In her dream, Maddie was in the middle of a city of towering skyscrapers, unlike anything that she could remember. In many ways, it reminded her of New York, but there were some substantial differences. The buildings were made of people, writhing and screaming. The sky was full of smoke, and it should have seared at her eyes, caught in her throat. She should have felt alarmed at all the strange creatures that were not humans scurrying about.
But she didn't.
Even stranger was the appearance of her in the dream. She could see herself in one of the large windows, and in the dream, she knew this was herself, was Maddie. Her hair was longer, rippling and falling to her waist in not quite curls, not quite like fire. She wore a strange dark blue top with long sleeves, cropped off just below her breasts and fastening at the throat with a large, gaudy golden clasp. Below that was... honestly it looked more like a dark blue pair of rags, hanging in tattered triangles to not quite her knees, caught up by sheer determination. Most unlike her was the expression, angry, cruel...
The huge inhuman creature lurking behind her like some sort of demonic thug didn't help. Whoever - whatever - it was, he looked like he should be asking if she wanted him to break some knees as a message.
Scott wasn't there, wasn't with her.
The giant thug was talking to Maddie in the dream, whispering about how this would give her power, would give her revenge. Would make all of them pay.
Maddie had no idea who she would want revenge on. Or why her hair was so long. Long hair like that... it didn't look like her, like Maddie, at all.
Long hair like that looked like Jean. Scott's dead girlfriend Jean.
Why had she never realized how similar they looked? Both tall redheads with green eyes.
Did that resemblance have anything to do with why Scott had gone out with her? Why they'd started dating? Why he'd married her?
Maddie wanted her husband, wanted him to appear and tell her that this dream was nonsense, that everything would be all right. That there was no giant thug. No tattered blue skirts. No buildings made from screaming people.
That he loved her for herself, and not because she looked like Jean.
Maddie twisted in her bed, feeling the covers wrap around her, trapping her.
In her dream, Maddie heard a familiar voice, a wonderful voice.
"I see her! She's right over there!"
Why did Scott sound so angry?
Scott appeared in her dream, running down one of the streets between screaming buildings, clad in a blue and yellow uniform, his visor covering half of his face instead of the familiar red sunglasses. Beside him ran Hank, as blue and fuzzy as before, but lacking his warm smile or slightly confusing rambling about chemistry and molecular composition.
Worst of all was the woman running beside Scott. A tall redhead in green, a yellow X accentuating her hips. The little mask couldn't hide her identity from Maddie. Jean was running beside Scott.
Jean and Scott were holding hands as they ran towards Maddie.
Twisting in the bed, Maddie murmured, "but she's dead..."
Dream-Maddie with her long hair glared at Scott and his beautiful, no longer dead girlfriend. "I should have known you would leave me because of her. It's always been her."
"You can't do this, Maddie!" Scott shouted, his visor glowing.
The burned out hulk of a car was flung towards Maddie. Twisted figures had leapt at the trio, snarling and flailing with long claws, hissing "You will not harm the princess!"
Maddie really didn't understand that part. She'd been many things, but never a princess. Unless maybe one of those forgotten Halloweens had involved a princess costume?
In the time between the twisted minions - Maddie's minions? - attacking them, Scott and Jean gave each other a long, passionate kiss.
Jean spoke to Scott, her words carrying despite being no more than a whisper. "Don't worry, Scott. Once we get rid of her, then we can be a family. Just you, me, and N.C. together. The way it should always have been."
She was still screaming, awake in her bed, covers tangled around her as the house itself seemed to shake.
When Maddie fell from the bed, landing with a bump on the floor, she stopped screaming. The house was still shaking, and she could hear something break in the other room. A lamp, perhaps. Things rattled and fell from dressers, the plates and cups were clattering in the kitchen.
Maddie's screaming eased into horrible sobs, and the house's shaking subsided. That dream... nightmare... it was horrible.
And Scott wasn't here. He'd had something that he needed to do for work... At least, that's what he'd told her he needed to do. And Jean was dead, damn it all.
"She's dead... he can't leave me... to go back to her..." Maddie whispered between sobs. She couldn't quite manage to convince herself.
Everything that Maddie had ever read about psychology or dream analysis suggested that this dream was a visual, painful way to rip open her fears about her marriage. That she felt like a substitute for Jean. Her fear that if there were ever a choice between herself of Jean, Scott would pick Jean. That she felt there was something horrible, something ugly and twisted and wrong in her life.
Even if Jean was dead, Maddie still felt like she was in second place to her. Worse, with Jean dead, how could the perfect image of her ever be tarnished?
Could she trust her husband? Could she trust in their relationship?
Maddie desperately wanted the answer to be yes.
She was terrified that the answer was no.
Untangling herself from the covers, Maddie knew that she'd never be able to go back to sleep after that. She went to pick up her son, crying from a combination of his mother screaming and the house shaking.
After that would be the slow process of putting the house back into order.
She didn't pay attention to the way things straightened on their shelves without her touching them. Or the way that the crack in the window seemed to seal itself back up. Perhaps she missed those details through her tears.
end Maddie Dreams: Betrayal