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  • The Parliament House

READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: To Wake The Dead by Sarah Lampkin


*A warning before proceeding...there are spoilers afoot. READ BOOK ONE!


Death haunted my dreamless sleep every night. Each time I closed my eyes, the image of his ethereal hand stuck in her head flashed through my mind. Even after I had fallen asleep and stood over my body, the screams from that day still echoed. The image and sounds would replay in my head over and over again. Despite the noise, I tried to put it behind me and move forward. What was done was done.

Freshman year of college was still in the forefront of my mind. It had only been four months—four months since I witnessed a girl almost die. What haunted me the most was Wilson—it was his eyes—the eyes of a boy who believed that what he was doing was right. He was fixing his mistake. He was creating his replacement Dead Dreamer. His belief was what frightened me. At the time, my only option was to expel him from the room and use my own energy to restart her heart. None of us knew if Wilson ever got what he wanted.

Ashley’s family kept her in the Nephesburg local hospital for the majority of the summer. Damon’s mother made a habit of visiting her frequently. Each time, he would ask to join her, but she only allowed it a couple of times. According to him, Ashley seemed normal and he never saw her enter the Fade. Although it helped to hear, that still wasn’t enough for me. I had to see it for myself; I had to see her fall asleep and stay alive. Stay in her body.

At one point he overheard the doctors mention that she was at risk of having a brain aneurism now, but it was highly unlikely that it would ever rupture. Considering what Wilson had done, I expected there to be far more damage. If that was all that resulted from the experience, then she was lucky.

While at home for summer break, I kept my promise and did not go searching for doorways—sealed shut or not. The doorways: the gateways to the demons and the fairies. The one place I couldn’t go despite my ability to become a spirit and travel in the Fade. And the one thing causing all of my problems.

I was tempted from time to time. There were nights spent pacing around my home and the land surrounding it, trying to keep myself occupied or at least entertained. Deep down, there was always this itch to go and find them; both the doors and the creatures.

However, one thing always stopped me: Maura—my own soul that threatened to kill me any time I acquired extra energy from the seals. The subsequent lack of power kept her quiet enough for the summer, but now that it was the last night before I was moving back to the dorms at college, my anxiety was beginning to surface.

Campus was full of dangers—more than your average school; full of nut jobs working to seal away the demons because they were supposedly of the biblical nature. Nut jobs who didn’t realize those seals were created using trapped souls. And it was those souls whose pain would echo through me until I set them free. It was unnatural. Something that was so malevolent, it gave my own demon power.

It was those seals that unleashed Maura. I would never have known my soul had separated from my spirit had it not been for them. Those stupid seals gave us an energy boost, and it was enough for Maura to rise to the surface; to try to kill me and anyone close to me.

All of it imploded the day I attempted to set them free. She found an opening and dragged me down; so far, I was lost within myself for weeks. Because of that, everyone wanted to know what would cause a supposedly normal teenage girl to fall into a coma. I couldn’t very well reveal the truth to them: I touched a tree and my soul sucked me in, so she could kill me. Oh, you don’t know her? Her name is Maura and it’s her life’s goal to have us commit suicide.

All I could do was continue to play dumb and avoid giving them a straight answer. It was probably something they would never let go of. But if I was being fair, I couldn’t blame them. It wasn’t normal to just suddenly fall into a coma with no reasonable explanation; not a physical one, anyway.

I had never experienced anxiety until now, but the act of leaving the peace of home for the chaos of college was nerve-racking. I could count on one hand how many times I had ever felt scared, and this was one of those times—scared of what I’d find, scared of being discovered, and scared of what the seals were doing.

But despite that nauseous feeling that never seemed to vanish, I had to keep myself busy. Between batting off questions from the parents and working a part-time job as a hostess for the summer, I researched any oddities that were happening around the college. What was interesting was that my search led me to a myth surrounding the small town of Nephesburg:

If you set foot in the woods on the night of a new or quarter moon, you leave yourself vulnerable to the creature’s claws. Should you survive the night without a scratch, you will be blessed. But should you be marked, you will perish within a year.

Some of the locals had brought in famous paranormal investigators at one point to try and search the forest for this creature. They even dedicated an episode of their television show to that very myth. I wasn’t surprised to learn their search had yielded little results.

Even so, there were still those who were brave enough to take the challenge. Most ended up lucky…others did not. But there were those who returned, covered with deep claw marks from head to toe. Thankfully, the claw marks causing death was extremely rare, but there were some who bled out before they could reach help or before they were found. The police speculated it was either a wild animal or someone trying to give the myth some ground. I’m not even certain if those who survived passed away within the timeframe the myth foretold.

When the events were originally happening, the stories were hyped up by the news, but the police called it nothing but a criminal on the loose who would soon be brought to justice. A few were arrested, but the charges never stuck. So, the police would send PSAs out frequently, telling the public to always be aware of their surroundings and to not travel into the woods at night.

Based on the moon cycles and the timing of the events, it sounded as though the fairies were involved, but I couldn’t know for sure. It wouldn’t surprise me; just being around them made me feel uneasy—especially now that the demons were sealed away. Ironically, I preferred their company.

The demons were always peaceful creatures. Sure, they weren’t the prettiest things to look at, but they never caused any harm. On the nights of the full moon, their doors would open, allowing them the freedom to explore the Fade. They would play pranks, laugh, and even dance as they explored. From my experience, they were harmless.

The fairies were a different story. Their doors would open on the nights of the quarter and new moons, giving them a turn within the Fade. Even when I knew they were out, they were always extremely difficult to find. Whenever I did find one, they were extremely hostile—willing to bite or scratch at anything that got in their way or too close. Beautiful or not, they were assholes.

The thought of the demons reminded me of the Gatekeepers. My teeth clenched together at the mere mention of them. They were so ignorant to think they were making a difference by blocking the demons. They truly believed these were biblical demonic creatures that needed to be sealed away to protect humanity. It was ridiculous. From what I knew, the Gatekeepers were nothing but a group of fanatics, following God only knew what kind of teachings to disrupt the balance in the Fade, using my kind to do it—Dead Dreamers, those who could cross the veil into the Fade when asleep, to trap souls and use their energy to create seals.

Two books flew across the room with the tightening of my fist. Sighing, my hand waved as I used my telekinetic ability to put them back. Being a Dead Dreamer did have a perk: although I couldn’t dream, I could at least move things with my mind. Mind, energy, whatever. Even now as I stood next to my sleeping body, it felt very cool to move the books. I just couldn’t always control it when I lost my temper.

Glancing at the clock on my nightstand, I realized it was already midnight, which meant today was the day I was moving back to school. I had only fallen asleep an hour ago, which was difficult for once. My worries constantly circled in my mind, keeping me awake longer than I anticipated. Normally, I never had trouble falling asleep.

Feeling annoyed at the stack of boxes sitting by my door, I decided it was time to leave my room. Phasing through the wall, I found Sam breathing heavily as she slept in her childhood bed. Even though she had her own apartment, she thought it would be best to stay the night here. We were leaving early the next morning to take me back to Nephesburg, and she wanted to tag along.

Her body twitched as I approached the bed until she rolled over, her body facing me—as if she could sense my presence. I tilted my head to the side. Growing up, she used to tell me stories of how our house was haunted and how the spirits liked to play pranks on her from time to time. A puff of air released from me as I stifled back laughter at the memory. Though a hazy memory, it seemed ironic now. But she wasn’t wrong.

From downstairs, I could hear laughter that echoed through the halls. It was coming from the kitchen. As quietly as a spirit could be, I crept down the stairs and through the hallway to see the two of them together. In the darkness, they stood close as they spoke, one leaning an arm onto the kitchen counter. They were chuckling and conversing about something I couldn’t hear. Seeing them together reminded me of the time I had caught all three of them playing cards at the dining room table. They had enough energy to move objects on the mortal plane, and it entertained me to watch from afar.

Unwilling to expose my presence, I floated closer, but stayed behind the partially closed door to the hallway.

“We should just leave this place. He won’t let us do anything anymore.”

The shortest soldier in the blue uniform barely reached the taller man’s shoulders. “You know we can’t. She might still need us.”

The taller man shifted, fidgeting to adjust his gray uniform, as if it were too small. “That’s what we all want, but we can’t interfere. My brother made that clear. He wants them both back more than anything, but it might never happen. We still don’t know what happened that day.”

I assumed they were discussing the girl they had questioned me about the day I had come home from the hospital after the accident. It was the first night I had ever woken up outside of my body. The experience was jarring enough, but to have the three of them hover over me and ask too many questions freaked me out. When they realized I had no answers for them, the eldest man’s face had grown grave before he pulled the other two away. They chose to avoid me ever since.

My curiosity overrode my desire to hide as I let my feet pull me forward, through the door to confront them.

“Who are you talking about?”

I heard them curse under their breath. The union soldier walked towards me. Although he was glaring, and his lips were pressed firmly together in frustration, I couldn’t sense any hatred. Instead, I felt a sadness. “It’s none of your concern.”

I kept my ground, showing no fear of his attempt to intimidate me. “If it’s the same woman you asked me about four years ago, then maybe it does concern me.”

Suddenly the third soldier materialized behind me, and the other two took a step back, their heads lowering in respect. I, instead, turned to face him. His eyes lowered to meet mine in frustration.

“You didn’t know what we were talking about then and you don’t know now. Therefore, it is none of your concern,” he said, his voice hard.

He was taller than the other two with a salt-and-pepper beard that had grown to his chest. His gray uniform matched that of his brother’s. The main difference was his face. He was older and tired. Even through his beard, I could see the lines in his face and the exhaustion in his eyes. He was sad. They all were. But I didn’t know why.

We both stood our ground, waiting for the other to back down. He did his best to glare and intimidate me, but I wasn’t bothered. His presence didn’t frighten me in the slightest. Rather, it comforted me, though I couldn’t explain why. “Why do you guys hate me so much? I’m sorry I don’t know who you’re talking about, but that isn’t my fault.”

All three of them glanced at each other, with agonized expressions on their faces. It was enough to make me flinch at the harsh tone I had used.

The union soldier lifted his head to speak up. “You should! This is—”

Quickly, the eldest confederate grabbed his arm and pulled him back. “Enough!”

I stared at them in disbelief. They thought I was hiding some kind of secret involving this woman. “No! Wait! What was he going to say?”

When the older confederate turned to look at me again, I knew they were leaving. He reached to grip their arms and pulled them through the walls. I watched in annoyance as they walked towards the woods behind my house. Four years ago, I became a Dead Dreamer; and in all of that time, not once had I seen a female spirit in this house. It was possible they were confusing me with someone else, but that seemed unlikely. Either way, the conversation only increased my anxiety. I wasn’t welcome anywhere, not even in my own home.


“Brenna! Come on! Grab the last box and let’s get going!” Sam yelled from downstairs.

Picking up the last box containing my videogames, I reached to turn the light off in my room. It was bittersweet. This was the home I had grown up in; you would think that I’d be sad to leave it for the next few months. But considering the exchange from last night, it felt like a good idea to leave. I wasn’t sure which was worse: experiencing the cold shoulder from everything dead in this house or dealing with an idiotic cult. Each had its pros and cons.

Attempting to appease my sister, I jumped down the stairs, nearly dropping the box of games as I landed. “I’m coming!”

Tossing the last box into the back of my RAV4, I slammed the trunk shut. The hairs on the back of my neck stood when I moved towards the front door. Shifting my eyes up, I stared at my sister’s bedroom window on the second floor of the house. There was no one there. But I could still feel them—watching.

Snapping herself free, Sam leaned out of the passenger’s seat towards me. “You okay?”

My nose twitched at her question. Biting my tongue, I pulled the door open and fell into the driver’s seat. “Yeah, I just hate leaving home.”

She chuckled. “I know. I was the same way. Hell, I still have a problem leaving home, but I have that apartment I’m paying for. Only three more years, then it’s the real world for you.”

“That’s if I make it that far,” I mumbled under my breath. Hearing my comment, she chuckled. Sad part was, I wasn’t being sarcastic.

As we followed my parents on the highway, Sam spent the majority of the trip telling me the same stories over and over again about her trip to Spain last year. It wasn’t until the end of the drive when she decided it was time to ask. “So, were you just lying to Mom and Dad about what might have caused your coma?”

My eyes left the road as they rolled to the back of my head. “I’m not lying. I legitimately don’t know what caused it. If I did, I would have said something. It’s stupid to lie to a doctor, let alone our parents.”

She shrugged before opening her bottle of Diet Mountain Dew to take a swig. “I guess that’s a good point. Mom would kick your ass to next Tuesday if you even thought of lying.”

“Exactly. I wish I could remember. It would help explain so