep.” I still hesitated, and she sighed. “At least try, Sam. If you can’t, then you can come get me and wake me up again. Alright?”
“Alright,” I agreed. “I’ll try. Thanks, Mom.” I hugged her again, then laid back down. She tucked me back in, kissed my head, and then left. I rolled over and closed my eyes, and soon fell back asleep.
I didn’t have anymore nightmares the rest of the night.
– – – – –
The next morning, Mom was already up and making breakfast when I woke up. I went downstairs to find she had already set a plate out at the table for me and was making one for herself.
“Morning, sleepy,” she said, as I walked in.
“Morning,” I returned, yawning as I sat down at the table.
She smiled and sat down across from me, then suddenly her face took on a serious look. “Did you sleep better last night, after I woke you up?”
“Actually, yes. Much better.” I took a bite and chewed slowly, letting my mind reflect back on the nightmare; loosing Mom, seeing her in the cell, then being held away from her by the giant man with the gun. Thinking about that part particularly made me shudder.
We ate in silence for a few minutes after that, until suddenly, Mom’s communicator rang. It peeped out, in Lili Frond’s voice, my favorite ringtone to listen to on her communicator: her boss’s. “Trouble! Trouble! It’s your commaaaaaander!”
This ringtone was made all the funnier because her boss’s name actually was Trouble. Trouble Kelp. Or, in work terms, Commander Kelp.
And, of course, all the funniness lasted for the about five seconds while the ringtone played out, and then it was straight to business. For if the commander was calling on a weekend, then something was wrong.
“Hello?” Mom asked, answering it as she took another bite.
“Short!” the commander’s voice barked through the speakers, making me jump. “Come to the Plaza, now!”
Mom groaned. “Today is my day off! Can’t it wait?”
“No! Come to the Plaza, now, or you’ll loose your day off this week and next!” Then he hung up with a growl and an audible click.
Mom slammed her hand down on the table and hissed. I jumped, and she sighed. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Sighing again, she muttered, “finish eating and go get dressed.”
I nodded and took another bite, eating quicker now. I finished soon and then ran up the stairs, going in my closet and grabbing the first outfit I saw before slipping it on and rushing back downstairs.
Mom was already in the kitchen waiting for me. “Ready?”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Let’s go.”
– – – – –
The ride to the Plaza would have been completely silent if not for the radio. Mom was silent the whole time, fuming, and I was still a little too tired to try to whip up a conversation, so I just turned it on and sat back to enjoy the ride.
It didn’t take long to get there. Mom drove like a manic; she always did, but more so now because she was in a hurry. It was terrifying, yet exciting at the same time… although probably just for me. If Mom gave a stranger a ride, who didn’t know how she drove, it would probably have been just plain terrifying.
Walking into the Police Plaza with Mom, where she worked with the LEP officers, always got me attention. All the other officers liked to pick on me and stuff, but I didn’t mind, because it wasn’t serious; they just liked to play with me. Mom didn’t mind because it got me out of her hair while she worked. I especially liked to go talk to Foaly while she was busy. He gave me carrots. Yum.
This time, however, none of them did, because none of them were there. Saturday was most of the officers day off. Usually, that would include my mom, but not this time.
“What is so D’Arvitting important that you made me come in now, at this flipping ungodly hour of the morning?” Mom demanded as she rounded the corner ahead of me into Commander Kelp’s office.
Kelp turned and looked at her as she entered. He didn’t look angry about her sudden intrusion or the rude comments; in fact, he looked relieved. “Thank you for getting here so fast,” he said, standing up and ignoring her question. “I know you’re upset about getting your day off taken away, but I needed someone experienced on this.”
He grabbed some papers off the desk and handed them to her, and she looked at them and grimaced. “You want me to track down a fully grown bull troll and corner it for the retrieval squad?”
“Yes, if you could,” the commander sighed, sitting back down and leaning forward on the desk.
“Why me?” Mom asked.
“Because, for one thing, you have experience in this kind of thing. You’ve done it multitudes of times before. And.. you know the area better than any of my other offices.”
Mom looked over the paper again. This time, she must have found something she didn’t like, because her eyes widened and she threw the paper down on the table. “No. Find somebody else.”
“Holly, be reasonable! It’s not like I’m asking you to-”
“Trouble, it doesn’t matter what you’re asking me to do there, I’m not going anywhere near Dublin. It’s that simple.”
Commander Kelp stood up and walked around the desk, looking at Mom with a determined, but kind expression on his face. She stared back defiantly. “Captain Short. If it was in any way connected with him, I wouldn’t ask you to do it. But the odds are probably fifty to one that you’ll even see someone who looks like him in the brief time you’ll be there, and I don’t want to risk putting anyone else on the case if I can get someone experienced instead. Come on.”
“I’m really not comfortable with this.”
“I’m really not comfortable with putting one of those stupid new recruits on the case and watching something happen to them because they didn’t know what they were doing,” he hissed back.
Mom chewed her lip for a minute, then sighed. “I suppose I go to Foaly for a visa and equipment?”
The commander relaxed and walked back around the desk. “Yes,” he agreed, sitting back down in his desk chair. “Thank you, Holly.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” Mom muttered, turning and walking out. I waved at the commander, then followed her.
“Mom, who were you and the commander talking about?”
“Nobody,” she snapped. “Forget you even heard that.”
I frowned, but nodded. “Okay,” I answered slowly. “I guess I’ll try.”
We walked into the Ops Booth, and the first thing Mom did was walk in a grab the latest Neutrino model off the shelf. Then she turned to Foaly. “Give me my D’Arvitting visa so I can get this over with,” she growled.
“Somebody’s in a bad mood,” Foaly muttered, walking over and handing her two tickets and a helmet. “There. Don’t shoot me.’
“Don’t tempt me,” she shot back, slipping the helmet on. “Come on, Sam.”
I was about to follow her, when Foaly put a hand on my shoulder to stop. “Be careful with her on this one. Bad memories. Oh, and tell her I said to say hi to Artemis for me.” He winked, then pushed me out the door and shut it behind me.
Confused, not to mention curious, I shook my head and followed Mom out of the Police Plaza. Within minutes we were on our way to the shuttle port.