Rise and Shine
In which Dodger wakes up
Everything was gone. The Peak, the mountain, the Blood Lands. All of it. Sarah’s dream vanished, as did the little one. Dodger expected to disappear in a puff, like the rest of the scenery and company, but no. He remained behind, alone, in the void. At first he worried he had done something wrong that left him tied there, then he remembered the doc’s promise. The professor said once this was done he wouldn’t wake Dodger right away. Something about allowing Dodger’s brain time to recuperate. But if that entailed hanging around a black void, all alone, Dodger supposed he’d rather just wake on up with the others.
As he stood around wondering what in tarnation to do now, Dodger felt a tug at his waist, like a rope pulling on him from behind. He ran his hands across his gun belt, but couldn’t seem to find the source of the sensation. Without warning, that tug became a yank, and Dodger found himself jerked backwards, knocking him off of his feet and sending him flying through the air. A blur of scenery passed him, much too fast for him to focus on any one thing, until he landed square in the center of a feather bed. Dodger sat up and looked about.
The bed he rested on sat smack in the middle of a boudoir. Lace and silk and feathers adorned nearly every surface, with folds of scarves and wide strips of frilly fabric covering the walls in an end to end tapestry. The décor suggested the owner of the bedroom was female, which did not bode well for Dodger. He scooted to the end of the bed and hopped to his feet, intent on finding his way out before said lady had a chance to accuse him of poking around in her drawers.
Dodger spent a good ten minutes searching through the layers of fabric for an egress. There had to be a window or door or some kind of way out of here. Yet every time he got to the bottom of the wall hangings, the blank surface offered no chance of escape. It was like he was trapped in a cube.
Or a cage.
“Leaving so soon?” a woman asked.
Dodger thought he recognized the voice. But it couldn’t be. What in the world was she doing in this pink ruffled prison? “Miss Rebecca?”
Rebecca of the Forsaken materialized to his left, wearing a little red silk nightie that hugged her so tightly it rode up her thighs as she strutted toward him. “Rodger Dodger, just the man I needed.”
“Me?” Dodger asked. He glanced around the boudoir as everything fell into place in his tired mind. “Wait up now, is this still a dream?”
“Who is dreaming now?”
“I believe we are inside of your dirty little mind.” She slinked her way across the small room, right toward him, painfully slow, step for sexy step.
“Then you’re just part of my imagination?” he said.
“Perhaps you’re part of my imagination.”
“Which is it?”
“Does it matter?”
Dodger thought about this a moment as she made her way to him. “I reckon not.”
When Rebecca reached Dodger, she pressed her heavy breasts against his chest. “All that matters to me is that I have a problem, and you’re just the man I need to fix it.”
“What kind of problem would that be?” He lowered his face to her neck, breathing her scent as deep as his lungs would allow.
She smelled of fresh peaches and strawberry wine.
“I have this problem with my gown,” she said as she worked a lace or two loose at her buxom bust. “I think it’s a bit too tight, honey, and I need help taking it off. Do you think you can help me with that?” She pushed the top of her gown aside, showing off a good bit of plump cleavage, then smiled at him, fangs and all.
Whereas the appearance of those sharp fangs set him into a panic last time he saw her, this time they had the opposite effect. The sight of her fangs drove him wild with desire. Something about them screamed eroticism at its finest, and Dodger wanted nothing more than to allow her to use them any way she liked.
Dodger wrapped his arms around her, snapping her hips to his. “I reckon I can help you work yourself out of that thing.”
Before either of them could remove anything, the floor trembled as if someone gave it a good shake. Dodger lost his footing and fell backward onto the bed, bringing the vampire down with him.
“Oh my,” Rebecca said as she landed atop Dodger. “It seems I’ve found myself in a bit of a compromising position. I hope you don’t think less of me for it?”
“I don’t,” he said. “But I’d think more of you if you were wearing less.”
Rebecca smiled again, flashing a bit more fang this time. “Mr. Dodger. You are such a rascal.”
She lowered her mouth to his this time, yet before they could kiss a bright light flooded the room from above.
“What in the hell is that?” Dodger asked as he winced.
“That’s your wakeup call,” Rebecca said. She held up a hand to shield her light sensitive eyes. “I wasn’t expecting it so soon. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to take a rain check on that gown fitting.”
“No.” Dodger squeezed her to him tighter, relishing every delicious, silky curve under his hot hands. “I don’t want to go yet. This is the first good thing to happen to me in a long time.”
“Mr. Dodger, you have good things happen to you all of the time. You just have to open your eyes.”
“Do I have to?”
“I’m afraid so, honey. We’ll do this again, real soon. I promise. Just open your eyes.”
“Open your eyes,” Lelanea said.
Dodger blinked a few times before he sat up in his own bunk and rubbed at his eyes. Sunlight poured in between the slats, which meant he slept through the night. “How much longer was I out?”
“Only a few hours,” Lelanea said.
“Hours? It felt like seconds. Why did you wake me up? The doc said he was gonna let me sleep awhile.”
“We didn’t want to wake you at all, but, well, there’s a problem.”
“Isn’t there always.” Dodger swung his legs to the edge of the bunk and made to stand. “What is it? Is Rex back?”
Lelanea put out a hand, stopping him before he could get to his feet. “Slow down. You’re still weak from the sleep concoction. In Uncle’s ire at your insistence to return to Sarah’s dream, he might have given you a bit more than necessary. It will take you a few minutes to get your bearings. Until then, stay here. I’ll go let Uncle know you’ve roused.” She glanced to his lap, then back to his eyes again. “Or should I say aroused?
Dodger put his hands in his lap and ignored her dirty jab. “What is the problem?”
Lelanea paused and took a long look at him. “I’ll let Uncle explain. Gather your wits and when you are ready you can find us in the meeting cab.” Then she was gone, shuffling off down the hallway to meet with the nephew she insisted on calling uncle.
Dodger took the woman’s advice, leaning against the wall as he closed his eyes. It occurred to him that the train lacked that faint rocking motion of travel. There were an infinite number of reasons why the train wasn’t moving, and none of them good. Dodger took a moment to center himself, preparing for the reason the train came to a blinding halt when they had such an important finish line to hurtle toward. The dream battle had taken a lot out of him, leaving his body almost as exhausted as his tired mind. He drew a deep breath and relaxed, tempted by the prospect of just falling right back to sleep and leaving all of this worry behind.
In fact, falling asleep sounded like one of the finest ideas he had in a long, long time.
Perhaps he could even hop right back into that delicious dream. He smiled as he drew another deep breath, his exhale sounding more and more like a steady snore. Exhaustion overcame him, plunging Dodger back into the sweet arms of his dark mistress once more. He swore to himself that nothing would wake him this time. Not Lelanea. Not Rebecca. Certainly not the voice of Sarah Baker.
But the child insisted on waking him nonetheless.
BACK TO IT
In which Dodger returns to reality