A rumbling to her left, drew her attention away from the house. Sitting, clothes damp, in the garden that covered the backyard of the house, Amya came face-to-face with a monster. A glimpse was enough to make her panic.
She turned her face and squeezed her eyes shut, but the image was branded in her retina. Its body was solid black, like a panther, but its face was large as if it were surrounded by a lion's mane. Its eyes were huge and yellow, burning like a fire. But its teeth, lips pulled back to expose two rows of sharp teeth that were just inches from her face.
It huffed, its hot, putrid breath blowing strands of hair around her face. Amya whimpered at the movement. Just a tiny sound, but it seemed to be satisfied with this. It let another grow, and a huff and Amya flinched, tears springing from the corner of her closed eyes.
She sat a still as possible, but she couldn't control the shaking, the trembling fear that washed over her. There was a gasp as a wet slimy substance, dripped onto her shoulder. Amya shuttered at the feeling. It oozed down her arm causing a sob to escape her lips.
There was no way to run. It was just inches from her, any sudden move, any attempt to get away and it would have her in its enormous jaws. Was it real? It felt real. Could it hurt her? She didn't know for sure, but she didn't want to take that chance.
Amya pressed her eyes even further shut. Sweat dotted her skin from her vain attempt to stay motionless. She thought of the only thing that may be able to help her. She opened her right eye looking up and her bedroom window.
Another growl came from the woods. Amya whimpered, though she gave her all to keep it in. One was bad enough; she didn't know how to deal with that one much less a second.
The hot, moist breath left her side, and she peaked to see what was happening. A gray wolf stood at the edge of a walking path, its hair on end, and its tail in the air. The monster took an interest in it, and Amya saw an out. As reared back on its haunches, ready to attack the wolf, Amya scrambled to her feet and ran.
It snapped at her, but the wolf attacked causing the monster to miss her in an attempt to protect itself. Vicious growling and snapping happened behind her as she made it to the porch and in the door without looking back.
From the safety of the house, Amya finally glanced at the fight outside. A swirl of black, gray, and red painted the garden through the morning light. The sobs shook her hard, and the tears hindered her vision. So, she ran, back up the stairs to her room and under her covers and cried until she fell back to sleep.
When she woke, Amya had managed to convince herself it was all a dream. A vivid, terrifying dream, but a dream all the same. Nightmares could be so realistic that it felt true. It was too difficult for Amya to believe she has sleep-walked out the back door and into the garden.
That's right; it was all just a dream.
The sun illuminated every inch of her room; she must have slept later than she thought. Hands over her head, she stretched the night's terrors away and headed downstairs to recharge.
Remi sat at the table, socked feet propped up, a book in her face.
"Sleep well?" Amya asked.
"Just peachy," Remi replied with little emotion, flipping to the next page.
Amya grabbed an orange out of the fruit bowl, digging her thumb in, the crisp peel shooting a fine mist against her hand. "Where is everybody?"
"Didn't you hear it? This morning two wolves, like, fought in the garden. It's a bloodbath out there. The parents are trying to clean it up." Remi told her.
Amya's heart sank. Remi couldn't have said what Amya thought she just heard. Against her will, her feet took her to the patio door. Remi was right. Laura had the hose at full-blast, spraying waves of crimson off the stone path, a fine red mist floated up, casting the bright color over the garden. Her dad carried a blood-matted furry body into the woods.
Amya's stomach turned. It wasn't a dream.
How had she managed to sleep-walk out of her room and into the garden? Her hand shot up to cover her mouth. She was going to be sick. The orange in her hand hit the floor as Amya turned and ran for her room. Stairs were taken two at a time, not fast enough, to get to the safety of her room.
With the door behind her back and Remi yelling up the stairs at her, Amya removed her hand from her mouth. It was all real, the dream, the monster, the wolf. She had looked that monster in the face. The light in the room shifted. Rem stood at the window, staring out into the garden, a place Amya wanted to pretend didn't exist.
"I couldn't let him hurt you." Rem mumbled.
"You were the wolf." She breathed heavily.
"I'm responsible for that wolf dying. I could feel its spirit slipping away. It was the worst thing I've felt besides dying." Rem continued as he watched Laura and Jason wipe away the remnants of his fight.
Amya approached him, careful to keep the garden out of her view.
"You saved me. It saved me. We must figure this out. Not just to protect me and Remi, but to honor you and the others this thing has taken." Amya told him. The determination was set in her words.
Rem finally turned to her. "I keep going over what I can remember in my head, and I always come back to the diary. I think that's the key."
"Then back to the attic we go."