Back in the stands, Tash threw her easel to the ground with a thud, causing her cappuccino to spill onto her lap. “Fuck!” She yelled as the hot amaretto stained her jeans and burned her legs slightly. She then rushed to wipe herself up with a towel, careful not to ruin any of her drawings. What the hell? Tash thought. Maybe I’ve been staring at this thing too long. I think I’m starting to lose my mind. Oh well, enough of that for now, she decided, and wrapped up her easel and put her drawings into her bag. However, when she set them down, a corner of one drawing stuck out of her bag—and the eyes of Freddy Krueger still glared at her with evil intent.

Taking a deep breath, she noticed the halftime clock was about to expire and took her seat, eager to see Quinton come out of the tunnel again. It was then she knew how lucky she was to be sitting under a covered set of bleachers, because in that instant, the skies opened up and rain began to pour down on the stadium. It didn’t take long before the field turned into a marsh and the crowd was forced to scatter like roaches in daylight. Some of them braved the weather and raised their umbrellas, but those who didn’t crammed into the small area around Tash to stay dry under the section known as peanut heaven. There were people elbow-to-asshole throughout peanut heaven, and Tash was starting to feel like a sardine in a can. But all her feelings quickly turned into cheers, when, an instant later, the Springwood Bulldogs came charging back out to the field, eliciting a roar from the crowd. The Springwood faithful loyally rang their cowbells as the marching band struck up the fight song once again, ready to fight on despite the bad weather.

Neither team knew of the monsoon that awaited them on the field as they emerged from their respective tunnels. A lot of rain had fallen in a very short period of time, and puddles of mud had begun to form in various parts of the grass before the ball was even kicked off again. That, combined with the stadium’s poor drainage, meant that it was going to be a long second half for sure. The fire and vigor that the Bulldogs had had just inside the locker room doors had all but evaporated when they finally reached their bench. But Springwood was not alone. The Collins Mustangs were soaked to the bone as well, and both coaches were forced to change their respective game plans at the last minute. The rain was coming down so hard that even the cheerleading squad scurried for shelter, with the band not far behind.

Lexi plowed her way through the masses looking for Tash, and was relieved to find her near the top. “I’m glad you’re up here,” Lexi told her. “Me too,” Tash replied, her voice drowned out by the rain hitting the awning above them. “It’s really coming down,” Lexi added. “Yeah, everybody stole my idea,” Tash joked as the Collins side of the bleachers erupted. Lexi and Tash looked back down at the field, and through the raindrops, saw that the Mustangs had returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown.

“Here we go again,” Lexi said, smugly. “Rain sucks!”

“It sure does,” Tash said, bending over to pick up her cappuccino-stained towel. However, when she did, her bag fell to the ground in front of them, and her sketchpad slid out in the process.

“Oh, sorry about that,” Tash said, immediately trying to pick it back up. Lexi beat her to it, however, and picked it up first, expecting to see the portrait of Quinton. The only problem was that she didn’t see a portrait of Quinton at all. What she saw scared the hell out of her. There before her was the dream master, Freddy Krueger, his claws blazing three-dimensionally off of the page.

“Ahhh!” Lexi screamed, dropping the sketchpad onto Tash’s lap. “Tash, what the hell is this?”

“Um, nothing,” Tash said, instantly getting defensive. The look of horror returned to Lexi’s face as she put her hand up to her mouth. Her sister was in a coma, and the evil man responsible was now drawn onto her best friend’s sketchpad. What was going on? Something had to give.

“You saw him too?” Lexi asked, scared.

“What do you mean, I saw him too?” Tash answered, speaking up so Lexi could hear amidst all the noise.

“Freddy Krueger!” Lexi fired back, alarmed. “I’ve been dreaming about him for the last couple of weeks now.”

As soon as she said Freddy’s name, a group of fans nearby instantly spun around and stared at her, whispering to one another. They wasted little time getting away from her after that, as they told their friends, and their friends told their friends, and so on and so on.

“Oh my god,” Tash stated, not noticing the crowds of people moving away from them. “I thought I was just going crazy. I drew that from memory a few days ago, and I add something to it after every nightmare. Do you know who he is?”

“He’s a filthy child murderer who’s hurt a lot of people,” Lexi replied. “And I’m pretty sure he’s the reason Veronica is missing and Apryl is in a coma.”

“Are you sure?” Tash asked, curious. “How can something like that happen?”

“I don’t know,” Lexi answered, finally noticing the crowd separating away from them. “But look around. Notice how much room we have here now that I mentioned his name? These people are majorly freaked out.”

As Lexi said that, the Springwood side of the crowd roared to life as Mike completed a deep pass to Quinton short of the goal line. Tash stared down to the field, but couldn’t see much through the blinding rain. She did, however, take notice of all the people walking away from them, and decided that maybe Lexi was on to something.

“Well, what do we do?” Tash asked, concerned.

“I don’t know,” Lexi replied. “But if he got to Veronica and Apryl in their dreams, I’m sure he can get to any one of us, too.”

“Meaning?” Tash questioned.

“Meaning,” Lexi answered. “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.”

Proceed To Chapter 18
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