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 A Shadow Past


Chapter Three:

A soft whimpering pulled Cam from a deep sleep, the sound of distress triggering a sense of danger in him. It took him a second to realize he was in his own bed, with Jessie at his side. He glanced at the clock; two hours had passed since they had gone to bed. Another whimper, louder this time, had him turning on the bedside lamp. Jessie was clearly having a bad dream. The myth of it being dangerous to wake someone sleepwalking or having a nightmare flitted across his sleep befuddled brain before he dismissed it as just that; a myth. He reached out, touching her shoulder gently. "Jessie."



The shadows shifted in her dream, a constant motion that kept her off balance. The sense of impending doom was almost suffocating in its intensity. She whimpered, feeling lost and alone. Suddenly there was something there, looming over her. The voice was back, mocking her, whispering in her ear, "Did you take on more than you could handle?" At the same time she felt a hand on her shoulder.



Cam was taken aback by the sudden reaction from Jessie. One second she was in the throes of a dream; in the next second she had grabbed his wrist in a painful grasp, digging her fingers between the joints, her eyes wide and filled with terror, seeing something that wasn’t there. He froze, resisting the urge to jerk his hand away, not wanting to startle her further.

"Jess? It’s me, Cam. Wake up, sweetie; it’s just a dream."

It took a few moments, but her eyes finally focused on his face, the death grip she had on him easing up slowly. He watched as she quickly glanced around the room, as if to assure herself exactly where she was.

"Geez," she whispered under her breath.

"You okay?"

She swallowed hard before nodding her head. Looking at where she had been holding his wrist, her eyes grew wide. "Oh God, I’m so sorry."

Cam glanced down, seeing the deep half moon imprints on his skin where she had dug her nails in. They weren’t bleeding, but were close to it. "Don’t worry about it," he said as he turned his attention back to her. "Jessie, is this why you’ve had trouble sleeping lately, because of nightmares?"

She thought about denying it for half a second, but realized that would be pretty much a moot point after he actually witnessed it. "Yeah, I guess so."

"How long has this been going on?"

She shrugged her shoulders slightly. "A while."

Cam sat up in bed. "Define ‘a while’."

Jessie pushed her hair away from her face. "I don’t know; a week, maybe two."

"You dreaming about anything in particular?" He saw her shift her gaze away from him, staring off into the corner of the room.

"Not really. Most of the time I can’t remember specifics, just that I’ve had a bad dream and woke up. Then I have trouble going back to sleep."

"A week or two…did this start after we went to Nahane?"

This time Jessie pushed herself up, pulling the blanket around her as she sat on the edge of the bed.


She didn’t turn around. "Yeah, it did." After a moment, she felt Cam’s hand on her back.

"You worried about what Thoyetlini told us?" He stroked her back softly, hoping she would open up about what was going on. "I know it bothered me. I wanted to put it down to an old man trying to impress us with the shaman antics, but it just seemed too real." She was quiet for so long, he began to think she wasn’t going to say anything.

Jessie finally shrugged. "I…I guess the way he described it, the ‘shadows’, it must have stuck with me. Sometimes when I dream, it’s…it’s like there are a bunch of shadows at the periphery, shifting, moving. I sense something’s wrong, but I can’t see anything." Jessie’s voice turned into a whisper. "It’s like watching a tornado forming, and you know it’s heading toward you."

"It would be kinda hard to sleep after that."

She glanced at him over her shoulder. "It’s just so weird, what he said…it felt like a prophecy or something."

"Well, he said it involved past, present and future, and the future would definitely fall into the prophecy category. To a certain degree, the present would too, because what he described we have no knowledge of, yet. The only thing that wouldn’t fit into that would be whatever happened in the past." If Cam hadn’t had his hand on her back, he would have missed the slight tremor that shook her body. Keeping his voice soothing, he asked, "Is there anything you want to talk about?"

Jessie closed her eyes. Shook her head. "Not now," she whispered. The images reappeared, causing her to grimace. "I just want to try to sleep."

Although he was disappointed, Cam didn’t push it. While he hadn’t been aware how much the old shaman’s predictions bothered Jessie, Thoyetlini’s statement hadn’t been far from his own mind. Cam had faith Jessie would eventually open up to him; he just had to wait until she was ready to do so. With that in mind, he scooted down in bed, enfolding Jessie in his arms as she lay back down.

"Are you going to turn off the light?" she asked.

He gave her a little squeeze. "Nope. We’ll leave it on, see if it helps any. Kind of hard for shadows to move in if there’s a light on for you."

Laying her cheek against his shoulder, Jessie was almost afraid to close her eyes. Hoping against hope she was mistaken, she sent up a silent prayer for the past to stay buried.



Another week went by, and Jessie was still plagued by nightmares. Because of her lack of sleep, simple tasks at work took an inordinate amount of concentration to get right, and she definitely didn’t have enough energy to get excited about the artifacts from P3R-233. One item that was causing quite a stir was a mirror. Well, it wasn’t just a mirror; Daniel’s research had him theorizing it was a device used for some sort of travel. Jessie could only recollect snippets of the conversation. It wasn’t that she hadn’t been there—she just couldn’t recall the details. She did remember Sam talking about multiple dimensions…or had that been realities? And parallel something or the other. Sam had gone into great detail about it, and in the end they had dubbed the device a ‘quantum mirror’.

Jessie realized her situation had become a definite problem. In fact, she did something she never did; she called in sick. It wasn’t really a fib. Lord knew she couldn’t function in the state she was in. For the first time ever, she actually considered buying a bottle of sleeping pills, just to try to get into a deep enough sleep where she wouldn’t dream, yet give her a chance to recharge mentally and physically.

The night before, the nightmares had been at their worst. The shadows took shape, closing in, sinister voices fading in and out, whispers of "God’s not going to help you now, Jessica." She had been wide-awake from that point on. And despite her previous attempts to ignore it, to deny it, she now knew without a doubt what the shadow past was.

The afternoon sunshine filtered through the cotton curtain hanging in the kitchen window. Jessie stood at the sink, washing the dishes from her lunch when the phone rang. The glass she had been holding slipped out of her hand as she jerked in surprise, shattering when it struck the porcelain sink.

"Fuck." The obscenity hung in the air as Jessie grasped the edge of the sink, part of her wanting to ignore the phone, yet knowing if she didn’t answer it, more than likely someone would be showing up on her doorstep in short order. She finally picked up the receiver on the fourth ring. It was her mother.

Jessie made a valiant effort to hide the fact anything was wrong, not wanting to worry her mom, but it bothered her nonetheless. There was very little she hid from her, unless it was classified. In fact, she had already told her about Cam, and how their relationship was starting to get serious.

Expecting a run of the mill conversation, Jessie was caught off guard when a few minutes into it her mother asked, "Jessie, have you told Cam about John?"

While she loved being able to share all the different facets of her life with her mom, she really didn’t have the energy for this kind of exchange at the moment. "I told him we had been engaged, and that I broke it off."

Maggie Watson was silent long enough for her daughter to sense her disapproval. "Honey, Dad and I have always been very proud that you’re so independent. I never pushed you to tell me exactly what happened between you and John, because I figured if the time came when you wanted to talk about it, you would." She sighed. "And I’m not going to push you now. But, being your Mom and as close as we are, I know something happened. If this relationship with Cam is as important as I think it is, you don’t want that standing in between you two."

Jessie almost dropped the phone. The old shaman’s voice echoed in her head, ‘…there cannot be anything in between, preventing a complete connectionyou will not be able to make a true union until you have shared the wounds, and let them heal.’ The room began to tilt at a funny angle.

"Jessie? Are you still there?"

Jessie took a shaky breath. "Yeah, Mom, I’m here. Listen, I wanted to find out if you and daddy had any travel plans for the holidays."

Maggie let it slide, making no mention of the abrupt change in subject. "None that I know of."

"Well, kind of keep the calendar open. If I can get some time off, I’d like to come for a visit…and maybe bring Cam along."

Jessie’s mom brightened considerably with that thought. "Honey, I don’t care if we had plans to go to the Taj Mahal—I’d cancel it in a heartbeat if you’re coming down!"

Jessie chuckled. "It’s still some time away, but I’ll see what I can get worked out, and give you a call when I know something definite."

Maggie wasn’t going to let her daughter off that easily, though. "Sweetie, you think about what I said, you hear?"

Jessie looked up at the ceiling. "All right, Mom. Look I’ve got to let you go. There’s some stuff I need to take care."

"Okay, honey. You take care of yourself."

"I will."

"I love you, Jessie."

"Love you, too, Mom."

Setting the receiver back in its cradle, she stood there staring at it for a moment. She knew fate was screaming at her—through Thoyetlini, through her nightmares, and now through her mom. Yet, she hesitated. A multitude of thoughts raced through her mind, and that nagging voice of self-doubt wasn’t helping. She tried to reassure herself…after all, it had been years now, and it really didn’t matter when looking at the big picture…did it?

If that were the case, though, it didn’t explain the nightmares and the uneasiness that had been with her ever since the old shaman’s revelations. And it didn’t explain why she had become more aware that something was standing between her and Cam. Maybe it was because she hadn’t been completely forthcoming with him about that night, so long ago. Then again, she hadn’t acknowledged it herself since it happened. She had just buried it, and gone on with her life.

Jessie mentally ran in circles for almost an hour before she finally picked up the phone and dialed Cam’s number.

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